Friday, October 06, 2006

Some People Need A Hobby

Now, I'm all for giving to those that which is due them, and protecting creators of creative work from others hijacking their work and calling it their own. I'm glad we have copyright, and other IP laws protecting creators.

But, I think that we have gone too far. By "we", of course, I mean lawyers and corporate types. Most notably the RIAA who have taken to suing their customers. I think they're just upset that someone has moved their cheese. Instead of asking themselves "Okay, our key demographic has taken to downloading music instead of buying it; how can we make money from this?" they've just started suing. Suing nine year old girls, and 89 near old grandmothers at that.

All that has really achieved is now people (like myself) are boycotting the RIAA. I still buy indie CDs, but RIAA stuff? Hardly. (Thankfully, my favorite recording band is on an independant label.)

But, at least I can see where the RIAA is coming from. But there's a few things that are just plain stupid.

The Author's Guild is suing Google for making books searchable. (Yet some publishers are thanking Google for increasing book sales because the books are searchable.)

And the whole shutting down guitar chord/lyrics site? The idea is that if you want the sheet music or lyrics, go out and buy the book (if you can find where to buy it). So if you're getting the chords/lyrics from the internet, then if you couldn't get them there you'd buy them, right?

In many cases: wrong!

Most of the time I'll listen to the freaking song to get the lyrics.! The chords are slightly harder to get. It requires a musical ear. But not a great one. Anyone who plays guitar knows that most songs are based on 1 4 5, with a few 2m and 6m thrown in for good measure. (If you don't understand what that means, don't worry about it: guitarists do. If you're a guitarist and you don't understand it, then see the previous sentence.) Furthermore, chord progressions aren't copyrightable. Melodys are, and so are lyrics. But, really, how much money are the music books publishers loosing because of these sites? I don't really know, but I can't see it being very much.

They lose money if people who normaly would buy the books now aren't because of these sites. I'm sure a great number of these site users (including myself) wouldn't buy the books if these sites weren't available. So, how much of my money are they loosing? $0.00. But that's just a round figure.

And Christian music makes the whole thing even more ridiculous! For the uninitiated, churches usually buy something called a CCLI license. That allows them to play a whole long list of songs at their church events. So, if I go to Joe's Christian Chord Site and view the lyrics and chords to the latest hit worship song, assuming Joe doesn't have a CCLI license for the music on his site, then that's illegal. If I print a song off, that's illegal. But, if I take that print-out, and play it at Church next Sunday morning, then suddenly it becomes all nice and legal.

Can anyone explain the rationale to me? (I don't mean the legal mumbo-jumbo), but the actual reason. "Because that's the law" is not a reason. Tell me why it should be the law. Show me how the artist is benefiting from that structure, or how they would be harmed without it.

Again, I'm not talking about Intellectual Property protection laws as a whole. Just some of the fine-point-nit-pickiness of them.

However, I must admit that I am guilty of a few things. I have bought over 200 CDs. I also own a number of music books (mostly for church). But I will tell you one thing, if God suddenly gifts me with the ability to write music, any worship music I write, especially if it becomes a hit, will be released under some kind of creative commons licence. And any music I write, worship or secular, I will allow to be on as many lyric/chord sites as site-owners wish. I think I'd be more frustrated with seeing my music on sites with the wrong lyrics or chords, rather than them being on the site in the first place.

But that's just me.

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