Another 'Exception'? Jonathan Coulton Making Half A Million A Year With No Record Label

from the and-on-and-on-and-on dept

We've mentioned musician Jonathan Coulton a bunch of times in the past when talking about musicians and embracing new business models. He's definitely a great example of someone who charted his own path and was able to make a living doing so. However, the only dollar figure we'd seen was that, soon after he'd committed to music, he was making $5,000 per month. That was four or five years ago, if I remember correctly. However, the Planet Money team over at NPR caught up with him recently, and he noted that in 2010 he brought in about half a million dollars. Of course, defenders of the old system will insist that he's an "exception," but, really, just how many exceptions do we need until people realize that the market is changing rapidly, and those who embrace new models and new methods of distribution are finding that they can make a lot more money than they did in the past.

Coulton is an interesting case for a variety of reasons. He tried to become a professional musician 20 years ago, but was unable to make it work. It's only through the power of the internet that he was able to become a success this time around. This is a point that gets missed quite frequently in these discussions. Part of what's so exciting to many of us about the world today is that those who wouldn't have been able to become professional musicians at all in the past now have an opportunity to do so. Yes, plenty will fail, but under the old system, almost everyone failed. Today, a much larger percentage of people wishing to be musicians can find their community, can find their niche and they can make pretty good money doing so. As Coulton notes:
Coulton says sure, he's niche. But there are a lot of niches out there for others to find, with more forming all the time. After all, he says, that's what the Internet is.


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  1.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 9:35am

    "Of course, defenders of the old system will insist that he's an "exception," but, really, just how many exceptions do we need until people realize that the market is changing rapidly"

    It has nothing to do with him being an exception. What the labels are actually arguing is that what he did can't be repeated by the record labels. When you have to customize everything to the artist, the labels cookie cutter pop star approach doesn't work.

     

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    jjmsan (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 9:48am

    Exception

    I have to point out that under the labels the bands that made it were also an exception. Otherwise everyone who started a band would have had their music published.

     

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  3.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 10:03am

    Re: Exception

    Success is the exception no matter where it comes from. Even outside the music industry. This is something that a lot of people seem to have forgotten.

     

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    DannyB (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 10:04am

    Exceptions

    Each automobile was just another exception to the rule that the reliable horse & buggy were the dominant land transportation system.

    (Furthermore, automobiles make noises that frighten the horses.)

     

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    ScytheNoire (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 10:06am

    But Coulton connects with fans and then gives them a reason to buy his stuff. That's just too much work for the old media. They have contempt for their fans, too busy suing them.

     

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    Steven (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 10:07am

    Of course he's an exception. This kind of model can ONLY work for people who are, or who know somebody who is, named Jonathan! This isn't a REAL business model because it doesn't let me sit around and rake in cash for doing nothing!

    Now if you'll excuse me I have some code monkey to listen to.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 10:07am

    Re: Exception

    I can't upvote this comment enough.

     

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    Jay (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 10:18am

    "He tried to become a professional musician 20 years ago, but was unable to make it work. "

    So Jonathan told the labels...

    He wants them gone

     

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    alex (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 10:19am

    He's self-releasing (and making a good job of it) but that's the only part of this that's new isn't it?

    I mean he's still selling copies of his tracks under traditional copyright as well as tickets to gigs, merchandise and publishing deals.

    It sounds like he's just started his own label to release his own stuff, non?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 10:19am

    Psh, who is this John Coultan guy. He'll never be Michael Jackson so who cares!?

     

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  11.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 10:24am

    Re: MJ again...!!?

    Well that's silly. You can permanently and legally change your name for like $500. He could SO be Michael Jackson.

    :-P

     

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  12.  
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    cc (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 10:30am

    Fun fact: Did you know he wrote the ending credits song for Portal?

    If that didn't get him his (well-deserved) fame, I don't know what did.

     

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  13.  
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    Wiggs (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 10:31am

    Re:

    Not really. All of JoCo's stuff is released under Creative Commons. All his tracks are sold sans DRM. He actively encourages and posts tabs for his material (so others can learn how to mimic his genius and continue spreading the word). His approach to copyright and "control" is the exact opposite of the traditional record label, which is part of why he's so successful.

    Yes, there are still tickets to gigs, merchandise and publishing deals, as those are pretty much the way any musician does their stuff. The difference is, JoCo tends to look to the community in order to promote his stuff in any way possible. He even keeps a 'donation jar' on his website in case you obtained his stuff through piracy and feel bad about it.

     

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  14.  
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    Wiggs (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 10:33am

    Re:

    And the end credits for Portal 2! "Want You Gone" is not quite as excellent as "Still Alive", but also very good.

     

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    RIAASHILL, May 17th, 2011 @ 10:36am

    This should be unlawful!!! I'm going to talk to congress about this.

     

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    Mike C. (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 10:38am

    Re:

    Umm... how is that a bad thing exactly???

    :-)

     

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    Rob, May 17th, 2011 @ 10:42am

    Record companies crying?

    Are the record companies and traditional media crying about this? I can't hear -- got the shop vac on.

     

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    alex (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 10:42am

    Re: Re:

    I'm confused. He's selling his music on his website but it's Creative Commons?

     

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    Samuel Abram (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 10:42am

    Well Actually...

    ScytheNoire

    But Coulton connects with fans and then gives them a reason to buy his stuff.


    I have seen (and bought) Jonathan Coulton's physical items and digital downloads. The Thing-A-Week box set comes in a tin, but the discs come in paper sleeves and if I wanted a tin so bad, I could just buy one with cookies from Rite Aid or something. Also, his thumb flash drive with all his songs is physically unique, but so are a lot of other physical flash drives I can buy. And he gives his music away for free, licensing all his music (save for anything Portal-related or covers) with a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license. Really, you could just "steal" his music with no penalty.

    Yet people somehow want to buy his music from his website. I think this means that despite the "connect-with-fans/reason-to-buy" mantra, you don't even need the "reason to buy." All you have to do is connect with fans. Then they will want to support you. After all, how awesome is it that a guy is giving you the right to file-share his work and even remix it? People like that should be encouraged, and his fans (such as myself) know it.

    Alex:

    He's self-releasing (and making a good job of it) but that's the only part of this that's new isn't it?

    I mean he's still selling copies of his tracks under traditional copyright as well as tickets to gigs, merchandise and publishing deals.

    It sounds like he's just started his own label to release his own stuff, non?


    Actually, he's selling digital copies of his own tracks
    at jonathancoulton.com, plus his own merchandise (and CDs) and live shows, not to mention his music is the last song played in both Portal 1 and 2. As I said before, all of his music (except for the covers and Portal songs) is released with a creative commons attribution-noncommercial license. So it's not traditional copyright. He has been releasing albums since 2003, but has been a professional musician since 2005.

     

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  20.  
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    Samuel Abram (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 10:45am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Creative Commons" is not "No Rights Reserved". That's the Public Domain. It means "Some Rights Reserved". The rights that Jonathan Coulton reserves is to make money off of his works and to have his works attributed to him. He just gave up the right over distribution (e.g. file sharing) and derivative works (such as youtube videos).

    Do you understand now?

     

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  21.  
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    MrWilson, May 17th, 2011 @ 10:52am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes. Check out his store page: http://www.jonathancoulton.com/store/downloads/.

    He sells stuff and its under a CC license. They aren't mutually exclusive. It means he won't sue you for "pirating" it (though it's technically not piracy if it's authorized by a CC licensed) and he'll accept donations if you do want to compensate him for it.

    It's brilliant because he meets all types of fans wherever they are. He sells by iTunes for the mainstream, from his site for others, and allows anyone to share without any restrictions. He's operating on the truth that many people will pay even when given a free option (similar to the pay-as-much-as-you-want pricing schemes) and often times "pirates" are also good customers or in the least, free advertising sources.

     

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  22.  
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    Jeremy7600 (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re:

    "Want you Gone" has nothing on "Still Alive." I had "Still Alive" on my mp3 player for months! Still gives me goosebumps thinking about the song :D

     

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  23.  
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    Mr. LemurBoy (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 11:03am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I dunno, I'll admit "Still Alive" is still my favorite, but "Want You Gone" definitely has its charm and I can listen to it over and over.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 11:05am

    Re:

    He wrote the ending song to Portal 2, too. There's also a song of his ("Re: Your Brains") that plays on a jukebox in Left 4 Dead 2 if you use the jukebox enough. It spawns a huge wave of zombies.


    Trivia!

     

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  25.  
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    John Doe, May 17th, 2011 @ 11:09am

    This sentences really bugs me...

    Yes, plenty will fail, but under the old system, almost everyone failed.

    I know you know the difference, but when people think like this it really bugs me. So what if people fail. Some percentage of people fail at any particular job. I know people who were programmers that weren't even good at COBOL, which is the simplest language there is. So let them find something they are good at and do that.

    Nobody deserves to be a musician much less a successful musician. Or any other profession you want to insert here.

    /rant

     

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  26.  
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    Ccomp5950 (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 11:11am

    Re:

    Please don't post like this, it's already hard enough to tell when some copyright maximalists are serious or not.

     

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  27.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 11:12am

    Re:

    Rather fitting message for the record labels too...

    And when you're dying I'll be still alive...
    And when you're dead I will be still alive...

     

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  28.  
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    John Doe, May 17th, 2011 @ 11:13am

    Re: Re: Exception

    I should have read your post before I made my rant below. This is exactly my point but you stated it much better than I. Nobody deserves success and there are varying levels of success in all industries.

    YGMV.

     

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  29.  
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    John Doe, May 17th, 2011 @ 11:16am

    Re:

    Why would he want to be MJ? MJ died of a drug overdose and was just plain weird to boot so lets hope Jonathan doesn't go that way.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 11:18am

    Re: This sentences really bugs me...

    Off topic, but...

    "...COBOL, which is the simplest language there is."

    *Snicker*...COBOL is *real* simple...if you come from the Jurassic period :)

    Try Python. Then you'll see what's simple.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 11:26am

    Re: Re: Re:

    whats wrong with that?

    theres also nothing wrong with selling public domain media.

     

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    Ima Fish (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 11:36am

    "Another 'Exception'? Jonathan Coulton Making Half A Million A Year With No Record Label"

    And even if he had a label, he'd would be in debt to that label for millions and he'd make nothing a year. Anything his music earned would go to the middlemen.

    And that's what they're scared about. No one is seriously asking how musicians will earn money via the internet. They're asking how middlemen will continue milking money from musicians while the internet is still around.

     

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    Samuel Abram (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 11:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    whats wrong with that?

    theres also nothing wrong with selling public domain media.


    I agree; there's nothing wrong with that. My point was that Jonathan Coulton reserved some of his rights with Creative Commons BY-NC rather than giving up all of his rights with a copyright waiver, such as with the CC0 public domain waiver. After all, once you create a work, it's automatically copyrighted, all rights reserved.

     

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  34.  
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    Melissa (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 11:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's not even technically piracy if authorized under the terms of a license. It isn't piracy or infringement at all. Copyright grants content creators the right to parcel out rights to their work and that is exactly what he has done.

    It's more accurate to say some people will pay in certain situations. While this is one anecdotal story of a success there are also others of failure or that struggle using the same model. Most small and starting bands have adopted this models, but there are a large majority that don't meet this kind of success. Right now this may work well for them.

    However, it should be the content creator's decision to license as they see fit and to succeed and fail accordingly. It should never be in the hands of a third party without the content creator giving their initial consent.

     

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    sidewinder, May 17th, 2011 @ 11:52am

    Middlemen

    "..how middlemen will continue milking money from musicians.."

    Perhaps they could sneak into musicians' bedrooms in the night & syphon off a pint of blood or so. They're practiced at that from what I hear.

    Or, they could get bandwidth caps imposed ... a return to 300 baud would be just the thing!

     

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    alex (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    This is interesting. I hadn't heard of CC licenses being used like this before.

     

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    Melissa (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 11:55am

    Re:

    And under his model he was just in debt to someone else or had his wife supporting him for a certain amount of years till he made enough back to recoup his losses.

    It's a risk either way. This one just paid off for him.

     

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    Jay (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 12:00pm

    Damn skippy

    Which begs the question. If everyone is saying that copyright gives artists money, why is there so much evidence against the copyright working?

    I've just recently looked into the work of Stephen Kinsalla, Joe Karaganis, along with Mike's and most serious evidence points against copyright working as expressed.

    And here we have Jonathan who has done quite well with selling his music on his label as well as working with Valve to create fun music. Sure, it's under CC license, but from what I see, he doesn't really have to file for infringement.

    There's now an "infringing" version of the I want you gone song done by Laura Shigihara (She made the Plants vs Zombies theme song). By all means, the song is done as an homage. But just like radio or TV, it adds value to Jonathan Coulture's song (which he made specifically for Ellen, the original singer)

    I'm sure someone will come to doubt his success, but I just don't think anyone sees the work and "behind the scenes" effort put into making his business work for him.

    Kinda sad that last part...

     

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    Bob, May 17th, 2011 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Record companies crying?

    You are right! It's loud with the shop vac on...

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re:

    In and of itself, it is not a bad thing, it will speed the failure of the record labels. The lack of a cookie cutter approach will how ever make them push for more PROTECT IP style laws, which is the bad part.

     

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  41.  
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    TypoFlood (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 12:29pm

    Re:

    Copy'right' doesn't give artists money. Artists usually give their copy'rights' over to artificially necessary middlemen (who are only necessary because the govt wrongfully grants monopoly power over various communication channels outside the Internet), which intentionally prevents permissibly licensed content, like the above, from succeeding outside the Internet.

    These monopolies exist for the same reason that all the many other govt imposed monopolies exist (ie: taxi cab monopolies, among the many others). They exist because the government seeks to only to serve monopolist interests.

    The laws need to change. These monopolies need to be abolished. The FCC should either be abolished or it should stop protecting corporate monopolists who want exclusive use of broadcasting spectra. The govt needs to stop granting monopoly power over cableco infrastructure use (or the ability to build new cableco infrastructure). The law needs to impose huge penalties on collection societies that try to prevent restaurants and other venues from hosting independent musicians, without paying some unnecessary third party and without the threat of facing an expensive lawsuit, under the pretext that someone might infringe.

    The laws need to stop intentionally and artificially denying alternative, independently controlled (or permissibly licensed) content from being distributed. The laws need to stop setting up a legal structure that effectively requires artists to hand over their copy protection privileges over to some (otherwise unnecessary) third party just to get their content broadcasted over public airwaves. The laws need to stop granting monopoly power on both content distribution (ie: public airwave use) and on content.

    and the monopolists are seeking to do to the Internet exactly what they accomplished outside the Internet, use the government to monopolize it. and instead of lifting a finger to repeal many of its wrongfully granted monopolies, the government is only seeking to act in the interests of those monopolists.

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 1:12pm

    Re: Re: Record companies crying?

    I don't know about the shop vac, but this really tiny violin I am playing seems to work also.

     

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  43.  
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    Rob, May 17th, 2011 @ 1:26pm

    Record companies crying?

    Are the record companies and traditional media crying about this? I can't hear -- got the shop vac on.

     

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  44.  
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    Melissa (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 1:30pm

    Re: Re:

    Do you honestly think the big bad corporations are the only thing preventing certain permissibly licensed content from succeeding outside the internet? A valid license is an absolute defense against allegations of infringement so its not exactly the law that is preventing things.

    What you're asking for is that the government actively abolish independently established trade unions and if you don't think that is going to cause so major problems you're living in a dream world.

    Additionally, the only way one of those unions can have standing to even start an expensive lawsuit is if the restaurant or other type of venue already agreed to use artists in the collection society. There's nothing that stops a venue or event from hosting independent musicians under federal law without a prior existing agreement.

    The funny thing is its not the statutory law that required musicians to go through a publishing company, it was the practical problems of the industry itself. Marketing is still a big problem for individual artists and its still a benefit that a label can bring. It's the collective contracts between industry actors and the traditional way things worked. The recording industry is slow to change from the one size fits all model, that's a given. They don't want to change from what's worked.

    For all the things that you are complaining about, its not copyright law itself that are causing the problems but rather the way the industry works itself. If you want these companies to change the way they work, you have to give them the incentive to change. If you treat them as your enemy, they will act in kind.

     

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    Griff (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 1:38pm

    Crazy

    Has Tom Cruise sued him yet ?

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 1:42pm

    Re:

    He's self-releasing (and making a good job of it) but that's the only part of this that's new isn't it?


    Not at all. His tracks are released under a CC license, so if you *want* you can get them from free from others and it's not violating his copyright (assuming they adhere to the license as well). He's also much more open to connecting with fans in unique and interesting ways. For example, he did his "song a week for a year" project and was thrilled that his community created the videos for the project.

    On top of that, with his touring, he's used tools like Eventful, in which he won't go somewhere unless enough people have committed to seeing him perform, making sure that his tours are really profitable.

    He's really done a lot of interesting things...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 1:43pm

    Re:

    I have to confess though, I've never heard of this person.

     

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  48.  
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    Jay (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 2:08pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    History sides with Tyflood though.

    Think about how FM Radio came to be. It was implemented after the death of the creator.

    RCA didn't want to implement FM radio because they had a monopoly interest in AM. Even though FM was clearer and had more range. It didn't stop RCA from denying the patents of the individual and stopping royalties paid for the implementation of FM.

    There's already been studies about how quasi government branches such as the FCC and FTC are simply figureheads for private business interests. The fact that an FCC regulator went on to become a lobbyist claiming she was "fair" doesn't begin to describe the reality of the situation.

    The very real problem is in how business interests interfere extensively with patent and copyright law. Unions tend to want to stop a problem just enough that it's not as prevalent, but I see that they usually won't change the status quo too much.

    If we did abolish copyright law, along with patents, I'm sure that there would be other avenues opening up to allow artists to sing, dance, and use music to their hearts content.

    Honestly, the industry only works this way because copyright is rather archaic. Permission based on a person's labors, which is tied into property rights.

    What right do you have of telling people how they can listen to a song?
    See a movie?
    Play games?

    As I read more and more about copyright, I see its utility less and less. First, everyone automatically has copyright. Second, you have to enforce it, to see the full benefits. But that enforcement is an encroachment on someone else's rights. All of this is tied into how the law is rather complex to wade through simply to get anything done effectively.

    I believe we'll see more and more people that begin to just market themselves. It's already occurring, but at a very rapid pace, people are forgoing copyright concerns and more aptly, using the abundance in the market to fuel their own success.

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 2:16pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Additionally, the only way one of those unions can have standing to even start an expensive lawsuit is if the restaurant or other type of venue already agreed to use artists in the collection society."

    Ideally, maybe, realistically, no. They have been known to threaten many venues who want to host independent artists and many of those venues have been known to avoid doing such as a result. Here is a start.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090109/1823043352.shtml

    "There's nothing that stops a venue or event from hosting independent musicians under federal law without a prior existing agreement."

    That never stopped collection societies from making absurd threats backed up with outrageous potential infringement damages if one of those venues infringes. They threaten venues under the pretext that one of those independent artists may play music that might infringe and the venues have to pay these collection societies royalties for that possibility. Even if it's not true, the potential infringement damages that these collection societies wave around are high enough to scare people into complying or not hosting any independents. The damages that these collection societies could face for their behavior is relatively small. and even if these venues are right, the potential lawsuit costs are not small.

    "The funny thing is its not the statutory law that required musicians to go through a publishing company, it was the practical problems of the industry itself."

    These practical problems only exist because the government wrongfully grants monopoly power over many of the information distribution channels required to distribute/market your content over to large corporations. There are many people who are willing to create permissibly licensed content, but the monopolists who are wrongfully in charge of these monopolized information distribution channels are reluctant to broadcast such content.

    "Marketing is still a big problem for individual artists and its still a benefit that a label can bring."

    It doesn't benefit anyone for a gatekeeper to bring them access to something that they can have access to if it weren't for the gatekeepers that deny them that access in the first place.

    I have just as much a right to broadcast on public airwaves as the govt imposed monopolists. They have no right to take that right away from me. They have no right to prevent competitors from using existing cableco infrastructure and from building new cableco infrastructure. But they use the govt to wrongfully deny us our rights because they want exclusive control over distribution.

    It's no different than the many many other monopolies that the government grants. There is absolutely no good reason to grant them, they are granted for political purposes that are selfish in nature. The govt grants these copy protection monopolies for the same reason that they make them last insanely long. They grant them for no good reason whatsoever. All this, "but these monopolies are needed because ..." is all just industry propaganda that holds no more merit than the allegations that copy protection lengths need to last 95+ years or that taxi cab monopolies need to exist or that all the other many govt imposed monopolies are somehow justified. There is no justification and there never was.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "The fact that an FCC regulator went on to become a lobbyist claiming she was "fair" doesn't begin to describe the reality of the situation."

    and this FCC revolving door problem has been going on for a LONG time. It's nothing new The book No Debate by George Farah covers the issue pretty well.

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's nothing new. * (forgot a period in there)

     

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    buck lateral (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 2:24pm

    That's great for Coulton. He wants to do it that way and he's successful. Fine. But you can't force other creators to give their output away for free if they don't want to. Nor can you unlawfully download it just because you don't agree with copyright law.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 2:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    and the argument that not granting monopolies over these information distribution channels will not help competitors use them is nonsense as well. If that were the case then there would be no need to grant monopolies on these distribution channels. The govt wrongfully grants monopolies on these information distribution channels (ie: cableco infrastructure and broadcasting) exactly because they know that if they didn't then others would otherwise use these information distribution channels to distribute information on. and the government has no right to prevent others from doing so.

     

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  54.  
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    Samuel Abram (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 2:50pm

    Re: Re:

    Actually, having spoken with JoCo himself, he spoke with his wife about this venture to have a backup plan if the thing-a-week project went south, i.e. he would go find a job again. Luckily for him, it worked out for the best.

    JoCo may be an anecdotal anomaly, but he is proof that you can give away your music and yet people will still pay you for it. I do!

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    and here is another example.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20061009/162455.shtml

    So are restaurants supposed to go through the lengthy process of making sure that all their independent performers don't play infringing material while on stage? If anything, shouldn't those independent performers be the ones liable (and these venues have tried to delegate liability to the performers through contracts before, but the collection societies refused).

    Also see

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100723/03003210330.shtml

    "Bruce Schrader, who owns the Sacred Grounds Coffee House, tried to keep his open mics going by having his performers sign waivers stating they were playing only their original songs. Nevertheless, he was faced with demands for $6,000 in license fees from the agencies and had to shut down the weekly event last year."

    http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Music/2009/0109/p14s01-almp.html

    (originally found on

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100806/15462810537.shtml
    )

    The argument here is that, even though independents are instructed to only play independent music, the possibility that someone 'might' infringe is enough to justify paying these royalties.

     

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  56.  
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    Melissa (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 3:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Ideally, maybe, realistically, no. They have been known to threaten many venues who want to host independent artists and many of those venues have been known to avoid doing such as a result. Here is a start. ..."

    I'm familiar with the article. However your argument was threatening venues not the artists. And as much as they can bark and threaten, defendants can always up the ante by showing lack of contract, suing for attorney fees and fines based on frivolous lawsuit if they actually press lawsuit without standing.

    For musicians its a matter of knowing what you're getting into before you sign up. There are lawyers who help independent artists pro bono or set up conferences to keep musicians informed of their rights.

    "These practical problems only exist because the government wrongfully grants monopoly power over many of the information distribution channels required to distribute/market your content over to large corporations. "

    Your entire premise is that if someone didn't actually operate and maintain this distribution channel then everything is fine.

    Do you have any idea how much it costs to conduct a marketing campaign? I do. On purely online distribution, artists can get away with investing under 10k before they can expect to see a profit. Paper campaigns cost even more. That's not even counting in the cost of labor for graphic designers.

    If you can manage it, that's great, but not everyone can.

    Labels can still offer an advantage because they have an infrastructure already in place and they already have connections with a talent pool, venues and a good crew. There are negative aspects for sure, but to say it would never be useful is a misleading.

    The important thing is to be aware of what your getting into before you get into both.


    "It's no different than the many many other monopolies that the government grants. There is absolutely no good reason to grant them, they are granted for political purposes that are selfish in nature."

    Preserving law enforcement frequencies, air traffic control frequencies, and other public service frequencies is entirely selfish then I take it. Problem is there is actually a limited amount of radio frequencies for a given area and I really doubt state or federal government wants to see them used for criminal purposes or to conduct fraud. So, yes there is a reason to require a license to these airwaves.

    "I have just as much a right to broadcast on public airwaves as the govt imposed monopolists. They have no right to take that right away from me. They have no right to prevent competitors from using existing cableco infrastructure and from building new cableco infrastructure. But they use the govt to wrongfully deny us our rights."

    They can't take away a right you never had. Unless you've been approved and granted a broadcasting license, you never had the right. Unless you built or maintain the infrastructure, you don't even have claim in it. Licensed broadcasters are still subject to getting investors to pay for upkeep, subject to FCC regulations and other liabilities under federal and relevant state law.

    "The govt grants these copy protection monopolies for the same reason that they make them last insanely long."

    I think you're confusing copyright with broadcasting licenses. The rights and requirements of one are completely different from the other. The duration of copyright has nothing to do with broadcasting licenses.

     

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    Melissa (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 4:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Funny thing is though, collection companies aren't the ultimate word on the delegation of liability through contract.

    And as I stated earlier, your problem still isn't copyright law, it's the fee that the union charges and their methods of collection. That means that the pressure should be placed on the union itself and its collection methods and not on the government to change and make a new law.

    Negotiate a more reasonable fee or actually enforce the waivers and the problem could be solved pretty handily.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 4:47pm

    Re:

    On the flip side, while yes, you can't force people to give away their stuff for free, why are creators forced to use copyright?

    Sure, creative commons lets you give more rights away if you wish, but if a creator doesn't want to deal with copyright, why is he forced into the system in the first place? Why is it automatic with no real way to put work into the public domain instead of opt-in?

    Essentially, why not grant creators even more choice over what they want to do?

     

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  59.  
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    Melissa (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 4:51pm

    Re: Re:

    Um who says you can't? You could always choose to dedicate your work to public domain. If you haven't already given the rights to something else there's nothing that stops you from dedicating it to the public domain.

     

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    Jay (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 5:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Preserving law enforcement frequencies, air traffic control frequencies, and other public service frequencies is entirely selfish then I take it. Problem is there is actually a limited amount of radio frequencies for a given area and I really doubt state or federal government wants to see them used for criminal purposes or to conduct fraud. So, yes there is a reason to require a license to these airwaves."

    Air traffic and law enforcement frequencies is fine, I'll give you. But the problems with the state controlling ALL public airwaves or even auctioning them off shows the inefficiencies of a state-controlled resource.

    "They can't take away a right you never had. Unless you've been approved and granted a broadcasting license, you never had the right. Unless you built or maintain the infrastructure, you don't even have claim in it. Licensed broadcasters are still subject to getting investors to pay for upkeep, subject to FCC regulations and other liabilities under federal and relevant state law."

    Getting into different views, spectrum (which is the GHz ranges used for wifi, radio, etc) is a renewable resource. You'll use it for XYZ reason but then, someone else can use it. It's quite simple to alter frequencies and use a different spectrum than what's currently being used.

    I wouldn't have a problem with FCC regulations, but it tends to be that the people in charge don't know much about the technology they're in charge of. Hell, you have to be assigned to be in charge of the FCC or FTC. How does that add up to having any kind of knowledge of spectrum use or broadband regulation?

    "I think you're confusing copyright with broadcasting licenses. The rights and requirements of one are completely different from the other. The duration of copyright has nothing to do with broadcasting licenses."

    I believe it stands to reason that the same problems occur in the fields, where broadcasting licenses are used for the self perpetuatinon of the FCC or FTC, same as copyright is used as a "validation" of its own importance in the creation of material with copyright.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 5:41pm

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

    "your problem still isn't copyright law"

    Yes it is, because these collection societies can't sue for such huge damages if it weren't for the copy'right' law that allows them to do so. Sure, they may not win, but the threat is still there, these collection societies are good at choosing courts that will tend to favor them, and some courts may not rule reasonably so there is still risk involved.

    "That means that the pressure should be placed on the union itself and its collection methods and not on the government to change and make a new law."

    Since their collection methods are wrongfully causing so much damage then the government needs to ban these wrongful collection methods and pose steeper penalties for their use. Instead, the government allows this abuse to continue without lifting a finger to pass the necessary laws to correct it. In fact, the government passes laws that encourages this abuse.

    The problem is that the laws are responsible for setting up a one sided incentive structure in favor of the collection societies. The legal system needs to pressure these collection societies not to initiate such bogus lawsuits by imposing the possibility of steeper punitive damages for doing so and by setting lower standards for acquiring damages against frivolous lawsuits.

    "Negotiate a more reasonable fee or actually enforce the waivers and the problem could be solved pretty handily."

    Easier said than done. If it were that easy then all these venues would likely have done it a long time ago. Don't think that you're somehow more gifted and can, in the matter of a second (after barley looking at the problem), come up with such a simple solution that no one else who has encountered the problem can think of after spending hours (and tons of their money) looking at the problem. It's easy for you, as an outside observer, to make up unworkable solutions. But those who have shut down their venues due to these legal threats are in a better position to tell me whether or not these solutions work than you. Their experience is more valuable than your speculation. They have been through it, they have experienced it, and it caused them to shut down their venues or to stop hosting independent performers. Our legal system is responsible for that.

     

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  62.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 6:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "However your argument was threatening venues not the artists."

    Artists use those venues to perform, make money, and gain the necessary recognition to make their money. If the venues stop hosting artists due to these threats then the artists suffer to.

    "And as much as they can bark and threaten, defendants can always up the ante by showing lack of contract, suing for attorney fees and fines based on frivolous lawsuit if they actually press lawsuit without standing."

    That's part of the problem. The law needs to make it easier to collect these attorney fees in these situations. The law places the burden on the venue holder to show that the lawsuit was frivolous. The venue holder can only sue for actual damages proved, whereas the copy privilege holder can often sue for a huge sum of speculated damages. The law needs to place steeper punitive damages against such frivolous lawsuit attempts and it needs to make it easier to collect damages.

    "For musicians its a matter of knowing what you're getting into before you sign up. There are lawyers who help independent artists pro bono or set up conferences to keep musicians informed of their rights."

    I don't see how that's relevant here. If a restaurant owner doesn't want to host musicians because the restaurant owner is faced with tons of potential lawsuits if s/he does, then the musicians are losing out on many opportunities to gain recognition as a result. Our legal system does this to them on purpose because it wants to ensure that musicians must go through monopoly channels to gain recognition.

    "Your entire premise is that if someone didn't actually operate and maintain this distribution channel then everything is fine."

    I never said that no should operate and maintain such distribution channels, just that the government shouldn't monopolize such distribution channels into the hands of private corporations.

    "Labels can still offer an advantage because they have an infrastructure already in place and they already have connections with a talent pool, venues and a good crew. There are negative aspects for sure, but to say it would never be useful is a misleading."

    Part of the infrastructure they have in place uses the government to wrongfully block competitors from various distribution channels to distribute content on. A system that uses the government to block people from broadcasting on public airwaves and then broadcasts someones works on public airwaves (in return for the exclusive privileges over those works) does no one any favors. Sure, the monopoly is useful to the monopolist, but that's a given.

    "The important thing is to be aware of what your getting into before you get into both."

    How does knowledge of what an artist is getting into before going through govt imposed monopoly gatekeepers to get their works distributed justify the existence of those government imposed broadcasting (and information distribution) monopolies? It doesn't.

    "Preserving law enforcement frequencies, air traffic control frequencies, and other public service frequencies is entirely selfish then I take it."

    First of all, I don't have to disagree with every law to disagree with some. I can disagree with laws that monopolize water use without disagreeing with traffic laws. Your faulty argument assumes otherwise.

    Secondly, laws that serve the public good are good. Laws that hand over (or sell) public airwaves over to private entities for their private benefit do not serve the public good. Laws that monopolize cableco infrastructure use into the hands of private entities are not good.

    "Problem is there is actually a limited amount of radio frequencies for a given area and I really doubt state or federal government wants to see them used for criminal purposes or to conduct fraud."

    Hammers can be used to conduct murder. Lets ban hammers.

    "So, yes there is a reason to require a license to these airwaves."

    That reason is to serve corporate interests. There is not a good reason.

    "They can't take away a right you never had."

    and what gives them the right to prevent me from broadcasting on public airwaves? Their military power?

    My right to broadcast exists outside of government. Governments don't exist in nature. My right to broadcast is a natural right. I am as equally entitled to broadcast as I please as anyone else. What gives them the right to prevent me from broadcasting as I please, their military power? Just because the government, the FCC, has the military power to force their nefarious will on me gives them absolutely no right to do so. They may have the power but they don't have the right. These monopolists act as if God created these monopolists with more rights than the rest of us, as if they are somehow superior and entitled to more rights than the rest of us just because they said so and that their military power gives them such entitlement. They not only take our money from taxpayers, they then use that money to take away our rights and fund the necessary police power to do so.

    "Unless you've been approved and granted a broadcasting license, you never had the right."

    Public airwaves rightfully belong to the people. We delegate our right to manage those airwaves to the government because we expect them to act in the public interest. They are clearly not acting in the public interest with their privileges. Hence I'm protesting, to encourage voters to vote for a government that will act in the public interest.

    "I think you're confusing copyright with broadcasting licenses. The rights and requirements of one are completely different from the other. The duration of copyright has nothing to do with broadcasting licenses."

    I'm not confusing the two, I'm merely pointing out that the underlying reason behind both of them is corrupt in nature.

     

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  63.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 6:14pm

    Re:

    But you can't force other creators to give their output away for free if they don't want to.

    No one said anything about that. Nor have we ever argued that. Why even bring it up?

    Nor can you unlawfully download it just because you don't agree with copyright law.

    Again, no one said anything about that, nor have we argued that. So why bring it up?

     

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    Mr Big Content, May 17th, 2011 @ 6:16pm

    Successes Donít Count

    By definition, the successful ones are exceptional. And the more successful they are, the bigger the exception they must be. So the more of them you cite, the more evidence it is against this whole ďfreetardĒ model working. QED.

     

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  65.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 6:25pm

    Re: Successes Donít Count

    What?

     

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  66.  
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    Melissa (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 6:46pm

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

    If it is a public resource then the constitution gives the government the right act where it is concerned as a representative of a public. Like liquor licenses, just because you can access liquor after a certain age does not mean you have the right to sell it freely. Unlike freedom of speech, freedom to broadcast on public airwaves is not found anywhere in the constitution. You can apply and qualify to broadcast but you as an individual do not have an inherent right to broadcast.

    As you said just because hammers can be used to commit murder doesn't mean we should ban hammers. The same argument goes to copyrights and broadcasting licenses.

    The theory behind copyright is sound and is still currently applicable. Our problems are not based on the rights themselves but by the methods used in the name of copyright to enforce them. Instead of painting a picture of evil copyrights and corporations, we need to take a look at the entire situation in front of us and target the things that actually are a problem.

    "I wouldn't have a problem with FCC regulations, but it tends to be that the people in charge don't know much about the technology they're in charge of. Hell, you have to be assigned to be in charge of the FCC or FTC. How does that add up to having any kind of knowledge of spectrum use or broadband regulation?"

    If the entire problem can be simply solved by a good HR director in the FCC then we put pressure. We as members of the public and non-profit organizations supporting privacy and competition should lobby and push to make sure that is a complaint regularly heard by the FCC to make those decisions and to hire the right kind of people.

     

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  67.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 6:53pm

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

    "Getting into different views, spectrum (which is the GHz ranges used for wifi, radio, etc) is a renewable resource. You'll use it for XYZ reason but then, someone else can use it. It's quite simple to alter frequencies and use a different spectrum than what's currently being used."

    Exactly, and different people in different locations can use the same spectra at the same time (so long as they're located sufficiently apart from each other). and with digital systems, computers can automatically adjust themselves to the necessary frequencies and distinguish relevant data directed at them vs data directed elsewhere.

    The point is that these monopolies exist to prohibit people from using various spectra. They prevent people from using such spectra because these spectra are useful (without these government imposed monopolies), that is, people would use (and hence benefit from the use of) such spectra if these monopolies didn't stop them from doing so. Otherwise, what's the point of prohibiting their use?

    and the argument that they can be used to commit crimes is kinda weak. People can use the telephone to commit crimes, or walkie talkies. Lets monopolize their use too. Anything can potentially be used to commit crimes, but that's no reason to prohibit or monopolize their use.

    The licenses had no good reason to exist when they were first instated. The government had to work hard to assure the public that these public airwaves wouldn't simply be used to serve private interests. At first the necessary licenses weren't very restrictive and only covered a small range of spectra. Over time the covered spectra slowly expanded. Pretty soon, the premise to require broadcasting licenses was that the FCC would ensure a minimal amount of competition which would help ensure that these communication channels are used to broadcast a wide diversity of important information. The reason why such capture happened gradually is because such broadcasting spectra has use outside of regulation. People use it and their open use is very socially beneficial. Time would also (likely have) produce(d) all sorts of innovations that would further advance their utility. Even with WiFi, and the strict limits that the FCC places on it (ie: limited spectra and power usage), plenty of innovations were created that have helped advance their utility (ie: Internet Wifi, cordless phones, cordless microphones, blue-tooth, walkie talkies, though those have been largely replaced by cell phones). But little of that happens because the government doesn't allow broadcasting frequencies to be openly utilized.

    I don't mind allowing the government to manage broadcasting spectra to some degree, but they should do so in the public interest. That's not what's being done here. When we have a legal system that artificially and effectively makes it difficult to impossible for independents to get their permissibly licensed content distributed across broadcasting spectra, but instead grants monopoly power over both the content and the distribution of such content, that's not a system that's working in the public interest.

     

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  68.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 7:09pm

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

    "If it is a public resource then the constitution gives the government the right act where it is concerned as a representative of a public."

    The constitution gives only gives the federal government authority over interstate commerce.

    "You can apply and qualify to broadcast but you as an individual do not have an inherent right to broadcast."

    You're confusing legal right with inherit rights. Inherit rights exist outside of government. The government is what prevents me from broadcasting.

    "The same argument goes to copyrights and broadcasting licenses."

    When the government abridges any of my natural rights (that is, rights that exist outside of government) it's not the lack of such abridgements that need to be justified, it's the existence of such abridgements. Copy'right' and broadcasting monopolies should be banished not primarily because their abolition is justified (though it is) but primarily because their existence is not justified. I don't have to justify their abolition, you must justify their existence.

    "The theory behind copyright is sound and is still currently applicable."

    [evidence needed]

    The theory was never sound and it's still not sound. These privileges were instituted for the wrong reasons and continue to exist for the wrong reasons.

    "Instead of painting a picture of evil copyrights and corporations, we need to take a look at the entire situation in front of us and target the things that actually are a problem."

    The problem is that these laws lack justification. Abolish them.

    "If the entire problem can be simply solved by a good HR director in the FCC then we put pressure."

    The problem is deeper than that. The problem, at its core, is corruption. The FCC has a long revolving door history. The problem isn't ignorance, it's that we have a government that willfully serves corporate interests at public expense. Everywhere you look the government wrongfully grants monopoly power over just about everything (ie: taxi cab monopolies, among many others) for no good reason due to the audacity of its corruption. The problem is that our government is systemically corrupt.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 7:11pm

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

    (well, the constitution gives the federal government authority over other things, but broadcasting isn't one of them)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 7:17pm

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

    (and, more specifically, the constitution gives state governments authority over anything that it doesn't explicitly give the federal government authority over. Since broadcast regulation is not a power that the constitution gives the federal government, it's not something that the federal government has the authority to regulate. People might say it has to do with interstate commerce I suppose, but that's a stretch).

     

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  71.  
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    Melissa (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 7:43pm

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

    "Artists use those venues to perform, make money, and gain the necessary recognition to make their money. If the venues stop hosting artists due to these threats then the artists suffer to."

    This argument is still about the threat to artists and not venues. Hence my argument about making an informed choice to avoid labels and unions to work as Johnathan Coulton did.

    You keep arguing that for some reason or another that the government or corporations are evil or corrupt simply because of regulation through broadcast licenses or copyright protection. If I may use your own your own words against you, just because a hammer can be used to kill does not mean we should ban hammers.

    However we should regulate the use of hammers to do illegal things. That's there is a difference between assault with a deadly weapon and merely assault. The license process allows the government to regulate the use of the airwaves and to prevent unauthorized persons from impeding on licensed frequencies which could cause confusion in communications. We should also utilize the defense of copyright misuse where a license holder seeks to use copyright beyond its intended use. However this is a bit like using apples to compare to oranges.

    "Our legal system does this to them on purpose because it wants to ensure that musicians must go through monopoly channels to gain recognition."

    Um. No actually it doesn't. They don't have to go through any channels their copyright is automatic. If you're arguing about marketing, the entire point of the main article is that people can gain recognition and succeed without going through the traditional methods. You'll also notice that it was all perfectly legal.

    "and what gives them the right to prevent me from broadcasting on public airwaves? Their military power?

    My right to broadcast exists outside of government. Governments don't exist in nature. My right to broadcast is a natural right."

    That would be lovely but Hobbes never discussed a natural right to broadcast. It is also not found in the Bill of rights or anywhere else in the constitution. But the government's right to regulate the use of interstate resources is. The State governments also have the explicit right to act as representative of public interests. You argue that governments don't exist in nature, but neither do rights, so even that argument is moot.

     

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  72.  
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    buck lateral (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 7:49pm

    Re: Re:

    Anyone is free to give their creative output away, so why bring it up?

     

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  73.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 8:00pm

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

    "Hence my argument about making an informed choice to avoid labels and unions to work as Johnathan Coulton did."

    That's not justification for the monopolies that the government does grant and for the harm that those monopolies cause. It's not justification for a legal system that encourages collection societies to prevent restaurants from hosting independent performers and for the harm that such a legal system causes.

    "However we should regulate the use of hammers to do illegal things."

    We already have regulations that prevent people from doing illegal things. Broadcasting licenses aren't regulations that prevent people from behaving fraudulently, we already have laws for that, they're monopolies that prevent competitors from using that spectra altogether.

    "The license process allows the government to regulate the use of the airwaves and to prevent unauthorized persons from impeding on licensed frequencies which could cause confusion in communications."

    Water could cause drowning, lets ban water too. Just because something could potentially cause confusion is no reason to monopolize its use.

    At one time these monopolies didn't exist and there was no confusion. Walkie talkies have always existed and still do and there is no confusion. Just because you might easily be confused for no good reason doesn't mean that most people are and just because one person might easily get confused is no reason to monopolize anything. Some random person might confuse a car for a truck, lets monopolize cars and trucks to solve that problem.

    "If you're arguing about marketing, the entire point of the main article is that people can gain recognition and succeed without going through the traditional methods. You'll also notice that it was all perfectly legal."

    Which in no way justifies the government imposed restrictions on alternative channels. Those restrictions are unjust and instead of lifting a finger to correct the problem, the government is only seeking to turn the Internet into the same monopolized communication venue that it turned everything outside the Internet into.

    "That would be lovely but Hobbes never discussed a natural right to broadcast."

    and?

    "But the government's right to regulate the use of interstate resources is."

    No, only interstate commerce not resources. Those are two different words with two different meanings. The constitution gives the federal government no right to regulate broadcasting spectra.

     

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  74.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 8:03pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Because collection societies shouldn't be allowed to force the government and the rest of the population to enforce and abide by copy protection laws.

    If an artist doesn't want to give his content away for free then he doesn't have to. But that's different than saying that the artist should be allowed to force everyone to abide by these laws.

     

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  75.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 8:20pm

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

    The fact that musicians now have the Internet as an alternative distribution platform in no way diminishes the fact that the legal system outside the Internet is intentionally designed to systematically prevent artists from getting their content distributed and gaining recognition without going through an unnecessary third party gatekeeper and handing over their copy protection privileges over to such a gatekeeper. It in no way diminishes the fact that the legal system outside the Internet artificially and effectively prevents the distribution of permissibly licensed (or public domain) content. It in no way diminishes the fact that there wrongfully exists many monopolistic laws outside the Internet (ie: taxi cab monopolies). It in no way diminishes the wrongful nature of such a legal system and the wrongful nature (and intent) of the laws that this system is composed of and it in no way diminishes the fact that our current politicians are not lifting a finger to correct this wrongful legal system and that not doing so is unacceptable and helps expose their true intents. and if their true intents are to maintain and expand monopoly outside the Internet then it stands to follow that their true intents are to maintain and expand monopoly within the Internet just as well. and that's exactly what many of their proposed (Internet related) laws are aimed to do.

     

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  76.  
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    Jay (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 8:58pm

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

    Last one first:

    "If the entire problem can be simply solved by a good HR director in the FCC then we put pressure. We as members of the public and non-profit organizations supporting privacy and competition should lobby and push to make sure that is a complaint regularly heard by the FCC to make those decisions and to hire the right kind of people."

    This is akin to the net neutrality debate. I believe it focuses on the wrong things. How exactly are we to push one person in the FCC? We are but one of many different issues that the FCC has to deal with. Also take into consideration that those within the FCC are being offered high paying jobs by the ones they regulate. Technically, this is asking the state to regulate the free market. This is a dichotomy of ideas that are directly opposed. Once the state is dictating terms, it's no longer a free market. Sure, there's varying degrees of dictation, but you are very effectively limiting what the market can do to guide it.

    So when the FCC makes a decision, it's setting up a situation that the market will be worse off in every way. Sure some people will gain, but others lose. The same with the licensing that regulates spectrum and bandwidth. The FCC makes people pay hefty fines for "radio piracy", or setting up a station that is against their policies. The policies can sometimes be out of date (see also: Broadband and the "Third Way") and set up a situation where we rely on the decision to make us even worse off. If you want a free market ideal, it would actually be similar to Darwinism. We have every technology duke it out, and the best ones will come forward. Same thing in regards to the best internet practices. If AT&T wants to block P2P protocols, then customers would be allowed to switch because there's more competitors in that district. As it stands, nothing good has come of any monopolies that I've heard about in the history of the US. Carnegie may be one notable exception.

    "If it is a public resource then the constitution gives the government the right act where it is concerned as a representative of a public. Like liquor licenses, just because you can access liquor after a certain age does not mean you have the right to sell it freely. Unlike freedom of speech, freedom to broadcast on public airwaves is not found anywhere in the constitution. You can apply and qualify to broadcast but you as an individual do not have an inherent right to broadcast."

    In regards to liquor, we remember what happened with Prohibition. And we also have an arbitrary set of limitations on age. You can die for your country at 18, yet not be allowed a drink until you're 21. Sure, there's laws preventing an 18-yr-old to make, buy, or sell beer, but that doesn't mean the social consequences (or reactions) of laws doesn't affect society.

    And I highly doubt the Constitution gives the Government the right to regulate public resources. The Founders were all about public resources being far, far away from government hands. How you describe it seems to be that the people will agree to give their decisions to a third party. I would be extremely careful of giving a decision on those grounds.

    In regards to freedom to broadcast, let's also remember that all of the technology of today came out after the Constitution was made. The best case is that if it isn't hardlined in the Constitution, you have a right to do it, so long as it doesn't impede on anyone else's rights. That's a far better and more innovative to our society, than waiting six months for an FCC petition to be read by the FCC and allow you a small business grant.

    "The theory behind copyright is sound and is still currently applicable. Our problems are not based on the rights themselves but by the methods used in the name of copyright to enforce them. Instead of painting a picture of evil copyrights and corporations, we need to take a look at the entire situation in front of us and target the things that actually are a problem. "

    The theory behind copyright has been warped beyond all belief. The long standing view that you own the property that you create, is hurting society as a whole. On every level I can think of (international, national, local) copyright harms people by taking away one's ability to perform a service or good, to enforce, another's view of what their "property" is.

    We have high statutory damages that incentivize less than reputable lawyers to criminalize file sharing.

    We have an entire structure around enforcement of copyright. Businesses are set up to take advantage of monopoly rents imposed by copyright. We even have a Copyright Board, who elects to raise the royalties of copyright every year. The US also has Performance Rights Organizations, that sue businesses for not paying those rates every year. And if you don't pay, they go for the maximum amount that they can, forcing smaller businesses to shut down. It's no longer about economic damage, but how much you can squeeze out of businesses and force them to adapt your terms if you're the big guy.

    It's not about balancing copyright. If copyright were balanced, we would have a public domain, more stories coming out based on derivative works, and no actual need for copyright.

    The worst infringers of copyright also made some of the best songs, movies, and entertainment. Shakespeare did infringe heavily from other writers as far as the Middle East. Beowulf probably started as a story about one guy catching a fish, with bards adding to the story greatly as they moved from town to town. Barring that, we've had only 200-300 years of copyright laws, but before that, nothing.

    I'm more to believe that copyrights role in society is better as a footnote than the current governmental alternatives.

     

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  77.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 9:03pm

    Re: Successes Donít Count

    Whatever you're smoking, I want some.

     

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  78.  
    identicon
    muckraker, May 17th, 2011 @ 9:22pm

    "really, just how many exceptions do we need until people realize that the market is changing rapidly,"

    If the market is changing rapidly, as you claim, we ought to be seeing hundreds and thousands of musicians liberating themselves from the shackles of copyright to embrace the brave new world and rake in the millions (or at least half a million). That's not happening, is it? That's precisely why Jonathan Coulton is an exception.

    "and those who embrace new models and new methods of distribution are finding that they can make a lot more money than they did in the past. "

    Just to clear the air: are you implying that those who don't embrace new models and new distribution methods cannot make money? Because if you are not, it means copyright and CC can co-exist and musicians can make money either way, and you can stop writing such long-winded posts on what is clearly a non-issue.

     

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  79.  
    icon
    RadialSkid (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 9:44pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Because certain elements (ASCAP springs to mind) want to make sure that nobody can give their creative output away.

     

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  80.  
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    RadialSkid (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 9:52pm

    Re:

    If the market is changing rapidly, as you claim, we ought to be seeing hundreds and thousands of musicians liberating themselves from the shackles of copyright to embrace the brave new world

    They already are. Do you have *ANY* idea how many CC-licensed musicians and bands there are?

    and rake in the millions (or at least half a million). That's not happening, is it?

    No, not any more than there are hundreds of thousands of major label artists raking in the millions.

     

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  81.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 10:47pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Anyone is free to give their creative output away, so why bring it up?


    I see. So you won't even answer my questions, and instead change the subject. Fair enough. I thought maybe you had a point. Now I see you do not.

     

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  82.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 11:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    and outside of the Internet they have wrongfully used the legal system to accomplish just that.

     

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  83.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 11:04pm

    Re:

    "it means copyright and CC can co-exist and musicians can make money either way"

    Copy'right' is not about ensuring that musicians can make money, it's about promoting the progress. Helping musicians make money is just an alleged means of promoting the progress.

    and just because government imposed monopolists can make money from their monopolies is no excuse for the government to grant monopolies.

     

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  84.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 11:10pm

    Re:

    "and you can stop writing such long-winded posts on what is clearly a non-issue."

    I'll stop writing posts about these monopolies when the government stops granting them. It's unacceptable for the government to grant monopolies over content and over content distribution at the same time. For the government to grant monopoly power over spectra use and then to grant monopoly power over the content delivered on that spectra causes the monopolized content to wrongfully displace permissibly licensed content, since monopolized frequencies can only broadcast so much information at any given time. and for the government to grant monopoly power over cableco infrastructure use and over the content delivered over such cableco infrastructure is also unacceptable. and for the government to create a legal system that encourages collection societies to extort restaurants and various venues into paying huge royalties or else not hosting independent performers is equally unacceptable. I will not stop protesting until our government stops exclusively serving corporate interests at the expense of the public interest.

     

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  85.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 11:31pm

    Re: Re:

    and for the government to continue to expand its monopolistic efforts (ie: through ACTA and FOICA) while trying to disingenuously keep its efforts hidden from the public (they must be exposed through leaks), instead of lifting a finger to repeal all of the many wrongful monopolies that it does grant and to correct all of the problems that these monopolies cause (ie: 95+ year copy protection lengths, the fact that copy protection is opt out which creates a huge orphan works problem and often causes works to die into history, never to return, before ever entering into the no longer existent public domain due to constant retroactive extensions, the unacceptably insane penalties for violating a victimless crime as harmless as infringement, the lack of requirement to prove damages to collect such penalties, the relatively low penalties granted to those who wrongfully claim protections over something that they don't have privileges over or that's in the public domain and the fact that intent must be shown and even then such fraudulent claims are hardly punishable in comparison, Taxi cab monopolies, USPO mailbox delivery monopolies, many many patents that should have never been granted, cableco monopolies, broadcasting monopolies, monopolistic restrictions on the ability to sell coffins, FCC revolving doors, the FDA banning naturally occuring substances and products just because they compete with pharmaceuticals, the FDA retroactively granting monopoly power over substances that were around long before for no good reason, Intuit wrongfully using the government to support its business model, etc...) is unacceptable.

    When the monopolists stop complaining that they never have enough government imposed monopoly power and when these government imposed monopolies get abolished is when I'll stop complaining about these monopolies.

     

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  86.  
    icon
    Mr. LemurBoy (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 11:41pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    My apologies, allow me to rephrase. Why are authors given no specific provision for placing their work in the public domain, and why is the legal effect of stating an abandonment not clear? (source)

    I suppose to keep this from becoming an argument over semantics I'll rephrase my question to be, why should work be automatically copyrighted and have to be specifically dedicated to the public domain which is a legally iffy solution at best instead of automatically in the public domain and specifically requiring a clear legal process to obtain a copyright?

     

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  87.  
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    alex (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 4:18am

    Re: Re:

    I can see this now. I looked at his site yesterday when I read about this somewhere else and say that he was selling his tracks, and automatically assumed they were under traditional copyright. I've actually never heard of someone selling CC music, and the idea of selling something that is also free is a slightly difficult idea to get my head around - but very interesting.

     

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  88.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 10:41am

    Re: Re:

     

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

  89.  
    icon
    Melissa (profile), May 19th, 2011 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The reason is probably illustrated best in a recent problem experienced by an associate of mine.

    A recently graduated graphic designer is in discussions with a small business for designing a logo for the small business. The graphic designer shows the small businessman some examples of what he can do for the small business and discusses his rates. The small businessman says he will think it over, but instead copies the graphic designer's work and uses it for his own business without compensating the graphic designer for his work.

    Given the quick deadlines and income restrictions, it is highly unlikely that the graphic designer would be able to wait the 3+ months it takes to obtain a copyright registration before he shows a prospective client his work. It would also be cost prohibitive to require registration every time he does a piece of work.The business man will not want to pay the designer until he finds a logo that he likes.

    Consider also, that an independent musician wants to put his own music up on youtube to reach a larger audience, but is unaware of contract or copyright protection requirements. The advertising arm of a big company likes the song but decides to change the singer and then uses it in their marketing campaign which becomes widely successful. Without automatic copyright protection the song is considered public domain and the company is not even required to credit the artist for their original work.

    It is easy for the copyright owner to simply decline to enforce their copyright or waive certain rights under CC or other public licenses. Therefore we make copyright protection automatic to prevent such abuse.

     

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  90.  
    icon
    Melissa (profile), May 19th, 2011 @ 12:40pm

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

    ""Negotiate a more reasonable fee or actually enforce the waivers and the problem could be solved pretty handily."

    Easier said than done. If it were that easy then all these venues would likely have done it a long time ago."

    Given the fact that there are still plenty of restaurants that do live music and clubs that feature various bands, I'm pretty sure they've already figured that one out. I'm not saying that SoundExchange and other organizations don't deserve some push back on their rates to make sure they are market competitive. And its a lot more feasible than throwing out the entire system and starting from scratch.

    In order to claim abolition of any standing law you actually have to prove that your defense actually exists. Desk pounding doesn't make a right to broadcast out of thin air and frankly I find that the conspiracy theorist tone of your reasoning is getting tiresome.

    If you want me to cite case law on the reasoning behind copyrights I'll be happy to do so, but I doubt you'd want to read it. You can also look at the floor debates for the amendments of the copyright act within the last 40 years.

     

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  91.  
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    Melissa (profile), May 19th, 2011 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If you don't mind, I'd like to take a crack at this argument. I think what buck lateral was trying to say is that while Mr. Coulton's success through granting a public license of certain rights under copyright should be lauded and encouraged, this does not mean that we should necessarily force everyone into the same model.

    I made an earlier example of a scenario with a graphic designer and a small business man. Someone who works primarily on commissions would not be benefitted by granting a public license of their work since their content is tailored to a certain purpose. The value of his work depends on the fact that it is unique and that he can sign over the rights of his work for someone who wants to use it in business.

    That is not to say that the artist cannot make other works which he can choose to put under public license to market his skills, but it is not useful for every creation.

     

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  92.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2011 @ 1:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "It's not even technically piracy if authorized under the terms of a license. It isn't piracy or infringement at all."

    Hence the part where I said, "(though it's technically not piracy if it's authorized by a CC licensed)."

     

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  93.  
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    PaulT (profile), May 22nd, 2011 @ 9:15am

    Re: Re:

    "And under his model he was just in debt to someone else or had his wife supporting him for a certain amount of years till he made enough back to recoup his losses."

    Under his model, it was actually possible to pay back his losses. AFAIK, most major label artists are hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt due to advances, etc. before their debut is even released, and their contracts forbid them from moving elsewhere if the label aren't handling them well enough to recoup their losses...

    Also, Coulter was able to work more cheaply by, for example, concentrating on digital rather than physical releases, which have far lower overheads, and he saved the royalties he would have owed to middlemen.

     

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  94.  
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    Melissa (profile), May 22nd, 2011 @ 9:34pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Under his model, it was actually possible to pay back his losses. AFAIK, most major label artists are hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt due to advances, etc. "

    Its also possible to pay back through going through the label as well. As I could find no studies on a cursory search that can confirm or deny your statement, please let me know which source you are using.

    Assuming that there are at least a significant number of label artists in debt, we still need to look at the factors that cause that debt. Is it actually influence of the label, lack of personal financial planning, lack of a proper business plan or a mix of multiple factors? Additionally how much does the support provided by the label help in the time it takes to build a following and how much does it save them in costs compared to seeking out marketing, legal support and connections on their own?

    These are the things that artists need to be thinking of before they make the choice, depending on where they are in their career and what they want to do with their music.

    That said Mr. Coulton should be lauded and congratulated on his success in making a decision that allowed for his own success. But, it is still only an option as I have pointed out many times.

    For certain kinds and styles of music, there are definitely advantages in getting a support system such as one provided by a label, independent or major. There are still artists who use this model right now who are still in debt. Under both models you still have the threat of debt and no guarantee of success.

     

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  95.  
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    Melissa (profile), May 22nd, 2011 @ 9:37pm

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

    "Hence the part where I said, "(though it's technically not piracy if it's authorized by a CC licensed).""

    Sorry if it seemed like I misread that, I merely wanted to emphasize that point.

     

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  96.  
    identicon
    Earl, Aug 18th, 2012 @ 3:51pm

    Re: Middlemen

    Middlemen still make the most money these days, most "piracy" sites (whether the songs were originally released under full rights reserved or legal to distribute cc) are commercially ran via paid advertising. So the site owners, advertising companies (and Internet & phone companies) are getting paid, even in the musicians (and songwriters if different frim performing artists) aren't.

     

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  97.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 18th, 2012 @ 4:49pm

    Re: This sentences really bugs me...

    But everyone does deserve to be compensated for the work they do that people do chose to use. No one deserves to be a successful plumber, but if I want a plumber to fix my pipes I need to pay a plumber to do it, and what I pay depends on the plumber & other plumbers in the market. if I want to listen to a song I should pay what the musician wants, again depending on the market as controlled by other musicians. Content creators may chose to use other third parties to facilitate the distribution, but the choices of what to charge and how should be up to the creators & the customers, not third parties like file sharing sites that make money off advertising without compensating the content creators.

     

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  98.  
    identicon
    Earl, Aug 18th, 2012 @ 4:58pm

    Re: Damn skippy

    All copyright boils down to is the right for the actual creator to decide how their works are copied and distributed, CC is merely one of those options. Jonathan Coulture has maintained his "copyright" without it being infringed because he, not anyone else (be they a dodgy agent or a pirate) has made that decision for him.

    The issue isn't about old model versus new or record companies versus musicians, it's just about respect.

     

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  99.  
    identicon
    Earl, Aug 18th, 2012 @ 5:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    How is a creator controlling the way people have access to their creations an infringement of those people's rights? No one has a right to listen to a particular song or watch a particular movie or play a particular game. None of those things exist naturally; theycate all products of other peoples labour. Plenty of stuff is legally available for "free" to the consumer in various ways (via advertising based models or the artists choice), but even if there was no free stuff anywhere (let's imagine a world where piracy doesn't exist) your rights to enjoy music/movies/games aren't being infringed, you'd just have to make your own.

     

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  100.  
    identicon
    Earl, Aug 18th, 2012 @ 5:47pm

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

    Justifying copyright is the easiest thing in the world. You have no right to my work, my skills or my knowledge no matter what it is I make, do or know, unless I say you do. If I make a chair it's my chair, unless you pay me for it, if I know how to fix your wiring you can't force me to fix yours or teach you how to fix yours, only I can chose to do it or show you how, and if I write a song or a book it's my song, my book. Not yours. You have no right to it unless I say you do.

     

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


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