Don’t be a Sucker, Ari

Oh, Ari Herstand.​ You really are a sucker.

For those of you who haven’t been following this, you may want to start here: Don’t be Hypocrites, DMN

Here is Ari’s response, in which he uses the term “Big Tech” in quotes to indicate he’s replying directly to me, but without ever mentioning my name. Gee Ari, what are you so afraid of?

My response:

First, Publishers are indeed stealing from their songwriters. And the effect of publishing companies winning the fight against Facebook will likely leave indie songwriters with nothing but scraps, just as the labels did for indie artist’s looking for a fair Mechanical Royalty for streaming. But indie songwriters aren’t the ones who generally have their songs covered. It’s the songwriters with publishers whose songs tend to be covered. And as you pointed out, those songwriters have the ability to take their bad acting publishers to court.

That said, I concede that the major publishers haven’t been good actors in this regard. The labels have been even worse.

But one of Ari’s arguments in his numerous poorly conveyed articles, is that it was equally as wrong for the music industry to go after individuals for copyright infringement in the early aughts as it is now for UMG to issue DMCA takedown notices to a corporation 11 times its size. All because of the poor little Yutes, who just want to share their interpretations of famous songs for the world.

The general public may be ignorant of the law where copyright infringement is concerned, but that doesn’t mean we should just give up and let a company that brought in 17 billion last year to profit off the backs of songwriters and publishers.

Now, I don’t disagree that it was a mistake to go after individuals for Copyright infringement, but that’s not what UMG is currently doing. They are going after Facebook, who is refusing to negotiate a blanket license with them for access to any and all music in their catalog. They have a responsibility to their songwriters to do that, and if they decide not to share monies from a blanket license agreement in the future, the songwriters have legal recourse with their publishers. Songwriters have little-to-no legal recourse against social media sites hiding behind the DMCA.

Then, somehow, Ari suggests that Taylor Swift–a superstar who could break a record just by tweeting about it–is somehow in the wrong for posting a clip of herself singing Kendrick Lamar’s song “Backseat Freestyle.”

Let’s just set aside the fact that Ari is making a big assumption that Kendrick Lamar didn’t give her permission. I mean, what would that take? A phone call?

Taylor: “Hey Kendrick, I’m going to post me up singing your song. cool?”
Kendrick: “Hell yeah! My publisher will be so happy!”

But even if Kendrick or his publisher didn’t overtly approve, they are certainly within their rights to issue a DMCA takedown to Facebook.

I might point out, that Taylor Swift didn’t write the DMCA law that allows social media sites protection from infringement suits under the pretense that they can’t possibly know when a user is posting an infringing video until they’re made aware of it by the rights holder.

What makes Ari’s entire argument laughable, is the fact that somehow a “cover” video of Taylor Swift singing a Kendrick Lamar song, is the equivalent of a 15 year-old unknown singer performing a cover of a Taylor Swift song. I’ll tell you, if Taylor wants to perform one of my songs in a video (I’d love to hear her sing a rendition of “The Douchebag Song” from #Mixerman and the Billionheir Apparent), she can do so with impunity. I give her a blanket license to do that.

Does that make me hypocritical?

Not in the least. Because it’s my copyright, and I can choose to exercise it or not how I see fit, and without concern of losing my copyright.

It’s not a Trademark. It’s a copyright. The trademark holder is required to defend and protect all instances of infringement in order to keep the Trademark.

Copyright is intrinsic, which makes it accessible protection for everyone. Not just large corporations. Which is why companies like Google and FB want to kill copyright. Because they can protect their intellectual property with Trademarks and Patent laws alone.

So, to Ari. No one is suggesting that the labels and the publishers aren’t out for themselves. We all know this. But all of the music business companies, the publishers and the labels together, are tiny in comparison to Big Tech, and have no choice but to do anything they can to stay alive. Much of that was even their own fault. But if you think for a second that the new Big Tech would-be distribution overlord is going to be better for artists and songwriters than the labels and the publishers who control the back catalog, then you really are nothing more than a sucker.

Meet the new boss. Way worse than the old boss. Because the new boss is systematically infiltrating the government agencies with people who want to drown copyright in a bathtub. And if we don’t stick together as an industry–bad actors and all–to somehow prevent that very real attempt from succeeding, then you can forget about writing books or songs as a way to make a living in the future.

Don’t be a sucker.

Mixerman

Please note: Digital Music News has allowed an anonymous commenter to post this response in its entirety on their website and without my permission. I have notified them of the infringement, and requested that the unauthorized posting of my work be removed from their site.

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