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Topic: The Pirate Party and the Politics of Piracy - Dvorak

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  1. #1
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    The Pirate Party and the Politics of Piracy - Dvorak

    John Dvorak, one of the most respected tech writers, writes this surprise column in PC Magazine:
    "Overlooked by the major media is the weird situation in Sweden, where a political party and lobbying organization has cropped up with the sole purpose of overturning the current crop of copyright and patent laws and creating something more modern and realistic: the Pirate Party and the Pro Piracy Lobby. This movement, while unlikely to have any effect in the U.S., could change things so dramatically in parliamentary democracies that we'd feel the aftershock anyway.

    This all began with the recent shutdown of The Pirate Bay, a famous quasi-legal Web site run out of Sweden. The Pirate Bay has been playing various games with the government over the past year, moving its server around. The site can best be described as the Napster of BitTorrent sites, one of a few mega-sites where kids manage their P2P file sharing. It's used mostly for music and movie trading in violation of copyright, and everyone knows it. But under Swedish law, it may not be doing this illegally."
    Attempts were made to shut the sites down. This has then turned political with the US and WTO. Now many of the youth of Europe are politicizing around the issue. Dvorak continues:
    "Today's youth internationally are not like anything we've seen before. Their view of the world is skewed by the media and new realities. When they see all these restrictions, they see them done on behalf of fat guys who are flying around in private jets ...they are seeing a different world than most of us did when we were growing up. It's nuts. It looks unfair or, worse, exploitative.

    Then they see old ladies arrested for copyright violations because a grandkid downloaded a song. Dead people are indicted in hysterical sweeps. Kids are threatened with ruination for song-swapping.

    In a parliamentary system, a group like the Pirate Party, which will quickly surpass Sweden's Green Party, doesn't have to win a majority of seats to have an effect. In multiparty systems (unlike in the U.S.), you have to form coalitions to rule, and all sorts of deals are made for anything to get done. And I suspect that a lot of older politicos are tired of being pushed around by U.S. intellectual-property monopolists and would love to side with the Pirate Party on the excuse that they "had to."

    ...To American ears, this all seems and sounds silly. But the moniker for the Pirate Party in Swedish, Piratpartiet, actually has a nice ring to it.

    ...I'm not sure how far any of this will go, and perhaps this new up-and-coming youth culture will get caught up in chat rooms or online games or green-tea cultivation instead of fighting this fight. But this much I can tell you: If they decide to make a fight of it, they'll win, and things will indeed change. Stay tuned.
    Read the full article here...

    "The Pirate Party"?? This doesn't sound good for musicians or developers. Maybe time to start our own politcal party.

  2. #2

    Re: The Pirate Party and the Pro Piracy Lobby - Dvorak

    Although I sympathize with the business of music and music making ...

    I think the change has been a long time coming. For years consumers have been victims of publishers who seek to control accessibility for marketing purposes. The concept of "releasing a single" may have been appropriate during the 50's and 60's, but from the 70's onward just represented a method for publishers to control how their LP and later CD would be percieved in the market place.

    One or Two hit singles are all we were allowed to hear and base our purchase of the entire LP on those two songs. The singles market will force artist to concentrate on making a quality product and not hide the rotten tomatoes underneath the good ones.

    You can go to the library and borrow a CD. This isn't a friend or neighbor, but an institution. The difference only between the internet and a library is scope.

    Today we get to hear the entire CD (illegally), before making a purchasing decision. We can tell if the product has replay value and warrants a purchase. We get to test drive it. Not the first 30 seconds at 64kbs, but the entire CD. Empowering the consumer to making a choice and not forcing a purchased on a blind buy.

    CD's are not like movies or books, the purchase depends upon replay value.

    The internet threatens the very existance of the publishing industry. It is very possible that they will soon be rendered obsolete and be replaced by consignment vendors like itunes. They are in a state of panic and should be concentrating on redefining their industry in the face of a nearly certain demise.

    These are just my opinions and not based on facts. I am not sure I believe what I am saying 100%. This is uncharted territory and controversial at best.

  3. #3

    Re: The Pirate Party and the Politics of Piracy - Dvorak

    All issues of "fairness" aside, I see a future where people will produce their music and make what little they can from people paying for downloads or buying CD's. The lionshare of their profits will have to come from touring and radio play where it can be regulated.

    The simple fact is that the downloading and sharing of music is NEVER going to end. So musicians have to find a way to accept that and live with it. Its easy for unsigned artists to deal with it..they are more than happy to give away their music for free as a form of self-promotion. But they don't make much of a living either.

    let's be real, for a long time, the record companies have been the ones really making all the money, not the musicians...except for a select few superstars such as Madonna and U2, etc.. For years, musicians have made most of their money by hitting the road, performing, selling t-shirts. Hell, go back further to the time before everyone had a record player in their home. Musicians had to depend EVEN MORE on their live performance to make any money at it. But then again, all the bars and clubs never heard of the word "DJ" way back then.

    In any case, regardless of what is fair or right..that's the world we live in. Musicians will have to find other ways to make money...and depend a lot less on hitting it big with a record contract and making some record execs super rich while they justify a major world tour to make a ton of dough for the band.

    The other way to look it is that now its incredibly easy to produce an album on a very low budget. There is really no financial risk anymore in recording a CD and you can sell it on the internet, also without any financial risk. Low risk = low reward. That's just the way it is folks. In the thousands of years that mankind has been communicating intelligently, only the last few years have ever paid musicians anything more than a very paltry salary to do what they love to do...make music. That's the way it has always been and how it will be again. If we're lucky at least consumers won't have to keep paying so much to hear it as record companies are phased out of the equation...and in my mind that includes online leeches such as Itunes, MP3.com and everyone else that is essentially trying to rake consumers for the same markup that the record companies have been doing for years.

    As far as movies and software, I don't know what will happen...its a dicier issue.
    "Music is a manifestation of the human spirit similar to a language. If we do not want such things to remain dead treasures, we must do our utmost to make the greatest number of people understand their secrets" -- Zoltan Kodaly

  4. #4

    Re: The Pirate Party and the Politics of Piracy - Dvorak

    It's time for the sleazy middlemen to go away. Every artist has the power to sell directly to the end customer and there is really no reason, other than maybe publicity, to even have a recording contract.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: The Pirate Party and the Politics of Piracy - Dvorak

    Guys, producing an album has nothing to do with marketing it and putting it into the public eye. This kind of "screw the middleman" mentality is a misunderstanding of the business.

    The show I'm doing right now has already had literally millions of dollars invested in it, and we're just now finishing the script and workshop. I think people tend to underestimate the investment that any producer, whether it's shows or records, makes in an act--investments which have nothing to do with hitting the record button and making the record. All of that is necessary to compete, even in the internet age. ESPECIALLY in the internet age. The internet has opened opportunity, for sure, but it has opened it equally. It's not easier to compete now--it's harder.

    Food for thought...

  6. #6

    Re: The Pirate Party and the Politics of Piracy - Dvorak

    I see a future where people will produce their music and make what little they can from people paying for downloads or buying CD's.
    If that's the case, then the only people making CD's available for download will be hobbyists. Professionals won't waste their time and money creating works of art without decent compensation.
    The other way to look it is that now its incredibly easy to produce an album on a very low budget. There is really no financial risk anymore in recording a CD.
    The term "low budget" is relative. While far cheaper than it used to be, a truly high quality production can still cost a nice chunk 'o change; depending on what resources one may or may not have. It also depends what compromises one is willing to make.
    a very paltry salary to do what they love to do...make music.
    This common statement has always bothered me. Why is it that we should be payed "a very paltry salary" just because we love what we do? If anything, we should be payed more for that very reason. Loving what we do results in higher quality work than the end product of someone who hates what he does.

  7. #7

    Re: The Pirate Party and the Politics of Piracy - Dvorak

    Be afraid... be very afraid!

    When people who create can no longer count on being rewarded for that creation they will stop. Don't kid yourself, they will stop. That goes for software developers, movie produers, actors and yes, even musicians.

    I don't pretend to understand why some people believe that they are entitled to whatever they want for free. I've heard lot's of arguments about social change, technology change, etc, but none of it excuses the act of theft!

    If an artist wishes to put their music out on the internet for free that should be the artist's decision, no one elses. (That assumes that the artist maintained ownership of the material!)

    People looking for a way to justify the fact that they are nothing more than petty thieves often point to the big bad boggieman record companies. Yes, there are more than a few well documented cases where record companies screwed artists with no shame or limit. And that is not right by anyone's reasonable standards.

    But that doesn't mean that the public gets to screw the artist too. Where's the logic in that? And stealing from them is screwing them.

    "But I wanted to hear it before I bought it" whine whine whine. Well then put the iPod down and tune into a radio station where (this may come as a surprise) they play music.

    The state of commercial radio in the US is a whole nother topic, and yes, in general it is beyond pathetic. But here's the thing, in most communities (at least on the East Coast) there are one or two hold-outs that play a wide variety of music, and you can hear lots of artists and figure out who you like.

    If you don't have the guts to purchase a CD based on two or three tunes that you heard on the radio then I think you might want to seek therapy. Why do you think you are entitled to like 100% of the CD? Have you never owned an album because you really liked some of the songs?

    The recording industry is in trouble, and they do need to figure out a way to survive in the 21st century (hey, it' the 21st century, where's my flying car????). But stealing from them is not going to help matters.

    Stealing from them forces them to focus on the problem of people stealing from them when in fact they should be focused on how to take advantage of the new distribution channels to:
    (a) increase visibility for lot and lots of artists, not just the few that stand a chance of returning something on the investment
    (b) reduce prices - and yes, I know first hand what it costs to produce a CD, that isn't the point
    (c) funding new artists with all these profits. And as Bruce pointed out, it costs a lot of money to produce something for mass comsumption. This ain't recording in your bedroom we're talking about.

    Stealing is wrong. Downloading music or a movie or a sample library or software that you do not own is stealing.

    Are there greedy folks flying around in private jets purchased with profits that they really didn't earn? You bet there are. They are as bad as the people stealing from them... but two thefts don't fix the system.

  8. #8

    Re: The Pirate Party and the Politics of Piracy - Dvorak

    Before, those who wanted to punish a company didn’t buy the product.

    Now they steal it.

    That’s what they call a ‘progress’...


    About the ‘fat guy with a cigar in his jet’ :

    In France, the CD business represent one level of the ‘Galerie Lafayette’ (the store in Paris).

    What a tremendous market... one level of a Parisian gallery...


    About : Do it yourself !

    In France all new young artists have a company.

    Why ?

    Cause recording, selling, producing concerts is a job.

    They want to be musician.

    Not recording engineer, banker, and webmaster.

    This is ridiculous.



    And, ho, not all music can be played in live.

    (Just a precision...)

  9. #9
    Senior Member Richard Berg's Avatar
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    Re: The Pirate Party and the Politics of Piracy - Dvorak

    Downloading music or a movie or a sample library or software that you do not own is stealing.
    It's copyright infringement. A civil matter established by relatively recent legal traditions as a pragmatic compromise. Societies have the right to change it if it doesn't suit them.

    Maybe legalization would cause the downfall of the music industry. Maybe it would bring a flourish of creative culture. Nobody knows, since it hasn't been tried in a modern developed nation. We do know that it worked ok for the U.S. in the 19th century, and more recently for countries like the Ukraine, but that's far from proof. Chances are the claims of doom & gloom are overstated by both sides.

  10. #10

    Re: The Pirate Party and the Politics of Piracy - Dvorak

    Societies have the right to change it if it doesn't suit them.
    Yes, but by legal means.

    Nobody knows, since it hasn't been tried in a modern developed nation.
    I suggest to try it first with the car industry.

    Cars are much more recent than music...


    No.

    I’ve a better idea.

    Let’s try first with the web.

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