Goodnight Kiss Music (BMI) & Scene Stealer Music (ASCAP)

CONTEST TOPIC ~ The NAPSTER YO-YO

 

In the Email Newsletter we did in July (1999), we were following the (eternal) NAPSTER/MP3 wars with the RIAA and Major Artists/Labels/Publishers. Here is my appeal in the letter, and your responses.
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A U.S. federal judge shut down Napster for copyright infringements until a
trial could be held.  Another judge overturned that ruling and gave them until August 18
to justify why they should NOT be shut down.

The premise is that Napster is not "file sharing", but rather "duplicating".

The judge told the Napster reps that the same ''bright minds'' that created
Napster's technology would need to devise a solution to comply with copyright law.

Ok, most of you know how I feel about this, but let's tell the TRUTH here.

How many people do you know who are going around bragging about how many
songs they have downloaded since the Napster deadline?  I swear this reminds
me of city riots, where normally moral people go berserk and just steal, loot, and vandalize. 
A guy tells me yesterday, "Yeah, I been gettin' 'bout 170 songs a day outta there." 
Honestly, honestly, what for?  How many songs can you listen to that you remember, let alone
cherish?  This guy is stockpiling excess out of pure greed.

Anyone who wants to give their music away should certainly be allowed to, if
they think that's what their talent and time is worth. But not a Writer or  Artist who chooses music
as a career.  It's too expensive and it's too hard just to give it away for free.  Just like becoming
a dentist and "working on" people's teeth isn't free.  (As a matter of fact, the cost of THAT should
be in protest, moreso than a $12.99-19.99 CD, but I digress.)

Buying a CD only buys you the right to use that music personally.  Yes, you
can make a tape copy for yourself from a CD (et.al), say, to play in your car
tape player FOR YOUR OWN USE.  You own THAT CD, not the actual music and
publishing behind that CD.

If you think the Industry overcharges, please sit down, create an outline for
me of how a successful artist/record is created, manufactured, promoted,
distributed, etc., show me the prices for each step, show me how much you
would fairly charge, how many must be sold/given for profit (are you going to
make your Dad pay for one?), then show me what your car payment and rent are,
and how you exactly are going to make a living via how much you charge for
your CDs.  Even at 19.99, it isn't going to be enough to live on, unless you
sell thousands.  I want to hear your plan on that part, too, where and how
many you are going to sell.

We'll put up a page of your responses... best letter will win a T-shirt or a
Goodnight Kiss Love Letter Locket.  ESPECIALLY those of you who are defending
this stealing by railing against the "Industry".  Show me how YOU would do
it differently.

Again, let me say, if you want to give your music away for nothing, fine.
But you do not have the right to do that to others' music, even if
mass-lack-of-morality madness has a grip on this country.  You do not have
the right to loot, just because there is a riot.

Janet Fisher

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To:
Janet Fisher,
In reading your take on Napster, I agree with you, My Husband and i
Manufacture model train equipment, and if i do say so myself some of the best
made, one of the complaints we hear is price, tooling for 1 HO box car (which
is the mold) is $50,000, then plastic, and the production run on top of that,
painting and printing after that packaging, advertising etc. Our net price
is $8.37. So why I'm telling you this?
MUSIC IS NO DIFFERENT.
Lets start with the learning of an instrument, lets say guitar, at least
$1000.00 for one that is any good. Then the time to learn how to play, you
can't put a price on the countless hours, Lessons at least $30.00 an hour, 1
hour a week &120.00 a month, $1,440. A year, This is before one even knows if
they can write a song. Lets go on to say one makes it to the songwriting,
and one writes a song is anyone going to want to listen to? Well, before you
let the masses hear it you need to copywrite now they have to have home
recording equipment $3000.00. $30.00 for the copywrite. Again the time
involved no price can be put on that. This is the first years of the
beginning songwriter, with no income for there efforts or knowing if there
going to be successful. It can be hard and painful, with all that keeps them
going is the love of song.
The people at or using Napster have no idea what it takes to get one song off
the ground and if it was there songs getting Stolen they would be yelling the
loudest. But I am sure all they care about is beating the system.
I guess this is the long way to say I feel Napster should be shut down.

Tami

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(quote)<<Again, let me say, if you want to give your music away for nothing, fine.
But you do not have the right to do that to others' music, even if
mass-lack-of-morality madness has a grip on this country. You do not have
the right to loot, just because there is a riot.>>

YOU GO GIRL!!!

It never ceases to amaze me when I meet a pro-Napster artist. I just have a
real hard time understanding their logic. Sure, it's their choice to give
their music away for free...but I know how much it costs me to record and mix
even one song and I just can't justify it. And woah to the fool who tries to
distribute my stuff for free without my permission!!! Guess I'm real
conceited and think way too much of my talent or something. Or maybe I've
worked at BMI far too long! =)

~Darci Monet

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I don't understand. 

I admit it, I'm an artist, and an MP3 "downloader".  I understand the other side of the story, I think, so here's mine.
  When I write/perform something I am (hopefully) giving the listener a tiny piece of my heart.  I'm showing them how I feel, what I think, whom I love, and ultimately who I am.  I am writing a song for the sake of writing a song.  If money's what I'm after I know I'm doing something wrong.  If I only think about fame and fortune then I may as well stop writing. 
 
When I finally get more of my stuff written, I'll be the one sharing my own MP3's.  I'll be the one giving my music away, simply because that's the reason I do what I do.  I do it to be heard, to make others feel something and to make myself feel something.
 
Good Luck in your debate.  

Sean M. Johnson

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I see the outcome of the Napster trial as
 a temporary and ineffective solution. Why: there are others
 sites which are doing the same things. Shutting down Napster
 doesn't make much difference, in my opinion (even it looks
 like a victory). And note: the artists and writers didn't
 get their money anyway ! I wonder why !? I would fine the
 Napster at least !

 What is needed, I think, is an international law (it should
 be international) about this kind of activity on the internet.
 If ALL those companies pay some percentage of their profit
 to the copyright-money-distributors, providing the list of
 the authors and number of downloads (an easy database thing),
 it would be fine with authors, I guess. It's like selling
 more. As for the music industry, well, they'll have to compete
 in these case, which is not a bad thing. It may help to go
 down with the CD prices. And what happens now: Napster made
 some money and got shut down. Ok, tomorrow someone will open
 a Napster-2 LEGALLY !
 
 But I agree with you: "mass-lack-of-morality madness" is
 always around. And as far as I know it's around everywhere.
 
 Have a nice weekend,
 
 Konstantin (Costy L.)

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Janet,

Thanks for the excellent, impassioned opinion on Napster &
similar piracy. My favorite one-liner on it all:

"Sharing is such a warm, cuddly, friendly word ... this is
not sharing, it's duplicating." - Lars Ulrich, "Metallica"

Jamie

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1. Interesting Napster comment:

I have a good friend who owns all commercially released Pink Floyd records.
He uses Napster and Gnutella to find bootlegs and odd stuff such as videos.
He also attends all Floyd related (Gilmore) shows and has for years. He is
basically, THE "mexed out" fan.

His downloads are basically not detracting from his ability to support the
band 'cause he's done everything short of buying them dinner.

2. Scenarios where Napster might be handy and NOT detract from sales
substantially.

- MP3 file is NOT full song but several short clips edited together
representing a collection or sampler. This serves the person of building
awareness without giving too much away.

- Exclusive upload is available everywhere possible (including Napster) and
contains lyric which acts as password or discount for tour dates, regional
dates OR even CD purchase.

Bernard Yin

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From Dread:

I went to the link you referenced below at ZDNet.  You might have heard my audible "chuckle", until I realized you were probably serious.  It sort of reminded me about an incident at work today.  I overheard another agent describing to another (who was not at ALL interested in hearing it) the 2nd Gore/Bush debate.  Gore was attempting to discredit Bush and Texas due to (1) the dragging death of a black man in Jasper, TX, and (2) the lack of passing a hate crime bill during Bush's administration.  Bush admirably pointed out the 3 "thugs" who committed the crime were convicted by a jury of their peers and punishment doled out-they would be put to death.  Bush then asked, "What harsher punishment can you suggest after death?".

Here I was viewing an incident (the debate) and getting a totally different perspective of it than my colleague.  He thought Gore did well because Gore pointed out that Bush refused to support a hate crime bill, and I thought Bush scored points in showing that prosecution should be no respecter of color-punishment should be meted out to the guilty regardless of race/color/ect. 

I thought (think) the duties of my profession have attuned my judgement of a person's character.  As I was "over-hearing" his conversation, I again realized that many (including myself) have their bias' and opinions that have been formed and probably won't be swayed, even when finally facing the truth.  It was almost like the memory of a Baptist and a Lutheran discussing religion-neither one will be swayed by the protestations of the other, no matter the "truth".

With your experience, knowledge, and well-heeled connections, I'm sure you have insight into the NAPSTER debate that exceeds those of the "average" or "casual" observer.  I don't claim to be an expert; it's not my area of expertise.  I think one of the respondents to your post enumerated my initial thoughts best when he said, "We're talking about what is legal, not what is fair." 

As I read the legal briefs, I developed an opinion that is not the same as the one you espouse. It is my opinion that RIAA will probably win at the District level, but that NAPSTER will appeal and prevail at the Circuit level.  NAPSTER's arguments clearly have more substance and weight to them.  You can't disregard AHRA or the rulings in Sony or Diamond.   I do not view the current debate regarding NAPSTER as primarily a copyright issue because, as I stated, I think AHRA, Sony, and Diamond settled that issue.

I think that the industry is, will, and ought to, change or evolve.  The concepts of "internet" and "copyright" are in a confused state of flux right now, but it is my opinion that the internet WILL overwhelm arguments seeking to put limits on it.  As stated in some of the briefs, it's those who seek opportunities in the NEW "culture" that will have the greater chances of success.  Here I refer to events after Sony.

As I see it, you can seek alternative solutions to the problems evident now, gaining an advantage over those who ignore what I see as inevitable.  Solutions don't come overnight, I know that.  Neither do they come if you don't actively seek them. 

Let me stress that I DO feel empathy for you and your plight, not meaning to make it sound trivial.  I mean, here you are in a career that is SERIOUSLY threatened by a new "technology" (at least from my perspective), and I find myself supporting that "new technology".  Of course, I'm always ready to assist in seeking out solutions, also, but I'm not prepared to ignore what I believe in (again, I state: I don't see it as a "copyright" issue, although I haven't touched on that aspect-yet).  And I'm not willing to tackle it alone, as I don't expect you to tackle it alone.  But I also won't waste my time debating Lutherans, or my misguided fellow agent.

QUESTION: If you don't feel badly about stealing my work, how am I to make a living from songwriting? If you build a house, should I be able to rent out rooms because you let me visit for an hour? You tell me how a songwriter will be able to earn, and how artists will maintain any credit for their work without copyright protection on every level of media.

And, by the way, AS I SAID LAST YEAR, all that's going to eventually happen is the creation of a new media or packaging that will not be so easily copied (til later, then again, etc.). It may be a matter of months still in developement, but you will look back and regret the days you contributed to finishing off the artists who struggle to give beauty to this world, who accept a lesser income and way of life in order to just survive to pursue their art. Go take a look at "playback royalties" earned at MP3. See any staggering amounts from unknowns? Nothing like diluting the stream of what you purport to NEED so much, you would STEAL it.

And if YOU feel this way, YOU who I know to be morally just, YOU feel that you are entitled to my life's work without compensation, then certainly the rest of the world will probably be as short sighted. I'll just save my work for the next media.

The AHRA royalty did not include nor intend to cover Online Transmission. It was not even a choice of any quality at the time the act was passed (I know, I was in Washington lobbying). It is a few cents/percentages of cents on the media and units being manufactured, basically for the intent to copy.

It is only token compensation for the copies created on blank CDs. Now you think all (what bloody media royalty is earned during transmission?) theft should be justified because we once earned a small part of our own money back from those burning CD copies from our CDs (which cost us literally thousands of dollars to create from the ground up)???

The songs and copyrights on those CDs being copied are OURS. So you believe that a pool of compensation earning a few cents for all the CDs you burned is enough for everyone for all future uses and transmissions and copies of any nature? Hmmmm. I do not agree.

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(See Also : Janet Fisher's ZDNet Article *and reader REACTIONS* and
The Copyright RANGE WARS of Y2K
Part 1 and Part 2 )


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