Interesting Tim O'Reilly article.

From: Wayne M. Smith <>
Date: Tue Dec 17 00:05:00 2002

> On Mon, 16 Dec 2002, Feldman, Robert wrote:
> > <quote> NPR's Rick Karr reports on the latest developments in the ongoing
> > dispute between record companies and artists over royalty payments. Two of
> > the five major labels say they will change the way they compute royalties,
> > to make them more transparent and less confusing. The record companies hope
> > the changes will convince more artists to join the fight against free
> > downloads of music on the Internet. </quote>
> So in other words, artists are feeling screwed and this is why they are
> loathe to denounce file sharing? My guess is that after they see what
> they are really losing, they will be more inclined to support file
> sharing.
Out of spite? I don't think that's particularly likely. This has been an
interesting thread because it has, in some respects, come full circle. The only
artists who can even theoretically make anything from profit participation are,
for the most part, the same top-40 artists that put out the "crap" that everyone
on the list seems to despise. The reality is that in the vast majority of cases
it is only when an artist "wins the lottery" with a commercial success that all
the bitching and moaning about profits and accounting begins, although the cover
story will always be that they're trying to help the "little guy". That's
courage for you. The record and movie businesses both operate on "blockbuster"
economics. The vast majority of what is put out loses money, and the few titles
that hit it big make up for all the losers which don't recoup their advances.

When you read about this issue in the media all you ever hear is the "artist"
position, and the record companies never attempt to defend themselves. If
you've ever worked for a big company, you know the reason already. Big
companies, as a matter of policy, almost never discuss the details of their
disputes in the press, other than to say generalized things such as "we will
appeal this unjust verdict." With only one side yakking about their grievances
in public, that's what gets published, and that's all you hear. If the record
companies were really cheating artists to the extent some seem to believe, they
would be having their hats handed to them by juries everywhere. It isn't
happening, and it isn't for the lack of a plaintiff's attorneys in Los Angeles.
If there were cases to be had in the courts, they would be there. Draw your own
conclusions from the fact that they aren't. What's left is a lot of subjective
talk about relative bargaining strength, an issue the artist are trying to win
the American way -- through lobbying and legislation.
Received on Tue Dec 17 2002 - 00:05:00 GMT

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