As we await the Second Circuit's decision in the Martignon case, I participated in a Fordham panel on bootlegs, along with Martignon's lawyer. A few days ago, I received the following link to a new site: http://www.newponyrecords.org/
Here's a description of what the site is about:
New Pony Records is Fan-based
We’re tape, disc and file traders, authors, scholars, collectors, and even some lawyers, who have spent decades collecting and sharing the music we love. We’ve amassed literally thousands of recordings, indexing and preserving them for posterity. We’ve applauded each installment of Sony’s Bootleg Series as it brings a sampling of this huge catalog of unreleased Dylan recordings to a wider public. And we applaud each new unauthorized recording as it circulates within the trading community. We have no formal connections to Sony, Dylan, or the commercial bootleggers. We’re simply interested in seeing these recordings reach the broader audience we believe they richly deserve. To us, it’s all about the music and our right to listen to it.
New Pony Records is a Not-For-Profit Record Company
We see the mass market record industry and the commercial bootleggers as obstacles to broad public availability of these recordings. The record industry, through its trade associations, has sought to criminalize any access to recordings which do not maximize their bottom line. The commercial bootleggers, exploiting the lack of transparency among unreleased recordings, charge exorbitant prices for recordings of highly variable quality. We’re articulating an alternative to the major labels and commercial bootleggers; an alternative that sincerely strives to accommodate the competing interests of artist, distributor, and fans alike. We’re asking Dylan and Sony to grant us a license to distribute the best of Dylan’s unreleased live recordings. We’re offering to pay Dylan a royalty on every recording sold. We’re restricting distribution to web-based mail order so we don’t get in the way of Sony’s mass market official catalog. We’re creating a one-stop website which can unify and clarify the vast and jumbled market in these recordings, assuring fans they’ll know what they’re getting and can trust it reflects the best of what’s available. And we’re a non-profit corporation, required, by law, to retain earnings for the purposes of the corporation and not for the profits of any shareholders.
New Pony Records Challenges Copyright Laws Which No Longer Serve the Public Interest.
We’re talking about recordings of live paid public performances. Dylan and his band have been paid once through ticket sales for these performances and we’re offering to pay Dylan a second time to license the recordings. We’ve watched copyright restrictions expanded in recent years to criminalize the unauthorized recording and distribution of performances such as these. Strict compliance with the law means these live performances are lost to the ages, an ironic twist on the avowed purpose of copyright law: To promote broad availability of copyrighted works by granting the copyright holder a distribution monopoly for a limited period of time.
What meaningful basis can there be for restricting access to these performances once they have been paid for through concert ticket sales? Contrary to the insidious arguments of the industry, copyright is not a property right, but a limited-term exclusive right to distribute recordings in an effort to hasten broader availability. How ironic to see copyright extended just as the means of distribution have been liberated by the digital revolution. How absurd to find the “Information Age” marked by laws undermining, even rolling back, the public domain. When did the economic interests of record distributors become more important than our freedom to hear and listen to what we want? This is great music which speaks to — and ultimately belongs to — the ages. How can it reach those future generations if copyright law can be used to prevent it being recorded, punish distribution, threaten possession, and stifle discussion?
So here we are, offering an alternative which honors both the free market and the public interest copyright law was meant to protect. We’ve chosen Bob Dylan because his performances are worth the fight. His management team has shown a deep understanding of the struggle between art and commerce and chosen integrity throughout. His fans -— now and in future generations — deserve the opportunity to hear his music because, like all music, once it reaches our ears it’s no longer only his.
Any predictions on how long the site is available?