Far from the Madding Crowd

Whether you like his music or not, you have to give props to Trent Reznor for his balls, flying in the face of music industry copyright convention and giving labels the finger. In 2008 he privately releases the mammoth Nine Inch Nails album Ghosts with a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license. Three days ago he announces the imminent release of concert film “Another Version of the Truth: The Gift”, whose post-production was entirely crowdsourced to fans. NIN’s 2008 tour Lights in the Sky was shot professionally, but without a distribution deal to finance post-production, a finished film looked unlikely. Instead, Reznor released 405gb of raw footage freely online for his enthusiastic fanbase to edit and soundmix. They self-organised into an online collective called This One is On Us to crowdsource the production of a concert film that would have been a herculean task for even the most robust studio.

The inspiration originally came from “The Downward Spiral: Live at Webster Hall“, a concert film that was entirely crowdsourced from camera to DVD. I’ve long been a proponent of artists and corporations relaxing their copyright to accommodate the rising mash-up symbiosis (see my guest post for Julian Cole’s top blog Adspace Pioneers) and Trent Reznor continues to make my case for me. First he instates an open camera policy, rare for popular artists afraid their dubious talent might be shipwrecked upon the great ocean of YouTube. Webster Hall asked exorbitant fees for allowing crews to film, but they couldn’t police fans who brought their own cameras (that’s a copyright issue usually of concern solely to the performer/s). NIN’s open camera goodwill was reciprocated by fans, who aggregated footage from camera phones and video cameras, crowdsourced post-production and authored DVDs and torrent streams.

Artists take note: THE FUTURE IS NOW PRESENT
You lock yourselves in castles and build ramparts around your precious copyright, hoarding it away from the peasants who toil in your fields. You’re feudalists living in an anarcho-syndicalist commune. Just ask Dennis…

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2 Responses to “Far from the Madding Crowd”

  1. “…dubious talent … shipwrecked upon the great ocean of YouTube.” I’m thinking Britney Spears lip-syncing.

    • Ms Spears was actually showing off her amazing vocal dexterity, being able to scream at a fan rushing the stage while singing simultaneously. Incredible!

      Just read that Fox filed for removal of an unauthorized iPhone app that aggregates headlines from FoxNews.com and costs 99c. That’s not unreasonable, but what baffles me is that Fox is unwilling to negotiate a deal with the app’s author RIV Creations, who have apparently contacted Fox directly to try to smooth things out, without success. I haven’t used this app, but I do have RIV Creations app for the NY Times and its excellent. Fox unequivocally objecting to a presumably well-designed aggregator that brings more hits to their website seems a little hard-headed and short-sighted. Fox should have an app, why pay to make a new one when one exists, tried and tested with an author ready to cut a deal. Trademark infringement and the revenue issue could be easily solved by Fox simply purchasing the app and re-purposing it as the official FoxNews.com app. Or are they taking a similar stance to their tact with Google?

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