My Letter to Jerry Kelly at Madwire

[Jerry Kelly at Madwire wrote me, apparently hoping to get on the phone with me to discuss my post about Madwire.  This is what I wrote in response.]

[To Jerry and everyone else at Madwire, I will not go away so easily.  I believe that you sometimes do things that are, in my opinion, very uncool to unsuspecting small business owners, and it’s time to either change those policies, or deal with the push-back you are owed as a result.]

All of this is hypothetical.  And all of this is my opinion.  All of this is intended to be seen as the point of view of one individual whom is speculating.  I do not intend to defame any company.  I am merely posting an email I sent, to the best of my knowledge, and altered only as necessary to protect myself and other people,  so that others can read what I wrote, as a matter of historical fact concerning what I wrote, and as a matter of historical fact concerning my feelings and opinions at the time.

[For the record, someone I know signed a contract with Madwire, and when they became unhappy with the results of the relationship, as far as I recollect, they copied the new website Madwire had enabled for them to their own hosting account, which as far as I recollect, was a breach of the contract they signed with Madwire.  As far as I recollect, Madwire (or Madwire’s legal representation did) then give the person I know  a certain number of days to either pay a certain number of dollars, which I recall being around $6,000 (but someone involved closely recalls it as more), or if the amount was not paid, to the best of my recollection, Madwire would sue the person that I know.   To the best of my knowledge, and to the best of my recollection, this really happened.  If Madwire continues to harass me about talking about this, I will be forced to post actual documents such as credit card billing records and emails from Madwire’s legal representation]

 

Hello Jerry.

I’d prefer to talk via email for now.
I have not worked with Madwire myself, but I do know someone who has. That person felt very abused by the experience.  And I know for a fact that they didn’t recieve the results they were promised by Madwire’s sales people.  And in the end, when they tried to end the relationship, they were not only told they couldn’t take any of the dev work with them (fine if that’s what they agreed to), but that they needed to pay a big chunk of money (for damages?) or they would be sued.
Intellectual Property is a valid thing, and I can’t blame anyone for wanting to protect their rights.  But making a few minor customizations to an off-the-shelf WordPress theme and then claiming that it’s your own intellectual property is pretty bogus, especially since WordPress is itself GPL software and so was the theme in question.  I know because I looked at the GPL License statement in the theme’s stylesheet.
And then, attempting to extort (or something like extort… this is just opinion) money over the matter is really uncool, beyond being unothadox for the kind of claim in question.  A simple cease and disist or DMCA takedown to the hosting company would have sufficed and is the proper procedure, as I’m sure you know.
Meanwhile, I don’t think Madwire is “evil” or anything silly like that.  I think Madwire has some practices that may need to be tweaked in order for some customers to not end up feeling lied to or preyed upon.
If Madwire is going to do business with people, then Madwire is accountable for its customer relations.  Throwing money at trying to surpress customers’ bad experiences is not a sustainable approach to marketing.  Eventually, every company will have some disgruntled former customers out there.  Madwire should expect to be no different.
So since Madwire has done such a good job covering up any bad reviews, and even creating dubious positive reviews, my little blog post has become a focal point, since almost nothing else out there seems like legitimate customer feedback.  I have been contacted by dozens of people wiith stories similar to the person I know that worked with Madwire.  If they represent a small minority of Madwire’s customers, then that small minority is going to be reflected online somewhere, whether it’s commenters on my post, or somewhere else.
And to be clear, I don’t have particularly strong feelings about Madwire, as much as I have strong feelings about accountability, honesty, the freedom and democratization of speech etc.
What would Madwire expect to happen if it (even only occasionally) [redacted] people with baseless lawsuit threats or routinely over-promises results?  I would think that Madwire would expect to get a little bit of pushback from those things. Perhaps that pushback is part of the cost of doing business.  Or maybe it’s an indication of some policy changes that need to happen.  Or maybe a little of both.
I hope this clears up for you where I am coming from.
And Also, I suggest that you try to be involved in the conversation about your company directly.  For instance, you could comment on blog posts like mine when you come across them, and try to be a reasonable and tranparent voice for your company, rather than [possibly] sneaking around, [possibly] trying to take people’s websites down, [possibly] having fake commenters and reviewers troll and spam the web, [possibly] filing things in courts to get unfavorable websites un-indexed and all that stuff, which at the end of the day, just makes your company look a bit shady, don’t you think?
Thanks,
Andrew

 

Sustagrain Confusion: Is it a GMO? Maybe. I’m trying to find out!

[UPDATE 4] I finally heard back from the public affairs department at ConAgra.  They haven’t answered any of my questions yet, but I’m optimistic that they will, now that I’ve written back and explained why I think they should.  Hopefully, this post will become a source of actual factual information on the products in question, once I have the facts.

This is in response to:  http://dadgoinggreen.blogspot.com/2011/04/wtf-is-sustagrain-and-why-is-it-in-my.html which has a character limit.  So I guess I have to put it here on my own site.

[UPDATE] I believe this is the patent, #6083547http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect2=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&d=PALL&RefSrch=yes&Query=PN/6083547 [update 3] No, I don’t think it is :(  But I wrote ConAgra to ask

[UPDATE 2] I think sustagrain is actually a process for making flour from barley that’s healthier in certain ways, or is alleged to be.  Maybe I’m way off, but that’s what I’m getting from what I’m reading at the patent office. I might have to just write ConAgra and ask them. The only reason I haven’t done so already is that I’ve seen the same or nearly identical boilerplate response from them to other people who have written them (forums I found Etc) [update 3] Nope.  After more reading, I’ve found that Sustagrain is a re-naming of a barley strain called Prowashonupana… I think.  I wrote ConAgra and asked.  At any rate, it appears that Prowashonupana is a conventional hybrid, not a GM strain.  Again, I asked ConAgra.

Hello [to the guy that wrote the post this is a comment on].

I came across this while researching Sustagrain this morning after reading about the nutritional properties of various barley products (groats, pearled, rolled, pressed, Etc). I discovered such a thing as “sustagrain” exists and so I started trying to understand what it is and if it is or isn’t a GM crop.

A few points.
1. While I’m no apologist for companies like ConAgra, ADM, Monsanto Etc, who clearly have done some morally questionable things in the name of profit, I think that to keep things rational, it should be noted that not everything ConAgra does is necessarily evil. For instance, they do produce certified organic products, in addition to their scarier, unscrupulous profit-first activities. When companies get big enough to, it behooves them to take advantage of the power they can wield over legislation. I’m not justifying this as much as trying to point out that this is probably built into the culture of our economy and the kind of society we live in. When it’s food that we’re talking about, it’s easy to feel like it’s personal because it hits so close to home, but it’s just regular old free market capitalism doing its job: profit above all else.

  1. According to all the research I’ve done this morning, Sustagrain is not a GMO. At least it’s not a biotech/genetic-engineering crop. It is a hybrid created via traditional methods. Please correct me if you know that I am wrong about this and point us all to some facts… (the web is cluttered with speculation and fear about this but very few facts). It is patented, so there’s something going on that I don’t quite understand yet. (I will try to find the patent, which of course is public info, at the patent office later today).

If anyone has found any evidence that this kind of barley is a GMO, please respond with some real info. As far as I can tell it isn’t.

  1. (this is the thing that some people will be turned off by but please try to hear past the catchphrases and trigger-words that might make you want to disagree with me implusively)

The popular debate on GMOs is centered almost entirely on the practices of Monsanto, particularly their Roundup-ready plant strains (mainly corn and soy). As far as I can tell there are in fact very few varieties of GM crops in production (even though of course there’s a ton of the few that are in production being grown)… For instance I don’t believe there is currently a GM barley being produced at all. It’s mostly corn and soy that everyone is talking about.

And there are two main things that most people are taking issue with: First there’s patent law concerning these GM crops and the injustice this has led to with regard to farmers’ rights and the lawsuits resulting. Next, there’s the general issue people take with the use of chemical pesticides, which of course we can assume that roundup-ready crops get treated with.

Whenever the subject of GMOs comes up, I feel like it is important to point out that not all GM crops are roundup-ready ones.
There are at least several examples of GM crops that have been developed for the purpose of improving nutrition, particularly in regions that have limited access to a diversity of food and suffer from malnutrition and/or certain deficiencies/diseases that can be helped by so-called “frenkenfoods.” So in those cases, it’s really a nuts-and-bolts type of question of whether or not we are simply morally opposed to and afraid of any and all genetic engineering. If you are, you might find it worthwhile to learn a bit about how all this stuff works. It sounds scary when you hear of “putting fish genes into a tomato, where they don’t belong” but I promise, this is an oversimplification of what is going on. And repeating this kind of rhetoric just prolongs a widespread ignorance of the facts. There’s a sort of ‘fundamentalism’ around the subject that feels a bit scary to me and reminds me of an older time when people may have said “electricity is the work of the devil” or other things like that in reaction to something that was new and seemed scary to them. Personally, I prefer to eat Organic, but my motivation is to avoid pesticides and other unsustainable practices and vote with my wallet for better farms that produce using a more natural process.

And about patent law, like with just about every other aspect of intellectual property law, it badly needs to be adjusted.

There’s another reasonable concern I hear occasionally about contaminating the greater food supply through cross pollination Etc. I can relate to this concern and it bothers me a bit too.

But let’s try to be smart about things. Pesticides, Patent Law and the general concept of ‘gene tampering’ are all separate issues.

I’ll try to find the patent for sustagrain and post it here.

Cheers.

 

Before Hiring MADWIRE, Be Warned

OK, so I have no doubt that there are plenty of honest and capable people at MadWire, or MadWireMedia, or MadWire 360 or whatever.

But there are some things you should be aware of before signing a contract with them.  I’m writing this because in searching for anything negative about Madwire, I’ve found that they have completely bombed google.  And meanwhile, they are buying Pay Per Click Ads like nobody’s business, so it’s really hard to see through their promotional efforts, which I must admit, are pretty thorough.  But such a substantial publicity push serves as what is essentially a reality distortion field for you and me–The kind that would make us think that Godaddy is actually the best choice for shared Linux hosting, which I think most developers would agree, it isn’t.

So here’s the thing I want to warn you about.  It is quite possible, in my opinion, according to what I’ve seen, that if you do not carefully negotiate your contract with Madwire, you will find yourself locked into a perpetual hosting agreement in the ballpark of $50/month.

AND

The Design work you hired them to do, they (or their legal representation) will claim is their intellectual property.  So you can walk away from a hosting agreement that’s about 8-10 times more expensive than it should be, and have nothing, or continue to throw an unnecessary $30=$40 or more dollars into the wind every month, essentially FOREVER.

In other words, what someone I know was lead to sign off on, according to someone at Madwire or claiming to legally represent them, was not Work-for-hire.

Good Web Developers (I include myself in this category, thank you) working for individuals and small organizations understand that the client is best suited if they always have as many options as possible.  Those options necessarily include the ability to hire someone else at any time and/or do other things with the hosting they are paying for.

This means:

  • whenever possible, use non-proprietary code such as WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Concrete5 Etc (making easier to hire from a pool of other developers out there)
  • The Client should own their own Domain Registration
  • The Client should own their own Hosting Account.
  • All design work should be work-for-hire.  Ownership of the design needs to be the client’s
  • All build work should be work-for-hire.

My understanding is, according at least to one contract I know of with Madwire, their model is that you “rent” their design and development work, contingent on whether or not you continue to pay them way too much every month for hosting that you do not actually have the freedom to use.

And if you want out?  Well, as far as I know, they will then want to be paid off for the release of rights to what should have been work for hire in the first place.

So please, take these things into consideration before hiring Madwire or anyone else including ongoing hosting charges as part of the proposal.

 

 

Digital Performer 8 Missing Plugins: FIXED! DP8 Plug-Ins

I was having trouble with Antares Auto-Tune Evo, Auto-Tune EFX and QuikQuak’s Pitchwheel.

The fix is quite simple.

Go to the Digital Performer App in your Applications Folder.  Right-Click (or Control+Click).  Select “Get Info.” Check the box in the Get Info Window to “Open in 32-bit mode”

Now when DP starts, it will load those old plugins.

The reason is that DP8 is 64 bit.  So 32-bit plugins are ignored.  But DP 8 has a 32-bit mode for people like us who need to run old plugins.

Screen shot 2013-06-16 at 4.03.50 PM

Music as a Human Need and Professionalism/The Music Industry

The following is a short letter to my friend, Elijah; a part of a discussion we were having about the up-cropping of services like PMP Worldwide [pnpworldwide.com]* that allow producers to sell/license beats online.  The beats go for as little as $25 US!  In my opinion, the popular notion of rockstardom; that a very fortunate [very]* few can ‘make it’ and become wealthy by slapping together some samples and synths and/or by buying said beats and vocalizing along with them; is threatened by this commodification of music production.  And whether I’m correct or not, it is an interesting topic for discussion.

Elijah,

My opinion is that [much of the time,]* music, ultimately, is [and in many cases should be]* a commodity**, and that very successful musicians are [usually]* overpaid***… And people should be able to, more or less, make a living doing what they enjoy, even if it’s making beats that aren’t that remarkable… And when the dream of becoming a superstar is dead, many people who are making art for the “wrong reasons”**** will stop making it. So ultimately it will be a good thing because there will be less crap and a higher proportion of creators who are actually driven to do it by inspiration, rather than doing it solely for fame and fortune.

Wedding/Cover Bands and DJ’s are evidence of how regional and/or less substantial talent is adequate for many of the purposes that music is used for (the popularity of Karaoke is interesting in this respect too). [In most cases,]* these are musicians***** who make a blue-collar salary or less doing what they do, so it’s likely that many of them do it because they enjoy it.

And I’m in the camp that music belongs to everyone, and isn’t something that should be only ‘left to the professionals…’ In the old days (pre-record-industry), music was something people did together in their homes with their families, at social events, and at church Etc… And this has largely gone away… We need it back because making music, especially as a group, fulfills some sort of deep-seeded human need. I suspect that singing, chanting, harmonizing and/or making rhythm with others has always been a spiritual experience for humans.

Actually, some research suggests that music originates as long as 60,000 years ago, along with visual art and religion.

I feel like the disappearance of participatory music from our culture, largely because of the existence of capitalist industry, is probably a very bad thing for us. And I also feel like, in general, creating art, as an individual or as a group, whether it’s journal-keeping***** or wood-carving*****, graphic design*****, or a church choir*****, is a basic human need.  I believe it makes us healthier people in many ways: Execution and mastery, introspection, meditation, as well as social benefits and [probably many more benefits that I’m not able to pull out of my ass at the moment]*.

-Andrew

*The brackets [ … ] are just where I made some basic edits to my original letter.  Don’t let it get to you.  It’s not a sign from Yahweh or anything.

**By ‘commodity,’ I mean that in most cases, music serves a utilitarian purpose.  People that want to dance, will dance to just about any dance music that fits into their idea of what is “danceable.” Music is often used to set a mood in a room, and in this way, it could be compared to lighting (the particular lamp doesn’t matter, as long as the desired effect is achieved).  I realize that this a slightly controversial idea, especially to people who make music and consider themselves artists.  But I’d argue that in most cases, artistic merit is not required for music to serve its purpose.  Churches don’t usually kick out the bad singers from their fellowship.  I can think of a lot of music that I’d consider highly creative or artistic that I don’t want to listen to while driving. And I can think of a lot of music I consider very artistic that I don’t want to listen to at all, ever.  Also, there’s a lot of ‘dumb’ music that’s enjoyable or fun.  And besides, what is considered artistically significant to a listener is subjective and probably largely the result of the listener’s cultural influences. For instance, I don’t suppose many white, english-speaking people who’ve grown up in the USA are able to discern the relative artistic merit of various mariachi bands.  So let’s not let ‘artistic merit’ get in the way.  Most of the time, music is a commodity.  

***Overpaid?  Says who?  OK, well let’s just get it out of the way that I’m probably a Socialist.  Whether or not someone can be overpaid is something that we can argue about later.  If you find that idea completely offensive, then I probably don’t want to be your friend, and I think you should give all your money to the poor.

****The ‘Wrong Reasons’ for making music or other art is something we can argue about later.  ‘Wrong’ is probably the wrong word to use.  Most people, I think, will understand what I mean by this and agree that there are ‘wrong reasons’ even if it sounds silly to suggest that people shouldn’t just make music, or paint, or write, or whatever, for whatever reasons they have.  It might be easier to think about this in terms of food.  Is there a wrong reason to make food?  Maybe it’d be better to say ‘for reasons that doom the outcome to failure.’  Imagine cooking, only for the sake of using up a gallon-sized can of Nutmeg. Is that a horrible analogy?  I don’t know.  I’m sorry for saying ‘wrong reasons.’  I was in a hurry and I was having a hard time thinking of a more elegant, less naive-sounding way of wording what it is I’m getting at by using the phrase.  Help?

***** I’m really not in the mood to argue with anyone about whether or not DJs are musicians.  And I’m also not in the mood to argue about the difference between art and craft, or ‘fine art’ vs. folk art.  For the sake of moving on with our lives, let’s just lump it all in together, at least for today.  OK?

 

I Might Hate the Featured Artists Coalition

I just got a newsletter update explaining that they support a three-strikes policy for file-sharing.

Our meeting also voted overwhelmingly to support a three-strike sanction on those who persistently download illegal files, sanctions to consist of a warning letter, a stronger warning letter and a final sanction of the restriction of the infringer’s bandwidth to a level which would render file-sharing of media files impractical while leaving basic email and web access functional.

How backward-ass!!

As an artist, I am going to have to revoke my membership if they don’t do some serious back-peddling in the next few days.

I thought the FAC was a forward-thinking organization.  Maybe not.

Props to Hulu on Good PR

From the “Availability Notes” that appeared when I checked Hulu for new episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia…”
Apparently, they took down many of the episodes (they had a few seasons of the show up in entirety) all at once without warning.
The tone I get from this, is that Hulu may even be thinking along the lines of posting ‘expiration dates” for the content… That would be smart. It would be another way to browse (browse by what’s about to expire), and it would give Hulu users more of a sense that Hulu is almost like their free, ad-supported DVR, a good place for Hulu to be in people’s minds, I think.  The message is an apology from Hulu… All and all, I say, good going, Hulu.  You guy’s are rockin’ it!

Availability Notes:
Hulu can provide five episodes of this series at a time. We’ll add a new episode each week as we take down an older one, following the same schedule as the official site.  

Customer trust is hard won, easily lost. On January 9, we removed nearly 3 seasons of full episodes of ”It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” We did this at the request of the content owner. Despite Hulu’s opinion and position on such content removals (which we share liberally with all of our content partners), these things do happen and will continue to happen on the Hulu service with regards to some television series. As power users of Hulu have seen, we’ve added a large amount of content to the library each month, and every once in a while we are required to remove some content as well. 

This note, however, is not about the fact that episodes of ”It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” were taken down. Rather, this note is to communicate to our users that we screwed up royally with regards to _how_ we handled this specific content removal and to apologize for our lack of strong execution. We gave effectively no notice to our users that these ”Sunny” episodes would be coming off the service. We handled this in precisely the opposite way that we should have. We believe that our users deserve the decency of a reasonable warning before content is taken down from the Hulu service. Please accept our apologies.

Given the very reasonable user feedback that we have received on this topic (we read every twitter, email and post), we have just re-posted all of the episodes that we had previously removed. I’d like to point out to our users that the content owner in this case – FX Networks – was very quick to say yes to our request to give users reasonable advance notice here, despite the fact that it was the Hulu team that dropped the ball. We have re-posted all of the episodes in the interest of giving people advance notice before the episodes will be taken down two weeks from today. The episodes will be taken down on January 25, 2009. Unfortunately we do not have the permission to keep the specific episodes up on Hulu beyond that. We hope that the additional two weeks of availability will help to address some of the frustration that was felt over the past few days.

The team at Hulu is doing our best to make lemonade out of lemons on this one, but it’s not easy given how poorly we executed here. Please know that we will do our best to learn from this mistake such that the Hulu user experience benefits in other ways down the road.

Sincerely,

Jason Kilar, CEO, Hulu

Intellectual Property Colloquium Podcast: Suggestions

This is a message to the guys behind the IP Colloquium Podcast, an Audio Podcast about Intellectual Property Law, hosted by Doug Lichtman, Scholar in Residence at the UCLA School of Law, and brought to us by the UCLA School of Law, the law firm Loeb & Loeb LLP and the Intellectual Property Symposium. I hope you guys have your ears on!  If you’re an attorney, the IP Colloquium Podcast can be used as CLE Credit.

First of all, Thanks for the IP Colloquium Podcast.  This is great stuff so far.

I wanted to point out a few things about your WebSite that are annoying for ‘Power-Users’ like me and/or that are standing in your own way.

  1. Flash is not the way to go.  Flash Websites are less accessible than sites that display HTML. There are many reasons why.  Here are a few:
    • Navigation-Buttons or Links within Flash sites don’t allow right-click functions such as “Open Link In A New Window/Tab,” which people who use the Web well use often.
    • Flash Content is Less Machine-Readable (for instance, by robots like Search Crawlers), Less Universally Semantic, Less Friendly to Alternate Viewing (Like Text-Only Browsing or Viewing of the Page-Source).  The reason is that the content is hidden within the Flash animation objects.  Essentially, Flash sites are about as Machine-Readable as pictures of text are, probably less.  You want to be found in Search Results, right?
    • Flash sites require an extra browser plugin which is sometimes a barrier for people on alternate systems or that aren’t very technically savvy.  Barriers aren’t a good thing.
    • The Text within your site cannot be copied from the browser window, making it harder for people to quote you etc.  I had to actually look at Doug Lichtman’s name etc to post this entry.  Sure hinders my abilty to blog about you guys.
    • Since your site is Flash, updating it is surely more complicated than it would be if you were using some sort of Content Management System (CMS), like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal etc. This is also true for making minor ‘look-n-feel’ changes. When your design elements are separate from your content, you have a lot more flexibility if you decide you don’t like some font or color etc.  Again, HTML and CSS based sites are superior for this reason.
  2. You do not have an RSS/Atom Link in your Site’s HTML Head.  This is easy to do and is what is expected of modern sites that are content sources. All you need to do is put the following line in the top of your HTML: <link rel=”alternate” type=”application/rss+xml” href=”http://ipcolloquium.com/rssfeed.xml” /> …This is what makes the little RSS icon/indicator show up in the URL field in FireFox/Safari/Etc, which is expected from sites that are Syndicating content via the web (like you are). 
  3. Your Feed is not set up properly for “Enclosures” which is what makes Podcasting tick.  Perhaps the iTunes Subscribe link you give out is being processed by FeedBurner or something, but I can’t tell because the site is Flash so I can’t “Copy Link…”  …Really, if you moved to WordPress, you could use any number of podcasting plugins that will take care of all the dirty work of making your feed Standards-Compliant, iTunes-Ready and user-friendly.  If you don’t want to go down that road, you should at least consider running your feed through FeedBurner and then linking to that feed rather than the “/rssfeed.xml” one.  This way, the Audio files show up in your feed properly as ‘enclosures,’ and your feed will work in all feed-readers and ‘pod-catchers.’  
  4. It’s also mildly annoying to have links on your site automatically open new windows.  It’s just one of those things that gets on people’s nerves.  If we want a new window or tab, we’ll open one.

I really think you guys should consider a quick re-build using a more standards-compliant Content Management System (CMS), like my favorite, WordPress (which is free and great for podcasting).  This really only takes about an hour or two to do and requires no special skills.  It’s especially easy for a site like yours that has such a minor burden of content migration.  Joomla and Drupal are also free, but for the IPC-Cast, I recommend WordPress.  There is also a handful of other powerful open-source CMS solutions out there that I haven’t mentioned.  Bottom line, you don’t need to spend money on software.

Anyway, I’m just trying to help.  Keep up the great work!  The Podcast is great.

Obama Administration Should Recruit Lawrence Lessig

I left a comment for the Obama Administration via their new online “suggestion box“at change.gov.  I sent in a suggestion hoping that the Obama Administration look at Lawrence Lessig as someone who could help out in some way.  I didn’t say “Attorney General” but maybe I should have.  Here’s what I did say:

Lawrence Lessig should be looked at by the new administration for positions like ‘Technology Czar,’ ‘Federal CTO,’ ‘Chairman/Commissioner of the FCC,’ or any other position in which Ethics and the Public Interest in matters of Technology and/or Communications are concerned.

Professor Lessig has already proven himself as an advocate for the people as an Educator, an Attorney, an Author and an Activist.

I’m sure there are many, many others like me who believe that the Obama administration, and more importantly, the American People would benefit from having Lawrence Lessig’s sound judgement and clear voice involved in the Federal decision-making processes.

He’s one of my personal heroes, and he cares about America, its consumer’s, their rights, the possibilities of modern technology, and the importance of our culture as it evolves and we grow with it.

Thanks for having this open suggestion box.

Can Anyone Explain The Open Rights Group to me?

The Open Rights Group is out there. I have no idea what they aim to do.  There are a bunch of new projects that have sprouted up online for various goals having to do with Intellectual Property in the digital realm, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Creative Commons, and more recently, the Featured Artist’s Coalition…  

My question is, is the O.R.G. a friend or a foe?  

I’m a child of digital media, and I’m also an artist.  I’m also a creator of other forms of content like this blog. 

The Open Rights Group’s site is so confusing and not-clear in its mission at first glance.  For all I can tell it’s a front for a major publisher effort.  

Really, the site is terribly unclear.  Maybe I was supposed to spend a bunch of time digging for the agenda there.  

Please, you guys, make it clear!

I can help if you want, but damn.  I can’t even tell what you stand for.

It needs to be completely clear to anyone visiting the site, as soon as they get there, me thinks.

Featured Artists Coalition Launches

The FAC is a new organisation for advocacy of music artists’ rights in the digital distribution space.  Among the Artists already onboard are Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead and Billy Bragg.  One interesting thing about their “charter” is that they are advocating for artists to retain ultimate rights to their work, which in case you didn’t know, isn’t how it normally works in the major-label system.  

“…We speak with one voice to help artists strike a new bargain with record companies, digital distributors and others…”

As long as this organisation doesn’t become a new RIAA, by suing the pants off music lovers, or advocating network filtering by ISP’s, I’m all for this.  Labels get too much for too little while screwing over the fans and artists at almost every turn.  

If you’re listening, FAC, please don’t become another RIAA.  OK?  

Some quotes from the Press Release (pdf HERE):

 
ARTISTS LAUNCH CAMPAIGN FOR NEW DIGITAL RIGHTS

The Verve, Radiohead, Jools Holland, Kaiser Chiefs, Kate Nash, Robbie Williams and Billy Bragg are among dozens of musicians and performers calling for changes to the law and record industry

[…]

The new organisation will campaign for specific changes to the laws governing the music industry and how business is conducted, so that:

 
[…]
The new organisation will campaign for specific changes to the laws governing the music industry and how business is conducted, so that:

  • artists always retain ultimate ownership of their music
  • all agreements between artists and others are conducted in a fair and transparent manner
  • rights’ holders have a duty of care to the originator of those rights, and must always explain how any agreement may affect how their work is exploited.

[…]
The Coalition will begin by focusing on six areas where it is seeking change: 

  1. An agreement by the music industry that artists should receive fair compensation whenever their business partners receive an economic return from the exploitation of the artists’ work.
  2. All transfers of copyright should be by license rather than by assignment, and limited to 35 years.
  3. The making available right should be monetized on behalf of featured artistes and all other performers.
  4. Copyright owners to be obliged to follow a ‘use it or lose it’ approach to the copyrights they control.
  5. The rights for performers should be the same as those for authors (songwriters, lyricists and composers).
  6. A change to UK copyright law which will end the commercial exploitation of unlicensed music purporting to be used in conjunction with ‘critical reviews’.

BitTorrent Tracker Specifically for Independent Artists

(just an idea I had in the middle of the night… maybe it’s a good one?)

It just occurred to me that what artists like me, who are non-label, totally independent, need is a tracker/directory site for us to upload out torrents to.  A tracker that’s 100% legal music.  

I’m thinking since when you launch a .torrent file, depending on the client, you can select what files you want to download, artists can include in one torrent, a few different versions of their releases.  For instance, I could include a flac version, and two different mp3 bitrates, all album artwork bundled with each compression scheme  separately, and each version in it’s own folder.  

The user selects the one torrent, launches it, selects the folder for the version they want, and they get what they want.  

*Artist is distributing without needing a central server…

*Fans of indie/niche music are getting what they want the way they want it. And there’s a central place  for hard-to-find and/or totally legally-distributed-via-P2P music. 

 

There may also be advantages to creating a recommendation engine that excludes major-label music:  Maybe major label music obscures the analysis of music taste in some cases?  Just a thought.

I wrote a letter to the peeps at The Pirate Bay.  Maybe they’ll read it and write me back.

Kevin Kelly on the Next 5,000 Days of the Internet-TED, 2007:

Kevin Kelly gave this talk at TED in 2007.  It’s worth watching.  

He touches on a number of things ranging from history of the Internet and Moore’s Law to the future ubiquity of Cloud Computing and Kurzweil‘s “Sigularity.” 

He covers concepts like the Semantic Web, and the give-and-take between privacy and participation with relatively light language that any lay person should be able to understand.  This is an interesting and entertaining little presentation.  Thought I’d share.

ASCAP’s “Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers”

This is what ASCAP, which I am a member of (I’ll report on whether or not that was a good idea in the future), has recently put forth as its sort of manifesto for the digital age.  I will be adding strike tags to indicate the parts I would like to see removed, for the sake of freedom of culture, ethics in general, or for other reasons.  
Just as citizens of a nation must be educated about their rights to ensure that they are protected and upheld, so too must those who compose words and music know the rights that support their own acts of creation. Without these rights, which directly emanate from the U.S. Constitution, many who dream of focusing their talents and energies on music creation would be economically unable to do so – an outcome that would diminish artistic expression today and for future generations.   

At this time, when so many forces are seeking to diminish copyright protections and devalue artistic expression, this Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers looks to clarify the entitlements that every music creator enjoys. 

  1. We have the right to be compensated for the use of our creative works, and share in the revenues that they generate.
  2. We have the right to license our works and control the ways in which they are used.
  3. We have the right to withhold permission for uses of our works on artistic, economic or philosophical grounds.
  4. We have the right to protect our creative works to the fullest extent of the law from all forms of piracy, theft and unauthorized use, which deprive us of our right to earn a living based on our creativity.
  5. We have the right to choose when and where our creative works may be used for free.
  6. We have the right to develop, document and distribute our works through new media channels – while retaining the right to a share in all associated profits.
  7. We have the right to choose the organizations we want to represent us and to join our voices together to protect our rights and negotiate for the value of our music.
  8. We have the right to earn compensation from all types of “performances,” including direct, live renditions as well as indirect recordings, broadcasts, digital streams and more.
  9. We have the right to decline participation in business models that require us to relinquish all or part of our creative rights – or which do not respect our right to be compensated for our work.
  10. We have the right to advocate for strong laws protecting our creative works, and demand that our government vigorously uphold and protect our rights.”

PHP Application Turns MySpace Friends Into CSV – View/Mine in Excel Spreadsheet Etc

My friend threw together an app that scrapes your MySpace contacts and puts useful info into a reusable format.

DOWNLOAD IT HERE. (ZIP FILE)

UPDATE: It’s also available as a Torrent via The Pirate Bay. Please consider seeding this. It’s a tiny, tiny file.

Here’s the Read Me info I just put together to go with it:

“LOGIN_EMAIL”
and
“PASSWORD”
and change those.
LEAVE THE QUOTES IN PLACE
Save the file.
Upload these two files to your server.
point your web browser to http://where-you-put-the-file-on-your-server/ms_test.php
and what will result is a CSV file of all your MySpace friends and their demographic information. Also included is the URLs to “send message” etc, and some other useful things.
View the source of the page and copy it into a PlainText text file
Name the text file with the extension .csv
Now you should be able to work with your myspace friends in Excel

There is nothing malicious about this simple application. No viruses, spyware etc. It only does what it’s supposed to do: scrape your friends so you can more easily work with your social network data.

If you are of the camp that feels that people scraping their own myspace contacts is unethical, I suggest that you consider that all the pages are already available and the data they contain is rendered in HTML which can be freely accessed already. This is just a tool to make it easier to get the useful data separated from the clutter.

Finally, this is possibly against MySpace’s Terms Of Service, so use at your own risk.

MySpace iPhone App Coming Soon

[viddler id=10cc3285&h=370&w=437]

This looks cool. Thanks, Arin for the heads up.

I wish it wasn’t necessary for developer to build their own APIs for these social sites like myspace. I wish there was just a comprehensive API to begin with.

Should I join ASCAP? pros and cons (beta)

I’m worried that new innovations in music discovery might not be able to play ASCAP music because of the cost. I heard that this might be the case for small internet radio stations… I’m still trying to get to the bottom of this.

Then, I did come across these ASCAP contracts for new media channels… it’s about $1000/year minimum. This sounds high to me at first for a totally underground, out-of-my-bedroom type of channel, but then I got to thinking… A fast, enterprise-speed server, which is what I think you’d want if you were going to do something like an internet radio station, will probably cost you $100/month… So basically, if you were doing that and you wanted to play ASCAP music (and not get your pants sued off) you’d be doubling that amount… say $200-$300/month…

Then

I found a cool internet radio station called erika.net (that does play ASCAP and BMI music) and it turns out I wasn’t too far off. They say on their site that it costs about $400/month to keep their service going.

to be continued…

Voluntary Payment for Music vs. Music-Like-Water Approach Part 1

Part One – Some Background. Long Tail, Net Neutrality & Free Culture

First, let me apologize for how long this damn thing is. Unfortunately, I need to make sure I get everyone on the same page more or less as far as what I see as the important ideas/themes to consider when looking at the current condition of Music (and all other Media). If the set-up is old news to you, bare with me while I school everyone else for a second.

Second, if you’re interested in what is going on with all this stuff, you really ought to check out the book: The Future of Music: Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution by Dave Kusek. The first six chapters are available as a podcast in the iTunes Store HERE (iTunes URL Link). And a variety of links to where you can purchase the entire Audiobook can be found HERE.

This is where I got the idea of “Music Like Water.” In the first chapter of the book, Kusek talks about how in the future, music will flow like water without the constant interruptions we experience now when we have to buy or download it or move it from one drive to another. Music will just be there waiting. Like water through a faucet, it will pour. It will be as abundant and as varied as we like. I believe, as long as the Net remains neutral, this is inevitable.

Right now of course, that’s not at all how it works. But if you’ve got your ear to the tracks you can hear it coming. Digital Media, The Web, Search, Recommendation Systems, Social Software, RSS/Atom feeds, P2P technology, increasing connection speeds, accelerating processing power, the cheapening of storage – We are clearly on the threshold of a paradigm change. This is a particular moment in time when some very exciting things are happening with regard to how media is curated, discovered and distributed, not to mention how it’s created.

This stuff is much bigger than just music too. Of course all of these concepts carry over into Film, News, Literature, instructional products, the list goes on, but even beyond all that, this is a profound moment in history because the very process by which Human Culture grows, changes and spreads is changing because of the Internet and the invention of digital product. Anyone with access to blue-collar amounts of money can create media. Since increasingly anyone can participate in the cultural dialog, people are. This phenomenon is causing the few companies and institutions that have had most of the control over Culture in its many forms for all of living memory to lose market share as they increasingly find themselves in competition with Everyone and Everything else.

The “Everything Else” is also called the Long Tail and is examined by Chris Anderson in his book, The Long Tail: Why The Future of Business is Selling Less of More.” This is a good book to read or listen to because it brings to light an important fact: There is more value in the sum of all the less-popular and niche products than there is in just the “Top Hits” we’ve grown up with.

The “Everyone Else” is me and you. What we are participating in here is what Lawrence Lessig calls the Read/Write Web. Rather than a one-way, or Read-Only form of media, digital media and the Web are very conducive to dialog. One example of this dialog is sampling in music. Another is the blogosphere. And there are many, many more. The Hands-On, Read/Write, Two-Way “remix-culture” that we are finding ourselves in suddenly makes you and me part of the “Everything Else” I mentioned a moment ago.

In this way, we are taking market share from corporate media and so corporate media is losing influence over our Culture and losing Money as the value they can offer advertisers is falling. And guess what. They want to stop it. That’s exactly what the Net Neutrality debate is about. If the Net becomes un-neutral, it will be like handing the freedom to participate that we now enjoy over to companies that stand to gain from preventing our participation in Media, and our access to a variety of media products.

If you want to learn more about Two-Way Media and how Corporate Media is trying to control it, go read or listen to Lawrence Lessig’s book: Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture.” It’s free!

Almost everyone I know uses illegal means to access media products at leas some of the time. Often it’s just too inconvenient to get media the legal way. Actually it’s often not even an option.

The traditional purveyers of Culture are losing money because of this. Media have been selling eyes and ears to the advertisers that fund them since before your parents were born. It’s not paranoid conspiracy-theory-speak when I say that the corporate media want to maintain control over the Culture Markets.

MORE ON THIS TO COME.  In the meantime, check these out:

Trent Reznor Talks to CNET About Saul Williams Release

NIN Releases Ghosts Volume I for FREE 

Recent Post of Mine Comparing Press About the Radiohead “In Rainbows” Release to the Release of The Saul Williams’ Record

I Scraped My MySpace Friends. Scrape Yours!

Is there a way to download MySpace Friends? Not officially.I used “O-Community” to scrape my friends out of myspace and I used TextWrangler to turn the file into a series of <a> tags within <li> tags that include the XFN rel=”friend” attribute. I will be looking into how I might publish this information in a more relevant structure/format, probably as SIOC or FOAF data, if I can figure out how to do that.

I wish FaceBook & MySpace allowed you to download a spreadsheet (excel or whatever) of all your contacts and their demographic information like Age, Gender, Location Etc. Some other formats I would like to be able to download my contacts in are RDF/XML, vCard, CSV Etc…

Actually, it is explicitly against MySpace’s and FaceBook’s Terms Of Service to do what I have done here. Scripts and Bots are prohibited. Perhaps this will change some bright beautiful day in the future.

We need to be able to mine the ‘Data of Our Lives,’ including of course the contacts we make through Social Software services. We also need to be able to Back-Up all our Data.

If you would like help scraping your MySpace friends, drop me a line and maybe I can help out.

  1. retard a ..
  2. no profile
  3. Matthew
  4. Leandra
  5. Matt
  6. Giraffe
  7. Arin Crumley
  8. Susan Buice
  9. Elijah
  10. Big Love
  11. John
  12. OG Readmore
  13. Kim
  14. Four Eyed..
  15. aletia
  16. JB
  17. Tom
  18. hachurui
  19. Ehly
  20. Bianca Ba..
  21. philipb
  22. johnny
  23. Vodka Tan..
  24. Stephanie
  25. Stefi
  26. alien
  27. tamiko
  28. kefentse
  29. sonja
  30. Sonoma Co..
  31. Miss White
  32. Jamal
  33. Chicago U..
  34. Alexandra
  35. Molly
  36. monkey gl..
  37. RUN
  38. Mandy
  39. GODFATHER
  40. connie
  41. The Datas..
  42. P.P.A.M
  43. mikehedge..
  44. megadethk..
  45. Cat
  46. molecules
  47. Simply Pa..
  48. First Tim..
  49. Jessica E..
  50. Sarah Miller
  51. rigel. th..
  52. Erik
  53. EVERYBODY..
  54. bad kissers
  55. Aaron
  56. Velvet Ha..
  57. Malik
  58. brian
  59. wei
  60. selena
  61. RADFORD
  62. marissa
  63. Continue reading “I Scraped My MySpace Friends. Scrape Yours!”

House of Representitaves Says Colleges Responsible for Piracy

I hate how our Congress slips irrelevant terms into legislation all the time. “College Affordability? What do Piracy, P2P and File-Sharing have to do with the affordability of ‘Higher Education?’

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From CNET (I really like CNET lately):

“The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a higher-education funding bill that includes controversial new antipiracy obligations for universities.

The 354-58 vote to approve the College Opportunity and Affordability Act leaves intact an entertainment industry-backed provision, which makes up just a tiny part of a bill that has ballooned to more than 800 pages.

It says higher-education institutions participating in federal financial aid programs “shall” devise plans for “alternative” offerings to unlawful downloading–such as subscription-based services–or “technology-based deterrents to prevent such illegal activity.”

Bollocks.

If you look at the Yeas and Nays, you’ll see that the majority Yea votes were Democrats.  Actually, the only Nays were Republicans!  This is a good example of the Democratic party falling inline with Anti-Freedom, Pro-Corporate interests. I’m saying this only because many of my friends are self-proclaimed Left-Wingers and it is often assumed that the Left is more Pro-Freedom. Not so fast.

RIAA’s Cary Sherman Talks About Network Filtering

From the Public Knowledge Blog

Cary Sherman, president of the RIAA speaking at the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee‘s State of the Net Conference

I want to find the full length version of this. UPDATE: The entire video is available HERE. (Unfortunately it’s a RealPlayer File, and it doesn’t play back properly through my MOTU 828… The fix for this is to switch to built-in speakers. Lame. Through my 828 the sound is all garbled and slowed down and only comes out through one channel.)

There’s also a complete Mp3 download HERE.

I heard part of the panel thru an audio stream that stopped about ten minutes in. For this reason I can say at least that the jump-cuts in this youtube video aren’t edits to bend the meaning of what Cary Sherman is saying. They’re just speeding it up. I’m looking around for the full video. I can tell from what I heard that this is an enlightening panel with a nice selection of speakers on it.

Panel:

  • Mia Garlick, YouTube
  • Greg Jackson, University of Chicago
  • Gregory Marchwinski, Red Lambda, Inc.
  • Cary Sherman, Recording Industry Association of America
  • David Sohn, Center for Democracy & Technology (moderator)
  • Gigi Sohn, Public Knowledge

Scott Westerfeld, DJ Spooky & More on TTBOOK This Week

In case you missed it and you probably did if you’re the type of folk that will read this, I wanted to steer you toward the last episode of the PRI show, To The Best Of Our Knowledge.

Their Podcast is broken down by segment and can be found here (itunes store url).

Part one, is about apocalyptic settings in fiction… I really thought the last part was interesting. An author named Jonathan Lethem Scott Westerfeld wrote a novel, apparently for teens, about a scenario in the future where Social Currency via the Web is everything (or something to that effect) – a sort of Social Software Hell. The interview touches on some ideas about privacy and technology and also why Teens may relate so well to dystopian settings. All very interesting to me.

The other segment is about plagiarism and there is various anecdotal fuel for discussion there too.

It’s amusing to me that I would find it strange that both of these topics, Intellectual Property and Privacy, be touched on by a radio program in the context of being completely unrelated. I’m so used to thinking about these two topics as parts of the big can of worms that is the Digital Age we’re just starting to come to grips with.

Swedish Cops Charging The Pirate Bay: “Conspiracy to Breach Copyrights”

The Pirate Bay is an infamous (or just fairly reliable) BitTorrent Tracker that has previously been completely out of range from legal action by the RIAA and others because they are in Sweden where the law apparently doesn’t consider BitTorrent illegal.

The site actually even throws a giant bird at all the lawyers that send them cease and desist letters and other threats, often responding with childish obscenities.  And they post it all on their site HERE.  Pretty audacious (and funny).

According to TechCrunch, according the The Wall Street Jounal,

Based on evidence collected in a 2006 raid on the offices of The Pirate Bay, Swedish prosecutors say that by the end of January they expect to charge the individuals who operate the file-sharing service with conspiracy to breach copyrights.

picture-37.png

The Pirate Bay’s operators say they are expecting the charges and will prepare their defense with the aid of government-funded lawyers for a trial later this year. “We’re not worried,” says Fredrik Neij, a Pirate Bay co-founder. “We think the law is on our side.”

The Pirate Bay’s operators say they have been followed in recent weeks by camera-toting private detectives in foreign-registered cars. In September, they filed a police complaint claiming that MediaDefender, a U.S. counterpiracy company, had been hired by several Hollywood studios and music companies to hack into their site and shut it down.

MediaDefender, which itself was hacked by a shadowy group last year, denies the accusation. “We’re a reputable public company,” says Chief Executive Randy Saaf. “We’re not going to be doing hacking. That’s silly.”

Broadcast Flag Mandate for Digital Cable, Video Devices Etc

picture-140.png

from the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Today, you can use any device you like with your television: VCR, TiVo, DVD recorder, home theater receiver, or a PC combining these functions and more. But if the broadcast flag mandate is passed, Hollywood and federal bureaucrats will get a veto over innovative devices and legitimate uses of recorded programming.

The mandate forces all future digital television (DTV) tuners to include “content protection” (aka DRM) technologies. All makers of HDTV receivers will be required to build their devices to watch for a “flag” embedded in programs by copyright holders.

When it comes to digital recording, it would be Hollywood’s DRM way or the highway. Want to burn that recording digitally to a DVD to save hard drive space? Sorry, the DRM lock-box won’t allow it. How about sending it over your home network to another TV? Not unless you rip out your existing network and replace it with DRMd routers. And forget about using open source TV tools. Kind of defeats the purpose of getting a high definition digital signal, doesn’t it?

Responding to pressure from Hollywood, the FCC had originally mandated the flag, but thanks to our court challenge, ALA v. FCC, it was thrown out. But that doesn’t mean the danger is behind us. Hollywood has headed to Congress to ask for the flag again. Take action to stop the flag now!

Pirate Bay Music Discovery System. Rad.

Back in the good ol’ days, a few weeks ago, when oink was still around, there was a firefox plugin called oink plus that pulled together similar artists, MySpace and LastFM pages for the artists Etc.  It was rad.  Maybe this will be rad too.

From TorrentFreak:

“The Pirate Bay just rolled out a new feature to their music section that makes it easy for users to find similar artists, more albums from the same artist and upcoming concerts. The data they are using comes from the popular music community website last.fm and is fully integrated into the website.”

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(I love that they used Prince as the example.)

Illegal Sharing May be Bad Bathwater. But P2P is a perfectly good little baby.

Mark Cuban recently blogged that he thinks ISPs should block P2P. …Period. His idea being that P2P usage is hogging up all the precious bandwidth, and in turn, slowing down the Web.

I don’t want to bother with taking apart all the things that Mr. Cuban said over there, because I think they’re mostly completely ignorant things to say like

“…To help those of you who cant understand how to distribute audio on Google Video, here is a hint: Re encode it with a little video, a couple pictures, whatever. Then it it wont be an audio file, it will be a video file.. Ta da . You get distribution by the best distribution network on the planet, for free.”

There are so many reasons why that statement makes me want to break something. Oh well

Let me focus on this instead:

Cuban’s point of view reflects some common misconceptions.

Misconception 1: P2P and File-Sharing are a bad things.

Peer-to-Peer, or P2P, describes a number of technologies for using IP to network computers. Of these, some of the most frequently talked about in the mainstream news are the Gnutella Network (Kazaa, Limewire Etc) and BitTorrent.

There are others though. Many, many others. For instance, if you use AIM and while chatting, you decide to send a picture to your buddy, you are using P2P. I’m pretty sure (correct me if I’m wrong) Vonage, Skype and other VOIP services are also examples of P2P.

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And in fact, BitTorrent is being used for a number of lawful purposes including legal distribution of software and video and audio content.

“File-Sharing” and “P2P” are very broad terms. Using one of these broad terms when you are referring only to the specific instance of a technology that you do not approve of is misleading and/or ignorant. It’s a bit like referring to pornography websites as “The World Wide Web.”

torrentcomp_small.gif

Misconception 2: There is a shortage of bandwidth.

There is not a shortage of bandwidth. If you consider that practically every one of us has a wire coming into our homes that is carrying 100 channels of full-rez video that are always on, 24 hours a day… Yes, all 100 of them are on all the time even when you’re not watching them… Then you might start to wonder:

“Why do they say we have a bandwidth problem?”

or

“Why are Cable TV and the Internet Separate when with Cable’s speed and the internet’s freedom, […yada yada…]?”

and eventually you might find yourself thinking about:

“What would happen to the Television Advertising Market if all the TV shows were just watched via the Web? Would that be bad for cable companies or good? Where would all that money go? ”

Or even

“Is it possible that there’s an actual reason that our Internet Connections aren’t fast enough to replace Cable TV yet?”

“Is this like a conspiracy theory or something?”

Now would be a good time to learn a thing or two about theThe Net Neutrality Debate. Pay close attention to what the Cable Companies seem to be after. Can you see what they want to do? Can you see why?

As you observe the bizarre feeding ritual of the greedy cable company, keep in mind, some of us are hogging all your bandwidth with our P2P technologies, so your research might get slowed down a little bit .

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War on Culture: Prince joins the Dark Side. Prince, You’re a tool.

Prince is on the other team. The pro-control, pro-ownership-of-culture team. The team that likes to sue music fans.

Stolen from CNET

  • The rock star has hired Web Sheriff, a British-based company that specializes in hunting down pirated content on the Web, to launch a legal campaign against companies that wrongfully profit from the artist’s work, according to John Giacobbi, Web Sheriff’s president.

Stolen from Wikipedia.org

  • On September 14, 2007, Prince announced that he was going to sue YouTube and eBay because they “appear to choose not to filter out the unauthorized music and film content which is core to their business success.” A representative told Reuters, “The problem is that one can reduce it to zero and then the next day there will be 100 or 500 or whatever. This carries on ad nauseam at Prince’s expense.” [29] [30] Doug Lichtman, a lawyer for Prince released a statement saying, “above all, copyright law can welcome only those with pure motives. Those who abuse the law’s caution have no claim for its mercy.”

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Major Record Labels, RIAA, It’s Over.

Brilliant blog post by Rob over at DemonBaby.com titled “When Pigs Fly: The Death of Oink, the Birth of Dissent, and a Brief History of Record Industry Suicide

Quote:

“So the next question is, what now?

For the major labels, it’s over. It’s fucking over. You’re going to burn to the fucking ground, and we’re all going to dance around the fire. And it’s your own fault. Surely, somewhere deep inside, you had to know this day was coming, right? Your very industry is founded on an unfair business model of owning art you didn’t create in exchange for the services you provide. It’s rigged so that you win every time – even if the artist does well, you do ten times better. It was able to exist because you controlled the distribution, but now that’s back in the hands of the people, and you let the ball drop when you could have evolved.”


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At the end of a long, delicious read, Rob writes:

“1. Stop buying music from major labels. Period. The only way to force change is to hit the labels where it hurts – their profits. The major labels are like Terry Schiavo right now – they’re on life support, drooling in a coma, while white-haired guys in suits try and change the laws to keep them alive. But any rational person can see that it’s too late, and it’s time to pull out the feeding tube. In this case, the feeding tube is your money. Find out which labels are members/supporters of the RIAA and similar copyright enforcement groups, and don’t support them in any way. The RIAA Radar is a great tool to help you with this. Don’t buy CDs, don’t buy iTunes downloads, don’t buy from Amazon, etc. Steal the music you want that’s on the major labels. It’s easy, and despite the RIAA’s scare tactics, it can be done safely – especially if more and more people are doing it. Send letters to those labels, and to the RIAA, explaining very calmly and professionally that you will no longer be supporting their business, because of their bullish scare tactics towards music fans, and their inability to present a forward-thinking digital distribution solution. Tell them you believe their business model is outdated and the days of companies owning artists’ music are over. Make it very clear that you will continue to support the artists directly in other ways, and make it VERY clear that your decision has come about as a direct result of the record company’s actions and inactions regarding digital music.

2. Support artists directly. If a band you like is stuck on a major label, there are tons of ways you can support them without actually buying their CD. Tell everyone you know about them – start a fansite if you’re really passionate. Go to their shows when they’re in town, and buy t-shirts and other merchandise. Here’s a little secret: Anything a band sells that does not have music on it is outside the reach of the record label, and monetarily supports the artist more than buying a CD ever would. T-shirts, posters, hats, keychains, stickers, etc. Send the band a letter telling them that you’re no longer going to be purchasing their music, but you will be listening to it, and you will be spreading the word and supporting them in other ways. Tell them you’ve made this decision because you’re trying to force change within the industry, and you no longer support record labels with RIAA affiliations who own the music of their artists.

If you like bands who are releasing music on open, non-RIAA indie labels, buy their albums! You’ll support the band you like, and you’ll support hard-working, passionate people at small, forward-thinking music labels. If you like bands who are completely independent and are releasing music on their own, support them as much as possible! Pay for their music, buy their merchandise, tell all your friends about them and help promote them online – prove that a network of passionate fans is the best promotion a band can ask for.

3. Get the message out. Get this message out to as many people as you can – spread the word on your blog or your MySpace, and more importantly, tell your friends at work, or your family members, people who might not be as tuned into the internet as you are. Teach them how to use torrents, show them where to go to get music for free. Show them how to support artists while starving the labels, and who they should and shouldn’t be supporting.

4. Get political. The fast-track to ending all this nonsense is changing intellectual property laws. The RIAA lobbies politicians to manipulate copyright laws for their own interests, so voters need to lobby politicians for the peoples’ interests. Contact your local representatives and senators. Tell them politely and articulately that you believe copyright laws no longer reflect the interests of the people, and you will not vote for them if they support the interests of the RIAA. Encourage them to draft legislation that helps change the outdated laws and disproportionate penalties the RIAA champions. Contact information for state representatives can be found here, and contact information for senators can be found here. You can email them, but calling on the phone or writing them actual letters is always more effective.

Tonight, with Oink gone, I find myself wondering where I’ll go now to discover new music. All the other options – particularly the legal ones – seem depressing by comparison. I wonder how long it will be before everyone can legally experience the type of music nirvana Oink users became accustomed to? I’m not too worried – something even better will rise out of Oink’s ashes, and the RIAA will respond with more lawsuits, and the cycle will repeat itself over and over until the industry has finally bled itself to death. And then everything will be able to change, and it will be in the hands of musicians and fans and a new generation of entrepreneurs to decide how the new record business is going to work. Whether you agree with it or not, it’s fact. It’s inevitable – because the determination of fans to share music is much, much stronger than the determination of corporations to stop it.

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Nice, and nicely done, Rob.