bm260 The Other Side of the Filesharing Debate

Following the recent podcast on licences, filesharing, and the pirate bay, I received alot of strong feedback with both opinions that were similar and also very different from those that Peter brought forth.  This podcast features musician and podcaster Michael Harren aka Mikeypod, who talks about things like licenses and artist rights according to his experience and opinions.

We Discuss:

  • Creative Commons
  • The Artist’s Choice and Empowerment
  • Money, making it, deserving it, expecting it
  • Filesharing in terms of music
  • Arists Using CC


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8 thoughts on “bm260 The Other Side of the Filesharing Debate

  • May 1, 2008 at 4:49 am


    It should be noted that I said repeatedly on both the Yeast Radio broadcast and in its comments that I am also very much in the middle on this issue. From that position, however, I perceive many faults in both ends of the argument and will not hesitate in bringing them up. The gung-ho enthusiasm for much of these internet revolutions tends to ignore and obliterate any kind of dissent, no matter how mild.

    One major criticism I have is of the attitude and assumptions many people involved in this movement make about what artists understand about it, how they will feel about it and how they will benefit from it.

    To assume that some automatically understands the various aspects of a given technology, feels positive about it (and shares one’s attitude and understanding of copyright issues) and perceives and receives potential benefits can lead to a lot of miscommunication and resentment.

    This is especially true in relation to the assumption that all of this will automatically help an independent artist. Can you show me how? Can you explain in what way it benefits me? Can you illustrate the benefits of this? Can you point to proven examples? Can you help me make the most of this for my work?

    Instead, all too often one’s questions about all of this are dismissed as naive or irrational concerns not worthy of a solid response.

    Also there are other angles to the changing of the music industry that get ignored in such discussions. Large recording conglomerates may lose power, but the loss of local, independent record stores represent more than just storefront space opening up. A town loses an important, local business presence, a physical meeting place for listeners and buyers, local owner’s lose income and the local economy loses revenue that owner would’ve spent near his store, and some artists lose an important source of focused exposure. (for more writing along these lines, see this critique of THE LONG TAIL )

    I’d be very interested in hearing about how online sources are being used and connected to a small record store to strengthen both. Cease and desist orders from record labels are good for little more than a cheap laugh.

    So in short, I feel there’s tremendous potential for positives and negatives in online distribution for media. I have used it in the past and will in the future. I remain undecided about the prevalent attitudes about copyright expressed by both sides. I’d like to see more acknowledgment about the complexities of it than I often hear.

    • May 1, 2008 at 2:44 pm

      Yes, the music industry and all the companies involved are changing. Hopefully most of them will shut down there doors and never open again. Unfortunately they will leave empty rooms, that are not longer heated and no longer need cleaners. This will inescapably result in lost jobs in many different companies and add to the unemployment rate. Driven by their survival instincts and being alone on the streets with no “meeting space” the overall usage of guns, drugs will rise and hit the social system. The system already on the knees will certainly collapse and will drive us all to socialism.

      Jeez! These “angles” are not ignored, they are deliberately not mentioned directly, because you cannot predict the future and in a society it is not possible to make a straightforward cause-effect argumentation like that. Peter from TPB already told us the story, that the ice makers had to go on and they did, much like the windmill owners in the Netherlands… The behavior will simply change with an unpredictable overall impact.

      The future is like an uninvited guest, who is coming whether artists “feel positive about” it, “understand it”, “benefit it” or not. Face the facts. Its not the futures nor the users assignment to make business plans, tell anyone in detail when to do what exactly to make the most money or be a constant reminder that things will change. But no one should be allowed to make excuses, that he wasn’t informed that things will change, they always did and will always do. As a programmer I have to learn at least 1 new programming languages every year and dozens of new framework. I’m used to the fact, that a lot of things I learned will be obsolete in a few years, that I must be flexible in any way and I accept it as part of my job, why they cannot admit that?

      In my believe the only reason we have these discussions and problems right now, is that a few big companies with advocates in politics see a decrease in income. It was never about independent labels, software programmers, it was never the artist as a person. Keep that in mind next time when defending these corporations.

      If artists need a shoulder to cry or someone to hug, because they fear the future, they should get a friend like the rest of us does.

      • May 1, 2008 at 4:22 pm

        >>If artists need a shoulder to cry or someone to hug, because they fear the future, they should get a friend like the rest of us does.<<

        This is exactly the type of attitude I’m talking about.

        The attitude that everyone should just accept what you put forth because you’re an advocate of it and you don’t give a shit about any of the consequences.

        For an example of someone who I think operates opposite of this ethos and has created something that uses this technology in a manner that specifically takes into account the value of artists’ work, I again recommend Jim Kloss’ Whole Wheat Radio.

        Whole Wheat has taken great pains to develop a platform for independent artists that promotes their work, operates outside of the existing record label structure and demonstrates a genuine respect for their work by including a path for revenue generation in the system.

        Kloss took into account the concerns of the people whose work his system is built atop and did so in a respectful, honorable manner that benefits all.

      • May 1, 2008 at 9:33 pm

        As a programmer and designer I face licensing problems on a daily basis and I read and write on all those blogs (in particular this one), because I do care. Every day I have to worry, that a company I never heard before writes my boss a cease and desist order, because of a patent they obtained 20 years ago and somehow is in violation of my code (uncertainty). Besides that most frameworks have incompatible licenses and I have to be a attorney or afford one to know what I can or cannot do. Because of these issues, I spend hours on rewriting things and I’m not alone (time loss). And this is the point, where comes the shoulder I use every now and then, cause I cannot do what I’m supposed to do, write software and be creative.
        The next problem is that the budget of an ordinary software project, does not allow you to pay for up to 5 licenses or more. So if you don’t already have the right licenses you are out of the game. (anti-competitive)
        I gave up writing proprietary software about 10 years ago, because I don’t want others to be limited by my work, I want others understand quickly where I searched days for and I want them work upon the things I already created, if it suit them. As far as my personal work goes, they can do anything with it, but to hold me responsible for any bugs.. Of course they can tip me, mention me, but alone by the fact that they use my work, to get their work done, I’m honored.

        To sum it up, it is not that I don’t care. I simply don’t understand on what basis intercessor for copyright pursuit this issue. Btw. Anno Nymize did a few good arguments on that.

        Directly or indirectly often words like “the value” and “respect for the work” are used to underline that file sharer don’t value or don’t respect the work of others. Really? In my opinion, and if we can trust that TPB is one of the biggest website in the world and that p2p causes a lot of traffic, this is simply wrong. The counters exactly show, that the users appreciate the work, they download it and use it! Take a look and order the entries by seeders and leecher and you can MEASURE how much the users like the work. Based on new technologies the problem simply is, that the material has no longer any market value attached to it and that is the exact price the average person is willing to pay. Of course you can dislike and fight it, but based on what reasons and how?

        A 5 minute look don’t exactly reveal what is really up to and I don’t want to speak for them and I stand corrected, but in my humble opinion they accepted the changes a long time ago. They give out a 24/7 free 100% royalty free webcast and support themself through donations aka CD sales.

  • May 1, 2008 at 5:56 am

    For me it’s not about getting money. I use Creative Commons as a way to get more attention for my work. Especially my photography. If you put a CC license on your photos or work there are a ton of search engines out there that allow you to only display CC works. I LOVE for businesses to use my photography as a part of their website or product promotion (sometimes I have taken a photo of their product). All I ask for is attribution. Not in huge bold letters. Not even beside the work. Just somewhere.

    I have found for the most part that when someone wants to use my work they will ask. It’s nice but unnecessary with the CC license.

    It’s great for bloggers who want to discuss a topic and need a photo to use. It’s like an umbrella for safe work that you can use. Instead of going to Google, searching for an image and simply using whatever they see. They can rest assured that the image they are using is “legal” and without fear of someone emailing them and telling them they are using their photos illegally. Then trying to take legal actions against that person. It’s stupid and ridiculous but it happens all the time.

    The other aspect of Creative Commons that I like is that it allows me to give something back to the community and it keeps on giving. I use a ton of free and open source software and feel as though what I put out there with a CC license is a way to give back to the community. Generally, I use the “CC Attribution Share-Alike” license. That says that if you use this work and make any changes to this work, you have to re-distribute it as CC also, which continues to give back to the community.

    Another idea that I’m on the fence about is making money from content I’ve published. Sure, it’d be nice. BUT. I don’t think it will ever happen and frankly, I don’t care. I do it because I love it. BUT! At the same time I kind of don’t want just any business, let’s say ABC News for example. I don’t want them to take my work and use it for anything that they like. The reason is because so many times anything that they produce and someone uses, they will sue their ass off! Even if it’s just a 30 second clip.

    On the issue of software piracy. I have to say that I am extremely proud to be using free, open source, legally acquired or legally entitled to software (software for which I own a license but had to download the media/installer, illegally). I like to set an example for people. I like to show people that there are alternatives to EXTREMELY overpriced software. I like to show people how to use it, etc. I like to do that instead of hearing people say: “I am downloading Adobe Master Collection.” Yes, there are a TON of software applications that I’d love to be using right now but can’t afford. A lot of the non-free software applications ARE better in some cases. BUT. I have to set an example for people. I also think that if more people followed in my direction that software vendors such as Adobe would see this and reduce the cost of their software from their arm & three leg prices.

    I think there are gray areas to what I mentioned above and I did allude to it. For example, I bought a Dell PC a few weeks back from a family member. It needed to be wiped down and an OS reinstalled. They, not knowing they should keep things like that threw the OS disc away. However, there is a COA (Certificate of Authenticity) on the side of the box. I acquired a copy of the Dell XP Home reinstall CD (which the COA is for) and installed it onto the machine. Microsoft hasn’t complained through their WGA “feature.” I think things like this are acceptable.

    Another gray area. Hackintosh discs. It is against Apple’s EULA to even alter the contents of their install DVD. I think if you have legally purchased a copy of anything, you should be able to do whatever you want with it as long as you’re not selling it or re-distributing it (without permission).

    I think technologies like bit torrent, P2P, newsgroups, etc are excellent technologies. I think a lot of people in power are deamonizing these technologies.

    Lastly, I personally feel as though the main problem with illegal file sharing is that it’s looked upon more seriously than stealing a gallon of milk and in some cases, murder. If nothing else, it can put you through some serious troubles with lawyers if they find out. I find that completely disgusting that the RIAA and MPAA are wasting our legal system’s time and energy.

    Thanks for the great show. I look forward to hearing more in the coming days and weeks. I also apologize for this EXTREMELY long comment but I had a lot to say! 🙂

  • May 1, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Hi Michael,

    I totally agree with you! “It would be a great world”, if Monsanto sues more farmers for “violating” there patents, wouldn’t it? It is really “for good the way it is”, when the US disallows Africa to produce cheap generics for well known AIDS supplements, because of patents. In other words, based on “intellectual property” the survival of millions of Africans contradicts current jurisdiction and you “feel” that the companies should get their share. Indeed, what a great idea and how delightfully argued!

    Is this totally different from what we are talking about on the music/movie copyright issue? Deliberately acuminated, but no.

    What about all those people in other countries that cannot effort software, music and what about the poor people in your country (eg the Russian teacher who got charged for copying software)?
    Should they not be allowed to have these “no cost for duplication” products and get a slight chance of not socially fall behind the standard? Is it ok, to hunt kids down like thief’s (and btw. ruin their lives forever) or try to monitor the internet?

    For some reason talking to people on this topic is like talking to religious people and you cannot argue with facts, because phrases like “I think, I feel, in my opinion, i dislike changes, it is my right …” are often used and you cannot answer that. In real life however software, music, “intellectual property” are by all economic standards “free goods” like air or sand in the desert, because they are available in an unlimited amount, for no cost in reproduction and therefore have no value (look it up). Although monopolies and current law, that protects them, disagree.

    I will never understand, why those who profit the most of “copyleft” are pro rights? For example: Surprisingly every software uses only very! few patterns (internally and visually), but without ever paying any fee to Dijkstra and all the others. Big companies with LOTS of patents grap for free ideas (sometimes by force), use them and patent them. Most artists use well known rhythms, rhymes, allusives and content, without ever paying any fee. Researchers in companies base their experiments and new projects on known physics or in other words on the ideas of others, why is that OK? Try to imagine, that we live in a “Star Trek” world of “replicators” where a lot of people can produce larger amount of wheat at their home with energy and 100gr wheat as a basis for the cloning process. Will the wheat producer or Monsanto be allowed to tell you what to do with the wheat? Are you allowed to give out wheat or even use it again for cloning? And will it be OK, based on the higher energy level you use, to strip search your house and scare your family, if you break that law?

    However, there is a solution to the problem of not getting paid. Please stop trying to beat economics and accept that your product aka ideas HAVE NO MARKET VALUE. You are doing as much collateral damage on your way to the society as the US Army does on their way to “freedom for everyone”. Richard Stahlmann, Dr Richard Hipp (sqlite), Linus Torwalds have proven that you can survive. Use your free good and create a demand for a “limited good”. Musicans: Do it the Jesus way and participate on live events, you have to agree that he got a nice company out of it and their “paypal system” works! 🙂 Make some music on demand for shows etc…. Software engineers: Do services around your product. Physicists: Use your advances and expertise in certain areas! Activists: Get PAYED for your public appearances (eg on the CCC), write a book and offer it also as a paperback version. Offer Paypal and other services to allow users to show their appreciation..

    Nevertheless I want to thank you Michael for taking the difficult role in beeing on the “hated site” and pls excuse me being rude at the beginning 🙂

    • May 3, 2008 at 6:35 pm

      I keep wanting to respond to this, but the only thing I can think of is to say that either I didn’t communicate very well or you have made some assumptions about where I stand instead of listening to what I said.

  • May 2, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    I hope that something remains of the “outdated” record distribution system to still support independent record stores, to offer choice to consumers of music and the musicians who might want to publish CDs.

    Having all our musical heritage transferred to bits and bytes on hard drives concerns me. The Internet depends on a global energy and communications grid that could well be completely disrupted someday. What happens to all the music that only existed on some hard drives? I don’t mean to sound alarmist, but diversity in the way we distribute and store music or any valuable information is very important. It seems like retaining at least part of the old system, which would also mean providing artists a way to get paid if they desire, is best to ensure that culture is passed on to future generations.

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