EMI sues Vimeo; Eugenia Stops Buying RIAA Music

We’re audiophiles in this home. This year we spent about $1800 is music purchases. More than anyone we know.

About 40% of all the iTunes/CD purchases were for acts signed to major labels. The rest 60% was all indie.

I hereby make it my resolution for the new year to never buy RIAA/majors’ music ever again. Even if I like some of their songs so much that it makes me cry.

The last straw for all this was learning that EMI sued Vimeo the other day. They claim that Vimeo endorses users to lip dub and that this is copyright infringement. This whole thing is obviously a sham, and just pathetic. Even the Rolling Stone commented that this lawsuit comes out strangely after Vevo going live.

For some of the lip dub videos on Vimeo might be on the fence if they’re eligible under fair use or not, but some are so creative that no matter if a closed minded judge deem them in the future as non-fair use, in my mind they are. These videos do serve as a great advertisement for the labels, but they don’t see it this way.

Most of the music I bought this year it was because it was originally free out there. I downloaded the legally free mp3s, and if I liked what I heard, I’d go to iTunes to sample the rest of the band’s music. And if I liked what I heard, I bought the album. Many times I’ve heard a song on Youtube or Vimeo, asked what it was, and then bought it too (e.g. Feist’s “One Evening”). Instead, the majors (and RIAA), have become over-protective about the whole thing somehow, and they prefer to go to court. I really don’t see the point of all that.

Sometimes I wonder if what they’re trying to do is simply to have restrictions apply to ALL (including indie artists), just so THEY can promote their artists via TV/radio as they always have. You see, the internet PR companies have no power over TV/radio/mags, but they have the internet. The majors on the other hand, they are mighty-powerful on TV/radio/mags, but are only equal in the Internet PR game. If the majors can kill part of the internet hype machine by making video sites add more and more restrictions, then their songs will get more recognized/hyped via the traditional media rather than the Internet. So all these lawsuits against people, youtube, vimeo, might be just a strategic way to kill the indies! Destroy the competition by simply destroying THEIR TOOLS (aka the Internet way of doing things).

Rest assured, I’m not against the notion of copyright. What I’m against is the lawmaker’s abusing of that notion to make copyright laws worse and worse as the time goes by. Originally, copyright was meant to last 25 years. Now, with amendments on the law, we’re looking in to a century (in EU too). And the fair use allotments are simply too limited. They were written before the age of Youtube. Instead of the lawmakers taking these changes into mind to change the law, they make the law even more draconian, paying lip service to RIAA. The new international treaty that the media companies are cooking up for all countries is definitely not going to be pretty either.

As a media creator, I have already moved to Creative Commons for my music needs for 2 years now. I don’t touch non-CC music for my video projects.

As a media consumer, December 2009 is the time where I stop buying the major’s music. And if an indie label gets on the same tune as RIAA, I’d ban it too.

I ask all of you to think about this. If you read comments online, many say that “RIAA and the majors will fall soon”, but this is NOT TRUE. The only way to have them fall is if we don’t buy their products. These guys are not going anywhere if they still have money in their pockets.

The Gandhi way, is the ONLY way.

Update: An update to this article can be found here.


indiequick wrote on December 18th, 2009 at 8:17 PM PST:

I give this essay an A+. You hit the nail on the head with a very solid issue. The Majors (and this includes Newspapers, and old source media) that are opposed to a digital movement with content will not survive.

Basically, until music companies learn to give sites like Vimeo a break, and probably a hug – we will continue to watch this struggle. So, I do agree with your point, we have to stop buying their crap.

Now the question is, how do we inform the misinformed radio listener (who IS) buying their crap, that the music is bad?

Jani wrote on December 19th, 2009 at 12:48 AM PST:

Oh, please… lib dubbing videos, and other kinds of editing and re-releasing of copyrighted material, without permission, IS a violation of copyright and other applicable laws. And the internet is fairly international “place” so you have to also consider the laws of other countries than your own. So my sympathy goes to EMI, as far as their rights have been violated.

Personally, years ago I used to have a music related webpage and I tried to get and sometimes actually got the permissions for using pictures of the bands and other stuff like that that had been made by others. If I didn’t manage to get in touch with the copyright owners, I used a disclaimer inviting anyone who thinks his/hers rights were being violated to get in touch with me so I could make things right. Do these video lip dubbers bother to even think about these things? In most cases probably not.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on December 19th, 2009 at 12:54 AM PST:

The point you’re missing: just because the law says that these videos might not be used fairly, doesn’t mean that the law is right of how things should be. My problem is with the law itself, and the lobbyists around it. Derivative but non-commercial usage of music should be FREE or VERY CHEAP to individuals as long as they do something new and creative with it (and non-commercial usage should include uploading that remixed media to sites like Vimeo/Youtube which themselves are commercial). Some of these lip dub videos are amazingly creative for example, and as such, they should have every right to exist.

I’m sorry, but I don’t have respect for the current copyright laws (EU’s is shit too). These three things need to change in the copyright laws of the world:
1. Limit copyright to 20 or 25 years. After that time, works should become either Public Domain, or CC Zero. Right now, we have daughters and grand-daughters eating with a golden spoon for something they NEVER created. It’s fucking DISGUSTING.
2. Extend the fair use doctrine to include more cases, and allow non-commercial remixes (in audio or video form) that can be shared on the internet.
3. Stop charging single moms hundreds of thousands of dollars for 1 pirated/shared song. It’s freaking ridiculous. For much more heinous crimes there are smaller fines than pirating a freaking song. These days creating a song is NOT as expensive as it used to be because the tools are freely or cheaply available. Technology has made music creation TRIVIAL. So the fines need to go seriously down, not up.

At some point you will have to think BEYOND of what the law says or what it’s deemed “normal”, in order to achieve social progress. See, without cultural progress, you can’t have social progress. And for cultural progress, you NEED a read-write culture, not a read-only culture. The way the law is getting updated in the last 50 years, and how it refuses to take the internet into account, it does a MAJOR disservice to our *culture*.

In my opinion, the lawmakers, lobbyists, RIAA, MPAA, are committing a crime against humanity. Might not be obvious to you now, but it will be to historians in 100 years from now. If copyright hasn’t been extended again to 200 years, that is.

Yanni wrote on December 19th, 2009 at 2:07 AM PST:

I completely agree with you, Eugenia, and am going to join you in your boycott. And since I buy about 50 albums a year, it should hurt a little.

Tom wrote on December 19th, 2009 at 7:26 AM PST:

Well, this is not bothering me that much. I expect much worse from the MAFIAA.
I boycott all major content providers (only exception is going to the movies from time to time)

I buy games and music directly from the artists via the web (nin.com and telltalesgames.com are good examples, I donated for Ink) _when_ I can.

The bigger issue are the anti-democratic practices that the content publishers lobby our politicians to adopt. “Three strikes” etc. Just now ACTA is making rules behind closed doors and in a very secretive process that will be another step into a fascist society where there is no difference between the commericial world and politics.

I don’t sponsor such things and I encourage everyone to boycott major rights holders/content providers.

Hint: Tools like ReplayMusic etc and rip CD-quality radio (grooveshark, spotify) to disk. Good free alternative to iTunes and Amazon.

Jani wrote on December 19th, 2009 at 7:37 AM PST:

Frankly speaking you lot sound like a bunch of whiney spoiled kids. “Why can’t I rip off my favourite/least-favourite artists? They and the companies behind them have enough money already.” Isn’t that what you are trying to say in a nutshell? It is not so much about the law, it is about RESPECT. Create your own nonderivative art and do whatever you want with it. Don’t rip off others. How hard is that? If you are so incredibly talented.

LuisHP wrote on December 19th, 2009 at 8:08 AM PST:

I completelly agree with you, Eugenia.
In any case i think each day will be more and more difficult to restrict information distribution, with or without laws, copyrighted or not.
This has happened allways: when something is too easy to copy or made, you just can’t avoid others to copy or made it.
In fact this is the way the culture evolves.
It reminds me about the caleidoscope patent story. So easy to manufacture that there were thousands of copys little while after it was patented. Too many to get them to court.

xiaNaix wrote on December 19th, 2009 at 3:56 PM PST:

I’d never even heard of “lip dubs” before I read this. Pretty interesting stuff, though, especially some of the wedding ones. I might have to make a few now.

It’s clear that all sorts of corporations are scrambling to take control of the internet. The future of movie and music distribution, in particular, is clearly going to be internet-based. These companies are panicked and focusing their attention in all the wrong places. Unless the people doing these “lip dubs” are profiting from these videos, which they are not, I don’t see a problem.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on December 19th, 2009 at 4:49 PM PST:

>Isn’t that what you are trying to say in a nutshell?

Absolutely not. You just don’t understand how culture works. You have your eyesight fixed, like a horse, on a certain direction, and you don’t see the whole picture here. You don’t understand that what matters as a whole is our progress as a society at the end. The needs of the many ought-weigh the needs of the few.

>Don’t rip off others. If you are so incredibly talented.

Not everyone can write music. But someone might be able to do a great video. For that great video, he/she should be able to remix or reuse music with his video — as long as he doesn’t profit from it. THIS IS CALLED PROGRESS, not a “rip off”. Because it builds upon existing works to create something new. If everyone was to re-create from scratch everything, the computer you use right now wouldn’t have been possible to be created.

I suggest you watch this. Only after you watch it, you will understand why I have the stance I have.

Klistvud wrote on December 20th, 2009 at 5:40 AM PST:

Couldn’t agree more. It’s high time we strike back. I personally stopped buying music after the third “media shift” occurred in my life. I first bought vinyl records in the 80’s (must have got over 3.000, you do the math), then spent a fortune transferring them to tape for enjoying them in my car, then spent a fortune re-buying the same titles on CD’s when CD’s came out. I would have expected at least a discount of some sort for LP owners, but no, you had to rebuild your collection from scratch. Well, when online music became the standard, I just couldn’t be bothered to buy my music the third time over. That’s also the reason why I’ll never buy BluRay, I’ve got my hard-earned DVDs, thanx. I totally agree that a global boycott (say, nobody buys *anything* from them, don’t go to movies, to concerts…), even if it was to last only 6 monts, would bring all those majors to their knees. Well, *then* maybe we could talk some sense … Anyway, I have an additional proposal: we should strike back in another manner, namely, by suing them when *they* use our material. People should be allowed by law to stop a movie from being shown if, say, their car, house, lawn, or cat is seen in the movie for a second. Or a passage from their internet blog is read aloud by an actor. Or a piece of their youtube video is featured in a TV show. Or they can be seen in a documentary for a split second, driving by on a bus. Or a ship horn may be heard in a pop song, and *we* are the manufacturer of that horn. A crowd present at a pop concert should have the right to prohibit the concert from being recorded/shown/broadcast/distributed on account of the roar of the crowd being *copyrighted*. The point being, I’m not talking about suing for copyright damages, or letting them pay the copyright fee — I’m talking about *preventing* them from actually showing/distributing their copyrighted crap.
Believe me, it’s the only thing they’ll understand.
Or, alternatively, we need some sort of *viral* license similar to GPL, so that *any* work containing a public scene or a crowd or a private citizen or any sound produced by private citizens and so on, will be automatically GPL-ed. So, if you want to show Michelangelo’s David, or the Eiffel Tower, or my backyard toilet in your movie, that will automatically make your movie Public Domain too. And if you wanna feature a fragment of Beethoven’s Fifth, or Amazing Grace, or the National Anthem on your CD, then the entire CD must in turn become Public Domain too.

LuisHP wrote on December 20th, 2009 at 8:59 AM PST:

Very inspired Klistvud 🙂

mikesum32 wrote on December 20th, 2009 at 3:13 PM PST:

I find it fun to by used cds at music stores and pawn shops, that way ASCAP and RIAA see no profit. Of course artists see no profit, but they see none anyway.

Janet Hansen wrote on December 20th, 2009 at 6:42 PM PST:

But the majors will endorse lip dubbing/syncing if the original artist does it right? I don’t see major acts actually singing on nationally syndicated programs.

They can’t speak out both sides of their mouth and win.

Sore losers that’s all I can say.

Janet Hansen

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