Steve Albini declares copyright dead

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“The reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated” - Copyright


Disney Studios will re-animate Copyright.


" Play a Phil Collins song while I’m grocery shopping? Pay me $20. Def
Leppard? Make it $100. Miley Cyrus? They don’t print money big enough."

I have to admit, this is appealing to me. I was just out grocery shopping and once again was supremely annoyed by hearing Katy Perry playing overhead, especially since I heard the same damn song earlier in another store. How would most people react if they had to hear black metal or free jazz while they shopped, but apparently it’s perfectly OK to cram Katy Perry down my earholes while I shop.


Steve Albini…the man known far more for a producer where he takes a set fee and complains about everyone getting rich except him, even when offered points that would have set him for life. But complains they didn’t just give it to him after. When he makes very specific demands and refuses to budge.

Steve Albini…the man known secondly for playing in bands that are so punk that they sound far better live than they do on recordings.

Hmmm…I can’t imagine why he’d care about copyright. It sounds like he really isn’t working in a field where they are needed FOR HIM. I’m glad that since he found a career that has no need for it, he can declare it dead for everyone else.

That said, I think copyright needs reformed, but I stand on the side of the idea that it is a good thing.


Show me one instance of Albini “complaining” about not being paid enough. He prides himself on working cheap.

And say all you want about the messenger, but it’s a simple fact: the music business isn’t making much money off of copyright any more. And there’s nothing that anyone can do to change that.


Copyright, in this age, is one of the most important civil rights you can have and tech can’t wait for you to willingly give that right up and will do anything to convince you that it is bad for you and bad for innovation. The moment copyright is dead they will take everything you ever create (whether you are an artist or not) and exploit it far worse than any music or other media company has done. Silicon Valley’s wet dream is that you’ll be conned into this.

Copyright is the great equalizer between any billion dollar corporation and every average citizen.


On a recent grocery shopping trip I was appalled to find the 16 year old-looking clerk singing along to an REO Speedwagon song on the store speakers. I realized that’s how shitty music that should be left to die jumps to a new generation. She’s hearing this multiple times a day, at a time in life when she’s going through all kinds of new emotional stuff, and voila, 20 years from now that song is going to be special to her because it makes her nostalgic about her teen years and she’ll make her kids listen to it… It’s a virus that won’t die.


In former Soviet Republic, copyright declares Steve Albini dead.


If they played classical, or lite jazz, or Musak™, or ambient Brian Eno instead of Katy Perry, other people would be saying exactly the same thing. “Apparently it’s OK to cram Bach down my earholes!”

Should people be compensated because taste is subjective?


But his recordings are awesome! Oh yeah, that’s a subjective claim.

He’s not actually talking about copyright, not as anything more than a link in a chain, and his only comment is to say that things aren’t getting into the public domain as was the agreement when they were created. And its true!

I don’t follow. Isn’t a lot of silicon valley built on nothing but IP, lawyers and market speculation?
And don’t they do that right now? Facebook, instagram and the rest are only as valuable as what users post to these services.


(1): it is is only an equalizer among those with equal resources to enforce their rights. Otherwise it is a bludgeon those who can hire more lawyers wield against those who can’t.

(2) Yes, copyright should exist, because artistic innovation benefits if creators can profit from their work, but innovation also relies on inspiration from and remixing of existing works. No artist sets out to make something because of the money they expect to make 70 years from now.


Evidence for that? Historically speaking, copyright tends to benefit entrenched interests in the long run, because they have the capital to exploit it to the nth degree and the team of lawyers to back up their claims. There is a reason that Disney/RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/etc all push for indefinite copyright terms, because it ultimately benefits them.

That being said, sure, holding a copyright can be beneficial to the creator, but only if the creator holds the copyright. In the recording industry, it’s far more likely for labels to hold the copyright. The solution seems to be crafting copyright laws that benefit the creator directly rather than the copyright holder, who may or may not be the actual creator. IP needs to not be a commodity that you can trade for cash, but maybe it should be a non-transferrable good that will always revert back to the creator after a limited time used by a giant mega-corp.



Copyright is increasingly the tool that “billion dollar corporations” use to dominate the market and culture at the expense of “every average citizen.” There’s a reason why large corporations are the ones fighting for stronger copyright laws and it ain’t because they want to help the little guy.


Well I should be. I’d have to vet your record collection first before you get access to the invoice book.

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pretty much the opposite of everything you assert is true.

copyright has become a tool to transfer all rights and property from creators to those rich enough to control the system, it has created an intellectual fiefdom at the expense of the artists, innovators, creators, and the common person. we are all surfs just toiling in the fields of IP barrons. The very people the system claims to help are the ones it hurts the most. No one can create, innovate, or express themselves in a VOID, very few things don’t built upon others ideas, even art and music. Copyright and intellectual property in its current incarnation has been crippling innovation and creation for the benefit of large intellectual property holders.

silicone valley is a vampire that feeds off of copyright.

hahahahahaha. the average citizen couldn’t afford to defend a single case against a big corps, wheras they can take over the property of the average citizen quite easily or drive them out of business.

this is an excellent suggestion. if it could only be licensed and not transferred that would help a TON.

Agree 100%


Actually everything I say is 100% spot on. Nowhere did I say that reforms weren’t necessary or that aspects could be better, but the idea that copyright is inherently bad or simply a tool for the rich is absurd.

Copyright and intellectual property in its current incarnation has been crippling innovation and creation for the benefit of large intellectual property holders.

Crippling innovation? Seems to me that Silicon Valley is having no difficulty in innovating to the tune of trillions of dollars in valuations. Spotify itself is valued at more than the entire music industry. Apple is set to become the first trillion dollar company. Google and Facebook all rely on copyright materials to fill their servers and are massively successful with more actual power and knowledge than the combined resources of every media company. The music industry alone is half the size it was 20 years ago. Everything that fills an iPhone and everything an iPhone can reach is covered by copyright and yet Apple makes more money in one quarter than the music industry does in an entire year.

I’m sorry you believe that you are a “serf” in a system created by large media IP owners, but you are in fact kidding yourself. You are a serf in a system controlled by tech…and ultimately the only control you actually have…the only legal recourse you have against that when it comes to what you create…your ideas…is copyright.

hahahahahaha. the average citizen couldn’t afford to defend a single case against a big corps, wheras they can take over the property of the average citizen quite easily or drive them out of business.

I don’t see a lot of court cases where big media companies are taking IP from citizens or violating their copyright. I do see a lot of IP however taken from citizens and used in tech that then hides behind safe harbor. “Oh, we had no idea what our users were doing and we can’t really control it.”

Now I’ll grant you that systems could be created that would make copyright work better with tech, but tech has no interest in that. They want it dead. Dead means they can do anything they like…and that then also extends to media companies as well…so I guess that’s what you are interested in? I mean we have lots of laws protecting us that corporations can exploit to abuse us…should we get rid of those protections as well just because we can be out spent in a legal case? If that’s your argument then I guess what in fact is the point of having any laws or protections since big companies can exploit us or them or outspend us?

Copyright clicked on pretty well for hundreds of years, but when it became inconvenient for people to post a cat video with a Taylor Swift song, suddenly everyone is an activist up in arms because of how unfair it all is. You want better copyright, you want better systems…then do something about it. Don’t just complain about how big media companies are stifling innovation because that’s laughable. With the shrinking music economy, we are now left with three major music labels today, instead of a vibrant and diverse marketplace. And not a single one of them are making any money…they are all losing money.

20 years ago if you wanted a piece of music you had to drive to a store, buy an entire CD (for even one song), and the best “playlist” you could create was a mixtape or a CD changer on shuffle. Today for less than $10 a month you can access more songs than you can listen to in your lifetime and share those playlists with just about anyone in the world instantly. But it isn’t the music industry that controls that system anymore…it’s tech.

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Baby and bathwater. You think because these companies want stronger protections we should just eliminate Copyright? If you think that media companies or tech companies have an easy time with copyright now, wait until you get rid of it.

I mean we have laws that protect people from toxins being entered into our food and water, but companies find ways to get around it and even fight for weakening those laws. Should we therefore just get rid of those because they can be abused?

On one side you have media companies with a combined valuation of billions of dollars and the other you have tech companies with a combined valuation of trillions. One wants stronger copyright and one wants to eliminate copyright.

Which side are you one? Or, like me, do you take a more nuanced view that some things can be improved upon, but the general premise of protecting what you create is valuable? Because the moment you eliminate copyright, tech is going to own everything and media will pick up the scraps.

I really like the accurate description of the pre-internet state of affairs, and how the recording industry was basically in a stranglehold of Big Money (a.k.a. Bunch of Greedy Bastards). When they missed the boat completely with the rise of internet and the digital era, they cried outrage over the drying up of their steady influx of free moneys, and used whatever powers they had to try and fight back, such as Copyright (which was the BGB’s invention, although long ago). The really, really crooked part is how they managed to convince the artists that they really need copyright, and the backing of the BGB to advance their careers.

As upset as they may be, I do not feel sorry for them; for one, I don’t like their leech-like attitude, and two, I’m sure they’ll rebound. Somehow they will find another way to lodge themselves in the new mechanisms where they find another steady flow of free money.

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pat. pat. pat.

I’ve read a lot of well reasoned arguments on both sides of this subject, and your assertions are pretty far off the field, i suggest studying up more on the subject before patting yourself too hard on the back for being “100% spot on”.

i’m curious, do you work for a big media company? i’ve never seen or heard of anyone taking such a fantastical view of how poor big media is struggling against the evil tech giants that are trying to do away with copyright. I’ve read a ton on this subject and you are the very fist person ever with the naivety or audacity to suggest such a ridiculous scenario. The tech giants aren’t trying to do away with copyright, they are for minimal reform, the system mostly benefits them. The media companies are for increasing most the things that are systemic issues because they’ve been parasites profiting off of artists for years, the system is their bread and butter. The people suggesting doing away with the system or major reforms are the artists/creators/innovators, as they are the ones screwed by the current system. You are framing the two groups on the same side of the argument as being the opposing sides, they are not and never have been, that is a gross misunderstanding of the situation.

fify. if it primarily benefited the average citizen/artist/musician/creator as you assert what would be the need for copyright reform? there are two main sides in the copyright reform movements and BOTH sides of the copyright reform movements agree on this being one of the main problems with the current system.

Well, putting what things seem like to you personally aside, Apple and Samsung have both released statements to shareholders about the struggles they are having with IP/copyright, and those are two of the larger IP holders. It doesn’t take much research to see that things have gotten to the point where even the huge corporations are having major issues and they are the entities that benefit the most from the current system.

Not my personal assessment, rather an assessment of those much smarter then me that have studied the issues. But it doesn’t take much research to “discover” that in most industries, huge amounts of all IP are consolidated and belong to a limited number of larger entities. There is a reason that the big media companies are referred to as media barrons. This is universally true across almost every industry and field.

Because that isn’t how the legal system and intellectual property works nor is it how it is wielded. If you don’t see the majority of cases won in favor of copyright consolidating entities over individuals you aren’t even looking.

again, really? do some research, the few tech innovators in this field are either shut down, struggling, or bought up by big media, whereas big media streaming services have surpassed their physical sales and the sales of all tech based media companies.

[quote=“agraham999, post:17, topic:58752”]
With the shrinking music economy, we are now left with three major music labels today, instead of a vibrant and diverse marketplace. And not a single one of them are making any money…they are all losing money.
[/quote] yes it is all consolidated into a few major companies, which is a symptom of this exact problem and a problem that existed long before the tech impact which ironically offered the first dent in this issue since the consolidates occurred…again i question where you are getting such out there ideas/assertions from? they are quite fantastical.

well at the very least thank you for such a novel and creative re-imagining of the situation…

update: ah ha! checking your comment thread, i see you indeed do work in the music business and that defending DRM, Copyright, the RIAA, etc. makes up the bulk of your comments here in this community, save a few rare exceptions. Things are suddenly so much more clear…