Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

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Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  Bear Police on Mon Sep 07, 2009 3:10 am

I have some comments regarding the music and movie piracy discussion. As an unemployed high school kid, I wouldn't have been exposed to any of the media that I enjoy so much without piracy. I've half promised myself that I'll start to buy whatever movies and albums I've downloaded and really enjoyed once I'm not living off of my parents, but as of right now, I'm going to continue to download regularly. And even if I do follow through with that, I would still never be able to afford the thousands of albums I've fallen in love with in the three or four years I've been a music nerd. I do try as often as I can, however, to save up what little spending money I get from my parents to buy stuff from small record labels like Not Not Fun and Fag Tapes, who sell five dollar cassettes. So piracy has made me the person I am today, and I'm not ashamed of that.
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  Mandi on Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:23 pm

I'm not judging you. I think our piracy discussion was more academic than anything else. I'd pirate more if I wasn't so lazy. As it stands now, I rip CDs from the library onto my computer and almost never listen to them. I'm just some sort of creepy collector.
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  Marius on Mon Sep 07, 2009 11:41 pm

So what you are saying, Bear, is that stealing is ok as long as you can't afford what you are taking?
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  kumarhk on Mon Sep 07, 2009 11:53 pm

I can totally understand where Bear is coming from, but like Jakob & Mandi, I use the library as a legal source of piracy now. The thing is, here in Hong Kong, there are a multitude of things you can't get legally, and I want a lot of those things.

One of my main reasons for piracy of late, though, is region encoding on DVDs. Until I can get an external DVD drive that is multi-region, I have dozens of DVDs that I can't use. They're just lying there, unable to be watched, despite the fact that I bought them all legitimately. So, tell me, how is that fair?
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  GAB on Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:50 am

Focusing on the music side of the question, I think most if not all of the anti-piracy emphasis is on uploaders rather than downloaders. I know there is an economic reality here that "with one comes the other" but record labels are more upset about those who give away their music than they are about those who try to pick it up for free.

The distinction matters to me because, for the most part, those same labels have become damn near inept about getting their product into the hands of fans. A recent Masters Of None podcast includes a discussion about Pandora and the difference between how labels treat them v. traditional radio. Previous efforts at user-sculpted "internet radio" were sued and harassed out of existence by "the industry."
At the same time, M-TV has mostly stopped showing videos and concert ticket prices have skyrocketed.

I believe there wouldn't be any used record stores either, if labels had their way. I find it to be a (good) surprise that they even sell their product to libraries at all.

In that environment, where it sometimes seems extreme energy is invested by labels to keep their product away from the ears of listeners -- or at least depriving listeners of opportunities to plan what they hear and explore possibilities with discernment -- I have a very hard time faulting any listener behavior. If you truly love music, you almost have to be aggressive and do whatever it takes to find your sound.

That's not an endorsement of piracy. It's just an acknowledgment that without friends, used record stores, renegade college radio stations, and other means ... I don't know if ever would have found the music that I love most.
How else would I have found The Fall, Holly Cole, Dead Kennedys, Brian Eno, Skinny Puppy, Deaf School, Todd Snider, etc.? I can count on two fingers the number of times I've heard anything by any of these artists on traditional radio. I only need one of those fingers to tally a one-off vote for The Fall. I'll just use the other finger to gesture with.
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  Bear Police on Tue Sep 08, 2009 7:38 am

Marius wrote:So what you are saying, Bear, is that stealing is ok as long as you can't afford what you are taking?
I prefer to think of it as "I would never be able to afford this anyway so whether I steal it or not, the authors aren't losing money from me," and it goes without saying that I wouldn't be condoning this practice if what was being stolen was a physical record or DVD, as opposed to an infinitely and freely reproducible .mp3 or .avi. If I could afford it, I would feel worse about pirating. Hypothetically, if piracy didn't exist, I would have never heard of Animal Collective, and would not have spent $40 on a concert ticket and t-shirt. I know that the benefits of being made aware of music through piracy networks don't outweigh the harm that piracy has done to the industry, but I think there is clearly something good in the spreading of media through piracy to those who would have otherwise never experience it.
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  Jakob on Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:02 am

I posit you would have heard of Animal Collective. There were a lot of independent music magazines and zines which spread the word (those have now been supplanted by blogs which are cheaper and easier to maintain). And college and community radio stations actually had a purpose. They used to be the only place you got to hear the bands you read about in print. Being an underground music fan was harder work back then, but that was part of the fun too. It's just the way things are now and I suppose it's here nor there in some ways. But everything being so easy to get your hands one means the crap rises to the top along with the cream. The market is saturated with crappy indie bands who, yes, would never have been heard of without the internet. So why wouldn't the public devalue the product? And, in a sense, why should they pay for mp3's that sit on their hard drive never being listened to (or spindles of movies on DVD that never get watched)?
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  Tony on Tue Sep 08, 2009 10:53 am

I'm rather divided on this topic. I understand being young and poor...heck, middle-aged and poor, but I don't think that means I condone illegal downloading. Being a musician who has ocassionally tried to make, and ocassionally has made, money online selling his music, illegal downloading disturbs me. I personally dislike torrenting sites, and don't trust the process involved...Last time I tried a site like that, several pieces of software on my computer were corrupted and I had to delete them. I got what I deserve. Running my indie music podcast and being a music fan in general, I'm sort of infamous for my collection of 10s of thousands of mp3s. I can say that the great majority of these were obtained legally. In fact, a great many of them were submitted to me from indie musician friends. I also download...via myspace, reverbnation, etc, a lot of mp3s. I try to check them out regularly. When I do notice something I really like...I BUY IT! In fact, that's how I met Jakob, and he can tell you that I've bought several of his cds...we've also traded cds, and that was cool and a mutual decision. On a side note, Jakob makes a great point...with modern recording technology and the internet, everyone who thinks they kick ass at Guitar Hero also thinks they are a musician, and the internet is loaded with a lot of shit music. Trust me. I'll be the first to champion real talent, like that found in Jakob's mitachlorians, but there is a lot of egotistical bullshit out there too. I guess what I'm ultimately saying, check out everything you can, and when something really strikes your fancy, make the effort to buy it. The Music Industry is changing and I don't know what the answers are. At the least, here's a suggestion...when you can afford to buy, try to buy directly from the musician, or investigate to find out how the musician will get the most money. If I'm not mistaken, a site like CDBaby takes $4 out of each CD sale before they pay the musician...one reason I've never used them for my own music.

Being as underexposed as I am as a musician, I'm normally ok with my music getting into your ears by any means possible. But...and I've thought about this...I'd be terribly disappointed if someone didn't honor the intent of my forthcoming ALS Charity CD, "Songs for Jenny", and posted the mp3s free online for others. http://www.songsforjenny.com
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  rob on Tue Sep 08, 2009 5:06 pm

I completely see the point on both sides. I have downloaded ( and deleted )quite a lot in my day. This is how I discovered music I like and dislike. It is also how I slowly developed a passion and hobby. But last year I began reading up on the 'downloading debate' and it got me thinking a lot ,about the moral issues involved and the pain inflicted to artists . Since then I have bought more music and my hard drive contains much less illegal music . Now ,when I want to hear something to be sure of my future purchase I try youtube and spotify . Owning the physical thing does add some value too.

Music is expensive , but scouring Amazon and ebay for bargains has actually opened up more genres and provided me with music that I normally would never have listened to ( And still don't hahaha) . Buying has also changed my listening habits in the sense that I listen much more intently and often to something I bought. Yes , I do download when an album is either too expensive or impossible to find, No , I have stopped downloading things I can get for a reasonable price. I'm still in the process of purchasing those albums that I am most fond of. I do see how when you can't afford it you may download it for free and buy when in a more advantageous monetary position . And of course a lack of Credit card can be a serious inhibition (Thinking of bearpolice) .There were no cd-stores with a 'jesus mary chain ' or 'Built to spill ' album (Not even expensive ones) close to my home and no friends who were into music the way I was. So while downloading is a short and dirty way of finding out what you like I have to admit that buying too has its benefits in this area.

The problem in the debate is that for a lot of younger people who grew up in the internet age, the illegal downloading of media is a matter of everyday life and doesn't carry the moral qualms it probably should have. When the effect is not directly observable ( lack of contiguity) it does not have the same force on the rationale or conscience. To give an example , When I still downloaded a lot I wouldn't have illegaly procured Tony's or Jakob's music because I am personally acquainted with their internet personalities. Similar to not feeling strongly impelled to send your money to a charity for Africa when there's no personal relation. This does not of course absolve the fact that you're taking something that isn't yours.

About the proliferation of trash and the loss of standards due to the ease of sharing files , I guess there's some truth there. I myself am guilty of this, uploading my shitty home-made noise on the simpsyn forums. That said the big labels don't exactly push the things I want to buy either. Blogs and forums are your friend. Anyway, it is a complicated question and much can be said for both sides in the discussion, in the end it's a personal choice.

Ps:Kumar, there may be some special software to solve your region dilemma.
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  Mandi on Tue Sep 08, 2009 5:34 pm

Marius wrote:So what you are saying, Bear, is that stealing is ok as long as you can't afford what you are taking?
Such as Leatherman upgrades?
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  GAB on Tue Sep 08, 2009 7:17 pm

Tony wrote:I'm rather divided on this topic. I understand being young and poor...heck, middle-aged and poor, but I don't think that means I condone illegal downloading. Being a musician who has ocassionally tried to make, and ocassionally has made, money online selling his music, illegal downloading disturbs me.
...
I guess what I'm ultimately saying, check out everything you can, and when something really strikes your fancy, make the effort to buy it. The Music Industry is changing and I don't know what the answers are. At the least, here's a suggestion...when you can afford to buy, try to buy directly from the musician, or investigate to find out how the musician will get the most money. If I'm not mistaken, a site like CDBaby takes $4 out of each CD sale before they pay the musician...one reason I've never used them for my own music.

Being as underexposed as I am as a musician, I'm normally ok with my music getting into your ears by any means possible. But...and I've thought about this...I'd be terribly disappointed if someone didn't honor the intent of my forthcoming ALS Charity CD, "Songs for Jenny", and posted the mp3s free online for others. http://www.songsforjenny.com
Seems incongruent with my earlier post, but I'm totally with you on this.
I'll defend most methods of exploring genre and finding new music. Once you've found it, though, I do think it is important to purchase in a way to gets to the artist in the best way possible.

Some of what is called "piracy" today may be little more than a modern method of inviting a friend over to listen to your records (or your parent's or sibling's records). Beyond that, though, it's crucial to understand that we wouldn't have the music we love if the artists are cut out of the revenue stream.
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  Jakob on Tue Sep 08, 2009 7:29 pm

I thnk it's more like the old fashioned mix-tape. Or non-mixed straight out cassette duplication by a friend. We all did it. I didn't like it due to lossiness unless I was getting something hard to find copied. But I had a few. And I think they were taped off a tape of a record. Sometimes it was the only way to get a copy. The record companies made a huge mistake when they put a digital master in everyone's hand. Short sighted foot shooting move.

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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  Tony on Tue Sep 08, 2009 7:57 pm

Jakob wrote:The record companies made a huge mistake when they put a digital master in everyone's hand. Short sighted foot shooting move.

Sort of like if KFC or Coca-Cola were to give away their "secret recipe"...

...btw...I've often thought of my indie music podcast being like having a friend over with me constantly exclaiming, "dude, you have to hear this song!" After an hour, there'd be about 50 CD cases open on the table...
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  Marius on Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:01 pm

Mandi wrote:
Marius wrote:So what you are saying, Bear, is that stealing is ok as long as you can't afford what you are taking?
Such as Leatherman upgrades?

Similar, I'll grant you, but I did pay at least something. And they got the old one back. I didn't just shoplift it.
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  Jakob on Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:06 pm

Also, technically, Leatherman weren't out of pocket. They'd been paid by Home Depot already. And Home Depot deserves a bollocking.
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  Mandi on Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:27 pm

Leatherman's are often out of pocket, usually on a utility belt.

Bah ha, I'm just giving you a hard time, Admiral. Not judging.
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  Jakob on Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:35 pm

Leathermen often don't have pockets at all. Especially when they wear buttless chaps.
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  Mandi on Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:41 pm

Oh they have pockets. Filking pockets.
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  GAB on Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:01 pm

Jakob wrote:
This image reminds me of the original cassette release of Dead Kennedy's "In God We Trust, Inc." from Alternative Tentacles records. Since it was an EP, and a short one at that (maybe 15 minutes), they chose not to split it into a Side A/B situation. Instead, Side B was left blank with this written on it:
"Home taping is cutting in to big label record industry profits, so this side has been left blank for your convenience."

Did I fill that space? Sure ... with more Dead Kennedys!
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  Bucho on Wed Sep 09, 2009 6:54 am

Do you know how glad I am that you guys decided to keep on a-hurdling past 12 episodes? Fucking glad. That's the most amount of glad there is!

In episode 30 my two favourite bits were Mandi's story about the Harry Potter house/team references in the bridal preparations and Jakob's description of the martial art he made up, especially imagining Young Jakob training and perfecting his fence jumping techniques. Do you know what I laughed off when I heard those bits? My balls and my ass. That's the most I can laugh off when I laugh. Hilarious!!!

To re-quote 21st century media uberlegend Richard Smith Esq. on the subject of Nerd Hurdles - "I fucking love that show."
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  Marius on Wed Sep 09, 2009 8:34 am

Mandi wrote:Leatherman's are often out of pocket, usually on a utility belt.

Bah ha, I'm just giving you a hard time, Admiral. Not judging.
I know, but you aren't wrong to point that out. It was a bit of larceny, but I never tried to convince myself that it wasn't. Piracy, regardless of the rationlizations used, is still stealing. I'm not trying to judge whether or not it's ever justified...hell sometimes murder is justified...I'm just not a big fan of self-deception.
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  Jakob on Wed Sep 09, 2009 8:56 am

That's a good distinction too. My friend Nae calls himself "One of those downloading assholes" and I find I judge him less because of it. Though a little more so now that he's a high paid professional and not a starving student anymore.
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  Bucho on Thu Sep 10, 2009 6:39 am

I put illegal downloading a level below theft because it doesn't remove goods from the owner but obviously it's still morally wrong. Personally I've never downloaded a movie or tv show but I have illegally downloaded about a dozen mp3s of songs, about half of them because I'd already bought them from iTunes not knowing that they came in that piece of shit mp4 or m4a or whateverthefuck file format that doesn't work on my mp3 player and couldn't be converted by iTunes. Since iTunes quit being fucktards about it and ditched the DRM I haven't downloaded anything illegally, it's just so much more convenient to get them properly.
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  Tony on Thu Sep 10, 2009 10:01 am

Bucho wrote:Since iTunes quit being fucktards...

Amen, Brother, Amen!!!
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Re: Nerd Hurdles #30 - Previously on…

Post  GAB on Thu Sep 10, 2009 10:28 am

Forgot all about the DRM debacle. Evil or Very Mad I'm probably going to get this analogy a bit wrong, but I'll share my perception. I'm not a file-sharer. Never used Napster, before or after court proceedings. But DRM struck me as the height of hypocrisy -- not least because it impacted me despite the fact that I was "playing nice" the whole time.

If we want to compare file-sharing to shoplifting, then how do you describe the expiration of DRM rights? I'll tell you what it felt like to me. It felt like the record companies had broken into my house overnight, taken the CDs that I'd bought and paid for that they no longer wanted to sell anymore, and confiscated them as if my "purchase" really amounted to nothing more than a "rental."

What kind of hypocrites were these record companies anyway?
They have historically made a ton of money selling their music to music buyers (who are, by and large, music lovers ... as opposed to the more radio-listening approach of the non-buyer or "music acquaintances.") To come along and, fairly sneakily, try and convert that into a temporary-rental situation offended me.

I've always felt that the #1 argument for file-sharing is the unavailability of titles. Before Metallica released Garage, Inc. as a 2-CD set, it was clear that fans were doing massive tape/album/file sharing just to hear the songs originally on Garage Days Re-Revisited. Was the band getting "ripped off" of sales they were actively trying NOT to pursue for decades? That "black market" dried up when the songs became available again. Funny how quickly you stop "losing sales" simply by resolving to "make sales" rather than maintaining a rarity.

As I've said before, it's more than fair to wonder whether the "mission" of record labels is making music available or making music unavailable. Seems to me a great deal of effort is placed in stopping the flow of music -- pulling titles from catalogs, using DRM to take songs away from iPods, pressuring radio stations to play "this song" and not "those others" from their own artists' catalogs, etc.
Suspect
Is piracy bad behavior? No doubt. There is plenty of bad behavior going on, though. A lot of very very sinful people are casting stones. Hard to tell the purpetrators from the victims sometimes.
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