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David Lowery On the Ethics of Music Piracy

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the let's-argue-about-the-semantics-of-the-word-theft dept.

Music 713

New submitter Mystakaphoros writes "Musician David Lowery (of Cracker fame) takes NPR intern Emily White to task for her stance on paying for (or failing to pay for) music. Quoting: 'By allowing the artist to treat his/her work as actual property, the artist can decide how to monetize his or her work. This system has worked very well for fans and artists. Now we are being asked to undo this not because we think this is a bad or unfair way to compensate artists but simply because it is technologically possible for corporations or individuals to exploit artists work without their permission on a massive scale and globally. We are being asked to continue to let these companies violate the law without being punished or prosecuted. We are being asked to change our morality and principals to match what I think are immoral and unethical business models.'"

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for artists? (5, Insightful)

dmbasso (1052166) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373337)

This system has worked very well for fans and artists.

No, it's been superb for the middleman, the famous MAFIAA.

Re:for artists? (5, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373389)

well, that's where artists want to end up on their old days. of course very few of them can become MAFIAA execs.

and well.. being asked to conform to technical realities? OMG CALL OBAMA!!!!!!!

wtf do they want, bend the rules of physics so that it would be expensive to copy bits?

Re:for artists? (5, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373505)

What I took exception to was "'By allowing the artist to treat his/her work as actual property, the artist can decide how to monetize his or her work".

But your work is NOT your property, at least not according to the US Constitution (haven't rtfa so I don't know if it applies to this fellow). I never heard the term "intellectual property" until they passed the Bono Act (which should have never been passed; copyright was already too long).

Plus, under US copyright law, phonoecords are "works for hire", meaning the label holds the copyright. The artist doesn't hold the copyright unless he's self-published.

Yours is good, too -- it has neither worked for the fans, nor the artists. But you are correct, it has indeed worked for the MAFIAA.

Re:for artists? (2)

hhawk (26580) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373713)

yes.. copyright law IMHO and IANAL only protects against commercial sales of copy written materials. It maybe less than ethical (or not) to make copies, but it isn't illegal. DMCA of course makes it illegal to circumvent some copyright protection schemes; those schemes are illegal in my own mind..

Re:for artists? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373883)

The whole purpose of copyright is to make sure artists get paid for their labor. Of course if they were smart they would ask to be paid wages, like we engineers and programmers do. Get paid Upfront rather than off the backend through sales.

Re:for artists? (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373789)

I hate that I had to "register" just to post a reply to these 2 blogs. Why can't we just post as guests and supply our email as verification? I don't feel like setting-up a permanent account that I will never use again.

Re:for artists? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373927)

It keeps out anyone who doesn't care enough, guaranteeing only partisans and hard-core trolls post.

Re:for artists? (2)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373799)

No, it's been superb for the middleman, the famous MAFIAA.

Two wrongs still don't make a right. I'm very much in favor of a lot of the reforms that you might propose to limit the power of the record companies and many of their abusive relationships with artists. That is entirely orthogonal to my views on the ethics of copyright (and I'm a mushy moderate on those anyway).

If you want this claim to make sense, you'd have to show that not only is our copyright system empowering greedy middlemen that add nothing productive, but that every such system must inevitably do so. To that claim, I disagree -- I think we can design a system that does not allow such abuses.

Re:for artists? (2, Insightful)

Josuah (26407) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373863)

The point is that the owner of copyright should be free to dictate the terms under which others can access that content. There's no ethical or moral argument that really holds water to contradict that. If the copyright owner is charging too much or inconvenient, you can surely argue it is too expensive or not a good value but you cannot argue any of those reasons makes you exempt from the owner's terms. This is the view our society has agreed upon and in reality we all like that view because each of us wants to have a say in what happens with what we create/produce, even if that say is that what I've produced as an individual should be freely available to everyone.

The only moral exception to this is for survival. No one would dispute moral violation of accessibility terms when it comes to medicines or food or even property (e.g. living under the city bridge) although that does not preclude legal punishment.

Re:for artists? (2)

ongelovigehond (2522526) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373953)

This is the view our society has agreed upon

More accurately, it's the view the politicians have decided for us. See the secret ACTA negotiations in the EU for instance.

lame (0, Troll)

bs0d3 (2439278) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373343)

what a stupid post

Re:lame (2)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373619)

Couldn't agree more. I managed to get through the first 2 or 3 paragraphs without choking. What a crock. He is definitely some kind of RIAA shill.

Re:lame (2)

BanHammor (2587175) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373831)

Okay, so can YOU tell me, please, what are the ethics of software piracy, or unauthorised copying, or however you name it? Yes, indeed, the RIAA were swimming in money in the previous years, but the artist got paid something. Now, the artist gets considerably less not because there is a technical possibility of copying, but because people willfully choose not to pay for the music they enjoy, e.g. they copy. How do you justify that?

False assumptions from gatekeepers (1, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373349)

It's not property and never really was. So all of these arguments about devaluing music or not paying for it are all entirely bogus.

Besides: it was always gratis.

Video killed the radio star.

Re:False assumptions from gatekeepers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373501)

So with this logic, if you build your own home, I can live in it?

Re:False assumptions from gatekeepers (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373577)

You're free to make a copy of it and live in that one.

Re:False assumptions from gatekeepers (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40374039)

This fundamentally ignores the fact that "building a copy" is not the same thing as "producing the hardware, designing the house, and creating blueprints."

Yes, the cost of copying is low. No, the cost of creation is not driven to zero by "zero-cost copying." It still takes real time, real instruments, real recording gear, and real expertise (developed over the course of real years, at real expense to the real musician) to be able to play music *well*.

Ethically speaking, if you value a song enough that you believe it is worth having a copy of, you should be willing to give something to the artist who produced it (and, by extension, the chain of support personnel who helped produce it).

IF YOU VALUE A SONG, it is ethical to compensate the artist for creating that song - in some way, and to some degree, according to the measure of enjoyment and "use" you get out of the song. If you cannot agree to that simple principle, then you reveal yourself as nothing but a looter, who cares as little for "advancement of the arts and culture" as you like to claim the RIAA & other gatekeepers do.

Re:False assumptions from gatekeepers (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373701)

Your response nicely sums up the entire gatekeeper position on this situation.

You are trying to conflate actual natural rights with a temporary statutory grant that exists for the sole purpose of achieving some public good. There is simply no inalienable right to a copyright or a patent. Intellectual property is a legal fiction that's better described as artificial property.

It gets really interesting when people like you want to trample actual natural rights (like speech and personal property) in order to defend an expansive view of copyright that doesn't even exist in the law.

That particular problem was directly by the authors of the Constitution.

Re:False assumptions from gatekeepers (2)

Radres (776901) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373663)

If you make something, it's up to you to decide how you want to distribute it. If I write a song, it could be the best song ever written, but if I never record it then good luck trying to find it on The Pirate Bay. I have a reasonable expectation that people should respect my wishes when it comes to how the song should be copied, played, or otherwise consumed. Your right to listen to my song ends where my right to protect my work begins.

Now, of course the realities are that the internet makes it so that many people can get their fill of listening to my song once it's been recorded and distributed without paying compensation. This in turn diminishes the market value for my song. The market should adjust so that the cost to hear a song is more inline with the actual cost to produce and distribute it, not the $15/CD that the RIAA has been getting away with. It still doesn't make it right for the people to pirate the song.

Re:False assumptions from gatekeepers (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373841)

I disagree, if you don't want me to do anything I want with your song do not record it.

You have no reasonable expectation that I give a tinkers damn about your wishes. Copying cheaply does not diminish the market value for your song, it sets it.

There is no shortage of music being produced, nor would the total end of copyright even do that.

Re:False assumptions from gatekeepers (1)

Radres (776901) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373995)

I recorded it. I can't stop you from copying it. I can tell you what I expect in return for you listening to it. You can choose to ignore me, but you are disobeying the law, much like I would be if I decided to set up a taco stand on your property.

Re:False assumptions from gatekeepers (4, Insightful)

debrain (29228) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373791)

It's not property and never really was. So all of these arguments about devaluing music or not paying for it are all entirely bogus.

Some food for thought: All property is a legal fiction.

It just so happens that most property is tangible. Copyright is intangible, but the legal fiction of property as it applies to qualifying artistic works is no different than the legal fiction of home ownership, stock ownership or life insurance ownership. All these forms of property are granted by legislation.

Whether copyright in its present form is morally objectionable or adequately serves the social utility for which it was created is another question. Given the mortgage crisis, one could entertain the same question about home ownership.

Re:False assumptions from gatekeepers (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373975)

Native Americans didn't consider land to be 'property' either. Does that mean it is not property?

The only thing that says you 'own' a house, land, or any other 'real' property is a piece of paper with some words on it - a legal fiction. You only reason you can 'own' anything is because the government says that you can, and backs that up with laws.

Bad summary (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373359)

The summary is completely empty of the stance of either party. Who are they siding with? Does everyone hate the Labels? Based on the summary, nobody knows. What a waste.

Re:Bad summary (3, Insightful)

Radres (776901) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373521)

OMG unbiased reporting on Slashdot that doesn't tell me what to think? The horror.

Re:Bad summary (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373569)

Agreed. I had the same reaction. Had to wade through the articles to figure out who was arguing what.

Re:Bad summary (0)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373659)

Gee. Sorry. You had to spend 5 minutes (if you're a slow reader) in an attempt to digest a complex, difficult problem.

tl;dr: back to watching TV for you.

Re:Bad summary (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 2 years ago | (#40374047)

It's supposed to be a summary not a teaser. There should be enough information in the summary that somebody can make a decision as to whether or not they should give a shit about the story. That is not the case here.

Re:Bad summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373635)

They're siding with exploitation & greed.

Re:Bad summary (3, Informative)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373753)

Here is a longer summary for those too lazy to read TFA.

An NPR intern named Emily White did a piece where she mentioned that she has downloaded over 11,000 songs, but has only ever paid for about 15 CDs. She justifies this with the same rationale that many slashdotters use: the labels are just ripping off the artists and the artists don't get the money anyway, and artists have always made more money touring than through sales, so they such just tour and not worry about sales.

A musician named David Lowery has responded to her. As to her first point (the the labels are just ripping off the artists), he says that despite a few well-known abuses, in the "vast majority" of cases that is false. As to her second point, he says that touring is generally a money-losing operation, and that only the very top acts make any money at all touring.

The "companies" he is complaining about are not the labels, they are The Pirate Bay and MegaUpload.

Frosty Piss (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373363)

Just came here to post that. Suck it NERDS

Once again, somebody misses the point (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373425)

Look: the world changed, and we now have computers and the Internet. They are the single greatest boon to productivity, creativity, knowledge and freedom in the past hundred years. The Internet relies, fundamentally, on its ability to make exact copies of data, nearly instantly, and nearly for free.

We have a choice between strong intellectual property protection and a functioning Internet. We cannot have both, as they are in direct conflict with each other.

Anybody making arguments for the ethics or piracy, or the benefits of intellectual property, is yelling at clouds. It doesn't matter if piracy is unethical. It doesn't matter if it hurts artists. It doesn't matter if it hurts the economy. The Internet is much more important.

Re:Once again, somebody misses the point (1)

Mystakaphoros (2664209) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373487)

And that's where I thought the author had a nice heart but very little understanding of the scarcity issue. It's not hard to get music anymore. Yeah, it really stinks that artists are starving. But the bottom has just fallen out of that market. I agree with him that The Cloud isn't the vaunted next step, but I think the better solution is just sharing peer to peer.

Re:Once again, somebody misses the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373627)

I think that you missed the point. The better solution is paying for what you use. It's cheap, easy to do, and not doing it simply makes you a selfish, heartless bastard.

Re:Once again, somebody misses the point (2)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373809)

Video killed the radio star already.

This is not a new problem. It's just more visible because of the nature of the Internet. Everything is out in the open.

I think the real problem that the industry is having has nothing to do with "piracy". The industry is producing a very forgettable product these days and the stuff that is able to stand the test of time can only be sold to you once.

There are no new formats for the industry to use as a cash cow. They can't sell you the same thing over and over again.

It's really funny that this comes right after an article about how everyone is just streaming these days. It's like everyone has forgotten about MTV and radio.

You simply don't need Pandora or Napster to get your daily dose of forgettable Top 40 music.

Re:Once again, somebody misses the point (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373717)

Odd, I never infringe on IP and my internets function just fine. The whole "fact" your rebuttle depends on is, indeed, false. Try again.

Re:Once again, somebody misses the point (4, Insightful)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373807)

Please explain how the internet stops working if people stop pirating. I am not seeing the connection.

hollywood account ethics? (4, Interesting)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373435)

interesting there is never any push back on that even though it screws artists a lot more than anything else.

Re:hollywood account ethics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373575)

It goes to court occasionally but always gets settled to prevent a final judgment. "Artists" sign contracts, they're screwed because they think they're going to become the next Beatles or Elvis.

The fact it's near common knowledge record (and movie) middlemen are abusing the law, using frowned about accounting, and taking advantage of naive band shows how long they've been controlling the legal profession, and scared off government.

Free Culture movement? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373457)

I think he has made up his own definition of that term. Don't most other people associate "Free Culture movement" with things like Creative Commons?

Re:Free Culture movement? (2)

Mystakaphoros (2664209) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373529)

Yeah, I took issue with him associating streaming services with Free Culture. Streaming services are trying to position themselves between listeners and their content for the sake of alleged convenience.

In a world... (2, Insightful)

mw13068 (834804) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373467)

Long, long ago, before there was equipment to record sound, musicians made money by playing live music for people.

Re:In a world... (1)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373587)

what an ignorant statement.

Venue owners believe they are doing the musician a favour by letting them play in their venue. Now go explain how to make a living off that mentality?

Re:In a world... (3, Interesting)

mw13068 (834804) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373679)

The musicians who are very talented and easy to work with became popular and were paid more, and the musicians who weren't quite as talented would just play music in their spare time, with friends at pubs and family gatherings in exchange for dinner and drinks -- and work in other trades to make a livelihood. There is no law on the books that states "Anyone who decides they're an 'artist' should therefore be able to make a living at it."

Re:In a world... (4, Insightful)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373759)

And in most cases, they probably are. The problem is there are way, WAY too many musicians nowadays for them to all make a living with their music. It's just flat impossible. For every venue (this is including hole-in-the-wall bars) there are a hundred garage bands trying to make a living.

Bottom line, if you're not able to make money selling your current product, the problem is not your customers. It's time for these unsuccessful artists to get a day job, and recognize their "musical career" for what it really is: a hobby.

Re:In a world... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373881)

Why do you have some right to make a living off of music?

If enough people want to play at a venue that the value of the venue exceeds the value of the performance, then this makes perfect sense.

Re:In a world... (4, Insightful)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373941)

what an ignorant statement.

Venue owners believe they are doing the musician a favour by letting them play in their venue. Now go explain how to make a living off that mentality?

I think you're the one guilty of making ignorant statements.

I'm a semi-pro musician. Although the pay rates haven't been great, every bar/club/venue I know of that has live music pays to book bands/musicians to perform. Unless it's a "coffee house" type thing where anyone can just get up and perform.

I and many of my fellow not-signed-with-a-big-label musicians/bands give away recordings (CDs and free downloads). We live in the reality of today where recordings are only promotional tools, not an end product themselves.

Strat

Re:In a world... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373605)

Well, there was a stint where player piano rolls were highly guarded property, there are many works lost to the world because they weren't allowed to flourish outside their tightly controlled ecosystem.

Re:In a world... (2)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373607)

Then the gramophone came along and the bottom fell out of that market. As TFA states, very few artists make any money from touring and live performances.

Re:In a world... (3, Insightful)

mw13068 (834804) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373823)

All these arguments are predicated on the false assumption that because someone calls themselves and artist, that they should then be able to make a solid livelihood from it. And even further, if someone gets some level of fame, that they are somehow entitled to maintain that. The world doesn't work that way. I play guitar in a band, and I have a lot of fun. Sometimes I get paid a little cash. Most of my income comes from an unrelated career that I also built for myself.

Re:In a world... (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 2 years ago | (#40374019)

That's nice. So your argument is that society shouldn't value artists and artists should just get a day job and STFU?

here we go again (5, Insightful)

hype7 (239530) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373481)

the quintessential disrupted producer, complaining about how the world is not conforming to the way they want it to be, or worse yet, the way the world "should" be.

I'm sure the exact same essay was written somewhere upon the development of the phonograph. "but how will we get paid if they can play back our music a thousand times once it has been recorded?" probably the same argument, too, by playhouse actors when recording movies came along.

the artists/actors might not like it, but the development of technology drives down the price, massively opens the market up, and, if they're smart, allows them to make more money [therichest.org] than their predecessors could ever have dreamed of.

writing letters complaining about how people are not paying enough to you is just so 1842 [bbc.co.uk] .

Re:here we go again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373729)

the quintessential disrupted producer, complaining about how the world is not conforming to the way they want it to be, or worse yet, the way the world "should" be.

I'm sure the exact same essay was written somewhere upon the development of the phonograph. "but how will we get paid if they can play back our music a thousand times once it has been recorded?" probably the same argument, too, by playhouse actors when recording movies came along.

No kidding - there's a reason that we have "mechanical royalties" in the US, and it's because composers got completely bent outta shape over PLAYER PIANO rolls - for pretty much exactly the reasoning you've described. This nonsense has been going on for a long time (remember the "HOME TAPING IS KILLING MUSIC" campaign?) and will likely keep going...

Re:here we go again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373913)

the quintessential disrupted producer, complaining about how the world is not conforming to the way they want it to be, or worse yet, the way the world "should" be.

I feel the same way about slashbots whining about H1-Bs. LOL

I agree, a tiny bit. (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373491)

it is up to us individually to examine the consequences of our actions. It is not up to governments or corporations to make us choose to behave ethically. We have to do that ourselves.

It seems to me that this is the core of copyright abolitionism. As long as file sharing is illegal, we are expecting the government to enforce ethical behavior. The right thing to do is to pay for the things you value willingly. If you don't, they can and should go away.

The rest of the article, including blaming file sharing for musician suicides (as if musicians didn't commit suicide before) is pants on head retarded. The author isn't even aware that he's agreed with the basic assumption of copyright abolitionism.

Re:I agree, a tiny bit. (1)

Mystakaphoros (2664209) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373571)

Exactly! That's why I have been happy to support artists I discovered on Kickstarter, or friends who were producing albums, because I understand that they need my help and I have come to care about them. I will pay to go see a show a friend does at a local bar. I'll also share those mp3s with friends who haven't heard my friends' music, because that's a new fan who might buy an album (or at least pass it along).

Re:I agree, a tiny bit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373821)

"The rest of the article, including blaming file sharing for musician suicides (as if musicians didn't commit suicide before) is pants on head retarded. "

Whoa there. I obviously didn't read the entire article, but if he actually did blame file sharing for that I think he'd better blame the RIAA as well. I use to buy a LOT more CDs than I currently do. (I use to buy them 1+ per paycheck, now I buy 1-2 per year.) The reason for the change is entirely due to a boycott of RIAA associated labels for their own unethical behavior (Yes, abusing the courts to mass sue/extort fans is unethical.)

I didn't fill the gap with illegal downloads either. I filled part of it with creative commons attributed music - and realized the rest of the gap didn't even need to be filled. As most of the CDs I was buying by hearing songs on the radio was garbage except for those couple songs on the radio.

So in my case the RIAA is directly responsible for my decision to stop spending thousands of dollars per year on musicians.

Regardless however... If a musician can't cut it as a musician, he or she has the option to get another job just like every other fucking person on the planet. If they choose death over that, that's their concern.

david lowery (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373493)

is a fuckin fag

Legal copying? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373519)

So, the person he is responding to has copied lots of music from friends, completely legally, and he thinks that's horrible. He must have cried his eyes out when the combined radio and tape recorder was invented.

Re:Legal copying? (1)

Lebofsky (141548) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373761)

Since it's in real time to tape record 11,000 songs that would take, at 3 minutes per song, roughly 3 weeks. I'm sure people wouldn't stay up doing this 24 hours a day, so let's say at 12 hours a day of sitting there copying 11,000 songs one at a time, inserting new cassettes, etc. would take about 2 months at least. Two really grueling months making you question the worth of what you were doing.

However to copy 11,000 mp3s from one computer to another, about 7 hours. Go to sleep, wake up, all done. And nobody got hurt, right?

It's all about the ease and the scale at this point radically affecting the bottom lines.

Re:Legal copying? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373937)

The ease and scale of the automobile mean I can no longer make money breeding horses. I guess we should tax cars and give me that money for my horse breeding.

Wrong on every level (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373533)

"We are being asked to change our morality and principals to match what I think are immoral and unethical business models."

No, you're being asked to be realistic and, since you've failed that for so long, now you're no longer being asked but being dragged there by reality.

It's amazing how out of touch he is (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373555)

She has 11,000 songs on her iPod. If she had bought them, they'd have cost $10,890. Probably more than the car she drives (if she even has one).

Sorry my Sicilian friend, but that's just not going to happen.

Re:It's amazing how out of touch he is (1)

Lebofsky (141548) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373647)

Um... I bought over 1000 CDs before the internet. That's roughly $15,000. Doesn't seem like that much to ask for all that entertainment.

Re:It's amazing how out of touch he is (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373855)

I have twice that many DVDs and it didn't cost nearly that much.

If you are paying "list price" then you are a chump.

There's always bargains and used media resellers.

Re:It's amazing how out of touch he is (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373985)

If you don't think $15,000 is a lot of money, then you really don't know what you're talking about.

Where, exactly, do you think a 21 year old college student is going to get that?

Re:It's amazing how out of touch he is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373857)

I have 35000 songs on my hard drive, and I paid for or otherwise legitimately received nearly every one of them over the last 30 years (there may be a handful that I pulled from blogspot that are from out-of-print albums). Many came from emusic.com, others I ripped from vinyl and CDs that I own.

I'm also a musician.

Where do I think the ethical line is? Making a copy of an album for a friend is, to me, acceptable use, in order to turn them onto a band. Ripping an entire hard drive, or pulling music from illegitimate online sources is not.

Re:It's amazing how out of touch he is (1)

chad.koehler (859648) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373923)

David Lowery suggests that the "ethical and legal" amount for ownership of those songs however is only $2139.50 (it's in the article, stated several times).  Unfortunately, David doesn't seem to understand that there is nowhere that the music is actually available at that price (approximately $.20 per song).

Missed the point (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373581)

He missed the entire point. I WANT to support the artists and I'm happy to pay for the music I like. But...I have no legal option to do so. I subscribe to Spotify, I pay for that, I get everything through it these days ... but he calls that out as something he doesn't like. He supplies NO legal alternative, just insists that I drop back to what I was doing ten years ago.

The rest of us want the music industry to catch up to what we are doing NOW.

Re:Missed the point (1)

Mystakaphoros (2664209) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373747)

You could always become a groupie! Or buy them dinner after a show. I believe those are both legal ways to support artists, and they don't require paying for a string of zeroes and ones.

Does NPR pay her? Or does it exploit interns? (0)

cornicefire (610241) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373585)

I liked David Lowery's piece. He's right. Record companies do pay people. They may not be as much as anyone wants, but the solution is not to just steal things. It's to pay more for content. The irony is that companies like NPR routinely bring in unpaid interns. She's really the one being exploited. I wonder how she feels about people listening to NPR without paying?

Re:Does NPR pay her? Or does it exploit interns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373819)

I wonder how she feels about people listening to NPR without paying?

What are you talking about? NPR is broadcast over the radio for free.

Re:Does NPR pay her? Or does it exploit interns? (2)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373887)

No. The solution is not to pay cartels that want to destroy the rest of society to maintain their grip on their particular industry.

Pay the artist. Screw the gatekeeper.

Re:Does NPR pay her? Or does it exploit interns? (1)

cornicefire (610241) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373997)

So you will only pay your money directly to the artist? Can the artist hire someone to collect the money for him or her? That's sort of what the old music companies are. And if you see the Beatles' mansions, it's clear that they did pass some of that money along to the Beatles.

Cry me a river (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373609)

Cry me a f*cking river. Drag up some dead and/or dying musicians who wouldn't be dead/dying if only we paid them money. Boo Hoo.

Here's the thing. I download music and videos all the time. I don't feel like I'm ripping anybody off. I take my cues from the world around me and I don't think I'm any worse than anyone else. Seriously. Look to bankers and stock-brokers and CEOs if you want to find criminals. I'm pretty small-time in the scheme of things. Plus, and here is the bottom line, I just don't care.

David Lowery nails it (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373613)

"The best way to insure the money goes to artists? Buy it directly from their website or at their live shows." $10 to iTunes with Apple taking their $3 of that, or $10 at the concert where the only cost to the artist for the physical CD is $1?

I have a feeling this letter is going to come up in my project management class tonight, seeing how my professor is a colleague of Mr. Lowery...

Failure to adapt (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373615)

That's just not the way media works anymore. Anyone with any ability to think rationally would see that the internet has made labels and paying for content completely unnecessary. The whole industry is an anachronism.

A good response can be found here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373623)

http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/index.php/archives/2012/06/18/the-david-lowery-screed/

With all due respect to musicians... (2)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373625)

What do musicians know about morality or ethics or, in particular, technology, that the rest of us don't?

I'm sorry, but most music and other art is crap, and I don't see why they should get special treatment from the internet.

I'm not hostile, just trying to make a point.

Re:With all due respect to musicians... (0)

Lebofsky (141548) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373987)

I work on SETI@home, helped get it started, maintain all the servers, databases, web sites, write scientific analysis code, etc. I also helped work on that iPhone game Tap Tap Revenge. And I also regularly record and tour internationally with all kinds of rock bands. I work equally hard on both tech and music careers, I think the ratio of money in tech vs. music is roughly 99 to 1, give or take 1.

Anyway, I'm a musician who knows about technology.

not a shining beacon of logic (1)

snarkh (118018) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373643)

We are being asked to change our morality and principals to match what I think are immoral and unethical business models.

If morality can adapt to "immoral" models, do they become moral thereby?

I don't see anything wrong with her blog (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373673)

I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. She wants to be able to access any song she wishes at any time. Basically something like youtube, but for music instead of videos.

Where's the harm in that? Just so long as I don't have to pay some rental fee. (Ownership is cheaper than renting, over the long term.)

"inconceivable!" (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373695)

Er, they changed the law. What they do is legal. If you think legality should follow morality, you should probably move to another country not run by the Ferrengi.

Re:"inconceivable!" (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373843)

Unfortunately, the choices are the Ferengi, the Kardassians, and Kodos the Executioner. Or some combination of the three (such as the "Kardashians").

the ONLY EXPLANATION is piracy???? (1)

imahawki (984044) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373721)

I was with him to a degree until "There is no other explanation except for the fact that “fans” made the unethical choice to take their music without compensating these artists." Its not possible in this guy's mind that competing forms of entertainment, the economy, changes in music tastes, etc. are causes for his friends' sales drops. No, it has to be piracy. That is a total leap of faith and is the same leap the RIAA and MPAA make that infuriates people.

"inconceivable!" (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373725)

"We are being asked to continue to let these companies violate the law without being punished or prosecuted. We are being asked to change our morality and principals to match what I think are immoral and unethical business models.'"

Er, they changed the law. What they do is legal. If you think legality should follow morality, you should probably move to another country not run by the Ferrengi.

On the Decline of Musicians (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373731)

The post has some merit however I take issue with some of the evidence offered up

Per capita spending on music is 47% lower than it was in 1973!!

The number of professional musicians has fallen 25% since 2000.

Of the 75,000 albums released in 2010 only 2,000 sold more than 5,000 copies. Only 1,000 sold more than 10,000 copies. Without going into details, 10,000 albums is about the point where independent artists begin to go into the black on professional album production, marketing and promotion.

It is my opinion that the introduction of the "Top 40" and other lists of hot songs has recently lead to people who only want to hear the same hook over and over on the radio. Radio stations comply, the labels control what radio stations play and then that's what people buy. I listen to Radio K/MPR's The Current streaming online and I will tell you that the diversity of what's on those stations far outweighs any popular radio station I have access to. It seems more logical to me that the RIAA and bigger labels have done this to themselves and contributed to the decline of musicians. I have been in four bands in my life and aside from close friends that came to shows, nobody cared. No radio station wanted to play our songs (some said they legally could not play our songs) and people just wanted to hear The Killers or Radiohead or Britney Spears or whatever the hell the entire world is listening to these two weeks.

I spend plenty of money on music but it's definitely not to artists that belong to organizations that design their promotional and middleman fees off of a few major acts while absolutely dicking and ignoring everyone else. I pay my money directly to bands like Cloud Cult, to labels that are not members of the RIAA, to kickstarter projects of unsigned bands and use distribution channels like Bandcamp to pay for MP3s that come in any quality or format I want as many times as I want (although after kickstarting a project I now own twenty vinyl records of a punk bluegrass band that I frankly do not know with what to do). That's what stimulates diversity and number of musicians, I'm no longer even a hobby musician and I tried very hard to give my music away. We didn't make great music but there's just no place for it when everyone is trained to listen to the same damn shit on the radio. Have you considered the possibility that if record labels moved money around to starting acts, there would be more musicians? Instead the CEO of Universal Music Group has a new Bentley.

Enjoy your slow death, I'm taking my disposable income elsewhere.

No Sympathy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373745)

No sympathy for the decline of 'professional musicians'.
My understanding of art and artists is that their work is something that yearns to escape their bodies with creative force, regardless of income or how convenient it is to their lives.

All this drop in revenue has done is weed out the hacks, real bands and artists are out there touring, writing, and playing themselves into debt, poverty, and addiction. And this is the way it should be.

History (1)

stinkfish (675397) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373811)

Wikipedia says [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_copyright_law] that first copy right was in 1710 and we all know that before 1710 there were no successful artists.

The Moral Amount... (3, Interesting)

chad.koehler (859648) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373817)

In this article David Lowery attempts to get readers on his side of the fence by discussing what would have needed to be paid to "ethically and legally" support the artists, specifically for the 11,000 songs that Emily White has in her collection.  His stated value for those songs, $2,139.50.

That is approximately $0.20 per song.  I think everyone would agree that is a fair price.  Unfortunately, there is nowhere that you can actually purchase music at anywhere near that price.

David Lowery suggests that $2,139.50 is fair, and yet then attempts to direct Emily to iTunes, where that collection would likely cost exactly $10,890, assuming an average cost of $0.99.

IF THEY ARE TRUE ARTIST (1)

SinisterEVIL (2661381) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373875)

A true artist, creates art, for the sole purpose of having that art appreciated. By spreading the art to as many people as posible who would appreciate it, is helpng a true artist achive this goal. I Believe the term "entertainer" should be used for any such entity that creates works for monetary gain only.

undocumented music appreciation is not a crime! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373877)

I just download music to provide a better life for my family!

whats the solution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373897)

I won't spend money on dividends to stockholders because I think people should support themselves by producing something of value, not by getting lucky enough to have access to capital.
I won't spend money on compensation for the executives of content corporations since the executives produce nothing of value.
I won't spend money on marketing and promotion since I'm perfectly capable of finding out what I'm interested in and finding out how to obtain it.
I won't spend money on packaging or distribution, since packaging is irrelevant and the internet makes distribution effectively free.
I won't spend money on any "artist" that makes more than I do or has more wealth than I do. If I can live off of my compensation for the job that I'm working then he can live off of what he is making without my help.

Nobody needs music, books, videogames, movies, tv shows, funny tshirts, entertaining websites, or other non-essential products. If they all ceased to exist the world would be more boring but it would still keep turning. Nobody "deserves" to make a living producing entertainment, the fact that it is even a possibility is a testament to the quality of life we lead.. And anyone who disagrees should work on a farm for a year then come back and tell me that someone who plays music for a living "deserves" to be compensated more than someone who works on a farm.

not copyrighted for most of human history (1)

jweller13 (1148823) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373915)

"We are being asked to change our morality and principals to match what I think are immoral and unethical business models.'" If I read it correctly, according to page 20 this well citation-ed paper music was not copyrighted for most of human history. http://www.rbs2.com/copyrm.pdf [rbs2.com]

As a musician.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373947)

I'm not in it for the music. I love music, who doesn't?

I'm in it for the pussy and money.

Lowery: tell it to the young, poor Jimi Hendrix (5, Insightful)

ffflala (793437) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373965)

I'd like Lowery to go back in time and explain his you-must-pay-to-hear approach to one young, incredibly poor Jimi Hendrix. That guy started out playing a broom for fuck's sake; his first guitar had one goddamn string. Where would we all be now if Jimi's access to music should have been limited to the amount he could pay?

Lowery's approach would be accurate, if he were talking about selling appliances, or even band merchandise. Without further addressing the multiple mistaken premises (replace every instance of "the vast majority" with "a tiny minority", for starters), the main area he fails is his equivocation of music with a physical product.

We've become used to this model. It has driven pop music culture for close to a century; it's given us the "music star" celebrity model that we've become comfortable with. This approach has progressed naturally, and now we've reached the current point of American Idol-voted celebrity products.

What he overlooks is the natural power of music. Music, when at its best, can give courage to the otherwise cowardly, joy to those in pain, even trigger mystical experiences in the otherwise mundane. It can cement memories and bring people closer together.

The problem is when you slap a price tag and marketing on something that serves as a vehicle for these transformative experiences, a few nasty things happen. For one thing, you inevitably see a homogenization of music as salespersons try to maximize profit. Music is reduced to the lowest common denominator to maximize mass appeal, just like fast food. Services exist that compare proposed compositions to past hits in terms of melodic, harmonic, rhythmic structure -- you have people just rewriting variations on the same old tune. Quality is subjective though, and there's no real basis to say one song is better than another -- all that matters is the experience of the listener.

But the most insidious part of slapping price tags on transformative experiences is that you keep poor people from experiencing them. Can't afford to pay up? Tough shit son, you don't get to experience an essential aspect of your culture. Too poor? Sorry, this joy is reserved for those who can afford it.

I'm sure Lowery means well, but people like him are one reason why I'm a librarian. There must be a way for people to access vital, possibly transformative parts of our culture regardless of ability to pay. For the time being it seems like taxing society to provide public access to repositories of music, art, and literature, while not perfect, is the best workaround.

What's this "of Cracker fame" BS? CVB 4 Life! (1)

Squirrel Killer (23450) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373967)

I was expecting to roll my eyes at another Lowery anti-new-music-business screed, but after reading the intern's post, I'm kind of on David's side. 11,000 songs of mostly ripped CD's from her family, friends, and work? She's exactly the type of pirate Lowery always assumes everyone is defending, and it's right that she's being called out for it.

hang on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373969)

So it was ok when new technology allowed some artist to make shitloads of money by performing only once and sell the recording forever, thus depriving vast armies of live-performing artist of their livelihood, but now that more new technology comes along that changes the winners and losers in this game again it suddenly becomes a moral issue and i is unfair ?

Welcome to the real world Lowery... (1)

erp_consultant (2614861) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373993)

The internet, for better or worse, has turned the entire entertainment business on it's head. Personally I don't think it's a bad thing. $25-30 for a Blu-Ray disk? Give me a break. For some movie that I'm going to watch once and may or may not even enjoy? Maybe if those greedy Hollywood execs would start pricing the things at a reasonable level there would be a little less piracy. Have you ever seen the homes that these people live in (the Spelling mansion as an example)? As far as music goes I'm fine with buying it but don't ass-rape me at the checkout counter. $20 for a CD is way too much - and it's not the artist's fault. I read somewhere that Metallica gets a grand total of 89 cents from a $20 CD. Where does all the rest of the money go? Greedy middlemen. Take them out of the game and the artist gets to keep most of the money - as it should be.

For most people, ethics doesn't factor in... (2)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40374029)

Most people simply either do not perceive who is affected by piracy, or else they simply do not care. There is no ethical quandry because they are indifferent enough about the consequences that it is a non-issue.

What piracy affects is the overall usefulness of copyright as a means to secure some of a creator's interest, while at the same time allowing the general public to appreciate that creator's work. Piracy reduces the confidence that creators place in copyright to protect their works, and they resort to other means, such as trying to restrict the circumstances under which their content can be used, or possibly even resorting to self-censorship, and not widely publishing at all.

In the end, I perceive that continued piracy takes something away from future generations that is a fundamental freedom that we have all been enjoying for centuries... which is freedom we all have to read and listen to what we want, and under the conditions that we all want. Some believe that abolition of copyright entirely would accomplish the same thing, but in the end, such an approach is little more than an anarchists approach, and in the long run, I believe would be more destructive to the intent of quality content availability than it would be ensuring that the public still had such access to it.

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