Wednesday, October 27, 2010

All The Boys Love Carrie

And so… and finally… a little cause for celebration – LimeWire is no more. Or, to put that into its proper context, the illegal part of LimeWire’s file-sharing activities has been closed down. At last, a little bit of action that will (hopefully) see the copyright holders reap their just rewards… as they should.

Mind you, its taken four years of legal wrangling for the RIAA to bring about this injunction that ‘compels the Lime Group to disable its searching, downloading, uploading and file trading features.’

If you link across to the LimeWire site, you’ll find a notice posted that says ‘This is an official notice that LimeWire is under a court ordered injunction to stop distributing and supporting its file-sharing software.’ Scroll on a bit and you’ll discover this nugget, ‘downloading or sharing copyrighted content without authorisation is illegal.’

Well well well… that’s big of them, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, LimeWire don’t – yet – appear to have been hit with the colossal fine that they so richly deserve; a fine that once imposed – and paid – should be plonked into the RIAA coffers and re-distributed amongst all those artists and writers (the creatives) who LimeWire have knowingly ripped off.

Meantime and besides striking (something the French are particularly adept at), their ISP’s are acting on that Government’s ‘three-strikes’ legislation. They are sending out an average of 25,000 letters a day to suspected illegal filesharers. Now, the French love paperwork and compiling what they call le dossier – I know this first hand since I used to live there.

But… sorry fellas… it won’t work… because you’re targeting the wrong people.

And, if I still lived there I’m wondering if I’d be on their radar for illegally sharing a (music) file?

Lets take a very recent example. A pal of mine (a highly respected musician for what its worth) recently got in touch asking if I had a copy of album X by artist Y. Frankly, while reading his email, I couldn’t remember – this being a pretty obscure record that I knew had never been digitally released.

Anyhow, a quick fizz through my bulging I-Tunes folder and… lo and behold… there it was; way back when I did live in France, I must’ve digitised this album myself by transferring the vinyl version across to my computer. Actually, it’s a fairly easy process to do that using gadgets (programs) like Audacity… and, even easier nowadays ‘cos one simply buys a turntable that connects to one’s computer via a USB cable.

So… I loaded it all up and, via a file-sharing program I subscribe to (regularly sending large graphics images and so forth) I fizzed the individual music files that comprised the full album over to my buddy in Ireland. Next again day, he writes back saying thanks (like you do) and… he’s happy that he can listen to something he’d been trying to find for some time and I’m happy ‘cos I helped an old friend out.

Does anyone have a problem with that..?

I should hope not – after all, the album in question was purchased – albeit many moons ago – legally.

In fact, now that I come to think about it, I probably paid 32 and 6 for it (which, in old money / pre-decimalisation equates to one pound sixty or so) thereby demonstrating just how elderly a recording it was.

However… IF I still lived in the semi-remote region of France that I once did, then chances are the cyber-authorities would have me ear-marked as a criminal. Indeed, how soon would the knock on the front door come… and would I face the prospect of being collared by the local Gendarmerie? Very probably.

And… this is why it (this three-strikes initiative) won’t work.

Because, while I freely admit (guilty as charged m'lud) that I sent a music file – files plural to be precise – to my pal, I’d have contravened legislation that says what I did wasn’t legal (based on the fact that the recipient didn’t pay for said files).

And, this is where it is going to go horribly wrong for the French. They get many things right – such as Confit du Canard in amongst some very fine wines indeed as well as more spectacular cheeses than there are days in the year – but… this clamp-down isn’t one of ‘em.

As with LimeWire, it’s the upload and download companies that have to be targeted – MegaUpload, Rapidshare, HotFile and all of those companies (there are dozens). These are the people who distribute the goods; these are the people who’re making zillions via subscription charges that allow ordinary folk to post links to albums / singles / 12” mixes (whatever you want) for others to download.

The other day, Q Magazine awarded its album of the year to The National – pretty sound choice in my view; it’s a cracking record but I’d hazard a guess that it wouldn’t take more than five minutes of searching to find it as an illegal download via either Rapidshare or MegaUpload.

This little Voltaire out there on its grassy knoll of the windswept www prairie reckons that’s serious food for thought.

1 comment:

kevmoore said...

Great piece on an issue that is likely to grow more complex by the year. I was horrified to learn some weeks back, prior to the official release of the Black Country Communion album, upon proudly telling a musician friend of mine here in Spain that I'd placed an advance order for it and was eagerly awaiting its arrival, that he'd been offered a copy of it from a 'friend' already! I have friends in the business who are watching their royalty cheques dwindle by the day, and given that most of them were ripped off in the first place, the knowledge that the listeners are now doing the same leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth indeed. Let's hope adequate legislation is found that protects the artist and gives them their due. Musicians getting paid for their creativity? It might just work.