Friday, September 18, 2009

Lily and Matt talk rights

Although Lily Allen is mostly wrong on copyright, it's with a degree of respect that I wave my hands at her latest blog yelling "no! no! no!" At least she's debating, sort-of, something, with her call for people to pay more for music.

On MySpace. A site whose popularity was first, largely, built on sheaf after sheaf of unlicensed music. Perhaps Lily doesn't see her use of MySpace, and delivery of traffic there, as a reward for past behaviour, but it does smack of someone using a platform built from profits of crime to launch a clean-up campaign.

So, what does Lily have to say in her follow up?

I've had a lot of responses back since my previous blog posting here. The long and short of it is, even before this economic downturn Piracy has been affecting all areas of entertainment, except maybe theatre. CD sales, Film DVD sales, book sales , TV DVD sales, everything.

Everything except theatre, eh?

Cinema's up, too:
Cinema admissions for June stood at 12.5m, an increase of 5.6% yr on yr.

• The average weekly admissions figure for June were 2.91m an increase of a 5.4% on average weeks in June 2008.

• Q2 admissions have reached 42.1m (up 22.5%) and the highest Q2 since 2004.

Book sales down? Are you sure, Lily? It's not quite so clear:
August 12, 2009, New York, NY: Book sales tracked by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) for the month of June increased by 21.5 percent at $942.6 million and were up by 1.8 percent for the year.

And so on. But we're cherry-picking data here, admitedly.
Now, if people go on consuming at the rate they are and do not pay for what they are consuming, not only will the artists within all these industries be without jobs and unable to express themselves but the behind the scenes people too.

This is convoluted. If people do stop consuming without paying, you still won't be any better off.

And there's no direct link between people being able to express themselves and people buying corporate products:

- Hey, Romeo, will you sing me a love song?
- Nah, Juliet, as people have stopped buying CDs from Barnes and Noble, rendering me somehow incapable of writing and singing a song for you

Thats literally millions of jobs . .

Is it? The UK government last year put the number of people employed in the creative sector at 2 million. A third of these were in software and computer games development, and there's also visual arts, ballet dancers, the staff of the BBC and architects amongst others helping the headcount. All in all, if filesharing had the power to totally wipe out the film and music industries (and it doesn't), you'd be talking about hundreds of thousands of jobs, not "literally millions." Not to be taken lightly, but not quite the same.
I know that a lot of you want to know that you're not being overcharged for a product and you want to know that your hard earned cash is going to the right places, alot of work has to be done in order for this to happen.

The market price for individual, basic mp3s is almost zero. Any move the government makes is merely going to artificially inflate the price. Or, in other words, overcharging for a product.
I think that paying 14.99 for an album is ridiculous, I'm with you on that, and that wont happen again, but piracy is not the answer.

"That won't happen again" because... why, exactly, Lily? It happened in the first place because the music industry were able to exploit a limited supply of product and - for each record individually - a monopoly of supply.

You're campaigning tirelessly to see the conditions under which albums rose to fifteen quid be replicated online by the use of copyright barriers. How can you say that it won't happen again?
It's hard enough to get a job at the moment.

Lily Allen spent the last three weeks trying to get something - anything - down at Tesco, and even her experience... oh, sorry, she's just guessing, isn't she?
People are being laid off in all areas and the record companies are no exception.

Yes. Do you suppose piracy might be affecting banks and replacement window companies as well, or do you think this might be some broader economic point totally unrelated to how many people have bookmarked the Pirate Bay?
My own label EMI laid off thousands last year. I don't care so much about the high-ups (and by the way they're always the last to go - what a surprise) but the people who are going out are the young ones, the life blood basically.

EMI are in a mess because they were leveraged out by a private equity company who piled on debt without having much of a clue how to run a record company. That didn't happen because someone copied a CD off their mate.

Oh - and quite a few executives at EMI have lost their jobs over the last couple of years, too.
They're the ones that go first, , I've seen it. And the same is happening in TV and film. Why do you think you are just getting Terminator 6 and Harry Potter 7 instead of exciting new voices? Because the young voices are not there anymore.

Film sequels were only invented in 2004, after the last fresh idea was sucked out of a branch of the Odeon by a chap with a camcorder. This, Lily, is just piffle and I think in your heart you know that pointing to the conclusion of a movie franchise that was launched as a franchise to somehow suggest that young people don't make movies any more is just crazy. Did directors and producers used to be treated Logans Run style back in the 1970s?
Do you care about that, or do you just want to watch and listen to the products of the last generation?

This isn't a coherent argument at all - if you fileshare, there won't be any The XX? But people do fileshare, and there's still a constant parade of young people in tight jeans parading out of from wherever they come. Many of them disappear again quickly - but twas ever thus. Hardly anyone makes any money from music, and hardly anyone ever has.
Or do you want a voice that is heard and can make a difference? What I do know is we have to invest in this sector of our country guys, we are great film makers,we have incredible writers and authors, historically the best music makers, we cant throw it all away.

Here's a question: how many tracks and books have gone unwritten because of piracy against the number unwritten because the major media corporations refusing to invest, or pulling the blanket after a failure by a new name to reach an arbitrary level of sales?
The internet is the most amazing thing, but it should be OUR thing, and ironically piracy is just playing into the hands of the corporations.

Because EMI isn't, apparently, a corporation?
What these artists and creators do, they do for the love of it,

so... erm... they'll carry on doing it even in the unlikely scenario of the money disappearing altogether?
I know its hard because money is scarce but we have to inject money back into these areas. It's not fair to steal peoples material,I know it's art and it has no physical value but even Shakespeare had shares in The Globe Theatre.

Yes. He underwrote his creativity - because there was little money in actually acting - by taking a stake in a different part of the industry.
People will lose their jobs, you'll be watching X-factor, Simon Cowell will be getting richer, radio stations will be churning out old back catalogues from people your dad or even your grandads age(vera lynn is No 1 this week) and the taxpayer will have to subsidize yet more unemployment.

The suggestion that the X Factor is a reaction to filesharing, and not the same labels whose case Allen is pressing now colluding in a cheaper way of knocking out records, is just ridiculous. And for Allen to be pleading for EMI while knocking Vera Lynn at the top of the charts is just hypocritical. In fact, MySpace points out how much:

Please, please, please go and see a film in the cinema instead of buying it in Tesco's car-park , buy a c.d. or album off itunes if you really like it, and god help us, keep buying books . If we do this, i really think we can make a difference. Anyone band, writer, author, musician, actress please feel free to contact me on this matter if you feel it is important

It's actually not that silly a thing to say - if you like culture, buy some culture. But this is so far from "if you share files, you must be punished" as to be laughable.

Allen also runs a response to her earlier post from Matt Bellamy. His stance is even more disappointing, as you'd hope he had a better grasp on things:
My current opinion is that file sharing is now the norm. This cannot be changed without an attack on perceived civil liberties which will never go down well.

"Perceived" civil liberties, Matt? The word "perceived" here being used in the sense of "actual, but difficult for me, so I'll pretend they're not there."
The problem is that the ISPs making the extreme profits (due to millions of broadband subscriptions) are not being taxed by the copyright owners correctly and this is a legislation issue.

I'm sorry? Is this really written by Matt Bellamy or a thirteen year-old at the Brits school? Copyright owners do not tax. Governments tax. You might raise a royalty - but clearly, this is being done "correctly", otherwise it wouldn't be a legislation issue, it'd be one of litigation.
Radio stations and TV stations etc have to pay the copyright owners (both recording and publishing) a fee for using material they do not own. ISPs should have to pay in the same way with a collection agency like PRS doing the monitoring and calculations based on encoded (but freely downloaded) data.

But ISPs are not broadcasters. What you're proposing is akin to the transmission companies being forced to pay for the material that others are using their network to share. Which is clearly nuts.
Broadband makes the internet essentially the new broadcaster. This is the point which is being missed.

It's not "being missed", Matt, it's just plain wrong. The internet is a distribution network. It makes lots of people with servers potentially akin to broadcasters, but an ADSL line is no more a broadcaster than the M1 is a motor vehicle.
Also, usage should have a value. Someone who just checks email uses minimal bandwidth, but someone who downloads 1 gig per day uses way more, but at the moment they pay the same.

Unless they're using, say, dial-up at a penny per minute, or mobile. Or on one of those deals where the amount of data is tiered. But broadly, two people on the same deal will pay the same, regardless of use. This is a pretty good measure, actually, as it encourages use of the internet and people buying music and films and apps.
It is clear which user is hitting the creative industries and it is clear which user is not, so for this reason, usage should also be priced accordingly.

Again, Matt, you're talking absolute twaddle. You might use a lot of bandwidth because you're mailing video you've taken of your kid to his grandma. You might use a lot of bandwidth because you're a Spotify premium user and streaming legal, paid-for music all through the day. You might be one of those struggling creative people Allen was talking about, using the net to share music you've written with journalists and other artists. You could be watching iPlayer. You might just be Stephen Fry using Twitter. To extrapolate that someone using a lot of bandwidth must be doing because they're using unlicensed material is such a fundamentally flawed assumption as to render your entire argument pointless.
The end result will be a taxed, monitored ISP based on usage which will ensure both the freedom of the consumer and the rights of the artists - the loser will be the ISP who will probably have to increase subscription costs to compensate, but the user will have the freedom to choose between checking a few emails (which will cost far less than a current monthly subscription) and downloading tons of music and film (which will cost probably a bit more than current subscription, but not that much more).

But the infrastructure of broadband is pretty expensive - it's unlikely any ISP would be able to afford to run an account which was for "just checking email", except at a loss. And if all I'm doing is downloading iTunes tracks which I've paid for, and mp3s being sent to me PR people, why should I be forced to pay a levy on my connectivity to go to music businesses?

And, come to that: why should it be only musicians who get money from any such levy? Shouldn't anyone who shares any content on the internet get a slice? What makes Matt Bellamy more deserving of money made from snooping on people's communications than, say, a journalist whose article gets circulated away from his paper's website?
We should set up a meeting with Lord Mandelson as he is on this issue at the moment, I'm sure he would meet us for breakfast!

I bet he bloody would, Matt. Enough said.


duckie said...

Matt Bellamy is the best argument I've seen for the old music business model - poor love really needs an army of label executives and managers to do his thinking for him. What a cock.

Anonymous said...

Another top post. Always makes me laugh to see the Musicians try and solve the file-sharing issue.

Their skill is BEING A MUSICIAN (OK..not necessarily Matt Bellamy but..erf...some people obviously like Muse..) that doesn't automatically make them qualified to talk about the technical or legal issues of file sharing from a position of authority. Don't these people have lawyers telling them to keep their stupid mouths shut? Modern day Luddites.

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