Saturday, 17 October 2009

The strange, lonely and troubling death of Jan Moir's career

The news of the death of Jan Moir's integrity was hardly shocking. The ridicule of yet another Daily Mail article in recent days just adds to the pointlessness of the bigotd newspaper.

Through the recent travails and sad of the Daily Mail's deeply ficticious cancer vaccine reports, readers know to expect the least of this despicable extreme right-wing rag - particularly if the so-called journalists are incapable of offering an appropriate apololgy.

There are hundreds of sick-minded Daily Mail contributors, from both past and present.

Richard Littlejohn, Melanie Phllips, Peter Hitchens, Julie Burchill, Norman Tebbit, we all know who they are. And we are not being ghoulish to anticipate, or to be mentally braced for, their bad end: a long night, a mysterious stranger, we can herald a sudden death.

In the morning, Jan Moir's apology has already turned cold, as her feigned sympathies reach out to touch an icy celebrity shoulder. It is not exactly a new storyline, is it?

In fact, it is rather depressingly familiar. But somehow we should always expect it of the Daily Mail. No sincere apologies. Not even from Paul Dacre.

In the witch-hunting environs of Associated Newspapers, Jan Moir is one of many hypocritical writers. Her raison d'etre at the Mail stable is to be the token Glenda Slagg...

"What is this I see before me? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it mad old Madge auditioning for a role in Curse Of The Mummy's Tomb - The Viagra Years? Whatever it is, I do wish it would disappear. Now.

Just like the birds that flew into the US Airways plane over New York last week, Madonna is beginning to smell distinctly of cooked goose.

Hardly a week goes by without some tragic new photographs of the half-naked 50-year-old being unleashed upon the long-suffering public."

- Jan Moir, 22nd Jan 2009, Daily Mail.


"Isn't she [Madonna] looking marvellous? Give or take a bulging vein or two.
...
And the older she gets, the more I admire mad Madge, despite the ever-present Kabbalah weirdness and general preposterousness.

At an age when many women are happy to take a nap with their cats or plant hollyhocks of an evening, she is out there shaking her bot in big girl pants and not giving a damn.

She runs her business and lives her life exactly as she pleases. She is properly awesome."

- Jan Moir, 21st Aug 2009, Daily Mail.

Moir came out as a bigot in 2009 after discovering that thousands of internet users planned to submit complaints to the PCC on her sickening homophobic article in the Daily Mail newspaper.

Although she was effectively smoked out of the closet, she has been hailed by a tiny handful of Mail readers as a champion of gay-bashing.

At this time, Moir is worried that the revelations might end her career as a columnist, and she received an overwhelmingly hostile response from thousands of people worldwide, some of them being Stephen Gately fans, some of them having no time for Boyzone or any other boy band, yet united in a comdemnation of disgustingly inaccurate homophobic articles from a past-it harpy.

Based on the homophobic and factually questionable Daily Mail article by Jan Moir, 17th Oct 2009.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1220756/A-strange-lonely-troubling-death--.html

Friday, 25 September 2009

Lily Allen's delete key doesn't work

Good news for all of those following the Lily Allen vs Techdirt debacle. We've managed to get Lily to change her mind. Not fully, but she has made a step in the right direction, and TechDirt attributes this to my exposure of her mixtape MP3s.

TechDirt's latest post on the ska popstress explains it very well, citing a Times article published this morning, with the headline Blow for music industry as Lily Allen says Peter Mandelson's plans too draconian.

Now that's the kind of thing I like to see. Not perfect, as the 100+ group of artists want bandwidth cut down for suspected infringers to a trickle. Nobody in the FAC or any other musician or producer has ever stated how they can be 100% sure they will be targeting illegal downloaders.

As a web designer, programmer and creative worker with over 20 years experience in IT, I can confidently state it's impossible to grab all illegal downloaders. If it were possible, we'd have rounded up spammers by now. Any legislation against internet filesharing will just drive it to a point where it's encrypted all time (see VPN) , practically untraceable, people will just swap MP3s on memory sticks, mobile phones and portable hard drives. Actually, a lot of folk do that frequently aready!

Sadly, a lot of the mainstream press were concentrating on Lily's announcement to quit pop music. This was one the last things Lily said on her pro-copyright blog before it got deleted, and I honestly believe it was another of her media stunts, designed to take attention away from the fact she distributed music illegally. Fortunately, not all media outlets are convinced, as it's not the first time Lily has stated she's quitting music. The NME and even The Sun poured cynicism on this announcement, but it did the trick for her, by eclipsing the revelation of her mixtape MP3s still being online.

However, I did discover last night that the MP3s were now deleted. These were the URLs you could obtain them from...
http://www.lilyallenmusic.com/music/demos/5geuj0iedc/MyFirstMixtape.mp3
http://www.lilyallenmusic.com/music/demos/csd23dsms7/LilyAllenMixTape2.mp3

Whether it was Lily or an EMI staffer who took down those links, there's one thing they should learn. The internet doesn't really forget anything. Those MP3s can and will resurface elsewhere, and I was contacted today with new URLs for these (admittedly very good) music compilations:
http://rapidshare.com/files/284888793/MyFirstMixtape.mp3
http://rapidshare.com/files/284895983/LilyAllenMixTape2.mp3

This does relate to Lily's response aimed at me yesterday...
Anyway the snippets of songs you hear on those mixtapes are about 30 seconds to 1 minute in length,
I said this wasn't true, and here's the proof. Here's the tracklistings with my timings:

Lily's First Mixtape
LDN - Lily Allen (2.5 mins, admittedly Dizzee's beats come in after 1 min)
Fix Up Look Sharp - Dizzee Rascal (1.5 mins, not counting earlier beats)
Dub Be Good To Me - Beats International (over 2.5 mins)
Smile - Lily Allen (3 mins)
The Potion - Ludacris (over 2.5 mins)
Popshots - Premier (over 2.5 mins)
taxi fare - Mr Vegas (over 1 min)
Who Say Meh Dun - Cutty Ranks (over 3 mins)
She Taught Me How To Yodel - Kenny Roberts (over 1 min)
Born On The Bayou - Creedance Clearwater (over 1.5 min)
Get Out My Life Woman - Lee Dorsey (1.5 min)
Stay With Me - Rod Stewart (3 mins)
Up The Junction - Squeeze (3 mins)
Knock 'Em Out - Lily Allen (over 2.5 mins)
Go DJ - Jammin (Zinc) (repeated samples)
Drifting - Jammin (Zinc) (over 1 min)
Oi - More Fire Crew (over 2.5 mins)
Friday Night Saturday Morning - The Specials (2.5 mins)
Who's The Bad Man - Dee Patten (over 1 min)
Joe Le Taxi - Vanessa Paradis (3 mins)
Silly Games - Janet Kay (over 2 mins)
Cheryl Tweedy - Lily Allen (3 mins)
Incredible - M-Beat featuring General Levy (over 3.5 mins)

Lily's Second Mixtape
Nan You're A Window Shopper - Lily Allen (over 2 mins)
Put You On The Game - The Game (2 mins)
Only Love Can Break Your Heart - St Entienne (2.5 mins)
Wrigleys - Red Rat (over 1.5 mins)
Ready She Ready - Tubby T (over 2 mins)
Shake Your Money Maker - Black Grape (2 mins)
Dirt Off Your Shoulder - Jay-Z (over 3 mins)
Truth - Lily Allen (over 2.5 mins)
Sweet Love - Y2K (over 2.5 mins)
Soul Survivor Remix - Young Jeezy feat Akon, Shabba Ranks, Vybz Kartel & Sizzla (over 2 mins)
Oh My God (Kaiser Chiefs cover) - Mark Ronson featuring Lily Allen (over 3 mins)
White Rabbit - Jefferson Airplane (over 2 mins)
Cosmic Dancer - T-Rex (3 mins)
(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me - Sandie Shaw (over 2 mins)
Badman Forward Badman Pull Up - Ding Dong (1.5 min)
Cubik - 808 State (2.5 mins)
Alfie - Lily Allen (over 2 mins)
Do As I say - Sia (over 3 mins)
Friday Night - Lily Allen (over 2.5 mins)
Never Let You Go - Tina Moore (over 1 min)
I Luv U - Dizzee Rascal (over 2 mins)
Gangsters - The Specials (over 2 mins)
On A Ragga Tip - SL2 (over 3 mins)
Waterloo Sunset - The Kinks (over 3 mins)
Onto Lily's next lie about these MP3s...

i made those mixtapes 5 years ago

Hold on a sec, I got the tracklisting for the first one off Lily's MySpace blog (which she admits she personally runs), dated in Jan 2006. That ain't five years ago, it's more recent than that.

And on that very blog, what do I see on March 2006?

What the fuck ? my shit is on Limewire , you naughty people . Oh well , I haven't got a problem with it , so long as a few of you buy the album

Thank you Lily! Deep down, you know you get the point. One final thing about the blog that was deleted...

i've shut down the blog, the abuse was getting too much.

As TechDirt stated, yes, there were childish and abusive comments (though having listened to the lyrics of Nan You're A Window Shopper on the second mixtape, this is clearly a case of glass houses and rocks), but they did fade away, and more intelligent comments were coming through, almost all of them critical of Lily's pro-record-label stance, with articulate backing and reasonable questioning.

Google's normally trustworthy Cache can't even revive the blog, but luckily I've got a tab open on one of the final pages, on the NME story about Lily and Radiohead's Ed O'Brien, showing some of the recent comments aimed at Lily. Have a read through and see if any of this is "abuse", because I don't think it is...
Planespotter said...

lol, what a bad piece of Jounalism that piece is. Big banner headline of "I agree with Lily Allen on file-sharing" followed by a chunk of text that completely contradicts that opening statement!

Lily wants the government to legislate ISPs to disconnect file-sharers (who are downloading and uploading, thats how file sharing works)

Ed completely disagrees with that proposal, Ed, rightly believes, that the system needs to change, that prices need to fall, new concepts of distribution need to come into play and that YOU have to enage with your fans.

luke said...

"Every generation has a different method," said Radiohead guitarist and FAC Board of Directors member Ed O'Brien. "File sharing is like a sampler, like taping your mate's music."

http://pitchfork.com/news/36545-lily-allen-tangles-with-radiohead-over-illegal-file-sharing/

nuno miranda ribeiro said...

http://www.last.fm/music/Lily+Allen

You have, to this minute, 25,752,726 plays of your songs in Last.fm.

But in the top 15 of your most listened to songs, only one, "Smile", can be listened to. Do you expect people to click on the "buy it" button before listening?

How do you expect people like me, that do not have any CD or ilegal files of your songs, to listen to your work?

See other artists, smaller than you (and let me tell you 25 million in Last.fm is huge, not small), I'll find an example.

Oneida (one of the best rock bands ever, mixing vintage synthesizers with Sonic Youth like guitars):
http://www.last.fm/music/Oneida

They only have 502,540 plays in Last.fm. And that is very little in Last.fm (some portuguese bands there are only known in Portugal have more than that, oh, and there are only 10 million portuguese).

Look at Oneida's top 15! Only one song is not available to be listened, all other 14 songs are.

So, you, your record company or both think that if you don't let people listen to your songs, they will be forced to buy it. Well, I never downloaded your songs, and I don't think I will ever buy your CD's.

With Oneida it's another thing.
And they are incredibly smaller than you (only in cash flow, not in musicallity).

I would love to hear what Oneida members have to say about your claims on file-sharing.

Prodge said...

Sorry Lily, this campaign is simply not working for you at all. I love your music, I liked your attitude until now... where far from the fresh-faced ska-tinged rebel you once were, you're now a puppet of the establishment.

When you're standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Gary Barlow, James Blunt and Tim Rice-Oxley, you're not on the side of music lovers.

Your anti-piracy blog has been a big disaster from the beginning. You support the unethical policies of Lord Mandelson - a minister whose own corruption and seen him twice booted out of office - and you probably haven't even realised you fall afoul of them.

Mandelson supports the idea that users should be CUT OFF from the internet if they are ACCUSED 3 times by the record industry. Not proven of guilt, just merely accused. Very Orwellian.

It's astonishing to think that you issued a well-thought-out song against George W Bush on your latest album, but when it comes to seeking a profit, you ape his idea of justice.

I'm astonished Mick Jones got you, of all people, to cover a Clash song. Listen to yourself, do you think that Joe Strummer, if he were alive today, would champion your Elton-John-backed cause of making luddite record labels richer?

File-sharing is going to happen anyway. Attempting to prevent it is like opening up a cocktail umbrella to shield yourself from a tsunami.

Fine, bring laws in to cut off filesharers. You know what will happen? They'll move even faster to encrypted technologies, where the record industry won't have a clue who is uploading what. Need I mention VPN? (Google it, or look on Wikipedia - it's your nightmare.)

Musicians expecting a pension from selling overpriced plastic discs of their past work have to wake up and smell the coffee. That era is OVER. Why even join the ranks of the dinosaurs who are in that club?

Embrace filesharing, and enjoy the attention. Everyone knows that live gigs are where you make the money anyway. You admitted to Q magazine that you hardly make money from album sales. Stand by your words, and stop siding with conveyor-belt-musak stars like Gary Barlow.

Already in your blog, YOU have been caught taking website content without permission...
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090922/0310156273.shtml
...and you did it a further two times when you put up newspaper scans in the PRESS COVERAGE entry.

Three strikes of copyright infringement, eh? Looks like Mandelson should cut off your internet access, Lily.

sonic said...

Everyone seems to be losing sight of the facts. All the studies on file sharing agree that it is only responsible (if at all) for a tiny proportion of the reduction of sales in the music industry. You can find the studies on-line please read them yourself!!!

Some studies even suggest that file sharing has a positive impact. The most damming report only suggests that file sharing is responsible for 30% reduction in sales ( while most studies suggest the impact is only 5%). So the studies suggest that over 70% of the decline in the music industry (possibly up to 100%) is due to other factors.

The industry is in decline, jobs will be lost -Fact-. Nothing Lily or anyone else is doing will prevent that. Clamping down on file sharing isn’t going to save them as file sharing isn’t responsible for the majority of the decline in the industry.

Wasting tax payers money on legislation which will only have a tiny impact on sales would harm the industry even more. Higher public spending + more expensive internet access = less money in Joe publics pocket and less record sales.

I would suggest that it might be an idea to address whatever it is which is causing the majority of the decline in sales??? Anyone have any ideas what may be causing this? What can be done about it?

Timothy said...

Attenion: Lily, guys, girls, children, parents, adults - Look, this is really, REALLY simple. If pirating were "destroying the music industry", why in the world is PRS's own study showing that the UK music industry is GROWING!
http://www.prsformusic.com/creators/news/research/Documents/Will%20Page%20and%20Chris%20Carey%20(2009)%20Adding%20Up%20The%20Music%20Industry%20for%202008.pdf

GROWING, guys. This smokescreen of pirating that the labels, who are the ONLY ones effected negatively by piratng (except when the pass those negative effects onto the artists) is being used to draw MORE money out of artists and the curtail the rights of the public.

This is REALLY easy to figure out folks. Pirating has NEVER been a war on artists, or the music industry. It is a war on what is an obsolete business model trying to be perpetuated by record labels that need to understand that their job now is essentially to be a PR firm. Distribution has been taken care of by the P2P networks.

Prodge said...

Hey, Lily, how come I have EVIDENCE of YOU distributing major artist's music without their permission?

Check out this 2006 blog posting, everyone...
http://whatbecameofthelikelybroads.blogspot.com/2006/08/finally-lily-allen-mixtape-2.html

Can't be true, can it? Surely Lily isn't giving out music by the Kinks, T-Rex, The Specials, Dizzee Rascal, etc? (Good taste btw, I have to admit that).

Well, check the link out in the entry. It's on the lilyallenmusic.com domain. That's her EMI-funded website.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I do believe we have caught Lily Allen in the act of MUSIC PIRACY. She's even more of a hypocrite than ever before!

Don't worry Lily, as you say in the title of your latest album... Everyone's At It!

Rob said...

Why oh why do people continually miss the point... it amazes me.

Legislation isn't the answer, has legislation worked for illegal drug use? has it worked taking knives and guns off the street? The simple answer is NO.

What are the root causes, find them out, embrace the technology and mold it so that not only do people get what they want but also so that you make a profit from it....

Criminalising millions of people isn't the way forward, diconnecting mum and dad from the internet 'cos their 13 year old downloaded a Sugarbabes single on bittorrent isn't the way.

sonic said...

http://whatbecameofthelikelybroads.blogspot.com/2006/08/finally-lily-allen-mixtape-2.html

So are we saying Lily has been giving away other peoples music for free in order to promote her own music? Is this true? If so it puts her on pretty shaky ground morally, Its almost file sharing for profit. What do the artist whose music she was giving away for free think about this?

Come to think of it hasn't Mark Ronson put out a load of mixes as well? Has he been paying the artists whose music he`s been giving away?

blazinbadzula said...

I don't pirate music anymore simply because I don't want to get sued for millions of dollars for stealing $20 worth of music. I think if record companies make singles cheaper or some up with some affordable plan for people who will buy instead of steal music. I only buy CDs if the music is good or if I'm a big fan of theirs (Amy Winehouse for example). I think record companies and musicians should stop being so greedy and don't think you guys are above us. After all, we are the ones who make your paychecks.

wideawakewesley said...

Radiohead talk sense, education, better distribution systems, better pricing and incentives are all much better ways to fight against duplication and illegal distribution of music. Look at the fantastic success Spotify is having with an ad supported model. Their users are going legal in huge numbers because the distribution system and pricing are the best legal system that's been devised to date. Once there is competition in that space, you'll see even greater innovation that will attract even more customers and provide an even better experience.

nattiel8522 said...

Although I understand your stance and sympathise with the struggles of emerging artists, I can not for the life of me understand why you would want to alienate us, the consumer, in this way. I think that to place the blame at our door and not at that of the people that have the power to make real change, the music industry is completely unfair. And here’s why:

1. If we consider the recent U2 tour which it has been reported as the most expensive ever, you can surely understand how we the consumer/music fan struggle to sympathise too heavily with the music industry. To me this expense, during the current economic crisis, is vulgar and just proves how detached artists have become from the consumer. I understand that the financial structure of touring differs to that of recording and producing music, but I also apply this argument to the cost of producing music videos and promoting acts etc. While my business struggles to survive and I count every single penny, all I see are expensive big budget videos on my screen and label clad ‘stars’ in the pages of magazines. Surely you can understand that when bombarded with these images I find it hard to accept that it is my downloading that is the crux of the problem the industry faces.

2. We are loyal to you and are supportive of you. If some of you weren’t so detached from the people who give you your success and those who enable you to make a career out of the one thing you love then maybe you would begin to understand that it is not us that you should be joining forces against but is the companies that have made no attempt to meet us somewhere in the middle. Instead I feel that the music industry has ripped off the consumer for years, and even when faced with such a problem makes no attempt to compromise.

3. Katherine Monaco of the Sirens wrote that they ‘discovered at least 20,000 examples of illegal downloading’ of their single. There seems to be an assumption throughout this debate that those who download have done so instead of buying and so resulting in loss of revenue for the act. Who is to say that all or even some of those 20,000 examples would have gone out to buy the single? It is my experience and the experience of those around me that we download things that we would not go out and buy, thus supporting the argument that downloading does diversify the listener which can only ever be a good thing for any act.

It seems that the industry is completely detached from the consumer, the fan, technology and struggles that the world is facing. If the music biz looked inward you and realised that the music industry, like any other industry relies on consumer confidence and this is what is missing. Just because something is available for free doesn’t mean that we will automatically take it. If that were true then bottle water wouldn’t be one of the biggest selling drinks.

So, Lily and your army, I ask you to turn to your industry partners and direct your completely justified concerns to those in real power to make the changes needed and stop laying the blame at our door!......If you dare!

Wi_ngo said...

What Prodge, Sonic and others have pointed out is like the ultimate irony of all freaking time. Lily herself has in the past mass-distributed copyrighted works of dozens of artists to promote herself. (As of now - these 'mixtapes' are still available, actually.)

So, should we cut off Lily's internet, or just fine her a couple of million dollars?

She is just as guilty of 'copyright infringement' as anyone who has been prosecuted for it, if not more so. ON AN EMI-SPONSORED WEBSITE, no less.

Wake up, Lily dear. Either you are a colossal hypocrite, or your are just simply doing the same thing that the 'criminals' you seek to punish are doing - 'violating copyright' by just using the internet and not doing anything intentionally malicious or criminal.

Angel said...

I just don't understand how cutting off someone's internet is going to make them buy your stuff?? This makes no sense to me.

I'm more than willing to pay money for good music, But why can't the industry come into the 21st century and realize that their business models are dated?

The internet is not the enemy it's a new way of distributing things. Make your music/movies/software...etc..etc...etc. reasonably priced and people will buy it, plain and simple.

By the way how come nobody ever got fined $9.2 Million dollars for borrowing an LP, CD, or Tape and making a recording of it?

Phe-eew... yes, I quoted two of my own comments, that's my ego at work (and I realise I got her album title wrong!) but you can see that what I said about the hypocrisy, along with Sonic's viewpoints and the TechDirt articles, these were the catalyst on getting Lily to re-think her position.

And you know what? I'm actually slowly warming to her again. Not just because she used 808 State's awesome Cubik on that second mixtape...

Her second latest tweet is a BBC News URL that refers to her TechDirt/mixtape copyright infringement incidents. I'm glad it's permeating into music fans' knowledge.

Her newest tweet is a response to @upstartblogger, who has found himself unfairly targetted by EMI's legal team.

@upstartblogger (or Ashley Morgan as he's called outside of Twitter) claims to have some inside information from an EMI insider, and this caught Lily's eye, resulting in Lily's newest tweet, which seems to be an offer to contact him about how EMI are apparently conducting an underhand campaign against him. Could this be an olive branch? Ashley responded in a civil manner, meeting Lily's request, hope it all smooths out the nasty legal trouble, and
I really hope this has been an education for Lily. Don't piss off your customers.

Update: The @upstartblogger thing has resulted in Ashley removing his content. He insists it's not a conspiracy. This is his explanation.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Lily Allen: My Part In Her Downfall

So, I get into an argument on the internet - nothing new there - but this one ends up as worldwide news, and what seems to be the end of a pop star's career.

It's been about 24 hours since I sent an e-mail to an influential website which has seen Lily Allen called out for being a hypocritical lying music pirate. This morning, Lily responded to my revelation with a factually inaccurate statement.

I'll have to explain this one in full. I'm a huge fan of TechDirt.com - a technology news-and-commentary blog that keeps us geeks up-to-date on how the digital revolution is ripping up the rulebook, and how luddites continually strive to pass backward outdated laws to keep things the same. Naturally, the articles are strongly against persecution of P2P filesharers.

But this is no pro-piracy blog that offers "l33t nu moviez and albumz". TechDirt is simply acting as the messenger boy, pointing out the old ways of selling overpriced plastic shiny discs are over, and that the record industry should not fight digital, but embrace it, accepting that the infinite supply of MP3 should really drive down the price of recorded music.

There's no point in trying to stuff the genie in the bottle. Even the most dense of computer users knows where the Pirate Bay is. DRM - the unwanted protection scheme on some CDs and DVDs - has been nothing but a huge disaster for the media industry, causing legitimate customers to complain about their purchases not playing on various equipment. Treating the very people who pay your wages as potential thieves is never going to work, and yet, the pirates have the last laugh by offering the same media in a superior format - free of all hassle and easily copiable, just like we've always had in the past.

Besides, how is copying music equal to "theft"? Pro-copyright lobbyists always insist it is "stealing", and I'm sure we've seen that patronising "you wouldn't steal a car" trailer at cinemas and on DVDs.

Thing is, it's completely false. A copy of something is not theft, has never been theft, and never will be theft. Even the law stipulates it is different to theft.

If I nick your car, you don't have a car any more. If I sat outside your house and somehow made a 100% exact copy of your car, you wouldn't be deprived of anything. No crime committed.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we should download copies of all music out there just because we can. I go to gigs, I go to festivals, I certainly put my fair share in. I used to be very anti-filesharing about 10 years ago.

After having seen the way the record industry has been reacting to filesharers, and, through having worked for a couple of labels and befriending quite a few artists, I've learnt just how much mark-up there is to the labels and how bands just get ripped off.

It doesn't have to be this way. The real money is in live performance and genuinely scarce goods. CD singles and music videos have always been a loss-leader anyway, they have since before the internet was in nappies.

I am totally not convinced about the piracy fearmongering from famous people who are clearly not educated in the subject. I'm sick of it, that's why I did something about it.

Lord Peter Mandelson - the non-elected government minister who twice had to resign because of his financial scandals - is proposing a disgusting law that criminalises almost every internet user in the UK, usng a guilty-before-proven-innocent basis.

It sickened me to see Lily Allen backing such a terrible Orwellian policy. On top of this, she cited support from the likes of James Blunt, Elton John and Take That's Gary Barlow. That's right, the big names she has on her side consist of a guy whose only positive contribution to society is a new piece of Cockney rhyming slang based on his name, a dreary ballad performer who once stated the internet should be shut down for five years and the songwriter for Steps. If filesharing didn't look good before, it sure does now!

Not that this is good enough for Lily Allen, who this week, launched her own blog dedicated to fighting digital piracy and slurring filesharers as "thieves".

This has been nothing short of a disaster for the feisty ska-tinged popstrel. With the mundane and moribund queueing up to slap her on the back, music fans started questioning her stance. The comments on her blog were filled with criticism.

On Monday, the following report about rapper 50 Cent appeared on her blog:

Famed rapper 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) was apparently on CNBC recently talking about his "business acumen." I have to admit that having three different people all trying to interview him at once is rather annoying -- as they almost never let him complete a thought. However, when they ask him about piracy, and whether or not it makes him angry (around 2 minutes), he responds that: he sees it as a part of the marketing of a musician, because "the people who didn't purchase the material, they end up at the concert." He says that people can fall in love with the music either way, and then they'll go to concerts. He notes that you can't stop piracy either way, so why try to fight it? He also talks about other business opportunities for musicians.

this is particularly selfish in my view, he seems to only be thinking of how piracy effects him. What about the guys that work in the studio and the kids that run around town putting his posters up,the people that designed his artwork, the people that run his website. Is he giving them a cut of his live fee?
Now, that first paragraph - expertly written, and just one of many reasons why filesharing MP3s is actually good for musicians - gave me a sense of deja vu. The second paragraph is obviously Lily's own commentary. You can tell by the patronising tone and logical flaws. But what's particularly galling is... well, the attribution? Who wrote that first paragraph? Ah yes, it was lifted from TechDirt, without permission, despite being copyrighted.

So there we have Lily Allen breaking copyright. I guess that's "strike one" under the Mandelson Regime. Luckily for Lily, Michael Masnick at TechDirt doesn't take copyright infringement as a massive problem, happily reporting on the incident, and the obvious irony surrounding it.

With the attention focused on Lily's infringement, especially as TorrentFreak reported on her copyright hypocrisy, she eventually had to issue attribution...

I THINK ITS QUITE OVIOUS THAT I WASNT TRYING TO PASS OF THOSE WORDS AS MY OWN , HERE IS A LINK TO THE WEBSIITE I ACQUIRED THE PIECE FROM. Apologies to Michael Masnick.
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090914/0348436181.shtml
The insincere tone didn't go down too well, and when she posted two scanned newspaper articles later on, the mocking nature of her critics went into overdrive.

Here's where I come in...

Sick of the way she shamelessly ripped off TechDirt without so much of a linkback or a credit, I did some digging around. I am actually a fan of Lily Allen, although I can't say I like her much as a person any more.

I remember Lily popping up on the radio back in 2005-6, when she was an up-and-coming artist with a rebellious tone and fairly witty and incisive lyrics that compare to some of Jarvis Cocker's best work.

The internet was cited as her way of doing promotion at little cost. She kept up with the then-popular MySpace fad, and she posted 'mixtape' MP3s where her songs would be sandwiched between ska/pop/rave/rock/indie classics...

Wait a second, she did what? Oh yes, she uploaded the digital equivalent of C90 compilations. Beautiful creations, yet copyright-infringing.

Surely these have disappeared into the digital ether by now? Well, no! I reckoned that a few might pop up on places like rapidshare.com.

Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across this blog posting about her second mixtape, with a tracklisting of some pretty damn famous songs, such as:

Dirt Off Your Shoulder - Jay-Z
White Rabbit - Jefferson Airplane
Cosmic Dancer - T-Rex
(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me - Sandie Shaw
Gangsters - The Specials
Waterloo Sunset - The Kinks

I hovered over the link to the MP3, and I was stunned - it begins with www.lilyallenmusic.com - her official website! Yep, that's where it is hosted, and at time of writing it is still there, along with her first mixtape MP3. That's three strikes now, isn't it?

Well, I did what any decent-thinking citizen would do, and so I e-mailed Peter Mandelson so that her internet connection could be cut off, that freeloading harlot should be burnt alive in oil TechDirt, so that could expose the story.

10 minutes later, and my revelation is on the front page of TechDirt. You have no idea how much my ego expanded at that moment. It was at Kanye West proportions. I had always wanted to submit an exclusive to that site for years, and here I was with my first submission accepted in a near-instant.

It meant even more to me, knowing that Lily herself would actually see it. I hoped she would respond. In the meantime, it was quickly picked up by the P2P supporters at TorrentFreak.

What an embarrassment. Lily Allen exposed as a complete hypocrite and a liar. What would her record label, EMI, make of it? And would we get a response?

In the late morning, my exposure had reached Lily, who blogged about it. Except that I can't link to this blog entry nor can I quote it in full, because she deleted the entire blog within half-an-hour of learning how we caught her red-handed, indulging in copyright infringement.

Luckily, it's TechDirt who are again the heroes, because Michael quotes some of what she said about my dirt-digging.

I've been dying to respond to her, yet have been at work, and busy with the ATVLand.net site so here goes, with Lily first:

i made those mixtapes 5 years ago, i didn't have a knowledge of the workings of the music industry back then...

Yet it worked in your favour, didn't it? Can you honestly tell me that it wasn't a factor in connecting with your fans? They're bloody good mixtapes by the way, so even if you do claim you're quitting music, please continue making them. I'm especially chuffed you stuck in a Specials B-side and 808 State's Cubik. You do note that on the blog that lists the tracks, there are people there commenting on how they're off to buy the music? I don't think anyone lost out, there's certainly no evidence of it.

As your article clearly states , lilyallenmusic.co.uk is an EMI run website, which is exactly why i don't acknowledge it (i think theres a link to it on my myspace(which i do run), thats purely because, my record contract states i cant sell my merchandise online anywhere else on the net . i don't post on there, i dont even look at it. the record company run it.

I can spot a contradiction in that first sentence, but aside from that, you came up with those mixes. You distributed them, and although the recordings from Dizzee Rascal, The Specials and SL2 are legally held by EMI, there quite a few non-EMI artists on there, such as the Kinks. Jay Z and 808 State. Now, what about "the guys that work in the studio and the kids that run around town putting [...] posters up,the people that designed [...] artwork, the people that run [the] website." Are you "giving them a cut" of your live fee?

Think about what you are proposing now. The Lily Allen of 2009 wants to see the Lilly Allen of 2005 prosecuted. That's it. That's the sheer insanity of it all. Would you like some ketchup on that foot of yours?

Anyway the snippets of songs you hear on those mixtapes are about 30 seconds to 1 minute in length, in traditional mixtape style, it is infringement, correct, but it's not my site, it's EMI's.
Lily, you are lying about "song snippets". That second mixtape is exactly one hour long, and contains 19 tracks. A quick bit of maths reveals that splitting 60 minutes in 1/19 gets you 3.16 minutes - that's the mean average of each song. And many are in there practically in full, with the closer - the Kinks' Waterloo Sunset - being 100% complete.

I do like the way you state "traditional mixtape style". Yes, tradition, style - that's what it is about! You know it's been going on for years, we know it's been going on for years. Yet now you've become a bit *cough* richer, you want to criminalise this activity! You're pissing on your very own roots.

The term "sell-out" isn't used as much as it used to be in music fan circles, but right now I'm calling you out as one.

i am not a hypocrite, i don't illegally download music, and i still think unauthorised file sharing is wrong.

It's not about the downloading of music, which is virtually impossible to trace. Record labels go after uploaders, they can see the IP address quite easily when there's a 'supplier'.

You're a total joke to state that filesharing is wrong, because as I have proven, you have indulged in it yourself. This "do as I say, not as I do" attitude is EXACTLY what a hypocrite does. This is what you have become.

Don't worry about filesharing, as to cite a certain album title - Everyone's At It. Including you, Lily.

Regrettably, some of the critical comments on Lily's blog were very juvenile and spiteful. This was cited by Lily as a reason why she deleted the blog. I don't believe that for a second, it's pretty obvious her copyright infringements did her no favours, but I do distance myself from the personal insults hurled at her. Thankfully there were many many viewpoints that ripped apart Lily's argument in a civil manner.

So, Lily deleted the entire blog, and even stated she's quitting music because of piracy.

The story has gone wild. Google News have it on their front page, with at least 140 articles related to it. The Daily Telegraph are reporting it. DigitalSpy are talking about her mixtape piracy.

A Facebook friend of mine urgently wanted my e-mail address, as his friend is an editor of a national music magazine, and I'm to be interviewed about this debacle.

I've had celebrity blogger Perez Hilton e-mailing me with "love it!", though to be fair, he's definitely no fan of the white-trainer'd songstress.

Plenty of my friends are finding it hysterical, that me, some unknown podgy guy with an opinion, has just managed to cause havoc for a well-known A-list pop star. I wonder if she's summoned in for a carpetting at EMI Towers?

To be humble though (I can sometimes manage it), this isn't about me. It's about the power of the internet, the digital democracy. If I didn't report it, someone else would have done. I'm very much in favour of the story continuing to spread.

As it stands, I've had a hand in severely damaging the dinosaurs' pro-copyright campaigning, I am so chuffed at that. I started embracing MP3s 12 years ago, when I ran a fan site about the Prodigy, and ended up on the receiving end of a £500 legal settlement bill from the BPI's solicitors because we had live concert recordings (commercially unavailable ones) online. Despite the fact none of this ever harmed the finances of The Prodigy or XL Recordings - quite the reverse in fact!

So I'm quite happy the record industry is running around like a headless chicken, losing money everywhere because they just cannot satisfy the market with the same old same old. No amount of remastered Beatles albums is going to save the day. Give up on the plastic discs, and concentrate on providing VALUE for the consumer.

If you want further positive reasoning why MP3s should be priced at virtually zero pence, and why record labels should actually gear themselves up as PR services rather than the outdated shifters of CDs, please pop over to TechDirt.com and take their advice on all matters digital.

My thanks to Ryan Lambie for the rather egotistical subject line suggestion!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Don't listen to the nerd!

God forbid I actually give correct advice to people. It seems wallowing in ignorance and suffering the inconvenience of a faulty setting is the 'popular' option over believing anyone who knows what they're talking about. The phrase "cutting your nose off to spite your face" has been adopted as a rule.

Yesterday, in a beer garden, a friend had her netbook out. None of the websites being viewed were being seen in full, and when it came to Facebook, everyone in the photos looked like bulimia sufferers. Also, to read the pages fully, you had to scroll left and right in addition to the usual scroll down.

Now, netbooks by their very nature are low-specification computers. They don't have a lot of features, they will never win-out to a proper laptop, but of course, they are low cost. That's the point of them, they'll come with late 90s technology for half the price of its big brother.

It'd be understandable if my friend's netbook had to display things in obese-o-vision because of no other settings, given the low price she paid for it. However, this was a modern machine, only purchased last year, and it was made with a widescreen-shaped display. The designers would have been pretty retarded if it was limited to stretch-o-scope visuals.

However, having looked at the netbook for her a while back to check the wireless settings, I remember setting the display correctly by increasing the resolution (that's the amount of pixels on the screen). That way she could view 99% of webpages without having to scroll left-and-right, like some kind of tunnel-vision affliction, and that we had left the Land Of The Balloon People.

So, quietly setting the display back to normal, keeping all nerd-fuss to a minimum and no need to even mention the fly-over-everyone's-head merits of 1366 x 768 vs standard VGA, or incomprehensible principles of anamorphic distortion.

And indeed, this is the point that justifies my actions. Web surfing continued, without the horizontal scrolling, and with pictures of people looking relatively slim. This actually continued for about an hour, no problems whatsoever.

Until she closed the browser. Then all hell let loose. "Aaargh, he's been on my computer again!" she shrieked.

It was the desktop background that did it. It wasn't "fitting" the screen. Hmm, I don't know about you, but how often do you sit there looking at your desktop background? It's not even vaguely important. This particular background was obviously made for a 1990s PC, and of course it didn't fit. It didn't matter. It could have been tiled, anyway.

All reasoning would not satisfy the grumbler. The desktop background HAD to fit. It simply had to. A fellow drinker reached over, and went into the settings, and it was back to being a fat and pixelly hell-hole, back to seeing only a portion of any webpage... just so that vital background reaches the edges!

Any attempts to explain what they were doing was insane, was met with glares of disbelief, as though as I was being "nerdy" for the sake of it. She wanted her display to look all stretched, and that was it, simple as that. Never mind it's the equivalent of making your car three-wheeled because you "don't like the look of that ugly fourth wheel". Never mind it's actually proven to affect your eyesight. Her netbook's only major capability of matching a laptop had to be disabled so that a background photo of some palm trees looked okay. And woe betide anyone who knows what she is doing is objectively incorrect.

That's the cruel thing about modern society. You exhibit any knowledge about a particular subject, and you're faced with "nerd", "geek" and "anorak" insults. Intelligence has become the anti-cool. Knowing what you're talking about, is the new social anathema.

Attempt to assist anyone in technological matters, and you may as well empty a box of dandruff over your head, and spray yourself in tramp's body odour.

Actually, even writing this blog posting, what with it having substantially more to say than the entire published output of Heat magazine, may well put me in for more criticism from the folk I refer to.

Strange as it is, there's a quirk in knowledge-o-phobia. It doesn't appear to afflict experts on cars or football. If you can fix a girl's gearbox, well, you'll be in her box, if I may be so crude. Citing the entire first-team line-up for a Premiership team about to play in a cup final gets nods of appreciation from your male brethren.

Computers? Oh, they're cool for wirelessly sending over stag night photos and viewing the latest cat-falls-off-a-table video on YouTube. But don't actually talk about the equipment allowing you to do these things, don't even suggest ways to make things better for them. As I found out, they just don't want to know. Well, until they're unable to connect to the interwebs, then you're in need.

But boy, if you know to use an IP proxy or even record to dual-layer DVD, you may as well join me on Digital Leprosy Island. If you're caught knowing anything more than how to plug in a USB cable, then you're confined to the domain of the "nerd", with armchair psychologists all lining up to label you as terminally suffering from Asperger's Syndrome.

Being right doesn't matter any more, you only have to look the mentality of newspaper letters pages to see that. "Oi fink dat ID cards are good idea, 'cuz like, if you don't have anyfink to hide, you don't have anyfink to fear", "Dat Brazilian guy shouldn't have been here anyway so it don't matter if the police shot him, they were only protecting us from terrorororists". The wilfully ignorant are breeding.

Going back to technology (at the risk of being a social hermit), the widescreen television is now commonplace, and sadly, almost matching the ubiquitity, is the Fat-O-Scope setting. A strange paradox, where people were bothered enough to shell out hundreds on replacing their old boxy 4:3 telly, to one that's displaying exactly the same area of picture information, simply because they've never figured out how to set it correctly.

Given that sets in Currys and Comet are often set to stretched, like a 21st century wacky-house-of-fun distorted mirror, most of the British public think this is the norm. There's a chain pub in town with really expensive widescreen plasmas, and yet, they'll feed in Sky Sports all stretched in that 'techno-lard' setting, so the footballers are kicking an oval, and your head does overtime trying to guess the angle where the ball is really meant to be heading. Five button presses on the remote control would reset it, permanently, correctly.

If you're still not convinced by what I'm saying, there's this conversation from the early 90s that vindicates my views:

Friend: "My mate's got one of those new stereo televisions"
Friend's mum: "Oh, is it any good?"
Friend: "Yeah, sounds a lot better. Only there's this problem."
Friend's mum: "What's that?"
Friend: "When you change channels, it goes silent for a second 'cos it's got to tune into stereo"
Friend's mum: "Ugh, I won't be getting one of those then!"

I have no idea how she feels given every new television set 'suffers' from this. Actually, the minor problem is even more significant with digital television, where you get a blank screen as well as silence for a full second (or more). I've not seen her in ages, maybe she's sheltering hoarding the remaining televisions out there, and creating a petition to prevent the transmitters from going digital-only.

Gah, I jest. Of course not. It's something she got used to. Like yesterday, when the netbook was set up all nicely and the user didn't even notice. The funny thing is, the bloat-o-stretch option is actually a resolution setting for those wanting to connect an old (4:3) monitor to the laptop!

The resolution is actually so low, it was outdated years back in web standards! When you can't even view BBC.co.uk pages (optimised for huge audiences, every setting approved by committee) in full, you're doing it wrong. Sorry, I appear to be knowing what I'm talking about, and if you're not into web-design, you've probably skipped this paragraph. Or more likely, this entire posting.

I also recall my friend's dad, who had the usual Amstrad stereo music centre from Dixons (it was UK law to own these in the 1980s). He wanted to listen to his cassette music in his lounge, and his kitchen. Rather than buy a cheap portable stereo, he kept the music centre in the lounge, drilled through the kitchen wall, and fitted his left stereo speaker in there. This had the unfortunate effect that both the kitchen and the lounge had to have the same music on at the same time, and you could only ever hear it in mono.

My uncle, a thoroughly intelligent chap who worked at British Aerospace back in the day, is now a gibbering technophobe. He refuses to upgrade to DVD, even though players have been on sale for little more than a tenner, and insists on videotape. He actually stated that DVD is "just a fad". I'm expecting a call a year's time when the local transmitter stops pumping out pictures to his stream-driven telly.

Being an expert (well, a near-expert) on techy matters these days is akin to being Cassandra. You can be right, but you can't be cool. Uttering a word more than three syllables is like farting in a lift.

The fitting end to this mammoth blog posting? All high definition tellies out there force everything on HD channels to be displayed correctly. The broadcasters stick out their old 4:3 programmes with the black areas down the sides, which will piss off the "must fit the screen" brigade, but frankly, the nerds have won. Same thing will apply to computers in the future.

We're right, and you, the Great British public, are wrong. That sounded arrogant, but as the old quote goes, "it ain't bragging if you can back it up". The geek shall inherit the earth. A v-sign to every fool currently watching their soulless diet of mundane soaps and screaming-harpies-in-an-attention-box in distorted bulimiavision.