Unesco‘s “World Press Freedom Day 2013” is promoting the idea that people need to be able to use social media for freedom of expression, whether it’s on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Vkontakte, Tencent, Identi.ca, or blogs. Many people don’t know that they should be free and safe to blog, to upload pictures, to watch online video., or that the freedom to receive & impart information & ideas through any media is promised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
As the western free press buckles under the control and demands of powerful special interests, the Internet has made citizen journalism possible just when we need it most. Unfortunately, sometimes people engaging in social media are targeted by repressive regimes.
In Canada, Byron Sonne’s Charter rights were violated by police, and charges were laid against him for posting photographs on Flickr and tweeting concerns about the billion dollar “security theatre” being staged in Toronto for the Toronto G20. He was punitively denied bail for almost a year, and when finally granted bail it was under onerous conditions, so he was effectively a political prisoner for nearly two years.
Since March 15, 2012, our colleague and friend Bassel Khartabil has been in prison in Syria, held without charges and not allowed legal representation. Bassel is an open-source coder and leader of the Syrian Creative Commons program. He believes in the open Internet, and has spent the last ten years using open technologies to improve the lives of Syrians. Not only did Bassel build the CC program in his country; he worked tirelessly to build knowledge of digital literacy, educating people about online media and open-source tools.”
Around the world, we’re seeing increased restrictions on free speech as the breadth of copyright laws have been expanded to allow censorship, and we face an unending barrage of laws like SOPA and CISPA that allow government and corporate incusrions into our personal privacy, and trade agreements like ACTA and CETA.
Unesco is promoting the free exchange of ideas & knowledge that is possible with social media, and wants everyone to have a voice and be able to speak freely and in safety, no matter where they are in the world.
DRM is “Digital Rights Management” or “Digital Restrictions Management” ~ either way it is “Technological Protection Measures” employed in the proprietary software and hardware we purchase. DRM controls how we can use our digital media and devices.
This year the W3C is in the process of hammering out the new standard for HTML5, the language that the Internet is written in. Some of the biggest, most powerful Internet corporations are trying to pressure the W3C to write DRM into the specifications. Adding DRM to HTML would cause a host of problems for freedom and interoperability on the Web, and we need to build the grassroots movement against it. Nobody except these big corporations want this change to the core of the Web, but most of the Web users that it would affect don’t know about the issue yet.”
Any DVD player would be able to play any DVD in the world but for region encoding, one example of DRM. If you move to a different region, don’t plan on bringing along your DVD collection, because it won’t play there. DRM is often employed to “protect” digital copies that are under copyright.
Corporations like DRM because it can be used to tie us in to their proprietary products — we need to buy this type of game machine to continue to use the games we’ve already purchased — or buy ink cartridges even though the ones in the printer aren’t actually empty but because the DRM says the ink is past it’s best-before date — or purchase the same music over and over again as digital media wears out or the device is declared obsolete.
A specification designed to help companies run secret code on users’ computers to restrict what they do on the Web would severely undermine that trust. ”
Nothing is stopping these big companies from deploying DRM on their websites now, with the exception of consumer choice. But if DRM is written into the HTML5 Specifications, DRM will become the default, and consumers will lose the few choices we have now. It will become harder to free our devices and ourselves from the shackles of DRM. And I rather expect it will have the unfortunate side effect of breaking the Internet.
We think we are doing something wrong when we are prevented from copying digital photos we have taken of our own kids, with our own digital camera, to the hard drive on our own computer. We can’t tell if there is something wrong with the camera, the cable, the flash drive or the computer. It would never occur to us that the software has decided we are infringing copyright — especially since we aren’t. Our ability to copy our own digital content can be prevented accidentally or deliberately with TPMs (Technological Protection Measures).
We don’t know the reason we have so much trouble trying to burn our home movies onto a DVD for Granny is because TPMs prevent the software from working properly. When TPMs (more commonly called “DRM” or “digital locks”) are added to our media and our devices the functionality is often degraded. In other words, to protect the intellectual property from consumer customers, TPMs that may break the thing are often considered an acceptable risk.
We don’t know that our legally purchased DVD won’t play in our own DVD player because it is region encoded for a different region, another deliberate TPM. Consumers accept “region encoding” as a natural limitation of the technology, because we knew it was a physical limitation on VHS and PAL videotape formats. But the reality is that a DVD would play in any machine except that region encoding TPMs artificially prevent consumers from playing the DVDs we purchase on the device of our choosing.
We don’t know that the DVD we legally purchased will not play on the digital device we own if it has a Free Software Operating System (gnu/linux) without first utilizing a player like VLC to circumvent the manufacturer’s TPMs — DRM or “digital locks.” Bill C-11 will make software like VLC illegal because it can be used to circumvent TPMs.
We don’t know that we can’t save the YouTube video letter our grandchild uploaded for us because YouTube’s TPMs prevent this.
We don’t know that when we’ve upgraded the hardware on our computer one too many times, the reason that our “improved” computer suddenly became a brick and simply will not work any more is because TPMs prevent it until we buy a new copy of the software. Bill C-11 will make it possible to prevent consumers from installing free software on our own computers.
We don’t know that the printer ink cartridge isn’t actually empty, but that the TPM has decided it is. Sometimes because we have made a certain number of copies, or maybe because there is a TPM which tells the printer that the cartridge can no longer be used after a certain date. So some printer cartridges can’t be refilled without resetting that date – which constitutes circumventing TPMs.
We don’t know our scanner isn’t scanning those photographs because they have been “copy protected” with TPMs. Even though the photographer has (a) died (b) gone out of business or (c) long ago deleted the content from their drives. Further, we don’t realize that if we do find a way to scan the only copy of that milestone photograph of our loved one we will be circumventing TPMs, which will be illegal once Bill C-11 passes into law.
Not all TPMs are digital.
Some devices are assembled using specialty screws that can’t be turned with standard screw drivers. So you must possess the proprietary screwdrivers just to open it up. With Bill C-11 these screw drivers can be considered TPM circumvention devices, which will become illegal if Bill C-11 passes. Computer recycling depots, AV departments in schools and libraries, and of course repair shops across Canada will have to be very careful not to repair or refurbish any device with TPMs. It will be safer to throw many goods out rather than risking breaking the law to make repairs.
The Copyright symbol is a TPM. Overlaying the words “Do Not Copy” or some other kind of watermark on an image is another kind of TPM. Very often both of these TPMs are used in the commission of copyfraud. Creative work that was never “protected by copyright” (like the works of Shakespeare) or that have already entered the public domain (like the works of Oscar Wilde) are not subject to copyright. Anyone can use them, because the monopoly has expired. But there are a very large number of websites set up to sell copies of public domain art etc that claim copyright to which they have no right.
If copyright infringement is theft from the copyright holder, then copyfraud is theft from the public. Making copyfraud an offence would actually modernize Canadian copyright law, but as it stands, Bill C-11 will actually protect copyfraud, at the expense of Canadians.
TPMs effectively allow machines authority over human behaviour, and there is no appeal. How do you convince the hardware or software that it is in error?
No one tells us these things even *have* TPMs.
A great many of the problems we currently experience with our digital media and devices are caused by TPMs/DRM or “digital locks.”
Manufacturers place Technical Protection Measures on our media and devices in order to control our use of these things we own. They don’t want to draw attention to this; if they did, consumers might choose not to purchase the goods. As you can see from the examples shown, TPMs are capable of far exceeding “copy protection” and in many cases TPMs are currently employed to artificially impair the media or device to force consumers to upgrade or buy a new one. Which sounds rather like fraud to me.
What most consumers see is that something is broken. Some of us will take the digital goods back to the retailer, who will do their job and sell us a new one. Never mind that adding material that might be repaired but for Bill C-11 — perfectly good digital equipment — to our landfills is hardly in the public good.
Before Bill C-11, if the TPMs manufacturers added broke the goods we purchased, we could repair them. If the TPMs prevented us from accessing media that we were legally entitled to access, we could circumvent them. Or get someone who knew how to circumvent or repair them for us. Bill C-11 will make this illegal.
You can’t see most TPMs with the naked eye, so we can’t even tell if it is there because most TPMs are hidden. Which is why:
Bill C-11 Must Add Warning Labels
Citizens must be told:
that TPMs are present, and
what they do
Citizens can not be reasonably expected to follow the digital lock provisions of Bill C-11 without the inclusion of mandatory warning labels informing/explaining TPMs to consumers on “protected” media, including:
and on “protected” digital devices such as:
C-11 criminalizes circumvention of TPMs we don’t know are there
If Bill C-11 is passed without also mandating manufacturer warnings that inform consumers of the existence and parameters of the TPMs that we may not legally circumvent simply in trying to make our own digital media and devices work,
Bill C-11 will make all Canadians into inadvertent criminals
There is still a tiny bit of time left to contact our MPs and let them know we don’t want them to pass this Bill C-11 as it is There is still time to say “No”
Ratings systems have long proved an effective method for preventing people from stumbling on material that they would find offensive. I grew up in a small rural community with a very strong religious presence. Still, our local video store had a back room where those so inclined could access material that might otherwise offend. There were also adult magazines nestled on the top shelves at the back of magazine racks in local variety stores. I know that because I clerked in such a store in high school, and I remember my profound shock the first time an Old Order Mennonite man arrived at the store in a horse drawn buggy and proceeded to purchase the latest issue of “Hustler.” But although I am quite sure that the elders of his church would not have been pleased, in a free society, adults must be accorded the right to choose for themselves.
Else we’ll certainly end up in a world very much like the one George Orwell tried to warn us against.
Although not classed as erotica, my own debut novel, Inconstant Moon, actually deals pretty prominently with the crime of rape. If I hadn’t already taken it off Smashwords myself (because I will not deal with PayPal) it could very easily have been one of the titles censored.
But in an email to Smashwords authors, founder Mark Corker indicates he is negotiating with PayPal, and although
“Many Smashwords authors have suggested we find a different payment processor. That’s not a good long term solution, because if credit card companies are behind this, they’ll eventually force crackdowns elsewhere. PayPal works well for us. In addition to running all credit card processing at the Smashwords.com store, PayPal is how we pay all our authors outside the U.S. My conversations with PayPal are ongoing and have been productive, yet I have no illusion that the road ahead will be simple, or that the outcome will be favorable.”
So readers and writers have been duly warned that Smashwords will cave to PayPal demands rather than switch payment providers should negotiations fail. That’s a business decision, and Smashwords can legally make it, but make no mistake: PayPal will not be the entity censoring eBooks, that task will fall to Smashwords.
Smashwords is an internet company operating in the United States, and as such is subject to the DMCA.
Under the DMCA, You Tube is not liable for copyright infringing material that users upload, because YouTube doesn’t create the videos, it simply distributes them online. So much material is uploaded to YouTube, the cost of YouTube having to police the content of its users would instantly put YouTube out of business. Thus the DMCA allows Internet companies like YouTube an exemption from responsibility for the content they distribute, because these companies can’t reasonably assess such content for legal infractions.
The DMCA defines such a distributor as a “safe haven” so long as it complies with the DMCA. So YouTube only takes down material when it receives a specific DMCA take down notice.
Smashwords relies on its automated processes to do what it does, and so far, no human has had to go through and vet every submission. But by accepting this PayPal censorship directive, Smashwords would assume responsibility for the content of the books it distributes.
Seems to me, the unintended consequence of a Smashwords decision to censor the books it distributes would remove the “safe haven status” Smashwords enjoys under the DMCA. Which would mean that Smashwords will have no choice but to police every title it distributes, or else be legally liable for any alleged copyright infringements.
[This is an expanded version of the comment I posted to the CBC’s online article Toronto’s ‘Officer Bubbles’ sues YouTube. Of course, it’s subject to moderation and I have had many comments well within stated CBC guidelines declined. So I decided to post this here as it’s too important an issue to let slip through the cracks.]
The calls for an Inquiry into the G8/G20 debacle aren’t going away, they are getting louder.
A National Post article lauds this lawsuit, believing Officer Bubbles’ attempt to intimidate by lawsuits is a blow for… accountability?
Will the courts allow citizens to be stripped of the right to comment anonymously? If you make an anonymous comment expressing your disagreement with a situation like this, can you be sued? Is an opinion slander? Or since it’s published online libel?
Anonymity can be a powerful tool for good. Whistleblowers can leak information that their consciences dictate ought to be public which often serves the public good.
Must we guard our opinions, and take care not to voice them for fear of litigation?
Using lawsuits to squash the cartoons that ensued is a terrible precedent for the future of free speech and free expression in Canada. It’s interesting to note that Officer Bubbles is not attempting to take down the video. After all, it really happened.
The fact is he spoke and acted, knowing he was being filmed. Performing his professional duties as an officer of the law, on a public street, as a matter of public record. Officer Bubbles is a public servant interacting with a member of the public. In this context, Officer Bubbles should be no more immune from depiction in political cartoons than the Mayor or the Prime Minister?
I must have dozed off at the part where they made political cartoons illegal in Canada. Is that in Bill C-32?
silencing dissent before it happens
Meanwhile, there is another protester that there is no video for.
This protester was arrested before he even had a chance to protest the G8/G20 — before it even began — apparently on the basis of Twitter remarks which led to a search warrant. The result is that Byron Sonne was arrested, and languishes in jail some four months later, denied bail by a Justice of the Peace.
Malcolm Gladwell may not believe in online activism, but Canadian police services take it seriously.
A Justice of the Peace isn’t a lawyer, or a judge. This is a political appointment. I have to wonder if a Justice of the Peace, an appointed position not requiring formal legal education, is the right person to be making decisions about who is or is not entitled to bail? It’s bad enough that in criminal offenses, the decision as to whether a defendant can walk free between accusation and trial may fall victim to a JP’s personal bias.
But to have political appointees ruling on the liberty of those accused of political offenses during peaceful protests is simply ludicrous. A Justice of the Peace appointed by the government of the day can hardly be expected to be impartial, especially in cases of political dissent.
Many laws have built in latitude enabling them to cover a range of infractions. There is certainly latitude in every one of the charges brought against Byron Sonne, allowing the exercise of a great deal of discretion.
This certainly becomes an issue in a world where a soap bubble is adjudged a weapon by the forces of Canadian law enforcement.
There can be no democracy without dissent.
Peaceful protest is legal in Canada … isn’t it?
Or has dissent become a criminal offense?
The CRIA companies have long dominated Canadian airwaves. They work hard to fullfill that 35% Canadian Content requirement. After that’s done the remaining 65% of the Canadian radio dial can be filled with recordings conveniently provided by the American mother companies.
Except the nature of the recording industry has changed; more and more Canadian artists are choosing not to sign with CRIA companies, instead opting for Independence.
The Way the Music Biz Was
Although sound recording technology came into existence in the tail end of the 19th Century, it really only became established through the 20th Century. Although the music recording industry began as a wealth of small companies, the competition as they jockeyed for position and power led to mergers, eventually winnowing them down to a mere handful of companies. In this way recording companies achieved a kind of corporate oligarchy based not on wealth or bloodlines but on market domination due to control of the distribution system.
Under the old fashioned music industry regime, a record company would decide to “sign” an Act. The Act would of course be over the moon because they have been “discovered”. They are going to be famous. What’s not to love?
Suddenly, the Act feels like they are at the center of the universe. People are buzzing about them. THEY are the buzz.
Naturally the record company calls the tune, by virtue of their “expertise”. The record company makes all decisions: where to book the Act, how to “package” it. Does the Act need new costumes, or a new look? New wardrobe. Publicity materials. Promotional parties. Press junkets.
You can’t be a recording artist without a recording. The Big record companies don’t stint, it’s first class all the way. When the Act walks into a major recording studio to record that first album they rack up big expenses. This stuff isn’t cheap you know. Maybe re-recording from scratch if the music company exec doesn’t think it’s good enough. Once the mix is right, press it onto disks, print sleeves, ship it out to radio stations and record stores. And of course don’t forget the advertising. Take it on tour. Woo the radio stations with interviews and hand out promotional copies along the way. The Act makes appearances at record stores and shopping malls. Airtime is key, so that people know who the Act is, so the Act’s sound becomes known. That’s how fans are made. Then the Act can sell albums and fill seats in the venues to be played on the Act’s tour.
then came rock video
A whole other media to woo. Suddenly the Act can’t make it without shooting a video. In the early days, a few groups took the bull by the horns and made their own rock videos, putting themselves in the public eye without benefit of the recording Industry. Promote it to the VJs on Canada’s Much Music and MTV. Advertise. Giveaways. Contests. Interviews. Then the tour.
A big part of the deal was that the record company provides the Act wider exposure than they could manage on their own. Initially this meant nationally, but as the distribution networks grew and grew it became global. The Act would have to agree to sign over some or all of their music copyright to the record company. In exchange, the music company would record and promote the Act.
Although all the expenses associated with touring are paid for up front by the record company, in actuality the musical Act is generally contractually obligated to pay it all off out of the proceeds. Even though the music company makes all the decisions, the Act ultimately pays for it all over time.
[And no, I’m not making this stuff up. You can read about singer-songwriter Janis Ian and her gripping article “Internet Debacle” in this week’s Through the Looking Glass (can you say “indentured servitude”) or the incredibly astute number crunching in the transcript “Courtney Love Does the Math” at Salon.com]
And the downside? Well, the record company might decide that the Act isn’t going to make it big after all.
Maybe the fans aren’t into the Act as much as was hoped. (Even if what the fans don’t like is the “new look” dictated by the record company.) Whatever the reason, if there isn’t a big enough turnout at the bookings sometimes “the buzz” just fizzles.
Or the Act’s CD isn’t selling as well as the company wants it too. Big labels sink big bucks into recording and it all has to be recouped.
Or perhaps its just that the exec who signed the band got the axe. The successor certainly won’t want to make the Act into a hit and make the predecessor look good.
So the company decides not to throw good money after bad. The company has sole discretion over promoting the Act. They can stop at any time. Remember, it was their contract, their lawyers. Everything is in the company’s favor because they were in a position of supreme power when the Act signed.
For whatever reason, even if the record company didn’t promote the Act as aggressively as they might have, even if the Act’s recordings are sitting unreleased on a shelf somewhere, the fault can be entirely due to company mismanagement but the recording company continues to own and control the Act’s music.
Of course the record company doesn’t do anything so foolish as give the copyright back. If the Act decides to tour on their own, or just take a regular gig at a local blues bar, they still owe a piece of the action to the record company. If the Act decides to put up a web page, they have to get permission from the company before they can give their own music away for free.
The Act will be paying the record company back, no matter how long it takes, for out-of pocket expenses.
After signing with the record company, all decision making power has traditionally been with the record company. They hold all the cards going in to the initial negotiation. If the Act didn’t agree with the contract terms, they didn’t get a contract. The record company had total discretion in how long or how hard they will promote the act. Even if it’s a matter of hours, they still hold the copyright.
Why would musicians sign up for this?
The music companies held all the marbles. Especially as the media companies became more and more centralized, the reality is that they controlled distribution.
And, well, musicians are artists. Very few artists want to do business. Mostly artists want to create art. A record contract was the holy grail. The company would handle all the annoying details and let the artists get on with making music. And in fact that’s how it worked… at least for the headliners.
If you were a musician and wanted to cut a record and get it played on the radio and distributed in record stores, you had to be aligned with a music company. If they didn’t take you on, you were out of luck. It was just about the only way to be successful (ie. to be able to make music without having a day job).
The only Canadian musician I know of who became a star without a record company in the fifty years before the Internet was Canada’s Stompin’ Tom Connors.
It wasn’t easy. A single man with low expenses, Stompin’ Tom worked hard, and paid to make his own recordings while traveling the length and breadth of Canada gathering experiences and regional tidbits from which to fashion his music. Constantly touring he sold his own records wherever he performed. Stompin’ Tom built up a following across Canada one record at a time. Eventually he became a star in spite of the big music companies. And today Stompin’ Tom Connors is enough of a Canadian Icon to have graced the face of a Canadian stamp.
Now, if music was just an ordinary career, like, say, ditch digging, once the Act plateaued or plummeted, the act would get career counseling, maybe go to college, or become a landscape architect and move on.
But music, like any art, is not so easily shirked.
If you’re an artist, you create art
Artists want their art to be out there… they want to be heard.
Just because the record company you signed with holds all the marbles, it doesn’t mean you stop making music. And the record company that holds the copyright continues to make money from the Act, long past the point where they are actually doing anything to promote or distribute the Act. Musicians make music. You keep on keeping on. The Act continues plugging away, performing. Maybe even recording on their own nickel. It may take decades but a following can be built.
Copyright law is different depending on where you are. Sometimes there have even been cases in this modern world where acts have gotten free of the record companies. American copyright law provides for the return of music rights to the actual creators or heirs starting in 2013. I’ve not heard of anything similar for Canadian artists. Still, the record companies continue to wield an extraordinary amount of power.
Scottish performer Edwyn Collins never gave up control over the copyright to his own music. As an Indie musician he set up a MySpace page where he was making his music available for his fans to download. Or at least he was until suddenly an erroneous take-down order resulted in MySpace taking down Edwyn’s music, preventing him from sharing his hit song A Girl Like You. Yet Edwyn Collins was the rights holder, the record company was not. Because of the traditional power invested in the major recording companies, MySpace did what they were told by the record company even though the record company had no legitimate claim to Edwyn’s music. (One of the bad things about the DMCA; no proof is required.)
Edwyn Collins had to fight to get the right to put his own music on his own MySpace page.
“[We are] aware of who the biggest bootleggers are … It’s not the filesharers.”
Advances in modern technology means that it no longer costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to set up a professional recording studio. Even more important, the advent of the Internet has brought economical and easy global music distribution. Suddenly, within the last 15 years, it has become possible for musical acts to get out there and create their own music and distribute it themselves– without having to sell their souls to the record company.
Sure, it isn’t free. It still costs money to cut an album, but it’s doable. A major label thinks nothing of sinking twenty or thirty thousand dollars into recording an album. Thing is, it no longer has to cost that much. Professional musicians can record an album in a commercial studio these days for around one thousand dollars. If you possess the home equipment and recording/editing software along with a bit of technical expertise it is more than possible to record your album at home for next to nothing.
Yes, you’ll probably still need your day job. You are unlikely to become a star overnight. Marketing and promotion is a very big job, even with the power of the Internet. But if an act chooses to record their music Independently, first and foremost, they retain title to their music.
An Independent does not have to give up their copyright.
The Independent gets to make all the decisions about how their money will be spent on promotion and distribution. The Indie decides where to perform. One new way of marketing many artists are following is to distribute their music free under Creative Commons Licenses. Artists give away their art because they need exposure to grow an audience. Art must be out there.
Adding the Internet to the mix makes it possible for artists to distribute their work for next to nothing. They can make their music available for free in online venues like MySpace or allow downloads through the Pirate Party of Canada Tracker or ideally on their own webpage.
When independent artists begin to make a name for themselves, they don’t want to spend time they could be spending on their music selling and promoting the act.
It would have been really clever for the “traditional” record labels to alter their business models to embrace these new successful independents. But that would mean giving up absolute power and dealing with them equitably. Instead they are pretending nothing has changed and attempting to legislate anti-progress (with laws like the American DMCA, and the even worse Canadian version currently misleadingly titled “Bill C-32 The Copyright Modernization Act”). Since the “dinosaur” companies aren’t able or willing to serve the needs of the next generation of musicians, new independent record labels are coming into existence to fill the need.
the new music business
Before the Internet, pretty much the only distribution channel open to musicians who cut their own records was to sell them at their performances. Or through mail order. Last November I was surprised and impressed to read an article in This Magazine that 30% of Canadian recording artists are recording Independently. Before the existence of the Internet, that number was closer to zero. It’s especially amazing when you consider the Internet has been been publicly accessible for less than twenty years.
Even more interesting to me is that Canadians are leading the world in this exodus away from the established record labels. Why would our musicians be turning their back on the traditional recording companies in such numbers? Could it be for the freedom?
Some acts like Canadian musical comedy group The Arrogant Worms have a Music Page on their website so you can listen to their music, and choose to download a single song, an individual album, or their entire catalogue. They also have a video page, where they feature fan videos of their music, a clear indicator that they support fan remixes and understand the importance of the internet.
You can also purchase Arrogant Worms material
direct from their label Maple Music, whose website provides an internet presence or a virtual home for a large number of Independent Canadian recording artists.
Alert Music Inc. provides management or a label, or both. Labels like this one are coming to exist and thriving with a small roster of clients. This young company makes use of internet tools to promote their clients: you can find many Michael Kaeshammer clips on YouTube, for instance.
record label replacement companies?
As more performers opt for independence and become established the need for flexible support is increasingly provided by start ups offering the kind of support available to name artists from labels in the last century.
This shift has been made necessary by the big record labels inability to adapt to 21st century conditions.
Thorny Bleeder Records is an online label that makes music available for download — music that is free and legal, as well as DRM free — from their site. If you like it, you have the option of paying what you choose into the “tip jar” to support the artists of your choice. They also offer compilation albums for download through the Pirate Party of Canada’s “Pirate Tracker”.
Thorny Bleeder Records has also launched an Artist Services division. “We’re a new kind of ‘Record Label Replacement Company’,” Brian Thompson jokes, “offering a range of services to replace the old-fashioned style of a record deal. We’re here to help new bands have their music heard by the public, without having to wait and be discovered by the increasingly tight and inward looking circles of the music industry.”
Although originally signed to a major label, Julie Crochetière has chosen Independence. Going out on her own Julie Crochetière began with an EP which she followed up with her exquisite debut album “A Better Place,” both available through Maple Music. Her first album produced the hit single “Precious Love”, and she’s bringing out her new album Steady Ground this fall. She’s just released the first single, “Tomorrow” which can be heard on Julie C’s MySpace page pr purchased at iTunes. Crochetière is making good use of the Internet for both promotion and distribution, using the name @juliecmusic on Twitter and MySpace.
Allison Crowe is another Independent artist who has been recording and distributing music with her own Rubenesque Records label starting in 2001. Her music has been available through increasingly open Creative Commons Licenses, and probably accounts at least in part for the wealth of fan made videos available online. Allison Crowe’s utilization of the new technology and distribution models available is quite comprehensive. She is making very good use of the Internet:
Clearly the Canadian Music business is entering a golden age. More Canadian music s being made, recorded, shared and sold than ever before. Canadians are having no trouble marketing ourselves– and our culture– around the world.
Best of all, no one is bemoaning the lack of a ‘Canadian Identity’
as they did in days gone by, because Canadian voices are raised and our culture is flourishing in this digital age.
I haven’t seen the MAPL designation any any CD in quite some time. Have you? In the same way that CRTC CanCon regulations have made Canadian music an undesirable brand on the radio, the TV CanCon regulations have ensured that:
the absolute least “Canadian content” possible makes it to Canadian TV.
Because you can be sure that although the quotas may be met they will never be exceeded. The excellent Canadian series Less Than Kind took years to get on air. So although home grown Canadian programs are good, getting them financed can be a herculean task which is not helped by CanCon.
Canadian Content regulations are essentially a quota system.
If there MUST be a quota system…
… the only way it might benefit Canadian culture would be is if the quota is very high.
Which is not what we have in Canada.
90% should be the absolute minimum, although 95% would be better still. This would eliminate airplay for all foreign recordings except for the very best.
Once the merely average foreign content is removed from our airways, there would be much more air time available to a much wider range of Canadian artists. This would give Canadian artists a better forum from which to reach their audience. At least domestically.
The result of having low quotas for radio airplay has actually suppressed the Canadian recording industry. It was a message to Canadians that Canadians were simply not good enough to compete, which is ridiculous. In practice, one the quotas were filled the other 65% of Canadian airwaves were populated by anything else. It didn’t have to be particularly good, it just had to be not Canadian. The result was a ghettoisation of Canadian recording artists.
If we are going to have Canadian Content regulations, they need to be applicable in every cultural area, not just radio and television. If we regulate some, we must regulate all. Otherwise it has all the effectiveness of a partial embargo. Canadian Content would have to apply to everything: books, magazines and movie theaters. Not to mention public education.
Of course it would be really difficult at first. There would certainly be growing pains. The first few years would be dismal, sure, but eventually we would be left with enough of a percentage of good CanCon to make it worth it. After all, a guaranteed market would keep our best and brightest creators home.
What we’d be is isolated. Our best and brightest would be denied access to the best and brightest from around the world. And if we close our gates on the world, most of the world will surely reciprocate.
The thing is:
Everything is a remix.
Mushrooms may grow well when isolated but the best art does not come out of a vacuum. In many ways the Internet has been breaking down the artificial barriers people put up to isolate ourselves. More than ever before we are reaching out and offering our culture to the world, while at the same time having the opportunity to experience the best the rest of the world has to share.
As recently as 2007 people were talking about imposing CanCon regulations to the Internet. Casey McKinnon, Galacticast podcast creator most emphatically came down against CanCon in her blog.
The very idea of extending CanCon to the Internet was roundly dismissed by those in the front lines because it would not help. It would be bad for Canadian culture venyures. And Canadian culture is doing quite well at present, thanks in no small part to the Internet.
You can’t legislate culture.
The most any government can do is to support culture.
Traditionally investment and tax breaks encouraging investment have been important ways government has supported culture. Making sure that CBC and the NFB are properly funded would go a long way. But those aren’t the only ways our government could help our culture flourish.
Equally important to protect the Internet environment. Net Neutrality is crucial because it allows the Canadian arts a level playing field. Our government needs to take care to prevent the Internet carriers from gouging consumers (which will be made worse with the introduction of Usage Based Billing) because equal Internet access to all Canadians is important for Canada’s full participation in the global digital economy.
And of course, it would be good if our government doesn’t make life worse for Canadian creators with the introduction of bad copyright law.
CanCon isn’t helping anymore (if it ever did)
Clearly at this point CanCon regulations and designations are more of a liability than an advantage.
The thing is, you can make a law saying there has to be X amount of Canadian Content, but nothing will guarantee that it is good Canadian Content.
It’s long past time we dropped the CanCon regulations.
Canadian artists are plenty good enough to succeed without them.
Those who are attempting to subvert the Internet so they can control and leash it have long been using copyright as an excuse to do these things. I have been learning a lot about computer issues through StopUBB research. But there are many people who have been grappling with the future of the Internet long before I had a clue that there were even issues.
in the wind is my personal blog. Since I’m a writer a big part of my life is writing, so when I write about any aspect of writing it goes here. So even though copyright plays an important part in StopUBB issues, this is where I write about it from a reader and writer’s point of view.
Yesterday I learned from Twitter that there was going to be a LIVE! Wireside Chat with Lawrence Lessig at Harvard Law School I played hooky from writing Inconstant Moon to tune in, although I only caught the last part of his lecture, the main thrust was that the bad guys can look after themselves, its time that the good guys (that’s you and me, pal) stepped up to the plate to stop corruption and make government start working for the people again.
After the lecture there was a question and answer session with questions provided in a live Twitter feed which dealt with culture, copyright and ReMix.
These are some of the Lessig quotes tweeted by audience
which in itself made the lecture into a remix: shapah “we need a culture that makes it as easy to hack hardware as it does content” #wireside #lessig
PPirataMx Necesitamos una cultura que permita “hackear” dispositivos de la misma forma que se “hackea” el contenido. #lessig #wireside
EveBottando “There’s something tone deaf about Apple. Their sharing site is Me.com..whatdyamean Me.com – it should be We.com.” #wireside
shapah Brazil again! points of light – “they teach kids to tear machines down and rebuild them” #wireside
ericschnell RT @sameerverma: “Stallman was right to call it free software” – lessig #wireside
ezufelt#wireside chat w/ @lessig was good, disappointing that it was not captioned and that videos were not described. #accessibility
shapah non-commercial CC licensing is an experiment to enable this new way of thinking #wireside #lessig
shapah “free culture is the right way to think about – setting the right boundaries, setting the widest spread” #wireside
EveBottando “Britney Spears model – produce and control culture…another culture that doesn’t limit…depends on building and sharing freely” #wireside
blogdiva RT @dsearls: @Lessig: “The government has produced the least efficient property system known to man.” At #wireside
shapah “how long do copyright terms need to be?” 21 years? #lessig would settle for 50 as long as it couldn’t be extended #wireside
moon Larry #Lessig “never should you be allowed to extend an existing copyright” #wireside
After the Q&A concluded, I learned a bit about the The Open Video Alliance, the group who put on this lecture. Of course, my learning curve in all this is enormous; today is the first time that I had even heard of them. Open Video held a contest for 60 second films to explain and illustrate the idea of open video to raise awareness of the importance of this cultural art form. They screened the winning videos, but this one was my favorite.
Raffaella Traniello is an excellent teacher. With simplicity and breathtaking clarity her video makes the point:
EVERYTHING IS A REMIX
Visit the site and check out the films online. You are free to download them in a variety of formats from OGG to MPEG4. Raffaella’s film is in Italian but there are English subtitles available– the words are important– for mono-lingual anglophones like myself.
I could not figure out how to embed the Raffaella’s Traniello video here, so I took a peek at YouTube to see if it was there. I didn’t find it, instead I found this interview. Although I don’t speak a word of Italian, I loved the opportunity to see some of the films this amazing teacher has made with her students. You go girl. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cc2WX06Ovzc
I am curious now as to whether license fees were paid to use the music in this performance art.
I think it was Lawrence Lessig who suggested that copyright law needs to be straightforward enough that children can use any cultural material they are exposed to in any way with impunity.
Unfortunately what is happening today is the heavy handed application if new IP laws that serve to frighten many educators and schools away from using these technologies to help educate our children. After all, this is a world of D.M.C.A. takedowns and A.C.T.A.