Dr. C. Scott Ananian (cananian) wrote,
Dr. C. Scott Ananian


Some articles today on alternatives to copyright for the music industry. The NY Times reveals that musicians don't actually make any money from recordings in the first place:
Much of the stated concern over file sharing has centered on the revenue that record companies and musicians are losing, but few musicians ever actually receive royalties from their record sales on major labels, which managers say have accounting practices that are badly in need of review. (Artists do not receive royalties for a CD until the record company has earned back the money it has spent on them.)

Even the Backstreet Boys, one of the best-selling acts of the 1990's, did not appear to have received any CD royalties, their management said.

"I don't have sympathy for the record companies," said Mickey Melchiondo of the rock duo Ween. "They haven't been paying me royalties anyway."

Musicians tend to make more money from sales of concert tickets and merchandise than from CD sales. In fact, many musicians offer free downloads of their songs on their Web sites to market themselves.

David Bowie doesn't have a problem with the demise of record companies:
"I'm fully confident that copyright, for instance, will no longer exist in 10 years, and authorship and intellectual property is in for such a bashing," Mr. Bowie said in an interview last year. The future of the music industry, he suggests, is that songs are essentially advertisements and artists will have to make a living by performing on tour.

This is not nearly as radical as it sounds: for most of the history of mankind this is how music was created and sustained.

But I whole-heartedly object to William Fisher's suggestion that:

In a book to be published next year, Mr. Fisher recommends placing a 15 percent tax on Internet access and a 15 percent tax on devices used for storing and copying music and movies like CD-burners, MP3 players and blank CD's.

The funds raised, he estimates, would be about $2.5 billion in 2004, roughly the projected amount the recording industry and Hollywood would lose to online piracy. The music business and Hollywood would get refunds based on what works were the most popular downloads.

I see no reason why I should prop up an outdated and unnecessary industrial structure for the music business while I go about my NON-MUSIC business on the internet. I buy CDRs for data backup. And I use my internet access for news and work. Despite what Mr. Fisher and the RIAA believe, the internet was NOT created solely to share music.

Lastly, it's worth noting that music executives have a lax view of so-called "intellectual property" themselves:

Recently [Josh Bernoff, the principal analyst covering media and entertainment at Forrester Research] was discussing his research with an executive at a media organization that has been very aggressive about trying to discourage file-sharing. When Mr. Bernoff asked the executive how he had gotten the report, which Forrester sells for $895, the man hesitated.

"They got a copy from one of the studios," Mr. Bernoff said. "Here is an organization that's saying that stealing hurts the little people, and they took our intellectual property and they shuttled it around like a text file."

For homework: discuss the legal and moral standing of "private copies" of copywrighted works. (Some recommended reading.)

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