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May 2, 2007

So much Internet, so little time: Grokster

In catching up the blog grading, I again came across Erin's comment at the end of her post:

Another thing I found interesting in the Valenti interview was about how the RIAA has forced Verizon to hand over the names of customers who were swapping copyright-protected content. I guess my question is, why isn’t the Verizon company being targeted for creating and implementing devices that allow this swapping to take place in the first place??

There were two major suits over this very issue: A&M v Napster and MGM v Grokster. Both tried to settle the same question Erin asks: “Is the creator of a technology responsible for the uses it is put to?” We didn’t cover these lawsuits here because there was only so much time and space in the course, but if you’re interested in the topic, click through on those links and do some additional googling.

April 27, 2007

RIP Valenti

Jack Valenti died yesterday. The CNN obit focuses much more on his work in the White House and with the movie rating system than his fight against piracy. He was quite a multifaceted guy.

April 24, 2007

Doing the Math

Reading back through the entries on DRM, I again came across Andrew’s comments about what the average artist actually gets paid. If you’re interested in reading more about this, take a look at this 2000 Salon article by Courtney Love, which details exactly how artists are treated. (And remember, this is 2000 Courtney writing, not 2004 Courtney. There’s a difference.)

April 14, 2007

We have lost a great writer.

Kurt Vonnegut died recently. He was one of those amazing, larger than life people that has left a lasting mark. If you ever read any of his books, make sure you read chapter one of the novel Slaughterhouse Five. In it he explains why he wrote the book in the way that he did. The story is autobiographical yet he chose to portray the main character as a frail Army Chaplain's assistant, not the brave Army scout that he actually was during WWII.

Just like with the loss of JFK, John Lennon, The Pope, or even Dimebag (anyone? anyone? hee hee) you can practically feel the collective loss felt by many.

To get a sense of it, check out this Google News link.
http://news.google.com/news?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&tab=wn&q=kurt+vonnegut&sa=N&start=10

I thought I'd post this as a way to honor the guy. Even though he doesn't have a lot to do with the internet, I thought it was important in a way because a lot of us are training to be some type of writer.

April 12, 2007

The Repeat in History, and Ownership.

The Issue

The real question is seems to be centered around ownership. Jack Velenti, who runs the MPAA is the head of the music and movie industry’s attempt to retain ownership of their content, while John Perry Barlow seems to be an intellectual that is behind an idea of “Cyber communism,? where ownership and creativity are shared amongst the masses.
The man who seems to be walking the line between the two is Steven Jobs, who has to license his products, but wholly acknowledges that his product is being used to play stolen material.

Reaction.

I think that this event is a repeat of history, only this “revolution? has Steve Jobbs at the center of it laughing himself silly every night (because he’s placating the music industry, appeasing his Mac lovers, and cornering his market all with one stone). File shareing on the Internet is a classic repeat of the enclosement of the commons in England 500 years ago. On one hand, you have business (rich people) that seek profit, and use ownership as a means to accomplish this end. One the other side of the battle, you have the techno-robbinhoods, who are using the Internet as a common place to share intellectual property. Just as English peasants/freemen shared graze land with the landed gentry in England 500 years ago. This time however, it seems as though the rich people are having a harder time defining ownership in cyberspace. Most likely because it is so new a medium, and until recent years, no one has owned the Internet. I mean, I think this is a very interesting event in this time and age where everything is changing so rapidly. The most interesting thing I ran across was Barlow’s thoughts on ownership in his “Next Economy of Ideas.? There he states that claiming ownership to theories (and other non-tangible mediums) is what has caused the internet to be so popular, and up till this point mostly free. This is according to him; because our entire economic model is based upon tangible, and tradable goods. He contends that ideas, while tradable, are not tangible enough to have a profit made upon them. Especially because theories and the like, can be reinterpreted and recreated by those who encounter them. The reason why I think this to a groundbreaking idea is because this theory attacks the entire system of ownership that brought down the English commons 500 years ago. I states that ideas, “like land used to be,? are to serve the public good, and not necessarily meant to serve an individual interest.

April 11, 2007

DRM= down right maddening

I was most struck by Barlow’s comparison of voluntarily paying for music to tipping a server. “In an environment of dense connection... ethical behavior becomes less a matter of self-imposed virtue and more a matter of horizontal social pressure.? (The Next Economy of Ideas, p. 3) The reason we tip is possibly because we want to feel generous, we want to hear the person say thank you, or we want to avoid confrontation with the server or our peers. We’re right there to see all their faces. Social psychology studies on deindividuation have demonstrated that feeling disconnected from our identity encourages us to act in selfish ways. Being chastised over the Internet is nothing compared to being yelled at by a waiter in front of an entire restaurant full of people. I think that for consumers to feel any measure of social pressure through the Internet, there would have to be a way to attach users to their real names and hold them personally accountable for their actions-- not that this is something I'd like to see happen.

“At the end of the day, DRM is the biggest impediment to a legitimate music market. Apple doesn't sell music because of DRM -- it sells music in spite of DRM. The iTunes Store proves that you can compete with free.? (Doctorow, p. 2) Mysteriously, according to Jack Valenti, “There is no business model... that can compete with free. It can't be done.? (Spring, PC World)

We should not be surprised to discover that Jobs is a major shareholder in a media company like Disney Pixar, and that he stands to gain from DRM: “Every movie you buy from Apple is a tax down the line of switching from Apple to a competing product.? Jobs will profit from the arrangement of paying 30 cents extra for non-DRM music from iTunes, profits that will surely offset the cost of people NOT buying iPods or guiltlessly copying music. It seems like such an obvious double standard for Apple to expect users to respect copyright while refusing to honor Creative Commons licenses themselves, but as Doctorow points out, “If you buy DRM, you end up being part of someone's business model....? (p.2)

In the Service of Art

I have to admit I have been torn on the copyright issue for films. Films are generally more expensive to produce than music, and there are more people to pay than the band or the artist. I was kind of shocked when my sister told me about a fundamentalist neighbor who would rent DVDs from the library, then make copies on some sort of homemade DRM breaker. But after reading Barlow's article, I am now thinking that films SHOULD be treated more like music. Barlow's statement "Art is a service, not a product." (p.4) really hit me where I live. I think he is right that film and music industry executives are using the wrong models by which to measure commercial success. Sharing does create popularity and demand.

Perhaps I was brainwashed by the FBI warnings that we all saw growing up and in the YouTube film. In addition, there is a 'digital' factor of the digital revolution to consider. When some misguided friend did *perhaps* make you a copied VHS tape the quality was invariably awful. The same conundrum existed then (as it does now) with TV and recording as Jobs mentions with CDs--there is no protection on recording TV programs. My dad was constantly recording movies on the VCR from TV ( and that was before we had cable--so the commercials are really priceless). I vaguely remember the film industry getting in a lather about VCRs--but never knew until now that they wanted to limit recording so much. Now DVD rentals and sales are what are factored into a film's profits--about half, according to Barlow. I think the film industry was, as the music industry is now, just hamstrung by fear and its cruel companion, an utter lack of imagination. True, only a true visionary would have figured that people would want to KEEP copies of films they love.

I also like Doctorow's slant that DRM and other protections treat the consumer, who is after all buying or renting the product, like a potential criminal--which is not a good way to do business. Sadly I am unable to load iTunes onto my computer as it is too old, and the computer at work will not allow such actions (more protections), but I never truly understood the limitations of DRM. I guess 5 computers and unlimited iPods would kind of be enough for me as far as sharing music, but I see the problem with depending on a single manufacturer in perpetuity once one has made the investment. That is kind of like having to choose betwen Betamax and VHS in the early 80s--my dad put all his eggs in the Betamax basket and paid the price--he was looking for beta tapes in video stores for years.

I don't know much about Apple, but it has always seemed like a strange and cool company by turns. The DRM flap seems to be a typical page from their playbook. Be there waiting for the fall of Napster, be all about creating a loyal following and forcing the exclusivity of the product (remember that Macs and PCs were not compatible at ALL until a few years ago. ) Then either create a cool new product that makes you forget the last toy, or turn everything on its head and tell everyone that the truth they knew for so long was a big lie.

Still, I like Jobs willingness, no matter how much after the fact, to create inconnectivity with other systems. He seems to realize the industry is about cooperation. He just wants to establish Apple as top dog.

Cant We All Just Share Along?

I have some strong issues regarding this topic. First, the artists are millionares. This is a fact. Fact, instead of the millionares selling 3 million records, they are going to be selling 2.8 million records. Still enough to eat and keep food on the table I think. Third, a lot of the artists, I'm just focusing in on the artists for now, make more money from indorsements, commercials, and other business adventures aside from the music. My perspective is obviously different then lets say a band like Metallica, or from a different artist. This is because it's not "my" stuff. If I put out a record and I felt that a lot of my music and things were being shared for free, I would be angry.

As for the ipod, there DRM system seems to need some work. The article "Thoughts on Music" says that there needs to be an alternative to just using itunes because only 3% of all the music on ipods are downloaded from itunes, one possible solution, that I liked the best, "Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat." I think this would be the best thing for us to do in the future.

I think that trying to protect and copywrite music and other things is going to be hard to do and someone somewhere out there will find a way to copy it, break through it, and tell other people how to break the copywrite. On a side note, there is already, don't quote me, software out there that can burn dvd's that have copywrite protection on them. I mean the technology is out there to break even the protections. The Wired article was very interesting and talks about how free would't be so bad after all for the companies, "The last time technical copy protection was widely attempted - remember when most software was copy-protected? - it failed in the marketplace, and failed miserably. Earlier attempts to ban media-reproduction technologies have also failed. Even though entertainment execs are exceptionally slow learners, they will eventually realize what they should have understood long ago: The free proliferation of expression does not decrease its commercial value. Free access increases it, and should be encouraged rather than stymied." (Barlow, 1).

Steve Jobs also said that he wanted to uplift the DRM services, "DRMs haven't worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy," and offered to embrace a DRM-free music-sales environment "in a heartbeat," if only the big four music companies would let him. (Doctorow, 1).

We are headed into a new world, a free world, this is what I see. Already there are many, many different software companies out there located out of state and charging $20 for a whole year to use there software and download as many songs, even movies, until your full! And when someone shuts one down, 5 others open up. It's crazy. For companies to capitalize on this, they need to do something about the whole system. Instead of trying to restrict the music, offer us consumers something better, or we will go out and get it for free instead of paying $15 for a cd.


Copyrighting the copyright?

As we speak right now, millions of people are illegally downloading music, pictures, videos and so much more. However, so many of these people do not think that this act is actually illegal. I would relate it to speeding; people know subconsciously that they are breaking the rules; however people do it all the time because they do not get caught and charged for their actions. Piracy has been the hot topic for the past decade or so with the rise and the amount of efficiency that technology brings to each home. Steve Jobs did a very good job about sitting on the fence about the topic of illegally downloading information.
While watching the movie, I thought that it was very interesting the concept. I kept waiting for an actual movie to appear until I realized that the FBI slides WERE the movie. I found it interesting, along with everyone else probably that there were so many variations of the same thing. I don’t know if that is illegal or not, however they all stated the same information so I didn’t feel as though it was copywriting because I feel as though it is a Monopoly of a company to run each of the warnings during each movie. However, now watching that movie, I have no idea. It also brought to my attention now when I watch movies to notice and not a single warning has been the same yet. It is kind of ironic that the movie industry is having problems with the warning of a copyright law being copyrighted.
Also, according to one of the other articles, it stated that the artist itself will only receive $.80 per record that they sell so my whole rationale behind buying CD’s to support the artist doesn’t really work out the way that I thought it did. Because the artists don’t get as much money as I thought they did, I don’t see why the artists are so upset about illegally downloading music. I know that most of the anger comes from the record labels itself, there is still enough people buying CDs in the stores because like me, they do not know that the artist does not get as much money as they are supposed to.
I also found it interesting the statistic that only 3% of the songs played on an iPod are correctly downloaded through iTunes or other paid subscriptions. I know many people that do illegally download through various other peer to peer such as Napster, Lime Wire as well as Ares. However, I feel as though many people still do it though because there are so many peer to peer websites that they just won’t get caught anymore.
Overall, I like to see that people are trying to catch the problem while they can, however I feel as though its like a virus. Once one p2p sharing network is caught, another one will grow and the cycle continues.

eMusic Wallmart

After last weeks articles on intellectual property, it is almost painful to read through this weeks articles. It seems that the actual concept of intellectual property is left behind, forgotten and what is left are money hungry companies attempting to twist the definition to maintain with an idea that might return a profit. Assuming that all of the accusations Doctorow places on Apple are in fact true, then the idea of intellectual property means nothing. Intellectual property would maintain that the artists and other copyright holders have say in what is done with their music, but in this quote: "innumerable copyright holders have asked Apple to sell their work as open MP2s instead of DRM-locked AACs. Apple has always maintained that it's DRM or nothing." (Doctorow, 3). This in itself I could handle, if the DRMs did only what they were put there to do; to prevent illegal copying. Locking the music to Apple products is too much. I bought an album off of iTunes once when it was getting popular. I bought it for the purpose of listening to from my computer, only to find that I couldn't add the songs to my Windows Media Player library. A wasted ten dollars.

I Heart Apple

Let's face it, Steve Jobs is a genius. Sure he's looking to make Apple the leader in the world of technology and to gain more shareholders, but I truly believe he is the digital 'hippie' in the sense that he views filesharing like free love, rejecting the conventional standards of other competing companies.
He also proves to be extremely influential and persuasive. In February of 2007 Jobs stated, "the third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely" (Thoughts on Music).
But now, just a few months after the controversial memo that had journalist Cory Doctorow reeling, saying, "I doubt Jobs' sincerity. I suspect he likes DRM because it creates an anti-competitive lock-in to Apple. I think he's trying to shift blame for the much-criticized DRM to the music industry, whose executives are twirling their mustaches and declaring DRM to be the only way forward for their industry." (Steve Jobs iTunes Dance), Jobs prophecy has come true, with a deal with EMI "selling songs online that are free of copy-protection technology through Apple Inc.'s iTunes Store" (CNN.com).
The Beatles music is not included in the deal - which may have to do with Jacko and Sony- a force to be reckon with and one that Jobs and EMI probably doesn't want to deal with.

I agree with Jobs when he states, "the problem, of course, is that there are many smart people in the world, some with a lot of time on their hands, who love to discover such secrets and publish a way for everyone to get free (and stolen) music, " (Thoughts on Music). My only modification to that statement is that you don't have to be smart to get around encryption- you just have to know the right people to do it for you. For instance, I just found out that a friend of mine (who will remain nameless for his protection) burned pirated DVD's and then encoded them onto iPod. Did I know this was illegal? I had a hunch. Could I have done it myself? Probably, but I am computer illiterate and it would have taken me a while to figure out how to get the decryptor software to be able to copy the DVDs.

Even with FBI warnings that are blurry and unreadable on our TV screens (YouTube video), and legal warnings that flash up on our computer screens, it won't stop us from getting what we want.
I am with Jobs- I am a digital hippie.
But if I were to come up with an alternative, I'd choose the RIAA's idea of software that would "sabotage the computers and Internet connections of people who download pirated music" (Tom Spring, PC World). Why not blow up someone's computer? That'll teach 'em.
Until then, I love my iBook, my iPod, my iTunes, my iMovie, anything that begins with an 'i'.

-Apple Lifer

Stop Trying to Protect Music!


Wow! I guess I didn’t realize that there was so much talk around this subject. I think my opinion on it all is this: Each younger generation is smarter than its elders and will find workarounds for any DRM protection system. Thus, Jobs’ third recommendation for the future of protecting rights over the Internet is probably the best. The big four music producers should stop trying to DRM their music and focus their time, energy, and money on increasing CD sales. From the associated press article I learned, “Some analysts suggest that lifting the software restrictions could boost sales of online music, which currently account for around 10 percent of global music sales.? If online music only accounts for 10% sales, then I would really recommend focusing their energy on increasing CD sales. Likewise, “ . . . the dream of a copy-proof song or movie is a logical absurdity.? At least if a consumer is buying the CD at full price, then the companies are profiting even if the music is shared after that. Somehow, they need to allow customers to see the benefit of owning a CD.
Furthermore, Barlow asserts, “The free proliferation of expression does not decrease its commercial value. Free access increases it, and should be encouraged rather than stymied.? Sometimes, allowing music to be shared increases how many people can hear it and increase other things related to music: like increased concert going, increased collateral sales, etc. I found this quote from Jack Valenti hilarious, “We are testing new kinds of protective devices and technology like encryption, and [digital rights management] tools from Real Networks and Microsoft. If both or one of those is workable, and if customers want to use either, we'll try it right now? (Spring 1). This just proves that either the article is outdated and he is very under informed or not up-to-date, or he just really doesn’t understand the nitty-gritty of how easy it is for smart “geeks? to breakthrough these types of protection tools.

My Mom Taught Me to Share

As an avid filesharer myself I understand both sides to this story. Obviously, I have already made the decision that intelectual property should be shared freely. Out of all the articles pertaining to this subject I think Barlow hit the nail on the head. Physical property is something that can be maintained through ownership. I wouldn't steal my neighbor's car or his tools because those objects, once gone, are no longer in his possession and he can no longer enjoy them. But, if my neighbor had music that he was willing to share with me and still maintain its quality. Why not? Walter Benjamin discussed the idea of "aura", the touch of the divine creator. This works for pieces of art because the original is the only one that was touched by the brush of the creator. Media however, is meant to be recreated and distributed. Music doesn't lose its value or "aura" by being shared. In fact, as Barlow discusses, it increases the aura by allowing others to be a part of it.

Imagine the social advancements we could make if we removed the red tape and allowed artistic and intelectual ideas to flow smoothly from person to person. This is already happening and will happen inevitably, it's just a matter of how long we are going to prolong the process. Apple making a deal to distribute music without controlling the amount it can be distributed is a step in that direction. Another interesting advancement comes with a commercial I saw the other day. Apple is coming out with a station that will allow you to play movies and other media from your television. This is another example of how intelectual property can be shared and put into our everday lives.

Filesharing... is there an end to this madness!?!?

File sharing has taken a new spin over the past few years. With the Internet growing and developing as rapidly as it has, it’s only made it that much easier for millions of individuals to exchange music and video files on all these various forums that have been developed. I think that Barlow (2000) explains the situation well by stating, “To put it mildly, the geriatrics of the entertainment industry didn’t see this coming.? (p.1) This fad, in my opinion, spun off so quickly and people reacted just as fast, that it was near impossible for the entertainment industry to try and put a stop to things.

DRM, in my opinion, is a strategic business move by Apple to implement this into their iPods. They are going to lock individuals into purchasing music from their iTunes Store, and potentially prevent millions of individuals from accessing unauthorized sharing and copying. Personally, I would much rather purchase music digitally and by a per song basis, verses going to the store and purchasing a CD by one artist, and end up only listening to 2 out of the 18 songs on the disc. According to Jobs, “If a copy of a DRM protected song is posted on the Internet, it should not be able to play on a downloader’s computer or portable music device.? If this actually really does work, I think it will be a great thing. However, I have little doubts that this will be effective, because of the number of hackers out there. I am a strong believer of the saying, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.? I think that someone, somewhere, will be able to find a way to get DRM protected music to another individuals’ device.

I think Valenti brings up some very good points in his interview. One of the questions Valenti was asked is “Why can’t people who legally purchase DVDs make one backup copy?? In my opinion, people always find a way to use and abuse privileges they are given. If you allow one back up copy to be made, what’s going to stop these individuals from making a second, third, fourth, etc. When you purchase a DVD, you are legally purchasing that one copy of the DVD, you aren’t purchasing and owning rights to copying this DVD for further distribution.

Another thing I found interesting in the Valenti interview was about how the RIAA has forced Verizon to hand over the names of customers who were swapping copyright-protected content. I guess my question is, why isn’t the Verizon company being targeted for creating and implementing devices that allow this swapping to take place in the first place??

stealing free music

I personally have not dowloaded any music off the Internet, nor have I ever used iTunes. However, I do own a burned CD that my friend made for me that features five songs. I feel really bad about owning that CD because that music was downloaded on Napster. I'm really big on not dowloading music for free off the Net, and the fact that I have a CD that was downloaded makes me a little bit of a hipocrit. But I digress, I think that pirating DVDs and downloading music off the Internet are not really hurting the film and music industries; however, there is an issue of ethics that is brought up. I think that even though the music and film industries have seen an increase in DVD and CD sales, it still doesn't change the fact that a lot of the material was "stolen." If the material was taken but not paid for, obviously it was stolen. I don't really think that industries have much to worry about because as Barlow stated "In the long run it's more convenient to enter into a relationship with Microsoft if you hope to use its product in an ongoing way. It's certaintly easier to get technical support if you have a real serial number when you call. And that serial number is not a thing. It's a contract. It is the symbol of a relationship." (Barlow).

In response to the conflicting viewpoints between Jobs and Doctorow, I have to say that I'm agreeing more with Steve Jobs. Jobs believes that "DRMs haven't worked and may never work, to halt music piracy." (Doctorow) I think that DRMs in the future will be completely bypassed and will become useless. The fact that people are able to get free music is going to be more appealing than having to pay for it. Surprisingly, CD and DVD sales have only increased over time. Many "artists believe that the answer to selling more music is cooperating with fans, not treating them as presumptive pirates and locking down their music." (Doctorow) There are, however, limitations to downloading music. "Once you put music on your iPod, you can't get it off again with Apple's software." There is also "no recovering your music collection off your iPod if your hard drive crashes." (Doctorow).

I like my ripped files! But I still buy....

This debate or fight if you might call it has been raging for quite some time. I guess if I were to take sides i would definitely be leaning more towards the side of ethics rather then trying to just follow the laws of copyright because we have some execs getting their underwear all up in a bunch because of basically free advertising. Im not entirely sure as to why these companies or big wig record companies are really getting all that upset. Barlow makes the statement, "The RIAA is unalterably convinced that the easy availability of freely downloadable commercial songs will bring on the apocalypse, and yet, during the two years since MP3 music began flooding the Net, CD sales have risen by 20 percent. " The issue is not that record companies are struggling to make money, but there just seems to be a stubborn scent floating through the laws of copyright and those acts passed by congress to these related issues that they are just finding it hard to actually jump into the reality of what the net has become and where it is going. Barlow also makes a fantastic point when he states, "No law can be successfully imposed on a huge population that does not morally support it and possesses easy means for its invisible evasion." This is quite an issue that cannot be won in court. It is not feesible to try and prosecute 20 million plus users of persay illegally downloaded content. "Even though entertainment execs are exceptionally slow learners, they will eventually realize what they should have understood long ago: The free proliferation of expression does not decrease its commercial value. Free access increases it, and should be encouraged rather than stymied." This one ideal that I think will take quite some time to come into its own. As Barlow also pointed out we will just have to be dragged through litigation until something extremely proactive in cryptology occurs or the laws become a moot point and the system actually does fall back onto some kind of ethical cushion. "It's captivating to think about how much more freedom there will be for the truly creative when the truly cynical have been dealt out of the game." Once again an ideal that will take some time to come into effect. The reason why there will always be pirated content is because of the creative geniuses that exist and in reality are actually in the business of free advertising for big record mogul cynics.
Now to try and adress this wonderful issue of DRM' sand the role they are playing. In my opinion the lack therof in effectiveness. After reading the articles with regards to these DRM's it seems as though apple and even the rest of the companies that employ these wonderful hurdles are just prolonging the inevitable. This DRM media is only accounting for 3% of total content sales, the rest of the 97% of content are mostly generated by users or pirated, or P2P sharing. "With regards to the DRM..... If such requirements were removed, the music industry might experience an influx of new companies willing to invest in innovative new stores and players. This can only be seen as a positive by the music companies." This mindset has to be embraced by american companies. Oversea distributors of mp3's over the net will be taking over sales sooner or later if American content generators don't start working together with the creative people of this internet day. I get all of my music through russian mp3 sites because its 8 times cheaper than itunes and can be placed into any format you like and copied as many times as you want. We are just slightly behind on the bandwagon of internet file sharing. It is still viewed as a negative when it should be seen as a positive.

Reach more people thanks to Internet

The issue of downloading material on Internet is very interesting to me and I really enjoyed going through the articles. I may have said that before, I am a big consumer of music in general, in every way. I download music (probably to much), I buy music (certainly too much) and I see too many concerts.

I started downloading with Napster and continued with all the new programs that followed and I never stopped. At the same time, I never stopped buying records, but downloading helps me to make a selection and buy the one I really love. I started being close to the music industry a few years ago (working for a music venue, then a label, and then DJing myself) and Internet has been in the middle of every conversations since that. I met people with all kinds of theories, pro or against Internet, and I think the attitude of the people I met often depended on the money they could make or they could lose. Not so many consideration for the music itself in general.

I think that Internet is a great opportunity for the artists to emancipate themselves from the labels and the music industry in general and a great opporutinty for the public to be exposed to bands they would have never heard of. In this configuration, the big losers would be the major companies and they don't like it, obviously.

In a very good article written in 1993 (The Problem with Music : http://negativland.com/albini.html ), Steve Albini described the situation of the industry and it was obvious that this could not last. To present the character, Steve Albini played in many bands and is also a producer who produced over thousands of bands including Nirvana / Pixies... He knows the subject pretty well. His point was that the record labels have so much power over the bands they signed that the artists were almost deprived of any of their rights over their artistic production, and generally don't earn much money. It is still the case.

On this point, I think that Internet, if it is well used by the bands, can be a great way to avoid this and reach their audience directly. That does not mean the record labels are useless and will disapear (which would be quite unfortunate for me, as I should work for one of them back in France) but Internet can equilibrate the power between them and their artists.
As I said, for the industry, which have been over-ruling the market for years, it's a tough pill to swallow but in the end, I really think that the music will be safe and stronger, over the pure business.

I know I derived a bit from the articles and I may have not been clear on some points. If you disagree and / or want me to clarify some things, I'll be more than happy to debate about it.

I give the link again for the article : http://negativland.com/albini.html
It is very interesting and impressive when we know it was written 14 years ago.

Should Apple go to the Dentist??

Honestly, I don’t know much about downloading music online since I have never taken part of it. I choose not too and prefer getting an actual CD from the store. Sadly, I still don’t have an IPOD nor have I ever used ITunes. I usually leave that up to my sister. ? After reading more on CEO Steve Job’s statement, I learned more about DRM technology which basically locks music, including video games, books, etc. and controls distribution. It’s wrong that people can take music freely and crack into DRMs. Therefore, “since the passage of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it's been illegal to break DRMs in this country? (Doctorow, Cory. Steve Job’s iTunes Dance.) after many attempts by others to crack into the system.

There’s a reason why I am a little happy I don’t own my own IPOD. I am most positive that I would overspend, purchasing new music. Not to say, I would prefer the actual CD, even if there is only a few songs I like on it. Not to mention, with an IPOD, I think it’s ridiculous that “if you'd bought just one iTunes track every month since the launch in 2003, you'd have rung up $82 in lock-in music. Throw in a couple of $9.99 albums and maybe an audio book or two and you can easily find yourself in $150 down the lock-in hole.? (Doctorow, Cory. Steve Job’s iTunes Dance.) Also, it’s incredible the way it’s set up where one must pay to put music on their IPOD, computer, etc. individually. I agree that if you have the music and legally bought it, you should be able to manage it on all the devices you wish to. With this said, I don’t think DRM is necessary for Apple use. Without much knowledge of Apple, it seems that it does exceptionally well without DRM already. To sum it up, it seems as “iff you buy DRM, you end up being part of someone's business model, and a slave to the lock-in.? (Doctorow, Cory. Steve Job’s iTunes Dance.)

Forget about the Greeks, Beware of Music Sites Bearing Gifts!

Oh boy! This is great timing. I've recently had some unpleasant experiences with downloaded music. For my birthday last month, my wife bought me a Sansa (Sandisk) media player. Previously, I had a Memorex mp3 player that was the cheapest, most basic mp3 player that Target had to offer. It only had 256 megabytes of memory, but it was nice to have, especially when flying. A couple of years ago, I needed something to help me escape during a flight to Europe. There's nothing like flying eight hours in the coach section. With the old Memorex mp3 player, I usually just loaded music files that I had "ripped" off of my own compact discs. At the time, I didn't feel the need to download music.

I was excited to get the new player because it was such a technological improvement over the old one. This new player has much more memory, I believe that I can load around 230 songs onto it as compared to the paltry 20 song capacity of the older player. It even has a fairly high definition display screen that I can use to view stored pictures and video. It's fun! The only problem that I have had during the time with my new toy was when I decided to try out the Rhapsody music offer that was included with the purchase of the player.

I decided to sign up with Rhapsody because I was excited about the prospect of downloading specific songs instead of having to buy a whole album. I found that the Rhapsody program was a tad temperamental. While trying to learn how this whole deal worked, I ran into problems that forced me to restart the program. Sometimes I even had to restart the whole computer.

Then there's the whole "syncing" function that THREE programs would try to perform after I plugged in the player. Since neither Sandisk nor Rhapsody saw it necessary to provide me with any coherent instructions, I had to call various companies and use my "techy sense" to figure it out. Then just recently, my player started insisting that I hook it back up to the computer (and Rhapsody) so the licenses for the downloaded songs could be reauthorized.

This simply made me angry. I (again) had to mess around with the Rhapsody program for an hour. I'm a little insulted by this. I paid for the damn songs and I'd like to be able to use them without having to deal with this stupid DRM (digital rights management) feature on the music files. What if this happens while I'm away from home? I wouldn't be able to refresh the DRM license until I returned home. That's terrible!

I have enough things to worry about and keep track of as it is. If I'm paying 99 cents per song, which is similar to the price per song on a store bought music CD, why do I have to deal with the DRM software tag on the downloaded song?? Am I not able to put the songs from the store bought CD onto my computer's hard drive and burn as many copies as I want? I think that the use of the DRMs is a tactic meant to simply improve the chances of the songs being lost over time.

The music files from Rhapsody aren't even a common music format. It's Rhapsody's own software. I called Rhapsody and asked them if there was any way to convert these files to an mp3 format. They told me that the only way to convert the files was to burn the files onto a compact disc. So I gave it a shot, and for some reason the piece of junk Rhapsody program wouldn't work. It kept instructing me to put a blank CD in the drive. I tried different discs but it still would not work.

I think that the entertainment industry is yet again crying that "the sky is falling." As John Barlow pointed out, people like Jack Valenti thought that the introduction of VCRs to the world would "...kill the film industry." It in fact did not and has made the film industry a lot of money over the years. There are countless occurrences throughout history that mirror Valenti's assertions. When the mainstream internet came into existence, people cried that it would mean the end of the newspaper. They feared that newspaper sales would plunge if people were able to get the news from their computers. This of course did not happen. You would think that people would have learned by now.

Regarding Tom Spring's article, I found a flaw in Jack Valenti's argument. Spring asked Valenti "Why can't people who legally purchase DVDs make one backup copy? How come the same fair use rights that let you make a backup copy of other media do not extend to DVDs?" Valenti skirted this question and instead said "Do you know anything else in the country that if something is abused for any reason they'll give you a backup? If I go down to the hardware store and buy an electric lawn mower and I take it home, and three weeks later my wife runs over it in the driveway, I can't take it back and get a new one. I can't get a backup."

Springs asked Valenti about being able to make a copy of the purchased product, not about getting a free replacement after that product gets damaged. In actuality, though impracticable, a person could make an exact copy of their lawnmower if they wanted to. It would only be illegal if that person then tried to sell the lawn mower. (I think that's correct. Any lawyers out there feel free to chime in.)

Though I am not for total informational anarchy, I found the following assertion from John Perry Barlow to be very interesting. He states that, “...after giving up on copy protection, the software industry expected that widespread piracy would surely occur. And it did. Even so, the software industry is booming."

So come on you stingy music industry people, give it a chance!

The Enema of the State

The music industry has changed drastically over the past few years. With the invention of mp3 players and the ability to put music that YOU want to hear on it people are of course moving toward using these devices instead of using CD players where you have to skip through songs to hear your favorite one. However, music industry officials have now found a way to screw the music consumer. I understand the point of DRM, it supposedly helps people from stealing music. But what happens when the technology is hurts the consumer more than benefits them?

The DRM is now forcing people to choose which company they love the most. I have an iPod and love i. I have had it for three years and it keeps on ticking. Because of this, I would buy another iPod again in a second. I currently have over 2,500 songs on my iPod and how many have I bought from the iTunes store? 21. (The only reason its 21 is because I bought an album that I really enjoy). If I would ever want to change mp3 brands, I could because most of my music comes from either CDs or from an illegal downloading site. I realize that I should not be doing this but if Apple is trying to screw me? Why can't I screw them right back by putting .wavs on my iPod? Jobs is correct when he states, "DRMs haven't worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy." But he states that he has to continue using them. However, why would record companies want to continue to use them if people can hack them so easily? The experience of stealing music is nothing new. First, we recorded mix tapes by recording CDs, then people recorded mix CDs by trading mp3's, now we want to put mp3s on different systems. As long as there is music, people will want to get it for free.

Doctorow makes good arguments but I do not understand his statement that, "If you rip your own CDs and load them onto your iPod, you'll notice something curious. The iPod is a roach motel: Songs check in, but they don't check out. Once you put music on your iPod, you can't get it off again with Apple's software." This may have changed since I bought an mp3 player but I am able to remove music from my iPod. I delete the song from my computer and if iTunes cannot find it, it erases it. Does anyone have a problem with getting their music off their iPod?

Movies are the next frontier of stealing entertainment. I have tech savvy friends who used the University HUB for their years at college. I never used it but I was able to attain numerous movies and television shows from them. I don't know why, but for some reason, I feel worse about stealing movies than music. I can really see Jack Valenti's point when he states, "If you're allowed to make up one backup copy of a DVD, all of a sudden somebody makes two and gives one to a friend. And next thing you know file-swappers are trading that film online." We have to buy CDs and DVDs for a reason, we enjoy the entertainment. If we really enjoy the entertainment, we should purchase it rather than steal it.

In the case of the Apple-EMI deal it just shows how Apple could better serve its consumers. Why is it that you have to pay more for songs that do not have the DRM? I could just buy EMI's CDs, put them on my iPod, my Zune, or burn as many CDs as I'd like. The deal, which will sell, "songs by the Rolling Stones, Norah Jones, Coldplay and other top-selling artists for $1.29, or 30 cents more than the copy-protected version. The premium tunes also will be offered in a higher quality than the 99-cent tracks." While copyright is important I believe Apple has taken its power too far and hurt the music industry in the long run.

A Diatribe on File-Sharing

I'm a musician, so I've spent a lot of time considering and reading about the effect of File-sharing and DRM has had on the music industry. First of all, I think it's important to note that any way you want to shade it, downloading music online is theft. What it comes down to is the fact that you're getting music without paying for it like you would normally have to do. That said, I've definitely downloaded my share of music over the years. In fact, my love of music came about just as Napster was blowing up, allowing me to find music by favorite bands and allowing me to find new ones by not having to go through the radio, which I had long since dismissed, and MTV, which stopped focusing on music about 10 or 15 years ago, and in this way I credit Napster in no small degree with the love of music I have today. With all the advances in technology since then, it's just as easy to now download full records or even entire libraries of artists songs in hardly more time than it took to download a song back then. I've also spent my fair share of time with torrents, but I've realized that downloading music hurts musicians a considerable degree. For every person that downloads an album, thats an album that they're not getting paid for. When artists already get a preposterously low amount of money from record companies, it hurts their already strained pocket books. It also hurts their sales figures, which is still the yardstick in the industry when considering how much time and effort and money will be spent on the artists. So now, I try to only download releases from big name bands that already have a lot of money, or aren't around anymore.
But the real advantage to file sharing is that it turns an industry with a ridiculous price structure on it's ear. For every $10 CD sold in a store, the artist who created all that music gets 80 cents, while the record company gets 4 dollars (iTunes, while a step in the right direction, doesn't have much better of a price breakdown). This, to me, is utter madness. I think the single most important aspect of file sharing and the advancement of technology in the last 10 years is that it puts the means of distribution in the hands of the artists themselves. When a band can sell their CD's online to anyone around the world, it just cuts out the middleman. In this case, the middleman is the record companies who've grown fat and powerful off their massive profits, and the RIAA (which only represents the five biggest record companies, not independent labels) is fighting tooth and nail to keep their already laughably huge peice of the pie. Of course in doing this, they've launched a blanket of lawsuits against their consumers which is only suceeding in alienating them and driving them further away. Now, they're even lobbying the government to make sure they are able to lie about their indentity in the search for pirates.
File sharing definitely has its pros and cons, but I think it's most important aspect is (hopefully) the ushering in of a new era in music, where it's not controlled by five companies concerned only with profits. At a time when real musicians have long been struggling to be heard while celebrities get multi-million dollar recording contracts based on their popularity and sex appeal (paris hilton, ashley simpson, hillary duff, lindsey lohan, the pussycat dolls, the list goes on for days) when they have no musical talent, inclinations or ambitions, a change is in dire need.
When it comes to DRM, I remember reading Steve Jobs' open letter to the RIAA and applauding him for it. But I never saw the Doctorow article, and he makes some very good points about Apple's DRM benefits and history. I was happy to see that EMI agreed to offer its music on iTunes DRM free, and can only hope (though I won't hold my breath) that the other big-five record companies will follow suit. It's hard to argue with Jobs' point that putting strict DRM on online music while 90% of a catalog is available in stores DRM free is kind of goofy. It's just an issue of what constitues fair use, and of course, consumers have a much different perspective on it than the record company CEO's.
I, along with nearly everyone save the big record companies, welcome file-sharing with open arms. And for every time I read about some grandmother or college student getting sued for thousands of dollars for having (presumably) downloaded some songs, I take comfort in the fact that file sharing, in no uncertain terms, is destorying the music industry as we know it. And the longer they waste time on lawsuits rather than embracing file sharing and using it to their advantage, the more likely we are to see a new music industry, hopefully this time built around music, rather than the bloated corporations who make up the RIAA today.

Who really owns the music I buy?

Remembering the readings from last week and many of the other blog entries on them, it's pretty clear that the legal ramifications of these issues are meant to protect the profits of the corporations who sell products, not the artists who originally created them. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the music industry. First off, let me start by saying that I love my iPod and iTunes. I can carry my entire music collection in my pocket now without having to worry about stacks and stacks of CDs, and if I ever decide I like any other songs, I can just go on iTunes and download it without buying a whole album with maybe 2 or 3 songs I'll ever really listen to, and best of all, it's all 100% legal. But even as I'm enjoying the benefits of being able to do all that now, it bothers me to think what would happen if I ever decided to upgrade my iPod or get a new laptop. What would happen to all my songs? Would I have to go back on iTunes and spend all that money again if I wanted to have them on my new computer? According to the readings for this week, yes I would. First of all "iPod is a roach motel" for music (Steve Jobs' iTunes dance, 2). There's essentially no way for me to back up any of my music files, so if they were ever to disapear off my hard drive for some reason, they're gone for good. This just gives the most rights over to the record companies, not the consumers or even the original artists, who have apparently pleaded with Apple to make their music available without these restrictions, according to the article.

Given the alternative of simply buying all this music on CDs, I really don't see why all these restrictions need to be in place. After all, the record companies have never placed restrictions of where hard copies of their music can be played. I don't need to license separate copies of the same album to play on a portable CD player, on a home theater system, and in the car. With all these restrictions in place, it's almost more like they're letting consumers borrow the music without really letting them own it. Treating all consumers as untrusted parties is the wrong way of thinking, and all it'll do is encourage people to find ways around it. While outright stealing the music is wrong, record companies at least need to account for normal problems the average consumer might encounter owning a music file without constantly looking out for their own interests.

I Want My Back-up Copies

I think DRM says it all. The intellectual property is stored and distributed in digital form on various media. Who gets paid for creating the intellectual property and who has the rights to enjoy the intellectual property they have purchased? How does the individual that purchased the intellectual property manage the digital property? I know my last sentence doesn’t really fit with the “management? in DRM, but I think it is the key issue - Information Management.

Napster was created because Shawn Fanning, a college freshman had a roommate that always complained that he could never find his MP3 music files and that he wanted to share his music with his friends. I think the key concept was that Shawn’s friend could never find his mp3 music files because they had become unmanageable.

Then came along DVDs and the digital movie files were simply larger than mp3s depending upon how they are ripped. Ripping DVDs to mp4s or other formats take differing amounts of space. However, with cheaper, larger storage devices, storing your personal library of digital movies is no longer an issue other than the original problem Napster tried to solve of course – making it easy to organize the mp3 files – Information Management.

I strongly disagree with Valenti that we should not be allowed to rip our own DVDs (make back-up copies) and manage and enjoy the files as we like for our own private use. In my opinion, the intellectual property is no different than that of computer software that we can copy and use depending upon the license agreement for that software. I also do not agree with his argument of buying a lawn mower and wanting another one if I broke it. If I could create a digital copy of my lawn mower, then yes, I would want to have a back-up copy!

iTune makes it very easy in my opinion to manage several thousand songs (mp3s) or movies (mp4s). I think Steve Jobs is reacting to pressure from consumers to remove DRM on iTunes music. It’s a win win for Apple to do so. Originally DRM certainly helped the explosion of the iPod and iTunes by locking in consumers and Apple could hide behind the record labels saying that DRM was required. Removing iTunes DRM for those individuals that want to pay the extra thirty cents can only help build iTunes sales as well.

Clifford the Big Red Entertainment Industry

If Clifford, the big red dog that he is, ever decided to run when Emily Elizabeth (his young owner) wanted to walk, I doubt she could stop him. He stays with her though, I'm assuming, because she provides him with love, some kind of monster-chow, and a place to live. Not to mention adventures by the dozens. This is getting a little sidetracked by my love for Clifford...let me recontextualize for a second. The analogy is hopefully pretty clear, though I could never come up with one quite as fitting as Mr. Barlow in his "The Next Economy of Ideas" article. And although he seems a bit eager for anarchy on the web, in my opinion, I feel his case was extremely well-supported. I especially liked his notion of selling nouns versus ideas, and the inverse relationship their business models seem to take. It was as if he had anticipated Valenti's argument in this week's featured interview, "If I go down to the hardware store and buy an electric lawn mower and I take it home, and three weeks later my wife runs over it in the driveway, I can't take it back and get a new one. I can't get a backup" he says. And that is true, if you're in the business of selling nouns. Personally, I have always had a problem with the sale of digital music. Quite obviously, it is the direction everything is moving, and who am I to hold on to my nouns?
My main qualm with the disappearance of physical music vehicles (i.e. albums, cassettes, etc) is the malleability of value in digital goods. It would be naive, I feel, to blame this on increasing technology. Rather, it is the application of conventional business models on contemporary services and venues. The internet has torn apart all we know about ownership, so who is Jack Valenti, or now Dan Glickman to hold on to their nouns?
However, getting back to my point, the ability of a business with distribution rights to alter value at whim is what I fear the most about this revolution. Whether or not we're all pirates and whether or not Steve Jobs tries to straddle the fence in tribute to his fanboys and girls, the files are still owned by someone. Someone, more than likely (not, by any means always) with a boatload of cash to sink our ships and desecrate our skull flags. Perhaps the most disturbing quote that rings in my head from this week is the one Krista posted earlier regarding the new, un-DRM'd tracks available on i-tunes. Not the fact that they are free of the nuisance that is DRM, but that fact that they are offered in "a higher quality than the 99-cent tracks." This frightens me because it seems that a song and its digital representation should be altered by the artist and no one else, unless for artistic purposes (I don't want to slam hip-hop artists that sample tracks, or the internet superstars famous for their mashups, I'm all for recycling). Why should a middle-man, like EMI, or the jobber Jobs, be able to alter a product that should, in all rights, be direct communication between the artists and those that choose to listen. Did Shakespeare's benefactors offer his works with some of the poetry slightly marred? Or include King Lear's third daughter for a couple more ducats? Just the fact that Valenti was 82 when he finally retired stands as testament to the established entertainment-industry's distance from its consumer base, or distance, for that matter, from reality.
I truly want to believe Barlow's case for the future, and his declaration that the war is already won, but I have serious fears about the post traumatic stress disorder that will undoubtedly leave the arts and entertainment section of our culture shell-shocked and shaking for awhile.

April 10, 2007

Is Jobs Jobbing us?

Steve Jobs does an excellent job of sitting on a fence. He states that only 3% of the music on the average ipod is purchased from itunes with DRM. How could he be affecting the freedom of the music lover if only 3% of the songs are affected? His reasoning is based on the number of iPods purchased (90 million) and the number of songs purchased through itunes (2 billion songs). What kind of figures would he see if there wasn’t protection on all songs purchased from itunes? Would the figure climb to 10 billion or 20 billion songs? Where is the balancing point for Apple dollars and anti-piracy protection? I think Jobs has done a marvelous job in selling the major studios on his DRM venture even though it isn’t working. It is almost like the ipod is functioning on a different format when it comes to itunes. Look at what happened to the Sony video format of Betamax vs. VHS. I think the industry will shake out and adopt some standards for music.

Our second article in two weeks from John Perry Barlow was again very entertaining. I enjoyed his history references of the masters and their lack of anti-piracy concerns many centuries ago. He states that the future will win and there will be no property in cyberspace. Behold DotCommunism. As formats and technology changes, the rules and regulations have to change too. We are looking at the internet and piracy as if it is something new and different. Valenti references the questions the MPAA had with VCR’s and duplication problems. They believed that the act of copying a VHS tape would kill the motion picture industry. As the industry grew, safeguards were put in place to attempt to protect the creative license of the industry and actors. The internet isn’t any different from the video questions of 30 years ago. We just haven’t solved the problem of piracy yet. Maybe it will become a non-issue. By the time we find a solution, we will be on to the next big technological breakthrough and the internet will be very “has been?.

Too Much of a Good Thing

If this were a recess time baseball game, I would pick Barlow first, and not take Valenti if he were the last man standing. Steve Jobs could play, but he would have to play right field or left bench until he toughened up a bit.

Music is everywhere. People pay for music to add to their iPods, play on the radio (the stations do directly) and add into commercials to help build an atmosphere for the product or service they are selling. But when we can get it free (i.e. the radio, file-sharing programs) why do we pay for it? Personally, I pay just 10-15 cents for music from www.gomusic.ru which is basically the cheaper version of iTunes, but still works on my iPod. I didn't scour the web looking for alternatives to iTunes as Napster and related sharing programs were being shut down, but instead talked to a friend from Sweden who said he had used it ever since he wanted cheaper music. It was not a moral reason for me to not use file-sharing sites, but instead a "I don't want to pay thousands of dollars or get in trouble with the law" reason as I had read the news about the unlucky few who were taken to court by RIAA and lost. There was nothing moral to do with it because I feel I could listen to music on the radio anyway. Yes it is a different order, but music just isn't that valuable in my mind. I do not feel like artists are being at all underpaid when I can see them on MTV's Cribs even AFTER they complain about copyright laws.

The non-commercial use of music is exactly what we did when we would put in a tape and record straight from the radio. The pirate producing thousands of copies of ripped DVDs and CDs without paying a cent is not hurting from the current copyright laws, he can still profit and is a hard-to-catch criminal. The person who hurts is the average American with no intent to reuse the music other than for running or getting through the day by driving up costs to pay for music our already well financed entertainers and labels that is becoming more of a commodity.

One good example of why we shouldn't pay for music is baseball:
Radio and TV: free with commercials, the team makes money, the product reaches a large audience
In person: Even though there are 81 home games many teams are able to make money at each one. This is proof that although the "game" is repeated, the differences in a live performance are worth the money.

I like Barlow's talk of verbs and nouns and the role ethics play into this whole scheme. When you have something useful and give it to people, humans have a natural reciprocity to give back. I learned this in Psych 1001. Sure there are people who have other needs and decide not to, but look at Wikipedia's recent fund drive that raised about $12,000 per day. To me that sounds like quite a success, and it included both $1 donations as well much bigger amounts.

It sounded like Jobs was on the right track, but wasn't saying what he should say. Valenti sounded like he was getting paid a lot of money and trying to keep things how they were so he could keep getting paid a lot of money. I think the EMI-Apple deal will wind up lowering costs of all music as the other companies will have to follow EMI's lead as consumers shift to copyright-free music. I hope that all copyrights are eventually gone, except for the exact blatant copying of another work or product. Things get better faster when people are allowed to simply improve things that are already great.

MINE MINE MINE!!!

First off I wanted to say that I don't really feel that bad for the RIAA and all of their woes over file-sharing programs and copyright infringement. To me, they took an entirely incorrect path by suing everyone who was using file-sharing programs. Instead of attempting to find out what your market is doing as Apple did with Itunes, the RIAA just pushed their customer base away. By using such ruthless tactics, the RIAA had effectively alienated the people who were the source of all their income. I remember when this happened that many of my other friends and I decided to avoid purchasing music cd's for a while until Itunes came around with their song purchasing system. In final, I do not necessarily condone downloading illegal file sharing but I definitely do not agree with the way that the RIAA handled that whole situation. Also, I fully applaud Apple for being a reasonable company and seeing that their customers demanded something and fully supplying it. I find it to be simple economics, consumers found another source besides the RIAA's oligopoly on music and they responded by suing them for it, instead of behaving in free market manners as Apple did. The Victor Hugo quote in the Wired 8.10 article best sums up my beliefs on that matter, "An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come".

In a response to DRM I believe that Apple just created this concept to appease the oligopolies (yes, the they own 70% of the market share in the music industry so its hard to argue that they hold unfavorable oligopolistic properties) of the big four when they created the Itunes store. In Job's statement on Apple's website, he even states that Apple, "Apple does not own or control any music itself, it must license the rights to distribute music from others, primarily the 'big four' music companies: Universal, Sony BMG, Warner and EMI." (Jobs 1). I really think Jobs was smart for doing this as it makes the step for consumers switching to Itunes from CD purchases much easier for the big four. While this was largely political and I don't really agree with it, sometimes you need politics sadly as in this case. If Apple hadn't had DRM I think they might have ran into more problems with their Itunes store and possibly the concept might not have even got through. In other words it was a baby step towards what we see with EMI and their introduction of copyright free songs.

If anybody has noticed I think highly of the whole Apple store thing and I again applaud EMI for their introduction of copyright free songs. It is sad that the Beatles, who have already made insane amounts of money in their lifetime are one of the few groups to not allow this. I really don't think this will decrease record companies or recording artists' profits and they just need to learn to have a little faith in the everyday consumer.

I had to end with the quote that Jack Valenti said of the VCR, of which I compare to the current situation with copyrighted music, "I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone." (Wikipedia). Also note that if you read Wikipedia's article on Jack Valenti after the quote they state that shortly after he stated this (in 1982) the home video industry became the mainstay of movie studio revenues in the 80s. I can give Jack a little credit however with his quote in the PC World article, "If I go down to the hardware store and buy an electric lawn mower and I take it home, and three weeks later my wife runs over it in the driveway, I can't take it back and get a new one. I can't get a backup." (Valenti). That makes a lot of sense but I still feel that these are entirely different industries.

So would there be a difference with the video industry than with the music industry?


I crashed my car...where's my back-up?

First and foremost, that video was hilarious…and so true.

I personally don’t think it is okay to make a back-up copy of a DVD, or anything for that matter. I agree with Valenti’s statement: “Do you know anything else in the country that if something is abused for any reason they'll give you a backup? If I go down to the hardware store and buy an electric lawn mower and I take it home, and three weeks later my wife runs over it in the driveway, I can't take it back and get a new one. I can't get a backup.? Just because it is easy to make a copy of something doesn’t mean it is okay to do so. You run the risk when you purchase anything that something could happen to it, if you run over your lawn mower you will have to either buy a new one or PAY to repair it. If something happens to your DVD you should have to pay to replace it. Maybe people should just be a little more careful with there possessions?

I like the idea that for a higher price iTunes customers can purchase an EMI song that does not have a DRM (EMI-Apple pen deal to sell songs). This way the people who feel like they are being tied down to the MP3 player they currently have can rest easy. If in the future they purchase a different brand MP3 player they will be able to keep their music library. According to Jobs “under 3% of the music on the average iPod is purchased from the iTunes store and protected with a DRM.? I agree with Jobs that it seems a bit silly to think people are feeling locked into buying from only that provider in the future. I personally don’t have an MP3 player and don’t download music online; I still buy CDs to support the artist I like.

April 9, 2007

Secrets of the DeadHeads

The video was very interesting. Was that music in a number of shows from the late 60’s to early 70’s? The first show that came to mind was “I Dream of Jeannie?…I may be way off since my memory for television & movies is poor. Or, was I just influenced by Barlow’s question of “Is the genie out of the bottle?? (page 2)

I, like a previous poster, was not impressed by Jack Valenti’s interview. He has some good points and I imagine that to gain lobbying ground, it is better to push for stricter laws. I was not aware of the VCR issues (“unhappily, by a 5 to 4 decision, the Supreme Court said no .? As a consumer though, I do think I have the right to make a back up legally, whether it is software, music, or a movie. Yes, if I bought a lawnmower and someone ran over it, I don’t have a backup. But, I do have the option of repairing it.

The DRM issue sounds like a corporate fight without regards to the artists making the music. The music company wants to make a profit as well as Apple. I believe Job’s statement “DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy.? As a consumer, I should not be locked into one type of device to play music I legally purchased. If the CD is purchased from a retailer, I have the option of playing and downloading that song to any device I own. Why can’t I do that if purchase it from iTunes or Microsoft? “Apple doesn’t sell music because of DRM—it sells music in spite of DRM,? is a great summary statement. Personally I don’t buy music online or even download it (I actually purchase CDs). My kids’ friends don’t do that. They do a more P2P thing. They’ll each buy a different CD and then pass it around to whoever wants a copy. They find it’s faster and easier than downloading from the Internet. Others just get if from the P2P sites. Like Doctorow writes, many people have their iPods full of the 10,000 songs. How many spent $9,900 (or even half) for those songs? I would venture to say very few. Which leads me to wonder, how many people will truly pay more for a DRM-free song (from the EMI Group article). The analysts say “lifting the restrictions could boost sales of online music, which currently account for around 10 percent of global music sales.? I don’t think the increase will be that much. Most consumers of music are young and don’t necessarily have the money (or want to spend the money) to pay for music. This is especially true when there are P2P sites where music is free and downloadable. As Barlow writes “…there were kids who don’t give a flying byte about the existing legal battlements, and a lot of them possess decryption skills sufficient to easily crack whatever lame code the entertainment industry might wrap around “its? goods.? Besides, “free access increases it, and should be encouraged rather than stymied.? “It? can mean music as well as software. Artists are aware of this concept. Get their product out in the public so it is recognized. Consumers can’t copy the experience of going to a concert, buying a T-shirt or other items. Barlow tells us this experience of taped concerts and the filling of auditoriums with lots of Deadheads. Maybe the Grateful Dead and their followers should be given more credit....they both seem to be in a win-win situation.

April 3, 2007

The time of listeners choosing pleasures versus fillers

The Next Economy of Ideas, John Perry Barlow
"Free access increases it, and should be encouraged rather tan stymied."
This article was biased to a listeners perspective that appreciates free file sharing. Given that they even go to the extent to suggest that free access to files increases commercial values of specific music property. They discuss the battle between the white collars of the music industry versus this idea of music file sharing that was not successfully predicted. The other presents the idea as if whether music file sharing is ethical or not, it is so large that there is nothing that copyright policies could overcome.

Plunderphonics, or Audio Piracy as a Compositional Prerogative, John Oswald

Copyright is not a new phenomenon within American music as the first US copyright began in 1976. Given that I found it interesting that the first copyright policies only affected written music. I think this articles begins to introduce the vagueness of today's music and what qualifies as music versus the authors stated "noise." If music is so vague I think it becomes the responsibility and sole judgement lies on the individuals creating this policy. In this case I don't know that copyright laws will ever put up enough barriers nor will it be thoroughly fair.

"Listeners now have the means to assemble their own choices, to seperate pleasures from the fillers." This quote is the best statement that applies to my participation with file sharing. File sharing gives the power to the users. The internet is the opportunity to have unlimited resources by the push of the button. I am in control and I feel that I can modify my online communities and file sharing in accordance to my likes and preferences.

Three Minutes w/ Jack Valentini
I did not appreciate this article in depth, nor respect the attitude given by Valentini. The largest dispute I had regarding his answers was when he compared encrypted DVDs to a lawn mower suggesting that it is technical property and if destroyed should not be able to be recovered. When challenged to compare these DVDs to like software he didn't see a connection. Again did not find his answers to be very entertaining.

Ruckus and Napster
Essentially I see benefits to both Ruckus and Napster. I agree that people should pay slight fees for musical property. In the case of Ruckus, I am assuming the U of M pays of big fee to be able to provide free files.

un-DRM'd songs on iTunes for $.30 more

From CNN today:

Breaking from the rest of the recording industry, EMI Group said Monday it will begin selling songs online that are free of copy-protection technology through Apple Inc.'s iTunes Store. The deal, however, doesn't include music from the label's biggest act, The Beatles.

ITunes customers will soon be able to buy songs by the Rolling Stones, Norah Jones, Coldplay and other top-selling artists for $1.29, or 30 cents more than the copy-protected version. The premium tunes also will be offered in a higher quality than the 99-cent tracks.

(This has everything to do with next week’s topic.)