Flyer in Your City

Help build our street presence. Download flyers and hit streets and concerts in your area.

Sticker CDs

The major labels and the RIAA knew they'd be revealed on the internet. They didn't know we'd take the fight into record stores. See the photos and get stickers.

 

Sign up to flyer concerts and events in your area and get free DB stickers. Check out our targetted shows.

INTERVIEW

Robb Nansel, Saddle Creek

Saddle Creek Records is one of the most artistically important record labels in the country. Rob Nansel talks about their relationship to fame and corporate media.

 

Project Gallery

Grey Tuesday

When the copyright cartel attacked the Grey Album (a critically acclaimed unauthorized remix), we organized "Grey Tuesday." For 24 hours, over 170 sites made the album available in protest, defying legal threats. Also see our more recent, 3 Notes and Runnin' project.

 

Downhill Battle Labs

Our software development group makes free, open-source software for online organizing and strategic filesharing. We're just getting started but we have a talented lead developer and focused projects that will have an impact. Programmers wanted.

Crucial Readings

FROM DOWNHILL BATTLE

The Reasons

Why is it so important to break the major label monopoly? These are the reasons.

Rescuing Music Diversity

The drop in major label record sales isn't the cause of homogenization in mainstream music, it's the solution.

Civil Disobedience p2p

For decades, the major labels manipulated musicians and fans. Now millions of people refuse to support a corrupt industry.

Sony's Porn Hypocrisy

An attempt to smear p2p.

Press Release: Grey Tuesday

Announcing the protest.

2004 1st Quarter Report

Fighting music censorship.

2003 4th Quarter Report

A fast start for DHB.

FROM ELSEWHERE

The Problem with Music

Rock superproducer Steve Albini explains exploitative major label record contracts.

Share the Music

Kembrew Mcleod's NYTimes op-ed explains legalized filesharing with a flat-fee collective licensing system.

A Better Way Forward

A simple, practical way to compensate musicians and record labels for music sharing. Everyone should read this.

Micropayments Don't Work

99 cents per song won't last.

Free Culture

How copyright is stiffling culture.

Creative Commons Video

Creativity builds on the past.

The Tyranny of Copyright?

A movement to reform copyright.

 

Who's getting the job done

Activists and Non-Profits

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
ACLU for the internet. Canada has CIPIC.

Public Knowledge
Tech policy public interest group.

Free Press
The number one force in media reform.

Click the Vote
Electoral activism for P2P.

Prometheus Radio Project
Tireless low power radio (LPFM) advocates.

Copyright and Culture

Creative Commons
Using copyright to change copyright.

Freeculture.org
Student movement for free culture.

Illegal Art
Repository of artwork outlawed by copyright.

Copyfight
Absolute best copyright news / analysis.

Lawrence Lessig
Leading public intellectual for free culture.

Jessica Litman
Copyright intellectual and activist.

Key Technologies

Freenet
Anonymous filesharing, free speech.

CivicSpace
Dynamic websites for activists + NGOs.

Community Wireless Networks
A clear guide to public WiFi.

RIAA Radar
Tells you what music not to pay for.

BitTorrent
Distributed web-based p2p.

Torrent sites
What to do with Bittorrent

Torrentocracy
Torrents+RSS+Myth= Democratized TV.

MusicBrainz
Tags your mp3s, builds public metadata.

Music Projects and Organizations

Future of Music Coalition
Music policy coalition-builders.

Moses Avalon
Music industry gadfly and educator.

CD Baby
Innovative online CD / digital distribution.

Music for America
Politicizing young people through music.

The Pho List
A debate forum for digital music issues.

Finding New Music

Brainwashed
Independent music reviews.

Dusted Magazine
More music reviews.

Bleep.com
Gold standard of label-run music stores.

GarageBand.com
Smarter than A&R, uses Creative Commons.

PureVolume
Like the late mp3.com, but better.

hXcmp3.com
Punk / hardcore band space and mp3 host.

Sharing Music

p2pnet
Leading P2P news site.

Slyck.com
Another P2P news site.

Zeropaid
Filesharing news & software portal.

KCeasy
Great open-source Windows filesharing.

Acquisition
Flawless Mac p2p app. Also see Poisoned.

Mercora
p2p radio: free and fully authorized.

Soulseek
Best p2p for indy music (mac version).

RadioBlog
Flash music player and mp3 search spot.

 
Vladimir Putin: Stop Snitching
Nicholas, December 12 4:44PM

Here’s a totally unrelated side-project that I whipped up over the weekend.

Putin Stop Snitching

Get it here: PutinStopSnitching.com

Anti-DRM Contest Winners
mary, October 20 4:08PM

Freeculture.org has announced the winners of their anti-DRM video contest. Check them out here.

Girl Talk Persists
mary, October 10 6:20PM

Summer is over and Girl Talk’s NightRipper seems to be surviving the hype without the legal battles. For those who missed out on said hype, Pittsburgh’s Gregg Gillis (aka Girl Talk) blew the sample-based music scene wide open on May 9 with the release of his second full-length album, NightRipper. The album boldly samples over 160 artists (all thanked in the liner notes) without going through any of the legal channels, and Gillis’s label/ art collective, Illegal Art, has been poised to use the Fair Use portion of copyright law in their defense. Lucky for them, Gillis hasn’t even gotten a cease and desist. If there was ever a “Girl Tuesday” it’d most likely be a dance party, not a protest.

For those of you who haven’t heard Girl Talk’s latest album, NightRipper, here is a brief synopsis. Imagine yourself falling asleep in the middle of the dance floor, say in the crossover period between The Black Eyed Peas “My Humps” and Annie’s “Heartbeat”. Then imagine yourself dreaming in music, and forget about the experts who say it can’t be done. Picture your brain piecing together all the songs you listened to that day, from the most recent dance hits you just heard to the songs you played in your room before you went out, and then throw in a few nostalgic grunge and indie-rock favorites that have been stuck in your head since adolescence. Finally, imagine that it is all cut up, spliced, and arranged in perfect time with the beat that you are somehow, magically, still dancing to.

It may all seem a bit far-fetched, but Girl Talk’s Gregg Gillis pulls it off. The samples he uses (over 200 in all, and none of them legal) are well chosen and eclectic, and yet his delivery steers safely clear of music snobbery and hipster irony. You may be too cool to admit to liking Neutral Milk Hotel, and you may secretly be sick to death of Juelz Santana, but when those samples come on (and they do—at the same time) you will be dancing.

Given the sheer intensity and volume of pop culture crammed into just one of Girl Talk’s three-minute tracks, it is easy to see why this album has been getting so much hype. This is postmodern music making at its finest, a tribute to excess and re-appropriation. Gillis doesn’t just spit out samples to create your standard mash-up, he turns these songs, through juxtaposition, into something totally new. And if anyone comes down on him for copyright violation, that is his defense. His label, Illegal Art, became infamous in ‘98 for their release of “Reconstructing Beck”, an album made completely out of Beck samples. At the time, Beck’s lawyer called the album “bad jungle” and Universal sent them a cease and desist order. Maybe the big labels are starting to get the picture. So far there’s been no cease and desist for Gillis. In fact, Beck invited Girl Talk to open for him at a show in London, and has commissioned him to do two remixes of his new song “Cell Phone’s Dead” from the un-DJ. Maybe he’s just too likeable, and danceable, to stop.

Listen to some tracks here.

Eyes on the Prize on PBS this month
holmes, October 3 9:22PM

After years in copyright limbo “Eyes on the Prize” airs on PBS this month. “Eyes” is widely thought to be the best documentary on the civil rights movement. During the Eyes on the Screen protest in 2005 we watched Part 1 at a packed screening in Worcester, MA, and it was incredible. The footage of Dr. King is simply bracing; you get to see him as a razor-sharp young organizer inspired by the struggle, not as an icon. When King led the Montgomery Bus Boycott he was twenty-six!

Check PBS’s local listings page to see when it’s playing on your local station. On our own WGBH Boston, part one airs this Wednesday.

Thanks to Jason at Textbook Revolution for the heads-up.

Weird Al and iTunes
Nicholas, June 15 3:02AM

The first thing Downhill Battle ever did was iTunes iSbogus (and it’s still the first non-apple result on google for “itunes”). Today, Slashdot has a story about how Weird Al makes less money from an iTunes sale than from a CD sale, even though an iTunes sale doesn’t involve any physical product, shipping, storage, physical store, and kid working at the counter. How iTunes Hurts Weird Al.

2006 Future of Music Policy Summit
Nicholas, May 21 8:24PM

The Future of Music Coalition is one of the only groups that can truly claim to work on behalf of musicians. They are holding their annual Future of Music Policy Summit in Montreal from October 5-7, 2006. It’s timed to sync up with Pop Montreal– it should be an excellent location for the conference.

Automatic Superstar starts a new run
Nicholas, May 15 1:29PM

On Friday, Automatic Superstar, the rock musical about a masked rock star who’s record company is trying to kill him, started another run in NYC. You can download free music from the show at the link above.

The show plays every Friday at 8pm. Tickets are available here.

Swarm of Angels
Nicholas, May 10 5:55PM

As has been predicted so many times, the internet is both destroying and creating ways of developing and distributing media. The movie industry will probably be the last piece of big media to really feel the effects– it’s difficult and expensive to make a film that looks professional. Equipment and distribution are rapidly dropping in cost, but people are not, and many varieties of feature film require lots and lots and lots of people. (Contrast this with a rock band recording an album, a reporter researching a story, a reality-show on TV, or a cable news report.)

So it’s appropriate that a new project seeking to radically invert the process of developing a big-budget feature film is starting with people. A Swarm of Angels is working to create and distribute a $2 million film over the internet, with the help of 50,000 members that will fund and steer the project. It’s an incredible undertaking, but is off to a roaring start.

You can join the project as one of the first 1,000 people for a membership cost of £25. Not only to you get to support a film revolution, you also get to participate in shaping the script and production process. The best way to get inside the head of the folks behind this project is to start with the Swarm of Angels FAQ.

Get rid of Orin Hatch, please
Nicholas, May 5 12:25AM

Senator Orin Hatch may be the single worst politician when it comes to copyright issues. This year there is a campaign to defeat him that could win, and our friends at IPac are leading the charge. Check it out: FireHatch.com.

Save the internet, win an iPod
holmes, May 1 6:35PM

Recently, the free and open nature of the internet has been under attack from a coalition of phone and cable companies. Now you can fight back, and the person who does the best job gets an iPod nano.

To start, sign the moveon.org petition. Then they’ll send you a link you can forward to friends.

ISPs want to be able to block or slow access to certain websites so they can charge sites for access to their customers. This is extremely dangerous: you don’t want ISPs (a few giant corporations) telling you what sites you can or can’t visit. Watch this video from Public Knowledge for a good explanation of the issue.

The rules are here, and you can see who’s winning here. The contest ends on May 8th, so you’ve got one week.

You might have noticed that we’re participating in the contest too. If we win I think we’ll use the iPod for a Downhill Battle contest.