Posts Tagged ‘filesharing’

“Online music piracy ‘destroys local music’”. O RLY?

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Just a quickie.

Today an article at the BBC reported the ‘music industry’ claiming that piracy is destroying local music. Of course not the entire music industry believes this, just IFPI which represents only a fraction of all those working in the music industries (yes, there are multiple music industries).

The article states:

The sales of albums by local artists there have fallen by 65% in five years.

Federation chairman John Kennedy said the situation in Spain is now “almost irreversible”.

“Spain runs the risk of turning into a cultural desert,” commented Rob Wells, Senior Vice President, Digital, at Universal Music Group.

A cultural desert? Really? How about including statistics on live music? There is a very vibrant scene of young, creative musicians in cities like Barcelona and it appears to be thriving. I’m sure there are numbers that suggest the same. Such a ‘desert’ is more likely to be created by ‘music monopolies’, where big companies flood the market with non-local musicians by employing huge marketing budgets. Local artists would struggle to compete with that. If anything, big labels like UMG are causing a cultural desert, but is it really about the richness of culture or the richness of the labels?

When I read the following bit in the article, I had to count to 10…

He described the loss of the recent court case against BitTorrent website Oink as “a terrible disappointment” and an indication that current laws in the UK are “out of touch with where life is”.

Out of touch with where life is??? It is 2010. Music distribution is nearly costless, yet ‘you’ demand unreasonable prices for a copy of a song. Yes, there are production prices (but live revenue and sponsoring can help with that), and yes there is a marketing budget which needs to be earned back, but perhaps the world is better off without the marketing. You cannot finance one thing, by making money from something unsustainable – that’s bad business.

“The news from the commercial viewpoint is reasonably good but it’s not happening fast enough,” said Mr Wells.

So by stifling innovation through draconian laws, this process is going to be accelerated?

“The music industry finally believes it is making progress in the battle against web piracy with governments taking action and legal music services beginning to prove viable,” said BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones.

“But the industry is still furious about what it sees as negligence by some governments notably Spain – and is warning that there is a growing threat to local artists posed by piracy.”

Prove that there’s a threat. Record sales mean nothing at all.

There ARE ways for artists to make money and not to depend on selling records… The only side in this that really depends on selling records are the record companies. And guess who are the loudest party in this struggle? Exactly. Record companies have to reshape themselves totally and governments have to prevent these companies from ‘micro-managing’ the lives of consumers.

I’m sure some people will read this and feel angry. Please leave a comment and let’s discuss the future. I am 100% confident there is more than enough money to be made in the music industries, both local and global. Hey, my livelihood depends on it.

If you have numbers to share, for instance on live revenue in Spain, please do!! Help me make my point (or disprove it, if you want).

Here’s the article at BBC, there’s more to it, go check it out: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8471290.stm

Training Our Kids to Be Hackers

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Due to the recent case against The Pirate Bay in The Netherlands, which could render The Pirate Bay inaccessible to Dutch internet subscribers, I decided to look at ways that I could access the site if it were to get banned. Not because I want to download copyrighted material from it, but because it’s one of the best ways to distribute my DJ sets to fans. If it were to get banned, the Dutch court would sever a great distribution channel that can be (and IS) used in legal ways too.

It’s not just this case that makes me wonder, but also the fact that Dutch ISPs are required to store the surfing history of their clients for 12 months. They are required to keep a whole list of information, which can be seen at the previous link. Since I don’t trust my backwards, Christian democrat government with my data, let alone the possibility of a right-wing extremist gaining access to it after the next parliamentary elections, I decided to look into proxies.

Then I realized something. Monitoring users and infringing on their privacy, but especially restricting a medium like the internet, turns users into hackers. For instance, a lot of kids are fascinated by hackers – not just because of the picture Hollywood paints of them, but also because they face a lot of restrictions on the internet. Filters on their computer or browsers at home, even worse filters at libraries or their schools, etc. So they figure out how to dodge these filters.

It’s no coincidence that in countries like Iran, or China, which have some of the most restricted internet connections in the world, there are very high amounts of hackers. This should be a warning to those trying to control the flow of information on the internet by banning sites: we, the Internet users, will become better at dodging your filters and will become even less trackable than we are now.

What this means to the content industries (movies, music) is that right now there’s a huge database of information on the use and downloading of music. If the ‘pirates’ weren’t so scared of the industries, they wouldn’t be so anonymous and the information would be even more useful for things like testing popularity of music, but also marketing music to the right people.

Another example are the recent calls in Germany to block right-wing extremist websites. The problem with this is that it will only drive this movement underground, making it harder to track them and to prevent hate crimes. They’re already getting more internet savvy. Instead of spending so much time discussing how they can censor such websites (which will NOT decrease the amount of people with right-wing extremist tendencies), maybe they should look at how they can profile different types of people that fall prey to extremist thoughts and think of ways to integrate them into society, instead of alienating them further and making them more extreme.

By blocking our access, we’re turned into hackers. We go underground. At that point, you lose your opportunity to monetize or to influence us via our favourite medium. You’re not disconnecting us from our favourite sites, you’re disconnecting yourself from us.

Image by LShave, shared under a Creative Commons license on Flickr.

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What the Ban of The Pirate Bay could mean for The Netherlands

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

This afternoon a Dutch court ruled in favour of Dutch copyright protectors, BREIN, in a case versus The Pirate Bay. Within ten days, The Pirate Bay must block access to all Dutch users. BREIN’s head honcho, Tim Kuik, is happy about the verdict, because The Pirate Bay (TPB), according to him, is simply illegal.

What does this verdict change though? Internet users can make TPB’s servers think they’re not in The Netherlands simply by using a proxy. The less tech-savvy users can simply use one of The Pirate Bay’s clones. Those that are getting paranoid can be relieved that people are constantly working on increasing the quality of filesharing and making it harder to track (see this article about HydraTorrent, which, by the way, has already copied all of TPB’s torrents). Now that The Pirate Bay is gone, will the market for music in The Netherlands suddenly be a little bit bigger? No, no, no. Only the lawyers are profiting from this.

So what does it achieve? It makes it easier for people to get websites banned if they disagree with the content. The Pirate Bay doesn’t host any copyrighted content, it links to it. It also hosts a lot of legal content, I personally use it to distribute my DJ sets, so thanks BREIN for killing one of my best distribution channels.

While living in Turkey I witnessed horrible web censorship. I couldn’t use YouTube, one of the most popular sites on the web, unless I used a proxy or some other workaround that simply kills the user friendliness. Why was YouTube banned? Because the Turkish government didn’t like the content of one of the movies on YouTube, because it was against the law in Turkey. When YouTube didn’t remove it, the government had ALL of YouTube blocked via the courts. For years! In an older post I already mentioned that the whole YouTube ban is pointless anyway. Research in Alexa.com’s traffic ranking system has shown that YouTube is the 10th most popular site in Turkey. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan surprised everyone when he stated that even he uses YouTube.

Not only was YouTube banned, at some point ALL of blogger/blogspot was banned, because some blogs contained copyrighted material. The website of atheist Richard Dawkins was blocked, because somebody found it to be offensive.

In Holland, blasphemy is also illegal, so is disturbance of the peace, or insulting people. These could all be precedents to take down websites now that that door has been opened. Tim Kuik is proud, but he’s only keeping lawyers paid and limiting the freedoms of the citizens of The Netherlands.

The Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde wants to appeal, but they’re looking for a lawyer that can do the job for free, since they’re out of money. Besides that, they’re suing Tim Kuik for slander, because he accused them of hacking BREIN’s website, which was a hoax by the way, BREIN was never hacked.

Help us out. Spread the word. Understand that blocking sites like this does not help artists make more money, it only helps LAWYERS make more money. When they killed Napster, 10 things came in its place. There is no more stopping it. The business model needs to change. That’s the only way.

Besides that, don’t buy from artists that support this. I personally won’t buy anything anymore from any artist supporting or represented by BREIN. Especially artists shouldn’t align themselves with freedom-infringing practices like this. Art is about expression, not repression and free expression only happens in free environments.


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