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FMC Conference and VCL in Canada

WE’RE HEADING DOWN TO D.C. this weekend to participate in the Future of Music Coalition conference. Holmes will be on a panel discussion entitled, “The Celestial Jukebox: Fact, Fiction, Future?”. It should be pretty interesting, there’s a lot of very smart people who are thinking about where the music industry is headed. Our approach going into a conference like this is to look for ways we can work on real action plans, whether they’re web projects, software projects, or political organizing projects. Sometimes it feels like we have plenty of ideas and expertise floating around about these issues, but there’s not enough happening on the ground to make things like voluntary collective licensing come to life (see the EFF proposal for more on VCL). There’s also people from the major labels who’ll be there, so things could get a little rowdy (don’t bet on it, though).

Along the same lines, we’ve been thinking a lot about Canada these days. It’s a small country (30 million) with strong independent music scenes and a reasonably responsive political system. But most of all, Canada right now is very fertile political ground for artist-friendly approaches to online music distribution. The recent Canadian court ruling that filesharing is not illegal has created a situation where legislators feel that something needs to be done. And while legislators’ first instinct will be to fall back on reactionary laws that criminalize filesharing, it should be possible to propose a system that would benefit everyone: voluntary collective licensing. We need to get a better understanding of the political landscape in Canada right now, but the right kind of organizing campaign could dramatically change the debate. If Canada were to adopt VCL, it would be a concrete demonstration of a musician-friendly alternative to the RIAA’s ugly lawsuit spree, just north of the border.

Finally, while the Canadian court ruling seems to have created an unusual opportunity for progress, there are many countries that could serve as launch pads for the global adoption of VCL. To our readers outside the United States: survey the political scene and see what it will take to make VCL part of the digital music debate. Then get in touch.


Claire Chanel and Scary Sherman (of jayzconstructionset and riaamix fame) made it onto TechTV. ‘Scary’ made the decision to only speak through Jay-Z samples, which he plays off his laptop. Watch the segment. Moral of the story: do some cool copyright art project and you can be on TV. What are you waiting for?


And here’s a strange little item for the weekend (linking to this blog is a bit strange, just click on the second story down): And the award for Best “I just got fired from the music industry” Email goes to….

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