Television will not be revolutionized

There will be no apocalypse in the music industry. Copyright will remain.

The majors are the last man standing. They’re shaky, it’s true, but they’re a lot stronger than Napster, Aimster, Grokster, etc etc. Hundreds of internet companies have gotten into the ring and been knocked down. In the meantime the labels keep doing what they do.

There is still plenty of friction in accessing hit songs. Anybody with a DIY project can access anything, but no commercial vendor can directly help them. For the convenience and service that only commercial sources can provide, the sources must negotiate licenses (like Spotify), work within the DMCA non-interactive guidelines (like Pandora), or offer technology rather than content (like the MP3 Tunes music locker).

You can argue that copyright is fucked up. But that is an overly literal understanding. Copyright is how government regulation is implemented. Government will regulate the arts one way or another. It is currently doing it with a fiction of property rights on expressions. The fiction is managed and executed by the courts and from time to time tweaked by legislators. No court will invalidate copyright. The contrary: courts implement copyright.

If you have a problem with copyright, you’re fighting an imaginary enemy. Copyright is not an entity. Your problem is a human to human conflict like any other.

Regulations related to expressive works are a tangled mess of kudzu, no doubt. But the problem is not that regulation exists, it is that a lot of money is riding on the regulation. Copyright is the right to hire a lawyer.

3 thoughts on “Television will not be revolutionized

  1. I am woefully, willfully naive about many things, but perhaps not in the way you interpreted in my last comment.

    I don’t believe in an inherent link between copyright and scarcity. There’s nothing about the regulation that prevents labels from releasing the 85% of their music they have locked up in a vault.

    There’s nothing in the regulation that forces the labels to use digital distribution as an excuse to distribute LESS money to artists. There’s nothing in the regulation that forces labels to lie to the artists (and courts) about their opaque, crooked accounting practices. That 95% of artists signed to a major label, handing over 100% of the rights to their own music forever, only to be unceremoniously dropped within 4 years, in debt, living below the poverty line the whole time and having their careers completely over and done has nothing to do with government regulation. Although, I wish it did.

    Finding a way to continue this system online with streaming and clouding is not what I was hoping for when the dust settles.

  2. Uhm. Some countries don’t have a copyright system. And some people can’t pay for a layer.

    Who’s rights is copyright protecting? I general, not the artist, but the company who owns the copyright. If that doesn’t change, copyright for me is meaningless.

  3. Marco, my feeling is that copyright is not about rights at all, or even works. It’s a tool for administering government arts policies. All governments have arts policies.

    Yes, I agree that the artist is often not the party who holds the rights. People who take disputes to court are usually investors with money riding on the outcome, so the law is oriented towards investors in music-related business ventures. For example few musicians have big hits but the law is about protecting those few rather than the many with no hits.

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