Monday, December 26, 2005

This Man Wants to Liberate Your iPod

I hate the RIAA and what they are doing to the musical arts in this country. Of course, they are but one manifestation of the disturbing trend away from personal rights and towards corporate and govermental influence over our lives and our art. Not to turn this into a history lesson, but the intent of copyright law was to expand the amount of content in the public domain, not restrict it. The thinking of the lawmakers in these matters (extending back as early as 1709 in England) was that by protecting the rights of content creators for a limited, defined time more content would be created and thus, at the end of the protected period, would end up in the public domain.

Somehow, in ways that I'm not qualified to speculate on, we ended up from those simple, high principals to the RIAA and MPAA, music's and film's inanimate versions of Boss Hogg. Avaricious, petulant, demanding and suit-happy, serving the narrow interests of their industries, they buy off politicians to pass laws that enrich their member corporations while insulting the very intent of copyright law.

To regain our lost freedoms, we could either invest ourselves in political change--not my cup of tea--or decide to just not play the game by their rules. Innovations in technology are finally making this possible; the tools of the trade of recording and distribution are in the hands of the common man, and the future belongs to the artists and distributors who master these technologies and bypass the rudding RIAA and their outrageous tolls.

Enter John Buckman, founder of Magnatune. John is a leader in the movement to provide new channels from artists to audiences, channels that respect both content creators and content consumers. "All music should be shareware," proclaims the Magnatune site. Among the innovations in music distribution and rights management in Magnatune:
  • All content is available in a variety of non-DRMed (Digital Rights Management) formats, meaning that there is no copy protection on the music
  • Unlike with other services, customers can download CD-quality files
  • Customers have the right to distribute full copies of what they buy to up to three other people and create unlimited copies for their own use
  • Top artists get $.20 on the dollar from CD sales; Magnatune artists get 50% of the revenue
  • Music can be purchased for immediate download or on CD, and if you purchase a CD you can still download the music immediately (very cool)
  • The license allows sampling, derivative works, unrestricted non-commercial podcasting use and very generous commercial podcasting use
The discovery of Magnatune has led me to decide to discontinue the reproduction of RIAA-protected music on Godscrum. Instead, I will promote the music of artists that are distributing their music under the Creative Commons license rather than the "all rights reserved" licenses from the RIAA. In doing so, I hope to encourage the efforts both of the artists and distributors like John Buckman and Magnatune.

Time will tell the outcome of this rather epic struggle. In the meantime, there is some damn good music on Magnatune, which I will be proud to feature here and on Godscrum. Stay tuned.


At 8:23 PM, Blogger Wasp Jerky said...


Check out Illegal Art.


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