It's a new sun to me (nukem777) Sun 14 Aug 05 07:12
(jonl) makes an interesting point about the differences the Net economy has brought to traditional entrepreneurialism....the established media is deeply entrenched in the old way of providing product, with layers of profit for themselves and their ancillary companies...the Net allows anyone, more importantly the artists themselves, to provide their own product(s) to their fan base at a considerable cost difference and profit margin...this includes the real profit makers, the t-shirts and band paraphernalia, so there is a sense in which the industry is a dead horse, but only if the bands, and movie makers seize the market opportunity afforded by the web -- and they may choose not to...several have tried, DavidBowie.net, the Stones, etc. without the kind of success you might have expected... In any case, others, like Napster and iPod and many of the Darknet sites will fill the void and begin providing quality downloadable files for a monthly fee, or a per file charge...the Industry has to recognize that the entire world is moving everything to their hard drives and all they have to do is notice the sales of external terrabyte and exabyte drives to see where things are going...one way or another they are going to have to redefine their role, as either providers to these new services or as just another horse and buggy outfit lying on the side of the cyberspace highway. It really doesn't matter whether they 'get it or not', the only thing that matters right now is that they not get their way in Congress while they go thru their death throes.
Emily J. Gertz (emilyg) Sun 14 Aug 05 07:45
heya jd. I am only two chapters into "Darknet" so far, but it's already helping me clarify my thinking on creativity, copyright and digital media. Am sad to say that despite about ten years spent in some or other web content endeavor, I haven't kept up on these issues as assiduously as I might have. So your book is a welcome opportunity to catch up -- and, it's a great read. I'm especially looking forward to your explorations of the middle ground, away from the RIAA/Free Culture extremes. Just as a disclaimer, I'm not an objective reader/observer -- I'm trying to write for a living, and my brother and sister-in-law work in Hollywood. But I think we're all young enough to benefit if the media and entertainment companies start to make intelligent choices about digital media, instead of pursuing this impractical and short-sighted content lockdown.
Jamais Cascio, WorldChanger (cascio) Sun 14 Aug 05 11:00
(JD, thanks for the reply to my post at WorldChanging, btw.) One of the common refrains from people who write for a living is that "everybody thinks they can write" -- because the tools for writing are so easily used, because casual writing is so commonplace, people (generally speaking) tend not to consider writing to be as skill- or talent-based as (say) painting. To what degree do you expect the democratization of tools for other sorts of media creation and distribution will, in turn, result in the devaluing of such creativity in the public eye -- "oh, you make movies? I just made a movie with my cell phone and it got a hundred downloads at Ourmedia!"
Public persona (jmcarlin) Sun 14 Aug 05 12:02
I looked at darknet.com but did not see anything about the effects of being listed in itunes. One day I was exploring the radio links on itunes and found http://www.magnatune.com. I could hardly believe it. A musical web site that made sense: it allows me to listen, download in many formats or order a CD. I love their motto "We are not evil"! They also have some top rate artists. Do you plan to look at such models on darknet.com including how well such companies are working?
JD Lasica (jd) Sun 14 Aug 05 16:57
Time to catch up on these threads! jon, in theory, yes, the Internet is the greatest disintermediation device of all time. And I agree that more and more artists will see the advantages of going straight to their fan base via the Internet (or creating a fan base that way. Indeed, there was an AP story on that very subject on Friday: http://www.cnn.com/2005/SHOWBIZ/Music/08/11/diy.music.ap/index.html Still, it's going to be a very long, drawn-out process before the record companies recede into irrelevance and a new artistic discovery and distribution system rises up in any meaningful way. Separating out the good stuff from the dreck is one of the greatest challenges facing those of us who are dabbling in the grassroots media space right now. Collaborative filtering, ratings, community tagging, etc. all have their place. Just don't bet the farm on big media fading away. As someone recently wrote: Remember, dinosaurs ruled the world for millions of years. Meantime, let's not worry too much about what the record companies and movie studios are up to. Let's build our own media. nukem777, success is relative. The era of the big-name mega-stars earning tens of millions of dollars for a new record release is quickly fading. Instead of 1,000 recording artists earning a million dollars (or whatever the true figure is), we'll soon see 100,000 artists earning a respectable income (though nowhere near $1 million). Emily, thanks for the good words -- this is why I wrote the book, to bring context and plain-talkin' perspective (and hopefully a little fun) to tens of thousands of people who haven't delved too deeply into these issues but know that something important is happening here. I agree that we're all young enough to benefit if the media and entertainment companies start to make more intelligent choices about how they make digital media more accessible. So far, it's a decidedly mixed bag, with those trying to hold onto analog-era business practices outnumbering the forward-looking execs, at least at the larger Big Entertainment companies. That's why I think special attention should be paid to the creative ferment happening at the grassroots level -- and why it's important for public policymakers not to skew the playing field in favor of the incumbent behemoths. Jamais, I'm looking forward to exploring how we can effect meaningful political and social change through grassroots media. And whether or not it has social important, I think the personal media revolution is indeed permanently changing the media landscape, including our perceptions of the professional media. I doubt we'll start devaluing the work of a Cassavetes or Coppola or Spielberg just because millions of us will be creating our own mini-movies. Instead, I think we'll start appreciating the fact that many of us can create stirring, important, entertaining works on our own, without a big-budget Hollywood apparatus behind us. jmcarlin, I'm a big fan of Magnatune, and have mentioned the site (too briefly) in my Darknet.com and Newmediamusings.com blogs. There's been an explosion in these kinds of sites over the past 18 months (Magnatune is clearly one of the leaders in this space), and I've been trying to keep track of them not at Darknet but at the Ourmedia public wiki: http://www.socialtext.net/ourmedia/index.cgi?related_sites
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 14 Aug 05 18:17
You do say in the book that "personal media will complement, not supplant, the old order of mass media and consumer culture. Most of us will continue to to watch entertainment created by professionals working at media companies. High-quality entertainment takes time, talent, effort, and money to pull off." Even if we continue watching higher-end entertainments, won't grassroots media pull significant mindshare away from the mainstream? Isn't that already happening, to the detriment of media companies? This makes me think of Technorati stats that show mainstream media still prominent, but several blogs gaining: http://www.weblogsky.com/archives/000563.html
Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Sun 14 Aug 05 21:30
There's a lot of talk about artist and their fans ditching the middlemen, but one of the things nobody talks about is that consumers may not need artists all that much if they're happy listening to the music of yesteryear. There are millions of people out there with rapidly growing and increasingly eclectic song collections that aren't going to wear out or become obsolete. If they can always get great music that's new to them from each other, how much is anyone going to pay for new releases? How much is "new" worth versus "new to me"?
Daniel (dfowlkes) Mon 15 Aug 05 08:42
<scribbled by dfowlkes Tue 3 Jul 12 10:14>
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 15 Aug 05 09:22
That's a great point - the "long tail" legacy of recorded music... which a record company would interpret as a reason to extend copyright or make it permanent.
Emily J. Gertz (emilyg) Mon 15 Aug 05 13:39
I'd be interested to hear from someone who really knows the business of music on that question. Does the centuries-long back list of printed matter depress the market for new writing? Not that I'm aware of. Aimee Mann's another who's started her own label and sells directly to fans -- but I've read an article where she laments how much time running United Musicians takes away from making her music. That is one thing you lose with the dissolution of the industry: the helpful things, like dealing with supply chains and manufacturing agreements and marketing arrangements. The economies of scale.
JD Lasica (jd) Mon 15 Aug 05 15:06
Jon, I absolutely agree that mainstream media (a term Dan Gillmor hates ... perhaps "mass media" is a more accurate term?) is in a fight with emerging grassroots media and alternative media for user mindshare. It has begun to happen with computers and videogames pulling younger people away from the TV, and it will accelerate as more and more people begin creating and sharing their own media -- and finding that it's fun and fulfilling to do. Take another look at Dave Sifry's chart ... http://www.weblogsky.com/archives/000563.html -- those bars are not measurements of audience reach, they're tallying in-bound links, that's all. Even the largest blogs today (Instapundit, etc.) are dwarfed by small cable networks when it comes to sheer audience size. But the Long Tail is taking the mass out of media. What happens when 10,000 TV shows come slamming through your living-room tv set? Traditional business models will topple. But I think we'll see a lot of symbosis and co-opting in the years ahead. Mass media advertisers will begin flocking to targeted niche media (on Internet TV, in podcasts), some of the better-done "personal broadcast networks" will cross over into prime time, and so on. It's going to be a fascinating media mash-up. Brian, that's a great point, and music labels are aleady reaping nice profits by putting their back catalogs out there in digitized form. Still, I think most of us do want to hear new music (both new to us and actually new) and so new forms of recommendation technologies will spring up that replace the music companies' traditional A&R role. The public -- especially social networks of like-minded people -- will be the ones discovering and recommending new sounds. But the record companies aren't going away anytime soon (despite wishful thinking in some quarters) because they still serve a function, offering economies of scale, as Emily points out. I think there will be a new musical order -- one where megastars get paid less and artists get paid much more than the 5 percent rate (if they're lucky) on each sale of a CD. There's got to be a better way, when (from the book) ... > The New York Times reported that 99.99 percent of audits show record companies to have underpaid their artists. Roger McGuinn sold half a million copies of 1991s Back to Rio and never got a penny in royalties. In a music industry magazine in 2002, Steve Albini, who produced Nirvanas In Utero, outlined what a typical record deal looks like: A new band might get a $250,000 advance. Its debut album sells 250,000 copies, earning $710,000 for the label. The band, after repaying such expenses as recording fees, video, catering, wardrobe, and tour bus costs, is left owing the label $14,000 in royalties. In an essay in Salon, Courtney Love did the math for a band that sells 1 million records, nets $6.6 million for the record company, and its members come away with zeroincluding its music, which the label owns. (Congress passed a law sanctioning such indentured servitude. Book authors, by contrast, own their books and license them to publishers.) Love relates how Toni Braxton declared bankruptcy in 1998 after selling $188 million worth of CDs after a record contract paid her less than 35 cents per album sold. The entire recording industry, Love concludes, is based on piracy. BTW, there's a move afoot in the European Union to extend copyright protections backward -- just as Congress did in 1998 with the Sonny Bono Act -- because many of the recordings from the early 1950s are about to pass into the public domain, which will bring up all sorts of interesting issues. Will U.S. listeners be able to tune in to an Internet radio station based in Amsterdam to hear Elvis and Miles and Ella and Frank, if their recordings are still under U.S. copyright but the station refuses to pay ransom, I mean, royalties?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 15 Aug 05 17:26
When you say "its members come away with zeroincluding its music, which the label owns" - does that mean that labels won't work with artists who insist on owning their own material? One concept we should discuss before we say much more is that of convergence. Can you explain what that term means in this context, and what you mean when you say "meaningful convergence involves the user."?
JD Lasica (jd) Mon 15 Aug 05 18:58
The artist who owns her material is very rare indeed. It almost never happens with the first contract. After you've hit it big, you can negotiate for that, but it's still the exception. (This was pointed out in the movie "Ray," where Ray Charles gained the clout in the early '60s as one of the first artists to own the music he created.) That's why some artists are sued by their labels, after they've left their labels, for performing songs they've made famous. Convergence is a word nobody likes -- it's been a concept that has teased the tech and consumer electronics industries for more than a decade -- but it's finally becoming real. It's important because it is having a big impact on the kinds of devices we're bringing into our homes. Used to be, all consumer electronic devices were islands undo themselves: your big TV, record player, telephone VHS player, etc. But the computer revolution has reshaped that landscape, with tiny chips embedded into our gadgets, letting them talk to each other and turning them, essentially, into mini-computers. Your TiVo or DVR is more computer than CE gizmo. What's transmitted across those networks and into those devices are bits -- the computer 0's and 1's that let you view photos on your TV, watch TV on your laptop, or listen to music on your cell phone. I wrote about what happens when the tech guys, CE guys and Hollywood lawyers get together in the same room here: http://www.darknet.com/2005/05/story_the_tech_.html What I mean by "meaningful convergence involves the user" is this: Hollywood and the CE and tech industries still look at us as consumers, as demographics to be targeted, carved up and marketed to. So their plan is to put a black box in our living room that controls our entertainment experience: a converged device that is part hard drive, part TV, but all controlled by Hollywood with the help of their tech/CE enablers. But there's no place for the user in such a vision -- no place for us as creators, producers and designers of media. True convergence puts a blasting cap to the one-way architecture of top-down media. Real convergence suggests open media -- not closed, proprietary systems. It occurs when people create personal media or capture mass media and personalize it. It's about creative culture and remix culture. So, I say to the Hollywood lawyers, consumer electronics engineers and tech coders: Take your plans back to the drawing board -- and create a space for _us._
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 15 Aug 05 21:29
What is Hollywood doing to stifle remix culture? (Noting that "Hollywood" here is not a reference to the place, but a label for corporate proprietary media industries and the associated "permission culture.")
JD Lasica (jd) Tue 16 Aug 05 14:02
Ugh! I posted a LONG answer here an hour ago, but WELL Engaged barfed on it, so it's gone. Remix culture comes in two flavors: We can freely remix our own creations with the creations of others who give permission, chiefly through Creative Commons licenses. See the ccmixter site for some great examples of this: www.ccmixter.org But that accounts for less than 1% of the mediasphere, and people want to be able to borrow from the culture around them. Young people especially are heading full-throttle into the remix world, taking snippets of the media culture to create something new. That could mean borrowing images or clips from a TV show, a Hollywood movie, a musical work, a videogame, and transforming it into something new. That's legitimate, in my view. Most of what we create can be done without borrowing from other audiovisual works. But as any filmmaker knows, making use of a well-known visual element or musical score can evoke an emotional reaction. I believe there's a huge distinction we need to make between creating such works for commercial purposes (where permission should be sought) and creating such works for the purpose of artistic expression. Most of mashup music is done for the sheer love of it. Check out all the comments people posted to the Darknet blog about the Green Day-Oasis mashup, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams": http://www.darknet.com/2004/12/green_day_vs_oa.html You can download the mp3 here: http://www.volkomenkut.com/media/boulevardofbrokensongs.mp3 You'll notice that the server for this song is located in the Netherlands. You won't find mashups -- one of the most interesting and creative trends in music today -- on the radio, because the RIAA lawyers will swoop down with their cease and desist orders. On the film front, I wrote last month about approaching the seven major Hollywood studios, asking for permission to use 15 to 30 seconds of their films (ranging from a few years old to 60-year-old films) in a home movie project I was making with my young son. Here's what happened: http://www.darknet.com/2005/07/when_the_studio.html So, the studios demand that we ask for permission. Then they won't give permission. What better way to stifle Remix culture?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 16 Aug 05 15:23
Shouldn't sampling qualify as "fair use"?
JD Lasica (jd) Wed 17 Aug 05 02:08
In theory, and to reasonable minds, yes. That's certainly the way the culture should work. But it's not the way the law works, and not the way the courts have ruled. Courts have held artists liable for using the _same three notes_ as a riff in a previously recorded song. It's reached the point of absurdity, so much that most hip-hop artists will no longer sample, nor ask for a license to sample from a previous work, because of the exorbitant fees involved. What issues do WELL folk want to see discussed here? Happy to dive into anything brought up by Jon or other participants ...
It's a new sun to me (nukem777) Wed 17 Aug 05 05:37
The more I read the more I get the impression that the "Industry" is trying to co-opt the individual's right to create and distribute almost any kind of artistic expression or endeavor by right of fiat or some kind of appeal to the past way of doing business and distribution. This is more than an argument over fees, this is an argument over free expression and who owns or has the right to distribute content in any format. Maybe I'm overstating it, or am I just late in getting it? Your links are excellent (jd) and I appreciate the hook-ups. I gather (cascio) and Worldchanging.com are onto this as well. Maybe this conversation will result in a broader coalition of various interests working to establish digital rights. Seems like a lot more court cases are ahead and perhaps a few well-framed forays into digital expression could serve the battle well. If that's the case, maybe we could talk a bit about what has proven effective and what needs to be pursued in the area of Creative Commons licensing. We've discussed collaboration and virtual communities quite a bit this year in this Conference, but we have not really made an effort at 'joining forces'. I'm not sure the WELL is so much inclined toward Advocacy as it is in examining the issues, but you sure are stirring up the pot.
Daniel (dfowlkes) Wed 17 Aug 05 06:48
<scribbled by dfowlkes Tue 3 Jul 12 10:14>
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 17 Aug 05 09:38
Are there legislators who understand why we might want more flexibility in interpreting the scope of intellectual property interests?
JD Lasica (jd) Wed 17 Aug 05 13:57
Dan, that's interesting. Is the show online? Jon, yes, a few congressmen certainly get it. Top of the list would be Rep. Rick Boucher of West Va., who's the most Net-savvy member of the House and has introduced legislation to reform the DMCA, to tamp back its more excessive abuses (the legislation's stalled). A few senators, like Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., have scolded RIAA reps who've appeared before Congress by asserting a narrow view of fair use in the digital age. I'm not aware of any organizations that do a Digital Rights Report Card, though. Does the EFF? Public Knowledge? That would seem to be a natural idea. nukem777, i think you're right, there's certainly an element of free expression and creative rights that are being throttled by today's lockdown environment. While the WELL certainly isn't in the advocacy business, WELL members are certainly free to band together to push for reforms and to help connect the disparate causes. Perhaps a digital rights summit would be in order?
Public persona (jmcarlin) Wed 17 Aug 05 14:14
There is an EFF conference on the Well. I've just put a pointer to the last post there <eff.950.268>. Hopefully someone can answer those questions here.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 17 Aug 05 16:49
This might be a good time to mention that anyone reading this discussion outside the WELL can still post questions and comments by emailing them to email@example.com. Hosts of the conference will post the emails here asap after they're received. There was a digital rights summit in 2003: http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/archives/Intel%20AEA%20Digital%20summit.pdf Getting back to the book, could you explain what Larry Lessig meant when he said "We're essentially burning libraries with encryption"?
Daniel (dfowlkes) Thu 18 Aug 05 11:35
<scribbled by dfowlkes Tue 3 Jul 12 10:14>
JD Lasica (jd) Thu 18 Aug 05 12:53
Thanks, Dan, I'll check that out. I wonder how the heck they pay licensing fees to the various parties whose songs are mashed up ... Jon, what Larry Lessig meant by "burning libraries with encryption" is that digital technologies can be a double-edged sword. While some digital content is fluid and malleable and can move easily from one format to another and one device to another, publishers often lock down other digital content with digital rights management (DRM). (I was shocked two years ago, at an O'Reilly conference, when someone mentioned DRM and NY Times technology reporter David Pogue said he'd never heard of it.) DRM can have its advantages, but one distinct disadvantage is that material that's locked down with DRM (whether on a CD, a DVD, an encrypted ebook, etc.) can become inaccessible years afterward, for any number of reasons. The decryption key may no longer work and the company that issued it is no longer around. There may no longer be any hardware device that can "read" the DRMd content. This is a problem that keeps librarians awake at night. More and more material is coming in these proprietary containers. In years past, the librarian might have been able to accommodate a patron by transferring the journal article or book chapter or scientific paper into an open reader. But that kind of fair use was outlawed by the 1998 DMCA -- it's now a felony for librarians to do so. So that's what Lessig was referring to: an entire segment of our culture that's made private, put under wraps, and that becomes inaccessible at some point through the confluence of restrictive technology and bad law.
Members: Enter the conference to participate