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Arts and Culture

A Kinder, Gentler Anti-Piracy Campaign

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Posted on Jun 10, 2011
Wikimedia Commons / aphrodite-in-nyc (CC-BY)

Lady Gaga’s new album, “Born This Way,” was one of the releases that Web Sheriff recently helped protect from pirates.

Busting purveyors and consumers of unsanctioned online music circulation (aka piracy) has typically been the heavy-handed tack taken by record labels and other industry players, but one British outfit, Web Sheriff, prefers kid gloves. Appealing to fans’ reason and responsibility is the best defense for artists and labels alike, at least according to the firm’s founder, John Giacobbi.  —KA

Los Angeles Times:

“The only thing most fans are guilty of is over-exuberance,” Giacobbi said in a recent interview. “When you’ve got some artist they love and have been waiting for a new album for two years, you’ve got to treat them with respect rather than hit them with the big stick — it’s a better way of doing it.

“Generally speaking it’s impossible to put the genie 100% back into the bottle, but you can contain it to a significant degree,” he said. “With Adele, we eliminated 99% of it (pre-release leaks).” The album has sold nearly 2 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen Soundscan.

Despite such claims of success, skepticism persists.

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tropicgirl's avatar

By tropicgirl, June 17, 2011 at 6:13 am Link to this comment

The so-called “copyright protection” itself is suspect… In fact, its major bullcrap.

For some readers here who feel indebted to our Founding Fathers, for so much, here is yet another thing…

Originally (1791), the American copyright system reflected American values. While it granted a limited, temporary monopoly to a specific publisher, American law had four important democratic safeguards:

1.  The promise that copyright will last—as the Constitution demands—for only “limited times,” thus constantly replenishing the public domain.

2. The principle of “fair use”: The nature of the original work makes it important that the public see it while teaching, research, or commentary (news).

3. The principle that after the “first sale” of a copyrighted item, the buyer can do whatever they want with the item.

4. The concept that copyright protects the specific expression of ideas, but not the ideas themselves. This is the least understood but perhaps most important tenet of copyright.

What Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers feared most was: Commercial Monopolies, and dismissed any sort of “intellectual property” term for creative copyrights.

Thomas Jefferson feared that monopolies could then use their state-granted power to strengthen their control over the flow of ideas and the use of expression. AND, he feared monopolies wanted to have the power to enrich themselves by evading the limitations of the competitive marketplace.

Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, in 1918: “The general rule of law is, that noblest of human productions – knowledge, truths, and ideas – become voluntary communication to others, free as the air to common use”.

President Clinton’s administration was instrumental in encouraging Congress to act on behalf of global media companies by enacting the, somewhat reckless, Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998, putting to an end 200 years of democratic copyright law.

Corporations have used that new law recently, for censorship purposes, just as the forefathers feared:

Church of Scientology International vs.Google. The wealthy church used the threat of a well-financed lawsuit—and the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act to persuade Google to block INTERNET links to several sites that included criticism of Scientology. “Had we not removed these URL’s, we would be subject to a claim for copyright infringement, regardless of its merits,” Google said.

Since 1998, the DMCA has not been effective at preventing piracy in cyberspace, yet it has managed to stifle harmless and even beneficial uses of material for research and teaching.

There’s more… There was this little amendment…

In a further complication, in 1999, at the urging of the RIAA, a “technical amendment” to the Satellite Home Viewing Act of 1999 was passed that defined recorded music as “works for hire” under the 1978 Copyright Act. This is the very type of contract artists and musicians have fought, and until now, have been considered unfair and illegal.

A “work for hire” means all work done while under contract with a record company is now owned “in perpetuity” by the record company that recorded it. The work will never be totally owned by the artist, or their descendents who outlive them. It used to be that a family would at least have the rights returned to them after 35 years.

The bill also makes it illegal for someone to use a famous person’s name (artist) for a website, without the artists expressed permission. Sounds good? Many bands have had to sue to get their own websites back:  Example: Goo Goo Dolls, Garbage

So good luck, Lady Gaga. Read your contract again.

INCIDENTALLY, this is the same bill that MANDATED that phones and devices make their technology spy-able, despite congresspersons expressing total shock and lack of foreknowledge of it. They voted it.

Copyrights are used to help build the massive cartels that have been regrouping.

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By diman, June 15, 2011 at 5:21 am Link to this comment

Lady Gaga’s new album, “Born This Way,” was one of the releases that Web Sheriff recently helped protect from pirates.

And who will protect us from Lady GaGa?

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entropy2's avatar

By entropy2, June 11, 2011 at 6:56 am Link to this comment

As Cory Doctorow points out, the desktop computer is a machine for copying bits, and any business model that depends on stopping people from copying bits is doomed to failure.

IP enforcement is futile, but it allows the state to impose more and more intrusive and repressive measures on the populace. Between the war on terror, the war on drugs and the war on IP piracy, the only war that’s really succeeding is the war on freedom.

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By Awi, June 10, 2011 at 6:39 pm Link to this comment

I don’t mind of my records are pirated as long as I can pirate food, gasoline, mortgage payments, car payments, electricity, etc.  I say live and let live.

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