Embracing New Opportunities Is Being Defeatist?

from the please-explain dept

A few months back a columnist for the Guardian, Helienne Lindvall wrote a laughably confused argument claiming that people who explained how "free" was an important element of a business model should not be trusted because they also made money. That made no sense, and lots of people explained why. She also got an awful lot of the basic facts wrong.

Lindvall is back, and rather than admitting her mistakes, she tries again, but comes across as even more confused and factually-challenged. The majority of the piece is about setting up more strawmen to knock over, with the two key ones being (1) that supporters of embracing new business models are "defeatist" because they suggest that file sharing cannot be stopped and (2) that while record labels may have ripped off musicians in the past, the companies ripping off musicians today are the "web 2.0" companies that are making money on content -- such as Google, Flickr and others.

Neither argument makes much sense when held up to any scrutiny. Lindvall seems to make the same mistake she made in her first piece (for which, I do not believe she has yet apologized). She takes a tiny part of an argument that someone has made, and pretends it's the entire argument. Just like she claimed that those who embrace free as a part of their business model are somehow being hypocritical in making money elsewhere, she now claims that people's entire argument is based on a tiny sliver of their argument, and ignores the important part.

The problem with her first strawman is that people aren't saying be "defeatist," and just accept that file sharing is file sharing and give up. They're saying that if file sharing isn't going away, and (here's the part she misses) you can use that to your advantage to make more money, why bother worrying about file sharing as being some sort of evil? The second strawman is a bit more nefarious, but goes back to the fallacy that web 2.0 sites are some sort of digital sharecropping, with the users "giving up everything," and the content creators getting nothing. That, of course, is hogwash. The reason people use these services is that they get something in return. What people like Lindvall forget or ignore is that in the days before YouTube, if you wanted to post your own video, you had to (a) buy expensive media serving software from the likes of Real Networks (b) install the crappy software and maintain it (c) host the files yourself, costing you server space (d) stream or download the files yourself, costing bandwidth. Then YouTube came along and made all of that both easy and free -- and you still want to complain that they're ripping you off? Seriously?

Fine: let's make a deal. For any project that Helienne Lindvall is involved in, she cannot make use of these tools which offer free services. Instead, she must set up the technology on her own server, and host and pay for all of it herself. Otherwise, she's just supporting the digital sharecroppers, right?

There are a few other whoppers in the article as well, such as this one:
Doctorow pointed out that numerous authors give away their work, while earning good money on the lecture circuit. I don't doubt that this model works for some authors, but there are fundamental differences between books and music.

Producing a record -- as opposed to writing most books -- tends to be a team effort involving a producer (sometimes several of them) and songwriters who are not part of the act, studio engineers and a whole host of people who don't earn money from merchandise and touring -- people who no one would pay to make personal appearances.
I love the "but we're different!" argument, because it comes up in every industry. I was just in Hollywood, where I explained how musicians were actually making use of these models and someone got upset and said "but we're the movie industry, and we're different!" Earlier this year, I met with a publisher, who also was looking at these models, and again exclaimed that "but book publishing is different!" Everyone wants to believe they're different, but everyone faces the same basic economics. Also, I'd imagine that my friends in the publishing industry would be pretty upset with Lindvall's false claim that a book is not a team effort. You have publishers and editors and agents, all of whom often take on quite similar roles to producers and songwriters and engineers.

That said, the really ridiculous part of her complaint here is that the same people she complains don't earn money from merchandise or touring also don't earn money from record sale royalties for the most part. There are some exceptions, but most of them are paid a flat-fee for their work, and that doesn't change either way under the new models, so her complaint here doesn't make sense. If a content creator can make money giving away some works for free, they can still afford to pay the fees for those who help out. The entire argument that an engineer "doesn't tour" is specious. The engineer doesn't make money from CD sales either.

Finally. Lindvall must be the first person to describe Jaron Lanier as an optimist, since he came out with his incredibly pessimistic book about how the internet was destroying everything good and holy in the world.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 8:06pm

    I hadn't heard of Helienne Lindvall's excellent article.

    Accordingly, I've forwarded a link to it to hundreds of people.

    Thanks for the plug.

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Aerilus, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 8:13pm

    I am definitely a fan of the "they are making all of this money pirating our content we must stop them because we can't give it away" ussually phrased exactly that way in back to back sentences

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 8:32pm

    Familiar thinking. Its about time to make the 3PO's resort to business models they preach :)...

     

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

  4.  
    icon
    kyle clements (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 8:53pm

    Re:

    Mike, I think we might need a "troll" button to go along with "insightful" and "funny".

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 10:09pm

    Producing a record -- as opposed to writing most books -- tends to be a team effort involving a producer (sometimes several of them) and songwriters who are not part of the act, studio engineers and a whole host of people who don't earn money from merchandise and touring -- people who no one would pay to make personal appearances.


    Well those people behind the curtains will do what they always did, get work from the people who do make money.

    Big names still need the producer, the studio engineers and the other people to make their shows happen, what that creature is talking about when she says they are not going to make money?

    Some executives in some labels may get downsized but really who cares about them LoL

     

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

  6.  
    icon
    cc (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 10:21pm

    Every time I read one of her articles, I find it increasingly difficult to think she really believes the stuff she says (at least not in its entirety).

    I think she's just a troll-for-hire, pushing provocative ideas to get page hits. Which is fair enough, because such is the internet.

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 10:32pm

    Lets be brave people

    http://www.lol.com/joke/image/194

    Don't forget the running part it helps improve your lungs.

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 10:32pm

    I remembered something, she and darryl would make a lovely couple.

     

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

  9.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 10:40pm

    Re:

    If it's impossible to stop the sun rays from shining on us, is it defeatist to build solar panels? What?

     

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

  10.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 10:41pm

    Re: Re:

    This wasn't meant as a reply to the previous post.

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 10:50pm

    Re:

    I love how anyone that disagrees with the collective's party line is either a troll or a paid shill of the "corporate media".

    But I can understand why you want to convince yourself of that, komrade.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 11:22pm

    Re: Re:

    Not buying what you are selling comrade.

    But I hope someday I can see your statue.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/27302612@N03/3101865195/

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 11:23pm

    Re: Re:

    BTW I don't think you are a troll or paid shill just an entitled annoying beggar.

     

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

  14.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 11:39pm

    Re: Re:

    Anyone who disagrees? No, there's plenty of intelligent and insightful discussions to be had with someone who's honestly on the other side of the debate.

    But articles like this, where the author bases all their arguments on distortions and lies, who builds strawmen rather than attack actual positions, and then fails to respond to any criticism for their blatant deceit? They're either a paid shill, or a deluded moron - take your pick.

     

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

  15.  
    icon
    cc (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 12:55am

    Re: Re:

    Recently, I've used the word "troll" to describe two people. The first was Darryl, who I'm sure we all know but wish we didn't, and the second was Mrs Lindvall. From my perspective, both have something in common and it is NOT that they disagree with me. As Mike has pointed out, both of them take sensible arguments made by their opposing side and misrepresent them in order to annoy and antagonise -- something which I find dumb, cheap and plain disagreeable.

    I (rather arrogantly) don't consider Darryl to have shown much in the lines of intelligence. Even though I don't know as much about Lindvall personally as I know about Darryl, I doubt a reputable publication such as The Guardian (with a mostly bourgeois, Lib Dem readership) would unintentionally hire a moronic drone that opposes the exact ideals that the Lib Dems championed during election time, and especially one that uses such petty discourse. For that reason, I give her the benefit of the doubt and say she's not like Darryl, but an opportunist, capitalising on the internet's great love for flame wars.

    Please bear in mind that this is simply my opinion and I may be mistaken in my assessment on both counts.

     

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

  16.  
    icon
    misterdoug (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 1:14am

    Right on, Mike

    Lindvall uses weak, Rush Limbaugh-esque techniques that are effective only in preaching to a choir, which might very well be what she intends. Flimsy arguments always seem solid to people who are looking for a cheerleader to affirm what they already believe. Being that cheerleader is a good way for a pundit to build a market for books and speaking engagements. Somebody famous said it doesn't matter what people say about you as long as they spell your name right.

     

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

  17.  
    icon
    Paddy Duke (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 1:39am

    The old guard is full of negative Nellies. We have to stop this, prevent that, sue them.

    There are a number of high profile folk, like Mike, who not only advocate alternative business models, but actively engage in building the ideas and systems that power them.

    Look on the other side of the argument and all you see is people pointing out problems. But the crux of the issue is this: if your business model depends on you not being outsmarted by a 15 year old, it's not a very good business model.

     

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

  18.  
    icon
    Paddy Duke (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 1:39am

    The old guard is full of negative Nellies. We have to stop this, prevent that, sue them.

    There are a number of high profile folk, like Mike, who not only advocate alternative business models, but actively engage in building the ideas and systems that power them.

    Look on the other side of the argument and all you see is people pointing out problems. But the crux of the issue is this: if your business model depends on you not being outsmarted by a 15 year old, it's not a very good business model.

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 1:57am

    "if your business model depends on you not being outsmarted by a 15 year old, it's not a very good business model."

    This.

     

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

  20. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 5:27am

    Re: Re:

    Hmm, all this crying of Censorship! on this board, and guess what?

    I got censored.

    For this: "I hadn't heard of Helienne Lindvall's excellent article.
    Accordingly, I've forwarded a link to it to hundreds of people.
    Thanks for the plug."

    Yup, for that.

    You see, when it comes to the type of scumbags that would defend ripping off musicians, no hypocrisy is too small. They rail on and on all over this blog about censorship, and what do they do when they see a comment they simply don't like or agree with?

    They censor it.

    Thanks for making my point about you guys perfectly clear.

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 5:39am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Are we neurotic yet?

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 5:48am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "You see, when it comes to the type of scumbags that would defend ripping off musicians, no hypocrisy is too small. They rail on and on all over this blog about censorship, and what do they do when they see a comment they simply don't like or agree with?"

    If by musicians you mean people like you I totally endorse you being ripped off.

    I wouldn't buy music from you or people like you ever.

    You are not that important to me and you can keep your precious "content", heck you can stop producing content I don't care.

    I want to see you try and force me to buy anything from the likes of you.

    If you are not on Jamendo you don't exist pal get over it.

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 5:52am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Unfortunately for me I can still see that post because it was not censored it was voted down and hidden but if you have javascript turned off it shows up.

    Any more dumb assertions?

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 6:00am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Not the same thing.
    Logic fail.

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 6:07am

    Re: Re:

    "I love how anyone that disagrees with the collective's party line is either a troll or a paid shill of the "corporate media"."

    I hate how I am accused of theft without any evidence and then sentenced without any due process.

    But I can understnad why you want to convince yourself that it is all good.

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 6:20am

    Re:

    1) Some markers are magic
    2) Shift Key FTW - it's a feature!
    .....

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 6:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "voted down"??? OIC, so people here get to vote about whether or not someone's opinion can be seen.

    That's censorship.

     

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

  28. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 7:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    no it's not censorship it's not! no we don't censor! we rip off musicians because we hate them but we don't censor them no! we want music to disappear from earth because we think it's worthless and we want it free! yes! FREEEEEEE! censor ship is not freedom it's fail! free music for us and starve the musicians! yeah! in the future all musicians will be amateurs because no one will make money out of music because we won't pay a dime for music! FREEEE! no censorship! never! no!

    /fightfirewithfire

     

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

  29.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 9:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "voted down"??? OIC, so people here get to vote about whether or not someone's opinion can be seen.

    That's censorship.


    My goodness the cluelessness is thick this morning.

    Censorship is about a *government* blocking free speech. Communities voting and pointing out that your comment is stupid and takes away from the discussion is not censorship. It just means you made a stupid comment.

    Perhaps, next time, make smarter comments.

     

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

  30.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 10:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That's censorship.

    Grow up. You are a troll. Until you have some meaningful to contribute to the discussion, you will continue to receive this treatment.

    It is called moderation, and it is not "censorship". Censorship would be if Mike deleted the post and gave no way for anyone to recover it. This is not at all what happened. Several people here decided that your post wasn't worth looking at and clicked the "report" button. When the number of clicks reached some maximum, your post was hidden, but the instructions to unhide it were presented to all users. This option should really only be used to hide spamvertisements, and not hide speech, but just like every other moderation system out there, people don't always use the system for its intention.

    Whether or not moderation is stifling freedom of speech (it isn't actually preventing you from speaking your mind, but it is preventing others from seeing your speech if they have javascript on.) For those of us who care, we tend to click on the "un-hide" posts anyway...remember that hive-mind moderation can be undone, censorship cannot.

    And grouping all of us into the category of "scumbags that would defend ripping off musicians" and using this as an example of hypocrisy is a real stretch...I do not defend ripping off musicians or any other artist, and I buy or download legally any music I have, and I find that many of the folks here think the same way. Just because we don't agree with RIAA/MPAA's business practices and disagree with the ridiculous aspects of the current copyright system doesn't mean that we all encourage, or even condone or defend ripping off musicians.

     

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

  31. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 11:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Here's a smart comment: you're a liar, a slimeball and a hypocrite.

     

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

  32.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 4:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Here's a smart comment: you're a liar, a slimeball and a hypocrite.


    How not to win an argument: just go for the blatant insults with nothing to back it up.

    I have not lied. And I have been entirely consistent. "Slimeball" is a bit of a subjective standard, and I can't think of much I've done to deserve such a label, but I get the feeling you were not responding here logically, but emotionally to the fact that you seem unable to actually provide anything substantial or factual on which to base your argument, so you need to reach for ad hominems and lies. Sad.

     

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

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Dec 3rd, 2010 @ 4:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Saying censorship is something only a government can wield?

    That's a lie. Which would make you the liar.

    You talk endlessly here about censorship, yet I just proved that you actually advocate and practice it here on this site.

    So to sum up:

    You're a liar.

    You're a hypocrite.

    Add them together and you get a slimeball.

    Seems I was 100% correct about you, Masnick.

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This