Thom Yorke spells out the downside of pay-what-you-will

Thom Yorke at Latitude 2009 photo by Hero of Sorts

This is a very interesting post from The Trichordist, which eloquently sums up my feelings on how music is treated. Yes, it’s always been a business, but, ironically, at least Sony et al actually cared.

‘”We were so into the net around the time of Kid A,” he says. “Really thought it might be an amazing way of connecting and communicating. And then very quickly we started having meetings where people started talking about what we did as ‘content’.’

– Thom Yorke talking to the Guardian

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Where did your picture come from?

Sofia Hassen has a point. The eagle-eyed among you might have spotted that the British wildlife photographer left a comment here earlier: “Don’t forget to credit photos and videos by others on your blog”. I was mortified to note that the feature on which she had commented didn’t have any attributions at all.

It’s something I’ve become more keenly aware of over the months, since I’m so pro-copyright when it comes to music but have been woefully neglectful when it comes to the pics I use on this site. I’m sure many of us are the same – we need a photo for a post, we’re in a hurry, and just nab something from Google without thinking where it comes from. For the past few months, I’ve been attributing images using the mouseover because the layout isn’t really conducive to actual captions: hover over the image for a second and you can see a brief description, the name of the author and where I found it. It’s not the best way of handling things, but it’s better than nowt.

Prompted to think a little more carefully, I realised that though I had dilligently credited the “tiny gypsy” picture by Shana Rae I used a couple of days back, I hadn’t checked to see whether I could use the image. As it turns out, the $5 usage fee was less of a problem for me than the 7-day turnaround on the usage request, so I nixed the pic and replaced it with a public domain image from WikiCommons. I don’t like it as much as the Florabella Collections pic, but that’s why Ms Rae is charging money for its usage. She’s got to eat, hasn’t she? That and pay for the equipment she uses. It’s all fair, so I feel a bit bad about being unfair to her by swiping her pic without permission.

Wikipedia is a quick, easy way of finding free, useable images without treading on any toes, but even that leads to some pretty interesting complexities.  Continue reading

The “real” victims of online piracy

I admit I have an agenda. Almost everyone I know makes some sort of income from the arts. Some are writers, some are artists, some composers and songwriters, and some make video games. None of those people are rich, and every single one of them has been made poorer by piracy. My husband’s in a band who are signed to an indie label and – like Colleen Doran – is “depressed” by the number of people who’d pay £400 for an iphone and £50 for a concert ticket but won’t fork out £8 for an album.

Doran explains:

I spent the last two years working on a graphic novel called Gone to Amerikay, written by Derek McCulloch for DC Comics/Vertigo. It will have taken me 3,000 hours to draw it and months of research. Others have contributed long hours, hard work and creativity to this process. But due to shrinking financing caused by falling sales in the division, these people are no longer employed.

The minute this book is available, someone will take one copy and within 24 hours, that book will be available for free to anyone around the world who wants to read it. 3,000 hours of my life down the rabbit hole, with the frightening possibility that without a solid return on this investment, there will be no more major investments in future work.

The other day I likened it to Morrowind. When starting the role-playing computer game, your character is placed in an unguarded room that is filled with items that can be taken without consequence. I take the bread from the basket, then I take the basket, and the cutlery and crockery, and then I strip the room bare. I take everything that I can carry. I don’t even use, let alone value, everything I take. I take it because it is there and because I can and because it is easy and I won’t get caught.

Spare me any justifications about it being “one in the eye for The Man” or some sort of noble protest against outmoded distribution models. You’re just doing it because you can and because you can get away with it – and this time you’re not just taking from the faceless Imperial forces of some video game.

I’ll let Colleen Doran explain, since she’s much more eloquent than I am: