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[P]
RIAA vs. Chicken Little

By RobotSlave in Op-Ed
Sat May 03, 2003 at 09:16:28 PM EST
Tags: Music (all tags)
Music

Last month, a minor uproar was raised in response to the news that four college students had been sued by RIAA for various copyright infringement activities. Those cases have now been settled out of court for sums regarded by almost all observers as a pittance.

In any other case involving potential damages in the millions or even billions of dollars, a wrist-slap of $12k-$18k would be regarded as a major victory for the defendants. This settlement, however, is being viewed by most as a victory for RIAA.

What happened?


As is common in out-of-court settlements, the defendants in these cases have admitted to no wrongdoing. They have, however, agreed to refrain from illegally distributing copyrighted music in the future, a condition that looks somewhat odd when one considers the fact that such behavior is prohibited by relevant statute to begin with.

In the absence of any admission of wrongdoing, two people connected to the case have, perhaps ill-advisedly, taken the announcement of the settlements as an opportunity to reiterate the students' innocence.

A defense attorney with the rather unlikely name of Howard Ende of Drinker, Biddle & Reath said of his case: "This suit is about the industry's attempt to intimidate Internet users and instill fear of lawsuits against users of the Internet, particularly students." Andy Jordan, the unemployed father of one of the defendants, offered his opinion as well: "The lawsuit was bogus," he said.

One has to wonder what Mr. Ende was thinking. The quick settlement, after all, hardly shows him to be the staunch protector of the common man from intimidation suits. If it was the strength of his case that drove the monetary settlement down so low, then why on earth didn't he take it to court?

The answer that suggests itself is that it was RIAA's lawyers who offered the low settlement figures, not the defense attorneys. In fact, I suspect that these small sums were part of RIAA's strategy from the outset. The enormous penalties bandied about when the suits were filed were cooked up more to guarantee publicity than anything else. Once in the limelight, RIAA experienced a bit of expected backlash.

In that light, the modest settlements make RIAA look eminently reasonable, while setting a (non-binding) precedent for extracting roughly a year's tuition from any student caught distributing, conspiring to distribute, or aiding and abetting the distribution of copyrighted material.

As a bonus, RIAA gets a bit of a chuckle at the expense of its more strident opponents who predictably shouted "the sky is falling!" when the suits were announced. Of course, RIAA is betting that the threat of a $12k suit will be just as much of a deterrent to the average college student as the threat of a $12b suit. A good first test of that notion will be to wait for the reopening of any of the 18 "napster-like" college networks that RIAA claims have been shuttered in the month since the suits were filed.

Whatever we might think of RIAA's motives, it might be time to start giving some grudging respect to their methods, particularly to their skillful manipulation of public opinion, even as they are continuously vilified by their detractors.

To hate RIAA is a matter of opinion, or of principle. To underestimate them, however, is a mistake.

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Poll
Do you distribute copyrighted material?
o Yes, and it's not illegal. 17%
o Yes, and I know it's illegal, and I don't care. 52%
o Yes, and I know it's illegal, and I'm a little nervous. 8%
o No, I'm a law-abiding citizen. 7%
o No, I'm just not terribly interested. 9%
o No, that stuff is for kiddies and lamers. 2%
o No, go away, leave me alone, you creepy man, you. 2%

Votes: 146
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o uproar
o news
o settled
o Also by RobotSlave


Display: Sort:
RIAA vs. Chicken Little | 116 comments (109 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Actually, it's a prime example of ... (4.58 / 12) (#3)
by pyramid termite on Sat May 03, 2003 at 02:42:29 PM EST

... only people who can afford access to the legal system getting a fair shake. The students settled because the legal fees would have probably been more than the settlement cost them.

A court system that only allows representation in civil cases for those who can afford it is eventually going to be seen as illegitimate by those who cannot afford their day in court. What the RIAA practiced here is legal extortion, aided and abetted by our current legal system.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
plaintiff costs (none / 0) (#23)
by tunesmith on Sat May 03, 2003 at 11:16:54 PM EST

Plaintiffs should pay the court costs of the defendent BEFORE the verdict, and then be paid back only if they win. :-)
Yes, I have a blog.
[ Parent ]
Have you ever heard of the Torte Reform movement? (none / 0) (#34)
by RobotSlave on Sun May 04, 2003 at 03:15:16 AM EST

What you suggest is exactly the sort of thing the Republicans would love to see in the US.

Just imagine plaintiffs in medical malpractice suits paying defense fees! Boy, would that ever cut down on frivilous suits, eh? And on legitimate suits, too, of course, but never mind that.

Or what if the smokers had been required to pay the cigarette companies' legal fees prior to launching that big ol' class-action suit? Sounds good, eh?

Yes, the clear way forward here is to make it prohibitively expensive for individuals to sue large corporations. That'll fix things right up.

[ Parent ]

How about 'loser pays'? (none / 0) (#36)
by locke baron on Sun May 04, 2003 at 03:25:07 AM EST

A system wherein the loser, be it defense or plaintiff, pays the other side's legal fees (if defense, this is in addition to damages). That way, you can still sue if you're fairly certain to win, but you'll think twice before possibly incurring 5-35k in debt suing over something stupid. (and that way, even if you do sue frivolously, it won't frell over the defense, even if they win.)

Micro$oft uses Quake clannies to wage war on Iraq! - explodingheadboy
[ Parent ]
OK, why not? (5.00 / 2) (#38)
by RobotSlave on Sun May 04, 2003 at 03:48:14 AM EST

So you're saying the kids in these four cases should pay RIAA's legal fees?

Yes, there are all sorts of creative financing schemes you can cook up for civil suits. All of them, as you might imagine, have problems.

At present, the parties pay their own fees, and each party is free to sue the other to cover the costs of those fees. It's a little cumbersome, but it is fair at the outset (given that there is no way we can predict the relative financial capacity of the parties until a suit is actually brought) and it permits justice pertaining to financial burdens to be administered on a case-by-case basis.

But this isn't stuff that computers-nerds are particularly well-equipped to debate. The law-school nerds have been having a crack at it for a good long while now, and it would probably behoove us to have a look-see at what they've come up with before spouting off in front of the other agitated computers-nerds.

[ Parent ]

Hmm, yeah, that could provide problems... (none / 0) (#42)
by locke baron on Sun May 04, 2003 at 06:26:15 AM EST

Well, I was mostly thinking that it should apply in cases of private citizens suing corporations or other citizens, not vice versa. But your point about this really being the legal-eagle department is right.

BTW: since I don't have a CS degree (or any degre for that matter), I'm probably not qualified to discuss that, either, no? (HHOS)


Micro$oft uses Quake clannies to wage war on Iraq! - explodingheadboy
[ Parent ]

They didn't lose (none / 0) (#43)
by mairsil on Sun May 04, 2003 at 07:01:12 AM EST

So you're saying the kids in these four cases should pay RIAA's legal fees?

They didn't lose the case, they settled because is was cheaper than bearing the legal costs.

If they went to court and lost, you could indeed stack RIAA's legal costs on top of the $12 billion fine. As if that matters.

I think it's ridiculous that, as a large corporation, you can sue pretty much any individual, knowing that they probably won't be able to afford defending themselves.

Glad I don't live in the USA.

[ Parent ]
Also... (none / 0) (#37)
by RobotSlave on Sun May 04, 2003 at 03:27:59 AM EST

...yes, the Republicans do think there is something wrong with rich, tasty Austrian cakes as well, but it would take too long to explain here.

[ Parent ]
Everybody seems to be overlooking... (5.00 / 13) (#6)
by zipper on Sat May 03, 2003 at 03:43:12 PM EST

... that the people being sued here weren't actively trading mp3s. All they did was write programs that indexed and searched open windows file shares. They indexed everything, not just mp3s.

I'm trying desperately not to come off as sounding like some generic retard from slashdot, but this is really just a case of the RIAA picking on the small and defenceless. College kids can't afford lawyers to fend off even the most blatantly wrong lawsuit.

But c'mon now. Hey RIAA, looking for a target? Try this. Quick, somebody call the lawyers!

---
This account has been neutered by rusty and can no longer rate or post comments. Way to go fearless leader!
neat google trick. Thanks! [nt] (2.75 / 4) (#8)
by lurker4hire on Sat May 03, 2003 at 04:16:51 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Unfortunately (5.00 / 6) (#10)
by mstefan on Sat May 03, 2003 at 04:32:33 PM EST

...this is really just a case of the RIAA picking on the small and defenceless. College kids can't afford lawyers to fend off even the most blatantly wrong lawsuit.

Unfortunately, this is how legal precedent is frequently set in the US. Their real interest was in making an example of them, and buying the industry time. As much as they are loathed, they're not stupid people. They know that distributing music over the net is the future; but they also know that they're not ready to make a buck off of it yet, and need time. So they're taking a two-pronged approach: try to create enough FUD amongst consumers that they'll only feel legally safe using "approved" online services, and go hunting for developers who create P2P software so that that means of illegal distribution dries up.

What the RIAA is doing sucks, but it's smart. They're going after the weakest in the herd, killing them off and putting their head on a pike for all to see. Your life savings, gone. Your name drug through the mud. Your future career in computers jeopardized. Your parents pissed as hell at you, thinking you're a criminal and fuckup. The RIAA's message to college students everywhere is "Fuck with us, and this will happen to you..."



[ Parent ]
That's not quite accurate. (2.33 / 6) (#20)
by cribcage on Sat May 03, 2003 at 09:34:28 PM EST

...this is really just a case of the RIAA picking on the small and defenceless. College kids can't afford lawyers to fend off even the most blatantly wrong lawsuit.
Hold on a minute. Yes, college students are "small and defenseless" relative to the RIAA...but that's not why the RIAA is "picking on them." Those college students are the ones who are guilty. They're the ones who are trading MP3s.

It's not like RIAA executives sat at a desk, and said, "Well, we can sue Microsoft and General Motors for file-trading, or we can just push around a bunch of college students." It's not the RIAA's fault that the people violating copyright law happen to be young, stupid and poor.

crib



Please don't read my journal.
[ Parent ]
That's not quite accurate either. (5.00 / 4) (#21)
by zipper on Sat May 03, 2003 at 10:00:43 PM EST

If they were actually suing the people doing the trading I'd be a lot less critical... but instead they're suing people who wrote software to spider open windows shares.

Please note that the software was NOT designed specifically to share mp3s, it indexes *ALL* files on the open shares. I haven't seen any mention of the authors engaging in any trading themselves. As I said in my original post, why are they any more of a legitimate target than Google? Both index public sites, potentially finding copyrighted material.

---
This account has been neutered by rusty and can no longer rate or post comments. Way to go fearless leader!
[ Parent ]
STILL not accurate... (2.00 / 1) (#24)
by cribcage on Sat May 03, 2003 at 11:19:48 PM EST

If they were actually suing the people doing the trading I'd be a lot less critical... but instead they're suing people who wrote software to spider open windows shares.
If you'd been following this issue, you'd be aware that they have done both. These four lawsuits were directed at students who "facilitated" trading; however, the RIAA has sued several traders in the past, and they have made it clear that they intend to sue more in the future.

crib



Please don't read my journal.
[ Parent ]
Any links? (2.00 / 1) (#50)
by taerom on Sun May 04, 2003 at 12:14:15 PM EST

however, the RIAA has sued several traders in the past, and they have made it clear that they intend to sue more in the future.

Next time, it might be helpful if you provided some links to info on these suits. We don't hear much about them, probably because many tech sites are afraid to admit the RIAA actually does go after people who truly violate copyright law. We can't fight a one-sided information battle, people. If the RIAA does target actual "pirates" (uck, terrible term) then ignoring that fact will not help our case any.



[ Parent ]
Oh, yeah. We've got your links right here. (none / 0) (#51)
by RobotSlave on Sun May 04, 2003 at 12:44:18 PM EST

OK, so you've got some trouble using google. Happens to all of us once in a while, I suppose.

(Note: all documents are in PDF format)

Atlantic, Arista, BMG, Capitol, Elektra, Fonovisa, Interscope, Lava, London-Sire, Loud, Maverick, Motown, Sony Music, Universal, Virgin, Warner, and Zomba v. Daniel Peng

Atlantic et al. v. Jesse Jordan
Atlantic et al. v. Aaron Sherman
Atlantic et al. v. Joseph Nievelt

The first paragraph in each suit reads as follows:

NATURE OF THE ACTION

1. This is an action for direct and contributory copyright infringement arising out of the knowing and willful conduct of Defendant. Defendant has hijacked an academic computer network and installed on it a marketplace for copyright piracy that is used by others to copy and distribute music illegally. In addition to operating this piracy marketplace that facilitates direct copyright infringement by others, Defendant is committing direct copyright infringement himself by copying and distributing hundreds of sound recordings over his system without the authorization of the copyright owners.

[ Parent ]

I'm not overlooking it (3.00 / 1) (#26)
by cpt kangarooski on Sun May 04, 2003 at 01:29:52 AM EST

But I don't see why that's especially relevant. Would you care to explain? Bearing in mind the fairly well-established doctrines of contributory and vicarious infringement; the Sony case, especially as viewed through the lens of the Napster case; and the requirements for the 17 USC 512 safe harbor. I agree that RIAA was bullying these kids around, but that doesn't mean that they had any hope of winning even in a fair fight. AFAICT they had no case, save perhaps to play on the sympathy of a jury.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]
It's relevant because.. (3.33 / 3) (#32)
by zipper on Sun May 04, 2003 at 02:52:31 AM EST

All they are doing is providing an index. They're not offering the files, they're not providing the network, so they're under absolutely no obligation, under any conceivable circumstances, to do any filtering.

What they're doing is no different from any generic search engine, and I don't see any of those getting sued. As far as I can tell, the difference is that a company can put up a fight, these students couldn't possibly hope to.

---
This account has been neutered by rusty and can no longer rate or post comments. Way to go fearless leader!
[ Parent ]
And then it's irrelevant again because... (2.00 / 1) (#33)
by RobotSlave on Sun May 04, 2003 at 03:08:08 AM EST

...well, because that was Napster's defense, too, such as it was, and look where it got them.

[ Parent ]
Exception (4.00 / 1) (#44)
by squigly on Sun May 04, 2003 at 08:42:40 AM EST

Napster was providing the network as well.  Plus it was limited to mp3s

[ Parent ]
How soon we forget (3.00 / 1) (#45)
by RobotSlave on Sun May 04, 2003 at 08:57:04 AM EST

Napster, I believe, argued that since actual file-transfers were peer-to-peer, Napster itself couldn't be doing any of the actual copyright theft. It didn't really own the network; it just indexed it, you see. Sound familiar?

And if Napster was only indexing mp3s, then... well, so what? What's your point, there?

[ Parent ]

Napster and networks (none / 0) (#72)
by squigly on Mon May 05, 2003 at 04:43:39 PM EST

Napster, I believe, argued that since actual file-transfers were peer-to-peer, Napster itself couldn't be doing any of the actual copyright theft.

But taking down Napster took down the network.  It was an essential compoentn of the file trading that existed solely to facilitate the copyright infringement.  Simply removing the search facilities of Napster would not have prevented people from trading files if they knew what files everyone else had.

And if Napster was only indexing mp3s, then... well, so what? What's your point, there?

If a search engine indexes all files, then it's sufficiently different from Napster to be have to be considered on its own merits rather than relying on legal precedent.  Napster could only be used for mp3s.  It wasn't too hard to argue that the vast majority of these are owned by the RIAA.  Other search engines index other types of files.  If it is designed for piracy of music, then why can it also search for other types of files, that the appropriate organisation may ghave given permission for the students to share.

[ Parent ]

Napster and having a fucking clue (none / 0) (#83)
by RobotSlave on Tue May 06, 2003 at 08:12:46 AM EST

But taking down Napster took down the network.

It did? Last I heard, people were still stealing copyright over the internet. Are you going to try to tell me Napster didn't use the internet?

It was an essential compoentn of the file trading that existed solely to facilitate the copyright infringement.

Wrong again. Napster did in fact argue that some of the mp3s they indexed were free of copyright restrictions, and that their network thus did not exist "solely to facilitate the copyright infringement," as you put it.

If a search engine indexes all files, then it's sufficiently different from Napster to be have to be considered on its own merits rather than relying on legal precedent.

Really? Is that your professional legal opinion? In what state did you pass the bar?

It wasn't too hard to argue that the vast majority of these are owned by the RIAA.

Are you claiming the "vast majority" of files indexed by the systems set up by the defendants in these four cases could not be shown to be "owned by the RIAA," as you so ignorantly phrase it?

Other search engines index other types of files.

You have stated this twice now without showing us why offering the possibility of stealing "other types of files" should exempt a system from copyright law.

Look, it's pretty clear at this point that you don't have a very good understanding of what happened in the Napster case, let alone why.

The fact that a system can be used to copy materials that are not protected by copyright does not, in and of itself, relieve the operator of that system from any obligation to prevent violation of copyright via that system.

You might have to read that several times.

You might also want to try reading some old articles about the Napster decision that weren't written by enraged Linux zealots.

[ Parent ]

I'm just guessing. (none / 0) (#87)
by squigly on Tue May 06, 2003 at 10:09:56 AM EST

It did? Last I heard, people were still stealing copyright over the internet. Are you going to try to tell me Napster didn't use the internet?

They're not using Napster to do it are they?  Napster set up a virtual network of P2P servers.  

Really? Is that your professional legal opinion? In what state did you pass the bar?

No.  I am not a legal professional.  I can speculate over what the lawyers will argue.  Do I really have to add the implicit IANAL?

Okay.  I Am Not A Lawyer.

Are you claiming the "vast majority" of files indexed by the systems set up by the defendants in these four cases could not be shown to be "owned by the RIAA," as you so ignorantly phrase it?

Yes.  The vast majority (or at least a large portion) may well be other types of files.  It depends on whether anyone has their entire drive open.  I know I have several thousand non-music files on my machine.  Many of these are shared on my network.  Whether they are legal or not is not for the RIAA to say.  They do not represent the software industry, of the movie industry.  

You have stated this twice now without showing us why offering the possibility of stealing "other types of files" should exempt a system from copyright law.

Simply that the RIAA doesn't have as strong a case unless it can also prove that the other files are also being shared without permission.  It makes it a lot more like Grokster in that respect.  

Look, it's pretty clear at this point that you don't have a very good understanding of what happened in the Napster case, let alone why.

And I still don't.  Please enlighten me.  The court did rule that "Napster knowingly assists its users in the infringement of copyrighted material and has a financial incentive to do so.".  There was a lot of evidence submitted to prove this.  Did the people who wrote this indexing system knowingly assist its users in copyright violation?  Did it have a financial incentive to do so?

The fact that a system can be used to copy materials that are not protected by copyright does not, in and of itself, relieve the operator of that system from any obligation to prevent violation of copyright via that system.

Do they have an obligation to prevent violation of copyright?  

[ Parent ]

It's called wishful thinking, not guessing. (none / 0) (#89)
by RobotSlave on Tue May 06, 2003 at 10:56:17 AM EST

yammer yammer yammer other files blither rant rant

No.

Do they have an obligation to prevent violation of copyright?

Yes.

Yes, they do, at least insofar as they may not knowingly aid it.

Which the college kids most certainly did.

And Napster most certainly did.

This is what I am trying to talk to you about.

That you can't understand.

At all.

[ Parent ]

Fair enough (none / 0) (#90)
by squigly on Tue May 06, 2003 at 11:13:36 AM EST

So how do Grokster and Streamcast differ from Napster in a way that the search utilities these college kids were using does not?

[ Parent ]
Very, Very Simple. (none / 0) (#91)
by RobotSlave on Tue May 06, 2003 at 12:27:28 PM EST

Napster and the college kids used static centralized indexing.

Grokster and Streamcast use dynamic distributed indexing.

Any other questions?

[ Parent ]

The differences are twain (3.00 / 1) (#48)
by cpt kangarooski on Sun May 04, 2003 at 11:47:27 AM EST

Generic search engine providers are less aware of actual infringement occurring than these kids were. And the generic search engine providers took advantage of the DMCA safe harbor.

These kids are totally hosed on contributory liability. They knew too much. It's true that Sony tells us that the mere capabilities of technology aren't enough to impute knowledge usually, but these kids knew about the infringement they contributed to independently of that.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

anonymity (4.80 / 5) (#7)
by godix on Sat May 03, 2003 at 04:12:48 PM EST

The entire thing shows one lesson quite clearly: anonymity is the best defense. It's a lot easier to laugh of a multi-billion lawsuit against user 'joe blow at an annoymized IP' than against 'Collage student X who's address is...'. No matter what you think of the RIAA or intellectual property the fact is giving away copyrighted music is illegal. The first concern anyone doing something illegal should have is to hide who they are.


"Welcome to K5. We're a democracy. Which means.. we don't give a shit about you personally."
-
Hold on a damned minute here... (3.75 / 4) (#25)
by mcgrew on Sun May 04, 2003 at 01:23:26 AM EST

No matter what you think of the RIAA or intellectual property the fact is giving away copyrighted music is illegal.

First of all, in the US there is no such thing as intellectial "property." Read article 1, section 8 of the US constitution where Congress is granted the priveledge of copyright and patent law. Read Jefferson.

Secondly, you want to tell me how I'm supposed to know what is copyrighted and not copyrighted when I'm looking at a list on Kazaa?

And of the copyrighted material, would you mind telling me how I'm supposed to tell the ones (like Roger McGuinn, formerly of the Byrds) that WANT me to trade their files, recognizing that an MP3 is an advertisement for the CD, from the RIAA shills who are trying to kill P2P to keep the RIAA's stranglehold on promotion?

There are a lot of fine artists who WANT their stuff shared. I want to see the God damned list- because if your shit is so weak it can't stand the light of day, I'm don't want to waste my bandwidth sharing it.

I don't want to buy RIAA crap, I don't want to download it unless I've already bought it once, and I damned sure don't want to publicize it by sharing it. They have their payola bribes to clear chennel and empty-v for that. They don't need my help, and I don't want to give it to them.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Today we track the Anti-RIAA fanatic (3.83 / 6) (#31)
by godix on Sun May 04, 2003 at 02:45:26 AM EST

Hello home viewers, today we are tracking the very common anti-RIAA fanatic. Ah, I see we've found one just ahead. Lets watch as he progresses through the same old motions that have failed, in life and in court, for years.
First of all, in the US there is no such thing as intellectial "property."

First off we have the semantic arguement. Here the rabid anti-RIAA is throwing confusion around about a basic term that everyone reading knows the meaning of. His hope is to get his opposition so riled up and sidetracked that the issue of his theft doesn't come up again. Fortunately he isn't a Clinton, no one questions 'theft' like they do 'is' or 'sexual relations'.
you want to tell me how I'm supposed to know what is copyrighted and not copyrighted when I'm looking at a list on Kazaa?

Next comes the arguemnt of ignorance. While it is easy to believe that the poster really is this ignorant, don't be fooled. Almost any adult can easily tell that Brittney Spears is copyrighted music. Please also note the long legal history that ignorance is not an excuse to violate the law.
would you mind telling me how I'm supposed to tell the ones (like Roger McGuinn, formerly of the Byrds) that WANT me to trade their files

Again, an arguement of ignorance. This time it is quite believable that the poster really is this ignorant. The concept of checking to see if an artist wants P2P distribution BEFORE downloading the music is clearly beyond his capabilities. It's sad, but ignorance still isn't an excuse to violate the law.
RIAA shills who are trying to kill P2P to keep the RIAA's stranglehold on promotion?

The ad hominem attack and conspiracy theory are a staple of every anti-RIAA idiot. Some of them are quite clever, it's a shame we only have this rather pathetic example to show our home viewers at the moment.
if your shit is so weak it can't stand the light of day, I'm don't want to waste my bandwidth sharing it.

The sour grapes phenonemon is quite common as well. Denied legal access to music they like, they pretend they don't like it. Instead they are full of stories about how much they love their local indy bands while at the same time their harddrives are full with the Backstreet Boys entire song library.
I don't want to buy

Occasionally they will utter the truth, although they never seem to notice it.

This sample of the Anti-RIAA idiot is rather small and sad, much large and better examples can be found roaming free on the wilds of slashdot. Some other common tactic is the infamous 'but I'm not really stealing from the artist, they only would have gotten a few cents' self-justification and the 'But CD's shouldn't be so expensive' whine. We didn't troll our example today long enough to get either of these tactics. If the home viewer wishes to see them in action it's recommended they post 'Dude, this new Kelly Clarkston CD cost me $20. It's so worth it' on almost any web board in existance.

Anti-RIAA fanatics are not an endangered species, in fact their numbers seem to be growing daily. Their mortal enemy, aside from anyone who can face reality, is tubgirl/goatse.cx trolls and first posters. Their opponents are rarely triumphant over the anti-RIAAs, which is rather unfortunate become most find a tubgirl link shorter and easier to ignore than the anti-RIAA fanatics. Until next week, this is Marlin Perkins of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Blogfest Kingdom saying goodnight.



"Welcome to K5. We're a democracy. Which means.. we don't give a shit about you personally."
- Parent ]

Spoilsport. (none / 0) (#35)
by RobotSlave on Sun May 04, 2003 at 03:24:52 AM EST

Come on, why'd you have to go and blow the troll's cover like that? And after he went to all that trouble to spam the whole comments block, too.

Here I am, all set to watch the anti-RIAA-bigot troll bellow and stomp and breathe fire, and then you come along and shoot the poor thing with a dart and start lecturing us about acid rain and crap.

Bah. Booooring.

[ Parent ]

Prices (none / 0) (#39)
by DarkZero on Sun May 04, 2003 at 04:11:59 AM EST

Some other common tactic is the infamous 'but I'm not really stealing from the artist, they only would have gotten a few cents' self-justification and the 'But CD's shouldn't be so expensive' whine.

I agreed with pretty much everything that you said except this part. I know that there's a lot of bullshit flying around regarding the RIAA, but don't you think there's some validity to the idea that the RIAA would be better off if they followed the simple logic of supply and demand instead of simultaneously acting like the sky is falling in their legal departments and sticking their heads in the sand and pretending that nothing is wrong in their marketing departments? The economy is slowly getting worse in many countries, a new black market force is threatening the RIAA's business, they've been found guilty of price fixing, their sales are dropping rapidly for whatever reason (depending on who you listen to and what their politics are), one of their primary markets (college students) seems to be turning on them, and the best responses that they can come up with are making their product incompatible with certain CD players and computers, stripping out a popular new function of the product that the guys on the hardware end have been advertising (CD ripping, mixing, and burning), and trying to scare their primary market into buying their products with lawsuits. My local pizza place has better business ideas than that.

If people aren't buying your product, make your product more appealing. Give it new features, lower its price as much as is sanely possible, and take a non-antagonistic approach with the people that have been lured away by the competition. It's just that simple.

[ Parent ]

I hate the RIAA also (none / 0) (#47)
by godix on Sun May 04, 2003 at 10:52:59 AM EST

... for basically the reasons you've listed. The RIAA are a bunch of lying bastards who screw over the artists and public at the same time. They are also basically legal (although as you point out, some of their actions aren't). My problem isn't with people stealing from the RIAA, my problem is people who refuse to admit that it is stealing.


"Welcome to K5. We're a democracy. Which means.. we don't give a shit about you personally."
- Parent ]
Oh, I'm a troll? (none / 0) (#52)
by mcgrew on Sun May 04, 2003 at 02:24:55 PM EST

Fuck you.

First off we have the semantic arguement. Here the rabid anti-RIAA is throwing confusion around about a basic term that everyone reading knows the meaning of.

No semantics. YOU are abusing semantics by calling it "property" when it clearly is NOT property. Read the Constitution. If you are not in th eUS then why do you care about the record industry ass. of AMERICA?

Fortunately he isn't a Clinton, no one questions 'theft' like they do 'is' or 'sexual relations'.

No, YOU are arguing th emeaning if the word "is". I already told you- I do NOT want to upload, download, or buy anything that the copyright holder doesn't want me to. You very conviently ignore that. If I freely give you something, you did not steal it.

Almost any adult can easily tell that Brittney Spears is copyrighted music.

And in her case, it's pretty obvious that not only is it copyrighted but it's very likely she doesn't want it shared. I don't want Britney's shit, nor does she need me to publicize it. She's on the damned radio every fifteen minutes. If I wanted a Britney song I wouldn't get a crap MP3, I'd turn on the radio and get a better quality sample in 20 minutes or less. A legal sample, I might add.

But what of the Pietasters? Their music is copyrighted. Do they want it shared? You're not going to hear them on the radio. But they are an excellent ska band.

The ad hominem attack and conspiracy theory are a staple of every anti-RIAA idiot.

LOL! "ad hominem attack," followed by calling me an idiot, that's PRICELESS! I must say, you're a better troll than a shill. You're actually quite humorous.

Denied legal access to music they like, they pretend they don't like it.

How am I denied legal access? The crap the RIAA doesn't want shared plays on the radio, over and over. It's all that is available in the record stores.

And my personal hard drive is full of 30s and 40s jazz, 40s and 50s blues, all sorts of music. The closest thing I have to a backstreet boys song is Weird Al's "Which Backstreet Boy is Gay?"

But the funniest part was the out of context partial quite. I salute your mad trolling skillz!

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Pietasters (none / 0) (#56)
by melia on Sun May 04, 2003 at 05:17:12 PM EST

But what of the Pietasters? Their music is copyrighted. Do they want it shared?

Well, do they want it shared? I would assume if they did want it shared they would post it up on their website, can you give me a location where I can find their permission to download and listen to them?

I don't want Britney's shit, nor does she need me to publicize it

So what's your problem? Why are you arguing about this, what's your motivation?
Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong
[ Parent ]

Here ya go! (none / 0) (#74)
by bluehead on Mon May 05, 2003 at 08:26:45 PM EST

Well, do they want it shared? I would assume if they did want it shared they would post it up on their website, can you give me a location where I can find their permission to download and listen to them?

Right here:
http://www.stevelaplaca.com/pie/sound.htm

From the linked page:
Welcome to the page of Pietasters MP3's. All of the MP3's here are just clips of the songs, not the entire versions (I just don't have enough web space for full songs).

Sounds like if someone is willing to provide the webspace and bandwidth, they'd be down with it.


Hard like a criminal.
[ Parent ]
If they didn't want to share it (none / 0) (#86)
by melia on Tue May 06, 2003 at 09:52:32 AM EST

would you accept that downloading it would be illegal? Would you still do it anyway?
Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong
[ Parent ]
But they DO want to share it... (none / 0) (#96)
by bluehead on Tue May 06, 2003 at 11:28:21 PM EST

so, moot point!

Hard like a criminal.
[ Parent ]
heh (none / 0) (#98)
by melia on Wed May 07, 2003 at 08:27:35 AM EST

i constructed that argument so carefully, but you knocked it down!
Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong
[ Parent ]
If they didn't want it shared (none / 0) (#113)
by mcgrew on Sat May 10, 2003 at 03:30:28 PM EST

I wouldn't share it. I thought I already said that. Am I mumbling or something?

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

The problem is (none / 0) (#112)
by mcgrew on Sat May 10, 2003 at 03:28:54 PM EST

The only reason to NOT want "your" music shared is that you also want NOBODY'S music shared. If I want to dl or ul I don't want to have to wade through some bad, slow loading, flash enabled, IE only website in search of a mailto that is likely not going to get me any response but spam.

I'm supposed to jump through hoops for what is a favor to you? WTF?

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Interesting. Wrong, but interesting. (none / 0) (#58)
by pla on Sun May 04, 2003 at 09:03:42 PM EST

Here the rabid anti-RIAA is throwing confusion around about a basic term that everyone reading knows the meaning of.

Here we have a commission of argumentum ad populum. In a debate, one should avoid terms such as "everyone knows".


Fortunately he isn't a Clinton, no one questions 'theft' like they do 'is' or 'sexual relations'.

...Except when such "theft" involves intangibles that cause no direct loss, and arguably no indirect loss, to the "victim". Then the issue grows a tad more cloudy.


Almost any adult can easily tell that Brittney Spears is copyrighted music.

Agreed. So how about Red Delicious? Ghost in the Machine? Or if pointing out obscure bands that allow (limited) free distribution of their COPYRIGHTED music doesn't make the point, how about Greatful Dead and/or Phish bootlegs, of their own, equally copyrighted, music? You seem to have missed your opponent's point - namely, that "copyright" doesn't mean "automatic revocation of the right to produce copies". Quite the opposite, actually, thus McGrew's point about no "list" of forbidden songs existing. Without such a list, we really don't have any way of telling which songs we can or cannot freely pass around. No "devil's advocate" involved. Simply lack of information, on which the RIAA has little desire or incentive to clarify the matter.


The concept of checking to see if an artist wants P2P distribution BEFORE downloading the music is clearly beyond his capabilities.

Please, by all means, let me know how to ask Jerry Garcia if I can freely pass around bootlegs of his work. However, you still miss the point, by getting the entire idea of "copyright" backward. It doesn't mean I automatically can't copy something. It means the author can forbid me from copying it. Barely easier than asking Jerry's permission to copy, please let me know how to get any other major RIAA artist to personally grant or deny me permission to copy their works. Because, in the absence of explicit denial, we can copy their works, thus the DMCA/broken-CD combo punch against consumers everywhere to address this problem.


The ad hominem attack and conspiracy theory are a staple of every anti-RIAA idiot.
...
Instead they are full of stories about how much they love their local indy bands while at the same time their harddrives are full with the Backstreet Boys entire song library.

Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, meet pot. My, now don't we both look dark today?


Some other common tactic is the infamous 'but I'm not really stealing from the artist, they only would have gotten a few cents'

Well, you've uttered something actually accurate. From an artist who has made it clear that they do not want their work copied, regardless of the terms involved or any possible justifications for ignoring them, one simply should not copy such works. However, to make this point, you had to not only ignore, but actively denounce, your opponent's statements to the same effect. In one breath you accuse him of insincerity about preferring indie music, and in the next use your presumption of his insincerity to attack him. Sorry, but such an argument lacks a sound basis in fact, unless you have PROOF that McGrew has a hard drive full of Britney.

[ Parent ]
clarification (none / 0) (#64)
by godix on Mon May 05, 2003 at 12:55:31 AM EST

Here we have a commission of argumentum ad populum.

You might like this site. I find it's layout is easier than the one you linked to.

I wasn't doing an argumentum ad populum by the way. If I said 'no one else steals so you shouldn't' or the reverse of 'everyone downloads music so what's wrong with it' then that would be an argumentum ad populum. I wasn't doing that, I was pointing out that he is taking issue at phrases which we all understand. The entire point of language is to communicate. The terms 'pirate', 'intellectual property', and 'theft' in this context can be debated by the pedantic, however everyone reading these posts knows exactly what I mean when I use them. If you honestly don't understand what I meant then I will be more than happy to clarify my usage of those phrases. If you understood exactly what I meant but want to make an arguement against the phrases anyway, well, we're right back my 'hoping to sidetrack the conversation' point.

Except when such "theft" involves intangibles that cause no direct loss, and arguably no indirect loss, to the "victim".

Not all definitions of theft require direct loss. The very first defintion doesn't, although some others do. Incidently, yes there is indirect loss. The artist no longer has the opportunty to control distribution. This doesn't neccesarily mean money either. If an artist thinks one particular album of theirs was so bad that it should't see the light of day you are stealing their ability to not distribute that work.
"copyright" doesn't mean "automatic revocation of the right to produce copies".

in the absence of explicit denial, we can copy their works

You're making a serious error here, and I can't tell if it's intentional or not. You have the right to copy works you own as often as you like. Even if the artist doesn't want you to, you still have that right. The main reason the DMCA is a bad law is that erodes this right. This has nothing to do with the topic at hand though. The currect topic is on if you can distribute copyrighted materials without permission. The legal answer is clearly no you can not. Burn all the copies of Metallica you want, but if you hand out a single one you have violated the law. If you accept a work someone else copied and distributed without permission you have stolen from that artist. There are of course fair use exceptions for distribution and there is rarely a punishment for accepting the work. One could also make an arguement that in some circumstances the person accepting the work couldn't reasonably know it was unauthorized. On P2P these are't really issues, distributing entire albums is not fair use and after all the press the RIAA has given the issue it's reasonable to assume it's not done with permission unless otherwise stated.
Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, meet pot. My, now don't we both look dark today?

I freely admit what I am. I, at least for that post, was a rather insulting troll. I am also a pirate (or whatever phrase you want to use). I am actually on the same side as you and he are, as some other posts I've made will show. However I am sick of people stealing music then trying to justify it as if it's a holy mission or something. Downloading music you haven't purchased is theft unless given permission to do so. All the arguements about the meaing of 'theft' or 'the RIAA sucks so it's all right' amount to little more than self justified petty thieves trying to make what they do sound better than it is.
to make this point, you had to not only ignore, but actively denounce, your opponent's statements to the same effect.

There is a subtile difference between what he said and what I said. He basically said he wouldn't want to steal music, but he has no way of knowing if he is or not. I said copying music without permission is theft. He blames his stealing on others for not making a list. I blame his stealing on him, the same as I blame my stealing on me. It is our responsability to make sure we aren't violating the law. No one is obligated to put out a list and absence of a list is not permission or justification for theft.
such an argument lacks a sound basis in fact, unless you have PROOF that McGrew has a hard drive full of Britney.

This is true. I have no proof that McGrew has stolen any work. I do have proof, his own words, that he doesn't know if he has or not. It is entirely possible that he stolen copyrighted work, in which case my orginal comments stand.


"A disobedient dog is almost as bad as a disobedient girlfriend or wife."
- A Proud American
[ Parent ]
Good post, thx [nt] (none / 0) (#114)
by mcgrew on Sat May 10, 2003 at 03:44:03 PM EST


"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Good points, and this: (5.00 / 4) (#11)
by Jetifi on Sat May 03, 2003 at 04:58:44 PM EST

Of course, RIAA is betting that the threat of a $12k suit will be just as much of a deterrent to the average college student as the threat of a $12b suit.

I'd bet a $12k suit is actually more of a deterrent than a $12b suit. Why? $12b is unrealistic. No-one has any idea just how much money that is - just like most people are bad at comprehending low probabilities. $12k is comparable to ''two years rent'', ''a car'', etc.

A student might actually be forced to pay $12k. Faced with a $12b debt (in the unlikely event that a judge awarded those damages) the student would simply file for personal bankruptcy, flee the country, or maybe even go postal.



re: personal bankruptcy (5.00 / 3) (#18)
by Rogerborg on Sat May 03, 2003 at 06:57:23 PM EST

That condition doesn't exempt you from court-ordered judgments against you.
They could ditch all their obligations except what they must pay the RIAA.

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

BR Discharges judgments (5.00 / 2) (#22)
by rigorist on Sat May 03, 2003 at 10:10:00 PM EST

Bankruputcy discharges nearly all debts. The judgment/non-judgment status of the debt has nothing to do with dischargeability. I don't know if debts created by violating the Copyright Act are dischargeable or not, but I strongly suspect they are dischargeable, as are nearly all debts.

[ Parent ]
You're Wrong! (5.00 / 1) (#61)
by Rogerborg on Sun May 04, 2003 at 10:52:09 PM EST

There are 18 categories of debt excepted from discharge under chapters 7, 11, and 12, with the following being the most common:

Alimony;
Child maintenance and support obligations;
Certain taxes;
Debts for certain educational benefit overpayments or loans made or guaranteed by a governmental unit;
Debts for willful and malicious injury by the debtor to another entity or to the property of another entity;
Debts for death or personal injury caused by the debtor's operation of a motor vehicle while the debtor was intoxicated from alcohol or other substances; and
Debts for criminal restitution orders under title 18, United States Code.

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

Not bad (none / 0) (#70)
by Ripe Peach on Mon May 05, 2003 at 12:14:25 PM EST

But to stay in character for this account, the original post should have been more robust.  It goes:
  1. Troll like it's 1999
  2. Wait for the retorts
  3. Roll out the facts that support your initial statement
  4. Light up a cigarette


[ Parent ]
This is a settlement agreement. (none / 0) (#76)
by vectro on Mon May 05, 2003 at 11:44:01 PM EST

If you actually read USC 18, you'll see that those sorts of restitution are very different from the kind relevant here. It's not even obvious to me that USC 18 is applicable at all, but certainly it's irrelevant to a civil suit.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
Why they didn't go to trial (5.00 / 4) (#12)
by Silverfish on Sat May 03, 2003 at 05:25:03 PM EST

There are typically two standard reasons not to take a case like this to trial:
  1. The settlement is often less than or rougly equal to the cost of litigation.
  2. No trial is a sure thing.  Unless there are some smart people on your jury, they can often be easily led to the conclusion one side wants.  Also it only takes one person with a political agenda to hang or swing your jury.
Given the kind of cash the RIAA has to spend on a lawsuit, the last thing you want to do is go to trial against them.  Just look at OJ... If your legal team is smart enough, you can get away with murder.

CNN Headline News came to the same conclusion (none / 0) (#77)
by Wah on Tue May 06, 2003 at 12:43:24 AM EST

this is somewhat off-topic, but I saw this blurb and short story on "Hot Wired" on Headline news.  As the commentators riffed for a couple seconds about the case they reached the general conclusion that while the defendants didn't feel they had done anything wrong, the defendants didn't have the means to take the case to trial.

They finished with a short shake of the head (a 'what you gonna do?' kind of thing), and off to the next item.

I mention this only because it was the first time I saw a mass media report on the topic that was even slightly empathic with the students, and pointed out the general unfairness of the action,.   It was a good sign, IMHO, as it brings some of the consequences of the RIAA's tactics home to people who don't live on computers.
--
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]

actual infringement vs. servers (3.33 / 3) (#13)
by cronian on Sat May 03, 2003 at 05:30:44 PM EST

I don't know about all the students, but some at lest some of the complaints alleged the students were committing direct infringement (I.E. directly copying MP3's.) So even if they took it to court, and their servers were dclared elga, they could still be prosecuted for the mp3's on their own computer. I don't know how easy it would be for the RIAA to prove they had pirated files on their computer, but insane copyright laws impose a fine in the thousands of dollars for infringement. Hence, settling was probably their only option.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
That's stupid (5.00 / 3) (#27)
by mcgrew on Sun May 04, 2003 at 01:30:47 AM EST

Files on your computer? I have tons of files on my computer, and I don't have the original CDs or albums for them all. But I don't download RIAA stuff unless I already had it once- Queen, for example. At one time I had their first 5 or 6 albums. Someone stole nearly my entire record collection- but the thief that stole those queen albums had no legal rights to that music. I do. But I don't have documentation.

Likewise, I have ripped all my CDs to MP3. I don't have all the receipts- so now the law is, if I don't keep the receipt for something that is in my posession I am presumed guilty of stealing it?

That is absurd, and you people are cows.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

infringement (none / 0) (#54)
by cronian on Sun May 04, 2003 at 04:37:06 PM EST

I don't know the details of their computers, but they may have had at least a couple songs they didn't own. In court the RIAA could have potentially proved that some infringement happened. I believe the fine is up to 250,000 per infringement, and the RIAA's lawyers could potentially have gotten that by just proving one song was infringed, or that someone downloaded one of the songs from them that didn't have rights to the song.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
[ Parent ]
The RIAA Will Ultimately Lose This Battle. (4.33 / 3) (#14)
by jonathon on Sat May 03, 2003 at 05:39:27 PM EST

Given the numerous ways of obtaining copywrited media on the Internet today I'm in the camp that still underestimates the RIAA.  One of my favorite genres is trance/techno and it's possible for me to download MP3s from Web sites (e.g. TranceAddict and HotTrance), from binary newsgroups, from the Shoutcast network using a stream ripper plug-in for Winamp, from P2P networks, from IRC networks, and from private FTP servers.  I'm not saying the above activity is lawful but the chances of the RIAA effectively monitoring all of these various protocols is practically zero.  The RIAA has done a good job of intimidating a proportion of the Internet using public but more savvy users probably have less to fear.

While I believe artists deserve a fair wage for their efforts I resent the use of copy-protection on CDs as I believe in the principle of 'fair use'.  If I want to make a back-up copy of a CD or distribute a copy to a small circle of friends I believe I should have that right.  Distributing to the world using a P2P network is another matter entirely.

Good article BTW.


It is not clear that intelligence has any long-term survival value.
-- Stephen Hawking
As to you, they won. (3.66 / 3) (#28)
by mcgrew on Sun May 04, 2003 at 01:36:38 AM EST

They convinced you that you are a thief. They convinced you that it is wrong and illegal.

While I believe artists deserve a fair wage for their efforts

See, you've bought into the idea that downloads should be paid for, when thousands upon thousands of talented musicians are BEGGING you to listen to them.

This isn't about "giving the musician his due," it's about the RIAA maintaining its stranglehold on promotion.

BTW, another band gave me their CD last night. It wasn't nearly as good as teh one I got last week. BUt they GAVE it to me. They make their money PERFORMING. For a two dollar cover!

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

The Slashdot reality distortion field strikes! (5.00 / 2) (#40)
by samiam on Sun May 04, 2003 at 04:21:12 AM EST

[The RIAA] convinced you that you are a thief. They convinced you that it is wrong and illegal [to download songs without the copyright holder's consent].
Here, folks, we see someone who is still trapped the Slashdot reality distortion field. The Slashdot reality distrotion field has the following characteristics:
  • Belief that copyright should not exist.
  • Belief that anything which stops someone getting any and all music they want for free, regardless of the copyright holder's (and, yes, artist's) wishes or desires, is part of an evil conspiracy.
  • Belief that the RIAA has special mind control capabilities which control what music people decide they like to listen to.
  • Belief that musicians have some kind of innate desire to make music, and will gladly starve just so that Slashdot nerds can download music for free. This belief sometimes mutates in to a perception that concert tickets (or some other nebulous source) will somehow magically give the artists enough money to record their music and give it away for free.
thousands upon thousands of talented musicians are BEGGING you to listen to them.
Ah yes, this variant of the Slashdot reality distortion field. Well, yes, there are all of these talented musicians who will give their music away, so, of course, it is OK that I have the entire Backstreet Boys collection on my hard disk also.

Meanwhile, back here in the real world, it is morally (and legally) wrong to download songs without the copyright holder's consent.

- Sam

[ Parent ]

LOL! (none / 0) (#53)
by mcgrew on Sun May 04, 2003 at 02:34:58 PM EST

Belief that copyright should not exist.

I own a registered copyright, ISBN number and all. Copyrights are good, when not abused.

Belief that anything which stops someone getting any and all music they want for free, regardless of the copyright holder's (and, yes, artist's) wishes or desires, is part of an evil conspiracy.

You're a bit reading-challenged, aren't you? I clearly stated that I only want what the copyright holder wants me to have.

Belief that the RIAA has special mind control capabilities which control what music people decide they like to listen to.

LOL! Where did I say that? I usually pass out long before I get drunk enough to say something that stupid!

The same goes for #4- It isn't what I said, nor what I believe.

Now you just go back to listening to your Backstreet Girls, N'Stynk, Mad Donna, etc.

Now, sir, may I say- fuck you and the high horse you rode in on.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Missing poll options (4.00 / 3) (#16)
by NFW on Sat May 03, 2003 at 05:54:17 PM EST

  • Yes, but only if the copyright holder is not a RIAA member
  • Yes, and only with the permission of the copyright holder



--
Got birds?


Very good (none / 0) (#29)
by mcgrew on Sun May 04, 2003 at 01:38:47 AM EST

only I'd have to vote for both. If someone is stupid enough to not want me to help publicize him, he can get fucked. I don't want to waste my bandwidth on him.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Backlash (5.00 / 6) (#19)
by cribcage on Sat May 03, 2003 at 09:28:02 PM EST

Of course, RIAA is betting that the threat of a $12k suit will be just as much of a deterrent to the average college student as the threat of a $12b suit.
That's quite right. And why shouldn't they? $12,000 is no small sum to the average college student. It's roughly the cost of his annual tuition. It's probably more than the cost of his car. It's likely in the ballpark of what he makes, in a year, assuming he's employed. And it's probably more money than he's ever held in his hands, in his whole life. If you're smart enough to be attending college, then you're smart enough to be scared of a $12,000 lawsuit (plus legal fees) -- particularly from a company which employs enough lawyers to populate a small town.

It's worth noting, to all those folks who are complaining that the students didn't take their battles to court: The best outcome these students could have hoped for was a bitter, Pyrrhic victory -- in which a judge/jury found in their favor, but in which they also incurred massive legal expenses. In the US system of justice, it is extremely rare for a victorious defendant to be awarded court costs. In this situation, it almost certainly would not have happened.

So their choices were, basically: (a) lose a multi-billion dollar personal lawsuit, and be screwed for life; (b) spend a significant portion of the next several years fighting in court, win, and ultimately lose thousands of dollars to court costs, legal fees, lost wages, transportation, etc.; or (c) settle for $12,000-17,000, pay off the debt in a few years, and move on with life. Let's remember that these are college students. However much we'd each like to see certain principles win in court, I think it's difficult to argue that these kids didn't make the right decision.

Many K5 and /. respondents are saying, "With the massive number of people trading MP3s, the odds that the RIAA will sue me are very low." That's obviously true. But if the RIAA pushes forward, suing active downloaders, more people will begin to ask, "Whatever the risk, is it really worth the reward?" Certainly, a 1/10,000 chance of being sued for $12,000 is very small...but when the reward is nothing more than owning a few poor-quality MP3s of mindless pop chatter, isn't it wiser to avoid that risk altogether?

I've seen a few people say, "Fuck the RIAA. I'm going to expand my musical tastes, and look elsewhere for my music." IMO, these people are the real winners in this thing (since there's some great music out there, and the RIAA has none of it). And if the RIAA continues successfully bullying people around, more and more folks will come to this conclusion.

My two cents.

crib



Please don't read my journal.
I'm waiting for them to serve me papers (3.50 / 4) (#30)
by mcgrew on Sun May 04, 2003 at 01:48:37 AM EST

I wrote the Register in response to their take on this story.

I wrote:

There is a question I have had for quite some time, and you folks are about the only news organization with the cajones to ask while at the same time, the pull to get it answered.

The RIAA "pigopolists" say they don't want me to share their copyrighted works. And you know, I am in agreement with them! Why should I waste my precious bandwidth promoting their crap for them? After all, a shared MP3 is nothing but an advrtisement for the CD. And my displeasure for the RIAA has me boycotting them. I no longer buy new CDs from record stores. I now buy all my CDs used, from a place in town called Recycled Records, or from local and regional bands that play in the bars and pubs, directly from the artists themselves.

These CDs are all GOOD stuff, with full cover art, etc., and are indistinguishable from the RIAA crap, except that the cover art is better, the music is better, the recording quality is usually better, and I don't get sick of it hearing the same damned song every fifteen minutes on the radio. In fact, they don't play it on the radio.

Now, I don't WANT their RIAA crap. I don't to download it, and I don't want to upload it. But I have a problem- I recently found that the ska band "Reel Big Fish", after releasing 2 or 3 excellent CDs, signed with the same label as Britany Spears. My daughter borrowed their first RIAA CD from a friend (and of course I burned a copy, legally, under the US Home Audio Recording Act of 1976). The only way I would have known that they are now part of the pigopoly, besides the sudden drop in quality compared to their previous CDs, was my daughter told me.

What I'd like for your fine journalists to do is get a copy of the list- the list of songs that the RIAA doesn't want me sharing. I already know of three- the Buttles, (er, excuse me, "Beatles"), Metallicdull, and Mad "WTF are you doing" Donna. Not that I can stomach Mad Donna's crap, or much of Paul and Ringo's post-buttles crap. And if I wanted a copy, I could probably sample a better quality copy by turning on the radio and waiting fifteen minutes.

I am not going to stop sharing music. Musicians have asked me personally to share it. Just last weekend, as I was getting ready to stagger home, the band's guitar player handed me a CD and said "Here, dude, burn a million copies and give 'em all away." I've ripped high quality MP3s from it and they should now be floating around Kazaa.

So, if you folks could get a copy of the list and publish it at the Register, I would be obliged. The RIAA has bribery and the Clear Channel monopoly to promote their crap. They don't need me helping them.

I'm waiting for my court summons. I intend to countersue. The RIAA has deep pockets, and I want to countersue the bastards and retire. This post (and others) will be part of the suit. Time to fight back!

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie

Re: I'm waiting... (none / 0) (#93)
by doctordank on Tue May 06, 2003 at 02:57:09 PM EST

My daughter borrowed their first RIAA CD from a friend (and of course I burned a copy, legally, under the US Home Audio Recording Act of 1976).

Not quite. IIRC, the act allows you to make backup copies from source materials that you own. If your daughters friend gave her the cd to keep, fine. If you returned the cd and kept the burned copy, thats an illegal copy. (To be fair, I do this with cds I get from the library from time to time, but I've got to call a spade a spade).

"Here, dude, burn a million copies and give 'em all away." I've ripped high quality MP3s from it and they should now be floating around Kazaa.

I like independent music as much as the next guy, but I can't follow the rationalization behind the file sharing services being used to promote indie music. Kazaa and the like are demand driven. You search for a particular band, song, movie, etc. You can't search for something you've never heard of.

[ Parent ]

Search for "ska" (none / 0) (#115)
by mcgrew on Sat May 10, 2003 at 03:48:52 PM EST

Or "punk". Or "electronica". Just because YOU don't know how to do something, don't automatically assume it can't be done, or isn't done all the time.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

OK, someone's got to do it. (3.80 / 5) (#41)
by RobotSlave on Sun May 04, 2003 at 05:50:00 AM EST

If only for the sake of debate, we need a "devil's advocate" here. Since I've found Satan to be a good client in the past, one who always pays his bills on time, I'll take the case against a point that everyone seems to have agreed upon.

You're all nodding your heads and chanting along with pyramid termite, droning in unison, "yes, this is an abuse of the court system, and once again the rich guy is pushing the little guy around."

For starters, we just don't have enough information to support this flat categorical statement. Some or all of the families might have been able to bear the financial burden, third parties may have offered to bear that burden for them, and it's quite possible that in high-profile cases like these, a few ambitious attorneys might have offered to eliminate the costs by taking one case or another on a pro-bono basis.

But I am less interested in these specific cases than in the general case. Let us imagine, for a moment, a copyright-infringement suit brought by RIAA against an otherwise average college student, Joe Cool, who is "sharing" an 80GB drive half-filled with mp3s of materials whose copyrights are held by members of RIAA.

RIAA will have, of course, vast legal and financial resources at its disposal. The college student, on the other hand, is in completely over his head.

This is a clear case of financial injustice, brought to you by the US courts system, right?

Wrong.

As with so many arguments against the copyright thieves, this one will begin with a familiar phrase.

"But what about the artists?"

How much money does the average musician have to burn on a legal team? And how many musicians is our average college student stealing from, anyway?

As to the second question, that will of course depend on the composition of Joe Cool's mp3 collection. With forty gigs, and assuming an average of five megs per song, Joe Cool is illegally distributing eight thousand songs. If Joe goes in for stealing and redistributing whole albums rather than singles, and likes to amass the entire catalogues of favorite artists, then he might have 40-50 songs per artist, a figure that I extrapolated from my own drive pulled out of a hat. That would give us 150-200 artists. At the other extreme, Joe might have several thousand artists represented on his drive.

Now let's look at the case again.

The artists, who would rather work on art than deal with legal wrangling, have handed the copyrights and the associated legal problems over to their record companies as part of their contract. The record companies, in turn, have realized that the Joe Cools out there are hurting all of them, so they've decided to band together on this particular issue. Why, then, do we not look past RIAA when Joe Cool gets slapped with a lawsuit? Well, OK. Sometimes "the industry" or "the record companies" or even the slightly more sophisticated "the major labels" get invoked, but why not take the last logical step? Why not talk about the artists?

When Joe Cool gets issued his papers, we can look at it as an evil act of the corporate-borg bogey man, RIAA, but we can just as legitimately look at it as an action on behalf of the hundreds or even thousands of artists Joe has been screwing over.

In that light, the case is still unbalanced, what with it being hundreds against one, but is it still unfair?

What if independent artists decided to band together under some umbrella organization to take the Joe Cools to court? Would that really be so different than what RIAA is doing? (note to anti-RIAA zealots: that was a rhetorical question. Please spare us your rationalizations).

In addition to examining this in the light of jurisprudence, it's worth considering the criminal act itself.

The fact of the matter is that the average young copyright thief out there isn't just screwing over one artist. He's more typically screwing over hundreds of artists, or in the extreme cases that RIAA is more likely to go after, thousands. The young criminal has been able to commit his crimes against hundreds or even thousands of victims because it is easy, but does this make it right?

Grown-ups who pirate copyrighted material know that they are doing something wrong. They know that we live in a fallen world, and that we are all sinners. They know that they may be called to account for their sins, and they are prepared to atone for them if it comes to that.

Children like to believe they are without sin, just as on the day they were born, but they must give up this belief in order to become adults. If they don't, the world is likely to hold quite a few unpleasant surprises for them, not least of which is that you can't always just take whatever you want without thinking of others

can't be bothered with dissenting viewpoints? (3.66 / 3) (#46)
by mikelist on Sun May 04, 2003 at 10:50:49 AM EST

* What if independent artists decided to band together under some umbrella organization to take the Joe Cools to court? Would that really be so different than what RIAA is doing? (note to anti-RIAA zealots: that was a rhetorical question. Please spare us your rationalizations).* Rhetorical or not, it sounds like you are commanding us to reach your conclusion. Even rhetorical questions beg an answer. If you're not taking delivery on any other point of view, don't ask a question that may have an answer other than the one you endorse, especially not in k5ia.

[ Parent ]
Thank you, kind sir. (1.00 / 3) (#49)
by RobotSlave on Sun May 04, 2003 at 11:59:20 AM EST

Your thoughtful words, esteemed user 22243, will of course be taken under closest and immediate advisement. I am always looking for experienced counsel in my efforts to achieve the proper comportments for this all too often strange and hostile inter-webly net-board.

But in the meantime, do tell me, dear sir: is your quotation-marks keyboard-token broken?

[ Parent ]

If i can't talk, do I have nothing to say? (3.00 / 1) (#55)
by melia on Sun May 04, 2003 at 05:04:58 PM EST

If he can't put quotes around his quotations, is he not making a valid point? Or is it that you just prefer to ignore him?
Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong
[ Parent ]
Dear Puny Mortal: (4.00 / 4) (#60)
by RobotSlave on Sun May 04, 2003 at 10:41:14 PM EST

"Making a valid point" would entail both recognizing the argument suggested by my (I presume by now forgotten) rhetorical question, and then then addressing that argument directly in some manner.

Please note that feeble whining from craven mortals about my demon-spawn speech-freezing censor-powers, which I exercise through the use of evil magical sentence-runes to prevent kurobots from going off on their usual pointless bleating anti-RIAA-zealot tangential tirades, does not meet either of the criterea outlined above.

I will now, for you simple meat-creatures, restate my point without the customary adornments usually required when communing with any being below the fifth circle, though I fear it must lose most if not all of its beauty when transcribed from the high fiery sigils into the lowly dirt-scratchings of your pathetic earth-tongue.

Behold:

When one person screws over a whole bunch of other people, then those folks are perfectly within their rights to seek redress in a coordinated manner.

[ Parent ]

heh, heh n/t (none / 0) (#62)
by mikelist on Mon May 05, 2003 at 12:20:17 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Only ONE massive flaw (4.00 / 1) (#75)
by Alhazred on Mon May 05, 2003 at 08:50:38 PM EST

Or at least I'm only going to devote the .647 femtoseconds of my massive 128 bit-wide 5 terahertz quantum CPU to flaw-finding...

The RIAA ain't sharing the wonderful bounty of its riches gained from suing people with the artists. No matter how much they win, even if its damages, the artists get zilch.

So, the RIAA isn't suing anyone on anyone else's behalf, and if you believe otherwise, I have a bridge to sell you too, Lord Boltar!
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
[ Parent ]

No, make that ZERO (none / 0) (#85)
by RobotSlave on Tue May 06, 2003 at 08:57:47 AM EST

The RIAA ain't sharing the wonderful bounty of its riches gained from suing people with the artists.

OK, let's try to take this one tiny fact at a time. First, RIAA hasn't sued anyone.

Let that sink in for minute.

Who, then, is doing the suing, you ask? Why, a rather long list of record companies, that's who. A minor point, but it bears keeping in mind.

No matter how much they win, even if its damages, the artists get zilch.

Wrong again.

The artists will still gain more from these cases than they would if the record companies took the grand total of $60k from all four settlements and divvied it up amongst the musicians. Why? Because a lot of kids who were stealing via 22 campus piracy networks in March will be going to the record store instead now, and even at "only" a dollar or two per CD, the artists' royalties on those sales will quickly top the total settlement figure, if they haven't already.

So, the RIAA isn't suing anyone on anyone else's behalf

Well, technically, you're right, because "the RIAA" isn't suing anyone. But even if we ignore that minor point, you're still wrong.

Yes, the record companies are acting out of self-interest, but the contracts they've signed with the artists say that the companies' self-interest, when it comes to sales, is also the artists' self-interest.

To deny this is to refuse to accept the fact that artists do in fact earn royalties on every single CD sold, and that it's those tiny, oh-so-unfair, old-economy little royalties that pay the musicians almost all of what they are earning for their music.

[ Parent ]

Good Grief (none / 0) (#99)
by Alhazred on Thu May 08, 2003 at 12:01:55 AM EST

My point was that whoever does the suing is doing it for themselves. Honestly I very seriously doubt, having had some experience with the way record companies work,  that they are going to 'divvy up' anything unless the artists turn around and sue them in turn. Even then you would be rather nieve to believe that your average artist is savvy enough to have a contract that would get them a part of such a settlement.

I really honestly myself have no doubt that the record companies legitimately own the rights the music and that piracy is indeed illegal. I equally believe that the people running the record companies are greedy pigs who richly deserve to get their asses kicked.
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
[ Parent ]

It's spelled "nave," (none / 0) (#100)
by RobotSlave on Thu May 08, 2003 at 07:22:45 AM EST

...and that's a word you really don't want to spell wrong when you're trying to come across as sophisticated.

Oh, and nice job ignoring that little matter of royalties. Your failure to acknowledge it really helped me to see you as more than a childish knee-jerk anti-corporate malcontent, honest.

[ Parent ]

Whatever (none / 0) (#106)
by Alhazred on Thu May 08, 2003 at 07:08:57 PM EST

You're just being provocative, which is fine since half the rest of the net plays the same game. I mean I really don't care to spell check message board postings. When I write an article or something, sure.

I didn't ignore anything about royalties. Try getting some from a record company. That is to say you may (or may not) get SOME. The bigger labels though are not real famous for letting people know they're owed something.
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
[ Parent ]

At least you spelled it right. (none / 0) (#110)
by RobotSlave on Fri May 09, 2003 at 05:16:37 AM EST

You're just being provocative, which is fine since half the rest of the net plays the same game.

You mean, like with comment titles such as "just ONE massive flaw?"

I really don't care to spell check message board postings.

In other words, you don't really care if your message board postings make you look illiterate, Taco.

I didn't ignore anything about royalties.

Yes, you did. We can start with the fact that you didn't mention them until now.

Try getting some from a record company. That is to say you may (or may not) get SOME. The bigger labels though are not real famous for letting people know they're owed something.

Let me see if I understand this: you're saying that because there have been problems with royalty payments, we can pretend they don't exist at all, and that therefore pirating music doesn't hurt the artists' bottom line?

Gee, what a convincing argument. We've ignored all the artists who do get regular royalty checks, and who incidentally create the lion's share of music stolen over the internet, and we've also ignored the advances developing artists are given against royalties, but otherwise, sure, it's a fucking air-tight, bullet-proof argument you've put together there, sport.

As you can see, "file sharing" is still theft.

[ Parent ]

The funniest part is... (none / 0) (#111)
by Alhazred on Fri May 09, 2003 at 08:57:49 PM EST

You're so all fired eager to argue with people that you never bothered to notice that the first thing I said included my complete agreement with your assertion that "file sharing" is indeed a crime. Chill!

Anyway, you really do seem to like to argue. Have fun!


That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
[ Parent ]
as an anti-RIAA zealot.. (none / 0) (#78)
by mikelist on Tue May 06, 2003 at 01:16:17 AM EST

" When one person screws over a whole bunch of other people, then those folks are perfectly within their rights to seek redress in a coordinated manner." ... I gotta wonder which would be the first party, the 'pirates' or the RIAA, who would be the second party, the RIAA or the artists they 'support'. See I due two no how to use the quoty things.

[ Parent ]
I see now why you zealots aren't getting anywhere (none / 0) (#92)
by RobotSlave on Tue May 06, 2003 at 12:54:07 PM EST

I gotta wonder which would be the first party, the 'pirates' or the RIAA, who would be the second party, the RIAA or the artists they 'support'

Christ, even when I'm high on the drugs, I can make more sense than that.

Check it out: my statement contains the words "one person." Which part of that phrase didn't make sense to you? See, "the pirates," "the artists," and "the RIAA" all represent more than one person, and those were the only "parties" you mentioned, so I can't for the life of me figure out who the hell you're trying to cast in the "one person" role, here.

Go ahead and give it another try once you've come down off the weed, sparky. And feel free to check out that hot new "line break" technology while you're at it.

[ Parent ]

"oh that's what those are for" n/t (none / 0) (#63)
by mikelist on Mon May 05, 2003 at 12:25:33 AM EST



[ Parent ]
OK, II'll bite (4.66 / 3) (#57)
by epepke on Sun May 04, 2003 at 07:29:41 PM EST

But I am less interested in these specific cases than in the general case. Let us imagine, for a moment, a copyright-infringement suit brought by RIAA against an otherwise average college student, Joe Cool, who is "sharing" an 80GB drive half-filled with mp3s of materials whose copyrights are held by members of RIAA.

By changing the focus of the case from some students that set up an indexing service for all existing files on public drives to providing a drive for the illegal copying of music, you have switched the argument from an activity that is at worst in a gray area to something that's clearly illegal. Nice straw man. I won't argue against it, because I wouldn't consider a lawsuit against that unfair.

What if independent artists decided to band together under some umbrella organization to take the Joe Cools to court? Would that really be so different than what RIAA is doing? (note to anti-RIAA zealots: that was a rhetorical question. Please spare us your rationalizations).

Now you're giving yourself away. There is an obvious and clear reason for an umbrella organization of independent artist to do this. The reason is that record companies have traditionally done an enormous amount of piracy themselves. One technique is called "the pressing plant overrun." A plant gets, say, an "official" order to press 1000 copies. Instead, they press 2000 copies, and the rest go out in somebody's van at midnight. The royalties are calculated from 1000 copies, but the receipts are from 2000. Frank Zappa successfully sued Warner Brothers Records for this, but then again, he had a tenacity and business sense that most artists lack. An independent association could go after this.

Now, if this were just a debate, what I said would just be a counter-argument. You might simply have been ignorant of the history of piracy on the part of record companies, even though it is reasonbly common knowledge. However, you had to say that your question was rhetorical and pre-judge any response as a rationalization. In my experience, people frequently do this when they are already aware of the counter-argument but still wish to do something to make it not come up.

I've been saying for years now that the actions of the RIAA have little or nothing to do with piracy. They don't have anything to do with protecting an outdated business model. Quite the contrary--the older business would work fine. What they are about is a frantic attempt to save a new business model.

The business model of record companies changed in the mid-1980's. The spur to this new business model was Michael Jackson's Thriller. It sold an unprecedented number of copies. Even more, it had an unprecedented return on investment. The big expense in recording is not manufacturing the media or royalties; it's the pre-production and production of the music itself--the studio time, the bookkeeping, engineers to tweeze the sound of the coked-up players, studio musicians, the video, etc. Once the product is in the can, it basically just makes money. Michael Jackson probably required more production money than other artists, but once Thriller took off, the profit just got cranked out.

The trouble with this was that Michael Jackson was really very good. Exceptionally good, in fact. Probably the kind of good that only comes by once in a blue moon and eventually takes its toll on sanity. It was, essentially, a random event, because you have to wait for people that good to come out. However, the record companies had already adopted the business model of one monster hit a year that pays for all the rest.

At this point I think some sort of collective light bulb went off over the heads of the cigar-chompin' guys. If, they reasoned, we get most of our revenue from one monster hit a year, why should we spend money on anything other than one monster hit a year?

They started to close down their jazz labels and classical labels, which made money but only at a trickle and focused on the big hit. Unfortunately, there's no place you can go mail-order the next Michael Jackson.

So, they started to make their own, and the formula has been to find a kid, someone who's too young to enter into a contract as an independent citizen, and make them into a star. Write all the songs for them. Tweeze their voices electronically if they don't have any particular talent. Hire studio musicians at union scale. The result is what you generally hear on all the pop radio stations.

A part of the logic behind this, however, is that people have to be made to want it. This is marketing. On the positive side, it involves pushing up whoever is being marketed at the moment, which is done by radio play.

However, there's always the risk that somebody might discover the works of an artist and like them better, and use their cash to buy their CD's and go to their concerts and such. This has to be prevented. People have argued that the MP3's they have found on P2P networks have been minority artists. I suggest that this is the whole point of the RIAA's strategy.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
You'll have to do a little better than that. (2.50 / 2) (#59)
by RobotSlave on Sun May 04, 2003 at 10:11:14 PM EST

By changing the focus of the case from some students that set up an indexing service for all existing files on public drives to providing a drive for the illegal copying of music, you have switched the argument

Oopsie. Somebody forgot to check their facts before accusing me of the ol' bait an' switch, eh?

Now you're giving yourself away.

Well, no. Actually, I gave myself away a little earlier, in that bit where I mentioned that "devils advocate" thingy. Maybe you were just skimming, and missed that part? It was right at the beginning of the comment, I think.

Frank Zappa successfully sued Warner Brothers Records for this, but then again, he had a tenacity and business sense

What? This about a guy whose autobio was titled No Commercial Potential? OK, look. The reason I told the zealots not to respond to that rhetorical question is that the major labels' other crimes, however heinous, simply aren't relevant to the point in question, namely, that record companies are perfectly within their rights to bring action against criminals who have victimized large groups of the artists the companies represent.

The big expense in recording is not manufacturing the media or royalties; it's the pre-production and production of the music itself--the studio time, the bookkeeping, engineers to tweeze the sound of the coked-up players, studio musicians, the video, etc.

See, now you're just showing us you don't know very much about the record industry. The sum of all the costs you mention pales in comparison to the money spent on promoting a record. This was true before Thriller, and it's true today.

They started to close down their jazz labels and classical labels, which made money but only at a trickle and focused on the big hit.

I see you conveniently ignore the fact that jazz and classical revenues were dwindling because fewer and fewer people were listening to jazz and classical. This flagging demand also drove radio stations to cancel most of their jazz and classical programming, most of which had been kept around only to maintain a supposed image of "prestige," rather than in response to continued demand from listeners. There was, naturally, a lot of hand-wringing and moaning about this from the bow-tied champaigne-and-caviar set, but nobody tried to deny the fact that the public's tastes had chaged, and in fact had been changing for quite some while.

Of course, to an anti-RIAA conspiracy theorist, the change in the public's taste was engineered by the evil corporate overmind, and we can just conveniently ignore the fact that if tastes were so easily manipulated, then it would make a lot more sense to hypnotize the drooling masses into buying older catalogue titles (which, despite your imagined "big hit" mindset, are still recognized as a steady and important source of revenue).

Your theory of the corporate overlord with the mind-control lasers is a little problematic given other aspects of recent history as well. OK, let's just swallow our laughter and assume, for a moment, that the hit-making tactics began with Michael Jackson's Thriller. What, then, do we make of the fact that the "new" model didn't have any effect on the normal cycle of bubble-gum pop? Or did you forget that it went out of favor for, oh, what was it, about ten years or so, somewhere in there between Thriller and today? You know, like, those years that began with 199- ?

Oh, and hey. Let's look at something else here. The best selling genre since Thriller was released, by far, has been... any guesses? Boy bands, you say? Teen strumpet divas? Pitch-corrected pop fluff?

Well, no. Try hip-hop.

And Rap managed to top the sales charts without significant top-forty radio exposure, too. How the hell could that happen? You don't suppose people, young people even, actually think for themselves and buy what they like without the help of the mind-control lasers, do you? Or that the market actually works, in spite of all the uglier shennanigans by the likes of Clear Channel and the evil RIAA overlord of Mordor?

Well, no. The idea that markets tend to be almost impossible for corporations to control is a bit too radical for K5. It's the sort of notion that gets in the way of tidy, ideologically convenient conspiracy theories, and the world would just be too darn big and complex and difficult to understand without them, wouldn't it?

[ Parent ]

This is fun (3.00 / 2) (#65)
by epepke on Mon May 05, 2003 at 03:32:50 AM EST

It reminds me of Usenet.

Oopsie. Somebody forgot to check their facts before accusing me of the ol' bait an' switch, eh?

Allegations in the lawsuit as what, an accurate reflection of what was really going on?

This about a guy whose autobio was titled No Commercial Potential?

Now who isn't checking facts? No Commercial Potential wasn't an autobiography; it was an early biography by David Walley, who incidentally also wrote The Ernie Kovacs Story. Zappa never wrote an autobiography. He did write a book containing some memoirs called The Real Frank Zappa Book

The reason I told the zealots not to respond to that rhetorical question is that the major labels' other crimes, however heinous, simply aren't relevant to the point in question,

I guess I really do have to spell it out for you. The difference between the RIAA doing this and an umbrella group doing this is that the umbrella group could go after record companies as well.

Your theory of the corporate overlord with the mind-control lasers

You're funny! I bet that's the first time someone has used "mind-control lasers" as a dismissive rhetorical device since 7 o'clock!


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Is it? I find it sort of boring, actually. (1.00 / 1) (#67)
by RobotSlave on Mon May 05, 2003 at 08:46:19 AM EST

It reminds me of Usenet.

Well, gee, good for you. Do you suppose we all ought to bow down before you for being ancient enough to remember usenet? Or would you prefer we just give you a big handicap for being pathetic enough to invoke it in the first place?

Allegations in the lawsuit as what, an accurate reflection of what was really going on?

Well, yes, actually. Or are you trying to tell us that the lawsuits are not part of reality? Might there be some sort of conspiratorial fiction or cover-up taking place? What, exactly, are you suggesting?

Oh, and have fun with your Frank Zappa history. It's going to take a little more than reading a single paranoid source, I'm afraid.

The difference between the RIAA doing this and an umbrella group doing this is that the umbrella group could go after record companies as well.

Well, yeah, sure, apart from the fact that the umbrella group of independent artists would have absolutely no case with the "record companies" (and never mind the fact that each independent artist would necessarily constitute its own "record company"), what with having never entered into any sort of obligation with those evil, anti-scientific, satanic Record Companies whatsoever. Oh, but that's probably too difficult to understand.

You're funny! I bet that's the first time someone has used "mind-control lasers" as a dismissive rhetorical device since 7 o'clock!

And you, as of yet, have failed to counter its effectiveness as a rhetorical device.

Oh, shit, wait. The whole total grand totality of your accusations just dawned on me, man.

Do you you mean to suggest that each and every sentence I ever type on the inter-worldly web-net must be 100% free of all logical complication before it can be convincing?

Damn, I'm fucked, then.

Next thing you know, the internet zealot-gods will have convinced all of normals-space-humanity that any sort of playful exaggeration whatsoever, far from being either amusing or trenchant or both, shall instantly render any attempted oppositional viewpoint categorically invalid, and thus immediately halt, arrest, and conclude any and all debate, at that moment and for all eternity.

Well, I'm fucking shaking in my boots. This will surely signal the end of the effortless dominence over the socially inept that my teachers have enjoyed up until now. Time to look for a new web-blog debating style, I guess. This one's all washed up, for sure.

[ Parent ]

Ah, well... (none / 0) (#80)
by epepke on Tue May 06, 2003 at 02:26:10 AM EST

I'm sure you can find something entertaining at the local record store.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
One Problem (3.00 / 1) (#71)
by CENGEL3 on Mon May 05, 2003 at 12:29:16 PM EST

The problem is a more general one with our tort system. Namely that the RIAA (or any other financialy powerfull entity) could file the same suit against a completely innocent person with little impunity.

I can't tell you the number of completely bogus "intimidation" law suits I've read about.

Unfortunately for the average person the reality in such cases is that it costs more to defend oneself then to settle. Hence we have extortion at lawyer-point.

What I would like to see is a law that allowed the defendent in civil case to automaticaly counter-sue the plaintiff to recoup legal fees if the plaintiff was unable to prove thier case.

Perhaps that might give truely innocent people greater opportunity to defend themselves in court and give financialy powerfull entities some pause when considering filing intimidation or nuisance suits.

[ Parent ]

If I was the Devil... (none / 0) (#79)
by Wah on Tue May 06, 2003 at 01:32:58 AM EST

...I'd fire you in a hearbeat (if in fact I had one that worked).

Not for your argument, but for your unneeded incendiary language.  Rarely will you find someone sympathetic to your casue when you consistently demonize them.  Maybe it's different for the Devil, but I hear he uses flattery to great effect.

To defuse and refute....

Let us imagine, for a moment, a copyright-infringement suit brought by RIAA against an otherwise average college student, Joe Cool, who is "sharing" an 80GB drive half-filled with mp3s of materials whose copyrights are held by members of RIAA.

You could probably drop the "quote" around sharing, since that's the word that most fits this particular situation.  It's a semantic argument, but a rather important one.  It is a strange, strange world when many, many people can play Jesus without lifting a finger, but it's the world we live in, get used to it.

How much money does the average musician have to burn on a legal team?

About as much as your average college student, perhaps?

And how many musicians is our average college student stealing from, anyway?

None.  Unless you have a new definition for stealing, which I'm assuming you do.  See, it's easy to reject embedded assumptions.

If Joe goes in for sharing whole albums rather than singles, and likes to amass the entire catalogues of favorite artists, then he might have 40-50 songs per artist, a figure that I extrapolated from my own drive. That would give us 150-200 artists. At the other extreme, Joe might have several thousand artists represented on his drive.

O.k.  Several thousand out of the, what, million or so in the U.S. alone?   Sounds like there's a bunch missing out on the chance for someone to promote them, but that's another argument.

Now let's look at the case again.

Happy to.

The artists, who would rather work on art than deal with legal wrangling, have handed the copyrights and the associated legal problems over to their record companies as part of their contract. The record companies, in turn, have realized that the Joe Cools out there are hurting all of them, so they've decided to band together on this particular issue.

I emphasized that particular pronoun because it is somewhat important to the argument you are making.  When the artist hands over their copyright to the record companies, they are out of it.  The artists signed over the legal right to their work.  The artists just lost their say, at least in a legal sense.  And the record companies have banded together.  That organization is called the RIAA.  What were you saying again...

The record companies, in turn, have realized that the Joe Cools out there are hurting all of them, so they've decided to band together on this particular issue.

Yes, Joe Cool is quickly replacing the function of the record companies, and one finds strength in numbers even if one is part of an international media conglomerate.  This could be seen as 'harm', or 'competition' if one were to use a 'market' context.

Why, then, do we not look past RIAA when Joe Cool gets slapped with a lawsuit? Well, OK. Sometimes "the industry" or "the record companies" or even the slightly more sophisticated "the major labels" get invoked, but why not take the last logical step? Why not talk about the artists?

Because the artists gave up their legal right (copyright) to 'the industry'.  Next question.

When Joe Cool gets issued his papers, we can look at it as an act of the corporate-borg bogey man, RIAA, but we can just as legitimately look at it as an action on behalf of the hundreds or even thousands of artists Joe has been promoting.

No we can't.  It is not on behalf of the artists that the industry is attacking this competition to their successful business model, but on behalf of the industry itself, in order to preserve its place in the cycle of Artist Makes Music, Person Likes Music, Person Rewards Artist.

In that light, the case is still unbalanced, what with it being hundreds against one, but is it still unfair?

Yes, because you haven't changed anything but asked instead for readers to ignore the situation, and certain legal aspects of it, and think about Chewbacca (the famed Chewbacca defense, download some Southpark...).

What if independent artists decided to band together under some umbrella organization to take the Joe Cools to court?

I dunno, maybe when this happens, we can blather on about it.  I can offer a number of reasons why this wouldn't happen very often (if at all), but we'll save that for later.

The fact of the matter is that the average young copyright thief out there isn't just screwing over one artist. He's more typically screwing over hundreds of artists, or in the extreme cases that RIAA is more likely to go after, thousands.

No, you have it wrong (and I even let your keep your words).   Joe, errr, Robotslave, isn't screwing over an artist, or even a hundred or thousand artists, he's replacing an industry.  With a home computer.   I guess you could call replacing 'screwing over', but that would take some diabolical linquistic skills.

Grown-ups who pirate copyrighted material know that they are doing something wrong.

Yes, I've seen them on the streets of New York many times.  Sucks when you have to steal to eat bread, but thems the breaks.  Why did I use 'steal' in the previous sentence, because I draw the line between sharing and selling.  And the people who 'sell' other's work without compensation I generally consider theives.  Does this include Kazaa and other who make money off of advertising?  Almost.  And I lean more toward the 'most' part of that word.  But now we're talking about a different thing, and to address it would needlessly extend the discussion.

They know that we live in a fallen world, and that we are all sinners.

Luckily, we have music to make it all worthwhile.

Children like to believe they are without sin, just as on the day they were born, but they must give up this belief in order to become adults. If they don't, the world is likely to hold quite a few unpleasant surprises for them, not [the] least of which is that you can't always just take whatever you want without thinking of others.

And then, as adults, they'll realize that things continue to change.  It is one of the only constants they will know.  And many, many will try hard to change it back.  Back to where they had everything offered to them on a platinum disc. And if they have to ruin a few, young, promising lives to do so, then so be it.  These are the type of people the devil represents, it would seem.
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Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]

Predictable. (1.00 / 1) (#82)
by RobotSlave on Tue May 06, 2003 at 07:30:03 AM EST

Blah, blah, blah, it's not stealing, blah blah usual anti-corporate zealotry.

Yes, it is. It is stealing.

Taking something that someone else worked very hard on, and then giving away copies of it without permission to anyone and everyone on the internet, is stealing.

It is not "sharing" or "trading."

It is theft.

[ Parent ]

Oy (4.00 / 1) (#95)
by Wah on Tue May 06, 2003 at 05:27:37 PM EST

It is stealing.

No, it's infringement, but that word is too big for general consumption and isn't as evilly connotated.

Taking something that someone else worked very hard on, and then giving away copies of it without permission to anyone and everyone on the internet, is stealing.

Take a copy of something that someone else worked on, and giving away copies of that copy, and being compensated in no way for that action, is not stealing.  Really, I think there are some difficult lines to draw in this arena, and they are just lines that a society draws to continue to function.  Draw them in one place, and someone benefits.  Draw them someplace else, and others benefit.  If I can take something from you, and you still have it, our property laws don't fit that situation very well since that situation doesn't work very well with the ultimate law of the market.  And frankly, if that were the case, I'd let the whole world 'steal' my car.  But I'm fairly sure you've heard all this before.  The only thing I don't know is how you, personally, respond to it.

I mentioned quite clearly in my response where I think the line is on 'stealing'.  If you'd like to address that, please, take your time.

If instead you want to play "Is!Is2" you can do that by yourself.
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Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]

Vey. (1.00 / 1) (#97)
by RobotSlave on Wed May 07, 2003 at 06:10:16 AM EST

Stealing.

Stealing income.

Stealing the primary source of income for the musician's labors.

In other words, stealing bread from the mouth of.

Stealing.

I know, it's very upsetting when all you want is to get something for nothing, and you don't want to feel guilty about it, and that's why I fully expect you zealots to continue to refuse to think about the people you are hurting when you steal music. No, it's much more pleasant for you to only think about the people who benefit, that is, you and your fellow thieves.

[ Parent ]

schnu (4.00 / 1) (#101)
by Wah on Thu May 08, 2003 at 11:28:19 AM EST

Stealing the primary source of income for the musician's labors.

I was under the impression that the primary source of income for most musicians was getting people to pay them for playing music and the primary source of income for recording companies was selling recordings of that playing.  Maybe you have better info, please share it.

In other words, stealing bread from the mouth of...

Record companies, part of whom's services are no longer necessary.  Not that this is a iron clad justification, but you might want to read Don Henley's testimony before Congress if you are concerned about musicians and the, shall we say, difficult relationship with the industry.  The industry lobbying efforts to change the nature of this type of work to 'work for hire', and the resultant outcry from artists, is a case in point here.

I know, it's very upsetting when all you want is to get something for nothing, and you don't want to feel guilty about it, and that's why I fully expect you zealots to continue to refuse to think about the people you are hurting when you steal music.

Yea, well, it just doesn't feel like it.  Not only do I use these services to listen to many bands who don't mind this type of activity, I've bought music because of it.  If you want, you can check them out.  Just fire up your favorite program and type in 'Basement Jaxx', 'Morcheeba', 'Hooverphonic', 'Badly Drawn Boy', 'Thievery Corporation'.   That's what I did.  And now I own their CD's.  I was able to hear their music only because the effort required to find it was within my means and worth my time.  If I hadn't done that, none of them would have my money.  

It is a simple equation really, if you don't support the music monetarily, they won't be able to make any more.  

No, it's much more pleasant for you to only think about the people who benefit, that is, you and your fellow thieves.

And the artists I buy music from, or go to see live and in color.   Hate to burst your bubble here, but I'm one of those people who works hard enough and is gainfully employed enough so that it is more economical to buy a CD than chase down all the tracks and burn it, despite the fact that this is within my power.  I'm curious why you think society would benefit as a whole by removing this freedom from existence.
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Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]

Hypocrite. (1.00 / 1) (#102)
by RobotSlave on Thu May 08, 2003 at 01:58:45 PM EST

First you say we don't need record companies.

Then you say you buy CDs.

Make up your mind.

And before you bother with the only example you zealots ever care to talk about, a band that sells you a CD dirctly is a record company, twinkie.

[ Parent ]

Sorry (3.00 / 1) (#103)
by Wah on Thu May 08, 2003 at 02:40:59 PM EST

but the situation isn't as simple as you would make it out to be.  

What you don't seem to want to accept is that someone who both downloads and offers for download music (using my own non-free resources) can also be the kind of person that realizes that it takes monetary compensation for artists to be able to continue to create (at least as a full-time job).

And before you bother with the only example you zealots ever care to talk about, a band that sells you a CD directly is a record company, twinkie.

True, but we started talking about the Recording Industry, as represented by the RIAA.  Buying CD's directly from bands should be highly encouraged, it helps breed independence and freedom (two attributes that help fuel creativity and artistic expression, IMHO).  Buy and downloading MP3's directly from bands should also be encouraged.  Heck, if more bands followed Madonna's lead and allowed people to buy MP3's straight from their site, it could be the extra revenue stream that makes the difference in being a full-time and part-time musician.  I think an exchange for a working email address could also be worthwhile as it helps to create the type of long-term relationship that is essential to any successful and sustainable business model.

Part of my general argument is that removing or reducing the influence of a sticky-fingered middlemen, once necessary to reach a global or even regional audience, is beneficial to the creation of art, particularly music.  Allowing a system to develop where the copyrights of artists don't have to be mortgaged in order to reach to a large audience is something I support.   Modern technology is showing signs of being able to do that.
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Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]

Yes, quite sorry. (1.00 / 1) (#104)
by RobotSlave on Thu May 08, 2003 at 03:15:02 PM EST

What you don't seem to want to accept is that someone who both downloads and offers for download music (using my own non-free resources) can also be the kind of person that realizes that it takes monetary compensation for artists to be able to continue to create (at least as a full-time job).

No, the problem here is that you are being a hypocrite, and not wanting to admit it to yourself.

You're just repeating the tired old rationalization that it's OK to steal from artists who have signed contracts with those evil, Mordor-dwelling record companies, but not OK to steal from artists who haven't.

That sort of shit goes over real well in knee-jerk anti-corporate cesspools like slashdot, so you're probably accustomed to having lots of people pat you on the back and applaud you for your ever-so reasonable, moderate stance when you say that maybe artists should have a few very limited rights to their own work.

Here, however, I'm going to call you on bullshit like that.

[ Parent ]

anyway (3.00 / 1) (#105)
by Wah on Thu May 08, 2003 at 04:18:52 PM EST

You're just repeating the tired old rationalization that it's OK to steal from artists who have signed contracts with those evil, Mordor-dwelling record companies, but not OK to steal from artists who haven't.

No, I think I've made it fairly clear that I don't consider it stealing, regardless of the entity on the other end of the creation of the master work.  I outlined very simply where I think the legal line should be.

Like, I said, I downloaded songs from each of those bands I mentioned.  I liked their music.  I bought their CDs.  I'm still not sure why you think that should be illegal, and why your tax money should be used to enforce that social convention.  Care to elaborate on why you think that is worthwhile?

you're probably accustomed to having lots of people pat you on the back and applaud you for your ever-so reasonable, moderate stance when you say that maybe artists should have a few very limited rights to their own work.

I really don't consider the right to be the sole entity to sell a work a 'very limited right'.  Or the right to grant others the right to sell it.  However, as we move into the non-commercial arena, I think the equation changes.   I believe the changing techological environment will make it highly difficult to enforce an absolute right on any type of distribution for the work of musicians (and other creative workers).  But you can keep telling yourself that I'm just some kid with no idea how the real world works, if it makes you feel better.  Easier than answering my questions, it seems.
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Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]

Oh, gee. More of the same. How novel. (1.00 / 1) (#108)
by RobotSlave on Fri May 09, 2003 at 04:50:21 AM EST

I don't consider it stealing

And I call bullshit on that.

Care to elaborate on why you think that is worthwhile?

Because you are not allowed to do whatever the hell you like with things that non-musicians produce, either.

I really don't consider the right to be the sole entity to sell a work a 'very limited right'.

Except you think that right should end as soon as you manage to squeeze the work into your magical, holy, rights-voiding computer. And you think the musician shouldn't be allowed to sell a work to a record company, either. Everyone else in the free world is allowed to sell their work to others (we sometimes call them "employees" or "contractors"), but you don't want to allow musicians to be like everyone else.

However, as we move into the non-commercial arena, I think the equation changes.

You mean, "as we move into the fantasy-land I want to live in, where musicians don't have rights and get paid only when I deign it meet that they should catch some small coin for their amusing antics."

I believe the changing techological environment will make it highly difficult to enforce an absolute right on any type of distribution for the work of musicians (and other creative workers).

And therefore, we should take creators' rights away as soon as possible, and thus save ourselves all that fuss and bother over trying to keep the world a fair place for talented creative people? No, I'm sorry. I don't think so.

But you can keep telling yourself that I'm just some kid with no idea how the real world works, if it makes you feel better.

First you use a fantasy-future to justify taking artists' rights away, then you tell me you want to be treated like a grown-up?

Easier than answering my questions, it seems.

But you don't have questions, do you? Your opinions are pretty much set in stone, as I've learned by trying to chisel away at them a bit. I have answered your "questions," so that's not the problem, is it?

No, the problem is that my answers mean you have to acknowledge things like the fact that you're harming others, and the fact that you're breaking the law, and the idea that you're doing something wrong, when you pirate copyrighted music, and you'd really rather just keep downloading free music without having to face up to any of that.

You're not trying to convince me of anything, at this late point in the debate. You're trying to keep yourself convinced.

[ Parent ]

To start off (none / 0) (#116)
by Wah on Wed May 14, 2003 at 04:15:11 PM EST

You're not trying to convince me of anything, at this late point in the debate. You're trying to keep yourself convinced.

Not in the slightest.  I am working through my viewpoint and drawing some more definite boundaries, but I'm rather strongly convinced.  

This has degenerated to a point that it's worth very little to try and pick apart some of the misunderstandings.  You seem to be willfully ignoring what I say (or perhaps the fault lies with my communication), so maybe I'll give this a go some other time.  But as for now, I don't have the time to walk through all of this with you again.  

So just the Major errors in understanding.

--
Except you think that right should end as soon as you manage to squeeze the work into your magical, holy, rights-voiding computer.

No, I think 'that right' (which is the right to profit from a work) should be strongly protected.

And you think the musician shouldn't be allowed to sell a work to a record company, either.

Again, not at all.  I do think (which is what started this) that when they do sell those rights, and said company tries to expand those rights (such as the 'work for hire' affair, and the "Bono/Mickey" act) then it becomes necessary to resist those changes.  

Everyone else in the free world is allowed to sell their work to others (we sometimes call them "employees" or "contractors"), but you don't want to allow musicians to be like everyone else.

Again, you have me totally wrong.  I think musicians should be the only ones allowed to sell their work, and this right should be transferable.

However, I don't think that hemming up the collected culture of the world, and releasing it soley, only, and forever with the single purpose of collecting material wealth, is a particularly useful strategy for working toward a better tomorrow.

There is a value in exchanging culture that is not measured in money, I know this is impossible for you to comprehend, and so we will never reach agreement, but I hold it to be self-evident.  There is also a value created by the exposure to creative works, and I feel that this value can be better realized, and monetized, if we create a copyright system and doesn't treat someone who sells another's music and one who merely points it out as the same type of beast.  This inequality leads to a disrespect for law, which will cause more problems, IMHO, for our society than having a bunch of people who dedicate their resources to distributing art without the expressed, written permission of 25 different corporate entities stretching around the globe.  (and you think 'ooh, he said 'corporate'.  I'll bet he has no idea that one pays his salary and provides the economies of scale and expertise which make modern life so pain-free').
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Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]

You can repeat it as often as you like (4.00 / 2) (#107)
by Blah Blah on Thu May 08, 2003 at 09:41:35 PM EST

but that doesn't make it true. In the U.S. criminal code, "theft" and "copyright infringement" are two different things. I suggest you learn the difference, or you might look like a fool.

[ Parent ]
And I will. (2.50 / 2) (#109)
by RobotSlave on Fri May 09, 2003 at 04:59:46 AM EST

Listen up, Mr. Legal Eagle.

I'm not using the definition of "theft" outlined in the fucking United States criminal code. I'm using the one outlined in the Berne convention. Or the common-usage one, which goes something like "taking shit that isn't yours." Perhaps you'd momentarily forgotten that little idea that fucking everyone else has no trouble understanding?

You can go ahead and try to insist that everyone in the debate use only the definition of "theft" that is convenient to you. Good luck with that.

We'll just have to wait and see who looks "like a fool" at the end of the day, won't we?

[ Parent ]

I'm sympathetic (none / 0) (#84)
by Keith Harper on Tue May 06, 2003 at 08:36:10 AM EST

But I guess I'm also rare. So rare, in fact, that I've decided to introduce a new point-by-point responding style for this comment. Instead of cutting parts of your comment out, I'm going to copy the entire comment body, and make all my points like this. I know it might seem like I'm shouting when I do this. You can look at this picture while reading, if it helps.

---

...I'd fire you in a hearbeat (if in fact I had one that worked).

Not for your argument, but for your unneeded incendiary language.  Rarely will you find someone sympathetic to your casue when you consistently demonize them.  Maybe it's different for the Devil, but I hear he uses flattery to great effect.

I don't think Robotslave actually expects to win over many kuro5hin readers with this effort. Certainly not from among the people who respond to the articles here. Their opinions have usually ossified completely by mid-adolescence. Even if they are still able to comprehend an opposing point of view, the average kuro5hin reader isn't likely to subject his opinions to honest criticism. Here's why not:


  • Critical thinking isn't taught in computer science degrees
  • To reassess the almost unanimous attitudes of his social caste would be to risk the conclusion that most of the people he identifies with are idiots
  • It's awfully convenient to be able to take whatever you want without having to feel like an ungrateful jerk

It's also important to understand that nothing that has been written by geeks on the subject of file-thieving will have the slightest effect on the outcome of the controversy. That's my bestest happy thought, by the way. I think about that whenever I feel blue, and I then don't feel so blue no more.

To defuse and refute....

Teeheehee

Let us imagine, for a moment, a copyright-infringement suit brought by RIAA against an otherwise average college student, Joe Cool, who is "sharing" an 80GB drive half-filled with mp3s of materials whose copyrights are held by members of RIAA.

You could probably drop the "quote" around sharing, since that's the word that most fits this particular situation.  It's a semantic argument, but a rather important one.  It is a strange, strange world when many, many people can play Jesus without lifting a finger, but it's the world we live in, get used to it.

It isn't an important semantic argument. Nobody is going to win any court cases by pretending that copyright infringement is a form of sharing. Using "sharing" to mean "sharing things which are not yours to share" is at best euphemistic, at worst propaganda. Scare-quoting it is more than justified.

How much money does the average musician have to burn on a legal team?

About as much as your average college student, perhaps?

What's your point? Or did you slot this one in for the sake of general contrariness?

And how many musicians is our average college student stealing from, anyway?

None.  Unless you have a new definition for stealing, which I'm assuming you do.  See, it's easy to reject embedded assumptions.

I believe he's using the one to which most of the world subscribes, by way of the Berne Convention. Of course, you're trying to win an argument through semantics. Let's pretend he said "infringing the copyright of," or "stealing bread from the mouth of." Will that help you understand the comment?

If Joe goes in for sharing whole albums rather than singles, and likes to amass the entire catalogues of favorite artists, then he might have 40-50 songs per artist, a figure that I extrapolated from my own drive. That would give us 150-200 artists. At the other extreme, Joe might have several thousand artists represented on his drive.

O.k.  Several thousand out of the, what, million or so in the U.S. alone?   Sounds like there's a bunch missing out on the chance for someone to promote them, but that's another argument.

Yeah, whatever. Why'd you bring it up then?

Now let's look at the case again.

Happy to.

The artists, who would rather work on art than deal with legal wrangling, have handed the copyrights and the associated legal problems over to their record companies as part of their contract. The record companies, in turn, have realized that the Joe Cools out there are hurting all of them, so they've decided to band together on this particular issue.

I emphasized that particular pronoun because it is somewhat important to the argument you are making.  When the artist hands over their copyright to the record companies, they are out of it.  

This doesn't actually happen. It's accepted under copyright law that the rights in a recording belong to whoever paid for it to be made. This is often the record company, as you would expect. A piece of music may contain a swag of additional copyrights besides those that inhere in the recording, and artists may retain or sell these as they choose. Mechanical copyrights may also be retained by the songwriters.

The artists signed over the legal right to their work.  

You say this as though you believe it is done for free. Whatever rights they sell, the artists sell for money. If they find the arrangement unfair, they are within their rights to refuse to sign.

The artists just lost their say, at least in a legal sense.  

Their say in what? The recordings you pirate are unlikely to have ever been owned by the artists.

And the record companies have banded together.  That organization is called the RIAA.  What were you saying again...

You've lost me. The record companies work together as the RIAA, so what?

The record companies, in turn, have realized that the Joe Cools out there are hurting all of them, so they've decided to band together on this particular issue.

Yes, Joe Cool is quickly replacing the function of the record companies,

Sure, if the sole function of record companies is distribution. The actual recording of music, promoting new musicians...these must all happen by magic, I assume. I know you think that giving the goodies away for free is the New Internet Business Model's way of promoting music, but you're obviously wrong. No artists have ever succeeded by relying on the internet for advertising. Why do you think this might be?

and one finds strength in numbers even if one is part of an international media conglomerate.  This could be seen as 'harm', or 'competition' if one were to use a 'market' context.

File "sharing" isn't a market, if that's what one meant. File traders are parasites. They produce nothing. File trading is a market like trafficking in stolen goods is a market. MP3 traders didn't make 'em, and they aren't contributing to the people who did.

Why, then, do we not look past RIAA when Joe Cool gets slapped with a lawsuit? Well, OK. Sometimes "the industry" or "the record companies" or even the slightly more sophisticated "the major labels" get invoked, but why not take the last logical step? Why not talk about the artists?

Because the artists gave up their legal right (copyright) to 'the industry'.  Next question.

We've already dealt with your ignorance on the subject of copyright, so let's examine your failure to understand the broader situation. The fact that the artists don't own the copyright in the recordings you "share" doesn't mean they don't benefit from the sale of those recordings. It's widely understood that they do: they benefit financially. So indeed, why not talk about the artists?

When Joe Cool gets issued his papers, we can look at it as an act of the corporate-borg bogey man, RIAA, but we can just as legitimately look at it as an action on behalf of the hundreds or even thousands of artists Joe has been promoting.

No we can't.  It is not on behalf of the artists that the industry is attacking this competition to their successful business model, but on behalf of the industry itself, in order to preserve its place in the cycle of Artist Makes Music, Person Likes Music, Person Rewards Artist.

The industry pays the artists. The mp3 traders don't. If the industry loses revenue, it can't support as many artists. Since mp3 trading isn't supporting any artists at all, it should be clear where the benefit to artists lies.

In that light, the case is still unbalanced, what with it being hundreds against one, but is it still unfair?

Yes, because you haven't changed anything but asked instead for readers to ignore the situation, and certain legal aspects of it, and think about Chewbacca (the famed Chewbacca defense, download some Southpark...).

Besides stripping away the specious anti-corporate rhetoric that mp3 traders rely on to justify their behaviour, Robotslave hasn't really changed the argument at all.

What if independent artists decided to band together under some umbrella organization to take the Joe Cools to court?

I dunno, maybe when this happens, we can blather on about it.  I can offer a number of reasons why this wouldn't happen very often (if at all), but we'll save that for later.

It happened a century ago. It's called ASCAP. It was founded by a group of composers, including John Philip Sousa and Irving Berlin. Radio stations pay money to it for performance rights. There are some parallels to the mp3 debate. Oddly enough, Sousa and his cohorts didn't decide to give their work away for free.

The fact of the matter is that the average young copyright thief out there isn't just screwing over one artist. He's more typically screwing over hundreds of artists, or in the extreme cases that RIAA is more likely to go after, thousands.

No, you have it wrong (and I even let your keep your words).   Joe, errr, Robotslave, isn't screwing over an artist, or even a hundred or thousand artists, he's replacing an industry.  With a home computer.   I guess you could call replacing 'screwing over', but that would take some diabolical linquistic skills.

He's replacing the industry with one in which the artist has no rights at all, and is paid nothing. If mp3 traders had their way, no artists would even bother to record their music.

Grown-ups who pirate copyrighted material know that they are doing something wrong.

Yes, I've seen them on the streets of New York many times.  Sucks when you have to steal to eat bread, but thems the breaks.  Why did I use 'steal' in the previous sentence, because I draw the line between sharing and selling.  And the people who 'sell' other's work without compensation I generally consider theives.  Does this include Kazaa and other who make money off of advertising?  Almost.  And I lean more toward the 'most' part of that word.  But now we're talking about a different thing, and to address it would needlessly extend the discussion.

Artists lose out in exactly the same way whether you give their work away for free or for pay. Giving it away for free is arguably worse for artists, since it becomes available to more people, and takes a bigger bite out of their income.

They know that we live in a fallen world, and that we are all sinners.

Luckily, we have music to make it all worthwhile.

And wouldn't it be nice if we had some way to show our gratitude to all the people who gave that music to us? For instance, by paying them money in the manner they choose to be paid? After all, if there are any artists who want to use the Indomitable New Business Model of the internet, all they have to do is refuse to sign that horrible, horrible record contract with that nasty, nasty company. Then they can spend tens of thousands of dollars and an unpaid year or two of their own time making a record to pass out for free to people they will never meet.

Children like to believe they are without sin, just as on the day they were born, but they must give up this belief in order to become adults. If they don't, the world is likely to hold quite a few unpleasant surprises for them, not [the] least of which is that you can't always just take whatever you want without thinking of others.

And then, as adults, they'll realize that things continue to change.  It is one of the only constants they will know.  And many, many will try hard to change it back.  

I will be giggling myself sick as I watch the sealing off of every major avenue of piracy over the next decade.

Back to where they had everything offered to them on a platinum disc. And if they have to ruin a few, young, promising lives to do so, then so be it.  These are the type of people the devil represents, it would seem.

A seventeen thousand dollar settlement doesn't ruin anyone's life. It's costly, but not crippling. If you can't cover it in the four years provided, then your life was already a mess.

[ Parent ]

I'll try and parse this tonight (none / 0) (#94)
by Wah on Tue May 06, 2003 at 05:18:26 PM EST

it'll be quite a task.  heck, I'm not even sure how to format the bastard.  :-)
--
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]
The RIAA's problem, in my opinion... (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by Kuranes on Mon May 05, 2003 at 04:32:58 AM EST

...is that they fail to see that the introduction of new technology also changes the forms of trade. The concept of coercing music consumers in buying CDs or paying prices for mp3s that equal those of CDs is doomed. The marketplace is changing.

This is my favourite article on this topic, also K5. (and I'm astounded today that it's from a K5 member whose posts I normally despise ;-))

Enjoy music.


Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
Huh? (none / 0) (#68)
by RobotSlave on Mon May 05, 2003 at 09:05:48 AM EST

is that they fail to see that the introduction of new technology also changes the forms of trade.

No, I'm sorry. If you're going to make a sweeping assertion like that, then you're going to have to tell us what, exactly, this "new form of trade" is, and how it differs from the consequent "old form of trade."

The concept of coercing music consumers in buying CDs

Last time I checked, this was a "concept" that existed only in the minds of anti-RIAA zealots. Pretty much everyone else I've spoken with is pretty confident of his or her ability to make his or her own music-purchasing decisions. But maybe your experience is different; maybe all of your friends who buy music are mindless RIAA-zombies.

If you want to go out and try to find these people who buy whatever the corporate-borg record-pigopoly tells them to, please, by all means, go for it. I await your statistical results.

The marketplace is changing.

Changing into what? A marketplace where the consumer doesn't have to pay anything to the producer or the distributor or the finder? Care to explain how that works? Care to explain it, particularly, to the producers?

Enjoy music

I do, thank you. And I recognize that a fair amount of the music I enjoy is stolen. And I'm willing to accept the consequences for that.

How 'bout you?

[ Parent ]

New form of trade (5.00 / 1) (#69)
by SnowDogAPB on Mon May 05, 2003 at 12:10:44 PM EST

No, I'm sorry. If you're going to make a sweeping assertion like that, then you're going to have to tell us what, exactly, this "new form of trade" is, and how it differs from the consequent "old form of trade."

How about this? Why can't I walk into (insert name of big record store here) and buy "The Greatest Hits of the 80s" ... a couple gigs worth of it, in high-quality MP3 format, for 30 bucks? Even for 50 bucks? 100?

Or another example ... why aren't the major record labels releasing (free) low-quality MP3s of every single that gets released to radio stations (as an alternative, say, to folks taping off the radio, like we used to back "in the day")?

I'm not saying P2P music pirating is right but I am saying that it's clear the industry did not see and respond to an emerging market in time to take advantage of the new technology.

I'd love to throw down 30-50 bucks for a DVD (or a batch of CDs) full of high-quality legal MP3s. Give me "The Definitive 80s Catalog" any day. I am not going to buy a thousand CDs in my effort to produce that collection. The recording industry could be making money from me using this new technology and they aren't. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

[ Parent ]

Battle-Troll responds: (none / 0) (#73)
by Battle Troll on Mon May 05, 2003 at 07:11:38 PM EST

Foolish yelling, yapping husky,
Hard pressed, prattling drivel dribbling,
Your 'new form' is no form, feeble!
Faint the claim that that which is not
Can overpower that which is,
Can overthrow that which is an overthrower.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
This is exactly what I meant (nt) (none / 0) (#81)
by Kuranes on Tue May 06, 2003 at 05:32:50 AM EST




Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
[ Parent ]
Your pricing is way, way off (1.00 / 1) (#88)
by RobotSlave on Tue May 06, 2003 at 10:39:36 AM EST

How about this? Why can't I walk into (insert name of big record store here) and buy "The Greatest Hits of the 80s" ... a couple gigs worth of it, in high-quality MP3 format, for 30 bucks? Even for 50 bucks? 100?

Because the amount of music you're talking about is worth a lot more than that. Details below.

why aren't the major record labels releasing (free) low-quality MP3s of every single that gets released to radio stations (as an alternative, say, to folks taping off the radio, like we used to back "in the day")?

For a lot of reasons. For starters, radio stations pay ASCAP for the songs they broadcast, and the internet doesn't.

I'd love to throw down 30-50 bucks for a DVD (or a batch of CDs) full of high-quality legal MP3s. Give me "The Definitive 80s Catalog" any day. I am not going to buy a thousand CDs in my effort to produce that collection.

OK, let's run a few numbers here. Depending on a number of factors (compression scheme, album run time, etc), a 4.7G DVD will hold 50-150 records worth of mp3s. At $10-$18 per album, we're now talking about $500-$2700 per DVD. Let's skew our estimate low, and put the price of the product you suggest at US $1,000.

Oh, but you wanted to pay $30-$50.

So let's try an alternate estimation method, then. Let's assume your average compressed song takes up about 5 megs. And let's take the price per song used by Apple's new service (and previously used by lots of similar services) of about a dollar a song. Do the math and you get...

US $1,000.

That right there is why you don't see the legal DVDs packed with mp3s on the shelf at the record store. The average music buyers do not have that kind of cash to plunk down, but they do seem happy to shell out $12 for eighties compilation CDs.

You're not the only person who would love to pay a lot less for music than it's worth. The fact that artists and labels won't let you, however, doesn't mean they're evil.

[ Parent ]

RIAA vs. Chicken Little | 116 comments (109 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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