OLTD 505 Week 2

I’ve began this blog post a couple times now, and I keep talking myself in circles, or miss the point of what I was trying to say.  Currently, I’m 5 videos into this YouTube remix series based around Girl Talk’s latest album, and I’ve decided I’m going to try a different approach.   First of all, this video is amazing!  It is pretty much an unbeatable way to procrastinate when you are supposed to be doing OLTD homework.  I have it on in the background right now while I type this.  It is the exact opposite of my current state: hunched over my computer and searching for inspiration.

Girl Talk, aka Greg Gillis, was the inspiration for Rip: A Remixer’s Manifesto, and also this series of videos.  His album “All Day” features over 370 samples rearranged and remixed into this incredibly infectious, sugarcoated blast of pop music.  “Rip” makes a case for Greg being not only a great arranger, but also an artist in his own right, and a musician whose instrument just happens to be a computer.  What he does is currently illegal, yet as of typing this he spends his time not in a jail cell, but playing to hoards of adoring fans all over the world.  It is clear that public attitude’s towards remixing and repurposing media is at odds with those who stand to make a profit from it.  What I’m really interested in is how public attitude has been shaped by the restrictive laws that surround most copyrighted material, and what steps are being taken to change this.

For the longest time there has been no middle ground in how we interact with copyrighted material.  I think that in the early days of Napster the lawsuits launched by the RIAA did very little to scare the population into following the existing copyright laws, and instead encouraged a culture of distrust toward many big name artists and record labels.  I think that many people’s attitudes towards the use of copyrighted materials can be seen as a reactionary measure against these restrictive laws.  We live at a time when we can use these works to spark a dialogue, where in the past they have been used as a one-way lecture.

So what has been done to change this relationship between and creators and their potential customers?  I think one of the biggest changes has been in the realization of the Internet as a way for creators to market, distribute and advertise their products without a big name backing them.  I also think that crowd funding initiatives such as kickstarter, indiegogo and quirky and have proven to be instrumental in allowing people to gain financial support on their own terms.  Websites such as bandcamp and vimeo allow you to host, sell, and distribute your work, while controlling the copyright and terms of its use.  Suddenly there are many avenues available to create and share content with the world.

I think that in a lot of cases people have pirated music in the past because of convenience.  Sites like Netflix are a great example of this.  For the price of about one movie ticket a month users are given access to a years worth of content.  As Netflix’s Chief Content Officer has said: “I think people do want a great experience and they want access – people are mostly honest. The best way to combat piracy isn’t legislatively or criminally but by giving good options”.  I completely agree.  As this article by Paul Tassi states, Piracy is a service problem.    If distribution models changed, Piracy would drop substantially.  If the large movie studios and record companies can create a model in which it is easier to legally obtain their products, many people will make the switch.  It seems as though things are already changing, as the music industry has reported that music sales are up this year, and piracy is declining.   The reason given in the article?  Convenience, with streaming sites such as Spotify and Pandora (which seems to be currently restricted in Canada) being seen as an easier alternative to illegal downloading.  Major media companies are still pursuing punitive action against the worst offenders, but this too has shifted from million dollar lawsuits to restrictions enforced by Internet service providers.

As more services are available to pay a fair price for artists work, we will continue to see a decline in piracy, and more support for creators who should be compensated for the work that they do.  If current models do not adapt with the times, they will be replaced with models that are more dynamic and fair to both artists and consumers.

 

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5 responses to “OLTD 505 Week 2”

  1. Kris says :

    Ben, I absolutely agree with your comments surrounding Netflix and how the abundance of downloading is simply a servicing issue. I was thinking when pulling together my blog post that it’s funny how companies are suing to the tunes of thousands of dollars when I can actually get the movies I want for less than $10 a month. Even in that model they aren’t making much off of me – but they are making something, which is better than nothing if I download content for free. What these companies have to realize is that their days of having a hold on the market are done – with internet access what it is, anyone can get anything for relatively cheap (if not free) at anytime. So what they have to do is play upon our moral codes to get us to do the right thing and purchase the service (cheaply) instead of sourcing it out elsewhere. Great point! I truly think current models will be replaced with ones that are more of the people for the people….
    Kris

  2. Margot says :

    Hey Ben
    Your comment about going off on a tangent this week was most enticing! And even better, the ad at the end of your blog when I read through was one for Land Rover with the catch phrase being ‘roam free.’ Awesome!

    Anyway, I agree with you about alternate business models for music/movie distribution and certainly appreciate being able to watch Glee in bed some night when I need a little brain candy rather than having to be in front of the TV at a particular day/time.

    What do you think these emerging models will mean for currently large entertainment companies? Will they, too, embrace the new order, try to control it, or wither because of their tight grip on control?

    Should all creators be required to share unreservedly with everyone?

    • benjaminscrogers says :

      I honestly don’t think that big companies are going to do anything until they absolutely have to. I think as services like Netflix become more and more commonplace, they are going to be harder and harder to ignore. I know that Netflix already has a few original series that are doing quite well, as well as reviving some older cult followings such as Arrested Development. Netflix is offering a service that is affordable and competes with the ease many users find when pirating material.

  3. Psychology 12 says :

    Hi Ben,

    It is clear that you’ve done your homework on this issue. I agree that for many, (piracy) downloading is more about convenience along with the fact that some people do not want to pay for the product(s). I love going to the movie, but when the price tag is over $40 for the family to see a movie, I’d rather spend my money elsewhere. I am in agreement that as the ‘distribution model’ changes and there is more convenient methods/models for accessing media (and other content), with tolerable price tags, there will be less people pirating creative work. My thinking is that the public doesn’t mind taking from the large corporations, but when artists begin distributing their own work—cutting out the big corporations—much like Radiohead succeeded in doing with their record, their audiences will pay for the work.

    Thanks for the informed post!

    Michelle (P.S. I commented on this blog earlier this week, but it didn’t show up??)

  4. Breanne says :

    Hi Ben,
    I was interested to read what you and the resources you found had to say about piracy. I am thinking about when I was in elementary school and when we didn’t have enough of a certain textbook the teacher would spend half the day photocopying it for the one or two people we were short. Obviously this is a complete violation of the copyright laws that are put on educational textbooks (as teachers we are allowed to reproduce up to 10% of a resource, not the entire thing). As I have been looking at CopyLeft and OERs I am starting to wonder, as I have many times in the past, if we could just have primary and secondary level textbooks online as OERs – or even just as digital copies for a very reduced rate – this would save on a lot of the piracy that I am sure happens on a daily basis. You would think that some publishers and authors would realize the possibilities through putting their work in a digital copy, I for one can think of a few benefits for them: 1. It is a lot harder to photocopy pages from an e-reader then from a print textbook. 2. I use a certain math textbook because my parents (I teach DL) can choose to buy the print one for $65 or a digital one year subscription for $10 (who needs a textbook for more than one year?). 3. As DL parents, if you purchase a digital copy, you save on shipping and do not have to wait, most download instantly. 4. If publishers offer a digital version of a text that is cheaper than the competitions, then they will sell more.
    Sorry if this was a little off topic, just yet another rabbit trail that I have gone down 🙂

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