Friday, March 31, 2006

Much has been written about downloading music in Canada, and a great deal of confusion has resulted. This is just a quick little bit about it...

The Copyright Act includes a private copying exception that grants Canadians the right to make personal, non–commercial copies of music without requiring permission from the copyright holder. Both the Copyright Board of Canada and the Federal Court of Canada have ruled that private copying may include peer–to–peer music downloads. This interpretation is consistent with both the technologically neutral language found in the legislation as well as with many similar private copying systems in Europe.
- Dr. Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa.

So, please, go ahead and download music...but remember, the artists do need your money to keep on making great music, so if you download something, and like it, buy the CD, or via a service like iTunes...or better yet, when they come to town, go and see their show. Most artists make far more money from playing shows, and selling things like t-shirts than they do from retail record sales. To get a good idea of how badly most artists are screwed by having a record contract, check out Courtney Loves excellent Salon Magazine article on how the major music labels stick it to their artists.

Realistically, major record companies are mainly into it to make money, not promote music. They are scared shitless by the idea that a band can directly connect to their fans via the internet and sell their music directly. This is short circuiting their business model, and is part of why they attack *any* music distribution via the internet.

And this brings me to why I am writing this short article...I just read in the most recent MONITOR magazine a bit of bullshit. James Careless writes in the March issue:

"Until recently, the phrase 'legal music downloads' was an oxymoron, like 'honest politician' or 'military intelligence'. But no longer: Today, you can download the songs you want legally from the Web, for storage and playback either on a portable MP3 player or your PC.

The only catch is that, when it comes to mainstream pop songs, you have to pay for legal music downloads. But, at $0.99 or less for your favourite tune, the cost is minimal. In addition, sites such as Yahoo! Music Unlimited Canada and Napster will 'rent' you unlimited access to millions of songs, as long as you pay a monthly subscription fee.

Now, who would you trust, a Professor of Law, or some writer in a small, local magazine?

But the article does have one high point, it has a pointer to the Jane Siberry web site, and the fact that she is experimenting with an honour system for downloading music from her site...basically, you can pay what you want, or not pay at all. Here is what she says in on her website:

"I wanted you to hear about this from me first. The Sheeba store has a new pricing policy.

Like many, I'm restless and impatient with living in a world where people are made to feel like shoplifters rather than intelligent peoples with a good sense of balance. I want to treat people the way I'd like to be treated. 'Dumbing UP' (as opposed to 'dumbing down')

She goes on to note her new pricing policy:

"FOUR choices on the pop-down 'buy' button
1. free (gift from Jane)
2. self-determined (pay now)
3. self-determined (pay later so you are truly educated in your decision)
4. standard (today's going rate is about .99)

Her final message is this:

"The most important thing is that the music flow out to where it could bring enjoyment. And THAT is the best thing you could give me."

That is what music is about.

Gee, I guess this isn't that short...sorry! :-)