On Copyrights, Barenakedness, and G n' R

Article Photo

I started my day reading Cory D.’s great piece on the Barenaked Ladies – longtime luminaries of Canadian music – and how they are embracing technology, fans, and freedom to promote their band. This includes everything from promoting fan bootlegging of shows to selling DRM-free MP3’s on USB keys – innovative, forward thinking, and driving their success.

I later went for lunch to the Quizno’s in downtown Winnipeg’s MTS Center – where Guns n’ Roses will be playing tonite. Walking in, I was greeted by this poster (view full sized image). Some meaty excerpts:

Any cameras and recording devices are subject to confiscation.
By entering the venue, you hereby agree that all recordings, transmissions, photographs, or other reproductions of the performance or the performers in any media are automatically and forever assigned to and shall be the exclusive property (including copyright) of the performer (or its designee).

Welcome to the show!

To begin with, I’m sure Cory and the EFF could comment on the ability of walking through a door in a packed venue to constitute entry into a legally binding agreement.

Furthermore, after reading that, I’m sorely tempted to go to the show and start sketching the performance and its performers to see if my charcoal sticks and paper “media? would get confiscated.

Finally, how does a band or its promotional company take a stance like this when groups like the Barenaked Ladies, Pearl Jam, and the Beastie Boys have shown again and again the power of embracing fan communities and their produce?

I'm also tempted to go in with a full on video rig and claim immunity because I'm not one of the "Guns n' Roses Fans" that the sign is addressed to - I haven't liked Gn'R since grade 10.

In any event, its just another bizarre, gloomy example of big business missing the big picture.


Wow, do they realise that technically speaking a persons mind is a "recording device" and is capable of reproduction? I can hear music, exit the venue and "reproduce" by singing, whistling, and picturing things in my mind...kerpow! ...take that lawyer suckers!

So maybe I'm not the audience, it at least explains why GnR concert goers all look like zombies. ;)

Posted by: Kevin on December 4, 2006 4:05 PM

Of course, the original version of this story is the one about Mozart "stealing" the famous choral piece, the "Miserere", a piece of music so beautiful that the Pope had declared it could only be performed at the Vatican and then only at Easter. Mozart, about twelve years old at the time I believe, was on tour in Rome with his dad and heard the Miserere performed. When he got home to Salzburg he wrote it down note for note. The Vatican issued that era's equivalent of a take-down notice when they found out he had written out the piece, accusing him of having stolen a copy of the score. Young Wolfie proved that he had transcribed it from memory... by doing it again!

So, indeed, the brain is a recording device and often as good or better than any other medium.

Posted by: Karl Schroeder on December 4, 2006 7:00 PM

Guns 'n' Roses?

Never heard of them ;)

Posted by: failrate on December 4, 2006 9:47 PM