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Thu Nov 29, 2012, 01:14 PM

A rant about copyright infringement and food.

A thought on the stealing of trademarks, copyrights or labels by foreign corporations for profit.

For the longest time I had issues with this. I am a member of a music writers and composers union. This union seeks to protect our compositions and performances. They make sure we get paid for our work. In fact they work so well, they make sure that I get about 15 to 16 checks a year, each for about 75 cents. I only have one composition that I wrote quite some time ago, and it is rarely used. But hey, 11.50 is not something I want to turn my nose up to.

However, right now in China (one of the larger culprits) and other countries, there are companies taking protected materials (music, books, Ray-ban sunglasses, or even my own .75 cent composition), reproducing them and selling them for profit without so much as one penny making it back to the creator. This used to bug me; the nefarious nature of these corporations with their blatant theft. How could their governments who are all members of the same trade organizations the U.S. is allow this? Simple… The U.S. does it too.

You see there are other folks, in other countries that work very hard on their trademark, label, etc and they spend generations building on their brand. What do we do in the U.S.? We steal it of course. This is by design of our own country’s corporate greed. I could go on for hours on our own theft of other country’s products, but I’ll try do keep it to a short list to give you an idea.

Champagne: Have you ever had a glass? Maybe… Have you ever had a glass made in accordance with the Comité Interprofessionel du Vin de Champagne regulations? Maybe not. You see, here in the U.S. it is perfect legal for a producer to take some white grape juice, ferment it in a beer cooler, add some CO2 and boom, you can label it “Champagne”. Most of us know that “Champagne” can only come from the Champagne region of France, and bottled under centuries old regulations. That does not stop any domestic producer her in the US slapping a “Champagne” label on any old swill they wish. If you sell NY or CA “Champagne” almost anywhere else in the world and you go to jail. You sell it here in the U.S. and you make a profit.

Tawny port: Ever have a glass? Again, maybe you have. Buy it in Europe, and you know for an absolute fact that it comes from Portugal. You would also know beyond any doubt that it was made under strict quality rules that have been in place for hundreds of years. Buy it in the U.S. and it could be made from prune husks for all you know. But, by U.S. law it is not only legal, but specifically protected by our law.

Parmigiano-Reggiano: Ever shake some of this out of a can onto your pasta dinner? No you have not. You see honest and true Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese has been produced in the neighboring towns of Parma and Reggio Emilia for over 700 years under very strict regulations. If you buy the real thing you are guaranteed to have the finest of cheeses in all the land. This cheese is so valuable that they brand every wheel (which is of exacting measurements) with holograms and engravings to protect it. But here in the U.S. (again protected by our laws) you can sun-dry some cheese like product and call it whatever you want.

Kobe Beef: Odds are, you have NEVER EVER had it. Unless you have been to Japan, and dropped an entire paycheck on your entrée, you have never had Kobe beef. This one was an eye opener for me. I love beef. Last year, for a celebration dinner, I took my employees out to dinner. Company was buying, and the boss insisted that the 3 of us max out the company card. So we did our best. Dinner was going to be epic. We all got hotel rooms so no one had to drive. I saw Kobe on the menu. My white rhino, unicorn, and Holy Grail all in one. The supposed best beef on the planet. I had heard epic tales of how these beautiful animals are treated. The best, most expensive organic grass feed, daily massages and the occasional beer. The strict care and stress free life of these critters is beyond compare and reflects understandably in the price (as it should) of the beef. On the menu my entrée was $65. It was awesome. I enjoyed it. Only problem is that it was not Kobe beef. Not in the slightest. At the time ALL beef from Japan was prohibited from import to the U.S. WHAT? I just ordered it off them menu. As it turns out there are no regulation in place to protect the Japanese trademarks on the Kobe brand here in the U.S. I could skin my cat, toss him on the grill and call him Kobe.

The one thing all of these have in common is that they are a creation or brand of regional products that people, or generations of people have worked very hard towards building the world’s most superior product. All of the above are at the top of their game. However here in the U.S. we steal them and strip them down for profit. It’s like putting a Cadillac logo on a Yugo (am I dating myself?).

In my compositions, I can say that I have spent years writing, composing and performing my music. I have poured my heart and soul into my creations. Hours upon hours have been spent in my basement going over the same 5 seconds of music in a vain attempt to fix or improve a piece. My co-writer and I have sent in our copyright applications covered in blood, sweat, tears and coffee stains. And I know right now, some of our work is being reproduced and distributed for the equivalent of $11.50 in some foreign country and we will never see one red cent.

I could give a shit.

Right now, here in the U.S. and specifically protected by our law, we are stealing generations of hard work. I cannot complain, as we are doing exactly what I have a problem with. In 1891 the “Treaty of Madrid” was signed by every single major power in the world at the time. It protects regional products and their regulations. The U.S. of course has never signed. The treaty has been revised quite a few times, however each time the U.S. has failed to sign it. We protect our own, but f%#k everyone else. If I grow peaches on my farm and try to sell them as “Georgia Peaches” I go to jail. If I grow an orange and call it a “Florida Orange” I go to jail. But if I grow grapes, ferment them and call them: Burgundy, Rhone, Chablis, Chianti, Port, Madeira, Sherry or Tokay I go to the bank.

Until this shit stops, I have no leg to stand on to demand any compensation for our work. Here in the U.S. we have Hollywood, Nashville, Silicon Valley, ect… You steal our music, movies or technology and we’ll climb up your ass with a war hammer, but please do look the other way when we steal your stuff. M’kay?

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Arrow 14 replies Author Time Post
Reply A rant about copyright infringement and food. (Original post)
Glassunion Nov 2012 OP
cbayer Nov 2012 #1
Glassunion Nov 2012 #3
cbayer Nov 2012 #8
Lionessa Nov 2012 #2
Glassunion Nov 2012 #4
Lionessa Nov 2012 #5
Glassunion Nov 2012 #6
Tab Nov 2012 #7
Glassunion Nov 2012 #9
Stinky The Clown Nov 2012 #10
NJCher Dec 2012 #11
Glassunion Dec 2012 #12
SoapBox Dec 2012 #13
Glassunion Dec 2012 #14

Response to Glassunion (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 01:20 PM

1. Excellent rant. I feel for you.

I stole music for awhile when it first became possible to do so, but thought better of it and now I don't steal anything.

Do you have any proposed solutions?

By far my favorite source for music is Sirius/XM The Loft. The DJ's play and promote lots and lots of new music. I would hope this leads to sales for the musicians, writers, etc., but I am not sure.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #1)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 02:46 PM

3. I have a few solutions

But first, I have had satellite radio since the first year it was out. With the amount of time I was on the road, it was a blessing not to have to listen to the same 40 songs over and over, all the while listening to the same 5 commercials every 3 songs. I gladly pay to just avoid the commercials.

At home, I'm a fan of Pandora, I do not pay for it. I have a free account. I do have to listen to commercials, however it is usually just one 15 to 30 second commercial every 6 or so songs. I just plop in an artist and it will play everything similar. My favorite lately has been Diana Krall. They play her, Ray Charles, Sinatra, Michael Buble, etc... Great for relaxing while I cook.

Anyhoo... My proposed solutions:
1. I was not 100% accurate when I stated that the US has failed to sign the "Treaty of Madrid". The Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks of April 14, 1891(its official name) was signed by the US in 2003, however there are caveats where we (the US) require separate payment and maintenance of designations. It makes it quite cost prohibitive for the producers (some of these are small farms and growers). The US is not all in so to speak. If I was seeking a designation for lets say a regional wine. I would have to pay about $2000 or so for a designation that I would have to re-apply for in 10 years. This designation would protect my product in all member countries, but not the US (and a handful of others). I would then have to apply with each individual country and pay their fees as well. I would have to sell 230 bottles of wine to break even(assuming my wine sells for about $50 which I gross 23%), then another 230 to break even with the US(assuming we only charge $2000) and so on to protect my product. You can see how quickly this can add up without me being able to make money. The US should go all in with the treaty.

2. The US should hold foreign designations equal to domestic designations, by law.

3. Congress must undo some stuff. In 2006, Congress updated our alcohol labeling laws to specifically allow the label of "Champagne" on our domestic sparkling wine. This permission was grandfathered to companies that had been making "champagne" domestically up until then, however new entrants can’t label as such today. Trust me, there are plenty of companies in the US making "champagne". "Yes France, we see you and recognize the designation. However the corporate powers that be need to be protected so they can continue to dupe American consumers. - Sincerely Uncle Sam" This crap cannot continue, we should have laws that work in the opposite way, that actually protect these regional designations.

4. Truth in packaging. Labeling/information of all GMO, antibiotics, hormones, origin and the like on our food. I believe we all have a right to know exactly what is in our food that we eat and where exactly it comes from. I'm not saying that food should have a mile long label denoting every step of the production process, but rather to have that information available. For example: if I buy a real Parmigiano-Reggiano, I know exactly what is in it, what cows the milk came from, what the cows ate and exactly how the cheese was prepared. I think our diets would all be greatly improved if people know what they are eating. Nothing that is good is cheap, and the only way to reduce that cost is to buy into it. The more folks are informed, the smarter they will shop. When they stop buying the products that they don't want, the big producers will see a slump in sales. Either they will change their ways, or change the laws. So far they have been taking the route of the latter. This needs to stop.

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Response to Glassunion (Reply #3)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 04:46 PM

8. I am also a fan of Pandora and, for reasons I do not understand,

I get no commercials when I run it through my iPad, even though I am not paying for it. But I prefer Sirius most of the time because of the DJ's, particularly on the Loft. They play great mixes of very eclectic music and use much more new music than Pandora.

While I know very little about the problems currently faced by artists and the music industry in particular, I know there are big obstacles to fixing them. I appreciate the information.

As to food labeling, I have mixed feelings at this point. Until the definitions are more precisely defined, I think there is a risk of giving people information that may be misleading and only used to promote products, not educate. One of the reasons, imo, that GMO labeling failed in CA was because the public found it confusing. They aren't sure whether it's dangerous or good and weren't willing to approve labeling that was likely to scare people, possibly without any valid reason. Well, that and the fact that the big companies poured gazillions of dollars into ads against it.

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Response to Glassunion (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 01:34 PM

2. On the other hand, the better question is....

 

not why do people steal pennies from right holders...

The better question is, why weren't you paid fully and fairly for your efforts at the time of them. You folks seem to allow for your own mistreatment, by doing so much of your earnings on future sales. Why do like the rest of us, do your job, get paid, and don't worry so much that in the you are not going to be the one profiting from your toil as some will be stealing it.

For you it happens a 1000 times for pennies a piece by people who can't or won't afford it, for the rest of us it's usually one to ten people who are over us and steal our ideas, our bonuses, our benefits.

It's just no longer feasible to try to restrain the usage of information, and honestly we can't go forward if we restrain the knowledges of the past in whatever form they arise.

I used to be really where you are, but I've had to let it go and realize that rather than continuing to push against freedom of all information we need to allow for such and demand fair payment up front or upon completion of the task, from there out the world should benefit from the contribution freely.

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Response to Lionessa (Reply #2)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 02:57 PM

4. I enjoy the system for how I get paid for music.

I am not a huge musician, and have only one published work that I co-wrote. Here is how we agreed to do the work. CBS needed some music, and we agreed to day wages and right retension of everything we produced. We wrote several jingles, they bought one. So for 2 days of work, we were paid day rates to work in the studio for 3 days and a lump sum for the one they bought. They still use one of that music bed on occasion and every time they brodcast it, we get paid a few cents via the union. Some folks make a huge living at this and never once sell an album. My co-writer's mother was a music teacher in a highschool, however she had written so many jingles and beds that she would get a few thousand dollars a year from the use rights via the union. Of course they would all come in in small little checks for a few cents. But add them up and it is a nice bit of suplimental income.

If foriegn countries would recognize our copyrights, then this issue would be moot. I just feel that we need to clean house here first.

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Response to Glassunion (Reply #4)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 03:23 PM

5. We disagree then.

 

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Response to Lionessa (Reply #5)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 04:34 PM

6. The state of the music industry is changing.

Personally, I feel that the US public, by stealing music during the haydays of file sharing have helped shave the big record companies out of the picture quite a bit.

Napster and the like were amazing technology inventions on their face, however it screwed people (mainly musicians) out of money they MAY have otherwise earned. But from that, there were lawsuits and changes that took place, and by using that same technology the record company got screwed a bit and the musicians reaped a better reward.

Old days: Record company would pay a talent an amount of money for an album. The talent then had to use that money to produce an album and cover all of the costs associated with it. The record company would then sell a single or the entire album for let's say $12 and from that you have the record label, management, legal, distribution, and promotion to pay for and the talent always gets paid last, usually in the cents.

Napster days: One guy had to shell out the $12 and then the rest got it for free. Everyone on the production end got screwed.

Now: Napster, iTunes, Pandora, YouTube, Amazon, Deezer, kiosks, direct, etc... Depending on the management and promotion, the talent sees a considerably larger portion of the money, leaving the record labels out of the picture more and more. With the prices as low as .89 cents per purchase or 7.99 a month for a service, or ad based sales per play, the artist still makes out better than in the old days.
If a band invests in producing their own album (quite cheap today thanks to recording technology), as a lot of artists today do. Per-play rates are about .003 to .006 cents per play for a song or .03 to .06 cents per play for an album. This can add up quickly if you think about it. Your music will be played over and over again by the same people. Subscription services can pay .30 per play of a song to 3.00 per play of an album. iTunes and Amazon have about a 70-30 split with the band taking the 70%. So a $10 album will bring in $7 to the band. This is great considering that Amazon and Apple do all of the promotion work and payment processing. The band covers the hosting costs of the album ($35ish a year). Then you have direct sales, where you go to the band's website and download it right from there. So you pay for hosting and a processor like paypal and the band can walk away with the lion share of the money.

With the exception of direct sales, the organization that I am a member of would be the avenue that I would get paid through on the sales and per play methods of distribution. The power shift to the artist in the past 5 years has been astounding to the point where in some cases there is no record company involvement at all, leaving the band full control over promotion, distribution and creativity. I like that.

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Response to Glassunion (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 04:37 PM

7. Actually, I believe you're wrong on champange

Anyone can call their creation "champagne" (perhaps even André, the grossest interpretation of 'champagne').

What they can't do is label it méthode champenoise - that is a protected label and is honored in this country. You could call it 'champagne' or 'méthode traditionnelle' if you insist on using French, but méthode champenoise is protected by the EU and honored in the States.

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Response to Tab (Reply #7)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 05:03 PM

9. You have it slightly backwards.

The label "méthode champenoise" simply means the "champagne method" or how the folks in the Champagne region of France do it. However, you are correct that Champagne producers have successfully lobbied the EU to restrict that term to wines from their region. However the US does not recognize it. Producers of sparkling wine in the US are leaning to the term "méthode traditionnelle" the "traditional method" and are getting away form the the word champagne all together.

Legal structures reserve the word "champagne" exclusively for sparkling wines from the Champagne region, made in accordance with Comité Interprofessionel du Vin de Champagne regulations - Wiki

The United States bans the use from all new U.S.-produced wines. Only those that had approval to use the term on labels before 2006 may continue to use it and only when it is accompanied by the wine's actual origin (e.g., "California"). The majority of U.S.-produced sparkling wines do not use the term champagne on their labels and some states, such as Oregon, ban producers in their states from using the term. - Wiki

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champagne_(wine)

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Response to Glassunion (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 08:26 PM

10. I did some work for the USDA a few years back and we talked about this . . . . .

I was working with a USDA phD research guy. I'm not sure what, exactly, it was that he researched but he was knowledgable in matters of artisan products. I always admired the Europeans and they way they protected their cultual heritage and their heritage products. The examples you cite are among the better known, but truth is, there are thousands upon thousands of products protected the very same way. There are probably five thousand different types of dried sausages (salumi) just in southern France, Italy, and Spain.

Anyway, I mentioned that I thought we have a lot of products here in the US that could benefit from such recognition, and therefor, protection. He agreed, but told me why it might never happen. To protect a product requires that we enforce laws that protect the product's producers. Big Companies don't like such protections. Ergo, no protected US products - except, of course, "special" things . . . . like Monsanto seeds and McDonalds' Big Macs.

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Response to Glassunion (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 08:27 AM

11. Glassunion, are you familiar with this guy?

Gerd Leonhard?

I've read one or two of his books and in one of them he has an excellent chart that shows how much used to go to the recording companies, to the advertising budget, etc. Always the musicians were the smallest sliver on the chart.

He writes and speaks on this topic professionally and for a long time, he had some free books out there.

In addition, he has a blog and he also has put up a number of his public speaking presentations:

http://www.mediafuturist.com/speaking-topics.html

Thanks for your posts, Glassunion. You obviously know a lot about this issue.


Cher

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Response to NJCher (Reply #11)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:10 AM

12. Thank you. I'm unfamiliar with him.

I appreciate it.

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Response to Glassunion (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 02:14 PM

13. I didn't think that California (and maybe Oregon) allowed their Sparking Wines

to be labled as "Champagne".

Just say'n...and yes, I do understand the rant!

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Response to SoapBox (Reply #13)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:09 PM

14. Oregon I know does not allow it,

But CA still allows it. Korbel for example labels all of their sparkling wines as Champagne.

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