Breaking Butterflies

I woke this morning to the news that the FBI has taken down the filesharing site Megaupload, due to piracy/copyright infringement claims.

Firstly, let me state that as an artist I am vehemently opposed to copyright infringement and piracy. I have found my own work on illegal download sites, and it’s not pleasant.

I don’t agree with the argument that people who steal first will then pay for it later. In this case they can’t anyway: that particular album isn’t available as a download and the CD’s are out of stock.

I also don’t agree with the idea that it’s ‘getting your stuff out there’. It’s up to me who gets to hear my music for nothing. I have no band, so don’t gig, so there is nothing to promote but the recorded work itself, and if someone shares it without my permission, they are literally taking money out of my pocket.

Whilst I agree with copyright laws, they do little, if anything, to help the ‘smaller’ artists, or indeed any artists. As any research into Spotify will show you, it’s the big record companies that end up making all the money.

When I first started making music, demos were copied onto cassette tape and posted out to record labels. This was an expensive business, and there was talk at the time of placing a levy on blank cassette tapes (i.e. price them out of the market) to stop piracy. In effect, the people who would have been most hurt by this were struggling musicians.

A few years ago, the copy protection software on CD albums would take out people’s operating systems if they attempted to play it in a computer. Fair enough if someone is intending to run off illegal copies, but what about musicians who need the music on their computer because they have to learn a song, or record a cover version? They certainly don’t need their computer to be out of action when they’re in the middle of a job.

I use Megaupload for storing and sharing music and sound files that I have created for myself and others. I do session work in my home studio and upload the files so the clients can download them. I also use Megaupload to get my own music to my record label.

The files I have up on Megaupload are confidential, pre-release material intended only for the recipient’s use. Surely the FBI must be breaking the law by accessing, deleting, or blocking these files.

As always, the innocent are punished, and the professional pirates will just find a way around it as they always do. Piracy hurts artists, but so does this heavy-handed approach of penalising legitimate users for sharing their own work.

Many people equate the term ‘artist’ with ‘rich and famous’ when in reality the majority of people working in all areas of the arts barely scrape a living. Stealing their work takes food out of their mouths, but so does destroying their work in the hope of catching a few wrongdoers. Not so much breaking a butterfly upon a wheel as setting off a nuclear bomb to kill a handful of ants.


Painting With Your Feet

I’m writing a self-help book called ‘Painting With Your Feet’ it has the subtitle ‘Using Your Erotic Capital After Losing 3 Kilos A Week On The Diet for Women Who Love Men Who Love Bitches From Mars Who Aren’t That Into Them But Look Good Naked And Are Creatures Unlike Any Other Who Are Too Posh To Wash For Dummies.’*

Of course, I’m not really writing a book like this. Although I’ve been saying I will for years, if only as an antidote to what’s out there. And as a result of this half-hearted plan, I’ve read a truckload of such books, a tiny few of which had some nuggets of wisdom, most of which made me chuckle, and some of which made shake my head in despair.

The title ‘Painting With Your Feet’ has nothing to do with artists who paint with their feet because they don’t have functioning hands, but instead refers to the core attitude of many such books aimed at women. I could have called it ‘Knitting With Your Hair’, because most of these self-improvement books are designed to make women change, not for the better, and certainly not for themselves, but into some strange parody of a human being in order to gain approval and attention from men who don’t even like them, let alone might be willing to spend their lives with them.

I am all for change and self-improvement, I’ve spent much of my adult life doing it, but every change I’ve made has been for myself. Other people have, in general, been opposed to some of my changes, but I did them anyway, because I did them for me, for my approval of myself, not for anyone else’s.

There are very few self-help relationship books aimed at men, and most of the ones that exist are ‘systems’ rather than books. These ‘systems’ are usually only available as e-books, and can be downloaded from a badly designed website at a cost of many hundreds of dollars.

Dating and relationship systems for men are, in many ways, the same as the relationship books for women. Not because they try to make the man change into something that will bring him the female approval he so clearly craves, being willing to shell out so much money for the information, but because they aim to teach him how to control and change women in the same way. If the system doesn’t work on a particular woman, we are told, it is not the fault of the system, but the woman: she is, and I quote, ‘a basket case’.

Similarly, many of the products aimed at women state that if a man won’t commit to you, it’s because he’s a bastard. Maybe he is, maybe he’s just not that into you, and maybe the woman on whom the system doesn’t work isn’t that into you either. So just move on.

On the other hand, if the man/woman who isn’t that into you is leading you on and doing all the things prescribed by Systems, Rules, Games etc., to make you think they really are that into you, just for the hell of it, then they probably are a bit of a bastard, and certainly not worth jumping through hoops for.

My initial reasons for wanting to add to the Babel tower of such books, albeit as a countermeasure, were that firstly I don’t recognise these stereotypical men and women described in them, who play such manipulative games with their partners, secretly despise them, yet want to hang onto them for eternity, or dump them the moment things start going well between them; and secondly, a lot of friends (especially male friends) frequently ask me what I think their partner really wants/means when she does/says something. One even used to ring me while his girlfriend was in the toilet for a translation of something that had puzzled him. You know who you are.

I’m not setting myself up as an expert in anything. I’m just a keen observer of humans, and have spent my whole life around them. I’m a good listener, and sometimes have interesting insights. Although I have to say, I would consider myself a little more knowledgeable than a certain ‘System creator’ who advises that even after you’re married, a man should never tell a woman he loves her more than a handful of times in his entire life. And he wonders why the divorce rate is so high.

So with that in mind, I intend to set up another blog site where I will do this. There’ll hopefully be a facility where people can send in anonymous questions that I will give my take on. Notice I don’t say ‘answers’ because there probably aren’t any in life, but I fully believe that all kinds of human interaction should be undertaken as honestly as possible without resorting to manipulation or game-playing.

I want to aim this primarily at men (though certainly not to the exclusion of women), partly because there’s nothing similar out there for them, and partly because I believe that ‘nice guys’ who end up buying into any of the numerous ‘player systems’ just make everyone unhappy, themselves included.

As soon as I have site in place for this I’ll post details on Twitter and Facebook.

*Special thanks to the following Tweeters for title ideas and additions:

@cbonners1 @CherylMorgan @neuro_skeptic @ksmyth2010 @PoppyCollinson

and various others for RTing


From now on, pieces in this vein will be posted here: 
People Are From Earth