full life

(no subject)

1. Just this weekend I was talking with a friend of mine about digital distribution and file sharing and how it applied to me as a musician - was I for or against it? This was 24 hours before the Radiohead bombshell hit the internets.

I remember when the internet was just starting to become widespread - my dad warned me very sternly about putting my music online, but (if I remember correctly) his concern was mostly about copyright issues; he was concerned that if I put a song online, someone else could steal my song if I didn't have the proper materials that proved the song was mine first. Which is a perfectly valid thing to be concerned about; I still haven't copywritten any of the stuff I've posted already, although I'm not terribly worried that anybody's gonna steal it. And anyway, R.E.M. had a song on "Out of Time" that features a chorus that is pretty much exactly the same chorus as a song I'd written and recorded the previous summer; sometimes these things just happen. (Also - the best lyric I ever wrote, which was based on a true event, happened to be the opening lyric for a Replacements song that I'd never heard before.)

If you'd asked me about this question 5-10 years ago, I'd have been totally anti-file sharing. But now, what with the proliferation of sites like myspace and the music industry's complete ineptitude in the face of technology, I'm absolutely for it. In fact, I don't really see how I could expect to get anything I'll ever record from here on out WITHOUT file sharing.

What Radiohead is doing is brilliant on so many levels; they're not the first ones to be doing what they're doing, but they're certainly the most influential and important band to be doing it, and whatever happens in 10 days is probably going to be a watershed moment for the industry at large.

2. My brother, a die-hard Mets fan, IMed me this morning:

choke monsters
Jeremy: who, the Eagles?
Jono: METS
Jeremy: i didn't want to say anything
because there's nothing i could say that would sound sincere
wait, hold on a sec
i think i'm choking on something

I could've sworn there was more I wanted to write about. There may yet still be.
The short version
Radiohead's been posting cryptically on their website over the last few months about the progress of their latest record. (This would be a good time to mention that they are not on any record label at the moment - 3003's "Hail to the Thief" was their last album on their old deal, and they elected to remain a free-floating entity rather than re-sign with a new label.)

Anyway; yesterday morning (or was it today?), they suddenly announced that they were releasing their album via digital download in 10 days, and the fans would be able to choose what they wanted to pay for it; a super-deluxe version on CD, vinyl and with artwork and another 8-10 songs would be released in December, only for people who ordered that specific package, and for around $81; and now word is coming out that they're releasing a regular CD version in the spring. Not only that, but they're not giving out any advanced copies of the album to press; everybody who wants it hears it at the same time.

Basically, what they're doing is leaking the album themselves - if any album is more anticipated than the new Radiohead album, I'd like to see it - and letting people offer donations (if they choose) when they get it.
My friend Swifty is a major Mets fan (and baseball fan in general; the man knows more about the game than anyone I know). Here's what he had to say today:

I am completely disgusted though and have a real sour feeling towards anything baseball related at the moment. I think the only thing that could turn me around right now is watching the Cubs win the whole goddamn thing.

Faith and Fear said it all right right here as far as I'm concerned. But what's with everyone taking pictures of their kids in Mets shirts crying? It's on the back page of the Post and one of my close friends just sent me one of his kid. That's f*cked up, dude.

That's a great rant he linked to, and I had already sent that Post photo to my brother as well. To which he replied, "buncha goddamned crybabies."
Hey kid!

One of the Mets, when asked if he were 'devastated' by the blown end-of-season, said sensibly that 'devastation' is not a word that should apply to the outcome of a sports game. At least there's one person who has his head screwed on right!

For my own blog ( johnvossphotography.blogspot.com ) I wrote a cautionary sentence above, and a dire warning below about copyright. Of course I couldn't care less if someone downloads one of my photographs for their own enjoyment on their computer, but if they were to print one and sell it....I'll tell my poodle dog to bite his balls off! Yeah....that'll stop 'em! Yeah!
Just a quick point... technically, if you've posted your music anywhere, put it on a CD, put it on a cassette, answering machine, written it down as sheet music, etc. then you have by definition copyrighted it under United States law and are due all the same protection as anyone else.

Now, will you win an infringement case if someone were to steal something from you? That's a different matter all together.
The issue is that the courts have always only recognized a formal copyright as evidence of date, and so far a poor man's copyright has never been accepted in a infringement case. Basically, winning a infringement claim comes down to three things:

1) Proof of preceding copyright to the claimed infringement. As I said, technically, it only as to be in a fixed form of media. But proving the date has always come down to a judges expectation of copyright documentation. Copyright lawyers generally won't even look at your case without this. I have to wonder when there will be precedence over this though with so much digital distribution and the ease of pulling a server log to show timestamp.

2) Access. You have to prove that the infringing party had access to hear your music. These days, that's pretty much a no brainer. So, in this respect, uploading your music to be heard on-line actually protects you assuming you can also prove the previous date issue.

3) Similarity. This is where the war is waged in nearly every infringement battle. It's where a bunch of snotty musicologists are brought in to demonstrate the similarities or differences in two works note for note. And being that much of this is subjective, it hardly comes down to science or fact. Usually, it's the judge's decision in the end (or jury in the rare cases of a jury trial), and they base it largely on precedence in other cases.

As for the "real" poor man's copyright that I can guarantee you will work... collect all of your songs in AIFF or WAV format (MP3 would probably be fine as well, put them on a DVD-R and send it in under a form SR with a detailed track listing. $30. It doesn't matter if you have 1000 songs on there. You will have undeniable proof of date for all your works on the cheap. I try to get in the habit of doing this once a year, but admittedly, I'm bad about it.