Jessica Williams, jazz pianist, composer

Why buy my CDs here?

You may buy my music at iTune$ or @m@zon or thousands of other stores, or stream it from Pandora or Spotify, but I don't receive any money at all. Well, to be fair, I did get two checks for .02 and .04 cents from Google's RightsFlow. Musicians have suffered terribly — David Byrne, Lady Gaga, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones — they all work in solidarity to keep music, and musicians, alive.

Our Art represents the highest ideals of our nation. We must work in solidarity now, not to just protect musicians, but to restore the ethical under-pinnings of what America and its Art should represent — honesty, fairness, respect, creativity, opportunity, and most of all, freedom. -JW Mar 20, 2018


Please sign our ASCAP anti-Pandora petition here

Unsound: extended trailer rough cut from Count Eldridge on Vimeo

Below, read just a sampling of the truth, from trusted sources

Guest Post, an incredibly cogent article about the theft of artist's and musician's incomes and royalties by the phenomenally-gifted musician Maria Schneider


Music is an important part of who we are, an indelible record of what we care about and how we live. And if we let that slip away, whether through legal gridlock, cultural apathy or technological drift, we will have lost something irreplaceable and fundamental to our lives. - The Washington Post, T Bone Burnett December 18, 2015 (submitted by Susan Reeves, photographer and artist)


Pandora is Stifling Songwriters - Every 1,000 plays of a song on Pandora is only worth about 8 cents to songwriters, composers and music publishers. Yet Pandora is spending millions of dollars in legal fees trying to pay songwriters even less - by ASCAP's president, Paul Williams, from the newspaper The HILL


When Iggy Pop Can’t Live Off His Art, What Chance Do The Rest Have? To keep body and soul together, Iggy has become a DJ, a car-insurance pitchman, and a fashion model. If he had to live off royalties, he says he’d have to tend bar between sets - The Trichordist


Tech companies and criminals have made billions supporting the illegal exploitation of our cultural past while ruthlessly pursuing the dismantling of incentives creators need to fashion our cultural future. - Forbes


My Song Got Played On Pandora 1 Million Times - And All I Got Was $16.89, Less Than What I Make From a Single T-Shirt Sale! - The Trichordist


"Artists Should Expect NOTHING" from Spotify, says George Howard - Why George Howard should stop chasing what's best for musicians and focus on academics. - The Trichordist


Why Musicians Make Little While Music Services and Distributors Make Billions - By Jeff Price, the founder of TuneCore and now founder/CEO of Audiam


Taylor Swift Left Spotify Because We Stopped Valuing Art By Willard Foxton - It strikes us that art is less valuable than it's ever been. If we consume it more, but value it less, what does that mean for society?


Why Copyright Infringement is Theft - In the never-ending copyright debate, one comes across certain words, the usage of which both sides disagree upon. One such point of contention is the use of the word "theft" to describe copyright infringement - By Devlin Hartline


Below, the argument that all music should be free really heats up in the last 15 minutes of this video of industry heavies. After all, musicians are having fun, not working . . .


A Royalty Pain: Making Sense Of Music's Compensation Issues By Rich Appel - the dramatic disparity between how labels, artists, songwriters and music publishers are paid for their work

Note To Struggling Bands And Singers: Sorry But Most Of Your Fans Don't Care By Mark Mulligan - The debate [over streaming] occurs alongside an assumption that there is widespread concern for the creators' and their livelihood. Unfortunately the general sympathy that is apparent within the echo chamber of the online press and social media does not translate to the broader population

Big Data Study Provides First Insights Into Behavior Of Users Of Peer-To-Peer File Sharing By Megan Fellman – [A] Northwestern University research team has discovered two interesting behavior patterns

We Got Trouble My Friends, Right Here in Music City: The Spotify Meltdown Tour Continues By Chris Castle – It's important to understand that when someone is watching their livelihood slip away, telling them they just have to have faith in people whose own livelihood has more to do with venture capital and IPOs than selling music is not a good thing to say

dogs and fatcats

i made this

Pay For It, Or Lose Us – The Challenge Facing Independent Musicians - By Mark Knight - All of the good press, viral videos, gushing praise and devoted fans in the world do not equate to revenue. And if musicians are not recouping their costs (let alone making a profit) then music is not a viable career for them - MusicThinkTank

The High Cost of Free - A new documentary takes a hard look at how the digital age has eroded the value of music and the ability of musicians to make a living . . . "Thirteen years since the Internet Revolution, I watched all of the artists around me make less and less while their popularity increased" - By Kathleen Richards

Social Media’s Power to Manipulate By David Newhoff -- The FCC, in a narrow vote this week, elected to adopt rules to protect the principle known as “net neutrality … Whether or not net neutrality is essential for maintaining a level playing field for competing interests, one rhetorical talking point overused by all parties is this idea of preserving the Internet as “the greatest tool for free expression and democracy.” It ought to be, but the more I consider this premise, the more I wonder if it may prove to be one of the worst lies of the digital age.

The One Copyright Issue Everyone Should Agree On By Sandra Aistars

Google Wants To Manage All 50,000 Of Your Songs By Christian de Looper -- Google has increased the limit to how much music users can store in the cloud on Google Play Music from 20,000 to a whopping 50,000 songs. FREE!

Brian Message: NDAs Causing ‘Structural Failure’ For Music Industry By Tim Ingham -- The ‘NDA culture’ surrounding the licensing of catalogues from labels to digital services has left music’s economic model “pretty well broken” … That’s according to the long-term manager of Nick Cave and PJ Harvey, and co-manager of Radiohead, Brian Message. Message delivered a rousing speech in London at the launch of the new Manifesto from the Entertainment Retailers Association

Don't Buy Your Own Music By Jorge Brea

Slaves of the Internet, Unite! - A must read - They really do admire your work, just not enough to pay one cent for it. - By Tim Kreider

The Vast Majority Of Music Online Goes Basically Unpurchased - Here's an insane stat: 98.9% of all digital music tracks in existence in 2011 sold fewer than 1,000 copies - By Rob Wile

The Internet Will Suck All Creative Content Out of the World - The boom in digital streaming may generate profits for record labels and free content for consumers, but it spells disaster for today's artists across the creative industries - By David Byrne

The Smoking Gun of Internet Exploitation of Musicians and Songwriters - There have been a lot of predictions about how the internet was going to empower musicians and create a new professional middle class. FAIL! - By The Trichordist

The Sharps and Flats of the Music Business - Subscription streaming and YouTube are finishing what Napster began, and the revolution is fully corporatized - By Zoë Keating

If Other Professions Were Paid like Artists - "Jeez, why do you keep demanding money and stuff?!" - By Melanie Gillman

Who Owns The Future? - "Instead of making money from recordings, musicians should play live gigs. This strategy only works reliably for those who will always be young, healthy and childless." In fact, it works best if the person's parents are still healthy, rich, and generous.' You really must read Who Owns The Future. The rest of your life may depend on it." - from Jaron Lanier's book, Who Owns The Future

7 Music Marketing Truths ALL Musicians Should Know - Ever wondered why some super talented musicians don't get the fanbase and recognition they “deserve,” while other not as talented musicians get a lot more exposure and are seen in all the right places? - By Shaun Letang

Warner Music Group + Clear Channel = Proof the Long Tail Was Bulls*&t - By Paul Resnikoff

Music on the Web: Google, Facebook and Apple Set to Battle for Your Ears - Silicon Valley is poised to up-end the music industry - again. - By Heather Somerville

Spotify Is Now Asking Investors for More Cash, Swedish Paper Reports - By Paul Resnikoff

Online Music Piracy 'Destroys Local Music' - Countries like Spain run the risk of becoming "cultural deserts" because of online file-sharing, the music industry has claimed. - BBC News

Assessing the Impact of Streaming on Total Music Revenue Growth - Even if growth is sustained, another speed bump is on its way: the post-CD revenue collapse. The CD is still by far the world's biggest music revenue source - By Mark Mulligan

Songwriters Are Under Attack by Pandora - Speak Out and Sign the Petition - Pandora Media Inc., which controls 70% of the US streaming market, has launched an aggressive campaign to pay songwriters and composers less than a fair market share for their work – even as the company's revenue and listener base has soared. Get the Facts on Pandora - By ASCAP

ASCAP Responds to Pandora Summary Judgment Ruling - On September 17th, 2013, US District Judge Denise Cote issued a ruling in favor of Pandora over a musician's right to payment. ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento responded by saying - By ASCAP

Pandora Announces New Brand Identity – ‘Let There Be Music’ - A truly demented doublespeak marketing campaign . . .

iTunes 11.1 Offers Its Free, Unlimited-Music Pandora Competitor - Apple's in-house media player, iTunes, is ready to take on Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, and more of the web's biggest music streaming services - By Nicole Nguyen

Faced With Fierce Competition, Rhapsody Takes ‘Significant’ Investment From Columbus Nova - By Jordan Crook

Innovate Faster? - Since the days of Napster, the technosenti have been insisting that the entertainment industry simply needs to stop complaining about copyright theft and innovate . . . the technology for reliable, high-quality streaming is about five years old, which may seem like decades to a Silicon Valley millionaire or an impatient 15 year-old, but is in reality not a very long time for any industry to transform itself - By David Newhoff

Music Royalty Funds Charm Investors - Music may soothe the savage beast, but it also does wonders for the wealthy fund investors who earn double-digit returns on the rights to some of the world's most famous melodies. - By Anthony Greco

Still think a music career is an easy path to a blinged-out life? - Don't believe the hype. A whole lot of folks have to get paid before the musician does. The Root traces the money trail. - The Root

"It's Madness" Radiohead Producer Nigel Godrich on LSE Piracy Report - Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich get's it right in response the the LSE's shortsighted misunderstanding about artist's revenue streams. - By The Trichordist

iTunes Radio Now Has a Global Plan to Destroy Pandora - By Nina Ulloa

"BREAKING: LOS ANGELES" - BREAKING: LOS ANGELES is a gritty feature-length film offering an uncensored look at the music scene's "dirty little secrets" including scarce revenue sources and "pay-to-play" bookings. - By PRWeb

Finally, a real PDF file of my own earnings for last quarter! And my checks from Google too! - JW

More here . . . I'd become something of a collector, but I'm done now. I need to make some more music. - JW, Nov 25, 2014

A must-read: The Pandora Court Case and my own music . . . click here to open/close

From ASCAP: Pandora has aggressively and consistently sought to pay songwriters and composers less than a fair market rate. In 2010, Pandora terminated their prior agreement with ASCAP, in order to lower their payments to songwriters and composers by moving from a usage-based license fee to a percentage of revenue license. Right now, even compared to other streaming companies, Pandora is paying very little for performance rights to the music that drives its business. In fact, every 1,000 plays of a song on Pandora is only worth about 8 cents to songwriters and composers. All told, it's about 4% of their revenue. And yet, Pandora is going to great lengths to pay songwriters even less.

In a recent blog post, Pandora CEO Tim Westergren even argued "we shouldn't even be talking about royalties, because the value of a spin on Pandora is about much more." That attitude is dismissive and insulting to songwriters whose livelihoods are at stake. Songwriters deserve better.

AND FROM RIGHTSFLOW GOOGLE Rightsflow Royalty Department 76 9th Ave, 4th Fl New York, NY 10011
JJW Music (ID: xxxx) care of JJW Music (ID: xxxx) Attn: Jessica Williams USA- 20th of July 2013

Dear Royalty Manager (that's me), This letter is to inform you that compulsory royalties under Section 115 of the United States Copyright Act are being reported to you on behalf of Google Inc. for June 2013. The attachments included will breakdown these payments/accruals further based on service as well as provide you a detailed statement:

JESSICA WILLIAMS: Summary of Account Royalties for Period - June 2013

JJW Music $2.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00

Paid to JJW Music $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 Check $0.0001

Please let us know how we can improve our service to you. We are here to make the royalty process more efficient in order to bring you more revenue. Sincerely, The Rightsflow Royalty Department

And again from ASCAP: From: To:

RE: ASCAP Background/Foreground Music Debit Adjustments

Dear JJW MUSIC, A recent Rate Court decision regarding DMX licenses resulted in a significant reduction to the license fees payable for performances of background/foreground music (sometimes called environmental music).  The Court rendered its decision based, in large part, upon DMX's direct agreement with certain publishers. Prior to the Court's decision, ASCAP and DMX entered into an interim license fee that was higher than the final license fee determined by the Court.  Based upon the Court's decision, ASCAP's distribution payments to members for DMX performances between June 2005 and October 2010 included overpayments that now require debit adjustments.  These monies were refunded to DMX pursuant to the Court's ruling.  The decision also affected royalties for performances on Muzak between January 2010 and May 2012 and performances on Music Choice between October 2010 and December 2011. Overpayments were also made for performances on these music services. A similar debit adjustment (THIS IS DOUBLE-SPEAK FOR "WE WILL TAKE YOUR MONEY") and refund to each music service was required and has been made. Please retain the June 2013 statement to refer to the adjustment details as these will not appear in future statements. In an effort to reduce the negative financial impact to you, ASCAP will divide the recoupment of these debit adjustments over the next eight domestic distributions (i.e., from ASCAP's distributions in June 2013 through March 2015). The Overpayments Balance, which reflects the application of the first of eight equal royalty deductions, is reflected on the cover page of the June 2013 performance statement. Sincerely, ASCAP Member Services

Note from myself: I was forced to pay them 214 dollars of MY money for my music, to DMX, and another 202 dollars to Pandora. This will go on interminably now that ASCAP has agreed to it. Last month I made 16 cents on my 350 registered compositions and air-play. Yet "they" refer to me as a "major earner"! Pure greed. -JW, Oct 6th, 2013


I could keep listing articles but I need to make music sometime . . . wasn't that the original idea?

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Mega-corporations (Google, Apple, Microsoft, Comcast, many more) now control and profit from our creations. The record company executives that I recorded for get paid. They own the copyrights. And the copyright lawyers control much of the download revenue and where it ends up. I just keep right on playing. They are NOT going to stop me. Click on the iTunes image below . . .


If you buy at @M@ZON: money is stolen from me daily by record producers and executives, CEO's and CFO's of many corporations. I have never received one penny. 70 CDs and 45 years of work. Click here. Am I angry? No. Anger chews you up. I want to get even, and the best way to do that is to be successful in spite of the bad guys. Bad guys come and go, but I think the musicians that make fine music will be remembered long after these guys are long gone.


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  • THEFT!!!

Musicians Earn What???

New York City : NY : USA | Jan 1, 2012 at 11:56 PM PST, BY Sherrill Fulghum 

It was not too long ago that a music fan could walk into an actual record (or music) store and peruse thousands of record albums, CDs, and singles; but today almost the only place to find an actual CD in the United States is at a live concert or the used book sale at the local library. Currently most of the music purchased in the United States comes from digital downloads. The Daily Swarm has released some startling statistics on just what it takes for a musician to make a living in the music business.

When a musician or a band has a deal with a record company, the artist receives seven to 10 percent of each album or CD sold. With digital download services the artist receives about nine cents per song. (disinformation, outdated)

In the US there is a national minimum wage for workers of $7.25 per hour (some areas pay more). This translates into $1,160 per month before taxes. For artists to earn the same amount as a minimum wage worker, they would have to sell 1,161 physical CDs, 1,299 digitally downloaded albums, or 12,399 singles.

And when it comes to audio streaming services, it can take anywhere from 849,817 plays to over four million plays to make the same amount of money. What makes this even more difficult is that the various audio streaming and digital download services are available everywhere.

These numbers do not take into account the number of hours an artist or a band spends practicing each day, the time spent writing songs, and recording those songs. For many musicians the only real source of an income is by touring and some bands spend more time on the road then they do at home trying to survive making music. And just because the concert figures reach into the millions, the artist does not get most of it; that goes to the venue, roadies, technicians, lighting and sound engineers, and any number of “expenses”.

Like the best selling writers, there is a very small percentage of musicians who regularly make millions (?) each year from touring and album sales; while the majority strive to eek out a living,

Making music can be fun but for the professional musician it is also a lot of hard work that often times shows very little in physical return.

Sherrill Fulghum is based in Niagara Falls, New York, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.

Digital Parasites

December 15, 2011 - How “Digital Parasites” Have Hurt Songwriters and What Songwriters Can Do To Fight Back

By Erik Philbrook

In his new book, Free Ride: How Digital Parasites are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back, longtime Rolling Stone contributor Robert Levine tackles head-on the subject of digital piracy and how tech giants such as Apple and Google are booming while the creators of content keep getting hurt. He argues forcefully for stronger copyright protection and offers ways to reach that goal. Levine recently talked to Playback about some of the issues he discusses in his book.

Where did the saying "Information wants to be free" originate and who pushed that idea out into the world?

It's a quote, but it doesn't mean what people think it means. The original meaning is a quote by Stewart Brand, who founded the Whole Earth Catalog. His original quote is actually "Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be expensive…that tension will not go away." What he was talking about is basically the idea that the cost of transmitting information is getting lower and lower every year. But the cost of creating that information doesn't go away.

For example, if I am writing a song, transmitting that song online is essentially free. Transmitting it around gets cheaper every year. What about writing a song? That's not done automatically. That's what Stewart Brand meant, but the quote has been perverted by people who started saying that information should be free as a "motto" but that's just a misunderstanding.

And that idea fed into Chris Anderson's thesis in his book Free: The Future of a Radical Price?

Right. He believes that digital drives the cost of content down to zero, or near its marginal cost? But this idea about pricing things accordingly with marginal cost comes from, like, the auto business. It's not relevant to our business. If you think about it, can you think of anything in media that has been priced in its marginal cost. Back in the 50's, a piece of vinyl anything was never priced in its marginal cost. Media is not a marginal-priced business. Even a book. I think a hardback book is probably the most expensive piece of mass media. It cost $3.50. A piece of celluloid film cost $1,500. But no one ever suggested you should sell that piece of celluloid for $1,500. To say that you price things to hit marginal cost is a total misunderstanding of the media business.

Do you think that this "free culture" ideology has infiltrated the tech giants since so many people in positions of power are younger and have grown up with easy access to music and other intellectual property?

The idea that other people's stuff should be free is not an ideology. Calling it an ideology is giving it a dignity that it doesn't deserve. It's not an ideology, it's an illusion.

What you have is people making money from content, and they want to be able to keep making money from content. People who make money distributing content without paying for it will want to continue making money by not paying for it. They can say they are doing things for the good of the country, or whatever, but they are not doing anything that is not in their own selfish interests. Google is championing free culture because they make a lot of money distributing other people's stuff.

Most people who work in the music industry love and value music. Many who work in book publishing love and value books. What, besides the obvious, do you feel those who work for technology companies value?

A lot of people in the tech industry are driven by a passion for technology. I think if you look at how those organization behave, they tend to behave in a much more rational way.

Fundamentally, Google is about spreading technology and making money. But I think people get confused and they think ASCAP wants to restrict the Internet and Google wants to spread the Internet. That's nonsense. ASCAP wants to make money for your members and Google wants to make money for their shareholders. Now, I'm more sympathetic to your point of view because ASCAP is a more like a union than a corporation. Technically, we're a not-for profit membership organization.

Right. And your members did the damn work. But, even still. You can get up on a stage and say people will do better work if we pay them and we will all have a better market. But some people will look at you like it's the most radical thing you said all day. But isn't that common knowledge? You give me money, I'm going to work harder, write a better book, whatever. That's the basic of economics.

In your book you discuss Google and their ties to other groups who are actively trying to sway public opinion and lobby Congress on their behalf. Tell me a little more about the more prominent organizations and individuals?

As I did research for the book, I was shocked by all the money that Google spends on funding these organizations. They are non-neutral organizations. Two weeks after Google bought YouTube, they made a two million dollar donation to Stanford Law School. Stanford Law School announced that the money would go toward establishing a balance between ownership and the right to access information. Now, there's two issues with that. One, the right to access information is missing from my copy of the Constitution. I like the right to access information but I am not aware that it's a constitutional right.

Access to information is a public good; it's a wonderful thing. It's just not a right. Stanford Law School says that they do not expect donations that are geared toward a specific thing. But then on the other hand, they announced what they were doing with this money. The question is should we take a look at this because it's Google's money? I think yes.

Now, Creative Commons is pushing Google's agenda. The mother-in-law of Sergey Brin [co-founder of Google], who has no background in law and no background in copyright, is Vice of their board. She is there because Sergey Brin gave a lot of money. This is not serving the best interest for artists; this is serving the best interests for Google. People say that Creative Commons is doing important work and what they're trying to do is great, but if you want to have a serious, respected organization it needs to have a serious respected board. What you have now is a joke, so if you want to be taken seriously, put artists on the board.

What are your feelings about the tech companies' opposition to the PROTECT IP Act?

People on the other side don't say, "Hey, we have certain problems with these certain parts of the PROTECT IP Act." They say, "We don't want any legislation at all, things are fine." I think it's time for the other side, if they don't like this act, to come up with another solution to protect our rights.

What's the most important message songwriters should take away from your book?

You have rights. You have the right to get paid for distribution, reproduction and public performances of your work. You have the right to control your work. You might not always want to use them. But that doesn't mean that they are not important and that doesn't mean that you should give them away. Let alone give them away to large corporations.

What can songwriters and composers do on a day-to-day basis that can help protect the value of their work?

Know the value of your work and don't give it away too cheaply. Even if what you do is a hobby to you, it's a business to somebody else, and that business has expenses. Another thing, if you do something for a discount or promotional basis, make sure it's not permanent. If you want to give your songs away, then give your songs away. Don't sign a Creative Commons license, because you can't take it back. A Creative Commons deal is like one of those old record deals. Like when you sign away your rights in exchange for a Cadillac. But with this deal, you don't get a car.

The Truth Behind Google's Copyright-Bills Hysteria


Though the final chapter in the legislative history of the copyright bills hasn’t yet been written, a couple things are obvious even now: The tech industry has demonstrated great political clout through the mobilization of its users and fan base; and the industry lobby, led by Google, will say and do pretty much anything to advance its commercial interests. This provides the background for what happened within just a few days last week, as Congress was flooded with calls and mail, and petitions were signed by millions, in opposition to bills whose intent was to provide an effective way to combat content infringement on rogue websites abroad. Didn’t matter that most fans of social media, file-sharing, blogs, and the like know next to nothing about communications policymaking, or even the details of the laws they were moved to oppose.  They know what they like, and dislike, and when manipulated into seeing the copyright bills as a threat they responded in great numbers.

None of which, of course, is to wonder why people feel more of a kinship with things like the social media than they do with the mainstream media.  The one-way and “one-to-the-many” aspects of the old media don’t empower people, or allow for their personal expression, in the manner of blogs or social media like Facebook and YouTube.

But the reason so many people were disposed to dislike the copyright bills, and their knowledge of what was actually in them, are two different things.  What moved them to act on their dislike was yet another.  For these parts of the story we have to look to the tech industry lobby, and Google most importantly.  It was Google that floated the canard that passage of the bills would forever change “the Internet as we’ve known it.”

The irony in Google’s claim was apparently lost on most of the media, tech and mainstream, which may explain why so few reporters pointed out that this alleged threat is word-for-word what the company said, 13 years ago, in opposition to another copyright bill (the Digital Millennium Copyright Act), passage of which has since proven to be a positive boon to Internet companies.

It may also explain why so few reporters pointed out that Google’s claims about the copyright bills – as precursors to the regulation of the Internet – are not just over the top but hypocritical.  It was, after all, Google that successfully lobbied, with the active help of a majority of FCC Commissioners, for so-called “network neutrality” regulations, the precedent of which provides not for just speculative but “here and now” regulation of the Internet.

Still, if crass exaggeration and hypocrisy were all that Google displayed in this regard, one might be inclined just to dismiss it as boys being boys.  But it didn’t stop there.  Google, and other groups that should know better, also gave expression and currency to the bunkum that the copyright bills amounted to an assault on the First Amendment.

That this argument was utterly demolished by the country’s leading First Amendment expert, Floyd Abrams, didn’t give them a moment’s pause, with the upshot being that this nonsense was parroted by all sorts of people as a reason for rejection of the bills. In August of last year, The Media Institute filed a white paper with the Federal Trade Commission titled “Google and the Media: How Google is Leveraging its Position in Search to Dominate the Media Economy.” Among other things, the paper demonstrated the ways in which Google profits from copyright infringement; that indeed the use of other people’s content without their permission has been at the heart of the company’s business plan.

Though the paper didn’t recommend any particular remedy, it asked the FTC to intervene in a way that would prevent the media economy from being dominated by a single entity.  Google’s conduct regarding the copyright legislation shows that, far from pulling back, its interest in this kind of domination is growing apace.

The opinions expressed above are those of the writer and not of The Media Institute, its Board, contributors, or advisory councils.  This piece was first published in the Dallas Morning News on Jan. 25, 2012.

Hypocritical pirates destroy value of IP

By Chris Russell, Thursday, January 26, 2012

Alright, let’s get this straight right off the bat. I opposed SOPA. I opposed PIPA. I think the RIAA and MPAA are vindictive, greedy people. I think it’s ridiculous that little Sally can be fined thousands of dollars for downloading a copy of “Tik Tok” that she can buy on iTunes for a buck. However, I hate piracy. As a CS major, this puts me squarely in the minority of my peers. It’s kind of like an EnvE major saying, “I wish the government would stop investing in green energy.” Piracy apparently just comes with the territory of being in computing.

But really, being anti-piracy makes sense to me, especially professionally. I’m going into a field where me and several dozen (if not several hundred) others will pour months of effort into designing, coding and testing a product. If someone pirates a copy of that, they’re robbing my company (and, through my stock’s value and my paycheck, me) of a sale on something that we bled for.

Of course, this is usually the point in the conversation where piracy advocates break out all the old arguments. Pirates wouldn’t have bought it anyway, if it’s actually worth something, people will pay for it, open source is the way of the future, etc. etc. etc. I don’t put much stock in these arguments, and here’s why. At the end of the day, piracy boils down to the pirate getting something that inherently has value without giving anything in return. Whether the pirate and the producer agree on how much value is irrelevant; if I as the producer of a piece of IP say, “I think this is worth X,” then it is entirely within my rights to want people to either pay X for it or not use it.

The problem is that we have been conditioned by the Internet to believe that something-for-nothing is the norm and we get angry with companies that have the audacity to expect to get paid for their work.

Really, though, people who pirate things don’t bother me. Let’s be honest here: If I really had a problem with pirates, I wouldn’t have many friends here at Tech, would I?

The people who really annoy me are the pirates that try to act like they’re taking the high road by pirating. The ones who talk about how they’re supporting indie filmmakers by pirating mainstream Hollywood movies. The ones think that paying $20 for things like the “Humble Indie Bundle” justifies stealing $400 worth of top-10 games. And, my particular favorites, the ones who act like anything that interferes with their pirating abilities is a mortal threat to our freedoms. Some, like SOPA and PIPA, really are. Others — not so much.

One case in particular makes me laugh. Recently, the Internet has been all a-twitter (or, more accurately, all a-reddit) over the takedown of filesharing site Megaupload. People have been screaming about how this shows that the evils of SOPA are already upon us, that the government is in the pockets of the MPAA and that this case puts other sites—like Dropbox, and other storage services—at risk of a similar shutdown.

Frankly, I think this is ridiculous. The difference between sites like Megavideo and sites like Dropbox is night and day. The indictment against Megaupload even goes so far as to lay out why the services aren’t the same. There’s a big difference between a service primarily used to shuffle documents between coworkers and a service almost exclusively used to illegally watch copyrighted movies and TV shows.

In a nutshell, I opposed SOPA because I saw it as a unnecessary piece of legislation that threatened the openness of the Internet without offering much in the way of shutting down piracy. I support the shutdown of Megaupload because I see it as an effective application of existing law, to shut down and obvious and repeated infringer of IP rights.

Listen, I’m all for encouraging businesses to look at new models that allow for more open exchange of IP. I’m against suing the pants off of people for downloading a song. I think IP laws should encourage creativity.

But I think it’s hypocritical to expect people to pay for things we make when we won’t pay for movies and music. I think musicians, developers and filmmakers have a right to make a living off of their work. I think studios and record labels have a right to make a profit on the development and advertising they do for their artists. I think these companies have a right to run their businesses how they see fit. And, most importantly, I think they have every right to expect the government to protect these rights, and for consumers to respect them.

8 Things Spotify Could Do Right Now to Show They Care About Musicians

January 27, 2012 - By Gavin Castleton, a songwriter and producer from Portland, OR, Copyright 2012 Gavin Castleton.  Used by permission of the author.

  • • Promoting “Buy Now” links on album pages and next to individual tracks.
  • • Allowing artists to edit their own profiles.
  • • Displaying links to artists’ websites, FB pages, twitter profiles, etc.
  • • Allowing users to “Like” and “Follow” an artist right from the Artist page.
  • • Allowing users to sign up for artists’ contact.html list from the Artist page.
  • • Serving ads in a way that did not encourage users to interrupt their listening mid-album/playlist in order to listen to or do something else.
  • • Paying independent artists the same rates as major label artists (One could argue that major labels should be paid lower rates than independents, since their overall revenue from Spotify is offset by an 18% share of the company).
  • • Paying artists a flat rate for their streams, instead of tying their royalty rate to advertising revenue over which the artist has no control. Artists should not be taking on risk along with Spotify unless they’re also given stock options in the company. The current Spotify model treats artists like investors but without any [equity-type] long-term benefits.

Some links (there are thousands more to google...)

Google "How much do jazz musicians make".

And there are literally articles every day now (Aug 10, 2013) that it is impossible for me to list them. I'm afraid that you will have to do searches on music copyright law and new developements with monster corporations. It is not healthy for me to read these articles any more.

Decrying the raw injustice of digital economics

By Bruce Sterlingcontact.html AuthorSeptember 30, 2013 | 2:06 pm | Categories: Dead Media Beat

*Whatever happens to musicians will eventually happen to everybody.

“Copying a musician’s music ruins economic dignity. It doesn’t necessarily deny the musician any form of income, but it does mean that the musician is restricted to a real-time economic life. That means one gets paid to perform, perhaps, but not paid for music one has recorded in the past.

“It is one thing to sing for your supper occasionally, but to have to do so for every meal forces you into a peasant’s dilemma: The peasant’s dilemma is that there’s no buffer. A musician who is sick or old, or who has a sick kid, cannot perform and cannot earn. A few musicians, a very tiny number indeed, will do well, but even the most successful real-time-only careers can fall apart suddenly because of a spate of bad luck. Real life cannot avoid those spates, so eventually almost everyone living a real-time economic life falls on hard times.

“Meanwhile, some third-party spy service like a social network or search engine will invariably create persistent wealth from the information that is copied, the recordings. A musician living a real-time career, divorced from what used to be commonplace levees like royalties or mechanicals, is still free to pursue reputation and even income (through live gigs, t-shirts, etc.), but no longer wealth. The wealth goes to the central server.

“Please notice how similar music is to mortgages….”

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Predatory Capitalism

PLEASE BUY FROM ME DIRECTLY! Although many content creators (artists, musicians, writers, poets) have fought hard against the huge corporate takeover of the on-line download community, we lost the campaign. This time.

We "content creators" no longer receive ANY money from sales of our work due to our short-sighted Congress and the huge corporate monopolies that now control all of the music business and much of our government. Many experts—yes, even Senators—argue that artists deserve NO COMPENSATION for their work, as we create an unnecessary commodity. That's the reason I started my own web site 2 decades ago (before there was a Google!) and why I started my own publishing company, and why I started my own CD company. If you buy my music here, I get paid. And I will SIGN the CDs for you if you specify that. Until our Congress makes a newer, harsher decree that I am breaking the law by selling my OWN music on my OWN web site - which is possibly coming - I'll continue to do this, as an act of personal will, as an act of Justice.

There are literally so many articles every day now (Nov 20, 2014) that it is impossible for me to list them. I'm afraid that you will have to do searches on music copyright law and new developements with monolithic corporations. I have to go and make more music! - JW 2016


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