by Mike Masnick
Wed, May 4th 2011 6:49am
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Nov 24th 2010 1:44pm
from the nice-work-guys dept
Yes, PC Mag published an article highlighting alternatives to LimeWire, just like a ton of other websites did. Anyone who was looking for an alternative to LimeWire didn't need PCMag to find them. In fact, many reports noted a noticeable increase of downloads of those alternatives pretty quickly after LimeWire went down. The lobbyists get pretty worked up about all this, though:
Let's be honest. The vast majority of LimeWire's users were interested in one thing and one thing only: downloading our music for free with the full knowledge that what they were doing was illegal. The harm done to the creative community when people are encouraged to steal our music is immeasurable. Disclaimer or no, when you offer a list of alternative P2P sites to LimeWire -- and include more of the serial offenders -- PC Magazine is slyly encouraging people to steal more music and place at risk the tens of thousands of music industry jobs -- including singers, songwriters, musicians and the technical professionals who put it all together. Even worse is offering a direct link to a "resurrected" Limewire as follows: "I went ahead and downloaded LimeWire Pirate Edition for *ahem* research purposes, and can report that it appears to be working very smoothly. In the event that you, yourself, would like to do some research, you can download the client here (direct link)."Yes, they're quite upset about that article about the LimeWire Pirate Edition (which we wrote about as well). Only problem? PCMag didn't publish it. Nor did any other Ziff Davis publications. It was actually in PC World, which is published by IDG -- a totally different company than Ziff Davis. Now, it's not hard to confuse PCMag and PC World -- lots of people do. But when sending an angry letter condemning a publisher, you would think that maybe one of these super powerful industry lobbyist/mouthpieces would think to actually check the sources before mouthing off.
Given this mistake, it should come as little surprise that the rest of the letter is also full of factually ridiculous claims, such as "job loss" numbers due to "piracy" -- numbers that have been widely debunked so many times that it's almost pathological that these groups still cling to them like some talisman. Also, it's kind of funny that they imply the publishing business would feel differently if it had also been decimated by free competition (they call it "piracy," but they mean free competition). Ziff Davis is, in fact, a shell of its former self due to exactly that situation. However, the company has been trying hard to resurrect itself by actually competing in the marketplace -- something the signers of this letter could learn from.
Of course, I'm sort of curious what these groups actually think they're accomplishing with a letter like this. If it's to pressure magazines like PC Mag (or, ahem, PC World) not to publish such stories, that won't stop the info from getting out there. It will only increase the irrelevance of those publications -- especially if they feel brow-beaten by a bunch of dinosaurs, who refuse to adapt no matter how many times it's been shown to them how they can embrace the future successfully. This really feels like the sort of letter that these guys signed onto so they can show their constituency that they're "doing something" by stomping their feet, rather than actually doing something helpful like helping those they represent to adapt and embrace new opportunities. The full amusing letter is included after the jump...
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Oct 21st 2010 4:00am
from the can't-think-of-many-worse-ideas dept
Curley indicated that the clearinghouse's biggest moneymaking opportunity is likely to be the licensing of copyright-protected content to mobile phones and an array of computer tablets such as Apple Inc.'s iPad and emerging competitors.Huh? You license content to website or apps, not to platforms... This seems to have absolute disaster written all over it.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Oct 7th 2010 12:51pm
ASCAP Tells Artists It's Cutting Their Payments As It Brags To The Press How Much More Money It's Collecting
from the whose-interests? dept
ASCAP cut payments to some members of it's ASCAPlus program by 20-30%. "Unfortunately, because of the fiscal climate, less money was available this year for the award program," ASCAP said in a letter to those receiving checks.Ah, right. The tough economic climate. We do know about that. But... wait. Here's an ASCAP press release from just five months ago, claiming it was bringing in more money than ever:
"Music is performed more often, in more places, in more ways by more businesses than ever before. That expanded music use, combined with dramatic ASCAP Membership growth, market share increases and effective strategic management have led to stunning revenue and distribution growth for 2009."Okay, so ASCAP is collecting more money and distributing more money, but it's cutting the amount given to ASCAPlus members by a huge amount. What's ASCAPlus? Ah, right, the smaller artists who can't make a big stink about this:
"writer members of any genre whose performances are primarily in venues not surveyed; and/or writer members whose catalogs have prestige value for which they would not otherwise be compensated."In other words, ASCAP appears to be taking more money away from small artists, and giving it to their biggest artists. No wonder ASCAP's Paul Williams refuses to debate Larry Lessig, claiming he'd rather focus on "fair compensation to music creators." Unless you're a smaller, less well known artist. Then ASCAP wants your share to be a little less fair. Actually, quite a bit less fair. Like 20 to 30%.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Sep 28th 2010 2:04pm
from the get-it-straight dept
Both sides appealed. Yahoo and RealNetworks appealed the crazy fee formula, and ASCAP appealed the claim that a download was not a public performance. The Second Circuit appeals court has now ruled and gone against ASCAP on both issues. It reaffirmed that a download is not a public performance (and thus, performance rights fees are not applicable) and rejected the bizarre calculation method used, as not "adequately supported" as being reasonable.
The fact that the statute defines performance in the audio-visual context as "show[ing]" the work or making it "audible" reinforces the conclusion that "to perform" a musical work entails contemporaneous perceptibility. ASCAP has provided no reason, and we can surmise none, why the statute would require a contemporaneously perceptible event in the context of an audio-visual work, but not in the context of a musical work.The court also scolds ASCAP for blatantly misreading other opinions on what constitutes a public performance and points out that ASCAP appears to "misread the definition of 'publicly,'" noting that ASCAP's definition of a public performance seems to "render superfluous" the term "a performance" in the Copyright Act. Ouch.
The downloads at issue in this appeal are not musical performances that are contemporaneously perceived by the listener. They are simply transfers of electronic files containing digital copies from an on-line server to a local hard drive. The downloaded songs are not performed in any perceptible manner during the transfers; the user must take some further action to play the songs after they are downloaded. Because the electronic download itself involves no recitation, rendering, or playing of the musical work encoded in the digital transmission, we hold that such a download is not a performance of that work....
As for the royalty fees, the court is pretty clear that it doesn't buy the formula being used:
First, the district court did not adequately support the reasonableness of its method for measuring the value of the Internet Companies' music use. Second, the district court did not adequately support the reasonableness of the 2.5% royalty rate applied to the value of the Internet Companies' music use.In other words, you don't just get to make up numbers out of nowhere.
That said, the court does say that it isn't necessarily against using such a "music-use-adjustment-fraction," it just needs the number to actually be supported. This is unfortunate, as it leads to improperly using non-music revenue as part of the calculation for how much should be paid for the music license. However, the court tries to deal with this by saying that the reasonable support needed would justify what the multiplier factor would be. Its main concern with the lower court's ruling was that it didn't take this into account and used a measure that made little sense (time spent listening to streams) which had little bearing on ad revenue:
The district court's MUAF accounts for the value of Yahoo!'s music use by using the amount of time that music is streamed. Streaming time, however, neither drives nor correlates with Yahoo!'s advertising revenue. The record evidence makes plain that Yahoo!'s advertising revenue model more accurately correlates with the number of times a particular page is accessed by users than to the duration of streaming time.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Aug 19th 2010 3:04pm
Recording Industry Using Net Neutrality Debate To Try To Link Child Porn With Copyright Infringement Again
from the it's-not-the-same dept
The music community we represent believes it is vital that any Internet policy initiative permit and encourage ISPs and other intermediaries to take measures to deter unlawful activity such as copyright infringement and child pornography.The industry seems to work overtime to try to link these two concepts together, despite the vast differences between them. It's really an incredibly cynical, exploitative and disgusting move by the recording industry, and people should really start calling them on it.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Aug 2nd 2010 11:59am
from the but-you're-giving-it-away-for-free dept
Anyway, since ASCAP believes that every public performance needs to be paid for, and the idea of "free promotion" is a myth, I do have to ask: is ASCAP paying Peter Himmelman, the guy who made the video, each time it's played?
Update 2: Also, as many in the comments have noted, they've also produced a second video, which is just ridiculously misleading. You can watch it here:
The bigger problem is that it sets up a total strawman to knocks down, in saying that people don't think music is "as valuable" as a variety of tangible goods because you can hold/eat/watch those goods "and because people made them." The conclusion of the video? Music is valuable because "people made it." Uh, ok. Except that the debate isn't over the value of music. It's about the price of music, and it's intellectually dishonest to pretend that value and price are the same thing. And while some people might actually find a TV set or a pair of shoes more valuable than music, it's not because one is tangible and the other is not. It's because they simply value one more than the other. What people are actually arguing -- a point that ASCAP won't address because it can't -- is that setting up a bureaucracy that gets a government granted ability to demand money from venues promoting musicians music can actually do serious harm to musicians by making it that much more difficult to find venues that can promote their music.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 28th 2010 10:58am
from the you-and-me-against-the-world dept
Hephaestus points out that Williams and ASCAP have refused to debate Lessig, with an open letter that is so bizarre that I keep rereading it to make sure it's not a joke. But, apparently, it's no joke, and it gets more and more bizarre the further you read, down to the point where Williams suggests Lessig's request for a debate is really an attempt to "silence" him. But, let's start at the beginning:
Anti-copyright crusaders are currently engaged in a publicity campaign to discredit ASCAP's efforts to defend the copyrights of our professional songwriter and composer members.Again, the groups that Williams mentioned (though, amusingly, he does not rename them here) are not anti-copyright. And the statement is wrong as well. The only thing people are trying to "discredit," are the blatantly false claims that EFF, Public Knowledge and Creative Commons are trying to undermine copyright or that "their mission is to spread the word that our music should be free." None of those groups makes any such claim.
The copyleft movement has encouraged a culture of disrespect for copyright by defending corporate and individual infringers; undermining every effort to provide more effective protection, no matter how limited or reasonable; promoting a reduction in copyright protection; supporting the dismantling of our rights through the courts; and questioning the basic premise that the tidal wave of infringements and unlicensed uses online hurts creators.Well, that's one way of looking at things. Even if it's wrong. First of all, Creative Commons has done no such thing in "defending" infringers. That's just false. EFF and Public Knowledge don't defend infringement, either. They defend consumer rights, and advocate balance in how copyright law treats consumers. Copyright law in the US was always supposed to be about providing more benefit to society as a whole, not about protectionism of artists. That EFF and Public Knowledge get attacked for simply reminding people of that fact seems like a travesty. As for the final point: "questioning the basic premise that the tidal wave of infringements and unlicensed uses online hurts creators." How does asking whether or not a claim made by certain organizations is true or false undermine copyright?
Has ASCAP really sunk so low that simply looking to see if something is factual is somehow "undermining" copyright? Really?
Then, in responding directly to Lessig's debate challenge, Williams spends a few paragraphs talking about his own success as a songwriter, and how he now spends all of his time fighting for the right of songwriters to make a living. And, because of that, he doesn't have time to debate Lessig, because he doesn't see how it will "help" in this neverending fight.
Of course, this is ridiculous. Everyone wants content creators to be fairly compensated and to earn a good living. The EFF has even put together a proposal (which I don't agree with) to create an ASCAP-like setup for digital music. Creative Commons gives content creators more options in easily licensing their music, to make it easier for them to get heard and to use within a business model. As for Public Knowledge, just a few months ago I was at an event they put on, which celebrated various content creators and their success stories in figuring out smart ways to earn a living. And, of course, many others who are regularly derided as being a part of the "copyleft" are successful content creators ourselves, and regularly highlight smart ways for content creators to earn a living. Suggesting that any of us are against helping content creators earn a living is both false and extremely disingenuous.
And then it gets bizarre. Williams simply repeats the false claims that were clearly debunked by tons of people in responding to his original letter:
I am well aware of those "copyleft" mouthpieces who take a highly critical view of ASCAP's efforts to protect our members' rights. That will not change ASCAP's commitment to doing so. ASCAP exists for one purpose -- fair payment to music creators for the use of their music by businesses and others who seek to attract viewers and customers. ASCAP has long welcomed and licensed new technological means of performing its members works, seeking only reasonable fees for those performances. Our members have every right to give their music away for free if they choose, but they should not be forced to do so.People aren't upset that ASCAP is trying to protect members' rights. They're upset that (1) ASCAP seems to stretch the legal boundaries to do so -- such as claiming that ringtones or the 30-second "previews" on iTunes are "public performances" that require a separate licensing fee and (2) that you falsely claimed any of these groups were somehow seeking to "force" musicians to give away their music for free. No one has ever suggested that at all. That's what got everyone upset. For Wiliams' response to simply repeat that blatantly false claim is strange.
And then there's this:
What I find most fascinating is that those who purport to support a climate of free culture work so hard to silence opposing points of view. They will not silence me.Huh?!? No one has tried, at all, to silence Williams. In fact, people seem to have done the exact opposite. They've asked you to come out and talk about stuff in a public debate. That's the opposite of trying to silence you. No one has any interest in silencing Williams at all. We just want him to stop making totally false claims and attacking groups who have worked hard to support artists as well by falsely suggesting they seek to undermine artists.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 13th 2010 5:17pm
Larry Lessig Challenges ASCAP Boss To A Debate Over Whether Or Not Creative Commons Undermines Copyright
from the throwdown dept
So here's my challenge, ASCAP President Paul Williams: Let's address our differences the way decent souls do. In a debate. I'm a big fan of yours, and If you'll grant me the permission, I'd even be willing to sing one of your songs (or not) if you'll accept my challenge of a debate. We could ask the New York Public Library to host the event. I am willing to do whatever I can to accommodate your schedule.So, will ASCAP and Williams -- who has been on an anti-Lessig rampage for a while now -- step up and actually debate? And if Williams agrees to such a debate, will he finally stop making false claims about these groups?
Let's meet and address these perceived differences with honesty and good faith. No doubt we have disagreements (for instance, I love rainy days, and Mondays rarely get me down). But on the issues that your organization and mine care about, there should be no difference worthy of an attack.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jul 9th 2010 5:42pm
from the yikes dept
There are so many problems with this suggestion it's difficult to know where to start. The biggest of all, however, is that the "problem" this is seeking to solve hasn't been shown to have been a problem at all. Newspapers and the AP keep claiming that there's an "aggregator problem," but we went looking for it and we can't find it. The problem is that the AP and others change the definition of who's a problem depending on what they're talking about. Sometimes its sites like Google. But Google isn't really a problem because Google shows headlines and barely a snippet. That's clearly fair use and drives traffic (hell, the entire SEO industry depends on that). So, it's not Google that's the problem. At the other end of the spectrum you have scraper spam sites, but those are fly-by-night, get no traffic and aren't "taking" any real ad revenue away from the original content creators at all. Also, they're certainly not going to pay into any ASCAP-like scheme. Who's left? In the middle you have a few smaller players, like Newser, who basically rewrite some stories, but they're tiny.
So what problem is this bureaucratic mess trying to actually solve? I can't figure it out, but putting together a giant bureaucracy will require a ton of overhead, and all that money is pure waste from an economic standpoint. So, before we start talking about an ASCAP for news, can someone please define what the actual problem is? Because it's certainly not this general "aggregator" menace that we keep hearing about.