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Silicon Valley's making money off the work of others. David Lowery is on a crusade for copyright, fairness and art
People sometimes use the Industrial Revolution metaphor. They talk about how factories replaced the artisan and the farmer, and it took decades for things like child labor, dangerous working conditions, and pollution and all the stuff that industry brought to Britain and the U.S. to be eradicated, or made humane and sustainable.
But whenever anybody — I mean, you’ve just brought up David Allen, and we’ve just posted this idea on my Trichordist blog that we should have an ethical, fair-trade Internet, but you’ve got people like David Allen saying you can’t have that. That would be like in the Industrial Revolution saying, “You can’t have a non-polluting factory; you can’t have a factory that doesn’t have child labor; you can’t have a factory that’s safe to work in.” Of course you can!
We’re the ****ing masters of our own destiny, we pass the laws for this country, we create this country, we decide what kind of a society we’re going to have — not the Internet. And, besides, the Internet is coded by humans. We can make the Internet do what it needs to do. I’m a technologist. I program computers. This is what I did before I played in bands.
There is nothing deterministic about the Internet. Basically, what these people are saying is that this is the first technology whereby we must change our principles to match the technology — that’s what these people are saying. Do you want to live in a world like that, with these people running it?
The dust hadn't settled yet from when Goldieblox declared "you gotta fight for your right to infringe" last week - and now Goldieblox have issued a non-apology for infringing Beastie Boys song.
Yesterday Felix Simon joined in opining in GoldieBlox, fair use, and the cult of disruption. Disruption? Yes, we all know that to get angel funders to throw money at you as if you're the last stripper in town, you have to promise disruption. Disruption is changing the status quo by blowing up an old market, and in the new market created a land rush like Oklahoma takes place. Forget those who were on the land before, they need to adapt. Most of all, disruption is really close to *********gery if you're not careful. Creating a keyboardless phone that is just a screen in a market full of indestructible Nokias is proper disruption. Picking fights just to get attention is destruction.
The singer wins the first round in her lawsuit against MediaNet, which she claims infringed 120 of her songs.
Her lawyer told The Hollywood Reporter at the time that the lawsuit served "as a call to other artists to follow the lead set by Radiohead and Pink Floyd to put an end to the unlicensed, uncompensated use of their music by online services."
BOWING TO PUBLIC PRESSURE, INTERNET RADIO GIANT ABANDONS LEGISLATION THAT WOULD LOWER MUSIC ROYALTIES
If you spoke up about this, if you posted about it on Facebook or Tweeted about it to your friends, if you added your voice to the courageous chorus who stood up and spoke out, you helped win this fight.
Amid a growing chorus of debate about how much streaming services pay artists, Spotify on Tuesday tried to present its own side of the argument, outlining in a new website how it has paid out $1 billion in music royalties since its launch five years ago.
Pandora has given up its efforts to seek legislation that would help reduce the royalties paid to rights holders, a source knowledgeable with the decision tells Billboard.
IRFA opponents hail Pandora’s decision. RIAA chairman/CEO Cary Sherman calls the demise of IRFA “a historic moment” for the music industry. A coalition of labels, managers, artists, unions and trade groups like SoundExchange and the RIAA fought vociferously against the legislation. The op-ed articles, public statements, advertisements, email blasts and social media efforts “clearly moved the needle,” Sherman says.
For whatever reason–one can never rule out doing the right thing, even with a Stanford grad–Goldiblox has taken their rip off commercial…sorry, remix commercial…no, no, parody video, yes that’s the ticket–apparently the Goldiblox parody video has been taken “private” on YouTube. There’s also a new Goldieblox video without the Beasties up on Google’s monopoly video search platform, so let’s see how that one does.
So if Goldiblox wants to do something positive with their new found fame, maybe their CEO could have a word with Google about filtering out these exploitative videos that are being beamed into homes around the world for children to see. Right next to the “Femoral Fiesta” video playlist showing junkies how to hit the femoral artery.
Yes, right. Filtering, that’s the ticket. I’m sure GoldieBlox will get right on challenging Google to not be evil.
The toy company GoldieBlox has pulled a parody version of the Beastie Boys' "Girls" from a viral advertising campaign, telling the rap group, "We don't want to fight with you." Use of the song to advertise construction toys aimed at young girls had prompted an inquiry from the band's lawyers, followed by a pre-emptive lawsuit from GoldieBlox.
According to entertainment lawyer John Seay, Golieblox using "Girls" without asking for the band's permission could very well have been part of their plan to get the ad and its message to a larger audience.
Additionally, Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch, who succumbed to cancer in 2012, wrote into his will that none of his music ever be used in advertising: “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, in no event may my image or name or any music or any artistic property created by me be used for advertising purposes,” reads a passage from the will (via Rolling Stone).
Toy startup GoldieBlox thinks it has the legal right to adapt a Beastie Boys song for a parody to make a point. The Beasties beg to differ.
"Like many of the millions of people who have seen your toy commercial "GoldieBlox, Rube Goldberg & the Beastie Boys," we were very impressed by the creativity and the message behind your ad.
We strongly support empowering young girls, breaking down gender stereotypes and igniting a passion for technology and engineering.
As creative as it is, make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product, and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads. When we tried to simply ask how and why our song "Girls" had been used in your ad without our permission, YOU sued US."
The Beasties (as well as their producer Rick Rubin) fell into the Goldieblox litigation strategy not because of what they did but because of what they said.
And this is the message that Goldieblox is also sending to anyone who wants to hear it, most concisely stated by Mary Elizabeth Williams writing in Salon:
The Beastie Boys spent a better part of their formidable career making it very clear to even the most casual observer that they were not, in fact, a pack of infantile misogynists. But even if they had been, that wouldn’t give anybody – even a company with a positive, girl-powery message – the right to steal from them. “Girls” is the Beastie Boys’ song, and they shouldn’t be expected to hand it over to anybody in some bizarre legal stab at public shaming.
That’s not the inventive, original thinking that GoldieBlox appears to espouse. Instead of hiding behind the thoroughly lame excuse that “The song was sexist, ergo we can take it to sell our toys,” GoldieBlox could instead put on its big girls pants and make something awesome now with its creative talent. The company could instead prove that when challenged, it’s crafty. And that’s just my type.
If all GoldieBlox wanted to do was get out a viral message about empowering girls, they could easily have done that without gratuitously antagonizing the Beastie Boys, or putting the Beasties in their current impossible situation.
Instead, however, GoldieBlox did exactly what you’d expect an entitled and well-lawyered Silicon Valley startup to do, which is pick a fight. It’s the way of the Valley — you can’t be winning unless some household-name dinosaur is losing. (The Beasties are actually the second big name to find themselves in the GoldieBlox crosshairs; the first was Toys R Us.) The real target of the GoldieBlox lawsuit, I’m quite sure, is not the Beastie Boys. Instead, it’s the set of investors who are currently being pitched to put money into a fast-growing, Stanford-incubated, web-native, viral, aggressive, disruptive company with massive room for future growth — a company which isn’t afraid to pick fights with any big name you care to mention.
Because in Silicon Valley, people will always prefer to invest in that kind of company, rather than in a toy company whose toys, in truth, aren’t actually very good.
According to a lawsuit filed on Thursday by Goldieblox, "the Beastie Boys have now threatened GoldieBlox with copyright infringement. Lawyers for the Beastie Boys claim that the GoldieBlox Girls Parody Video is a copyright infringement, is not a fair use and that GoldieBlox's unauthorized use of the Beastie Boys intellectual property is a 'big problem' that has a 'very significant impact.' "
Producers and songwriters should be aware that in the Temporary Autonomous Zone of Northern California (home of the class action award payoffs to the EFF, Berkman Center and other places where copyright haters thrive), the new new thing appears to be suing record producers and songwriters.* Rick Rubin in particular. According to Adland.tv: Last week...
Copyright industries' contribution to the US economy exceeded 1 trillion dollars in 2012... grew at twice the rate of the rest of the economy.
"The U.S. copyright industries have consistently outperformed the rest of the U.S. economy, in terms of their real annual growth rates and their contributions to the overall growth of the U.S. economy as a whole. These industries also command significant shares of U.S. gross domestic product and they employ millions of U.S. workers. In addition, the average compensation paid to U.S. workers in the copyright industries consistently and substantially exceeds the average compensation level paid to U.S. workers as a whole, and even more significantly exceeds the average compensation paid to U.S. private sector workers. "
The BPI is the first organisation in the world to have sent 50 million takedown requests to Google in its continued battle to remove links to copyright-infringing websites from the search engine.
“Google knows full well, from millions of notices and from court decisions, which sites are illegal. Yet it turns a blind eye to that information and chooses to keep on driving traffic and revenues to the online black market, ahead of legal retailers.”
OP-ED by C. Vincent Plummer ( @cvpmusic ) is a Musician, Co-Founder, & Social Strategist for Bedloo. If you're anything like me, your band is not famous. You might have had some moderate success in local markets, but let's be real; your band's trajectory isn't heading towards Coachella any time soon. As a matter of fact, your band has internally combusted. Over the years the band mate relationships have dwindled into Facebook 'likes' on random posts. Someone just had a baby. Someone just started a new business. Someone just got married... and what's worse, the local bars have stopped buying...
After being called out by a publishers' group, Rap Genius revealed that it already had a deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing and would pursue other deals.
In an interview, Mr. Zechory discussed the idea of fair use, which provides an exception to copyright restrictions for certain uses like commentary and parody. But he acknowledged the difficulty of that route, and said that his company was “better off pursuing partnerships with publishers.”
“We want to spend our time building an interesting product and community instead of building a legal case, even though we’re sure it would be interesting,” he said. “We chose to partner up with the music publishers and license the lyrics so we could get on with our work and establish closer ties to songwriters and artists.”
David Israelite, the president of the publishers’ trade association, said of Rap Genius’s deal with Sony/ATV, “I think it proves that what Rap Genius is doing is not fair use, and I am hopeful it is a first step toward becoming a fully licensed site.”
Helienne Lindvall: Musician turned digital music executive hits the wrong note with artists and composers over rights and royalties
Quirk, however, keeps his musical past on the downlow, despite (or perhaps because of) having actually been in a band (Too Much Joy) signed to a major label in the 90s. Yes, this is the same Tim Quirk who wrote the fabulous tirade My Hilarious Warner Bros Royalty Statement on his band's website back in 2009, complaining about how the label hadn't accounted digital income correctly to the band (this, he says, is because the band was $395,214 unrecouped and the digital revenues would never come close to recouping that amount).
Back in 2009, he was raging against the major label system, but now that he works for a corporation that reported more than $50bn in revenue last year – more than three times the $16.5bn revenue of the entire global recorded music industry in 2012 – he appears to think musicians should now simply accept whatever scraps his company chooses to throw their way.
A new documentary takes a hard look at how the digital age has eroded the value of music and the ability of musicians to make a living. Unsound, which is currently in the midst of an Indiegogo campaign to raise $52,000 to finish an edit of the film, marks Count's first foray into the documentary.
Unsound, which is currently in the midst of an Indiegogo campaign to raise $52,000 to finish an edit of the film, marks Count’s first foray into the documentary format — an endeavor that required him to take a two-year break from his music career. In a phone interview, Count said he was “the last person in the world” who he thought would take an activist stance on an issue, but this was something he couldn’t ignore.
Thirteen years since the Internet Revolution, I watched all of the artists around me make less and less while their popularity increased,” he said. “I saw how unfair that was. I saw how afraid people were to speak out. How could it be as artists — who are the most vocal during times of injustice — how are they so afraid that they weren’t writing about this? I thought that was a little shocking. This is a very compelling story.
Musicians have learned that the new corporate powers -- technology companies -- are possibly worse than the old corporate powers -- record companies. How well would technology companies treat academics?
The new business model is already here, it’s been in place for over 10 years, and it’s making an enormous amount of money. But very little of that money goes to the creator.
At some point, one has to question whether it is still possible to earn a living as a musician, or any type of creator.
This year Kela racked up more than one million plays over a four-month period on Spotify for his hit "Restless Girl".
The highly popular music streaming service Spotify seems to offer musical artistes a smooth and easy channel to distribute their content and reap the resulting rewards. However one Finnish pop musician has gone public with his earnings – the returns aren’t what most would imagine.
The National Music Publishers Association issued takedown notices to 50 unlicensed lyric sites yesterday, according to a press release.
"Unlicensed lyric sites are largely ignored as copyright infringers, but in fact these sites generate huge web traffic and involve more money than one might think," Lowery said in a statement. "The lyric business is clearly more valuable in the Internet age."
One of the founders of Rap Genius – a site that received a $15 million investment last year and that, according to the New York Times, welcomed 5.3 million unique visitors in October – discussed the announcement with the newspaper yesterday.
As the saying goes time is money, and it makes sense, after all I m sure almost everyone has had a job that pays an hourly wage where time is very literally money. So it isn t very surprising to learn that nearly every professional recording studio charges an hourly rate for their services.
If you have an eye on the music industry then there is no doubt that you saw the scathing letter from British alternative rock/electronic artist, Whitey, to television production company, Betty TV. They were one company too many to request free music for their productions, claiming to have "no budget for music". The response is…
It’s five years since Guns N’ Roses delivered Chinese Democracy, the most expensive album ever produced, costing in excess of $13m (£8m). But the ravages suffered by the music industry since then have caused artists to cut their cloth. Now one acclaimed British band has produced their latest album for just £12,000 after mastering soldering and welding to build their own instruments.
“Can I speak up here? I’d like to just add to what Zoe [Keating] was saying. There’s also – the other kind of general problem that I think we’re seeing that doesn’t really get addressed very much because it’s so big and possibly un-fixable is that as bad and clunky as the major label system was, you still had a constant influx of capital back from those giant, sometimes soul-sucking systems, back into content creation.
And one weird thing is that iTunes, Apple, Spotify, Google, whatever, all of the people who are profiting – [and] YouTube – who are profiting off the artists from the small level to the huge levels aren’t really feeding very much back into the creation of new content.
Eminem sent out a public service announcement to address online piracy in the wake of his latest album The Marshall Mathers LP 2.
The album leaked online earlier this week and the Shady Records machine quickly went to work to suppress the leak. Eminem and his management even went as far as making Rap Genius remove the lyrics to the songs:
The car industry gets decimated and people go into apoplexy. The recording industry gets destroyed and people seem to be sanguine or happy about it, almost, because they're getting everything for free. If somebody had come down from Silicon Valley 30 years ago and said "I've got this new technology, and you're gonna be able to see all around the world, transfer your stuff all over the world, you're gonna be able to send things, you'll be able to see your friends, you'll be able to hear music -- all you have to do is give up your privacy and your royalties," everybody would have said, "Get the f--- out of town! Right now! Get out of here!"
Instead, these guys came down with their shtick, and everybody went "Well, how can we make money from this great new technology?" "Oh, you're not gonna make money from it. Everything's gonna be free. Just give us the intellectual property we can send around in our pipes, everybody will subscribe, and then we'll be rich. Not you, though." [Laughs.] "Don't ask us what we're doing with the money. Just make the stuff and send it to us for free."
That's how much of a straight-up con it's been. People in Hollywood, we should go up there with pitchforks and torches to Silicon Valley now. Unfortunately, that's [how sophisticated] our response would be -- pitchforks and torches.