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Music Piracy Your Rights Online

A Composer's-Eye View of the Copyright Wars 973

Posted by timothy
from the so-you're-saying-there-are-living-composers dept.
bonch writes "As an experiment, composer Jason Robert Brown logged onto a site illegally offering his sheet music for download and contacted hundreds of users, politely asking them to stop listing the material. Most complied, some were confused, and a few fought back. Brown chronicles a lengthy exchange he had with a teenage girl named Brenna, which provides an interesting insight into the artists' perspective of the copyright debate. He also responds to several points raised in comments to the article and says, 'I don't wish to be the enemy; I'm just a guy trying to make a living.'"
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A Composer's-Eye View of the Copyright Wars

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  • by gringer (252588) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @10:06PM (#32795436)

    I'm not convinced JRB has addressed one comment that seems to have been explained the best by Eleanor, and only lightly touched on by other comments attached to that blog post (e.g. voideka, clovis lark, george).

    Put simply, people choose the path of least resistance, which is usually the path of least cost.

    If Eleanor needed some music for an audition, any reasonable music would do. She wouldn't pay money if a popular work were available for free (but might pay a small amount of money for a popular work if it were easy to do that). If the creator of a particular work didn't choose to distribute a one-off version at no cost, Eleanor would probably search elsewhere for a gratis piece of music (possibly by a different creator). People do distribute sheet music for no cost, so this stuff will be around somewhere, even if only legal avenues are chosen.

    It reminds me of a discussion about the costs of cellphone plans that I looked at recently. Someone compared costs of different networks, assuming a person sent around 3,000 text messages per month. They ended up with some costs on the order of $300-$500 per month, because their analysis didn't include limited-time plans. The reality is that no one would choose to pay that much for text messages, it just wouldn't make sense given that cheaper plans are available (around $10-$15 per month, maybe a bit less). Often, people in my country will keep two prepay cellphones (or two sim cards), so that they can take advantage of the best offer at a particular time.

    • by slashqwerty (1099091) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @11:07PM (#32795910)

      Put simply, people choose the path of least resistance, which is usually the path of least cost.

      If Eleanor needed some music for an audition, any reasonable music would do. She wouldn't pay money if a popular work were available for free

      He's not going to argue that point either. If copyright law were reasonable copyrights would expire in a reasonable timeframe. The result would be a huge public domain where Eleanor could take her pick of free popular songs. Her instructors and mentors would point her to the rich public domain and that would not help Mr. Brown at all.

      Really, copyright debate boils down to free-loaders demanding free access to everything, and copyright holders demanding restrictions on everything. So long as either side refuses to acknowledge the flaws in their arguments we are not going to see reasonable debate about where copyright ought to be.

      • by yyxx (1812612) on Monday July 05, 2010 @12:00AM (#32796234)

        Really, copyright debate boils down to free-loaders demanding free access to everything, and copyright holders demanding restrictions on everything. So long as either side refuses to acknowledge the flaws in their arguments we are not going to see reasonable debate about where copyright ought to be.

        Really? How does it boil down to that? I thought there were lots of other parties to the debate, like librarians, archives, artists, etc. Many copyright holders (myself included) also don't like current copyright at all and would much prefer a different kind of copyright.

        In fact, most of our copyright issues would vanish if we went back to traditional US copyright laws: 14 years + one 14 years extension if the author is still alive, with a registration requirement. I have yet to see an argument why traditional US copyright isn't the right choice.

        • by Kjella (173770) on Monday July 05, 2010 @05:33AM (#32797894) Homepage

          In fact, most of our copyright issues would vanish if we went back to traditional US copyright laws: 14 years + one 14 years extension if the author is still alive, with a registration requirement. I have yet to see an argument why traditional US copyright isn't the right choice.

          Not even close. For one, if we are to keep copyright I would want compulsory global RAND licensing. No more region codes. No more waiting for the DVD release, or iTunes to ever bother making TV series available here. No more making me pay 30% more because I'm on the wrong side of the atlantic. Have the free market work both ways, you are free to get labor where you want and I'm free to get the product where I want.

          What can I say, I have the "service" I want already. I just want someone to offer the same, legally.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 04, 2010 @10:06PM (#32795438)

    This composer clearly believes that when someone downloads a copy of his music, it somehow deprives him of something by the examples he gives.

    NEWSFLASH: Not having a screwdriver or a book is not the same as having a copy of your music pirated at all.

    To make his example work, here's how you'd have to phrase it:

    A friend is building a house. He needs a screwdriver. I know a store with only one left at 80% off. I also need that screwdriver. I face a dilemma:

      - Do I let the friend know where he can get that screwdriver for 80% off so he can save the money?
      - Do I buy the screwdriver for myself first, then let him know and lead him to believe he "just missed" it?
      - Do I lie by omission and tell him he'll just need to buy it at full price at a different store?

    You see, that's the problem with suggesting you are deserved future profits. You can't get blood from a stone, and this girl schooled you on that.

    That being said, it is your right to deny her your music. I'm certain she'll find a different composer to idolize (one who either gives away their sheet music free, or one from whom she can pirate) and there's only a small likelihood her "career" will take off so you really don't need to worry that in the future you might have just cut yourself off from an even bigger revenue stream. She obviously isn't going to buy your stuff, because she can't.

    Of course, if you were a little bit smarter, I think you'd have offered to email her a copy if she sent you $4 in an envelope (or even a money order). But your ego is bruised. So sad. In business (and that's what copyright is therefore) there's absolutely no room for feelings; hell, there's barely even room for MORALS nowadays.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gomoX (618462)

      Missing option:
      - You buy the screwdriver at 80% off and sell it to your friend at full price making a healthy profit in the process.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by joe_frisch (1366229)

      For normal physical goods like say cars, money and goods are a reasonable exchange. If I have money and you have a car, after the transaction, I have a car but no money, you have money but no car.

      For information the transaction is different. If I have money and you have information, after the transaction, I have information but no money, you have money AND still have the information. It is a fundamentally different sort of transaction. This difference is at the heart of most discussions on information shari

    • by internic (453511) on Monday July 05, 2010 @12:38AM (#32796428)

      While I'm somewhat sympathetic to this composer's viewpoint, like others here I cringed upon reading the bad analogies between copyright infringement and stealing physical objects. It's not surprising if the girl he was talking to didn't find them convincing, because they are fundamentally really bad analogies.

      However, reading this really crystallized for me how to express the nature of the error: when someone infringes on your copyright they're not stealing from you but they are cheating you. Copyright infringement doesn't fit neatly into the analogy to stealing, which is a convenient one because it's something everyone understands. Instead, copyright is a sort of social contract between society and creators, which says that we will respect an artificial scarcity on those creative products because we recognize the value in them and want to incentivize creativity (or you could look it as trying to internalize positive externalities). When someone infringes copyright he is violating that social contract, going back on the agreement and cheating the creator.

      Although I'm sure it's possible to think of a better analogy, one that comes to mind is if you built a sports stadium and convinced a vendor to spend a bunch of money to build and stock a hotdog stand, on the promise that those would be the only concessions available in the venue. Then the next week you started having free hotdog night, and consequently the vendor ends up loosing out on his investment. While that might not be a particularly moving analogy, I think people arguing against copyright infringement would be much more convincing if they stuck to some such analogy that had a sound connection to the actual problem. Analogies about screwdrivers and the like are never convincing because they are horrible analogies. I suppose a large part of the problem is that while property is a natural right that has been intuitively recognized for ages across many human societies, copyright is more of a pragmatic strategy that our society has adopted, which is not universal and is relatively recent (on the scale of human history); there is no reason to expect that copyright infringement should seem intuitively wrong. Indeed, the notion that spreading the wealth of information is wrong makes little sense if not considered in the context of the particular social contract we have established.

      The other half of the battle (at least among those who are aware of the issues) is that copyright, as a social contract, is a two-way street. While it was once a contract between the creators and the people at large that was limited, reasonable, and clearly mutually beneficial, copyright has grown and changed and is now the product of laws that are bought by corporate money with little input by (or, indeed, even knowledge of among) the public. In effect, first the artists broke their side of the deal (or, at least, the organizations purporting to represent them did), and now the people have ceased to honor their side. Each party feels wronged, and there is a lot of bad blood. It would seem to me that the best way forward would be new alliance between moderate, pragmatic groups on both sides that seeks to establish a new compact that will again be limited, reasonable, and one both parties can recognize as mutually beneficial. Unfortunately, I think the popular but fallacious of "intellectual property" only hinders this goal.

    • GPL (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Otis_INF (130595) on Monday July 05, 2010 @02:46AM (#32797232) Homepage

      It's shocking how much people here bash this composer, as this is a site which always has taken the stance against GPL violation.

      If a person X writes a piece of code and licenses it under the GPL, it's X' decision. If I take that code and embed it in my own code, not giving credits to X nor open my own code, I thus 'stole' X' work. It's the same thing as with this sheetmusic: the composer asks money for his work, that's HIS choice, not anybody's elses. If someone else wants to use / have the sheetmusic, that person has to pay: obey the rules the creator of the work has stated.

      It's strange that on a site where every GPL violation is big news and a lot of people show their support for the GPL etc. etc. it's apparently 'ok' to violate the rules some composer has stated for HIS work. It's not YOUR work, it's HIS work. Don't want to pay? don't download it.

  • A Little Too Late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 04, 2010 @10:08PM (#32795450)

    The problem is that small time composers/musicians/artists want to play both sides. They align with the large distribution channels when it suits them. They don't speak out when the RIAA sues everyone and their brother. They don't stop licensing their music through ASCAP. They don't get involved when their historical distributors fail to adapt to changes in technology. They continue to feel they "own" their creation (vs. actually owning a very specific, limited, license granted voluntarily by governments). They don't stand up against DRM. They don't stand up for consumer's rights.

    So, essentially, I don't believe for a second, that he is "just a guy trying to make a living." He is manipulative; he is self-centred, and, now that is suits him, he is trying to play the role of the innocent bystander.

    You made your bed, now lie in it. You had a chance, back when Napster was new, to change things. You failed to act then. Now, you are reaping the rewards -- or lack thereof -- of you short-sightedness. You (in collaboration with your fellow musicians) could have made easy, legal, inexpensive, distribution of music the standard. Instead, you chose to split it between expensive, legal, and restrictive and cheap, illegal, and easy.

    So, in summary, fuck off; where were you 10 years ago, when you could have *actually* changed things.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drosboro (1046516)

      So, essentially, I don't believe for a second, that he is "just a guy trying to make a living." He is manipulative; he is self-centred, and, now that is suits him, he is trying to play the role of the innocent bystander.

      Heh... I'm doing a show by JRB right now (The Last 5 Years), which is an autobiographical sketch of his failed marriage. It was, in fact, so autobiographical that his ex-wife sued over it. Interestingly, the male character in the show is completely manipulative and self-centred.

      So, at least he knows it! :)

  • short story: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 04, 2010 @10:11PM (#32795484)

    Amazing. slashdot is of course a tough crowd for proprietary IP advocates. Here's my own story. My ten year old got a CD from a friend who is a record producer in Hollywood. He liked it and wanted to make copies to give a few friends. I advised that he ask the producer for permission to do so. The producer, bein' from Hollywood an' all, of course said no. If they wanted a copy they could go to the music store and buy one. So my son, disappointed, did not share it with his friends, stopped listening to it, and no additional copies were ever made. OR SOLD! The fallacy seemed to be the belief that the kids would rush out and buy the CD if they couldn't get it for free. Of course they didn't. They went home and played with their Wii. The album died on the junk heap of history, as most do. And without at least a half a dozen potential ardent young fans.

    • Re:short story: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mr_walrus (410770) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @10:49PM (#32795752)

      the producer lives or dies from his choices, however they are his choices not yours or anyone elses.

      trying to sugar coat the behavior as "helping the creator" of a work
      is just that sugar coating. it is still shit you are doing.

      • Re:short story: (Score:4, Insightful)

        by xigxag (167441) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @11:57PM (#32796218)

        Did you read the whole post, even? He had his son ask the producer's permission, and then they respected the foolish choice the producer made. So what shit was done?

        The moral of the anecdote, in case you missed it, is this: There's no denying that those who choose to disobey the law will hurt the artist in the short term, but the really bad news is that those who choose to obey the law may hurt the artist more in the long term.

  • Hello there Jason.

    Let me explain a few things to you, since you seem to have wrong information regarding "copyright" and other fictitious concepts.

    Copyright isn't an inalienable right. It isn't real property. It is imaginary property. Copyright is a recent concept. As recent as the Renaissance. Before that, you could own physical property, but Ideas were free. If you created a magnanimous work of art, that work of art belonged to the human kind. Then, you could earn a living by performing live, doing work for hire, etc. During the Renaissance, the catholic church, in their unstoppable hunger for power, tried to control the output of printers. They already had a very tight control on scribes, and they wanted to extend that control over to the modern press. The motive: To ban unwanted books. In a word: Censorship. This concept of owning ideas and controlling what you did with them was nothing but lies, just like the rest of christianity.

    Later, governments jumped in on the boat, trying to control the press, for mostly the same reasons. Many, many years later, with the church mostly obsolete, and government under the control of corporations, our beloved corporate overlords wanted to hold the almighty power over free speech. So they were the ones that wrote the modern copyright laws.

    Nobody owns ideas. Nobody owns art. They belong to the human kind. Period. Any attempt to control ideas is nothing but another fascist atempt at control of this Orwellian society.

    But I do understand the POV of the creator. I do, because I am a creator too. And yes, we need to make a living just like anyone else. Now, there is a hugI de difference between the NEED to make a living, and some stupid god-given right to be given money just because we create. That won't work because a) there is no god and b) we have no such right. We decided that we wanted to create. Great. That doesn't allow us to control ideas. I do believe, like many other creators, that our creations are like our childs. You don't own your children. You have to feed them, care for them, and protect them until they are mature enough to have a life on their own. And then they are gone. They are as free as you are. Our need for food and shelter (read: money) doesn't change that basic principle.

    You CAN profit from what you do, but always remember, you DON'T own your creations.

    P.S: Regarding your screwdriver analogy, it doesn't work. It's been debunked several times before. Basically, your screwdriver is a physical object. A more valid analogy here would be if you made a house that was a replica of the house your friend was building. And it would be totally ok.

    Sincerely,
    Sebastian.

    • by matzahboy (1656011) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @10:34PM (#32795636)

      Copyright isn't an inalienable right.

      There are very few inalienable rights. I do not see why this is relevant

      Copyright is a recent concept. As recent as the Renaissance.

      For someone trying to cite history in your argument, you sure know little about it. All of the inalienable rights as we know them today derived from the Enlightenment which was centuries after the Renaissance. The term "inalienable right" was coined in the 1600s.

      Before that, you could own physical property, but Ideas were free. If you created a magnanimous work of art, that work of art belonged to the human kind. Then, you could earn a living by performing live, doing work for hire, etc.

      Yes, and the playwrights were dirt-poor.

      The motive: To ban unwanted books. In a word: Censorship. This concept of owning ideas and controlling what you did with them was nothing but lies, just like the rest of christianity.

      Yes, the Catholic Church wanted censorship. But copyright has nothing to do with censorship. The Catholic Church was trying to stop the spread of new ideas, ideas that might threaten them. Copyright law allows the spread of new ideas, but does not allow the unauthorized replication of old ideas.

      Nobody owns ideas. Nobody owns art. They belong to the human kind. Period. Any attempt to control ideas is nothing but another fascist atempt at control of this Orwellian society.

      It is true that no one can own ideas like they can own a screwdriver. That is why copyright law was invented. The idea is to give incentive to create. If no one paid for ideas, then no one could make a living off coming up with those ideas. The only composers would be rich people who could live off of their savings. The music industry would be tiny. Etc.

      Now, there is a hugI de difference between the NEED to make a living, and some stupid god-given right to be given money just because we create.

      Wow. I don't even have a response to that. Just wow...

      I do believe, like many other creators, that our creations are like our childs. You don't own your children. You have to feed them, care for them, and protect them until they are mature enough to have a life on their own. And then they are gone. They are as free as you are.

      Yes, you are right. And that is why copyrights expire, just like children grow up.

      A more valid analogy here would be if you made a house that was a replica of the house your friend was building. And it would be totally ok.

      Your friend put so much work into making that design for the house. He spent hours and hours. Time that he could have spent building houses and making more money. Now you come along and take his design without compensation. You didn't have to spend all of those hours creating the design. It doesn't cost you a penny, but it cost him a lot (remember, time is money). Now is that fair?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Darkness404 (1287218)

        There are very few inalienable rights. I do not see why this is relevant

        Because you have the right to thought, speech, life, liberty, etc. those are inalienable, the right to have a monopoly on your work is not natural in the least. It is artificial, in short, it is propped up not by nature but by government.

        For someone trying to cite history in your argument, you sure know little about it. All of the inalienable rights as we know them today derived from the Enlightenment which was centuries after the Renaissance. The term "inalienable right" was coined in the 1600s.

        ...Mostly because of two major things.

        A) Before the enlightenment, the majority of the world had to keep on working just to eat. The rest of the world that had time to think and experiment would be better off if they didn't think about the legitimacy of tyranny becau

      • by xigxag (167441) on Monday July 05, 2010 @12:04AM (#32796258)

        If no one paid for ideas, then no one could make a living off coming up with those ideas. The only composers would be rich people who could live off of their savings.

        You just "composed" the above comment. FOR FREE. Why?

        The music industry would be tiny. Etc.

        Here's the part where you're supposed to explain why that's a bad thing.

  • Self Justification (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Sunday July 04, 2010 @10:22PM (#32795544) Homepage

    Eleanor is justifying her own behavior, clearly. I enjoyed the "I'm not saying you're not right but you're totally wrong" line. I actually though his "photocopy my book" argument was quite compelling.

    I will say, I understand Eleanor a bit. Sheet music seems amazingly expensive to me. Why does it cost $4 to download and print sheet music?

    I can buy a large orchestration of a song, made with 100 musicians and a 50 person choir, for $1. But the sheet music, which is reduced to be played on one or two instruments, costs $4? That just seems off. The only good argument I could see would be to make up for people performing the music, but that requires a separate license payment (doesn't it?), so that can't be it. Actually, a song for Rock Band often costs ~$3. That's a full, high quality 5.1 sound, in 5 tracks, translated into 4 note custom note charts in 4 difficulty levels. That's a ton more work than went into the sheet music, but it's still 25% less money.

    Then there's the fact that the sheet music is a byproduct of the process of making music. To make the "easy piano" version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" takes extra work, but the full version of the guitar part was already written for the song. By the same token, do you think Elton John never would have produced sheet music for "Candle in the Wind" if he didn't want to sell the sheet music? He would have made it either way.

    I like tinkering around on my keyboard, and playing simple songs. But sheet music is expensive, when you can find it. Can you even find piano arrangements of video game themes/music in stores?

    He certainly deserves to be paid, I'm just not sure the price is in line with the relative value... which is why I don't buy much sheet music (and when I do, it's usually large collections).

    • by LingNoi (1066278) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @11:03PM (#32795860)

      I don't believe Eleanor is even real..

      Most of the teenagers I have met who are into theatre would do the free song before they would do the one for $3.99 unless they had a really good reason.

      No teenagers talk like that. Ever. The guy wrote it himself look at the writing style between his responses and hers, they're practically the same. He made it up.

      • by IICV (652597) on Monday July 05, 2010 @01:21AM (#32796682)

        I believe you are correct, sir. Either he is filtering what she actually said through his own words, or he made her up out of whole cloth. My little sister is in the same age range, and although she tries to mimic the way I type when we e-mail or chat (you know, with real capitalization and grammar and suchlike), she always ends up making at least some mistakes.

        Throughout the whole exchange, this girl makes almost no errors - an intentional "u" instead of "you" in the first e-mail (which is quite odd when juxtaposed with the proper capitalization, but that happens in some clients), a couple of missed caps in the fourth e-mail (which is again odd when contrasted with the first e-mail; different clients, perhaps?), and that's about it.

        No homonym mixups, no further abbreviations that I can see, no Internet talk at all. Hell, her writing is even stylistically sound - no doubled punctuation (which is quite common), no overuse of ellipses (which I know I was guilty of until college, even), relatively simple and to the point, doesn't get lost in her own verbiage when trying to make a point.

        She's a far better writer than I was at that age, which is possible - however, I was pretty good at it according to all those standardized tests, and he randomly picked her out of a sample of 400 users on one sheet music trading website? That's kind of odd, but I guess a sheet music trading website would self-select for higher literacy. On the other hand, she does kiss his ass to an absolutely astonishing degree, calling him a "genius" no less than three times while heaping other praise on him. You'd think that if she was grumpy about him contacting her personally she might tone it down a little, especially if she didn't recognize his name right off (see her first e-mail).

        Further, and somewhat more damning in my mind, are the timestamps. His mail client has to be one of the retarded ones that doesn't translate sender time zones to your local time, because otherwise this Brenna not only pirates sheet music but is also capable of time-travel. This makes getting an accurate idea of how long it took them to write their various e-mails more of a pain in the butt.

        However, according to his blog, Jason would have most likely been writing from either LA or Italy; it's pretty obvious from the first exchange that he's not writing from GMT+2 to the USA, so I'm going to assume that he was writing from Pacific Standard Time. Given that, the only reasonable place for Brenna to be is Hawaii, after the aforementioned time-traveling; just look at the timestamp on her fourth e-mail compared to the one she's responding to. So we have a highly literate, sheet-music trading teenager who lives in Hawaii (of all places), with its teeny tiny population, who just happened to be part of a random sample of 400 people on a sheet music trading site. This is getting less likely by the minute, though that's not saying much from a statistical perspective.

        This brings up another problem, though: her great big "Bill" example, with perfect grammar and spelling and reasonable style, was written over the course of (at most) twelve minutes! Maybe I'm just weird, but that seems like a ridiculously short amount of time to write an example like that, especially when you're writing to someone who actually matters to you (she called him a "genius", remember?). She has to see the e-mail, compose her thoughts, write it up, maybe check it, and send the reply, all in the course of twelve minutes - and then she comes up with that cogent and well-written argument? Hmm.

        And as she mentions before, it's her iPod that puts the name "Eleanor" on her outgoing e-mails. Clearly at least some of the e-mails were written from it, as the guy refers to her as Eleanor once or twice (unless this intelligent teenager doesn't know the difference between an iPod and a mac, which would make Steve Jobs cry). However, this does mean that she's managed to type pretty quickly on that thing; if she wrote the Bill e-mail on it, she maintained at least 20 WPM

  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @10:23PM (#32795550) Journal
    and lots of it for share-able download. WHERE? Sheet music goes out of print faster than stamps from Fiji. What I have I hold onto like gold. Example: Diamond Dogs by David Bowie. I bought the sheet music in 1975. Still have it. Haven't seen it since. Same thing with Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's Dazzle Ships / Architecture and Morality. Bought the book in 1983. Haven't seen it since.

    And then there's these composers who are TOTAL PRICKS, like (cough) Philip Glass (cough) whose work is simply not for sale. You have to RENT the score to his work with the assumption of public performance, and renting a score of his is like $4000. No. shit.

    so if I want to sit down and learn that crazy keyboard part from Einstein on the Beach, I have to fork over $4k! What a bunch of bullshit.

    I would LOVE to find a sheet music sharing site. If anyone knows of some good ones, please let me know.

    RS

    • by madpansy (1410973) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @11:08PM (#32795914)

      The best solution for individuals wanting to learn new music, inefficient in the short term but invaluable in the long run, is to learn how to play by ear and transcribe the music yourself. But I'm sure you've heard that before. Anyway here are some sheet music sites I know of, primarily piano.

      • PianoSheets.org [pianosheets.org] Torrent site. Registrations are closed, but says you can go to their IRC channel to apply.
      • Piano Files [pianofiles.com] Digital sheet music trading site. List your collection, then e-mail others to request sheets from their list to trade for.
      • GamingForce [gamingforce.org] Video Game forum, but also has a broad range of sheet music. Have to register to see the forum; once you do, it's under concert hall > musician's library.

      In case anyone does not already know, IMSLP [imslp.org] is a great site for public domain sheet music.

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @10:28PM (#32795592)
    This guy can't even give coherent examples on why "piracy" is bad because he treats them like physical property.

    Friend of mine is building a house. He drew up the plans, he chopped down all the trees, he's got it all together. He doesn't have a screwdriver. He calls me up, says, "Dude, I need a screwdriver." I happen to have a screwdriver, so I give it to him, but I say, "Hey, I need that back later today, I have some work to do." He looks incredulous. "I have to build a house, my man. I'm not going to be done in a day. And what if someone likes my house and wants me to build one for them? I'll need the screwdriver to build their house too, yo." So I suggest he get his own screwdriver. "Why can't I just use yours?" he says. I tell him he can use mine, but then I need it back, it's my screwdriver, after all. He insists that he has the right to take my screwdriver, build his house, then keep that screwdriver forever so he can build other people's houses with it. This seems unfair to me.

    But when I copy something, I'm not depriving someone of an original. If someone said "Hey, can I take your screwdriver for a few seconds, scan it in my computer and have my 3-D printer make me a replica?" I'd say sure. That is the closest thing to "piracy" in the physical world.

    The screwdriver he wants is a tool that he is using to further his own aims. I went out, I bought a screwdriver, now I should just give it away to someone? Now let's say I wrote a song - it took a lot for me to write it, and it has been my full-time job for over twenty years to make sure that the songs I write go out into the world to be heard and sung. The way I support myself and my family is through the sale of those songs, on CD's, in sheet music, in tickets. Sheet music represents almost half of my yearly income. You seem to be saying that you should be able to take that song, that screwdriver, just take it for free, and go build your career and your happiness without ever compensating me.

    ...And to that I say, don't release it if it is -that- valuable to you. Seriously, there used to be a time not too long ago that if you published something it automatically pretty much became part of the public domain. One only needs to study where Shakespeare got the ideas for his plays to see that (and the majority of his stories would -not- be in the public domain today that he adapted)

    If you don't want people using your stuff, don't release it. Don't write it down, don't publish it.

    I collect first edition copies of the works of Thornton Wilder. I've been doing so for a long time, he's my favorite author in the world. Friend of mine comes over to the house, sees my collection, and says, "Wow, I've never read any of this stuff. This one looks cool." He takes down "The Bridge of San Luis Rey." "Can I read this?" Sure, I say. It would be rude of me not to let him borrow my book to read, after all. You might even say it would be "nasty." Two months go by; there's a big hole on my bookshelf where "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" is supposed to go. I call my friend, ask him for my book back. He comes over and says, "I love this book, yo. Make me a copy!" I look at him strangely. Why would I do that? He can just go to the bookstore and get a copy of his own. "No, dude, I love THIS book, you should just make me a copy of it." But the publishing company won't be able to survive if people just make copies of the book, I say, and the Thornton Wilder estate certainly deserves its share of the income it earns when people buy the book. He says I'm a jerk because I won't make him a copy of this genius book that I shared with him. I tell him he's a prick and he should get out of my house, and that's the last time I see him for years.

    First off the guy is wrong in saying that the estate "deserves" to get a share of the profits. The book in question was published in 1927 just a decade or so shy of 100 years old. You don't "deserv

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 04, 2010 @10:29PM (#32795608)

    I make my living writing software that retails for approx $1000 per license... and done fairly well at it... recently I was directed to a hacker site that had cracked copies of my code... I lurked for a few days to get a sense of the place and give myself time to think about how to react. The site's users were in two camps... those who use the software in an educational (usually self education) and those who are using it as a tool in their professional arsenal. Once I revealed myself I found that neither group said they would be willing to pay or stop using, even when edu discounts were offered... but the students were really cool about it and asked lots of informed questions and pointed out that when they moved to professional life they would recommend the tool... the others were really abusive.

    In the end I decided to give the students my blessing as long as they didn't come seeking support... no lost sale, no money changing hands, no big deal and a potential for future sales. The love-wave that came back from those guys felt almost as good as actual sales.

    The so-called professionals were anything but, their attitude was that in business it's all fair and if using cracked software gave the a competitive edge then it was crazy to do otherwise... no love-wave.

    Yeah, anecdotal I know but this composer chappy has got the wrong end of the equation and 'elenor' is on the right track... I for one will be telling my musical friends how much of an a-hole this guy is and hopefully he will have more lost real sales.

  • by symbolset (646467) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @10:34PM (#32795634) Journal

    At present the holder of copyright has the public feeling on his side. Those who invade copyright are regarded as knaves who take the bread out of the mouths of deserving men. Everybody is well pleased to see them restrained by the law, and compelled to refund their ill-gotten gains. No tradesman of good repute will have anything to do with such disgraceful transactions. Pass this law: and that feeling is at an end. Men very different from the present race of piratical booksellers will soon infringe this intolerable monopoly. Great masses of capital will be constantly employed in the violation of the law. Every art will be employed to evade legal pursuit; and the whole nation will be in the plot. On which side indeed should the public sympathy be when the question is whether some book as popular as Robinson Crusoe, or the Pilgrim's Progress, shall be in every cottage, or whether it shall be confined to the libraries of the rich for the advantage of the great-grandson of a bookseller who, a hundred years before, drove a hard bargain for the copyright with the author when in great distress? Remember too that, when once it ceases to be considered as wrong and discreditable to invade literary property, no person can say where the invasion will stop. The public seldom makes nice distinctions. The wholesome copyright which now exists will share in the disgrace and danger of the new copyright which you are about to create. And you will find that, in attempting to impose unreasonable restraints on the reprinting of the works of the dead, you have, to a great extent, annulled those restraints which now prevent men from pillaging and defrauding the living.

    - Thomas Macaulay, 1841 [baens-universe.com]

    This fine composer is the victim of the theft of the commons. He seems a reasonable guy. Unfortunately for him copyright is no longer a square deal and since people are now ignoring all copyrights, they're ignoring his too. That's not fair, but what is there to do? We as individuals have no power to make copyright back into a square deal again and to research every author and contributor to a work for each use to determine if there's net sanity there is just too high a burden. The public seldom makes nice distinctions. His loss is no greater than ours: he's lost some potential income; we've lost our culture.

  • by Petersko (564140) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @11:06PM (#32795884)
    This thread has crystallized what I suspect is the "Slashdot-approved" stance with regards to protecting material. Correct me if I get any of these points wrong.

    1. If you want to make a living creating works that exist in a data format (music, books, video) just accept the fact that nobody owes you a dime for your time. If some people choose to drop some money in your hat, that's awesome - but don't count on it.

    2. If your music is so great, tour and make money that way. If you get moderately successful locally, each band member might be able to clear $80 a night! Of course you'll need a huge cash infusion (i.e. debt) to start touring big, but I'm sure the banks will be happy to help you with loans for such a riskless endeavour.

    3. Always remember - costs like studio time, special effects, actors, musicians, props, sets, insurance, essentially every cost involved in the production of your work magically disconnect from the work itself at the moment it is finalized. A ripped copy of that work has absolutely no moral, legal, or implied connection to any of those costs.

    As the entity "Slashdot" I hereby decree that the whole idea of "Professional Artist" is forever banned. You have been demoted to busker.
  • by Coward Anonymous (110649) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @11:07PM (#32795902)

    "And I say to you that just because technology makes doing a bad thing easier doesn't mean it's suddenly not a bad thing"

    To me this quote embodies the disconnect between "pro" copyright individuals and reality.
    Copyright came into existence *because* of technology and is an artificial means of creating what is meant to be a temporary monopoly on an idea. Copyright infringement is not a "bad" thing, it's just a violation of current law which happens to be outdated. The law is outdated because technology has continued progressing to the point that everyone, including Mr. Brown himself I'm willing to bet, is in violation of the law. When a law makes everyone a criminal, it's not a practical law.
    Copyright came into existence because of technology and will continue to be shaped by technology over the long term. All the moralistic nonsense is myopic bombast.

  • by kfogel (1041) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @11:08PM (#32795918) Homepage

    Considering how many great composers lived and wrote before copyright was even invented or could affect them (*cough* J.S. Bach *cough*), it would make more sense to call this "one composer's view of copyright". Especially given how much every composer -- Brown included -- is indebted to other composers.

    http://questioncopyright.org/minute_memes/all_creative_work_is_derivative [questioncopyright.org]

    (See the embedded video there.)

  • by davide marney (231845) * <davide,marney&netmedia,org> on Sunday July 04, 2010 @11:58PM (#32796222) Journal
    I'm a small-time composer, and I think $4-5 for a single copy of sheet music is ridiculously over-priced. I have always believed that all this huffing and puffing over copyright law just clouds the basic business problem: the music industry is not giving its public the products it wants, in the forms that they want it, for a price they are willing to pay. Here are some things I think people are looking for: - $5 for a single piece of sheet music that is downloaded is $4 too high. The cost of the sheet music shouldn't be five times (!) the price of the song itself. That feels like gouging. Which it is. - When people buy more than one copy of something, they should get a bulk discount. That's the way they do it at Costco, and that's the way it should work for sheet music. - When I buy something, I don't want any stupid restrictions such as trying to prevent me from printing more than one copy, or printing to a file, or anything else like that. I've got a $50 printer with a 1200 dpi scanner; you think I can't make a perfect copy? It's just insulting, and the user experience is horrible. Just give me the bleepin' file! I'm gonna convert it into a PDF anyway. The push-back to all this will be "oh, but we'll lose all our money!" Not so. If something's only priced at 99 cents, it's not worth my time to steal it for my friends. It's the price of a small fries at Micky-D's. Get your own, cheapskate. Likewise, if you're going to give me 15% if I buy 5 copies for everyone in my band, I'm going to take the 15%. Duh. And lastly, if you make it drop-dead simple to buy something online (see: amazonmp3.com), I'm going to buy from your online store because it is easier and a heck of lot safer than trolling illegal sites. -
  • by paiute (550198) on Monday July 05, 2010 @12:29AM (#32796380)

    When the girl wrote that she was an aspiring actress/singer who wanted his work but could not afford it, I thought he should have sent her a copy gratis, not snarked that if she wanted to see a Broadway show it is $140 or you don't get in.

    The link in my sig goes to a book for sale on Amazon. $20. If someone emails me and says they like the book but can't afford it, I will send them a pdf, no charge.

    At least until I am as famous as this guy who I never heard of before.

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