Beware Of Those Who Claim They're 'Saving The Culture Business' When They're Really Protecting Those Who Strip Artists Of Rights

from the 'culture-business'-ain't-culture dept

We've talked a few times about the ridiculously unsupported and unsupportable claim by Robert Levine that the "tech industry" (by which he means "Google") is somehow destroying culture by "free riding" on content. There are so many things wrong with this argument that it would take an entire book to debunk them one by one. But, as we've recently shown, the culture business isn't dying at all -- instead, it's been growing quite nicely over the past decade. So what's going on? Lateef Mtima, from the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice at Howard University does a nice job dismantling Levine's argument by showing that what Levine is arguing isn't about "saving the cultural busness," it's about saving a few giant media conglomerates who used to be the gatekeepers to culture (often at the expense of artists -- especially minority artists), and pretending that without those companies, there wouldn't be much culture. As Mtima notes, this is, ultimately, an incredibly elitist position:
Culture is not something reserved to an elite. No particular business or set of businesses and no particular business model should be protected from the winds of innovation and change in the name of preserving culture. A people’s culture is just that -- the people’s culture....
And this is really a key point. The few companies that Levine is looking to save are not the deciders and arbiters of culture, no matter how much Levine wants them to be. In fact, they're often the companies who are really cheapening culture themselves and stripping the rights from the artists themselves, signing them to ridiculously one-sided contracts that are almost criminal in how they strip artists of their own rights and toss them out on the street for the profit of a few business fat cats.
Initially Levine presents his book on the pending doom of American culture as an appeal really done on behalf of the financial interests of artists, writers, and musicians. (One might be forgiven for skepticism and for asking where was/is Levine on the issue of IP corporate establishment exploitation of African American and other marginalized artists who have been pillaged by those entities for more than a century.)

Of course “protecting struggling artists” is only the cover story. Levine actually knows what many other Americans realize–that most artists are trapped in contractual peonage with their corporate distributers and that they often retain no property interests capable of being ravaged by third-party pirates.
It really is quite a disgusting, paternalistic, almost antebellum argument: that these poor artists need some big conglomerate to come "rescue them," take control of their rights, in order to produce "the culture business." The reality is quite different of course. What's happening every day out here, in the real world, is that new companies -- often from the "tech industry" that Levine insists is killing off his heroes at the major labels and studios -- are providing the tools for amazing new cultural works to be produced, distributed, promoted, shared and monetized. Witness the great success of companies like Kickstarter, and the fact that they're doing it without typical Hollywood smarminess.

But the real cultural elitism from Levine shows through in his disdain for the kinds of amazing culture produced all the time outside of the circles of the gatekeepers.
Levine utterly ignores creative and impactful and socially desirable user-generated material such as the insertion into a picture of Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” a still from the video of a policeman nonchalantly pepper spraying demonstrators engaging in the Occupy movement. Such works make statements and connect people culturally in ways Levine apparently does not value and would stop....

.... The constitutional grant of power to Congress to regulate copyrights and patents explicitly states that the purpose of such laws is to benefit the public. Innovation is to insure progress for everyone, not merely wealth for a few. The Internet may indeed be destroying the culture business, or at least some of it in its entrenched form, but it is not destroying culture. Intellectual property law is not designed to be, never has been intended to be, and must not be allowed to become the footservant of moneyed erstwhile overlords.
Levine's argument, in the end, comes down to a somewhat sickening assertion that without the Universal Musics of the world, artists wouldn't be able to produce their cultural works. It's that poor artists need big corporations to mold and shape their cultural creations, or such culture won't exist. To both the public and many artists, that argument isn't just laughable, it's insulting.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:00am

    "Levine's argument, in the end, comes down to a somewhat sickening assertion that without the Universal Musics of the world, artists wouldn't be able to produce their cultural works."

    Talk about missing it! The point isn't the artists wouldn't be able to make their cultural works, it's that few people would ever get to SEE or HEAR those cultural works.

    All the ballyhoo about the "new business models" still hits the same basic problem: You have no organized or meaningful distribution, just the huge firehose of the internet flatting anyone who gets near it.

    You always need middlemen to sort it out and present it at reasonable levels. Until that happens, the internet models will all be wildly hit and miss, because they will rarely achieve the critical mass to get widespread distribution and penetration of the marketplace.

     

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    Rich Kulawiec, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:02am

    Mtima's comments are especially apropos...

    ...to what has often been called (perhaps correctly, perhaps not) the "only America-originated art form": jazz. Many of the giants of the field, musical geniuses, were impoverished and struggling...and many of them died exactly the same way, while the record companies grew incredibly rich off their work. There are still some surviving -- barely -- while their fans make donations and other musicians hold benefits to pay for their medical care.

    Those whining the loudest (e.g., Levine) about how terribly these artists are being ripped off are defending the people who've done the most damage. The Internet didn't cajole/coerce these musicians into contracts that left them with little to show: the record companies did. The Internet didn't fail to pay them royalties: the record companies did. The Internet didn't back out of promises to promote them: the record companies did. The Internet didn't drop them to the B list when the latest thing came along: the record companies did.

    There is something terribly wrong when people with Grammy Awards and gold records are living on welfare and food stamps. And the something is "record companies".

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:04am

    Levine's argument is that is a good thing to have one entity or very few larger ones that when things change and they collapse they take out the countries economy together.

    The idiots in Washington are seeding the end of America by empowering monopolies to become even bigger than what they are now and they will fall, things change and that industry will not be able to hold off the winds of change around the world.

    The bigger they are the harder they fall.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:05am

    Re:

    CULTURE HARD!!!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:06am

    Re:

    Really?
    How do you explain the capacity of the Pirate Bay to distribute things to millions of people all around the world and they don't even have commercials.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:06am

    I hate to break it to you, but intellectual property law was ALWAYS designed and intended to serve moneyed overlords. http://questioncopyright.org/promise .

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:08am

    Re: Mtima's comments are especially apropos...

    The issue for Jazz artists has mostly to do with the type of music they play. Jazz tends to be the "standards", often music that is copyright to someone else. They don't get song writer benefits, they only get a small fee for airplay, etc.

    Many great jazz artists are in a business sense on par with a really good rock cover band. Financially, it's a hard sell, as most of the money goes other directions, to the actual song writers and such.

    Jazz artists who write new songs tend to do much better, because they have revenue streams.

    As for "living on food stamps", shouldn't they be out there "selling the scarce"? True musicians should be out there working 250 nights a year making a living like the rest of us. At least, that is what I have learned reading Techdirt.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:13am

    Re:

    You always need middlemen to sort it out and present it at reasonable levels.

    Wow. That argument is as about as insulting as Levine's.

    Basically you are saying this:

    "The unwashed masses are just too stupid to filter large amounts of content, so us middlemen must be there to tell them what they really like."

    I'm guessing that you are or have been employed as a label A&R man. That is one of the few professions that I have such cluelessness from.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:13am

    Re: Re: Mtima's comments are especially apropos...

    So, musicians shouldn't work?

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:14am

    *Our new troll*

    Oh, he's good.

    Maybe we got one of the script-writing lobbyists... a real, live spin-doctor!

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:15am

    Re:

    so what.

    so a few people get to be heard by millions, or a million get to be heard by a few

    culture made by a few, or culture made by everyone

    the cream always rises to the top wherever it comes from

     

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    Rich Kulawiec, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re: Mtima's comments are especially apropos...

    I'm actually talking about the people who wrote the standards -- and who are, in many cases, no longer well enough to gig 250 nights a year. And of course, part of the reason they're no longer well enough is that they could never afford medical care. Even if they'd just been paid by the miserly standards of their contracts, they might be alright; but the record companies wouldn't even do that.

     

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  13.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:27am

    Re: Re:

    As a side note, I can say that I would not interested in what you filtered for me to see. I actually would be MORE interested in seeing what you excluded.

    Maybe it's just me, but I have never, ever based my personal opinion of art on what so called "art critics" say, whether it be music, movies, sculpture, paintings, theater, crayon drawings, or whatever. I base my opinions on how such art makes me react or feel and more often than not my opinion is the exact opposite of what these so called "art critics" think.

     

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    Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:30am

    Re:

    You always need middlemen to sort it out and present it at reasonable levels. Until that happens, the internet models will all be wildly hit and miss

    As Techdirt has repeatedly stated, middlemen are GOOD. It's gatekeepers that are bad. This statement of yours is hilarious because internet models are the new middlemen.

    It's not a firehose - it's a complicated plumbing system. There are LOTS of ways for users to filter the content - and yes, it's still with the help of middlemen! Those middlemen just have a lot more faces now. Maybe the middleman is a recommendation algorithm that finds songs they will like based on their current preferences; maybe the middleman is their entire social network, organically propagating and promoting the stuff that their friends like; maybe the middleman is some guy's music blog, whose recommendations they trust; or maybe the middleman is good old fashioned traditional promotions and advertising, which have hardly gone away online.

    Most likely the middleman is some combination of all of the above, and more. One thing is for sure though: the successful middlemen are the ones who enable, not the ones who restrict.

     

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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:32am

    Re: Re: Mtima's comments are especially apropos...

    True musicians should be out there working 250 nights a year making a living like the rest of us. At least, that is what I have learned reading Techdirt.

    True musicians are doing just that. They are planing their tours, their shows and promotions. They are chatting it up with their fans to promote their music. THey are selling merchandise and tickets and other scarcities. They are working their butts off to be the success they want to be. I honestly don't know why you think a hard days work is an evil thing.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:33am

    Re:

    You always need middlemen to sort it out and present it at reasonable levels.

    My God.

    Your thought process is so foreign to me that I can't even conceive of a way to explain it to you in terms you might understand.

    The fact that you inherently believe that someone needs to "tend the garden" is so antithetical to the entire foundation of the internet, it's no wonder you guys haven't been able to figure out how to make money using it.

    I'm no longer angry at you. Now I'm sad. And I pity someone who thinks so little of his fellow human being.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re:

    "How do you explain the capacity of the Pirate Bay to distribute things to millions of people all around the world and they don't even have commercials."

    1 - They have no costs to acquire the content they "distribute"

    2 - The content producers do the marketing for them

    3 - They are a firehose. Without the filtering and selection of hollywood or similar, would you really know what movies to download and which ones not to?

     

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  18.  
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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:46am

    Re: Re: Re:

    They are a firehose. Without the filtering and selection of hollywood or similar, would you really know what movies to download and which ones not to?

    I love that you think people are drooling sheep incapable of rational thought. It is so telling.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re:

    No, actually the "unwashed masses" are very smart - smart enough to know that most of them don't have the time to do their own grunt work. They leave that to someone else.

    Basically, each person has 24 hours a day, they give up 8 to sleep, 8 to work, a couple of hours for needed stuff, and they are left with maybe a couple of hours a day for themselves. They can either spend that time downloading hundreds of songs hoping they hit one they like, or they can check out "filters" to find out what is new and hot.

    The problem of the new models is that few of the filters really work. In fact, they are anti-filters, letting everything though and giving you endless choices - so many choices that you don't have time to choose.

    What do most people do? They look for a reliable filter to help them narrow their search. The most reliable brands in movies pretty much all come from Hollywood. They go with what they know, most of the time.

    The unwashed masses are very smart - smart enough not to do something stupid.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:49am

    Re: Re:

    You only have so many hours in your day. If you have all the time in the world (after you finish your math homework) to listen to every new piece of music out there and watch every new movie trailer trying to find something good, more power to you.

    The smart people know better, and find reliable filters to narrow their search and make it so they don't waste their time. Most people want to be entertained, they don't want a second job (or in your case, a first job).

     

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  21.  
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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:51am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Wait. I thought you just said people were too stupid to think for themselves. Now you are saying they are too smart to think for themselves. Which is it? On that thought, which is worse?

     

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  22.  
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    ken (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:55am

    The un-creative copyright holders do not see it as culture. Only as individual business transactions.

     

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  23.  
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    Mike42 (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:56am

    Re:

    No market penetration?

    "The maple kind?"

    'Nuff said.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 10:59am

    Re: Re: Re:

    What do most people do? They look for a reliable filter to help them narrow their search. The most reliable brands in movies pretty much all come from Hollywood. They go with what they know, most of the time.

    I hear what you are saying, up to a point. Yes, I can somewhat understand the need for filters. I have no problems with user generated filters, like the insightful button on this site or articles floating up to the front page on Digg. I will always have a problem with middlemen choosing what to filter on their own, even more so if these middlemen have vested interests in the content.

     

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  25.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 11:07am

    Re: Re: Re:

    3 - They are a firehose. Without the filtering and selection of hollywood or similar, would you really know what movies to download and which ones not to?

    The internet doesn't need middlemen to do this. With such wide distribution, somebody...somewhere will watch/listen/look and review it. If it impresses them they will use the powerful social networking tools on the internet to get their friends to check it out. A lot of art can be extremely niche oriented. It is much easier to find niche content on the internet...you would never get it from the legacy media nitwits. And now being a niche artist can actually be profitable when "the world is your oyster." If an artist has talent, he will be found and make money. Sorry to say that we don't want your culture.

     

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  26.  
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    Unanimous Cowherd, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 11:21am

    Re:

    "You always need middlemen to sort it out and present it at reasonable levels."

    No, you don't. That IS the point!

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 11:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Social networks are an equally big firehose of crap for the most part. Even then, what you are admitting is that filtering is required, and like it or not, the Hollywood brands are considered pretty darn good filters - after all, this is what people want to download and pirate the most.

    Remember, nobody has a monopoly on anything here - in pure competition, the "other brands" are not making it to the surface. That is telling, in the "best business model wins" logic that Techdirt pushes all the time. Can you explain why there isn't a huge market for indie films?

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 11:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You have to think - like it or not, Mike is your middleman for "copyright" thought. He filters out a whole bunch of stuff, and presented mostly one sided articles against copyright. Before we even start to chat here, there is a filter.

    Everyone who controls content in any manner on a website, magazine, TV, radio... they are all filters. The question is who you trust and who you don't.

    Things like Digg and Reddit could be reliable, but to be fair, Digg can easily be gamed, and Reddit lost much of their credibility as an independent source when they decided to go all in with the anti-SOPA crowd. I now feel that what is on their site is as biased as Techdirt or Torrent freak, possibly worse - they are not a reliable filter.

    IN the end, the most reliable filters are the ones that people follow - hollywood movies being one of them. Accepting that people are smart enough to know the difference, the vast majority of Americans choose that as one of their primary filters. That should tell you much about the "new business models" which appear to be mostly failing at being considered reliable and unbiased.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 11:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Mtima's comments are especially apropos...

    I don't think a hard days work is a bad thing. Rather, I think it is an incredibly whiny attitude to blame the record labels for these guys being poor. If they chose to spend their productive years doing something other than making money and saving for the future, that isn't anyone else's fault. At minimum, the record labels got these guys recorded, got them some distribution, and likely helped them get established as viable acts for venues to book. If they didn't do anything with that advantage, well, too bad.

    If the labels are truly irrelevant for everything else, why are they suddenly the nasty boogie man here?

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 11:31am

    Re: Re:

    " the successful middlemen are the ones who enable, not the ones who restrict."

    In movies, the most successful middlemen are all in Hollywood. So there you go, you have proven the point!

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You're awesome man. 5130958319 thumbs up!

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    There isn't a huge market for indie films?

    Based on what?

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 11:37am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Lol'in at the ad-homs since I'm typing this from my work computer.

    Now please proceed with the ad-homs about how I'm a freetard stealing my employer's time and computer resources (hint: I'm not - but don't try to wrap your head around that one, you might break something).

    However, more on topic, what makes you think we need middlemen to be our filters? The herd of cats does pretty well with that.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 11:38am

    Re: Re: Re:

    (after you finish your math homework)


    Can't defend old media without insulting people!

    Classic Troll Move #18

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 11:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    There isn't a huge market for indie films because there isn't a huge market for indie films.

    But... there are more indie films being made today than ever before, and there are more indie films making money (defined as making more than their expenses) than ever before.

    You are making a very common mistake in that you are assuming that the culture that's being made today (and that which is supported by large-scale, highly controlled distribution networks) is the kind of culture that should be made tomorrow. This makes no sense. Consumers should be driving culture, not distribution networks.

    If $100M films stop being made, but the market for entertainment continues to grow, we should celebrate that. Which, btw, is exactly what is happening.

     

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  36.  
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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 11:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    HaHaHaHa.

    I love it. You are tripping all over yourself to prove that you are right.

    Do you want to know who people trust the most to recommend new music, movies, games and books? Their friends and family. Why is that? Because they have a personal relationship with those people, they know what those people like and know where those likes cross over with their own.

    Do you know who people trust the least to recommend new music, movies, games and books? Marketers. Why is that? Because most people are smart enough to realize that marketers are going to recommend what is best for the person but what the company paying them to promote thinks is best for their pocket books.

     

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    Franklin G Ryzzo (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 11:43am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Your argument is invalid.

    Your "filters" told the masses they wanted to see 4 Twilight films with a fifth due out later this year...

    You. Cannot. Be. Trusted.

     

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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 11:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Mtima's comments are especially apropos...

    If the labels are truly irrelevant for everything else, why are they suddenly the nasty boogie man here?

    No one said labels were irrelevant. We have been saying that the way they used to do things is irrelevant. Times have changed and there are new and better ways to fund, promote and distribute music. The problem is that many labels do not want to adapt and are actively trying to stop the tide from rolling in.

    The reason they are perceived as a boogie man is because they are attempting to make it harder for new artists to use these new and better tools of funding, promotion and distribution in an effort to keep their old status as king. Nobody likes a tyrant.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 11:46am

    Re: Re:

    I thought it was pretty well established that it is a "Series of Tubes"... :)

     

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    Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 11:47am

    Re: Re: Re:

    In movies, the most successful middlemen are all in Hollywood.

    Wait a minute - Hollywood is successful? Okay good - piracy clearly isn't a problem then.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 11:56am

    can we stop with the "especially minority artist" crap?

    Maybe in the past but show me where in the last 20 years that the music industry has screwed minority artists more than non-minority artist. We can't keep worrying about something that happened 3 or 4 generations ago and we need to quit bringing it up unless you can show it's still happening.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    If the middlemen in Hollywood were smart and successful, they would prove this by providing what your customer is requesting.

    If you choose not to provide what the customer is requesting, then, like in all other business, you will fail.

    The difference is that businesses that fail because they aren't adapting don't go running to make laws to preserve their business model.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It would be even less than a problem if Hollywood just embraced the internet.

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    We should all line up to see the movies that Hollywood tells us to see. There are no other movies worth watching. After all, isn't the whole point of culture that everybody on the planet consumes the exact same thing so that we all think alike?

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 12:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You have to think - like it or not, Mike is your middleman for "copyright" thought.

    Mike may be the filter for his opinion blog, sure, but he is not, in any way shape or form, my "middleman for copyright thought". I engage in discussions here because the intelligence level of the comments here are more to my liking.

    You might not be aware of it, but there is more information readily available to anyone and everyone than ever before in history and I do a fair job of filtering it on my own. I've also recently started using YaCy at home (need a better computer at work - grrr) for my searches because I no longer wish to rely on Google, who may or may not filter or censor my search results.

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 12:32pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Critics are not the gatekeepers.

     

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

  47.  
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    PaulT (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 12:35pm

    Re:

    "You always need middlemen to sort it out and present it at reasonable levels."

    So then, explain how the dinosaurs who have been fighting against the very technologies their customers use to access content are the best middlemen for the job.

    I don't recall people saying that there should be no middlemen at all, only that the current people there have no business trying to enforce 30 year old business models into an environment that makes them unworkable.

     

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

  48.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Critics are not the gatekeepers.

    That is true. But, this thread is discussing filtering by middlemen.

     

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  49.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 12:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    What you are talking about is critics, not gatekeepers. Gatekeepers decide which movies get made. Critics advise which ones are worth watching.

    Gatekeepers prevent you from watching movies by not making them. You can only watch the movies they decide to make. Critics merely suggest you do or don't watch a movie, but you are still free to watch any of them. them, as you claim yourself.

    Basically what you're saying is that someone has to be chosen as the arbiter of your culture and you have chosen Hollywood as the gatekeeper and their marketing departments as the ultimate judge of taste. You are their total pawn and they must love you for it (I hope they pay you well).

    Reddit was anti-SOPA because the majority of its users demanded it. It's a user driven website.

     

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

  50.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If you don't understand how Hollywood has completely monopolized and destroyed filmmaking in America then go ahead and believe that the only thing deserving of success is big Hollywood studios. You must really enjoy your sequels and remakes.

     

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  51.  
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    PaulT (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "find reliable filters to narrow their search"

    What makes you think that these filter have to be associated with the **AAs out there?

    What makes you think that a setup of independent filters and artists will be worse then than the current market that locks many artists out completely?

    Why are you people so incapable of making any comment without personal attacks?

     

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

  52.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Even then, what you are admitting is that filtering is required, and like it or not, the Hollywood brands are considered pretty darn good filters"

    Hollywood brands are terrible filters, and have been for a very long time. That a movie comes from a mainstream studio is not any indication of the quality of the movie.

    Same as the indies.

    We do need filtering, of course, but what more people are realizing is that it's better to have the filtering actually tailored to your individual tastes. You do this by paying attention to the opinions of people who largely share your tastes. You crowdsource, even if the "crowd" is just a handful of close friends.

    We don't need large corporations who have a movie to shill to also tell us what's worth seeing. They do that job badly.

     

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

  53.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Gatekeepers are not middlemen.

    What gatekeepers choose to make is based solely on its ability to make a profit.

    What middlemen recommend you watch is based solely on its quality.

    Or wait, are you one of those people who think box office = quality? If so I'm wasting my time.

     

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  54.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 12:59pm

    "Intellectual property law is not designed to be, never has been intended to be, and must not be allowed to become the footservant of moneyed erstwhile overlords."

    Too late. Way too late.

     

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

  55.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 12:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Gatekeepers are not middlemen.

    More accurately, gatekeepers are the bad kind of middleman. Enablers, curators and critics are the good kind.

     

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

  56.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 1:01pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "The smart people know better, and find reliable filters to narrow their search and make it so they don't waste their time."

    Absolutely. And the smart people don't think that anyone connected to Hollywood should be those filters.

    It takes no time at all to divine the good stuff. I ask people who share my tastes what new, interesting things they have seen. I pay attention to the what artists I have enjoyed in the past are doing now. Sometimes I pick something at random. It's not exactly a big time-sucker, and the internet makes it even more efficient.

     

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  57.  
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    Richard (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 1:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You have to think - like it or not, Mike is your middleman for "copyright" thought. He filters out a whole bunch of stuff, and presented mostly one sided articles against copyright. Before we even start to chat here, there is a filter.

    Everyone who controls content in any manner on a website, magazine, TV, radio... they are all filters. The question is who you trust and who you don't....


    Not only do you not understand the way the new world works - you don't even understand the way the old one worked.

    The old world was constrained first by technology, second by economics and third by marketing.

    It went like this:

    All the old analogue copying technologies had a high upfront "mastering" cost. This meant that really short production runs were impractical.

    Economies of scale made really long production runs the most profitable and therefore markets had to be maximised.

    Marketing then kicks in - and given the average human's inability to remember more than about seven things at once the marketing people weer all fighting for the same seven slots.

    Now you can do all those things "right", spend the money and still have an enormous turkey on your hands. Remember Pearl Harbour - the film that was an even bigger disaster than the historical event on which it was based!

    The point is that the old gatekeepers were guessing what the public would like - not selecting things for the public to save them the trouble. If the latter had been the case then they would never have got it so spectacularly wrong so often.

    The real filtering of good from bad always happened AFTER the gatekeepers had done their cull. The "public filter" always had the final say - and sometimes it was the last laugh.

    Now that cull is not necessary and we are discovering that there is far more good stuff out there than we ever dreamed possible.

     

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

  58.  
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    Richard (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 1:21pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    In movies, the most successful middlemen are all in Hollywood. So there you go, you have proven the point!

    Actually I think when you said "are" you meant "were" - and when you said "successful" you meant "profitable".

    All of that is explained by the lingering dynamics of the old technology bolstered by the overhang of copyrighted back catalogue.

    However none of that now matters going forward. Hollywood is like the old transatlantic liners in the 1950s - still big and impressive - but doomed to be overtaken by something smaller and more nimble.

     

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  59.  
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    PaulT (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 1:24pm

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

    "We don't need large corporations who have a movie to shill to also tell us what's worth seeing. They do that job badly."

    In fairness, I'd say that they're good at their jobs for the most part. The problem is, their job isn't to sell you what you want to watch, but what they have to sell. If the quality of the product is low, or they have to deceive and misdirect in order to sell it, they will. As long as they get their fee, they don't care what the artistic merit of their product is, and they will often make content fit their advertising aims rather than the other way around. Therein lies their problems...

     

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

  60.  
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    Torg (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 1:25pm

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

    To be fair to the "Hollywood as filter" idea, most of the stuff Hollywood's made has elicited an emotional reaction from me. For example, I cried at The Last Airbender.

     

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

  61.  
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    Richard (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Re: Re:


    The smart people know better, and find reliable filters to narrow their search and make it so they don't waste their time. Most people want to be entertained, they don't want a second job (or in your case, a first job).


    I haven't got time to try every filter out there to find out which one will give me things I like.

    (btw in my experience the ones you refer to are pretty reliable in serving up stuff I don't like.)

     

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

  62.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 2:22pm

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

    And this might be the primary argument against Hollywood as a reasonable filter: what moves you may fall flat for me and vice versa.

    One single filter can only work for the "average taste," and if you're making movies for the "average taste" then all your movies will tend to be one of three tropes again and again. Which is, in fact, what we see from Hollywood.

    Also, nobody has "average taste" any more than anyone has 2.3 children.

     

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

  63.  
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    Torg (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 2:41pm

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

    Oh, the crying wasn't because the events in the movie touched me on some deep level or anything. They were tears of sorrow for a lost franchise.

     

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

  64.  
    identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You have to think - like it or not, Mike is your middleman for "copyright" thought.

    I have some stunning news for you. This isn't the only web site on the Internet. And some of us have been thinking about and debating these issue since well before the web existed, as it's not the only discussion medium on the Internet. Or the ARPAnet.

    I think I'll stop there while you try to let that soak in.

     

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

  65.  
    identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 2:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Mtima's comments are especially apropos...

    Rather, I think it is an incredibly whiny attitude to blame the record labels for these guys being poor.

    Your failure to read and grasp history is stunning. Have you not followed the history of the recording industry? Do you not read? Can you not grasp even the simplest cause-and-effect relationship? And are you not capable of the most basic act of sympathy and compassion for the creative people -- you know, the ones you would dishonestly pretend to be sticking up for?

    Your greed and selfishness is sickening.

     

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

  66.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 3:57pm

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

    I'd argue they're great filters. They take anything creative or innovative and throw it in the bin.

     

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

  67.  
    identicon
    The Moondoggie, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 4:04pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    They are a firehose. Without the filtering and selection of hollywood or similar, would you really know what movies to download and which ones not to?

    Ehem... Ahahahahahahahahahahahaha! What are you, stupid?
    I mean, pick a movie or a show. Any movie or show. Say I want... a movie.

    > Search online.
    > Get the title.
    > Find reviews.
    > Find the copy online.
    > Get torrent filename.
    > Download.
    > Profit.

    Even an elementary can download "Bourne Legacy" when it hits the net...

     

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

  68.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 4:34pm

    Re:

    And the more they squash when they do.

     

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

  69.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 7:03pm

    Masnick do you have ANY concept of "culture" ?

    It appears not, culture is NOT a FUCKING BUSINESS, until you can understand what culture actually is you look damn stupid trying to turn it into some form of comodity.

    Get a freaking clue masnick, you and your fellow Americans who continue to push this bullshit about what you consider "yours" or what you believe culture is, do not appear to have at all any clue about ANYTHING, except what you feel you have some "right" to or to allow you to justify the THEFT you are so keen on...

    What a wanker..

     

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

  70.  
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    Torg (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 7:27pm

    Re: Masnick do you have ANY concept of "culture" ?

    ...Are you sure you're actually opposed to Masnick? It looks like you'd have ended up agreeing with him if you read past the headline.

     

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

  71.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 11:23pm

    Re: Masnick do you have ANY concept of "culture" ?

    If "culture is not a fucking business" as you've said why do you need to be worried about its "theft"?

     

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

  72.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 11:59pm

    Re: "only America-originated art form": jazz.

    Really?? What about its precedessor, blues? And the successor of that, rock-and-roll? And the successor of that, hip-hop?

     

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

  73.  
    identicon
    GiDiOn, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 12:48am

    "Intellectual property law is not designed to be, never has been intended to be, and must not be allowed to become the footservant of moneyed erstwhile overlords."


    Actually, I have read that that is exactly why it was designed. It was used by kings to crush political dissent and granted as a royal privilege to enrich preferred printers in the mercantilist system. It wasn't until the revolution in the US that the right was transferred from kings to creators.

     

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

  74.  
    identicon
    Prisoner 201, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 1:29am

    Re:

    "You always need middlemen to sort it out and present it at reasonable levels."

    What you don't understand is that thanks to the internet, we are all middlemen.

    Every blog, forum, facebook page, chat room, online game, "you might also like" algorithm, search engine and indeed every person are the new middlemen.

    Word-of-mouth, through any of the above channels or actual pressure waves through air, is the new filter. You participate in the filters relevant to your interests. And even those filters have probably been recommended (filtered) through one of the above channels. Recursively.

    It is a beautiful chaotic yet self-regulating system that sorts the vast flood of content most elegantly and without any central authority. And I guess that's where your problem is. You are no longer in control.

    Welcome to reality. Darwin says: Hello friend, adapt or die.

     

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  75.  
    identicon
    kurisu7885, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 3:35am

    To the one preaching about middlemen, well....

    Maybe you might try to explain away the continued success of Trent Reznor and Motorhead after they severed ties with their record companies and remain successful by use of the internet, even without the record labels controlling them.

    And even lesser known band, Abney Park, they have never been part of a label, yet they are very successful, and they take in 100% of their revenue as no one else is taking a cut.

    Again, try to explain away their success.

     

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

  76.  
    identicon
    Michael, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 7:00am

    Good article

    People have been creating works of art since ancient civilization, reason being that people in general enjoy being part of a creative process. Art is manifest expression of the human soul. To try and fight to keep all works of art locked away from the populace is to reduce art and culture to merely another form of capitalistic entitlement, its worth determined solely by its fixed price tag.

    With regard to things such as new movies, music, games, etc., I believe that people, specifically the artists and creators, should have the sole right to profit. However, I believe that with the technology available today that there should be a seperate digital copyright assigned to each new work which should last a maximum of 10 years. Copyright/IP should never be used as a whipping post to lock-down every known work and criminalize the flow of data.

     

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

  77.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Feb 10th, 2012 @ 8:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    A few indie films do make it into Hollywood controlled movie theatres and into wide distribution and a few do very, very well.

    And yes, there is an effective monopoly in place in the distribution of motion pictures in North America and always has been.

    These days I wouldn't call Hollywood "brands" good filters, quite the opposite it's just that it's those brands people get to choose from and little else. People put up with most of it and when the odd great film comes through they flock to it.

    That said, there's a large market for indie films in continental Europe where the Hollywood chains don't control the movie theatres, and in the UK and Scandinavia and Russia. The global market isn't just the United States, you know.

    Filtering will come from where it's always come. Word of mouth, film festivals, reviewers on different sites if newspapers don't survive and so on.

    I'm sorry if that looks like a firehose to you. But essentially it's the same as now. Even if the site it's being downloaded from is The Pirate Bay.

     

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


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