A Teaching Moment For Lily Allen [Update: And *Poof* Goes Her Blog]
from the missing-the-point dept
In my last post about Lily Allen’s hypocrisy in uploading tons of songs without authorization, while saying it’s good to cut off internet access for regular uploaders, one of the commenters made a good point: we should use this as a teaching moment, to try to show Ms. Allen why her position is wrong, rather than focusing on calling her a hypocrite. And, indeed, that would be great, but it seems like a difficult lesson for some — including Ms. Allen — to grasp. Her response to my post seems to come up with a variety of excuses, none of which actually touch on the actual point:
i made those mixtapes 5 years ago, i didn’t have a knowledge of the workings of the music industry back then…
The point is that, thanks to today’s technology, it’s quite easy for people to infringe while doing what they think is a good and reasonable thing. Lily, you created these mixtapes to promote both your own music and the music of others you liked. That’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do. But it’s infringing. Think of all the other people who are just like you 5 years ago. They don’t have knowledge of the workings of the music industry, and they’re trying to promote themselves or share music they like. But, based on the laws that you yourself now support, the Lily of 5 years ago might not have an internet connection. Even though the “infringement” you did was for entirely innocent reasons. How is that fair or just?
The point (and this was the same point we tried to make with our original post about copying a Techdirt post) is that incidental infringement is almost impossible to avoid. Everyone infringes in some way or another in the course of a day. One paper found that people infringe many times over in the course of a single day. Everyone does. And while your infringements are a bit more… um… blatant than most, it highlights the problem of having such a draconian action against file sharers. Cutting them off from the internet for something that everyone is doing all the time seems quite problematic, doesn’t it?
So, a quick question for you, Lily: Is “well I uploaded those songs before I knew how the music industry worked” a reasonable defense to prevent Lord Mandelson from taking away your internet access or the internet access of anyone else?
As your article clearly states , lilyallenmusic.co.uk is an EMI run website, which is exactly why i don’t acknowledge it (i think theres a link to it on my myspace(which i do run), thats purely because, my record contract states i cant sell my merchandise online anywhere else on the net . i don’t post on there, i dont even look at it. the record company run it.
Fair enough, but really the fact that it’s a major label owned site was a separate issue (having to do with EMI’s claims in its lawsuit against MP3Tunes). It still doesn’t change the fact that you created these mixtapes, and used them to advance your career. And now you are claiming that the very same tactics should not be allowed for others?
In your original post pushing back on the Featured Artists Coalition, you complained about how they were all big stars, and how their plan would hurt the up-and-coming artist. And yet, when you yourself were an up-and-coming artist, you used free music distribution to your own advantage. Now you’re not only looking to take that option away from up-and-coming artists, you’re looking to kick them entirely offline for a period of time. It seems like that’s a much bigger “harm” to up-and-coming artists than people sharing their music and promoting them for free.
But just like you mocked the FAC artists for having an unfair advantage for being big, you seem to be in the same position. You want to take away tools from up-and-coming artists that you yourself used.
Anyway the snippets of songs you hear on those mixtapes are about 30 seconds to 1 minute in length, in traditional mixtape style, it is infringement, correct, but it’s not my site, it’s EMI’s. i am not a hypocrite, i don’t illegally download music, and i still think unauthorised file sharing is wrong.
But you were the one who created the mixtapes, correct? You were the one who infringed and uploaded them and offered them to the world. That they’re now on a site controlled by EMI is quite besides the point.
If you truly believe that regular uploaders should have their internet access taken away, why not make an example of yourself? Why not take away your own internet access for a year to prove the point? Or do you not think the laws you want to apply to everyone else should apply to you?
Again, the whole point here is that what you did was entirely natural and made plenty of sense. Lots of people do it today. They do it because they love music. There’s nothing wrong with that, and you know it (or, apparently, knew it at one point in the past). And, there are many ways to take advantage of that fact. Just as 50 Cent does. Just as you did. Going to war with the fans who made you who you are today, in part because of your own infringing behavior, just doesn’t make any sense. You keep saying that file sharing harms artists, but it existed five years ago as well, and didn’t harm you. It helped you. So why would you want to take that away from everyone else?
Update: Wow. In the half an hour or so that I took to write this post, Lily erased the blog post where she responded (I’ve got a screenshot if anyone wants to see it), and just added a note to Twitter, saying that she’s shut down the entire blog due to too much abuse. Lily, it’s not abuse if we’re just asking you to rethink your positions that appear to not be particularly well thought out.