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Music downloads - your feedback - The cases for & against file sharing
Copyright is a major issue in the music world. There are a number of readers who have views on the subject expressed on this page. Mike himself spent a couple of years personally involved in the area. For Mike's background, check this link: background

 

Record companies RIP - The life and crimes of the music biz

Ray Hogan sent me this link to Simon Napier-Bell's obit' for the late and unlamented major record companies. It's from 2008 but it sums it all up really. The only sad thing is that after EMI landed up in the hands of a complete (loaded) novice its now been subsumed again and God knows what this means for our back catalogue. Could be a good thing.. read more

Piracy not raiding CD sales - TECH Asher Moses 6.11.07

Ray Hogan recently sent me this link that has new (Canadian) research apparently showing that p2p filesharing has a minimal impact on CD sales. Which either goes to show you can prove anything or that there is another factor somebody's overlooking.
The enforcement arm of the Australian music industry has dismissed damaging overseas research that found illegal music sharing actually increased CD sales. read more

File-sharing suffers major defeat - BBC News 27.6.05

Is this the beginning of the end? Or just the end of the beginning? Whatever, the war is heating up..

The US Supreme Court has ruled that file-sharing companies are to blame for what users do with their software. The surprise ruling could start a legal assault on the creators of file-sharing networks such as Grokster and Morpheus. read more

Copyright an aberration with a limited future - by Graeme Philipson 17.5.05

Tony Nirta sent me the link to this Age article. The times they are a-changing alright.. Tony says:
Hi there, I just read this article (below), my first thought was o..............k........, but. So I read it again, and it needs to be said that the argument is flawed, in my view, and point out that if his point attacked the medicine manufacturers, I would be inclined to agree..

There has been a tiny victory
in the long battle against the forces of darkness. A US Circuit Court of Appeals court has ruled against the US Federal Communications Commission's requirement that TV networks should use "flagging", a signal that would help prevent programs being copied, in everything they broadcast.
The ruling means that digital material broadcast by free-to-air TV stations can continue to be copied. Flagging technology would have made this more difficult, because it would have mandated the inclusion of anti-copying technology in consumer technology such as digital video recorders.
Proponents of flagging - the TV networks and the Hollywood studios - have criticised the ruling and vowed to fight on, even if it means making existing draconian copyright laws even more severe. It is these people's strategy to wear down their opponents with endless litigation, bleeding them dry with all manner of expensive lawsuits and appeals, and changing laws on the run as technology outsmarts them.
The industry, always ready to cloak its self-interest in altruism, claims that the ruling will make the so-called "digital divide" deeper by creating two classes of consumer, saying that the "non-secure" broadcast medium will have lower-quality programming than "secure" outlets. Unfortunately, the rest of the story has gone..

The Technician Who Lost His Faith - Colin Abrahams July 2004

I was sent this by Brenden Mason, who was sent it by Joe Creighton. It's not about the issue of down-loading as such, but it's very relevant, and manages to dispel a few myths along the way - and it's not all doom and gloom..

The closure of Sydney's Paradise Studios in December, 2002 marked the end of an era for the Australian music recording industry. Built in 1980, this once sought-after studio saw the recording of many major Australian albums. It was one of the few remaining "room within a room" constructions, based on fully floating concrete slabs in Sydney. The control room was based on a Tom Hiddley "Westlake" design. It had a both a "dead" recording area and a two storey high "live" room. It was a grand place, with plush red carpets and polished brass door handles. Its facilities included a sauna, spa, solarium and a giant recreation room with cooking facilities. It was the studio that inspired the song "Breakfast at Sweethearts", after the boys of Cold Chisel had spent a long night recording there and walked up to the 'Cross for breakfast. It is unlikely that anything like it will ever be built again in Sydney.
Technology advances have been sited as a big factor in the decline of the music recording industry. Now it is possible for me to sit at my home PC fitted with a A$70.00 sound card and record in quality that I could never have achieved running a half inch 2 track at 30ips! I have at my fingertips plugins with parameters which can go way beyond what any real analogue device could ever do. Let's face it - the mixdown room, brimming with racks of outboard gear, the machine room with two locked up 24 tracks, the 64 channel moving fader mixing console that's so huge that you need a loudhailer to get the attention of the guy standing at the other end, all enclosed in a suitably huge control room whose time delays render the main monitors unuseable - these days are over. There is now no reason why mixing cannot be done in a much smaller computer based room, at a fraction of the cost of the equivalent analogue setup. (I can already hear howls of protest drifting through cyberspace, coming from those analogue freaks out there as I write this, but like it or not, sorry guys, this is what is happening!) Simple overdubs can easily be done in tiny setups, at a fraction of the cost. This means dramatically reduced need for larger recording studio facilities. On the other hand, this means many more smaller facilities can do this work. Technology and computers are not killing our industry - they are simply changing it. read more

DIY repairs

This really doesn't add to the file-sharing debate much either, except it may help those who are finding their CD collection isn't quite as indestructible as the hype made out..

I've been reading the comments on the CD issue - again we see the a few companies trying desperately to hold on to their jobs... or are they?
Anyhow, this might interest you or anyone who has a legal, bought CD and it has unplayable tracks (due to scratches). 3 steps. (Oh, you must have a CD burner).
1.First try to do a direct copy of the CD, or..
2. If the above doesn't work, then 'Rip' the CD. You'll need to download software. A good free one I use is 'CDeX' and you can download it at http:www.cdex.n3.net (windows9x). When you Rip a CD, with this program, fill in the "Artist" and Album" names, and those folders are in C:/My Documents/MP3....
3. Then check the offending songs. This worked for me after I repaired my Free Fire and Water CD, so good luck.

Tony Nirta
1.6.04

More record company invective

I remember an interesting article
about how record companies have for decades persisently and systematically ripped off their own artists over payment of royalties. I'll send a copy when I find it. I think the downloading war and copy protection to prevent are merely a last ditch attempts to maintain high prices. High prices that have an adverse impact on sales particularly here in Oz.The other point about copy protection is that it may actually degrade sound performance, assuming the CD plays at all. To me, a hi fi buff, this is the pits. High price & lower quality!! A great deal. There never seemed to be such a rabid reaction about recording vinyl (or CDs) onto cassettes and there were quite a few cassette decks around. Why don't the record companies just do what consumers want - provide "value for money".
And furthermore (from a letter dated 16.5.04 which included the article from Australian Hi Fi he mentions):
I reckon the record companies are trying to protect their own interests first. Of course, artsts are a consideration. If the companies weren't so greedy in ripping the artists off on one hand and charging the paying punters too much on the other, there wouldn't be an issue.
There is evidence to suggest there shouldn't be an issue anyway, as the extent of piracy (downloading) is nowhere near what the self-interested companies claim. The real pirates are those who copy CDs en masse in Asia and distribute for commercial gain.
The record companies have now presented us with the farcical situation of not knowing a release we buy with the (unnecessary) copy protection will actually play on any device we own! If it does play - at what cost to sound quality?

Ray Hogan
7.5.04

Tech specs

Another side of the argument sent by Paul Culnane

Excerpts by David Rhoten from
The Effect of File Sharing on Record Sales - An Empirical Analysis by Felix Oberholzer and Koleman Strumpf link
We find that file sharing has only had a limited effect
on record sales. OLS estimates indicate a positive effect on downloads on sales, though this estimate has a positive bias since popular albums have higher sales and downloads. After instrumenting for downloads, most of the impact disappears. This estimated effect is statistically indistinguishable from zero despite a narrow standard error. The economic effect is also small. Even in the most pessimistic specification, five thousand downloads are needed to displace a single album sale.
We find that file sharing has no statistically significant effect on purchases of the average album in our sample. Moreover, the estimates are of rather modest size when compared to the drastic reduction in sales in the music industry. At most, file sharing can explain a tiny fraction of this decline.
This result is plausible given that movies, software, and video games are actively downloaded, and yet these industries have continued to grow since the advent of file sharing. While a full explanation for the recent decline in record sales are beyond the scope of this analysis, several plausible candidates exist. These alternative factors include poor macroeconomic conditions, a reduction in the number of album releases, growing competition from other forms of entertainment such as video games and DVDs (video game graphics have improved and the price of DVD players or movies have sharply fallen), a reduction in music variety stemming from the large consolidation in radio along with the rise of independent promoter fees to gain airplay, and possibly a consumer backlash against record industry tactics.
It is also important to note that a similar drop in record sales occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and that record sales in the 1990s may have been abnormally high as individuals replaced older formats with CDs. Our results can be considered in a broader context. A key question is the impact of file sharing (and weaker property rights for information goods) on societal welfare. To make such a calculation, we would need to know how the production of music responds to the presence of file sharing. Based on our results, we do not believe file sharing will have a significant effect on the supply of recorded music.
Our argument is twofold. The business model of major labels relies heavily on a limited number of superstar albums. For these albums, we find that the impact of file sharing on sales is likely to be positive, leaving the ability of major labels to promote and develop talent intact. Our estimates indicate that less popular artists who sell few albums are most likely to be negatively affected by file sharing. (Note, however, that even for this group the estimated effect is statistically insignificant.) Even if this leads record labels to reduce compensation for less popular artists, it is not obvious this will influence music production. ****This is because the financial incentives for creating recorded music are quite weak. Few of the artists who create one of the roughly 30,000 albums released each year in the U.S. will make a living from their sales because only a few albums are ever profitable. In fact, only a small number of established acts receive contracts with royalty rates ensuring financial sufficiency while the
remaining artists must rely on other sources of income like touring or other jobs. Because the economic rewards are concentrated at the top and probably fewer than one percent of acts ever reach this level, altering the payment rate should have very little influence on entry into popular music.
Major label releases are profitable only after they sell at least a halfmillion copies, a level only 113 of their 6,455 new albums reached.52 records account for 37% of the total sales volume. Twenty-five thousand new releases sold less than one thousand copies in 2002.

Both sides now..

I have to 'fess up now.
I have never used the Net to listen to or even download music - such a traditionalist when it comes to listening to music. On the vexed question, I would view the music being available on the Net as being a good merchandising tool if only one or two tracks from a CD was available. In such a case, it would be nothing more than a glamorised radio, but with an ability to reach a worldwide audience quite easily. Conversely, if a whole CD package of music, warts and all, was available and thus all the material able to be burnt, as a muso, I would be greatly concerned. In such circumstances, the financial losses may be dramatic. However, if frequent and widespread downloads were occurring, I'd suspect a lot of gigs may result. I think people should pay for their whole-packaged CD's with the muso's receiving their rewards and not be downloaded from the Net. One or two tracks over the Net would be good advertising.

Bryan Cropley
19.8.03

Never mind the Bollocks..

This next diatribe comes from Paul Culnane, and whilst not strictly on the subject for discussion, certainly illustrates the well of resentment the current ambivalence generates. Paul says:

Sure, go ahead and "burn" my email for your downloading debate. I'm not entirely sure I articulated my stance on this issue adequately, but the gist is there. There are, of course, three sides to every story - yours, mine and the truth. And I'll look forward to monitoring the debate on www.mikeruddbillputt.com
You can sign my name to it if you like. Hugh Padgham is just a favourite producer/engineer of mine, responsible as he was for the brilliant, timeless sonics of a great trilogy of XTC albums, along with a whole slew of other seminal elpees. Dunno what his opinion on this issue might be...

This copy-protect on CD bollocks, it's such a nuisance isn't it? Sometimes these discs won't even play legitimately in normal machines. Balls. Somebody took 'em to court recently, but it was thrown out. It's a fetish of EMI, but other corporations too; lately the new Radiohead, Blur, even my Hendrix box set fer chrissakes! As it is, my view is that I've bloody paid for the disc, contributing to the earnings of the artist. In my opinion (disagree if you will), that CD is now MINE, and I can choose to do with it what I want. Make an old fashioned cassette, just play it for pleasure (sometimes with this protect nonsense you can't even do that), or use it for a nifty frisbee. But, for what it's worth, here's how I've successfully thwarted this monstrosity, in order to burn for some pals: take an analog line from your CD deck, if that can be done, up into your MiniDisc recorder (presuming you've got one). Largely, it will still retain the track index points but if not you can insert them yourself manually, just the way you want. And it still sounds brilliant if you carefully control the process. Then burn back down to CDR. Try it.
I for one am firmly against ripping off/exploiting the artists who give us so much pleasure, but then again, as I say, when I pay at least 30 bucks for a fuckin' CD, that's MY PROPERTY, and the artists get their royalties anyway! Like, is somebody gonna pillory me if I buy a pair of Levi's and then decide to put a patch or embroidery on 'em? Who's gonna take me to court if I leave skidmarks on my own pair of pants? So, come on, this is getting kinda silly. The new Blur has a hidden track and a CD-ROM clip that I can't access because of this ridiculous prohibitive technology. It's all getting outta hand.
But I display a smug grin when I get around it. Albeit analog, but analog sounds warmer anyway, and you can control your own volume levels for mastering.
Oooh, how cool-ly technical am I?
Goodnight
Hugh Padgham

Paul Culnane
23.8.03

Don't be afraid..

Here's another entrant into the debate c/o Paul Culnane from Sean Bower.

I have chosen this time to step out of the lurking shadows and throw my 2 cents worth in......
While illegal copying of CDs sucks, I think record companies have overlooked a few legitimate reasons people have for copying CDs. By copy protecting CDs they will just be creating bad feeling with the average punter who buys the occasional album.
People will be annoyed because they won't be able to burn a copy of the CD for the car or just to keep the original in top shape by not playing it (how many people have had great CDs played to death or stolen from their car?), they won't be able to put the music onto their hard drives to play in jukebox programs such as winamp ( i have made a few great discoveries of bands from peoples random play lists on their computers), and as has already been mentioned they won't be able to use other technologies such as MD to enjoy the music they have payed for.
The record company paranoia is a little amusing. I once read of reports of record companies in the rock'n'roll days of the 50's being greatly concerned about their songs being played on the radio. Why would people buy records if they can hear the music on the radio? i think it is pretty safe to say the reverse is actually the case and perhaps this is the same with new technologies. If I hear great music i will buy the album.... there are now more opportunities to hear music before buying it but I don't think artists should be too concerned about that. In fact I think it could be an extra opportunity.... look at the success of Apple's i-tunes in the states with millions of payed for downloads of MP3s happening each week. The artist receives royalties for the downloads and could also benefit from extra album sales to people who took a punt on a single MP3 and want more.
I think the benefits of new technologies are actually greater for independant artists who don't have the huge marketing budgets available to present their music to the public. It is possible for word of mouth to spread much faster with a little help from MP3s and online trading...... why be scared of it, why whinge about it? If someone rips your album and puts MP3s up on the net more people are going to hear it which could create more interest and therefore more album sales.

Sean Bower
27.8.03

Doin' it for ourselves..

Here's another thought or two from 'Michael' via Paul Culnane. I guess if you want to enter this particular debate direct, you could always e-mail your thoughts to: bigheavystuff@yahoogroups.com

Just adding my bit for what it's worth on CD copying. I have just ordered via www.cduniverse.com the new and alas final CD by Warren Zevon. You can not but it for love nor money from any music shoppe in Townsville. They don't even have it as an item in the 'Near Future Release' aisle. I have also requested Wanted Dead Or Alive by WZ (his
first solo release). You can not buy a CD copy of The Envoy by WZ (is anybody picking up on my Warren Zevon fetish..:) for any amount of money. If it ever shows up on eBay it is snapped up real quick. They simply will not re-release it. So 'what's a poor boy like me to do,
turmoil back in Moscow brought this turbulence down on me' from the WZ Transverse City album. I succumbed to dowloading a copy. I hasten to add here that I do own a the cassette, but with the squealing and the noise and the hiss etc , well it just doesn't cut it anymore does it? So I have already techically paid for the product already, just on a different medium.
The number of vinyl albums I own that are not, have not even been recently or ever released on CD is astounding, and time is fleeting, my music madness is taking it's toll...
Where I have already paid for a product and though it may be worn to a frazzle, I don't see much of a problem in me obtaining a copy that doesn't have cracks, pops, scratches, hiss, tonal attenuation loss, or lack of horizontal integrity because it got a little too much sun one
day. Geez I loved that ACDC album too...
I borrowed a friends copy of the new Marilyn Manson album Age of Grotesque that he had downloaded. The music is fantastic but the quality was crap. I went out and bought it. I'm fortunate enough to have the luxury of finacially supporting my artists but I am also aged enough to find what I call quality albums of the past - such stuff as Celebate
Rifles, Killing Joke, Church, Crosby and or Stills and or Nash and or Young, Easybeats, Roxy Music, Cream, Clapton (Richard or Eric) etc in bargain bins and have fluffed out my collection with stuff that is under $10!!
Homebrew summons and I must obey...

Michael
28.8.03

Analogue solution

The ultimate solution comes from my Adelaide friend, Geoff Miller. An oldie but a goodie..

RIAA BREAKTHROUGH - Music Industry Unveils New Piracy-Proof Format
Music bosses have unveiled a revolutionary new recording format that they hope will help win the war on illegal file sharing which is thought to be costing the industry millions of dollars in lost revenue. Nicknamed the Record, the new format takes the form of a black, vinyl disc measuring 12 inches in diameter, which must be played on a specially designed turntable.
"We can state with absolute certainty that no computer in the world can access the data on this disc," said spokesman Brett Campbell. "We are also confident that no-one is going to be able to produce pirate copies in this format without going to a heck of a lot of trouble. This is without doubt the best anti- piracy invention the music industry has ever seen." As part of the invention's rigorous testing process, the designers gave some discs to a group of teenage computer experts who regularly use file swapping software such as Limewire and gnutella and who admit to pirating music CDs.
Despite several days of trying, none of them were able to hack into the disc's code or access any of the music files contained within it. "It's like, really big and stuff," said Doug Flamboise, one of the testers. "I couldn't get it into any of my drives. I mean, what format is it? Is it, like, from France or something?"
In the new format, raw audio data in the form of music is encoded by physically etching grooves onto the vinyl disc. The sound is thus translated into variations on the disc's surface in a process that industry insiders are describing as completely revolutionary and stunningly clever.
To decode the data stored on the disc, the listener must use special player which contains a stylus that runs along the grooves on the record surface, reading the indentations and transforming the movements back into audio that can be fed through loudspeakers.
Even Shawn Fanning, the man who invented Napster, admits the new format will make file swapping much more difficult. "I've never seen anything like this," he told reporters. "How does it work?"
As rumours that a Taiwanese company has been secretly developing a 12 inch wide, turntable -driven, stylus-based, firewire drive remain unconfirmed, it would appear that the music industry may, at last, have found the pirate-proof format it has long been searching for....

Geoff Miller
6.9.03

I remember when I was young..

Copyright...mmm interesting issue.
I wonder how this all started. I seem to remember copying LP's onto cassette in my Uni years and swapping tapes with friends to help reduce the cost of obtaining listenable material. But there was an interesting side effect to all of this. Instead of reducing the number of LP's we bought, it actually increased them. In those days a copy was never as good as the original so you HAD to have the vinyl version if you wanted the"good stuff". But more importantly, it gave us an opportunity to share and spread the "good oil" on some band that we had discovered and our friends had not. This in turn seemed to create greater interest in the artist with ultimately lead to more gig attendances and vinyl sales. So I think back in those days, flagrantly breaching copyright actually worked in the artists favour. Today, it's probably a different story, though, as you have mused. There used to be a lot of pride of ownership in the possession of a 12" LP. The covers were something that you could get excited about and you could hold and fondle them whilst the phonogram was doing its work. Now, I think there is more kudos attached to having a wallet full of pirate CD's (games, CD's, DVD's etc) than there is to actually owning the original. And besides, the copies are as good as the originals. Therefore I think the only way around it is to add value to the original CD that is lost in the copying of it. How do you do that...? ...now there have been some very sexy covers of late (have you seen Steve Vai's latest or even the packaging of some of Tools stuff?) But other than that, I'm not sure what to do, but somehow these things have a way of working themselves out - perhaps artists will stop producing because of the rip off or a different medium with inherent copy protection will have to be developed because artists won't use the existing means of recording and distribution anymore. Who knows, but by the time they finally figure it all out, it's more than likely that....I'll be gone. PS I also play Jamaican Farewell, not just I'll Be Gone ....and the Volcano and Spill albums get the odd thrashing too.
 
Rob Bellsham 7.10.03

The world according to Uncle Sam

These thoughts from Sam McNally, jazz fusion keyboardist formerly with the legendary Stylus. Check out Sam's website on www.sammcnally.com

The copyright issue is surely a difficult one. As you've mentioned, the music industry has to deal with the fact that millions of propellor-head folks out there believe it's their God-given right to down-load anyone's music free of charge. I believe THAT's the biggest single problem in all this. The 'legitimate' music industry had better be quick to agree on a copy-resistant format that works properly, plus reduce retail costs to make freebies-with-strings-attached not so attractive whilst yet protecting artists' royalties (mechanicals I mean)........ perhaps the multi's might consider reducing their profits? Boy, a tough ask. The end result will and probably already is..... a type of chaos at work. Every man for himself, where only the real smart will survive. Perhaps someone will come up with a workable solution, but they'd better be quick.

Sam McNally
14.10.03

Have the majors brought this on themselves?

..With regards to downloading songs,
all I can say is 'what are we supposed to do when there is no other way of obtaining material that has long been deleted?' It is shameful that record companies sit on music for many years and refuse to release it or to let others release it as in the case of the music of Spectrum. When I learned that you somehow managed to release Ariel music by yourselves I rushed out and baught it. Same as when Tamam Shud released those rare gems. Before that all I had were some mp3's that I somehow found on the internet. I only recently found an interest in 70's Aussie music and thus didnt have the vinyl that others did. Another good thing about internet downloading is thet you can get a couple of songs to sample the band you are interested in before you fork out your hard earned dosh. Same goes with people who sell bootlegs. I had no choice but to buy a couple of bootleg Company Caine cds because they were very hard to obtain having been deleted long ago. Thats the dilemma I know face with Spectrum music. Do I buy Spectrum Part 1 and Milesago from the bootlegger or do I wait for a release from you guys or the record company?. I dearly want you guys to get the money but if that doesnt happen, then what do I do?

Phil Moys
25.10.03

EMI gets another mention..

Here are some thoughts on the dilemma faced by artists and bands of Spectrum's vintage. The fact that we're still around has got nothing to do with financial security I can assure you, but we feel strongly that we still have something worthwhile to offer and that, in some cases, we're doing it better than ever. The industry is geared to service the youth market and by doing so I think they're missing out on an opportunity.
Anyway, here are some readers' thoughts..

.. Regarding EMI, I find it hard to believe that they still hold on to that Spectrum stuff for over 30 years and do nothing about it. It boggles the mind the things that record companies get away with. After all, the Spectrum songs are your intellectual property and they are on lease to them. I know that with some patented products that patents expire after a certain number of years. Its high time those songs were returned to their rightful owner. Its ludicrous that there is no protection given to ones that sign these contracts. Good luck with the whole process and I hope sanity and decency prevail quickly.

Phil Moys
(again) 31.10.03

Not sure what this has to do with it, but I agree!

In light of the recently 'Mike-generated' discussion
on the downloading of recorded music I'm writing to suggest the following for possible discussion in Mike's 'Pith and Wind'. 'We' can't venture out together too often but the other night 'she' took me to see John Paul Young. Now his material doesn't excite me too much but his voice was in great shape. Many of the over 40's (which we are) began dancing (sic) and then yelling 'Rock n'Roll' requests! What is wrong with people in this country? Why are so many of our greatest talents (Spectrum, Morris, Keays, Brod.Smith, Cadd, Ryan, almost the entire 'Long way to the top' cast et al) 'relegated' not only by venue(s) but in people's minds? In places other than Aus. artists with similer track records are feted, if not by record companies then certainly by the populace, and chart entries aren'the only measure of their on-going success. Here the majority tend to treat our musicians with ambivalence and disregard. I'm sure I'm not the first person to pose this question; it must be discussed by Aus. musuicians on a daily basis, but I would really like to know why it is and what the solution might be.

Allan Burton
5.11.03

APRA's boss has a word on the subject

And for the view from the top..
www.apra.com.au
Music industry professionals agree: change private copying laws

"Music copying happens. It's time to support the view that the simple, elegant solution is to give the public the right to copy for their private purposes and to provide for payment for that copying by imposing a blank CD levy that is distributed back to music creators and copyright owners," say Brett Cottle, CEO of the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) and Ian James, Chairman of the Australian Music Publishers Association Ltd (AMPAL).
APRA collects and distributes royalties to composers, songwriters and music publishers. It licenses radio and television stations for their broadcast use of music. It also licenses concert promoters, cinemas and venues that provide any form of live or recorded music. The licence fees are distributed to writers and their publishers around the world, based on survey data provided by licensees.
Cottle was commenting on the findings on the recent "Music - The Business, Law & Technology Report" conducted by IMMEDIA! At the 6th Australasian Music Business Conference.
Of the 200 artists, managers and record company staff who anonymously responded to the survey, over three-quarters owned CD burners and almost half used them to illegally burn copies of CDs they had purchased. A large majority - 81 percent - believed that the Copyright Act should be changed to allow personal copying of purchased CDs (but not borrowed or downloaded music).
"Even music industry professionals recognize there is a need to extend private copying rights. It's time to do away with the fiction that private copying is unlawful and doesn't occur, and to support the payment of a built-in royalty through a blank CD levy," said Cottle.
Simon Lake, Chief Executive of Screenrights, supports Cottle's comments. "Most Australians would be shocked to know using your VCR to record programmes is illegal," he said. "How can the law be so out of practice with the reality of what is happening in virtually every living room in every house in Australia? The government has to catch up with the reality that the law is out of step and needs to be changed to enable copyright holders to get fair payment and for Australians to be able to copy legally for their home use."
Screenrights is a non-profit organisation that links rightsholders in film and television to the people who use their work.

Brett Cottle
20.11.03

Greg Macainsh (!) has his say - remember Skyhooks?

This is a letter sent to PPCA members by fellow rock legend and PPCA Artist Representative Director, Greg Macainsh. I think it has some pertinent things to say about the copyright argument, so I've reproduced it here.

Recently I had cause to visit the realms of my analog past. More specifically I needed to find a one-inch tape machine to listen to some old eight-track recordings. After making countless calls to studios in Melbourne and Sydney, most of which could offer endless varieties of digital multi tracking facilities, I finally found a machine and engineer equal to this historic task. A further incidence of nostalgic synchronicity occurred when I realised that the antique tape machine and its proud owner operated from the same building in which I had recorded an album some twenty-six years earlier.
Entering the portals of this sacred space I was transported back to a time when the art of recording was practiced by a chosen few, those fortunate enough to be privy to the world of 24 track Ampexes, Neve desks and valve Neumans. Where access to this enclave was via the funding of a record company who believed in what you were creating to the extent $100 per hour. Where the end product was a piece of black vinyl that wobbled the diamond stylus to produce sufficient euphoria.that ultimately might result in the shipment of platinum.
My mission was to bridge this gap in time and make digital copies of some old masters for potential restoration and perhaps release. Nowadays I have a computer at home that records 32 tracks of better than CD quality. And so do many musicians. The world of high quality recording is no longer strictly limited to artists who have a benevolent sponsor. As such recording has been de mystified and it is a game that is getting easier to participate in. And so is the distribution of one's art. In my early recording career I visited a warehouse belonging to the distributor for our record company. Not only did it contain boxes of vinyl discs but also leather goods and sundry other products which the company also delivered. Nowadays the internet is obviously the delivery system of the very near future and even the CD may be consigned to the second hand collector's stores in the way vinyl has been.
However the one constant in these decades of change in recording and distribution mediums is the principle that the creators of sound recordings and musical works have the right to control where and how their art will be utilised. Along with this is a right to fair and equitable remuneration for relinquishing these rights.
I always am perplexed at the attitudes of somecommentators who maintain that the consumers of recorded music 'own the music' when they purchase a CD. Perhaps they overlook the 'all rights reserved' notice in their excitement to participate in the ambience of their favourite artist's work. It's a bit like saying that because I have paid for a lease on an apartment that I can freely dispose of it however and to whomever I like. When a quasi - government body inadvertently posted some indigenous artworks on their website, freely downloadable as 'wallpaper,' there was understandable and totally justified outcry, the works being swiftly removed. However when there is massive unauthorised downloading of songs or a collection agency demands reasonable licence fees from nightclubs for the use of sound recordings the response is somewhat muted or even antagonistic.
Perhaps couching the essence of what a recording artist creates in the language of rights,
and more specifically copyright, is becoming problematical. Nowadays the rhetoric of rights is used to justify all manners of often counter positions. 'The right to work', 'the right not to work', 'the right to free trade', 'the right to a level playing field', 'the rights of children', 'the rights of parents' .. .etc...
When the language of rights are evoked the user expects to trump any of their opponents arguments simply by expressing the assertion they have a right: e.g. I as a musician have a 'right to decide what happens to my creations' versus' I have a right to copy what ever music I like from any of my friends CD collections or that of faceless individuals or servers on the Internet.'
This language of rights doesn't contain a device for resolving such clashes. Utilitarian philosophy says that what produces the greatest happiness for the greatest number should prevail even if it is at the expense of the individual. In the right to copy or right not to have my work copied without consent debate it may be said that in the short term copying music for free will result in much prevailing happiness.
But this will only be temporary... If artists cannot make a satisfactory living from their endeavours then they will spend their time in other ways. There is a level of excellence that comes from making one's passion one's profession. It enables development, refinement, expertise and an element of quality that comes from the investment of time and capital into one's creations. The music lover and purchaser of recordings ultimately benefit from this. Trawling the myriad of demos on the Internet is testament that quantity is no substitute for quality.
In short the right to control what happens to a musical recording is a recording artist's lifeblood and should be vigorously defended. It also protects the consumer from inferior products and from a restricted selection of recorded music. If copyright is severely eroded then it will only be the megastars who will make any money at all from recording. As such niche artists, those who have merit other than gargantuan sales capability, will not be able to benefit from recording and we will all be worse off. . ..
By the way the analog to digital transfers turned out fine but somehow the sound of tape it just has that extra.. ..well.. ..mystique.

Greg Macainsh
6.1.04

 
     
     
 
 
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