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Article: Does amateur creativity make copyright obsolete? by Terry Hart

to a report that Facebook currently hosts 4% of every photograph ever taken in history. Whether that’s an accurate number or not, the social media giant does host a huge amount of photos on its servers. Masnick uses this story to question copyright:

What is the real purpose of copyright? Is it only to incentivize professional content creation, or to incentivize content creation overall? Given the stated purpose is to “promote the progress,” and to provide the public with more content, I would argue the goal is to promote more overall content, and it seems that technology is doing a much better job of that than copyright.

There’s a couple of points here I want to talk about later, but first is this undercurrent that runs through many criticisms of copyright — that of valuing amateur content over professional content.

Yes, copyright incentivizes professional content creation — it is an money in the production of creative output. There is a moral rights aspect to copyright — explicit in many civil law nations, implicit in many common law nations — but the incentive aspect of copyright is primarily economic.

Critics of copyright law occassionally advance arguments attacking the incentive given by copyright as unnecessary or outdated. This one in particular goes something like this: we have no need for copyright anymore because amateur creators don’t need copyright’s incentive to create and amateur creativity is better than professional creativity.

This notion isn’t unique to Masnick. Sci-fi writer Cory Doctorow shares this view. In the Guardian last November, , “I mean, I love sitting in an air-conditioned cave watching Bruce Willis beat up a fighter jet with his bare hands as much as the next guy, but if I have to choose between that and all of YouTube, well, sorry Bruce.”

Swedish politician , who, though he doesn’t get around to defining what he means by “new” types of culture, can’t wait for “old” types of culture to die out:

I’m going go out on a limb here and say, that even if it is true that movies can’t be made the same way with the Internet and our civil liberties both in existence, then maybe it’s just the natural progression of culture.

[…] After all, we have previously had operettes, ballets, and concerts as the high points of culture in the past. Even radio theaters (and famous ones). Nobody is particularly concerned that those expressions have had their peak and that society has moved on to new expressions of culture. There is no inherent value in writing today’s forms of culture into law and preventing the changes we’ve always had.

You’ll even find such ideas coming from more scholarly sources. The Social Science Research Council’s report adopts this idea and wraps it up in more academic language:

[W]e take seriously the possibility that the consumer surplus from piracy might be more productive, socially valuable, and/or job creating than additional investment in the software and media sectors. We think this likelihood increases in markets for entertainment goods, which contribute to growth but add little to productivity.

Promoting the Progress

“To promote the progress of useful arts, is the interest and policy of every enlightened government.”

In the US, the end goal of copyright law is promoting the progress of the useful arts and sciences. A private right is secured as an incentive for creating and disseminating works for the public benefit.

Usually when we talk about “” and copyright, we’re talking about cultural works that are made for many of the same reasons as professional works but without the commercial aspect — videos, music, and writing created by hobbyists or striving professionals. But some of those making the argument that amateur creativity makes copyright obsolete sweep in not only this type of creativity but all noncommercial creative acts.

Snapshots, home videos, and status updates are great ways to communicate and express ourselves, but these can hardly be considered contributing to the promotion of the progress of the useful arts and sciences. Where is the public benefit in a stranger’s vacation pics? (Never mind that, unless you’re friends with all these people, you likely can’t see most of them.)

I wonder sometimes about those who don’t see the value of art and entertainment made by someone who got paid for it. It’s stunning that they can’t see the value of , or , or , or . To dismiss these works and countless others like them as mere “entertainment” that is “unproductive” is an incredibly narrow viewpoint.

What’s equally stunning is the view that the measure of progress when it comes to copyright law should be based solely on numbers — quantity over quality. Ten photos are better than one, no matter what.

Come on.

Faza, at the Cynical Musician, addressed this topic last year in a post on . And the late :

I agree that the copyright law should encourage widespread dissemination of works of the mind. But it seems to me that, in the long pull, it is more important for a particular generation to produce a handful of great creative works than to shower its schoolchildren with unauthorized photocopies or to hold the cost of a jukebox play down to a dime, if that is what it is these days.

Copyright protection

But suppose we ignore all this and decide to weaken copyright protection since the incentive is not needed anymore — problems would still remain. While the type of amateur creativity discussed above doesn’t rely on copyright’s incentive, it still benefits from the protection copyright law affords. A lot of attention is focused on end-user piracy of works from larger entities, but larger entities can infringe on individuals’ works.

Certainly, this type of infringement happens now. Look at the flurry of controversy that stemmed from news that photo service  allowing it to distribute those images to its company partners. This is far from an isolated incident — in 2007, the for using a photo of her, uploaded to Flickr under a Creative Commons license, in an ad campaign (the case was ). And even the aforementioned against the unauthorized use of one of his wife’s photos by a newspaper.

Without copyright protection, companies would have free rein to behave like this. There’s nothing magical about copyright protection that makes it only limit the ability of consumers getting free movies.

Development of creative tools

Technology is suggested by Masnick as a better mechanism for promoting creativity than copyright protection. It’s true that people today have access to a vast array of cheap and portable tools to record and produce high quality audio and visual content (though no technology has yet made it easier to learn how to tell a story or convey an emotion). But this idea that technology has rendered copyright obsolete begs the question that a functioning market for professional content had nothing to do with the development of that technology.

Would there be technological tools that help amateurs create — especially free or cheap tools like GIMP, Blender, and Reaper — without their commercial precursors? These tools required investment and development, and that came largely from their use in professional contexts — decades of improvement fueled by a need for this technology and enabled by the money to meet that need. Invention, after all, doesn’t occur in a vaccuum.

No doubt this technology would have developed without copyright and a market for professionally produced content. But it certainly wouldn’t have developed at the rate it had — the tools that are available today would likely be decades away in such a world.

This ties into the benefit of copyright protection and its economic rationale. I think even copyright’s critics would agree that the ability to create movies and music from a home computer is a good thing. And, while I’m unaware of any research quantifying the effect of a market for professional content on the development of the technology used to create that content, I think it’s safe to say that it does have an effect, and probably not an insignificant one. We, as a society, generally want to encourage those things that bring about good results. Viewed this way, copyright makes sense from a public interest and economic perspective.

The “progress” of destroying markets

The biggest problem with attacking copyright by placing amateur content on a higher pedestal than professional content is that it sets up a false dichotomy. When did this become an either/or choice?

Amateur creativity thrives regardless of the copyright incentive. In fact, it’s an essential part of any culture with professional creators: almost without exception, every one of those professional creators has started out as an amateur. What Masnick, Doctorow, Falkvinge, and others are saying is that society would be better off with only amateur content rather than the combination of amateur and professional content.

That doesn’t sound like progress to me.

SOURCE:

http://www.copyhype.com/2011/09/does-amateur-creativity-make-copyright-obsolete/


Industry Tips & Advice: Self Promote Your Music by Heather McDonald

Unless you have major label money behind you, the ability to self promote your music is one of the most important skills you can have. When you don’t have money to hire PR people to run media campaigns for you, it is up to you to make sure people know about the music you are making. Getting started can be a little overwhelming, however. These steps will help you start out on the right foot, to make sure all of the right people are standing up and taking notice of you.

Time Required: Ongoing
Here’s How:

1.Identify Your Goals – When you set out to promote your music, don’t try to cover too much ground at once. Look at the way larger artists are promoted – they have specific campaigns that promote specific things, like a new album or a tour. Choose one thing to promote, like:

•A single
•A show
•A website

Once you know what to promote, you will be able to make clear goals for yourself, i.e. if you want to promote your website, then your goal is to bring traffic to the site. With these goals in mind, you’ll find it easier to come up with promotion ideas, and you’ll be better able to judge the success of your promotions.

2.Target the Right Audience – With your promotional goal in mind, figure out who the right audience for your campaign is. If you have a gig coming up, then the right audience for your promotion are the local print publications and radio stations in the town in which your show is happening. If you have a limited edition single coming out, your primary audience is your band mailing list, plus the media. Going for the right audience is especially important if you’re on a budget. Don’t waste time and money letting town X knowing about an upcoming show in town Y or a folk magazine about your new hip hop album.

3.Have a Promo Package – Just like when you send a demo to a label , to self promote your music, you need a good promo package. Your package should have:

•A press release detailing your news
•A short (one page) band bio
•A CD (a demo recording is ok, or an advance copy of an upcoming release)
•A package of any press coverage you have had so far – press coverage begets press coverage
•Your contact information (make sure to include an email address – people may hesitate to call you)
•A color photo, or a link to a site where a photo can be downloaded. The press is more likely to run a photo if they don’t have to chase it.

4.Find Your Niche – The sad truth is, every writer, radio station, website, or fan for that matter, you are trying to reach is likely being bombarded with info from other music hopefuls. You a reason to stand out. Try to find something that will make people more curious about you – give them a reason to want to know more. Being elusive worked wonders for Belle & Sebastian at the start of their career and people write about Marilyn Manson for being, well, Marilyn Manson. You don’t have to devise a huge, calculated persona, but giving people a reason to check out your show or your CD before the others can only help.

5.Bribe ‘Em – Another way to stand out from the crowd is plain old free stuff. Even press people and label bosses love getting something for nothing, and you’ll whip your fans into a frenzy (and get new fans) by giving stuff away. Some ideas:

•Put some money behind the bar at a show and give free drink passes to all the industry people who come to check you out.
•Give people on your mailing list an exclusive download once a month (be it a new song or an alternate version of a song)
•At gigs, raffle (for free) mix CDs made by the band – everyone who signs up to your mailing list at the show gets entered in the drawing.

6.Branding – Get your name out there. Make up some stickers, badges, posters, lighters or anything else you can think of that include your band’s name. Then, leave the stuff anywhere you can. Pass them out at your favorite clubs, leave them on the record shop counter, poster the light posts – go for it. Soon, your name will be familiar to people even if they don’t know why, and when they see your name in the paper advertising an upcoming show, they’ll think “hey…I know that name, I wonder what that’s all about..”

7.Keep Track of Your Contacts – As you go through all of these steps, chances are that you are going to pick up a lot of new contacts along the way. Some of these contacts will be industry people and some will be fans. Never lose track of a contact. Keep a database on your computer for the industry people you have met and another database of fan contacts. These databases should be your first port of call for your next promotional campaign – and these databases should always be growing. Don’t write anyone off, even if you don’t get much feedback from them. You never know who is going to give you the break you need.

Tips:
1.Know When to Act Small – This step ties in with targeting the right audience and identifying your goals – you can save a lot of time spinning your wheels by keeping the small stuff small. While it’s always useful to keep other people up to date with what’s happening in your career, that guy from Rolling Stone doesn’t really need to know every time your band is playing a half hour set at the local club, especially if the local press really hasn’t given you much coverage yet. When you’re getting started, the easiest place to start a buzz is your local area. Build up the small stuff to get to the bigger stuff.

2.But Know When to Act Large – Sometimes, a larger campaign really is in order. Go full speed ahead when you have something big brewing, like:

•A new album
•A tour
•An important piece of news, like an award or a new record deal
This kind of news warrants contacting both the media and people you want to work with, like labels, agents, managers and so on.

3.Find the RIGHT Niche – As mentioned, finding your niche is helpful in getting noticed. There is one caveat however – make sure you get noticed for the right reasons. You certainly will get some attention for bad, unprofessional behavior, but the problem is that your music won’t be what everyone is talking about – and isn’t that what you really want to be recognized for? Don’t do yourself the disservice of self promoting a bad rep for yourself. Make sure you get noticed for your talent instead.

Also, don’t be fake. If you’re not sure what your niche is yet, don’t push it. Stay true to yourself and your music.

4.Grow your Database – In addition to keeping tracks of the contacts you have, don’t be afraid to help your database grow by adding some “dream” contacts to your list. Is there an agent you want to take notice of you? Then include them on your press release mailing list or promo mailing list when you have big news to share. Let them know you’re still working and still building your career – pretty soon, they may be knocking on your door.

5.Take a Deep Breath – For many people, the idea of self promoting their music to their fans is easy, but the idea of calling up the press is downright terrifying. Relax. Here’s the truth – some people you call will be nice, some people won’t be. Some people will never return your calls or emails. Some will. You shouldn’t take any of it personally. You definitely shouldn’t be afraid to try. Covering bands is the job of the music media – they expect to hear from you. Don’t be discouraged by someone who is rude, or someone who is polite, but still says “no”. Don’t write them off, either. Next time, you may hear “yes.”

SOURCE:

http://musicians.about.com/od/beingamusician/ht/selfpromote.htm


Industry Tips & Advice: John Kellogg, Esq. Speaks on Music Business Ethics

Dr. Rick Wright of Clear Channel WPHR Power 106.9 FM talks with John Kellogg, Esq. Re: Music Business Ethics, 12-16-07


Music News: Big Boi To Launch Kids Record Label with Daughter by Jason Lipshutz,


Outkast rapper Big Boi tells Billboard.com that he and his 16-year-old daughter, Jordan, have formed Purple Kids, a new record label that will launch in the coming weeks. The imprint will feature a roster of younger artists but will target fans of all ages.

“My daughter just turned 16 years old, and you can see it on MTV’s ['My Super Sweet Sixteen'], where they get cars, and things that depreciate and just don’t mean nothing,” says the 36-year-old rapper (real name: Antwan Patton). “I wanted to give my child something that she can grow and build and nurture. So I gave her her own label.”

Big Boi says that Purple Kids’ first signee is Gabbie Rae, a 12-year-old singing prodigy who has appeared on “The Tyra Banks Show.” The rapper, who already heads the Purple Ribbon All-Stars hip-hop label, says that he and Jordan are the sole partners on the new imprint.

As for Big Boi’s solo career, the Outkast member’s label situation slightly shifted when Barry Weiss took over for Antonio “L.A.” Reid as Island Def Jam’s chairman/CEO last March, but Big Boi says that all is running smoothly as he continues working on the follow-up to last year’s “Sir Lucius Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty.”

“I had a conversation with Barry Weiss, and he was like, ‘Hey Big, great album,’ and he’s ready for the next album,” says Big Boi. “And he wants it ASAP. So, you know, everything’s good.”

SOURCE:

http://www.billboard.com/#/news/big-boi-to-launch-kids-record-label-with-1005180012.story


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