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Archive for September, 2004

3 Notes on WNYC and EFF Collaboration

Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

This morning (Wednesday), Mike Bell-Smith will be on the Brian Lehrer show on WNYC in New York (93.9 FM) talking about 3 Notes and Runnin’. It should be pretty cool. He’s scheduled to go on around 10:30AM and if you aren’t in New York City, you can listen to a live stream of WNYC right here. If you haven’t checked in with the project in a while, it’s been going great– we’re about to top 100 songs submitted. Just wait til we drop the megamix.


Following our big INDUCE Alert Call-In to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, we’re working with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to get thousands of their supporters calling their Senators today. It’s the ol’ one-two punch. The EFF sent out an alert to their action list and people are signing up in droves on this special Save Betamax page. If you haven’t called your Senators about INDUCE yet, today is another great chance.

The momentum that’s been building against this bill is just awesome; I think we’re really putting a dent in Hollywood’s plans to push this through. We heard again today that Senators offices’ were swamped with calls, something they never, ever expected on a copyright bill. More on why it matters and how to get involved at Save Betamax.

Bad: HR4077 Passed the House

Tuesday, September 28th, 2004

The INDUCE Act is just one part of a legislative full-court press by the major labels. We’ve been very focused on INDUCE, because it’s the biggest threat, the broadest coalition opposes it, and it’s the most realistically beatable.

But we just found out that HR 4077 passed in the House this afternoon. This major label dream-law would send people to jail for sharing 1,000 songs, or just one unreleased album. That’s right, up to 5 years in jail for sharing one album. It passed on a voice vote, so you can’t even go see if your Congressperson supported it– their votes simply aren’t on record. They’ll send hundreds kids to jail as a favor to some corrupt industry but they won’t put their names on it. Cowards.

The bill also includes charming things like restrictions on devices that let you skip commercials (remember, America: if you don’t watch the commercials, you’re stealing TV). HR 4077 still has to go through the Senate, but it could easily sail through. We’re doing some thinking about strategy right now, and we’d appreciate your comments if you have any thoughts.

INDUCE Hearing

Tuesday, September 28th, 2004

Reuters is running this article about the upcoming INDUCE Hearing on Thursday. Meanwhile, the members of the committee have been getting hundreds of calls each from Save Betamax folks– keep it up!

INDUCE Act Alert

Tuesday, September 28th, 2004

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will be considering the latest version of the INDUCE Act. This morning, we sent an action alert to the more than 7,000 people who’ve registered at Save Betamax asking them to call the Senators on the Committee. More updates later today…

Why Collective Licensing Matters

Monday, September 27th, 2004

We’ve written a lot here about why a flat-fee system that legalizes filesharing (collective licensing) would be best for musicians and fans. If you haven’t heard these kinds of proposals before, take a look at some of the articles we link to on the left side. But more than the practical reasons why collective licensing is the best way forward, there is an even greater argument to be made for the overwhelming public good that open sharing creates. It’s just a better world to live in for music fans, educators, and creators.

Here’s an excerpt from a speech that David Weinberger gave at the World Economic Forum in NYC last week, where he makes that case. (via Boing)

[F]or one moment, I’d like you to perform an exercise in selective attention. Forget every other consideration — even though they’re fair and important considerations — and see if you can acknowledge that a world in which everyone has free access to every work of creativity in the world is a better world. Imagine your children could listen to any song ever created anywhere. What a blessing that would be!

…We publish stuff that gets its meaning and its reality by being read, viewed or heard. An unpublished novel is about as meaningful and real as an imaginary novel. It needs its readers to be. But readers aren’t passive consumers. We reimagine the book, we complete the vision of the book. Readers appropriate works, make them their own. Listeners and viewers, too. In making a work public, artists enter into partnership with their audience. The work succeeds insofar as the audience makes it their own, takes it up, understands it within their own unpredictable circumstances. It leaves the artist’s hands and enters our lives. And that’s not a betrayal of the work. That’s its success. It succeeds insofar as we hum it, quote it, appropriate it so thoroughly that we no longer remember where the phrase came from.

This would all be just a nice dream if this kind of sharing was impossible or if open access meant that the incentive to create was destroyed. But that’s not the case at all. The internet makes sharing simple, as we all know, and a collective licensing system can do the same thing that Nielsen ratings do for TV and SoundExchange does for web radio: reward creators when people watch or listen to their work without restricting users. More on how it could work.

3 Notes Update

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004

Wired.com is running a good article today about 3 Notes and Runnin’, which has been going very well. Take a look: “Remixing to Protest Sample Ruling”.

In the week since we launched the project we’ve been totally swamped with awesome submissions. There’s already 41 songs up right now and we have even more that we’re still getting posted. 30 seconds is a nice bite-sized chunk for listening to a lot of very different stuff– I like this format a lot.

3 Notes and Runnin’

Wednesday, September 15th, 2004

Last week, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that musicians must obtain clearance for every sample, regardless of whether it is recognizable in their finished song. The sample in question was a 1.5 second section of the Funkadelic song Get Off Your Ass and Jam which was used in the NWA song 100 Miles and Runnin’.

This ruling is another blow in the 15 year war against sampling which has virtually driven it out of mainstream hip-hop. On Grey Tuesday we protested EMI’s attempts to censor the sample-based Grey Album. Today we’re teaming up with musician and artist Michael Bell-Smith to offer this response to last week’s ruling:

3 Notes and Runnin’

The project is an open call for 30 second songs made entirely and exclusively (but not necessarily recognizably) out of the 1.5 second Funkadelic sample that was the focus of the court case. Show us what you got– Mike has already started things off.

For more on sampling law, check out our brief accompanying essay, Why Sample Rights Matter.

More Feedback

Tuesday, September 14th, 2004

Here’s some more of my favorite feedback from people who’ve called-in today. You can still sign up at Save Betamax if you want to call in the next hour. Soon we’ll be switching to a sign-up for notification about future action (in case the bill comes to the Senate floor).


“Damn, that was exciting! I made the first call with my voice trembling and finished off my calls with a sense of empowerment. It was my first time calling the Senate or the Congress, and it was good.”


“Senator Hatch – I felt like I had the most success here. Everyone I talked to was extremely nice, including the young woman in the judiciary office who said that they’d received many calls today and she had learned a lot. I have to say I got the feeling that Senator Hatch’s staffers, at least, realize the pitfalls of this misguided legislation. She encouraged me to do a follow-up email to the Senator.”


“Sensenbrenner’s office asked if I was calling about the INDUCE act and said they were getting a lot of calls. I told her “it’s working, then” :-).”


“Congressperson John Conyers office said they’d been getting a lot of calls about it and said it will be an issue in their meeting tomorrow.”


“I think it’s amazing that in just one week, so many people from around the country can come together to support a common cause. I am proud to have participated.”


“A note: Senator Fritz Hollings has the nicest staff of phone operators I have ever had the pleasure of speaking to. After giving my comments, the operator politely asked where I was from, and then engaged me in conversation about my home state of Florida (with all our lovely weather!).”


Tuesday, September 14th, 2004

We’re getting up towards 5,000 people participating in Save Betamax. And people are leaving lots of feedback about how their calls are going. Here’s a few excerpts from recent posts:

“In calling Sen. Hollings’ office, I mentioned that I had an interest in the senator’s position on a certain bill, and the secretary immediately asked if I was calling on behalf of SaveBetamax. She politely took my comment and asked my name and hometown and ended the call soon after without a great deal of further discussion.”


“Everything went great, glad I could be of help.”


“it felt really good to call! That’s the first time I’ve ever called a Senator’s office about anything.”


More and more people are reporting that the phone lines are getting busy:

“Senator Hollings’s Aide told me he would vote against it. Senator Hatch had me on hold for five minutes and then took a message. Senator Delay’s Phone was busy for half an hour straight. I will try again after lunch”

Sounds like it’s working…

There’s been some concern expressed that because the bill is still in the Senate, we shouldn’t be calling members of the House (and it sounds like some house staffers are getting a little flustered with the barrage of calls). The important thing to remember is that if this bill moves, it could move very fast and it may never even reach the House floor for a real debate. It’s crucial that leadership in the House understand that there is widespread opposition to the legislation so that Senators won’t sneak it past them. If you’re calling House members today, you can say that you’re aware that the bill hasn’t reached them yet and simply ask that they block it if it does.

Today’s the Day

Tuesday, September 14th, 2004

Today is the Save Betamax national call-in day to stop the INDUCE Act. As I write this, we have 4,076 people signed up to particpate, which is amazing! This is a huge and clear demonstration of public opposition to this bill and will be a real wake-up call for Congress on this issue. If you haven’t sign up yet, it is not too late– do it now.

I just finished making my calls, in fact. Senator Patrick Leahy’s office was very polite and took down my information and my comments. Rep. John Dingell’s office transferred me to a comment line that they have for this issue, which I think is a general Commerce-committee voicemail box– I left a message there. Finally, Senator Bill Frist’s office transferred me to their comment line and I left a message again. Not as exciting as talking to a real person, but their office (and the others) will definitely sit-up and notice as hundreds of calls come in all day to each of them. The call only took me about 5 minutes. You should do it too!

UPDATE: We’ve made a report-back page for people who participate, take a look at what people are saying (if you’re participating in the call-in day, you’ll get the info about how to leave your feedback in today’s reminder email).

UPDATE #2: Wired News is running this article about Save Betamax on their front page.