Affect & Copyright

After our discussion in class that went over our last course reading “Music for Nothing,” I was opened to more components of copyright and the many factors that go into it. Firstly, I was always aware of how labels within the music industry often exploit their artists, only giving them a very minuscule percentage of what they created and earned. To be fair, the label does push a lot in terms of promotion, booking events, getting airplay on the radio and more, but at the end of the day it does not amount to 90% of the profit. Furthermore, one thing I discovered in the article that was actually obvious, I had just never thought about it, is the fact that these companies who are against copyright infringement on music are also creating the same equipment and technology to commit the crime. Companies like Sony create devices with the purpose of burning content from one place to another and then go and advocate for harsh copyright law.

In addition to that, there is a very important factor which is an affective investment from every consumer. A prime example is the meaning things cary, for instance the mutual love a couple may share for a song. The affect is unseen by the labels who think that their businesses are completely numbers but do not include factors like emotion of the participants. Fandom for example is important because it makes the labels and artists more money, there is a core fanbase consistently purchasing content created by a certain artist whether it be a new album, clothing or concert ticket. If an individual wanted another person to listen to one of their favorite songs from a particular artist but the other is not willing to pay, it is not uncommon for people to revert to filesharing by sending a link or an email for the other person to listen. I do not really have a problem with copyright because ultimately the labels they are signed to are the ones screwing them out of money, not the consumers who choose to illegally acquire content.

Music and Copyright

With the increase in digital music platforms such as Spotify, Pandora Radio, iTunes Radio, Soundcloud, filesharing has become more of a pressing issue. The article “Music for Nothing or I Want my MP3” , the author compares file sharing to a drug war; a battle that cannot be eradicated therefore must be slowed down to stump its growth. Hence the number of lawsuits against file-sharing platforms like the Grooveshark where the platform paid $75 million in damages to record labels like Universal Studios, Sony Music, Warner Music. However, because of the digital culture, it makes easier to share music with rest of the public and it would be difficult to stump its growth if more people demand it. i agree with the author’s agrument that file-sharing of music in fact helps the music industry business as “free music will boost profits in the long run”. It allows for artists especially the independent artists who aren’t supported by music labels, to get exposure for their work, thereby creating demand for more similar works by these artists if the public likes it.

But filesharing is not only present in music, but also in the film industry as people are using BitTorrent websites to download television shows and films as well as music albums. The major benefit to filesharing is that once a product has been released like a music album or a movie, people who do not have ability to buy it, can now download it. I think its important to note that because of today’s culture, we want these products immediately – as fast as possible – hence why we continually file-share.

Music for Nothing or, I want my MP3

When discussing copyright in terms of online file-sharing, it is important to recognize the flaws that music sharing particularly represent in multinational corporations. The reading discusses the possible side effects of the developing digital media and its role in allowing for this legalistic relationship between the listener and record companies to collapse. Personally I believe that music sharing is a loophole that has allowed for us to experience music with immediacy, variety, and continuity. It is reasonable to assume that the ‘struggling artists’, mentioned by Rodman, are failing to make a living and achieve their musical identity because of file-sharing. However, as an amateur producer, I often times find these ‘loopholes’ to be a gift that has allowed for music sharing to be difficulty profitable but easily accessible. I produce and mix electronic music, copyright often times becomes a reoccurring issue but due to the problematic influx of music sharing on the web, many artists are offering free download, creating a huge source of free music that I can use to produce and mix.

Rodman discussion includes cases where music sharing has influenced individuals in many aspects of their life. Rodman mentions a case where a couple were able to maintain a long-distance relationship through creating ‘albums’ for each other in order to stay in close contact. The immediacy of music in the current world appears to be one that has catalyzed relationships even. The couple mentions the immediacy of music in current times and credits it in aiding their relationship.

Filesharing and Copyright

When reading “Music for Nothing Or, I Want My MP3” by Gilbert B. Rodman and Cheyanna Vanderdonckt, I was immediately reminded of a previous post that I had made earlier in the semester when speaking about utopian ideologies and the concept of freedom and accessibility. I am a huge fan of music; I am a musician, and my ultimate goal is to become an entertainment lawyer because I would like to represent musicians and help them not be ripped off by labels and the like. I often talk about this topic because it is something that I am very interested and passionate about — in the digital age, using services like Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music is like going to the library to find a book. The author or artist isn’t going to make a large profit off of you reading their book or listening to their song — on streaming applications like Spotify, each stream is worth less than a penny — but, this allows fans and music lovers to listen to music without the fear of being a “pirate” or of breaking any copyright laws. I do think that copyright laws should be in place because there is a difference between an amateur using Selena Gomez’s song in their video presentation and a professional using that same song in order to make a profit; those laws need to be in place in order to protect the artists and authors and their work.

Sharing Music- Illegal Downloading of Music

There was an argument in Rodman Gilbert and Cheyenne Vanderdonckt’s article, Music for Nothing or I Want my MP3, that stood out to me. This claim compared music piracy to the drug war. It seems pretty much impossible to stop all together so the more realistic or “tangible” goal is to subdue it/stop its growth.

With  the rapid growth and advancement of technology, almost everyone I know uses illegal sites to download music. I personally remember when lime wire and frost wire were popular softwares for downloading songs and albums and even music videos. The main point of music piracy is because it is free however, with the rise in social media, smart phones, and new applications, companies are releasing programs to listen to music for free anyways. I like to use Pandora, Soundcloud, and Spotify- all which allow me to listen to songs whenever I want.

I’m interested to see how long this controversy of whether it is ethical or not to download free music will stay relevant when all of these new sites allow users to listen to music “freely.”

QuestionCopyRight.Org

After watching Nina Paley’s (who does not have any relation to the paleyfest people) video “Copying Is Not Theft,” and watching her and Eric Faden’s interview, I decided to check out her website QuestionCopyRight.org. Her articles tackled some issues like the claim Warner/ Chappell had over the song “Happy Birthday” , and appearently she had an AMA on reddit. I thought it was interesting how her website didn’t just approach one side of the issue, but actually approached it from all subjects and sides–they’re not soley based on art-related issues. They’re rooted in copyright as it relates to subjects such as sciences and histories, as well as the literary and medicinal worlds a well. She does a really good job as makeing copyright something that is relevent to the world rather than to a particular subject–because it is relevent to everything.

Remix

In Lawrence Lessig’s work “REMIX How Creativity Is Being Strangled by the Law,” he discusses examples, understandings, consequences, and implications of copyrighting and copyright law in the modern era. He provides a historical context for copyrighting and tells stories about a few key important copyright instances in United States history. He then translates what copyrighting means now and what has changed, and what hasn’t changed, and how young people are interacting with the idea of copyright. I think it was particularly interesting Lessig’s understanding that millennials grew up on an understanding, and in an age of understanding, that copyrighting was something of the past – something for previous centuries. He focuses on how the laws need to change to reflect the place society and culture is in, and I really liked how he compared the current situation that young people especially live in, with regards to law and copyrighting, to the days of Prohibition. It is a subject that I honestly have not thought that much about, or that critically about. But I think its extremely important especially when you consider the real shift to streaming video and music that has occurred in the past three or so years. Now companies really get the most out of streaming online their shows because so many people were viewing them illegally online and not on the television, lowing their ratings and revenue, I think it could be that potentially our millennial’s tumultuous relationship with copyrighting, as Lessig points out, has pushed companies towards the Internet, towards the streaming services.

REMIX

In this text, Lawrence Lessig is discussing creativity, originality, plagiarism and Copyright Law. He made excellent points about the importance of Copyright law, for instance, the mere fact that it exists forces continuous innovation and new ideas in writing since one cannot simply copy another without at least citing. This piece made me think a lot about the music industry though. Similar to how writing works, in terms of one person using another individual’s concepts, ideas or words, music has sampling. When producers in hip-hop and rap make songs, since the 1990s, they have often sampled words, sounds, and even beats (sometimes even snippets as small as five seconds). Now they usually don’t just plainly use it as they received it, it’s almost always altered whether it be speeding up, slowing down, changing the levels, reversing, etc. but nonetheless, this process is basically like paraphrasing so the original creators of what was sampled can sue if they are not paid. Fortunately for writers, all that is necessary for them is to cite their source, yet that is not enough for other creative artists who sample music. In a sense it is unfair, especially for younger artists who are experiencing with their own talent and using their own inspirations sounds in their music even if they give them credit. Free reign for writers though.

Copyright War

Lawrence Lessig, in his chapter titled, “How Creativity is Being Strangled by the Law,” argues that we are in the middle of a copyright war, or “terrorist war” as his friend puts it. A war inspired by artists and industry afraid of technology transforming our society, frames the children as the terrorists. Copyright is necessary because it prevents people from taking another person’s ideas, music, or writings etc. and presenting them as their own. In turn, copyright also encourages creativity since the people have to come up with their own ideas. Although copyright possesses a few benefits, it has a big flaw that cannot be overlooked. As the society progresses and technologies advance, our laws and regulations need to also evolve. They need to change in order to reflect the changes that are taking place. A law that once made sense may no longer make sense. With new inventions and tools, the capacity to produce creative content has significantly increased. Unfortunately, this creativity can be limited or “strangled” due to our old-fashioned laws. Take EDM for example. Although I do not know much about music composition and the music genre, I think I can say that much of EDM sounds very similar. Composers and musicians have access to a music producing machine that they can use to create sounds and beats. Perhaps it’s because the technology is the commonality between these artists, but their products can be confused as being copied. In that case, how should copyright law be altered to accompany this new machine? Although there may not be a clear answer to that question, one thing is for sure and that is that copyright law needs to change and adapt to our constantly changing and advancing society.

Hesse and a Ted Talk

While I was reading the Carla Hesse piece about intellectual property, I was reminded of a ted talk that I watched a while ago about the difficulty of copy right and intellectual property these days when it came to user generated content. It was 20 minutes long, so I didn’t watch it again before writing this, but I did post the link below. Basically, from what I remember, the video was about how it’s becoming harder and harder/ more irrelevent to define/ have copyright these days because of user genereated content. If someone totally remixes a song, to the point where maybe they only use the same base beat or line from a song, but completely create the rest of the song on their own, is that considered a copy right infringement? Or if they use it in the background of a video, can they really get sued if it’s just some fifteen year old kid that went viral? I remember it was interesting, but go ahead and take a look–it had some funny stuff on there as well:

 

Pixelization

In her article, Pixelization in Crip Time: Disability, Online Sociality, and Self-making in Russian Apartments, Cassandra Hartblay explains the major shift of people with disabilities who use social networks to communicate with others. People with disabilities are a prime example of a marginalized group in society. They simply don’t “fit in.” Most importantly, what people with disabilities (in this article) don’t have is the opportunity to really socialize. This lack of human connection wouldn’t be healthy for anyone. However, social media networks have really created an equal platform for anyone in the world to communicate with each other.

My family friend has autism. He went to my elementary school and had a hard time making friends. I think that especially at a young age, children who did not have disabilities saw him as someone different or even just “weird.” However, I think that once he was able to get a Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. He was able to feel more “normal.” He was given the opportunity to post pictures and statuses just like everyone else. I also noticed that on his posts, his friends and family were commenting supportive things and writing nice responses on his wall. There was this safe space created in a virtual space for him that I believe really helped him navigate through the real world.

Pixelization

In Cassandra Hartblay’s article, “Pixelization in Crip Time: Disability, Online Sociality, and Self-Making in Russian Apartments”, Hartblay brings up the importance of online sociality, especially for those who are unable to fully participate in “real-world” social events. She uses the example of the Russian digital messenger called VKontakte, which allows disabled users to communicate easily with others. She says that although social participation virtually and in the real-world are not equivalent, they are both important. This makes me think of my cousin and how he uses Facebook. My cousin has autism, and is very quiet and doesn’t like to communicate with people because people tend to be loud and he is very sensitive to noise. However, he recently made a Facebook account, and he is very active on it. He is constantly sharing funny posts, commenting on others’ posts, and is just very social in a way that I had never seen from him before. I found an article in Autism Digest that said, “Jacob’s experience with Facebook shows the potential benefits for the adolescent and young adult with HFA or Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). Many of the social difficulties that individuals with HFA or AS experience are alleviated in a digital environment… The individual’s social awkwardness is no longer a factor. The stress of sensory overload and processing verbal conversation in real time also decreases. Jacob has difficulty interacting with people in real time, but Facebook lets him engage in conversation where a time lag is socially acceptable”. Much like Vakas with VKontakte, Facebook allows users with disabilities connect with friends and family without the stresses of real-world judgments, noises, or interactions, but with all of the sociality.

Blog Post #11: Cassandra Hartblay

In her article, “Pixelization in Crip Time: Disability, Online Sociality, and Self-Making in Russian Apartments,” Cassandra Hartblay discusses the implications of digital social networking (or pixelization), its role in the development of identities and its ability to create agency. Ethnographic research of Vakas, a mentally disabled Russian man, reveals the importance of digital networking in his life. Hartblay states, “Vakas finds social meaning through online communication on the Russian social network V Kontakte.” Because his caretakers don’t like him leaving the home to interact with his friends without supervision, Vakas resorts to online interactions through his computer screen as his “means of escape.”

Similarly, parents lately seem to be increasingly hesitant to allow their children out of their sights to interact freely in public spaces. Therefore, many teens have now turned to social media networking to communicate with their friends. Social media platforms seem to be a safe space for teens to interact without the supervision of their parents. However, it is crucial to note that social media is not replacing face-to-face communication. Rather, it seems to be supplementing relationships formed in real life. Hartblay notes that “digital and material sociality are intertextual experiences, that are difficult to disentangle from one another.” For example, if two students meet at school, they may then go on to “friend” each other on Facebook. These two individuals may talk in person at school, and then go home later and write on each others’ walls or message each other privately. The two different ways of communicating with others are not mutually exclusive, but rather, work in conjunction.

Social Apps and VR

In “Interview with the Virtual Cannibal,” Beth Coleman focuses on the story of a Second Life user, Gy, who fulfills his morbid sexual cravings through an avatar. Second Life, which peaked in the late 2000s, seems to have lost its flame. Eric Johnson of Recode covers the story of Linden Lab’s plan for the future of Second Life, which will involve VR (virtual reality). There is considerable prospect of success for VR from a consumer perspective, given the popularity and success of social and interactive digital programs. Social applications like Second Life afford their users the opportunity to express the multiplicity of their personalities, for better or for worse. To what extent can/will VR influence this freedom? Can Second Life, which was “once heralded as the next big thing after Internet,” make a comeback?

Technologies of Personhood

Virtual economies are much like the “real world economy;” they are complex systems that fluctuate as time progresses. Malaby points out that “the bulk of media attention that Second Life and other virtual worlds have received has concerned the surprising ‘reality’ of their markets, the way they generate goods that are exchanged for familiar currencies” (18). While the realms of virtual and real have been clearly distinguished in its beginnings, the line between the two has been grayed out. In 2008, Linden Lab had to “pull the plug on about a dozen pretend financial institutions that were funded with actual money from some of the 12 million registered users of Second Life,” costing users a total of about $750,000 in actual money (Sidel). Malaby also brings to attention that “almost everything you buy in Second Life… can only be used in Second Life,” suggesting that “objects in Second Life [are] more like tokens in a game than valued possessions” (18). If game objects are then “rented” by users in a virtual space using virtual currency, how does actual money enter this “pretend” economy? (Sidel). Second Life, like many other online games, “exchanges” actual money for virtual currency (the current rate is 1 US dollar for an average of 269 Linden dollars). Since this exchange is possible, so is the reverse; Linden dollars can be exchanged for actual money. This is not seen to be any different than paying for “items that have no tangible existence, such as mobile phone accounts or downloaded computer software,” therefore the exchange is taken as a legitimate transaction (18). Now that the virtual realm has stepped into the real world through money/virtual currency transactions, caution must be taken to ensure that a market crash in the virtual realm does not reflect the real world economy (as did the crash in Second Life did to users).