Don’t Kiss That Frog!

My Home Studio

My Home Studio

The title of this post may not make a lot of sense at first but hopefully it will once you’ve seen the video below. Regular readers will know I try to keep the blog on topic most of the time, in as much as I don’t ramble on about things outside of technology and open source much. However, one area which does get me going is politics and every so often a subject comes along that compels me to write something. Copyright and more specifically the misuse of it by certain parties is one such subject. The accompanying video is a speech given to the European Parliament by Becky Hogge on behalf of the Open Rights Group. You may have noticed the little ORG badge here on my blog, it’s just to the right there see? No, scroll down a bit… yeah that’s it. The reason for this is because I support the Open Rights Group and their political work in the UK. At the moment there’s a proposal to extend the copyright term on sound recordings from 50 to 95 years inside the EU. This is promoted by industry lobbyists as helping the poor little artists and nobody wants to hurt the artists do they? Look at the them they’re so cuddly, aw.

The simple fact is that this story is complete bullshit, I’m sorry to swear but it is. I’m an artist myself and I find it repulsive, the RIAA and the rest of their cronies do not speak for me and they certainly don’t give a damn about artists or culture. They never have and they never will. Artists and art itself are treated with contempt by the 4 major record labels who manipulate the global music industry. They seem to see artists merely as battery chickens with tattoos and funny hair cuts, only there to be exploited and discarded. They are antiquated and unwilling to adapt to the world we now live in, a world where the Internet and high speed data sharing exist. I’m sure they’d like to get in a time machine and take us all back to the golden days of the pre-war era where they controlled the production (and more importantly reproduction) of all music via vinyl discs. In this world the only way for an artist to get their music to an audience was to be completely subservient in exchange for the chance to access rare and expensive recording equipment, all this just to commit their masterpieces to record. That world doesn’t exist any more and no matter how much the recording industry pines for it, it’s not coming back. These days the proliferation of affordable recording equipment and computer technology have taken the power out of their hands and given it back to the people. I can now pick up my guitar and stream a performance to the entire world via the web in the same time it takes me to brush my teeth or heat up a microwave dinner. We don’t need the middle man anymore and they know this, that’s why they’re scared.

Creative Commons is the only way to go

Creative Commons is the only way to go

This may sound like the words of a man who’s just bitter at not being an Internationally known artist with a big recording contract but I honestly don’t care about any of that. I think the days of sending off demo tapes in the hope that some recording industry executive will offer you the chance to sign your life away are gone. Young artists should be engaging directly with their audiences and embracing tools like the Internet not fighting them. The opportunities have never been so great. I’ve seen this myself through podcasting, nobody would have given me a radio show, certainly non of these traditional media guardians. Yet still I have been able to communicate with people all over the world with just a computer and a microphone. How amazing is that? Think about the power this gives us, I have to pinch myself each day. The only barrier now is talent and whether someone out there really wants to listen to what you produce. This is the ultimate in free speech and democracy. Does it mean all the music on the Internet will be good? No of course it doesn’t but I would argue that not all of the music on the shelves of your local record shop is good either. Why let some guy in a suit choose what you should get to hear?

I believe that artists should be fairly paid for their work, their creativity and be able to make a living out of it but I also believe this is possible in the new connected world. Copyright has a place and it’s one possible tool but nothing more than that. I believe in Creative Commons licensing. The sad truth is that most bands only make real money out of live shows anyway, they don’t see much of that £10 you hand over at HMV. A few pence if they’re lucky. We all want to support artists but I’m much happier to buy a CD off a band’s own website and give them the money directly than give £9.50 to a record company and 50p to the band. The recording industry is misrepresenting the current situation and how this copyright extension would affect artists. They are misleading our politicians and trying to make fools out of us all. Don’t let them do that, please! I’m glad good folk like of the Open Rights Group are out there trying to bring some balance to a story we usually only see one side of in the mainstream media outlets. Many of whom are owned by the same corporations as the 4 recording giants. I’ve rambled on enough and I will leave you to watch the video in peace now. Becky puts these arguments a lot better than I ever could. All I ask is that you think about the issue. Please visit http://www.soundcopyright.eu/ Thank you for reading this 🙂


Becky Hogge: Speech at Sound Copyright conference in the EU Parliament 27.01.09 from Open Rights Group on Vimeo

Edit: – Thanks to Becky for her comment on this post, if you’d like to write to your MEPs and tell them how you feel about this issue I urge you to do so. Please check this site for details, it’s really easy – http://www.writetothem.com/

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16 comments on “Don’t Kiss That Frog!
    • Dan says:

      @Edy Wow that was a really interesting article thanks. It proves my point that the record companies claims to “only care about the artists” are fake. They’re in the business of making money of course and I understand that but don’t lie to me about your intentions and pretend you care about musicians. Come clean!

  1. Fab says:

    Wow! Very inspiring! :O

  2. Dan says:

    @Fab – Thanks, Becky is a great speaker and makes the point clearly I think. It’s a shame she’s leaving ORG, I must find out what she’s going to do in future.

  3. Gordon says:

    Great post Dan, I had watched Becky’s speech and I agree it gets the point across very well. Your article further reinforces that point. Cheers.

  4. This might be the place to mention Cory Doctorow’s “Content”:
    http://craphound.com/content/download/
    – which, interestingly, was recorded by a fan reading it out aloud – and consequently is available as audio files:
    http://www.archive.org/details/CoryDoctorow-Content_268

    • Dan says:

      @mjjzf – Cory Doctorow is a really interesting guy and someone who “gets” the new world we live in I think. I haven’t read or listened to nearly enough of his stuff, I will have to rectify this. Thanks very much for the link! 🙂

  5. Adonis says:

    Great article Dan, Seems like the ever present battle against the old fashioned way with the new and emerging modern ways. Industries really need to grasp the change in mood, culture and advances in technology and how it can be used now rather than how it used to be used.

    • Dan says:

      @adonis – Yeah I think this is the problem, old ways die hard. Look at how the major record labels can’t work out how to deal with licensing for podcasts or Internet radio so they attack everyone. The are trying to apply old radio licensing models to the Internet and it doesn’t work but instead of coming up with new ideas they want to change the law to protect the old ones. It’s the same in pretty much every form of media right now.

  6. Great post Dan. Regarding the podcast audience; don’t forget that you got more readers at your blog because of it as well. Many possibilities lies here 🙂

    Remember to give your local mp a heads up as well. They probably need input from sane professionals instead of all those bloody lobby groups.

    Keep up the good work and keep it free!

    Cheers,

    Egil

    • Dan says:

      @Kristoffer – Thank you 🙂 I will be writing to my MP and perhaps an MEP if I can find out who represents me. I think there are instructions about all that on the ORG website for anyone interested. Since it’s an EU thing it doesn’t just apply to the UK either. If you live in an EU country you could probably make your voice heard too. So do it! 😉

  7. Becky says:

    This blogpost was a really great read, and thanks for drawing the attention of your readers to the work of the Open Rights Group. It was great to have the opportunity to deliver this speech direct to MEPs, and I was surprised and pleased at how many people chose to show up in support of “sound copyright” on the day.

    If you’re based in the UK, writing to your MEPs couldn’t be easier – just use Writetothem.com. It’s hearing from constituents that is really going to sway MEPs – especially this close to a European election. If enough people contact their MEPs, and persuade them to listen to the evidence, and not the lobbyists, then we can win this one.

    As for me, next time you’ll hear from me will probably be on machine-envy.com/blog. I’m just settling into a new life outside of London and ORG, and looking forward to writing more on open source, copyright etc…

    • Dan says:

      @Becky – Thanks for reading and commenting, glad to hear you enjoyed the post. I’ll edit it now to include the URL of that site so people can write to their MEPs, as you said it could really make a big difference. Best of luck with everything you do after leaving ORG and thanks for all your work whilst there. Do let us know what you’re up to in future and stay in touch. I hope you’re still treasuring your Linux Outlaws mug hehe 😉

  8. John_T says:

    Great Post.

    I’d highly recommend the digtial audio version of Cory’s “Content” mentioned by mjjzf.

    I’ll almost certainly buy a dead tree copy when I can find it in an Australian bookshop, although i find the mp3’s a better evangelism tool.

    • Dan says:

      @John_T – Thank you, I will and I’ll have to check out a lot more of Cory’s stuff, he seems to talk a lot of sense. Plus he’s a Linux user I believe so he’s alright in my book hehe 🙂

1 Pings/Trackbacks for "Don’t Kiss That Frog!"
  1. […] that Dan posted recently (in case you haven’t seen them already): Yesterday, he published a great opinion piece on the European Parliament’s motion to extend sound copyright even further into the future […]

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