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Anontune
April 19, 2012 11:41 AM   Subscribe


 
Anonymous has an annoying voice.
posted by found missing at 11:50 AM on April 19, 2012 [5 favorites]




I know I'll be first in line to install software written by Anonymous on my computer.
posted by 256 at 11:54 AM on April 19, 2012 [51 favorites]


It appears to be Spotify but from scraped sources, so it has the benefits that there's no channel for artists getting paid and it makes record companies more likely to issue takedowns for material on Youtube and the like.
posted by Artw at 11:55 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


So this is something like newzbin, then? Because newzbin had lost in the court system repeatedly.
posted by NathanBoy at 12:01 PM on April 19, 2012


So they're building a better music aggregator. Interesting.

A note from the Wired article:
A word of caution to curious readers: The system relies on executing a Java applet. Unless you are extremely trusting or using VMWare, you should think very carefully about running code on your machine that was written by members of Anonymous.
(Your) Information Wants To Be FREE!
posted by filthy light thief at 12:01 PM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


It appears to be Spotify but from scraped sources...

Isn't that how Grooveshark works?
posted by griphus at 12:02 PM on April 19, 2012


I wonder where they stole the background music for the video from?
posted by idiopath at 12:03 PM on April 19, 2012


Artw: It appears to be Spotify but from scraped sources, so it has the benefits that there's no channel for artists getting paid and it makes record companies more likely to issue takedowns for material on Youtube and the like.

At first I was excited for a better aggregator, but this is a really valid point. Users can find music more easily, and so can copyright infringement hounds. Maybe they'll shift media uploads to services outside of the US. But then it could be a big, stupid game of whack-a-mole. Sigh.


griphus: Isn't that how Grooveshark works?

I'm not sure of the technical side, but the Licensing and criticism section of the Grooveshark Wikipedia page is interesting. The latest news update at the time of posting this comment is that Grooveshark is being sued by "all major music labels".
posted by filthy light thief at 12:08 PM on April 19, 2012


So the difference between this and internet radio is that here you get to choose the songs? Hmmm... I think they're filling a niche that already has a few occupants.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:11 PM on April 19, 2012


This is my jam sort of is similar, in that it builds playlists out of youtube and soundcloud tracks, but the whole site seems to be designed around the question "how can we do this without pissing off the copyright holders?"

I have to say though, that there's a lot of my favorite music that is not on youtube or soundcloud. So even if I trusted anontune, and wanted to stream video just to get audio, this currently holds limited appeal to me.
posted by aubilenon at 12:11 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The technical proposal in the Anontune White Paper is awfully thin. "A bridge will be constructed providing a BSD-style Socket API to Javascript applications. The bridge will link up with a specialized Java application which will service API requests." It sounds basically like they're trying to make it easy to embed streaming music programs from anywhere on the Internet in a web page. Which is kinda cool, but then where do the streams come from?
posted by Nelson at 12:13 PM on April 19, 2012


Dear Anonymous, or any crafty coders who want to earn respect from users AND musicians, create a site that aggregates sources to buy music, noting country limitations, formats available, and price variations. There is a ridiculous number of online shops, each with their own pricing scheme and distribution agreements with individual labels.

I now realize I want the Kayak of music shopping. That would rock.

Thank you.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:13 PM on April 19, 2012 [15 favorites]


This will be great news for all those people who — being members of the most materially wealthy generation in human history — believe that "not having to pay for stuff" is a fundamental human right.
posted by Ratio at 12:22 PM on April 19, 2012 [10 favorites]


So it's just a rehash of the same 10 year old idea to distribute music online.

Yet now with an even crappier UI and less trustworthy source.
posted by roboton666 at 12:23 PM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


So we can pay (whether it's a fair payment or not is another story) for music through iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Pandora, Bandcamp, and maybe a dozen other places ... but instead we develop new ways to enjoy it without compensating the artists?

Keep on fighting the good fight, Anon.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:30 PM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Are they developing AnonT-shirt in parallel?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:31 PM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Christ the 21st century sucks. Anonymous, Wikileaks, Occupy Wall Street. Every time one of these movements emerges, I'm like: "Fuck yeah. Leveraging technology and social media to take down oligarchs. Sign me up!" Then I look closer and see that it's another cocktail of bombastic self-promotion and technical ineptitude, served with only the dimmest sense for how to accomplish something of significance. Every one of these social-media driven political movements just ends up strengthening the fat cats' hands and making everyone else a little more fatalistic.

Someone needs to convince Notch and Assange to make a love child.
posted by R. Schlock at 12:35 PM on April 19, 2012 [13 favorites]


I went in with an open mind, but it looks like a dog's breakfast and I couldn't figure out how to do anything. NOT L33TIST!
posted by furtive at 12:39 PM on April 19, 2012


Metafilter: another cocktail of bombastic self-promotion and technical ineptitude.
posted by jquinby at 12:39 PM on April 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Anonymous, Wikileaks, Occupy Wall Street.

Sudan, Yemen, Jersey Shore is back again.
We didn't start the fire ...
posted by uncleozzy at 12:40 PM on April 19, 2012 [29 favorites]


Every time I look at Anonymous, Wikileaks, Occupy Wall Street I see government attempts to shut them down. Usually not because of their self-promotion.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:41 PM on April 19, 2012 [13 favorites]


“We would say stuff like, ‘People really use YouTube as a music player yet it really sucks for that purpose … it’s too unorganized,’” the anon wrote to Wired. “And then, ‘YouTube does make a good music player but you can’t play all your songs on it since the obscure ones aren’t uploaded,’ then eventually, ‘Hmmm, what if you were to combine music websites like Myspace, Yahoo, YouTube and others?’”

Google and the music "industry" doesn't realize what a pot of gold YouTube could be to them if they all got their shit together. Music videos are advertisements for the artists and I still don't get why a label wouldn't put their entire catalogs on YouTube (if there's no video, then do what the amateurs do and just have an image of the album cover). YouTube could expand that buy on iTunes/Google Play/etc link to be on everything. And if I want to put a popular song down as a bed for my cat video, then have the links there. They should work together to eliminate the geographic restrictions so that if I post a video from the United States, someone in England can see it (and the artist/label in the UK gets credit). It would require the labels to work on a global basis and accept a lower per play royalty but they'd make more money overall because of the zillions of songs that are on youtube now that they're not getting anything on. If Google made this a Saturn Rocket Launch type project internally, Google Play could totally unseat iTunes dominance.

Further, YouTube could make its play listing and UI have a music view option for this type of thing. It would make this idea from anon even more unnecessary.

But for all this to work it would take the dumb labels to see the potential of this and change the way they do business and I'm not optimistic that will happen soon.

This anon tune project is really more of a poking the industry with a stick and will probably mean more of those Google takedown pages (:/ This video was removed at the request of X).

And to introduce a Java app right around the time that dumb flashback trojan showed up infecting Macs. At this point I'm leery of any Java app, let alone one from a group known for snooping around people's computers. I'm sure the people working on this project have their hearts in it, but it is a pretty loaded brand name at this point.
posted by birdherder at 12:41 PM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: the dimmest sense for how to accomplish something of significance.
posted by herbplarfegan at 12:46 PM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Someone needs to convince Notch and Assange to make a love child.

Isn't Notch infamous for being lazy, at times incompetent, and too-easily entangled into internet drama?
posted by Apocryphon at 12:55 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Corporations and Anonymous have one thing in common. Buzzwords and Jargon.

...This information will place Anontune in a prime position for new research and innovations into online music.

research and innovation. Wow. Both at the same time!? The future is now.

Overtly, it will be seen as no different to any other infringing platform, covertly it will be fundamentally different and more similar to search engines or torrent trackers.

Overtly? covertly? Fundamentally?

They had me at 'different and more similar.'

I like this idea of anontune. But this whole speech is just silly. Leave this stuff to the corporate PR folks.
posted by hot_monster at 12:58 PM on April 19, 2012


This will be great news for all those people who — being members of the most materially wealthy generation in human history — believe that "not having to pay for stuff" is a fundamental human right.

I have my doubts that the baby boomers are really following Anon's activites that closely.
posted by Winnemac at 1:02 PM on April 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Isn't Notch infamous for being lazy, at times incompetent, and too-easily entangled into internet drama?

I would say scatter-brained more than lazy.
posted by empath at 1:02 PM on April 19, 2012


Music does not need another transport layer. We have many ways to pay for music, as outlined above. We have even more ways of not paying for music. "I can't download music for free" is not a problem that needs to be solved, not for morals reasons but practical ones. No need to create a new way of eating faster when you're already at the all you can eat buffet.

Indeed we seem to have the opposite problem. We are awash in a sea of music, gushing from all sides. It's so bad that the mere giving of music away is no longer a promotion of it, just from the sheer mass of free music it must compete against. We have a promotion, curation, and payment problem. Those are a hell of lot more interesting and harder problems to crack.
posted by zabuni at 1:03 PM on April 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


fearfulsymmetry: Are they developing AnonT-shirt in parallel?

My sources say yes. And they're also going on tour, because that's how you really make money in the music business.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:03 PM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Tupac's hologram is headlining, with Biggie's ghost on the second stage.
posted by cashman at 1:04 PM on April 19, 2012


roboton666: So it's just a rehash of the same 10 year old idea to distribute music online.

Nope, this is an attempt to organize access to music hosted online, often without consent from labels and artists, and provide a redundancy of sources, to make the system less prone to fail due to DMCA and similar take-down requests of individual tracks.

The white paper (PDF; Google Quickview) talks about this, but also shows how full of themselves they are.
By the very nature of music it seeks to be free. It is auditory waves of emotional expression. It seeks to be heard and by setting a price, its distribution is inhibited. The result may even be that this action actually causes more losses for the artists in question.
...
First - the truth needs to be accepted: That piracy is superior and you can't stop it. Second - music needs to be set free. Free enough in the primary medium of its consumption, the internet, for innovation to prosper.
Those bits and bytes you download? They're a lie. That's not the music. That's the hollow shell for waves of emotion, the soul of music. You can compress it, but you can't hold it back! Freebird! FREEBIRD!
posted by filthy light thief at 1:16 PM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ordinarily I rather like Anonymous and their shenanigans. And god knows I'm in favor of anything that'll bring the mainstream music business closer to collapse. But I really don't see much innovative or even interesting about this.

I'm sorry, Anonymous. But I am very insignificant. Please don't attack me.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:22 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Uh, doesn't Soulseek already do everything a modern file-sharing program needs to do? Or how about what.cd? Both continue to exist, and are a great source of unsigned bands and obscure music.

It seems like the key to avoiding being sued by RIAA is to not become too popular, to stay off the radar and only trade in music that isn't important to the major labels' business model – e.g., top-40 hits and popular classic acts.
posted by deathpanels at 1:34 PM on April 19, 2012


Ordinarily I rather like Anonymous and their shenanigans.

Anonymous is whoever says they're Anonymous, there's no way of knowing who these guys are and if they're related in any way to anyone else 'in Anonymous'.
posted by empath at 1:36 PM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Any old stupid shit someone says is Anonymous is Anonymous - that's the cost of being Anonymous. They wanted something else they should have been called Clearly Identifiable or Know Quantity or something.
posted by Artw at 1:41 PM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Or how about what.cd?

What.cd is private, so it's a different type of solution. The Pirate (/Promo) Bay would be more apt.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:01 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


A good rule of thumb. Whenever you hear someone say "Anonymous" is doing something, mentally substitute that word with the phase "some random internet guys."

This will be great news for all those people who — being members of the most materially wealthy generation in human history — believe that "not having to pay for stuff" is a fundamental human right.

Of course it is not. However, music is not stuff. Neither are images, movies or software.
posted by JHarris at 2:13 PM on April 19, 2012


I would suggest that if you could copy food as easily as you can copy music, it would be immoral to demand that people pay for it. Even if a chef put in a lot of effort into designing the recipe.
posted by empath at 2:40 PM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would suggest that if you could copy food as easily as you can copy music, it would be immoral to demand that people pay for it.

People die if they don't eat new food every day. People don't die if they don't listen to new music every day.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:03 PM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Music has changed

Funny, it still sounds like Rick Astley to me.
posted by Metro Gnome at 3:15 PM on April 19, 2012


Never gonna give you up...
posted by Deoridhe at 4:02 PM on April 19, 2012


Presented with music by Hans Zimmer. Talk about stickin' it to the man.
posted by rowancluster at 4:09 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


People die if they don't eat new food every day. People don't die if they don't listen to new music every day.

This is a good point, although I note that it doesn't negate either mine nor empath's.

Metro Gnome: Funny, it still sounds like Rick Astley to me.

Yes, um, we were always going to have to come clean about that eventually....

You're the focus of a massive conspiracy, the largest Rickroll the world has ever known. Me and my shadowy compatriots have ensured that every piece of music you've heard for the last six years has been either sung, composed or written by Rick Astley.

We'll stop now. We've all really sorry. But, I feel it it's important to add, not so sorry that we wouldn't do it again.
posted by JHarris at 4:22 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


http://www.anontune.com/user.php?username=demo
Loading . . . Accept all security warnings.

Looks legit.
posted by vidur at 4:25 PM on April 19, 2012


deathpanels: It seems like the key to avoiding being sued by RIAA is to not become too popular, to stay off the radar and only trade in music that isn't important to the major labels' business model – e.g., top-40 hits and popular classic acts.

I think that's some of the problem [this branch of] Anonymous is trying to address. Regular people want a way to listen to whatever they want to hear, and not have to use some specialized app or limited-access site to hear music. And to survive in this effort, they appear to avoid direct confrontation with RIAA by 1) providing links to audio instead of the audio itself, and 2) providing multiple sources for the audio, so the takedown requests will need to go to many host, not just one.

Newzbin faced legal actions because they're a indexing a known source of pirated material, much like various torrent tracking sites in 2006. YouTube, Soundcloud, et al have enough legitimate content that it'd be harder to claim that the only thing Anontune did was provide access to pirated material.

Now if they added in search of files on hosting services, then they'd be pushing their luck.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:34 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


everyone's missed the most important thing about that video - it is obvious to me that anonymous is a DALEK FRONT!!!

i'm surprised that voice didn't start yelling, EXTERMINATE, EXTERMINATE!!!

yeah, go ahead, download that little app - but don't come crying to me when some funky little robot busts in your door and announces your extermination
posted by pyramid termite at 4:55 PM on April 19, 2012


I would suggest that if you could copy food as easily as you can copy music, it would be immoral to demand that people pay for it. Even if a chef put in a lot of effort into designing the recipe.

Interestingly, recipes aren't (normally) subject to copyright protection (in the US, anyway.)

I get your point, though. I think a better analogy is speech. Bits are speech; they have to be transmitted and interpreted to be understood. And I take a dim view of anyone attempting to inhibit free speech, even if it's just someone is just repeating what someone else said.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:28 PM on April 19, 2012


Man, just when everyone was mad about that Lowery rant, along comes Anonymous to prove that he was absolutely right. Super internet-savvy people really hate paying artists for their work, and are super psyched to find a way to rip artists off.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:44 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm happy to pay artists for their work, and I spend a lot of money doing it. I'm just not happy doing it by paying for mp3s.
posted by empath at 8:01 PM on April 19, 2012


Super internet-savvy people really hate paying artists for their work, and are super psyched to find a way to rip artists off.

Just like all those leechers that just blithely walk by buskers. There ought to be a way to compel them to pay up!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:24 PM on April 19, 2012


Based off some of these comments, I just spent the last two hours looking into the Java and Javascript code from this project. While - yeah - it might not be the smartest idea to run Anon code on your computer outside a VM (is a VM the digital equivalent of "having protection"?), it seems to be some kind of networking code, like they say it is in their description of netjs.

Don't take what I'm saying as conclusive by any means (considering I have only a cursory understanding of javascript and haven't touched Java since compilers several years ago) but it doesn't seem to have any glaringly harmful parts that I've found.
posted by e1presidente at 9:25 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Super internet-savvy people really hate paying artists for their work, and are super psyched to find a way to rip artists off.

Yeah, I don’t think you understand; people want the music, they just want it for free. Because taking things illegally that you don’t own or have a right to with computers is different, like everything with computers. Don’t you understand the internets?
posted by bongo_x at 10:56 PM on April 19, 2012


This thing seems kind of pointless though. If you want to listen to music and fight the man at the same time why not just download songs over bittorent?

Also, Notch is not some uber-coder. He had an idea for a game that it turned out a lot of people wanted to play. Do you really think if the U.S government and intelligence services around the globe were trying to shut down minecraft, they'd have trouble doing it?

---
create a site that aggregates sources to buy music, noting country limitations, formats available, and price variations.
I think you're missing the point here.
posted by delmoi at 12:57 AM on April 20, 2012


You are angry.

Good.

You are angry because you are not free, and to see the freedom of others burns.

Anonymous is not just some random people, it is a state of being, it is the discarding of the thought control of everyday life, it is a state of mind, it is the act of speaking for all people, it is the act of imagining a better future. Of course it is mad and pompous, as you were as a child, before you were taught that you needed to suppress that, before you were given more reasonable dreams of lifestyle and consumption.


I'd love to pay artists for their work. That sounds like a great idea, a moral idea, and we should go about it how we normally go about moral ideas: someone should start a religion. Corporations are not human, legal fictions aside, they are most certainly not artists, and they are most certainly unable to understand the moral rights of artists. They are exactly the worst entities to control our creative output.

Anonymous the destroyer is the first step out of this mess.
posted by pfh at 4:38 AM on April 20, 2012


Step 1: Listen to music without compensating the people who made it.
Step 2: ???
Step 3: Freedom!
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 4:44 AM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Step 1: Listen to music without compensating the people who made it.

And this is why you never skip past commercials while you are watching TV, and don't use ad-block on your web browser, and never perform Happy Birthday without getting an ASCAP license.
posted by empath at 5:25 AM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


And this is why you never skip past commercials while you are watching TV, and don't use ad-block on your web browser, and never perform Happy Birthday without getting an ASCAP license.

The commercials are voluntary, that’s the terms they’ve set for watching the show. You’re not allowed to make your own terms because you don’t like theirs, like exchanging a rock in exchange a new TV at Best Buy, your choice is to not consume their products. TV shows and music recordings are not necessities, no matter what some would say. If they’re that important, then pay what they ask, if you don’t like the price or the terms, then don’t buy. It’s really that simple, only people trying to justify stealing try to make it complicated.

I don’t need a license to sing Happy Birthday or any song at home or in the car.
posted by bongo_x at 10:49 AM on April 20, 2012


It’s really that simple, only people trying to justify stealing try to make it complicated.

stealing : copying :: taking someone's clothes : dressing like them
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:05 AM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]






French ‘Three Strikes’ Law Slashes Piracy, But Fails to Boost Sales

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. It looks like copying neither picks anyone's pocket nor breaks anyone's leg.
posted by Mental Wimp at 6:03 PM on April 20, 2012


The people who are calling copying information piracy stealing have internalized the content industry's premise that these things are objects that can and should be bought and sold and not recognizing it as a fundamentally novel concept.

They keep bringing up stupid arguments about how, since you'd be angry if someone came into your home and took your stuff, you should recognize that making a copy of a song licensed by Time Warner is the same thing. It's not, and anyone I hear calling piracy "stealing" loses a point of credibility with me. "Piracy" is itself something of a problematic term, but that, at least, has been in use since before the internet, and has passed into idiom.

What's more, Time Warner is practically anxious to hand us copies of their stuff: on the radio, on television, in movies, and even licensed streaming digital copies sent to computers. They're giving us all these versions, and trying to erect various barriers in our own devices to prevent us from using those copies in unapproved ways, which among other things has given us the spectacularly locked-down and bothersome digital television standards and mobile computing platforms. Ultimately it's the consumer who foots the bill for those expensive cables and programmers. It's stupid to expect us to not be resentful of that.

No one argues against the concept of personal property. But the idea of "content" (I still hate that term) being the same thing is not built on the same idea of property at all. Those who wish it were purposely use terms that confuse the issue, like "intellectual property" and "stealing." When you hear those terms being used uncritically, keep in mind the reason that they were chosen.
posted by JHarris at 6:40 PM on April 20, 2012


JHarris: What term would you use instead of intellectual property to talk about copyrights, patents, and trademarks? All of those are things you can own, i.e., property. Or are you saying that copyrights, trademarks, and patents shouldn't exist at all?
posted by aubilenon at 7:54 PM on April 20, 2012


It's true, copying music is not like stealing---no one is deprived of the use of the music. It's more like installing a surreptitious camera in someone bedroom so you can beat off to pictures of them. They may never know what you've done, yet it's still a shitty, exploitative thing to do.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:40 PM on April 20, 2012


The thing you own is not THE concept. You own rights to its commercial use. You cannot own a concept or pattern as you cannot own the number 12. Those rights derive from an explicit area of the Constitution, whereas property rights have a basis in common law. (All of this is to my understanding; I am not a lawyer.)

I didn't say those things shouldn't exist at all, but they are concepts that are frequently subject to overreach and could stand to be more strictly defined.
posted by JHarris at 8:59 PM on April 20, 2012


It's true, copying music is not like stealing---no one is deprived of the use of the music. It's more like installing a surreptitious camera in someone bedroom so you can beat off to pictures of them.
OMG, IT'S EXACTLY LIKE THAT!!!!. That's totally the perfect metaphor, dude!
posted by delmoi at 10:31 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


What term would you use instead of intellectual property to talk about copyrights, patents, and trademarks? All of those are things you can own, i.e., property.

What term do you use to talk about slavery?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:46 AM on April 21, 2012


I honestly can't tell if deimoi is being sarcastic... If so, there's not much content there, but if you don't like the metaphor, you could substitute "taking surreptitious upskirt photos", so you don't have to insert actual breaking & entering into the image.

But comparing to upskirt photos seems pretty accurate: You're not depriving anyone of anything, it picks no one's pocket and breaks no one's leg, and it doesn't force the victim to do something they wouldn't have done anyway. But it takes something from someone that they didn't agree to give, on terms they wouldn't have agreed to. Which makes it fundamentally exploitative.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:41 AM on April 21, 2012


Making a copy of something copyrighted without authorization is unlicensed use, or infringement. We sometimes call it "theft" or "stealing" or "piracy" but I think those words have greatly confused the discussion of intellectual property rights enforcement. I'd prefer to reserve "stealing" and related words to physical goods with scarcity, where stealing deprives the original owner of the item's use. I think making a copy of a copyrighted work without a license is also wrong, and should carry civil penalties, but I'd prefer we called it "infringement" or "unauthorized copying" or the like.

This goes double for patents, it drives me nuts that Oracle is talking about "Google stealing Java" or that Jobs talked about Samsung "stealing our patents". They aren't stealing your patents; they are (allegedly) infringing on your patent, using the invention covered by the patent without a license. It's not theft, it's unlicensed use.

It's just a semantic point, about the choice of language; I have no fundamental quarrel with the idea of copyright or patents. My hope is by using clearer words we can come to a better understanding of how to appropriately enforce intellectual property rights.
posted by Nelson at 7:48 AM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I honestly can't tell if deimoi is being sarcastic... If so, there's not much content there, but if you don't like the metaphor, you could substitute "taking surreptitious upskirt photos", so you don't have to insert actual breaking & entering into the image.

Please stop while you're ahead.
posted by empath at 7:52 AM on April 21, 2012


Empath: If you've got an actual argument, make it. Otherwise, I'm sticking with my metaphor, because it accurately captures how you can do something that isn't "stealing", but is still taking what isn't yours to take.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:07 AM on April 21, 2012


Comparing someone who gives a friend a copy of an mp3 to a rapist is kind of over the line, don't you think.
posted by empath at 9:16 AM on April 21, 2012


Seriously, if anything it's like putting a microphone in someone's house to listen to their stereo without permission. You can't honestly think using a sex crime metaphor is an appropriate apples to apples comparison.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:13 AM on April 21, 2012


People keep making excuses, but the bottom line is; they’ve set the terms of use for their creation. What if this was Creative Commons? Do you also think it’s OK for Microsoft to ignore those for something they’d like to use, simply because they don’t like the terms?

Seriously, if anything it's like putting a microphone in someone's house to listen to their stereo without permission.

No, it’s like I saw your journal or checkbook laying around, copied all of it, and used it for my blog or something else. I didn’t actually take the journal, so what are you pissed about?
posted by bongo_x at 11:45 AM on April 21, 2012


I’m not a hard liner about copyrights, by any stretch of the imagination, but stop making lame excuses for bad behavior.
posted by bongo_x at 11:46 AM on April 21, 2012


No, in general piracy is of material presented for sale to the public. An invasion of privacy is wrong in a way that is beyond why infringing copyright is wrong.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:48 AM on April 21, 2012


What if this was Creative Commons? Do you also think it’s OK for Microsoft to ignore those for something they’d like to use, simply because they don’t like the terms?

In a copyright free regime, creative commons licensing would be nonsensical.
posted by empath at 12:52 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, it’s like I saw your journal or checkbook laying around, copied all of it, and used it for my blog or something else. I didn’t actually take the journal, so what are you pissed about?


Are you sure you don't want to compare it to eating live puppies?
posted by empath at 12:53 PM on April 21, 2012


Empath: Why whatever are you talking about? Someone who takes surreptitious pictures isn't raping anyone---the victim haven't been touched! Calling that rape is clearly hyperbolic. Just like you haven't actually taken anyone's records out of their collection, or taken any dollars from someone's bank account. So clearly there's nothing wrong, right?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:55 PM on April 21, 2012


TFB, it's more like taking pictures of a streaker; there's no expectation of privacy.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:23 PM on April 21, 2012


[Can we please stop playing the escalating metaphor game? It never ends well. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 2:13 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Can we please stop playing the escalating metaphor game? It never ends well. ]

Since the crux of the argument is what metaphor should be applied, that's going to be difficult.

posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:55 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure the message is to stop the pursuit for the perfect metaphor here. :P
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:07 PM on April 21, 2012


Well, the argument was launched with the insistence that "stealing" was not an accurate metaphor. So we're already well into the realm of choosing what the right metaphor is. Calling it "illegal use" is the simplest, but that risks making people who like to use the product of others' work without the workers' permission feel not quite bad enough.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 4:42 PM on April 21, 2012


No, as I posted before the idea that it isn't stealing isn't metaphor, it's a factual statement backed up by the courts. Stealing is a more harmful crime, there is a real legal and ethical difference.

Call it what it is, and debate if that is wrong or not, no need to compare it to more harmful actions.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:00 PM on April 21, 2012


No, as I posted before the idea that it isn't stealing isn't metaphor, it's a factual statement backed up by the courts.

No, they're pretty clear that the offense is copyright infringement, although the "stealing" metaphor does get tossed around a lot. The tragedy is that it's often treated as a worse offense than actual theft. Steal a DVD and you'll get a slap on the wrist. Rip and share that DVD and you're liable for some serious coin and/or jail time. (Actually, just ripping it is enough, according to the DMCA.)

If we're going to pretend that bits are physical goods, then let's do that. Make the punishments equitable. Let me sell my old MP3s the same way that I do my CDs. Etc.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:36 PM on April 21, 2012


Calling it "illegal use" is the simplest, but that risks making people who like to use the product of others' work without the workers' permission feel not quite bad enough.

You should focus on accuracy first and moral judgements second, especially if it turns out that accuracy renders the judgement moot.
posted by JHarris at 5:40 PM on April 21, 2012


You should focus on accuracy first and moral judgements second, especially if it turns out that accuracy renders the judgement moot.

I suspect TFB is fond of hamburger.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:47 PM on April 21, 2012


When Stealing Isn't Stealing, a short editorial by the author of the soon-to-be-released book Thirteen Ways to Steal a Bicycle: Theft Law in the Information Age.
posted by Nelson at 5:52 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Who doesn't enjoy a tasty hamburger? Or weak-ass logic that magically makes your bad acts okay?

I'll explain one more time, slowly, before signing out: There had been a lot of people talking about "stealing" music. The forces of everything-is-mine said you can't call it "stealing", because no one is deprived of the use of it; heck, the artist might never even know it's been touched. Mental Wimp said "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. It looks like copying neither picks anyone's pocket nor breaks anyone's leg." So it's all good, man! Freedom!

I put a metaphor up there to make clear that someone can never know they'e been a victim, yet you've still victimized them. That you can do something that does not pick their pocket or break their leg, but still makes you a sleazy, shitty, exploitative person.

You have so far come up with no response that shows how the metaphor doesn't apply. You just get huffy about being compared to a sex criminal. Which is no response at all, since yes, comparing you to a sex criminal---the sort who convinces himself that because girls don't *know* he's hiding in the toilet, he's not doing anything wrong---is exactly what I intend: to show that something can be an act of victimization even if the victim doesn't feel the effect. Now, if you can explain why the metaphor implies doing something you're not doing, that would be an actual response. Churchhatestucker came the closest, except that someone who took pictures of a streaker and put them online with the streaker's name tagged would be kind of a crappy person, not a freedom fighter. Other than that, just a lot of grumbly "you can't compare me to that", and, well, yes I can. That's what you are.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:45 AM on April 22, 2012


[Folks, if you can't continue this conversation without resorting to calling people retarded or trawling through their non-MeFi life, it's okay to just walk away for a bit. Everyone else: cool it and don't make this thread all about you.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:25 AM on April 22, 2012


Playing the metaphor game is just an admission that you can't win the argument by talking about the thing itself, so you're reduced to inventing false equivalencies. I'm sure TFB has violated copyright laws in the past, and he knows full well is not equivalent to sexual assault.
posted by empath at 7:34 AM on April 22, 2012


Churchhatestucker came the closest, except that someone who took pictures of a streaker and put them online with the streaker's name tagged would be kind of a crappy person, not a freedom fighter.

Crappy person? I'd call them a reporter. And if someone was trying to make that an actionable offense, I'd be squarely against that too.

If you want your nakedness, or your music, out of the public sphere then don't put it out in the public sphere. I'll defend your right to sit at home and nakedly (but quietly) perform your music with equal vigor.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:31 AM on April 22, 2012


" Other than that, just a lot of grumbly "you can't compare me to that", and, well, yes I can. That's what you are."

Wait, you really think that you're making a compelling argument by comparing downloaders to sex criminals? Aside from the fallacy of misleading vividness, basically all you have is an insult that shows how incredibly bare your argument actually is. (Might there be different contexts in how we regard privacy versus property?) If it weren't, you'd be able to make a reasonable claim for it (other people certainly have made reasonable arguments against illegal downloading). Your argument is just as ridiculous as DEA drug warriors getting all tumescent over the danger of marijuana.
posted by klangklangston at 6:11 PM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Might there be different contexts in how we regard privacy versus property?)

Ironically, given TFB's choice of metaphor, the only way you could hope to even mitigate copying these days is by a *massive* invasion of privacy. Every communication would need to be inspected to be sure there's no "unauthorized copying" going on.

Sadly, that seems to be where we're heading.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:39 PM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, here's the thing: I've downloaded music. We all have. And no, it doesn't feel like it's doing something nearly as bad as peeping at someone's naked pictures.

Except that it is. You've taken something that they didn't give, even if they never know you've taken it. The fact that it feels like an absurd comparison is just another way the ease of digital transactions blunts our moral sense. Lots of people wouldn't dream of installing a secret camera in someone's bedroom, but they'll look at unauthorized pictures on Is Anyone Up. Or would never dream of shopping at Wal-Mart, but will buy the cheapest thing at TigerDirect, which was surely produced under even worse circumstances. Hell, it's not just the digital world---lots of people would be grossed out slitting an animal's throat but will buy meat from the grocery. That's why the vividness is not misleading, because some vividness is exactly what's needed to understand, as William Burroughs says, what is at the end of every fork.

The frictionless world of the internet makes lots of things feel harmless, even when they cause harm, and makes it easy to be unethical. And that's what we're talking about here. When you take something an artist made and don't compensate them for it, that's the definition of exploitation: taking something a person doesn't want to give, and insisting it's right because they don't have the power to stop you. Because virtual exploitation is easy, because it's often easier to do it than to not do it, because it's hard to stop people from doing it, it feels silly to compare it to any other form of harm. Even though the harm has been done.

Meanwhile, there's a Megaupload thread just gone up where people gleefully crow about a site that takes the work of writers and artists and uses it to make money for porn sites, while not giving a dime to writers and artists. They pretend that's a victory for the rule of law and freedom. The fact that media companies are one big thing and you are a bunch of little things does not change the truth that you are defending the right of exploiters to exploit, that as Lowery says you are crowing over the replacement of a system that paid artists pennies with a system that pays artists nothing.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:55 AM on April 23, 2012


When you take something an artist made and don't compensate them for it, that's the definition of exploitation: taking something a person doesn't want to give, and insisting it's right because they don't have the power to stop you.

They not only don't have the power to stop me, they don't have the right, morally, ethically or even legally. It's not actually against the law to download mp3s. It's only illegal to distribute them.
posted by empath at 8:09 AM on April 23, 2012


Empath: You are taking their music---something they put a hell of a lot of work and time into---and consuming it without giving back. You're taking the product of their life and work without compensation. It may not be illegal, but it's deeply immoral and unethical. The fact that you fall back on their lack of legal recourse as your justification only reinforces the degree to which this is old-fashioned exploitation.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:19 AM on April 23, 2012


But here's the thing, here's my point: It's exploitation. And I've done it. I do it! We all do.

We all have our reasons. I've been barely employed for three years now, and my expenses had to be cut down. I can't not pay my rent, I can't not pay my ISP, I can't even not pay the MTA---they bust you for turnstile-jumping these days. The one expense I can keep cutting is arts and entertainment, because I can get loads of music, books, and movies without paying a dime. I like music, books, and movies, and I don't have any money, so I take it. The one party I can just not pay are artists. Which tells you a lot about where our priorities are. But I don't have to like it, and it's disgusting to defend it.

We do it because it's easy, and then, because no one wants to think of themselves as doing wrong, we come up with elaborate explanations for why it's okay. But ultimately, all the explanations come down to: Because I can. The ultimate justification of the exploiter. What Gary Trudeau called "looter's logic."

Worse yet, lurking behind those explanations is a bedrock of belief, that art isn't really worth anything, that artists should give what they've got and be happy with whatever tips get thrown into their hat. Because art is just content, and content is fungible, any work on its own is worthless. Music is worthless, books are worthless, and you can tell because I don't think I should pay for them the same way I pay for my apartment, or my food, or my internet connection. That's what you're defending.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:43 AM on April 23, 2012


You are taking their music---something they put a hell of a lot of work and time into---and consuming it without giving back.

No. You are ignoring a government granted monopoly.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:43 AM on April 23, 2012


We all have our reasons. I've been barely employed for three years now, and my expenses had to be cut down. I can't not pay my rent, I can't not pay my ISP, I can't even not pay the MTA---they bust you for turnstile-jumping these days. The one expense I can keep cutting is arts and entertainment, because I can get loads of music, books, and movies without paying a dime. I like music, books, and movies, and I don't have any money, so I take it. The one party I can just not pay are artists.

So, basically, you're doing a lot of projection. I spent years DJing and booking acts and promoting events and many hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on mp3s and records and going to gigs and otherwise directly supporting artists. I'm starting to produce music now. I'm not going to feel the slightest twinge of guilt about downloading as many mp3s as I feel like. And if I ever make anything worth listening to, I'd be thrilled if it got pirated all over the world.

Not that any of that matters, because fundamentally, I think people have the right to any media they want. But if we're going to play the 'who supports artists' game, I think I have you beat.
posted by empath at 8:51 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Churchhatestucker: Horseshit. You're taking their work and not paying them. If you wanna mail the musicians a check and bypass their record company, okay. But the "government granted monopoly" is a red herring.

Empath: Your support for Musician X does not make it okay to rip off Musician Y, unless you believe that all musicians are some kind of amorphous collective and benefitting one is just as good as benefitting another. In which case, you won't mind if some club owner takes the money you should have gotten for your event and gives it to his other party-promoting buddy, because it's all benefitting "music".
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:56 AM on April 23, 2012


Worse yet, lurking behind those explanations is a bedrock of belief, that art isn't really worth anything, that artists should give what they've got and be happy with whatever tips get thrown into their hat.

I think this is ignoring the other ways there are to support musicians, and also how much most musicians actually make from people purchasing their albums.

In a really, really simplified scenario, say you have $80 for your entire entertainment budget for a month. That could either buy eight albums on iTunes (at $10 each), or see two shows (at $20 a ticket) and buy two t-shirts (at $20 each). Assume this is the sort of band that travels in a janky-ass van with their equipment and hilarious underpaid manager/merch table guy.

If you go by this chart the eight bands whose albums you buy see about a dollar apiece. The bands whose shows you go to, see either a flat fee or a percentage of ticket (or combination) that is certainly higher than 5%. The t-shirt money is all theirs, minus the cost of making them. I used to work in that industry, and you can usually get that price down to a few bucks a shirt.

Basically, focusing money on buying an artist's music in any manner outside of personally handing the merch dude cash in exchange for a CD is the worst way to support an artist.
posted by griphus at 8:57 AM on April 23, 2012


(I'm not making a comment on whether it's "okay" to download music you didn't pay for. However, if actually want to support an artist, word-of-mouth and going to shows and buying shit there is how you do it.)
posted by griphus at 8:58 AM on April 23, 2012


Your support for Musician X does not make it okay to rip off Musician Y, unless you believe that all musicians are some kind of amorphous collective and benefitting one is just as good as benefitting another.

On balance, it works out. I might financially support one out of 100 musicians whose music I download, but I download a lot of music, and if everyone were like me, there'd be plenty of money to go around for everyone. There's only so much money available to support music in the world, but there's a near infinite amount of music available for people to listen to. There's no sense artificially limiting the latter, when it makes no difference to the amount of money available to support artists.
posted by empath at 9:18 AM on April 23, 2012


And I could tell you for a fact that if it magically became impossible for me to listen to music I didn't pay for, I would just listen to a fewer songs more often. I wouldn't spend more money on it. All you would have succeeded in doing is making my life poorer without enriching any artists.
posted by empath at 9:21 AM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


You're taking their work and not paying them. If you wanna mail the musicians a check and bypass their record company, okay. But the "government granted monopoly" is a red herring.

Nothing is being taken. Copies are made. And I fail to see how the definition of copyright is a red herring.

Your support for Musician X does not make it okay to rip off Musician Y, unless you believe that all musicians are some kind of amorphous collective and benefitting one is just as good as benefitting another.

That's the idea behind collection societies, which the government is perfectly happy with despite the fact that they benefit a tiny percentage of artists and hurt the majority.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:30 AM on April 23, 2012


ChurchHatesTucker: Are you just making a copy, or are you listening to the song? If the former, then yes, there's no problem. If the latter, then yes, something is being taken. That's the whole point of my metaphor which started all the trouble, and which you huffed at rather than arguing: It is possible to take something from someone even if they have not been physically deprived of anything.

Griphus: Buying shit at shows is indeed the best way to support artists, but for a lot of people, that's prohibitively difficult. Word of mouth is worth exactly nothing. They way most people consume most music is by listening to it. If that's not worth paying for, then music is not worth paying for.

Empath: I just can't understand your "on balance" argument. If my boss decided he wasn't going to pay me, but was going to give my salary to someone else at the company, I would not conclude that on balance, workers were doing alright. I would conclude that I was being ripped off.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:49 AM on April 23, 2012


The government?!?
posted by bongo_x at 9:57 AM on April 23, 2012


Empath: I just can't understand your "on balance" argument. If my boss decided he wasn't going to pay me, but was going to give my salary to someone else at the company, I would not conclude that on balance, workers were doing alright. I would conclude that I was being ripped off.

Imagine you had a dozen bosses, and sometimes one of them paid you, and sometimes one of the other ones did... WAIT, WHY AM I PLAYING THE STUPID METAPHOR GAME AGAIN, JESUS FUCK.

Look dude, either talk about what we are talking about or talk about some other topic. I'm not going to play this stupid game with you..
posted by empath at 10:04 AM on April 23, 2012


Are you just making a copy, or are you listening to the song? If the former, then yes, there's no problem. If the latter, then yes, something is being taken.

Again, nothing is being taken. You made an analogy to privacy violations, but we're not talking about private recordings.

You don't want your stuff copied? Show it to nobody.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:09 AM on April 23, 2012


Empath: Okay, I'll talk about what we're talking about without metaphor. You're saying it's okay to consume one person's work without paying them, because you're paying some other person who does something similar. How does that make sense?

Churchhatestucker: We're not talking about copying. Like I said, if you're just copying the song and not listening to it, then there's no problem. But if you're listening to the song, you're not just copying it, you're consuming it. Which means you're consuming someone's labor without compensating them, and that's exploitation.

It's true that a lot of artists, myself included, would be grateful to have lots of people listening to our work without being paid, because it's just so hard to get anything listened to. But---sorry empath, metaphors are about to be used---that is the logic of "I'm grateful to have this FoxConn job, because it's a lot better than starving." To say something is better than nothing does not mean it's okay. And to say artists should regard music-making as an uncompensated hobby, with the hope that someday they can quit working that data entry job and get paid by some ad agency that wants to use their song... Well that's just unspeakably grim.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:46 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metaphors are not a game or a con of some kind, they’re metaphors, and are useful for seeing something from another point of view. Metaphors seem to be one of those things people are hardwired to either get or not.
posted by bongo_x at 11:11 AM on April 23, 2012


It still comes down to the fact that the person who creates something owns it, and sets the terms of it’s use. Otherwise anything you created could be used by anyone for whatever they wanted. The sort of Right wing Libertarianism expressed here is what’s ruining the world.
posted by bongo_x at 11:15 AM on April 23, 2012


It still comes down to the fact that the person who creates something owns it, and sets the terms of it’s use. Otherwise anything you created could be used by anyone for whatever they wanted.

Oh what a terrible world that would be if anybody could do whatever they wanted with the knowledge and art of the world. What a tragedy, if everyone had free access to every idea and thought that anyone has ever wanted to share with the world. What a nightmarish dystopia that would be.
posted by empath at 11:18 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


But if you're listening to the song, you're not just copying it, you're consuming it. Which means you're consuming someone's labor without compensating them, and that's exploitation.

So, you pay the bricklayer (or his estate) every time you walk down a sidewalk? Or are you a dirty pavement pirate?

It still comes down to the fact that the person who creates something owns it, and sets the terms of it’s use.

It astounds me that people presume to dictate how I react to what they present. Oh look! I just copied you verbatim! And I didn't ask permission. Oddly, I'm OK with that. It must be a moral failing.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:34 AM on April 23, 2012


Metaphors are not a game or a con of some kind, they’re metaphors, and are useful for seeing something from another point of view. Metaphors seem to be one of those things people are hardwired to either get or not.

And one sign of not getting them is presenting blatantly inappropriate metaphors. Just like any language tool they can obfuscate truth as easily as revealing it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:59 AM on April 23, 2012


Empath: You've failed to answer the argument. At all. Even after it was presented without a hint of metaphor. Bad conscience is a bitch. Meanwhile, you seem to be saying that if someone wanted to use your music as a background track for an ad selling Chevys, or recruiting for the Klan, you'd have no objection. Which I imagine is not what you believe, which is why you should think harder before writing.

Churchhatestucker: Someone certainly paid that bricklayer. If a bricklayer builds a wall and the person who commissioned it doesn't pay him, then that person is indeed a dirty pavement pirate. As for whether people presume to dictate how you react to what they present, see above.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:00 PM on April 23, 2012


Meanwhile, you seem to be saying that if someone wanted to use your music as a background track for an ad selling Chevys, or recruiting for the Klan, you'd have no objection. .

I plan on releasing everything under creative commons, so I don't really care what anyone does with it.
posted by empath at 12:06 PM on April 23, 2012


Well okay- you seem to be unclear on what a CC license is, but if you feel so little for the work you "plan to" make, then okay, that's your choice. But it's a shame that you won't accept that other artists might have a right to feel differently, and it's even more unfortunate that you still can't explain why paying one person while you consume someone else's work is acceptable.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:15 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because I think it's acceptable to pay them NOTHING for mp3s, and that they don't have any right to force me to pay. I think mp3 sales are a shitty way to pay artists for their work, and I'll support music in other ways. You can take that answer or leave it.

My argument about them making money on balance is that over many transactions where some percentage of downloaders pay for some percentage of songs, the artists will still get paid roughly the same amount as if everyone paid for every mp3 they downloaded, because there is a limited budget in the world for musicians, but making unlimited copies of mp3s costs essentially nothing.
posted by empath at 12:20 PM on April 23, 2012


If a bricklayer builds a wall and the person who commissioned it doesn't pay him, then that person is indeed a dirty pavement pirate.

Sure, but the bricklayer needs to take it up with the person who commissioned the work. Don't expect me to feel any obligation there, even if I happen to see it.

Same is true if it was done without commission. You might be able to convince me that I should give you some cash anyway (it's happened) but opening with the position that I'm indebted to you because you did something on your own is not a good start.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:25 PM on April 23, 2012


"You know, here's the thing: I've downloaded music. We all have. And no, it doesn't feel like it's doing something nearly as bad as peeping at someone's naked pictures.

Except that it is. You've taken something that they didn't give, even if they never know you've taken it. The fact that it feels like an absurd comparison is just another way the ease of digital transactions blunts our moral sense. Lots of people wouldn't dream of installing a secret camera in someone's bedroom, but they'll look at unauthorized pictures on Is Anyone Up.
"

Yeah, no, that's bullshit. It's an appeal to emotion that must seem valid to you, but has no grounding in any reality past your own throbbing dudgeon.

I have no problem saying that sexual exploitation is worse than economic exploitation, and even within those categories, there's a wide gulf in both harm and responsibility. The actual act of looking at pictures of unknown provenance and permission on, say, a TGP is negligible. To then use the language, as you did above, of "sex criminal" is an attempt to justify your own emotional response with hyperbolic nonsense. Either that, or you're the same as a child molester — in this small way that's not really salient to the underlying point.
posted by klangklangston at 12:43 PM on April 23, 2012


Because I think it's acceptable to pay them NOTHING for mp3s, and that they don't have any right to force me to pay. I think mp3 sales are a shitty way to pay artists for their work, and I'll support music in other ways. You can take that answer or leave it.

So in short, you believe you should be able to enjoy an artist's work without compensating them. I think I'll leave it.

I wonder if you've actually tried to live as an artist. People who "plan to" release music often think that money isn't worth caring about. But eventually, you've been spending years working to pay rent from 9 to 5, and rehearsing from 6-10, and you know something's got to give. Or maybe you get sick, and know that if you can't afford medical care, you're gonna die, and all the word of mouth in the world won't pay for surgery. Or you have a kid, and you can't feed the kid on the goodwill of the internet. That's when you realize you need to get paid for the music you make, or else you need to stop making music.

I look forward to the day when you've really put your heart and soul into making a great party, and the club owner informs you that you won't get a dime from the door because he'd rather give the money to his buddy's band. I'm sure you'll be happy with that result, thinking that hey, music is being supported either way.

Sure, but the bricklayer needs to take it up with the person who commissioned the work. Don't expect me to feel any obligation there, even if I happen to see it.

Now see Churchhates, this is how a *bad* metaphor gets built. The bricklayer has a business model in which they are paid for their work. If they are not getting paid for their work, there's a problem. Their model is different from how artists are typically paid. If you would like to argue that musicians would be better off on a system like that of bricklayers, in which there is a single large individual patron, well, that's how it worked in the middle ages, and you could make the case that would be better (I prefer the diversity of 20th century music, particularly because of the opportunities it offers to people without social connections, but to each their own). But you can't just throw in a different funding model and expect that to make sense.

See, empath? When a metaphor doesn't apply, one can argue that metaphor. Logic!

I have no problem saying that sexual exploitation is worse than economic exploitation, and even within those categories, there's a wide gulf in both harm and responsibility. The actual act of looking at pictures of unknown provenance and permission on, say, a TGP is negligible.

I certainly wouldn't---and didn't---argue that downloading an MP3 is morally equal to upskirt pictures. But many defenders of consumption without responsibility insist that because they have not physically taken anything from the artists, no harm has been done. My metaphor demonstrates that it is possible to do harm without actually changing the state of the one being harmed. That is the point, and that is what you need to argue if you have a problem with the metaphor.

Even within your own comment, you need to think a little harder. Looking at "pictures of an unknown provenance" is not the same as looking for the work of a specific individual and taking it without compensation.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 1:25 PM on April 23, 2012


"I wonder if you've actually tried to live as an artist. People who "plan to" release music often think that money isn't worth caring about. But eventually, you've been spending years working to pay rent from 9 to 5, and rehearsing from 6-10, and you know something's got to give. Or maybe you get sick, and know that if you can't afford medical care, you're gonna die, and all the word of mouth in the world won't pay for surgery. Or you have a kid, and you can't feed the kid on the goodwill of the internet. That's when you realize you need to get paid for the music you make, or else you need to stop making music. "

Empath has indeed lived as an artist, or at least a DJ, to the best of my knowledge. So maybe get a step ladder to dismount your high horse.

"I certainly wouldn't---and didn't---argue that downloading an MP3 is morally equal to upskirt pictures. But many defenders of consumption without responsibility insist that because they have not physically taken anything from the artists, no harm has been done. My metaphor demonstrates that it is possible to do harm without actually changing the state of the one being harmed. That is the point, and that is what you need to argue if you have a problem with the metaphor."

Fine — it's an idiotic point, simplified to the point of uselessness. In order to make it analogous, you'd have to demonstrate harm — which exists in mp3 copyright infringement as a commercial harm — in taking those upskirt photos. The harm would be what, a violation of personal privacy and control? A feeling of violation? Which can have real impacts on women's behavior and lives, and carries with it implicit threat of further violation. But all you succeed in doing is showing that the laws over upskirt photography only function when someone is caught — otherwise there is no real harm directly — and are enforced because of a greater risk of future harm, future harm that does not exist in mp3 downloading, unless you want to argue that there's a risk for kids seeding torrents to also start selling bootleg albums out of their trunks. Your metaphor does not demonstrate that it's possible to do harm without changing the state of the victim, your metaphor relies on a repugnant comparison to sex crimes in order to camouflage how threadbare it is in terms of utility. That you cannot admit this makes you seem at the very least intellectually dishonest, or perhaps with an interest in rehabilitating the reputation of sex criminals.

"Even within your own comment, you need to think a little harder. Looking at "pictures of an unknown provenance" is not the same as looking for the work of a specific individual and taking it without compensation."

You're right — one should always pay the person who owns the copyright to the upskirt shot. I understand you feel great guilt over not doing that. Can you point me to your favorite sex criminal's work?
posted by klangklangston at 1:38 PM on April 23, 2012


I wonder if you've actually tried to live as an artist.

I was a DJ and event promoter from 2000 till about 2008 or so, and spent way, way, way, way more money (yes, buying music, and also promoting events and booking other djs) doing it than I ever made from it, because I had a day job, and I wasn't doing it for the money. It would have been nice if I had caught fire as a DJ and been able to quit my day job, but it didn't happen, and it's not because my mix cds were pirated -- I had to practically beg people to listen to mix CDs that I was giving away for free (as did every other DJ I know). If you're any good, and people like what you're doing, you will get paid for it.
posted by empath at 1:42 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I certainly wouldn't---and didn't---argue that downloading an MP3 is morally equal to upskirt pictures.

Uhh, you totally did! And if you didn't mean to maybe it's time to apologize for it!

You have so far come up with no response that shows how the metaphor doesn't apply. You just get huffy about being compared to a sex criminal. Which is no response at all, since yes, comparing you to a sex criminal---the sort who convinces himself that because girls don't *know* he's hiding in the toilet, he's not doing anything wrong---is exactly what I intend: to show that something can be an act of victimization even if the victim doesn't feel the effect. Now, if you can explain why the metaphor implies doing something you're not doing, that would be an actual response. Churchhatestucker came the closest, except that someone who took pictures of a streaker and put them online with the streaker's name tagged would be kind of a crappy person, not a freedom fighter. Other than that, just a lot of grumbly "you can't compare me to that", and, well, yes I can. That's what you are.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:50 PM on April 23, 2012




I wonder if you've actually tried to live as an artist.

I've worked as a commercial artist. Got paid and everything.

The bricklayer has a business model in which they are paid for their work. If they are not getting paid for their work, there's a problem.

Obviously. It's just not my problem (or, at least, it shouldn't be.)

If you would like to argue that musicians would be better off on a system like that of bricklayers, in which there is a single large individual patron, well, that's how it worked in the middle ages, and you could make the case that would be better...

It's ironic that copyright maximalists still point to patronage as if it was an outmoded concept. I'd have thought that the success of Kickstarter would have put an end to that. More importantly, that's not the only business model that's available. (e.g., Jonathan Coulton, Louis CK, etc.)

The key thing to understand is that treating bits like they are scarce goods is an increasingly bad one. Worse, trying to treat them that way erodes my civil liberties, which I care about more than your economic aspirations.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:10 PM on April 23, 2012


Oh, empath, you were a DJ, not a musician. So your living really was dependent on using the work of others to enrich yourself. But now you don't do it, because it just wasn't financially feasible. And so you wish to make all art-making not financially feasible, so all can suffer with you. Sure, your mix CDs weren't popular---no one ever bought mix CDs in any real number. A DJ is paid for feeling out the room at the moment; no one's all that interested in a mix made in isolation from a room. But still no answer about whether you'd be okay with the club owner taking your percentage of the door and giving it to another DJ, which is what we're actually talking about here.

Klingklangston: As you rightly note, if one believed that harm was defined entirely by a change in awareness, one could not then show that the individual photographed is being harmed unless the person taking the pictures is busted. In which case, it would be harmful to bust the photographer, but not to take the pictures. But that's silly. Clearly, the harm is that it's not okay to take a picture of someone for your own gratification without their permission. People have a right to control the consumption of their own output. That is the right you deny artists.

I wonder if you've actually tried to live as an artist.

I've worked as a commercial artist. Got paid and everything.


And you didn't mind when clients didn't pay you, hunh? And it was even better if someone grabbed an image from your portfolio and used it on their website? Because that is what you are doing to artists.

If you're any good, and people like what you're doing, you will get paid for it.

Unless people can find a way to take what you're doing without paying for it, as you are so proud of doing.

Bits are not scarce goods, of course. But talent and labor are. The idea that a work of art is nothing but interchangable bits is a great part of what is so repulsive here. The other part is the conviction that you are entitled to the fruits of someone else's talent and labor, and they have no right to compensation.

Finally, furiousxgeorge, I'll go over this again: I did not say copying CDs is morally equal to upskirt pictures. I said it is justified using the same logic. David Duke is not morally equal to James Earl Ray, but uses the same logic, and thus they are comprable. Comprable is not equal. If that confuses you, try harder.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:26 PM on April 23, 2012


" Clearly, the harm is that it's not okay to take a picture of someone for your own gratification without their permission."

Bullshit. You've asserted a harm there that you have not demonstrated. Adding "clearly" does not make it less clearly begging the question.
posted by klangklangston at 3:46 PM on April 23, 2012


Sorry, in the wash I don't really care. I'm not using Anontune; I tend to use Spotify generally and haven't downloaded anything illegally in a while. I have made a couple mix tapes for guys at work — which I suppose makes the me the sex criminal equivalent of jerking off the the mental image of some stranger I saw on the bus. I just find the your arguments fairly stupid and insulting, and was hoping to allow you to see why. But you're clearly invested in them beyond any actual value to the discussion, so who am I to take away your toys?
posted by klangklangston at 3:49 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, empath, you were a DJ, not a musician. So your living really was dependent on using the work of others to enrich yourself. But now you don't do it, because it just wasn't financially feasible. And so you wish to make all art-making not financially feasible, so all can suffer with you. Sure, your mix CDs weren't popular---no one ever bought mix CDs in any real number. A DJ is paid for feeling out the room at the moment; no one's all that interested in a mix made in isolation from a room. But still no answer about whether you'd be okay with the club owner taking your percentage of the door and giving it to another DJ, which is what we're actually talking about here.

First, I'm not going to take the bait on your insulting, trolling bullshit.

Second, no money changes hands when people copy mp3s.
posted by empath at 3:53 PM on April 23, 2012


The idea that a work of art is nothing but interchangable bits is a great part of what is so repulsive here.

No, I think people should be praised to the skies for creating art, and should get paid for it, and that if you like an artist, you should give them money to make more art. I just think that paying for copies of the art is not the right way to do it. Once it's made, it belongs to everyone. If you need money to make your art, then get paid up front or don't make it. I don't see what's complicated about this.
posted by empath at 3:56 PM on April 23, 2012


Or, you know, accept that fact that lots of people are going to get copies for free and be thankful when people freely choose to pay you for something that they could have gotten for free.
posted by empath at 3:57 PM on April 23, 2012




The key thing to understand is that treating bits like they are scarce goods is an increasingly bad one.

That’s part of the problem, you keep talking about bits. I'm talking about creations, don’t care about bits.
posted by bongo_x at 5:59 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, empath, you were a DJ, not a musician.

I don't even.

That’s part of the problem, you keep talking about bits. I'm talking about creations, don’t care about bits.

If you're not dealing in bits, this doesn't affect you. That's a vanishingly small segment these days.

Look. We've got essentially two choices. One, we treat bits like tangible things. Trick is, to enforce that regime requires that we monitor EVERY communication in order to ensure people aren't slipping infringement into their conversation. Bits are bits and you can't know which bits are bad unless you look at them all.

Two, we all just get over our special snowflake selves and get on with it. That doesn't mean we don't point out when people are trying to get one over by snagging a design/piece/whatever that they haven't commissioned--we all have an unprecedented megaphone after all--but we don't tie up the courts over it.

In other words: Do we place primacy on privacy? Or government granted monopolies? Which world do you want to live in?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:11 PM on April 23, 2012


[this upskirt photography moral equivalency thing is getting indistinguishable from trolling. If you need to go to MetaTalk, we understand but this thread is becoming a few guys wrestling with each other.]
posted by jessamyn at 6:12 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Better?

No.

It still comes down to the fact that the person who creates something owns it, and sets the terms of it’s use. Otherwise anything you created could be used by anyone for whatever they wanted. The sort of Right wing Libertarianism expressed here is what’s ruining the world.

The elephant in the room is the ridiculously extended copyright terms. Copyright is supposed to be a bargain, we protect the artists from piracy and after a limited period anything the artists created could be used by anyone for whatever they wanted.

With modern culture and art and information developing at the speed of light because of rapid online communication and other technology, the copyright term is decades longer than the average human lifespan. That is only a limited term in a semantic sense. Nearly everything of value is leeched out by the publisher and nothing left for the public domain. It's no wonder online culture rejects that, it may be the law but it's a really shitty bargain now.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:14 PM on April 23, 2012


to evade your own responsibility to pay the people who create what you consume.

You keep stating this as if it were an inarguable moral law. It's not. I don't accept it. I think one should do it for pragmatic, self-interested reasons, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with not doing it. You can compare it to anything from eating puppies to upskirt shots all you want, but it will not change my opinion on it. And whether or not the vast majority of people will state that outright, they certainly behave as if they don't believe they have a responsibility to do so. And most artists don't behave as if they believe it either, since I've never met a musician who didn't have a hard drive full of pirated media.
posted by empath at 6:17 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The elephant in the room is the ridiculously extended copyright terms. Copyright is supposed to be a bargain, we protect the artists from piracy and after a limited period anything the artists created could be used by anyone for whatever they wanted.

There we agree. I think the stupid length of copyright these days encourages copyright violation.
posted by bongo_x at 6:54 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Agreed regarding extended copyright terms. I think copyright should extend for the life of the artist, and no longer. But that's not at all what we're arguing about. Not even close. No one here is saying that publishers should have a right to artist's work after they die, nor is anyone saying they believe they have a right to copy the work of dead artists. We're arguing about what you owe living artists who make work you enjoy. I argue that you should pay them. Others argue that you owe them nothing.

If nothing will convince you that you should compensate those who create what you consume, well then there is indeed nothing to argue about. Enjoy your Wal-Mart shopping experience!
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:20 PM on April 23, 2012


Why life of the artist? The original term was 14 years plus one 14 year renewal after that. Even that seems like too long to me for the internet age, but that would be a lot better than what we have now.

The public domain is about an acknowledgement that all culture is a product of society, the public should be compensated for their contributions to what the artist accomplished and be able to use that work for the further development of knowledge and culture. Our current copyright law robs the public instead of the artist, but folks never seem to get as angry about that since the public domain doesn't have a lobbying budget.

Canadian Study: Piracy Boosts CD Sales
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:50 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to think that five to seven years would be a more appropriate copyright length these days, but now I don't see how copyright can be enforced without impeding free speech.

That Canadian study is interesting, since the others I've seen show a positive relationship between pirating and legal purchases. In other words, pirates are the industry's biggest customers.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:45 AM on April 24, 2012


In other words, pirates are the industry's biggest customers.

I just did a back of the envelope calculation of media (music, movies, games) I've paid for in the last 10 years and I'm somewhere up near $10,000 (probably 60% of that is music)-- just media I've bought, not at all counting the money spent going to shows or buying movie tickets or the many hours and the money I spent promoting events and buying gear for DJing and music production, which might double or even triple that amount if you add it in. When I have disposable income, I spend it on music and music related stuff. I'm not a freeloader, and neither are most pirates.
posted by empath at 7:50 AM on April 24, 2012


But again, artists aren't interchangeable parts. That's industry-think. Saying "I downloaded all of Tricky's albums, but it's okay because I bought so much music from Jonathan Coulton" is meaningless.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:00 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Saying "I downloaded all of Tricky's albums, but it's okay because I bought so much music from Jonathan Coulton" is meaningless.

That's good because that's not what I'm saying. I support the artists I like the way I feel like doing it. I assume other people support artists the way they feel like it, and if they don't, then I don't care. But quite frankly, the guy that spends $1000 and pirates 100,000 songs is doing more for artists than the guy that spends $100 and only has 100 songs.
posted by empath at 8:41 AM on April 24, 2012


And it's simply a fact that the more you pirate music, the more you spend on it. I challenge you to find a single survey that suggests otherwise.
posted by empath at 8:44 AM on April 24, 2012


Please look up correlation and causation. The fact that the same demographic that spends more on music also pirates more music does not mean that piracy leads to purchasing. And even if it did, that would continue to be irrelevant, because paying one person while pirating from another is still exploitative of the person you're pirating from.

And this is what I was bemoaning way upthread: That once music becomes "content", all artists become interchangeable. It's just bits in a playlist, not expressions of an individual, so as long as you give money to someone, you're "supporting artists", while having no ethical relationship to the actual individual whose work you consume. And if some individual artist whose work you consume isn't supported, you don't care. Because it's not like they're a person, who did something that took a lot of time and work. They're just a maker of bits, and can be replaced with any other maker of bits. Democracy!
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:52 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I support the artists I like the way I feel like doing it

This may be the epitaph for this whole discussion. It's up to me to decide how much I owe the person whose work I consume. I give them what I want. If they object, I'll stop giving them even that, because there's always someone else to provide it and they need to learn who holds the cards. It's not even feasible to give them more, not when it's so easy to give them less.

It's the whole world of art turned into a Chinese factory.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:55 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not even feasible to give them more, not when it's so easy to give them less.

I'm sorry, I personally have written checks to artists for thousands of dollars to play live gigs, so it's indeed possible to give them more. Buying an mp3 is literally the least you can do to support music.
posted by empath at 9:05 AM on April 24, 2012


It's up to me to decide how much I owe the person whose work I consume. I give them what I want. If they object, I'll stop giving them even that, because there's always someone else to provide it and they need to learn who holds the cards. It's not even feasible to give them more, not when it's so easy to give them less.

...what the record companies say to the bands.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:59 AM on April 24, 2012


Yes, furiousxgeorge. Which is why it's so depressing to hear fans say it to the bands themselves.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:29 AM on April 24, 2012


That once music becomes "content", all artists become interchangeable.

Of course not. They just can't make much money by doing nothing but trying to sell bits. They need to connect with fans and give them a reason to buy.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:28 AM on April 24, 2012


God, what a depressing article! Once upon a time, we made fun of the people who bought the colored vinyl; now the colored vinyl (or photobook or whatever) is the whole point.

What people will pay for doesn't exactly equal what people value. But it's a pretty good rough metric. And what that article conveys is a world where people have stopped caring about music. They value a chat with a famous person, or a pretty limited edition box (gotta be limited! gotta be scarce!), or lunch with a celebrity, or a chance to sing on a record, or having a concert in their own living room. But they don't value music. No one would pay for a song! The music is merely a loss-leader for the merch.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:45 PM on April 24, 2012


What people will pay for doesn't exactly equal what people value

Don't confuse cost with value. Air is very valuable, but selling it is rarely a good business model. The same is largely true of music these days. Where you can make a profit is selling scarce goods (objects, access, etc.) That strikes me as far more fair than trying to collect rents on intangibles.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:54 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't get paid for a novel algorithm or theorem (except any wages I collect in developing them), nor for a novel scientific finding that doesn't result in a patentable device or drug. What is and isn't considered "intellectual property" is fairly arbitrary and driven mostly by lobbying of large economic interests (not individual starving artists, as some would have you believe; 99.9% of artists still earn their dollars the way we all do, working for a wage).
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:34 AM on April 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


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