UK Music Lobbyist Says Rethinking Fair Use Is 'Intellectual Masturbation'

from the who-needs-fair-use? dept

We’ve talked a few times about how the UK is going through yet another copyright rethink with a key focus (among others) on whether or not the country needs more expansive fair use rules within copyright. While we’ve seen similar discussions happen (and be ignored) in the UK, the good news is that the panel investigating this issue seems to include some really knowledgeable folks on the subject. Of course, it appears that some of the established interests aren’t so thrilled about all of this.

Andrew Dubber kindly sent over an article from Music Week, which is locked up behind a paywall, or I’d point you to it, in which various music industry folks fret about this awful concept of fair use. The article seems to be based on the ridiculous premise that “fair use” is something that only harms creative folks, and is only designed to help tech firms. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, and it’s troubling that these supposed “music industry” experts don’t realize just how important fair use is in content creation itself. The article quotes a person from PPL insisting that supporting fair use is a straight up choice between “helping Google or helping our creative industries.” That someone in the content creation business is against fair use is a travesty, and it suggests that they know very little about content creation. Furthermore, the idea that this is an “us against them” sort of thing is equally troubling. The point of fair use is to make content creation itself better and to provide more value to the world.

But the most ridiculous comments of all come from UK Music chief Feargal Sharkey, who has a way with saying silly things. According Sharkey, rethinking fair use is “a distraction at best” and really just an “exercise in intellectual masturbation.” I’m sorry, but if Sharkey thinks fair use is just about “intellectual masturbation,” he should not be leading an organization representing musicians. Fair use is incredibly important to all sorts of content creators, and it’s a shame that the guy who’s supposed to be representing them is now forcefully arguing against fair use. It should make the members of UK Music seriously consider who they’ve picked to speak for them.

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Comments on “UK Music Lobbyist Says Rethinking Fair Use Is 'Intellectual Masturbation'”

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43 Comments
fogbugzd (profile) says:

Teenage Kicks

>>Maybe it’s because I don’t have access to the original article but what do they have to do with this?

Feargal Sharkey was the lead singer for the Undertones. He was a musician himself, so that refutes the accusation that “The problem is that these ‘music industry experts’ aren’t creative themselves, they just freeload off of artists . . .”

David Muir (profile) says:

Teenage Kicks

Sharkey had a solo career too after The Undertones. “A Good Heart” is a great song.

But great creative types don’t always realize that the creative process involves (at least in part) building upon the shoulders of those who went before. If nothing else, fair use includes the ability to discover and discuss other creative works. Surely up-and-coming artists benefit from that?

Once you’re a “music industry executive” you apparently have no need for learning and honing your craft. (Although one wonders how the business folks can discuss music from a wide variety of sources without hearing snippets in a fair use manner.)

Chosen Reject says:

Teenage Kicks

Awesome. According to that wikipedia article, it took them two years as a band before they were playing their own material. Previous to that they were only doing covers. And even when they were playing their own stuff, they still played a lot of covers. Their most popular song was written by their guitarist, not Feargal. In fact, quickly looking at their songs, they were almost all written by John O’Neil, and many were inspired by the Ramones and other bands. Later Feargal did solo work, and even their most of his songs were written by other people. I say “most” and “almost all” only because I haven’t looked at the writers for all the songs, but so far I haven’t found a single song that Feargal wrote.

So I’d say he may have a particular talent in singing, but it doesn’t look like he’s been all that creative. Maybe he is, but if so, then he’s a hypocrite on this fair use issue. A major hypocrite.

Anonymous Coward says:

Teenage Kicks

by techdirt standards, beign able to mix two songs together (aka, being a DJ) is creative. Obviously being able to actually sing and perform a song is way up the ladder from that. Obviously this guy was at least somewhat talented and creative. It isn’t a subject of debate.

It’s just more of the Masnick Effect at work – leave out relevant information, make snide remarks, and generally pee on anything put forth by anyone in “the industry”.

Chosen Reject says:

Teenage Kicks

“A Good Heart” wasn’t written by Feargal. I wouldn’t exactly call him the most creative of people. He may have a talent for singing, but as far as song writing, all of his fame comes from singing songs written by others. He is credited with writing only one song by The Undertones – “Hard Luck” and that is actually attributed to several people. The band even started as a cover band. As for his solo career, of the three albums (31 songs) I can see 8 songs are attributed to some other writer. One of the songs that is unattributed (on Wikipedia at least) is actually a traditional Irish folk song, so just because a song not attributed to some other writer doesn’t necessarily mean that he wrote it.

That this guy is against fair use only means that he is a hypocrite.

Huph (user link) says:

Teenage Kicks

Wha? The Beatles spent years playing covers, and continued to do so for years at their concerts when they were still performing together. Are The Beatles not creative?

Jimi Hendrix got his start playing other people’s music, too.

Creative doesn’t solely mean a person is a writer. Brian Eno is a creative force behind a lot of albums without even touching an instrument!

And I’m completely glossing over the fact that songwriting credits are solely for lyric-writing. They imply nothing about the musical aspects. That’s why lyrics have to have their own copyright separate from the music. Feargal could have written the melodies; or maybe it’s his interpretation of those melodies that he contributed.

Chosen Reject says:

Teenage Kicks

Speaking of leaving out relevant information, you left out the hypocrite part. This guy started his career off of fair use, and was only ever famous for using other people’s creative works. Fair use got him his start. Fair use made his career. He is where he is because of it. If being a cover band was illegal, he’d have never been known.

Anonymous Coward says:

While I totally agree with you,

?The point of fair use is to make content creation itself better and to provide more value to the world.?

is not an argument.
It is like saying ?The point of patents is to stimulate innovation?. The later is correct too, but it is not what happens. And you (at techdirt) are fighting against patents because it doesn’t do what it’s intended for, not because you are against innovation.

So don’t use the intention behind fair use as an argument, use its results instead !

Anonymous Coward says:

Teenage Kicks

Playing a song written by someone else is not considered fair use. You pay for it. In the U.S., at least, if you record the song, you pay a royalty (you just don’t need permission and the royalty is set at a fixed rate). If you play the song live, the venue pays ASCAP or BMI, which in turn compensates the songwriter. Neither of these is fair use; the former is a statutory license, while the latter is a blanket license.

Feargal may still be wrong (although I don’t think he’s against fair use, just the review process). But playing covers has _nothing_ to do this.

DerekCurrie (profile) says:

Corporate Oligarchy Bullshite

As one of the “Creative Folks” I have to point out that killing off FAIR USE it nothing more than money grubbing Corporate Oligarchy bullshite. We have the same rubbish going on here in the USA where the Corporate Oligarchy are famous for creating such pointless catastrophes as: The Iraq War. Currently they’re lobbying the US Congress to destroy real Net Neutrality, create a US Internet Blacklist as well as an Internet Kill Switch. Keep in mind that corporations DON’T VOTE and legally have no citizen rights, despite unconstitutional court decisions to the contrary.

And what on Earth happened to Feargal Sharkey? I saw the guy live way-back-when. I thought he had a brain in his head and creativity in his heart. Apparently they’ve been removed and replaced with greed and mindless robotic mechanisms. Extremely sick stuff. Shame on Sharkey!

Overcast (profile) says:

“According Sharkey, rethinking fair use is “a distraction at best” and really just an “exercise in intellectual masturbation.” I’m sorry, but if Sharkey thinks fair use is just about “intellectual masturbation,” he should not be leading an organization representing musicians.”

Perhaps it is.. but look how Vivid Video and other porn companies have monetized just that…

Anonymous Coward says:

More kicks

>>>And how about when they practiced the songs together in their own space…do you think they paid copyright fees for that, or was that fair use?

Copyright only applies to *public performance*. I don’t remember the exact legal definition, and it could be different in the U.K., but it wouldn’t apply to practice. Again, nothing to do with fair use.

Anonymous Coward says:

I know copyright is regularly vilified here, but this is an instance where I could not agree more with Mr. Masnick’s article. Where to draw the line between infringement and fair use is subject to reasonable views on both sides of the aisle, but at least in the US fair use forms an important function in balancing creator rights with those of others.

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