Do polar bears make friends with dogs?

No. The polar bears and chained dogs famously seen interacting and playing at Mile 5 near Churchill are not ‘friends’.

Read this handy article. It’s light on detail but gets the essential facts right.

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Piracy myths debunked #8: Producers approve of piracy

When an HBO exec shot his mouth off and boasted that piracy was good for Game of Thrones, he handed pirates, freeloaders, and copyleft activists a big stick to beat creative people with. And boy, have they used it. Anyone would think the guy said, “please pirate my show” (he didn’t).

I believe this exec was suffering from an excess of endorphins, which might have caused a constriction of blood supply to his cerebral cortex. To be kind, he mis-spoke. What he was really saying was, “too fucking bad if a bunch of pirates rip us off, we are too huge to hurt” (he’s wrong, piracy hurts every creator, though the biggest hurt least).

Thankfully, there are other folks in Hollywood both better informed, and better intellectually equipped to address the issue of piracy – who is behind it, who benefits, and what the outcome will be if it is allowed to continue unchecked.

Read this.

I get sick and tired of hearing about how evil and old fashioned Hollywood is … from people pirating Hollywood movies. Hey, er … If you really, really hate Hollywood and want them to die … don’t watch their films.

Everything else is just an argument about supply and demand.

I agree that we must embrace the future. The clock isn’t going back to Saturday matinees and single channel tv. Things change. Of course. Duh.

But piracy is not a valid means of reform. Piracy disrupts the evolution of a fair market and destroys incentive for innovation in distribution. We would have seen a lot more progress towards fair and quick means of disseminating films, tv, and music online if it weren’t for pirates and desperate, unscrupulous tech ventures that have sought to privilege themselves by crashing the value of the work they exploit.

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Reports of piracy downturn were premature

Statistics remain the best way to not tell the truth, while appearing to be factual.

Is Internet piracy on the wane? Or is it getting worse? Thorny question. Here’s a credible stab at answering it.

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Hey Google? Don’t be Evil … Hypocrites

Trust Google to explore the far reaches of hypocrisy:

Google pretends to care about human rights | Vox Indie.


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Victims of Freeloading Talk Sense

I have excerpted some pertinent bits of writing on the topic of copyright and freeloading which I think contribute intelligently to the debate. The following pieces have been lightly edited to clarify the context.

The source blog is here:”>;

There seem to be a number of overlapping parts of this discussion that often get mistakenly substituted for one another. The most significant of these is the conflation of compensation (i.e. the money I am owed for my labour and its product) and copyright (my ability to determine for myself how, when, where and under what conditions to make the product or service available).

The statement, “Musicians don’t automatically deserve to make a living”, is undeniably true. Most musicians don’t make a living being musicians and they rarely ever have. However, when people avail themselves of a musician’s work (like a gig) or a musician’s products (like a release) the musician does deserve to be paid. The fact that technology makes it effortless to do so still doesn’t make violating copyright OK.

I fully agree that the internet has changed the model for the distribution/dissemination of all sorts of things, especially music, and that there is no going back. But modern consumers seem to be unaware of how directly they’re having an effect on the people whose music they take.

The question of median income doesn’t really add anything since most people who make music don’t make enough to file it on their taxes.

Copyright and compensation are separate but related issues. Copyright can be seen (I think) as the more ‘moral” asset and compensation the more ‘practical’ one.

Usually copyright is only considered as a prelude to discussions about money (i.e. as giving the artist the right to negotiate for the royalties deriving from a product) but it’s much more than that.

If I create a piece of music and decide to only release it on vinyl, I have the exclusive right to do so. If someone comes along and digitizes it and makes it freely available, they have violated my rights and paid me a tremendous insult. The fact that they may be enthusiastic fans who wish to help “promote” my work doesn’t matter. They’ve stepped in to my choice.

This same principle is what allowed Tom Petty, Jackson Browne and numerous other artists to enjoin the Republicans from using their songs at events.

If I, as a free and independent person, fully informed about the pros and cons of my decision, decide to sign a horrible contract that is terribly unfair to me with a third party (usually known as a record company), it’s nobody else’s business to intercede on my behalf without my permission. And that permission is the key.

Where the issues of compensation and copyright do converge is precisely when an artist elects to “release” their work. When someone violates the compensation part, they are also violating the copyright part. As a matter of practicality this is not a big deal; it’s unlikely anybody is going to start negotiating publishing royalties for songs they downloaded. But as a matter of principle, this is quite important: if I, as an artist, simply shrug off my rights to the compensation I’m rightfully owed, how do I then make an argument for those rights elsewhere?

What is intrinsically different if it’s an individual who’s violating my rights, or a group of individuals or a company or even a major corporation? If someone wants to use my music for an ad for a product I disagree with, I have the right to say no. If a label wants to extend the term of a license to my music I have the right to say no. If someone wants to put my music on a compilation, I have the right to say no. And if someone wants to take or give my music away without honouring my copyright, I have the right to say no.

People (other than the Supreme Court) might argue that a company using my music and an individual sharing it are intrinsically different. They’re not. They’re both “transactional”, it’s simply a question of scale.

A company can derive a more widely tradable good (money) but the individual is still deriving benefit, albeit usually non-monetary, from taking the music or giving it away.

I find the issue of people buying less music because they have more choice (e.g. via Spotify) rather bizarre. I think people are buying less music because they simply don’t have to buy it. The reason Spotify can pay such a dismal rate is because the only alternative is to simply get nothing and the reason that the alternative is nothing is because people are already not paying.

This has made the marketplace even more unfair than it was before. The Simon Cowells and Live Nations are doing better than ever. Concomitant with not paying for recorded music, people are more and more reluctant to pay anything, let alone a fair ticket price, for non-mainstream music. The days of get-in-the-van as a norm are long gone. The odds are now stacked much further against the outsiders than they’ve ever been. A quick look at the non-smooth/lounge jazz scene in any city will confirm this. And I can’t help but think the two attitudes (“why should I pay for recorded music?”/”why should I pay for live music?”) are part of the same mindset.

We need a fairer compensation system that is still convenient for the consumer. But iTunes/ Amazon/Bandcamp/Emusic etc. are not really SO onerous or expensive as to not already be convenient. It’s really not such an ordeal to have to click and download a song. But it’s obviously not the complete model we need. If it were, we’d be talking about something else…

Chris Haskett


Yes, you can’t fight the internet, you’ve got to work with it. Agreed. Nevertheless, people downloading my music free and illegally sucks. I’d rather earn money from it so I can buy better gear or strings.

Telling me to look to Radiohead as a model is moot because artists like me (and most from this day forward) didn’t get the corporate push Radiohead got. It sure helps your 4th release when you’ve already had 3 on a major label.

If most bands had a pay what you want model it wouldn’t matter because nobody’s heard of their band. Like every other artist you list as doing ‘valuable work’, the reason anybody has even heard their music is because they were promoted by a big label. These are not models for the current musician starting out.

As a DIY artist/entrepreneur, it’s kind of a shame that I have to be so business minded. Luckily I have a good head on my shoulders, but many great artists do not. And you know what? In the future, you might never get exposed to them.

The bottom line for many of us is CHOICE.

Radiohead chose (once) to give away some music (Now they’re choosing not to give it away).

In this day and age, you choose to sign with a label, and agree to the possible contradictions and compromise that goes with it.

Artists are never asked if they mind their music being copied and shared across the internet. In fact when any of them contact The Pirate Bay to discuss it, they are literally told to f**k off.

If the internet means ‘free music’ is the new paradigm, I say those who believe it should start making it and sharing it.

Musicians who still want to charge a fee for their work should be left alone. If they are wrong, they’ll become irrelevant. Sadly, in contradiction, they are often the most pirated.

Chris Whitten


Yes, as soon as technology made it possible, people started sharing music files, and record companies and musicians started losing money. So because people started stealing and have continued to do so, we’re just supposed to accept it and not try to do something about it, or even say, “HEY. Can you, y’know, maybe try to be a better person?”

There are TONS of aspects of technology that people are discovering may not be great for us – multi-tasking and jumping from site to site is actually making it more difficult for our brains to concentrate on one thing, internet anonymity is causing people to be cruel and inhuman, smart phone usage is encroaching on our in-person time with people we care about. So, for those of us who view these things as problems, should we just accept them and not make any attempt to change things?

There has been massive growth in the role technology plays in our lives in the last decade, but there hasn’t been a lot of thought given to ethics around this growth on the user side or the corporate side. (Even Google, whose motto is “Don’t Be Evil”, stole private user data from their street view cars.)

So obviously I think this is a larger problem than just downloading or burning free music, but it’s sad to me to think that there are smart people who have just accepted the situation and aren’t interested in working toward a solution that gives creative people what they deserve for their work.

No musicians I know are looking for a handout, or feel that society owes them a living. They just believe, rightly so, that theirs is a specialized skill, and their product has significant value in people’s lives, and should be valued appropriately.

Dayna Kurtz


My main issue with the thrust of these ‘stop whining and find yourself more fans’ arguments is this: since only 10-20% of our roughly calculated fan base is still buying our stuff legally (and i don’t count spotify as legal, as their payment scale is laughable to all but the biggest major label acts) and it takes 8-10k records sold as an indie to break even – using that math, there’s a shitload of really important, influential artists that would’ve had to quit 1 or 2 records into their heydey – Big Star. Husker Du. Little Willie John. Irma Thomas. (half the artists i have ever loved, really) we would have lost them all. because apparently they were so terribly mediocre they couldn’t amass 100k fans.

I’m sorry – it’s stealing. and yes, i’m a dinosaur. it costs me about 20k to make a record, paying musicians, engineers, graphic artists. and more if i hire anyone to promote the thing. sure, i could record something mediocre sounding on home gear, despite my having no aptitude or desire to do so, and mock up the art myself, and may wind up doing so yet. but don’t expect me to not whine about it. it sucks.

Me and my misguided, pathetic little 30k fan base had me happily earning a mid-career kindergarten teacher’s salary 10 years ago, which also helped a bunch of other creative professionals scrape the bottom of the middle class by hiring them to play, mix, master, design, photograph, and roadie this apparently unworthy little career i had. They’re fucked too.

I’m sorry. The ethical argument is all we have. Each record costs us thousands of dollars and hours of labor, plus years of experience to make – just like each bottle of wine that gets sold for 15 bucks and drunk only ONCE. Just because it’s easier to steal music than booze doesn’t make it right.

Courtenay Hameister


Check this post out too, an eloquent plea from someone who walks the walk, as opposed to a know nothing, do nothing, want everything freeloader.

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Piracy myths debunked #7: piracy is free promotion

Let’s get real here.

“Welcome to the future piracy brought you”

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Piracy myths debunked #6 Eliminating copyright will make art more democratic?

Here’s a comment found on an Internet thread that puts the case as clearly as I’ve ever seen it:

“Actually, I would say that the elimination of copyright tells poor people they should have less capacity to engage with other humans. Why? Because if creating art becomes a money-free enterprise with people doing it for the love of it, then only those with enough money and free time will be able to create art – or at least be able to distribute it.”

Empirical evidence is all around us that the rich are getting richer, while there are more people swelling the ranks of the poor every day. Amongst them are many artists who used to make an ok living from their creativity. Now they have to serve burgers or stack boxes, or be unemployed.

Here’s a couple more comments that are very telling …

” … up until the last ten years or so if I wanted to invest in self publishing or distribution there would be a chance that I coud make a decent living off it.

The few publishing successes of the digital era are not promising. The two biggest digital publishing sensations were a teen vampire fiction (Amanda Hocking) or teen vampire fanfiction turned erotica (Fifty Shades Of Grey), and in each case the authors eventually went the route of traditional publishing.

Of course a lot of people struggle to get their stuff distributed. However, the post-piracy model seems to be leading towards a more, not less homogenous culture.

Take a look at Deviant Art -the stuff that tends to get noticed and reblogged is the stuff that is derivative of other stuff – steampunk Avengers or Dr. Who anime style.”

Proponents of the theory that ‘free culture’ somehow democratizes accessibility to the making and consumption of art always fail to offer any convincing real world proof that the odd freak exceptional success story is repeatable or sustainable. And they consistently miss the point above … That the art being made in this environment is usually derivative or plain bad.

“The people who have succeeded with kickstarter (the Amanda Palmers of this world) are those who are the best at self-promotion. As well, by appealing to what the public wants (or more accurately what they think they want) they ensure that the works that will be funded will be ones that appeal to audiences by sticking to popular tropes (“a steampunk zombie musical Star Wars!”) the fact is that if kickstarter had been the only method of monetizing work in the past we would be less likely to have Star Wars or any other work that truly took audiences by surprise.

Truly innovative art has in the past come from those who managed to persuade one or two savvy editors/producers/publishers to take a chance in them. This is where the long tail comes in – I feel very fortunate to know, for example, that someone is still pressing The Velvet Underground or publishing Moby-Dick in spite of their lack of initial success. While Moby-Dick is long public domain, I think it’s great that Lou Reed, John Cale and Mo Tucker (Sterling Morrison RIP) get something, no matter small, when a teenager discovers “Sister Ray.”

The example I like to give for how Kickstarter is not a good model is Thomas Pynchon. I want to reward Pynchon for his work by buying his books, not expect him to hawk his work on Kickstarter.

Similarly, the Louis CK/Radiohead model gets a lot of noise but ignores the fact that this has only worked for creators who are already established through more conventional media distribution.”

The quotes above are excerpted from the comments section under the following article:

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