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Singapore Says 3 Strikes Is Too Intrusive For Copyright Reform, So Goes With SOPA-Style Censorship Instead

from the say-what-now? dept

I saw two headlines in a row recently about Singapore's plans for copyright reform. The first one sounded good, and the second one sounded dreadful:
  1. Singapore decides 'three strikes' laws are too intrusive
  2. Singapore proposes law to block sites such as Pirate Bay
It turns out that both headlines are accurate, though it's the second one that's the bigger issue here. You can see the details laid out (quite clearly) by Singapore's Ministry of Law. It notes that they currently have a DMCA-like notice-and-takedown setup, but have apparently decided that this is somehow too burdensome for rightsholders who have pushed the government to come up with an alternative plan (gee, this sounds familiar...). They don't seem to explain why this is so burdensome, they just say that there's too much "uncertainty" in having to actually "establish the liability for infringement." So, rather than do that, it appears that the Singaporean government is willing to chuck basic due process, and go for flat-out censorship without due process.
Under the proposed legislative changes, rights holders will also be allowed to apply directly to the Courts for injunctions to prevent access to pirate sites without having to first establish ISPs’ liability for copyright infringement. This judicial process is more efficient and avoids implicating the ISPs unnecessarily.
So, just as in SOPA, the idea is that rightsholders can suddenly declare that certain sites are "rogue" and courts can agree to wipe them off the face of the internet, by ordering ISPs to block access to them. The Singaporean government insists this won't be a problem for legitimate sites, because it seems to have bought into the Hollywood fallacy that what is a "legitimate" site and what is a "pirate" site are somehow obvious, rather than a spectrum in which nearly everything is some form of gray.
This is targeted at websites that show a blatant disregard for, and that clearly infringe, copyrights. Legitimate search engines and content sharing sites such as Google and YouTube will not be affected.
Notice how they just blithely insist that YouTube is legitimate. That may well be news to YouTube's lawyers, who just concluded (via settlement) a seven-year battle in which Viacom literally insisted that YouTube was the equivalent of a video Grokster (the file sharing service that lost its court case for enabling infringement). And that's where the real problem is. It's easy to claim that it's obvious when a site is legitimate and when it's not, but reality doesn't work that way. For years, many people were pretty sure that Napster was perfectly legitimate under the rules of the Sony Betamax ruling, but then a court decided otherwise. Similarly, many assumed that YouTube was illegal, until that case settled. Hell, even the VCR was a "pirate tool" until the Supreme Court ended that argument thirty years ago.

And, of course pretty much all of modern entertainment history is filled with similar examples of new innovations in the delivery and consumption of content that are at first deemed illegal, until suddenly they're not. The player piano, the phonograph machine, radio, television, cable television, the photocopier, the DVR, the VCR, the mp3 player, and many other innovations were first decried as "pirate" technologies. And then they weren't. But with the Singaporean government insisting that it's somehow obvious which ones are legitimate and which ones are not, Singapore is almost guaranteeing that important legitimate innovations that help move the industry forward will, instead, get censored and blocked across the entire country.

That's no way to present yourself as an innovative country.

So, yes, later in the document, they reject three strikes (and administrative, rather than judicial, blocking) as too draconian and intrusive:
Countries like Spain and Malaysia have implemented an administrative site-blocking approach where rights holders can apply for site-blocking orders from a Government-appointed body. Countries like France have introduced a “graduated response” system where individual internet users are notified of their infringing activity by the ISP, and can be penalised if they continue their infringing activity despite repeated notifications (or “warnings”).

We considered the alternatives above but assessed that they may not be suitable in Singapore’s context as they are too intrusive on internet users.
But, in many ways, the alternative "solution" that Singapore appears to be supporting is worse than three strikes. It's outright censorship against innovation, based on a faulty belief that it will be immediately obvious whether or not new innovations and technologies are "legitimate" or "pirates."

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 7:55am

    Nice to see the noose tighten around the freeloaders necks. Maybe this will encourage sites that engage in infringement to change their business model and actually pay for the content they're monetizing for personal gain.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 8:08am

      Re:

      Maybe when those companies you claim aren't freeloading stop getting paid a hundred times for each format shift.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 8:14am

      Re:

      /s

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Baron von Robber, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 8:36am

      Re:

      You must be the Village Idiot replacement

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 8:45am

      Re:

      You must be new to the Internet. Apparently your brief and limited experience has conditioned you to believe that "web sites" ARE the Internet and that pathetically naive measures like "blocking" them will work.

      So, ignorant newbie, here's a free clue: it won't. Not for long. We already have many ways of routing around rudimentary measures like DNS falsification and IP address blocking, and we're developing more all the time. We're so far ahead on the curve that the censors are barely a smudge in our rear-view mirrors.

      You can't stop free. We won't let you -- and frankly, you're so hopelessly outclassed in terms of clue level that you really are no match for us anyway. You can either continue to expend your energy ranting and trying to stop the unstoppable or you can realize what some of your slightly-more enlightened peers have: we've won.

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 9:35am

        Re: Re:

        You've "won." LOL....free to steal is not free to make. I hope someone steals your paycheck soon. Musicians, filmmakers, photographers....writers....should be able to make a living from their work. Your hyperbole that you "can't stop free" is ludicrous. These products aren't free to create and those who steal them are generally enabled by someone making money from the theft (websites). To pretend that money isn't at the center of piracy is misguided and naive, but go ahead and keep trying....

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 9:51am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I hope someone steals your paycheck soon.

          That is what the studios and labels have been doing to artists for a very long time. Every accounting trick they can invent is used to reduce the pay out to artists.

           

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 9:55am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Musicians, filmmakers, photographers....writers....should be able to make a living from their work

          They have a chance to make a living of it, not an inherent right to. If they can't convince people that they want to pay for it, it is their problem.

          Find someone to fund your art from the start, like kickstarter does, but if you just churn out stuff nobody specifically asks for, don't expect to make money of it.

          If you can't convince people to pay for it, do as the rest of the normal population, get a fucking job.

           

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          kyle clements (profile), Apr 9th, 2014 @ 7:27pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Musicians, filmmakers, photographers....writers....should be able to make a living from their work."

          I get about one email every day from some multimillion dollar company asking me to work for free to provide them with some content that "isn't in their budget for this project, but will lead to great exposure for me"

          Then when I point out that if they assume that working for free is ok, then the project director should transfer their paycheque over to me for the duration of the project, and they can work for the exposure, they make it sound like I'm the one being unreasonable.

          I don't care one bit if regular people infringe on my content; I'm all angried out by these big companies who are screwing the artists *and* screwing their fans.

           

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      identicon
      Just Another Anonymous Troll, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 9:14am

      Re:

      Nice to see that you are so oblivious. Maybe you will soon see that a site that seems legitimate to you banished from the Internet because piracy.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 7:58am

    Please correct me if I am wrong, but my recollection is that private rights of action were removed by an amendment during the bill's consideration. Assuming this to be the case, continuing to say that SOPA provided a private right of action is very misleading, making it seem to the uninitiated as if it was at all times a bedrock principle.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 9th, 2014 @ 10:17am

      Re:

      Please correct me if I am wrong, but my recollection is that private rights of action were removed by an amendment during the bill's consideration. Assuming this to be the case, continuing to say that SOPA provided a private right of action is very misleading, making it seem to the uninitiated as if it was at all times a bedrock principle.

      I know all you do is try to nitpick everything we say to try to make it look like we were wrong, but you're going to have to try harder. *Technically* SOPA is no longer a bill, so if you want to go by technicalities, you could claim that since it's no longer a bill, that making any claims about SOPA is now false.

      But the point here was that Singapore is taking a SOPA-style approach with this new bill, and SOPA did -- for many months -- include just such a private right to action. It was only removed after folks like us called it out for how problematic it was (and people like you scolded us for supposedly misrepresenting it). And, yet now you want to pretend that it was never really in the bill and we should never refer to it again? Really? Are you *that* desperate?

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 5:45pm

        Re: Re:

        I believe I spoke "past tense" since, of course, SOPA was withdrawn from consideration.

        For my benefit, might you point out which parts of my comment are in error? I believe my comment is accurate in its totality, but I could be mistaken.

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2014 @ 10:14pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You believing you have a comment not made in error.

           

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2014 @ 1:36pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          That particular clause is what most mean when they say 'SOPA-like.' It stunk on ice. Don't pretend that you're somehow superior by pointing out that we got it removed.

           

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 8:06am

    someone needs to find out who has been paid what and by whom to go down this disastrous road. it has been tried and found to fail. funny how governments seem to be oblivious to that but when there is something happening in reverse, ie from the peoples point of view, there has to be multiple reviews that take a whole government term. had it done the correct amount of research, instead of going on the complete load of lies and bullshit that the industries pay certain sections (government and law enforcement) to believe and then spread that belief, the opposite conclusion would probably been arrived at!

     

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 8:48am

    Mike Masnick just hates it when copyright law is enforced.

     

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      Just Another Anonymous Troll, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 9:13am

      Re:

      Just Another Anonymous Troll just hates it when idiots say that and basically ignore that you are giving these people (the MPAA and RIAA) the ability to instantly ban your site from the Internet.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 9:36am

    This really isn't about infringement as much as it is putting a blocking mechanism in place for government use. Infringement is the excuse to do so. Once done the list is always so secret that it can't be revealed to the public and then you find that not only are legitimate sites blocked but so are those pesky sites that make the government look bad or show where the failings are.

    Without an excuse to implement a blocker then they have no real way of doing a sneaky take down of a legitimate site. While the excuse varies from infringement to pedophile, the results are always the same. Legal sites get crushed in the rush and tons of sites are misidentified.

    This method isn't going to work very long at all. Probably no longer than it takes the ink to dry on the paper. VPNs and TOR will get a sudden increase in traffic and only the clueless will be affected. Torrents are already in a work around that will no longer use the DNS system and I suspect will be in full bloom within another year, giving them no way to implement this blocklist. Again we see the clueless attempting to do something... anything... that looks like they addressed infringement. The technological war continues.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Apr 9th, 2014 @ 10:53am

    'Countries like France have introduced a “graduated response” system...'

    I notice they fail to mention that France's 'graduated response system' was a complete and abysmal failure, to the point that in it's entire lifespan it only 'caught' one person, who was innocent, while costing, both in time and money, a truly impressive amount.

    But hey, why let little details like 'facts' get in the way of a good bunch of lies? /s

     

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    zip, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 3:20pm

    copyright police state

    The last time I noticed, Singapore had quite a police-state mentality when it came to copyright enforcement. Back when the RIAA lawsuits were going on here in the US, P2P music sharers in Singapore were not being sued -- but thrown in jail.

    http://news.tmcnet.com/news/-singapore-court-jails-two-men-internet-music-piracy-/2006/02/17/13 85200.htm

    It seems very strange that a place like Singapore would need even tougher copyright enforcement laws, but I guess to the content industry, it's always "never enough."

     

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      That One Guy (profile), Apr 10th, 2014 @ 1:08am

      'When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.'

      Or in this case...

      'When all you have is a pack of lawyers and not a single creative bone in your body, everything looks like a lawsuit waiting to happen.'

       

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    identicon
    Jen R, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 7:07pm

    One commenter said "you can't stop free," which reminds me of the saying "you can't stop the music." Unfortunately, if we don't stop free - illegally free, that is - we will stop the music. Artists invest not only time, but also money, into their work. If there is no return on their investment, why would they create? Or, a better question, HOW would they create? If we keep stealing from musicians, they won't have a choice but to stop making music.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 10th, 2014 @ 12:48am

      Re:

      One commenter said "you can't stop free," which reminds me of the saying "you can't stop the music." Unfortunately, if we don't stop free - illegally free, that is - we will stop the music

      In the last decade, as infringement became more and more common, more recorded music was produced than in all of human history combined prior to the last decade.

      So, uh, no, it won't stop the music.

      If there is no return on their investment, why would they create?

      There are tons of new ways to make money that have nothing to do with copyright.

      Educate yourself.

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2014 @ 6:12am

        Re: Re:

        There are tons of ways to make money that rely in substantial measure on copyright (and do not at all involve hunting down customers and shooting them with lawsuit-bullets).

        Educate yourself so that you can engage in a discussion that acknowledges the merits and demerits of each.

         

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          Gwiz (profile), Apr 10th, 2014 @ 6:46am

          Re: Re: Re:

          There are tons of ways to make money that rely in substantial measure on copyright (and do not at all involve hunting down customers and shooting them with lawsuit-bullets).

          I'm having trouble parsing this sentence (maybe because it makes very little sense).

          Anything that "rel[ies] in substantial measure on copyright" also relies on the threat of legal action in order to enforce it. That's pretty much how copyright works in a nutshell.


          Educate yourself so that you can engage in a discussion that acknowledges the merits and demerits of each.

          Ummm. That's exactly what happens on this site everyday and has so for the last 15 years.

          Here's a good place for you to start catching up with the rest of the class:

          http://www.techdirt.com/blog/casestudies/

           

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          John Fenderson (profile), Apr 10th, 2014 @ 8:46am

          Re: Re: Re:

          There are also tons of ways to make money producing art that do not rely on copyright at all.

          However, these claims that piracy will "stop the music" are ludicrous. At worst, it will stop some artists from producing their art, but there are uncountable numbers of artists who produce art because they love to produce art. Those will continue.

          Just look at the amazing amount of excellent music that is being produced and made available at no cost whatsoever. That constitutes the majority of the new music I listen to. And you know what? When I love their work, I end up giving them money anyway.

          I spend more on music now than I every have before in my life. However, not a single penny of that goes to an MPAA member label. I don't buy through middlemen like Amazon or iTunes. I give my money directly to the artists.

           

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            Richard (profile), Apr 11th, 2014 @ 3:49am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            However, these claims that piracy will "stop the music" are ludicrous. At worst, it will stop some artists from producing their art, but there are uncountable numbers of artists who produce art because they love to produce art. Those will continue.

            To me it seems that the net effect will be positive. Good artists with talent, enthusiasm and a message to communicate will continue. Those whose only motivation is money and who churn out dreary samey stuff that only succeeds through exp-ensive promotion will stop.

            Sounds like a win-win!

             

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2014 @ 3:42am

      Re:

      If you want to stop the music, go ahead - I'll listen to what I already have, and peruse other methods of entertainment legally available. I don't pirate, why is it my fault you're not rich?

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 7:14pm

    The writer obviously doesn't know Singapore. Site - blocking isn't anything new over there. Just last year, the Govt there already decided to block Ashley Maddison without any due process. They've also blocked online gambling sites and 100 porn sites for years. They've received widespread public support for these actions and guess what, the Internet still works fine there, innovation is alive and well and people can still say what they want online.

    Objectively, this move to turn the decision to block over to the courts is Singapore govt being less decisive and authoritarian. Unlike SOPA, the Govt had listed out conditions about how the courts will decide on whether the site should be blocked. Of those conditions, the rights holders have to prove to a judge that the site exists primarily for the purpose of facilitating copyright infringement, that it's owners had shown flagrant disrespect for copyright, if its traffic is high, and if there has been precedent in other countries that the site in question has been blocked.

    Since this govt formed in the 60s, censorship has been a way of life in that country. It didn't stop them inventing the Soundblaster card & the Thumb drive, nor did it prevent their filmmaker winning at Cannes last year.

    I don't think that this law will work either, but the author should at least do his homework and stop trying to write about a country as though it's the United States. For one, the Singapore govt doesn't engage in pork barrel politics and the entertainment industry can't buy their way into getting laws passed there.

     

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    identicon
    Sergei, Apr 10th, 2014 @ 5:49pm

    Someone talked about musicians getting a "real" job if they can't get people to buy their music... how do you think the famous musicians got famous? They stuck with their dream until they hit it big. If every musician gave up after not being able to sell some music than we would have no music.

    Musicians deserve to be compensated for their music. Pirating is the reason they aren't making money from their music.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 10th, 2014 @ 11:49pm

      Re:

      Musicians deserve to be compensated for their music. Pirating is the reason they aren't making money from their music.

      This is ridiculous on almost every level. No one deserves to be compensated for merely deciding to put in effort. What if the music sucks? You get compensated by convincing someone to pay for your works. If you can't do that, you don't get compensated.

      As for the reason many artists aren't making money -- it has nothing to do with piracy. The history of the recorded music business is full of stories of artists who can't make money, starting long before piracy was a thing. It's simply tough to make money as a musician.

      And, in fact, artists who *DO* make money often don't make money from selling music in the first place (many on major label deals never see a dime from selling their music), but through alternative means, such as touring and licensing.

      Finally, today, thanks to direct to fan support and other online tools, there are dozens of new ways to earn revenue that have nothing to do with piracy.

      These bullshit arguments about musicians not being able to make money were common a decade ago. It's ridiculous to argue it's still true today. More artists are getting paid for creating more music today than *EVER* before in history.

       

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        identicon
        Legion, Apr 10th, 2014 @ 11:57pm

        Re: Re:

        Where are you getting all these facts such as many artistes on major label deals never seeing a dime from selling their music?

        So how did Madonna and her ilk make her money?

        And what do you mean by more artists are getting paid for creating more music today than ever before in history? What does getting paid mean? The busker on the street gets paid for his music too, but can he survive on that?

        Which artiste today, not signed by the labels, is making as much money as, oh say, Maroon 5?

        I'm pretty sure the labels are no angels, but you're suggesting that they didn't play any part in promoting artistes. That's what I find rather ridiculous on every level.

         

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 11th, 2014 @ 12:23am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The labels themselves admit that 90% of artists they sign never see a dime in royalties. Pointing to the few successful artists at the top (Madonna, Maroon 5) means nothing. The vast majority of artists signed to labels never see a dime in royalties.

          And what do you mean by more artists are getting paid for creating more music today than ever before in history? What does getting paid mean? The busker on the street gets paid for his music too, but can he survive on that?

          I mean exactly what I said. And, yes, you're correct that the busker may not be able to survive on what he makes, but that was true before the internet as well. Nothing has changed on that front -- other than that the really good busker can build a wider audience now.

          Which artiste today, not signed by the labels, is making as much money as, oh say, Maroon 5?


          Complete red herring. I could easily point to plenty of artists that make more than the *average* artist signed to a label today. Holding up Maroon 5 is pointless.

          I'm pretty sure the labels are no angels, but you're suggesting that they didn't play any part in promoting artistes. That's what I find rather ridiculous on every level.

          I made no such statement.

           

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            identicon
            Legion, Apr 11th, 2014 @ 12:55am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Why do 90% of the artists they sign never see a dime in royalties? Is it because the labels stiff them and take all the money for themselves? If so, has any of the artistes sued the labels? Did the union take action on the artistes' behalf?

            And so we're talking about the same thing, what's your definition of an "average" artiste signed to a label? Better yet, who is an "average" artiste? To me, average would be someone like Fun or Gotye, who's had a few hits but not exactly up there.

             

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              Richard (profile), Apr 11th, 2014 @ 4:04am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Why do 90% of the artists they sign never see a dime in royalties? Is it because the labels stiff them and take all the money for themselves? If so, has any of the artistes sued the labels? Did the union take action on the artistes' behalf?


              Reda Courtney Love's article for a an artist's eye view on this:

              It's here

              However I would suggest that the reason why many artists now fail to make (much) money is that technology (the internet - but also cheap recording equipment etc) has lowered the cost of entry - consequently many more people are trying to make a living and the increased competition has made life harder for some artists. This view is backed by the one (fairly) major recording artist that I know personally.

               

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            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2014 @ 10:18pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Would you loudly and proudly sue your boss because you felt he wasn't paying you enough?

              If you don't expect an average person to take things up with his superiors - and thanks to the intricacies of reputation and other aspects of human interaction, many people don't - what do you think the artist without legal expertise or representation is going to do? Risk himself? Or are you dumb enough to believe that if people aren't complaining, there aren't any problems with the system that need to be improved?

               

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          Gwiz (profile), Apr 11th, 2014 @ 7:57am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I'm pretty sure the labels are no angels, but you're suggesting that they didn't play any part in promoting artistes. That's what I find rather ridiculous on every level.


          Actually, promoting is one of the things the legacy labels are still good at and should be focusing their resources on to survive.

          The difference now is that they now longer hold a monopoly on distribution and artists need not sign over all their rights in order to be promoted.

          The legacy labels should (IMHO) be transitioning over to selling their promotion services to artists on a contractual basis. This would benefit the artists greatly by leveraging the huge promotional potential of the labels while still retaining control of their own destinies.

           

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          •  
            identicon
            Pragmatic, Apr 14th, 2014 @ 3:16am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It would also put the artist in control, leaving the label to provide services to the artist instead of the other way around, as it is now. Good point!

             

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