Sunday, July 6, 2008

communiqué #8: rational debate

wyatt earp or deputy dawg ; the sheriff hits the trail.
Or, as my friend Gus asked, who are the brain police ?

This communique is prompted by the Web Sheriff's visitation here last week, and by Brendan's post concerning a web survey which is currently being conducted over on The Rising Storm. I have posted much of the following as a comment on The Rising Storm - though I've edited it since - and feel the issues raised by this 'visit' are certainly worth exploring rather than adopting a head-in-the-sand response.

As Brendan would appear to concede (and pardon me, B, if I'm misreading your intent) the blogging community is increasingly under pressure in putting up files for evaluation ; we're not talking wholesale deliberate piracy in hosting entire albums whether out of print or not here, the issue is in promoting artists by featuring selected tracks and, in many instances, providing links to commercial stockists as per this site; The Rising Storm; and a whole host of others. It is not, nor has been from the inception of SibLINGSHOT ON THE BLEACHERS, my intention to deny artists their inalienable right to financially benefit from their output. Quite the contrary, in my defence.

If the survival of sites is dependent solely on having music industry approved material foisted on them, the gig is up. So far as I am concerned, it is the provision of out of print or poorly circulated material on blogs thus far which has led directly to users on the web having an impact on what is picked up and put back into distribution.

It helps rekindle the buzz.

If sufficient demand can be demonstrated - as I believe it already has to a great extent - then distributors can be sure of making profit. That means increased cash flow to artists who have suffered in the past from their material being inaccessible, and - of course - revenue for the industry as a whole. In this scenario there are no losers.

If material is purchased on the back of direct links to commercial outlets or by recourse to independent sellers, then surely that is justification enough to stymie litigative threat ?

In this instance, I was visited by the "Web Sheriff" - a UK based body safeguarding copyright material - and politely advised to remove all links to a specific file. I was quite happy to comply with said request, in accordance with this site's disclaimer, and removed the link in question immediately. Further contact on a seemingly quite friendly and equanimous note was made here the following day.

This in itself seemed to me quite reasonable and courteous, if not regrettable in that the post under censure provided a direct link to Amazon where the newly remastered product could be purchased and given, too, the track in question was over forty years old.
Be that as it may, I would far sooner be approached in this manner where an issue has arisen, than inadvertently provoke a storm out of all proportion, a rattling of sabres, as has seen to be threatened elsewhere.

The “Web Sheriff” has made his position quite clear. Debate, I feel, is to be welcomed rather than shunned.

I'd relish some feedback here. Maybe I'm just rattled; it could be I'm shooting myself in the foot. Damn!

Am I alone in finding the words "All The Best for the W'end" vaguely chilling ? I keep on hearing Johnny Cash's foreboding "25 Minutes to Go" whistling round the bend.

Or maybe I'm just paranoid. One can never be too sure.

FLAMIN' GROOVIES: SHAKE SOME ACTION * from "Shake Some Action" LP (Sire) 1976 (US)

* thanks to Emmett from Art Decade for providing the inspiration for this selection added after the fact.



Your driver said...

I think pop culture should follow the lead of it's hard core fan base. I know the music biz has been looking to lock things up for the last 40 years. I also know that they've been losing their grip for at least that long. Fans, supporting musicians, have usually been the ones leading the breakout from whatever corral they've tried to herd us into lately. I find that more and more musicians post samples of their music in hopes that it will lead the public to follow their careers, show up for their shows and buy the rest of their stuff. Recently I've posted several songs that were either downloaded from the artist's site or were by artists who encourage fans to circulate their work. That, dude, is the future. Look for Otis Gibbs. Coming soon.

ib said...

All that you say is relevant, of course. I respect the stance taken on the part of the "sheriff" in that they understand that the greater part of the blogging community is fan based, and that they make a huge contribution to the promotion of artists through their proliferation on the web. That is, if I understand their intention correctly.

Of course, it is ultimately down to artists themselves as to whether or not they view weblogging as beneficial or otherwise.

Artists and the music industry, I feel, have to attempt to come to terms with how the web affects their future, and clearly they are trying to do so.

On the one hand, you can do everything in your legal power to close down sites in breach of repeated requests to remove files. On the other, if the industry takes a wholly uncompromising approach in attempting to police sites, they can hardly expect co-operation when promotion is actively in their better interest.

I would sooner be approached in a courteous manner and asked to remove a file when and if there is an issue, as I've already stated, than engage in a defiant standoff which ultimately does no side any good.

Your driver said...

Oh yeah, hard to disagree with the web sheriff's polite requests. Better that than armed cops breaking down some college students door and hauling him off to jail for file sharing. In the meantime, we're in a sort of low intensity war.

Anonymous said...

In my mind the Web Sheriff looks and sounds like "The Cowboy" in the film Mulholland Drive.

"If you do good, you will see me once. If you do bad, you will see me twice..."

ib said...

Ha Ha, Emmett, I do believe you're right.

How much of that is intentionally intimidating, I am undecided. I am fairly confident, however, that I can expect some forthcoming commentary here.

I am certain, too, that he revisited the Van post on Friday again to ascertain if I had reinstated those links I removed. I find that a little insulting, if understandable to whatever degree.

Thanks for commenting on this one, dude, and for taking the survey at The Rising Storm.