To Artists

Free Distribution – It Should Be Your Choice – Accept Nothing Less

As with all other forms of distribution, there may be times to let your creative work be freely distributed.  The purpose of this web site is to educate artists that the claim of ISPs, search engines and internet advertising networks that it is now “impossible” to allow or deny transmission of individual files or that it will “break the Internet” to restrict access to sites that are economically harmful is blatantly false.  Our goal is to provide you tools to refute those arguments and to expose that those who make those statements have  economic incentive to abuse their superior understanding of the Internet to your disadvantage.

Get educated.  Get out there.  Stand up for your rights or lose them.

“For three hundred years since copyright law, we have had a market for culture. . . the Internet has basically destroyed that market because when you make paying optional you can not have a functional market.” – Robert Levin, author of Free Ride: How Digital Parasites are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back.

Play this video

“If you are going to give it away, give it away on your own website rather than making somebody else rich.” – David Lowery

Debunking Technological Excuses

One such example is United States Patent 6728773 awarded to Cisco in 2004, the leading manufacturer of routers, a key building block of the internet.  Cisco invented and has received a patent for a mechanism that would confirm that the owner of the content behind a link has given permission for that content to be linked.  At the infrastructure level of the Internet, Cisco has had the technology since the year 2000 to prevent sites like megaupload, beemp3, 4shared, filestube from linking to content that the copyright owner has not given permission.

To both the point that restricting peer-to-peer copyright infringement is not possible, will “break the internet” or will curb freedom of speech, I cite how the rise and fall of spam demonstrated that all three things are possible.  The Spamhaus Project is an international nonprofit organization whose mission is to track the Internet’s spam operations and sources, to provide dependable realtime anti-spam protection for Internet networks, to work with Law Enforcement Agencies to identify and pursue spam gangs worldwide, and to lobby governments for effective anti-spam legislation.  Why doesn’t the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) protest Spamhaus?  Isn’t restricting spam restricting free speech?  One look at the Spamhaus website clearly shows that Spamhaus maintains, manages and organizes a process for ISPs around the world to work together to block IP addresses to restrict spam.  Google claims that blocking IP addresses would “break the Internet.”  What is different about blocking spam versus blocking peer-to-peer activity?  The difference is that spam doesn’t drive broadband subscriber fees, spam doesn’t drive internet advertising revenues.  The reason why efforts to enforce copyright become “limitations on free speech” is because stakeholders who profit from a lack of copyright enforcement fund and advocate groups that promote the abolition of intellectual property.

See this quote on the partnership between Facebook and McAffe.

Facebook works with McAffe to proactively maintain a BLACKLIST of BLOCKED web addresses that host viruses.  Does this “break the Internet?”  There is no technological difference between this and search engines and internet ad networks blocking web addreses that illegaly distribute copyrighted content without permission.  At a minimum, search engines could easily put up an intermediary page that warns that a link to a pirate site has a history of complaints that it routinely violates copyrights.






Techniques That Don’t Work

Ethical Fan is opposed to Digital Rights Management (DRM) because we believe that industry and the public have the benefit of more than ten years of experience that the architecture of trying to put content in a wrapper that can be controlled is fundamentally flawed.  If you can hear something or watch something, you can copy it.

Techniques That Do Work

What is not flawed is the law.  One of the purposes of this web site is to capture all of the ethical arguments for copyright that are already embodied in the law of the United States.

Here is the part that says that if someone is reproducing or distributing your copyrighted work without your permission, subject to some limitations for fair-use, they are breaking the law.

United States Code Title 17 §106

. . . the owner of copyright . . . has the exclusive rights to . . . .

(1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or . . .

(3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;

Here is the part that says that Internet Service Providers can’t just let their subscribers distribute your copyrights day and night with impunity.

United States Code Title 17 §512

(i) Conditions for Eligibility —

(1) Accommodation of technology — The limitations on liability established by this section shall apply to a service provider only if the service provider

(A) has adopted and reasonably implemented, and informs subscribers and account holders of the service provider’s system or network of, a policy that provides for the termination in appropriate circumstances of subscribers and account holders of the service provider’s system or network who are repeat infringers; and

(B) accommodates and does not interfere with standard technical measures.

The reasons why people perceive that music and other content is free on the Internet is only because these laws are not being enforced.  We will examine how it came to be that these laws are not enforced on the Internet.  We believe that what started out as a “cradle” to foster innovation in the 1990s has now in the 2010s become an unfair and oppressive business model executed by ISPs, internet advertising networks and search engines to the detriment of creative workers.

The Arguments

Copyleft:   “It is now so easy to copy and distribute content, there is no way to stop it.”

Ethical Fan:   There are lots of things that are technologically easy.  That is why we have laws to stop them.

It is technologically easy to:

  • Drive 120 miles an hour.
  • Use someone else’s credit card to purchase goods online.
  • Log into someone else’s bank account and transfer money to yourself.
  • Shoot someone with a gun.

In none of these cases does the fact that something has become technologically easy does that justify removing legal deterrents.

The technological argument is as follows.  It is very easy to block BitTorrent.  Comcast did it in 2007.  In the US, that is a freedom of speech violation.  What is not a freedom of speech violation is for ISPs when they have actual knowledge of repeat illegal distributors, to terminate their service.

Then the Copyleft says, “an IP address is not an individual.”  If you sign up for internet service, you sign a contract that the service will not be used to break the law just like when you rent most anything like a car.  If a copyright owner can demonstrate that a computer using an ip address on your internet account was used to distribute several copyrighted files for several days while the holder of the contract received several warnings to stop  and the distribution continued, then the contract holder has enough responsibility that it is reasonable to expect that they would lose their service.

Copyleft:  ”The Music Business is corrupt and deserves to be destroyed.”

Ethical Fan:   As with any business there are a small number of people at the top and a large group of people who work from paycheck to paycheck.  What happens when revenues go down in an industry?  The top wage earners may go from a lot of compensation to half of a lot of compensation.  The majority of people with either lose a job as their industry shrinks or be underemployed.

The “music business” is highly fragmented and there are tens of thousands of music professionals who do not work and have never worked at the organizations you claim are corrupt.

“As a result of sound recording piracy, the U.S. economy loses 71,060 jobs. Of this amount, 26,860 jobs would have been added in the sound recording industry or in downstream retail industries, while 44,200 jobs would have been added in other U.S. industries. . . . Because of sound recording piracy, U.S. workers lose $2.7 billion in earnings annually. Of this total, $1.1 billion would have been earned by workers in the sound recording industry or in downstream retail industries while $1.6 billion would have been earned by workers in other U.S. industries” – Institute for Policy Innovation

This accusation seems to imply that the technology industry is free from corruption. This study of lawsuits against venture capitalists highlights 130 cases where venture capitalists were sued by entrepreneurs for unfairly dilluting their ownership, stripping assets, forcing a sale on unfavorable terms to the founders, etc.  Here is one such example:

“Goldman v, Inc., 2002 WL 1358760 (Del.Ch., 2002)

Founder was a president and CEO of e-gaming company; owned 29% of voting shares. VCs pushed founder to resign as a president and CEO. Firm needed money; VCs on the board chose funky securities, converted, did a reverse stock split; all of this reduced the founder’s stake from 13% to 0.1%. VCs then refused to redeem founder’s stock in violation of prior agreement.”

Other examples that come to mind are the fact that AT&T became so oppressive to the market that it had to be broken up by the Federal Government.  A former Worldcom CEO, in 2005, was convicted of fraud and conspiracy as a result of WorldCom’s false financial reporting, and subsequent loss of US$100 billion to investors.  When has fraud or malfeasance from a music industry executive ever cost anyone $100 billion?  What about Google being fined $500 million for its role in illegally marketing pharmaceuticals?

Copyleft:  ”The Music Business needs to get a new business model”

The content business has a great business model that has been proven over the last 300 years.  It is our opinion that the search engines, internet advertising networks and ISPs need to get a legal business model. On the page titled I Drink Your Milkshake we lay out the case that music is more popular than ever, it helps to drive two of the fastest growing businesses of the last ten years, internet advertising revenue and broadband subscriber fees.  If the laws were being enforced related to all of the illegal distribution and income derived from “free content”, then content industries would be growing along with ISPs and search engines.  ISPs and search engines might not post as much profit or have as high a stock price because they would either be bearing the costs of helping to enforce the laws, properly compensating content owners or may have a less compelling value proposition if they were not making “free content” as readily available as they do today.


  • Edward Ockham

    Just found this site, which I loved. This page in particular. How can I get in touch to discuss more? I am keen on forming alliances with groups/people/sites such as yourselves. You have my email.


  • Naomy

    Well, he mentions Google, but he doesn’t aualtcly say that Google pays. Rather, he uses Google as an example of a large company who *might* pay big bucks. The only annual Google company events were the ski trips (later Disneyland) and holiday party, neither of which had a speaker or even a big name band/singer. The ski trip did have a really good 80s cover band though, which I’m sure was paid, but at whatever the going rate for that level of band would be. Similarly, the holiday party would have various entertainers, but local-level, not big name. A number of large companies do bring in big name speakers and entertainers for such, but Google didn’t.On the other hand, in the list of big fee speakers shown right above that quote in the article, I know of four who’ve spoken at Google sans fee, and one who’s stopped by at least twice but I don’t believe has formally spoken (Bill Clinton, although Hillary Clinton has spoken).Also, note that I wrote that A@G was responsible for pretty much all non-technical speakers at Google. That included speakers brought in by Women@Google and various other groups (I recently attended a talk by an astronaut co- sponsored by Google’s Hispanic Employees group [I forget their name], which at least used to mean that the other group did the invitation and A@G then did the organizational work for the talk, making use of the built-up infrastructure for such.] [I got the right to attend all external speaker talks at Google until the end of time on my way out due to my A@G service]), what was termed Candidates@Google (pretty much all major Presidential candidates in the last campaign), and others. So not just authors.I’d guess the person paid a big fee for a commission would be Scott McCloud, who did a 16 or so page comic for the Google Chrome launch. I honestly wouldn’t see that as different from any general work for hire or contracting assignment. Knowing the folk who commissioned that, I’m pretty sure they just thought it’d be a cool and interesting way of conveying information about the new product and thought Scott would do a good job, in particular because he’s well-educated about the Web, not because it’d influence him to be pro-Google. Also, Scott had previously given a non-paid talk at Google during his 50-state tour.It is possible Google pays for speakers at non-internal events. They did once have a booth at the Vegas Trek convention and were a sponsor of it as some level, and provided free Wi-Fi in the Convention Center a year or two ago at Comic-Con, and they certainly have a presence at various technical conferences and conventions.There’s certainly Google lobbyists and the like. Btw, for what it’s worth, I’m in agreement with you vis a vis piracy.