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ARSCLIST  July 2007

ARSCLIST July 2007

Subject:

Re: Copyright Extension Rejected In UK

From:

"Steven C. Barr(x)" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 26 Jul 2007 23:10:20 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

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See end of VERY long message...
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dismuke" <[log in to unmask]>
> --- Karl Miller <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >   While I might sound like a broken record, you
> > don't make any money unless your record company
> > keeps your recording in print. Given the current
> > distribution modalities, with the 50 year limit,
> > most musician's recordings are more likely to be
> > preserved and heard.
========
> I agree with this and what Phillip Holmes has said as
> well.  But the thing to keep in mind is that today's
> distribution modalities will not be around for much
> longer.  
> 
> The labels might try through legislation to make the
> implementation of the new technologies as difficult as
> possible - but, at best, it will only delay it and it
> might end up backfiring and actually expedite the
> labels' demise.  In the long run, one cannot put the
> technological genie back into the bottle.  Short of
> the collapse of entire civilizations, I cannot think
> of a single instance where any such attempt has been
> successful. If nothing else, a black market for the
> technology will spring up - as was the case with
> Napster and mp3 piracy.
> 
> There are very good reasons to believe that, in the
> future, it will be the artists who will hold the
> copyrights to their own material.  And I think it is
> reasonable and just that copyright protection be
> available at least through the life of the copyright
> holder and somewhat beyond.  
> 
> The vast majority of artists have every motive in the
> world to keep their older material in print (though
> there have been a few instances I have heard of where
> artists have sought to destroy or supress their
> earlier works).   And with today's technology, there
> is almost zero excuse for a published work to go out
> of print unless the owner WANTS it to be out of print.
>  When it no longer makes sense to do another
> production run of books or CDs, there is no reason why
> online versions cannot remain forever available. The
> per unit storage and distribution costs are about as
> close to zero as one can get - so any sales that
> result from it after that point are pure gravy.
> 
> I also think that, in ways well beyond recorded music,
> the recent technological advances spell the inevitable
> end of mass media pop culture as we have known it
> throughout all of our lives.  Under a mass media pop
> culture, trends were determined by finding a widest
> (which frequently means lowest) common denominator. 
> Because of lower costs, niches of all varieties
> imaginable will prosper where before they wouldn't
> have stood a chance.  And, because of it, even
> narrower niches will develop including niches that
> never even existed before.  
> 
> In a mass market, everything is determined by what
> will appeal to the largest number of people. As a
> result, there are lots of compromises and the public
> pretty much has to content itself with what is served
> up.  By contrast, when people have endless choices
> open to them as is the case in a niche dominated
> market, they tend to seek out the best (however that
> might be defined) and quality wins.
> 
> For this reason, what I think one will begin to see in
> ALL musical genres is that the recordings that become
> successful will tend to be more timeless and enduring
> unlike today where the vast majority of them are old
> hat after a few months and soon forgotten.   Of
> course, there will be lots and lots of utter crap out
> there as well - your delusional cousin who THINKS he
> can sing but can't will very easily be able to make
> and publish recordings of his efforts.  But such
> efforts will not attract very much in the way of word
> of mouth recommendations and will meet the fate that
> they deserve.  But for the stuff that IS good - well,
> such material will forever have access to appreciative
> fans.  The phenomenon of being a "has been" the moment
> the major labels and FM music directors lose interest
> will largely go away.  Artists will have the means
> available to them to keep their name and work before
> their core fan base and to keep exapanding it. And
> there will be far fewer obsticles to prevent younger
> people from discovering and appreciating music from
> before their time. 
> 
> In the past, copyrights in the hands of the labels
> have, at times, worked to the artist's disadvantage. 
> A recording out of print does not do an artist any
> good in terms of acquiring new fans.  A record label
> which owns one's material and is only concerned about
> promoting the latest temporary sensation and couldn't
> care less about what it considers yesterday's news is
> not a very good partner as one's career matures. 
> 
> As a result of the Internet, older recordings have
> become more valuable and relevant - and this will only
> be more so when the recordings of current and future
> artists are no longer new.  For that reason, a
> copyright extension, per se, in the UK on sound
> recordings strikes me as reasonable.  But any such
> extension needs to address the phenomenon of abandoned
> works (mandatory renewals would work great for that).
> And, above all, those amending the copyright laws
> should NOT do so on the premise of the business model
> of the existing Big Four labels or for the purpose of
> trying to artifically perpetuate their increasingly
> irrelevant existence. The laws need to take cognizance
> of new technologies - including the fact that such
> technologies doom the labels in the long run. 
> 
There is, however, one VERY noticeable "fly in the ointment" here!
Although, given even current technology, the process of creating
playable, CD-like CD-R copies of one's product is a relatively
simple process (though NOT terribly fast...!)...Most of us artists
are not set up to mass-produce these in significant number!

Yes...it IS possible to have a quantity of "pressed" CD's manufactured...
but, once one's work has slipped into the "barely remembered" status,
the usual minimum orders of 1000 or so would 1) probably be a "lifetime
supply" of the recording, and 2) cost more money than many of us have
readily available...!

Further, if one IS fortunate enough to have a "hit recording"...well,
this means that said recording will have to be made available in either
physical or web-accessible form (with the former in appropriately large
numbers...!) or both. "Record companies," of course, either have the
necessary facilities or have the needed contractors to handle this
process...we artists generally don't. Further, there exists the necessary
process of distributing this hit...again, as a CD, as a set of ones and
zeroes, or both...to: first, the "retail operations" who can and will
sell the recording...and, second, to the radio facilities...both
terrestrial and web-based...who will publicize its existence, and
thus increase sales! Currently, all of these processes are taken care
of by "International Record & Sound Megacorporation, Unltd."...but,
if myself and others are to function as our own "record labels," this
implies that we have the knowledge, skill and facilities to look after
all of these tasks...!

Essentially, what this would amount to is the same thing as dismantling
our entire food-manufacturing/distribution/usw. system, and leaving it
up to each farmer to get his/her/its products somewhere where they can be
sold to the public (or, farming as it was done a few centuries ago...!).
Those of us who happen to live in the same areas in which the food is
grown would get better and fresher (but probably more expensive...?!)
food...while the hapless souls who dwell elsewhere might wind up in a
food-less situation...?!

Steven C. Barr

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