Sunday, February 19, 2012

#6 and Six Years Ago Today - Illfolks in "The Village"

Six years ago, this blog arrived in "the village" of sharing. In honor of #6, a download of the original "Prisoner" theme by Ron Grainer. It was rejected as a little too weak for such a groundbreaking, dramatic new TV series. Ron re-scored it with dramatic counterpoint, ominous brass, and stunning shifts between a single melody and literal thunder.

In these half-dozen years, the copyright owner has emerged as The Prisoner, or, to use a Lennon song title, "Nigger of the World." Everyone recognizes now that Blacks, gays, Muslims and even illegal immigrants have rights...but Google and Hacktivists and greedheads don't believe copyright owners do. Copyright is not considered a human right, and people snigger at the very words "intellectual property." Having black skin could get you killed. Now, it's having an idea and asking to be paid for it. You're told: "Give it away free. If you don't, you'll be sorry! We won't let you win, you bastard!"

Marie Antoinette said "Let them eat cake," and what do songwriters hear? "Let them sell t-shirts." What do writers, photographers, artists hear? Some shit about "invent a new paradigm. What you do should be FREE." Recently, simple laws to block Russian thug websites and PirateBay from making huge profits off what they steal, got stalled because Google and other Internet giants (who make a fortune off all this) brainwashed the already brain-dead by declaring "war" against "censorship." Censorship is the issue? No, it's about justice. You don't let a bunch of avowed "Pirates" steal, whether they're in Sweden copying movies or in Somalia taking over passing ships. You need to do something when craven sites making money off pathetic dating-service ads and video game links mock DMCA's (the polite "please cease and desist stealing from me, and gee, it would be nice if you don't re-up"). It isn't "censorship" to make sure the royalties go to the artists and the companies that support the artists, and not to Internet slimeballs who chose music stealing over spam this week. Some dirtbag starts a torrent site to make money for himself and is lauded as a freedom fighter! Jesus what a world, confusing "freedom" and "we want shit free."

Six years ago, "sharing" was the innocent word for what we were doing. Quickly, the power to have an Internet audience led to corruption, self-inflated stardom, inane rationalization, and warped philosophies about why taking somebody else's property without permission was a good thing. With music blogs and forums, it became a bonfire of vanities, with everyone gleefully tossing whole albums in FLAC out there, entire discographies, and even demands for Paypal donations and urgings to download so that the "hard work" could get rewarded with Rapidshare points, Megaupload money pay-outs, etc. etc.

Good bloggers found themselves in the company of inane ones who turned their silly names into graffiti tags, over-posted like mad and made themselves out to be Gods, or cool outlaws, or hipsters, or revolutionaries. The truth is they are mostly fat, middle-aged nobodies, social lepers who have nothing better to do every day than look for "nice comments" about themselves and admire their blog wallpaper with their idiot graffiti names on. Their ego kick is to pretend their fake alias with Devil, Rock, God or some other idiot tattoo term is real and they don't have a boring name and live in anonymous emotional poverty. Their stubborn and dead-wrong behavior led to scorn and disgust from the music world.

"Sharers" insisted they did no harm, even as record stores folded and recording artists good and bad, from Joni Mitchell to Lee DeWyse got kicked off their labels due to low sales. The domino effect meant everyone from secretaries to janitors got the boot, and thriving offices that employed hundreds and thousands of people (not just greedy CEO's and nasty rich songwriters and singers) were headed for the dole. The utter madness continued, nastier and nastier, with "here's my re-up, here's my new blog, let's make sure the bastards don't win." What bastards? The Beatles? The indie band that just put out their first album and went $50,000 in debt to do it?

Let's quote from the Doubleday book "Free Ride," by Robert Levine. Or rather, the quote from it published in Rolling Stone, November 24 2011: "At what point did free music become a social cause? If artists want to give away their music, that's great. They just shouldn't have to do it when they don't want to." Oh. Well, then again, Mr. Levine, you probably know your book is being given away via eBook and mobi and you're being told to rationalize "the people who stole it wouldn't have bought it" and "get yourself a new paradigm" and "so what if the advance you got was minimum wage in terms of the time it took to write it, and your royalty check will be a joke."

We have since discovered that Kim Schmitz, a professional conman, was making $100,000 a day with Megaupload. What happened when he was jailed? People mourned. They wept. Nevermind that Schmitz, who smugly changed his name to "Dotcom" and was the richest man in the country, could've given us all premium accounts FREE. Instead we paid him, at the same time we stiffed artists and grunted that maybe, MAYBE we'd buy a whole CD if the download was a dollar or two. Somehow Megaupload wasn't a sleazy corporation run by a crook, just Sony.

No no, Herr Kim and his mob weren't evil manipulative corrupt bastards like the suits at Sony, targeted instantly with silly trick-or-treat "denial of service" website attacks. No, no, Fuhrer Schmitz wasn't perceived as evil as the CEO of McDonalds, Burger King, Tesco, Wal-Mart or Nike or Coke or the other places nobody protests and everybody visits. No, let's all scapegoat the companies that we can rip off with anonymous downloading, and don't do any "occupy Wall Street" tactics in front of Burger King...even if the employees there barely get minimum wage while the CEO's make a bundle. Hacktivists who happily block a corporate website for daring to stand up for their legal rights, wouldn't even ring the doorbell of a Tesco exec and run.

Kim Dotcom somehow deserved $100,000 a day? 99% of it built on getting paid for what he was stealing?

Who is The Prisoner now? It's the copyright owner. But the "village" is bigger than that. Generated by the writers, actors, musicians, the "village" is in danger, too. Sure, George Clooney is rich. But the staff on a movie set are not. So what happens. Clooney's movie is given away on every torrent. He still gets a fortune and his CEO's do. But union members get laid off, and the grips, the make-up assistants, the guys who shlep scenery…don't get work because the jobs are farmed out to Canada or Romania somewhere, and staffed by minimum-wagers, just like the ones at the Nike and Apple factories in China. California movie union people are as screwed as guys picking lettuce in a field in Barstow. It goes overseas. Or not at all; notice how few movies are being made. How few TV shows. How few albums. It's reality shows, cheap cartoons and a bunch of rap assholes using auto-tune and ProTools. "Find a new paradigm."

The Prisoner rails about being pushed around. But over his head comes the laughter of "Number Two" (the shit-head with the graffiti name tag he uses for his re-ups, his blog, his Torrent posts, etc.) laughing and saying, "You are NOT a free man!" But, heh heh heh...the movie you made, the novel you wrote, the song you sang. That's free!"

Yes, "sharing" has changed quite a bit from what it was six years ago. Somebody else might post every "Prisoner" soundtrack album. Over here, and not in FLAC, is the fairly obscure original "Prisoner" theme. A "share" that's more like jaywalking than attempted murder.



Tommy said...

a freaking year, and worth the wait

Anonymous said...

You're back!!! I missed you!