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My friend Regie Hamm gave me permission to share this recent post from his blog. My question to the community is how many of us really understand what is being proposed by this legislation and do we really understand the ramifications and claims on both sides of the issue?

Here are some interesting points Regie made:

Regie's Blog
Posted : 01/20/2012 6:11:00 PM

I was 12-years-old, my little brother 10-years-old, and we were tapped by the local gospel music hero to be his rhythm section for a Sunday gig out of town. At the time, I’m sure he thought he was giving us our big break but the truth was we were already road dogs by that age, and simply saw this as an opportunity to pick up extra money during some rare down time in our own touring schedule. We showed up at his bus at 6 am and loaded our gear …then loaded his gear. The bus wound and curved through country roads until we came upon the familiar sight of dozens of cars parked at a small church building. We parked and were immediately given the order to unload …everything. We dutifully did so, changed into our “stage clothes” on the bus, then proceeded to follow this absolute hack (by ear) through two hours of bellowing mediocrity. As was always the case back then, we stole the show. We were pre-pubescent kids who could play instruments like adults and wore matching jump suits …what’s not to love?

After three grueling sets with this guy, we tore down and packed up (everything) while he sold records hand-over-fist and glad-handed the parishioners …then we packed up his records for him. On the trip home, my exhausted brother whispered in my ear, “how much are making for this gig again?” I didn’t know. We hadn’t agreed to terms before hand (a mistake I remember to this day and NEVER repeat). After unloading our gear (and his) in the parking lot that evening, he handed each of us a crisp, new five dollar bill. We stared at it, then looked at each other. I said, “what is this?” He then said proudly, “Oh no, take it. You boys earned it!” He clearly didn’t understand my confusion. “Go get some ice cream or a new toy.” My blood was boiling but we behaved as the southern gentlemen we were raised to be, said “thank you sir,” and went home. I know all-too-well about being undervalued because you’re young, or nice, or willing to help, or trying to get along. Now, a crusty old pro with MANY stories like that one on my resume’, what I’ve found is there’s a little hack gospel singer in all of us, willing to let someone work for free as long as they’ll do it and undervaluing things that are …well …undervalued.

I’ve been making money playing music for almost forty years. I’ve made a lot of money at times and very little at other times. But I’ve never complained about the consequences of MY choices. Nobody put a gun to my head and made me choose this life. But I do get sideways when I (and any of my fellow music professionals) am undervalued because the technology at hand allows me to be undervalued. People have been asking me for over a decade why the music business is dying. I’ve spoken on panels and been in back-room meetings and been to symposiums and spoken at seminars and it was simple when it started and it’s simple now …the reason the music industry is dying is because no. one. has. to. buy. it. any. more. Period. If you think it’s more complicated than that, you do not know what you’re talking about. Most insiders will dress up the truth a little with phrases like “capturing sales” and “loss leaders” and “brick and mortar distribution” and on and on it goes with the college-boy speak. I had an online exchange with a guy one night who got into Target and Wal Mart deals and profit margins and blah, blah, blah. Then there’s the most infuriating argument: “the music business died because they put out too many bad records.” Guess what? The Cleveland Browns field bad teams every year …but you STILL have to pay to watch them! The deal is simply this: once you can just go to the orange grove and get the unguarded juice for free …orange juice becomes de-valued. After that, it won’t be long before orange juice makers go under. That is business 101 …you’re welcome.

Do I believe we should go back to inferior formats like the CD? Of course not. I love the new technology and it should propel us forward to newer formats. Do I believe the music industry itself has much of the blame to shoulder here? Absolutely. But at some point we MUST have a serious discussion in this country about intellectual property, what it means, what it’s worth and how it should be protected. One of the organizers of the occupy movement has called for everyone to stop paying their mortgages. If everyone did that, the banking system as we know it would crumble in a matter of months. Every April I think about the implications of everyone not paying their taxes. That could end the greatest nation in history …in one tax cycle. The fact is, what has happened to the music industry is just that. Everyone just stopped paying for it because they could. Our industry didn’t go looking for bail-outs or stimulus packages, we’ve taken it on the chin for the past decade and tried to adapt.

This week, two bills came before congress, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act). The bills allow recourse against foreign websites who promote pirated content or copyrighted content. The bills stirred so much controversy, they’ve been tabled. I have close friends who fall on both sides of the issue, and I can see everyone’s point. But there is one thing we should all keep in mind, I have freedom of my own speech …not yours. You have freedom of YOUR own speech …not mine. There are already laws on the books that regulate content on the radio as well as television. Those industries work fine and never seem to get shut down. But theoretically, if radio stations were playing my songs thousands of times a day and not paying the licensing fees, I would be happy for them to get shut down permanently. They would be making money on advertising and building their brand …on my back. I would be getting nothing. While it’s an honor for people to hear my music on a mass scale, if I’m making nothing for it, and everyone seems to be ok with that, it just becomes an expensive hobby for me at that point, and I won’t be able to afford to do it for long. The current state of the internet, with the exception of itunes and other pay sites, is not far away from what I just described.

Does SOPA and PIPA over reach? Some say yes, but honestly, there are days when I’d welcome it. Those who say “keep the internet free!” don’t know much about what’s free and what isn’t. Free internet is much like “free healthcare” …there’s no such thing. Somebody’s paying someone somewhere and believe me, entities like Google are making billions of dollars on people clicking on stuff they perceive to be free. “But Reg, I don’t want to get sued just for posting my cat dancing to ‘Thriller’ on You Tube.” Well, aside from the fact that I believe all cat videos on You Tube should be outlawed anyway (but that’s a different discussion for another time), and the fact that I don’t personally believe that is a foreseeable possibility within the framework of these bills, the cold truth is Michael Jackson’s music doesn’t belong to you. You purchased the right to listen to it and dance to it and play it in the background of your Halloween party when you bought it. You DID NOT purchase the right to re-distribute it.

Look, most people have pure intent and it’s an honor to have them love your music enough to want to use it for something, but we’ve done a really poor job of educating the masses on the value of intellectual content. It should absolutely be easy to access and a lot of it should be, and will always be, free. I put a lot of free stuff up all the time. In fact, I give away MUCH more content than I sell. Sometimes, however, it just feels like all of us music folk are 12-years-old again and being used as slave labor for cat videos.

Statistics show there are 75% fewer professional songwriters on Music Row today than there were ten years ago. Folks, those are staggering numbers. The truth about the state of the music industry just isn’t being told. I’m fortunate to have a body of work that still earns some money, a skill set that is honed enough to weather extreme downturns and somewhat of a brand on which to trade …plus …I’ve just gotten plain lucky a couple of times. But I had 20 kids in my studio this week, from a local music conservatory, to discuss their future in the music industry, and I couldn’t think of one thing to tell them except, “get in a van and do 200 dates a year.” I honestly don’t know how the next generation will earn a living in this business. Where ever you fall in the SOPA/PIPA discussion, remember that everything you see on the internet, from news to idiotic blog posts, belongs to someone. Until we understand and agree upon the fundamental principles of content ownership, we’ll always be having this discussion.


Tags: PIPA, SOPA, music, online, piracy, stealing

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What a great article and I couldn't of said it any better myself.  I tip my hat to you Regie, and to you as well Brett for sharing this with us.

Regie gives his blessing to share as far and wide as possible, just as long as you don't turn it into a song.

As far as I know, Google and a lot of other tech stocks have never once paid their stockholders a dividend. Stop and think about that fact for a moment. Just let it percolate in your mind a bit.

WHY DOES anybody invest a dime in Google?


It’s because they believe that the price of Google and lots of other tech stocks  will continue to appreciate. Google's business model  is entirely based on increasing the perceived future value of their stock!

The idea of anybody ever needing to pay for content could easily diminish the perceived value of many tech stocks. Facts are completely irrelevant.

This is really entirely about supporting this massive house of cards built on perceived value and they will say absolutely anything and buy absolutely any politician to keep their Ponzi scheme going.

People seem to forget that Bernie Madoff WAS the head of the NASDAQ!

This is an extremely well thought out and written essay. I, like so many, have been waffling on what I think. Here are the things that influence my thought (along with this essay):

  1. Intellectual property has GOT to be protected if creators are to make a living in their arts.
  2. I vote but I don't trust Congress
  3. I use them but I don't trust Google, Facebook, Twitter et al.
  4. I believe that smart people should and will be able to, through ever evolving technology, figure out how to protect our interests.
  5. I also believe that at some point, wise, balanced and effective legislation can be drafted if the adult schoolkids/hooligans will stop fighting their uncivil wars over their own self-interest and political turfs in the halls of 'govament'!

I don't think we've heard the end of the story. Too much at stake not to get this right. Praying for some sanity... Thanks again for the great thoughts, Regie. This desperately needs to get discussed.

Many people do not realize that the government already controls the Internet, pretty much completely. Just a little cursory reading up on ICANN and the ROOT ZONE FILE (I know, too techie) will make one realize the US government can and does do just about anything it deems necessary already. 

The other side of this equation which needs to be discussed often is the fact that new generations have no concept of intellectual property or the fact that you should own what you create. It is not being taught. I happen to believe it is not taught on purpose, but that's just me. 

People forget that the US military built the internet as a secure communications infrastructure for wartime use. The mythology of it being "free and uncensored" is kind of mind-boggling. Google censors our searches every time for marketing purposes. But lets not confuse tech industry propaganda with facts.

I was first taught about intellectual property in 1957 when my sixth grade class put on a radio play. I had another reminder when our senior class recorded a 10" LP to go with our yearbook that included an excerpt from a Peter Paul and Mary record. The engineer at a local studio refused to finish editing our tape until we had gotten a permission letter from "Paul" who had graduated from our school and performed for one of our assemblies with his group.

This is not something that was never taught and I'm inclined to agree that it's not simply an oversight concerning some obscure laws.


Also, if I am not mistaken, under current law, the offended party has a duty to notify the infringer if they feel they are being pirated or having intellectual property being shared or copied. Can anyone clarify this point?

Amen, bro.

Hey Bret;

Readers of this blog may want to check this out this FREE BOOK download. (89 pages...easy read). I was made aware of this by my friend and fellow NMP-er Ron Oates (thanks, Ron!)

William F. Aicher's book, 'Starving the Artist: How the Internet Culture of "Free" Threatens to Exterminate the Creative Class and What Can Be Done to Save It'  is, from this point forward, free FOREVER as a PDF download.

Aicher says, "Yes, it sounds ironic - but if you read the book you'll understand the point here. I wrote Starving the Artist. It is mine. I alone have the right to determine how much it should cost. And now, with all the back-and-forth over property rights, I've decided it's more important for people to read my book and gain some perspective than it is to try to convince them to pay for it. After all, the book is not meant to preach to the choir. It is meant to be a thoughtful conversation on the value of intellectual property and how property rights encourage quality creative works to continue to be created.

Anyway, go here and download it..."

He continues, "Just promise you'll actually read it."

Thanks Steve, great resource and another voice to consider.


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