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Archive for June, 2004

Save the iPod, stop the INDUCE Act

Monday, June 28th, 2004

The INDUCE Act is way out of line, and it could pass easily unless you act now. This law is the major labels’ dream; it would reverse the Sony vs. Universal “Betamax” decision, making businesses liable for products that customers could use to make unauthorized copies. The bill is explicitly aimed at filesharing networks, but according to the EFF the language is broad enough to permit lawsuits against the makers of VCRs, CD-R drives, Tivo’s and yes, even the iPod.

Save the iPod: savetheipod.com

This legislation might sound crazy, but it could very easily pass with literally no debate. Last Friday the Senate passed the “PIRATE Act,” which forces the FBI to waste time and energy pursuing kids who share music (I had thought we needed the FBI for catching terrorists). The bill passed on a voice vote, with no debate. We can’t let this happen again: all we need is one senator to demand a debate on the INDUCE Act, and that will slow it down and make a huge difference. Fortunately, Click the Vote is coming through with free faxes.

Fax your senator now. It will make a difference.

Savetheipod.com is a collaboration between Downhill Battle, Click the Vote, and freeculture.org

Flat Fee Filesharing Op-ed

Saturday, June 26th, 2004

Now this is what we need more of: a simple, reasonable case for legalized flat-fee filesharing appearing in major media. It’s an idea that the major labels literally don’t want you to know about because it makes good sense to everyone and it cuts out the middleman (that’s them). We hear from people every week who are being sued for filesharing and all of them are simply reeling from the cold indifference of the record companies and the sudden shock to their families finances. “People don’t realize what this is like!” is a common refrain.

So what can you do to get more facts about filesharing into the mainstream debate? Write a letter to the editor at your local newspapers. It takes less than 90 seconds.

And you can protect yourself from getting sued by using anonymous filesharing like MUTE or by simply turning off “sharing”.

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We’ve decided to send free stickers to everyone who hands out flyers at concerts this summer, so there’s another reason to sign up and join the fun. We’ve already had dozens of people getting involved and it’s growing fast (the only setback so far has been the complete cancellation of the Lollapalooza tour, and there’s nothing we could do about that).

INDUCE Act

Thursday, June 24th, 2004

All the buzz in filesharing news these days is about the INDUCE Act which would create vague and broad criminal liability for “inducing” someone to violate copyright. Essentially, the major labels via their lobbyists the RIAA, are trying to outlaw filesharing software. And as usual, the sad state of affairs is that other corporations like internet service proivders and electronics manufacturers are putting up the strongest resistance– it’s great that they’re fighting the bill, but we wish there was a stronger public voice out there (we’re working on it, but it takes time!). The bill has very strong backing from prominent members of congress on both sides of the isle, but if we’re lucky there won’t be time to consider the bill before the election.

And here’s a copyright story that’s particularly unfortunate because it pits an experimental label with at least some appreciation for “free as in freedom” against a succesful indpependent band. We’ll let Wired News tell it. Nicholas is quoted in the article, and you should check out our recently updated press page for more of Downhill Battle in the news.

Design Help Wanted

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2004

Design for Downhill Battle

One of our goals this summer at Downhill Battle is to get more structured and organized so that we can stay sane and focus on the things we do best. Graphic design is not one of the things we do best. Recently we’ve been asking for help in a few different places and we’ve had some great responses. But one of the real challenges is that more and more of our time is being spent getting in touch with designers, suggesting ideas, going back and forth, and often times they get too busy in the middle of a project. So I thought that I’d try to make things easier for everyone by doing a quick write up of some stuff we’d like to make and opening things up for people to send in designs. So– if you know someone who does top-notch graphic design and who wants to stick it to the major record labels, send them here.

Ray Charles

Sunday, June 20th, 2004

With the passing of Ray Charles, p2pnet.net has proposed that all proceeds from his recordings be donated to charity:

“But wouldn’t it be nice if Big Music did something nice for a change – if the Ray Charles label, Warner Bros, pegged all of the money from its Charles ‘earnings’ from the date of his passing to something such as Phish’s Mockingbird Foundation, a non-profit organization founded and run by Phish fans that supports music education for children?”

Why DRM won’t work

Friday, June 18th, 2004

Why DRM won’t work

Cory Doctorow lectures Microsoft Research on DRM

DRM, or Digital Rights Management, is technology the music and film industry use to make digital media difficult to copy. Doctorow explains why this will never work and, more importantly, the harm they’ll do trying. If copy-protection sounds harmless to you, read on.

One down?

Friday, June 18th, 2004

According to this article in Bloomberg, it’s looking like the European Commission will approve a merger between Sony Music and BMG. The merger, if it happened today, would beat out Universal Music as the world’s largest record label, and the “Big 5″ would become the “Big 4″.

This is definitely good news. Anyone who is worried about the merger’s effect on competition or diversity has a inappropriately rosy view of the current state of affairs. The reality is that there is already very little meaningful competition between record labels, since only a handful of labels can get their music on the radio.

Will this merger make major label music even more expensive and even less diverse? Probably: according to Bloomberg just one month ago the European Commission told the two labels that their merger would reduce competition, hurt diversity, and drive up prices. But that’s not a bad thing in the long term. As the major labels drop local European bands, charge more for downloads from online music stores, and focus more and more on synthetic international megahits and less on good music, people will have less and less a reason to buy their stuff. Remember: the product they sell is already available for free. If the major labels want to survive they don’t need more anti-competitive clout, they need more good will. And this merger is going to get them the exact opposite. The merging of Sony Music and BMG should be seen as part of a long, downward spiral. One that ends in the cultural and economic irrelevance of big corporations to our music culture and our music lives.

It seems like this story is still breaking, and that the official announcement is days or weeks away. But when that merger happens, you know we’ll be cheering: “one down, four to go.”

Yo! 2004 Summer Concert Blitz

Thursday, June 17th, 2004

Downhill Battle was at the Middle East in Cambridge, Massachusetts last night to check out the Chinese Stars and indie dance-party favorites !!!. There was much locomotion. Thankfully we made up for poorly executed dance moves by getting nearly 100 people to read up on our mission with convenient, sharp looking handouts and we had a lot of people coming up to us specifically to ask about what we’re doing. There were also bumper stickers to be had by those folks who promised to display them prominently. Not the least of whom was !!!’s very own Nic Offer, who wore the sticker proudly on his midsection (see the photo above). It was a fun for all, and we did it with just two people.

Today, we’re officially launching our 2004 Summer Concert Blitz, and you need to get on board and change some minds. Changing the music industry is something that tons of people would love to see happen, but they just haven’t realized how much potential we really have. If we can get ourselves to enough shows this summer, we can put the issue on the map like it’s never been before. The major labels have done everything they can to distort the debate around the future of the music industry and confuse people about what they should think. But there is just no way that the RIAA can match the power of a grassroots campaign like this.

So — here’s what you can do:

1. Go here to check if we have shows listed in your area that we’re hoping to flyer, and sign your ass up for one. If there’s nothing near you, see number 2.
2. Go here to let us know about shows in your city or town that you can go to and hand out flyers.
3. Go here if you’re a musician, label, or concert organizer, to tell us about shows that you’re are planning or performing at that you’d like to have people flyer or table. We’ll add them to our listings and if you can get a couple people in for free, that would be great.
4. And send us photos of whatever you do so that we can put them up!

Flyering at these shows really is fun. It’s an issue that everyone is interested in pretty quickly, even if they’ve never heard of it before or haven’t given the music industry much thought. And it’s not a message that people are expecting to get info about, which gets them curious to hear more. Even better, when people actually hear someone giving them honest info about what’s happening in the music industry, they agree, and that’s what ultimately changes things. C’mon, you might as well try it.

Announcing Movies for Music

Monday, June 14th, 2004

We are proud to announce Movies for Music, a new website and video contest. The goal is to encourage people to make short movies and animations about the music industry, filesharing, and the potential we have to change the system. The right video can be the best way to explain these issues and get someone involved, and as always we like to hit from every direction we can. Please tell all your video artist friends!

Movies for Music

Monday, June 14th, 2004

Movies for Music – Video Contest