tommy on 06/10/2009 at 08:44AM
It's damn easy to view the FREE MUSIC Archive as just that, an already large (and continusously growing) library of free (as in "free beer") and awesome music downloads. However, a recent flurry of activity and articles concerning copy-left and Web 2.0, file-sharing court cases, and the ever-present performance royalty debate, has reminded me of why I got involved in the FMA in the first place, and it has just as much to do with viewing this archive as a bastion of free (as in "free speech") cultural interaction.
Part of the FMA's explicit mission is to re-imagine/design the function of traditional radio for the digital era by continuing to allow the public free access to new music. Internet radio, and now your local AM/FM station, may benefit greatly from a resource like this, as the government continues to debate over how the public accesses (or "consumes," depending on how you view it) culture, and who owes what to whom.
Terrestrial radio experienced a (temporary?) victory last week when the House of Reps gained enough signatures to block the Performance Royalty Bill from going to a vote. Near the end of 2007 (and right about the time WFMU began developing the FMA. Coincidence? Methinks nay), the Royalty Act was introduced, which would require terrestrial radio stations to pay a performance royalty fee to the performers (artists, musicians, back-up singers, producers, basically anyone involved in the creative end of the production) and copyright holders (the respective record label) on top of the royalties stations already pay to the composers and publishers of the music they broadcast. The revenue generated from these royalties would then be split between the artists and the record label. Just as webcasting royalty rates negotiations continue, this issue is sure to stick around for a few years while the RIAA predictably uses its political influence to sway the bill's detractors. Bob Cherry at Cybergrass.com has written an approachable beginner's guide to understanding the issue, for anyone interested.
More exciting news after the jump!
A month after the founders of the massively popular torrent search engine, The Pirate Bay, were sentenced to a year in jail, Swedes rallied behind the Pirate Party in the recent EU elections and placed a Pirate rep in the European Parliament.
This past May, the EU voted down the "3-strikes" rule (get accused of digital copyright infringement by a copyright holder 3 times, and lose your Internet connection) when parliamentary reps determined that Internet access is a "fundamental right in Europe that cannot be taken away without judicial review and an actual finding of wrongdoing." Six months after declaring this 3-strike rule as its new primary defense against copyright infringment over the Internet in the US, the RIAA has yet to confirm that any ISPs have agreed to cooperate. All this while teams of lawyers prepare for the retrial of Jammie Thomas, the only person to be tried for P2P file-sharing in the US.
Kevin Kelly's May 22 article on Wired.com, "The New Socialism: Global Collectivist Society Is Coming Online" received a huge negative backlash, and I spent a few days looking at rebuttals and recommended further reading by commentors (I am continually impressed by Wired commentors like martinj). Creative Commons co-founder Lawrence Lessig wrote an enlightening response to Kelly on his blog (start here), where I also found links to Brett Gaylor's latest film "Rip: A Remix Manifesto" which you can download at your own price.
Isn't it a relief to know that you can stream, download, and share here on the FMA with impunity? Just be sure to click on track titles for specific information on what you are permitted to do with the track, and the music will continue to flow freely.
Feel free to drop any links and relevant comments below for recent news items I may have missed.