But what, after all, is a law? [...] When I say that the object of laws is always general, I mean that law considers subjects en masse and actions in the abstract, and never a particular person or action. [...] On this view, we at once see that it can no longer be asked whose business it is to make laws, since they are acts of the general will; nor whether the prince is above the law, since he is a member of the State; nor whether the law can be unjust, since no one is unjust to himself; nor how we can be both free and subject to the laws, since they are but registers of our wills.
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I really like Lily Allen. Her music is not only clever, it's nice to listen to. She's someone I really respect and think of as an artist. Lately, she's gotten involved in the music piracy debate, probably out of interest in the issue from the perspective of a regular person. A regular person who knows nothing about copyright. This was made clear when people from TorrentFreak went through her sites with a fine-tooth comb and found that she was infringing a million and two different copyrights.

Fair enough. She's against filesharing, but doesn't have a clue about copyright. Most of us don't have a clue about copyright - as Joi Ito said last week when I heard him speak, we break copyright law every few seconds.

I don't necessarily agree with Allen since her views are a bit uninformed, I understand the point she's attempting to make: artists should be paid for their work. The problem there is that there are a million issues around that point that she (and a lot of other people) aren't taking into account.

The modern world, as I hope we were able to convince viewers in our short doc, needs to catch up and get over the fact that people download. Most downloaders don't have a political agenda - but a lot of them feel like the music industry had a free ride for 70 or so years. Whether old formats/media like it or not, filesharing is a reality. Copyright infringement is usually far from intentional and it's a sticky subject.

I think the main thing to learn from this great example is that no one knows what the hell is going on. That's why we need a clear, universal set of rules and regs that are easily accessible by everyone.

Ultimately, this debate is centred around laws that are no longer effective. Once the general public stops obeying the law, isn't it time to reexamine the law itself?
 
 
A little background on OpenMusicMedia – it’s an event founded by Jonas Woost (who we interviewed for Broken Record) and Dave Haynes (UK manager of SoundCloud) where industry insiders and music aficionados alike get together once a month to drink pints and talk about the digital music industry. I’ve been going since I discovered it a few months ago while filming Broken Record.

The past three discussions: music videos in the digital age, the culture of music and most recently, creative commons and its relation to music (you may have noticed Broken Record’s CC license) have all been incredibly interesting.

Speaking of Creative Commons, the OMM people didn’t just plan a discussion, they snagged Joi Ito, CEO of Creative Commons, to come speak at the event. I was definitely chuffed (Briticism!) and quite enjoyed the talk. Joi stressed the fact that he wasn’t against copyright – quite the opposite. CC tries to simplify and standardize copyright law globally in an age where the law is so complex, “You’re probably breaking copyright law every couple of seconds.”

“It’s complicated,” Joi says, “because you think you’re doing something legal, but you’re not.”

He also commented on the current evolution of formats in terms of digital media and advised the label people present (who I’m sure are already well aware) that “no one’s watching the kids to see when they’re pulling out their wallets.” 

In terms of Mr. Lessig’s legacy, Dave commented that there’s “value in teaching people to create things themselves.”

It was an enlightening talk all around. For more information about Creative Commons, check out their site.
 
 
Kurt Cobain is rolling in his grave. Yes - he would probably have never wanted a cartoon version of his image singing a Bon Jovi karaoke classic or Gwen Stefani vocals. But, uh, should anyone really be that mad? Cobain's estate has aleady been ravaged by every Tom Dick and Courtney around. Walk along Yonge Street in Toronto and you'll find posters, t-shirts, buttons and keychains that all boast Cobain's image.

It was just a year ago you could buy a pair of Converse "honouring" Cobain - his writing was featured on the shoes. Was that okay? It was obviously approved. It's not that Cobain's image is being used, the point that Love is stuck on is that it can be unlocked to sing other songs. I wouldn't go feeling sorry for her, though. This is a contractual issue. It's got nothing to do with "selling out." That was done a long, long time ago.
 
 
People have watched the series! That's exciting. More exciting is that they've written a few words about it. That was nice of them.

Andrew Dubber (who you may recognize from Broken Record, ha) gave us a mention on his blog, New Music Strategies.

Jen Tse did a fantastic write-up in Evil Monito Magazine.

StudioManifesto.ca also gave us a mention a couple days ago.

Thanks, people. Keep on passing us along. One day we'll go viral. Sigh.
 

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