Pro-Copyright Strawmen Won't Protect You From Real Economics

from the knock-'em-down dept

Over the last couple of months, I've discussed some unsubstantiated claims by Hank Williams, a writer for Silicon Alley Insider, that seemed dubious and uninformed, such as the idea that business models based on "free" were the fault of venture capitalist and made it impossible for small businesses to survive. Then, a couple weeks ago, there was his totally unsubstantiated attack on those who support weakening copyright protections. Williams has now responded, with a piece taking a few quotes from me out of context and insisting that I had no evidence to back up my claims. In reading through his claims, one thing becomes clear: Williams, like many others, likes to set up strawmen on what he wishes I said, and then to try to prove his point, puts artificial restrictions on what counts as proof. Let's take a look.
Williams original statement: First, if music goes down, so will every other form of copyrighted material including ultimately books, movies, TV, etc.

Masnick said: This assumes that without copyright, content creation goes down. There's no evidence to support this. In fact, we see more content creation today than ever before in history, and most of it is not because of copyright in the slightest.

Williams' Response: First of all, as far as I know, we still have copyright laws in this country. But Masnick says copyright isn't important to the creators of that content. How do we know this? Because Masnick says so. And I am sure most movie makers, book authors and publishers, and TV producers agree that they could continue to make their products without copyright. I am sure Jeff Zucker agrees. I am sure Bob Iger agrees. I am sure all those writers who get book advances agree. What about YouTube? What about the blogosphere? Well, the last time I looked Star Wars Kid had neither a TV nor movie deal for his famous clip.
The strawman that Williams is using here is to mix and match what type of content he's talking about to suit his purpose. I thought he was talking about content as a whole, which is what he implied. But when I pointed out that there's more content being produced today than ever before (thank you internet) and the vast majority of it isn't being produced because of copyright, he changed his tune, to say he only meant professionally made content that was made using copyright. In other words, it's a tautological argument: the only content that counts is the content produced by this particular business model -- so if that business model goes away, there will be less content produced by that business model. Well, duh. But that doesn't mean less content will be produced, which is what his handwaving is meant to imply.

And, of course, there's little evidence to suggest he's correct even there. The music industry, as has widely been demonstrated, has not been decimated by piracy at all. While the recording industry has had trouble adjusting, just look how many musicians have found a decent audience thanks to the internet. The combination of cheaper tools to make music, record music, distribute music and promote music means that more people can and are making music today than ever before in history. The same is true of other types of content as well. Of course, Williams has a neat trick in his bag to discount all of those, but we'll get to that next.
Williams said: There is no evidence at all that free music on the Internet is an effective (i.e. successful career building) marketing tool.

Masnick said: That's simply untrue. Mr. Williams may not have found such evidence, but it's only because he didn't look very hard. The number of bands who exist solely because of their ability to build a following on the internet is rather large at this point, with plenty of bands crediting the internet's ability for easy distribution and marketing for their own ability to exist.

Williams' Comment: Again, Masnick's response appears to be: "You are wrong because I said so." But I'm trying to help: Via the Free Music Research Project I've started, I'm trying to see if I can find any artists that have effectively used the Internet promotion for anything other than to get noticed by a label. We are still in fairly early days, but so far no qualifying artists have been submitted. Kevin Kelley and Jaron Lanier have both also aggressively been looking for such artists, and they haven't found any either. I am not saying that there aren't any, but at this point any evidence is elusive. I suspect that there may be one somewhere. But probably not three.
And here's the neat little trick. The devil is in the details, but Williams has defined using free music to create a success so incredibly narrowly to make sure to limit the number of musicians who meet his qualifications. Let's go through the problems with his definition one-by-one.

First, he says it only applies to bands that are not on any label. Why? Who knows. I certainly have never claimed that bands need to remain off labels. In fact, I've pointed out exactly the opposite -- that even in the world of free music there's plenty of room for music labels who take a more holistic approach to helping a band create a full business model. So, suddenly, he cuts off any band that has ever signed with a label, even those that are embracing giving away their content to make money in other ways.

Second, he says it only applies to bands that make all their music downloadable as mp3s on MySpace. Why only on MySpace? Again, no idea. I'm not sure what MySpace has to do with any of this. Perhaps this isn't that much of a limitation, since most bands do seem to have a MySpace page -- but it still seems like an odd restriction.

Third, it only applies to musicians who are US based. He says this is to make it easier to research the details, but of course, that leaves out successful examples we've discussed in countries like Jamaica, China and Brazil. But that's okay, because none of those examples meet some of Williams' other pointless restrictions.

Fourth, it only applies to bands who have agreed to give away all of their music, rather than those who are just testing the waters. Why this limitation? Again, it's not at all clear. But just because a band is testing the waters and learning how "free" works, doesn't mean that they don't count as evidence.

As a subsidiary point (point 4a) it appears to also only apply to bands that don't also sell their music (Hank can hopefully correct me if I'm wrong here). I'm putting this as 4a, because it's not entirely clear if this really disqualifies a band -- though, Hank does say: "The idea is to find artists that, as a career choice, are not selling their music." Hank is pulling a sneaky strawman trick here: by saying that if a band is still making any money from the legacy system, then obviously that legacy system works great. This is similar to the problem with point 4 above. No one says to completely ignore the old way while you transition -- but for Hank, that's just not good enough.

Fifth, Hank insists that the bands can only make money from touring, and demands that they have a published schedule online. In fact, in the comments he dismisses Jane Siberry/Issa, who has built a career out of giving away her music because she doesn't happen to have a tour listed online. This is a common point of attack that people have made. But, it again is an artificial limitation. I have never suggested that bands should make their money touring, so I'm not sure why Williams thinks that's a reasonable limitation. I have simply said that they can sell scarce goods while giving away the infinite goods (the music). And, those scarce goods can include many things. Touring is certainly a big obvious one -- but hardly the only one -- as can be clearly seen by the successful experiments run by both Trent Reznor and Jill Sobule.

In both cases, Reznor and Sobule sold other scarce goods that had little to do with concerts (though, one of Sobule's "tiers" included concert tickets). Reznor ended up making well over $1.6 million. Sobule made $75k (her goal) in less than two months. But, to Williams, these don't count -- even though neither of them were business models predicated on copyright. And, so we have a strawman. Williams has decided that the business model we support has all of these limitations on it, even though it does not -- and he won't bother to accept any musician who has their feet in both pools.

I'm not sure what that proves, but it certainly doesn't prove that the model we're discussing doesn't work. We've already seen plenty of proof that it does.
Williams said: There have been no blockbuster successes that have come from, for example, Garageband availability. I don't think you could even count more than a handful -- if that -- internet-based artists making a living from music.

Masnick says: Of course, that depends on how you define "blockbuster" success. Williams seems to define it narrowly to suit his purposes, and that completely undermines his argument. Bands like the Arctic Monkeys created the following that turned them into a huge success via the internet.

Williams' Comment: The Arctic Monkeys do not fit the criteria, but not because they aren't big enough, but because they aren't an Internet band. I will happily concede that the Internet has been helpful to labels in discovering artists. In fact the the Internet is now a primary research tool for label A&R departments. And such is the case with The Arctic Monkeys. But all of The Arctic Monkeys' major success, like best selling records, and major radio play, came after they signed with a label in 2005.

And if they were so successful without a label, why sign with one? Why not just keep that big pile of Internet cash to yourself? Even if you discount that the Arctic Monkeys are a label band,, and just accept Masnick's contention that they are an Internet blockbuster, one single band does not make a movement. It doesn't even qualify as a "handful".
We've already discussed the strawman of Williams' that somehow signing with a label disqualifies a band from gaining value from the internet or embracing free music. Instead, I'll focus on the fact that Williams conveniently snips out the success stories of Maria Schneider and Flo Rida. I'm sure he has reasons why they, too, don't qualify. However, when you spend so much time pointing out why every example "doesn't qualify" for some arbitrary set of rules, at some point you'll have to realize that all of those exceptions are the rule.

We never said that one business model (and certainly not the one Williams insists must be there) is the answer. We simply explained the basic economics and how to craft multiple business models that take advantage of those economics. You can build a strawman to argue against any single business model, but given that the overall economics are sound, and the increasing number of artists who are taking advantage of those economics (even if they don't fit Williams' narrow criteria) are doing a fine job of proving the point that Williams strawman won't support. So, go ahead and knock over that strawman, Hank. The rest of us are focusing on the business models that work.

Update: A friend just alerted me to the most ridiculous contradiction in Williams' post that was too good not to point out. As we noted above, in determining who "qualifies" as a success story with these non-copyright-focused business models, Williams' says you can't include anyone signed to a record label. Yet, in determining what qualifies as a "success" story with internet content, he mocks the Star Wars Kid: "Well, the last time I looked Star Wars Kid had neither a TV nor movie deal for his famous clip." So, apparently, to be a success as an amateur, you need to sign a pro deal, but once you sign a pro deal, you no longer qualify to be considered a success as an amateur. This is positively brilliant. Williams has created a scenario where it's simply impossible to qualify for his definition of success, because the second you qualify... you're disqualified.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 10:11am

    your an idiot. why would someone use their time, resources, and money to provide free, uncopywrited content? Did you volunteeer this article or did you get paid for it? Exactly.
    Volunteerism makes zero sense to me. I'm already being ripped off by working. Hell if I gonna volunteer content. paymemthrfkr.

     

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    Ima Fish, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 10:18am

    "I thought he was talking about content as a whole, which is what he implied."

    He didn't imply it, he said it: "First, if music goes down, so will every other form of copyrighted material including ultimately books, movies, TV, etc."

     

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    Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 10:19am

    Re:

    your an idiot.

    Grammatically incorrect insults are my favorite. :)

    why would someone use their time, resources, and money to provide free, uncopywrited content? Did you volunteeer this article or did you get paid for it? Exactly.

    Did you miss the part where we explained that this is not about volunteerism, but about adopting a different, better business model that gets you paid more?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 10:22am

    Re:

    you're Hank Williams, aren't you...

     

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    Ima Fish, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 10:26am

    Re:

    "your an idiot. why would someone use their time, resources, and money to provide free, uncopywrited content?"

    You never heard of broadcast television? In the US you can put up an antenna and watch copyrighted content on TV for free. Anytime. Nearly anywhere.

    There's also this thing called radio. I'm shocked you never heard of it. Once again, with a radio you can listen to copyrighted content for free.

    You may have heard about this thing called the internet. Numerous news sites, for example, put their copyrighted content online for free to the reader. (Heck, you're reading on right now.)

    As to why someone would create content without copyright protection, it's something you would not understand. Some people like helping others without any payoff. E.g., helping a lady walk across the street.

    Let me ask you this: Do you get paid for everything you do? Nope. But you still do those things anyway. And the reason you do those things is because you want to. That's no different from those giving away their content via music, videos, or working on open source software. People enjoy what they do more than they enjoy getting paid for doing it.

     

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    matt (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 10:27am

    myspace is included for the "magic bias"

    Myspace is included in this guy's mention because its one of the hardest places to make a direct profit off the music, also because you cannot offer it as an mp3 on the site.

    You can only let people view it in a flash player, and the "download" icon conspicuously has never worked. Also myspace is turning into a facebook clone, and myspace is riddled with bot accounts.

    Even with that said, I can name plenty of artists who make a living off promoting solely off myspace regardless that are indie.

     

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    Ima Fish, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 10:27am

    Re: Re:

    I guess I am an idiot, I responded to the wrong comment. ;-)

     

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    Noah Callaway, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 10:31am

    Re:

    Yea, he got paid for it. And it's on the internet.

    Like, free and stuff.

    So...I guess you just took time to point out that Mike gets money by giving away content for free. Which is, oddly enough, the antithesis to your point.

    Kinda contradicting yourself there, buddy...

     

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    Jason, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 10:41am

    Re: myspace is included for the "magic bias"

    Matt ... why don't you list them? (Seriously, I'm interested.) Either here, or on Hank Williams' study ... both.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 10:44am

    Re:

    I think this may be the center of the problem. People just can't grasp that one would get payed for giving away something free. We have been so hardwired to think that everything must have a price attached that we can't get away from it.

    For the record, everything douse have a price attached. This article for example has a price of however long it takes to read this article. The hopeful outcome would be that if you ever need an insight company for anything you will think of here first. That is how Mike and Tim and the others get payed.

    The same can be said about broadcast TV and radio (I have no idea what happened to cable). They give away music and shows and in return they expect your time in the hopes that you will buy a product advertised on their station so that product manufacturer can continue to pay the station. This idea can be modified and tweaked to fit almost anything.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 10:44am

    Re:

    I'm sorry it makes zero sense to you. I volunteer hours every day to community and code. I like it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 10:46am

    Just to clarify

    I will use small words for those who keep calling me a lemming. Free is not a business model. Free can easily be PART of a successful business model. How is this so hard to understand? Stop being terrified of the word free and yelling at anyone who tries to show you how to endorse it and learn if you can use it in your business.

     

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    ehrichweiss, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 10:52am

    Re:

    Hi Hank!!!

     

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    Matt, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re: myspace is included for the "magic bias"

    sure, as an example of an artist that became bigger, murder by death is one. There's a brazillian rock band as well (but I can't access myspace at my work).

    There are a lot of chicago artists who promote that way as well. There's this guy DA on the tracks (is I think the username) - its instrumental/rap combination.


    I'll see what else I can remember and post back after work, honestly just ponder through the smaller bands on myspace and plenty pop up.

     

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    ehrichweiss, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 11:00am

    Re: Just to clarify

    Exactly. I make plenty of money by giving away my, or other GPL'ed, software and then selling support. I actually make MORE money doing this than I would if I simply tried to sell the software outright.

     

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    Noah Callaway, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 11:04am

    Re: Re: myspace is included for the "magic bias"

    http://topartists.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=music.topBands

    In the left column you'll see the top 100 unsigned bands on myspace. I'd be willing to bet all of those make some money off their music. I'll bet their are far more than that on myspace making money, too...

     

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    Noah Callaway, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 11:17am

    Re: Re: myspace is included for the "magic bias"

    Unrelated to music, but still tied closely to the idea of successfully giving away free is what I think is an excellent example. The web-comic Penny Arcade has been giving away their content for years. They started by making their comic for a magazine, but their comic was dropped so they started posting the comics online. They eventually gained a huge following, and producing the web comic is their full time job. They do put in extra work to make a profit from it. They sell books of the comics with high-resolution prints; they sell shirts with famous lines from the comics on them; they even recently released an entire game using elements of the comics (one could argue that the price of the game itself will eventually be driven to its MC of 0, but for now they're topping the xbox live arcade in terms of earnings); they even have a massive convention (Penny Arcade Expo, or PAX) that they put on once a year. It's doubled in size since its inception and now takes up most of the Seattle Convention Center. It's pretty much a prime example of giving away content to make scarce goods (tickets for the convention; shirts; books; game(?)) more valuable.

     

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    Ima Fish, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 11:25am

    Re: Just to clarify

    "Free is not a business model. Free can easily be PART of a successful business model."

    What are you talking about? No one is advocating a completely free business model. Even the Pirate Bay sells ads.

    Basically, everyone pointed out you were wrong, so now you're changing what you meant.

    You wrote, "why would someone use their time, resources, and money to provide free, uncopywrited content?" The answer to that is simple: You give away content to make money on advertising, or selling t-shirts, or selling concert tickets, etc. There have been business models based on free for centuries. In other words, your first statement is clearly erroneous.

     

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  19.  
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    Jim, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re: Re: myspace is included for the "magic bias"

    Jim Davis "gives away" Garfield. He even lets others use it as the base of 'Garfield without Garfield'.

    'Questionable Content' is a free web comic and the author's full time job.

    'Perry Bible Fellowship' has all of their comics available for free - but still sell their book of (the same) comics.

    I could go on and on with these... and if any of these content creators (not counting Jim Davis) had tried to use the standard model of 'everyone must pay' I wouldn't know who any of them are.

     

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  20.  
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    Formerly anonymous coward, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 11:34am

    Re: 18

    Umm 2 different posts by two different people. I was arguing in favor of free as a part of a business model. while the other post "why would someone use their time, resources, and money to provide free, uncopywrited content?" was what I was arguing against... You would provide free content to sell other things, or build up a reputation, or to make people like you so you can run for public office, the uses are endless.

     

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  21.  
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    Bob, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 11:54am

    Free is not opposite Copyrighted

    Just to make a point that I'm sure has been discussed before. Free is not the enemy of Copyright, and Copyright is not the enemy of free. Look at the GPL. The folks that advocate Free Software use copyright as a vehicle the enforce their ideology. To say Pro-Copyright and slander it as bad is ridiculous. Copyright is incredibly useful and beneficial for many purposes. It does not conflict with a Free business model. All those bands that distribute their songs for free, and allow copying, would probably be quite upset if someone else was making money solely off of their music (ie. making CD copies and selling them with no return payment). Maybe some wouldn't because their business model exists such that they want an audience at any price. But Copyright is exactly about this Freedom. The Freedom of the content creator to decide how their content is distributed and how they would like to get paid for that content. The model for understanding this Freedom is not that great, as copyright law is a big, blunt hammer, but certainly the concept is beneficial, except to those that wish remove control from the creator.

     

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  22.  
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    Curious, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 12:19pm

    Examples of thriving free music?

    I'm new to this blog, but I've been involved in a bunch of copyright debates lately, and I'd appreciate it if somebody could give me a link with a list of bands that've made it big via sharing their music Internet. I know of some bands, but my opponents have usually dismissed them as freak occurrances.

    Thanks!

     

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  23.  
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    Dave, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 12:22pm

    You missed the point of Reznor...

    "In both cases, Reznor and Sobule sold other scarce goods that had little to do with concerts (though, one of Sobule's "tiers" included concert tickets). Reznor ended up making well over $1.6 million. Sobule made $75k (her goal) in less than two months. But, to Williams, these don't count -- even though neither of them were business models predicated on copyright."

    I can't comment on Sobule, because I don't know enough about that situation. However, Reznor's success was absolutely predicated on copyright. The reason there were only 2,500 "Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition Packages" (i.e., why the scarce goods were scarce) is precisely because of copyright protection.

    This isn't to say that you can't build a successful business model out of giving music away for free. It's an old marketing technique called a loss leader. But for the upsell to work, copyright and other IP protection is required.

     

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    Nasch, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Re:

    For the record, everything douse have a price attached. This article for example has a price of however long it takes to read this article.

    That is a cost of reading the article, not the price of obtaining it. A price is specifically something (usually money) given to the provider in exchange for a good or service. You didn't give Techdirt your time, you just spent it reading their article. That is, they didn't get to make use of your time, you did. You can tell that you didn't pay for the article with your time by the fact that you could have downloaded it and then not read it. Everything does have a price. In this case, zero. :-)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 12:49pm

    Re: You missed the point of Reznor...

    You missed the point. He basically ripped off his fans, because he was like here is a tidbit now give me some real money. There have never been free lunches and there will never be free lunches.

     

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    Sean, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 12:49pm

    Here is a band

    Here is a band but they do not qualify The Offspring. They had what was considered the most downloaded song in 1998 and this was the best selling album since "Smash". They were going to release "Conspiracy of One" in 2000 in is entirety for download but the label stopped them. To promote this album they did have one MP3 available and when downloading it you would be entered in a contest for one million dollars.

    "The million-dollar prize is being offered directly from the band. Neither sponsors nor record company funds are being used. The band's singer Dexter Holland asserts, "This money came directly to us from our fans. We feel it would be cool to redirect it back to them. We are trying to launch our album with promotions that are fan supportive rather than fan exploitative. We feel that giving them our music and letting them have back some of their money is a great way to show how much they mean to us.""
    http://www.nyrock.com/worldbeat/09_2000/091500a.asp
    (If I recall correctly this was one million cash after taxes) Read above link for other things they did to thank the fans.

    In September 2007, The Offspring posted a studio cam on their fan board.[27] It shows the mixing and recording rooms, occasionally with the band members and producers/mixers. The cam updates every 30 seconds. In November 2007, the Offspring began posting short 'in the studio' videos on YouTube. The videos featured short segments of the band recording new material for the upcoming album.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Offspring

    I know I will actually go out and buy the new album on the day of release June 17 2008 from a locally owned record store

     

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    Dave, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 12:53pm

    You really missed the point of Reznor

    He provided something of perceived value to people who were willing to pay for it. They weren't ripped off.

    If music was all you were hungry for, that was, in fact, a free lunch.

     

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    johd, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 1:01pm

    Re:

    Ironic then, that you just did exactly that by commenting on this story. Unless someone paid you to read the article and write up your pithy commentary?

     

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    Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 1:05pm

    Re: You missed the point of Reznor...


    I can't comment on Sobule, because I don't know enough about that situation. However, Reznor's success was absolutely predicated on copyright. The reason there were only 2,500 "Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition Packages" (i.e., why the scarce goods were scarce) is precisely because of copyright protection.


    Not at all. The content on the set, the music (the infinite good) was freely available under a CC license.

    The scarcity was in the specific boxset, which had nothing to do with copyright. And, even better, the real scarcity of the ultra-deluxe limited edition package -- was Reznor's signature, which, again, has nothing to do with copyright.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Re: You missed the point of Reznor...

    You both miss the point. Trent gave away the music. I downloaded the album and have it on my iPod right now. He sold finite goods. The "Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition Packages" were "Limited Edition" because they had everything. The music wasn't part of the price, can't be since it was given away for free, but part of the value.

    The other items in the edition, including all the high quality downloads, two CDs, a data DVD, a Blu-ray high def DVD and assorted extras, were the rest of the value and made up the entirety of the price. (for the record this was Ghost not The Slip.)

    It is impossible to identically copy the physical goods so copyright doesn't even come into play. Technically he didn't have any on the "Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition Packages" only the music.

    You can still download the music (hell, you can get it off of Pirate Bay) and you can still purchase the CDs. Why is he ripping off his fans?

    @nasch
    You missed my point. I am spending my time reading the article. That is time I will never get back (hence a finite thing). They are benefiting from my time by having ads on the page. Not only the Google ad at the bottom of my page but the simple fact that it is Techdirt and the main service is the Insight Community.

    There is no such thing as a free lunch (as has been pointed out), but the price is not always money. More often than not, it's time.

     

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 1:24pm

    To add to Chronno

    I think it is also worth mentioning that Trent Reznor Himself put his music up on the pirate bay because of demand and some issues with his website. =)

     

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  32.  
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    Dave, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 1:32pm

    Re: Re: You missed the point of Reznor...

    The content on the set was much more than the music. It included all sorts of discs with various content. All of that is copyrighted. I assume this was all in some sort of packaging that had cover art which was copyrighted.

    The value of this product is in the scarcity. I want to pay $300 for one, because I want to be one of the 2,500 people on Earth to have one. This is predicated on the idea that Reznor can reasonably assure that there will only be 2,500 copies made. The legal mechanism that dissuades other people from making and selling this product themselves (and I have to chuckle at Chronno S. Trigger's notion that you can't duplicate a physical product) is copyright.

    If anyone can produce, sell and distribute any creative work, the work becomes a commodity. Copyright allows the control to remain with Reznor, and thus keep the value intact.

     

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  33.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 1:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: You missed the point of Reznor...

    I was about to put a challenging out, but thinking about it more makes me think differently.

    What you seem to be saying is you can take a picture of the cover art or signature, you can rip the videos and music. What you don't understand is that isn't where the value is. If Trent put digital copies of everything in that set online, people would have still payed $300 per just to actually own it. That edition is going for $380 on eBay right now and it's got 5 days left.

    Note: when I said duplicate the limited edition what I meant was make an identical physical copy. That is not as easy as copying digital music and it would probably cost more than the set went for initially and it still would have less value because it's a fake.

     

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  34.  
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    Jason phillips (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 2:13pm

    Re: Examples of thriving free music?

     

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  35.  
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    Jason Phillips (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 2:18pm

    A success because of the internet...

     

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  36.  
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    Jason Phillips (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 2:19pm

    A success because of the internet...

    Three words:
    This Was a Triumph. . .

     

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  37.  
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    Dave, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 2:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: You missed the point of Reznor...

    Making an identical physical copy would be very easy and very cheap. You would be able to hold the real one and the fake one next to each other and not know the difference (likely someone with an expert eye would spot minor flaws).

    The words you are using, to me, speak to all of the benefits of copyright. In your mind, there is something legitimate about the product Reznor sells, and something fake about a copy that someone else sells. Trent's product is the real thing -- and that's where the value lie. I believe this to be true also. It's not necessary all about just "the content" (and I hate that term - because it drains everything wonderful out of fruits of creativity).

    The legal mechanism that legitimizes the labor of the creator -- that calls, in a real sense, Reznor's product real and the imitator's fake is copyright.

    I really like reading Mike's point of view on this. I find his opinions to be well thought out, and based on a reasonable assessment of the world from his point of view. I disagree with him strongly, but it's always good to see the other side of an issue.

    I do agree with Mike that the benefits to making music available online for free, in many repects, far outstrip the benefits of the old record label models. New business models are feasible. That is something very different than saying new business models are necessary, because if copyright holders don't make all music available for free online, people will take it upon themselves to distribute it for free.

     

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  38.  
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    Dave, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 2:24pm

    Re: A success because of the internet...

    Those are four words.

    Coulton rocks.

     

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  39.  
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    mike allen, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 2:27pm

    Re:

    why should......
    Simple to build a fan base that will follow you and buy concert tickets DVDs Tshirts etc many artists do GPL music free copyable and many good bands. the same as for software never heard of Linux. so you are the idiot Mike has his facts right use your one brain cell and think.

     

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  40.  
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    jason, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 2:32pm

    Re: A success because of the internet...

    oops, that is four. so was that. OOh, there's three.
    OK i'll stop. But yes, Dave, he is wonderful. I don't know why he didn't make the list, or why no one else mentioned him first.

     

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  41.  
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    Dave, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 2:34pm

    Re: Re: A success because of the internet...

    I don't know why nobody mentioned him. What I do know is that the cake is a lie.

     

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  42.  
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    David, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 2:54pm

    Another missed point

    Bad example: the "Star Wars Kid" was in fact not happy that the video was released. He wasn't trying to make money or get a movie deal, and did not even originally release the video.

    But okay, Hank's really talking about people that, on purpose, put up content on YouTube or wherever. Most of these people aren't really trying to make money either. A few have actually gotten benefits however. Tay Zonday (sp?) has been in a Dr. Pepper commercial. Many of the people that are more famous from YouTube were recently in a Weezer video, which if they didn't make money, was at least kind of cool, and probably fun.

    So these are people that were just trying to release something they thought was interesting, not worrying about copyright, and they got a benefit out of it, without even meaning to.

     

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  43.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 2:59pm

    Re: Examples of thriving free music?

    Mike gave lots of examples in the post. Just click through the names of the artists he mentions to learn more about them.

     

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  44.  
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    Woadan, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 3:45pm

    Williams reminds of Tigger. Pooh asks Tigger what he likes to eat, and Tigger responds that Tiggers like everything. But when presented with Pooh's honey, he responded that Tiggers don't like honey. And when Rabbit says that he likes carrots, Tigger tries one, and then syas that Tiggers don't like carrots, either. And so on through all of the animals in Pooh Corner.

    It is fruitless to argue with people like this because they are convinced they are right, and each and every refutation is met with changing criteria.

    It's like Clinton asking what "is" means.

    It's unfortunate that Williams has been given a soapbox upon which he can rant as he does. But that's the price we pay for having the open society we have. In the long run it is better to simply not respond. Fires go out when they run out of oxygen. And Williams will stop proseltyzing when we stop responding to him.

    Woadan

     

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  45.  
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    Melvillain, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 5:53pm

    And the hits just keep on coming...

    Mike 3 Hank 0

     

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  46.  
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    Melvillain, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 6:00pm

    @23 Re: You missed the point of Reznor...

    Um...I suppose you could "copy" those limited edition sets if you wanted to, but what would be the point. You're buying it because it's limited. I don't see what copyright has to do with it. It has less to do with copyright and more to do with the fact that they are numbered 1-2500. Am I missing your point?

     

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  47.  
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    Melvillain, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 6:07pm

    Re: Woadan

    I don't have a problem with Hank having his own blog, but as I've pointed out here before; why does Silicon Alley Insider post his blog without any sort of comment as if they're endorsing his point of view? I would think SAI was better than that.

     

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  48.  
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    Dave, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 6:49am

    @46: I think you are missing my point

    I'm not saying the individual consumer could make one illegal copy of the limited edition for himself or herself. The protection that copyright offers Trent Reznor is the assurance that other record labels can't take his limited edition boxed set, print up their own and sell them. Thus, Reznor can ensure that there really are only 2,500 copies of the product in existence. Therefore, people can be assured that the $300 they are spending is for a truly limited edition.

    Even if an artist puts a song out on the internet for free under CC, they still retain full copyright. CC is just the license under which the music is distributed and can be consumed. People are still prohibited from selling that song to anyone, or from rerecording it and selling that, or from including it on the soundtrack of a movie, or whatever. CC music as a loss leader can't work as a business model without copyright protection.

     

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  49.  
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    sage, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 7:08am

    this article

    if you can't judge an art's success, then why are you judging, to begin with. if the success of get signed disqualifies you, then success is making money without a signed deal...is this the point? this is stupid.

    a band tours, they receive 'fanship', these people follow the artist's work.

    if you no longer have a contract and can continue to get people to give you money for your art--you have succeeded.

    often, critics of artist are failed artist themselves.

    that's why man made academia....good for you!!

     

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  50.  
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    nonya, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 7:15am

    Kimbo Slice

    Guy who had fights posted on Youtube that were viewed for free. He got himself a nice large payday recently from those free video's.

     

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  51.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 6th, 2008 @ 7:18am

    Mike: Even with the update, you missed the best set of contradictions:

    "Well, the last time I looked Star Wars Kid had neither a TV nor movie deal for his famous clip."

    Star Wars kid was not looking to make money. He did not release the video, and was actually mortified when it was. He was the butt of the biggest joke on the Internet for months, and couldn't wait for it to go away. So, he hasn't signed a deal because he never wanted to be known in the first place!

    The fact that this fool would even try to compare the antics of a kid with a camcorder to professional TV and movie makers is also pretty stupid. "movie deal for his famous clip"? I think that movie was called Star Wars. Even with the scarcity of new ideas in Hollywood, I think a movie or TV series based on a kid jumping around for a minute pretending to be Luke Skywalker would be a hard sell. Also:

    "What about YouTube? What about the blogosphere?"

    What about them? Most people who create content for those platforms do it for free and without any expectation of financial reward.

     

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  52.  
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    John Wilson, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 11:46am

    Re:

    Please tell me Mr Coward, just where, in the article and discussion that Mike said a word about the music being distributed for free lacks copyright.

    That's the strawman set up by Hank Williams and it's simply wrong.

    Perhaps Hank wanted to restrict the criteria to the US because in Canada its done all the time and has led to bands breaking out, signing with non-Indy labels and doing very well, thank you. Say, Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene or The New Pornographers.

    None of whom release anything without a copyright attached.

    ttfn

    John

     

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  53.  
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    Mike (profile), Jun 6th, 2008 @ 12:30pm

    Re: @46: I think you are missing my point

    I'm not saying the individual consumer could make one illegal copy of the limited edition for himself or herself. The protection that copyright offers Trent Reznor is the assurance that other record labels can't take his limited edition boxed set, print up their own and sell them.

    Even if they did, people wouldn't be as interested in them compared to the "authentic" ones. Especially the limited edition that involves a signature -- which can't be copied.

    Authenticity is a benefit people will pay for.

    Even if an artist puts a song out on the internet for free under CC, they still retain full copyright. CC is just the license under which the music is distributed and can be consumed. People are still prohibited from selling that song to anyone, or from rerecording it and selling that, or from including it on the soundtrack of a movie, or whatever.

    That depends on the CC license chosen. Some of them absolutely do allow commercial use.

    CC music as a loss leader can't work as a business model without copyright protection.

    That's simply incorrect. Look at the success folks like Cory Doctorow have had with a full cc license that allowed all uses -- including commercial. But people still bought his book. And he ended up getting speaking gigs, a teaching job and other work thanks to it.

    So, yes, it can work as a business model without copyright protection.

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    JayB00, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 9:06pm

    Re: Re: You missed the point of Reznor...

    Mike, be careful here. Makes it sound like you don't understand what copyright law says (which I doubt is actually the case).

    CC is predicated on copyright law. To claim otherwise is a blatant misunderstanding. Copyright leaves licensing control in the hands of the creator. CC provides a variety of set licensing "packages." Licensing something under CC means choosing to allow others to do this or that, but the idea that you have a choice to allow those things is all based on copyright law.

    Don't confuse or misunderstand the issues.

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    DNA, Jun 7th, 2008 @ 3:29am

    reznor and marketing

    I am always amused by these conversations, especially in regards to marketing. First, in regards to Reznor "ripping off his fans"... pulllease. Not only would his fans pre-order his next disk without even a listen, they would purchase special boxed editions. Reznor has years of musical capital behind him--his success did not come because of a free business model, it came because he had the right promotion at the right time (yes from a label contract). Now he chooses to give away some of his music (the taste--to attract more fans and endear his current fans--that could lead to a purchase; heck Costco has been doing it for years... it is nothing new, and no one feels ripped off!). Now Reznor acts to compliment his so called "free model" with the promotion of other side bands--and they will benefit. I just downloaded (for free, on nin.com) the 5 song compilation of his opening bands. Then I went out and purchased the physical CD from two of them--from just the taste of what they had to offer.

    My real point here is that marketing is supposed to be more than just "market share" and your slice of pie. Marketing is supposed to be about finding and exploiting niches and new models. I like to say, "it is more important to make the pie bigger so everyone gets a larger slice". This is what the current pinhead marketers seem to miss. They fight over a piece of pie like wild dogs (CD sales), instead of looking for a larger animal to share (CD boxed sets, downloads, etc). There is room for all of these different models in the business world.

    Give me a taste, I will try more if I like it.... just like a drug addict.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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