Posts Tagged ‘intellectual property’
Our weekend guest Ben Werdmuller did a lively, provocative post on the issues raised by the recent Lily Allen file-sharing row. Several readers took the time to post equally trenchant comments. Ben’s own considered response to them (including his own uncle, Steve Monas..) follows:
On Sunday, Media140 published a blog post I’d written on Lily Allen and file sharing. I’ve been blown away by the quality of the response, and I thought I’d provide some further comment, as well as some further argument.
I received feedback from people in both the media and tech industries, and their replies were split along battle lines: tech people agreed with my arguments, while the people actually involved with creative intellectual property were deeply worried by my apparent argument in favour of illegal file sharing.
The business models that apply to Prince, Madonna, Radiohead and The Beatles are in each case unique, and to quote them as examples of new business models is meaningless – no small band will have the clout to make a deal with a concert promoter that will allow them even to break even; no mainstream weekly newspaper will give a struggling band the favourable terms Prince will have managed to negotiate; and there is no act living or dead whose recorded catalogue is as valuable as that of the Beatles.
[…] We are not looking at a burgeoning cultural meritocracy. The signal-to-noise ratio of information on the internet is so low that for any band to get noticed it is essential that they have vast resources of time, energy and friends (rather than fans) to devote to maintenance of their online persona – or just cash to buy that kind of promotional coverage on the right blogs and music websites. In that respect, nothing has changed for artists’ benefit. Manufactured bands and pop groups are the record labels cash crop in this X-Factor age, now more than ever before, precisely because artists more concerned with creative integrity can’t rise above the crowd anymore.
Stephen Monas founded Business Affairs Inc, and is an active attorney in the Hollywood movie industry. (He’s also my uncle.) He, too, took issue with my arguments, and worried that the free sharing that had built up around music would translate to movies.
It can get uncomfortably hot in the Twitter Celeb kitchen, as a host of eager – but less than circumspect – Tweeters continue to discover. This week it was the turn of winsome songstress @lilyroseallen (followers 1,538, 873 and counting; following: 57). Lily’s initially trenchant views on illegal file sharing unleashed a backlash so immediate and virulent that on Thursday, she Tweeted: “i’ve shut down the blog, the abuse was getting too much”.
By Friday, inevitably, she had even metamorphosed into a meme, trending high, alongside #FF, TGIF & the usual suspects. One particularly innovative comment came from Dan Bull, who posted this catchy homage to Allen’s music on You Tube – sample lyrics: “precludes me from sending your tunes to my friends, so we all lose in the end…”
For Media140, Ben Werdmuller, takes a wider perspective and an extremely thoughtful look at how the music industry is paying the price for its persistent inability to adapt to the new meritocratic economics which now govern the business. Lily and file sharing? Go Ahead and Smile:
It’s been a tough week for Lily Allen. Apparently incensed by illegal Internet file sharing, she started a blog against it. Unfortunately, in the process she cut and paste an entire article from Techdirt without permission, and was outed as having uploaded two illegal mixtapes to her own official site. Whoops; it turns out that people in glass houses shouldn’t really throw stones. Reportedly crippled by embarrassment, she subsequently announced that she has “quit the music business forever” and won’t be releasing any more music. (This statement was quickly diluted by her management.)
But perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on Ms Allen? Her industry as a whole is in a tailspin, severely damaged by its own failure to adapt to the post-scarcity economics that now govern recorded music. The problem is, the Internet is developing into a cultural meritocracy, where anyone can release their music and have its success or failure dictated solely by the worldwide audience it can attract.
Meanwhile, the labels’ inaction has brought about a situation where downloading music illegally is arguably easier than buying it. Digital Rights Management, device restrictions and the inability to share tracks with your friends are all traits of bought music; illegal music, on the other hand, runs on any digital music player you throw it at and you are also free to use and share it as you please.