If Everybody Gets Footloose, the Terrorists Win

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Over at Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow passes on a rumor that the Recording Industry of America is asking YouTube to purge videos of snot-nosed kids singing and dancing to copyrighted material. Again, just a rumor, and Doctorow puts it into the context of other sites being hit with letters "from the RIAA" that were as forged as the 100 "Paypal Account Verify!" emails you got while reading this paragraph.

This rumor's still believable, because YouTube has cracked down on the order of TV networks who didn't like seeing their hit shows' clips go viral without any advertising revenue headed back to them. And if the RIAA gets involved, this is the rare circumstance in which I'd support them. The clear purpose of YouTube is to provide videos and live footage of great bands like, let's say, Genesis. Yet the first time I searched for rare video of the legendary progressive rock powerhouse, I found a clip uploaded by some punk kid talking about his love for "Invisible Touch" and all of the song's complex themes that most listeners overlook. If the record industry wants to shut down that kind of content, sign me up.

UPDATE: I don't want anyone to get the impression I'm dumping on Genesis. If that makes my stab at ironic humor even more confusing, my apologies.

NEXT: Evo Morales, Privatizer?

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  1. Goodness, that’s a nice principled libertarian stance.

    Pfeh.

    Shirley Knott

  2. Yeah, we’ve gotta make sure that the only returns on Genesis are clips uploaded by washed up hippies with gnats flying around their dreamy eyes talking about their love of “Can-Utility and the Coastliners” and all the themes the listeners overlook.

    Actually, if you do “Genesis Gabriel” you get some kick-ass old live shots of “Return of the Giant Hogweed” and “The Knife” and a 26 minute version of “Supper’s Ready”. So you can certainly get your progged-out groove on.

  3. The clear purpose of YouTube is to provide videos and live footage of great bands like, let’s say, Genesis.

    You’re assertion that this is “The Clear Purpose,” of YouTube suggests that you may have No Clear Idea what YouTube’s purpose actually is.

    From what I can tell, its purpose is as multivaried and rich as people want to make it, including a…

    “…punk kid talking about his love for “Invisible Touch” and all of the song’s complex themes that most listeners overlook.

    Of course your last graph tells it all…

    If the record industry wants to shut down that kind of content, sign me up.

    Classy.

  4. …..great bands like, let’s say, Genesis.

    Blech! If there were a hell, progrock would be its soundtrack.

    Gabba, Gabba, Hey!

    Kevin

  5. The clear purpose of YouTube is to provide videos and live footage of great bands like, let’s say, Genesis.

    OK this has been building up for a while now. I don’t think David Weigel gets it. That is to say, all too often I find something offensive to my libertarian sensibilities in his postings. Is it just me?

  6. Is it just me?

    No.

  7. To Phil Collins great disappointment, we point out why this rumor is most likely untrue at http://463.blogs.com

  8. It seems that a lot of folks has miscalibrated humor detecorts today.

  9. I think the post is supposed to be ironic, but it’s really hard to tell.

  10. Detectors, I misspell because I am a genius.

  11. I’d like to think he’s being sarcastic, but I believe I’m giving him too much credit. I wasn’t aware that YouTube had a clear purpose at all, other than being a place for people to host movie clips. How much more un-libertarian can you get than suggesting that someone shouldn’t be allowed to express their feelings about a song they like on a public forum like YouTube?

  12. Wow people. Take the boards out of your asses and laugh. This was a funny fucking post.

  13. I think the post is supposed to be ironic, but it’s really hard to tell.

    He may have chosen Genesis as an ironic foil. Indeed the whole post may be ironic and sarcastic.

    If most people either don’t see that or are not sure then what’s the point?

  14. Uh, yeah, guys, I think this was pretty obviously sarcastic. Please check your humor detectors.

    In fact, maybe there should be some kind of government-mandated humor detector inspection program.

  15. Take the boards out of your asses and laugh. This was a funny fucking post.

    Uh…to you, maybe. Obviously to the rest of us…not so much.

  16. great bands like, let’s say, Genesis

    Hint: this was the dead giveaway.

  17. Obviously to the rest of us…not so much.

    Count me as part of the “rest of us”…

    Although I assume the post was supposed to be humorous / ironic — I wasn’t really sure…

    The “clear purpose” part was really hard to tell if that was serious or not…

  18. If most people either don’t see that or are not sure then what’s the point?

    That you’re all idiots for not getting it. What is this, the Corner?

  19. Uh…to you, maybe. Obviously to the rest of us…not so much.

    The funny shouldn’t have to cater to the lowest rungs of the humor scale. Sorry, it’s our libertarian humor principle.

  20. “Hint: this was the dead giveaway.”

    Hey, I like Genesis! “Illegal Alien”, “Land of Confusion”, “The Brazilian”, “Driving the Last Spike”, and “Dreaming While You Sleep” are all great songs.

  21. Hey, I like Genesis! “Illegal Alien”, “Land of Confusion”, “The Brazilian”, “Driving the Last Spike”, and “Dreaming While You Sleep” are all great songs.

    I note that even despite this, you still do not claim that Genesis is a “great” band.

  22. madpad,

    The point is that some people will see it and laugh quite a bit. Some may even laugh more as others don’t see it, sad but true; that’s human nature. However, once a few people make posts complaining about Weigel’s lack of libertarianism, it becomes hard to resolve without stepping on toes.

    It’s especially hard to tell how many people got it, because there’s a tendency for people to post comments that disagree rather than agree. That’s not because people are mean-spirited, only that disagreement adds information (the nature of the disagreement) and thousands of “dittos” get boring. Furthermore, some may even see it as spoiling when a joke is publicly admitted as such.

    Some people enjoy comedy that includes straight-faced irony. Winking makes it less enjoyable.

    I’m not sure that majority should rule in a situation like this (or ever, but that’s a separate issue). If what he posted was really really funny to a small number of people, but otherwise inoffensive or mildly offensive to the majority, perhaps it would be worth it. Too much of that leads to cliques, if the humor is aimed at the same target repeatedly, but it’s not he was pulling lobsters out of ?, er, using particularly obscure references to play to an in-crowd.

    <grumpy>and while you’re at it, get off of my lawn.</grumpy>

  23. “I note that even despite this, you still do not claim that Genesis is a ‘great’ band.”

    I thought that was implicit in my previous post, but here you go: Genesis is a great band. I own every original Genesis album since Peter Gabriel left the band. I think Phil Collins’ solo projects (with the exception of his first album, which was clearly heavily influenced by Genesis) have been a shadow of his work with the group. I would rather listen to Genesis than any rap, R&B, country, or heavy metal group you care to name, except for Apocalyptica (which is more weighty wood than heavy metal). There, are ya’ happy now? 😀

  24. Snarkiness aside, I’d like one of Reason’s blogging barristers to enlighten me on whether or not they feel posting videos to YouTube of some 18-year-old lip-syncing “MacArthur Park” constitutes “public performance” under federal caselaw. Asking for purposes of IP education, not argument. Danke!

  25. SR proves that irony on the net is a tricky thing.

    I still hate progrock. B?C counts as ironic metal, right?

    Kevin

  26. And no, I’m not 18, and I wouldn’t sing “MacArthur Park” ANYwhere at ANYtime, eve if there was a gun pointed at my head …

  27. I would rather listen to Genesis than any rap, R&B, country, or heavy metal group you care to name

    Damning with faint praise . . .

  28. That you’re all idiots for not getting it.

    That I am an idiot, I do not dispute. However while I can read this post as humorous, I find phrases like “And if the RIAA gets involved, this is the rare circumstance in which I’d support them.” distinctly unfunny. The fact that it’s followed by specious and offensive argument does in fact support the contention that it was sarcastic. But it’s not as though you can’t find defenders of the RIAA around here.

    I went looking of other examples of Weigel’s transgressions, and concluded that in each instance he had his tongue implanted in his cheek. I guess I’d find him funnier if I wasn’t so paranoid. And I wouldn’t be so paranoid if there weren’t so many people out to get me.

    BTW
    Screw all you assholes that shit on music like Genesis and Rush. You don’t like em, fine don’t listen to em. It’s been two decades since they were ubiquitous in pop culture. But trying to say that the music is without merit is just bullshit. I enjoy the arena rock bands of my youth because of the craftsmanship. That’s what I said. A Gary Richrath guitar solo is a thing of beauty. And if you can’t appreciate it, that’s your loss.

  29. ” I enjoy the arena rock bands of my youth because of the craftsmanship.”

    warren, i just died in your arms tonight.

    it must have been something you said.

  30. You know, I dislike haters of most genres of music.

    Unless you’re dissing that pop-country crap that passes for country music nowadays. That stuff sucks. 🙂

  31. I think the post is supposed to be ironic, but it’s really hard to tell.

    Really? A post with the title “If everybody gets footloose, the terrorists win” and that included the line “The clear purpose of YouTube is to provide videos and live footage of great bands like, let’s say, Genesis”? This left you wondering?

    Granted, this isn’t as bad as shirley, madpad, warren, and MP getting their “libertarian sensibility” panties in a wad, but still…

    Yikes, people.

  32. And while I’m baring my soul, let me add that I think Paul Anka’s cover version of “Wonderwall” on his Rock Swings album is far superior to the original.

  33. While we’re airing musical grievances . . .

    Warren, I actually like a lot of prog rock. But Genesis was always less interesting (and in their later incarnations, more irritating) to me than, say, Rush or Yes, both of whom were pretty great in their (brief) primes.

    SR, I’ll go you one better by admitting that I hate Oasis as much as I hate Genesis. However, I didn’t like Rock Swings either, with the exception of the excellent cover of Eyes Without a Face.

  34. anon2,

    My “what’s the point” wasn’t intended to elicite a breakdown of whether or not majority rules in humor. Silly to even suggest.

    I have noticed that Weigel is something of the Albert Brooks of Reason lately. In other words, stylistically, his stuff can be easy to misinterperet (or just plain miss).

    I rather imagine Weigel probably writes like he speaks. His weakness may be that while his words come across fine, he hasn’t yet mastered getting the little visual nuances and tonal cues onto the paper as well.

    Of course I’m just spitballing here.

    But in the end, who really cares. It’s just a friggin’ post.

  35. Nostradennis:

    Actually, I was unsure if I finally figured out what irony is. I used to be like Carlton in Eric Idle’s “The Road to Mars”, but now I finally get it.

  36. Brian-Rush is in their prime now. Check out Vapor Trails.

  37. SR: You know, I like Wonderwall all right, I’ll have to find the Anka version. Sounds like it could be interesting. I also confess that the Oasis album on which that song appears was the first CD I ever purchased.

  38. madpad,

    It wasn’t personal. I used your comment to, among other things, plug a point that I think gets overlooked frequently: it’s exceedingly hard to tell via the comments just what Reason’s readers think, because agreement and even appreciation often begets silence. This was the same when Usenet was the only game in town.

    Sometimes people would make insightful posts and then be disappointed by a dearth of followups, as though nobody cared. In the meantime, the group might be dominated by a flamewar. Eventually the insightful poster would publicly sigh, and then be told by several people “oh, I thought that was a great post; I just didn’t have anything to add.”

    [insert Carl Sagan’s bozo the clown disclaimer]

    My grumpy-old-man closer was meant as self-deprecating humor acknowledging that I was, once again, being pedantic and wordy (two great tastes that taste great together!). It may not have made anyone smile, but I enjoyed winking in the same comment that I mentioned that I don’t like winks.

    BTW, I was tempted to reply with “Listen, I respect your opinion, you should respect mine,” but if you’re not alluding to Letterman, such a reply would most likely be mistaken for arrogance rather than more self-deprecating humor.

  39. Perhaps the next time Mr. Weigel decides to post something tongue in cheek he should remember which cheeks to use.
    The man’s humor is no more in evidence than his libertarianism. Or his taste.

    Pfeh.

    Shirley Knott

  40. Number6 – That makes you the second person to tell me that. I guess I’ll have to check it out.

    anon2 – The grumpy old man line got a chuckle out of me.

  41. Brian24

    In my mind, there are two possible reasons Number 6 said what he said. 1 – He’s playing a joke a la “great bands like Genesis”. 2 – He’s so relieved that Vapor Trails is so much better than Test For Echo that he’s mistaking that for “prime” Rush.

    Or possibly Number 6 is some super-hot Cylon replicant on a mission from the ineffible Cylon god aimed at undermining mankind.

    Or possibly he just digs Vapor Trails. It certainly is better than Test For Echo.

  42. Hey, Oasis is a great band. “Wonderwall” was one of the best pop songs of the 90s. They released two outstanding albums (Definitely Maybe and What’s the Story, Morning Glory) Since then, patchy, but getting better. And the best “Wonderwall” cover is Ryan Adam’s.
    Rush and Yes both hurt my ears.
    Genesis hurts my soul.
    Radiohead might be the only really good prog rock band, but King Crimson has its moments.
    More importantly, Mr Weigel should be banned from posting until we can determine his irony levels. This man may be dangerous!

  43. Don’t get your panties in a Knott, Shirley.

  44. And no, I’m not 18, and I wouldn’t sing “MacArthur Park” ANYwhere at ANYtime, even if there was a gun pointed at my head …

    Ah, Iconoclast, but would play it on the tabla? (9F02)

  45. the first CD I ever purchased.

    what a baby

    my first was a gift

    It was called Hit Priests and Kamerads

  46. should be –Hip Priests– (cf, silence of the lambs movie)

  47. Hint: this mag ain’t Bob Poole anymore.

    Yes, copyright infringement exists; but so does fair use.

    Some entitites just don’t know how to accept free publicity.

  48. anon2,

    I didn’t take it personal. We’re cool. Your comment about “Listen, I respect your opinion, you should respect mine,” reminds me of another ditty. Some comedian said it but I don’t know who. Goes something like this…

    “Ever notice how people who wanna tell you about their religion never wanna listen to you talk about yours.”

  49. What Wintermute said.

    Also: “Weigs” would probably be less cavalier about the property rights of the copyright owners of Genesis vids if the vids available at a competitive price. Just because the record oligopoly has sat on its cultural treasures and wants us, the consuming public, to jump thru lots of hoops to get them (eg, you must go to the record store, no online store, some items out of print or out of stock) doesn’t mean we should find that respectable. Really, it is bad for music and art and, worse yet, it seems to be a strategy based on future rentseeking rather than profiting from actually working the intellectual property. The RIAA has taken this economically shameful behavior to its comic limits and has been for years.

    Also:

    Libertarians are big on property rights, so I can see why some of the kneejerk antiWeigsism here. Same thing with all the guff Jesse Walker got on the urban gardeners threads. Both YouTube and the urban gardners have something in common: they beg questions over what should be propertized at all. When the record companies or negligent landlords fail to work their property and merely hoard it, there is a case that that is economically destructive and the property should be depropertized.

    On the Walker thread, the land not being worked hurts society. It means that the farmgoods otherwise that could be grown there have to be trucked in from further, raising both the marginal cost of food and the marginal level of the oceans. That is not good for all Angelinos, although the exact allocation of the costs are diffuse and spread over millions of people. That does not mean the costs aren’t real. If the property is abandoned, then it escheats to the state. If private citizens (or even illegals) find a much-much better use for the land than the state, then you can see the case for allowing them to do something of a reverse condemnation, a reverse eminent domain and take that land for the state for their superior economic stimulations. Certainly reverse eminent domain should be more acceptable to this crowd than the regular kind.

    The fair use problem in copyright is much worse. Incidental uses of Genesis videos or book or whatnot shouldn’t be propertized at all. The idea that you pay by the word or viewing for cultural information might make sense if the prices are low enough so that citizens can educate themselves without expending vast sums. However, when publishers don’t have their s**t together and say either that the public simply can’t access the info or they price it prohibitively or weigh down access with too many restrictions, then it may be time for some gentle corrections and that is what fair use is all about, I think. Making sure the propertization of information (a commodity that maybe should even be that propertized in the 1st place) doesn’t get taken to absurd extremes. Like the land in LA, we need to be working that property, not hoarding it.

    There is no excuse why, in the year 2006 ad, every record company owned video isn’t available for streaming access at a reasonable price. There is no excuse, but there is a reason and that reason is called RIAA.

    Don’t let naysayers get ya down, Weigs!

  50. reasonable price

    when I say reasonable price, I mean a price a bit just above marginal costs, because that is where prices settle on mass commodities in a true capitalist economic system. I would imagine that the marginal cost of making a Genesis video for streaming is real low. I know this because I am able to make my own songs available at my own website gratis and I am by no means a man of means.

  51. And while I’m baring my soul, let me add that I think Paul Anka’s cover version of “Wonderwall” on his Rock Swings album is far superior to the original.

    Agreed, but even this pales in comparison to Pat Boone in a Metal mood.

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