Lars: Digital-Music Is The Future. Wait, What?

Lars said in a recent interview with the L.A. Times that Metallica might follow the footsteps of other bands who have dropped their corporate record labels, such as NIN and Radiohead, and become completely independent, because record labels such as Warner Music Group act like a bank and Metallica doesn't need them anymore because they're so damn successful. I'm damn skippy he knows going independent includes ditributing their music online.

This next comment I found interesting... at first. Then I remembered Lars Ulrich and Metallica have made a career of saying something and then doing the complete opposite. Referring to the Ticketmaster-Live nation merger, he said:
"...monopolizing business practices of some of these companies I do find despicable, but I'm happy to say we sort of circumvent as much as we can." -- From the L.A. Times video interview.
Really, Lars? How about your YouTube video, and your fans' renditions being taken off YouTube by your monopolizing label, WMG, not to mention your own music videos?

Death Magnetic was the last album Metallica did under contract with Warner Music Group, and according to him, Metallica will go a different way for future efforts. We'll see what kind of way that is. My money's on whatever that way it is, it'll work fantastic for making the Metallica wallets even fatter.

Greg Sandoval's article "Is Reznor a digital-music visionary? Ask Lars Ulrich" for Cnet News.

Todd Martens' article "Metallica's Lars Ulrich on label future, Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger" for Los Angeles Times.


The Featured Artists Coalition

Radiohead, David Gilmour, Jools Holland and Iron Maiden, among other heavy names in the United Kingdom's musician community, have joined something called The Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), which campaigns for the performers' and musicians' rights. We've heard this before from the big record labels; it usually means they're protecting their material against the evil fans who use their material for something other than listening. However, in this case it means something completely different: the artists and performers having the last word concerning their work, which would mean a big record deal couldn't remove our videos without the prior approval from the bands and artists. Sounds a bit like heaven, no?

But wait, it gets better. The artists in the FAC don't oppose the "illegal" download of their music. In fact, it embraces it:
"Digital technology has transformed how we buy and listen to music. In doing so it has radically altered the economic relationship between artists and consumers, and the business world that operates between the two."
The FAC recently had their first meeting, in which Blur's drummer Dave Rowntree, who sits at the board of directors commented, according to the FAC press release:
"The digital revolution has swept away the old music business of the 1960s, and changed forever the relationship between artists and fans. For companies who made their living sitting between the two, these are increasingly hard times, but for music makers and music fans this should be a fantastic opportunity.

"YouTube’s row with the PRS is the most recent example of just how fast the music industry is changing. There has never been a greater need for the collective voice of featured artists, whose music generates 95% of revenue in the industry, to be properly heard."
Hopefully, this campaign continues to grow and the big record labels finally embrace the new technologies and realize the fans are no criminals, but merely don't feel like paying for being a Living Room Rock God or building a relationship with their favorite artists.

For more information, please visit the Featured Artists Coalition website.

Quotes taken from A Manifesto for Fair Play Manifesto and FAC's 11th March Press Release.



Warner has caught two other criminal masterminds who, until now, had cunningly avoided justice and posted copyright infringing material, spreading fear and unfairness on the poor millionaires who control the music industry's lives. Their reign of terror is over, however, thanks to the ever-watchful eye of Warner and their justice tool: the YouTube's automated blocking device.
Yup, Warner is removing videos of your kids singing now, much like UMG's removal of the Lenz kid dancing to a Prince song, and why wouldn't they? they already removed thousands of videos of people playing cover tunes in their rooms, including teenagers singing without a backing track, without any kind of legal backlash or regard for fair use. Granted, in some cases it's difficult to determine weather it's fair use or not. Lets try it with these two examples, shall we?

This one features a kid lip-syncing to "Jukebox Hero" by Foreigner (who, ironically, found their new singer in YouTube singing covers). The second one is an even younger kid smacking lips to "I Love My Lips,"song originally by a cucumber in an episode of "Veggie Tales."It's unclear weather the copyright claim was for the song or the cucumber up some of these Warner executives' ass.

Thanks to the ever-alert fellows at YouTomb and the Electronic Frontier Foundation we can find about this stuff, otherwise it would go unnoticed, and the record labels would be able to get away with anything. Keep supporting them in any way, and lets put a stop to this complete abuse of copyright laws.

Corynne McSherry's article "The Fair Use Massacre Continues: Now Warner's Going After Babies"for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Pictures taken from YouTomb.


MarloweDK... gone.

Again, another musician account has mysteriously disappear from YouTube. This time it's MarloweDK's. And again, it was a clear case of fair use material.

Thomas Risell, who goes by the monicker MarloweDK, is a well-educated bass player who hosts his own website, playbassnow.com, for teaching and has created quite a big fan-base which can also be considered his students. Today, they were all horrified when they discovered the infamous YouTube's pink rectangle along with the so feared sentence: "this account has been suspended." After hoping for a mistake in the playbassnow forums this was confirmed by Thomas himself:
"Well, maybe its a little less dramatic but still very bad, read on…
ARGGGRRRR!! MY YOUTUBE ACCOUNT IS CLOSED!! ON COPYRIGHT ISSUES (my play-alongs), most of my videos were hosted there and are not available rigth now"

"And im not able to open a new YT account, im a “persona non grata” as far as they are concerned"
A couple of days back I wrote about other two accounts being suspended: joch84's and Munkybarz's. If YouTube's actions in the past serve as any indication, we can only predict that more and more user accounts who "violate copyright" will start to suddenly disappear. The problem with this is, how many people are "infringing" in YouTube? Is this the beginning of the end for YouTube?


Fred at NYU

For those of you who haven't run into the arms of the Electronic Frontier Foundation after getting your videos removed from YouTube, you should know Fred von Lohmann is the Senior Staff Attourney at EFF who's actually fighting to protect us, and the user-generated content against the abuse of copyright holders such as Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group.

This is a recent appearance he made at NYU Law titled "Public Interest Cyber-Lawyering on the Electronic Fronteer."If you have an hour of down-time, please watch it, as he goes deeply into the blocking and removal of videos in YouTube by the big record labels and companies, specially WMG, and what to expect if you're considering taking legal action. He explains what's going on n a very user-friendly way, as in, you don't have to be an NYU lawyer to uderstand what he's talking about.


Thanks, Neil.

Finally, an artist had something to say about the Warner-YouTube spat. Sadly for us, it's not what we would've hoped for. In an article written by Neil Young in his own website, he addresses the issue from the point of view of a WMG employee.

In his article, Young basically says YouTube offers different deals to each record deal, which includes different revenue money; as opposed to the old days when radio offered the same deal to every record label and artist to play their songs. Warner was the first to negotiate a deal with YouTube back in 2006. The other labels followed, but negotiated a better contract. According to Young, Warner merely tried to get the same deal the other labels got, and YouTube wouldn't hear of it. This, at least in my own personal opinion, still does not justify the removal of hundreds of user-generated content and LRRG videos.

Reading a bit more, I came across this small paragraph, which I found quite interesting:
"Today's web world has created a new way. Artists today can go directly to the people. There is nothing standing between the artists and their audience. Freedom of expression reigns."
Really? artists can go directly to the people? nothing standing between them? I guess that would be except for the big-ass multi-million dollar corporation which is removing the fan-made videos, and the artists' own videos! Judging from that small paragraph, I can conclude Warner is really good at one of two things: brain-washing their artists, or keeping them from knowing their modus operandi of video removal.

Granted, his opinion could've been worse. At least he took the time to comment on it, unlike that Danish tennis player whose name won't be mentioned.

Read the complete article by Neil Young.

Pa... ro... dy?

I've never heard of "Literal Videos" until about half an hour ago, and became an instant fan. Sadly, the reason I heard of DustFilms and this wonderful work of media genius was because of this piece of news from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Literal Videos is the creating of Dustin McLean, now hosted on the comedy web site Funny Or Die, and thank god, because they're too great to lose over a WMG tantrum. The videos are pretty much the same you've seen on MTV (when it used to actually show music videos), but with a new set of lyrics: the specific description of what's happening on screen.

The idea it's so simple, yet so creative; WMG doesn't like creative people, as one look at their list of signed artists would tell us; they claimed copyright on two videos: Under The Bridge and Take On Me.

The problem is, these videos are clear parodies. Again the long corporate arm completely ignores the Fair Use clause while bitching and whining at the same time about the users' complete disreagard for copyright laws. They're huffin' and puffin' trying to eliminate any evidence of their music from YouTube, which will have devastating results for both the record label and the video website. And as for the users? They'll just pick up their stuff and move on to a different site.

DustFilms website.
DustFilms' "Funny Or Die" channel.
DustFilms' YouTube channel.


YouTomb -- you monitor us?, we'll monitor you.

Worried about how YouTube's automated video-signature flags videos and gives complete freedom to the copyright holders to block pretty much whatever they want, completely ignoring and bypassing the "fair use" clause in the U.S. Copyright Law, a student organization -MIT Free Culture- started this project hoping to reform it.

Basically, YouTomb monitors those videos on YouTube which are the most popular, often featured in other web sites, and serve as a source as to who has removed what and why. Browsing through some of the removed material, it becomes aparent some companies will claim copyright on anything. If you make a video of yourself, you better not have a mole which resembles the Mickey Mouse logo -- it would probably get removed. "Please use Mole-Swap and try again."

But I digress...

The fellows at YouTomb also keep a count on how many videos have the companies removed by themselves, WMG not surprisingly ranking at number one with over 4,600 videos taken down; counting only the claims by "WMG,"not those by "Warner Music Group" and other variations of that name which has become a euphemism for "copyright fascists."Of course, in a site of this nature, they could not lack a blog to express their thoughts and feelings about this wonderful world of corporate monopoly we're facing. Contributor Kevin Driscoll was kind enough to take some time out of his life and browse through this blog and the Living Room Rock God community and dedicating an article on YouTomb to our cause. (Thank you, Kevin!).

So, are you still wondering what happened to your favorite video in which some kitties were headbanging at the rythm of Metallica? I suggest you browse through YouTomb's content. WMG might have claimed copyright over the music... or the kitties (they might've looked like Sylvester the cat).

YouTomb's main web site.
YouTomb's stats.
Kevin Driscoll's Article: "Won’t get fooled again, hard rock fans react to Warner/Universal takedowns."