18th November, 2009

Music sharers are music buyers

Recently Australian Industry trade magazine – The Music Network, released a report on claims that Peer to Peer file share users may not be the devil for the music industry as always claimed. While the report is of the UK it is interesting to read the facts in light of the rush to crack down on illegal downloading like the iinet courtcase here. Written by UK Contributor Eamonn Forde, we were lucky enough to be able to publish a copy of the article, but more like these can be found in the weekly trade mag.

File Sharers are Music Buyers Best Customers, claims report.
By Eamonn Forde

A new report by Demos/Ipsos Media claims that UK downloaders are treating P2P as a discovery platform and buy more music than those who do not use illegal sites.  The report also proposes that the music industry has missed out on untold millions by focusing too much on litigation and not enough on converting file-sharers across to legal services.

Demos researcher Peter Bradwell said, “Politicians and music companies need to wake up to the changing nature of music consumption and embrace the demand for new business models that offer lower prices and easier access to music.”

The top line stats from the report were as follows:

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This  month saw the start of the watershed court case between West Australian internet service provider (ISP), iinet, and the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT). AFACT is suing iinet for allowing its customers to illegally download movies like The Dark Knight and Happy Feet via websites and torrents. This blog goes into why AFACT is targeting ISPs specifically and discusses the pros and cons of it all.

Bad iinet

There are essentially 2 arguments raised by AFACT as to why iinet should be liable for the illegal actions of its customers:

Firstly, AFACT argues that iinet clearly realises that a large portion of their customers use their internet connections to download movies and have done nothing about it. As AFACT puts it, iinet is wilfully implicit in the illegal downloading of its customers.

Secondly, over the past year, AFACT has forwarded to iinet the IP addresses of  its customers that have been illegally downloading content, but iinet has done nothing with this information. AFACT argues that iinet should have, at least, delivered these infringement notices to its offending customers but in reality have been aiding copyright infringement.

Snails and Cocaine

In its defence against these allegations, iinet relies on Australia Post.

iinet argues that Australia Post is not required to review the contents of all mail sent through its vast distribution network. In the same way, iinet shouldn’t have to look through all of the data passed to and from its customers in search of illegal activity. iinet uses the analogy that if cocaine is sent via snail mail,  Australia Post would never be prosecuted. In the same way, should ISPs be held responsible for the actions of its customers?

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The Cup and the Cube: a new perspective on the debate over Internet Music Piracy

…And the debate keeps raging on. Should music sharing over the internet be a criminal offence, or do we live in a new digital world that is not bound by the same restrictions and limitations of the old physical one?

This question has recently been debated over in the Minnesota District Court where the RIAA (Record Industry Association of America – similar in scope to our ARIA group) has successfully sued college student, Joel Tennenbaum, for sharing 30 songs with other file sharers around the world. Most people have very strong opinions on who is right and who is wrong in digital music piracy without fully understanding the arguments raised by both sides.


This series of blogs aim to shed light on the arguments through the use of two vital concepts in digital music piracy – the Styrofoam Cup and the Necker Cube [pictured above].


In his opening statement Prof Charles Nesson, lawyer for the college kid, tried to give the jury a bit of an understanding of what file sharing is and how it affects the physical world. He did this by scrunching up and breaking a Styrofoam cup in his hand, letting all the little white bits fall to the floor…in the middle of a full Court room. His logic worked along these lines: the Styrofoam cup should be seen as a normal CD, containing a number of songs. What the internet and p2p technologies have done is to scrunch up the CD and break it into individual songs. Broken away from the once existing CD, each song takes on a life of its own – free to fall into any computer that wants to catch it. In other words, technology allows songs to be separated from CDs and be distributed freely across the world. What’s wrong with freedom? This is best explained by looking at a cube.


In a captivated Court room, Nesson went on to describe the Necker Cube – A cube that can be viewed from two different perspectives. One camp sees the cube (file sharing) as bad, whilst another camp sees it from a different perspective and thinks its good. Neither camp is necessarily wrong, its just that they are two very different perspectives of the same Necker Cube. This concept is what has driven this debate over piracy for over a decade and will continue to drive it for a long time further. After all is said and done, is it possible for the Necker Cube to morph into a Square? That is, can file sharing enthusiasts and the music industry solve their issues with each other to make a digital environment that is beneficial for all?

More about the square in later blogs…

13th August, 2009

Get It In Writing!

Navigating band agreements
By Darren Sanicki
From The Arts Law Centre of Australia

I am often asked by young bands whether they should enter into an agreement among themselves. Whilst my legal training says “Yes”, I am also conscious that this may open a can of worms.

Recently a client of mine, the charismatic and enigmatic lead singer of a well-known act, no longer wanted to be part of the band citing irreconcilable differences between the members. Instead he wanted to leave, find himself a new backing band, continue to use the same band name, play the same music and perform an almost identical “live show.” Now theres a can of worms!

He believed that as a founding member, lead singer and principle lyricist, he should be entitled to do so. The band had a strong following, was making good money touring, and was about to release their debut album. Naturally, the remaining members of the band were mortified and wanted to continue business as usual, and simply find themselves a new lead singer. Thus began a long and spiteful dispute.

What many people dont realise is that without a written agreement the Partnership Act (the Act)  will apply. Partnerships are defined as “persons carrying on a business in common with a view of profit”  while “business” is defined as “every trade or occupation.”  If your band is more than a “hobby” it will be considered a partnership under the law. As my client did not have an agreement in writing we were forced to rely on the Act.

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11th August, 2009

The iBand (Part 3)


This blog is Part 3 of our look at Social Media sites and their ability to promote and market artists across the world.

In this new world of online music promotion and streaming, its important that artists and labels understand the ways in which they can utilise the latest online technologies and trends to not only get their music ‘out there’ like never before, but also earn money over the latest e-revenue streams available.


Before going into how artists and labels get paid online, its important to understand why they get paid. Under Australian copyright law, an mp3 or any format of recorded music contains 2 distinct copyrights – the publishing rights in the composition that was recorded as well as the performance rights in the actual sound recording.

Copyright law says that anyone who, among other things, distributes, communicates and/or reproduces recorded music must compensate both the composers of the music and the owners of the recording. These rules still operate in an online world, so this means artists and labels are entitled to 2 sources in one music stream:

1. payments to the composers/performers (known as Mechanical Royalties) and
2. payments to the owners of recordings (known as Performance Royalties)

If you have signed any recording or publishing contracts your rights to these incomes will change.
Its important to note that these obligations under Australian law are mirrored to a great extent across the globe.

Enough theory, show me the money!!

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3rd August, 2009

The iBand (pt 2)


This blog is Part 2 of our look at Social Media sites and their ability to promote and market artists across the world.

Introduction to Music Streaming Sites

The popularity of sites that allow users to stream, learn, chat and share music with others is growing immensely. While Facebook and the like concentrate on a person’s overall lifestyle, ie work, drinking and partying, Streaming sites focus only on a person’s musical habits. For the general public, such sites may seem less interesting – maybe even boring for some – but for music fans, these sites have the potential to rival the importance of Facebook.

At the end of the day, artists must look to these music fans to build  their grass roots following and to further promote their music by accessing these new global virtual music communities. Bottom line, if you want to share and promote your music in the most effective ways possible – get involved in streaming sites.
Lastfm is one of the popular music Streaming sites on the internet and now has over 20 million users across the world. For a list of other similar sites, visit this page. Recently, Lastfm has varied its business model and now requires its users to pay for the services provided on the site (after a free 30 track period). This allows Lastfm to direct some of its revenue to artists who generate lots of plays across the site – more on this royalty scheme later.

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22nd July, 2009

Save The Scene: Sydney

save the scene sydney

Today we kicked off Save the Scene 2009 in our spiritual homeland, Sydney.

Music industry pro’s Kirsty Brown from The Brag, Bree Carter from Select Music, Chris Moller from APRA, Andy Kelly (Winterman + Goldstein), and Caroline Gates (FBi Radio) came down to share their knowledge, detailing what the industry is like, how they all got where they are, how to use the industry best if you’re an artist, and what they all do. The unanimous answer to that last question was “spend a helluva lot of time answering email!”

Afterwards Tom Ugly and Tim Derricourt (Dappled Cities), with Chris Moller (APRA/ Midget) gave us a breakdown of the songwriting process, detailing how they each write songs, and the ways that they interact with band members and other songwriters. Tim played us an early demo of the new Dappled song and, seriously, the totally lo-fi demo recording was mind blowing! What a treat!

Next stop on the road: Goulbun, Wagga Wagga, Bega, and Dungong in August, Broken Hill in September and Newcastle in October as part of Sound Summit. All aboard the Indent van!

16th July, 2009

The iBand (pt 1)

The iBand: Social Media part 1

How artists are using social networking sites to promote their music across the world

More and more of Australia’s music fans are turning to the internet to learn about, interact with and listen to new bands and artists. Its therefore extremely important for bands to understand how they can promote themselves over the most popular internet sites in the world -  the  social networking sites that have infiltrated our lives such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.

This article goes through a few of the most popular sites to highlight some of the new and innovative ways bands promote their music and image across the world.

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