Friday, August 01, 2008

Irony and inefficiency, in this day and age

Sometimes, you have interesting weeks. In fact, we could use a stronger word than 'interesting', but we'll stick with that for the moment. Stand by your beds - this is going to be a long Blog.
Those with no interest in Radio Politics look away now (should that be run away ?) or forever hold your peace.
Here goes...

Sunday morning arrives, and emails abound, from listeners saying 'where's the Pod' ?
Ah, a little technical fault, we thought at first.
As the day progressed, it all became clearer, especially when we managed to check various forums, to which our Pod community belongs.
It seems the powers that be in the States (Radio wise) the IPFI and DMCA, had their little automatic 'bots' running over the weekend, to disable thousands of files that even hinted at the word 'mp3'.
Well, we can understand that - too much illegal downloading and sharing going on, and in that case, we support them - after all - who lost their business, a CD/Record Shop of 14 years, to the strength of the illegal download ?
One of our very own, as if you didn't know.
But, and 'but' is the operative word here - so many innocent people were caught in the crossfire, ourselves here at AZ included. So, so many - even those who made, produced, and owned the copyrights to their own music ! Naturally, rightly, they were outraged, as they should be.
Now, it's all very well to have rules and regulations, but when you are a huge organisation (such as the DMCA) who, by putting measures in practise, actually harm some musicians, to such a point that they lose royalties because their system really is not up to scratch, that's not really good enough is it ?, especially when the system is designed to protect musicians, and not harm them.
Worth thinking about - although unfortunately, it's not something they would care to admit.
Now, to our case.
We do NOT fileshare Albums, Singles, DVDs, or anything like it. Never have, never will.
We put our own Radio Shows up on the Pod, purely as a back-up, for listeners who may have missed them on our legitimate -yes, LEGITIMATE Broadcasts via our outlets.
Add to this, that all royalties to artists are paid for by those Stations, who air our Music.
Also, we do not 'Broadcast' a Pod, as such. It sits, still, silent, not being used or using up any copyrights at all, and only clicks into life (rarely) when a listener, wherever, wants it to.
The mail we have always received, is 'heard you on such and such a station' - certainly not 'heard you on a Pod'. That's all it has been - a simple back up for those that may have missed something, no more than a common courtesy to our own listeners and supporters.
The downloads, for what they were, were so, so minimal.
But - everyone is the same in the eyes of the powers that be - and this is where the problem lies.
I still have emails from listeners thanking us here at AZ, for introducing them to Artists they would never have heard otherwise, on 'normal' Radio.
Many add the fact that they have gone out and bought material by these artists. because of us.
Examples ? Lisahall, Morris Quinlan Experience, Emiliana Torrini... I could go on.
Think about that for a second. Those artists I just mentioned, all earnt royalties due to our direct actions in promoting them. Yet - we are treated as if the opposite has happened.
So, in effect, the powers that be are not only preventing illegal sharing - which we support - they are also preventing Artists from receiving royalties ! There's irony for you.
And they think this is a good system ?
The truth is, everyone is lumped in together, because they do not know how to manage it.
I'm no expert - it would be impossible to do - but if there is one thing the powers that be do not have, it's a face. Or, any common sense. When you find an illegal sharer who continues to share whole albums - stop it.
When you find someone promoting - surely encourage ???
Point out the above facts, and you get quoted rules (rules that you already know).
Offer to pay royalties/fees for the minimal amount a Pod is used - and they refuse anyway, as they do not have the staff to manage it. That's the biggest irony of them all - as the Pod, for how much it is used, would be, we calculate, approx 12 Dollars per month in royalties. But we're not allowed - because they cannot control it. Is it that difficult to put a simple system in ?
That, and the fact they are harming Artists when their job is to protect them, is perhaps the worst irony of all. Sadly - they probably may not realise this.
That was certainly true when a similar thing happened when they purged Live365, and hundreds of Stations had to go.
I beg your pardon, but the word IRONY should be in capital letters.
I see a point in stopping illegality - we don't want the Music Industry harmed - we love music, it's why we do what we do. Isn't that obvious ?
Add the point that we actively promote artists who never, sorry, NEVER get heard on the Radio, by and large.
Who is going to stand up for those Artists then ? Or now ? Anyone have an answer to that ?
As we see it, the rules are in place for those who may lose an extra cent because 'Hotel California' is being played for the zillionth time that day. Certainly not for any struggling Musicians who would hold their hands (or guitars) up to the heavens in glee at receiving some airplay.
Not a word, not a peep of support, for the Artists who we actively support and promote.
But - everyone is put in the same boat, as far as alleged 'Broadcast Copyright' is concerned.
Those who promote are treated in the same way as those who steal.
And that is called progress. and 'protection of copyright'.
The most worrying thing is, those people in charge, actually believe they're right.

So, no Pod.
But, not to worry - we continue to broadcast via legitimate legal Stations (as we always have, and always will - those in authority, take note please, if you have time to tear yourselves away from 'getting up your monthly number quota' without seeing the actual facts in front of you).
And we have to thank various people - those in authority too - who have voiced support in cases like ours, and others.
They have been the first to admit how outdated and archaic the current copyright system is, and admit how frustrating it is that no-one has the power to do anything about it, to ensure the same hand that allegedly feeds, is not actually taking away with the other.
Funny old world.
Land of the free ?

Steve Lloyd. The Album Zone