Musical Madness

October 15, 2007

A Kwik-Fit car repair centre in Scotland is being taken to court by the Performing Rights Society (PRS), who claim that music broadcast on the radio that the mechanics listen to whilst working constitutes broadcasting said music to other staff and customers. The PRS are after £200,000 damages. Not surprisingly, Kwik Fit want the case thrown out, but so far it hasn’t been so.

I’m not a lawyer, and there may well prove to be a legal case to answer. However, I find this quite staggering. As I understand it, the staff were playing the radios for their own benefit, not broadcasting the music to customers. It would seem to be somewhat akin to the cigarette companies coming after me for ‘enjoying’ somebody else’s smoke after they exhaled it!

I like this little parable, found on Slashdot, which sums the situation up perfectly:

‘Nasrudin was walking down the street one day, and came upon a man arguing with a merchant who was selling stew out of a street stall. According to the merchant, the man spent all day hanging around next to the stall, inhaling the aroma of the stew, but not buying anything; the merchant was demanding compensation for the service that he provided.

Nasrudin, hearing this, took the man’s money purse, held it near the merchant’s head, and shook it gently for a few moments. Then he said: “Now you’re even. He’s smelled your food, and you’ve heard his money jingle.”‘

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Infamy, Infamy .. They’ve All Got It Infamy

October 2, 2007

Following on from my post about Web 2.0 apathy, I’ve decided to repost an entry I made on another long-dead blog as it seemed aposite (and I’m pushed for time 🙂 ). Well, we all need to do our bit for recycling – right?

“When I was young – back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, surfing was only ever done on water and Googlewhacking would probably have seen you being arrested – a friend of mine called Peter Marsh and I used to amuse ourselves by sitting in front of my little mono tape machine and recording a home-made program we amusingly titled: “Radio Gummy Johan”.

I don’t recall too many details of each program, except that they were entirely unscripted and consisted of little sketches and news items. Each one was done in the style of a particularly crap pirate radio station. We used to use a little Casio keyboard for sound effects and jingles. It had a cunning ‘white-noise’ generator, which accounted for the fact that most of the recordings featured ‘helicopters’ or reporters in very windy places. One memorable piece had Fish from Marillion finding his long lost brother on a cliff-top in Dover.

Our little masterpieces had a small but loyal audience which consisted of about six classmates, and ran for all of half a dozen episodes before we got bored and formed a ‘band’ instead (I use the term ‘band’ in the loosest sense).

Fast forward 20 years or so into the ‘Internet age’, and – had we been recording it nowadays – Peter Marsh and myself would be podcasting or streaming Radio Gummy Johan to millions of devoted listeners, eager to get their latest fix of ‘Sir Francis Francis’, and ‘The Weather Report (sponsored by the IRA)’.

At least, that’s how I’d like to imagine it.

The reality would be that like most blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos, vanity publishing and dare I say websites, our Goon show wannabe would still be attracting roughly the same number of devotees as it did back in 1985: a distant electronic pulse in a galaxy of electronic noise.

And yet still these things come, in ever increasing numbers. Everyone hopes that someday, somehow, in some bizarre cosmic coincidence they’ll be ‘discovered’ and break out into the big time. As slim a chance as it is for amateur broadcasters, unsigned bands and aspiring authors, the Internet offers the slimmest of the thinnest of the narrowest of channels through which, if you manage to squeeze, your 15-minute patch of infamy awaits.

So, altogether now: ‘Welcome to .. Radio … bing bong bing … Gummy Johhhhaaaannnn!!'”