Media Identities: why pirate music?


Interesting read in the Guardian about the history of music downloading, with an extract from a new book (How Music Got Free). This article is interesting from the perspective of both impact of new media and media identities because the question comes up – all of this piracy stuff is very involved, complex, awkward, even expensive. Why do it, when downloading from iTunes is easier? Snip:

Oink’s heavily trafficked user forums revealed a community that resembled Ellis himself: technically literate middle-class twentysomethings, mostly male, enrolled in university or employed in entry-level jobs. A significant number of members weren’t even that lucky, but were instead what the British government called “Neets”: Not in Education, Employment, or Training. Concerts were a popular topic of discussion; so were drugs. One of the busiest threads on the site simply asked “Why Do You Pirate Music?” Thousands of different answers came in. Oinkers talked of cost, contempt for major labels, the birth of a new kind of community, courageous political activism, and sometimes simply greed. The biggest draw of all was the mere existence of such forums. They were a place to learn about emerging technology, about new bands, about underground shows. iTunes was just a store, basically a mall – Oink was a community.

New Statesman | “Fifteen years of utter bollocks”: how a generation’s freeloading has starved creativity


It’s true that some of the classic excuses for piracy had their brief moments of seeming credibility. In 2000, when the debate over digital piracy sprung to life, we didn’t have content providers like Spotify or Netflix, much less iTunes. The fact that there were so few legal options for consuming digital content was one of the main rationalisations for taking a soft stance toward piracy. The legitimate digital market was either too inconvenient or nonexistent, and piracy filled in these gaps in the developing web.

via New Statesman | “Fifteen years of utter bollocks”: how a generation’s freeloading has starved creativity.

Lawyer assesses Pinterest’s copyright situation


“You agree to defend, indemnify, and hold Cold Brew Labs, its officers, directors, employees and agents, harmless from and against any claims, liabilities, damages, losses, and expenses, including, without limitation, reasonable legal and accounting fees, arising out of or in any way connected with (i) your access to or use of the Site, Application, Services or Site Content, (ii) your Member Content, or (iii) your violation of these Terms.”

Basically, if a photographer sues you for pinning an image illegally on Pinterest, the user must not only pay for his or her lawyer, they must also pay for Pinterest’s lawyer.  In addition, the defendant must pay all charges against him or herself, along with all of Pinterest’s charges

via Lawyer assesses Pinterest’s copyright situation.

Musicians win copyright extension to 70 years | Media |


Thousands of music performers, from little-known session musicians to Sir Cliff Richard, will receive royalties from songs released in the 60s for an extra 20 years, under new copyright laws ratified by the EU on Monday.The legislation – known as “Cliffs law” after its most high-profile campaigner – extends copyright on music recordings from 50 years to 70 years.Copyright on many of the most popular 60s tunes, including many Dame Shirley Bassey hits, had been due to expire within two years but will now last until at least 2033

via Musicians win copyright extension to 70 years | Media |

The real cost of free | Cory Doctorow | Technology |


What should other artists do? Well, I’m not really bothered. The sad truth is that almost everything almost every artist tries to earn money will fail. This has nothing to do with the internet, of course. Consider the remarkable statement from Alanis Morissette’s attorney at the Future of Music Conference: 97% of the artists signed to a major label before Napster earned $600 or less a year from it. And these were the lucky lotto winners, the tiny fraction of 1% who made it to a record deal. Almost every artist who sets out to earn a living from art won’t get there (for me, it took 19 years before I could afford to quit my day job), whether or not they give away their work, sign to a label, or stick it through every letterbox in Zone 1.

via The real cost of free | Cory Doctorow | Technology |

Missing believed wiped – coming soon


News has emerged that several long-lost BBC and independent television productions from the 50s and 60s have been uncovered in the Library of Congress. British TV companies used to broadcast-once and throw away programmes, especially drama, even though said dramas might feature famous actors and even (in one case) Bob Dylan in his first TV appearance.

We discuss this kind of thing more in sessions about copyright and why you can’t trust institutions to look after things properly.

Given that the BBC productions at least were paid for by Licence Fee payers, you’d think the question of ownership of rights wouldn’t come up, but it has – and the British Film Institute has had to negotiate access to these tapes in order to showcase them at a forthcoming season.

A hint of what is to come appears in the joint BFI and National Film Theatre guide for November, which refers to the forthcoming “Missing Believed Wiped” event and mentions the discovery of hundreds of hours of British TV drama. The tapes are understood to have been sent out to WNET for broadcast and later stored in the TV station’s collection inside the Library of Congress, where they were recently catalogued with British assistance.

They were originally broadcast by the BBC and the independent television companies Granada and Associated-Rediffusion between 1957 and 1970. News of their rediscovery was inadvertently leaked to the public in an events bulletin put out at the weekend. The programmes include works by Shakespeare, Chekhov and Ibsen, as well as new work written for weekly shows such as The Wednesday Play and Thursday Theatre.

via Lost tapes of classic British television found in the US | Television & radio | The Observer.

Glee vs copyright: do as I say, not as I do – Boing Boing


In one recent episode, the AV Club helps cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester film a near-exact copy of Madonna’s Vogue music video (the real-life fine for copying Madonna’s original? up to $150,000). Just a few episodes later, a video of Sue dancing to Olivia Newton-John’s 1981 hit Physical is posted online (damages for recording the entirety of Physical on Sue’s camcorder: up to $300,000). And let’s not forget the glee club’s many mash-ups — songs created by mixing together two other musical pieces. Each mash-up is a “preparation of a derivative work” of the original two songs’ compositions – an action for which there is no compulsory license available, meaning (in plain English) that if the Glee kids were a real group of teenagers, they could not feasibly ask for — or hope to get — the copyright permissions they would need to make their songs, and their actions, legal under copyright law. Punishment for making each mash-up? Up to another $150,000 — times two.

via Glee vs copyright: do as I say, not as I do – Boing Boing.

Viacom v YouTube is a microcosm of the entertainment industry


Cory Doctorow’s latest column in the Guardian is about the Viacom/YouTube lawsuit. Makes interesting reading.

In this, Viacom would be a microcosm for the entertainment industry. Even as thousands of artists and labels are embracing the internet and next-generation services such as BitTorrent,, Pandora and the like, the top management at the big labels are behind laws such as the Digital Economy Act that could give their companies the power to shut down any tech firm that attempts to out-innovate their own sluggish online also-rans.

Read more: Viacom v YouTube is a microcosm of the entertainment industry | Technology |

Digital Economy Act: This means war | Cory Doctorow |


I’m not such a techno-triumphalist that I believe that the free and open internet will solve all our socio-economic problems. But I am enough of a techno-pessimist to believe that baking surveillance, control and censorship into the very fabric of our networks, devices and laws is the absolute road to dictatorial hell.

Chekhov wrote that a gun on the mantelpiece in act one is sure to go off by act three. The entertainment industry's blinkered pursuit of its own narrow goals has the potential to redesign our technology to be the perfect tools and excuses for oppression.

via Digital Economy Act: This means war | Cory Doctorow |
Technology |