Is It Really So Bad If Music Is Used In A Way The Musician Doesn't Like?

from the name-that-awful-tune dept

One of the complaints we often hear about our discussions on why content creators can often be better off by ignoring copyright is that doing so puts those artists at risk of having their music used in a way they don’t like. A major record label exec, for example, emailed me after my presentation about Trent Reznor and said that copyright was still necessary, because what if some tampon company made a commercial with Reznor’s music, and he didn’t want to be associated with that product. Now, I can understand the argument here… but within limits. First of all, what’s really being discussed is a moral right over how the music is used. And, for some very good reasons, US law doesn’t recognize a moral right (plenty of other countries do, however). So if the tampon commercial example happened, Reznor could sue over not getting paid for the use, but not over any moral right. And, in fact, in many cases artists do not have any control over how their music is used. Certainly, any of us can listen to music however we like, even if we disagree with the politics of the artists (a common refrain) — and, as we’ve noted, for public performances, existing laws allow music to be used without permission from the artist already.

And… while the artist may not like it, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. For example, check out this hilarious and amusing minor league baseball promotion held recently, where the baseball team had a special “Nickelback Night” that didn’t exactly celebrate the Canadian rockers… but mocked them:

Music from Canadian rock band, Nickelback, will be played throughout the game and fans can participate in on-field games like Name That Awful Tune, a contest for who can grunt (or “sing,” as the band likes to call it) a Nickelback song the best, and an air guitar contest.

The band got its name from member Mike Kroeger, who would frequently say “Here’s your nickel back,” in his job at Starbucks.

In that spirit, the Ports will give each fan a nickel as they exit the game on June 16, as a “Thank You” and an apology for listening to the band’s music all evening….

“Hopefully, people will realize that they have been spending their money on music that not only sounds bad, but that also has lyrics that make absolutely no sense,” said Ports Director of Marketing Justin Gray. “If we do our job correctly, fans will leave the game with the knowledge of how to save money by not spending it on incoherent grunting, thus creating more expendable income, and possibly saving the nation’s economy.”

The whole thing is quite amusing — and despite that final quote, unlikely to do any actual “harm” to the band. But if there was a moral right, the band could (and potentially would) step in and try to block such a thing from happening.

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Comments on “Is It Really So Bad If Music Is Used In A Way The Musician Doesn't Like?”

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SteveD (profile) says:

All publicity is good publicity?

I can’t really follow your moral argument here Mike, are you saying its funny, so it doesn’t matter?

What if the band in question wasn’t one that most of the internet hates, and the group mocking them wasn’t a baseball league but a rival records company (or band), could you still justify it in quite the same manner?

I don’t mean to undermine the right of use of media in satire, but if the future of music artists is to turn themselves into brands (as Matt Mason suggests), won’t it become even more crucial for bands to have a tight control over the way their creations are used?

Anonymous Coward says:

Mike, first and foremost here, while you think that Trent Reznor is the god of the “new free movement” the reality is more thathe has his hooks solidly in the old system, and is mostly playing the new system for the good media that people like you give him. In the end, Trent gets paid. Oh yeah, how come you didn’t run the story that pointed out that he isn’t going to be touring anymore after this tour finishes? Perhaps because it shoots your “free music, expensive tickets” theory out the window?

Anyway, satire / parody is one thing, what that event did to Nickelback goes past either of those and hits right over to mean, nasty, and ill intentioned. It can create harm, because it can create an atmosphere where people are encouraged to hate the band. Perhaps some of their marginal fans show up at this thing, and end up being corrupted into no longer liking the band that much. Harm therefore is done.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I was trying to figure out how I would feel if someone did that to my band (assuming we ever get one together). Then I read your post and realized one of my rules of life. The best way to argue your point is to let others argue against you. If the person on the other side of the fence sounds like a incoherent whack job, it helps prove your point (example: the AC I’m replying to).

I would have no problem with people doing this. I would sit back and let these people obsess about one band and I’d just go one focusing on the music. People would see it as obsession and more than likely would create more fans than destroy.

Oh, and just because Trent decided not to tour any more doesn’t mean that he can’t give away his music and support it in the many other ways he has already done.

Eponymous Coward, AKA Doug (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Don’t be lazy, look it up yourself. If you’re trying to use the lack of a link as a way to combat the AC’s argument, then you’re playing troll games.

@ the initial AC:
Yes, NIN is, to paraphrase Reznor, going to go away for a while. Tour shirts carry the phrase “Wave Goodbye” to emphasize this. This doesn’t undermine the point at all, though. Just because someone decides to stop producing a scarce good, it doesn’t mean that they weren’t making money with it/that the business model is bad. In this case, I’d wager that Reznor feels like taking a break, and has the fuck you money to do what he pleases. I think that one can infer that his utilization of a free music/pricey scarcities model has given him the financial reserves to do whatever the hell he feels like doing, and at this point it appears that he doesn’t really want to tour, so he’s not. contrast that with bands who are still label-slaves, and continue to tour well past their primes. I’d imagine that if the Rolling Stones had been able to properly monetize their act, I wouldn’t have to listen to their new shit anymore, and could fondly remember them as a good band instead of the headliners on the “Please God, just let them die already” tour, sponsored by Cialis and Geritol.

If you see the “old system” as simply someone making money from their art, then you have gravely misunderstood this argument. The old system charges for the music itself(most of this money going to the record labels), as well as the scarce goods that fans seek out. Newer methods will discount/give away the music, which NIN has done, and instead seek to make their money on the accompanying scarcities, e.g. limited editions, signed vinyl, other merch, and tours. Since music has become a near-infinite good, the onus of making a profit shifts to those things that an artist can control, namely material goods (shirts, posters, vinyl) and ‘face time’ goods (performances).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Music is only an infinite good because we are currently tolerating widespread “infringing” (aka, obtaining without payment) of the music. Shut down file trading, and that “infinite good” goes back to being what it is, a product like any other.

That people have found a clever way to screw the record companies, artists, and song writers out of royalties doesn’t make it any better.

In the end, it is why I always have a problem with the Masnick way, because it is entirely dependant on wholesale infringement and giving in to the criminals rather than trying to stop crime. I wonder if Mike would have the same opinion if drug dealers and hookers were operating in his living room.

Eponymous Coward, AKA Doug (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I’ll disagree with you again here. Music has become an infinite good regardless of whether file sharing exists. You can purchase a song digitally from any number of sources. In every case, you aren’t buying a physical good anymore, you are buying a digital copy, a collection of ones and zeros that is infinitely copiable. This copy does not reduce the seller’s inventory, there is only an infinitessimal cost for the duplication, and the copy is identical to the original.

Despite this sudden and dramatic drop in the cost to procduce, the price of the music, as dictated by record companies, has not fallen. CDs are not pressed for these songs, album art not printed, etc. Beyond the initial cost of producing the music itself, there’s near-zero overhead. I do not have a problem with a record company recouping their production costs, nor with them making some profit on the music once that cost has been covered. I do have a problem with an old pricing system being perpetuated when the cost of production has fallen dramatically.

I doubt that most file-sharers can claim a philosophical basis such as this as justification for their sharing. They are simply following an entropy-driven system that allows vast expansion of their music catalogues for minimal cost/effort.

In my mind, the legality/motivation question is a moot point, because the P2P community won’t be held back at this point. Set up a fence, and they’ll go over/under/around it. Electrify the fence, and they may simply avoid your yard entirely. One solution, the one that Mike, and I, will advocate, is to tear down the fence around those things easiest to get. Instead, build that fence around the things that you can truly control, those scarce goods that fans seek out.

You’re talking morality, and we’re talking economics. I’m not going to play on your ground, because it’s not as advantageous to my argument. Sun Tzu devoted two chapters in “The Art of War” to choosing and knowing your battleground, and I know that this battle will be decided on the field of economics, not morals. I’ll concde that there may be some truth in your argument, talk of drug dealers and hookers aside (heavy-handed, that was), but truth rarely won any wars.

Fun fighting with you.

Blaise Alleyne (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Music is only an infinite good because we are currently tolerating widespread “infringing” (aka, obtaining without payment) of the music. Shut down file trading, and that “infinite good” goes back to being what it is, a product like any other.”

Digital audio files aren’t infinite goods because of the law. It’s because of technology.

Copyright law can’t change the fact that the marginal cost of reproduction of a digital audio file is essentially $0.

Fushta says:

Re: Trent not Touring Anymore...Until the Next Time

Trent is doing two simultaneous tasks:
1) he’s going to take a well-deserved break…because he can.
2) he’s going to get more people to come to his remaining performances, because the fans won’t know when he’ll tour again. Therefore, he is creating higher demand for his performance; hence more ticket sales.

It’s like Disney’s DVD selling campaing, “Peter Pan on DVD for the last time…until next time.”

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh yeah, how come you didn’t run the story that pointed out that he isn’t going to be touring anymore after this tour finishes? Perhaps because it shoots your “free music, expensive tickets” theory out the window?

Uh, because it’s not true on a variety of different levels.

1. Before this entire tour launched he announced that this would likely be the last NIN tour. At he’s said so at most shows. So his statement at Bonnoroo wasn’t anything new or unexpected. He was just pointing out that it was *probably* NIN’s last show in the US.

2. In that same quote he pointed out that *he* isn’t done touring and making music. It’s just not going to be NIN any more. And, again, that wasn’t news. He’d announced that before the tour even started.

3. His model hasn’t relied on touring in the first place. The main example we use of his, where he brought in $1.6 million in a week had *nothing* to do with touring.

4. We’ve never said “free music, expensive tickets” is the model.

It’s fine if you want to criticize us or challenge us, but it helps to get your facts straight.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“We’ve never said “free music, expensive tickets” is the model.”

Actually, you have – give the music away, and create demand for the scarce (concert tickets, example). However, when the act is NIN and they already sell out all their shows anyway, what happens? Demand goes up, there is no extra tickets, so the value of those tickets goes way up. Acts like Madonna and many others (heck even Miley Cyrus!) have figured it out and are now charging insane amounts for their concert tickets, in part to make back what isn’t made selling music.

So in the end, it is “free music, expensive tickets” – perhaps like many things, you haven’t thought it through to the logical conclusion? Most major acts can’t just add more seats, they are already doing as many shows in as big a venue as possible.

It’s especially important for artists signed to companies like Live Nation, who do both the concert and record sales ends of things. You lose on one side, you make it up on the other. It’s only logical.

“3. His model hasn’t relied on touring in the first place. The main example we use of his, where he brought in $1.6 million in a week had *nothing* to do with touring.”

Considering you link to every marginal story on your website, why didn’t you link to this one?

Eponymous Coward, AKA Doug (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Lord, you ACs come here to gripe, and then insist that Mike do the heavy lifting for you. Real quick, continuing with the Trent Reznor frame of reference.

The model was never stated as “free music, expensive tickets”, it was more like “Connect with your fans, and give them a reason to buy”. To cover the first part of that scenario, Reznor first made his music incredibly easy to get to, DRM-free and in a number of high-quality formats. He encouraged remixing of his audio, providing albums/songs in multi-track files to make slicing and dicing easy for apt fans, and provided tons of video footage from live performances for fans to play with. This showed fans that the man valued them, or at least didn’t think they were criminal children. Yes, he was giving stuff away, but it was to show that he was invested in them as well, and this built a stronger loyalty.

The second part, a reason to buy, involves him offering the music for free, but then allowing fans a deeper experience, as well as scarce goods that couldn’t be downloaded. For examples, see link:

In this case, the limited edition package sold out, equalling $750,000 in gross sales, and God knows how much more in sales of the other packages.

Ticket prices may indeed go up, but at a certain point the market won’t bear it any more. When it hits that point, the difference will be in the extras that artists offer, and what they can do to show their fanbase that they appreciate the attention. (Mean, school marm-y summary coming) If they can connect with their fans, and at the same time give those fans a reason to buy, fans WILL buy, and artists worth their salt should be just fine.

Browbeating/harrassing/suing fans sure as hell isn’t connecting with them, and no matter how much the RIAA howls, they can’t change that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“The model was never stated as “free music, expensive tickets”, it was more like “Connect with your fans, and give them a reason to buy”. To cover the first part of that scenario, Reznor first made his music incredibly easy to get to, DRM-free and in a number of high-quality formats”

This is where you are wrong.

FIRST, trent made about 17 or 18 releases on normal media, toured extensively, gave many interviews, and promoted his albums and work, garning him a huge fan base. Before a single piece of his music was legally shared online, Trent already had a huge worldwide audience.

The reality is that even with all his “giving it away free”, NIN is no longer anywhere near the powerhouse it was a few years back. Most of the new material isn’t getting anywhere near the play. In fact, considering I listen to alt-rock stations almost without exception, i would say that most of what I hear is older stuff, up to maybe “With Teeth” and then everything beyond that gets spotty coverage. Even songs that do get airplay and “top 40” listings on alt rock stations don’t tend to have long term staying power, and this in a marketplace that has very few good new releases anymore.

So sadly, the problem is while Trent is an good example of what can be done, it is done not from scratch but rather from a position that was made, supported, and paid for by the traditional recording industry / record label / distribution systems (that Trent is part owner of). Ghosts would have sold very few copies of the $300 package on merit alone, being that the album is honestly, well, not really very good stuff. It is mostly artistic masturbation, I hate to say.

(please note, I am a huge NIN fan, with everything that came from the very start up until With Teeth).

The important part is that Trent starts with a massive, multimillion fan count before he starts anything, and makes music that is likely to appeal to the exact demographic that is into this sort of thing. It’s great for him, but taken away and released as “joe blow”, most of this stuff would be soundly ignored. It is why I tend to giggle when Mike uses NIN as poster children for his ideals, because it is really only proof of what you can do when you are rich and no longer care if you are successful.

Oh yeah, the ghosts “limited edition” stuff (digital) is all available on the torrents for free.

Comboman says:

Moral rights separate from copyright

Moral rights can (and probably should) be handled separately from copyright. To some extent they already are. If you release something under the Creative Commons license, you can reserve certain rights (moral rights?) like non-commercial-use-only (I’m sure advertising would count as commercial use, even if it’s not “sold”). Of course, like copyright, moral rights should eventually expire after the death of the artist. Would Jane Austen approve of her novel “Emma” being adapted into the movie “Clueless”? Maybe, maybe-not; but since she’s dead we’ll never know, and that shouldn’t stop new artists from building new art on her work.

Blaise Alleyne (profile) says:

Re: Moral rights separate from copyright

Non-commercial restrictions and moral rights are definitely separate things.

And, CC licenses do waive most moral rights claims. Here’s the text from the licence I use, Attribution-Share Alike Canada 2.5 (Canadian copyright law has moral rights, unlike in the US):

“Except as otherwise agreed by the Original Author, if You Use a Work or any Derivative Works or Collective Works in any material form, You must not do anything that would offend the Moral Rights of the Original Author, including but not limited to:

  1. You must not falsely attribute the Work to someone other than the Original Author; and
  2. If applicable, You must respect the Original Author’s wish to remain anonymous or pseudonymous.

All other moral rights are waived. This means the Original Author is not reserving the ability to prevent downstream creators from engaging in material distortion or modification of the work, including, but limited to, associating the Work with a particular product, service, cause or institution.”

NotFromToronto (profile) says:

There's also a 'future sales' issue

Aside from the moral issue, there is another issue that is a bit harder to quantify in terms of dollar value, but that artists do keep in mind when they sell rights to their work.

Using your example, let’s say the tampon commercial becomes an instant classic. It’s uploaded to YouTube and becomes viral, or even short of that… just plays for a long time and the Reznor song becomes permanently associated with the product.

The likelihood that song will ever be used in a movie or television soundtrack drops to nil. The likelihood that song will ever be used to market other products also bottoms out.

Mechwarrior says:

Re: There's also a 'future sales' issue

Your last statement doesnt make any sense. If more people know of the song, then more people will recognize the song and would be more likely to look for similar music. In the age of instant access to advertising and the components of the advertising, its not difficult to separate the music from the ad.

NotFromToronto (profile) says:

Re: Re: There's also a 'future sales' issue

I guess what I’m trying to call attention to is that music actually has 2 different saleable aspects. There is the music itself as an entertainment product. As an entertainment product, there really isn’t any harm no matter how it gets used.

However, music today has a dual purpose. There is a lot of money tied up in using music as a means to set a mood or drive emotion in movies/television/commercials that aren’t directly tied to the artist or song directly. Yet still, the income an artist makes through this channel is significant, and something that they try to protect.

brian t (user link) says:

music as an asset

I’m a fan of the band King Crimson, and there have been various usage-related issues with their music over the years. Founder Robert Fripp is extremely protective of their back catalogue, which he administers on behalf of the other members too, and by the sounds of it he has good reason to be. In one case, he had to be coaxed in to allowing a particular song to be used to advertise a particular product, but when the ad came out, it used a different song to advertise a different product.

In the case of a veteran artist or group, the “back catalogue” is their nest egg, their pension, and they don’t want to see it abused or devalued. There can be real financial consequences to the public’s subjective perception of the music. It’s particularly worrying in these days of mass music piracy, and while many bands make their money through touring and associated merchandising, that’s not always an option for bands with members in their sixties. It might be all right for the Rolling Stones, who can sleepwalk their way through a stadium gig, but the likes of King Crimson play far more demanding music, to smaller audiences, on lower budgets that make touring a painful experience.

Big Al says:

Re: music as an asset

So, if you’re no longer able to work in your chosen field, then you should be paid for work you did thirty years ago? Come on, sunshine, get real here. I also enjoy most of Fripp’s work (right back to his earliest collaborations with Pete Sinfield), but there has to be a limit to the ‘gimmme’ and entitlement attitude of old rockers. If they haven’t earned enough on their music by now it should really send them a message as to its real value.

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Re: Re: music as an asset

Again, I ask, is this about business and IP or is it about value judgments some people want to make about enough being enough? I get the sense that some out there want to use copyright reform to limit/punish/restrict the lifetime earning potential of the most successful content producers, in the erroneous belief that that this somehow frees up income that can go to a greater number of less successful/popular/known producers. This isn’t a zero sum game, gang. King Crimson’s success isn’t at the expense of El Debarge, and Joe Satriani and COldplay can BOTH make a ton of money off of that sound-alike song. Yes there are competitive forces at play, clone bands, rips offs, etc., but there is plenty of cash and elasticity under the present IP sytem and content production industries to support and allow great fiscal success to those producing content which is most heavily desired and consumed, while getting “some money” to much less popular/desired producers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: music as an asset

No, people around here see copyright issues harming people left and right, and point out better business modles that can get more people more money without the need to copyright’s baggage. Then people like you come in and say, “but in the old modles, copyright is how they get paid when they’re done working,” and the rest of us say “what’s so special about them that they should be entitled to perpetual income from work they did in their 20s?”

The new modles are better for everyone except those invested in the old modles. The ability for these non-active muscicans to keep getting income is often used as an argument for why we have to keep copyright. But it’s a circular argument because copyright is what allowed the modle in the first place. And there IS nothing special about musicians that makes their work more important. If I write financial software I get paid once, even if a thousand banks use that software for sixty years. Why is it musicians should be entitled to sometjhing better than that at the expense of the public?

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 music as an asset

Okay, AC. I’m not going to address the quotes that you created that didn’t come from me and don’t relate to anything I said.

Your comment that the “new modles are better for everyone except those invested in the old modles.” How so, and how do you know? The VAST majority of the world economy legally trafficking in content still uses the “old modle” quite successfully. You further say that “better business modles that can get more people more money without the need to copyright’s baggage.” Really? I’ve read a lot on these boards just in the last few days that the new models get “some money to a lot of people.” So which is it? And also, the WHOLE industry needs to be included, not just the artist. Do the “new models” really incorporate all those participating in the industry in this beneficence? If it doesn’t, then is it really a comprehensive model.

As for your other comment that “If I write financial software I get paid once, even if a thousand banks use that software for sixty years” well, it all depends. In most cases, the owner of the rights is your employer, not you. And I’m guessing you were not the sole author anyway. Just as a jungle writer who is an employee of an ad firm might not receive an individual copyright on collective work. Or it may be a forced/shared copyright as is often down on patents. The copyright owner (whether a business, individual or collection of individuals) can then license it to other businesses (or give it away!). Int he case of software, they can charge maintenance on it, or do a SaaS rental scheme. So, while you don’t get a royalty payment, the business gets that or an equivalent, which benefits you in the form of a paycheck. If you are an independent software author, you have a lot of options as to how to get paid, including some that can get you on-going payments.

Today, content producers have lots of options. It is worrisome that *some* of the new models actually provide content producers fewer options as to how they choose to manage their creations.

Hulser (profile) says:

Re: music as an asset

As a fan of King Crimson, I wouldn’t want to see 21st Century Schizoid Man Deoderant or Elephant Talk Maxipads, but I think this would be preferable to artists having total control over their works. In my mind, it’s akin to free speech. If you have free speech, it means that you have to put up with idiots, racists, and nutjobs spouting off a bunch of nonsense. That’s just the cost of free speech. And if I would have to endure commercials for Three of a Perfect Pair Online Dating Service so that artists couldn’t exert undue control over their works, then that’s just the cost.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Exposure is everything in this day and age. Even if your music is played at an event to mock you, it at least gets played and you (should) get money from it. That’s how it should be.

For my work I create testscripts, but I don’t get to dictate how those scripts are used after I’ve made them. For all I care, people use it as toilet paper… it’s their papercuts, not mine.

That Guy says:

In The End

Music is still art when you get down to it, there be no expectation to be paid for it, unless created by commision. The ultimate goal should be to create for creations sake, not for profit. That’s how it all went downhill for society. Nobody will do anything because it’s right or because they can, they only do it for money. Capitalism can suck sometimes

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Re: In The End

Why should creating for “creations sake” be the ultimate goal, @ThatGuy? Why shouldn’t the desire for compensation be perfectly valid and legitimate? Why does it matter? The compensation and recognition motive certainly has done well for the last few hundred years of human content production. Even with that, lots of things are done “just because” or without a strong probability of generating income, but so what? Are we now judging the motives of content producers are part of an alleged business equation? Wow… I guess this really is about societal re-engineering and not business.

That Guy says:

Re: Re: Re: In The End

My point was merely to say that there shouldn’t be an expectation to be compensated merely because “you created it”. If that’s the way the dice roll, so be it. You have created something that someone out there believes should have value beyond the sense it evokes, more power to ya. My personal belief, which you don’t have to agree with, is that other people are to value creations for compensation, not the creator. I like the debate though, sparking some good points of view.

Michael Wells says:

Not Your Choice

There is no need to get into intellectual arguments here. If an artist wants to keep their music copyrighted, then it is their choice. If they choose to use a different business model; that too is their choice. The bottom line is that until the law changes it does not matter what you think. It is their music and their right to do with it as they want. What gives everyone the idea they have a right to what someone else has created?

DanC (profile) says:

Re: Not Your Choice

You might want to try reading the article and responding with something that makes sense. Your comment relates in no way to the posted article.

If an artist wants to keep their music copyrighted, then it is their choice.

Actually, for the most part, they don’t have much of a choice at all. The music is copyrighted upon creation, and there isn’t any commonly recognized method for removing said copyright.

If they choose to use a different business model; that too is their choice.

Reading comprehension – this article doesn’t say anything about business models; it’s talking about the lack of moral rights over content, and how that’s actually a good thing.

It is their music and their right to do with it as they want.

Actually, there are a variety of ways their music can be used without any authorization by the musicians – it’s called fair use.

What gives everyone the idea they have a right to what someone else has created?

Because in the case of intellectual property, we already have that right. The legal system places a restriction on that right, in order to provide an incentive for the creation of more works.

Michael Wells says:

Re: Re: Not Your Choice

Hey genius, most musicians that copyright their music do it with their own production companies. They can dictate how that copyright is handled, except for public domain like you stated. A good example of that would be Yoko Ono suing Ben Stein for using “Imagine” in one of his movies. Since he did not use the entire song, he did not traffic or market the song in a way which would have infringed on John Lennon’s copyright and made Mr Stein money from the song, and it was relevant to the situation at hand; then Mr Stein could use the music. This does not mean that you buy a record and you can copy it and give anyone who wants a copy. Whether you like it or not the law is still the law. Just ask the lady in Minnesota who got nailed yesterday.

DanC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Not Your Choice

Hey genius, most musicians that copyright their music do it with their own production companies.

While I’m sure you meant ‘genius’ sarcastically, you haven’t contradicted what I’ve said.

This does not mean that you buy a record and you can copy it and give anyone who wants a copy. Whether you like it or not the law is still the law. Just ask the lady in Minnesota who got nailed yesterday.

Ok…you’re apparently reading things I didn’t write. In any case, your original comment had nothing to do with the article. You did, however, manage to present an example that illustrates the point quite nicely. The use of ‘Imagine’ in the Stein’s propaganda film was ruled fair use; it doesn’t matter if Ono supported the films viewpoint or not. The use of the song was allowable, and there is no moral right as to how music is used.

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Re: Re: Not Your Choice

The question isn’t whether the content producer HAS the right, it’s whether they or their agents take steps to ASSERT the right. There are a lot of content producers that let a lot of uses slide for economic, publicity, political or personal reasons. The only problem is that a failure to assert rights might cause problems if the content producer tries to assert rights on down the line in circumstances which are substantially similar to ones they let slide previously.

Trollificus says:


Boy people sure have weird ideas about “rights” and shit.

a) If you sell the rights to music (and this is what we are talking about in most cases-music for which the “artist” has already been paid), that gives the buyer the RIGHT to use the music. Tampon ads, car ads, or tampon ads listened to in a car during a sex scene in a Paulie Shore movie. Any contrary idea is as ridiculous as a painter who has sold a painting desiring veto rights over who can look at it, or a writer demanding that no one interpret his work in certain ways.

Sure, the use of a song you thought was so profound when you were 16 in a toilet paper advertisement just SEEMS wrong…but logically, not so much.

b) There exists NO right to a comfortable retirement based on work done in your 20s. This applies to professional athletes too. The “unfairness” perceived when we see a beloved artist short on funds in their dotage is dwarfed by the “unfairness” and fickleness of fame and popularity in the first place.

How many musicians more talented than Britney Spears or Ashlee Simpson do NOT get any royalties at all? How many such talented people never even got a recording contract? Millions, I’d guess. So that particular “fairness” argument degenerates into particularity and preference.

Hell, how many artists more talented than the above-mentioned “performers” live in 3rd World countries and get paid in chickens and pottery?? I’m pretty sure “millions” is not hyperbole here. Where’s the “fairness”???

Please examine arguments of fairness more closely before spewing kthnx.

Michael Wells says:

Re: *sigh*

It is quite simple, they have a right to the royalties they are due when they signed their contracts. It works the same way in TV re-runs. That is how come you do not see “Married With Children” near as much as you used to. The actors sued the studio saying they were not getting compensated their fair share for the re-runs; thus the studio has to charge more per episode. It is in their contract. So is the same for “Mash”. Obviously their contracts were not as well informed as the aforementioned example; since coming at a much earlier time in TV history. So now you can see “Mash” almost non stop. The bottom line is that the right comes from the contracts they have signed; and a bunch of unknown, unsigned, bands has nothing to do with the topic. They are not entitled to a share of anyone else’s money, creativity, or productivity. One last clue, life is not fair!!! It is what you make out of it with the resources that you have. I am not losing sleep over some Dominican goat herder not getting signed to a label.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Copyright

Yes. Because as stated above, all creative works are copyrighted at creation, and there’s no explicit way to waive that copyright. Therefore, the alternative is for the creator to “ignore copyright” and not pursue any claims on it. Mike isn’t saying that we the consumers should “ignore copyright” against the wishes of the artist.

In short, it’s dumb for artists to make copyright claims.

hank mitchell says:

Synchronization rights

FYI – Synchronization rights are different from performance royalties, rights holders can indeed block these activities under current law, not so for performances. this happened to nike, where they did not secure sync rights from the owner of the recording, but did secure sync rights from the publisher. again, it’s a complete mess trying figure all this out.

Raybone says:


“I wonder if Mike would have the same opinion if drug dealers and hookers were operating in his living room.”

Are you smoking crack? You never ever make any sense AC. Yes, I can always tell its you, in spite of your AC moniker, because you always spout the same nonsense with no backup, no basis in reality, and your posts are always charged with back-handed insults and assumptions that fit into what your limited world-view tells you should be. You refuse to see what is and take your ridiculous positions and statements to their logical end. Do you really believe content creators were better off before? Do you know ANY content business history at all?

“it is why I always have a problem with the Masnick way, because it is entirely dependant on wholesale infringement and giving in to the criminals rather than trying to stop crime.”

No it is dependent on embracing what already exists (file sharing) and doing well rather than alienating fans and losing your business. Oh and infringement is a civil matter, so there are no criminals or crime involved. Are you a criminal if you get a traffic violation?

“Music is only an infinite good because we are currently tolerating widespread “infringing”

No infringing or not it is still an infinite good.

ChimpBush McHitlerBurton says:

Baseball Schmaseball....

No big fan of Nickelback, I still think this says more about the idiotic nature of baseball and it’s cow-like followers, not to mention (or do I?) their PR Directors.

The fact that a for-profit entity would distract from their Raison d’etre to childishly smear a group of musicians as a publicity stunt smacks of infringement. (Keep in mind they used this to further their financial goals)

Further, it sounds to me like *someone* -(Ports Director of Marketing Justin Gray) – an individual with the ability to direct the publicity arm of this sports team, has an axe to grind. His directed venom demonstrates more than just a simple desire to create humor, and doesn’t pass the smell test in regards to true “satire” – This isn’t Saturday Night Live people, it’s a SPORTS TEAM. I thought I was supposed to be entertained by home-runs and such…not this drivel.

Mike, I don’t know where the “law” stands on this, but from a simple…I won’t say moral ground, but from a simple public relations perspective, I think this made the Ports look like a bunch of douchebags, which I’m sure they are.

And, it didn’t strike me as particularly funny or entertaining – just a distraction from what they’re ostensibly there to do. (“Pay no attention to that batting average behind the curtain!”)

Ports…stick to your day jobs, you fucking small change chumps.


PrometheeFeu (profile) says:

I think the fair use doctrine specifically denies there being such a moral right. Obviously, the fact that a law (or precedent) is written one way does not in any way imply that it should be written that way, but it does give insight in the mind of its authors. Fair use specifically allows parody. Now, if you look at the rest of copyright laws, that is somewhat odd. Other forms of derivative works are not subject to fair use, but parody is. The simple explanation is that the purpose of copyright is to enhance innovation and that authors are likely to refuse giving licenses to people to parody their work because authors probably don’t like being made fun of. (at least some) So this whole argument is bogus. Copyright laws are specifically designed to prevent authors from hindering innovation just because they don’t like a certain use of their work. (Though only in narrow cases)

Blaise Alleyne (profile) says:

Collective Licensing and Freedom of Speech

There are two main arguments I tend to bring up here.

First, collective licensing agreements often mean that the creator doesn’t have absolute control. Look at how politicians used music during the last American election (John McCain and the Foo Fighters?). Second, didn’t Guitar Hero use cover songs at first to avoid having to negotiate with rock stars? Maybe I’m missing something about moral rights, but in those situations, people can just pay the fees and use the music, even if the creator objects.

Second, the real moral argument, I think, is based on an ethic of freedom of speech for artists. Sometimes, people worry about artistic “vandalism.” What if you’ve got some folk songwriter who is throughly offended by a death metal cover of her song? Should she have the right to deny other artists from “destroying” or “vandalizing” her work? The problem is, who defines what’s distorted and what’s vandalized? I think there’s a serious issue of artistic freedom here. I wouldn’t want my ability to make art to be contingent on another artist’s approval.

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