Did The RIAA Really Just Come Out In Support Of 'Opt-In' Copyright? [Updated]

from the that-would-be-big dept

Here’s some potentially big news. The RIAA, who has always appeared to be in favor of ever expanded copyright, may actually be changing its mind. Two separate reports out of the National Academies’ meeting on “the impact of copyright policy on innovation” note that RIAA president Cary Sherman apparently stated that he now believes an opt-in registration “formalities” approach to copyright might make sense. Derek Slater, on Twitter, summarized Sherman’s statement as:

“my opinion is that pre-Berne system, requiring some sort of registration, makes more sense today.”

Of course, the MPAA and the BSA apparently disagreed, with the BSA saying copyright should definitely be opt-out rather than opt-in. That said, it is nice to see the MPAA come out in favor of flexible fair use policies, though I’m sure that’s as an alternative to actually improving copyright law.

I’ve asked the RIAA for comment (updated below) on whether or not this represents a change of position for them, and whether the group would now support an opt-in copyright system that only gives copyright to works that are formally registered (as we had for many, many years). If true, this would really be a huge deal. While an opt-in system has many problems, if set up properly, it’s a lot better than the current opt-out system, which obliterated the public domain. An opt-in system at least makes it much easier to feed the public domain.

Update: The RIAA responded to my request as to whether or not this was a policy change, in response, I was told:

His basic point (and I’m quoting from his remarks) was that “we need better ways to distinguish when copyright is a beneficial property right, and when copyright is a meaningless and unwanted right.” He was later asked what he meant by this, and he responded that it may be time for creators to affirmatively assert copyright, rather than have it automatically granted to them whether they want it or not. He also explained that this was a personal view, not an RIAA position.

The note also pointed out, correctly that there really “is no way to opt-out” of copyright today. So, while it’s not the official RIAA position, I’m still really surprised that Sherman would feel this way, but kudos to him for making a statement that would seem at odds with the RIAA’s standard position on copyright.

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Comments on “Did The RIAA Really Just Come Out In Support Of 'Opt-In' Copyright? [Updated]”

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80 Comments
Jose_X (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They do know **exactly** what they are doing, at least if we assume copyright is not so narrowly applied in practice as is sold on paper.

They realize that they would be able to rape and plunder the commons much more easily for contemporary ideas if most of what people produced were not claimed by them.

Removing auto copyright takes a lot of leverage that currently many individuals have when they create something.

The goal for a fair system is not to disown the poor (or those without an immediate business plan) and less legally cluefull and make it harder to claim leverage, but to remove the strength of the levers for everyone (equally).

So with their goals fulfilled, expect to see the following. They will copyright more than they did in the past because it will be easier for them to find material they can take. Meanwhile, we will have less of the interesting stuff we can use because those with a greater love for monopolies than the rest of us will likely be fast to pounce and then build on a work so that using the original in many ways will end up overlapping with what they copyrighted.

Basically, I am treating copyright in this case with some fear of seeing broad “derivative works” interpretation and thinking of the mess that is software patents, where much original work can be made to infringe as that software project later develops further because someone took the ideas of an earlier version of the project and patented some perhaps slightly “non-obvious” but likely steps.

Anyway, a compromise position to this RIAA wish might be to add the registration through (a) a no-charge simple online registration process, while we simultaneously, in everyone recognizing the problem that exists with works not accessible to the public, (b) decrease copyright duration down to fingers or toes we can count (but surely nothing near a person’s lifetime).

Be wary when these lovers of monopoly and profits say they like something. We better get them to admit to the value in freely accessible material and use this admission as leverage to gain something significant in return (much shorter duration copyright for those registering).

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

They realize that they would be able to rape and plunder the commons much more easily for contemporary ideas if most of what people produced were not claimed by them.

What rape and plunder? Public domain means anyone can use it however they wish.

Removing auto copyright takes a lot of leverage that currently many individuals have when they create something.

No, if they want the leverage all they would have to do is register for copyright.

The goal for a fair system is not to disown the poor (or those without an immediate business plan) and less legally cluefull and make it harder to claim leverage,

A good system would need to make it cheap and easy to register for copyright, just not automatic.

They will copyright more than they did in the past

Impossible. Everything is copyrighted now.

Meanwhile, we will have less of the interesting stuff we can use because those with a greater love for monopolies than the rest of us will likely be fast to pounce and then build on a work so that using the original in many ways will end up overlapping with what they copyrighted.

That is a danger, but it also happens now. Try making a movie based on the classic (public domain) tale “The Little Mermaid” and see how forgiving Disney is about using public domain works. We just need reform in this area, regardless of opt-in or not.

Basically, I am treating copyright in this case with some fear of seeing broad “derivative works” interpretation

I think derivative works need to be categorically non-infringing. If there’s a trademark violation, handle it that way. It’s clear we would have more creative output with this change, so it would advance the purpose of copyright law.

Everything else you wrote – agreed!

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Listen!

@Lobo – the are choices …

1) The guy actually gets where this copyright maximalism thing is going. Pushing to hard and the inevitable societal back lash.

2) They are up to something. This Olive branch is a precursor to the death penality for commercial scale infringement.

3) Obama care is kicking in and he can’t afford his meds.

4) IT’S A TRAP!!!! WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!!

David

Jose_X (profile) says:

Re: Re: Listen!

Look at the mess with software patents where leeches take from ideas in the commons and then patent them to stop a broad class of users afterward, the original authors getting no leverage, no say.

The RIAA realizes they can make much more money by just copying others’ works (or serving as middle people or owners, etc, in this process) and then locking those up and calling out others that come after as “derivative works” if the others at all leverage what the RIAA added.

Even without a broad appeal to derivative works, they will copyright everything they do, meaning they take from the much larger new commons while making it difficult for people to reserve leverage for themselves and their goals.

I would demand registration be easy and no-charge (so as not to “disenfranchise” the poor) as a starting point, plus that it be officially recognized by them that copyright monopolies do certainly create problems so that we should reduce existing monopoly terms to a much lower amount.

I value copyleft licenses because I value tit-for-tat. Either we all get access to everything, or else I want a say in what I create, in particular, through an open license that pressures you to open up yourself if you want to leverage what I opened up. It should be (needs to be) easy to keep creating copyleft licenses.

Anyway, this is already admission that the monopoly system is flawed, so if we have any care for this, we should insist that copyright durations be reduced significantly or else we will find that a lot of the interesting stuff will still be tied down “forever”.

And let’s also call an end to broad derivative works interpretations. We don’t need a pseudo-patent system applied to what people create daily.

bob (profile) says:

Be careful what you wish for...

This means only big corporations will be able to enjoy copyright because they’ll be the only ones that can afford to file the paperwork.

At first I was surprised by your tone because you often claim to support the artists who occasionally stub their toe on fair use debates, but after some thought I’m not surprised at all. This blog is a relentless defender of the status quo where Google and the hardware companies make all of the profits from the Internet revolution. If the proles get copyright power, they might actually successfully demand some share of the profits.

This blog’s agenda seems to be to convince the proles that it’s “cool” to give away your rights. The main thing this opt-in deal will be to make it simpler for bigger corporations like BoingBoing and Google to take someone’s work without paying anyone for it.

SomethingSomething says:

Re: Re: Re: Be careful what you wish for...

Ad revenue pays for overhead costs.

Do you have numbers to prove how much the editors are making?

Doctorow has said numerous times that he doesn’t make crap from Boing Boing directly. It’s more of a promotional source rather than an income earner.

There’s a reason all the Boing Boing editors do other things like write books and columns and speak at engagements.

bob (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Be careful what you wish for...

Commercial businesses that break even are still commercial. I know that bandwidth costs money, but don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s not a business and a lucrative one at that.

They themselves claim that they collect 10 million page views per month:

http://www.federatedmedia.net/authors/boingboing

Here are their rates per thousand:

160×600 ($20.00)
300×250 ($21.00)
728×90 ($18.00)
125×125 ($6.00)

It’s easy to imagine that they collect $20-40 per thousand page views given all of the button ads. That’s $200,000 to $400,000 per month. Their bandwidth costs aren’t that much.

Get a clue.

bob (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Be careful what you wish for...

No. Non-commercial businesses that “make money” are investigated by the IRS.

Now non-commercial operations like churches do take in money, but there are limits on what they can do with it. BoingBoing is an incorporated business with shareholders who get the profits.

You just suggested that the ads were just to pay for bandwidth. My point is that it’s a big commercial operation with an ad sales team and everything.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Be careful what you wish for...

This means only big corporations will be able to enjoy copyright because they’ll be the only ones that can afford to file the paperwork.

Um. You do realize that if you want to sue over copyright today, you still have to register, right? It hasn’t been that burdensome on anyone.

This blog is a relentless defender of the status quo where Google and the hardware companies make all of the profits from the Internet revolution.

Ah, that’s right. That must explain why I spend so much time showing examples of how artists are making a lot more money.

Ignorance is bliss.

This blog’s agenda seems to be to convince the proles that it’s “cool” to give away your rights.

Um. No. I don’t care about what’s cool. I want to help innovation and culture along, and that includes helping content creators understand business models by which they can make more money.

The main thing this opt-in deal will be to make it simpler for bigger corporations like BoingBoing and Google to take someone’s work without paying anyone for it.

This has to be the funniest sentence I’ve read in a long time. You don’t read anything I actually write, do you?

bob says:

Re: Re: Be careful what you wish for...

Um. You do realize that if you want to sue over copyright today, you still have to register, right? It hasn’t been that burdensome on anyone.

Yes, but you can register after the fact and still collect. No one knows what this new plan will bring– if it brings anything at all– but I’m sure that it means that infringement only begins after registration. It may not be possible to stop infringement at all if you don’t register before circulating the work.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Be careful what you wish for...

Yes, but you can register after the fact and still collect.

Not according to Davis v. Blige, you can’t.

It may not be possible to stop infringement at all if you don’t register before circulating the work.

According to the law, you must register before infringement occurs, or within three months of publishing the work, whichever is later.

If not, you cannot collect statutory damages, and (though it’s not explicitly in the law) you won’t collect attorney fees.

bob (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Be careful what you wish for...

Davis. v. Blige has to do with retroactive games played by co-authors:

“The question presented, one of first impression in the courts of appeals, is whether an action for infringement by one co-author of a song can be defeated by a “retroactive” transfer of copyright ownership from another co-author to an alleged infringer”

http://jgehrke.typepad.com/creativeprotection/2007/10/davis-v-blige.html

So if think you can get one of the co-authors to sell you a license after the fact, go ahead, start infringing.

Registration is always a good practice, but my point remains generally true: a copyright owner can go get something by registering after the fact. Still there are advantages like treble damages:

http://www.publaw.com/advantage.html

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Be careful what you wish for...

Davis. v. Blige has to do with retroactive games played by co-authors

I think you should read the actual ruling, which is available in its entirety on FindLaw.

Pay special attention to Section E, which is helpfully entitled “Retroactive Licenses and Transfers Are Invalid.”

Registration is always a good practice, but my point remains generally true: a copyright owner can go get something by registering after the fact.

I think you did not actually read the link you just posted:

If the infringement occurs prior to the effective date of copyright registration or after the three-month grace period then the copyright owner will not be entitled to receive statutory damages and legal costs and attorneys’ fees. (Emphasis mine.)

So, yeah, they can get “something” – assuming they can prove the actual dollar amount of infringement, and that this amount is more than the cost of bringing the lawsuit. The chances of this being true are very, very slim.

If the copyright is unregistered, then they cannot sue at all.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Be careful what you wish for...

If you plan to make commercial use of your creation, you register. If you don’t, don’t bother – or do! It’s up to you!

Why should creativity be a free lottery? Is it so wrong to ask people to simply express their desire to control a creation, rather thrusting that control upon them? (without even offering a clear-cut legal way for them to relinquish it!)

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Be careful what you wish for...

At least things will be clearer as to who owns what, and what we can do with what material. Oh that is copyrighted, and I should contact such-and-such. Oh that is in public domain, so I can just use it, but I’m sure the original creator would like to know what I did with his or her original creation.

Leave people a choice as to what they want to do with their (and I hate this word-combination) “intellectual property”.
If the big web silos want to lock up their crap, then let them. No skin of my back.

Right now, we don’t have any choice. My comments on this site, are technically copyrighted by me, thus quoting it, would constitute a violation of my copyright (if it was not covered by fair use).
I just want to be able to say: “Ok, this is very important to me, I want this copyrighted, and that stuff, let the public decide what they want to do with it. If they can make something nice with it, all the better for all.”

Jose_X (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Be careful what you wish for...

No, it’s about leverage.

Those with money can register day and night. Those without will end up registering hardly.

Then those with money will take what they want from those that didn’t have the oodles of money.

Those without oodles will not be able to likewise take.

Imagine if you write daily, what kind of cost will it entail to reserve leverage on all of that to balance with the leverage being reserved by those with lots of money?

In my case, I think it should be easy for copyleft to exist to exert pressure on others to open up.

HENCE, a better idea would be for the default to be a general share-alike license (not sure how to construct one) rather than a license that removes all leverage and puts the poor (generally all of us) at a competitive disadvantage.

HENCE, in recognizing monopolies create problems for society, we should simultaneously lower copyright duration to at most 1 or 2 decades (or not much beyond that).

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Be careful what you wish for...

What’s stopping Microsoft from taking any Linux code and putting it into their own wares?
It’s unlikely that Linux’ code is registered at a copyright board. It is however licensed under the General Public License, that states some stipulations.

But that’s slightly beside the point.
The person who tries to register your works illegally would then have to prove that his (or her) work existed before your content. But you have prior-art.

Undoubtedly this copyright office will become as encumbered as the patent office… :-/

bob says:

Re: Re: Be careful what you wish for...

Ah, that’s right. That must explain why I spend so much time showing examples of how artists are making a lot more money.

Seriously now. Do you mean to use the phrase “a lot”? In the past, the rock stars bought mansions. Mark Twain was one of the richest men in the country. Now Cory Doctorow is lucky to have any books in the top 100,000 sellers at Amazon and some new band just made $100 selling CDs and t-shirts at a gig.

The only folks I see making any money on these newer models are the folks at MySQL and everyone knows that they buffaloed people into believing that the GPL prevented them from using the code commercially.

bob (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Be careful what you wish for...

Here’s some evidence for you. At this moment, Amazon sales ranks for these books:

_For the Win_: #32,396 in Books

_Makers_: #51,698

_Down and Out_: #66,472

_Someone Comes to Town…_: #789,054

_Eastern Standard Tribe_: #619,017

These change wildly because there aren’t many books sold at this place in the list. He’s lucky if he sells 20-50 books a week for the newest, most popular books. Given the pricing, he’s lucky to get $2-3/copy. That means $40-150 for the best selling titles. Per week.

(http://promo101tips.wordpress.com/2010/07/13/what-does-amazon-sales-rank-mean/

http://www.fonerbooks.com/surfing.htm)

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Be careful what you wish for...

Here’s some evidence for you. At this moment, Amazon sales ranks for these books:

Ok. So, um that means what exactly? His old books are not top sellers at the moment.

Are you implying that other authors of a similar nature are selling their back catalog more frequently?

What a meaningless set of stats.

bob (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Be careful what you wish for...

Old? _For the Win_ was published 5 months ago. For comparison, let’s choose a random title by another science fiction writer who gets as much ink. Neil Gaiman’s book, _Neverwhere_ was published in 1997 yet it’s at #5,248.

Isaac Asimov’s _Caves of Steel_ was published about 50 years ago. It’s at #19,458.

Does either Gaiman or Asimov give away free copies?

Bruce Ediger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Be careful what you wish for...

Gaiman gives away free PDFs of “A Study in Emerald”: http://www.neilgaiman.com/mediafiles/exclusive/shortstories/emerald.pdf I ended up buying a book, “Shadow over Baker Street” because of that PDF, and an mp3 of Gaiman reading it.

In fact, if you go to his website you’ll see a lot of freebies. Among other things:

http://www.neilgaiman.com/p/Cool_Stuff/Short_Stories

So, yes, Gaiman gives away free copies.

Bruce Ediger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Be careful what you wish for...

Wait: “no market for short stories any more”?

Didn’t I already say I bought “Shadows Over Baker Street” because it had “A Study in Emerald” in it? What the sam scratch are you talking about?

“Shadows Over Baker Street”: http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Over-Baker-Street-Terror/dp/0345452739 It’s full of pretty decent short stories, if you like H.P. Lovecraft types of horror stories, or possibly Sherlock Holmes pastiches. Admittedly, the best story in it is “A Study in Emerald”.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Be careful what you wish for...

You’ve hit the nail on the head there bob: in the past, a tiny minority of artists bought mansions, while countless highly popular artists found themselves in debt to their record labels/publishing houses/etc., and even greater number of talented artists were unable to make any money at all for reasons unrelated to quality.

Moving forward, fewer artists will get rich, but way more will be able to make a living doing what they love and adding to our shared culture. It’s easier than ever for artists, even those on the furthest fringes of culture, to find and connect with (and make money from!) people who love what they do – and there are almost inevitably people who love your art, no matter how strange or seemingly terrible. It’s harder than ever for companies to exploit the system and keep a handful of moneymakers at the top while keeping everyone else out.

Where’s the bad part?

bob (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Be careful what you wish for...

Moving forward, fewer artists will get rich, but way more will be able to make a living doing what they love and adding to our shared culture.

Nah, it’s not “way more”, it’s actually “very few” that will make a living. Only a very, very, very small percentage is making a living off of tip jars or pay-what-you-will schemes. I continually challenge this blog to bring us more names than Cory Doctorow. He’s been at it for some time. People have known about this strategy for several years. Can anyone make a list of 20 bands that are grossing more than $20,000 per year with these schemes? Maybe Mike can do some actual reporting instead of waiting to draft off real reporters.

And while you’re right about the debt and the crazy accounting of the record companies, the bands still lived pretty well while on the road. Today, I bet there are 10 times as many bands clearing more than $20k/year working with traditional record companies as there are bands trying any of the schemes from this blog.

Now I’m very supportive of people who want to play because they love to play. That’s fine. But copyright never prevented that. This new P2P schemes just ensures that these amateur bands can’t even dream of being exploited by record companies.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Be careful what you wish for...

Nah, it’s not “way more”, it’s actually “very few” that will make a living

[citation please]

Every single market I’ve looked at where protectionism is removed results in MORE players making MORE money, both in terms of average sums and in aggregate.

Would you care to explain why this wouldn’t happen here?

Only a very, very, very small percentage is making a living off of tip jars or pay-what-you-will schemes.

And if any of us had suggested that was the only way to make money, you’d have a point. In fact, we’ve pointed out that neither of those are very good business models. You’re so confused you need to flat out lie. Bob, that’s just sad.

I continually challenge this blog to bring us more names than Cory Doctorow

Huh? That’s funny. I’ve never used Doctorow as an example.

However, I have pointed out tons of artists who are making a lot of money.

Can anyone make a list of 20 bands that are grossing more than $20,000 per year with these schemes?

Easily. You can start here:

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20091119/1634117011.shtml

But there are lots more.

bob (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Be careful what you wish for...

Yes, there are some. I count about five in that list. Where do you get “tons”? Moto Boy looks pretty skinny. He might not weigh more than 150 pounds. You need a lot of people like him to reach 4000 pounds.

And grossing $15k selling t-shirts is not the same as making $15k because the shirts cost money. But congrats on doing some real research. The article is a good summary of how people are meeting very diminished expectations. Moto Boy’s music boxes sound nice, but at $30 a piece, he’s got to sell quite a few to make what many people would agree is “a lot of money”.

http://motoboy.se/shop/musical-box/

Come on. The Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Who, U2, REM, Tom Petty, and probably at least more bands have all made more than $500 million per band. That’s after the record company took their cut.

When you find one band that makes $5 million, I’ll agree that one band made “a lot of money” with these schemes.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Be careful what you wish for...

The Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Who, U2, REM, Tom Petty, and probably at least more bands have all made more than $500 million per band.

And very little of that is actually from selling music… after the record companies took their cut.

The vast majority of their income is from live shows, selling merch, and commercial endorsements. You know, scarce resources like those that Techdirt talks about.

For example: in 2002, the highest grossing musician was Paul McCartney, who made $72.1 million. Of that, only $4.4 million was from record sales and publishing royalties combined.

For that same year, if you look at the top 35 earning musicians, the income from live shows averaged $12.7 million, while the combined income from record sales and publishing averaged $3 million.

Source: File-Sharing and Copyright (PDF), p.39, quoting Connolly and Krueger (2006).

So: not only did “one band” make $5 million using “these schemes,” nearly every band that made $5 million earned most of their money using “these schemes.”

You absolutely, positively have no idea what you’re talking about.

Jose_X (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Be careful what you wish for...

Bob forgets that these people he mentions are known “everywhere by everyone” and have produced lots of very popular works. Given how long that business has been in use and that those having success with it probably are in no rush to change what works, you have to believe that it will take time for enough popular talent to try the alternatives and find success, especially with so many promotional and helpful resources aimed at the older models and sometimes showing resistance (and no assistance) to newer models.

Anyway, I’m not convinced as many people will make as much money as the top earners of old, but what does that have to do with anything? In fact, as more talent leverages freer models, you may find that the big earners of the older model will make less and less as more money goes to those trying the new methods that enable promotion at much lower cost and greater scale than otherwise possible. Some today make a lot because they have surpassed a hurdle and their supporting cast prefers to focus on as few products as possible, all else being equal (to maximize profit margins).

Jose_X (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Be careful what you wish for...

>> Some today make a lot because they have surpassed a hurdle and their supporting cast prefers to focus on as few products as possible, all else being equal (to maximize profit margins).

I wanted to highlight this more carefully.

The fewer products you have in a particular market, the greater the profit margin.

What this led to in the old model was that, without alternative means, those artists or works that got a bit out of style (ie, lost their edge to others) stopped being nearly so interesting to the middlemen and others that helped promote you savagely (spending the big bucks needed to overcome certain hurdles).

With the Internet, the hurdles are much lower and you need not rely on the Big Money nearly so much. This means you can keep promoting yourself even as you are no longer the hottest thing in town. There is no third party to drop you from their products’ line-up because you are not as profitable as their other products for the given market.

So if more people can keep promoting themselves and earning something rather than nothing, this generally means there will be less money for those that in the old models had most of the promotion behind them and hence most of the market (remember, high hurdles).

In short, with lower hurdles and not being someone else’s “product”, you can make more money today for longer, and those that are popular will not be able to earn to the same degree (ie, more of the market’s disposable cash already going to someone else still able to promote themselves).

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Be careful what you wish for...

Seriously now. Do you mean to use the phrase “a lot”?

Yes, we’ve shown multiples artists making a ton of money through embracing these methods. Corey Smith brought in $4 million last year. Trent Reznor brought in over a million dollars in a week. We’ve covered plenty of artists who, under the old system, wouldn’t have made a dime who are now making much more than a comfortable living.

In the past, the rock stars bought mansions. Mark Twain was one of the richest men in the country.

Wait, are you serious? This is so logically tortured. It’s like your Minecraft doesn’t matter unless it makes as much as Halo argument. It’s as if you simply can’t comprehend the difference.

Yes, a SMALL NUMBER of artists were able to get MONOPOLY RENTS, allowing them to get mansions. But, with the new models MANY MORE artists are able to MAKE MORE MONEY THAN THEY WOULD HAVE OTHERWISE.

Which is better — honestly — 10 people being super rich from music or 10,000 living comfortably, with a bunch of them still being rich?

Now Cory Doctorow is lucky to have any books in the top 100,000 sellers at Amazon

Last I heard, his last book sold over 100,000 copies. That’s pretty damn good for an author. How many copies did your last book sell? Cory’s making a damn good amount of money. And the point is that it’s MUCH MORE than he would have made by not embracing these models.

You seem to be comparing apples and oranges: only looking at what the 0.0001% at the top made in the past, ignoring what everyone else made. That’s wrong (and, I might add, incredibly stupid). You need to look at what the *average* artist in the market made, or look at what each artist would have made *in absence* of embracing these models.

I really can’t believe this needs to be explained to you.

I really must ask: have you ever taken an economics class?

bob (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Be careful what you wish for...

But, with the new models MANY MORE artists are able to MAKE MORE MONEY THAN THEY WOULD HAVE OTHERWISE.

Which is better — honestly — 10 people being super rich from music or 10,000 living comfortably, with a bunch of them still being rich?

I just don’t see 10,000 living comfortably. While I admire all of the people you mention in your excellent summary, I only see a few that might be considered “comfortable.” Grossing $4m at concerts sounds big until you consider the huge overhead.

And I don’t see any evidence that it’s “MANY MORE”, as you shout. I don’t even see “MORE” or even a tiny fraction. In the past, hundreds of people got six figure record deals that left them with more than the $80,000 Jill Sobule pulled in. We never hear how many people bought all of Jonathan Freese’s options.

Furthermore, I’m not sure that they’re making more money than they would have under the old regime. There are hundreds of bands like Aerosmith, Guns & Roses, or Survivor, just to name a few, that spent $80,000 in each city on a tour.

It’s one thing to argue, as you do, that there’s more music being produced, but you have to admit that very, very, very few of your examples are anywhere close to “comfortable”, especially considering the old standard when a musician couldn’t be comfortable if there were brown M&Ms in the dressing room.

Further I’ll argue that all of the boost in music production has little to do with P2P sharing. We can just count better now. Copyright only enabled artists to make money, it didn’t stop amateurs from writing or performing their own songs or songs in the public domain. We can’t compare the MySpace numbers from today with the 60s because we have no accurate count of the coffee shops or the musicians playing in them or even the money they collected.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Be careful what you wish for...

I’m not sure that they’re making more money than they would have under the old regime.

According to the labels themselves, over 90% of artists on a major label will never pay back their recording advances. That means that they will never get any artists’ royalties.

If you read my post above, you’ll see that the highest grossing acts make the majority of their money through live shows, selling merch, and endorsements.

And if you’re not one of the highest grossing acts, then you’ll earn nothing at all – even if you’re on a major label.

So, if smaller artists make anything, even if they’re not “comfortable,” then they’re still better off than they would be “under the old regime.”

especially considering the old standard when a musician couldn’t be comfortable if there were brown M&Ms in the dressing room.

Right, ’cause that’s how most musicians are. And you do know that was only a test, right? It was put in to make sure the venues actually read the technical requirements for the stage show.

Why do you hate artists so much?

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Be careful what you wish for...

Wow, did not know that Van Halen fact – oh beloved Snopes!

And yet, if the brown M&M thing had been a show of artist vanity, that would make the point as well: nobody (except apparently Bob) is concerned with making sure artists get esoteric luxuries and kingly treatment. We just want to see them have the opportunity to build a life based on doing something that they are good at and love and that we or someone out there enjoys, which is really just what everyone wants for themselves anyway.

Jose_X (profile) says:

Re: Re: Be careful what you wish for...

>> Um. You do realize that if you want to sue over copyright today, you still have to register, right? It hasn’t been that burdensome on anyone.

There is a big difference in taking steps once you decide to sue vs having to take those steps all the time for everything.. just in case you want to sue.

My concern is for preserving the leverage of share-alike copyleft licenses. These would continue to pressure those copyrighting/registering interesting stuff to open up so we can use their stuff or else not use our stuff.

Tit-for-tat.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Be careful what you wish for...

The main thing this opt-in deal will be to make it simpler for bigger corporations like BoingBoing and Google to take someone’s work without paying anyone for it.

Neither BoingBoing and Google “take someone’s work without paying anyone for it.” Google doesn’t take anyone’s work, period, while BoingBoing’s use is clearly and unequivocally fair use.

It might, however, make it easier for RIAA clients to steal music from unregistered musicians, but they have always done that anyway.

Sven Olaf Kamphuis (user link) says:

This

Actually, they probably figured out that i already had my computer compose all possible combinations of sheet music back in 1996 in order to be able to prevent them from ever releasing anything again if i want to and try to limit the damage 😛

never mind, i’ll just register a few kazillion possible musical patterns, where is the registration api ?

Thing is, copyright is stealing from the public, a certain combination of bytes, out of the limited number of possible combination of bytes, which belongs to the public.

Nobody should have a monopoly on it, as really, its all just mathematics, the fact that they still compose music by hand is just their own stupid fault.

Shadow Six (profile) says:

Re: Even opt-out would be an improvement

wait…”opt-in would be much, much better”… How would that even work? As in, would you have to file some sort of application like patents? Would all works be released into the public domain until the approval or what not? Wouldn’t opt out make more sense? Where in you have the option to surrender your work, rather than not owning it until the government says so? I mean, to say, “from this moment on it’s PD”, that should be a fundamental right, but I cant imagine having everything automatically in PD. It there’s money involved, opt-in is a horrible idea, IMO. Sounds like a giveaway to those that would lockup culture that they had nothing to do with creating. I suppose, I’d have to see a context of implementation… But I’m admittedly skeptical.

BTW: Nina, I’m a huge fan of your work! 🙂

Shadow Six (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Even opt-out would be an improvement

I did know that. I also know that it worked in favor of ONLY the big dogs. The little guy had no venue. So, it wasn’t even an issue with the powers that be. Today, EVERYONE is creating constantly and sharing, extending and (unfortunately) protecting, their works in ways that are as innovative as the works themselves. So, the only way I see this working out, is expressly declaring public domain on your work. The free software movement (gpl and other copyleft licenses), would be over. Presuming that it turns out to be a matter of money… which you can BET it will be, regardless of the initial legislation. Then, it’s patents all over again. Believe me, they wouldn’t be supporting it, if it were not good for them, and bad for us. They think it has to be that way.

Bruce Ediger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Even opt-out would be an improvement

“The little guy having no venue” is more an artifact of the way that book publishing middlemen worked, or how the record companies worked than anything else, isn’t it? It’s hardly a result of opt-in copyright before 1976, as far as I can tell.

If we have opt-in copyright, then we’ve got a way to distinguish “copyright infringement” from some other use, borrowing, mash-up, what have you. And we have a way to distinguish “copyfraud”, like those greedheads who print the text of the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights on a wallet card and put a (C) on it.

If copyright per se is so valuable, then it will be worth it to file, almost whatever it costs. But one would hope that a small fee would be adequate in this day of electronic tax filing, email and P2P networks.

Shadow Six (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Even opt-out would be an improvement

“is more an artifact of the way that book publishing middlemen worked, or how the record companies worked than anything else, isn’t it? ”

That’s exactly what I was saying. It’s the Internet which has given everyone a venue, and they (the parties mentioned above) would prefer to keep the riff-raff out.

fogbugzd (profile) says:

Makes sense

It makes sense to me that the RIAA would want opt-in copyright. The current system is obviously causing problems that have to be fixed. Some of them are caused by the Berne-style system. Eliminating that set of problems would not hurt RIAA members, and changing that part of the law would let them claim that we had engaged in “copyright reform” and therefore no other changes should be made.

Disallowing Berne style copyrights has potential to benefit the RIAA. Suppose an unsigned artist writes a song but doesn’t bother to register it. If a contract artist covers the song right now, the original author could register the song and sue under some circumstances. RIAA might get in trouble over it. If we do away with Berne copyrights, RIAA artists could cover the song with no threat of legal action.

Anonymous Coward says:

they only support opt-in for their own benefit.

this means that hollywood can take the latest youtube hit and turn it into their own profit machine. because who’s going to register a copyright on every single youtube video they make?

all this does is get more stuff into the public domain for big corporations to use. it’s like grimm’s tales and disney, but disney doesn’t have to wait unless grimm opts in.

kyle clements (profile) says:

I don’t like the idea of opt-in being the default and everything else entering the public domain. If there is a fee per registry, this could harm small-time artists far more than the big industries, who can afford to pay uch registry fees.

I’m not convinced that social pressures will be enough to prevent the big guys from abusing the work of more obscure creators. What’s to stop the industries from astroturfing, setting up countless fake blogs claiming that the true content creator is just a crack-pot attention-whore trying to ride on the success of big business?

If we could have some sort of system where registered work had a long period of protection (25 years from date of publication) while unregistered work had a more reasonable 10 years or so, I think that would work better.

I also think any work without an attached (c) warning should not be able to get any sort of punitive damages from infringement. I should not have to assume that copyright is the default state for all media. A better system is one where I should assume it’s free to use unless otherwise indicated.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If we could have some sort of system where registered work had a long period of protection (25 years from date of publication) while unregistered work had a more reasonable 10 years or so, I think that would work better.

Indeed, that doesn’t sound so bad. But that is way below what exists now. In most cases, copyrights last for decades after death! If registering gets you and your descendants total control for the next flipping century, I think it would be fair that not registering left you in the public domain.

Jose_X (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

No, let’s stop saying that we need a greater extreme to “cancel” the other extreme.

The result of a very lopsided two-tier system is that the wealthy and more savvy will most always end up in the monopolist seat while the rest end up in the “poor house” despite having made interesting contributions in their past.

We need to use this recognition of the RIAA that monopolies are bad to first and foremost cut monopolies down in size.

Having a default copyleft system using all of a large number of copyleft licenses (rather than default public domain) is superior, as this essentially creates public access AND promotes abolishing of long monopolies without giving wealthy groups easy access to monopolies.

Nick Taylor says:

Here's a radical idea:

How about if we set up a system with the best intentions, which will benefit We the People generally, regardless of how wealthy any of us is… and we set it up so it is periodically reviewed – against measurable criteria/goals… if it fails to perform we try something else. All the while looking abroad etc for other ideas that appear to be working for other people…

… and if any corporation or oligarch tries to do something repugnant or exploitative or corrupt the system to their own private ends…

… we kill them.

Just a thought like.

Nick Taylot says:

Yea, yea, I know,,,

Trouble is, those with the potential to monopolise violence need violent “gestures” from the weak (that’s us) so badly that history is full of examples where they’ve faked violence so they can (over) react.

So I’m not serious.

Still – we do need some mechanism to bring these people down. This IS a dilute form of tyranny that we’re living under now.

Elvenrunelord (user link) says:

The only way I would go along with this is

If we use the technology to our advantage. I am a small content producer and I be damned if I caught some fatcat agency using my content because I could not afford a copyright fee I’d be ready to shoot them.

If we allow copyright opt-in we need to form an international system that allows content producers to register their content for free.

The entire network should be paid for with taxes and trust me, no one would miss that small amount necessary to pay for such a system.

To set up such a system with even a small fee disenfranchises the small content producers……I write 10-20 articles or pieces of content a week and while I could care less if someone uses it without my permission, I be damned if they are going to make money off of it without my permission.

Jose_X (profile) says:

Re: The only way I would go along with this is

For me it’s not so much about others making money, but about me not being able to do likewise on what they create.

Tit-for-tat.

The default, if not full copyright powers, should be copyleft (share-alike) but not public domain, especially if there was a fee for registering.

Also, there is much work that is created publicly in piece-meal fashion as many collaborate. It’s impractical to register every public posting ahead of posting it.

Jose_X (profile) says:

Re: Sherman 's comment

Change the law: copyright monopolies last no longer than 10 years or maybe a little more.

This is better for everyone. More material for everyone to use, and less damage from what any two tier system is likely to cause.

Clarify in the law books that derivatives are to be construed in a very narrow sense, largely on literal expressions.

And make the default copyleft/share-alike.

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