The Drive To Digital

Doc Searls points to an incisive, if depressing, summation of the state of play at the FCC: “Overread”

This “drive to digital” isn’t about new services, its about control. Its difficult to keep an analog signal from being copied, but a digital receiver can have technology embedded to keep the bits under a DRM scheme.

its about copyright. Basically someone is using the FCC to not only limit the first amendment, but by breaking the 1st, the copyright culture gets stronger in the process.


Sellout Central (thank you Dave Sifry!) points readers to Beatallica. From their FAQ

Q: Who are the guys in the band?

A: Two musicians with day jobs pulled the whole thing off. One (Krk) did all the music, the other (Jaymz) lent his Hetfield impersonation. All the tracks on the first EP were recorded in one day. The second EP took even longer…

Both guys have their own separate bands, and they write and perform original material. They’ve been friends for years.

Q: Oh come on, you’ve got to know more than that!

A:Sure, but for obvious legal reasons (imagine the lawyers that two of the biggest bands in rock history can buy), the band wants to remain anonymous. I can’t even reveal where they live… I can say that they’re from the Midwest in the US.

Personally, I think it’s too bad they have to worry about litigation. It badly reflects the money-driven intolerance of the music industry, which has a history of squashing independent artists who reference popular culture in their work.

Q: Have Metallica or the Beatles contacted you?

A: Not yet. At least two members of Metallica (Kirk and Lars) have mentioned in interviews that they’d heard Beatallica and enjoyed it. We know that Hetfield’s heard it too, but he hasn’t said anything publicly about it that we know of. We’ve heard nothing from the Beatles camp. Paul and Ringo seem to have a good sense of humor, so we don’t expect any problems from them.

But the important thing to realize is that the bands’ opinions do not matter in the current music industry. For example, in the U2/Negativland case, the lawsuit was initiated by U2’s record label, Island records, not the band itself. The band actually thought the Negativland track was pretty funny, but by the time Island let U2 know about the lawsuit, it was too late to stop it. Read Negativland’s book for the whole sordid tale.

And here’s their disclaimer:


Beatallica is not, I repeat, not Metallica in disguise.

These tunes are parodies, but due to the likely exorbitant publishing costs that would be involved in releasing them for sale on CD, they are being offered free for download and distribution. If you like the tunes and want to burn CD-Rs for your friends, feel free! But please do not sell them. Free music needs to be free.

If you discover someone trying to sell a bootlegged copy of these free tunes, let us know.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C&D Pending?

Troops Blast Music in Siege of Fallujah [pdf]

In Fallujah’s darkened, empty streets, U.S. troops blast AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells” and other rock music full volume from a huge speaker, hoping to grate on the nerves of this Sunni Muslim city’s gunmen and give a laugh to Marines along the front line.

Unable to advance farther into the city, an Army psychological operations team hopes a mix of heavy metal and insults shouted in Arabic — including, “You shoot like a goat herder” — will draw gunmen to step forward and attack. But no luck Thursday night.

The loud music recalls the Army’s use of rap and rock to help flush out Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega after the December 1989 invasion on his country, and the FBI’s blaring progressively more irritating tunes in an attempt to end a standoff with armed members of the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas in 1993.

[…] The young Marine looked out over grim city blocks around a dusty soccer pitch and a trash-strewn lot, as a rain shower passed over. He said during the long hours of duty, he wonders what the insurgents are doing, how many there are and if they’re watching him.

Adding to the eery feeling up, he said, are the music and speeches in Arabic that come over mosque loudspeakers.

[…] Later, the team blasted Jimi Hendrix and other rock music, and afterward some sound effects like babies crying, men screaming, a symphony of cats and barking dogs and piercing screeches. They were unable to draw any gunmen to fight, and seemed disappointed.

The Marines’ psychological operations came as U.S. negotiators were pressing Fallujah representatives to get gunmen in the city to abide by a cease-fire.

Cary Sherman really needs to get cracking on these continuing violations!

Reversing Vandalism

Slate has a moving photo essay about an exhibition deriving from the surreptitious defacing and destruction of books with gay and lesbian themes (according to the perpetrator — demonstrably illiterate since books by Gay Talese were included): “Reversing Vandalism” By Lisa Davis

For nearly a year, a vandal mutilated more than 600 books on gay and lesbian themes at the San Francisco Public Library. Without explanation, he carved up covers and pages and left small typewritten slips of paper advertising a Bible radio station tucked inside the damaged works. Ironically, his attempt to rid the library of these books resulted in a far stronger statement from the community: With help from artists around the country, the San Francisco Public Library transformed the crime into an art show titled “Reversing Vandalism,” which features more than 200 works of various mediums and is on view in three galleries at the library through May 2.

Review of Free Culture at FindLaw

Butterflies May Be Free, But Should Expression Be?

Lessig’s last book, The Future of Ideas, was at times weighed down by passages on technology that were less than accessible. In contrast, Lessig’s Free Culture does a good job of presenting legal battles and the basics of copyright law in laymen’s terms. It’s a useful primer for non-lawyers, or even lawyers like me who regret not taking intellectual property courses back in law school.

What is less easy to swallow, however, is the unrelenting scorn Lessig heaps on the leading media empires and their Washington lobbyists.

Canada Tax Dollars for DRM Research

Electronic Copyright Fund [via BoingBoing]

The specific objective of the Electronic Copyright Fund is to assist in the development and implementation of online copyright management and licensing systems and mechanisms which will facilitate access to and the exploitation of one or all types of existing copyrighted works, in particular Canadian, including works where multiple ownership arrangements exist (such as music and video), preferably through the development of a single window model.

Sharman Trial Judge Panel Set

Federal Court Rules Panel Of Judges To Hear Sharman Networks’ Leave To Appeal Against Anton Piller Order

The Federal Court of Australia today ruled that a panel of three judges will be appointed to hear an application for leave to appeal by Sharman Networks in relation to the recent granting of an Anton Piller order to the Australian recording industry.

In his judgment today, Justice Tamberlin also ordered that the application for leave to appeal be expedited. It is expected the court will set dates shortly to hear the application for leave to appeal.

Webcasting Progress

Top Internet Broadcasters Show Significant Audience Gains According To Arbitron Internet Broadcast Ratings

The top five Internet Broadcasters, AOL’s Radio@Network, Yahoo!’s LAUNCHcast, Live365, Musicmatch and Virgin Radio, had an average audience increase of over 30 percent between June 2003 and February 2004, as measured by Arbitron Internet Broadcast Ratings.

The combined monthly Cume, the total number of unique users that listened for five minutes or more during the month, increased for these broadcasters from a June 2003 total of 8,034,793 to a February 2004 total of 10,644,450. These ratings reflect an average overall increase of 32 percent.

Good For Goose = Good For Gander?

Australian Record Industry Association CEO Called To Resign

Music business veteran and industry analyst Phil Tripp today called for either the resignation of Australian Record Industry Association CEO Stephen Peach or his suspension while Australian record companies and publishers audit his reported ‘CD Freeloading’ of pages of titles with multiple copies as printed in the Spike Column of the Sydney Morning Herald today.

“Former longtime ARIA/PPCA PR consultant Marcella McAdam–an unimpeachable music professional with several years dedicated service to ARIA–revealed what many of us in the industry suspected.” states 30 year veteran Tripp. “While organisations like ARIA and major record companies like to play the robbed artist and songwriter card when lobbying government over supposed losses by consumers downloading music off the Internet, it will be interesting if they take action against their own for ‘freeloading’ mass quantities of CDs for which artists and songwriters do not get paid and that are supposed to be used solely for ‘promotional purposes–usually restricted to media and business samples.”

[…] “In our industry, the abuse of free CDs being used as a form of ‘trading cards’ or ‘musical favours’ between staff at record companies coupled with the massive number of promotional copies of CDs that end up in used CD stores sold by media and industry sources is a long-running travesty which in the end, the artists pay for from denied income. It’s time the industry turn its attention to cleaning house if it is to be taken seriously in the battle against free music.” [said Phil Tripp, publisher of the AustralAsian Music Industry Directory, CEO of IMMEDIA!]