Meet The Latest Red Herring That Will Screw Up Media Agreement Negotiations For Years To Come

Without a doubt, technology and music piracy have gone hand in hand over the years and it should come as no surprise that negotiations surrounding recording and broadcast media agreements are driven by these very issues. The results of those negotiations can seem odd to those on the outside looking in, such as the requirement for an orchestra to add artificial noise to live recordings as an effort to prevent anyone from making pirated copies.

Adaptistration People 069Interestingly enough, there was an exchange in the comments to a post from 12/14/2015 which examines this very item and in my reply to the reader’s frustrations about this practice, I wrote “it’s one of throwbacks to a time when the reasons for it were entirely valid…but it hasn’t really kept pace with technology.”

This suggests that technology and piracy don’t wield the same amount of influence as they once did due to the comparative ease of copying digital music. Regardless of whether you agree with that statement or not, it doesn’t mean the issue isn’t any less of a hot button item when orchestra stakeholders negotiate revisions to existing media agreements.

It seems that any hope for those issues to cool off will go right out the window thanks to a new device from Pirate Pay co-founder Peter Sunde. Dubbed Kopimashin, the device was designed to do one thing: make digital copies of MP3 files.

A lot of them.

Kopimashin currently generates 100 copies each second of the three minute MP3 file, Crazy by Gnarls Barkley. That comes out to just over 8.5 million copies per day, or one copy for roughly every resident of New York City.

Think of it like a perpetual motion device for piracy but before getting bent too far out of shape, know that Sunde claims to have created the device (which doesn’t actually save the copies) in order to demonstrate the over-inflated values of copies that media mega-giants that comprise the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) assign as lost value when filing lawsuits against music pirates. In short, if the RIAA says the single is valued at $1.35 per copy, then Kopimashin would produce millions of dollars in losses. Sunde disagrees.

“I want to show the absurdity on the process of putting a value to a copy. The machine is made to be very blunt and open about the fact that it’s not a danger to any industry at all,” said Sunde in an 12/19/2016 article at TorrentFreak.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is clearly a limit to how many copies could genuinely be sold to begin with but for the sake of discussion, we will just say the RIAA isn’t known for making conservative estimates. Having said that, Sunde demonstrates additional holes in his side of the argument toward the end of the TorrentFreak article by shoving the pendulum to the opposite extreme.

“I want to show with a physical example…that putting a price to a copy is futile,” said Sunde.

If history is any guide, you can expect Kopimashin to work its way into media agreement bargaining sessions in the near future, just like portable desktop cassette recorders did in the 1970s (spoiler alert: they were a red herring too), and consume valuable time that would otherwise be better spent on more productive topics.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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2 thoughts on “Meet The Latest Red Herring That Will Screw Up Media Agreement Negotiations For Years To Come”

  1. I used to show my students Rob Reid’s satirical TED Talk on the subject.

    He has a humorous novel on the subject as well. In it, aliens discover how great Earth music is and start copying it infinitely, as their is their cultural norm. Then, they realize that the penalties under U.S. copyright law would more-than-bankrupt all alien societies combined. Imagine Douglas Adams by way of Lawrence Lessig.

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