Who are the Real Pirates?

Chet Baker was a leading jazz musician in the 1950s, playing trumpet and providing vocals. Baker died in 1988, yet he is about to add a new claim to fame as the lead plaintiff in possibly the largest copyright infringement case in Canadian history. His estate, which still owns the copyright in more than 50 of his works, is part of a massive class-action lawsuit that has been underway for the past year.
The infringer has effectively already admitted owing at least $50 million and the full claim could exceed $6 billion. If the dollars don't shock, the target of the lawsuit undoubtedly will: The defendants in the case are Warner Music Canada, Sony BMG Music Canada, EMI Music Canada, and Universal Music Canada, the four primary members of the Canadian Recording Industry Association.

to learn more about how much the CRIA loves artists...


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Brian Eno on music, blubber & money


“I think records were just a little bubble through time and those who made a living from them
for a while were lucky.

There is no reason why anyone should have made so much money from selling records except that everything was right for this period of time. I always knew it would run out sooner or later. It couldn’t last, and now it’s running out. 

I don’t particularly care that it is and like the way things are going. The record age was just a blip.

It was a bit like if you had a source of whale blubber in the 1840s and it could be used as fuel. Before gas came along, if you traded in whale blubber, you were the richest man on Earth. Then gas came along and you’d be stuck with your whale blubber.

Sorry mate – history’s moving along.

Recorded music equals whale blubber. Eventually, something else will replace it.’’

Brian Eno

an oblique strategy



R U Home Taping Downloads?

As many music lovers will remember, in a previous life music was killed by kids making mix tapes on their cassette players to give to friends, potential sex partners and other music geeks.

Some might have seen this harmless habit as free marketing. Not simply marketing, but marketing of the highest order. Peer to peer.

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) didn't see this as free marketing. They were sure that all this taping would lead to a decline in units sold, and introduced the "Home Taping Is Killing Music" music campaign in 1984 (sic).

The idea was first put forward in an article in 1970 in Billboard magazine, but it was the introduction of the Sony Walkman at the dawn of the 80s that put the Industry's paranoia into hyper-drive.

As it happened, taping an album you had bought was not actually illegal.

"For most of the recording era, record sales have fallen under the doctrine of first sale, which says that once you buy a record, it's yours. Among other things, the doctrine has been used to permit records to be played on the radio -- a practice the recording industry first opposed."

Rock 101: "Home Taping Is Killing Music"  Posted by jabartlett

Nevertheless, soon the Industry was reporting billions in lost revenues, and the skull and crossbones cassette with the catchy slogan
was everywhere.

Coming hard on the heels of punk music
and its DIY ethic, with millions of music lovers pre-inclined to doubt the good intentions and honesty of the Music Industry, parodies and remixes of the BPI campaign began to appear on t-shirts, stickers and other lifestyle items.

The ridicule continues to the present day.
More than 25 years after it was first unfurled, the little flag of the cassette and crossbones remains a charged symbol that still speaks to many music lovers in a louder voice about 'piracy' than the keening of the RIAA and other Industry associations.

In retrospect, this campaign stands as the first public appearance of a profound difference of opinion vis-a-vis 'ownership' between the Music Industry and the people who buy their products

If anything, these differences of opinion
have grown over the years.

The Industry has pursued increasingly aggressive legal actions against individuals, businesses
and educational institutions while lobbying governments to assist them in criminalizing
its existing and potential customer base.

These days the Industry pays people to fake the effect that mix tapes once had - creating so-called 'street teams',  paying people to the post messages extolling their products in list serves and socially networks and other marketing initiatives of dubious integrity and effectiveness.

- tbc -

as ever, one can look to...



The Cult of Originality

One of the truly precious concepts in the contemporary music industry and discussions about the 'intellectual property' of the Artists
who create content for said industry
is the notion of originality.

Leaving aside (for the moment) the way both
the Industry and its subcontractors seem to regard the entire history of music - ie- the development
of scales, chords, melody, song structures, etc - as just one more natural resource to be exploited for their personal benefit, the idea that stringing 4 or 5 common chords together with a few cliche platitudes constitutes an original creation
of inestimable value is a joke.

People's exhibit A:
- tbc -


BBC News - Is it time to defend our rights?

This has got to stop. We have to say "enough is enough" to those who hold copyrights in songs and images and words and videos. We must refuse to remake the digital world in order to serve only their interests.

read more at the Beeb


Download This (2)

Like love and good health and other really important things in life, music can be truly be said to be priceless. But if one is going to sell and/or buy things, a price must be set and accepted by the parties involved in the transaction.

The same can be said about legal proceedings. If one is claiming a loss, and seeking restitution through the courts, a value must be set on that loss so a successful plaintiff can be compensated appropriately.

In the first installment of Download This, it was argued that based on the price of a song at Itunes, the typical Ipod user had the equivalent of a Lexus in their pocket.

This infographic from Cracked.com extrapolates a very different financial situation. In this case, the RIAA has valued a song at $382,353, with truly astonishing financial results...

Once removed from the realm of the priceless, music, it seems, can give new meaning to the phrase 'funny business'.



Download This...


It seems, vis-a-vis the Death of Music,
there are more lions, tigers and yes, even more bears out there than ever.

It's all laid out a website called stopmusictheft.com, and the news is not good. In fact, it's bad. It's bad with a capital B,
and that rhymes
with P
and that stands


But wait! It gets worse!

Apparently, without swift and sweeping action on a global scale - including legislation, prosecution, re-education and behaviour modification - the Future of Music Itself is
in danger.

Seriously. Here's what it says at "Stop Music Theft dot com"...

"Apple's "biggest" iPod holds 40,000 songs. Assuming one bought them all, that's about $40,000. Teenagers (and many who once were)
all over the world are walking around with the equivalent of a stolen
Lexus in their pockets (because really, who has $40 grand to spend on music?). Do you think that's right? Do you think we should ignore that? Do you think we should blame car dealers if they or their trade association tried to stop that?"

a Lexus?

in their pocket?


(deep, heartfelt sigh)

Welcome to The Box. There is so much wrong here that even trying to think about it brings on the intellectual equivalent of an ice cream headache.

philosophical assumptions behind all this sound and fury have never been - and are not now - shared by a majority of listeners or musicians on the planet. The "business plan" implied here was crude a hundred years ago and now it's more  than 20 years past the stale-date... just over one digital generation.
The message comes wrapped in a cheap, moronic metaphor and dripping with condescension... but there is more to this Lexus moment than a level of loathing for the customer that even airlines can't touch.


This little fable says a lot
about why The Industry
formerly known as Music
has been so wrong, so often
about so much
for so long. 

The sense of entitlement and level of self-absorption in these few lines are not just infantile. They are literally sociopathic*.

- tbc -

*sociopath, from Wikipedia:

"...defined by the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual as "...a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood."[1]

the idea of corporations as sociopathic is brilliantly articulated in The Corporation. It's a documentary film, a book, a dialogue and a website. To learn more about this diagnosis, go here:

or you can download the film here:

don't forget the bonus video - associate producer Joel Bakan interviewed by Janeane Garofalo

and/or download the soundtrack here:

if you do, remember to say thanks!


Further to the Death of Music

I came across a very interesting article about the future of music at Ars Technica tonight.... interesting because it presents other business people discussing the situation the Industry formerly known as Music finds itself in...

It starts out with a fascinating tale...

An anecdote in a recent Economist perfectly summed up the problems facing the major music labels. After EMI, the smallest of the Big Four, invited a teen focus group to its London headquarters in 2006, it wanted to give the teens something for their time. The response is worth quoting in full.
At the end of the session the EMI bosses thanked them for their comments and told them to help themselves to a big pile of CDs sitting on a table. But none of the teens took any of the CDs, even though they were free. "That was the moment we realised the game was completely up," says a person who was there.

...and goes on to ask some very interesting questions:

"Can you imagine what would happen if most consumer industries over-shipped by 20 per cent? Can you imagine any consumer industry having 10 per cent of employees as middle management? Can you imagine only 6 per cent of staff in production?"

as well as...

Whatever artists and labels might think their music is worth, Pakman believes that consumers see music as simply being worth less than movies. If a thriller can be made for $80 million but be sold for $7.50, why should music remain in the $11 to $14 range?

worth reading, i think, and there are some interesting links to boot!


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Great Moments in Advertising

i've often thought music
was like a cheeseburger,
and it's comforting to know
i'm not the only one.

i guess...




Say Amen, Somebody!


Here's some all-too-rare, plain-spoken sense-making about music, money and so much more...

"The fact is that the music industry’s revenues have been artificially inflated for decades because of limited consumer options. The last 15 years of innovation have lifted those limitations, effectively leaving the music industry with an obsolete, defective business model of monopolized production technology, forced album bundling, and almost nonexistent competition in the realm of home entertainment. What is happening now – the decline of music profits and the piracy witch hunt by the music industry – is merely the panicked struggle of a dying business model, a complacent industry’s refusal to accept its diminishing role in a digital world. The pirates are not the reason, and the decline is the not the disease. It is the cure."

read more from the Jens Roland article on "How to Kill the Music Industry" at




Sue Me, Sue You Blues...

...few things in nature are more vicious
than a corporate beastie on it's way
to the evolutionary bone-yard...

...for more amusing independent perspectives
on music and the law, jump over to http://www.freakingnews.com/Internet-Piracy-Pictures----151.asp

- tbc -