Monday, April 20, 2009

Macca hails Pirate imprisonment

If you've been waiting for a Beatles-endorsed position to be taking on the Pirate Bay trial, good news. Paul McCartney has decided to share his mild views with the world.

Not for Macca the tired old claim that it's like stealing a CD to fileshare. Oh, no:

"If you get on a bus you've got to pay. And I think it's fair, you should pay your ticket."

Uh-huh. So, then, in McCartney's world, the massed weight of four multinational corporations and the Swedish legal system are like ticket inspectors.

Sadly, Paul doesn't quite explain why 'listening to a piece of music recorded forty years ago transferred digitally' and 'making a physical journey on a physical object that has to have petrol and maintenance work done on it' should be considered the same sort of thing.

After all, it's perfectly easy to counter 'you pay for a bus' with 'ah, but you don't pay to look at a cultivated field, do you? Someone made that, but you don't automatically consider it theft a person peeks over the hedge.
"Anyone who does something good, particularly if you get really lucky and do a great artistic thing and have a mega hit, I think you should get rewarded for that.

"I'm in favour of that sort of thing."

Up with that sort of thing! It's heartwarming that Paul thinks its especially important that someone who does something artistic be rewarded - after all, saving a child's life, or teaching a class of forty to read, or ensuring that there's enough bread for us all to enjoy toast next winter, that's good. But it's not like it's recording The Frog Chorus, is it?

And, again, McCartney fails to explain why it should be the order of things that if you did something brilliant forty years ago that you should still be getting rewarded for it now. Much less your descendents. Christian Barnard's family don't get a royalty every time someone's transplanted heart beats.
The problem is you get a lot of young bands coming up and some of them aren't going to last forever so if they have a massive hit that's going to pay their mortgage forever.

Or, perhaps like the rest of us, they could carry on getting other jobs as the bills continue to roll in.
"They're going to feed the children on that and if they don't get that money, if they don't see that money, I think it's a bit of a pity."

Ah - so Pirate Bay were, in effect, starving children.

I guess it does suck to be a young band now, knowing that if you'd been born twenty years earlier you might have been able to get a couple of decades earnings from a day of genius. Of course, now, you still can, it's just that the market place has moved on, and the value of the work is much, much lower. You might have to have a plan B if you want to feed children in the year 2019 using royalties on a song written in 2009.

As McCartney says, it is a pity. It must be galling. But it's what's happened.
"I've been very lucky because my main era with the Beatles was at a time when everyone did get paid."

Everyone? Everyone, Paul? Wasn't the 60s and 70s known for hapless artists signing away their rights for a pittance of buy-out? Sure, a few large acts did very well out of the time - but you're kidding yourself if you believe there are many of your contemporaries who are still paying the mortgage from proceeds of a big hit in the 1960s.
"Particularly for young bands and they've got a young family, I don't want to see them destitute after a couple of years when they were mega. So I think it's fair."

McCartney isn't, I don't think, suggesting that only artists with young families earn royalties; nor, even, that having children under ten should get you a higher rate from the PRS - although you can see why that idea might appeal to him.

What's especially frustrating about his intervention is that it actually hints at part of the problem with the current structure of the music industry - that there are a very few mega acts, who might earn enough to set themselves up forever. But there's a hell of a lot of "young bands with young families" who work hard and never even get into recouping their advance. McCartney is no more going to suggest that the system that has made him offensively rich be reformed than Cliff Richard would, but you'd hope he'd at least see that a system which rewards a couple of megahits far more generously than forty years of quiet inspiration might be worth taking a look at again.


BaldySlaphead said...

Oh ffs, did you forget to take the anti-snide pills this morning?

Macca is oviously not suggesting songwriting is better than saving a child's life, is he? He's blatantly talking about writing music. Slag the frog chorus (hack though it is to do so) if you want, but your attacking points that were never even made just detracts from your good ones.

Anonymous said...

So six months since he said "I don’t mind. It works out" on the subject of downloading he's towing the party line, eh? Why am I not surprised at the contradiction? Of course, this is the same Paul McCartney who has spent most of his career struggling to gain back the publishing rights to his best works. Despite 40 years of troubles with Northern Songs and having so many songs owned by somebody else and not being able to outbid other people to buy them back, he still feels he should be defending the industry? Am I the only one who can't see where he's coming from? You're saying that the system has made him "offensively rich" and that's true but even he has been ripped off by it and you think he'd be slightly more sensitive to a better system than the industry wants.

Catty said...

I'm also a little confused here. Mac's spent 40 years being fucked off about the fact he doesn't retain rights to his Beatles publishing. He was one of the first artists to take control over his publishing so he knows firsthand The Industry isn't looking out for artists.

I don't think anyone would deny artists their payday; that's not in dispute. But I don't think it was ensuring the artists got paid for downloaded music that spearheaded this lawsuit in the first place.

simon h b said...


You completely miss my point - no, McCartney didn't make any comparison between music and medicine. Although he did say it was "particularly" important to reward artists who had done something good.

What I was really asking was why there is this automatic assumption that copyright owners should earn from their work decades and decades after that work has been completed, when people who perform equally or more important tasks for society don't have the same expectation.

Frog Chorus might be an easy target - I just thought it was a nice conflation to put McCartney's children's record alongside teaching & pediatrics

Catty said...

I think McCartney is advocating a pro-Gold Star for Everybody Yay!!! platform.

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