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Psst. Hey buddy? Can we borrow $75,000,000,000,000?
March 25, 2011 3:30 PM   Subscribe

Earlier this month, thirteen record labels tried to claim that Limewire was liable for between $400 Billion and $75 Trillion in damages. (For some perspective, the world's GDP in 2011 is expected to be a mere ~$65 billion.) Judge Kimba Wood called the assertion 'absurd' in a 14 page opinion. (pdf)

Judge Kimba Wood made clear in a 14 page opinion that she found the request “absurd” and claims that it stretches copyright laws to their breaking point. She didn’t entirely side with the defendants, though, and said the damages should at least be one damage awarded per work, rather than per instance of infringement, which will still form quite a hefty bill. The defendants seriously-but-humorously note that the “plaintiffs are suggesting an award that is more money than the entire music recording industry has made since Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877.”
posted by zarq (107 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
RIAA: The World Is Not Enough
posted by Rhaomi at 3:33 PM on March 25, 2011 [18 favorites]




The world's GDP figure should be ~$65 trillion, not billion.

Crap! Sorry. You're right. Thanks, jedicus.

I blame the photo on the CrunchGear article. Was laughing pretty hard at it while trying to write the post.
posted by zarq at 3:36 PM on March 25, 2011


So, because I'm a dork, I read the actual opinion, and it's far more legalistic than you'd think from the use of the single word "absurd." In fact, in the text, the word "absurd" isn't even Judge Wood's -- she's quoting from previous, completely unrelated cases that comment about the law in general, where usage of multipliers on awards can quickly add up to absurd results, such as this one.

So, say what you want about the record companies (e.g. lazy, greedy sunzabitches with heads square up their asses), but the RIAA lawyers weren't just being stupid about this.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:40 PM on March 25, 2011


Kimba Wood!
posted by nevercalm at 3:40 PM on March 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Clearly ridiculous, but isn't "the world's GDP" a slightly weird formulation.

GDP: refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period.
posted by Dumsnill at 3:41 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dumsnill: "Clearly ridiculous, but isn't "the world's GDP" a slightly weird formulation."

For accuracy's sake, I probably could have said "the world's combined GDP."
posted by zarq at 3:45 PM on March 25, 2011


Clearly this planet just isn't pulling its weight.
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:47 PM on March 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm thinking of starting a record label of my own this year, and I'm beginning to wonder* if I might make more profit by putting my own stuff up on bittorrent and then suing everyone.

Hmm, 1000 copies at $6 wholesale spread out over at least a year, or morally-bankrupt monopoly money stolen from my own potential customers: THE $75,000,000,000,000 QUESTION?

(*note: not really!)
posted by vorfeed at 3:49 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


vorfeed: Let's not give Nathan Myrvhold and the litigation trolls at Intellectual Ventures any ideas now...
posted by PenDevil at 3:52 PM on March 25, 2011


So, can we spin this as file-sharing creating $75 trillion dollars worth of people sharing in artistic expressions? Cause after hearing that GE paid no taxes this year, I'm really just willing to blame every bad thing on capitalism.
posted by SomeOneElse at 3:53 PM on March 25, 2011 [2 favorites]




Some background, please? Who is "Lime Wire" and what have they done to cause them to be sued?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:55 PM on March 25, 2011


So, really what this means is that the RIAA is attempting to obliterate an industry worth $75,000,000,000,000 right? Destroy something that even they say is worth more than the whole world combined?
posted by Blasdelb at 3:59 PM on March 25, 2011


They know it was ridiculous, but it's a classic bargaining tactic. Demand in inanely high compensation and your unreasonable target looks reasonable.

Some background, please? Who is "Lime Wire" and what have they done to cause them to be sued?

It would have taken fewer keystrokes to query Google than MetaFilter.
posted by clarknova at 4:04 PM on March 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


Chocolate Pickle: "Some background, please? Who is "Lime Wire" and what have they done to cause them to be sued?"

Limewire is (or was) a file-sharing peer to peer program. People installed it on their computers, and shared files with other folks who had also installed the program. In this case, those files were mp3's of music tracks.

Thirteen record companies sued them for creating an environment where people could share their music with other people on the internet. Which is illegal, because doing so violates copyright. The record companies won. Now, the case is in its 'damages' phase, trying to determine how much Limewire owes them.
posted by zarq at 4:06 PM on March 25, 2011


Rhaomi: "RIAA: The World Is Not Enough"

RIAA: How Much For Just The Planet?
posted by zarq at 4:06 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The RIAA is a bunch of greedy thugs. Fuck them.
posted by spitefulcrow at 4:07 PM on March 25, 2011 [9 favorites]




Love the OMFG tag on this.
posted by immlass at 4:21 PM on March 25, 2011


clarknova, you missed a golden "let me google that for you" opportunity
posted by the noob at 4:22 PM on March 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


Does Limewire actually have any real money to pay any kind of fine ?

I can't see any turnover/profits on their wikipedia entries, but their money making plans (as I understand them: ask toolbar + charging for faster downloads) seemed a bit strange.
posted by selton at 4:29 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did filesharing cause the recording industry to collapse? Of course not.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:29 PM on March 25, 2011


Zoe Baird!
posted by davidmsc at 4:43 PM on March 25, 2011


the noob, you seem like you might be a noob, so: LMGTFY and similar links are frowned upon here as being impolite

No matter how justified

posted by jtron at 4:47 PM on March 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Love the OMFG tag on this.

And it's not the first post to use it!! :)
posted by zarq at 5:18 PM on March 25, 2011


Aw, you linked to me (I wrote the CrunchGear article)! Thanks. This story really is ridiculous. The $75tn figure is of course an absurdity but it was also inescapable if you followed the plaintiffs' logic. I'm glad the judge (and the judges on the precedents she sites) had the savvy to call it out for what it was.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 5:20 PM on March 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Would their award go down if someone found out I was a low-level employee at a legal-type department of one of the record companies? Everytime a certain boss got mad at someone, they would instruct a certan low-level employee to upload a handful (although once a file cabinet) of cds to Napster...using the company laptops!

I wonder if that high quality shit started circulating on limewire after napster went down...it was at least in the low thousands.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:15 PM on March 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


RIAA: Proof that Lobbyists can't fix everything.
posted by Fupped Duck at 6:19 PM on March 25, 2011


the noob, you seem like you might be a noob, so: LMGTFY and similar links are frowned upon here as being impolite

Shit, really? I was going to suggest it was a two girls one cup opportunity- lucky for you then.
posted by the noob at 6:25 PM on March 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


You can't argue with that math, just like you can't argue with a crazy person.
posted by TwelveTwo at 6:30 PM on March 25, 2011


Earlier this month, thirteen record labels tried to claim that Limewire was liable for between $400 Billion and $75 Trillion in damages.

Dear Record Labels: please stop getting your legal advice from this woman.
Yours Truly,
Sanity
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:10 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Role call!

Arista Records LLC = SONY
Atlantic Recording Corporation = WMG
Arista Music, fka BMG Music = SONY
Capitol Records, Inc. = CITIGROUP
Elektra Entertainment Group Inc = WMG
Interscope Records = VIVENDI
Laface Records LLC = SONY
Motown Record Company, L.P. = VIVENDI
Priority Records LLC = CITIGROUP
Sony Music Entertainment, fka Sony BMG Music Entertainment = SONY
UMG Recordings, Inc = VIVENDI
Virgin Records America, Inc = CITIGROUP
Warner Bros. Records Inc = WMG

Earlier this month, thirteen record labels four multinational corporations tried to claim...
posted by Sys Rq at 10:15 PM on March 25, 2011 [40 favorites]


Chocolate Pickle: "Some background, please? Who is "Lime Wire" and what have they done to cause them to be sued?"

I know it's been answered already but the easiest answer is that Limewire is 2010's Napster.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:38 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Limewire is 2010's2005's Napster.
posted by inigo2 at 12:27 AM on March 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


The 75 trillion figure is bullshit, and this is why:

There are three kinds of damages for copyright infringement; actual damages, statutory damages and punitive damages. Lets say you've got a market stall trader flogging copies of CDs. Record company enforcers go down there and video tape him selling some. Now, if they catch him selling three copies of CDs by their particular label, actual damages would allow them to claim for their losses on those 3 CDs. Peanuts, maybe $15 total. He's no doubt sold other copies, but you've no idea how many, and no way to prove it.

So instead, there are statutory damages - where you don't know how many other infringements there are you, can claim these instead of your actual losses. These range from $750 to $30,000 per work, depending upon what the court thinks; if it's wilful infringement, then it's up to $150,000 per work.

Punitive damages are additional fines on top, basically as an additional punishment - to avoid the problem where breaking the law and paying the fine is a lower cost of business than staying legal.

Anyway, the record companies in *this* case wanted to apply statutory damages, i.e. $150k, per infringement of each copy. In other words, they tried to work out actual damages, but swap that by claiming maximum statutory damages per incident. Which is bullshit double dipping.

Either you claim for what you've actually lost, or you claim for statutory damages instead as you don't know how much you've actually lost. You don't get to do both, then multiply them together and come up with $75 trillion.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:57 AM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Limewire is 2010's2005's Napster.

I thought that was Soulseek.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:59 AM on March 26, 2011


I'm really fascinated by this case. If I wanted to learn more about the history and legal issues surrounding copyright infringement/intellectual property and how it relates to business and the artists, what would be a good place to start?
posted by autoclavicle at 2:45 AM on March 26, 2011


This seems so completely arbitrary. Right now, I can download any mp3 I want in about 2 minutes from any one of about 2 dozen file sharing sites via filestube. If I can't find them from there I can get them from bittorrent.

The war on filesharing is over and the RIAA lost. This just smacks of desperation.
posted by empath at 3:04 AM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously, how is Mediafire still open? Is it an FBI run honey trap or something?
posted by jtron at 6:26 AM on March 26, 2011




liza: "ugh! that name. had to wikipedia it. and sure enough: "

This tidbit linked on the wikipedia page was pretty cool. :)
posted by zarq at 8:51 AM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


@zarq.

oh that's awesome, i missed that. i didnt mean ugh for her, meant it for the political circus those two nominations brought and the horrendous immigration laws that ensued thereafter. it was another one of those excuses used for moving the democratic party further to right when it came to human rights and social justice issues :P
posted by liza at 9:10 AM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The war on filesharing is over and the RIAA lost. This just smacks of desperation.

The case here was a win for the RIAA.

This isn't a war. There is no one getting killed. Maybe, in light of world events, reserving that term for people actually getting killed.

I find the whole "rebel" image tied to music piracy and theft to be laughable. Seriously, this generation's rebellion is theft of entertainment materials for their own personal enjoyment? Whitey sure got a sense of entitlement, doesn't he? The man is pressing me down! Its hard to be a suburban kid wanting to not have to pay for stuff--you just don't get it!
posted by Ironmouth at 9:24 AM on March 26, 2011


piracy

Come on man, in light of events off the Somalian coast...
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:26 AM on March 26, 2011


piracy

Come on man, in light of events off the Somalian coast...


You're right--let's call it what it is--privileged white kids stealing from "evil multinationals," multinationals that their parents and their parents mutual funds all own stock in. So they hide behind some crappy "information should be free" manifesto to hide what this is all about--their right to not pay for entertainment.

The word piracy lends a glamor that the theft this is does not deserve.

So go on rebelling against yourselves, privileged people!
posted by Ironmouth at 9:33 AM on March 26, 2011


Seriously, this generation's rebellion is theft of entertainment materials for their own personal enjoyment?

And this is different from what other generation in history?

Bootleg sheet music, bootleg phonographs, pirate radio, sneaking into cinemas, home taping, VCRs. Every generation has found some way to "steal" entertainment.
posted by Talez at 9:43 AM on March 26, 2011


Bootleg sheet music, bootleg phonographs, pirate radio, sneaking into cinemas, home taping, VCRs. Every generation has found some way to "steal" entertainment.

They just didn't make it into a self-righteous crusade for theft.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:57 AM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Your point is obscured by idiotic name-calling.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 10:03 AM on March 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


They just didn't make it into a self-righteous crusade for theft.

No one sued them for a trillion dollars either. A lot of how the self-righteousness developed was that the PR of this was handled pretty badly back when the problem was developing and the two sides just became enemies rather than people with a legal disagreement.

Music really was way overpriced back in the day and the record companies really were slow to adapt to digital music. If they had invested in Facebook instead of lawyers to sue teenagers they would have made a lot of money. Social networking has proven itself as a pretty good way to promote music too so it's not like it's that crazy an idea.

Of course none of this justifies illegal actions, I'm just trying to point out it's a bit deeper an issue than rich white people won't buy stuff.

At some point, you have to offer stuff for sale. Apple came along and people started buying music from them. There is a similar issue with sports streaming right now. I would love to buy a streaming package for the Phillies since I don't have a TV at work, but I'm in the local blackout zone so I can't. So yeah I pirate, because they won't sell. I usually see the same ads I would on the cable station I pay for at home anyway.

I have greatly reduced my music piracy to pretty much just albums I bought a long time ago and lost. When I listen to music I do it legally with ad supported streaming services. There is plenty of revenue out there and people are willing to pay or listen to ads to generate it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:24 AM on March 26, 2011


You're right--let's call it what it is--privileged white kids stealing from "evil multinationals," multinationals that their parents and their parents mutual funds all own stock in

Black people don't pirate mp3s?
posted by empath at 10:32 AM on March 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Look at China. Majority non-white population means total respect for intelectual property laws.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:34 AM on March 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


A lot of how the self-righteousness developed was that the PR of this was handled pretty badly back when the problem was developing and the two sides just became enemies rather than people with a legal disagreement.

Music really was way overpriced back in the day and the record companies really were slow to adapt to digital music. If they had invested in Facebook instead of lawyers to sue teenagers they would have made a lot of money.


It is still theft. It is taking from someone property rights over something they invested money in. I do not understand how a "bad PR campaign" justifies theft.

A bad PR campaign is not illegal and does not take things from another person. I've seen every kind of justification here for it--the companies are big, the bands get very little money, the record companies aren't 'really' hurt, you name it. None of it justifies the theft that this is.

Why isn't our response to prices we think are too high due to technology advances to start our own record companies and legally sell records for less? I don't get it. I've also been looking into starting a label with a friend of mine. It can be done--its hard work, but what isn't?

I have used strong language here--but nothing that isn't true. And there's a reason--the people stealing music have the most Republican-style disengenous logic, as if some sin of the record company justifies the appropriation of someone else's property right in something else.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:37 AM on March 26, 2011


Black people don't pirate mp3s?

Let's just say that different communities have different needs to address, no? Because my black friends usually don't talk about this shit. Its my white, computer programmer friends who think that their reading of philosophy justifies their theft of other's property rights. Just because the technology allows it.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:41 AM on March 26, 2011


Top 10 Most Expensive Single Objects in the World.

A Song is Worth $80,000.

My 2TB hard-drive is therefore the most valuable object on the planet.

I have a rule: never wear or carry anything that is more valuable than your life or limb. I can't understand why anyone would wear a diamond ring that is more valuable than their own finger. I guess I should stop carrying my iPod/iPhone then.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 10:44 AM on March 26, 2011


Black people aren't computer programmers and don't read philosophy?
posted by empath at 10:45 AM on March 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Top 10 Most Expensive Single Objects in the World.

A Song is Worth $80,000.

My 2TB hard-drive is therefore the most valuable object on the planet.

I have a rule: never wear or carry anything that is more valuable than your life or limb. I can't understand why anyone would wear a diamond ring that is more valuable than their own finger. I guess I should stop carrying my iPod/iPhone then.


Statutory damages aren't about the actual value of an item.

But think of it this way--you upload a song to a file sharing service worth .99 retail. 80,000 people download it. There's $80,000 right there.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:49 AM on March 26, 2011


Black people aren't computer programmers and don't read philosophy?

At a far lesser rate than rich whites, yes. And that's what this is about. Privileged people not wanting to pay for entertainment and personal enjoyment. This is about your personal gain at the expense of another. This isn't about saving whales, stopping war or helping others.

Its about selfishly helping yourself.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:53 AM on March 26, 2011


Of course none of this justifies illegal actions, I'm just trying to point out it's a bit deeper an issue than rich white people won't buy stuff.
-
It is still theft. It is taking from someone property rights over something they invested money in. I do not understand how a "bad PR campaign" justifies theft.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:56 AM on March 26, 2011


Of course none of this justifies illegal actions, I'm just trying to point out it's a bit deeper an issue than rich white people won't buy stuff.

How, exactly, is it "deeper?"
posted by Ironmouth at 10:58 AM on March 26, 2011


blah blah blah piracy is not theft, yada yada.. same old argument

You keep getting really angry about it and I'll keep downloading and sharing mp3s. At the end of the day, me and my friends will have a lot of great music and you'll still be bitter.
posted by empath at 10:58 AM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


How, exactly, is it "deeper?"

Umm, the rest of the post I didn't quote.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:05 AM on March 26, 2011


You keep getting really angry about it and I'll keep downloading and sharing mp3s. At the end of the day, me and my friends will have a lot of great music and you'll still be bitter.

Just be honest with yourself and stop making yourselves out to ne the victims. Acknowledge that this is about you appropriating someone else's property for personal, selfish gain, rather than you guys being some kind of 'heroes.'

I know people are going to steal. What I can't stand is the romanticization of it all. As if this isn't for you just to have fun.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:06 AM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Umm, the rest of the post I didn't quote.

They're just excuses. There's nothing 'deep' about them. That's my whole complaint. Keep stealing, fine. Just stop acting like somehow this is about some larger, 'important' struggle. Its about the struggle to selfishly make people's music collections larger.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:09 AM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just be honest with yourself and stop making yourselves out to ne the victims. Acknowledge that this is about you appropriating someone else's property for personal, selfish gain, rather than you guys being some kind of 'heroes.'

I know people are going to steal. What I can't stand is the romanticization of it all. As if this isn't for you just to have fun.


I genuinely believe it's not stealing, and don't feel the slightest twinge of guilt over it. As far as who is harmed for it, I guess I could point to the various broke college kids, grandmothers and poor people that the RIAA has bankrupted to 'make an example of'.

I can't point to any artists who have actually been harmed by it, but feel free to, if you know any.
posted by empath at 11:13 AM on March 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just stop acting like somehow this is about some larger, 'important' struggle. Its about the struggle to selfishly make people's music collections larger.

I don't pretend it's noble, just that it's deeper than "Wah, I want free stuff." I can list tons of examples of businesses that are doing great selling products available on pirate networks and examples of piracy where purchase has not even been offered as an option.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:19 AM on March 26, 2011


I genuinely believe it's not stealing

In other words, your morality and your personal economic benefit coincide.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:21 AM on March 26, 2011


In other words, your morality and your personal economic benefit coincide.

You're a lawyer, you should understand.
posted by empath at 11:28 AM on March 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just be honest with yourself and stop making yourselves out to ne the victims. Acknowledge that this is about you appropriating someone else's property for personal, selfish gain, rather than you guys being some kind of 'heroes.'

Like I said above, I'm looking into starting my own record label. I've been selling music for about five years now, mostly on CD -- CDs that are probably all on RapidShare or the like. And as far as I'm concerned, this kind of rhetoric is nonsense.

As a businessperson, my job is to sell things. If I cannot convince someone to buy my wares, I don't get to claim that they have "appropriated my property" by choosing to get them somewhere else. Downloading exists, and is incredibly widespread -- that's reality, a natural consequence of modern bandwidth, and no amount of suing or crying or equating it with "theft" is going to change the reality of the music market in 2010. My own solution is to add value: I need to put stuff out on vinyl, I need to get my table out at shows, I need to print shirts and posters and other merch that can't be downloaded. I need to hustle my ass off in the explicit hope that people will download the album... and then, if they like it, buy something. And you know what else? I need a solid day job, just like 99% of all the record label owners out there. I can't just expect the world to give me money all out of proportion to my own risk and effort.

Alternately, I guess I could sue a software company, or a bunch of people who probably never listened to the album they "appropriated" "from me" more than once or twice in the first place... but as far as I'm concerned, that would be stealing.
posted by vorfeed at 11:29 AM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a businessperson, my job is to sell things. If I cannot convince someone to buy my wares, I don't get to claim that they have "appropriated my property" by choosing to get them somewhere else.

Actually, they do get to claim that. Hence the fight in the above cases for damages.

And every time someone does not buy your records, it adds up. It limits the number of bands you can sign.

In the end, your position is based on a false assumption that the laws of economics don't count and that if only record companies did something different people would gladly pay for something they could get for free. There is no basis for this. At all. People are going to steal if they can and the only way to stop it is to reduce the opportunity cost or get oiut of the business entirely.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:37 AM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, they do get to claim that. Hence the fight in the above cases for damages.

I said I don't get to claim that.

You see, that's what happens when my morality and personal economic benefit do not coincide...
posted by vorfeed at 11:40 AM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


n other words, your morality and your personal economic benefit coincide.

You're a lawyer, you should understand.


I'm not allowed to let my personal morality into my job. I follow the Rules of Professional Responsibility which control my conduct. If lawyers did otherwise, no one would defend the indigent or those appearing guilty. Working off of childish stereotypes of attorneys, many based on old-school anglo-saxon racism, doesn't add to anyone's understanding of attorneys.

Nor does it change the facts here--you believe its "not stealing" and its no surprise you personally benefit from this position to the tune of a few thousand dollars a year.

How, . . .how, Republican.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:45 AM on March 26, 2011


You see, that's what happens when my morality and personal economic benefit do not coincide...

Hmmm, correct me if I am wrong, but do you sell recordings to people for which you do not own the license?
posted by Ironmouth at 11:48 AM on March 26, 2011


Nor does it change the facts here--you believe its "not stealing" and its no surprise you personally benefit from this position to the tune of a few thousand dollars a year.

A few thousand songs per year maybe (and really not that many). I spend a lot of money on music. I just don't spend it buying mp3s I'm only going to listen to once or twice.
posted by empath at 11:50 AM on March 26, 2011


Hmmm, correct me if I am wrong, but do you sell recordings to people for which you do not own the license?

No, he just doesn't think it's morally wrong for people to download mp3s and would feel bad about suing them over it.
posted by empath at 11:51 AM on March 26, 2011


Hmmm, correct me if I am wrong, but do you sell recordings to people for which you do not own the license?

No, he just doesn't think it's morally wrong for people to download mp3s and would feel bad about suing them over it.

I've been selling music for about five years now, mostly on CD -- CDs that are probably all on RapidShare or the like.


Whose CD's is he selling then?
posted by Ironmouth at 11:58 AM on March 26, 2011


You should probably read that more carefully.
posted by empath at 12:34 PM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the end, your position is based on a false assumption that the laws of economics don't count and that if only record companies did something different people would gladly pay for something they could get for free. There is no basis for this. At all.

*Kicks huge pile of CDs next to my laptop*

"I refute it thus".

Or, less obliquely: I pirate a lot of music*. I also spend a huge amount of money on music - often on bands that I discovered though piracy originally. Both live shows and CDs. There's research to suggest that I'm not alone there. Piracy let's me try before I buy, but if I like an artist I will support them and they get paid. Flashback 20 years and I was buying stuff at random off the shelves of record stores, and ending up with some appaling junk. Now I've got albums that I really like, or that remind me of a great gig I went to.

*Less so now that I've got Spotify - it's easier than piracy. And unavailable in the US. Thanks to the record companies. One might speculate that they could reduce piracy by supporting services like Spotify.
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:02 PM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's research to suggest that I'm not alone there.

I spend piles of money on music. I've got bookshelves full of vinyl imports from when I was DJing (and also a pile of burned mix cds full of what was technically pirated music -- and the 1000s of cds I gave away of mix cds that I made). There's a lot of touring DJs and producers right now that only got gigs in America because of people like me downloading their live sets from the internet and sharing them with our friends and playing their music at gigs. I met more than one producer/DJ who were absolutely stunned that a few thousand people showed up to first gigs in the US because they had never had any records released in the US or played on the radio here. They got entirely known through mix tape trading and DJs playing their stuff and promoting it.

I've never met a music producer who was upset that someone told them they pirated their music. I've met more than a few that complained about their record labels ripping them off, though -- I had one friend who had his song chart on beat port, get licensed for a mix cd on a major label, as well as licensed by a major retail chain, and he never get a dime for it from the label. People pirating his music was the least of his concerns. He eventually just started giving away the songs for free because he wasn't getting paid for it anyway, so he might as well let more people listen to it.
posted by empath at 1:22 PM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


inigo2: "Limewire is 2010's2005's Napster."

Well, I was going by the date they got sued.
posted by IndigoRain at 2:03 PM on March 26, 2011


Whitey sure got a sense of entitlement, doesn't he?

What colour do you think the RIAA fatcats are?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:38 PM on March 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Piracy let's me try before I buy, but if I like an artist I will support them and they get paid.

As true as that might be (as if anyone buys a CD once they have downloaded it?), it isn't your place to say how other people are allowed to market their music.

I've never met a music producer who was upset that someone told them they pirated their music. I've met more than a few that complained about their record labels ripping them off, though -- I had one friend who had his song chart on beat port, get licensed for a mix cd on a major label, as well as licensed by a major retail chain, and he never get a dime for it from the label. People pirating his music was the least of his concerns. He eventually just started giving away the songs for free because he wasn't getting paid for it anyway, so he might as well let more people listen to it.


He didn't have to sign with the label if he didn't want to. And no matter what HE chooses to do with his creations, that doesn't give anyone else the right to tell other creators what to do with their creations.
posted by gjc at 4:51 PM on March 26, 2011


Ironmouth: Why isn't our response to prices we think are too high due to technology advances to start our own record companies and legally sell records for less?

Well, you know, just taking them for free is a lot easier. But isn't that happening already. Aren't some bands giving away their recordings right now?

I actually find your arguments nearly convincing, Ironmouth. But I can't generate any sympathy for the big labels. Frankly, I can't generate sympathy for any company at all. I don't care about whether or not their business plan is a success or not. Period. And that, in my view, is the real problem. They intend to generate cash by charging for a resource the scarcity of which can no longer be controlled. Too bad. If you or I had a business plan that suffered the same situation, we would simply fold. If I treated all of my customers as theives/potential thieves, should I expect them to be my customers for long? These guys pay for legislation to enable absurd prosecutions of those they feel they can win against. They are suing their own customers and I sincerely hope they fail. One who calls filesharing stealing simply sides with them. Also, it is worth noting that they are only suing the ones they can find, which would be mostly the white, privileged rebels you have called out above, not the multitudes of white and non-white folks living abroad who, frankly, cannot afford the usurious prices they charge for "legit" digital media.

And ultimately, either they lose, or the future of digital media is going to suck hard for everyone. Well, everyone except the pirates of course. Which is pretty much how it is right now anywayz. So, yeah, I hope the major labels lose. The sooner they vanish the better.
posted by fartknocker at 4:52 PM on March 26, 2011


They intend to generate cash by charging for a resource the scarcity of which can no longer be controlled.

Right, this is the problem. There is absolute nothing necessary, rational or natural about copyright. It's an artificial construction of human beings to find a way to compensate creative people for their work. It is not the only possible way of doing it, and the sooner we bury and it create something more realistic, the better.
posted by empath at 5:32 PM on March 26, 2011


Or reduce the years to something reasonable at least.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:34 PM on March 26, 2011


Yeah, it's weird how people talk about this as if the ability of "creators" (not that a record company should ever be confused with an artist) to make money off of copies of their "creations" is simply a fact of life. It isn't. It's a relatively new thing, brought to us thanks to technology. And to paraphrase some book I can't remember the title of, technology giveth, and technology taketh away. So the worst case scenario is one where artists only get paid once per work or performance. Just like it used to be in the old days. And the record companies fold. Who will miss them?
posted by fartknocker at 9:19 PM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's weird how people talk about this as if the ability of "creators" (not that a record company should ever be confused with an artist) to make money off of copies of their "creations" is simply a fact of life.

Right, there are plenty of ways to pay artists besides selling copies of their work, such as paying them up front. Plenty of artists work for free for years in this system right now and never make a dime -- just on the hope of some future possible payday that may never come, writing novels or screenplays, community theater, busking, whatever. Even prior to file sharing, this happened all the time. They were called 'starving artists' for a reason.
posted by empath at 9:32 PM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is absolute nothing necessary, rational or natural about copyright. It's an artificial construction of human beings to find a way to compensate creative people for their work. It is not the only possible way of doing it, and the sooner we bury and it create something more realistic, the better.

That is ridiculous. Why should someone who creates something NOT have control over the distribution of their work? Who are you to tell a writer how they can and can't make money from their skill/talent/craft?
posted by gjc at 10:14 PM on March 26, 2011


What you say? I am causing a whole industry to fail? Oh no...and what you say? It's the MUSIC industry? Pretty soon there won't be music anymore? HAHAHA!

This is when I cue up my illegally downloaded copy of Prince's "1999" and play '1999'. Tonight we're going to party like its 1999...cuz I mean we did destroy a horrible horrible industry.

Lets say the average cost of a CD is $12. For every CD I download, I'm stealing about a $1 from the artist (an artist who negotiated well with the record company, that is). The rest of the $11 goes to various marketers, investors, scumbags, and well lets be honest: some good honest people. Its true. I'm stealing money from honest people when I steal a cd.

BUT lets talk about those people. They work at another krappy kompany where only the top dogs bring home enough to send their kids to Harvard...every day for 2000 years. I'm sure the honest people are working another $30,000 a year job and are living paycheck to paycheck. Its just another Walmart...but this one doles out music instead of cheaply produced wares.

So yeah, if this goes down...I'm not so sad. SOMEONE will have to figure out how to sell music again, and maybe this time it won't end up with the talentless people making most of the money while the hardworking people get very little benefit from "their race to the bottom" job...not to mention the actual artist getting very little.

And yeah...I am stealing from artists. Prince, I totally heard that comment you made about gays (you?!?! why?!?!). Here's me telling you I stole a few bucks from you.

Also, 50 cent...I steal from you so much, some would wonder if you're my prison bitch. I hear you're carrying $1M in your car...do you wanna do this the easy way, or hard way?
posted by hal_c_on at 10:38 PM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Concluding that downloading a digital copy of something without paying for it is stealing, is arbitrarily taking a side on an abstract issue. You may want it to be binary, but it's not. Just like how a terabyte drive chock-full of illegally downloaded songs weighs exactly the same as a completely "empty" drive. The person who supposedly "owns" those files didn't "lose" any of them. And no one has ever been able to prove that each instance of "illegal copying" constitutes a lost "sale." We may as well argue about how many MP3s can rest on the head of pin. The idea that anyone could ever be prosecuted in a court of law over this stuff is the truly absurd part.
posted by fartknocker at 8:28 AM on March 27, 2011


That is ridiculous. Why should someone who creates something NOT have control over the distribution of their work? Who are you to tell a writer how they can and can't make money from their skill/talent/craft?

And who is the writer to tell me to how and when I can transmit information (ie - speak)?

They can attempt to make money however they choose. Nobody is guaranteed a living, though.
posted by empath at 8:42 AM on March 27, 2011


gjc: That is ridiculous. Why should someone who creates something NOT have control over the distribution of their work? Who are you to tell a writer how they can and can't make money from their skill/talent/craft?

You only think it's ridiculous because you've made an investment on one side of this issue. Artistic types have never had control over the distribution of their work. Many artists whose work is worth millions today died poor, sometimes destitute. That's reality. What you're describing is a fiction, an attractive fiction enthusiastically promoted by some very avaricious people, but a fiction nonetheless.
posted by fartknocker at 8:43 AM on March 27, 2011


Hmmm, correct me if I am wrong, but do you sell recordings to people for which you do not own the license?
[...]
Whose CD's is he selling then?


I get my stock wholesale or through trade direct from the record labels or bands, just like every other reseller on earth. CDs and vinyl aren't software, at least not yet; there is no "license" involved in selling them.
posted by vorfeed at 11:40 AM on March 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


As true as that might be (as if anyone buys a CD once they have downloaded it?)

I can assure you that it is, and I do (buy CDs that I have previously downloaded).

it isn't your place to say how other people are allowed to market their music.

That is a fair comment, and something that has bothered me in the past. I suspect if I knew that a particular artist was dead set against file-sharing, that I wouldn't download their stuff. (I realise that I should probably be taking the opposite approach - only downloading if I know that the artist is OK with it. But to be honest I've pretty much made my peace with it. As I said, I barely pirate stuff anymore, now that I can get 95+% of anything I want, instantly and legally. The only stuff I've torrented this year is digital versions of albums that I own on vinyl, and the Mountain Goats on pre-release because I forgot to stream it on NPR).
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:50 PM on March 27, 2011


Just stopping by for a shout out to Judge Wood, author of the comedy gold that is Leonard v. Pepsico, where a kid sues Pepsi claiming it owes him a Harrier jet based on this commercial and she painstakingly analyzes why this ad is, in fact, a joke:

Second, the callow youth featured in the commercial is a highly improbable pilot, one who could barely be trusted with the keys to his parents' car, much less the prize aircraft of the United States Marine Corps. Rather than checking the fuel gauges on his aircraft, the teenager spends his precious preflight minutes preening. The youth's concern for his coiffure appears to extend to his flying without a helmet. Finally, the teenager's comment that flying a Harrier Jet to school "sure beats the bus" evinces an improbably insouciant attitude toward the relative difficulty and danger of piloting a fighter plane in a residential area, as opposed to taking public transportation.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 4:33 PM on March 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


People buy bottled water, even though you can get water for free out of the tap. Why? If the music industry worked that out I'm sure they'd still be doing great. As it is, it's taken them years to realise that once we've got indoor plumbing we won't want to get rid of it. Point being, there are plenty of things that we pay for where there is a free (identical) alternative, because we perceive of the paid version as having additional value. That's got to be the future, and it's just common sense really, but for some reason it just seems to have been an uphill struggle for that industry to see that.
posted by iivix at 5:57 AM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I get my stock wholesale or through trade direct from the record labels or bands, just like every other reseller on earth. CDs and vinyl aren't software, at least not yet; there is no "license" involved in selling them.

Got you. You're a legal sellerm

But all of those people who want a "more realistic" system, I think what you want to say is that you want it for free.

Also, guess what, the artists do get paid. 50% on licensed music and 15%, less packaging costs on the rest. You are taking money right out of the hands of artists with illegal downloading.

And you can listen to streaming music on bands websites without having to steal it first. So why not do that if you really want to support musicians. Yes they sell part of their rights to record companies--but this is how many 'idea workers' make their money. They hand over a portion of rights money to a company who can give them a better reach and more sales.

I do know that the record companies will have to charge less, as every year they add less and less value to the product with technology. But stealing the music provides no incentive to lower prices--you are lost to them as a customer, so lowering prices makes no difference.

Wanna hold corporations accountable? How can you do that if you refuse to be accountable yourself? Impossible. If you're just an individual version of a combine that takes things because you can, how can you turn around and call Halliburton or BP out?
posted by Ironmouth at 9:19 AM on March 28, 2011


That would make a great unskippable DVD PSA.

Pay for your movies, or YOU DID THE BP OIL SPILL!
*pictures of oil covered wildlife*

posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:21 PM on March 28, 2011


You only think it's ridiculous because you've made an investment on one side of this issue. Artistic types have never had control over the distribution of their work. Many artists whose work is worth millions today died poor, sometimes destitute. That's reality. What you're describing is a fiction, an attractive fiction enthusiastically promoted by some very avaricious people, but a fiction nonetheless.

"That's how it used to be" does not define fiction. Copyright is not a fiction; it exists and has existed for a long time.
posted by gjc at 8:19 AM on March 29, 2011


"That's how it used to be" does not define fiction. Copyright is not a fiction; it exists and has existed for a long time.

A couple hundred years. The gold standard lasted for centuries, but now it's gone. Economic regimes can and do change.
posted by empath at 8:39 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Concluding that downloading a digital copy of something without paying for it is stealing, is arbitrarily taking a side on an abstract issue. You may want it to be binary, but it's not. Just like how a terabyte drive chock-full of illegally downloaded songs weighs exactly the same as a completely "empty" drive. The person who supposedly "owns" those files didn't "lose" any of them. And no one has ever been able to prove that each instance of "illegal copying" constitutes a lost "sale." We may as well argue about how many MP3s can rest on the head of pin. The idea that anyone could ever be prosecuted in a court of law over this stuff is the truly absurd part.

Not everything is sold by weight. A $1 weighs as much as a $100 bill. The value is in the idea of it. Same with a bank account. It is a non-corporeal thing that has value. Yet it can be stolen nonetheless. This "theft has to be a thing" meme is ridiculous and illogical on the face of it.

Why is counterfeiting or sneaking into movie theaters illegal? You haven't taken anything from someone, after all.

This IS a binary situation. On one side you have people who pay the price an artist sets, and on the other side you have people who don't.
posted by gjc at 8:42 AM on March 29, 2011


A couple hundred years. The gold standard lasted for centuries, but now it's gone. Economic regimes can and do change.

And you are advocating going back to one where artists are less able to make a living off of their creations?
posted by gjc at 8:44 AM on March 29, 2011


And you are advocating going back to one where artists are less able to make a living off of their creations?

No, I'm advocating going to one where they don't depend on or expect to get paid for making copies of their work.
posted by empath at 9:13 AM on March 29, 2011


No, I'm advocating going to one where they don't depend on or expect to get paid for making copies of their work.

Well, there is your problem. You don't respect their work. I mean, who the hell are you to tell someone how they should and should not sell their wares?

Seriously. Think about this issue. You are saying, in effect, that content is valueless. The price for a newspaper or a book should be the price of the paper. Fuck all those writers who want to be paid for "copies" of their work.
posted by gjc at 5:21 PM on March 29, 2011


Well, there is your problem. You don't respect their work. I mean, who the hell are you to tell someone how they should and should not sell their wares?

The consumer.

Respect is a two-way street, y'know.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:27 PM on March 29, 2011


(Which is to say that Napster and its progeny mightn't ever have existed if the RIAA hadn't been gouging consumers throughout the '90s.)
posted by Sys Rq at 5:33 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously. Think about this issue. You are saying, in effect, that content is valueless. The price for a newspaper or a book should be the price of the paper. Fuck all those writers who want to be paid for "copies" of their work.

I'm saying the a digital copy of their work is essentially valueless, and it's only via artificial scarcity that they expect to be able to charge for it.

You have a lack of imagination. There are other ways to get paid for doing creative work besides selling copies of your work, including work for hire.
posted by empath at 10:54 PM on March 29, 2011


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