Legacy Artists Sign Letter Demanding ISPs & Search Engines Pitch In To Return Them To Their Former Glory

from the because-when-I-think-underpaid,-I-think-Simon-Cowell,-Elton-John,-etc. dept

In what one can only assume was the result of a long weekend retreat at an exclusive resort, various British artists have banded together to post an open letter to, well, who knows? The open letter, signed by several beneficiaries* of the recording industry, calls for the British government to make with the three strikes and such already. Apparently, these artists feel that the badly drafted (and hastily approved) Digital Economy Act is taking far too long to implement. In the meantime, millions of pirating pirates are pirating millions of pounds right out of their pockets. 

*The full list of signatories includes Simon Cowell, Roger Daltrey, Professor Green, Sir Elton John, Lord Lloyd-Webber, Dr (?) Brian May, Robert Plant, Roger Taylor, Tinie Tempah and Pete Townshend. With a few exceptions, we’re looking at artists that have re-sold albums on vinyl, eight-track, cassettes, CDs, SACDs and digital.

The letter touches all the right political nerve endings, starting with the British “creative sector:”

As the world's focus turns to Britain, there is an opportunity to stimulate growth in sectors where Britain has a competitive edge. Our creative industries represent one such sector, which creates jobs at twice the speed of the rest of the economy.

Considering the “creative sector” involves everyone from songwriters to bagboys, it can probably be safely stated that the “creative industries” create jobs faster than whatever few industries remain once the “creative sector” finally closes the tent door. 

Next there's a bit of talk addressing trade deficits… or something:

Britain's share of the global music market is higher than ever with British artists, led by Adele, breaking through to global stardom. As a digitally advanced nation whose language is spoken around the world, Britain is well-positioned to increase its exports in the digital age.

No sooner are we assailed with the news of an impending if-only British Invasion than the authors begin conflating piracy with consumer confusion:

We can only realise this potential if we have a strong domestic copyright framework, so that British creative industries can earn a fair return on their huge investments creating original content. Illegal activity online must be pushed to the margins. This will benefit consumers, giving confidence they are buying safely online from legal websites.

“Fair return,” eh? Well, one man's “fair” is another man's “month's worth of income.” If you start with phrasing that makes your musical exports sound more like a colonizing force than a gift to the world, you need to be careful about what you assume is a “fair” return on your investments. Even domestically, people got a tad touchy when asked to shell out several pounds for a couple of decent tracks and 45 minutes of filler. Didn't seem all that “fair” back then, but we never heard Roger Daltry, Brian May, Elton John et al. complaining.

And as for the “buying safely online…” Well, that's just like ICE saying it needs to shut down file lockers because consumers might purchase faulty counterfeit fire alarms. For the most part, people engaged in “not paying” for their music and movies have confidence in their safety. It's not that people aren't buying because the pay options aren't “safe.” They're not buying for any number of reasons. The content is over-priced. The content is “not available” for purchase due to licensing and region restrictions. The content is crippled with DRM. Sometimes they're not buying simply because they don't want it, but in the eyes of many in the industry, a drop in sales is always due to copyright infringement.

After half-assedly coming to the “aid” of the beleaguered consumer, the collective classic rock hydra turns on the faces of the internet itself:

The simplest way to ensure this would be to implement the long-overdue measures in the Digital Economy Act 2010; and to ensure broadband providers, search engines and online advertisers play their part in protecting consumers and creators from illegal sites.

By “protecting” consumers, they of course mean “cut off service,” “serve with threatening letters,” “allow certain industries to alter search results” and “punish fiscally without showing evidence of damage.” Yes, nothing would send the masses back, money in hand, to the welcoming arms of the recording industry than giving each accused pirate (based on nothing stronger than an IP address, of course) the opportunity to spend their own time and money attempting to prove a negative. I imagine historians and economists will discuss the sudden spike in music sales resulting from the implementation of the Digital Economy Act for years to come, holding it up as a triumph of enforcement over reality. The recording industry will party like it's 1999 (except, like, if Napster had never happened).

They wrap up the open letter with a heartfelt plea:

We are proud of our cultural heritage and believe that we, and our sector, can play a much bigger role in supporting British growth. To continue to create world beating creative content, we need a little bit of help from our friends.

Hmm. “Friends.” Well, it can't be the consumers. And it certainly can't be the ISPs and search engines (which really just means Google). So, these “friends” must be politicians. And if you can't “get by” without a little help from those friends, should you really be in business anyway? 

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Comments on “Legacy Artists Sign Letter Demanding ISPs & Search Engines Pitch In To Return Them To Their Former Glory”

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Anonymous Coward says:

These a-hole musicians keep saying “fair return”, the thing is granting a monopoly for life plus 75 years is not fair is absurd, granting monopoly powers aka censor and exclusion to a minority sector of the society is not fair or just or wanted, having to pay multiple times for the same thing is not fair to people and the a-hole musicians say they want a “fair return”?

They should work for a change instead of bitching about somebody copying music, of freaking video or a book.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: May's doctorate

You are right – however as a fellow Imperial College PhD I now regard him as something of a traitor for this.

He should remember that pure science has thrived on the free flow of information and created the internet in its present form as a way of facilitating that. Is he really stupid enough not to realise that the agenda of the copyright lobby is to destroy that free information flow.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’d like to kick every one of those so-called artists in the teeth. Their sheer entitlement sickens me.
The world’s economy in ruins, and these egotistical has-beens have the nerve to write an open letter complaining that they aren’t rich enough?!
If they want more money, let them work for it!

DinDaddy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It seems to be endemic to that generation of musicians. I read Bill Bruford’s biography, wherein he laments the falling of the old system, not because he feels he is missing out on money (he details quite effectively how most of the money is funneled away by managers and the labels in the book), but more because of the curating effects of the label system.

He sort of sees himself as sort of a journeyman craftsman and never expected to have more than a mildly comfortable living. So in that context it was even more jarring to seem him espouse the superiority of the labels’ system over the direction we are moving now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Contribute more to society in a day? The names mentioned up there already have more money than most people’s families get in a lifetime. And where did they get that money from? Certainly not from the labels; the labels are paid first when people buy their music and they get whatever’s left.

Contributing to culture is one thing; why the hell do we have to guarantee you being filthy rich to do it?


Re: Re: Cue the Idiots.

No. The real problem here is not that they guy you are trying to defame is pirating stuff from the likes of Roger Daltrey. NO. The real problem here is the guy you are trying to defame likely has already bought all he needs from Roger Daltrey and simply doesn’t need to buy any thing more.

These guys are the dinosaurs of rock.

Some of their relevant works are older than some of us that are middle aged.

There’s simply nothing left to buy from these people with the possible exception of “reunion tour” tickets.

You only have to buy Tommy on CD once. That could have been 15 years ago.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Cue the Idiots.

New young people get turned on to great old music every day, Einstein. Records by the Who and Elton John are just as relevant and brilliant today as they were when they were released.

And to the idiot above who said these “rich” rock stars didn’t get paid by the labels, Bzzzt: you’re lying. That’s exactly how they got their money. Their tours broke even at best, and were undertaken to promote their albums.

No one in their right mind believes the idiot shit you freetards spew on here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Cue the Idiots.

And how do they do it? Through CDs that people don’t carry anymore?

I tune in to great “Weird Al” Yankovic music. “Stop Dragging My Car Around”. “You Don’t Love Me Anymore”. Yet, when I got a friend to help me purchase legitimate albums when she studied in the US, she was laughed at.

Courtney Love is rich – but do you really think, based on her well-known complaint, that her labels paid her what she deserved?

No one in their right mind believes that labels are dying, except idiots like you.

Anonymous Coward says:

It is precisely this sense of entitlement, usually coming from the alphabet soup of agencies representing the major labels that is the reason I no longer buy music.

Simply the actions of these groups have so poisoned my attitude toward major music that I’ll have nothing to do with them anymore.

I often wonder just how many more like me, informed of what is going on that feel the same way and have stopped purchasing music.

They can’t go bankrupt soon enough to suit me.

Duke (profile) says:

Out of touch

Ah, isn’t it nice when legacy artists (or the lobby groups behind them) manage to show just how out of touch they are. Why, only a couple of weeks ago the PRS (record label collecting society) published a fascinating report (jointly paid for by Google) into the status of “illegal websites” and found that search engines had a very minor role. So even their own lobby groups are saying they’re talking complete nonsense.

Of course, the whole “search engines are promoting illegal stuff” argument is great in itself because it tells us a couple of key things:

Firstly; people want to find mp3s of popular music that they can download. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be searching Google for them.

Secondly; Google, as a search engine, is there to give *its users* what they want. They’re not there to serve the BPI (or whoever was behind this). It has all those complicated algorithms to work out what is popular and … surprise surprise, sites allegedly offering free or cheap mp3 downloads of popular music do well.

Thirdly; If the first n pages of a Google search for “Adele mp3” (to use the example given in the programme below) are all to supposedly unlawful sites, what has happened to the lawful ones? Why aren’t they right at the top of the list? Because the sites that do that don’t exist. And if they do exist, they’re hidden behind terrible websites, paywalls and the lot, so you can’t find them easily through a search.

So, what do we do about this? Well, if these legacy musicians want to fix their little problem, it seems the solution is quite easy:

1: Have sites that provide legal downloading of mp3s and similar stuff.

2: Recognise that the consumers (including ‘pirates’) actually want music, but they want it a certain way, and if you’re going to try to act as a consumer-facing business, you should try to match their demands.

3: Make sure that the sites in 1 are easily accessible, well-designed, and will actually turn up in search results.

Sadly, signing a letter that says “blame Google” is less effort.

For those interested, they even got the BBC to do a Newsnight segment for them on this rubbish. Interestingly, I did a search for “adele mp3” on Google; the top few results appear to be theoretically legal in the US (only hosting information, or previews, with DMCA-compliant stuffs, and linking to paysites in the Ukraine and Russia which may be legal over there due to collective licensing rules).

The other thing I found particularly illuminating was that the top page has 10 search results (including one for amazon.com) and 8 notices covering 18 entries removed following DMCA notices. Somehow I don’t think the takedown requests are doing that much good anyway.

HiggsLight (profile) says:

I’d boycott the signatories if I didn’t already ignore their stupid crappy music/tv shows anyway. I love that there’s both a Lord and a Knight (Sir) on the list.

Also, how many of those geriatric musicians even know how to turn on a computer without help? Less than half I bet.

Boo-fucking-hoo-for-you. They’re almost as bad as whiney rich bankers who write laughable opeds about how people are so “mean” to them.

Anonymous Coward says:

if this plea came from indie artists, it may have a little bit of sway to it, but when it comes from people that have received more money than they could spend in a dozen lifetimes, i take it as a piss take! biggest problem is, the UK government is more likely to believe these greedy sods than the millions of ordinary people that complain about extra copyright laws that never cater for the consumers. i seem to think these all live outside the UK, so it hardly seems right to ask for help from that direction. i wonder where they pay taxes and at what rate?

Zakida Paul says:

“Britain’s share of the global music market is higher than ever with British artists, led by Adele, breaking through to global stardom. As a digitally advanced nation whose language is spoken around the world, Britain is well-positioned to increase its exports in the digital age.”

Using Adele as a shining example of British music? Really?

I have zero interest in even hearing such music never mind buying or pirating it. Better examples would be bands like Touchstone, Panic Room and Mostly Autumn. Bands where you can see real talent and creativity. All bands who I have supported 100%, incidentally, and continue to support by spreading the word.

All of the people involved in this letter have made their fortunes and most aren’t even making new music anymore, just milking their back catalogs. I would rather support emerging artists financially than those who made their fortune and pissed it away on drink and drugs.

Tony MC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Well, he (or whoever is acting on his behalf) is kind of trying to do exactly that. I know this is misguided and all, but i don’t believe it’s all about himself. I mean, he has enough money already, i doubt it’s his earnings that he’s concerned about.

This is a wild speculation, but i would think that he is most probably worried that today’s mainstream music sucks (which it does, and Adele is a prime example) and it happens because talented musicians don’t bother trying themselves in music (maybe forgetting how he himself was living in a shithole in the early days of Queen), and record sales go down which he interprets as a sign that music industry is dying (when in fact it’s changing).

This is a lot of assumptions, but while Brian May might be misinformed, he’s certainly not that dumb.

artp (profile) says:

Re: Get out much?

That doesn’t seem to apply to this bunch. There are some real names here, although I had to look some up to figure out how they placed.

The Who
Legendary. Redesigned sound equipment because existing equipment wouldn’t handle their load. Defined being a young adult (or almost adult) for an entire generation.

Led Zeppelin
Legendary. Started a few memes – we all hear about the kid who just wants to play “Stairway to Heaven on his guitar, right? Brought about a new style of music from all the roots floating around back in the 60s.

Andrew Lloyd Webber
From Wikipedia:

Several of his songs have been widely recorded and were hits outside of their parent musicals, notably “The Music of the Night” from The Phantom of the Opera, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from Jesus Christ Superstar, “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” and “You Must Love Me” from Evita, “Any Dream Will Do” from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and “Memory” from Cats.

Elton John
Makes me want to barf, but you can’t deny his success, his abilities or his impact on music.

Popular. I wasn’t that thrilled with them, but you can’t deny their success at the time.

Simon Cowell and a couple of rappers
You might be right.

In general, you are either misinformed, too angry to have written anything, or eminently ignorable.

At least I won’t have to START boycotting Elton John or Queen, but it is going to hurt to not buy any Who or Led Zeppelin albums. I was just starting to gather some old music again. Led Zeppelin was one of the very first albums that I bought back in high school. At least Neil Young mostly gets it.

It reminds me that in the 60s/70s, there was a lot of new music to check out. New styles were popping up, creativity was flowing…

But there is a whole lot of new music out there that I haven’t checked out yet. Guess I’ll check out the music in the Humble Music Bundle that I just bought today.

saulgoode (profile) says:

Wait... what?

Our creative industries represent one such sector, which creates jobs at twice the speed of the rest of the economy.

Then why was the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) recently reporting losses, or at least flat growth; and why did they report music industry jobs as being down 17% over the last decade?

Considering the “creative sector” involves everyone from songwriters to bagboys, it can probably be safely stated that the “creative industries” create jobs faster than whatever few industries remain once the “creative sector” finally closes the tent door.

There is at least one industry outpacing the “creative sector” — the internet economy is nearly doubling every three years (though I suppose that online digital music accounts for nearly 0.5% of that sector).

anon says:


Elton John is a fuckwit who stole money from me when i went to one of his concerts in South Africa and he could not be bothered to entertain us, he is a waste of space and i would never download any of his music even if i got it for free.
Just Google “Elton John at Sun City on the beach” to see how fucking ridiculously crazy he is.

The rest of them if i have paid for there money once i am entitled by law to download it again.

Get out of the Music Industry your are stifling creativity , you are stealing from Artists ,just go away, and close the door on the way out.

Nick Taylor says:

Oh... are you from the past?

Yea – some of those people made some good records… I know… I bought them, 30 FUCKING YEARS AGO.

The best ones were Led Zep obviously – who’s career was (among other things) a wholesale pillaging of other artists… Led Zep simply couldn’t have existed with the copyright bullshit that they’re now attempting to inflict on the future.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Oh... are you from the past?

Could you possibly expand on what you wrote about Led Zepplin? I had never heard that they were known for stealing from other artists, so I’m not sure what you mean. What artists and what songs? I’m interested, as I used to like their music very much (when I was a teenager about a million years ago.)

Anonymous Coward says:

It is stupid ass “reports” like these from the very well off that prevents me from purchasing music anymore. These artists are now all off of my listening & purchasing list. They are their own worst enemy. And as usual, I will inform as many people as I can to avoid these douche bags like I always do. Word of mouth is a powerful thing.

Bennett (profile) says:

So I guess 70s rockers can be picky about what laws they should follow

Nothing like former rock gods telling the public what laws to follow. Most of the musicians on this list have been guilty of breaking many laws, and social norms on the list. I’m talking about suspicion of paedophilia, and child pornography.

Maybe the people on this list should focus on creating relevant music again.

Rabbit80 says:

“As a digitally advanced nation whose language is spoken around the world, Britain is well-positioned to increase its exports in the digital age.”

“We can only realise this potential if we have a strong domestic copyright framework”

“The simplest way to ensure this would be to implement the long-overdue measures in the Digital Economy Act 2010; and to ensure broadband providers, search engines and online advertisers play their part in protecting consumers and creators from illegal sites.”

Ok, I’m no economist, but I completely fail to see how cutting internet access to UK citizens will help the UK economy. Surely, even if somehow these measures were to cut online infringement in the UK, and supposing sales of copyrighted material were to increase – this would result in more money leaving the UK economy and either going to the American industries which are much bigger or ending up in some foreign bank so the (already rich) artists could avoid paying tax on it. As far as the UK is concerned, surely it would be better if the tax loopholes were closed and online sales of UK content were increased in the rest of the world?

Obviously, I don’t understand global economics, but can someone explain how taking money from the UK population leaving a smaller pool of money available to the lower classes and distributing it to the wealthy improves our economy?

Anonymous Coward says:

Mom's music

One more reason that they’re not selling much music (and probably the biggest one) is that every one bought their music 20 or 30 yrs ago and it’s just been handed down to the next generation.
If you’re a young person these days and you want this old stuff, you see Mom or grandma.

Nobody is illegally downloading their stuff…those that want it already have it!

Anonymous Coward says:

What a bunch of fucking tools.
Do all those things, and then whats next?
nooooooo, dont think to far beyond your fucking wallets, i mean what do you give a shit, that what you describe as being a cure for copyright infringement looks so much like a foundation to censorship

Thanks for the list of assholes i wont ever be listening to……..bunch of pillocks

Anonymous Coward says:

What i find interesting here is that people in the music business, actual artist, actual people with “skin in the game” say something, and you discount it as stupid.

Mike Masnick, no skin in the game, not an artist (except perhaps a bit of a artist with words) say “live with piracy” and you think he is smart.

Perhaps you guys should start paying attention to people who actually have a horse in the race, and not some flack with a racing sheet.

Michael says:

Re: Re:

It’s kinda hard to take these A-class corporate lap-dogs seriously when they’re all wealthy in their own right, both the studio execs and the musicians in question. Riding around in limousines and fancy sports cars, sipping on martinis while taking a pleasure cruise on a yacht, flying around in private planes, walking around with their private entourage of security, horse-back riding around their 200 acres of property, throwing massive parties in their mansions, etc.

Seriously, how many more times and in how many different formats do these people think we’re going to purchase the same friggin’ material from bygone eras? They expect us to keep throwing money at them so that they can continue to maintain their elite lifestyles, then cry to the government about the internet, their #1 go-to excuse for being washed-up has-beens and talentless scrubs, when the public spends their money elsewhere. Do they honestly believe that by crippling the internet, society will have an epiphany and suddenly start purchasing albums by the truckload? I think not. You would likely see a mass boycotting of all major label artists, protests outside government buildings and concert venues (not to mention lower attendance), etc.

People resent being pushed around by bratty rich snobs who think they’re in a position to disrupt technology and force-feed themselves on the public. Isn’t it ironic how on the one hand major labels go around promising people fame and fortune yet will turn around moan about how bad business is on the other? Something’s not quite right.


Re: Cue the Idiocy...

What skin? These people haven’t produced any relevant works in decades.

The only hope they have for making money is touring.

As “recording artists” they are out of touch old geezers.

They have as much relevance to the discussion as Mike. They presented by the industry as an appeal to authority for the unwary. Anyone capable of critical thinking should see past the nonsense.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I have a horse in the race, sweetheart. With the criminalization of what used to be a civil matter, I’m the taxpayer whose tax dollars is being spent on policing this crap, just so that Big Entertainment doesn’t have to pay big lawyers’ bills anymore–all the more left for bribing politicians with, I suppose. That cost was neatly transferred to my plate and the plates of my fellow taxpayers.

The skin I have in the game is that I’m the one who is going to pay a super-extra-high cable bill when the cable company passes on the expense of FUCKING SPYING ON ME just to make sure that billionaires can squeeze every damned penny out of a song that was written back in 1968. More of my precious skin will be lost when the government co-opts the “save the artists/save the wee children” system they’ll have in place to make damned sure that nothing like the Arab Spring ever happens to an increasingly onerous and Big-Brotherish US government.

Don’t tell me I don’t have a horse in the race and skin in the game, you sniveling idiot. My contempt for you and other non-thinkers like you knows no bounds. You deserve the world we’re slowly but surely getting, but I don’t feel as if I do.

And, BTW, I’m an older lady who doesn’t download anything because she doesn’t know how, and wouldn’t care for the stuff being downloaded even if I knew how to do it — though I used to swap LPs and make mixtapes for all of my friends back in the day, which I’m sure would be illegal today. Also a strong library supporter (free books!) I’m here for the civil rights and keep your hands off my taxes aspects of this particular game.

Anonymous Coward says:

Horse in the race? Do everyone a favor and take it home. At it’s age it should be out to pasture, not trying for the next race.

Can’t wait for the whole music business to go bankrupt. With all the money they are throwing around, I keep wondering what’s taking so long, if they are doing as poorly as they claim.

If you holler wolf enough, no one cares.


They're past their expiration date...

One thing that immediately strikes me about this list of artists is how irrelevant most them them are. While some of them certainly have created influential works, those works are all OLD. Anything of any values these guys had should be in the public domain already.

These are the LAST PEOPLE we should be taking direction from.

ALL OF THEIR STUFF should be free to copy.

If anything, the represent what’s wrong with the law and why it needs to be rolled back.

Sorry Rob, it’s time to take you place with Beethoven and Mozart.

feyte (profile) says:


Please don’t lump The Who in with the crowd. Daltrey has always been cool. He once bought a factory and appointed his former co-workers ( from the sheet-metal factory where HE had worked) as it’s directors. THAT is giving back to the working class (of which I most definitely am!) And he’s been doing the Teenage Cancer Trust for years (he lost a sister, dad, and mum to cancer, so I imagine he feels pretty strongly for this charity.) Plus, take this from a chick’s point of view; I grew up adoring him as Tommy, and have simply watched him “grow-up” and age very gracefully, meaning…He is still EXTREMELY hot, and on-the-spot do-able, wouldn’t care if the on-the-spot was a street downtown with everyone watching! “see me, Feel me?” Bring it on, Roger! i will definitely “Touch you Heal you!” Oh, well, this post hasn’t exactly ended the way I’d planned, by mentioning that Pete Townshend may come off as a bit of a snob, but is really a pretty good chap, NOT guilty of the witch-hunt he was put through, and donates his money to some really good causes (A battered women’s ans children’s safe house is all I can think of at the moment, but I’ve got doing Daltrey in my head!) And so I’ll sign off by saying that Roger’s money may once in a while go into his own pocket, and so what? He gives the rest away, innit? And not to birds like me who are made for him!
Later days, I’m popping in “The kids are alright” video. (Oh, yeah, I think the rest of The Who did pony-up a lot for Keith Moon’s elaborate lifestyle. But everyone ‘loves’ Moonie, innit? I always hear?)

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