Freedom—or Copyright?

a very succinct overview on core issues
at the GNU Project site....

by Richard M. Stallman

Copyright was established in the age of the printing press as an industrial regulation on the business of writing and publishing. The aim was to encourage the publication of a diversity of written works. The means was to require publishers to get the author's permission to publish recent writings. This enabled authors to get income from publishers, which facilitated and encouraged writing. The general reading public received the benefit of this, while losing little: copyright restricted only publication, not the things an ordinary reader could do. That made copyright arguably a beneficial system for the public, and therefore legitimate.

Well and good—back then.

More recently, humanity developed a new way of distributing information: computers and networks. They facilitated copying and manipulating information, including software, musical recordings, books, and movies, and offered the possibility of unlimited access to all sorts of data—an information utopia.

One obstacle stood in the way: copyright. Readers and listeners who made use of their new ability to copy and share published information were technically copyright infringers. The same law which had formerly acted as a beneficial industrial regulation on publishers had become a restriction on the public it was meant to serve.

read the rest @




Public Policy Wiki - The Globe and Mail - The Dominion Institute : Bill C-61

Read all about it... the bill that Stephen "I'm not a prime minister, but I play one on TV" Harper is going to pass... and which it now appears the Liberals are going to roll over for too.

Bill C-61: An Act to amend the Copyright Act


Whereas the Copyright Act provides an essential framework for predictable and fair commerce, creativity and innovation;

Whereas information and communications technologies that link communities around the world present opportunities and challenges that are global in scope for the creation and use of copyright works or other subject-matter;

But don't read it and weep!

Go to the wiki of this act at the Globe and Mail

If you think this is wrong, you're not alone...

RIAA sued under gang laws - CNET News

It's probably not the first time that record company executives have been likened to Al Capone, but this time a judge might have to agree or disagree.

A New Jersey woman, one of the hundreds of people accused of copyright infringement by the Recording Industry Association of America, has counter-sued the big record labels, charging them with extortion and violations of the federal anti-racketeering act.

Obama Sides With RIAA, Supports $150,000 Fine per Music Track | Threat Level | Wired.com

filed under "this is not good news"

Two top lawyers in President Barack Obama’s Justice Department are former RIAA lawyers: Donald Verrilli Jr. is the associate deputy attorney general who brought down Grokster and fought to prevent a retrial in the Jammie Thomas case. Then there’s the No. 2 in the DOJ, Tom Perrilli. As Verrilli’s former boss, Perrilli argued in 2002 that internet service providers should release customer information to the RIAA even without a court subpoena.



The Problem with Music by Steve Albini (2)

this segment gets down to the real nitty-gritty...

There's this band...

They're pretty ordinary, but they're also pretty good, so they've attracted some attention. They're signed to a moderate-sized "independent" label owned by a distribution company, and they have another two albums owed to the label.

They're a little ambitious. They'd like to get signed by a major label so they can have some security: you know, get some good equipment, tour in a proper tour bus -- nothing fancy, just a little reward for all the hard work.

To that end, they got a manager. He knows some of the label guys, and he can shop their next project to all the right people. He takes his cut, sure, but it's only 15%, and if he can get them signed then it's money well spent. Anyways, it doesn't cost them anything if it doesn't work. 15% of nothing isn't much!

One day an A&R scout calls them, says he's "been following them for a while now," and when their manager mentioned them to him, it just "clicked." Would they like to meet with him about the possibility of working out a deal with his label?

Wow. Big Break time. They meet the guy, and y'know what -- he's not what they expected from a label guy. He's young and dresses pretty much like the band does. He knows all their favorite bands. He's like one of them. He tells them he wants to go to bat for them, to try to get them everything they want. He says anything is possible with the right attitude.

They conclude the evening by taking home a copy of a deal memo they wrote out and signed on the spot. The A&R guy was full of great ideas, even talked about using a name producer. Butch Vig is out of the question — he wants 100 Gs and three points, but they can get Don Fleming for $30,000 plus three points. Even that's a little steep, so maybe they'll go with that guy who used to be in David Letterman's band. He only wants three points. Or they can have just anybody record it (like Warton Tiers, maybe-- cost you 5 or 7 grand) and have Andy Wallace remix it for 4 grand a track plus 2 points. It was a lot to think about.

Well, they like this guy and they trust him. Besides, they already signed the deal memo. He must have been serious about wanting them to sign. They break the news to their current label, and the label manager says he wants them to succeed, so they have his blessing. He will need to be compensated, of course, for the remaining albums left on their contract, but he'll work it out with the label himself.

Sub Pop made millions from selling off Nirvana, and Twin Tone hasn't done bad either: 50 grand for the Babes and 60 grand for the Poster Children -- without having to sell a single additional record. It'll be something modest. The new label doesn't mind, so long as it's recoupable out of royalties.

Well, they get the final contract, and it's not quite what they expected. They figure it's better to be safe than sorry and they turn it over to a lawyer--one who says he's experienced in entertainment law and he hammers out a few bugs.

They're still not sure about it, but the lawyer says he's seen a lot of contracts, and theirs is pretty good. They'll be great royalty: 13% [less a 10% packaging deduction]. Wasn't it Buffalo Tom that were only getting 12% less 10? Whatever.

The old label only wants 50 grand, and no points. Hell, Sub Pop got 3 points when they let Nirvana go. They're signed for four years, with options on each year, for a total of over a million dollars! That's a lot of money in any man's English. The first year's advance alone is $250,000. Just think about it, a quarter million, just for being in a rock band!

Their manager thinks it's a great deal, especially the large advance. Besides, he knows a publishing company that will take the band on if they get signed, and even give them an advance of 20 grand, so they'll be making that money too.

The manager says publishing is pretty mysterious, and nobody really knows where all the money comes from, but the lawyer can look that contract over, too. Hell, it's free money.

Their booking agent is excited about the band signing to a major. He says they can maybe average $1,000 or $2,000 a night from now on. That's enough to justify a five week tour, and with tour support, they can use a proper crew, buy some good equipment and even get a tour bus!

Buses are pretty expensive, but if you figure in the price of a hotel room for everybody In the band and crew, they're actually about the same cost. Some bands like Therapy? and Sloan and Stereolab use buses on their tours even when they're getting paid only a couple hundred bucks a night, and this tour should earn at least a grand or two every night. It'll be worth it. The band will be more comfortable and will play better.

The agent says a band on a major label can get a merchandising company to pay them an advance on T-shirt sales! ridiculous! There's a gold mine here! The lawyer should look over the merchandising contract, just to be safe.

They get drunk at the signing party. Polaroids are taken and everybody looks thrilled. The label picked them up in a limo.

They decided to go with the producer who used to be in Letterman's band.He had these technicians come in and tune the drums for them and tweak their amps and guitars. He had a guy bring in a slew of expensive old "vintage" microphones. Boy, were they "warm."

He even had a guy come in and check the phase of all the equipment in the control room! Boy, was he professional. He used a bunch of equipment on them and by the end of it, they all agreed that it sounded very "punchy," yet "warm."

All that hard work paid off. With the help of a video, the album went like hotcakes! They sold a quarter million copies!

Here is the math that will explain just how fucked they are: These figures are representative of amounts that appear in record contracts daily. There's no need to skew the figures to make the scenario look bad, since real-life examples more than abound. income is bold and underlined, expenses are not.

ADVANCE: $250,000

Manager's cut:


Legal fees:


Recording Budget:


Producer's advance:


Studio fee:


Drum Amp, Mic
& Phase "Doctors":


Recording tape:


Equipment rental:


Cartage & Transportation:


Lodgings while in studio:






Tape copies, reference CDs, misc. expenses:


Video budget:






Processing & transfers:




On-line editing:




Stage & construction:


Copies, couriers, transportation:


Director's fee:


Album Artwork:


Promotional photo shoot
& duplication:


Band fund:


New fancy professional
drum kit:


New fancy professional guitars [2]:


New fancy professional guitar amp rigs [2]:


New fancy potato-shaped bass guitar:


New fancy rack of lights
bass amp:


Rehearsal space rental:


Big blowout party
for their friends:


Tour expense [5 weeks]:




Crew [3]:


Food and per diems:




Consumable supplies:






Tour gross income:


Agent's cut:


Manager's cut:


Merchandising advance:


Manager's cut:


Lawyer's fee:


Publishing advance:


Manager's cut:


Lawyer's fee:


Record sales:

@ $12 =


Gross retail
revenue Royalty:

[13% of 90%
of retail]:

Less advance:


Producer's points:

[3% less $50,000 advance]:

Promotional budget:


Recoupable buyout
from previous label:


Net royalty:


Record company income:

Record wholesale price:

$6.50 x 250,000 =
$1,625,000 gross income

Artist Royalties:


Deficit from royalties:


Manufacturing, packaging
and distribution:

@ $2.20 per record: 550,000

Gross profit:


The Balance Sheet: This is how much
each player got paid at the end of the game.

Record company:








Previous label:






Band- net income each:


The band is now ¼th of the way through its contract, has made the music industry more than 3 million dollars richer, but is in the hole $14,000 on royalties.
The band members have each earned about one third as much as they would working at a 7-11, but they got to ride in a tour bus for a month.
The next album will be about the same, except that the record company will insist they spend more time and money on it. Since the previous one never "recouped," the band will have no leverage, and will oblige.
The next tour will be about the same, except the merchandising advance will have already been paid, and the band, strangely enough, won't have earned any royalties from their T-shirts yet. Maybe the T-shirt guys have figured out how to count money like record company guys. Some of your friends are probably already this fucked.


Bill Graham closes the the Fillmores

A Letter from Bill Graham

from page 45 of the May 6, 1971 issue of The Village Voice

April 29, 1971

Dear Friends:
Ever since the creation of the Fillmores, it was my sole intention to do nothing more, or less, than present the finest contemporary artists in this country, on the best stages and in the most pleasant halls.

The scene has changed and, in the long run, we are all to one degree or another at fault. All that I know is that what exists now is not what we started with, and what I see around me now does not seem to be a logical, creative extension of that beginning. Therefore, I am taking this opportunity to announce the closing of the Fillmores, and my eventual withdrawal from producing concerts.

The process will commence with the formal closing of Fillmore East on Sunday, June 27, 1971.

My reasons are as follows:
1) The unreasonable and totally destructive inflation of the live concert scene. Two years ago I warned that the Woodstock Festival syndrome would be the beginning of the end. I am sorry to say that I was right In 1965 when we begin the original Fillmore Auditorium, I associated with and employed "musicians." Now, more often than not, its with "officers and stockholders" in large corporations - only they happen to have long hair and play guitars. I acknowledge their success, but condemn what that success has done to some of them. I continue to deplore the exploitation of the gigantic-hall concerts, many of them with high-priced tickets. The sole incentive of too many has simply become money. The conditions for such performances, besides lacking intimacy, are professionally impossible according to my standards.

2) I had always hoped to be able to present artists whose musical worth I felt was important: artists whose music was valid, whether commercially popular or not. There are more quality artists today; but many of those that do exist do not appear in public regularly. Therefore, in order to stay in business, I would be forced to present acts whose musicality fell below my personal expectations and demands. I could do this, and in having to book fifty-two weeks a year it becomes tempting because it is so much easier to do. Thousands might even to come to these concerts, but I personally would prefer not to present them. For who would gain?

3) With all due respect for the role they play in securing work for the artists, the agents have created a new rock game called "packaging"; which means simply that if the Fillmore wants a major headliner, then we are often forced to take the second and/or third act that the agent or manager insists upon, whether or not we would take pride in presenting them, and whether or not such an act even belongs on that particular show. To do so would be to relinquish the essential responsibility of being a producer, and this I will not do.

4) In the early days of both Fillmore East and West, the level of audience seemed much higher in terms of musical sophistication. Now there are too many screams for "More" with total disregard for whether or not there was any musical quality.

5) The time and energy that is required for me to maintain a level of proficiency in my own work has grown so great that I have simply deprived myself of a private life. At this point I feel that I can no longer refuse myself the time, the leisure, and the privacy to which any man is rightfully entitled.

6) For six years, I have endured the abuse of many members of the public, and press (in most instances people who did not know me personally). The role of "anti-christ of the underground" has obviously never appealed to me. And when I asked for people to either judge me on some factual personal knowledge, or at least base their opinion on that which I produced and gave to the public, I was rarely answered.

7) Rock has been good to me in many ways, but the final and simple fact is that I am tired. The only reason to keep the Fillmore in operation at this point would be to make money. And though few have ever chosen to believe me on this point, money has never been my prime motivation; and now that it would become the only possible motivation to continue, I pass.

My personal future will begin with a long-needed rest. What will follow, I do not know. The several hundred good people who work at the Fillmore, maniacally dedicated to our standards, will, no doubt, go on to other creative things on their own. Fillmore West, as you may know, has been allocated for demolition for a long time know. It will neither relocate nor be reopened.

The "Fillmore" will become a thing of the past. I will remember with deep emotion and fondness the great and joyous moments of that past. I sincerely thank the artists and business associates who contributed to our success. But, I warn the public to watch carefully for what the future will bring.

The rock scene in this country was created by a need felt by the people, expressed by the musicians, and, I hope, aided to some degree by the efforts of the Fillmores. But whatever has become of that scene, wherever it turned into the music industry of festivals, 20,000-seat halls, miserable production quality, and second-rate promoters - however it went wrong - please, each of you, stop and think whether or not you allowed it, whether or not you supported it regardless of how little you received in return.

I am not pleased with this "music industry." I am disappointed with many of the musicians working in it, and I and shocked at the nature of the millions of people who support that "industry" without asking why. I am not assured that the situation will improve in the future.

But beyond all these viewpoints, I truly wish to express my overwhelming appreciation to the people, who, over the years, gave their time and devoted energy to working at the Fillmores. To them, and to many, many musicians who grew in stature without ever copping out, and to those admirable patrons who both refused to support marathon rip-offs and who even took the time to helpfully criticize me for the errors I made - to all of you, my fondest thanks and farewell.


Bill Graham

This letter was generously provided and transcribed
by Bob Parker of Pleasant Valley, New York.

If you want to learn more about the man at the centre of huge changes in music and culture, and what it means to be a producer, this book is excellent!
It has a running commentary from Mr. Graham as well as the voices of other people who were also involved with the projects he describes...

...and here are some links to help you on your way:





The Sky Is Always Falling...

... and somebody is always crying "Wolf, there's a wolf!"

there's a lot of weird shit going on these days, out on the old information superhighway and in the courts and people's lives, with lose talk about artists, audiences and theivin'...

The RIAA has only been out in full Gestapo drag for a few years, but it's been long enough to rank number one with the proverbial bullet as the "most hated corporation on the planet". In an effort to make up some mad miscalculations vis-a-vis ramping up the net earnings in their division, down at the rump end of one corporate conglomerate or another, they have now decided it's the people listening to the music that are the problem.

It's way too Adolf on uncut factory meth, speed-rapping in the bunker fto me. Their numbers are the stuff that dreams are made of, dire dreams where deserving artists are having the very bread taken from their mouths by the the people who love their music.

And the thing is... this is not an all-new episode.

it's happened before...

it's like a major deja vu...
or perhaps in this case, deja ecoute?

you can understand why these people are upset,.

I'm sure many of us remember this lovable character....

I remember when this crap started coming out, because my friends and I were major mix-tape makers, to the point of freakhood as per the titling and original cover art that were de riguer among our set.

We were the biggest music geeks we each knew - at least among those who could also catch or throw a pass, shoot a puck, take a hit and drink without getting frickin'weird about something.

We were True Believers, proselytizing, trying to get our favourite music- which we had all bought, by the way - into the ears of near and potential believers who would then buy their own copies because it was always understood that we did not lend albums.

We felt we were the best fans a band could ever have, devoted listeners whose only real interest was in turning on more people to music that ruled our worlds. Thirty years later, major labels and indies would be creating "street teams" (overtly or covertly) to do more or less what we'd do then for The Music We Loved.

To be told by some suits somewhere that we were not the best fans a band ever had and in fact we were A Really Big Problem was worse than wrong and way off base.
It was insulting.

And the tenor and tone of these Industry communiques had a strangely familiar sound to it...

didn't it occur to anyone that this might
make the hormonally-challenged seek
this stuff out, pronto?

but i digress...
the point was anyone can understand why the RIAA is so very, very upset about this.
the numbers - which they've made assembled themselves - are truly astounding. they are also of a bodaciousness that no first year stats student would ever try to get away with.
they are ludicrous.
leaving the total speciousness of the math aside, the fact remains that they are spending and litigating large behind this and damaging a lot of people's lives... some of those people are artists.
they seem to be fooling some of the people all of the time. some of those people are artists too.

they're not fooling all of the people though. and some of them have been alerting the rest of us to the fact that these people are going for changes in the law to take care of their corporate selves and this is far, far from a good thing.

it's something we shpuld all be keeping an eye on, and it's about a lot more than what gets to go on your ipod...









you've had one of those days at work, and getting home seemed like an obstacle course through the land of the damned. you pick up the mail on the way in to the kitchen and as you thumb through it, there's a strange one in there....

who the heck is Holme, Roberts and Owen?

what do you do now?


Sales Points

some interesting illustrations of how things work for artists and corporations...

food for thought, perhaps...



iPod, uPod, wePod

Inevitably, the rise of a new cultural iCon and the everywhere-ness of it's groovy branding campaign will inspire different people in different ways...this first one is a piece I did....

here, the artist has clearly been strongly influenced
by Uma Thurman in Kill Bill...

then there's this simple, elegant one...

a very topical entry...

and another bad attitude here...

and the Scots, of course, always
have to go their own way...



Love hurts

Whenever I spend a few hours clicking around the web reading about music music and The War on Sharing, I end up feeling like an anorexic Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, sputtering away about how I cannot abide "mendacity!"

I was at the RIAA website tonight
http://www.riaa.com/index.php, reading around and then I came to "Piracy pages".
And I quote...

"It's commonly known as piracy, but it's a too benign term that doesn't even begin to adequately describe the toll that music theft takes on the many artists, songwriters, musicians, record label employees and others..."

Oh, the humanity.

But it's not the see me, feel me, trauma mama melodrama that ticks me off. Much. They probably believe it. Easy money slipping away could be more damaging on the day to day than the "whatever" of encountering organized, desperate people at sea, armed with guns and machetes, with nothing to lose.

The mendacity rises from the way they pimp this "We feel their pain" so far and so wide, while meanwhile, in another courtroom down the hall...

That's right.


Eminem: poor kid from troubled home
tries to make good.

February 2009
Eminem Sues Record Label Over iTunes Royalties
…If the rapper is successful, the case could mean recording artists gain more money from each song digitally sold. A court victory could increase artists’ share of each 99-cent sold on iTunes to 35-cents, up from the current 20-cents, according to the report….

"Talk to the

March 2009

Timbaland Sues Record Label
Timbaland alleges Blackground went on a McCarthy-esque search-and-destroy campaign, contacting various record labels and giving them a million reasons why they shouldn't hire Timbaland to produce songs. To add insult to injury, Timbaland claims Blackground also stiffed him out of serious cash. Now, he wants out of the contract and unspecified damages.

The young Floyds in happier days, signing their first contract.

April 2009

Pink Floyd to sue record label over payments
The band will be suing t heir record label EMI because it miscalculated royalties owed to them from their back catalogue, reports The Daily Star.

It seems not even
a poor old widow lady
is safe from these people.

June 2009

Cher sues record label
The Believe hitmaker filed a suit against Universal Music Group (UMG) in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming bosses "engaged in wrongful tactics" to hide money owed to her.



Pink Floyd


These people have sold some product. Shifted units. These people have people, whose job it is to watch for this sort of thing.

What might happen to you?