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Archive for July, 2004

INDUCE Act hearings on bittorrent

Thursday, July 29th, 2004

If you want to get a sense of how Congress approaches throwing 20 years of technology law out the window, the full video of the INDUCE Act hearings is now available via Bittorrent here. If you don’t have it already, you should definitely download bittorrent here. Early next week, Downhill Battle and Click the Vote will be giving this legal use of p2p distribution a little publicity boost, so keep your torrents open.

And sorry it’s taken so long to get this up… we hear next time suprnova.org will have the full video available for download three days before the hearing even happens (that’s filesharing humor, sorry).

Latest Fair Use fight.

Thursday, July 29th, 2004

Here’s what Woody Guthrie once wrote about copyright:

This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin’ it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.

Now JibJab, whose parody of Bush, Kerry, and This Land is Your Land has been extremely popular on the internet, is getting sued by the estate of Woody Guthrie for “damage to the song”. Ridiculous. The good news is that the EFF has just taken JibJab on as a client. More here and here.

UPDATE: The EFF lays the smack down.

Downhill Battle at the Conventions

Wednesday, July 28th, 2004

In case you haven’t noticed, the Democratic National Convention is happening in Boston, which is about an hour from Battle HQ in Worcester. In some ways, the convention is the belly of the beast: it’s a big money affair and there’s lots of music industry dollars flowing to try to buy influence. But among the younger generation of democrats and para-democrat activists, there are a lot of people who really understand how the internet is tipping the scales, wrestling control over our culture away from corporations. Unlike the old guard, they don’t owe the entertainment conglomerates anything, and are completely on our side.

On Monday, we had a very interesting and exciting meeting with Music for America, a new, left-leaning group that’s working with independent musicians and venues to get music fans more interested in politics. They came out to Worcester, we bounced on a trampoline, and talked about how in online political organizing simple economics is actually on the good guys’ side. Filesharing vs. the major labels is the clearest example of that.

Tuesday night we met back up in Boston at a benefit show they’d organized (Ted Leo, Dalek, and others) and passed out a ton of Downhill Battle flyers to a very receptive crowd (if you want to flyer shows in your area, click here).

At the end of August we hope to be doing some workshops in New York around the time of the Republican convention. As with the Democrats, dedicated activists are on our side, while a lot of the establishment is not. Republicans are extremely skeptical of Hollywood and have serious moral problems with the corporate record industry– certainly fertile ground for advocating serious reform. But on the other hand, many powerful, elected Republicans are so blindly devoted to giant corporations that they don’t let values get in the way of propping up the music industry (see Orrin Hatch). We’ll see what we can do. So if you’re going to be in New York that week, stay tuned for dates/times/location. And if you know any way that we could get tickets to the convention itself, email us.

We’ve said it before: ending the major label monopoly, supporting filesharing, and creating a fairer music industry are not liberal or conservative issues. Instead, it’s a struggle between people who are committed to certain values vs. a value-absent industry that serves only to enrich a small group of lawyers and executives. So whether you care about artists’ rights, privacy rights, cultural morals, corporate-free music, or all of the above, the most important thing is that you care about something. Downhill Battle is going to win because it’s everybody who cares vs. a few people who don’t.

Top Tabs

Tuesday, July 27th, 2004

A Downhill Battle home taping tshirt.

Downhill Battle is a non-profit organization working to support participatory culture and build a fairer music industry. Learn More.


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Happy Barbie-in-a-Blender-Day

Tuesday, July 27th, 2004

Today is National Barbie-in-a-Blender Day– you can enjoy some fine demonstrations of free speech and fair use in the Barbie-in-Blender Gallery.

Graph Paper

Tuesday, July 27th, 2004
Check out our t-shirts, stickers, and frisbees in the Postal Department.


There is a huge amount of work to be done, and we’re just scratching the surface. Below are some specific skills we’re looking for. You can also get involved with lots of other things, by signing up on our Get Involved page.

Web Backend We really need some pro-level web help to get a bunch of things running more smoothly around here. We especially need people that are strong in PHP to join our web team. We’re now using Drupal (drupal.org), so if you have experience with that it would be extremely helpful.

Software Developers Software development–done strategically–is probably the most effective way to change culture in a positive direction right now. We’re especially looking for Python help and Win32 and OS X specific help. Check out Downhill Battle Labs, Blog Torrent, and Participatory Culture Foundation. If you’re interested in helping to manage some of these projects and get project websites up and running, please be in touch: labs|at|downhillbattle.org.

Plots and Plans

These are some ideas for creative music sharing that we’d love to see happen and get documented– if you decide to do one, send us pictures!

Filesharing in a Tree
A properly configured laptop with a WiFi router is a wireless repository for music, video, textbooks, whatever. Put it way up in a tree with a solar panel to make it darn hard to take down. Call the tree, “the music tree”.

The Golden DVD
You can fit about 100 albums, in MP3 format, on a single DVD. Make a DVD-R with your favorite 100 albums, and give it to everyone you know. Double layer = double the fun.

Party favors for birthdays
Little kids really like pop music. For your child’s next birthday party, try giving all the guests CD-Rs. It doesn’t take much time at all, and your son or daughter can help you make the mix (so you don’t pick anything “uncool”).

Bring CDs to a library
It sounds almost insane, but if the major labels could, they would probably try to ban libraries. Maybe you’re upset that the major record labels are suing families. Or maybe you just got an iPod and you want to do something useful with all those CDs. Either way, bringing your CD collection down to the local library is easy, legal, and a genuinely nice thing to do.

Top Left Content

Tuesday, July 27th, 2004

Downhill Battle fights to win

Our New Site

Monday, July 26th, 2004

Welcome to the freshly redesigned downhillbattle.org. We have been digging in for weeks to get this up, and we think it’s a giant improvement (and a huge relief). This new design should make everything we do here clearer and more accessible. We’re also starting a new announcements list, so please sign up (see the top left) if you want to hear from us when we have new projects and other important announcements.

Hopefully we’ll have a chance soon to do a write-up about the decisions we made while working on this redesign and our general thoughts about effective web design for non-profits, activists, and small organizations. If you’re a pro graphic designer or web coder and want to help make the redesign even better, we could still use some help. Firstly, our code is table-less css layout, but it’s pretty much a mess. We could definitely use help streamlining the css and xhtml. As for design, we are very happy with the new layout and functionality, but we’re still not completely satisfied with the title bar and general color scheme, and would welcome suggestions / mockups / stylesheets. Think of the page right now as a work in progress, and if you’ve got skills think of yourself as a collaborator.

Finally, a huge thanks to Scragz for helping throughout the process and putting up with a bunch of amateurs messing up his nice clean code. And thanks to Karshan Patel, a very pro designer whose drafts helped us conceptualize the page.

New Design Monday

Friday, July 23rd, 2004

We’ve been hunkering down for the past few weeks on a huge redesign of downhillbattle.org. We’ve definitely outgrown the current look and we’ve also gotten a little bit smarter about how to fit in everything that we think is important. So be back monday when we burst into action.

Save the []

Thursday, July 22nd, 2004

INDUCE Act hearings are happening today and we’ve been helping freeculture.org prepare this site to counter Hollywood’s efforts to ram this bill through Congress:

Save the []

Those brackets are not a typo– check out the site and it will make more sense. And contacting your Congressional representative can help push us over the top. You can send a fax in less than 60 seconds at Save the iPod. Do it!