Why Radio Performance Royalties Aren't Fair

28 January 2009

We all know that performance royalties from radio stations is a hot topic right now.   Already in place for on-line radio, performance royalties are the reason for the existence of the much criticized SoundExchange.  They have also been blamed for forcing a variety of internet radio stations out of business.  Yet, as Copyrights & Campaigns reported, the RIAA is aggressively pursuing performance royalties.  As usual, the industry has convinced some members of Congress that imposing performance royalties on terrestrial radio stations is necessary.  Their basic cry: It isn't fair!  Meaning of course, that the current system isn't fair because song writers get paid when their songs are played on the radio, but performers don't.  But it is fair, and here's why:

Imagine you're a parent with two children.  The children help you with the yard work, so to thank them, you give them each a piece of fruit.  One child gets an orange; the other gets an apple.  Then the child with the orange cries that it's not fair because he doesn't have an apple and his sibling does.  He's right that his sibling received something that he did not, but that does not make it unfair.  Each child has still received something for their work.

The same thing happens when a song is played on the radio.  Each contributor gets something, but it may not necessarily be the same thing.  The songwriter gets royalties.  The performer gets something else, and I'm not talking about the old it's-promotional-so-people-will-buy-the-music-and-go-to-concerts argument.

Performers get recognition.  This recognition translates into plenty of other revenues and opens doors to other opportunities that songwriters do not get.  When a song becomes a hit, it is associated with the performer, not with the song writer.  How many artists can you name that are known for the music they wrote and not music they performed.  Bob Dylan?  And he even performed sometimes.  (Though his songs were usually made popular by other performers.)  When a DJ announces a song on the radio, he does not say, "And that was just "S.O.S" by Evan Bogart, Ed Cobb and J.R. Rotem!"  No, he says, "That was "S.O.S. by Rihanna."  There's a reason Rihanna has a lucrative endorsement deal with Covergirl and J.R. Rotem does not (besides the fact that he's a guy).  How many strictly songwriters can you name with their own clothing lines or licensing deals to plaster their faces on school supplies?  How many people would line up outside a mall to meet Kuk Harrell?  You get the idea.

Songwriters and performers are both in the music industry, but they have different purposes, different lifestyles and different goals.  Why then should they be compensated as if they are the same?  Putting a performance royalties burden on terrestrial stations will not make things more "fair."  It will upset the current balance between performers, songwriters, and the people who love to listen to their music on the radio.

Incentive to Make or Incentive to Take?

25 January 2009

A staple part of the arguments surrounding remixing and derivative works, especially in the US where the Constitution sets out incentive as the reason for copyright protection, is whether the current copyright law is incentivizing or impeding creativity.   Proponents of the ever-growing remix culture claim that the amount of hoops and restrictions placed on works by copyright law impedes a creator's ability to develop new works using old works.  The counter argument is usually that without these sorts of restrictions (fees, negotiations, the rights-owner's ability to control their work, the very long term of copyright protection) people would actually create less because it's easier to just take something someone else has already done. 

Positions on the issue usually correspond to positions on the copyright-copyleft scale.  The copyleft side gets so caught up in putting forth examples of amateur videos and other creative remix projects that they tend to forget that the copyright's argument centers more on straight-up stealing or general non-derivative uses.

A common response among the copyleft-leaning tends to be a sort of dismissal.  The argument is about art and creativity, not just using things.  Artists choose their materials, including previous works, carefully, for reasons, etc., etc.  But there may be something to the copyright's argument: easier access - less incentive to create your own.

This weekend, this ipper had the opportunity to go to the circus, the big circus, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus.  And something happened there that made her think about the access to works for re-use issue.  The circus had the usual stuff: clowns, trapeze artists, tigers, elephants...  But it also had something unexpected, pop music.  Not a lot of pop music; just three songs, but it made her think, "was it this necessary?"  After all, a big part of the circus is the circus music.

One song a circus-band adaptation and two were actual pieces of the regular sound recording.  Each of the three pop songs was used differently.  The one that seemed to make the most sense was the circus' use of "What a Wonderful World."  The Ringmaster and a clown were fighting over the Ringmaster's hat.  He who had the hat, had control of the circus.  The clown retrieved the hat, held it up in celebration and the music started as he slowly twirled around.  It was funny because everyone recognized the song.  The song was fitting and an over-the-top reaction to stealing a hat.  A new song, written for the circus, simply wouldn't have worked as well.  This is the type of use where it seems minimalizing restrictions would increase creativity.

The circus-band adapted song was a little different.  It was, by definition, a derivative work, but it added little to the circus in the way copyleftists argue derivative works contribute to creativity in remixes.  While the great motorcycle stunt man rode around in their small metal sphere, the circus band played an instrumental rendition of Rihanna's "Shut Up and Drive."  (written by Carl Struken and Evan Rogers but recorded by Rihanna.)  It's a fairly popular song, but probably not among your typical six-year old circus crowd.  If you know the song well and know the lyrics, it sort of makes sense accompanying the motorcyclists, at least the chorus.  However, if you don't know the song well, it's just some music accompaniment.  This is the middle type of use - it's adaptive and derivative and, to some extent, transformative, but it really doesn't add much to the new work.  It's unlikely that a new piece created just for the circus, or even traditional circus music, wouldn't have worked just as well.

The third song was the copyrightist's poster child for killing creativity and incentivizing people to take instead of make.  A group of clowns, dressed like penguins, slid across a block of fake ice to "The Cupid Shuffle."  They did not do the Cupid Shuffle dance; they just slid across the ice.  There seemed to be no connection between the music and the activity, and the song was just played as it had been recorded.  In this case new music or traditional circus music probably would have added more to the performance than using this song from pop culture.

If the purpose of copyright, or even a side benefit of it, is to incentivize new creation, then it seems uses of existing works in new creative works should have less restrictions than just using something wholesale because it's easier.  But how do we do this?  Different requirements for different uses?  What distinguishes a "creative" use from a non-creative use?  How to we find a happy balance where the law both incentivizes creation and limits just taking?  Thoughts?

RIAA Hearing Live Tomorrow - POSTPONED

20 January 2009

--I had this nice little post written about tomorrow's first-ever internet broadcasting of a US Federal Court hearing.  Then, yesterday, the Judge granted a stay.  The new hearing is scheduled for Feb. 24th. I've decided to go ahead with a post about the case, for those who might not be familiar with it yet. --

Judge Nancy Getner authorized the internet broadcasting of a pre-trial oral arguments in the Sony BMG Music v. Tenenbaum case (aka Joel Fights Back), originally scheduled for Thursday.   Her order suggested the streaming itself be done by Courtroom Live.   The Berkman Center at Harvard Law planned to rebroadcast the hearings live under a cc license.  The RIAA moved for a stay on the pre-trial hearing until the 1st Circuit can hear their appeal on the internet in the courtroom.  Judge Getner granted the stay Wednesday.

The Case

The RIAA is suing a 24 year old graduate student from Boston.  They allege he illegally downloaded and shared [edited] seven songs, nearly seven years ago.  Damages claimed: $1,000,000+.

Joel first received his "settle-or-else" letter in 2003.  The RIAA wanted $3,500.  He offered $500.  They refused.  Years later, in 2007, the RIAA finally dragged him into court.  Joel decided to fight back, pro se.  Judge Getner didn't like how crooked Lady Justice looked trying to hold up such an unbalanced scale and ensured that Joel received pro bono legal services.  (transcript)

Joel's pro bono legal counsel consists of Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson and a team of Harvard Law students.  The team distributes news about the case in a multitude of ways, including via their webpage, a the class blog and Twitter.  The actual trial is currently set for March 30, 2009.

The rescheduled hearing is pre-trial oral arguments.  The Defendants are arguing for the RIAA's allegations to be dismissed.

Access to the case's documents can be found on the Recording Industry v. The People blog.

The RIAA's Opposition to the Streaming

The RIAA has tried a lot of tactics and arguments to prevent the streaming of the hearing.  First, they claimed that the Judge doesn't have the authority to allow cameras in the courtroom.  (Then who does?!)  After the Judge ruled to allow the internet streaming, the RIAA filed an appeal asking the First Circuit to stay Judge Getner's decision.  [There are questions as to whether this type of appeal (to an interlocutory order) is even allowed.]  More information on the RIAA's desperation can be found here.

In addition to the appeal, the RIAA also moved for a stay of the pre-hearing, ideally to get the First Circuit to say the hearings cannot be broadcast on the internet before they happen.  Judge Getner agreed that the First Circuit should hear the appeal before the hearings proceed.

"...there is no emergency related to the hearing originally slated for January 22, 2009...postponing the hearing will allow the First Circuit an opportunity to fully consider the petition before it, particularly because a number of claims presented in the petition for mandamus were never raised in their current form in the district court."

The Judge's Position on the Streaming

Judge Getner called the RIAA's position "curious" because it seems counterintuitive to their professed aim of trying to educate the public about the evils of downloading.

"they [RIAA/Plaintiffs] believe that the lawsuits will deter the Defendants and the wider public from engaging in illegal file-sharing activities. Their strategy effectively relies on the publicity resulting from this litigation."

"The public benefit of offering a more complete view of these proceedings is plain, especially via a medium so carefully attuned to the Internet Generation captivated by these filesharing lawsuits."

Presentation About Case by Harvard Law Team Member

How Feasible is Licensing by the Regular Folk?

18 January 2009

The internet, computers, technology, are all commonly cited as part of the problem with protecting intellectual property rights.  It's too easy for anyone to get access to anything and do whatever they'd like with it.  But this increased flow of information and new found ease of connecting with people has also been cited as a bonus to helping IP rights owners receive their dues. 

Things that used to be seen as uncontrollable uses of works, such as photocopying of journal articles, are now seen manageable.   Technology has not only increased access to works, it has increased access to rights-owners.  The barriers to getting a license have supposedly been removed and anyone should be able to follow the proper protocol and use licensed works.  But how realistic is this

I decided, as one of the regular folk, to attempt to license a piece of work for use on Ip's What's Up.  Both of the Ip's What's Up ippers are huge fans of Aaron McGruder's The Boondocks, both the strip and the television series.  This strip seemed perfect for a post I wanted to do called RIAA for President (and Congressman and Supreme Court Justice).  [The post was to be about how long concerns of the RIAA taking over the US government have been around.]  So, I set out to do the right thing and get a license...bo080924

Attempt to License

Why try?

The first question you may ask is, "why bother trying to license; why not just use the work?"  The answer is simple: Fear.  The forces that be (especially in America) have done a good job of scaring people into an underground creativity bunker.  The message: Don't even think about using ANYTHING.

But what about fair use?

Those of you familiar with copyright law might be asking, "why not just use the work in a manner that would fall under the fair use exception carved out in Sec. 107 of the US Copyright Act?"  The simple answer is a sarcastic laugh.  A more detailed answer can be found on page 98 of Free Culture.  Fair use is a defense to use in court - what regular folk has the money to go to court to use this defense?

Getting a license... maybe

I receive (legally, from an authorized website) imageThe Boondocks strip each day by email.  The emails contain a little link that says I can click to license a work.    "Wow!  This is great,"  I thought, "They really do make  it easy for anybody to use their work legally."  I clicked on the link.

That link took me to a general Universal Press Syndicate webpage about licenses for all the comics to which they own the rights.  After sorting through all the information and finding what I thought was the correct place to put in my request for the specific strip I wanted, I was taken to page long form that asked for specific information.  At this point I was thinking, "ok, this is a bit cumbersome, but the instructions aren't bad.  After all, there are a lot of different rights and aspects to those rights."

Then came the pricing. image This was a bit surprising.  Ip's What's Up is a blog on the web, therefore, it's accessible by anyone in the world.  World rights = $100.  That's kind of a lot of money for a student, but I figured if I was going to try to do this the right way, I'd pay.  There was no information on the expected time-frame, and I was in no hurry, so I did not select the rush service.  I submitted the form and waited.

That was 3 months ago.

So is it feasible?

Ease of Use

For the average person sitting at home creating art on their computer, without a background in copyright law, the information for which the form asks can seem a little excessive and could discourage some from proceeding.  This could easily be remedied by including little explanatory boxes on the form where users could click to find out why it matters where they're work is going to be accessed.


While $100 is a small amount compared to most regular licensing agreements, it's still probably a lot of money for your average at-home creator.   Imagine if $100 was the standard fee for using any work on the internet.  A standard remix video could easily run into the thousands of dollars.  While it might be more fair to base the fee on the use, the set amount offers a certain appeal in its ease.  Perhaps though, it's too early to set prices for licenses to regular folk.  The market hasn't yet decided what's appropriate or what's too extreme in either direction.


The complete lack of response from Universal Press Syndicate, in a three month time span, pretty much completely shuts down individual licensing for the average folk.  People sitting at home, creating on their computers, in their spare time, generally aren't going to have the time or resources to follow up on a requested license.  There's also the likely-hood that the new work is relevant to current events and will no longer be relevant (or that the creator will have lost their enthusiasm for the work) by the time the rights-owner gets around to answering requests.

Making it Work

Individual licenses for regular folk to use existing intellectual property in their new creations could work.  The ability for people to easily contact rights-owners has created an opportunity where none existed before.  However, two things need to be taken care of first.  The market needs to figure out the acceptable price range for individual regular folk licenses, and the turn-around time needs to be made very short so that licensing the work you want to use is a realistic option.

Once general content users have the ability to license material for use in their own works in a realistic and economically feasible manner, many of the other problems associated with intellectual property and the internet will decrease.  When works are used legally in derivative works there will be less need for take-down notices, less lawsuits and more sharing of creativity.

Thank You!

14 January 2009

This past week, Ip's What's Up had its 1,000 visitor!

To our regular readers and those who occasionally stop by, Thank You.   heart yellow and blueWe began Ip's What's Up about four months ago with the intent of creating a place to "engage in conversation and reflect on happenings in the world of IP."  We couldn't have done this without you, our readers; know that you are truly appreciated.  You have made us part of the community, a large community made up of many IP blogs (see sidebar for a sampling), their writers and their readers.  Together, we are expanding the international dialogue on intellectual property issues.

We would like to extend some extra special gratitude to IPKat, Afro-IP  and InventBlog for telling their readers about us, Duncan Bucknell for including our posts in his weekly reviews and CopyrightLaw for mentioning our posts in its tweets.

We hope you enjoy the blog and always welcome your comments and suggestions.

A Bit About Derivative Works

11 January 2009

With all the recent talk about the merits of derivative works (euphemistically, remixes), sparked by things like the new Richard Prince lawsuit, Sita Sings the Blues' struggle, and the release of Lessig's Remix, a (very) small glimpse at the importance of derivative works in our history seems appropriate.  And, as today is Sunday, why not a small glimpse using church hymns?

Whether the argument is that there should be more compulsory licenses or that works should have less restrictions in order to better facilitate remixing, someone always seems to argue that the artist should just create everything on their own.  In some cases, people even go so far as to argue that derivative works are some how not as artistic or worthy as wholly original works (whatever that means).

The Derivative Work Right

For those who are unfamiliar, a derivative work is a work that includes an existing (or part of an existing) work.  In some cases, the pre-existing works can be central to the new work or even the subject upon which the new work comments.  In other cases, the pre-existing works are ancillary, just the final little flourish or placed there in the new art for only reasons the author knows.  In all cases (under US Copyright law, and in many cases in the rest of the world) the making of derivative works is one of the rights included in the copyright holder's bundle of rights.  (17 USC 103.)  This does not mean only the original creator can create a new work based on this old one.  It does mean that no one can legally use a work still protected by copyright to create a derivative work without permission from the copyright owner.  This permission usually comes in the form of a license.

One place we can look to see the importance of the derivative works right is the list of Creative Commons licenses.  Two of the four basic licenses, which can be combined in different ways as the author chooses, are related to derivative works.  The most obvious is the nd license, no derivative works.  This license means, you guessed it, others are not free to use the licensed work to create derivative works without permission from the rights-owner.  The other license related to derivative works is the sa license, share alike.  This licenses allows others to use the work to create their own derivative works but requires that the new derivative work be released under the same conditions as the original work.

Derivative Works in Church

Derivative works have played an important part in forming many of the world's classics.  The list of famous works based on previous works could go on for days.  Here, we are going to look at one very small subset of culture where derivative works have played a large role: church hymns.

A great number of church hymns are derivative works by their very nature, being bible verses set to music.  There are also a large amount of hymns created by setting old poetry to new music or new lyrics to old tunes.  The United Methodist Hymnal lists over 60 tunes used by more than one hymn in the hymnal, The Presbyterian Hymnal has over 90.  In fact, it's harder to find a hymn where the lyrics and music were written by the same person, or even in the same year, than it is to find hymns created by combining a pre-existing work with something else.

The classic hymn "All Creatures of Our God and King" is a great example of church hymns combining different works.  The words were written by St. Francis of Assisi sometime around 1225.  One English translation was done by William Draper in the early 20th century.  (The Methodist hymnal says 1925; the Presbyterian hymnal says 1910.)  The tune is an old German tune from 1623, Geistliche Kirchengesang, which is also used in several other hymns.  And the harmony for the tune was added in 1906 by Ralph Vaughan Williams.  Incidentally, both the Methodist and Presbyterian hymnals list the hymn as still being under copyright protection.  The Methodist hymnal has an arrangement marked (c) 1989 and the Presbyterian hymnal says (c) 1926 (renewed). 

As you can see, this classic hymn was created by the work of many different people over many (many) years, each contributing their particular talents to the work.  Could Ralph Vaughan Williams written an entirely new song instead of just a harmony to go along with something that already existed?  Could someone have written completely new words for the German tune instead of adapting St. Francis of Assisi's poem?  Sure, but it wouldn't be the song we know.  Can you imagine "Joy to the World" without Handel's music?  Or "What Child is This" to a tune other than "Greensleeves?"

Derivative works are just important in our history and culture as new works.  That doesn't mean anyone should automatically be free to use anything anyone else has already created.  But, it does mean we shouldn't dismiss someone's creation as not worthy of protection, support, or appreciation, simply because it builds on what came before it.

Sita Sings the Blues: Copyright Jail is No Fun

08 January 2009

An unscheduled post: This isn't really a breaking news story, it's more of an ongoing plight, but Ip's What's Up would like to help draw attention to Nina Paley's struggle to free her award winning feature length film, Sita Sings the Blues from Copyright Jail.

sita in copyright jail

The (Very Brief) Low-Down

Sita Sings the Blues is a critically acclaimed animated film that brings together a classic Indian epic, Ramayana, Nina's own life and the 1920's jazz music of Annette Hanshaw.  (Movie Trailer, Awards List, Roger Ebert's Review, Film Clip.)

That last part is the rub.  Because the underlying compositions of the music used in the film is still under copyright protection, the film can not be legally distributed.

So what's the big deal?  Just pay the copyright owners and get on with it, right?  Well, it turns out that "just paying the copyright owners" is cost prohibitive.  (Nina's step-agreement with the copyright owners and her plans to get film distributed here.)  Nina has taken on a lot of monetary debt, not to mention the time spent, trying to get her art out there for people to appreciate.  She needs help.

What Can I Do?

Regular Ol' Joes

 Donate: QuestionCopyright.org has set up a donation system to help free Sita.  Donations are tax deductible.  Spread the Word: help tell others about the Sita saga, put it in your status message, tweet it, blog about it, tell your friends and neighbors.


Nina is looking for some good pro bono legal help.  You won't be alone.  She's working to assemble a team, and there's at least one volunteer to assist with legal research.  It appears most of the legal help she's found is more experienced in software matters than entertainment law issues.  From her blog:

Is there a lawyer in the house?
I mean a good, progressive, Free-Culture-oriented lawyer. Right now we havequestioncopyright.org’s legal counsel, whose experience lies in Free Software. The California-based Electronic Frontier Foundation hasn’t yet agreed to help directly (maybe they’ll change their minds!) but is looking for additional pro bono legal help for me here in New York. The coolest legal work seems to be in Software; I haven’t yet found anyone in Entertainment Law who really gets it. But if you’re out there, please get in touch! Let’s make a Sita Legal Defense team.

Where Can I See Sita Sings the Blues?

The film is being included in a number of film festivals around the world.  You can check for a location near you at the screening schedule.



 yellow line


More Detailed Information About Sita

The Step Deal

The original quote given to Nina for licenses for the 11 songs at issue in the movie was $220,000.  Nina provides a spreadsheet of the quotes here.  By the end of last month, Nina was able to get this reduced to a step-deal that starts at $50,000 (which she's taking out a loan to pay) and goes up from there depending on how successful the film is.  If the film were to be shown in theaters and made a million dollars at the box office, Nina would get between $30,000 and $80,000 (by her estimate, per her blog) and for every million at the box office she would have to pay another $38,500 for the licenses.  That means that if the film makes a million dollars at the box office, the publishing companies that own the rights to the compositions sung by Annette and used by Nina make more collectively than Nina makes.  Annette's heirs get nothing anyway; the sound recordings themselves are in the public domain (see below).

The Issue with the Music

As Nina nicely explains at comment #8 and comment #13 here, the actual recordings used in the film are in the public domain.  It's the underlying compositions that are still protected.  In US copyright law, sound recordings and musical works are protected separately and have different rights attached to them.  The recordings sung by Annette Hanshaw that Nina used in the film were protected as sound recordings.  They have since fallen into the public domain.  The underlying compositions, the words and written music for the songs, are protected as musical works and are still under copyright protection thanks to the Sony Bono Copyright Term Extension Act.  This act retroactively extended the copyright life of works made under the 1909 Copyright Act and still under protection in 1998 to a total of 95 years of protection, counted from the date of publication.

Several different entities own the rights to the compositions, some of them sharing the rights to a single composition with others.

The rights owners include:

Nina says in her blog that there are 11 Hanshaw recordings used in the film.  The spreadsheet of offers from the rights holders only lists ten.  Here are those ten:

  1. Am I Blue?  (1929, Harry Akst(d.1963) and Grant Clarke (d. 1931))
  2. Daddy Won't You Please Come Home?
  3. Here We Are
  4. I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling (1929, Fats Waller (d.1943), Harry Link (d.1956), Billy Rose (d.1966))
  5. Lover Come Back to Me (1928, Sigmund Romberg (d.1951), Oscar Hamerstein II (d.1960))
  6. Moanin' Low
  7. Mean to Me (1929, Fred E. Ahlert (d.1953), Roy Turk (1934))
  8. What I Wouldn't Do for That Man
  9. If You Want the Rainbow (You Must Have the Rain)
  10. Who's That Knockin' At My Door

I couldn't find information on the rest of the songs.  If anyone has any suggestions or information, let me know.

Some Other Articles on the Sita Saga

Copyright Owners Contributing to the Destruction of Their Own Property at Copyfight

Sita Sings the Copyright Blues at Copyright & Campaigns

Sita Sings the Blues at Soup Greens

Owning Music at No Notes

Distribution Blues at Newsvine.mobi

Diversions - Sita Sings the Blues at The Obenson Report

The Best of 2008 at Duck Blog

Devlving Deeper in Google Book Search's Settlement

07 January 2009

Back in late October, when the proposed Google Book Search Settlement Agreement was released, Ip's What's Up posted a summary of the agreement followed, in November, by some reflections on the agreement. For those readers who are still interested in the Google Book Search settlement, we would like to direct you to a very interesting (and nicely short) post by Ray Corrigan at B2fxxx.

Ray provides a neat summary of a more detailed analysis done by James Grimmelmann. The post lists six principles followed by 16 recommendations addressing these principles, with nice hyperlinks to direct you to relevant parts of Gimmelmann's article. My favorite part is principle and recommendation 0:

Kudos to both Corrigan and Grimmelmann for making this important information available and easily accessible!

Part III: Developing Decent Digital Distribution Solutions

04 January 2009

Last month, we did a follow-up to a November post discussing a class at Vanderbilt University in which class participants were working in groups to develop solutions for dealing with illegal digital downloads.  In the follow-up, we looked at Group One's solution and most of Group Two's solution.  (Nigerian internet prevented any further viewing of the class presentations.)  We now bring you the finale, Group Three's solution.

This ipper will admit that she tends to be a little cynical when it comes to dealing with music downloads and trying to "fix" the current situation.  That being said, if this summary seems too critical, our readers may wish to check out Group Three's solution for themselves.  (You can watch the entire class' presentations here.)

Group 3

Group Three presented a program that included many things already tried or currently being tried.  Their program seemed like something that would garner a lot of support from the RIAA, very little support from the Lessig-wing, and some criticism from the EFF.

Before getting into the detail of their solution, it must first be noted that the group did say they want to encourage and free up music for fair use.  They are not trying to fight small infringements that should be protected by fair use, but rather address the large-scale infringement that hurts the music industry.  The group also pointed out, in passing, that with the increased ease of reaching consumers presented by digital distribution, musicians may not need record labels in the future.  (Isn't that exactly what the record labels are afraid of?) 

The group then went on to explain that their way of address this large scale infringement is top-down legislation with tighter restrictions on music.  As they explained it, "it's the government's responsibility to protect its creative population."  Their suggestions: crippling peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, stronger DRM protection,  and increased copyright education in schools.

Restructuring Peer-to-Peer Networks

P2P networks would be reverted back to a former version of themselves, available only through certain organizations such as universities or employers.  All users would be required to register with the network and the network would be responsible for how the users used the networks.  Networks would be notified if users conducted illegal file sharing on the network.  The networks would then be required to block the users, sort of like the developing program between the RIAA and ISP providers that would slow down or shut off the internet of those using it to infringe copyright.  As the group put it, consumers would be "pressured into using P2P networks only for legal activity."

One stakeholder in attendance at the class' presentation suggested the book, The Spider and the Starfish by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom.  He explained to the group that this book does a great job of outlining why P2P can not be controlled in the way suggested by the group.  The group suggested that the reason P2P cannot be controlled is because the laws do not support such control.  To fix the problem, the group said, "regulate it more," give the government more "freedom" (the group's word) to track P2P and go after people who are using P2P for illegal purposes.  Privacy issues anyone?  How long before the EFF is all over this proposed legislation?

Adjusting DRM

The group did not just advocate strengthening DRM; they also advocated reducing it.  Sound like a paradox?  What they suggested was a tiered structure in which consumers can choose a price level for their downloads.  The higher the price, the less DRM protections, the lower the price, the more DRM protections.  It's sort of a different take on pay-per-use.  The group explained that they want the consumers to be able to use the media in the way it was meant to be used, listened to, watched, etc, but not change it or manipulate it.  More of what Lessig would call Read/Only art and less Read/Write.  (Some sure-fire opponents to this manner of using art here and here.)

The group explained that the DRM would not stop consumers from doing anything that would constitute fair use, and used putting an i-tunes song on a cd for a friend as an example.  (We'll skip the issue some groups might have with whether or not that's fair use.)  How will the computer/software/DRM know that the user is making a cd for a friend and not a cd to sell?  How will it know that the way in which that consumer is using the track would constitute a parody or a de minimums use?  In short, how can the DRM be programmed to decide if the consumer is using the file in a way that would constitute fair use?

Increased Education

The last section of the group's program was increased copyright education in schools and in the community.

In Schools

This suggestion was very similar to one made by Group One in their presentation.  Start teaching children at a young age, in elementary school, about the evils of illegal downloading and the piracy aspects of copyright law.  As the children get older, bring in more details of the law and increase the students' understanding of copyright.  Group Three got a little more specific and suggested including actual copyright cases in this instruction so that students can see what uses are and are not allowed.

The Community - Rock the Schools

The community part of the education would come in a series of concerts the group titled "Rock the Schools."  They described this concert series as similar to Live Aid, raising both awareness of the evils of copyright infringement and money for copyright education in schools.  The concert would include popular musicians, industry stakeholders like the RIAA, politicians and other important public figures.  (Creatively demonstrated in the group's power point presentation by some neat photo remixes.)  The concert series would raise money through ticket sales, donations, merchandise, at home pledges and sale of the concert on itunes.   How much could actually be raised in donations is questionable. 


Overall, there's some doubt as to the effectiveness of this program.  There's already a lot of backlash towards restrictive DRMs, increased regulation brings in a lot of other legal issues.  Education is being attempted and may show results in the future as norms towards downloading change.  As for Rock the Schools, it's very likely that more people consider funding AIDS research or medication for poverty-stricken children as a more worthy cause than protecting millionaires from copyright infringement.  (But as it says above: cynical author here.)