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Why Music Can’t ‘Just Be Free’

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JupiterResearch VP and research director Mark Mulligan specialises in music for the Forrester-owned agency. In this essay, reproduced from his journal, Mulligan argues against the emerging notion that music should be free without labels and creators getting paid…

The French music industry body Société civile des Producteurs de Phonogrammes en France (SPPF) is suing four US-based developers of P2P applications, including the BitTorrent client Vuze, Limewire, Morpheus and Shareaza, as The Register reports. (The latter is the one that is stimulating vitriol in the tech blogosphere as its development is supported by open source development platform SourceForge). Under newly revised French, the US companies can be tried in the France as their applications have not implemented filtering mechanisms to block out copyrighted material.

A couple of arguments are being leveled at the SPPF – the first that these applications aren

6 Responses to “Why Music Can’t ‘Just Be Free’”

  1. i don't like it when i spill chicken soup on my bed because then i cant play XBOX with my brother for three days. My dad loves soccer. Morgan Freeman 4 LIFE!!!!

  2. Roger Lancefield

    Robert Andrews wrote:

    "All the developers need to do is support their claims of innocence by embedding filtering mechanisms into their apps. If they counter-claim that this would restrict the liberty of their users, then they can’t any longer argue that they don’t support illegitimate usage of their technology. "

    Stunning, absolutely incredible. You expect us to prove our "innocence" before we may use our own software, on our own computers over our own network connections? While we're at it, why not force citizens to submit to regular police searches of their homes? After all, we all know how many people keep stolen goods in their properties. Hey, this type of thinking might catch on…

    Can we thus assume Robert, that you will have no problem with the government installing cameras in your bedroom in order to ensure that you don't indulge in any deviant sexual activity of the type that is currently threatened with legal prohibition?

    All you will need to do to support your claim of innocence, is to get CCTV bolted to the wall. If you counter-claim that this would violate the privacy of your bedroom's occupants, then you won’t any longer be able to argue that you don't support deviant sexual practices.

    So c'mon, get those cameras installed, "the innocent have nothing to fear", after all…

  3. I feel sorry for the artists, the money is, for the most part, needed to feed them. They should have gotten rid of the big four (EMI, Warner, Sony(BMG) and Universal a long time ago. Then, with that element of greed removed, maybe, maybe some really good legal alternatives could have come up. I listen to music – in my car, on my computer, in my portable player, in the kitchen etc. To do this legally, under the present user restrictions on offer from thge record companies, you would have to buy the same song several times. And get some unwanted DRM, that will screw things up, and get mixed up metadata, since the publishers just don't care and so on. Or I could, if I was crooked, simply download the song from somewhere on the web, as a clean, lossless MP3, and enjoy it wherever I want it. Would I be willing to pay a fair price for that? Would you?
    Those who read my comment – have you NO downloaded MP3 anywhere in what you listen to? Truthfully?

  4. It's a bit late for (After CBS bought it), but there are plenty of other options out there which are pretty interesting.

    It's interesting to see EMI aiming to start innovating, rather than leaving it to tech companies like Apple, iLike, etc.

  5. As a digital marketing consultant and a former professional freelance classical musician I've watched with dismay as the major labels try to force the genie back into the bottle on this.

    This rearguard action can only end in the demise of the traditional record label whose primary contribution was getting physical product from the artists to the consumer. More recently, that has been getting digital product from the artist to the consumer.

    They are all missing the point. The future of recorded music consumption is about access not ownership. The only reason for buying and storing CDs and/or downloading and storing digital files, is to be able to listen to that music when wanted.

    If it isn't already possible (someone please tell me if it is), it will soon be possible to achieve this level of music accessibility without having to 'own' the track or album. A subscription model.

    Add to that the discovery mode used by and others and you have a better experience all round.

    The majors should be focusing on facilitating access rather than trying to slam the sable door.

    If I was a director at one of the majors I'd be looking for merger partners and putting a bid together to buy

    Mark Walmsley
    [email protected]

  6. Isn't there one major point to acknowledge? When there is talk about music becoming free, it isn't suggesting that artists shouldn't be reimbursed for their efforts.

    It's suggesting that the cost of distribution and retail of a physical product containing music is now replaced by the low cost of electronic distribution, and therefore it might make more sense for artists to use free music as a way to build interest and promote themselves – making the money from merchandise, live events and other mechanisms – e.g. Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails etc.

    You're also assuming that making something free to obtain means that there won't be different levels of popularity – just because everything is free doesn't mean it's all good. Most website content is free to consume but some sites are a lot more popular than others, due to promotion, recommendation, ranking etc.

    And surely Wikipedia, for example, shows people will participate in creation for reasons other than payment. People do it for recognition, personal branding, because they like sharing, because they want to get one over on big industry etc. I put in time and effort on my personal blogs because they have numerous benefits – none of which is financial.

    And if the creation of music copyright began 150 years ago – music began a long time earlier! Copyright is a by product of a business model for content creation, not a reason for it's existence.