Another Scheme

02008-07-08 | Computer, Copyright, Internet, Music | 0 comments

Ole sent me this link and asked for my thoughts. This was my reply: (((not much new there, if you read this diary)))

1) Production equipment is cheap. – FALSE
– a great microphone still costs a few thousand dollars and to record a whole band you need a lot of microphones
– with each good mic you also need good mic pre-amps – those can also easily run in the multiple thousands
– if you have good microphones and pre-amps you still need good digital-to-analog converters

2) One can make a good recording in a basement or bedroom – FALSE
– that can be true for people who use only digital inputs… e.g. synthesizers, loops, techno music…
– one can record good music in a bedroom, but it will rarely SOUND great
– a real studio has real wiring (and an isolation transformer for clean juice) with a great sounding room

3) RE file-sharing: the cat is out of the bag… nothing we can do about it – FALSE
It seems to me that is like saying there is looting and pillaging in the streets –
A) let’s join them, ’cause everyone is doing it
B) let’s make looting and pillaging legal, because we don’t know how to stop it

I don’t like anything about the proposal you linked to. It would mean that the music becomes free after the initial pot is filled. What if the music becomes popular and movies and commercials start using it, and most importantly what if I don’t want people to have free music – after all I don’t want free bagels from my baker. Music has intrinsic value – years of practicing one’s instrument, years of accumulated experience PLUS the value of the other musicians, the studio, engineer…

Yes, there are one or two bands that were able to make money buy giving away music… again, that’s the exception and not the rule. Just like claiming recording is cheap or bedrooms make good studios. Its nonsense.

It looks quite possible that as a culture we could lose something I find very valuable, and that is professional musicians and professional photographers, people who can live and breath their art 24/7. Instead we may eventually have amateurs piling loops from garbage band on top of one another – sorry, I mean garage band of course – and believing that they are making music. Society will be poorer for it.

I believe there are two ways forward. One possibility is an ISP tax (maybe combined with a hardware tax) that collects money to be given to musicians and composers via the performing rights groups, e.g. BMI and ASCAP – we have been doing this with radio successfully since the thirties.

The other option is to come up with a music file DRM that ties the music to the customer and not to a particular brand (e.g. Sony, Micro$oft or Apple) or machine. Advantages: the customer can listen to the music on any machine (computer, phone, ipod whatever) and one could even set it up so that the customer can “sign out” of the file and sell it or give it away to another person – who then has to “sign in” to activate the music.

The biggest mistake of the major labels and the RIAA was not to hire a bunch of great programmers and come up with their own DRM. Instead they allowed many digitial distributors to create their own files, which meant that Apple files did not play on Zune etc. Basically the labels gave away control of the medium and while they manufactured LPs, music cassettes and CDs themselves, they had no control over digital music files.

Sure, hackers and bored kids will unlock the files, but that percentage might not be much larger than the CDs that used to “fall” off the loading dock.

I also think that copyright has to be changed. Not 100 years, not even 75 years. Maybe 25 years, but with strict government enforcement. Hold Ebay responsible for every russian pirate CD they sell, hold Rapidshare responsible for every copyrighted file being shared, hold YouTube responsible for any copyright infringement.

(((PS: when we order CDs from our manufacturer we have to fill out a dozen pages of information that is required by law and is there for the manufacturer’s protection. Among other info we have to state the name of every song and that we own the copyright. That kind of information should be required for every Ebay/RapidShare/YouTube transaction/upload. When you buy a car you want the seller’s personal guaranty that the car belongs to her/him, yes?)))

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