Jets Overhead – They Get It

I recently heard a song I like on the radio and ended up buying the album it was so good.

Wait, what year is it?  I heard it on the radio and bought it?  Yikes!  I haven’t done that in decades!  But it is true, and I wanted to sahre with you how cool this band is – they get the digital world (or at elast someone in their management team gets it).

Band is out of Victoria BC and is called Jets Overhead.  Their website allows you to download for free their first release from some years ago.  Easy way to battle piracy, right?  They have also released their latest single off their new album “No Nations “under a Creative Commons license.

I wanted to buy their album after listening to it in it entirety on their website (see, free preview – very smart).  Sure I was able to copy the MP3 sings from their website and get the album for free.  But I wanted to support this band.  Problem – they only seemed to offer digital download via iTunes which I won’t support.  I could have bought their CD from MapleMusic for $15 or so, but then have paid $5 shipping to get in in 2 weeks.  That’s broken right there.  I could have paid more to get it sooner, but then I’m paying more for shipping than for the CD.  That’s really broken.

Look, I just want to support this band.

So I decided to contact their management and suggest they get a digital version on Zunior as I wanted a lossless version.  Future Shop and Best Buy don’t carry their album, so I felt really stuck.  Once I explained my situation and desires to the fellow who responded via email, he got it.  Then he directed me to their BandCamp page.  I wasn’t aware of BandCamp prior to this, but man – they understand the digital age too.  So I purchased a lossless version of the album for less than $10 and was able to immediately download it, transcode to ogg, and listen.

Great album – seriously great.  Great band – supporting Creative Commons and all that.  Great management.  Great website too (BandCamp).

Support this band if you like their music – you can listen to it for free on their website or on their BandCamp page.

If they ever come to Vancouver/Surrey I’d like to know so I can buy a ticket.

The Canadian Copyright Reform Bill Has Landed: Bill C-61

Here in Canuckland we’re starting to see the government work to update our copyright laws.  Just last week Bill C-61 was dropped, and boy did it make a splash.

As usual, Michael Geist is working to translate this thing into common everyday language.

If you’re at all interested in fixing this corporate-driven legislation for something that actually protects copyrights while extending logical and reasonable rights to Canadians, get involved.

Look up your Minister and write them a letter.  If you’re really pressed for time, someone has even written up a form letter that you can simply sign.  They’ll even mail it off for you.  It doesn’t get easier than this, people.

I wrote up my own letter to my M.P., as I’m taking this a little personally and wanted to make sure Mr. Hiebert knows about my specific concerns.

Canadian Copyright Reform – This Will Be Big … Or Not

Maybe I’m just too close to the topic, but I think the upcoming copyright legislation changes are going to result in a massive political and legal ***storm. Maybe not – maybe the entire field of copyright experts are all blowing smoke. Just in case they’re not all wrong though, I wrote the following letter to Mr. Russ Hiebert to let him know that I’m concerned. Anyone else concerned should write their representative – seriously.

Dear Mr. Hiebert,

I hope the approaching holidays find you and your family well.

I wanted to let you know that I am deeply concerned about the manner in which the upcoming copyright reform bill has been and continues to be handled. Here are a few of the major concerns I have

1 – the legislation seems to have been written without any consultation beyond industry representatives. Copyright law is an important matter and public consultation surrounding changes should have occurred prior to a proposed bill. Thus far it seems as though the information flowing into the changes has been one-sided, and the public will be the ones to suffer because of this

2 – the DMCA in the U.S.A. has not been as successful as people had thought it might be. It seems like a mistake to try to emulate it within Canada. Technological barriers will always be torn down – trying to find a technological solution to social issues simply does not work

3 – copyright law has the ability to seriously inhibit creative expression from Canadian artists. I believe the artist’s rights should be respected to the extent that they wish them to be, not the extent to which industry wants to control them.

These issues are the ones on the tip of my tongue. The media coverage surrounding this bill paints a very poor picture of how your government is presenting these changes. Questions have been asked by the CBC, interested consumer advocate groups, and the public – yet your government has thus far refused to even initiate a discussion surrounding this issue. This makes the Canadian government look like industry shills and is an embarrassment.

I am apprehensive about the actual contents of the bill, how it is being handled by your government, and the resulting limitations on my current rights that it will introduce.

I urge you to please take the time to collect input from your constituents and champion our cause, not the cause of industry.

Thank you for your time,

Kirk Bridger
15827 Goggs Avenue
White Rock, BC
V4B 2P1

Since we all know email is so meaningless nowadays, I think I’ll print this up and send it to his office if I don’t hear back in a few days. So far though, his office has been fairly good about responding to emails. Remember – no postage required to send letters to members of parliament!

Arrrr, Eh – RCMP Don’t Want To Go After The Common Canadian “Pirate”

The RCMP apparently have figured out that there are better ways to spend their time than by chasing down individuals for alleged copyright infringement.  Assuming for a second that making copies of music works is illegal (which it isn’t necessarily in Canada), then this decision makes sense.  A lot of time and money can be poured into trying to sue someone for copyright infringement – resources better spent finding bigger fish to fry.

This post is also interesting in that it lets you see the Google Translate in action. It presents you with an interesting ability to hover over the translated text and see the original text.  We all know translations are never perfect, and with this service you can even make suggestions for a better translation right there on the translated page.  Very nice translation feature, Google.

Radiohead Tries Something New

Whether or not you’re a Radiohead fan or not, you have to give them credit for pusingh boundaries.

They’ve just released their new album “In Rainbows” and you can surf over to their website and download a digital copy whenever you want.  Yes they’ll be putting it on a CD and distributing it that way, but for now you can download it from their site.  The cost?  Well, their answer is “?”.  What’s the mean?  Well, it means you pay as much as you like.

That’s right, they’re asking you to specify the price when you try to check out of the store.  Want to pay $0.00 because you want to try it before you buy it?  Fair enough.  Feel like going back and paying once you’ve listened to it a few times?  Go for it.

Such a large name in the recording industry is trying something new – I think it bodes well.  I’m not really a very strong Radiohead fan, but I like this album on a quite a few levels.

I don’t beleive the MP3s you download have any DRM on them at all (yea!) but they are also only 160kbps.  Better than iTunes, but certainly not lossless.  “That’s what CD’s are for.” said little Johnny of the band.

Indeed they are Johnny, but they’re not the only way to get lossless versions of the songs.  I refer you again to

An interesting step though into digital distribution by a large name in the industry.

Psst, Hey. Wanna Buy A Used CD?

In a strange reaction to recent sales drops the recording industry seems to be going after a niche market – and one that hardly hurts their financial well being at first glance. As reported at Arstechnica, several states are enacting legislation that makes it very very difficult to buy and sell used CDs.

There is legislation already in effect that dictates that if I were to sell a used CD to a store I would only be able to receive store credit for that CD. The store would then have to hold that CD in limbo for at least 30 days before they are able to sell it back to someone. Scratch Florida off my list of potential future residences.

All this seems to be a way for the recording industry to stem off piracy I suppose – though I am not sure used CDs is really where piracy is striking. But the article mentions an interesting aspect to the story – the Doctrine of First Sale. The Doctrine comfortably fits into the physical realm with such things as CDs. When I buy a CD I also obtain the right to sell said copyrighted work. But how does this translate into the digital world?

If you read the fine print, when you buy a track from some of the online music subscription services, particularly if you subscribe and receive a certain number of songs per period, you are not really buying the rights to that work. You’re really only renting the songs. If you cancel your subscription your music purchases go away. But some stores do allow you to buy the song and keep it permanently. So how does the Doctrine of First Sale work then? With the CD there is the assumption that when you sell it you no longer have a copy for yourself. In the digital world this is not true. You can make unlimited lossless copies of any song you own and sell it (legally or not) without losing your copy.

This has got to be scary to the recording industry – their lifeblood is creating and selling copies of copyrighted work. If anyone in the world can now do the same thing – what business can they hope to keep? But what if they were to whittle away at the consumer’s right to sell what they buy? What if they were to get legislation into the books that says that when a consumer sells a copyrighted work that it is laborious, subject to strange rules, and does not allow them to receive cash for it? What if they were to chip away at this Doctrine of First Sale until it too has to be updated to work with digital works?

Sounds to me like they have a plan here folks. Now lets watch it in action as it unfolds. What can you do? Gee, I dunno, seems to me that if you disagree with this leglislation that somebody out there should be told about your objections and concerns. Maybe someone who works in politics, and who relies on your votes to do so?

Another take might be that this is an attack on the used CD stores themselves. There’s a massive bond that needs to be paid up front in order to be able to sell them. The laws make it prohibitively difficult for people to sell used CDs (fingerprinting? come on!). As a person in the “Internet Age”, why would I bother selling to the local store when I can just hit ebay and get normal, plain old cash without all the bother? Or I could head on over to and trade it with someone else for $1.00. I’m sadened at the idea that we may see used CD stores disappear from the retail landscape – I think they represent part of an important part of a local music scene and their presence would be sorely missed.

Plus my plans to open up a store that includes selling used CDs as a service (along with the vital music matching service that the store would provide as a market differentiator, of course) would go up in flames.

Stop Supporting The RIAA

I think it is sad that the RIAA is approaching their customers with lawsuits rather than with purchasing options that suit today’s digital media world. However I get incensed when I hear that they are not only suing a (then 7) ten year old girl, but also insisting on being given the chance to question her directly rather than through less confrontational methods usually used for children in court cases.

I strongly urge everyone to avoid supporting this evil conglomerate.

How do you know if you’re supporting them? The RIAA Radar website allows you to check a particular artist, album, label, etc. to see if they are part of the sinister corporation. Before buying your music, check out that radar and see if you’re going to be supporting this kind of company, or if perhaps you want to forgo that particular album.

P.S. I’m always happy to provide music suggestions if you’re not sure what non-RIAA music you’d like to listen to.

Taking Music To A HNL

The music industry is going through a massive change right now. They’re having to deal with lossless limitless reproduction of digital music along with instant access by anyone connected to the Internet. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – they’re responding in the wrong way by using such draconian measures as lawsuits against their customers and using DRM to limit their customer’s ability to enjoy their own property. It often seems like nobody out there really gets the whole point of music: community, communication, art and expression.

Today I need to tell you that some people do get it – there is hope! I know most of you have heard of Apple’s iTunes store and perhaps you may think of it as the greatest thing since sliced bread. I’ve previously mentioned that I refuse to shop there due to their use of DRM, so I’ve been unable to really tap into the digital distribution market – until now.

My media player of choice is Rhythmbox. The latest version has quite simply opened up a new world of access to digital media. Just like iTunes, Rhythmbox displays your music collection like a library, allowing you to create playlists from your tracks. iTunes also allows you to browse their online store and make purchases directly within the iTunes interface. This allows you to easily add purchased tracks to your library – seamlessly one might say.

Rhythmbox obviously cannot interface with Apple’s store, but in true Open Source fashion they’ve gone one better: they’ve interfaced with two stores. The latest version now includes access to Magnatune and Jamendo – directly through the interface. Again they one-up Apple by providing you free access to these stores’ complete catalogue: full songs, unlimited listens.

Magnatune allows you to purchase the songs at a price you set (how cool is that?!) and will split the purchase price 50/50 with the artist. Jamendo also allows you to set a price, with the entire amount going directly to the artist. Both offer web interfaces so if you can’t get Rhythmbox installed (Linux only at this point) then I urge you to check out their websites if you’re curious.

But this is all about integration. Within Rhythmbox I have my library, Magnatune’s library, and Jamendo’s library all immediately available. I can listen to whatever I want, whenever I want, however often I want. This is digital music’s next step – it is taking things to a “Hole Nuthu Level“.

At this point none of the big record labels have signed on with either of these stores, so don’t expect to see your top 40 artists in there (yet). But do expect to find good (and bad) independent artists along with some other more open-minded artists who want to leverage these stores for their distribution needs. How large are the collections? Looking at Rhythmbox I see I have access to the following number of tracks:

  • Magatunes: 7,290
  • Jamendo: 20,957

And to top this selection off, I get to decide how much to pay, knowing full well how much is actually landing in the pockets of the people who created the music! Can you say that about iTunes? CDs?

Someone gets it – Magnatune gets it. Jamendo gets it. Rhythmbox gets it. Thank god someone gets it!

P.S. Just a note that I think the record label Nettwerk gets it too, but are approaching it from a commercial point of view rather thana community point of view.

P.P.S. I almost forgot to mention that Rhythmbox also includes integration, meaning I can access their set of playlists and user suggestions as well.