Artists' Rights

  • “Stand Up Against Intolerance and Hatred in Our Community”

                                                                                                                news release

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     “Stand Up Against Intolerance and Hatred in Our Community”

    Solidarity Celebration at BSP in Kingston

    – April 23 event features music, speakers and networking for positive action –

    KINGSTON, NY (April 10, 2017) – Soon after the 2017 U.S. Presidential inauguration, a Woodstock area family suffered several anti-Semitic bias incidents. This family’s story is by no means an isolated incident here in Ulster County, and it is increasingly typical of life for Black, Latino, LGBT, Jewish and Muslim communities who are vulnerable to abuse and attack in our new political reality. Recognizing that this local incident is part of a virulent trend of racist, misogynist and xenophobic behavior in the United States, several regional musicians and other New York State artists decided to take a stand.

    On Sunday, April 23 from 2-4 p.m. at BSP, 323 Wall Street, in Uptown Kingston, a newly formed local coalition of artists and community members will hold an event to express solidarity with all communities at risk.

    “We want to show that we are going to stand up against intolerance and hatred,” said guitarist and composer, Marc Ribot, a friend of local residents and one of several artists slated to perform at the event. “We intend this to be a celebration of strength and diversity and to show our unified resistance to bias and the conditions that cause and allow it.”

    Local organizers will use the creative and positive power of the arts to open up conversations among community members. The group plans to build a locally based, visible and ongoing network of faith-based, cultural and community groups, and individuals who are willing to stand up against hate. Ribot will speak briefly about Artists Unite Against Hate, a downstate NY group endorsing the event.

    Musicians scheduled to perform on April 23 at BSP include Ceramic Dog (Marc Ribot, Ches Smith and Shahzad Ismailly); Nfamara Badjie; The Paul Green Rock Academy; Bill Brovold and Friends; and the Jamie Saft Trio with Brad Jones & Ben Perowsky plus special guests. Additional speakers and endorsing organizations will be announced at a later date.

    The event is free to the public. Contributions will be accepted and any proceeds will be donated to local organizations working on these issues here in the Hudson Valley.

    Organizations that wish to display materials or participate as speakers, and anyone who wants to assist with future events or join the mailing list, should visit the Facebook page for the event for further information: https://www.facebook.com/events/1011025145708989/.

    Contact: Rennie Scott-Childress 845.616.3687 (rscottchildress@gmail.com) 

  • Don’t Mourn/ORGANIZE!

    We lost more than “the progressive agenda” in this year’s election: Donald Trump’s regime is an attack on Constitutional Democracy itself. 

    Below are contacts for people who are fighting back.

    [We thank NY City Council Member Brad Lander #GetOrganizedBK bradlander.nyc/news/updates/getorganize... for the list].

    Fighting Trump appointments: FB page is Indivisible Nation, Twitter at indvisible_nat., email liliraytolangmail.com 

    Fighting corruption & conflicts-of-interest email jenniferfriedlin@gmail.com

    Preparing for the Women’s March On Washington: www.womensmarch.com or Facebook page

    Solidarity w/ immigrant neighbors (with CM Menchaca) email RAbdul@council.nyc.gov.

    Fighting bias, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism email ALevers@council.nyc.gov.

    Electoral working group groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/getorganizedbk—-electoral-working-group

    Outreach to more conservative places groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/out-of-state-partnerships 

    Threats to safety net programs groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/brooklyn-safety-net-defense-organizing 

    Programs for our schools/educators   vsell@council.nyc.gov

    Women’s health/reproductive rights   Facebook.com/ppnycaction

    Arts as activism groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/artsasactivismgetorganizedbk

    for: First Amendment rights and Holding media accountable: http://bradlander.nyc/news/updates/getorganizedbk-working-group-updates

    circulated by popfrontfordemocracy@gmail.com

    ***For those in the US outside of NYC, I’d recommend that you contact your own local elected officials at the city or congressional district level, and recommend that they start doing what Lander is doing in Bklyn (and if they can’t be bothered: I d suggest finding someone willing to run against them in the next democratic primary who can).  


  • "Silent Concert"

                 

    On Tuesday, 5/3, at 12 noon, musicians held a “SILENT CONCERT/Demonstration For Artists Rights”  outside the  Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse, 40 Foley Square, New York.

    Unfortunately, couldn’t be there myself — on tour "showing my skills to pay my bills": but I don’t mind writing in airports/train stations. And so:

    The event  coincided with hearings on section 512 of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) being held by the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO) inside the courthouse. 

    The DMCA is the 1998 law governing copyright in the digital domain.  Loopholes in the DMCA have left artists effectively powerless to prevent massive for-profit infringement, leading to the growth of a huge and damaging  black market (yup kids, that’s what we call corporate ad-based for-profit piracy: and that's exactly what it is) in our work.   If the devil is in the details, section 512  of the DMCA is our devil’s house. 

    The purpose of the SILENT CONCERT was to "ask Congress to fix the DMCA in order to protect artists’ rights in the digital age.”

    The actual event consisted of working artists/musicians standing with their instruments in a “silent concert” symbolizing “the music left un made… because…[section 512 of the DMCA] has permitted massive for-profit infringement that has devalued our music.”

    The “silent” musicians handed out literature calling for changes in the “Safe Harbor” clause of DMCA which “permits  online service providers to profit from infringement… without liability” claiming Safe Harbors should be denied to hosting platforms which ignore “red flag” knowledge of infringement on their site. 

    The literature urged Congress to update the DMCA takedown notice system so that each uncontested takedown notice applies permanently and automatically to all identical or nearly identical files. This way, artists won’t have to play whac-a-mole with thousands of repeating infringements in order to exercise their rights.

    The leaflet goes on:

    The technology already exists to protect creators fairly, in a way that will NOT interfere with free speech, and will NOT “shut down the internet!” 

    Have copyright protection and take-down systems been created that reasonably address civil libertarian concerns?

    Here’s Audible Magic Corporation’s response:

     “[the] technology could be implemented today." - Ikezoye, Vance, Audible Magic spokesperson April 3, 2016

    YouTube manages to run its own automated “Content ID” software without appearing to engage in ‘censorship’.

    Unfortunately access to this protective software comes at a cost.

    Independent artists must give YouTube access to their entire catalogue and use Content ID to monetize — thereby making YouTube money – in order to get access to its protection from infringement.

    Q: What kind of racket profits by selling ‘protections’ against infringements they themselves make possible?

    A: A protection racket.

    Q: Why – other than the fact that its parent corporation is worth 500 billion and this is the USA --  is this legal? Why isn’t YouTube required to protect the rights of ALL those on its premises, like any other business?

    A: Because of the Safe Harbor clause of section 512 of the DMCA.

    The ‘silent’ musicians called on Congress to further the development of  “Standard Technical Measures” (STM’s) that would enable an automated ‘takedown’ system to work, and, as an incentive,  to deny Safe Harbor to hosting platforms which, once STM’s are established, refuse to adopt them. 

    They tried to remind law makers:

     “We’re not asking for a special privilege, but a basic American right:  a fair market for our work."

    This protest was a small part of a new wave of activism by creators who are no longer afraid to speak out directly about reforming the DMCA. In March, I helped gather signatures for "A Creators’ View of the Music Ecosystem and Notice and Takedown". [a document circulated by the artists' rights group c3 (Content Creators Coalition) and presented to the US Copyright Office, (see the list of signers here: DMCA Signatures.pdf)] . The response was off the hook… everyone I asked signed.   

    The signers weren’t just “Rock Stars”, or functionaries from some 'built out’ advocacy organization, and this wasn’t just “the industry”. They were working musicians/ artists of all genres, ages, and levels of commercial success. 

    Almost none would have signed 3 years ago.

    This increase in activism is the opposite of what one would expect if the rosy tech industry claims of digital economic uplift for creators were true.  It presents a challenge to the ‘optimistic' statistical inferences drawn by  Steven Johnson [“The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t” NY Times, 8/23/2015]. 

    No working artist I know believes such claims.  If one thinks for a moment, the idea that the music market -- or ANY market — can somehow flourish while an open black market makes its products available for free -- is not only counterintuitive, its absurd.   

    As working studio drummer, composer, producer, music director extraordinaire (and Silent Concert ‘performer’) Steve Jordan put it:

    “more people are hearing [our] music than ever before.  So you would think that you would be making more money than ever before. But in actuality we’re making less money than we’re ever made, because people are allowed to use our material for next to nothing everywhere in the world now. So its actually worked against us. Only a few people in the record industry have actually made money off this deal. The rest of us are all canaries in the coal mine….” [Steve Jordan intvw by Joel Schlemowitz 5/3/16]

    The toxic economic environment created by the DMCA’s loopholes is what musicians working  in recording and recording related live performance deal with every day.

    And we don’t need Mr. Johnson’s macro economic statistical weatherman to know which way the wind blows. 

    So yeah, I’ll stay on the road longer each year to make up for lost recording income. I’m one of the lucky few able to do so. God help younger, working class, or less established artists trying to break through now (or older artists unable to take the grind, or composers, or parents of young children etc etc).  Current conditions serve as an entry  barrier to all the above.

    Is that a ‘creative apocalypse’? I guess not if you can afford to pay for your own recordings + $5-10,000 for a publicist + lose money on touring for awhile. Or if you only like music made by those who can. 

    (talented poor kids willing to sign exploitive “360” deals can play too. Life-long indebtedness may be their personal “apocalypse”. But the rest of us can enjoy their music – for free if we want. Sweet!)

    And speaking of touring vs those who believe that black markets help producers: I wonder exactly what the latter think is happening to conditions on the touring circuit now that virtually every artist has to go on the road more each year like I do? Supply and demand anyone?

     Oh, nevermind. 

    Sorry I missed the Silent Concert/demo. But you can be assured that until Congress stands up to the digital black marketeers, and restores a fair market for creators’ work in the digital domain, there will be plenty of others.  We’ll be back... we have nowhere else to go.

    --------------------------------------------

    M Ribot is a guitarist, recording musician, and artists rights activist with the Musicians Action group.  

    Note: the 5/3 event was intended to deliver a message to Congress and the public, and was in no way meant as a criticism of the U.S. Copyright Office, whose work in gathering stakeholder testimony deserves the respect of all parties. 

    Note: the Silent Concert was sponsored by the Musicians Action group musiciansactiongroup@yahoo.com. However, the views expressed in this article are solely those of the author. 


       

    Further reading:

    Composer Maria Schneider has finally come out and said what every artist I know who’s informed on the issues thinks: 

    "… for the vast majority of the artistic community, including me, and every musician I know (and I know thousands), YouTube is a resounding disaster.
    There’s no use in beating around the bush, so I’m going to cut to the chase – I’m of the firm opinion that YouTube should immediately lose its DMCA “safe harbor” status." 

    https://musictechpolicy.com/2016/05/15/guest-post-by-schneidermaria-open-letter-to-youtube-pushers-of-piracy/

    What does that mean? It means that like every other US businesses, YouTube and other hosting platforms should be held responsible for the damage caused by infringements they knowingly permit, or actively to encourage,  on their premises. 

    I have only one thing to add to Maria’s statement:  

    Amen. 

  • Radio & Press on Artists' Rights w/ Marc

    -Observer: Musicians Mourn the Loss of Other Music, NYC's Best Record Store

    Yup.  Other Music is closing. "Don’t Mourn, Organize!"

    "Other Music’s closing isn’t ‘nature,’ it isn’t ‘life’—it’s a small part of the entirely preventable destruction of the economy of the people who make and sell recorded music. That destruction is being carried out for the profit of corporations which sell ad space on their sites’ ‘content.’ They don’t make music. They don’t sell it. But the more files, the more hits. The more hits, the more advertising dollars. If the files are posted illegally, without the permission of the person who made it, no problem: Congress has (so far) permitted these corporate black marketeers (and yes, YouTube fits this description) a free ride, granting them a ‘safe harbor’ from liability for the harm they’ve done.

    -NOISEY (EXCLUSIVE): THE BEEF ABOUT COPYRIGHT CONTINUES WITH STEVE ALBINI VS. MARC RIBOT, PART…? CRAP, WE LOST TRACK.

    -Marc Ribot on Respecting Artists’ Rights at The Talkhouse 

    -NY Times Op-Ed - Room for Debate “If Streaming is the Future, You Can Kiss Jazz and Other Genres Goodbye

    -Listen to Marc & Sarah Manning discuss Artists’ Rights on the second half of WNYU’s The Phoenix

    -Newsweek: Putting a Price on Radio Play 

    -NPR's Morning Edition:

  • “Stand Up Against Intolerance and Hatred in Our Community”

    news release

     “Stand Up Against Intolerance and Hatred in Our Community”

    Solidarity Celebration at BSP in Kingston

    – April 23 event features music, speakers and networking for positive action –

    KINGSTON, NY (April 10, 2017) – Soon after the 2017 U.S. Presidential inauguration, a Woodstock area family suffered several anti-Semitic bias incidents. This family’s story is by no means an isolated incident here in Ulster County, and it is increasingly typical of life for Black, Latino, LGBT, Jewish and Muslim communities who are vulnerable to abuse and attack in our new political reality. Recognizing that this local incident is part of a virulent trend of racist, misogynist and xenophobic behavior in the United States, several regional musicians and other New York State artists decided to take a stand.

    On Sunday, April 23 from 2-4 p.m. at BSP, 323 Wall Street, in Uptown Kingston, a newly formed local coalition of artists and community members will hold an event to express solidarity with all communities at risk.

    “We want to show that we are going to stand up against intolerance and hatred,” said guitarist and composer, Marc Ribot, a friend of local residents and one of several artists slated to perform at the event. “We intend this to be a celebration of strength and diversity and to show our unified resistance to bias and the conditions that cause and allow it.”

    Local organizers will use the creative and positive power of the arts to open up conversations among community members. The group plans to build a locally based, visible and ongoing network of faith-based, cultural and community groups, and individuals who are willing to stand up against hate. Ribot will speak briefly about Artists Unite Against Hate, a downstate NY group endorsing the event.

    Musicians scheduled to perform on April 23 at BSP include Ceramic Dog (Marc Ribot, Ches Smith and Shahzad Ismailly); Nfamara Badjie; The Paul Green Rock Academy; Bill Brovold and Friends; and the Jamie Saft Trio with Brad Jones & Ben Perowsky plus special guests. Additional speakers and endorsing organizations will be announced at a later date.

    The event is free to the public. Contributions will be accepted and any proceeds will be donated to local organizations working on these issues here in the Hudson Valley.

    Organizations that wish to display materials or participate as speakers, and anyone who wants to assist with future events or join the mailing list, should visit the Facebook page for the event for further information: https://www.facebook.com/events/1011025145708989/.

    Contact: Rennie Scott-Childress 845.616.3687 (rscottchildress@gmail.com)