UK Musician's Open Letter To Musicians Union Over Its Support Of The Digital Economy Bill

from the must-read dept

With the passing of the Digital Economy Bill in the UK, many musicians are quite upset -- even though the law is supposed to be about "protecting" them. Musician Steve Lawson, a member of the Musicians Union (which supported the bill), has written a brilliant open letter to the organization, explaining why he was upset about their position, and considering leaving the group. Here's just a snippet, but the whole thing is worth reading:
The BPI wrote the bill as a protectionist measure of an outdated and unworkable business model. It was a model that was NEVER to the advantage of musicians who cared about the music they played and the culture it existed in, but one that made sense at a time when physical distribution was required to reach anyone, and the costs involved were prohibitively high. At that point, labels lying to musicians about how much they dig the music, while making a fortune for themselves but still never "recouping" on the album was deeply unpalatable but a necessary part of recording and releasing music.

All the costs have dropped. I've written extensively about this -- most notably here -- but nothing has changed in the industry. They still spend money on the behalf of musicians, pay themselves that money, recoup it (AGAIN) and own the product at the end. None of that is remotely to our advantage.

....

So, the premise of the bill -- that the situation is desperate -- was spurious. The figures quoted for industry 'losses' are insane. Utterly nonsensical if mapped against spending trends on 'physical and download entertainment media' -- we are part of a much bigger entertainment industry now that we ever were, and we don't dominate it in the way we did from 1956 to 1998. Games and DVD are a bigger part of it than ever. And entertainment spending continues to rise. So 200 million hasn't been 'lost', it's being spent elsewhere. Meanwhile, the cost of making and distributing records is tiny, and download sales go up and up.

How you can see that as a situation that needs legislating is utterly beyond me. To shut down sites and services on suspicion of illegal activity is a civil liberties travesty. To have my internet traffic monitored 'in case I do anything bad' is like the royal mail reading my post, in case my letters contain naughty words. While threatening to brick up my front door if they find them, or think they might have found them.
It's great to see musicians realizing that just because the bill's backers claim it's in their interest that this is not necessarily the case -- and that it could very much go against their interests.
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Filed Under: digital economy bill, musicians, united kingdom


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  1. icon
    Hephaestus (profile), 9 Apr 2010 @ 10:08am

    he forgot

    "While threatening to brick up my front door if they find them, or think they might have found them." ...

    ... or think the might find them in the future

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2010 @ 10:45am

    how many musicians in the union? how many complaining? he just wants to stay with his buggy whip ways.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2010 @ 10:45am

    Damn socialists, asking for reasonable laws.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    mike allen (profile), 9 Apr 2010 @ 10:52am

    several musitions feel the same

    not just one there are several i wont name them all Billy Brag for one.

    slightly off topic several people have told their ISPs join with talk talk or we leave.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Benjie, 9 Apr 2010 @ 11:00am

    example

    Analogy:
    We're the people for Safety of Children. We request that all vaccines are made illegal. Even though research says otherwise, we will mindlessly state that vaccines are bad for children.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 9 Apr 2010 @ 11:01am

    Re: several musitions feel the same

    Yeah, did you see the news that Talk Talk basically told anyone voting for the UK DE bill to go outside and play hide and go fuck themselves?

    Can they expand to the States?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2010 @ 11:16am

    Re:

    No, he just wants to keep selling his whale fat, wait, what?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2010 @ 11:17am

    Re: example

    "It's illegal because it's bad for you and bad for you because it's illegal. Everybody knows that!" - A. Politician

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    NAMELESS.ONE, 9 Apr 2010 @ 11:19am

    one muscian trying to save himself

    doesn't matter hes done for then.
    ITS LAW
    deal with it.
    change law if you can.
    OR don't.
    far as I'm concerned I'm tired of France Australia and UK shit

    the three a them plus America just fired torpedo's into there own culture begin spread around the world

    FOR THIS as a Canadian good i say. BY time you recover and realize how retarded you have been the rest of the world will have moved greatly on.

    we in Canada rose up massively and threatened to shake the actual politics while the rest of you ( note time of dmca included )
    all did them gay letter writing campaigns not realizing the very people you write to are BOUGHT AND PAID FOR. in any other thing but politics its called bribery and doing that to a copany for another is treachery so is this treason when the majority of you democracy doesn't want it?

    YES IT IS
    TREASON

    they say you can hang or get taken out and shot for it.
    WHY NOT , do we need to set an example for politicians that make laws there people do not want.
    YES
    and the time to talk about all this is quickly fading.
    IF i wanted to live under a communist dictatorship of china id go live there.

    or if i wanted to live under fascism id invent a time machine and go join the SS of the Hitler era

    BUT i do not.
    2/3 of canadians want less terms on copyright and increased non commercial fair use
    remember that when you come here that we ain't are not Iraqis that you can push around and we won't be.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    btrussell (profile), 9 Apr 2010 @ 11:30am

    Re: one muscian trying to save himself

    You think our politicians are any better?
    LOL

    Give me some of what you are smoking.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2010 @ 1:16pm

    Re: one muscian trying to save himself

    I love YOUR random use OF caps LOCK.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Dementia (profile), 9 Apr 2010 @ 1:39pm

    Re: Re:

    You both seem to lack reading comprehension skills as he wants the recording industry to change its business model and make this idiotic piece of legislation go away.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    Dementia (profile), 9 Apr 2010 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Re: several musitions feel the same

    I would happily sign up with them if the did, assuming of course that they serve the very rural area I'm located in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2010 @ 2:47pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I thought my "wait, what" made it clear that the buggy whip comparison makes little to zero sense. As does the whale fat comparison.

    Why even make a comparison? The article does read pretty straight forward.

    Musician who loves music thinks this particular bill to save music is stupid and disagrees with his music union.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Nathaniel Tapley, 9 Apr 2010 @ 3:28pm

    A Writers' Response to the WGGB Position

    Hi, I'm a writer who has taken issue with the Writers' Guild of Great Britain (my union) and their position on the Digital Economy Bill (Act). My response is here: http://nathanieltapley.wordpress.com/2010/04/09/why-my-union-is-wrong/

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2010 @ 3:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: several musitions feel the same

    Whilst it's commendable they appear to be standing up for people's rights, they are in fact an utterly wank ISP.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    vivaelamor (profile), 11 Apr 2010 @ 6:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: several musitions feel the same

    "Whilst it's commendable they appear to be standing up for people's rights, they are in fact an utterly wank ISP."

    I've not had experience with them for a long while, but that certainly used to be the case.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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