Carl Stone: Intellectual Property, Artistic License and Free Access to Information in the Age of Sample-Based Music and the Internet



Carl Stone
Excerpt #6


FRANK J. OTERI:The next step then. The dissemination of music, and the control of how it reaches audiences, whether it’s through a concert, radio, recording, and now we have this wonderful new tool called the Internet, the World Wide Web. There’s so much talk going on right now about what is at stake with the digital dissemination of music over the Web. Everybody is about to lose this bounty that we have. “Oh it’s the end of the world,” you talk to some people, “It’s a terrible terrible thing.” You know I look at it from the other end and see the Web as the greatest way to promote music that there has ever been. All this music that radio stations won’t play because they say people will turn the dial. With the Web all you need is a URL and you pay a fee and have a Web master and you can reach the whole world theoretically. I noticed that you have a number of samples, pieces of your music on mp3.com.

CARL STONE:Oh sure. Even though I’m not crazy about mp3.com as an entity, I’m very much of the mind to make my music available for people who want to download it for free.

FRANK J. OTERI:But then you aren’t getting that revenue.

CARL STONE:I’m not getting that revenue for those pieces, but just strictly from a financial point of view I’m much better off since I put those pieces up.

FRANK J. OTERI:Because more people know about you.

CARL STONE:Because more people know about me, more people hear my music, and more people buy my CDs.

FRANK J. OTERI:It’s very interesting, because I think we hit a turning point when Radiohead‘s new album went to No. 1 on the Billboard Chart. A week before I had some dinner with friends and we talked about the whole free downloadable music issue. My friend was livid: “This is terrible, the new Radiohead is available for download; you can have the whole album online. Gee, no one is going to buy it. And poor Radiohead; they are going to be losing all this money.” Well guess what folks, Radiohead’s album became the No. 1 best seller and this is a group that would probably not have made No.1 because radio stations won’t play them. And there was hardly any advance press, and they were very quiet about the whole thing, and album became No. 1. I dare say the Internet is partially responsible for that.

CARL STONE:I’m sure that it is. Again, looking at my own experience and practice, it has accrued to my benefit, not only just in terms of the exposure, the kind of intangibility of exposure, but also the tangible benefits of financial reward, and I guess I’ve been selective. I haven’t made my entire catalog available for downloading, only selected pieces. I suppose if I had enough rabid fans out there they’d pirate my CDs and put them up, and it would be a different thing to have to ponder.

FRANK J. OTERI:What would you do?

CARL STONE:I don’t know. I think at this point in my career I’d probably be flattered that someone took the time and the trouble. I don’t know. One thing is clear. The 20th Century laws about copyright just are not going to work anymore. The entire structure of copyright and of licensees are just not going to work anymore in the age of the Internet. And some kind of solution, a new kind of solution, has to be found, it seems to me.