Saturday, April 9, 2011

Facebook: Maintaining Separated Friendships?

The reading this week, a talk by Danah Boyd, brought out several good questions about the online social interactions in facebook and myspace. Unfortunately, the website hosting the other articles was down as of this writing.

The question to answer, refering to an article that I came across a while ago, is: "Is Facebook around primarily to help maintain relationships?"

In December 2010, a Facebook intern put together a stunning diagram of the interactions between people around the world using Facebook. This diagram is stunning, in that it shows, without a doubt, that Facebook is supporting connections between people from all over the world. Here is a link:

According to the reading, early adopters matter. Looking at the formation of Facebook, the Social Networking Service reached out to create connections between people at a college, then many colleges, and finally the world. The initial connections made by the college students that were early adopters to Facebook were geographically close, so how did Facebook get so many multi-national connections?

I would suggest that Facebook closes the structural, cultural, and distance based divides that have prevented multi-national friendships to date. The reading says: "when people are structurally divided, they do not share space with one another and they do not communicate with one another." In the case of Facebook, people can reach out across these bounds, in the comfort of their homes and computers.

Why is Facebook around? The legal definition, to make money. Plain and simple. The culture, on the other hand, would say that Facebook is used as a connection to find, and primarily maintain friend relationships through the many differences.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Division of Social Networks Just Like Culture?

I thought that this weeks readings were very interesting because it talked about the most popular social networking sites and compared them to different cultures. I have been a victim of using both sites and I have settled on just using Facebook over Myspace. However, social networks are divided where even if a myspace user and a facebook user wanted to communicate with other another, they couldn't because they are two completely different social networking sites. You might ask the question, "Well, why can people with different e-mail providers communicate with one another through e-mails? Danah Boyd from the article, "The Not-So-Hidden Politics of Class Online" talks about cultures and their backgrounds when talking about social networking. Boyd says, "People are already divided and we accept that people from different backgrounds inhabit different different environments." However, do we accept that people use different social networking sites from one another, such as Facebook and Myspace? Boyd talks about social networking and questions whether it is actually socializing of different networks. "Although most of you call these sites 'social networking sites,' there's almost no networking going on."

A lot of different questions were brought up in my head when I was reading the different articles. The one I thought of the most was social divisions and the public sphere. Is the Internet providing a next generation public sphere? Is the next generation public sphere bringing divisions with it? If some people don't use social networking sites such as Facebook or Myspace, does it make them different? I feel that if people don't use these sites or have recently joined and aren't familiar with them, then they are considered different or "foreign." I use the word foreign because like Boyd says, "If you aren't part of these networks, these technologies may feel very foreign." What divides people often differs such as social networking, but class seems to remain the same everywhere. I honestly feel that social divisions are based on what social networking site people use. I would include Twitter in this conversation, but I feel that Twitter is a site that people use WITH Facebook or Myspace.

When I was going through high school, I was a big fan of Myspace until about my Junior or Senior year. Then, I switched to Facebook because more of my classmates were using Facebook to interact with one another. In my opinion, I feel that once we mature, we switch from Myspace to Facebook. From personal experience, I noticed that a lot more college students are on Facebook and a lot more junior high and early high school students are on Myspace. Myspace was started for bands to create their own personal pages to promote their music. However, it expanded into a large variety social networking sites that consists of a lot of graphics, design, and other animations. Facebook, on the other hand, doesn't consist of a lot of different animations and this is why I believe that most older students and adults made the switch to Facebook. When we click on someone's page, we don't want to have to wait 2-3 minutes for it to open because of all the pictures that are trying to load. With Facebook, you know what you are going to get and this is why I believe that Facebook has become the most popular social networking website.

I posted a link on my Twitter earlier this week that showed a chart of the differences with Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter. I found it really interesting because it gives us a visual perspective on exactly how the sites are used and what percentage of people actually use that particular site for their main social networking experience. Here is the link to the chart:

Overall, I believe that social networking websites do divide different people just like how culture has divided us in the United States. Is someone cool for using a particular website? Does somebody have to have a Twitter along with their Facebook account? If someone doesn't use a social networking website, are they different from everybody else in the United States? Let me know your thoughts on these questions!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Final post: Ethnicity and Cultural Translations to the Web

In this unit, we're examining ways in which race, ethnicity, and class play out online, especially in social networks like Facebook and MySpace. In other words, we're looking at ways "real life" is reflected - or transformed - in online social networks, and how the web may not be such a democratizing force after all.

So, for this final blog post, I'm going to leave you to generate the question to answer. What question(s) do this week's readings raise in your mind? How would you answer those questions? Can you point to examples you've encountered online in your own social networks?

a post, pirated

New ideas are gone. Creators, artists, etc. owe their creations to the past (and present) and the other[s] who made up that past. [They are] building upon creation, not stealing from it. copyright laws shouldn't impede creative progress. The RIAA is concentrating in safeguarding profits, not helping creation to evolve. The[y] need to spend less time fighting the future and start thinking of creative ways to adapt to our new society. The RIAA can absolutely [not] stop piracy from occurring. ("we can't stop this technology, we can just criminalize it.")

There is little doubt that the recording industry has lost money. It's harder for a lot of artists to maximize their profits from CD sales. In 2002, the RIAA reported that CD sales had fallen by 8.9 percent, from 882 million to 803 million units; revenues fell 6.7 percent (could be explained by any number of circumstances that don't include piracy, "it has long been the recording industry's practice to blame technology for any drop in sales.") Piracy has affected the music industry by losing revenue.

But does this mean that recording artists who are having their songs pirated in such a way run the risk of "going out of business"? [Piracy] has also offered an option for less investment and cheaper marketing,if someone hears an artist for the first time on an online file sharing software and ends up loving them, then they will [achieve] sales through concerts and the niceties that can be purchased at the shows (t-shirts, refreshments, souvenirs, etc.) A recording artist's career is multi-faceted and album sales have now become only a part of a much more diverse career.

The internet [can] harm copyright owners, but it [does] enhance creative industries.

Is Music Quality in Danger Because of Piracy?

In the article "Has Music Piracy Killed the 'Recording Artist'?" written by Rick Carnes, and interesting idea is brought to light using The Beatles as a reference (article: Because of the Beatles vast success selling records, they were able to quit touring and focus more energy into being "recording artists". That is, they spent more time writing and recording music, developing, fine tuning, and pioneering new ideas with their music. While touring was very profitable, they were able to forgo touring because of all those record sales.

What does this mean when piracy becomes such a prominent method of accessing music? Income from record sales drastically goes down. As mentioned by the article, "We're just moving out of a brief period -- a flash in history's pan -- when an artist could expect to make a living selling records alone." Because of the decrease in record sales, the main modes of profit are now the live shows and the niceties that can be purchased at the shows (t-shirts, refreshments, souvenirs, etc.)

Why would artists put as much time or effort into their music (and music videos) when real money lies in the concerts? Their music only needs to be good enough to fill a stadium. They can't afford to spend to much time recording/writing/creating when they need to be on the road performing to be making money.

Perhaps with less time for artists to be creative on their own, they will have to band together and borrow each other's ideas and expand upon them. However, as brought up in the movie RiP: A Remix Manifesto (Brett Gaylor 2009), this is simply too risky; fair use is too unwieldy for a musician to stake their entire fortune on them not getting successfully sued.

With the lack of time/incentive to develop new musical ideas and the dangers of borrowing current ideas, where are the new classic songs going to come from? Are we going to be stuck listening to auto-tuned teenagers choking out song lyrics for the rest of our lives? I sure hope not!

Exploring the Myth of Piracy, was the RIAA right?

First, let's get this out of the way, stealing something from another person is bad, plain and simple, and I think most reasonable people would agree with moral foundation of that claim. But the RIAA didn't fight it's piracy battle from a moral standpoint, they didn't try to press any offenders into criminal proceedings. They waged their war arguing the economics of their case; the ensuing legal battle raged coast to coast, and it's casualties included some real pirates, an internet company or two, and even a few grandmothers. But was their claim entirely correct, was piracy as economically devastating to them as they claimed? Based on the empirical evidence on this week's reading assignment, I'd have to say no, there is an element of loss, but i'd argue it is a very small one.

The RIAA's argument is that if a person has pirated an item for free, now they don't have to go to the store and pay for it, thus depriving the Artist of their rightful profit. This may sound reasonable, but it's not entirely logical. The underlying assumption is that the person doing the pirating was going to buy the pirated item in the first place. I would argue that most, not quite all, but most of the items being pirated weren't going to be purchased in the first place, thus negating their claim of loss on all pirated items.

Though we've had differing formats, file sharing software has been relatively easy to use. This created somewhat of a novelty effect, in that is was just as easy to download swarms of files as is was to download just one. Sure the pirate may have just wanted to steal one song, but clicked everything that was on the screen instead. Is there an element of theft involved? Sure, but a pirate having a massive number of songs that 1) they probably won't listen to, and 2) had no intention of buying in the first place, doesn't severely harm the RIAA. Which the statistics at the time of their lawsuits clearly show.

The following excerpt outlines the numbers:

In 2002, the RIAA reported that CD sales had fallen by 8.9 percent, from 882 million to 803 million units; revenues fell 6.7 percent

In the same period that the RIAA estimates that 803 million CDs were sold, the RIAA estimates that 2.1 billion CDs were downloaded for free.

The empirical claim is that the 2.1 billion CDs that were pirated caused a drop in sales by 8.9%, and a drop in revenue of 6.7%. So, just to clarify it further, a product was pirated at a the rate that was 260% more than its total annual sales, and revenues only dropped 6.7%. I think these numbers actually hurt the RIAA and their claim, and call into question whether piracy is a big issue for them, or is it a bigger issue for other industries.

The 6.7% drop in income could be explained by any number of circumstances that don't include piracy: economic downturn, increase in business costs, and even lack of consumer interest based on the quality of the product that year. I'm not saying that piracy had zero effect on the drop, but just how much above zero it contributed, is certainly up for debate.


"When you mix two things that haven't been mixed before, that's the future of music." 

     The Remix Manifesto was fantastic. But it also blew my mind. Just a couple weeks ago we were learning about fair use and copyright laws. Based on the articles and rules that we read, I'm sure we all found dozens of ways to support certain remixed and mash-up videos and say that they use fair use. In my second  research project, I went on the defense for Evolution of Dance, which is a mash-up of popular songs with very recognizable dance moves. The 'star' of the video doesn't change the songs in any way and he uses lengthier clips of music to demonstrate his point, quite the opposite of Girl Talk, the 'star' of the Remix Manifesto.
     What got me the most was hearing the lawyer say that everything Girl Talk did was illegal. HOW?!? He uses samples of music that are fractions of a second, mixes them with other fractions from other songs (that haven't already been mixed) and creates something fun and new to listen to. Yet that's somehow still illegal, when other people have clearly ripped of entire melodies from other songs?
     The lawyer also goes on to say that it really just depends on how upset the original artist and/or their record companies are. In some of the cases (like a mother being sued for infringement because she downloaded 24 songs), I think they take it way too far. I'm sure that mom isn't making any money off of those songs!
     That being said, I could understand why they would be upset if Girl Talk were to suddenly (and inevitably) make millions off of his remixes. But this whole situation is parallel to many others. People are just reluctant to change. They don't want to give up their safety net, being able to control the music industry and who can use what. They think that because they created it, it's theirs and no one can use it. What many don't realize, however, is that they "stole" the idea from someone else, as is clearly demonstrated in the video.
     I like the four rules laid out in the video, about being able to learn from the past, be influenced by the past, but not being controlled by the past. I think that at this point, a large majority of brand new ideas are gone. But we can take what's already been created, remix it with something else, and have an entirely new work of art that celebrates where it originally came from.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Who's Really Losing?

37signals, a web application company, are the authors of Getting Real. A collection of short to-the-point essays, Getting Real is less how-to book and more a philosophical guide on creating, anything. Like most books you can buy a paperback copy for $25. If you prefer e-books and pdfs they’re available for $19. Pretty standard. But what if you don't want pay for it? What if you've never heard of 37signals? No problem. They've also published the entire book online for free . Yes, the entire thing.

Since it was released they have sold over 40,000 copies. All while there has been a free version available to anyone with an Internet connection (which would be all of their customers as its only available online).I know, that's not the music industry. Those are books, they're different. Are they? Maybe not.

Radiohead released their 2007 album In Rainbows under the “pay-what-you-will” model and saw 40% of downloads get paid for, bringing in nearly $3 million. The unintentional star of RIP: A Remix Manifesto, Girl Talk is selling his music under a similar model. While this model is not for every artist and every medium, I believe it is proof that other business models exist.

There is little doubt that the recording industry has lost money due to piracy, a shitload of money. And the lawsuits and “consumer educational” and government lobbying are attempts to regain control over a market and consumer the industry thought it had mastered. These grasps at life will not stop until someone, someone big fails. Then those left standing may wise up and get creative about reinventing their business.

Evolving through Creative Sharing

I stand by my earlier statement on copyright laws that creation is contextualized in a particular sociocultural environment. As such, creators, artists, etc. owe part of their creations to the past (and present) and the other who made up that past. Hence, copyright laws must not impede public interests in creating based on previous works. Copyright laws can protect creators to a certain extent but must not de-evolve society so a few powerful companies have absolute power on how creations are used.

In the case of the music industry piracy has had goods and bads. On the negative, it decreased revenues from hard copies of music material and remove control on distribution (Ham and Atkinson, 2000). Artists were not benefiting "enough" from selling CD's, and, as Carnes argues, online piracy has killed "recording artists." In essence, it removed the incentive of recording music as a means of exclusive revenue and stripped artists and corporations from dictating terms of distribution. However, piracy has also offered a momentum of evolution to the music industry by forcing them to adapt to the new digital environment. Music could now be made with less investment, such as, according to Ham and Atkinson, in CD's and music stores. Music could now be delivered to fans faster and cheaper. After all isn't in the artists' best interests to meet the needs of their audience?! On the positive side, piracy enabled fans to enjoy their favorite artists' music. According to Free Culture, this wrong and illegal since they aren't paying the people who made the music. Nonetheless, piracy allowed people to enjoy more music and potentially become fans of artists and bands, and buy their concert tickets and other profit paraphernalia. It helped market music to larger audiences. In short, piracy has affected the music industry by losing revenue but it has also offered an option for less investment and cheaper marketing.

Moreover, piracy has opened a door for more creation to be developed. As an example, Girl Talk is building upon creation, not stealing from it. People get bored with the same tunes over and over. The artists themselves may push for more creation in remixes and the like, but it is the public at large the one who can actually put the passion and context into new delicious rhythms. The Brazilian kareoke dj's mixes were amazing. I was blown away by how he combined American music with Brazilian rhythms. I hadn't heard such amazing mixes before. This wouldn't have come out of a California recording studio...sorry. Of course, I'm talking from a Caribbean musical perspective where Brazilian music and rhythms are appreciated. Some people in the states may not like those remixes, and this is the issue with reinventing music. It must fit the local context where it is consumed. Artists should not infringe on the contextualized reinvention of their music because they may lose market. Their music can be successfully introduced into new areas through these types of remixes. Curbing efforts to reinvent music can hurt music markets instead of saving them.

Hence, the RIAA is concentrating in safeguarding profits, not helping creation to evolve. On their statement, they claim to educate people to halt piracy instead of prompting the industry to evolve to meet the digital age. I don't buy albums because most of the time I only like a song or two. Thus, it is in the best interest of the industry to meet the new digital citizens needs, which are faster deliver and being able to choose products more cheaply. Through digitalized music markets artists can create a broader audience base which can prompt more concerts and sales from profit paraphernalia. I'm not against them making profit. After all, I'm an online entrepreneur. Nonetheless, the music industry must evolve to create new avenues for profit whilst maintaining a happy fan base.

Concluding, creation is part of a sociocultural context in which ideas are born out of particular contexts (as in the case of Disney). Artists, scientists, and creators learn to think and acquire skills through social networks. This shapes their ideas and inventions. This isn't to say that they can't be innovators and not have protections over their ideas. But, copyright laws shouldn't impede creative progress in science and the arts because artists and companies (more furiously the latter) want to have sole control over creations. Nor should it impede affordable access to healthcare as in the case of the AIDS/HIV medicine in Brazil, by the way. In the case of the RIAA, they must strive to meet audience needs by delivering cheaper and faster products, which in the end may curb initial investment and bring more fans and creation by transforming consumption ideas in concerts, products, etc. Creation is born out of necessity. This is a great time for the music industry and artists to create.

Create Remixed Music...All We Need is Attribution

There is no doubt in my mind that the music industry is slightly being hurt by piracy.  Mostly everyone does it, and as the chapter on piracy suggests, I believe there are four types of "pirates."  Three out of these four ways are not harmful to the music industry.  I know for myself as mentioned in a previous post, I often download music to see what it is like.  I refuse to spend money on trash.  When I see that I like the album, then I'll go support the artist.  It's not piracy hurting the music industry, it is the industry hurting itself.

It seems the industry just up and got greedy.  If customers are paying $1 per song on iTunes, how on Earth is it possible for the RIAA to sue for $250,000 per song?  That's completely insane.  After watching Remix Manifesto, I learned the artists don't even see that money, only the record company.  Isn't the whole fuss over the intellectual property of the artists?  Shouldn't they be the ones who benefit?  It is just a way for a higher power to benefit for themselves instead of the general public.  It is the same way with the medical industry.  These companies are holding onto copyrights over plants and medicines that could provide cures for the general public.  However, they too are only thinking of themselves.

As far as where I stand on the issue of ripping music to create new things, I think it should be allowed.  It makes no sense that we are only allowed to use written sources to prove a point or create something new for free.  Any other form requires us to pay someone off even if we have attribution.  If everything builds on the past, at some point the music industry will have to wake up and realize they need to allow things under Fair Use.  Through all the remixing, the artists may even get new fans.  Personally, I love hearing sampled music in songs.  It makes me go back to hear the original song.  Piracy just seems to be the wrong word.  I call it creation.  Until we have newer generations in charge of copyrights, older generations will continue to not see how much times have changed.  They need to adapt to the change if they want to curb "piracy."

Where there is a Pirate, there is a stronger artist

I’m going to focus on the question “Do you see benefits to artists as the result of piracy?”


That’s not to say they aren’t disadvantaging from it as well. But there are definitely benefits. Our readings stated (more or less) that artists are finding ways around the lack of album sales through concerts and t-shirt sales. So let’s say we steal music online but fall in love with the artist, we probably would want to go rock with the artist at their concert where they’ll profit from us. True they could’ve profited more if we bought their album then went and spent more money at their concert, but hey you’re getting one thing for free… we love free. (wow this makes me sound like the ultimate piracy thief haha – i'm really not though guys) But seriously, perhaps that music we stole was the only exposure we’ve ever gotten to the artist, otherwise the artists wouldn’t have gotten any kind of profit from us. The free culture chapter called it the “addiction strategy”.

I definitely think that in the entertainment it is more about having fame, being on the A-list, than anything else. Because, let’s be honest, if you are not insanely famous, you wont be profiting that much to begin with. That doesn’t mean we have the right to steal the little you do have. But if we did get a hold of your music through piracy and loved you, you will only gain more publicity/fame and benefit due to high demands of more music/concerts/etc. You would’ve created a strong fan base by then who will legitimately support your music.

“Still, the argument is not terribly persuasive. We don't give the alcoholic a defense when he steals his first beer, merely because that will make it more likely that he will buy the next three. Instead, we ordinarily allow businesses to decide for themselves when it is best to give their product away. “

These days’ artists are selling packages with their albums when they drop. For example, Lupe Fiasco. He was presaling VIP album packages that included t-shirts, stickers, and additional tracks that sold like hotcakes. Anyway, Lupe has a very strong fan base, and after his album dropped, a couple weeks later, due to popular demand, he tweeted a new song not listed in his album to download for free! Even before his album dropped, he was releasing songs on iTunes everyday before the actual drop date. It makes you wonder how he can do that? These are marketing efforts. His concerts are typically sold out and his notion of LASERS – WINNING! People love the products that have that symbol on it.

More so, our readings mention that artists are working more on building a brand that will last instead of focusing all on their music. Just like Lupe with Lasers, and Whiz with the Taylor Gang, and etc… At the end of the day a strong legitimate brand = more money.

Nonetheless, piracy is wrong. It does cause a lot of loss but artists are finding ways around it. The music industry will never die. Without it there is no way a single artist will stick out. Music draws us in to the artist, but it’s not the only thing that keeps us interested.

One last note- (didn’t mean for my blog to be this long, story of my life…) but I think RIAA’s efforts to curb illegal downloading are commendable. They take on other awareness approaches before any legal action takes place. We need to be educated about this to understand, otherwise, you can’t blame me for something I wasn’t aware of because it wasn’t brought to the forefront.

K, i'm done, GOOD DAY!

Piracy: Can Anything Really Be Done?

After watching RiP! A Remix Manifesto as well as reading more articles on piracy, I just don't think that piracy is an issue that can actually be dealt with.

In my first post, I said, "The internet does harm copyright owners and their livelihoods, but I think it enhances creative industries like music and movies."

I went on to say that "since people are aiming to share this content, it's basically a form of advertisement for music and movies from a different standpoint. Copyright and Fair Use are on opposite sides of a thin line, but since it's so easy to cross it, I'm unsure of whether this issue can be completely taken care of. "

However, I do feel sympathy for the people who hold the rights to their items of copyright. They should indeed get paid if their product(s) are being distributed without their consent. If I made a song and knew that my work was being shared via peer-to-peer programs and such, I would definitely be upset that my hard work and dedication is being distributed without me receiving proper compensation. This is exactly what's been happening to artists in today's music industry and many of them have been fighting back.

Digging deeper, the music industry has started to crack down on search engines and file hosting websites, which play a big role in that redistribution factor in the ability to download music for free. Search engines can narrow the field of where to acquire music from while these file hosting sites like MediaFire provide the necessary links to quickly download the version(s) that people are looking for. In a recent article by PC World: Business Center, lawmakers have started to question if search engines contribute to piracy and should stop showing results for websites that infringe copyright and sell counterfeit products, or at least be held accountable.

Without a doubt, the music industry has been hurt by piracy. It's harder for a lot of new artists, and even some old, to maximize their profits from CD sales since their albums and "singles" get leaked before and even during the release dates. This has made it incredibly difficult for mainstream recording artists to reach the platinum status since the means of acquiring their music digitally has become prominent. As far as curbing illegal downloading, the RIAA should effectively push the idea to weaken and slow the rate of piracy in today's world.

I'm unsure if the RIAA can absolutely stop piracy from occurring, but at least states are forcing for anti-piracy laws, which is a start. According to Sharon Pian Chan of the Seattle Times, "The Washington state Legislature has passed a law making it illegal for manufacturers that use pirated software to sell goods in the state." Piracy not only affects music, but movies, games and technology alike.

There's no denying that something has to be done.... but can it?

No one knows but steps are being mapped out to alleviate these companies and artists of the growing piracy pains.

Online Piracy: Good, Bad, or Both?

Which side are you on??

 I think that it is pretty safe to say the most of us in this class would not categorize music piracy, as defined by the downloading and/or sharing of the "Intellectual Property" of Recording Artists, as  falling under a legitimate principle of  the Fair Use of copyrighted material.  As we have learned throughout this course, in order for an individual to use copyrighted material legally without providing compensation to the "creator," the existing work must be used in such a manner that transforms it creatively from its original form into an entirely new work with a new intent and/or purpose.  Simply downloading a song from a file sharing website does not seem to fit this qualification.  But does this mean that recording artists who are having their songs pirated in such a way run the risk of "going out of business", shall we say, and should all music sharing sites be banned henceforth from cyberspace?   Clearly there are those who generally don't see a problem with file sharing music (usually the public) and then there are those who are ardently opposed to it (the Metallica's of the Industry).  As we learned in earlier weeks, Lawrence Lessig refers to Intellectual Property as being different than tangible property, such as land etc., and therefore cannot be "protected" in the same manner as such property.  This, I believe, is how the Fair Use clause of copyright infringement came to be.   I agree that stealing music is wrong but I don't know how detrimental it actually is to an artist's career in this day in age.

In his chapter on Piracy that we have read this week, he notes that "it has long been the recording industry's practice to blame technology for any drop in sales."  Online piracy of music can no doubt cost the industry and artists some lost revenue sales but is online piracy really the doomsday scenario for artists that some make it out to be?  Isn't it possible that the drop in CD sales can  be attributed to other factors that have nothing to do with the desire to end a recording artist's career?  What about the fact that not enough artists are producing decent music that people will be willing to spend their hard earned money on? Or what about the recent, and current, recessions that have occurred during the last decade; couldn't that be another reason why people are more willing to file share a few songs from a favorite artist for free rather than spend money on an entire CD that might only have one or two songs that they like? Lessig mentions that "how harmful [online piracy] is to the industry is hard to calculate."  I think any analyst would be hard pressed to find one distinct cause of a drop in CD sales and find one artist whose career ended solely because they didn't sell enough CD's. 

A recording artist's career is multi-faceted and album sales have now become only a part of a much more diverse career.  I don't think a single artist makes there living on songs alone.  Rick Carnes in his article Has Music Piracy Killed the "Recording Artist?" notes that, "today's music artist is focused on image and brand development because the money is made on ticket sales for live shows."  In addition to concerts however, many artists have expanded their brand image to include other industries as a way of generating revenue.  Just take a look at Taylor Swift, Russel Simmons, Justin Timberlake and Brittney Spears, to name only a small few.  Each of these artists have found many other lucrative ventures including production companies, book deals, acting and fashion careers, and even their own fragrance lines.  Whenever I hear a complaint about online piracy threatening an artist's career, I know that the concern generally comes from the record companies and not the artists themselves-at least the well-known artists anyway.   

Recording Artists and musicians are entertainers.  Sure we want them to sing us a song, but we also want to be entertained.  I think many of the artists themselves have realized that in order to be successful you have to be able to entertain on many levels.  It would seem that the record companies, however, haven't gotten this message.  The need to spend less time fighting the future and start thinking of creative ways to adapt to our new society.


Piracy: Sharing is Caring

First off, I would like to say that this video from this week’s unit was quite interesting and has cleared up a lot of foggy information about copyright for me. I have a new understanding and a new grasp on how this whole thing works now. This unit has greatly extended my knowledge and understanding of copyright and also changes the views that I had previously in the semester.

These units first made me realize that copyright issues and piracy laws are in great need in society. Before I always thought that the copyright was to protect the artist from others copying their works, which is true, but people who take their works are usually using it only to share their information, not copy their work. These readings and also the movie have changed the way I think about copyright law.

Lots of artists before use to make their money though just selling their records. Now they have many different means to make money through clothing lines, shoe lines and much more. So there is a definite need for copyright laws to protect these artists’ ideas from being taken.

Although I do see benefits to artist as the result of piracy. Many artists make money through music by selling other merchandise and not solely relying on albums to sell. Because people are always downloading music and sharing their friends and family, this is how artist get recognized. This allows the future sellings of their work. Basically, I think that sharing music is a good thing.

I do think that there is some downfalls that the music industry will be experience through privacy to a certain degree. Because it is so easy to obtain so much music illegally, many people don’t like to pay $1 for a song when they can download it though sites like Napster and Limewire for free. This causes major losses for companies like iTunes.

The music industry has been highly affected by piracy and its laws and of course the most frequent users that are at risk are the younger generation college students. So is there a balance of what or how much can be downloaded without charge? As Lessig stated, “This will require changes in the law, at least in the interim. These changes should be designed to balance the protection of the law against the strong public interest that innovation continue.

Here is an interesting link regarding the RiAA.

Garr Free Music!!

I remember when I got Nirvana's Nevermind on tape from my older brother . I was in the 6th grade and by then I had heard the album but to have the tape in my hand to listen to it whenever I wanted was cool. Song for song I loved that tape. I wore it out.

About a year later I got Green Day's Dookie and again another tape track for track I loved it. Then I got Candlebox's Lucy album. It was awful. I bought it at Dearborn Music and felt like I wasted 10.99.

What Rick Carnes said is dead on to me. The recording artist's days are over. Oh, there is a few and working and running the college radio station on campus, there are artists we get and their free cds we run to play on air that are way better than what is on the radio. I do not blame people for wanting music for free. Why? Cause I blame the record companies for quality. It is what sells not what is good. Bands are like gypies in the night. They are camped out putting on a show and by morning they are gone. Have you heard the newest from Fall out Boy? Did not think so.

"Today's music artist is focused on image and brand development because the money is made on ticket sales for live shows. Album sales are an after thought since music piracy has obliterated the ability to support an act through recorded music sales alone. Recorded music is given away as a promotional loss-leader, sold as an adjunct to a new tech device, or as an impulse buy at big discount stores. Gone are the record stores of old."

I love that quote. Bands are built for singles and piracy has taken away from the recording artist to come out to produce a track for track album that is good. What is the incentive? Well, none. They can rest on that hit single and boom they will be okay. But really that format has not changed since the 50's when singles were printed on 45's. The Monkeys outsold the Beatles the last part of their careers based on singles that were catchy and easy to listen to.

The recording artist is now exposed. I have downloaded music for free for years. Even here at WUMD we get music for free way before the general public gets a hold of it. It is our job to pass the music on to the masses and I understand that.I feel on both sides of the fence about this. I like the music I get for free I cant afford yet I miss the days of where a album changed my life about music and my thought process. Albums like Nevermind and the Replacements " Let it Be." I enjoy the lower prices and the fact I can get whatever I want in a quick snap of my fingers. Record companies are still making a ton of music and because of " losses" they can support less artists. Unless a artist is a slam dunk, they will not sign them because of " we cant afford it based off piracy". Hmm. So really in all reality, both sides are using the piracy argument to their advantage. I personality think music will never go back to the days of Best Buy's having cd shelves 100 rows out or your record shop having everything. Instead, things will continue as they are where music is special ordered and songs on Itunes will replace the Billboard Chart.

Stealing is Bad (and Illegal), But How Much Damage Does it Cause?

After reading the articles on piracy, the one that enlightened me the most was Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig. In particular, his dissection of the different forms of piracy and description of the 4 kinds of p2p file sharing. The most harmful of the 4 is type "A" which essentially comes down to downloading music instead of purchasing it. This is the type that the music industry claims is creating the biggest dent in their pockets. While Lessig believes that all forms of piracy are illegal, he thinks that the industry is off base in its argument. He states that while an estimated 2.1 billion CDs were downloaded for free, revenues from CD sales had fallen only 6.7% in 2002. He also takes issue with the argument that stealing a CD and downloading a song is the same offense. This is not the case because stealing a CD means stealing a physical entity, leaving the store with one less to sell, therefore it is a lost sale. If every downloaded CD was the same as a stolen CD, there would've been a 100% sales drop. Since revenues only dropped 6.7%, Lessig argues there is a huge difference between stealing a CD and downloading a CD.

The remaining 3 types of p2p sharing are, according to Lessig, are the following:
B. Sharing music to give someone else a sample of something they haven't heard of,
C. Sharing music that is no longer commercially available, and
D. Getting access to content which is not copyrighted or the copyright owner is offering to the public.

These 3 types are essentially harmless in the grander scheme of things, but are nonetheless illegal (with the exception of D). So really, how much damage does piracy cause? Overall, according to the data Lessig provides, not that much.

In Rick Carnes article Has Piracy Killed the 'Recording Artist', he talks about an interview with OK Go's Damian Kulash in which he says the focus of the band is not on selling records, but performing, licensing, and sponsorship opportunities. I fully support his method of making money off of his music. The best part of being a fan of music is hearing live performances. Shelling out $50+ (at a minimum) to see an artist should justify their music being downloadable to the masses. Many artists just getting their start give out their music for free anyways to build hype and rely on performances to gain popularity. Once artists make it big, they sell out shows in every city they visit. A good number of the people in attendance buy T-shirts and other goodies that the artists offer, putting even more money in their pocket. I'm not saying they're greedy by charging for the concert and swag in addition to their CDs, that's just the nature of the business. But, if millions of people enjoy their music and attend their shows, wouldn't it be nice to enjoy it for free?

Piracy: Good or Bad?

Probably the biggest situation where piracy had become well-known throughout the internet world was from Napster. Napster was an online service invented by an 18-year-old college student that allows a user to see song files residing on the hard drives of other users. However, Napster was finally shut down for copyright infringement because of the mass usage of online users exchanging files with one another. Piracy skyrocketed because of Napster and it started to include the exchange of online movies, books, and other media that are digitalized. Another major recent file-sharing software was just shut down due to copyright infringement because of the mass allowance of free music sharing. Limewire took the place of Napster after Napster was forced to close down due to many law suits including big artists such as Dr. Dre and Metallica. However, Limewire was just recently closed and is now a software company that charges for file sharing between users sort of like Itunes. Itunes is currently the most popular music buying software on the Internet. However, many people are making money off of burning CDs and selling it to people. Shane Ham and Robert Atkinson talk about Napster and the music industry in their article titled, "Napster and Online Privacy." They made an interesting point about piracy and I never realized how much the music industry loses from online file sharing. Ham and Atkinson say that, "The Recording Industry Association of America estimates that piracy of physical music products, cassettes, and compact discs cost the industry nearly $5 billion in sales worldwide every year."

This statistic was from the year 2000. I can't even imagine how much money they are currently losing from the piracy of physical music products. makes a great point when talking about physical piracy and where it mostly comes from. When I started to think about what would be the major class or group to most benefit from online piracy, it took me less than a second to get my answer. I looked at myself in the mirror. As says in "Piracy Online," college students are the best target to discover the major users of online file sharing. "Online music theft- particularly on college campuses and with hardcore frequent peer-to-peer users- remains a black mark on this exciting marketplace."

After I read all the articles and watched the movie for this week, I think my opinion on piracy and copyright is the same. I still don't support online piracy even though I have been a victim of illegal music sharing before. I still believe that the music industry will continue to suffer even though there are advantages for them too. Even though I do see benefits of artists form piracy, I still don't feel like it will benefit them that much to replace the losses that occurs in online piracy. However, if someone hears an artist for the first time on an online file sharing software and ends up loving them, then they will like to purchase other things that have to do with that particular artist such as concerts, events, and apparel. I stand with the RIAA on their effort to try and curb internet illegal downloading. When I used to download music, it severely impacted my computer such as giving it viruses and affecting the speed and pace of downloads and websites.

Also, the recent law suits that I have been hearing about on the Internet and the news has affected my decision on choosing now to download music illegally. I have switched over to Itunes and am a big fan of Apple in general. Many law suits and fines that I have heard of were insane. One school teacher only downloaded like 20-30 and was charged with illegal music downloading and sharing. Here is an interesting article on how the MPAA targets individuals who are victims of online piracy. Very interesting article! Check it out and let me know your reactions to it!,2817,1853573,00.asp

Piracy Dilemma

Certainly the music industry has been hit hard by piracy. From the college student downloading off bittorrent, to the Chinese and Eastern European copy-shops, piracy is at an all time high. Damian Kulash of OK Go said "We're just moving out of the brief period -- a flash in history's pan -- when an artist could expect to make a living selling records alone." The RIAA reported $4.6 billion in lost revenue due to piracy. Artists now have to depend on ticket sales and merchandise to make a living through music.

Some artists do attract new fans because of friends sharing an album illegally. If the friend that received the album likes the artist, they might buy their music in the future. Mostly the benefits are offset by the large loss of potential revenue.

The RIAA is crazy for suing people like that lady (living in trailer home) in the film RiP: A remix manifesto. The RIAA is fighting a losing battle by suing the average Joe for illegally downloading even one song. They need to look for new, innovative, ways to set their products apart from the pirated version and not just through DRM methods.

Pirates on the internet!

My view on piracy has not changed much since our first discussion about it. I knew it was bad since the beginning. However I did not realize the "Mashups" I enjoy were considered copyright infringement. I mean every DJ that I've heard on the radio does a little bit of a mashup and they don't get into trouble. I suppose the difference is that they have the rights to play the songs to begin with?

I for one have never downloaded a "Pirated" song. I may have been given a CD from a friend that could possibly have been pirated music. I'm one of those suckers who has probably spent over five hundred dollars for music on iTunes.

People make a big deal about "Peer to Peer" music sites. My question is, what's the difference between those websites and you loaning a CD to your friend and they "rip" it into their music library. I have iTunes and I know that you have the option to copy the CD into the computer to then put on your MP3 player. Isn't that the same thing? I've copied an entire music library from one of my friends. That means I didn't pay for the music, it's the same thing as a Peer to Peer site would be. The difference is that it's not happening over the web, it's happening in your homes.

The music industry could actually benefit from this, in a way. Like in an earlier example I read that one of Taylor Swift's songs was leaked onto the internet. Her and the publishers thought this would be catastrophic, when actually it helped. People liked the song so it made them want to get the entire CD.

The music industry could also suffer from this. In my opinion though as long as theirs music people will find ways to enjoy it without having to buy it. For example, cassettes, people would insert a blank cassette and then record the music off the radio. When they were the new thing in car electronics people could then listen to the cassette they recorded on in their car. They had music they liked and didn't have to pay for it. It will continue to happen, just with different devices.


Piracy has really hurt the music industry in many ways. When people pirate music it leads to the industry not making the money that they can potentially. This steers people away from wanting to produce more music when it is just being stolen from them. I'm sure that the majority of those who pirate music is the college crowd. This seems like a better option for them because it saves them money from having to pay $1 for every song they want.

After watching The Remix Manifesto it is seen that people take samples of popular music to make their remixes for the public. I see no problem with this happening because it is creating brand new music for people to listen to. If they were just taking the music and not doing much of a change to it then I could see a copyright problem. This relates back to the creative commons where we found out that if music is taken in small samples that they should be free from copyright because they are creating new content and not copying old music.

An Interesting Surprise

Lawrence Lessig states that there is no way to "kill this technology", in reference to the internet and media piracy. I agree with him, but it's important to remember there will just be new technology. Remember net neutrality? Those against it are trying to do exactly what Lessig states is impossible- destroy the technology that gives us our freedoms. Streamlined internet services, preferential treatment, and blackouts of whomever the monied interests dislike all loom on the horizon.

Essentially, I find our current copyright system bullshit. Over 4 million dollars to legally create a GirlTalk song? Happy Birthday is illegal to sing at restaurants and businesses without a license? Any system that can be twisted in this way and have governments be "alright" with it is terrible.

As a music listener myself, downloading music has been my main source of finding and expanding my musical interests for years now. When I take an album from a friend to check out a new group, I don't feel like I'm stealing. I'm experiencing. Do I like this album? Do I like these lyrics? Would I spend money to support this artist's craft? Then I'll spend my hard earned money on their material. I'd gladly spend $25 on a quality band t-shirt than $15 for an album.

Maybe the artists need to make art for art's sake.

A Reblog Manifesto

Here's an issue close to my heart. Where would I be without bands like The Avalanches and DJ Shadow? Or projects like Everynone? Or my hopeless addiction, Tumblr, where thousands of users "reblog" and collate the work of others on a daily basis?

As Lawrence Lessig outlines, piracy is difficult to measure. There are many different kinds, each with different possible economic effects, and it's so widespread that it's hard to statistically analyze. The RIAA's overconfidence in projecting and generalizing statistics (which, to me, seem dubious) about piracy speaks volumes: the traditional recording industry is a dying beast, a decrepit gorilla struggling to hang on, and it will do anything it can to survive. This has really fogged the debate about piracy, which is extremely complex, and shouldn't be treated so one-sidedly. Let's not forget the RIAA's ridiculously disproportionate, life-ruining lawsuits, or the scary footage of the anti-piracy speaker in RiP: A Remix Manifesto. I'm not sure to what degree artists are being hurt by piracy, but as Lessig says, some kinds of piracy serve as advertisement and are commercially beneficial. The more I learn, the less sure I feel about my own position. This issue may just take time and evolution to really figure out. In the meantime, I remain adamant that the RIAA needs to scale back its despicable life-wrecking tactics. That's no good for anybody. I encourage all of you to be aware of purchases that profit the RIAA, and to avoid supporting them.

I do agree with the RIAA in one respect, though: we need "legal alternatives," and good ones. iTunes is a pretty successful example of convenience, low barrier to entry, and a vast selection leading to the legal consumption of music. Netflix is a great example for film. Steam is a great example for games. These services have adapted to the changing expectations of the age of instant content. They are often more convenient than pirating, and thus customers have flocked to them. Perhaps we're entering an age where people will pay for organized, streamlined content delivery services instead of the direct content itself.

So, I want artists to get paid. Legally. But it strains me to see the aforementioned bands, Girl Talk, and other passionate artists struggling with the legality of sampling. That is, in my mind, hurtful to the progression of culture. The segment about Brazil's remix culture in RiP: A Remix Manifesto made me feel like we're almost ungrateful for all of this amazing technology we have. The ability to record ourselves engaging in our richest forms of expression, or merely experiencing our daily lives, and to share those recordings is incredible. To keep those beautiful creations to ourselves seems so artistically stagnant and inhibiting toward the promise of that technology. In contrast, the segment on Brazil showed a culture that realizes the joy of giving culture as well as receiving it, and the enrichment that is born when the two collide. We'd do well to learn from that attitude. And if you agree, don't hesitate to reblog.