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Archive for March, 2005

Ourmedia Launches

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005

This is so, so, so fucking important:

Ourmedia Launches

We’ll have lots more to say about this soon. In the meantime, congratulations to everyone over there.

Cease but never Desist

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005

Went to see DJ Ripley and Kid Kameleon in Boston last night. Super fun. If you live in Boston you should totally go see Ripley spin on Thursday at The River Gods. So anyway, she was sporting this new Breakbeat Science shirt, which folks here might like:

Cease and Desist Shirt

I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve always understood those words to mean, respectively, “Stop that!” and “No you can’t just stop and start up again, we’ve already thought of that, in fact we thought of it so early on that it’s the name of the kind of letter we’re sending you.” Clever those lawyers.


Monday, March 21st, 2005

David Alpert (of Google and IPac) is really into creating social spaces for political discussion, and he cares a ton about the future of copyright policy, so he and Ren Bucholz (IPac, EFF) just started CopyNight. Check it out:


From the site: “CopyNight is a monthly gathering of people interested in ensuring freedom for artists and tinkerers, fostering innovation, and restoring the balance between the public interests and intellectual property rights holders for the benefit of all.” “The inaugural meeting of CopyNight will take place on Tuesday, March 29, the same day noble and fearless lawyers will defend the public interest and our right to innovate before the Supreme Court in the Grokster case.”

Chopped? Screwed? Onward upward internet music!

Saturday, March 19th, 2005

Search for the word “chopped” or “screwed” on gnutella right now and a new and wonderful musical form will enter your life. Here’s a visual explanation:

Regular mainstream hip hop:
This is hip hop

Mainstream hip hop, screwed:
Thiiss iss hiiip hopp (muuch slower)

Screwed and chopped:
Thiiss is-is hip-hip hopp (certain words and sounds repeat unexpectedly)

And this is going to sound really geeky, but it’s totally the best music to write blog posts to. If any of this music runs into legal trouble for being a [begin nasal lawyer voice] “unauthorized derivative work” [end] I would love to go to bat for it. Just test me, I will!

Ideas anybody?

Friday, March 18th, 2005

So when my chest got in a New York Times article, Downhill Battle friend Dane Baker was hugely put off by the pro-business, or rather “business is all there is in the world” slant of the article and wrote a response. Check it out:

The Times Distorts the Copyright Debate

We were delighted to have the coverage, but Dane makes a series of good points. I mean, the article is so oriented towards businesses that even we become “a nonprofit group… that conducts a robust trade in T-shirts”. How do we get the filesharing story off the business pages? Ideas people?

And if you liked Dane’s letter you should check out his media watchdog-blog.

A Punk Cover Band in Victory Zone 4-eva

Friday, March 18th, 2005

The parody match-making band Beatallica, of Beatles and Metallica sampling curiosity, was served a cease and desist letter from Sony for copyright infringement of Metallica songs. Beatallica has been offering their music to everyone since 2001 on Beatallica.org, so of course they think Sony’s letter is bogus. The amazing news is they won their battle – their website got taken down, then they got a bunch of public support, then Lars Ulrich of Metallican fame stepped in and negotiated on their behalf to get Sony to “let them” put their site back up. Their petition got almost 10,000 signatures and is petitiononline.com-fabulous. You can add your name to help round out that number.

It always feels so great when a corporation has to stand down. And it is great. Well maneuvered, Beatallica.

It may be imprudent to not mention that Lars is also well known for anti-filesharing tantrums.) According to a Beatallica member Even Lars … Ulrich (of Metallica) has stepped in; he’s contacted us
personally to say that he and the whole Metallica camp are behind us,
and he’ll do anything he can to help us fight this thing.
People are already starting to post the Beatallica mp3’s on their own
sites, Gray Tuesday-style. One example here. You can read more details from BoingBoing here. The Beatallicas certainly got good style, now’s the time to listen to some of their tunes, while we wait for their suped-up and reborn website.

The Times Distorts Copyright Debate

Friday, March 18th, 2005

By Dane Baker

In response to As Piracy Battle Nears Supreme Court, the Messages Grow Manic

Congrats to Downhill Battle for exposure in today’s New York Times, in a story rife with preposterous assumptions, subtle and otherwise, too numerous to cover in such a small space. So we’ll stick to the main distortions peddled by the self-proclaimed “newspaper of record”, namely that the copyright dispute is merely a “public relations battle” in which the goal is to properly package one’s message so a wide-eyed and confused public can understand that file-sharing is “illegal” and “wrong”, stealing from poor, “principled” corporations.

Focusing on the superficial “public relations” aspect of the copyright debate allows the Times to skirt it’s responsibility and avoid discussing the debate over copyright issues before the Supreme Court, a debate in which business interests don’t have a clear advantage. The issues are instead brushed aside with a end-of-story quote asserting that “both are right, both are wrong.”

The very idea that “principles” have any place in a modern corporation is so absurd it’s not even worth debating, but let’s look a brief example: the RIAA. The article quotes RIAA head Mitch Bainwol lamenting that file-sharing lawsuits “get more coverage because of the nature of the controversy” and not because the RIAA is itself a public relations arm of the major labels, often suing citizens into destitution and then publicizing their successes to instill fear in the music-buying public. That’s what corporate “principles” entail, all facts that Times reporters surely know and choose not to report.

Perhaps the most appalling assumption peppered throughout the piece is the portrayal of the public as too stupid to understand the issues at hand—never mind that a teenager could grasp the basics with an afternoon of research. But not according to the Times, which reports that copyright law is “hard to reduce to sound bites”, which is absolutely required if the stupid masses can possibly hope to participate in this debate.

It’s pretty difficult to foster an honest discussion of the true issues when a main establishment journal like the Times refuses to allow it, but that’s why we have groups like Downhill Battle.

Why buy bottom up pop

Wednesday, March 16th, 2005

So first Bright Eyes grabs #1 and #2 on Billboard’s singles chart (first time since Puffy in ’97) and then this week I see an article about M.I.A. in my local (Worcester, MA) paper. Anecdotal? Or is independent music starting to break into the mainstream more and more like we said it would?

To refine the point a bit more: Bright Eyes is–and M.I.A. will be– taking advantage of deals with major labels to sell more albums. And some purists look at that as independent musicians selling out. But here’s what it really is: major labels downshifting from monopolists into service providers, from pop culture gatekeepers into a glorified shipping department. And for bulky, innefficient majors, that means one step closer to going out of business.

The major labels still get to drive the CD trucks to the CD stores. But the pop is increasingly coming from the bottom up. M.I.A.’s album Arular drops in the US on March 22. Cop it.

For more reasons, check out the mixtape, the video, and the interview.

Talk About Filesharing on TV, Won’t You?

Friday, March 11th, 2005

ABC News is going to be doing a story about the Grokster decision that’s coming up and they’re looking for someone who does a lot of filesharing that they can interview for TV:

“Basically, I’m looking for someone who:

1.  downloads a lot of music and/or movies (on a very regular basis…maybe they would even say they get ALL their music that way, for example) – and preferably someone who primarly uses GROKSTER or MORPHEUS since they’re involved in the SC case. 

2. has strong feelings about why file sharing like this is important and should be off limits to government intervention

3.  ** MOST IMPORTANT:  is willing to do an on-camera interview with us and let us film them somewhere using file sharing on their computer! 


They can reach me at this email and should tell me a little bit about themselves – where they live, how old they are, how often and what they download, why they think these sites need to be able to operate as they do today and a phone number for me to reach them.  My deadline is by next Tues. or Wed. I would like to have a handful of potential people to starting contacting for this story.”

If you’re interested, you should email: scabcnews@yahoo.com and introduce yourself. And if you get interviewed, write up some notes for yourself and think carefully about what you want to communicate and why. This is a good chance to get a more balanced perspective into the mainstream media.

Here’s a way you can take a few minutes today to make copyright work better for artists, musicians, and academics:

Thursday, March 10th, 2005

Here’s a way you can take a few minutes today to make copyright work better for artists, musicians, and academics:


The Copyright Office is thinking of changing the rules to make it easier to reuse copyrighted works (photos, music, film footage, text, whatever) when the copyright holder is impossible to find. We’re not talking about sweeping reform here, but it could make copyright suck a lot less for a lot of people.

The situation right now is so sad: even when people totally want to play by the rules and ask / pay to use a piece of copyrighted stuff in their own work, they can’t even do it because copyright holders are hard to find. In other words, copyright is a failure even when you have the money to play by the rules.

Anyway, the Copyright Office looking for public comment, so let’s try to get them some public comment. We’ve heard the most helpful comments will be horror stories of trying to track down a copyright holder and it being impossible. To file a comment, and for more info, check out: