Lily Allen's copyright problem

Lily Allen's anti-piracy rant has made her notorious among copyfighters, who have subjected her site and her words to close scrutiny, discovering that Allen's website is chock-a-block with infringing scans of newspaper articles, infringing mix-tapes (even the rant she posted was lifted from Techdirt). Her all-caps responses ("I THINK ITS QUITE OVIOUS THAT I WASNT TRYING TO PASS OF THOSE WORDS AS MY OWN , HERE IS A LINK TO THE WEBSIITE I ACQUIRED THE PIECE FROM.") are the kind of nutty, defensive shouty words that chum the water online.

It's tempting to count coup here and write Allen off as a hypocrite, but there's a more important story here. Allen just hasn't thought this through. Copyright is problematic for everyone: musicians, fans, bloggers. The absence of clear affirmative rights to make personal copies, to share with your friends, to copy for the purposes of discussion and commentary (as opposed to the fuzzy and difficult-to-interpret fair use guidelines, which have been further confused by the entertainment industry's bold attempts to convince us all that they don't matter and can't be relied upon) means that we're all in a state of constant infringement.

A law that no one understands and no one abides by is no law at all. Parts of copyright -- the right to regulate how commercial licenses with industrial entities work -- are really important to me and to all working artists. But if we continue to try to expand copyright to cover everything, every interaction that involves a copy (which is every interaction these days), then the broad consensus that copyright is nonsense will continue to grow, and we'll lose the good stuff as well as the ridiculous stuff.

For the record, I am a small-time Lily Allen fan, and I bought her latest CD after hearing it for free, when a friend emailed me some tracks. If Ms Allen would prefer, I can stop buying and listening to her music, given that I discovered it through "piracy."

Also, this is not the only infringement on her blog. While she's trying to point out how much damage 'pirates' do to the music industry she blatantly infringed the copyrights of a number of newspapers by posting scanned articles.

To make things even more absurd Techdirt discovered that Lily is pirating music herself by offering some unauthorized mixtapes (tape 1 and tape 2) on her website The tracklist of one of the mixtapes reveals a list of no less than 19 unauthorized tracks. This means the RIAA can easily sue her for millions.

Lily Allen Pirates Music, Is Clueless About Copyright


  1. I hated the linked article. A spiteful rant. And the comments were very much of the LOLZ PWND!!11! variety.

    How about – Lily Allen is entitled to feel strongly about the issue of piracy *as it seems from her point of view*, and her lack of awareness about the full range of issues just exemplifies how complex and unworkable the law is?

    And isn’t, like, a personal failing.

    Presumably “torrentfreak” is frequented by people who think that piracy is a god-given right; please don’t assume that boingboing readers all share that view.

  2. “It’s tempting to count coup here and write Allen off as a hypocrite, but there’s a more important story here. Allen just hasn’t thought this through. Copyright is problematic for everyone”

    Well said! This needs to be the rallying cry.

    I don’t share the schadenfreude glee of the torrentfreak people, but I do think that LULZ-PWNing copyright hypocrites helps get this message out, and helps the message sink in: Copyright is problematic for everyone!

  3. The problem with copyright lied in assuming that it’s something done for the benefit of the copyright holder. It’s not. It’s a legal bone thrown to them to make it worth their while to create more stuff for the audience.

    Whatever copyright is the minimum required to keep the wheels turning is the most any reasonable person would suggest offering. A year or two might do it.

  4. 5onthe5 – but…. it is a personal failing. Not unlike reading a personal attack that simply is not there into a blog post about a common misunderstanding.

  5. I hope Johnny Law throws the book at her. And the book had better be in the public domain otherwise it might be illegal. Modern copyright is confusing.

  6. B-B-B-but Miss Allen! Whether or not you meant to pass the words off as her own is beside the point. As every good little boy and girl who’s been to anti-songlifting class knows, IF YOU DIDN’T PAY FOR IT, YOU STOLE IT.


  7. The ability to copy something has gone from the extremely elevated (pre-Gutenberg books and illustrations), to moderated (photocopying printed books, copying vinyl disks into tape), to basically free (copying anything that’s in digital form). At the same time, the fidelity of the copies has increased from low to perfect.

    The copyright question has finally achieved a cultural level. People will only pay for content if they feel any ethical obligation to do so, within their culture. Suing file sharers for millions, treating paying customers as thieves, and extending copyrights into centuries is the wrong way to do it. As Cory said it, it’s a very complex issue. Things will continue changing.

  8. And here in the UK, of course, there isn’t even fair use.

    Oh, under certain very limited circumstances I gather you can argue that copying something is legal — summarising someone else’s work for a critical piece, for example, providing you don’t quote long chunks (whatever “long” means) — but the law over here, as written, isn’t as friendly.

  9. I wonder if the track Cory’s friend emailed him was #8 – “F*** You”?

    Seems to be pretty much Lily Allen’s attitude to everything.

  10. The “not trying to pass it off as my own” comment is very telling. If she doesn’t even understand the difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement, she’s not sufficiently informed about the basics to have her opinions on the matter taken seriously. Confusion is exactly right.

  11. @2 – agree.

    @4 – weasly use of ‘reasonable’. like, I’d be cool with even for the lifetime of the creator of the work, else it would just force even more old failster acts to keep going on reunion tours. which would so suck.

    organic food is good also

  12. It’s such a large and undignified fail by Mz Allen.
    Any credibility she has built up over the last 12 months has surely taken a wallop. I’ll continue to share what I can with my friends.

  13. Is anyone else curious how many times she has been reported to the RIAA since this came to light? Any bets on whether she’ll be prosecuted?

  14. What would happen if EVERYONE who has ever downloaded or copied anything illegally wrote a full signed confession, with names and dates, and sent it to the relevant copywright authority?

    The system would freeze under the weight of millions of cases, and no-one would incur any penalty.

  15. The Guardian’s Ben Goldacre sells T-shirts on his Bad Science website that Lily might like.
    They say “I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that”.

  16. RedConsensus hits the nail on the head. Of course Lily Allen won’t be prosecuted. And maybe some lawyer will be able to use that next time the RIAA tries to terrorize some poor schlemiel for having twenty tracks that weren’t paid for.

    Here’s a related question: How many RIAA execs (or their kids) have pirated music or other content on their computers?

    The RIAA is legal terrorism (law terrorism, not terrorism made legal). Pharmaceuticals manufacturers do the same thing when the sue researchers who are turning up bad news about drugs the government (usually the US govt) want to allow on the market on the say-so of the maker.

  17. @Hugh Sansom:

    If you are right, what do we do about it? I mean, even in an abstract, blue-sky-thinking sense?

    Do people think that a good model exists for a society that ensures that its laws are enforced without bias? Because it doesn’t sound like it to me.

    How do we improve the model?

    Maybe I should have the same right to demand the courts prosecute copyright offenders (for example) as the RIAA does? That might actually help take the wind out of their sales.

    Are the RIAA’s excesses because of bad copyright law? Or are they because they have an unfair amount of leverage to apply the law?

  18. @18- Refuse to purchase anything that’s not either public domain or under some copyright license that you consider more bearable.

    But no one’s going to do this, because it’d mean missing out on the latest major hit.
    As long as you want the heroin, the heroin dealer can charge what he likes.

  19. Are the RIAA’s excesses because of bad copyright law? Or are they because they have an unfair amount of leverage to apply the law?

    A Thought Experiment: If copyright automatically reverted to the actual creator every six months (no contract with a distributor can be for a longer term), then your questions would answer themselves.

  20. As others have pointed out, Lily Allen will never be treated the same as other pirates by the RIAA. She’ll never be financially ruined by a kangaroo court at the RIAA’s bequest. She’ll never have to worry about her internet access being cut off at the whim of the RIAA, without due process or appeal. Of course Lily Allen is biased. The law, and any penalties that go along with it won’t ever apply to her. She is the worst kind of hypocrite – not for her piracy, but for advocating law that only applies to common people (that she clearly despises for doing exactly as she does).

    The truly sad part is that she appears to be proud of her views, and entirely dismissive of the very concerns that she espouses when they apply to others.

    What a real disappointment she is – her blog has no real dialogue or discussion, no real inquiry into what are genuinely complex issues – just blind rage and entitlement, the thought that her trough mightn’t be as full of slop as it could be. Grow up Lily, the world doesn’t revolve around you.

  21. @MDH:

    Not sure that helps. Under your thought experiment, the RIAA would have no excuse to prosecute, true, but they would also have no power to do so — the publishing companies would not be the power centre.

    A different thought experiment: If copyright law was as it is now, but the amount of money or leverage a body had, had no effect on their ability to prosecute or on the outcome of the case.

    I suspect that the RIAA would not be getting away with it’s bullying tactics, since it would be being prosecuted just as much as it was prosecuting.

    Of course, copyright law would still be a monolithic, outdated mess. But without big business putting their thumb on the scales, perhaps we could sort that out.

    Just a thought experiment. Just wondering if the bigger problem here is how money influences the law.

  22. “A law that no one understands and no one abides by is no law at all.”

    Don’t be silly. You’re just inviting Lord of the Flies, or Clockwork Orange, or Mogadishu, to be an everyday banality.

    The law has a neat, operationally useful response to this: ignorance of the law is not a defence.

    Why the fuck are you all so worried? Just stop feeding the beast – stop buying huge music collections, or ripping them, whatever. This used to concern me, but I just stopped buying junk, and listen to the radio, and buy what’s good subsequently.

    Because, frankly, you all seem to want to be “in”. Basically a bunch of forlorn fashionistas desperate for the next fix.

  23. @shadowfirebird – i suggest a theoretical change to a law which enabled big business to have such a weighty thumb, and you suggest a theoretical change to reality where money is no longer the entire point.

    I think that in my scenario, where artists have the leverage to get away from bad deals, the RIAA would be nearly out of business pretty quick, as it is the labels (which make money off of the artists copyright), who support the RIAA, and not the artists themselves.

  24. It appears that at the moment (11:00 am UK Time) Lily’s new Blog has no contents – all the posts and comments have gone.

  25. According to Ms Allen’s twitter
    there’s a meeting today in London where some artists will discuss piracy…
    But she won’t attend this event believing she would attract too much press.
    And she shut down her blog
    when she could have just disabled the comments.
    How childish!

    But part of me thinks it’s a good thing she has started a debate but certainly not in the correct manner.
    This is an important issue and we are at a turn point where we need to redefine our rights and duties regarding copyrighted material.

    And in many countries like France where I am, laws to regulate copyright infringments will also remove freedom from its citizens.
    Internet is a neutral and free place today but this might not last long.

  26. “I hated the linked article. A spiteful rant. And the comments were very much of the LOLZ PWND!!11! variety.

    And isn’t, like, a personal failing.”

    If you make public statements lobbying for a law, it’s fair game for people to criticise your arguments. I found the alleged “rant” polite to her – which is far more than could be said of the style of her now-deleted blog.

    “Presumably “torrentfreak” is frequented by people who think that piracy is a god-given right; please don’t assume that boingboing readers all share that view.””

    Do you have an argument, or are you just going to make assumptions and generalise about everyone based on the name of the site?

    There are a wide range of views – including, yes, those who believe that copyright law shouldn’t apply to non-commercial distribution, but also people who don’t believe that, but nonetheless oppose the Government’s proposed law on “three strikes” for a wide range of other reasons. Trying to polarise the debate into simply pro/anti-copyright is exactly the same flawed argument that Lily Allen was making.

    The irony is, you are guilty of the same thing that you fear others may do! So I say to you, please don’t assume that torrentfreak readers all share the same view.

  27. I’m tempted to start a campaign to mass report her to the RIAA’s report piracy page just to see if anything ever comes of it. It would be interesting to see how much press could be drummed up over her file sharing and whether or not the RIAA would even make a token effort to prosecute one of ‘their own’.

  28. The content industry wants to help us forgetting that “copyright” means “the right to copy (or not)” – that it is a positive right rather than a restriction.

    Don’t let them help you.

    Greetings, LX

  29. “A law that no one understands and no one abides by is no law at all.”

    #23 says…
    The law has a neat, operationally useful response to this: ignorance of the law is not a defence.

    Naah. I don’t buy this. You can have a low that no-one understands, but enforcing the law brings the whole law mechanism into disrepute.

    I heard a neat analogy on Radio 4 last night. We know that some people drive dangerously. We have speed limits and breath tests to limit what people can do on some testable criteria. But accidents still happen. Suppose we labeled all driving as potentially dangerous and therefore illegal, and left it to the authorities to prosecute the cases they thought warranted it? You can guess how that might pan out.

    Copyright has almost got to this stage. Most people have probably infringed a technical copyright by making a copy or partial copy of something for their own use. I used to wonder as a child whether the standard copyright formula including copying to a ‘storage and retrieval system’ could include our own minds. Are we technically breaking copyright when we read a book or listen to music because we remember having done so?

  30. It’s lucky Lily’s not French:

    Copying the article: Strike one!

    The first mixtape: Strike two!

    The second mixtape: Steeeee-RIKE THREE! You’re banned from the intertubes!

  31. @31 application of the law differs from existence of the law – at each level – from the witness who calls in a crime, to the interviewing officers, to the magistrate, to the judge etc etc – none can avoid a margin of subjective behaviour.

    And when you’re talking about the law coming into disrepute – that’s a political argument, not a legal argument. The law is (and should be) an untouchable set of principles – otherwise every entrepreneur who beefed up the kids’ milk supplies with melanine would erode it away.

    But politicians do influence the law, that’s right.

    But let’s clarify and correct the piece author – and you’re welcome to research this – it is a fundamental element of the rule of law that ignorance of the law is no defence.

    And for all you pretty pseudo-anarchists out there – you all live happily, gaily and freely under the rule of law. Have a few days in Mogadishu to note the difference.

    As for Lily Allen – whatever, so what?! Who cares? Do something useful with your time – save some children from suffering or starving. Donate. Investigate. Stop perusing music to download.

    These laws wouldn’t matter if the use for them simply crumbled away.

  32. Allen just hasn’t thought this through.

    Well duh. If you’d said “Dawkins just hasn’t thought this through” or “Hawking just hasn’t thought this through” that mighta been a bit closer to earth shattering. Lily Allen is just a daft pop singer, she’s not meant to think things through. All that’s needed here is for someone close to her to tell her to shut up.

  33. According to Allen, this is Matt Bellamy of Muse speaking:

    My current opinion is that file sharing is now the norm. This cannot be changed without an attack on perceived civil liberties which will never go down well. The problem is that the ISPs making the extreme profits (due to millions of broadband subscriptions) are not being taxed by the copyright owners correctly and this is a legislation issue. Radio stations and TV stations etc have to pay the copyright owners (both recording and publishing) a fee for using material they do not own. ISPs should have to pay in the same way with a collection agency like PRS doing the monitoring and calculations based on encoded (but freely downloaded) data. Broadband makes the internet essentially the new broadcaster. This is the point which is being missed.

    Also, usage should have a value. Someone who just checks email uses minimal bandwidth, but someone who downloads 1 gig per day uses way more, but at the moment they pay the same. It is clear which user is hitting the creative industries and it is clear which user is not, so for this reason, usage should also be priced accordingly. The end result will be a taxed, monitored ISP based on usage which will ensure both the freedom of the consumer and the rights of the artists – the loser will be the ISP who will probably have to increase subscription costs to compensate, but the user will have the freedom to choose between checking a few emails (which will cost far less than a current monthly subscription) and downloading tons of music and film (which will cost probably a bit more than current subscription, but not that much more).

    We should set up a meeting with Lord Mandelson as he is on this issue at the moment, I’m sure he would meet us for breakfast!

    Another artist who should stick to making music, not thinking up new schemes for ISPs to make money. Especially the “freedom of the consumer” bit is rich.

    To me, these opinions all sound like they’re meant to justify their living. I think any sane person could see that the current copyright situation needs work. These artists come on so strong because they too probably feel that it’s not quite right, but hey, we’re the poor artist, remember! Once you start believing your own lies, there’s only one way to go. (Hint: not up)

  34. Apologizing in advance:



    (Again, I apologize. Please don’t ban me.)

  36. A lot of people are slagging off Lily instead of coming up with valid arguments.

    All she is saying is that filesharing is not okay. She’s got a point, even if she inadvertantly breaks the law herself. Why should music be free?

    She also slags off the music industry, who are basically the legitimized crooks behind the whole sorry situation.

  37. Grozbat, she’s says that “stealing from her” is not OK, yet, as a profession in the industry and a sort of “expert witness”, she is saying through her actions — releasing other peoples, and her own, MP3’s online for free download without permission sought — that it is OK after all. So her selfish gut instinct is that she feels money is being taken from her, but her “real” view as seen by her actions is that copying is OK in at least certain situations like trading mix tapes with the public.

    Her words aside, she is evidence of artists being supportive of copyright laws being relaxed.

  38. “We should set up a meeting with Lord Mandelson as he is on this issue at the moment, I’m sure he would meet us for breakfast!”

    I’m sure he would, Matt Bellamy of Muse! All you need to do is buy a 400 million pound villa in Corfu and rustle up some Faberge eggs and toast soldiers. He’ll change any law you want!

  39. The law is (and should be) an untouchable set of principles – otherwise every entrepreneur who beefed up the kids’ milk supplies with melanine would erode it away.

    But of course, if you are a large enough corporation you just buy a few legislators (politicians one and all) and get your own “untouchable set of principles” enacted.

    The reality is that if you have enough money you can lay hands all over the law and its principles. You get as much justice as you can afford.

  40. Well, I didn’t suggest that my thought experiment above was *practical*. Really it’s not practical for us to design changes to copyright law, either, unless one of us commenting here happens to be in congress.

    But I think it’s important to know where a process has gone wrong before you think about where to take a moral stand on fixing it. That’s how I feel, anyway.

    I agree that the world has changed enough to make copyright law completely broken (for its original purpose).

    But on reading early comments to this post I came to wonder whether the more basic problem was that power and money have more influence over how a law is used than, say, the people supposedly protected by that law.

    Sure, we can’t fix that. But if there’s something basically wrong with democracy, I want to have an opinion about it.

  41. Why is copyright bad? Without copyright we couldn’t use the licenses we want on our work. If there was no copyright I couldn’t GPL stuff or make my stuff available with one of the liberal CC licenses. I don’t get it, why would you want to get rid of copyright?

  42. Copyright is problematic for everybody!

    Imagine the government sets up a Copyright Police Force. They randomly spot-check 100,000 computers a month all over the country. Checks are carried out with no notice. Every megabyte of illegal content earns you a $10 fine, and there are no exceptions to payment of the fine when illegal content is found.

    The Copyright Police Force could then say – this isn’t muddy, unclear or fuzzy. It’s consistent and easy to understand. If you have copyright matieral on your machine that you haven’t paid for, every meg of it earns you a $10 fine. Copying material that is copyright is illegal.

    Then we’d have a copyright law everyone can understand, and yet it would still be greeted as some infringment of human rights by the internet.

  43. It’s a bit disingenious to approach this from the perspective that this is Ms Allen’s actual opinion and an act of hypocrisy on her part, rather than her fulfilling a contractual obligation to act as the mouthpiece of the record company that is riding her like a rodeo bull.

    Would this not explain the says=/=does relationship described? It also involves unfair pressure on the subject from an evil oppressive copywrong-promoting Corporation (not the capital C) so I’m surprised that this interpretation is not more attractive to all you lefty pirate types than the original POV Cory outlines, which essentially boils down to; “dumb pop star is dumb, hurrrrrrr.”

  44. @43 that is, of course, why you form community action and follow through on your challenges to legal issues, rather than uselessly fretting about them.

    It’s not really a case of the giant stomping on the population (remember also that many members of that population have savings, shares, mortgages with or connected to the institutions they accuse of molesting them) – it’s that the population’s will folds under pressure. Since forever this happens.

    My big lesson to my kids will be – stand your ground – if you believe, fight and gather resource.

    Another point about all of this is the consideration of how much money copyright holders make: I generally disagree that artists should get super-rich off my back (so I don’t buy their stuff).

    In essence – if only really valuable, enjoyable art was out there, we’d be willing to pay – but the overall music economy would shrink.

    By even complaining about this copyright issue, you’re playing the overall game that the music producers want you to play: you’re still focused on getting their stuff, free or not, good or not. And that’s right where they want you to be.

    In 1920, I’m sure this wasn’t such a big issue.

  45. But, whilst agreeing that the companies trying to enforce copyright by suing people are misguided, can we not all agree that long-term, mass infringement is wrong? That’s what seems to get lost in all the blather about civil liberties etc. Of course every little tiny infringement shouldn’t be prosecuted – but neither should people feel they have some kind of inalienable right to have permanent free access for the rest of their natural lives to all the latest albums, movies and games. I accept that a lot of you here probably buy as well as copy, but I don’t think you can say that there aren’t people out there who copy and never buy. I am sure plenty of people copy gargantuan amounts year after year and feel nothing but spiteful resentment at the idea of having to pay for entertainment ever again. I think there should be a consensus in society that it is not everyone’s inalienable right to download freely with impunity all that they take a fancy to.

  46. That whole tired internet thing always shocks me. I am a programmer and sys admin who works 100% remotely. If I, and my fellow workers, were charged more for the bandwidth we used my employer would quickly begin to rack up huge bills. The Business of the US is Business, and that Business would grind to a halt if we implemented a de-facto IT tax.

    I suppose that industry could issue “get out of bandwidth free” cards to users like myself, or force me to use a VM Ware box in the data center exclusively, but why? To satisfy the desires of a group of people who think the internet is only for Twitter, File sharing and MySpace?

    When you go to the Hospital, Bank or Supermarket you are using the Internet. Please, consider the grown-ups who are doing their work and making an honest living before advocating for tired services.

  47. Ths sht s rdcls. #5NTH5 – y’r gddmn dngbt. Srsly- spt chcks f prsnl prprty? “Cpyrght plc”?! vr my dd bdy – FCK Y.

    Lily Allen is uninformed and irrelevant. Moreover, copyright law should be rescinded in it’s entirety.

  48. #50 – Copyright is simply less important than all the other stuff that would be lost under your proposal.

    It’s really not very important at all. It gets flouted all the time and the sky ain’t falling.

  49. The only reason I can’t justify making copyrights last much less (2 years or so?) is how horrid it would be to see businesses using my work to advertise horseshit to consumerist America.

  50. In 1920, I’m sure this wasn’t such a big issue.

    Unfortunately, being sure is not a guard against being wrong.

    “The thing that Sousa (and some other American composers) and the music publishers were most upset about was the fact that copyright covered printing and public performance, but did not cover the mechanical reproduction involved in cutting a roll for a player piano or recording a disk or a cylinder for a phonograph or gramophone. Their goal was to get a new provision (section g) which would give composers (and thus publishers) the right to charge a royalty for these sound recordings. In strong opposition was the recording industry — which violently denied that the copyright holders should gain any share of the new market that (as they saw it) had been created out of thin air by technological innovation. To give copyright holders a veto over technology, they argued, would be fatal to the progress the Copyright Clause was designed to promote…there is no small irony involved here, since this is the opposite position that the recording industry takes today (having secured their legal rights) when they face the new technologies of the Net. What’s more, the representatives of the recording and player piano industry believed that there was no harm being done to the composers by the mechanical reproduction of their music.”

    recklessly copied from:

  51. Copyright exists because we as a society (a few of you smelly lot could do with a wash, but you get to be in, nonetheless) agree that our lives are enhanced by quality entertainment, and it’s right for the creators to have a slice of cash for generating it.

    What we don’t think about so much is that if we didn’t reward creation, it wouldn’t happen. Look at the artistic qualities of Soviet Russia. Or even more dreaded, Communist China.

    It’s been profitalised, is all. Don’t use rubbish that’s masquerading as art – it’s bad for your life.

  52. @40 – “A lot of people are slagging off Lily instead of coming up with valid arguments.”

    That’s the way a lot of these copyfight arguments go, but it’s a battle between incorrigible arses. On one side you have record labels who are concerned with profit over product trying to criminalise the people who love their product the most & on the other side you have an army of anonymous internet cocks who refuse to recognise that their behaviour is contributing to the collapse of the things they love.

    I’m sure that the ‘pirated’ Lily Allen tracks Cory listened to helped him make the decision to buy the album. I’m sure that when someone talks about going to a Blonde Redhead show because they downloaded their album from a torrent & liked it is being sincere. But the fact that music industry revenues & independent record stores are collapsing around us shows that these positives are being grossly outweighed by the revenues being lost.

    We should absolutely fight governments who impose legislation that impinges on our civil liberties & fight for individuals facing disproportionate damage claims from boneheaded record labels. But that doesn’t mean that we have to defend our right to download music through p2p without rewarding the artists!

    The worst thing is, we’re being given better ways to sample music now. Cory’s friend could have told him to check out the Lily tracks on her Myspace or Spotify. The problem at the moment is that people check out the songs on Myspace.. then if they like it they grab a torrent.

    I don’t think that’s okay! And I wish more people would concede that.

  53. @#56: The argument that we need a basis on which creative people can be rewarded can be used both for and against the current copyright situation.

    At least I have to admit that the RIAA/MPAA is very creative in their mostly legal actions against the own customers on their cost – yet I am not sure whether this creativity is to be rewarded…

    Greetings, LX
    P.S.: I make music myself and am fed up to here (indicating a height matching the Mt. Everest) with the industry that makes money off other peoples creativity.

  54. I do think that’s okay, in fact. Most “modern” music is produced for advertising purposes anyway, and has no real intrinsic value. The acts are just elements in a production chain involving TV, films, press, marketing materials, gadgets, supermarkets, elevators and starbucks joints. The acts see very little of that money, in fact they mostly don’t care about their music being played in elevators, but that’s exactly the reason for the label to produce them. They produce them to sell posters and t-shirts, to get contracts with ad-supported radio and ad-supported tv programs, etc etc.

    What’s wrong with tearing down a bit of this obsolete production model, to replace them with new ones which may not involve the same amount of workforce? That’s what happened in every sector in the last, oh, 500+ years or so.

    Every day there are “revenues being lost” outside the music business, or we would still have candlemakers around instead of stealing energy from this newfangled electricity thing.

    The parasites in the music business (which are NOT the artists, but rather their management, and their management’s management, and their secretaries etc etc) cannot understand that their heady days are over, and are whipping up all sort of excuses. The artists themselves should be smart enough to see that helping them will win no favours with their fans — which are the real final consumers for their “brands”. Lily Allen, as smart as she thinks she is, fails at this.

  55. Toyg,

    You’ve argued why you think it’s not to the artists advantage to support copyright. That’s not the same as arguing why it’s your right to violate it. See the difference?

  56. Any musician worth a shit would want as many people as possible to hear their music, by any means necessary. When you pirate music, you are not hurting musicians, you are hurting record companies, who dug their own graves when they tried passing off tied garbage for 20 bucks a pop. If I love a band or artist, I still buy their music, I only download single tracks that aren’t worth the purchase of an entire album. Maybe these idiots up in arms over piracy should put out better music.

  57. Copyright’s purpose is to encourage creativity, not to reward creative people for their work. The fact that it does reward creative people for their work is just the way the law works and not a goal of the law as it was proposed.

    This is an important distinction. I myself haven’t noticed any decrease in creative output in music since widespread filesharing began. Perhaps you could argue that less music is marketed to the public but this is in no way the same thing. If you look you could still find the same bands playing live gigs and selling cds from the back of a van.

    I’d be interested to know if anyone has any figures on the increase/decrease in music output from artists (not record companies) since file sharing began. I’m quite sure that the amount of people producing music hasn’t decreased, therefore there is nothing wrong with filesharing as it is now.

  58. #56 walterbillington your examples are ludicrous

    Communist China & Soviet Russia suffered from other things than lack of copyright protection.

    I think arresting & persecuting dissidents may have had a leetle something to do with the state of the arts in those places.. which, by the way still managed to produce a few creators (just because you never heard of them doesn’t mean there wasn’t a rock scene & a jazz scene in Russia at least), let alone the poets and authors who had rabid fans and created some pretty great stuff. They didn’t necessarily create it for profit, a lot of them, they created it because they loved art, or had something to say, or wanted to connect with the public & be part of a movement. That doesn’t sound so horrible.

    But even if you are only looking at people creating for profit, you could look at Jamaica. Nope, no creativity there, even when (c) was unenforced on the island pre-1994. Or, try looking at the entire history of human musical creativity from before the current copyright system was created! It actually hasn’t been around so long. Was it really such a cultural wasteland?

    copyright is not and has never been the only way to reward creators. It has never been the primary way to reward some creators. In a particular institutional context, it was a good way for some creators to be rewarded, but others (jazz arrangers for example) were left out. It is simply not the whole story for artist rewards or motivations.

  59. Copyright is not, and never was, the true issue. But the copyright frame is holding most people’s thought in a useless pattern. You have to look past it to the underlying realities.

    The real issue is: enabling the making and distributing of culture. We want good things made, and we want them spread widely to be enjoyed. These are self-evidently good aims, and mutually beneficial. Distribution is solved — it’s called the internet. That leaves helping people to make things — ensuring they have spare time, equipment, money. Developing ways to support that is the real task.

    The aim is not to keep companies in profit, the aim is not to ‘protect’ authors’ ‘rights’ to stop other people copying. An abstract is not ‘owned’, it is not ‘stealable’, it does not have any real attachment to an ‘author’ at all — that whole copyright-oriented idea is a total fiction.

    Copyright is no longer a sensible or practical option — trying to force the internet into a broken state merely to suit an old style of thinking is utterly stupid.

  60. I’m never convinced by either side in these arguments. Yes Lily is annoying and ignorant, but just cos she unintentionally breaks IP law doesn’t make her a mega-hypocrite.

    Equally, just because it’s incredibly easy to copy music & films doesn’t make it right – it just means that practically stopping it is pointless and a new model needs to be found. I just don’t buy the argument that says ‘because i can take your film for free that means i should be allowed to’.

    No people shouldn’t be jailed or even fined for it, but IP owners do have a right to their IP!

  61. I completely agree with your basic point about a law that no one understands being no law at all. Slapping a copyright notice on something I make is a very easy and almost reflexive action. But understanding exactly what it means for anyone who wants to so much as discuss or link to my work via a photograph or quote is simply beyond my scope.

    I was recently writing something that referred to an Associated Press article and I wanted to link to them and show their photograph in my blog post. But I was so nervous about AP’s copyright warnings and completely mysterious monetary charges for various usages, that I dropped the idea entirely and did not link to their material at all.

    It seems to me that bloggers should have pretty wide latitude to use quotations and pictures to link to copyrighted material. In general, I believe that a flexible and easygoing approach to copyright benefits the copyright holders in the long run.

  62. #50 posted by haloyk:
    > can we not all agree that long-term, mass infringement is wrong?
    > it is not everyone’s inalienable right to download freely

    No, these are completely wrong! They assume copyright is the correct basis of judgment, but it is not. The real purpose is creation and propagation of culture.

    Copying things is in itself good. It spreads culture so more people benefit. It only adds to the total good. Any imposed restriction on copying, such as copyright, is in itself bad. You have a moral duty to copy, just as much as to help create.

    The ostensible justification of copyright is that it supports production, despite harming distribution. It is a morally inferior compromise, that can only be argued practically. But it always lacked solid evidence, and with the internet it is no longer practical.

    We should hope mass ‘infringement’ helps destroy obsolete business forms. There are other ways, existing and to be developed, to support cultural creation. They should be the focus of attention.

  63. #73 – “when you pirate music, you are not hurting musicians, you are hurting record companies.”

    Does it occur to you that musicians might need record companies?

    To front up the money for recording, production, marketing, touring, merchandise etc.

    Therefore putting record companies out of business might actually hurt musicians too?

  64. Lily Allen is an irrelevance. She may be the only person in the world to achieve a higher irritation rating that her old man. And he really is a git :)

    Surely the best thing to do is to stop sharing music and film produced by the corrupt likes of Sony and EMI and seek out and share and love music made by thems that are less precious about copyright?

    There are plenty of musicians that self-release and do not worry overly much about people sharing their music (on the basis that obscurity is death for them).

    That would seem to be more revolutionary than choking down the huge shit-sandwich that the entertainment industry wants us to swallow…?

  65. #80:
    >Does it occur to you that musicians might need record companies?

    Maybe in the 70s and decreasingly in the 80s and 90s but no, musicians DO NOT need record companies. They are a middle man, nothing more.

    You don’t need a $1,000/hr studio to record albums anymore. That’s antiquated.

  66. Unfortunately, copyright law is so complicated that it would take 3 years of compulsory high school education before everyone would both understand it, and realise why it was a fundamentally unethical anachronism.

    Our choice is:
    A) Resign our civilisation to a descent into idiocracy, with a congenital inability to form a coherent argument as to how law should protect people’s rights vis a vis intellectual work.
    B) Abolish copyright.

    If you are a predatory corporation you will opt for A in order to preserve your harvest.

    If you are an individual you will opt for A in order to preserve your career prospects.

    B? Not an option.

  67. CrosbieFitch #83:

    The false dichotomy you present does nothing to aid the discussion about how we can fix copyright law.

    I mean, a “decent into idiocracy?” Most technological and philosophical achievements since the Enlightenment have taken place in societies that had SOME form of copyright on the books.

  68. So what happens we finally destroy the record labels and ‘liberate’ artists everywhere to work without those constraints only to find that they still can’t make money because a 100% share of nothing is still nothing?

    Musicians will still need money to create music, if we effectively make the value of music $0 then if the record labels collapsed tomorrow and the artists self-published they still wouldn’t be able to make money off album/song sales & they’d be forced into the same merchandising/touring/advertising/endorsement treadmill that some of you are dismiss as robbing the music of any intrinsic value.

    To paraphrase Bill Hicks – If you don’t believe money has done good things for us, do me a favor. Go home tonight. Take all your albums, all your mp3s and all your CDs and burn them. Because the musicians that made all that great music that’s enhanced your lives throughout the years needed the fucking money.

  69. BOYFINLEY – very well said.

    Maybe you don’t “need $1000/hr to record music”, but talented producers and mixing still count for something, and they don’t work for free.

  70. @75 your innocence and naivete are hilarious. These things go hand in hand. Artistic repression, artistic sloth. You don’t need total freedom to create interesting, wonderful music. Freedom is within the bounds of our perception.

    Rock and jazz scene? Crack me up dude! Monks praying in the monasteries, trees falling in the woods. Had any of it been any good, we’d know of it. But they probably enjoyed it, so full score to them.

    But I liked the way you wrote “leetle” – I’ll use that. Like “leetle beetle”.

  71. Had any of it been any good, we’d know of it.

    Walter, that’s a faintly arrogant point of view. You think a) all the good musicians (in the world) have been world-famous, and b) that you know them all.

    Wow, impressive.

  72. Instead you get a huge debt from your record company, which you spend years working your arse off to repay. When you manage to get a contract, all those pretty videos and posters advertising your album have to be paid for and as the artist, you have to pay for them

    I just like this part of her rant.

    Who’s screwing the artist more? The record company that leaves you with the massive debt whilst they also take the majority of your profits or the people that download your songs (i.e. your audience).

    Everything about her rant is absurd. Apart from the bit about the little people being screwed first, but aint that always the truth. Hopefully those same little people will leave whatever giant shitty record label they’re with and instead start businesses that utilise the technology around them instead of constantly fighting against it.

  73. Hold on a minute – a lot of people here are saying it’s perfectly OK to copy and copyright is dumb, but what if you had a friend who was an artist and their work was ripped off by a big corporation an used in a hugely successful multimillion-dollar ad campaign with no attribution whatsoever, and the corporation flatly refused to even acknowledge what they had done? Cory, what if some major publisher in Europe started republishing all of your books and making a tidy profit on them, all the while refusing to acknowledge that you even existed?

    I just don’t get this. You all seem to be seeing things only from the point of view of yourselves personally, and not from the point of view of people who have made something and would obviously feel somewhat annoyed if it was being exploited by someone else with no recourse open to them to do anything about it. Wouldn’t it annoy you if some obnoxious person appropriated something creative you had produced and refused to acknowledge that you were even entitled to a say in the matter? Doesn’t that seem even slightly wrong?

  74. @94 … well, that point of view is a kind of bardic thing. Interesting, entertaining music (and after all, one aspect of art is that it is simply diversion from the workaday – which is why crap like the pussycat girls sells) … interesting, entertaining music does get passed around, people pick it up and carry it to the next gig / town etc.

    And only the gooniest artist will continue to foist music upon crowds that does not draw appreciation.

    So this russian jazz, I’ve never heard of it, any mention of it other than here in this blog. I’m no member of the jazz cogniscenti, but I know about African, French, obviously – American, British, Aussie other jazz, I know about the Czech Bluegrass scene etc etc – but frankly, ain’t nothin’ in it.

    So as a music lover who covers all bases, has thousands of cd’s and constantly listens to diverse radio stations, I’m not being arrogant – I’m heavily emphasising that I’ve never heard of it, and that, if it were good, that would be odd.

    I can see the potential for russian jazz – Russian is a language and mode of thought that is highly fluid, flexible and expressive. Russian writing is world famous (for good reason – see that?!). But Russian jazz. Name me some, I’ll have a listen. If it’s rubbish, derivative or mimicry, I’ll laugh at you.

    I fully believe the marketplace for art, whether transacted for money or simply time, is highly efficient at selecting and distributing by any means interesting, useful, original material.

    Hence my point about monks praying in the monastery: it doesn’t affect a thing.

    Now don’t get me started about Vanessa Mae – you’ll only make me mad.

  75. Making an mp3/aac/flac/wma copy of a CD you own is fair personal use. Downloading ten albums from bittorrent? Not so much.

    Again, copyfighters are making abstract semantic arguments rather than dealing with the fact that artists are being fucked because of their (music downloader’s) behaviour.

  76. The artists willingly distribute through the very systems and organisations that cause and encourage this kind of behaviour. Does that mean they’re fucking themselves?

    These systems thrive off the artificial creation of hysteria and spending-rush, through videos with explicit imagery, flashy effects and so on – in fact, the whole money-making music industry is like a TV ad gone bad – it relies on the basest of human desires to sell stuff. Sell stuff! Not enhance society or any other altruistic behaviour.

    So to get in bed with those particular devils is to invite the very fucking they’re getting – because those devils are the ones that create the heightened musical arousal that causes individuals to chase this stuff. It’s not ambiguous, and they know it.

    Why don’t they select other means of distribution? Is it because those would reduce their chances of making it rich?

    In many senses, downloading for free makes all the sense in the world – it’s the audience expressing the value they hold in the music. Fuck all. But have heavy fines and 1/10th the price, and I think they’d pay for it mostly.

    The economic ecology of financial traders is not dissimilar in pareto revenue terms to pop musicians. I bet none of you feel bad about junior traders getting fucked.

  77. Walter, I don’t profess to know any of these musicians, but a quick google gave me:

    Also behind iron curtain was relatively active free jazz scene which producted great musicians like Tomasz Stanko, Zbigniew Seifert, Vladimir Chekasin, Vyacheslav Ganelin and Vladimir Tarasov.
    (don’t just dismiss it from the first paragraph, it’s long and interesting)

  78. Arkizzle, no, commercial and personal use are not the same thing, but both involve making copies of a work without the creator’s permission. If you are saying the permission of the creator is not important, what is there to stop commercial exploitation? Shouldn’t the creator be allowed to dictate how their work is used? Shouldn’t they be allowed to stipulate that they want it copied neither for personal not commercial use, and shouldn’t their wishes be respected? I don’t think we should be encouraging the appropriation of things. We should be encouraging respect of people’s wishes, surely. How can you say to an artist “You have no say in how I use your work, and aren’t entitled one, and are crazy for thinking it’s appropriate for you to have any say.” It seems very rude, doesn’t it? If an artist is against downloading of their work for free, then by downloading it you are disrespecting their wishes, regardless of any wider issues.

  79. Haloyk,

    Have you ever read a book you didn’t pay for? Or bought a second hand book? Did you feel you were disrespecting the artist’s wishes? Or did you feel that you were just taking part in an entirely benign exchange that won’t affect the artists bottom line, either way?

    Sorry to answer a question with a question, but the issues you raise are part of a much greyer range of behaviours we all take part in every day, only somehow, because it’s the internet, now suddenly the normal people we know (and borrow media from) have become these other kind of ravenous exploiters of artists, rather than average, opportunistic consumers.

    There have been numerous studies showing that downloaders purchase more, and that promotional material (PR or free versions) massively encourage purchasing.

  80. “There have been numerous studies showing that downloaders purchase more, and that promotional material (PR or free versions) massively encourage purchasing.”

    Although that could be a case of correlation and not cause, surely?

    That’s to say that someone who downloads a lot does so because they like a lot of music, but also buys more … because they like a lot of music. Also: worth remembering that don’t other studies give the average number of CDs purchased by Britons as 1.92, or something like that? Ahhh…the problems broiught about by mean averages…

    Not to agree or disagree…just a thought.

  81. Arkizzle, no, those behaviours are not grey, because nobody has expressed any displeasure over them. Artists have not campaigned against lending libraries and second hand shops.

    I’m sorry but the internet and its users are not entirely benign. Creators should be allowed a say in how their work is used. The internet robs them of any say whatsoever, being so difficult to regulate. I just don’t think the wishes of creators should be flouted, whether those doing the flouting have taken it upon themselves to decree that it is in the best interests of the creators or not. That is not the point. Disregarding people’s wishes just shouldn’t be encouraged – surely society is selfish and rude enough already? If an artist says “I hate downloaders they make me fume,” and I then download something by them, what does that make me? A nice person? Or a selfish and inconsiderate one?

    And OK, maybe music downloaders buy more – but what about film downloaders? What about software and game downloaders? Can’t you understand the anxiety and frustration of people whose work is, as they see it, being unfairely ripped off? Don’t you have any sympathy for them? And so much stuff is now available for free streaming anyway, surely we can make do with that without demanding instant access to everything we desire with no thought for the wishes of the people who made it. It just seems to me that is an obnoxious attitude, as they are not being allowed any say, and I think they should be.

  82. those behaviours are not grey, because nobody has expressed any displeasure over them. Artists have not campaigned against lending libraries and second hand shops.

    Then surely complaining about the internet, specifically, is arbitrary bandwagoning.

    And I’d be genuinely surprised if the same statistics didn’t extend to film sales, or games. But I’m not asserting that.

    Study: P2P effect on legal music sales “not statistically distinguishable from zero”

    Study: pirates biggest music buyers. Labels: yeah, right

    Study: P2P users buy more music; apathy, not piracy, the problem

    Don’t you have any sympathy for them?

    Yes, but I don’t see it all in the same gloriously dramatic way you (and some artists) do. I see it like there is no effect either way on whether people listen for free (minus the positive effect of advertising and fan-base making). In fact I see it as mostly positive, mischaracterized by you and others as the Worst Possible Thing Evar.

  83. Arkizzle, you seem to just be trying to justify the whole thing to yourself, to defend your own actions simply because you happen to like downloading things for free. No I’m not saying it’s the worst thing ever, but nevertheless there is no actual bona fide justification for downloading copies of works without permission. You must recognise there is an emotional difference, for a producer of a work, between it being available from a library or second hand shop, and it being limitlessly reproducible with virtually no effort. How can you say there is no distinction between a library or second hand bookstore and the internet? Is that really what you’re saying? Can you really not see any significant differences between those things?

    The issue is not whether downloading is damaging to the business/prospects/livelihood of the artist concerned. The issue is that downloaders are effectively bullying everyone into submission with their refusal to question their thoughtless, self-serving actions. Admit it, for all the declaiming about liberties and so forth, downloaders get a great deal of benefit from downloading. Some conflict of interest there perhaps? Perhaps you are not dispassionate and impartial? Perhaps you just like free downloads and have chosen to take them, because nobody can stop you, and then you have tried to justify it by saying that it wouldn’t make any difference if you didn’t do it. You are being very presumptuous, telling artists they have no right to complain, you are abusing them, pushing them around, and blackmailing them. No, it is not the worst thing ever, but at the same time, it is not justifiable if you have a shred of decency in you! It is motivated purely by selfishness, and demonstrates a lack of concern for others.

  84. Ok. If you take the business angle completely out of the equation, I think I’d rather have people listen to my music than not. And I think people listening to my music, at all, makes it far more likely that they’ll go on to buy my work or attend my shows.

    I do download stuff, but also I have a collection of thousands of vinyls and a few hundred DVDs and maybe 200 CDs. Most of the DVDs were purchased after I saw the film for free on TV or at a friends house. Most of the musc was purchased after either a friend taped me a tape or I found it online.

    I don’t listen to the radio, because they don’t play the music I listen to, so most of my real awareness of artists and albums has come from (illegal) DJ mixtapes and pirate (non-royalty-paying) radio stations.

    I have played countless gigs for free, or after investing in a sound system and sweat, put on gigs or free partys in a field somewhere. I have sold and given music away, I have enjoyed others doing so.

    I don’t think every incidental listen requires payment. I think people who like a certain artist genuinely want to support that artist. I think it is ok to download an album, and if you don’t like it you don’t listen to it anymore (no harm, no foul; you could have just listened to, and rejected, a friends copy). If you do like it, you will probably seek out and purchase more of that artist, or want to see them in concert.

  85. When I heard about Lily Allen’s complaints about file-sharing, I saw this as an opportunity to point out that the copyright system itself needs replacing. If someone who is a major artist (my definition of “major” = appears plenty often on MTV and sounds good to me) is suffering from the failure of copyright law, then that suggests that copyright itself is truly coming to the end of its useful life, and even major artists may be open to alternatives.

    I wrote an open letter to her at , which I hope she can read.

    One important point I made in my message is that people who are currently making money from copyright royalties (the “copyright incumbents”) have interests subtly different from those of “emerging artists” (to use Lily’s own expression).

    Forcing ISPs to punish P2P users sounds like a good thing, but if it only slows the inevitable decline of copyright, then it serves the interests of the incumbents, because it prolongs their existing but declining royalty income stream, but it does not help the emerging artists, because their zero or negative income (negative after production costs) just declines more slowly (and a declining negative income is still negative).

  86. Arkizzle, OK, I suppose music downloading is pretty harmless, and I agree that the response of many records companies and artists is counter-productive and impractical, but I don’t think it’s OK to utterly discount an artist’s wishes. I think that is an ungallant thing to do. I don’t think it is OK to download an album because I see it as a dishonest way to obtain something. I have this concept of fairness where if someone has released a work through certain channels and doesn’t want it to be obtained through other channels, I will respect their wishes, whether I think their wishes are stupid and irrelevant to their income or not. Perhaps their wishes regarding the use of their work are misguided and the result of insecurity, fear, anxiety, selfishness, greediness, whatever, it doesn’t matter, I do not see myself as having the right to discounted their wishes heedlessly. I don’t think anyone’s wishes should be discounted that way, ever, anywhere, artist or not. I think that is not a good way to do things. And if you disagree with the artist, I think you should nevertheless abide by their wishes until you have had a chance to discuss the matter with them and convince them of your view. Otherwise you are disenfranchising them, sidelining them, ignoring them, treating them as unimportant, trampling all over them, and taking for your own benefit against their will. That is not the way things should go, and not the way society should be, we shouldn’t do that to anybody.

    Yes I know you and many other artists may be happy for your work to be downloaded, but that does not mean you can discount the feelings of those who don’t feel that way. No, it emphatically doesn’t. Just because you have a groovy new way of doing things and are happy with that, it doesn’t mean everyone else has to conform or be damned. You cannot just assume that, you should take people’s feelings into account.

    And no, I don’t think lending an album to a friend is the same thing, and I don’t think listening to pirate radio is the same thing. Lending an album to a friend is demonstrably different, since an album is a physical copy available locally to one person at a time. The distinction between that and downloading is obvious. Pirate radio is not the same thing, although it is slightly more dubious, but still, the listener is hardly as culpable as someone who downloads an album. And copying friend’s CDs or recording songs off of the radio is not quite the same thing, although again, those things are, in my view, still going against the wishes of the producer of the work to a certain extent. I think it is about fairness and respect of someone’s wishes. If the artist has said their work is free to be shared, that is one thing. But unless they have explicitly said that, I think we should try to play fair by them, and not be dismissive of them.

    You can justify all you like how great downloading is, how it helps, etc, but until you manage to convince all artists of that (and yes, many artists may be unreasonable, confused, ill-informed, and wrong – but who are we to decide that for them, and take away their rights?) – until that time you are doing something dishonest by downloading their album without permission, and something mean. You are selfishly saying “my convenience outweighs the artist’s views, I am more important than them, their wishes count for nothing”. Until you can talk to the artist and persuade them you are right, you are behaving in a slightly arrogant and inconsiderate way.

  87. Downloading = 100% legal.

    Uploading may be an infringement of copyright.

    File sharing = how the internet works.

    Copyright infringement = dubious monopolistic practice

    Intellectual property = oxymoron

    3 strikes and your out = machinery of oppression

    FAC = sellout turncoat undeserving traitors

    Copyright owners = foriegn multinationals

  88. First of all Lilly Allen does not strike me as particularly well informed, wink, wink. Obviously, she has been listening to a few industry handlers between shows.

    The problem is big business has been running the show and ripping off artists from the beginning of first sheet music and then recorded music.

    Copyright has always been a way for the companies to draw lines in the sea of money.

    Most artists have always, from the beginning of time, made their money performing, not by selling sheet music, Edison cylinders, 78’s, 45’s, LP’s, tapes, CD’s, or MP3’s. All things, objects, that can be bought, given, shared, or resold.

    Once someone had bought the sheet music, once a huge market, and learned to play the song at home, what did they do with it? How many learned to play that piece from each sale?

    How many people listen to my copy of In Rainbows?

    These large corporations and the few major artists who actually profit from music sales are behind all of this crying about pirates.

    Screw them.

    The real problem of copyright is for authors who cannot sellout local arenas and have always, with some exceptions, been broke, though the publishing house owners live in mansions.

    Personally, most of the hundreds of books we own were bought used at used book stores, online, or from libraries. Neither publishing house or author benefited from my purchase. The landfill was saved another book and society was improved by another small increment.

    The bottom line is copyright has never benefited artists to any great degree. Copyright was invented by business owners for business owners, who never gave a damn about authors or musicians after the cow was milked.

  89. From Wikipedia:

    End of Music Career

    On 24 September 2009 Lily Allen commented on her blog, It’s Not Alright, to say that she has no plans to release new songs or tour again.[118][119] She wrote: “Just so you know, I have not renegotiated my record contract and have no plans to make another record. I do however remain a fan of new music, so this is not some selfish crusade.” She followed this up by stating that she no longer sees a future for her to make money in the music industry. “The days of me making money from recording music has been and gone as far as I’m concerned, so I don’t stand to profit from legislation. Except future purchases of previously recorded material.”

    She announced that she would be focusing on her performance in the theatre production called Reasons to be Pretty.

  90. I know I am late to the discussion, but as a media educator and media literacy researcher, I find it sad that folks are resigned to the idea that copyright and fair use are laws that law that “no one understands and no one abides by.” The fact that each uses complex concepts of author, audience, context, market effect and societal benefit all in relation to a living and evolving ethics–that’s all something to be very excited and proud of, actually. Wouldn’t it be better to live in a public sphere, and business world, and art world where folks thought critically for themselves about these concepts each time they created something to share broadly? And shouldn’t we value our rights to argue such value for new work building on old work through the fair use principles much more than we would value a right for every artist to be a mini-fascist (CC licenses) or to have big C copyright law spell out specifics that become outdated every few years or months? To me, it is most depressing to hear smart people complain that copyright law is too confusing. Instead of giving up on understanding or giving in to more specific regulations, why not educate all citizens in the practice of arguing and judging how copyright and fair use applies to a variety of contexts and situations in their own communication and information worlds. The point of such education is not necessarily right answers, but practice with interpreting and using concepts that make our laws live for us. The actual laws ask courts to weigh the cost of a use to the copyright holder against the benefit to society, which seems to me a very just idea. And the history of case law is not nearly as confusing nor unpredictable as Mr. Doctorow’s entry and many comments here suggest–especially with respect to communities of practitioners that have banded together to outline their own best practices in fair use (such as documentary film makers or educators). Such community best practices have never been challenged in the courts, and in the case of doc film makers, even the insurance companies have accepted their fair use claims as reasonable risk for coverage. The concepts are complicated in the sense that they are not fixed and are arguable, but isn’t that just what we need?

  91. …mini-fascist (CC licenses)..

    So far off base.

    How do you shoot down CC licensing, when it is the only thing actually challenging the iron grip that Big Entertainment has on copyright laws across the world?

    You are basically saying that no one has been saying anything, or fighting for anything. That people haven’t engaged in the copyfight.

    Do you have the money to fight BE as they push and push for longer copyright terms? Do you genuinely think your voice is as loud as theirs? Do you support EFF etc?

    The laws are complicated, depending on what it is you want to do. If you are just a consumer though, its very very simple: You Have No Rights.

  92. ARKIZZLE: “How do you shoot down CC licensing, when it is the only thing actually challenging the iron grip that Big Entertainment has on copyright laws across the world?”

    Ok, sorry that was a bit heavy handed to decontextualize the CC movement as simply enabling a mini-fascism; it’s better than that, I agree, but I have problems with the rationale that CC is better because it makes things clearer in bypassing confusing fair use principles. CC attempts to cut out critical thinking on case-by-case bases; I happen to favor such critical thinking as I believe we should all be doing this. On the other hand, CC does try to lend power to the people, to individual creators, as an option different from the system that has favored corporate owners who can afford litigation to protect and prosecute copyrights/infringement. I just think the effort is misplaced when the fair use statutes and history of best practices communities in case law lend more powerful and more adaptable protections to the people than CC. The saddest part of all this is the assumption Mr. Doctorow makes (which Lessig also makes in his Remix book) that people are unable to think through fair use concepts for themselves; an assumption that is refuted by grassroots efforts that have successfully produced best practices guidelines, like the Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education, which give practitioners confidence to use, share and create with copyrighted works legally within the cultural norms of established community practice. Communities can articulate these norms to claim power, and they need not be corporate entities to do so.

    As for users (vs. creators), and the file sharing issue, that may be assailable using a best practices community norm approach as well, but I don’t know that anyone has tried. Can CC help users at all? I mean other than to imply that creators dictate the terms of use for consumers?

  93. Grozbat: “A lot of people are slagging off Lily instead of coming up with valid arguments.”

    A lot of people are making valid arguments, but no one seems to listen. And if you’re going to criticise “slagging off”, why not do so for Lily and her calling people thieves, or what about that offensive rant she posted from James Allan, who called people “tight fucks”, and their girlfriends “fat fucks”?

    “All she is saying is that filesharing is not okay. She’s got a point, even if she inadvertantly breaks the law herself.”

    Firstly, other people have a point too – surely they are entitled to their views?

    But, what *is* her point? She says that filesharing is okay, but she never admitted that what she did was wrong – instead she defended it by saying she “didn’t have a knowledge of the workings of the music industry”. So is she saying that filesharing is wrong, but okay if you don’t understand the workings of the music industry? That would be most people.

    Copyright law has no exemption for ignorance, and similarly for the “three strikes” law she is lobbying for.

    If she’d admitted what she did was wrong, then disconnected herself from the Internet for a year, as an example for what she believes in, that would be a good argument in her favour. But she didn’t. Instead she somehow tried to justify her own actions, whilst lecturing other people on a law that she evidently knows little about.

    “Why should music be free?”

    No, that’s not the point – that’s a straw man argument. Some people think music should be free, but there are a wide range of views. The key issue here is whether people should be disconnected or restricted in their Internet use, for filesharing – something that is so easy to do, that even Lily Allen managed to do.

  94. Mike

    I just think the effort is misplaced when the fair use statutes and history of best practices communities in case law lend more powerful and more adaptable protections to the people than CC.

    The saddest part of all this is the assumption Mr. Doctorow makes (which Lessig also makes in his Remix book) that people are unable to think through fair use concepts for themselves

    You make the mistake of thinking either the worlds copyright laws are a carbon copy of the US’s, or that everyone is always talking about the US. The UK, for example (where Cory lives), doesn’t have the same Fair Use statutes that are enjoyed in the US.

    You also seem to have a fairly different experience of the all powerful © and whatever you are defining “best practices” to be, in this context. In most contexts and jurisdictions, it means you (the consumer) have no rights at all over the work’s usage beyond the specific private use, to which it was sold (or licensed).

    My experience of © doesn’t paint nearly-as-rosey-a-picture of the ability of groups (other than those representing the copyright holder’s interests, or device makers) getting to define any usage models beyond those guaranteed in law.


    You are right about my ridiculous U.S. shortsightedness in the case of copyright. My apologies…and my fair use optimism is rather on the rosy side for America as well. I have been blinded a bit by my own involvement in fighting for media literacy education in the U.S., which has gotten me fully on board with the spirit of the U.S. copyright law and fair use clauses as opportunities to promote civic participation through deliberative thought in creating and consuming digital stuff. It’s tragic to think that the challenge of remix culture to big media dominance through copyright has no ally in the living law for the educational institutions to capitalize upon in other parts of the world where the media education piece may be much easier to implement because the institution is centralized (as opposed to here in the States where change is uneven due to very local control of education).

    I’ll be more sensitive (and hopefully less stupid) about global perspectives on copyright in the future. Thanks. And thanks to Lily for shooting her mouth off to eventually get me stretching my thoughts out with you all here as well.

  96. Can I just repeat a question I’ve asked with no response: Why not avoid participating in the whole thing anyway? Don’t buy stuff – most of it is so bad!

    Good music is usually created by driven producers inventing stuff. Rubbish music is often created to appeal to the mass.

    So I can’t see that good music will decline in quality if we stop buying crap.

    And the technology available today helps that: Anyone can record virtually anything virtually anywhere!

  97. Mortiarty @71:

    You’ve argued why you think it’s not to the artists advantage to support copyright. That’s not the same as arguing why it’s your right to violate it. See the difference?

    My “right to violate it” has been granted by technology. Widespread, common, easy technology with no practical downside, and most importantly, technology that is impossible to control at the individual level — this has been proven in the last 15 years. Worldwide legal systems will accept this fact sooner or later.

    Reading and reproducing the bible used to be illegal in Europe, until the technology to do so made it practically impossible to enforce such laws, and they were abolished.

  98. From Wikipedia:

    End of Music Career

    On 24 September 2009 Lily Allen commented on her blog, It’s Not Alright, to say that she has no plans to release new songs or tour again.[118][119] She wrote: “Just so you know, I have not renegotiated my record contract and have no plans to make another record. I do however remain a fan of new music, so this is not some selfish crusade.”

    She obviously changed her mind about not being able to make money.

    Lily Allen heading lining Big Day Out in Australia.

    The days of me making money from recording music has been and gone as far as I’m concerned

    If your music is good, people will come to your shows. You make more money from that anyway.

  99. Your link to Torrentfreak is perhaps not the best choice: Torrentfreak does not appear to moderate their readers’ comments and the comments on this article are misogynistic, and include at least one that I think leans close to a death threat. Please do not lend your link support until Torrentfreak are able to clean up their act.

    The original article appeared on Techdirt – and this would be a better link.

  100. I see the problem in a different way. Record companies have been playing with the audience heads in the last decade by forcing a taste change through playing average songs repetitively and make a grand PR around ”new artists”. Songs usually have nothing particularly artistic and do not respond to a market need, tey are just being played again and again until people think they like them -Boy bands and Girl Bands are great examples. Record companies increased their income consequently and in the process people kept pouring money into CDs the ”love” and which became worthless a couple of months later (if not weeks) before the next big album comes in etc. This is different to the time of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zepplin, Elvis, etc. Many musicians are not even able to provide the live what the albums offer due to the support of techonology to make an average voice better than what it really is.. As we all know, mother nature tends to always seek balance at any cost. And pirating came as a reaction tot he continuous demand for music, and consequently the record companies income has been properly adjusted. I know people who are spending more money on CDs than on their food or clothes. Record companies made them behave and think like sects followers. So to me, Pirating problems was generated by the Record companies greed the same way Iraqi disorder was generated by American greed.

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