back to article The Big Debate: OK gloomsters, how can the music biz be FIXED?

I was on a panel at The Battle of Ideas conference on music at the weekend, and it went a bit beyond your usual digital music panel. There was a good turnout - considering there were six concurrent panels, all of them interesting. Everyone got to make a six-minute opening question. Here's mine, and the highlights of the rest …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes but...

    There's one place this isn't true. If you sell the most insurance policies, or the most cars, generally you'll have the most money too.

    When you sell cars you don't keep on getting paid for them for 70 years after you die.

    You should be rewarded for your creation but the current copyright law extends that to far into the future and all it ends up doing is suppressing the release of old content in favour of new. As an example, there is a lot of music of the fifties and sixties that I would like to hear again (yes I am that old) but would never be able to purchase. If the copyright had been allowed to expire on it then those who have the records could digitise and legally share them.

    Perhaps a solution would be to expire the copyrights unless the content is actively being sold, that way the music companies (and it usually is the music companies, not the artists) could still make money on Elvis's back catalogue and those who wanted to could still buy less popular records (if available) or legally share if not.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Yes but...

      You're confusing two copyrights. One has a fifty years term, the other is Life+70.

      I have some sympathy with Life+70 being too long for songs - but it's not going to change without upsetting the authors, so it's not going to change.

      The problem you describe isn't a problem though. You can hear new music made in the 1950 by buying - it is very cheap.

      1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

        Re: Yes but... @Andrew Orlowski

        I have some sympathy with Life+70 being too long for songs - but it's not going to change without upsetting the authors, so it's not going to change.

        Sorry, I'm a little bit confused, if the author has copyright for 70 years how come EMI, HMV, and Parlophone was able to release a Morrissey boxed set without paying him a penny? Are you confusing the creators of music and the copyright mafiaa who exploit them?

        Morrissey tells netdepressives to boycott his re-releases

      2. Killraven

        Re: Yes but... @Andrew

        "The problem you describe isn't a problem though. You can hear new music made in the 1950 by buying - it is very cheap."

        Right there is the item that started the entire mess in the first place. When file-sharing first appeared, it became so popular because finally, what had been incredibly hard-to-find music suddenly became commonplace. The people that had, could share with the people that wanted. It was the start of a new paradigm in entertainment where the industry no longer possessed the ability to say "we don't think it'll be profitable enough to sell that album again, so we won't make it anymore".

        But instead of attempting to work with that new technology we've had more than 12 years of fruitless lawsuits, and the music industry still doesn't show much of an interest in changing.

        Yes, there is a lot more music from the 1950s, or any era, available then there used to be, but how much of it is still unavailable? How much is only available as a digital download, usually with unpleasant DRM or poor-quality bitrates? How much of it that is only available, in physical or digital format, in only a few select countries? These are all problems still faced by people who *WANT* to be cash-paying customers but who's only option to get what they want, in a format they can use, and a quality that they want to use, is to pirate it.

        The big point, to me, about the past and present states of technology in all of this, and which was slightly touched on during this meeting, is that it was advances in technology that brought about the last century of the music industry and occasional artist wealth. Throughout history, few artists of any flavor have acquired great wealth or have had fame beyond their locale.

        Technology changed that, briefly, and now that bubble has burst, or at least it's been changed to be smaller bubbles. Unless the industry can manage to quickly come up with some sort of miracle technology to change things, it's era is gone. More artist's WILL have to return to the pre-tech era and scrape their livings from live appearances. Those appearances might not be quite as flashy as they used to be, and the venues may be smaller, along with the paychecks, but it's still possible. One big difference will be that file-sharing will still provide an advertising of sorts, so that artists will be more able to become known outside of limited areas. What's likely really over is the time when one successful album would be income-for-life (if saved properly).

        You had some good points in the talk Andrew, pity you couldn't get through it without a *tard comment.

        1. magrathea

          Re: Yes but... @Andrew

          Technology has hugely reduced production and distribution costs for the music industry but it is a double edged sword - enabling others to distribute content with near zero cost. The music industry (obviously) would rather this sword was single edged

    2. James Micallef Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Yes but...

      I find the car analogy a bit irrelevant, but in principle I agree - copyright shouldn't last so long, I think no more than 20 years (or maybe another 20 for actively marketed content as you mention)

      But that's only part of the puzzle. If copyright is limited to 20 years, then the artists should be able to be adequately compensated during those 20 years, and currently they are not. And most Internet users, myself included, object very strongly to intrusive controls and checks on my digital life.

      Back to the car analogy, imagine if I couldn't start the engine unless the car sent my fingerprint to the manufacturer's HQ and matched it to a list of authorisd users. Instant FAIL. But that's an issue we solved a long time ago with physical goods - I have a car key, and that constitutes my proof of ownership (not infallible but good enough). DRM needs to be looked at in that way - there needs to be a key to open a protected file, but it can't be so intrusive that it calls home every time, or that it highly limits what I can or cannot do with it.

      1. Badvok

        Re: Yes but...

        "DRM needs to be looked at in that way - there needs to be a key to open a protected file, but it can't be so intrusive that it calls home every time, or that it highly limits what I can or cannot do with it."

        Nice idea and I was thinking along the same lines, you have a personal key and that is attached to the file when you buy it. Every copy of every piece of content would have a unique id and your personal key would be logged as the owner in the file itself and on some central system (no personal info, just key and content id). There could then be web-sites/tools that would allow you to pass ownership to someone else but only by directly modifying the actual file through the central registry so it is no longer usable by you. Your personal key would be a unique binary value but it would not be linked to you in any central system or be traceable, it would simply be a key that you generate, retain, and associate with all your devices, those devices would be able to directly verify that your key is associated with the file before playing it and could contact the central registry whenever new content is loaded to receive a revocation list for content you have passed onto others. Obviously to provide full anonymity while providing copy protection, the purchasing systems would have to be such that the device you use to do the purchase knows your key but the vendor itself doesn't, and the central registry would only have an association between keys and content, no individual identity information.

        But I can't really see it working, I don't see there being any way a key&lock mechanism could be designed that would be secure enough (every form of DRM to date has been broken open) maybe there is some bright spark out there who can though?

        1. seraphim

          Re: Yes but...

          Working DRM is impossible. Not "unlikely", not "impossible given current technology", impossible. There is no way to simultaneously give someone the ability to get at the cleartext of an encrypted/protected message, and prohibit them from copying that message (be that message a song, video, document, anything).

          Anyone who could make foolproof, or even near foolproof, DRM, would be rich overnight. And a lot of people try for that reason. Yet every last scheme gets cracked, because it -has- to get cracked--in the end, you have to give the end user the means to open the lock, no matter how much you obfuscate it. Otherwise what you've sold them is worthless.

          1. mark 63 Silver badge

            the lock (and key)

            "you have to give the end user the means to open the lock"

            spot on Seraphim. Sad, but true.

            At the end of the day , even when the 'key' is buried in the hardware of a dvd player, or a sky box , You can always metaphorically or litrally if required "hold a mike (or camcorder) to the tv screen".

            They have in the past considered taxing blank media to get at this problem from that end . Wether that money would go to copyright victims or just into the govt trough is another matter :(

            I am much against that as there are obviously many legal uses for blank media.

            Its as logical to me as taxing my beer to the point of unaffordability just to prevent idiots from hurting themslves.

        2. James Micallef Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Yes but...

          " I don't see there being any way a key&lock mechanism could be designed that would be secure enough"

          The thing is, it does not need to be 100% unbreakable, just like a car key isn't 100% foolproof. Thieves can break open and start up a car that they don't have keys to, but it takes a lot of effort. As long as a DRM system is non-intrusive (as you outline), simple to use, and content is reasonably priced, the market will work.

          Targeting a system that is 100% unbreakable is unfeasible and shouldn't be the target

      2. JEDIDIAH

        The answer to a broken system is not to extend it.

        If an artist can't make enough money over the traditional copyright term then extending it is hardly a solution. Art is a fleeting thing. You have to make your money quickly while your stuff is new enough to be in fashion or you quickly get overshadowed by things that are in fashion.

        By the time 20 years has past you've lost your opportunity. It's not coming back. Distorting copyright isn't going to help you.

        It's only going to give corporations the right to sue new talent.

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  3. Schultz

    I don't agree with Orlowski

    The concept of creating laws (i.e., copyright) to increase the value of 'content' is a gift of society to the content creators. Are we willing to give up our privacy to make content creators happy? I don't think so.

    The problem in the discussion, I think, is that there's a childlike, Utopian view that content creators deserve a reward that is as large as it was in the old (pre-internet) days. But there is much more content available via the internet now (nobody requires a publisher to get his written word or his music out into the world). The rewards for content creators must therefore shrink drastically, because a lot of not-so-brilliant content is now competing with the effort of hobbyists. Is this bad for society? I don't think so. A lot of smart professionals can now stop repackaging old content and instead try to be come productive members of society.

    The cake for content creators has shrunk, because the market went from content-starved to content-overkill. And not just due to hobbyists, but also due to the fact that content became portable and there is no need to visit your grandpa to borrow some of his classical music collection.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: I don't agree with Orlowski

      " Are we willing to give up our privacy to make content creators happy? I don't think so."

      You have no privacy if you can't assert permissions on "your stuff". Your stuff = your photos you post to Flickr, your data trail, your identity. It belongs to you. If you can't assert ownership and permissions, privacy ceases to exist.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I don't agree with Orlowski

        > You have no privacy if you can't assert permissions on "your stuff". Your stuff = your photos you post to Flickr, your data trail, your identity. It belongs to you. If you can't assert ownership and permissions, privacy ceases to exist.

        You really believe that?

        You really believe that if I sell you a print of photograph I should have the right to enter your home and search it to ensure you haven't copied it? Unless I can assert my permissions (by entering your home) on my photograph I have no privacy?

        Had you said defend rather than assert I might have had some sympathy with your position.

      2. JEDIDIAH

        Re: I don't agree with Orlowski

        "My stuff" is private papers. It is not creative output. We have this perverted world view driven by large content owning corporations that every worthless scrap of paper should be treated like Shakespeare. A lot of stuff is not intended to be "shared" or published EVER. The assumption that everything is meant to be published is just stupid and counterproductive.

    2. cyborg

      Re: I don't agree with Orlowski

      But if the music industry doesn't have all the money then I won't get to hear the latest auto-tuned hip-hop/pop/rock/faux-punk abomination tied into the latest terrible animated movie!

    3. James Micallef Silver badge

      Re: I don't agree with Orlowski

      " Are we willing to give up our privacy to make content creators happy?"

      This question seems to assume that it's a complete either-or, and that should not be the case. I should be able to use digital files without that use being monitored, and content creators need to be able to be paid for acquisition / use of their content. Doesn't need to be mutually exclusive.

      Sure there are technical difficulties, but these can be surmounted as long as the stakeholders on both sides agree to the broad principle above. And it doesn't need to super-foolproof - it just needs to be set up so that it's more convenient to legitimately buy music than to pirate it... while in reality even from a convenience point of view it's easier to download a torrent.

      Not music, but I see it in practice on TV. I have a TV box through which I can pay a small amount to watch a film. The selection is limited, the search functionality is pitiful and many times the film I want isn't available in my desired language. In many cases I would happily pay 3 or 4 quid to watch a film, but the time and aggravation it usually takes means it's infinitely easier to find the film on a torrent site.

      Now, what is stopping my provider from having a catalogue of every film that ever made it to a theater in the last 20 years, have it available in 4-8 languages + subtitles (same as I can find on most DVDs or Blu-Rays), and make the whole thing properly searchable? I don't know, but it sure is costing them a lot of missed sales.

      1. JEDIDIAH

        Re: I don't agree with Orlowski

        It is highly unlikely that "artistes" will agree to any regime that allows you do do what you want with what you've bought without being subject to Big Brother. Content cartels are simply unwilling to treat the customer with any respect. They are all megalomaniacs that think the rest of us are thieves (projecting most likely).

    4. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: I don't agree with Orlowski

      Like most non-creators you're confusing quantity with quality.

      The fact that anyone can do something does not mean everyone should. Talented creators are *specialists.* They have unique skills and talents that no amount of amateur diddling around with a laptop can match - any more than you'd trust an amateur part-engineer to design a bridge that didn't fall down, or an amateur part-time surgeon to remove your appendix.

      The difference is the arts are somewhat subjective. But if the arts are supposed to ignore any concept of quality or talent, we might as well stop bothering with them entirely.

      Do you really want a world where no great new music, games or movies can ever be made because creators can only work part time? If you do, then fine - stop funding them.

      Then see how fun and enjoyable life becomes for future generations.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I don't agree with Orlowski

        > Do you really want a world where no great new music, games or movies can ever be made because creators can only work part time? If you do, then fine - stop funding them.

        Since we talking about music perhaps you could tell me which great singer or musician currently works 40 hours a week on their music? All the ones who have made money seem to spend most of their time telling others how to live, doing charity work, recovering from hangovers or in rehab with the occasional day spent composing/singing/song writing. Part time work seems perfect for them.

      2. JEDIDIAH

        Re: I don't agree with Orlowski

        > Like most non-creators you're confusing quantity with quality.

        Like most posers you conflate a brand name with quality. The Jurassic publishers allow plenty of dreck to be published while suppressing good work. What is commercially viable seldom coincides with "quality".

        > Do you really want a world where no great new music, games or movies can ever be made because creators can only work part time?

        A false choice.

        The real problem is that the new has to compete with all of the classics from they entire history of recording technology. You don't have to settle for today's dreck. You can choose to watch any Doctor you like. With as much money as the average consumer is expected to spend, you can easily reach escape velocity and accumulate enough stuff that you never have to pay for anything else again.

        The back catalog is the real threat, not piracy.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I don't agree with Orlowski

          > The back catalog is the real threat, not piracy.

          And that is the reason they keep trying to extend copyright further into the future.

          1. JEDIDIAH

            Re: I don't agree with Orlowski

            Perpetual copyright won't change the fact that I've already got everything I want from Zeppelin or the Beatles or every Star Trek series I care to watch.

            I can just queue stuff on a perpetual 10 year loop.

  4. Peter 82

    State funded is a bad thing?

    I find that the arguments given are somewhat strange.

    Most people I talk to argue about price and choice and availability not moral right or wrong. (you should pay for something you consume unless it is really being given free, not much to argue here).

    In the past all radio stations that played pop music were pirate. They were pursued by the recording industry. To the best of my knowledge the only thing that changed the status of them was the state enforcing a system of micropayments or royalty. I like the radio. I think a large section of the population and artists agree that the pop radio is, on balance, a good thing. I "pay" for radio by listening to adverts.

    Library's are mentioned as an example of a sharing institution based on IP. This is true but the funding does not come from a business model. Private libraries have a very spotted history and, I believe, the most successful ones were beneficiaries from altruistic payments.

    My current favourite way of listening to music (while not in my car) is I am not too sure of their business model but I believe it is in part to their pushing some bands above other ones. I used to listen to spotify but I constantly got irritated by different labels pulling their collections and my playlists no longer working.

    I would like the government to step in and force an agreement like with the radios. Streaming music is here to stay. The methods for listening to this should be available.

    With regards to sales, the cost and availablity is what really gets my friends annoyed (I don't buy all that much and don't pirate at all since uni) is the region agreements where they cannot legally buy what they want to in this country and the price issues. A CD in the shops being 5 pounds (quite old cd now) for 12+ tracks. On the internet you have to buy them at 99p per track. With no distribution costs (including shelf space which can be expensive), physical manufacturing costs and less cuts from third parties why does it cost more for a product that is provably worse. As by UK law I am not allowed to lend my tracks downloaded but can my cd?

    1. Mage Silver badge

      In the past all radio stations that played pop music were pirate

      Actually they were not. The problem was specifically in the UK and pre-dated the 1960s.

      In the 1930s and late 1940s to early 1960s people listened to the "Popular" music in the UK after dark on Foreign stations.

      The UK Postmaster General controlled the airwaves. Till the Light Program and then the Third program started after the war any sort of music fan was badly served. UK had ONLY the Home Service during daytime. (And World Service in some area).

      208 wasn't a Pirate station and specifically targeted UK after dark. US AFN was popular too in 1940s and 1950s for Popular music.

      Ireland only had one station till about 1972!

      Other countries had more choice. Pirate radio was actually a quite short lived phenomenon most popular in UK. The Pirate station in Post War Europe that caused so much grief that the BBC asked to roll out VHF,eventually started in 1955 (in US pre war and on current band in 1945 and in Germany from 1949) was a Latvian station the Russians for some reason ignored.

      UK VHF stupidly only had copy of Home, Light and Third till about 1971!!!! German VHF had loads of useful stations.

      It's actually amazing that UK started ITV in 1955. and having done it, didn't licence commercial Radio on VHF-FM at same time.

    2. (AMPC) Anonymous and mostly paranoid coward

      Re: State funded is a bad thing?

      The arguments you put forth are sound (although I don't like the state-funded part, very much). In general, the state doesn't do a very good job of regulating anything, and the internet is no exception.

      The most obvious consequence of the internet's impact on the entertainment industry is that there are now many more outlets for creative content distribution i.e. netflix, spotify, Itunes, streaming radio and of course, bit-torrents and pirate bays. For the most part, consumers are flocking to these outlets because they get what they want, not because they don't want to pay. All attempts to stop this natural market progression are doomed to fail.

      Simply put, the business model of stamping content onto bits of plastic and charging for each physical unit's consumption is on its deathbed

      What is not dead is the need to continue paying artists and creators for their work.

      As a consumer, my wish is to consume music, film, television and news anywhere and everywhere without having to open my wallet every time I consume.

      Given that the internet is the shared medium by which this all happens, it is clear that billing (if there is to be any) must happen here, at what is essentially the point of sale.

      So, logic (as well as human economic behavior) dictates that we will move ever closer to centralized internet distribution models where customers can pay a flat rate and artists should get a fair percentage of that rate payment.

      This is what the entertainment industry should try to develop, if it wants to survive. I (and I am sure many will agree with me) would happily pay a bit more for my monthly bandwidth connection if it let me watch the latest blockbuster films (in my favorite language), play all my oldies but goldies and listen to the latest music offerings, without shelling out 20 bucks and discovering that it is crap.

      Those who want to sell me content should make my life easier, not harder. I don't have any trouble seeing that extra revenue I spend each month go back to the people who provide that content.

  5. Oddbin


    We're forgetting one much bigger point: if we reward art, we get more of it. And why should you have a shitty job in Tesco or a call centre and have great talent but not be able to go to market with it?"

    Yes because "artists" are better than the rest of us and shouldn't have to work for a living.

    Get off your entitled high horse and maybe you will find some moral ground to stand on.

    1. Badvok


      "Yes because "artists" are better than the rest of us and shouldn't have to work for a living."

      I think that comment sums up the core issue: modern society has very little respect for art and culture and hence places an incredibly low value on the extraordinary amounts of time and effort some artists expend on producing the content that our modern society loves to consume for free.

    2. TheOtherHobbes

      If you think art isn't work

      you have no idea what working in the arts actually involves.

      I know someone who is a classical pianist. She spent six weeks over the summer doing 16 hour days with no weekends getting three operas ready for performance.

      I know a 'name' violinist who regularly starts at 5am, spends 12 hours rehearsing, then plays a two hour concert in the evening.

      I know dancers, writers, studio engineers, and even a few coders who think nothing of working fourteen hours for weeks on end.

      Not work for a living? Really?

      If you think it's easy, try it. Go right ahead. We'll wait and see how good you are.

      1. FutureShock999

        Re: If you think art isn't work

        ^^^ THIS ^^^

        I used to live with a concert violinist in NYC, and she was THE hardest working person I know for the amount of money she made from it. Very satisfying to actually play Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, etc., but she was literally living hand to mouth, gigging, practicing endlessly, finishing her music Phd., and teaching. At age 43, after finding herself without enough money to actually get home from the airport after a gig because she forgot to pre-book her rental car on the cheap rate, she gave up and went to business school at Wharton, and then started a successful on-line college-prep tutoring company (Ivy Sage, look them up). So let me tell you about don't KNOW about work compared to her (and her other musician friends), I would bet.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If you think art isn't work

        Is this about art or invention? Why is someone inventing music different to someone inventing a new vacuum cleaner. Why should one be protected and the other not? In fact why should neither be protected? If you don't allow talent to make money we're surely just going to slide back into the pools of slime we came from.

      3. schnide

        Re: If you think art isn't work

        Yes but no-one's pirating the pianist's or violinist's works are they? They put the effort in, they're presumably being rewarded for it. You may have a point somewhere but you have to compare like for like.

    3. FutureShock999

      Art IS Work

      Oddbin, who is to say that what YOU do is a "real job"? How much value to you actually create in the economy? If you work in software, how about we say that all software should be freeware and that YOU should get a "real job"? If you work in hardware, how about we say that you can only charge exactly what the parts cost, nothing more for your experience, effort, or marketing expenses. And if you don't like that, then get a "real job"!

      I really find it STUNNING how many people reading El Reg work in software, and DO NOT take the side of the artists and producers on this. Because frankly, that stuff that WE get paid for is likely to be the next thing to suffer such a massive downturn in sales, and our jobs are likely to dry up next (those that haven't been sent to India already). Us tech heads should be natural allies of the artists that are suffering from digital piracy, but for some reason the thrill of having 200Gigs of pirated music on our laptops prevents our brains from projecting the future progression of digital piracy to our own doorsteps...stupid and short sighted IMHO.

      1. JEDIDIAH

        Re: Art IS Work

        > Oddbin, who is to say that what YOU do is a "real job"?

        The market does. That's the only valid metric really.

        If you're devalued because everyone can get stuff for free and the back catalog is cheap and everyone already has a stockpile of stuff because bits don't rot, then tough.

        You don't have a natural right to make money in a particular manner.

        1. FutureShock999

          Re: Art IS Work

          Then "the market" needs to enforce intellectual property rights equally. If you don't do it for artists, then as I have written elsewhere, then you should not do it for anything else. That includes all software designs, all hardware designs, all auto designs, all industrial tooling designs, all chemical patents, all drug patents, etc.

          Give that 20 years and see what kind of a bare-bones world you live in. One frozen in 2013 I'd expect. Why invest in drug research when it can be copied in 5 minutes by a firm that didn't pay for it? Why invent new uses for carbon nanatubes when someone else can manufacture them immediately? Why write a new game, when anyone else can reverse-assemble it, rebrand it, and sell it as their own? Why perfect a new engine design that uses 5% less fuel, when it can be copied immediately by firms in China? So..those things don't happen. Welcome to 2033...same as 2013 just with more people.

          Or are you just saying that artists are a special case, and you are OK stealing from them alone?

          1. JEDIDIAH

            Re: Art IS Work

            Necessity is the mother of invention, not avarice.

            Inventors and artists that are worth their skin won't stop producing just because they can't pretend to be Robber Barons. Real talent doesn't act like that. That's why art and invention did not start with the first Anglo-American attempts to regulate creativity.

            Many industries thrive despite copycats. Games in particular are notorious for this. So are most other "entertainments".

    4. Chads

      Yes because "artists" are the same as the rest of us and deserve to be paid for their time and effort. In my current show I'm on stage for 2 hours. That's what you're apparently paying for. What you don't see is that the show means a 14-hour day for 12 people with something like £25,000-worth of kit.

      Product development, market research, capital investment, advertising, training (practice, practice, practice!). Every industry has to cover these costs. Music is no different.

    5. Anonymous Coward

      You express the problem badly.

      If an artist is performing live, then they have a paying audience. Piracy is not an issue. You do the work, you get paid, along with all the others that contribute to that event.

      The issues surrounding copyright and recordings are very different waters.

      In the modern age, copyright as a legal concept just doesn't work. In truth it has never has except that distribution and reproduction was non-trivial and not economic for the person in the street to do.

      Copyright had nothing to do with it. Punters bought records, videos and DVDs because it made economic sense and even today, that is the primary driver. It is why Lovefilm, Netflix, cinema (that goodness it is seeing a revival) and other delivery "services" etc are so popular and undoubtedly are the future. The problem is the film and music productioncompanies are not in that potentially lucrative business. Others are picking up the slack.

      Piracy is and always will be an annoying distraction from the real problem. The IP itself is valueless. The only thing of value is what you do with it. If *all* you have is IP, then you have nothing.

    6. Oddbin

      So the general consensus is that if you have any talent that is currently classed as an art that exempts you from working a normal job? Because that's what orlowskis quote says to me.

      Did I say people didn't deserve to get paid? Nope. My comment was directed at Orlowskis air of entitlement in his piece that is symptomatic of all the loud voices trying to put the genie back in the bottle. Just because you can wrote a song or paint a picture doesn't mean you automatically deserve money from it. You might have to do a normal boring job.

      But oh no lets all jump on the "my poor violinist partner works ever so hard and only gets £25,000 Although got to play in a place that many others would die to Play in". Not getting paid enough? Then do something different. No one is forcing you to play and instrument or write a play or do any of that. It's a choice.

      And the products of my work end up in a public register. Do I get paid everytime someone looks at something i have created? nope. Does it bother me? Nope. I got paid to put it there. Job done.

      By all means if you have a talent for something do it. But claiming that people who have talent (in your eyes) should be exempt from working in a normal job is just pathetic. Not to mention demeaning to people who do work in places like tesco and then pay YOU.

      Until this mentality goes away don't expect sympathy

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Content Creators V Content Owners

    The biggest problem I feel with a lot of pro copyright crowd is that they always say content creators when they mean the content owners. The majority of the time it is the content owners (record companies/film studios) who want to keep/expand their ability to get paid from others work.

    Putting the genie back in the bottle is an impossibility in this digital age and keeping their old ways of doing business shows short sightedness. Instead of innovating they choose to litigate or try to get laws passed that benefit themselves (SOPA/PIPA/ACTA)

    Just because something worked in the past for them does not mean that it should always be so.

    1. El Presidente

      Re: Content Creators V Content Owners

      "The biggest problem I feel with a lot of pro copyright crowd is that they always say content creators when they mean the content owners"

      That's the problem right there, your terminology is arse about face and you demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of the issues or the problems.

      Content creators ARE the content owners.They are also the licensor.

      Content creators ARE the content owners and they issue *licenses* to third parties ostensibly for marketing and sales services.

      It's the licensees who the ANTI copyright crowd hate, sometimes justifiably, sometimes not, but please don't blame the individual creative for the bad practises of Big Business.

      The lack of understanding of the basics is staggering. People blow holes in their flimsy arguments and undermine their credibility with their opening statements and do so with absolutely no shame or embarrassment whatsoever.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Content Creators V Content Owners

        First paragraph from Wikipedia on Recording Contracts:

        "Labels typically own the copyright in the records their artists make, and also the master copies of those records. An exception is when a label makes a distribution deal with an artist; in this case, the artist, their manager, or another party may own the copyright (and masters), while the record is licensed exclusively to the label for a set period of time"

        Your point that these third parties are licensees for just marketing and sales is a bit off as this type of contract is the exception not the norm. Distribution and 360 deals are usually there for existing artists (See Trent Reznor's latest project he has gone back to an established label for distribution and marketing)

        Also I am not blaming individual creative(?) for the practices of Big Business I am blaming Big Business for the crap they try to pull through litigation (sueing people with out a computer for downloading, sueing the dead for downloading) or trying to buy laws (SOPA/PIPA/ACTA)

      3. JEDIDIAH

        Re: Content Creators V Content Owners

        > Content creators ARE the content owners.They are also the licensor.

        Nope. Def Leppard are in the process of reverse engineering their old recordings because this is specifically NOT the case. They are doing this because they are getting shafted by their label (who actually owns the recordings). They are getting shafted on digital file sales (iTunes).

        The talent is generally in a bad position to negotiate terms and usually ends up bent over.

        This is all about the corporate bullies that take advantage of the talent in various ways.

        1. FutureShock999

          Re: Content Creators V Content Owners

          Umm, did someone force them to sign that contract at gunpoint?

          Did they take that initial investment from the label, and get rich as hell by doing so?

          Crocodile tears from me...those BIG BAD LABELS helping them get rich...ohhhh.

          1. JEDIDIAH

            Re: Content Creators V Content Owners

            > Umm, did someone force them to sign that contract at gunpoint?

            A perfectly pathological response to a simple rebuttal of a falsely claimed fact.

            The fact that you want to stick up for some psychopaths does not alter the fact that those psychopaths are the ones that would benefit from "increased protection for artists" rather than the actual talent.

        2. El Presidente

          Re: Content Creators V Content Owners

          "This is all about the corporate bullies that take advantage of the talent in various ways"

          It is. If a band has sold their ass to the corporate devil then more fool them.

  7. Mike Street


    Lots of people in denial, it seems to me.

    I agree with Andrew that new ways are needed to monetise cultural artifacts, but forcing an old model on a new platform isn't new.

    I do not pirate, am a Spotify subscriber, and sometimes buy downloads from artists' sites, CDs, SACDs and Blu-Rays, so I this is not special pleading, but instead of asking how do we enforce copyright on the Internet, the creative industries need to ask how they need to re-organise themselves if copyright cannot be enforced in the traditional way.

    What new models will allow artists to thrive without traditional copyright? It may not be legal, or moral, but it is reality that paying for music in the traditional way may be dying. You can complain about that, or you can see what other opportunities are available that weren't before.

    1. El Presidente

      Re: Denial

      "the creative industries need to ask how they need to re-organise themselves"

      Why? Because copyright abusers demand that we do ? I agree that INDUSTRIES need to recognise the seismic shift in the way transactions are done these days compared to 20 or even 10 years ago and they do need to adapt but let us not lump INDIVIDUAL creatives in with INDUSTRIES.

      To do so epitomises the adage of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

      Sadly, jealousy and ignorance prevents rational debate, we get lumped in with massive media conglomerates and individual creatives are damaged by the despicable practises of the conglomerate's lawyers.

      Suing teenagers for $80,000 for sharing a few music tracks does not mean that you or I have to put up with having photographs ripped off by the likes of Mail Online. Professionals AND civilians have rights and diminishing professional rights means that civilians will have fewer rights and fewer routes of redress than they have now.

      As the freetards stand in sneering anticipation of copyright being eradicated (it's never going to happen) they don't understand that their rights *and the rights of their children* will be catastrophically diminished to appease Big Music and Big Film and Big Google.

      Lobbyists for Big Business are not paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to help the little guy.

    2. Naughtyhorse

      Re: Denial

      depends on your definition of traditional.....

      traditional as in lennon & mcartney's write once get payed forever


      traditional as in J.S.Bach write an album a week or your family starves (much like the bloke making the cars in analogies elsewhere)

      for most creators the reality is still the second option, and it's _very_ hard to have much sympathy for the types trying desperately to hang on to the first option - is cowels contribution to mankind really worth all that money?


      1. El Presidente

        Re: Denial

        Dreadful grammar and spelling aside, you're making the classic mistake of conflation.

    3. FutureShock999

      Re: Denial

      Tell you what Mike, how about that we demand that you still report for work the same number of hours each day, but your paychecks will not be deposited into your bank. Can you find an "alternative model" to live on?

      Maybe you can make enough money by plastering your car with advertisements to generate money on your way to work and back? How about offering a backrub service to your coworkers during your lunch breaks!? See, the future is so bright, you gotta wear shades!! All KINDS of "alternative models" abound once we start stealing your actual work output...

      1. Mike Street

        Re: Denial

        I've no doubt that baying at moon is satisfying, but it doesn't put bread on the table.

        If the world has changed, the industry has to change with it. Or die. I don't say that is a good (or a bad) thing - its just a thing.

        You can complain all you want, but that on its own won't change anything. If you really think the western world is going to lock up most of its offspring for copyright violation, or someone is going to create magic DRM which doesn't piss everyone off, then by all means wait for the old models to come back. The wait could be a long one.

  8. simon maasz

    So how do you explain....

    I have been going to gigs by "Show of Hands" for 20 years. (Google them) They play all venues from small to teh Albert Hall. Nearly every concert Steve encourages the audience to copy their CDs and give them away to their friends. He figures, the more people hear ofthem the more gigs they sell out. Making a nice living for 20 years, so he can't be that wrong!! THIS is market forces. Enough people like what they do to buy tickets, and many like original CDs to add to collections, and yet they encourage what is to all intents piracy. Ironic!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So how do you explain....

      "I have been going to gigs by "Show of Hands" for 20 years..."

      Only works for those who enjoy live music and can participate. Great for urban youth, not an approach that works terribly well with anybody (eg) with young children or who lives in a remote area, unless them getting free music but not patronising the live events is regarded as OK.

      1. JEDIDIAH

        Re: So how do you explain....

        > not an approach that works terribly well with anybody (eg) with young children

        Get a babysitter.

        Have the mother-in-law come for a visit.

        It's not an insurmountable problem if you are actually a music consumer. Although if you are "too busy", then it is likely that you are also too busy to be a music consumer in general. If you don't have time for live music, you likely don't have time to seek out new recordings to buy.

        1. Corinne

          Re: So how do you explain....

          That's all fine, assuming you have VERY large amounts of spare time AND a large disposable income. I live a commutable distance from London, so the majority of concerts by larger artists in my area are in London itself. So a couple of hours journey each way costing in the region of £15-25 (depending on venue, time of day etc), tickets costing upwards of £80-125 each. And thats not allowing for whether my trains even run as late as I need if the gig is the other side of town and it takes a while to get the tube to the relevant station; some lines the trains stop well before midnight.

          So for 2 people you're talking about somewhere in the region of £250 with a total of 6-8 hours - NOT something that's quick, easy and cheap enough to do regularly if you have any kind of a life outside music.

          When I was younger & had a less time intensive job, I used to go to a fair number of live music events all the way from local pub bands through Wembley concerts to festivals. I now work hard & longer hours drastically reducing my available time & energy and have a mortgage to service, meaning I AM "too busy" to be a music consumer in the sense of attending live music a couple of times a week. On the other hand, I spend time on the train & in the car listening to music. I can have music on while on the PC at home. I can think "I have a spare hour (singular) this evening, I can put on a CD or a music DVD/BluRay" - which IMHO makes me as much a music consumer as your somewhat elitist attitude seems to suggest you are.

    2. Arrrggghh-otron

      Re: So how do you explain....

      I've been doing the same for Cardiacs. Since the creative genius that is Mr Tim Smith suffered a cardiac arrest (talk about irony - the band was originally called Cardiac Arrest) and hasn't been able to perform, the fans have, and regularly continue to, rally round to raise money for his continued care. His work is regularly and enthusiastically shared by fans. Some of us have even sold some of our collections of Cardiacs records and CDs (which currently fetch silly money on ebay) and CDs for his benefit. I have also repurchased the albums from iTunes (currently the only place to purchase his work) to replace the mp3s I ripped from my CDs and the ones I downloaded from other fans to replace tape and vinyl.

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about the rights of the buyer?

    One thing I don't think I saw in the debate are the rights of the buyer; the new methods for obtaining music on the internet often erode the rights of the buyer by adding DRM to the music in the name of preventing piracy, and stating that you don't 'own' a copy of the music, you are merely loaning it for as long as the supplier sees fit.

    Not only does this prevent me from easily playing the music on any device I like, (eg my Sandisk music player and my old Sony walkman phone), but digital downloads have the disadvantage that they cannot be resold like CDs (or chairs). There is also the social impact that I cannot simply 'lend' a DRMed song or album to a friend; whilst not technically legal, sharing music by passing the original disc around was a great way for friends to let me sample parts of their music collection. Due to my upbringing, I felt it was morally irresponsible to clone a CD which wasn't mine, so if I liked the songs I ended up buying a copy of my own.

    This was touched on in the debate - for some reason moral responsibility seems to get lost on the internet. I'm pretty sure that people wouldn't walk into a music store with a laptop and duplicate a disc even if they thought they could 'get away with it', yet they don't bat an eyelid at doing the same thing online. The mess we are in today seems to me to be brought about by the ease with which files can be copied, a lack of moral responsibility in society and the fact that the reaction by the music industry was to effectively reduce the worth of their offerings by removing the rights to resell what has been purchased and crippling it for many users due to draconian DRM.

    Perhaps the best hope for 'fixing' the music industry long - term would be to focus on fixing our morally bankrupt society; too many people no longer respect the rules because they want 'something for nothing' and don't care about the damage / harm they cause to society in general by just taking what they want.

  11. wowfood

    Humble opinion

    And I have to say I apologize, I'm at work atm and don't have time to read through the entire piece (i'll read through it when I get home) but just a humble opinion on a few areas of the music industry.

    Firstly executives. Why do they get so much? I mean that in all honesty, I've read about artists who've been one hit wonders etc, sold a few million records / singles / albums from their first release and then never heard of again. Those people probably bought their record companies a few million in profit (assuming say, £2 profit per CD sold) and yet many of them see pennies per CD as their royalty check. While the record company makes a few million they make a few thousand.

    This I can understand back in ye olden days. Record companies had all the risk. If they made too many CDs they'd fail to sell half and lose money, so having a bigger cut of the pie was a fair approach. But i the modern day with digital distribution, and the recording media so much cheaper to mass produce, the same cut should no longer apply.

    In a lot of cases these days all a publisher does is act as a publicist. Somebody who should by all means in every other market get a paycheck equal to time worked. But instead they're still raking it in. It just seems like the royalties split is one of the biggest issues with modern music.

    And further to that point, Digital distribution vs CD. Digital distribution has far fewer costs, no cost to make CDs, box art, shipping, handling, and I'm pretty certain the distributors cut is lower than the cut a store normally makes. (or about on par), so why is it so many companies charge just as much for a digital copy on itunes, as they do for the tracks portion on an album?

    It's an out moded business model that needs to adjust payment splits and pricing scheme for a modern digital era.

    As to the copyright point. I agree to an extent with what somebody said earlier. After a certain period of an item being out of production, or selling below a certain volume of units it should become available freely, or at the very least they could put it up online somewhere. This doesn't just apply to the music industry, but to film too. There are many songs, movies, games which aren't made any more. Are impossible to get, and yet it's still piracy if you download it.

    Now once again I can understand that they stopped producing songs on CD etc when they no longer prove profitable. But with the digital age once more they could put everything online and solve this problem. But there are still songs / movies / games you can't get because the publisher wants to keep exclusive rights or some other equally silly reason.

    And finally depreciation of value. If you look at cars as the example in this respect you buy a car for £5000 and in a decade it's value drops to £500, 10% of it's original value. Even brand new it's only selling for £2000 now.

    Music can be out for decades and no change in price (except when they're trying to shift the last 10 units in stock) I'll see tracks on itunes which were set at £1.99 or something like that 5 years ago, and still keep that price. If everything else depricates in value, why not the songs? I know they're timeless and I wouldn't expect them to drop to pennies, but any drop would be nice in some cases. Especially when you consider once again that, for the publisher there is no risk in sale.

    And once more this applies to other industries. Take the PS3 store as an example. There are games released in stores brand new on release day for £39.99 which you then see on the PS3 store for £50.

    A year later you go into the store, the game is no longer selling and the price has dropped to £17.99, and yet on the playstation online store it's still listed at £50, they need a deprication model in place to lower the price to a certain point as time passes or demand wains.

    Just my humble opinion mind you.

    1. stanimir

      Re: Humble opinion

      Very well thought, out. Depreciation is a major factor in the "economy model" which is found lacking the the article.

  12. NomNomNom

    Do people defending copyright not realize that copyright (more like copyWRONG!) laws protected the "content" of Gary Glitter?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down


      "Do people defending copyright not realize that copyright (more like copyWRONG!) laws protected the "content" of Gary Glitter?"

      I call Godwin!

      And that's a b0ll0cks argument anyway.

      1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: NomNomNom

        You know what else Gary Glitter used? Telephones.


    2. BoldMan

      ...and your point is?

      What was the purpose of that totally fatuous and irrelevant observation?

      By the way, the Daily Mail site is ---> that way!

    3. John G Imrie

      Gary Glitter also breathed oxygen

      It's highly likely that some of the atoms of oxygen you just breathed in went through his lungs. I suggest you stop breathing immediately.

      1. Spoonsinger

        Re: Gary Glitter also breathed oxygen

        Oxygen atoms probably have round corners. So let me redress the balance to save time on lawsuits :-

  13. Nanners

    Paradigm shift.

    1. Stop lowering yourself and tryinging to put out what you think others want to hear. If you are in the business, you are pitifully out of touch with what everyone else is listening to. You just cheapened yourself, and you sound GOD awful. This is commonly referred to as the "lowest common denominator" factor.

    2. Educate children from an early age about the differences between musicianship, producing, and engineering. These are all specialized areas requiring special investment ... education and equipment. These days "musicians" almost always sell themselves as musician and producer, and they are almost always NOT.

    3. The paradigm shift. You do realize that you can't stop progress. We simply DON'T NEED the music industry anymore. So quit acting like we do. Stop being so exclusive and well... Snobby. Bring young people into the fold and provide them with opportunities. Your greed comes off as very assholioish to the artistic types.

  14. Mike Street

    Re: Denial

    "the creative industries need to ask how they need to re-organise themselves"

    "Why? Because copyright abusers demand that we do ?"

    No - because the world has changed, whether for better or worse. You can moan about not being able anymore to exploit the old situation, or you can think of ways to exploit the new situation. I can't guarantee the second option will ensure the success of the creative industries, but I am sure the first option will lead to their demise.

  15. BaronVonMallard

    @ Oddbin and all the other freetards

    'Yes because "artists" are better than the rest of us and shouldn't have to work for a living.

    Get off your entitled high horse and maybe you will find some moral ground to stand on.'

    How is the view from your moral high horse? Assuming you can see past your own sense of entitlement, that is. Art doesn't spring fully formed from the ether, someone works to create it. To create worthwhile art requires the full time attention of the creator. If they get a job shelf-staking at Asda, they can pay the rent and eat, but they can no longer create art. Yeah somehow you expect them to keep doing so, for free? Altruism is highly over rated when it comes to paying the rent.

    1. Naughtyhorse

      Art doesn't spring fully formed from the ether

      Neither do chairs or cars.

      what is your point?

    2. Oddbin

      Re: @ Oddbin and all the other freetards

      What's wrong with stacking shelves in Asda? You say it like it's. A punishment? Do people not have free time that they can use for their hobby? And should they become good enough make money from it?

      No you are right. Anyone who passes a set level of artistic ability should be exempt.

      1. A J Stiles

        Re: @ Oddbin and all the other freetards

        "What's wrong with stacking shelves in Asda?"

        Nothing much, but the job will be automated out of existence before the children being born today are old enough to do it.

  16. Steve Martins

    music industry is not music culture

    The industry got big on a bubble, congrats to those who rode that wave and made lots of money. I listen to the radio these days and get frustrated at the terribly low quality and low variety of music. This situation has been created by the INDUSTRY. I neither want to pay for or receive their services, but the channel to getting new and interesting music has become very narrow - almost squeezed out of existence by the corporate bigwigs who want to peddle what ever drives their profit margins.

    I'm not against copyright, I'm massively against "copyright" being used to strong arm music lovers into parting with cash for a second rate product.

    If you like music, support all the small gigs and events happening in your area, where the artists get paid directly, rather than the 2% that is left after the sharks have a go. Music culture will never die, but if the music industry died I would dance on its grave.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lindvall's Bank

    Imagine walking into a bank, telling them you're a songwriter, [...]

    Well I can't resist trying this out, just to see how it sounds ... :-)

    Imagine walking into a bank, telling them you're a scientist, and asking them to pay your living expenses for four years. And you only have your publications as collateral. And you've never written a book And if it doesn't work out for you, you want them to write off this loan. And you want to get another loan or even want to walk right back in four years time and ask for another. No bank would ever go for that - but my Research Council did just that for me. I had no books out. My deal was four years; they probably didn't recoup until six years down the line, or ever, and not in any direct way. Why? All this underpinned by copyright and every time my papers were read or consumed there was a micropayment. A tiny payment. ... No, wait. Actually, there was never any payback. They were handing out money from the taxpayer or charitable foundation. Dammit, the analogy doesn't work... ... ...

    1. El Presidente

      Re: Lindvall's Bank

      "Imagine walking into a bank, telling them you're a scientist, and asking them

      to pay your living expenses for four years"

      Try ten years and getting a yes.

      My wife, a scientist, works for a bleeding edge business in a cutting edge field of science.

      The business employs several scientists and was initially funded by venture capital (the name of one will be familiar to everyone on the planet) and is now funded by a combination of VC and licensing deals with a view to moving over to licensing as a sole source of funding and profit for the investors. Every now and then the investors inject a little more VC

      Had the company not been able to protect and license their intellectual property, none of that would be possible.

      The implications, for this particular field of science, would, trust me, be a Very Bad Thing.

      So, forgive me if I point out that your analogy is deeply flawed and as such it demonstrates that you know bugger all about what you're talking about (surprised face)

  18. The Grinning Duck

    Silly question, but...

    What was wrong with Aside from the obvious, of course.

    Strikes me as being a pretty straight forward solution to have all the labels (big, small, eeeevil and cuddly) get together and provide a library for which access can be licenced to new middle men who put their own front end on it and sell music at a sensible price. Surely then everyone is happy? People can go to their favourite front end (like when we all used to have our favourite record shop), and the front ends would live or die based on their ability to attract custom, marketing malarkey, etc. The old model in shiny (but cheaper) digital clothing.

    Personally, I still spend a colossal amount of money on music and all I want is the following three things:

    1) To spend A LOT less on a digital album than a physical one.

    2) To only have to go to one place to get everything.

    3) To have a wide choice of options as to where that one place is.

    After all these years, my ghast is flabbered that this still doesn't exist. Perhaps there is a perfectly rational reason why I can't have what I want, but I'll be buggered if I can figure out what it is. Unless the reason is that idiots like me still spend colossal amounts of money on music while we're waiting for a sensible solution – in which case I'll be quiet.

  19. schnide

    I disagree with virtually everything..

    ..that Orlowski said. These views are about how you reign the internet back in and make it conform to old models. The beauty of the internet is that it very much takes the greed-driven power of money out of things. It frees us from archaic business models such as that of the old record industry, which was happy to sell us overpriced CDs to feed its mansions and drug habits, and now complains when it can't do that anymore. Well you priced it too high, and people bit back.

    Before you label me as some kind of communist or anarchist, no. That's not what I'm saying. I've pirated my fair share of music but I now subscribe to Spotify and buy digital albums - those appropriately priced - that I like. No, this doesn't and won't generate anywhere near the levels of cash that were going around before but that's the point. The music industry was bloated and its downfall was inevitable. Now, the internet democratises music and I hear bands and artists who I never would have before. If they receive enough support, from real music fans instead of who the labels decide to throw the most money at and force down our throats, then those people will earn a living from their art.

    The views of this panel are outdated and the internet will do everything in its power to prove it.

  20. A J Stiles

    There's no nice way to say this .....

    There is no nice way to say what follows, so I will not even try to sugar coat it.

    Unfortunately, the past situation -- where the record companies, being the only people having the wherewithal to distribute music from artists to people, were able to set prices -- resulted in recorded music being massively over-valued. To the point where even the artists started believing that a song might be worth more than a few pence.

    It's rather like the situation when Perkin's Artificial Mauve became available, for a fraction of the cost of the shellfish-based dyes that used to be the only stable purple pigments. Suddenly, purple clothing was affordable to everyone And if your whole business model depended on purple dye being expensive and difficult to obtain, then it was no longer sustainable.

    Unfortunately, making music probably isn't a sustainable way of earning a living anymore, because other people can make copies of it far too cheaply. That isn't something that can be stopped, either. Even if copy-prevention was not mathematically impossible, there would still be a deep-rooted instinct in all gregarious predators which, in humans, manifests as a pathological loathing to paying the full asking price. (In dogs, it manifests as preferring the taste of exactly the same food from someone else's plate.)

    And whilst I understand that musicians have to eat, I don't for one second accept this as implying that making music has to pay enough in and of itself for you to be able to afford to eat. So if you, as a musician, can't live with the simple fact that many people aren't going to pay for your music, or if you are so desperate to make sure that nobody gets a copy of your work without paying you for it, then I'm afraid your only option is not to make any music in the first place.

    I can't say the music industry wasn't nice to have around, while it lasted. But it's been rendered unsustainable by developments elsewhere. It's been a blast; but the thing about all parties is that eventually they come to an end. All that remains to say is so long, and thanks for all the records.

    1. Nanners

      Re: There's no nice way to say this .....

      All tomorrow's parties...

      You are right, we make music for ourselves now, not for the lawyers. We often don't expect to make much, but we are musicians, we still make music. Because we can! The lawyers and the record companies eliminated themselves from the equation a long time ago. Right from the start.

    2. FutureShock999

      Re: There's no nice way to say this .....

      "So, I don't like DRM, so let's let the industry die. Was nice while it lasted".

      I wonder what you do for a living, and how easily it can be copied or cloned. Or what your employer does.

      I bet that at some very basic level, you owe YOUR employment and income to the enforcement of property laws, including IP protection. Sooooo, goose, gander... Like that thought? If you want to remove copywrite protection for artists, then let's remove it from computer software (easy to copy, right?), auto designs, industrial tool designs, architectural designs, ooooh, a million things. And then we can all sit around the campire and commiserate with the unemployed artists, as all of our jobs are shipped to China and India, because everything will be copyable in 5 minutes after it comes out, and sold in the West for 25% of it's price. If it is sold at all - if it is computer software it will just be pirated immediately with no DRM.

      1. John G Imrie

        Re: There's no nice way to say this .....

        I wonder what you do for a living, and how easily it can be copied or cloned. Or what your employer does.

        I have one question.

        Why aren't you buying my buggy whips any more?

        1. FutureShock999

          Re: There's no nice way to say this .....

          Wrong answer - you obviously still WANT and use those "buggy whips" because you are downloading them on BitTorrent by the petabyte per year. You have just decided to not pay the manufacturer for them. Nice try, but no go. It's stealing.

          1. Naughtyhorse

            Re: There's no nice way to say this .....

            torrents != lost sales

            torrents/10 != lost sales

          2. A J Stiles

            Re: There's no nice way to say this .....

            Um, no. The rules have changed -- that is the whole point. Just because something was hard to do, doesn't mean you're automatically entitled to be paid for it. If the thought of people benefitting from your hard work without paying you for the privilege really bothers you, perhaps you shouldn't do said hard work in the first place.

      2. JEDIDIAH

        Re: There's no nice way to say this .....

        > I wonder what you do for a living,

        I contribute to what you would call "creative works".

        If the work is of general interest then I HOPE it gets pirated. Otherwise, it means that it is simply no good. If you aren't being pirated, your stuff really is poorly regarded. As far as that "stealing" goes, I have not seen it impact the bottom line. Good stuff still gets bought.

        Don't make crap.

        Acknowlege the fact that you have to compete with every form of distraction.

        DRM does NOT stop pirates. It just bothers the paying customers.

    3. Nanners

      Re: There's no nice way to say this .....

      I'm a stay at home dad!

  21. BaronVonMallard

    Stuff should be free, cause I want free stuff!

    "I would Happily pay £15-50 to watch a band live 2-3 times a year."

    The vast majority of that goes to the venue and the promoter. What's left goes on equipment, fuel, insurance, etc. The remainder is then split between the musicians. This is again a question of 'I would rather give my money to a big company than a musician, oh and, any music you manage to record should be free!'.

    Touring only makes money for the big acts, everyone else is lucky to break even. The argument that playing live is the cure for this particular problem is only used by the ill informed, and of course, those who benefit from exploiting other peoples content.

    "It will also rids the industry of auto tuned fakes and the best performers will early the money."

    As has been proven by the last decade, the only acts that benefit from this ARE the auto tuned fakes, because they're the ones who gain industry backing and thus can create enough critical mass that touring pays. Ahem, *Beiber* ahem.

    This also fails to take into account that most performers are not content creators. Your Brave New World will give us nothing but acts like Pat Boone, singing other peoples songs because they have no creative spark of their own.

    Personally, I don't want free stuff, because free stuff is generally substandard crap.

  22. Captain Underpants

    Where I agree with Andrew:

    If we make it possible for artists to get paid in some fashion for their work, we end up with more of their work available. We also end up with more of the popular work than we would otherwise get (where "popular" is, to a certain extent, correlated with "good").

    Where I disagree:

    What we should do is to continue trying to bolt existing property laws wholesale into an environment where they really do not make sense.

    The entire notion of any kind of physical sales system working is that the copying part is non-trivial. You can say "only this person can allow sales of certain things, and anyone who copies them is infringing" and it'll sort of work, because only a few (relatively) people have the resources to facilitate mass copying of a profitable sort, and for those who lack those resources, single copies aren't worth the hassle. (If they are, you're missing a trick re: pricing).

    Computers are at a very basic level machines that copy stuff. So entirely aside from any "the internet will break" arguments, any notion of saying "We have to impose a copying-not-allowed feature into any computing system" goes out the window.

    The requirements for a DRM system to underpin the digital-files-as-scarce-resource would be:

    a) seamless integration into all OSs (including your Linuxy FOSS ones) which means some sort of open API

    b) a centrally managed independent database for identifying all songs/media and associating them with licensing systems

    c) some way of selectively disabling any ability to copy a file on any OS in existence so as to not undermine the DRM.

    I don't think any of these goals are realistic, because like the existing copyright legislation they have one underpinning assumption that is no longer particularly true: that centralisation is an unarguable fact of life. If your DRM mechanism depends on a centralised universal library/database, and a centralised mechanism of some sort that overrides people's local control of their equipment to prevent unauthorised copying, then it's not going to fly, because all of the issues we face right now have arisen through decentralisation. Trying to put the genie back into the bottle in this sort of way won't work.

    But this has long been the case - smaller publishers or indie artists of any sort don't benefit as much as Big Labels do, because the utility of the rights is still in a large sense predicated on having a big enough wallet to pay for lawyers to enforce them via the courts. Which is fine, sort of - in the days of physical scarcity limiting your product, you want to focus mostly on those infringers who are infringing your rights on a commercially-sensitive scale, as they're the threat to your bottom line.

    Now, we have the opposite issue - absolutely *loads* of people having learned that for the most part, getting what they want is more easily achieved with Naughty Methods than with legitimate ones. Refer for instance to the Oatmeal comic about wanting to watch Game Of Thrones, and then realise how much worse this is for anyone not in the US.

    I think that the solution is more likely to take the form of changing business practices associated with the arts: ie phase out geographical restrictions on releases, phase out usage of DRM, and make buying stuff online as painlessly easy as possible. In most areas this is not the case yet, and my experience is that small or independent artists are further ahead of the curve than the big publishers who are terrified of seeing their past business practices failing them. If the transition to generally-non-DRM'd digital music sales hasn't caused the absolute implosion of the digital music marketplace, then by definition that tells us that DRM is not a requirement for a functioning digital media marketplace. I've yet to see any compelling evidence that DRM would enable a more successful/vibrant digital media marketplace, and that's what we'd need in order to justify it.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)


      I agree with almost all of that Captain. DRM books

      Computers are copying machines, yes indeed. I want my licensed P2P service where I can copy music to others in the club. We very nearly got that in the UK four years ago. I don't expect it to be free, just another paid option.

      The removal DRM from music hasn't caused an absolute implosion, but it didn't give it much of an uplift either. Which suggest hardly anyone gives a crap about DRM, no?

      1. Captain Underpants

        Re: Agreed

        DRM is a problem, though. The iTunes Store had DRM that people tolerated because it was kept invisible from the original iTunes users - iPod owners. Once it became a shop that people using other players might want to use, exportability became an issue and the fact that it was an Apple standard built around Apple kit got in the way.

        The plethora of devices that can play back video content now mean that the only way a service will avoid that kind of alienation issue is by using some sort of centralised one-DRM-shoe-fits-all approach, and given that every DRM technology devised thus far has been broken (coupled with the non-zero cost of implementation for any DRM system, and more damningly the fact that its presence or absence seems to be of no significance to the growth of digital media markets) I think that media companies would be better off not spending the money and time on it, and refocusing the time and money saved on new delivery processes and mechanisms. We're slowly moving in the right direction, but it's frankly kind of silly that if I want to watch the new episode of Sons of Anarchy, I can go to a torrent site today or I can wait a few weeks for the only legit uk source I know of (Five USA) to broadcast it. And that's still an improvement over the 6+months delays that used to be commonplace. Someone, somewhere, is missing out on a substantial lump of cash by not offering me download/stream rights for this stuff - where by "me" I mean "their audience as a whole".

      2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: "hardly anyone gives a crap about DRM, no?"


        I'm surprised that Andrew is talking about DRM as if it is some means of stopping piracy - which is staggeringly naive.

        DRMs are not there to prevent copying and unauthorised distribution by pirates, they exist to limit what legitimate buyers can do with the content they've paid for.

        By definition, DRMs only affect people who pay for content in the way the rights-holder wants. If you get a "pirate" copy it won't have DRM on it. For the legitimate users DRM will stop them from using any technology or utilising the content in any way not specifically approved by the rights-holders.

        So, who gave those rights-holders right to expect that they are entitled to impose any of the above restrictions on the use of content for which they have already collected their money? This is not them trying to preserve what they had before the rise of digital technologies - this is a blatant land-grab at the expense of the rest of us.

        Having the cake and eating it - that's what DRM is.

  23. toadwarrior

    Copyright is a good thing and we do need it. However someone needs to work on an open system. That way I'm not tied into using only a Kindle, for example, because I bought my books from Amazon.

    I also don't want to be punished because I choose to use Linux. If someone can come up with a way to protect media and software but people to build these controls into anything then they'd be a rich man.

  24. historymaker118

    Does the music 'industry' even exist anymore?

    Before the internet, the only music people could buy and listen to was what the big studios published. People had no real choice, and bought what was available, making the studio's a lot of money. As technology has improved more musicians and artists who otherwise might have never got contracts with the major labels, have been able to record from their basements and bedrooms and publish online. Suddenly there was an explosion of new unheard music and artists, and people started listening to them.

    Yes, people also became able to 'pirate' media, but I think the main reason the big studios have been 'losing' money, isn't so much that people are 'stealing' their music, but that less people actually want or need the music they put out there.

    I myself don't pirate, I listen to independent artists, and pay them directly either through donations/pay what you want websites, or on occasion itunes or similar. I think that the problem with the music industry is that it has become obsolete.

  25. Peladon

    OK. I'll admit...

    ... I'm prejudiced. But I'll get to that :-).

    I (and I apologise in advance for the ego represented by the vertical pronoun) think it's interesting. Not that anybody else has to give a rat about whther I think something's interesting or not :-P. But I do. Think it's interesting, I mean.

    Er - what is?

    Oh. Right. Yes. The point. I know I had one somewhere...

    I've read a few - OK, a lot - of these types of discussions. And there are generally a lot of views expressed, both pro and anti whatever the discussion point is. But there's one thing I've noticed is consistent.

    Whether it starts off that way or not, the bulk of the discussion tends to gravitate towards the music industry in its various aspects.

    I'm not saying that's a good thing, or a bad thing. I'm not saying other forms of creative activity don't deserve or do deserve more or less consideration. But it still seems to be true. Maybe because music is or can be 'consumed' in smaller bites of time, maybe because it can be cosumed while also doing other things, I don't know. but it seems to be the 'creative industry' people seem to drift towards talking about most. To watch a movie takes longer, to read a book. And both are harder to do while, say, making a chair or building a car in a factory or cooking dinner. Not impossible, but harder.

    I said I'd get back to my prejudice. OK. I'll admit it. I'm a writer. Am I 'not really a writer' because the things I do that pay the rent, that put food on the table, are (of necessity, not choice) not writing? Bugger that. I'm a writer. Am I somehow more noble because I carry on writing without being Tom Holt, or JK Rowling or Piers Anthony? Bugger that too. Maybe I'm just bloody stupid :-). And no. I'm not going to try to use this as a tealth marketing exercise, and try to 'accidentally' slip in something to tell you who I am, or what I write, or where you can get it. That's not for here :-).

    Like I said. I think it's interesting. That, in my limited experience, and apart from the occasional sad, lonely voice of a photographer (yes, or writer :-P), these types of discussions tend to drift towards the music industry and musicians. Who, by the way, I think are very hard working, very valuable member of society and whose concerns are well worthy of such focus and attention. Even to a writer :-).

  26. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    Photos provide a perfect example of how IP and privacy interact.

    If I take a photo of my beautiful teenage daughter, she posts it to facebook, and some creep lifts it and posts it to a site for pervs to drool over, then, in principle, I can use copyright to defend her privacy. However if the creep takes the photo himself, then copyright is useless. (If the site is based in the UK, I might be able to argue it is distressing under the Data Protection Act.)

    Most of the privacy issues on the internet seem equivalent to the latter case; I'm being imaged by a third party. E.g. El Reg's server logs of my actions are equivalent to a photographer recording me walking down the street. And, as I follow your argument Andrew, you're saying the subjects in the image should gain (a share of the?) copyright over the image. (Or have I misunderstood you?)

    As seductive an idea as it initially sounded, put in the above terms it doesn't sound practical.

    (We need an icon for "Just my tuppence worth".)

  27. Flooder

    something missing

    err.. should I point out the obvious: several studies found that "pirates" in fact are your main buyers of music? This whole running in circles and screaming is aload of phooey. I buy music. In fact I re-purchased music I have already "pirated". One rule though - I'll never buy anything with DRM. People around me are doing the same.

    In other words - business models arr evolving in music industry an I pay not because someone is twisting my arm, but because it's the right thing to do.

  28. Dogsauce

    It's not fixing they mean, it's keeping a corpse animated. I'm not sure why as an industry its decline is any more worthy of attention than mining, heavy manufacturing or horse shoeing.

    Music existed before the 'music industry' existed.

    It'll still be there after the industry exists.

    There's not much work around for blacksmiths these days, but people still find other work, people still get about. Society and technology changes and flow of money and employment moves with it. The 'music industry' in its current form is just a blip in the history of music.

    I'm involved with (playing, promoting and watching) self-organised, amateur musicians that do all the things commercial musicians do bar make a living out of it. Tours abroad, gigs, national radio play/sessions, records. There's no inferiority in technique, ability or inventiveness. There's actually more creative freedom when there isn't a focus on producing something saleable (that's not to say people produce impenetrable nonsense, there are all levels and styles).

    It's not that there's a hostility to the music 'industry', it's just that it's not necessary, never really was. It barely exists for a lot of people. It's now (and arguably always has been) about branding, not music. We won't stop writing and playing and having fun just because EMI stopped existing.

    (as an aside, I'm not writing this as a filesharing apologist. I have enough access to music without it or the mainstream industry).

  29. Tom 7 Silver badge

    I like the car analogy

    The musicians make the car. The industry sells the car for 10 times what the musician would get for it if they didn't have to pay for rent on the spanners and other equipment they may have had to use to put the wheels on the car - having built most of it in their bedrooms over their youth by practising making other cars that the music industry charged them for listening to.

    By keeping prices high they reduce the overall market thus making a few cars look really cool and by paying a few car makers a lot and advertising them they can give the impression that they are doing the car makers a favour and even get them to complain about people driving cars they've sold to someone else.

    By making huge profits the industry gets loads of money to make sure that no-one else comes along and lets those cars be sold by the tens of millions rather than the hundreds of thousands in case the musicians get really uppity and tell them to stuff their pointless stupid parasitic paralysing industry where the brake lights dont shine.

  30. Bradley Hardleigh-Hadderchance

    Water finds its own level

    The wheels are in motion. It can not be stopped now. I'm ok with that.

    Why pirate? I am listening to the greatest band since the Beatles on youtube - their entire collection of recorded output on a playlist. They split up a year or two or so ago. They came from Scotland.

    I also happen to own one or two of their cds/singles/eps. They only made a few anyway. There are hundreds of thousands of hits to their youtube playlist. Every one says what a genius band. They are greatly loved and revered. But they had to split up and have major nervous breakdowns, because they just weren't getting anywhere.

    A lot of people love and recognize quality music, but there are many more that reminds me of that line from the Jam song: And the public wants what the public gets.

    I'm ok with that too. I spend all my money on musical equipment. I have recently stopped buying software, because frankly, I already have too much - a cornucopia of the best state of the art engineering in the field.

    There are a few updates and things I still plan on getting. I will buy them when there is a sale on, because I just don't have the money right now. I need to buy hard drives to back up my machines, but I can not afford them at the moment either. If I had a catastrophic failure I would lose years of work. I know, I know.. but I am poor. Did I say that I can't afford them? So no more software.. I cracked them black and blue, but now I only use what I paid for. I also give back to the devs with free sample packs, patches and guis.

    On another note. Why does commercial high selling stuff have to be crap? Donna Summer wasn't crap, etc. etc.. High quality music is guaranteed to sell, isn't it? See my previous example. There is something going on here Mrs. Jones, and I think you do know what it is don't you?

    I'm an exceptional songwriter, a pretty damn fine producer, an average engineer and a lousy businessman.

    I'm ok with that too. I love music deeply. It is my mistress. The one I will always go back to. I'm still poor.

    I'm getting my girls together. It's a bit difficult because I am a middle aged man looking for teenage girls or under 30s girls to groom. Also I am not Somemore Cowbell ;-), and everyone is a potential Jimmy these days, until proven otherwise. I'm sure you see my predicament. So I mostly make Drum and Bass, Dub, and Hip Hop. I fucking hate hip hop gangster shit. _DO_ you see my predicament?

    Good luck to anyone that can make a living out of music. I sure as hell never will. Those that make it big, usually have to sell something more than their music. I am not prepared to do that. I have no answers.

    But I eat, have a roof over my head and am fairly healthy. That's more than a lot of fellow humans on planet earth can say......

    1. Rukario

      Re: Water finds its own level

      Donna Summer wasn't crap.

      She was the great poet who served as the inspiration for...

      Herman Cain's presidential campaign!

      (Penguin because it looks almost like a Pokémon.)

  31. grammarpolice

    Economics of art


    If you haven't read Walden Two, it might be an idea to do so. There is a good theory of how to address the economics of art and culture there.

  32. Alan Brown Silver badge

    How to fix the music Biz


    Stop catering to the teenybopper plastic band contingent and start producing music that people actually want to buy - the people with money, not the people who wish they had some.

    Once upon a time the backbone of the industry was female 16yo filing clerks buying singles. They grew up and that market's been irrelevant ever since albums started outselling them, but the mindset is still there because teenagers are noisy fans.

    It may be sacrilege to some, but parts of the country music biz are each significantly larger than the entire pop music industry (and it is an industry, cranking out music sausages), with virtually no advertising, low levels of radio play outside of a few specialist geographic markets and low levels of piracy.

    If you produce a low-value interchangable industrial product and sell it for more than it's worth, don't be surprised at consumer resistance to the pricing.

    As for high street shops going out of business, it's hardly surprising when they're selling what are effectively highly perishable goods with the worst profit margin on the High Street.

    Sales had been dying off since the mid 1970s - long before CDs hit the market - and were rejuvenated as people renewed their collections after CDs appeared, but then died off again even faster - and that was _before_ digital copying became commonplace. Piracy was simply the easiest thing to scapegoat when the losses became too big to ignore - despite it being fairly commonly suspected (and subsequently proven) that most "pirates" were also the heaviest consumers of legal material (try before you buy, etc).

    The music industry has been operating a suicidal business model for over 30 years. It's only now that the zombie has realised its limbs are falling off and it's still trying frantically to avoid facing facts.

    (FWIW, top40/MOR/AOR radio station listeners and video TV station watchers do not buy statistically significant numbers of records and haven't done for 40 years. They get most of their satsfaction with what's served up to them by program directors, etc.)

    1. FutureShock999

      Re: How to fix the music Biz

      If your argument had a shred of truth in it, then teenybopper music wouldn't get made at all. The labels all read sales charts, look at social media, take polls online and in record stores. And as it turns out, the "older market with discerning tastes and disposable cash" simply doesn't buy that many records, despite your prejudices. As someone who was once a rabid music fan and dj, I think I know why - as we get older, we simply get too busy to be that rabid about it - jobs, families, fun things we couldn't afford to do when younger. It is the youngsters in mating mode and with either school to attend or intro-level jobs that have the time and social connectivity to care that much about music, and frankly their taste sucks. Usually.

      I just bought two Medeski, Martin and Wood albums off their online store. While I was doing that, Justin Bieber sold a few thousand songs on iTunes. That's not the music industry's fault, that's just maturity and lifestyle changes. Pinning that on "labels don't know what is selling or what would be profitable" is frankly bullpucky. They know better than anyone, because they have teams of well paid researchers figuring just that out, using real data and real math. Ignoring that is just looking for a nice convenient excuse for piracy, IMHO.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How to fix the music Biz

      Simply let it carry on the way it's going and die. The sooner the better.

      Despite their grossly distorted sense of entitlement, no one owes them a living.

      The music biz is only entitled to the OPPORTUNITY of making a living. Just like the rest of us in the real world.

      And bribing politicians in democratic countries to write laws to favour their industry over civil rights is totally unacceptable. Especially if it's done in secret.

  33. Swiss Anton

    Money for nothing

    "Money for nothing" as Dire Straits once sang, and how they proved that right by copying it, and copying it, and copying it and all without having to sing another note. Oh, and BTW they made mountains of money out of these copies. Nowadays anyone came make good copies, and these musicians, like 99% of all other musicians that have ever lived will have to perform in front of real people if they want to make money. And that's not so different from what the rest of us have to do.

  34. SleepyJohn

    The failing business troubleshooting technique

    Some years ago I read about a man who worked as a troubleshooter for failing businesses. His technique was simple: Sack all the middlemen managers, then sit by the phone with a cup of tea and gradually re-hire the ones who seemed to be actually needed.

    In this particular case, where the failure is clearly caused by greedy middlemen stealing from both parties, stamping on innovation and bribing governments to pass repressive laws, a system should be devised to bypass these parasites and enable artists to connect directly with their fans and develop new financial arrangements to benefit them both. It could be a sort of network between artists and fans, perhaps with a snappy name like "The InterNet" or something. Any sacked middlemen who offer a genuine contribution to this can be re-hired. The rest can be bid 'good riddance'.

  35. This post has been deleted by its author

  36. Magnus_Pym

    Who decides how much music is worth?

    The value of music has always been completely subjective. That the artist should get paid for their work is not in dispute. It's how much that art is worth that is the real point. Does the ability to produce music that people want to listen to entitle you to a Lear-Jets-and-mansions life style? Is an artist wealth more connected to exploiting a market that the quality of work?

    I suspect that almost everybody, artist and consumer alike, has a story of being ripped of by the recorded music industry. An industry that is barely more than a generation old. And they wonder why nobody like them. Popular music existed before the record industry and will continue to exist after it withers and dies.

  37. Metal Marv

    Sums the reality of the situation up nicely I think.

  38. Infernoz Bronze badge

    See - to summarise, IP is an artificial and corrupting state priviledge, not a right.

    These state ideas are based on many obsolete legal and economic fictions, these corrupt the economy thus suppress genuine Capitalism.

    All legal (fictional) support for state protection of ideas is anti-capitalist; Corporate (legal fiction) support for state protection is irrelevant.

    IP is not real property; once it has been published, it is just another public idea.

    Ideas are intangibles, therefore not property, however much you deceive yourself that they could be.

    Only Physical items can be property.

    Copyright is BS, patents without stored physical models are BS.

    The fictional legal system may not like this, but reality is physical, period!

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