Science Addiction

A dormant blog by Devanshu Mehta

Tag: Music

iPods, Obama and the Queen

An excellent article from Fred von Lohmann at EFF:

President Obama reportedly gave an iPod, loaded with 40 show tunes, to England’s Queen Elizabeth II as a gift. Did he violate the law when he did so?

You know your copyright laws are broken when there is no easy answer to this question.

[from iPods, First Sale, President Obama, and the Queen of England | Electronic Frontier Foundation]

The issue stems from how the law deals with bits (MP3s, software and Kindle eBooks) differently from atoms (CDs, paperbacks). If the President had bought a CD for the Queen (of the band Queen, no less) it would have been perfectly legal. But digital music, on the other hand, is much murkier territory— you own a “license” not the music. The article at EFF does much better justice to the topic, so read the details there.

Don’t Turn the DRM Lights Out

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:

  • Major corporation launches music service with big PR blitz.
  • Music is sold with DRM that prevents the songs to be listened to in devices and software of the customers choice.
  • Customers buy said music- clearly the major corporation would never pull the plug on the service and so their music would live on for ever.
  • Major corporation pulls the plug on their music service.
  • The customers music turns to toxic digital pulp.

First it was MSN. Then Yahoo. And now WalMart. WalMart closed down its DRM-laden music service and told its customers that their DRM servers would be switched off, making the music they purchased unusable in the long run.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before but there were an outcry and WalMart has now said the DRM servers will stay powered. Just as MSN and Yahoo did in the past.

Video and eBook DRM- you’re up next!

Radiohead Releases “In Rainbows” for Remixing

The band Radiohead is at it again. In a novel move earlier this year, they put their album In Rainbows on their site for download on a “pay what you want” basis.

They’re not done shaking up the way music is delivered to the people. From TUAW, we have this:

This week, they’ve done the same thing with the song “Reckoner” [iTunes link]. The six-track, DRM-free album costs $0.99US. Tracks cannot be purchased individually.

If you purchase the stems within the first two weeks of availability, you’ll receive an access code to a full GarageBand version of the song. When you’re done, you can upload your masterpiece here.

This is a fantastic idea to keep the fans involved and to keep the marketing buzz going. They already did something similar in the past with their song Nude, as did the band Nine Inch Nails earlier this year.

Obama, Montana and Jones

So, what’s hot this summer, asks

Love is Old, Love is New

Lucy in the Sky

Originally uploaded by DevanJedi.

I was in Vegas in April of this year and saw Cirque du Soleil’s Love– a truly magnificent tribute to The Beatles through their music and Cirque’s visual extravagance.

The show opens with one of the last songs The Beatles recorded- “Because” for Let it Be. John Lennon is quoted as having said that the song is based on Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. Listen to both, and you know he’s right.
(“Video of Moonlight Sonata”: on YouTube)

This got me to thinking about fair use. Would Lennon (or his lawyers) have risked it if the Sonata was still under copyright? There were “only” about 170 years between Moonlight Sonata and Let it Be, so in modern copyright terms, they were cutting it a little close.

Think that’s a stretch? Remember, Rep. Mary Bono channeling Jack Valenti once asked Congress for “forever less one day” copyright terms.

Note: I know that Lennon’s use would probably be ruled as fair use in a reasonable court of law. That is not the issue. The issue is that fear of litigation may have prevented Lennon (or his producers) from ever releasing “Because” in to the wild and ours would have been a poorer culture for that.

If Making Ramen Was Like Playing a Guitar

Wired columnist Jennifer Granick has a great article about how she “started thinking about what it would be like if there were an RIAA for ramen”:,71688-0.html?tw=rss.columns which leads her down some very interesting paths.

They’d form an association — say, the Ramen Industrial Alliance of Asia, or RIAA — and announce a clampdown on the proliferation of infringing noodle shops. Their arguments would echo the music industry’s. “The chefs who created ramen deserve to get paid for their creation,” they’d say. “These noodle shops are taking profits away from the creators, while peddling an often-inferior product to an unsuspecting public that believes they are getting real ramen.”

A Debate with the MPAA

The “#2 thesis on of my 95”: was that Violating a license agreement is not theft.

I got a lot of feedback about that one- many people made the point that it could be theft if it involved either loss of property or loss of potential income.

I grant both of those points- and I am not even close to being a lawyer- but my point still holds: Violating a license agreement could also be theft, but in my opinion, is not theft on its own.

The “BBC has a video debate”: between the MPAA President Dan Glickman and the EFF co-founder John Barlow on the subject, and while much of it treads familiar ground for those who follow this issue, it is especially interesting because the two opposing viewpoints have been presented together.

To get a better idea about “John Perry Barlow”: here are a few bits about him:
* Founded the “EFF”: in 1990.
* Was a lyricist for the “Grateful Dead”:
* His article on “The Economy of Ideas”: where he says

Intellectual property law cannot be patched, retrofitted, or expanded to contain digitized expression any more than real estate law might be revised to cover the allocation of broadcasting spectrum (which, in fact, rather resembles what is being attempted here). We will need to develop an entirely new set of methods as befits this entirely new set of circumstances.

* His “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace”: where he writes:

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

* And “more recently, more pointed”: remarks from him.

These Days Everybody Has an Opinion

Including cab drivers. “Watch how the BBC mistakenly pulled in a cab driver”: to comment on the latest issues with Internet piracy, digital downloads and iTunes. He actually had some interesting things to say: Read the rest of this entry »

Why ‘The Beatles’ Matter

“Steve Audio”: has a great article on why The Beatles matter and how they changed everything. It should be required reading for anyone who appreciates modern pop, rock… or anything that came out of a studio in the last 50 years. Read the rest of this entry »