Home > All, Politics, Security Issues > The 10 myths about ACTA and the Luddite music industry

The 10 myths about ACTA and the Luddite music industry

February 3, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’ve been commenting recently on the apparent information blackout about ACTA – so I was grateful to my friend, internet veteran Nigel Hawthorn, for pointing me towards an EU publication: 10 myths about ACTA. It’s a document that claims everybody is wrong about ACTA, and like the proverbial teenage son, it is just misunderstood.

I’ve reported on the document on Infosecurity Mag: EU publishes 10 Myths about ACTA.

Nigel largely sees ACTA as driven by the rightsholders. The music industry, he points out, has a history of trying to block new technology “ever since the invention of the record player, which was a threat to their printed sheet music.” Although he didn’t say it himself, the image is of a money-grubbing, self-absorbed Luddite industry with its head in the sand (some might say elsewhere).

Nigel gave me an example. “I own PLease PLease Me by the Beatles as follows: as a red label 7inch, a black label 7inch, an LP mono, on CD, on a USB stick (Beatles Complete Works), and a German language version. So that’s six times that EMI have had my money for essentially the same product – and I’m not sure any other industry would get away with that. If only they spent less money on lobbying and lawyers, they might work out how to make money from new technologies a lot quicker (and not alienate their customers in the process).”

Categories: All, Politics, Security Issues
  1. Brian Joy
    February 7, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    I agree with your views regarding ACTA. As I stated in my original comments it is not fit for purpose in its current form. However, you are off target in accusing me of writing an apologia for the music industry. Let’s investigate the facts here. There is no way EMI or anyone else forced your friend to have multiple versions of a particular Beatles track across three different media (vinyl, CD, digital) in two different languages. That is a conscious decision of what sounds like someone who is a collector. And as a collector I would suspect that EMI didn’t see any money from him for any 2nd hand purchases. However, that is conjecture so I won’t labour the point, but leave it there as food for thought, or indeed for eating as herrings, red or otherwise are extremely tasty.

    My own preference as regards to digital media is for purchase once, with the right to use unlimited times, on whatever device I like as long as long as it is for my household’s use and not for sharing nor for commercial gain. I.E. I have purchased a licence to use the intellectual property.

    However it is my opinion that the original purchase has to be made to contribute to the artist’s and the wider industry’s running costs and profit. None of us labour for the pure joy of it, and we expect to be paid for our efforts. Why does the music industry seem to be singled out as some exception to this rule?

    Reading between the lines of what you write I suspect where you and Nigel are coming from is not dissimilar to my own opinions stated above. However, the way the opinions are being expressed does not represent that view. It seems to imply that music should somehow be available for all to consume free of charge, and it is this that will ultimately be used as evidence for the music industry not to change. Instead of talking in terms of “Luddite music industry” and providing examples to support this that can be described as oblique at best, you might better serve your cause by stating explicitly what you perceive as the issues and what you think the solutions should be rather than leaving them open to interpretation. If your views are not aligned with mine then I think on balance I would probably then fall on the side of the music industry in this particular discussion.

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  2. Brian Joy
    February 7, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    I think your friend Nigel is somewhat missing the point. In the new world order the rights owner is often not a traditional music publisher, but increasingly the musicians themselves. But curiously the large music publishers are actually trying to provide a service to those musicians that have eschewed their services in addition to looking after their own interests.

    Since the advent of the cylinder disc writers and musicians have made their money via the sale of physical media. The fact your friend owns multiple different physical formats is presumably his personal choice and in no way has been foisted on him by EMI, so in fact is a red herring in the entire conversation. However, with the introduction of home cassette tape recording in the 1970s the ability has been there to copy recordings from one media to another. Without specialist equipment this was not scalable in any real commercial manner – you had to make an investment to distribute the recorded material, and as such the origins of any commercially oriented theft of copyrighted material was traceable given the right enforcement resources.

    Fast forward to digital media and the internet and all bets are off. Any piece of copyrighted material can be pretty much instantly copied and shared, either for monetisation (direct or indirect) or just to provide free access. So what does this do for the artists themselves? Whilst the costs of recording have fallen through the floor, which has meant less reliance on big labels and publishers, the actual monetisation of the end product is increasingly difficult. Music and video sharing sites are rife and you can get hold of pretty much any piece of music you want without having to pay a penny. Legal music streaming through the likes of Spotify produce such meaningless returns as to make it not worthwhile. So it comes down to public performance to make a living. Except whenever I attend a gig these days I struggle to see the artist other than through a sea of smartphones being used to capture the performance. This not only reduces my enjoyment of the event, but by the next morning the artist’s live endeavours are also plastered over the internet, in the same way as their recorded music, thereby further removing the incentive for people to get off their backsides and make the effort a attend a live gig, and further reducing the avenues available for the artist to monetize their intellectual property.

    Yet the very same manufacturers of the devices used to rip off the artists (Google/Motorola, Apple and Samsung etc) have been spending fortunes slugging it out in court trying to protect their intellectual property. So whilst I am in agreement that ACTA is probably not fit for purpose in its current form, to dismiss any protection for an artist’s intellectual property out of hand is disingenuous at best, and downright immoral at worse. If you want to fight ACTA you need to present a damn sight more compelling case than the one presented here, otherwise there may never be another Beatles to worry about protecting.

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    • February 7, 2012 at 4:38 pm

      Brian, you will forgive me for saying that this sounds like an apologia written by the music industry – and using similar methods. Nigel’s comments aren’t an attack against ACTA (it’s me that’s making the connection), they’re a comment on the music industry’s intransigence; which I personally think is an historical fact.

      The attack against ACTA in its present form really comes from the people quoted in my story on Infosecurity Magazine; so if you wish to defend ACTA, you should comment there (or at least comment on those viewpoints). Or mine, because I will state very clearly that I believe it is wrong, undemocratic, dangerous and should be scrapped in its entirety. Only then can a new and democratic agreement be built from the ground up in an open manner.

      But another technique of ACTA proponents is to make a dubious statement and then build upon it as an accepted fact. You state: “…to dismiss any protection for an artist’s intellectual property out of hand is disingenuous at best, and downright immoral at worse.” Please tell me where anyone is suggesting that an artist’s intellectual property should have no protection. That is simply a device, a disingenuous device, which I think you understand full well and use to attack a post with which you disagree but have no valid argument.

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