John Scott G

John Scott G

John Scott G, an admitted word nerd, writes books, plays, screenplays, and political commentary. Author of "Area Code 666," "Secret Sex," and "Ambient Deviant Speedmetal Polka," Mr. G also writes under the pseudonym Gerald Laurence. Every day he happily rubs a few phrases up against each other to create sparks in your brain. You're welcome.

9 Comments

  1. John R
    Feb 26, 2009 @ 1:23 PM PST

    An interesting read, although alleging that the EFF is fighting so that “wealthy companies get more wealth while songwriters and composers get nothing” seems a bit extreme (even if this is what “some people” think, and not the author’s opinion). Coincidentally, I looked up the EFF’s position on file sharing, and it appears that, at least on paper, they are for voluntary collective licensing.

    Also, the “unassailable logic” of the faucet analogy doesn’t seem so flawless, as I see it. A water faucet is a special purpose machine designed for one thing: delivering water from a facility that distributes water. Extending this to computers, we would assume a computer is a glorified radio that delivers music from a facility that distributes music, which is a gross misunderstanding of both computers and the internet.

    But if we’re going to take this analogy, suppose that there are two water utilities servicing the same area and Utility A needs to use some of Utility B’s pipes to deliver water to their customers. Who will pay whom, and for what? My best guess is that A will pay B for the use of the pipes, not that B will pay A for the privilege of delivering water! So returning to computers, ISPs provide the pipes, but are not the distribution facility. This makes holding the corporations responsible for lost revenue a fairly odd position to hold.

    The real problem is with the users, no matter what some in the industry will say to make their arguments more palatable to the public. Users create and use services that distribute infringing music files; the ISPs are just the pipes. So any solution needs to address the cause and get payment from the people or services distributing files. If ISPs are willing to pass a fee through to their customers, then that might be the solution; but the solution has to affect the users. Pretending that the corporations are the source of the problem and that the government is letting them “get away with it” is naive.

  2. Connelly Barnes
    Feb 27, 2009 @ 7:23 AM PST

    Both the article and the comment here are interesting. I don’t think the EFF is actually against music per se, as John R above said they are for voluntary collective licensing.

    I disagree with this opinion piece because I don’t think it’s technologically feasible to control sharing, so political solutions to reduce sharing just aren’t viable.

    Maybe the upshot of all this is that some new laws should be passed to send royalties to artists through some ISP access tax. It wouldn’t really be a big deal, as we have all sorts of regulatory taxes stacked on to utilities and services of every other kind.

    I wouldn’t support anything like this currently. I’d rather just wait around until the industry dies, and then take action, because if politicians implement licensing or taxation schemes today it would just put all the money in the record companies pockets. These companies seem partly like an artifact of how music used to be done, so if they’re middlemen who are useless I’d rather whatever necessary economic restructuring be done first, and implement some new scheme after, when it will do music good rather than helping out some corrupt, lazy, backwards people.

  3. John Scott G
    Mar 5, 2009 @ 8:24 PM PST

    I have received reactions galore to the “Day of Sharing” article, most sent to my personal in-box. Here are three where people have been kind enough to give permission to quote them.

    * * *

    Very interesting and thought provoking… though, in some of the examples given, there are indeed payments being made to labels, publishers, PROs, etc, based on subscription formulas. The unfortunate aspect is that very little of that money (if any) finds its way to artists, especially if they’re not well-known. That’s another “rip-off” issue regarding the way the business has evolved. Indeed, I’ve interviewed executives who said, “Most artists don’t deserve to share in that income.” This goes way deeper than those that share illegally downloaded music. It involves the way business is done.

    – Bernard Baur, Contributing Editor, Music Connection Magazine

    * * *

    I have been yelling about this topic from the standpoint of musicians, writers and composers for so damn long – and I have been accused of everything from being an RIAA plant to a ambulance chasing attorney. Since the Texas Instruments engineers came out with the very first inexpensive MP3 chip set, I have been screaming about this topic, and it has been falling on deaf ears!

    YES – I was one of the original instigators in the MP3 lawsuits because it didn’t offer any kind of protections to ANYONE! YES – I was one of the SDMI folks! YES – I was overjoyed when Apple put protections on iTunes and
    Microsoft on WMS. Guess what – POOF – It’s gone – NEVER to be implemented again unless of course GOD HIMSELF (HERSELF) comes down and makes it so!

    BUT NOW you are telling me that musicians, composers are finally waking up to this issue! (There’s a WHOLE other market out there that better wake up too – PHOTOGRAPHERS – but THAT is another story.)

    The problem is known, the problem has been hashed to death, the problem CAN BE SOLVED – CAN BE RESOLVED – the 9 bazillion business models have been squished, squashed and hacked, backed, talked, balked, baked and raked – and IT CAN BE DONE! IF AND ONLY IF – folks cared about the business aspects of their careers instead of just the “glory” aspects.

    Musicians need to learn sooner rather than later that business is business – and if they want to play – somebody – SOMEBODY has to pay!

    – Mike D’Amore

    * * *

    That was a great, and I mean great, article.

    Unfortunately, the situation is also incredibly depressing. Lately, I have been starting to wonder if the last 10 years of my life dedicated to the music industry wasn’t just a total waste of money and time. After all, I don’t get compensated for my airplay, my download income has gone down (since nobody wants to pay even 99 cents for a song) and the licensing arena has also suffered, due to supply and demand. In fact, in the licensing area, the big companies are taking advantage of the dog-eat-dog competition by lowering the license fees so low no one can ever even recoup their production costs. Hey, Telepictures, a Warner Brothers company, now offers only $500 per track in an industry where the floor used to be around $1500-2500 for a track license.

    To add to this lousy situation, even if “universal music access fees” or somesuch were charged by ISP’s for music delivery (which I am in favor of), the reality is that the independent artists would probably not see a dime. In fact, only the majors would likely benefit, that is, until it was mandated that all airplay had to be monitored and tracked. The lack of monitoring is the reason I have substantial airplay yet haven’t seen a dime from it. Again, I see this as something which is going to have to be legislated to happen.

    Sometimes I think, too bad there’s not a powerful songwriters’ union, so we could strike and withhold our songs from all airplay and all licensing agreements for a specified period. A world without song for one day! It’s a pipe dream concept but a hell of concept, don’t you think???? Ya want our music, then frickin’ pay for it!!!!

    – Giannetta Marconi

  4. Brian Schmidt
    Mar 7, 2009 @ 6:15 AM PST

    Thank you for an interesting and thought-provoking read.
    That said, the Bread truck delivery metaphor really falls flat. If I don’t even eat bread, I’m expected to pay the driver a “bakers fee” that gets passed onto the baker? That is what Gibbs seems to be proposing. There are truly mind-numbingly massive amounts of IP on the internet, and music is but a slice of it. Should every maker of IP be paid a royalty collected by means of a “mandatory flat fee” becuase someone might download or read their IP on the internet? Shall we force online newspaper subscrions as well? Blogs? Dictionarys and medical databases? Porn sites and craigslist?

    There is a serious problem with IP on the internet, but mandatory fees paid to ISPs for music isn’t the answer; not unless we all want the internet to suddenly cost $1000/month since the ISP’s have to pay fees to all the potential creators of IP that one of their customers might download. (if I write a blog, do I get a slice, too??)

    Amazon is takign some interesting tacks here with how the Kindle operates (and now Kindle content on the iPhone). It’s DRM to the max, but (so far) there hasn’t been a major outcry against it. We’ll see how they fare (and I’m sure they’ve studied music downloading plenty in looking at all aspects of their system); perhaps there arent’ enough users to get upset at the DRM aspects of it.

    Smoking used to be cool, and many many people did it. Movie stars were always smoking, as were successfull businesspeople. Somewhere along the line, after many (tens of) years of education and $$’s, it became uncool, and smoking rates dropped decidely. I don’t see much of a solution to illegal filesharing except as a social issue similar to smoking– technology magic (DRM), or heavy handed business ‘solutions’ (lawsuits or mandatoryISP fees) will never solve the issue as long as people think its fine/cool to share music.

  5. Richard Gibbs
    Mar 15, 2009 @ 2:59 AM PDT

    Hey Scott!

    Thanks for the props and the link to my defense fund – and mostly thanks for fighting the good fight! Send folks to the website –
    Sign the petition, write on the forum.

    Let’s fix this mess, ya?

    Richard Gibbs

  6. Brian Butler
    Mar 15, 2009 @ 9:18 PM PDT

    It is only fair that musicians (and others) get to make money from their art/craft without having to somehow win the favor of a major record company, and also without having to play performances 5 days a week for life. This unscrupulous file-stealing will cease, and should.

  7. Zottal
    Mar 18, 2009 @ 9:57 PM PDT

    I kind of feel like I’m missing out of this “turning music on like water and not paying
    for it” because I usually do pay a lot for my iTunes downloads.

  8. Bryan-Chauncey Mays
    Mar 19, 2009 @ 2:05 AM PDT

    Why can’t we as composers, authors, arrangers, and educators get together and unionize. If we get enough artists and unions to fight together to keep their music from being pirated we could put music back on the stage and in the concert hall and in the media with the proper royalties. The problem is that we allow our music to be marketed in a way that it is easy to steal. We need to come up with a way that takes the music off the internet. I copyright or register my titles with ASCAP. I record music on CD’s. I think musicians should keep searching for a way to find CD’s that are not recordable. Musicians should try to lobby for laws that prohibit the digital and electronic media to copy their materials. We need to get these devices out of the market place and replace them with the recordings that we spend the time and sweat to produce. Unfortunately this won’t be done because none of our unions or leaders have the guts to take appropriate action.

    Bryan-Chauncey Mays

  9. mk3
    Mar 19, 2009 @ 12:33 PM PDT

    Well said! Let’s fight the good fight. Let’s be consistent: either everyone is entitled to be properly paid for their legitimate work, or no one does. Rule of law, or anarchy.