Breathtaking Insight: The Norwegian Society of Composers and Lyricists Says "It’s hard to say what the future will look like"
Ooh, I’m slightly annoyed after submitting a few questions for a Q&A session (in Norwegian, if you’re so inclined) on a local site today with Ragnar Bjerkreim, a board member of TONO, the Norwegian Performing Right Society, and leader of NOPA, the Norwegian Society of Composers and Lyricists. Today’s session was about the record industry and file-sharing.
Admittedly, no matter how much you try to avoid it, you look somewhat like a member of the Green Ink Brigade posting questions for these Q&A sessions, forced into asking multiple questions in a slew, unable to format them in a sensible manner on a lousy submit form. Nevertheless, I think his answers were foggy and evasive to the point that I suspect he didn’t even understand my questions. Or maybe he just didn’t have any real answers. I sure don’t — that’s why I asked him.
- What do you think the future will look like? Do you think it is possible to agree on international technology laws to effectively put a stop to illegal file-sharing?
- If so, how are we going to avoid affecting the democratic and legal exchange of information […] on the web in a negative way with this kind of legislation?
- Is it alright to sacrifice parts of this democratic and legal exchange of information in order to protect commercial interests, or do you rather consider these aspects to be unrelated? If so, why aren’t they related?
- And finally: Do you think recorded music is permanently devalued, or is it possible to regain the commercial value of recorded music in a reality where — if technology continues to evolve at the pace we’ve seen so far — we will be able to get all music that has ever been recorded onto our iPods in 20 years’ time?
Granted, the general direction of these questions is somewhat colored by my own views. I’m trying to force him into a trap. I’m also taking for granted that introducing new technology legislation implies restricting the use of file-sharing tools, which is totally relevant in regards to the ongoing Pirate Bay trial. But maybe I wasn’t clear enough after all.
Here are Ragnar’s answers that pissed me off a little bit. Not much, but enough to put it on my blog. He probably answered a lot of questions within a limited timeframe, but I say that doesn’t excuse him from actually reading the questions. My comments in parentheses, if you were wondering:
- It’s hard to say what the future will look like (No shit. Stupid me for asking)
- Your questions include several assumptions that I don’t agree with (?)
- It’s allowed to share files that are not copyrighted (Yes it is, but I didn’t ask)
- It’s not a democratic right to walk into a book store or a music store and take whatever you want and not pay for it (No it isn’t, no one said it was. I asked how we could avoid affecting the democratic and legal exchange of information with new laws)
- As time goes by, I’m sure new and better technical formats will come along, where you can choose whether you want to own or rent your music (?!?)
None the wiser, then. He answered my first question, I’ll give him that.
A little bit about my viewpoint: I’m all for finding viable solutions that will ensure that the artist gets paid for his/her work, but to be honest I’m more worried about the potential implications of new technology laws for me as a regular web user.
I can upload my holiday videos to YouTube. I distribute my music (I’m an amatur musician) to last.fm, iLike or any other service that is willing to host my music. I’m a total publicity whore. I write this blog to express myself, and I upload all of my pictures to Flickr. I don’t use BitTorrent — but I might as well have uploaded my pictures to the web using a BitTorrent-client if that was my preference, it’s still totally legal.
To my knowledge, everything I do on the web is legal. But at the same time I could easily have used either of these services to upload large amounts of illegal content, copyrighted material for which no permission has been obtained. As, indeed, many do.
The way I see it, if you’re ever going to reduce the amount of illegal sharing on the web, you inevitably have to reduce a lot of the perfectly legal sharing that is going on all over the web, because the tools are the same. For every paragraph I publish, for every song I make available to the public, for every video I upload, I could have chosen to do something illegal - I could have copied a large portion of someone else’s book onto my blog, I could have uploaded the latest Britney Spears album to the web using my ftp-software (not really, I don’t have it)… anyway, you get the idea.
It worries me. How are they going to stop all those “pirates” and all those “thieves” without bothering me and my legal web habits? I just don’t think it’s possible, and I don’t think the entertainment industry cares about how their crusade affects me and my internet habits. I am skeptical of the entertainment industry, the right holders and their motives at large. I’m worried about how their endless search for petty cash may ultimately harm the web. Most of all, I’m skeptical because of the way they have treated fans, developers, technological innovation, competition, thieves, bands and musicians in the past.
That being said, I have no sympathy for self-righteous people who assume that it is their God-given right to get things for free either.