UK Music Lobbyist Says Rethinking Fair Use Is 'Intellectual Masturbation'

from the who-needs-fair-use? dept

We've talked a few times about how the UK is going through yet another copyright rethink with a key focus (among others) on whether or not the country needs more expansive fair use rules within copyright. While we've seen similar discussions happen (and be ignored) in the UK, the good news is that the panel investigating this issue seems to include some really knowledgeable folks on the subject. Of course, it appears that some of the established interests aren't so thrilled about all of this.

Andrew Dubber kindly sent over an article from Music Week, which is locked up behind a paywall, or I'd point you to it, in which various music industry folks fret about this awful concept of fair use. The article seems to be based on the ridiculous premise that "fair use" is something that only harms creative folks, and is only designed to help tech firms. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, and it's troubling that these supposed "music industry" experts don't realize just how important fair use is in content creation itself. The article quotes a person from PPL insisting that supporting fair use is a straight up choice between "helping Google or helping our creative industries." That someone in the content creation business is against fair use is a travesty, and it suggests that they know very little about content creation. Furthermore, the idea that this is an "us against them" sort of thing is equally troubling. The point of fair use is to make content creation itself better and to provide more value to the world.

But the most ridiculous comments of all come from UK Music chief Feargal Sharkey, who has a way with saying silly things. According Sharkey, rethinking fair use is "a distraction at best" and really just an "exercise in intellectual masturbation." I'm sorry, but if Sharkey thinks fair use is just about "intellectual masturbation," he should not be leading an organization representing musicians. Fair use is incredibly important to all sorts of content creators, and it's a shame that the guy who's supposed to be representing them is now forcefully arguing against fair use. It should make the members of UK Music seriously consider who they've picked to speak for them.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    thublihnk (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 9:41am

    I know sometimes when I'm alone in my apartment I like to turn the lights down low, maybe light some incense and just think about the proper way to treat intellectual property in relation to content creation and distribution in the interconnected age of today.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 9:42am

    He is probably correct. Techdirt is the kleenex of freetards, right?

     

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  3.  
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    thublihnk (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 9:46am

    Hey, Mike, this article and the one about the RedTube suit are stuck together. What's up?

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 9:47am

    The problem is that these "music industry experts" aren't creative themselves, they just freeload off of artists who are by taking control of their work and often not paying the artists what they owe.

     

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  5.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 10:03am

    Feargal?

    Who the heck names their kid "Feargal?" Especially if your family name is Sharkey. It sounds like a bad Bond villain (appropriately enough, as it turns out.)

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 10:15am

    Teenage Kicks

    >>>The problem is that these "music industry experts" aren't creative themselves, they just freeload off of artists . . .

    That's not the case here -
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Undertones

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 10:15am

    Teenage Kicks

    >>>The problem is that these "music industry experts" aren't creative themselves, they just freeload off of artists . . .

    That's not the case here -
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Undertones

     

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  8.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 10:16am

    Re:

    Cheap troll is cheap.

     

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  9.  
    icon
    techflaws.org (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 10:18am

    Re: Teenage Kicks

    Right, they disbanded in 83.

     

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  10.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 10:18am

    Re: Re: Teenage Kicks

    Anything after that pretty much sucked.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 10:21am

    Re: Teenage Kicks

    Maybe it's because I don't have access to the original article but what do they have to do with this?

     

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  12.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 10:21am

    Re:

    Buwahaha, I'm glad I'm not the only person who noticed that.

     

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  13.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 10:26am

    Re: Re: Teenage Kicks

    >>Maybe it's because I don't have access to the original article but what do they have to do with this?

    Feargal Sharkey was the lead singer for the Undertones. He was a musician himself, so that refutes the accusation that "The problem is that these 'music industry experts' aren't creative themselves, they just freeload off of artists . . ."

     

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  14.  
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    David Muir (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 10:30am

    Re: Teenage Kicks

    Sharkey had a solo career too after The Undertones. "A Good Heart" is a great song.

    But great creative types don't always realize that the creative process involves (at least in part) building upon the shoulders of those who went before. If nothing else, fair use includes the ability to discover and discuss other creative works. Surely up-and-coming artists benefit from that?

    Once you're a "music industry executive" you apparently have no need for learning and honing your craft. (Although one wonders how the business folks can discuss music from a wide variety of sources without hearing snippets in a fair use manner.)

     

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  15.  
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    Chosen Reject, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 10:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Teenage Kicks

    Awesome. According to that wikipedia article, it took them two years as a band before they were playing their own material. Previous to that they were only doing covers. And even when they were playing their own stuff, they still played a lot of covers. Their most popular song was written by their guitarist, not Feargal. In fact, quickly looking at their songs, they were almost all written by John O'Neil, and many were inspired by the Ramones and other bands. Later Feargal did solo work, and even their most of his songs were written by other people. I say "most" and "almost all" only because I haven't looked at the writers for all the songs, but so far I haven't found a single song that Feargal wrote.

    So I'd say he may have a particular talent in singing, but it doesn't look like he's been all that creative. Maybe he is, but if so, then he's a hypocrite on this fair use issue. A major hypocrite.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 10:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Teenage Kicks

    by techdirt standards, beign able to mix two songs together (aka, being a DJ) is creative. Obviously being able to actually sing and perform a song is way up the ladder from that. Obviously this guy was at least somewhat talented and creative. It isn't a subject of debate.

    It's just more of the Masnick Effect at work - leave out relevant information, make snide remarks, and generally pee on anything put forth by anyone in "the industry".

     

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  17.  
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    Chosen Reject, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 10:52am

    Re: Re: Teenage Kicks

    "A Good Heart" wasn't written by Feargal. I wouldn't exactly call him the most creative of people. He may have a talent for singing, but as far as song writing, all of his fame comes from singing songs written by others. He is credited with writing only one song by The Undertones - "Hard Luck" and that is actually attributed to several people. The band even started as a cover band. As for his solo career, of the three albums (31 songs) I can see 8 songs are attributed to some other writer. One of the songs that is unattributed (on Wikipedia at least) is actually a traditional Irish folk song, so just because a song not attributed to some other writer doesn't necessarily mean that he wrote it.

    That this guy is against fair use only means that he is a hypocrite.

     

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  18.  
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    Huph, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 10:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Teenage Kicks

    Wha? The Beatles spent years playing covers, and continued to do so for years at their concerts when they were still performing together. Are The Beatles not creative?

    Jimi Hendrix got his start playing other people's music, too.

    Creative doesn't solely mean a person is a writer. Brian Eno is a creative force behind a lot of albums without even touching an instrument!

    And I'm completely glossing over the fact that songwriting credits are solely for lyric-writing. They imply nothing about the musical aspects. That's why lyrics have to have their own copyright separate from the music. Feargal could have written the melodies; or maybe it's his interpretation of those melodies that he contributed.

     

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  19.  
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    Chosen Reject, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Teenage Kicks

    Speaking of leaving out relevant information, you left out the hypocrite part. This guy started his career off of fair use, and was only ever famous for using other people's creative works. Fair use got him his start. Fair use made his career. He is where he is because of it. If being a cover band was illegal, he'd have never been known.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 10:59am

    While I totally agree with you,
    “The point of fair use is to make content creation itself better and to provide more value to the world.”

    is not an argument.
    It is like saying “The point of patents is to stimulate innovation”. The later is correct too, but it is not what happens. And you (at techdirt) are fighting against patents because it doesn't do what it's intended for, not because you are against innovation.

    So don't use the intention behind fair use as an argument, use its results instead !

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Chosen Reject, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Teenage Kicks

    The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix also wrote their own music. Even when he went solo, Sharkey was using other people's songs. This guy got his start and ultimately his career from fair use. He might be a creative hypocrite, but that still leaves him a hypocrite.

     

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  22.  
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    crade (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 11:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Teenage Kicks

    I really don't see how you figure "that refutes the accusation[...]". Even if you discount the facts that people change, money can motivate one to set aside their morals, etc, one breeze hardly refutes global warming.

     

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  23.  
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    Sean T Henry (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 11:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Teenage Kicks

    No the point is that it is most likely they did not pay for the rights to perform those covers and by playing them he was really just exercising intellectual masturbation.

     

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  24.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 11:24am

    double entendre

    Masturbation has been shown to reduce stress, prevent cancer, and increase creativity.


    ...Yes, I was talking about intellectual masturbation.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 11:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Teenage Kicks

    How was he using "fair use"? If he was performing in a pub in the UK doing cover tuned, the pub was licensed by the music collection businesses to do so. It wasn't fair use, it was paid use.

    Would you like to try again?

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 11:37am

    Teenage Kicks

    Playing a song written by someone else is not considered fair use. You pay for it. In the U.S., at least, if you record the song, you pay a royalty (you just don't need permission and the royalty is set at a fixed rate). If you play the song live, the venue pays ASCAP or BMI, which in turn compensates the songwriter. Neither of these is fair use; the former is a statutory license, while the latter is a blanket license.

    Feargal may still be wrong (although I don't think he's against fair use, just the review process). But playing covers has _nothing_ to do this.

     

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  27.  
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    DerekCurrie (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 11:47am

    Corporate Oligarchy Bullshite

    As one of the "Creative Folks" I have to point out that killing off FAIR USE it nothing more than money grubbing Corporate Oligarchy bullshite. We have the same rubbish going on here in the USA where the Corporate Oligarchy are famous for creating such pointless catastrophes as: The Iraq War. Currently they're lobbying the US Congress to destroy real Net Neutrality, create a US Internet Blacklist as well as an Internet Kill Switch. Keep in mind that corporations DON'T VOTE and legally have no citizen rights, despite unconstitutional court decisions to the contrary.

    And what on Earth happened to Feargal Sharkey? I saw the guy live way-back-when. I thought he had a brain in his head and creativity in his heart. Apparently they've been removed and replaced with greed and mindless robotic mechanisms. Extremely sick stuff. Shame on Sharkey!

     

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  28.  
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    Overcast (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 12:17pm

    "According Sharkey, rethinking fair use is "a distraction at best" and really just an "exercise in intellectual masturbation." I'm sorry, but if Sharkey thinks fair use is just about "intellectual masturbation," he should not be leading an organization representing musicians."

    Perhaps it is.. but look how Vivid Video and other porn companies have monetized just that...

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 12:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Teenage Kicks

    So, you're against fair use?

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Teenage Kicks

    No, when a band plays covers the venue pays a license for that to occur.

    And you might want to look up the definition of fair use.

    The sheer amount of idiocy on this site recently is mind boggling.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Teenage Kicks

    You're talking about idiocies in all those stories reported on techdirt, right ?

     

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

  32.  
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    RadialSkid (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Teenage Kicks

    And how about when they practiced the songs together in their own space...do you think they paid copyright fees for that, or was that fair use?

    Or do you just assume they never played the cover songs until they got entered the first pub they were booked at, and were just magically able to play cover songs immediately?

     

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  33.  
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    Jason, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 2:49pm

    Re:

    Rule 34 says it's here both of us.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Jason, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re:

    *for both of us.

     

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  35.  
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    Fake Masnick, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 2:52pm

    Re:

    Um...yeah they actually I did a lot of cut and pasting and so it was kinda sticky. Yeah.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 2:54pm

    More kicks

    >>>And how about when they practiced the songs together in their own space...do you think they paid copyright fees for that, or was that fair use?

    Copyright only applies to *public performance*. I don't remember the exact legal definition, and it could be different in the U.K., but it wouldn't apply to practice. Again, nothing to do with fair use.

     

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  37.  
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    monkyyy, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 4:50pm

    Re:

    no if anything deserves to be called 'Intellectual Masturbation' its setting up straw men, as it has no reason, also its doing something alone that was meant for 2 people

     

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  38.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 7:00pm

    Trying to understand the thought processes of Feargal Sharkey, or any Music industry lobbyists/shrill for that matter, is akin to masturbating with a cheese grater. An amusing concept but ultimately futile and extremely painful.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 7:24pm

    I know copyright is regularly vilified here, but this is an instance where I could not agree more with Mr. Masnick's article. Where to draw the line between infringement and fair use is subject to reasonable views on both sides of the aisle, but at least in the US fair use forms an important function in balancing creator rights with those of others.

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 9:44pm

    Re: Feargal?

    Or “Wolf Blitzer”, for that matter.

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Jesse, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 10:26pm

    I thought piracy was the de facto excuse for industry failings. Is that not working out? Is that why we are moving on to second hand sales and fair use?

    Why don't we just give them money for nothing? Oh wait, I'm Canadian, and I'm already doing that.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 1:46am

    everyone does it?

    my only htought is "everyone does it?"

     

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  43.  
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    drew (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 3:01pm

    representation?

    The guy's an arse. He doesn't represent the content creators at all, he represents the gate keepers. He is a Recording Industry spokesman, not a music industry spokeman.

     

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


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