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Bye Bay Baby Bye Bay
April 30, 2012 9:03 AM   Subscribe

Pirate Bay to be blocked By UK ISPs. "File-sharing site The Pirate Bay must be blocked by UK internet service providers, the High Court has ruled."

""Sites like The Pirate Bay destroy jobs in the UK and undermine investment in new British artists," the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) said.

The BPI's chief executive Geoff Taylor said: "The High Court has confirmed that The Pirate Bay infringes copyright on a massive scale.

"Its operators line their pockets by commercially exploiting music and other creative works without paying a penny to the people who created them.

"This is wrong - musicians, sound engineers and video editors deserve to be paid for their work just like everyone else.""

Via BBC
posted by marienbad (400 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Getting Terry Gilliam "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" flashbacks all of a sudden.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:07 AM on April 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Sites like The Pirate Bay destroy jobs in the UK and undermine investment in new British artists," the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) said.

Well, they fought the good fight for a while, but here Pirate Bay learn what everyone learns, eventually: you don't fuck with Big Phonograph.
posted by griphus at 9:08 AM on April 30, 2012 [33 favorites]


Ipredator. Anyone using PB should be using a VPN anyway.
posted by stbalbach at 9:08 AM on April 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


By having the ISP's block the domain, it seems to me that they are giving carte blanch to anyone in england who can get to TPB by other means. I believe the technical term for this is The Exception that Proves the Rule.

Unless, of course, they come up with another of those wonderful laws that say that anyone who attempts to circumvent this technology is tots breaking the law.
posted by rebent at 9:12 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


They will probably just block DNS lookups, which means people will just have to type the IP address instead of the domain name into their browser, or start using a different domain name that someone sets up and points to that IP address. And anyway The Pirate Bay servers are not involved with any of the BitTorrent traffic to begin with, they don't run their own tracker anymore due to previous lawsuits, so this will not directly stop any of the actual file-sharing going on.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:12 AM on April 30, 2012


I predict that this will not put a single cent in the pockets of any creative people in the entertainment business. I'm no fan of piracy but I have yet to see any compelling research that shows the scale of losses involved. Lots of assertions, no proof.
posted by unSane at 9:13 AM on April 30, 2012 [11 favorites]


Its operators line their pockets by commercially exploiting music and other creative works without paying a penny to the people who created them.

Does that mean they'll be blocking the record labels' sites now too?
posted by entropicamericana at 9:14 AM on April 30, 2012 [52 favorites]


It's a Man's Life in the British Phonographic Industry.
posted by delfin at 9:15 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


A response from Markus Persson, a.k.a. Notch.
posted by fight or flight at 9:15 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Building another mighty dam in the middle of the ocean I see.
posted by squalor at 9:16 AM on April 30, 2012 [36 favorites]


I tried to buy Marit Larsen's "Spark". I really did. I have a US and AU iTunes store account. I sent a tweet to EMI Norway about why it isn't on iTunes US/AU. They told me to "hold tight". I've been holding tight for 6 months so far.

Some seller on Amazon wants $21 for an import copy. So now I have to pad the pockets of even more unnecessary middlemen?

mfw.
posted by Talez at 9:17 AM on April 30, 2012


Most people I know who use TPB use it to download a) films b) TV shows that don't even show in the UK like Parks and Rec c) TV shows that show only on £40 a month pay TV packages, because people want to catch up with them withot being spoilered during the wait for the box set.

I'm not down with the kids or anything these days, but wasn't Soulseek the main way for people to get hold of music? An old housemate of mine used to use a Russian site where it cost 90p an album to download music.
posted by mippy at 9:17 AM on April 30, 2012


But now how can I download music, games and television shows without paying for them?
posted by gagglezoomer at 9:18 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Plus, there are several private tracker sites that specialise in British TV and/or radio - I would have thought they'd be the first to get rapped for copyright issues over here.
posted by mippy at 9:18 AM on April 30, 2012


The point is half the time you can't download most of them WITH paying for them.
posted by unSane at 9:19 AM on April 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


They have a way to go.
posted by adamvasco at 9:20 AM on April 30, 2012


mippy, I doubt that the UK's music industry contributed even a tenth as much of the lobbying dollars required to push this through
posted by rebent at 9:20 AM on April 30, 2012


But now how can I download music, games and television shows without paying for them?

I'd happily pay for Mad Men via a subscription service, but only Americans can download it from iTunes. Same situation with Game of Thrones. So British viewers who can't or won't pay for Sky or whichever service these shows play on (I think Community is on SonyTV or something here) have the choice of piracy or buying the box set in six months. We don't have an equivalent of Hulu here, so if you want to watch 30 Rock, Eastbound and Down, The Daily Show or whatever all the American media is talking about, you have a similar choice. In a world where people like to discuss TV more or less in real time on website reviews or Twitter, I'm not sure how this is sustainable.
posted by mippy at 9:22 AM on April 30, 2012 [13 favorites]


"This is wrong - musicians, sound engineers and video editors deserve to be paid for their work just like everyone else.""

Sound engineers and video editors don't get royalties, do they? They get paid for their work, and that's that. Piracy may affect them in that there might be fewer opportunities (in which case, some evidence to that effect would be nice), but if they're working, they're getting paid. If not, they need to take it up with their employers.

Musicians, on the other hand, have always got the shaft from record companies, where every contract is a classic deal with the devil. Savvy musicians understand that it is no longer necessary to sign on those dotted lines.

The music distribution racket is dying. Good.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:23 AM on April 30, 2012 [17 favorites]


I'm being devil's advocate here, but you know, a lot of things are downloaded because people want to buy them and they can't. It's the modern equivalent of bootlegging The Black Album. If the industry realised this and reissued the rare albums or made US hits available here cheaply and legally, that would kill off piracy.
posted by mippy at 9:24 AM on April 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


If you are using firefox, the MAFIAAFire Redirector add on automatically redirects you to the current address for blocked sites.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:25 AM on April 30, 2012 [13 favorites]


Sound engineers and video editors don't get royalties, do they? They get paid for their work, and that's that.

And you can be pretty sure that it isn't TPB who is paying them for their work.
posted by Skeptic at 9:25 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Would attempting to bypass the block be a criminal offence in UK law?
posted by acb at 9:26 AM on April 30, 2012


But now how can I download music, games and television shows without paying for them?

How can you download them *with* paying for them? Without DRM (so that I can do what I want with it, including playing on devices you've never heard of), in a timely fashion and without ads (I'm paying, after all).
posted by DU at 9:27 AM on April 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


Laws cannot dictate morals or ethics; laws must follow. Whenever laws have gone contrary to the public's gestalt, the public become closet felons. And society becomes sicker, and respect for the law falls even further. Soon, everyone is breaking the law in some way or another, and the regime's clothing becomes tattered. There is no respect, only fear of being caught. And a society based on fear is a doomed society.

Everyone wins when I get my choice of content at a reasonable price. When I don't get my choice by legal means, the makers of that content don't get paid -- whether or not I watch it anyway.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:29 AM on April 30, 2012 [47 favorites]


mippy, even if you can buy them on iTunes and Amazon it can be very difficult to play them without investing in an ever-shifting list of proprietary products and setting up your home system in a particular way; one that might work now but be an expensive white elephant a year from now when they've fucked everything up again. iTunes home sharing worked a month ago but is seriously broken right now (it's not just me, check the Apple forum). So having paid for shows in order to be legit I'm at the point of torrrenting them anyway just because it is so damn much easier to stream and watch them with open source.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:29 AM on April 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Some seller on Amazon wants $21 for an import copy. So now I have to pad the pockets of even more unnecessary middlemen?

I used to be a record collector in my teens before lack of space and money made it difficult. I still remember what it was like to spend £15 on a CD single for the rare B-side, £6 on a back catalogue CD single and £15 for a catalogue album. And, of course, the £10 new release album that might have been 90% killer. A good 90% of my CDs, therefore, were second-hand. Back then, I used to wonder why labels didn't see how much some of their back-catalogue product went for (struggling to think of an example right now but it was tricky to get the first Orange Juice album for under £30 at one point) and release it themselves so they could actually make money on the demand. The thrill of finding was great, but the amount of money I spent was astonishing.

(It reminds me a bit of BPAL, an internet perfume company who release several limited editions which are then massively sought after by fans and sell for 30 times the price on eBay 2nd hand. Every so often, the company 'find' some bottles in the lab and announce they are to sell discontinued X Y and Z eBay, again for the huge resale prices. Why not just make up some more bottles and sell them to everyone who wants one? It seems like tawdry profiteering to me.)
posted by mippy at 9:32 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


...but wasn't Soulseek the main way for people to get hold of music?

The only reason slsk is still around, is because no one cares about the music traded on it. It's got lots of popular stuff, sure, but also got close to zero visibility and still generally used as a source for obscurities than the first place you'd look for the new Radiohead album.
posted by griphus at 9:35 AM on April 30, 2012


And by 'can't or won't pay' - Sky is owned by Rupert Murdoch, to whom many take exception. Or, you may as I do live in a shared house where it just isn't possible to subscribe to pay TV packages as you don't have dominion over that side of things. 'Won't pay' isn't always 'screw you, I'm not paying money for the programme/album that entertains me!'
posted by mippy at 9:36 AM on April 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


so when the entertainment companies hire hackers to go after file sharers, will the file-sharers suddenly love the courts and go to them for help?
posted by Ironmouth at 9:37 AM on April 30, 2012


It's not just the music industry, and it's not just big businesses.

I self-published an ebook novel last year. I charge all of $2.99 for it, and given that it's pretty long Amazon and other vendors offer a substantial portion of it as a free preview. I am absolutely not some fat-cat 1%er. My book turned up on Pirate Bay a month or two ago.

I made an account so I could leave a comment asking people not to download it, pointing out that it's not exactly expensive & I'm not backed by a publishing company. I was very fortunate in that the guy who put it up on Pirate Bay immediately apologized and took it down... but it spread to several other download sites that don't even seem to have a listed point of contact.

You can tell me that my book got more exposure from this, or that people who download it for free will all have the courtesy to turn around and buy it, but all I'm left thinking is, "Really? Three bucks makes me a vicious oppressor of the working class? I'm an icon of corporate greed who deserves to be ripped off now?"
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:37 AM on April 30, 2012 [29 favorites]


Soulseek is still around? Wow, I remember it being completely indispensable to young college me in 2002-2004. Good memories. Maybe I should check it out again, though these days there are endless options for finding obscurities.
posted by naju at 9:38 AM on April 30, 2012


By design of torrents, fighting torrent trackers is a losing battle. Closing the huge private sites is one thing, but blocking access to, or even shutting down a public tracker, no matter how big, is a game of whack-a-mole. Even closing private sites is a temporary impact, as shutting down one lead to the creation of at least two more similar sites.

As long as there are people willing to set up the software and manage the servers, there are probably millions of users who support bittorrent systems. Bittorrent is a damage-resistant system, and it's survived the closing of a number of public and private sites. I think warnings from ISPs are better pushes towards legitimate sources, but that will only keep the less adept users away from torrents, as private sites are plentiful, but require some time and patience to get access.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:41 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


So British viewers who can't or won't pay for Sky or whichever service these shows play on (I think Community is on SonyTV or something here) have the choice of piracy or buying the box set in six months.

Oh, I see. Purchasing it legally and ensuring that the creative talent who made the show get some financial reward is inconvenient! Why didn't you say so? That totally justifies taking it illegally without paying. It's like I told the judge that time I threw a rock through the window of the shoe store: "hey man, if they'd had the store open when I was there and wanted the shoes and if they'd been willing to charge me the amount I wanted to pay I'd have totally purchased them legally. What do they expect will happen if they choose to open the store when they want to and charge the prices they think are fair?"
posted by yoink at 9:43 AM on April 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


There are two evils, the record company hosing middle of the pack artists or the people pirating the music.

Pick what you think is the lesser evil. Reforming either is not possible given the power of entrenched money and the power of distributed computing knowledge.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:44 AM on April 30, 2012


Maybe I should check it out again, though these days there are endless options for finding obscurities.

It's absolutely indispensable for live bootlegs.
posted by griphus at 9:44 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


There are two evils, the record company hosing middle of the pack artists or the people pirating the music.

Pick what you think is the lesser evil. Reforming either is not possible given the power of entrenched money and the power of distributed computing knowledge.


Reforming the latter is impossible. Reforming the former has already been done.

Pretty easy choice, really.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:47 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


>I predict that this will not put a single cent in the pockets of any creative people in the entertainment business. I'm no fan of piracy but I have yet to see any compelling research that shows the scale of losses involved. Lots of assertions, no proof.

As I've written before, my own experience flatly contradicts the "doesn't make a difference argument".

I sell digital files, and I sell them directly to the public, without middlemen.

When the files I create and sell are easily accessible via sharing sites, my sales go down, dramatically. After I knock down some of the sharing sites, my sales go up, dramatically.

Scarcity creates value, and the dilution of scarcity dilutes value: It's a fairly linear relationship.

Put another way, ubiquity and network effects create value mainly for *methods* of communication, not for *instances* of communication. If lots of people suddenly starting the English language, then knowing English becomes more valuable; if lots of people suddenly have access to an otherwise scarce book of recipes written in English, then that specific book becomes less valuable.

Believing that the broad mass of people will pay for some specific X when they can get the exact same X for free, and do this consistently, is absurd; note that when someone writes, "Well, I first pirated mp3 M, and then I liked it so much I bought it," it's usually in a context wherein they also pirated countless other mp3s from countless other artists, whom they did not see fit to reward with payment.
posted by darth_tedious at 9:48 AM on April 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


"doesn't make a difference argument"
"doesn't make a difference" argument
posted by darth_tedious at 9:50 AM on April 30, 2012


But now how can I download music, games and television shows without paying for them?

This nifty Web tool can help.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:50 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are two evils, the record company hosing middle of the pack artists or the people pirating the music.

If by "pirating" you mean "illegally sharing unauthorized copyrighted material" the assumption that it's evil is a huge one. Consider the Up dude.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:52 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyone else think that
As I've written before, my own experience flatly contradicts the "doesn't make a difference argument".

I sell digital files, and I sell them directly to the public, without middlemen.
is a funny reply to
I'm no fan of piracy but I have yet to see any compelling research that shows the scale of losses involved. Lots of assertions, no proof.
The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data', incidentally.
posted by Jairus at 9:52 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, I see. Purchasing it legally and ensuring that the creative talent who made the show get some financial reward is inconvenient!.

I watch Japanese dramas but don't speak Japanese and so rely on fansubs because - and trust me on this - not even the big Japanese dramas get official subs (not even megahits like Boys over Flowers). And they sure aren't going back and dubbing things from the past. If there were a legal way for me to find subbed copies of these dramas (as there is Korean dramas) I'd use it. The Pirate Bay isn't something I use, but not everyone who is illegally downloading stuff is a) downloading English language material or b)taking the food out of the mouths of the Working Man. Or Woman.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:52 AM on April 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Great, mrgrimm, now you just got Google banned in the UK. Which means they have to use Bing. Which means it's going to turn into a verb and here come the Monty Python fans. Thanks a lot.
posted by griphus at 9:53 AM on April 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


I understood that the Piratebay's switch to peer-to-peer Magnet links rather than straight torrent files made it possible to download an entire copy of their database and host it anywhere.
posted by alby at 9:56 AM on April 30, 2012


Web searches for [album/TV show/movie] + [rar/zip/torrent] will get you to most any current, mainstream product you want, and typically have you downloading it in minutes, and plenty of semi-obscure stuff, too. Closing one download host or torrent tracker is like placing a 2x4 board into the rushing river of illegally available content.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:58 AM on April 30, 2012


Are there any other sites ISP's must block in the UK?

If not, this is an interesting precedent, and a bigger story than the pirating/music industry angle.
posted by swift at 9:59 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, I see. Purchasing it legally and ensuring that the creative talent who made the show get some financial reward is inconvenient!

I wouldn't be able to afford whatever package I'd have to get for whatever channels to watch maybe one or two shows.

I'd happily pay for the SHOWS I WANT TO SEE and none of the extra crap I don't even want. I do buy DVD sets when they come out if I liked a show enough. I do buy episodes on iTunes. But these things aren't always available, and that's the point.

Give people more avenues of access to shows and you will have a greater number of people accessing them by legitimate means. I am one of those people who would do so.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 10:00 AM on April 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


so when the entertainment companies hire hackers to go after file sharers, will the file-sharers suddenly love the courts and go to them for help?

Hiring hackers to go after file sharers would probably be more expensive and less productive than hiring lawyers to send out nastygrams. At least IP lawyers exist in large numbers and work in the industry already. I'm sure if the industry did somehow break some anti-hacking laws (of which there are plenty) there would be plenty of lawyers out there willing to get paid to pursue a lawsuit against them though.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:00 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


They will probably just block DNS lookups, which means people will just have to type the IP address instead of the domain name into their browser,
It would be even easier to simply use an alternate DNS provider. Anyway, the pirate bay just indexes torrents, it doesn't host them. If someone can get you a .torrent file you can still download whatever.

What will really happen is, just like in china, tons of little sites will crop up everywhere offering Britons access to the pirate bay, existing until they get blocked, then more will come up.

But what this will accomplish is making it difficult for the average person to pirate stuff, because you'll need to be 'in the loop', know people who know people to get the latest proxy sites. It won't stop the hard-core pirate but it will be enough of an inconvenience that it will prevent lost sales.
(It reminds me a bit of BPAL, an internet perfume company who release several limited editions which are then massively sought after by fans and sell for 30 times the price on eBay 2nd hand. Every so often, the company 'find' some bottles in the lab and announce they are to sell discontinued X Y and Z eBay, again for the huge resale prices. Why not just make up some more bottles and sell them to everyone who wants one? It seems like tawdry profiteering to me.)
Because artificial scarcity is how they make money. Why shouldn't baseball card companies just reprint all their cards? Because then no one would buy them thinking the value would go up.
so when the entertainment companies hire hackers to go after file sharers, will the file-sharers suddenly love the courts and go to them for help? -- Ironmouth
Lol, no they do not

Oh, I see. Purchasing it legally and ensuring that the creative talent who made the show get some financial reward is inconvenient! Why didn't you say so? That totally justifies taking it illegally without paying.
Yeah it totally does! Guess what, no one gives a shit about your whiny moral indignation! Why should anyone care that file sharing personally irritates you?

There have been enough movies made and enough music made to last someone a lifetime. If the industries go away forever, so what?

Not that I think that is a realistic outcome, but honestly if it came to pass I don't really see why I should care. I don't spend a lot of time watching TV or movies anyway.
posted by delmoi at 10:02 AM on April 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's like I told the judge that time I threw a rock through the window of the shoe store

Well not really. In that instance, you've broken the window, which they'll now need to replace. You've stolen a shoe that they can no longer sell to anyone else. They'll probably need to be closed for awhile the next day while cleaning up the mess. That's clearly a terrible thing to do.

This is actually much more like the time that you sat outside the shoe store with your hi-tech shoe replicator and scanned the one in the window, making your own slightly inferior shoe with your own materials, then walking away without leaving a trace.
posted by the jam at 10:02 AM on April 30, 2012 [21 favorites]


Laws cannot dictate morals or ethics; laws must follow. Whenever laws have gone contrary to the public's gestalt, the public become closet felons. And society becomes sicker, and respect for the law falls even further. Soon, everyone is breaking the law in some way or another, and the regime's clothing becomes tattered. There is no respect, only fear of being caught. And a society based on fear is a doomed society.

Can you just repost this in every thread about piracy or drug laws?

Because it's perfect and necessary.
posted by empath at 10:06 AM on April 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


What I hate is, having gone to the trouble of locating the shoe's CAD file and pirating it and creating my own copy on a 3D printer, I still have to go down to the shoe store and throw a rock through the window just to make sure it the man knows that the it has been stuck to him. When O when will someone automate this process?
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:06 AM on April 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


yoink should not be stealing shoes and breaking windows IMO, that's kind of a bad thing to do
posted by Greg Nog at 10:07 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Purchasing it legally and ensuring that the creative talent who made the show get some financial reward is inconvenient! Why didn't you say so? That totally justifies taking it illegally without paying.

There is a difference between being illegal and being wrong. I find the whole copyright regime as currently consituted sick and immoral, and I'm not going to support it, and I think anybody who does anything to bankrupt the "entertainment industry" and its lawyers is making the world a better place.
posted by empath at 10:09 AM on April 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


>The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data', incidentally.

How many complaints from people who make a living creating and selling data files do you need to read?

Think about it: Complaining about this, as a public figure, invites backlash, and the Righteous Anger of a horde of 14-year olds with the ability to upload your file by pressing the "Enter" key on a keyboard, thereby spreading the problem (cf. "Ulrich, Lars" and "Barbara Streisand Effect").

If you're creating files as an amateur, free, uncontrolled distribution is great: You're in the business of accumulating renown and hi-fives.

On the other hand, if you're selling a known product, one that commands a price, losing control of the distribution of that product just because someone thought it was cool to take it from you is, well, a lot less great.
posted by darth_tedious at 10:10 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


The few people I know that download pirated material regularly refuse to use torrents. Instead they have constant virus issues and have gotten letters from their ISPs about their pirating attempts and when they ask me what I would recommend to use and I answer "try a torrent tracker" they look at me in abject horror and say "but torrents are illegal and dangerous!"

When I find out where they do get their pirated stuff it boggles my mind. Downloadmovies.com, Software2u.net, etc. Pretty much the first shady website that pops up in google when you type in "download #blockbustermovie."

The Pirate Bay being blocked won't effect the "average pirate" one bit. Torrents have been successfully branded as teh evil.
posted by M Edward at 10:11 AM on April 30, 2012


yoink should not be stealing shoes and breaking windows IMO, that's kind of a bad thing to do

Or any of the other terrible crimes that the strained analogy and slippery slope crew comes along with later.
posted by empath at 10:11 AM on April 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


How many complaints from people who make a living creating and selling data files do you need to read?
At least as many as stories I've heard from fellow musicians I've worked with about how they've reached wider audiences and made more money due to filesharing.
posted by Jairus at 10:12 AM on April 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


How many complaints from people who make a living creating and selling data files do you need to read?


Well, it would help if for a start the MPAA and RIAA and their friends and relations didn't claim to have lost eleventy trillion dollars, which undermines the entire claim.

What kind of 'digital files' are you selling? It's too vague to be helpful.
posted by unSane at 10:13 AM on April 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


This reaction feels an awful lot like the British ISPs have been asked to please shut the door now that all the horses have left the barn.

Too little, too late, waste of money. I'd rather the governments spend their time making internet access better (cheaper, faster, more ubiquitous) than have to waste resources forcing providers to fix someone else's broken business model.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:16 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


How many complaints from people who make a living creating and selling data files do you need to read?

Do you know what will make me care? If people are prevented from accessing art and information that they want or need to have. That was the whole point of copyright -- to get art and science out to the masses. And somehow it's been warped to become a tool to deny art and science to people so that some corporate monopolists can collect rents on something that had nothing to do with in perpetuity.

I'll worry about enforcing copyrights when people actually stop producing because they can't make money at it. I have seen absolutely zero evidence that that has ever happened.
posted by empath at 10:16 AM on April 30, 2012 [33 favorites]


But what this will accomplish is making it difficult for the average person to pirate stuff, because you'll need to be 'in the loop', know people who know people to get the latest proxy sites. It won't stop the hard-core pirate but it will be enough of an inconvenience that it will prevent lost sales.

The unintended side affect of that though is that technology tends to fill the gap to make it easy again, and the new technology may make it even harder to stop in the future. For example, the whole reason sites like The Pirate Bay exist in the first place is that BitTorrent trackers became popular, and BitTorrent became popular because Napster and similar sites were shut down, which became popular because straight HTTP hosting of the same sorts of content were shut down (back before Napster, you could search Altavista for "Oasis mp3" and it would come back with a couple dozen links for Wonderwall or whatever, many of which would be broken). File sharing methods that were not wiped out never really evolved, so Usenet file sharing for example is pretty much exactly the same as it was 10 years ago. If the content industry ever does manage to make using BitTorrent impossible or at least very inconvenient for the average person, then it will have taken them almost a decade to do it, and the new thing that everyone starts using after that (such as a complete darknet, which haven't caught on yet because they aren't really necessary for average people) will probably take even longer to shut down.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:18 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am actually quite sympathetic to you darth_tedious, but this cat is out of the bag and has been for a while. These laws end up doing very little but catching the most clueless or confused people, with a knock on effect of increasing surveillance and reducing civil liberties and making it harder to do legitimate but innovative things with content and data.

My husband gets his stuff pirated too, and he is far from a rich fatcat either, but even he doesn't think that locking down the internet would actually result in him getting richer in the long run.
posted by emjaybee at 10:18 AM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think one thing to remember is that before filesharing/torrents/teh internet record companies were able to charge £10 for a CD album, which cost £1 to make, and the practice went on for years and years. They just sat back and racked in the cash, fleecing the public. And before CDs, they were making even more money in the 70s, look at single sales in that era. The public were ripped off big time for like 30 years. And now the record companies are bleating about being ripped off? fuck them.
posted by marienbad at 10:18 AM on April 30, 2012 [11 favorites]


As an aside, one of the the most amusing excuses I've heard for not paying for music was the person's absolute certainty that the musicians didn't pay for the software they used to create it. That would be very satisfying if true, but frankly while I do think that a certain level a vast proportion of audio software is pirated, that's not the level at which the music people are pirating is being produced.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:19 AM on April 30, 2012


US Appeals Court Rules Computer Code Is Not "Property" and Can’t Be Stolen

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

A prestigious economics think-tank of the Japanese Government has published a study which concludes that online piracy of anime shows actually increases sales of DVDs.


Swiss Government Study Finds Internet Downloads Increase Sales


Canadian Study: Piracy Boosts CD Sales
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:20 AM on April 30, 2012 [20 favorites]


>making your own slightly inferior shoe with your own materials, then walking away without leaving a trace

Actually, this would be like making a shoe that feels pretty much the same to your foot and lasts just as long, while leaving, distinctly, a surplus to your bank account-- since you didn't have to pay for the shoe-- and an equivalent detriment to the account of the shoe store.

Also, someone may have seen you do this, and so will be doing the same, which results in another misuse of the shoe store's design, and another lost sale.

Oh, and that person may have two friends, which means two more lost sales.

Oh, and they may have two friends.

Ad infinitum.
posted by darth_tedious at 10:21 AM on April 30, 2012


As an aside, one of the the most amusing excuses I've heard for not paying for music was the person's absolute certainty that the musicians didn't pay for the software they used to create it. That would be very satisfying if true, but frankly while I do think that a certain level a vast proportion of audio software is pirated, that's not the level at which the music people are pirating is being produced.

You'd be surprised.
posted by Jairus at 10:21 AM on April 30, 2012


One of the most interesting things about the argument against file sharing is this appeal to the status quo, as though recording music has existed forever, rather as a recent development in human history. The act of recording sound and charging for those recordings has existed for a few generations; people played music prior to this phenomena, they will play music after it.
posted by iamck at 10:22 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


>Do you know what will make me care? If people are prevented from accessing art and information that they want or need to have.

Somewhere, there's a guy who really needs and wants a Social Security Number and bank account number... from, well, anyone.
posted by darth_tedious at 10:24 AM on April 30, 2012


A response from Markus Persson, a.k.a. Notch.

Wow. His response is, literally, "okay, please just don't keep stealing my stuff, though."

Frankly I'll give him credit for being honest in a way most people aren't about this.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:26 AM on April 30, 2012


The reality is that no every illegal download is a lost sale.

My guess is the vast majority are sales that would not be made at the current price.

Some proportion are sales that would be made at the current price but the product is unavailable in the downloaders territory or there is friction of some kind (DRM, middlemen, having to pay for a cable bundle).

My guess is that somewhere between 0-5% (and my hunch is, much more likely 0-1%) of downloads are actual lost sales, except in the case of certain specialty items (for example, very expensive audio plugins).

Of course I pulled those figures out of my arse.
posted by unSane at 10:31 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Magnet links are already all over Google's cache, so nobody need touch the pirate bay infrastructure to download torrents. Besides, this already happened in Belgium and all you need to do is change your DNS.

UK courts have no idea how the internet works, shocking!
posted by WhitenoisE at 10:32 AM on April 30, 2012


(And there's also the fact that paid-for media often comes with a huge helping of fuck you. For example, unskippable ads on DVDs, having to use dongles for software, or losing 'activations' when a hard drive crashes, inability to use on two machines simultaneously).
posted by unSane at 10:33 AM on April 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


Wow. His response is, literally, "okay, please just don't keep stealing my stuff, though."

His immediate followup was basically "But go ahead and pirate Minecraft if it helps keep the internet open", which is pretty much in line with his past remarks, to the effect of "Fighting piracy doesn't help anybody".
posted by CrystalDave at 10:33 AM on April 30, 2012


Actually, this would be like making a shoe that feels pretty much the same to your foot and lasts just as long, while leaving, distinctly, a surplus to your bank account-- since you didn't have to pay for the shoe-- and an equivalent detriment to the account of the shoe store.

There is something wrong with you if you are more concerned with the business model of the shoe store than the possibility of no child in the world ever going shoeless again.
posted by empath at 10:34 AM on April 30, 2012 [16 favorites]


Anyone using PB should be using a VPN anyway.

VPNs sound great for a whole host of reasons, but are they hepful if there are other users on the same broadband connection who are downloading via these torrent trackers enemies of the state without a VPN? I need to bone up on the state of British enforcement vis-a-vis piracy, but I have yet to hear of one person in the UK receiving a letter explaining that the ISP is very cross with them because they've used their bandwidth for naughty purposes. It was quite surprising to read the personal nastygram stories in the most recent piracy thread.

darth_tedious, I'm sure you know that this is a terrible analogy and not worth pursuing, but as someone affected by this, do you really believe that piracy leaves "an equivalent detriment to the account of the shoe store" in every case?
posted by Chichibio at 10:35 AM on April 30, 2012


Wow. His response is, literally, "okay, please just don't keep stealing my stuff, though."

He has told people in the past to just go ahead and pirate minecraft if they really don't have the money.
posted by empath at 10:36 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Look, I've developed a more nuanced view of piracy than I used to have. For a long time it was easy to make the excuse that I didn't have the money to buy Expensive Software Package or Hot New Music Release. But after a while most people grow up a little and realize that hey, $15 for years of entertainment value isn't that bad is it? Couple that with the frustration of dealing with poorly tagged music (some moron out there thinks White Zombie is "blues"? Seriously?) or albums that are missing some songs. Add in the guilt factor (I've been listening to album X for a long time now... maybe I should actually buy it and get a GOOD copy). And as distribution models get better, it's often even simpler and cheaper (I threw $5 down not two hours ago to support a new artist I discovered, thanks to Amazon digital downloads).

In the end I find I am happy to pay a reasonable price for media that I like. I am not willing to pay an exorbitant price for media that is artificially unavailable due to location restrictions from the industry. I am not willing to pay for the right to be screwed over by an artist who can't leave his or her own old stuff alone (looking at you, George Lucas).

In the end, I win because I get the media I want and most of the time these days the people responsible for making it get credited.

Then again ... there are those times when they do offer stuff and I buy it and I am pissed. I have the right to be pissed that the $70 Blu-Ray multi-disk set with fancy packaging and holograms on the covers also comes with 15 minutes of unskippable previews for a summer move that has nothing to do with the movie package I purchased, will likely never be one I ever see, and is forgotten 5 minutes after it was released. But I have to see those damned previews every fucking time I want to watch the movie I DID buy. I have the right to be pissed that the CD doesn't have all of the tracks that are on the vinyl I own, and I cannot get that one additional track without purchasing YET AGAIN the same song I already own on other formats. I have the right to be pissed that the movie I bought to play for my son doesn't play on all of our devices because the DRM doesn't play nice with some DVD players, and I have the right to be pissed that when I DO play a movie for him there are a crap-ton of unnecessary interstitials to get through before I can hit play, and how do you explain this to a three year old who just wants to watch the damn cartoon already?

So, pirate if you want, pirate if you need to because the media or distribution format is broken, pirate because precious few of the improvements in distribution today would exist if not for the pressure exerted by pirates. But reward those who do it correctly, and remember who you are stealing from: throw some money at the artists whenever you can, because the consumers aren't the only ones who are getting screwed by the industry.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:39 AM on April 30, 2012 [26 favorites]


Personally I think it make sense to divide the question, where possible.

1) Has copyright law abrogated its moral force and the judicial system become a mere collection agency for Big Content? Yes.

2) Does that mean you really don't have any obligation to at least try to compensate the artist and technical production staff of the thing you're enjoying? No.

But it's damn hard to do, and not many people will really do it even when they can.. I like it when I can buy music directly from artists websites. But these guys have tried doing that with television and the results are pretty damning for that viewpoint: $13,000 collected for 1.7 million downloads. So the argument that "people would pay voluntarily if they had a way to do so" seems to only hold true for a tiny fraction of a percent of "people".
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:42 AM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


darth_tedious: "Actually, this would be like making a shoe that feels pretty much the same to your foot and lasts just as long, "

Plus, this shoe doesn't have a tack pushed through the toe that pokes you every time you put it on, that the shoe manufacturer put there to make it harder for people to make copies, except the people who make the fabricator learned to strip out thumb tacks ages ago...
posted by Karmakaze at 10:43 AM on April 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


So the argument that "people would pay voluntarily if they had a way to do so" seems to only hold true for a tiny fraction of a percent of "people".

That tiny fraction of people also happens to be the people that pirate the most, who I'd wager are also the people who produce the most new content.
posted by empath at 10:46 AM on April 30, 2012


I think Hulu and Netflix and Cable TV make it pretty clear people will pay for TV.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:48 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root. – Henry David Thoreau

Before solving a problem, make sure you've got the right problem – Tim O'Reilly

Further compounding a very public display of ignorance, commercial rights-holders have hacked off another branch, thinking it was the root. The Pirate Bay is not the root of anything and blocking DNS queries to The Pirate Bay is re-arrange deck chairs on the Titanic (the first one, not the one announced today).

As has been mentioned, the workarounds are already known. Reassign DNS servers. Use a VPN to access magnet links; turn off VPN and download. Proxy services will show up. Most likely is someone can start A Mirror Of The Pirate Bay, which is assigned to a dyndns entry or something else, and then as The Pirate Bay transmits from space (or whatever the latest plan is) the referrer will happily bounce around the Internet on the terrestrial side.

I predict three outcomes from this malarky:

1) This 'ban' will not work, and in fact, will morph into something stronger. As Napster (prosecute the sharers!) gave way to BitTorrent (wait, who's sharing what?), now, 'weaponised DNS' will give way to something else. So that not only will the service exist as distributed transfer, it will also exist supra-DNS, and at that point, it literally becomes unblockable.

Reacting to this poor development, the next wave of internet controls will be from a "deny service" model (in which case sites are banned) to a "permit service" model, in which case websites must be registered. It is this latter case that will truly bring internet rights to a head, for the only way to operate a "permit service" model is to have a Great Firewall. The technology exists -- Cisco has been beta testing in China for some time and apparently has the tech pretty refined.

And this may very well be what the media companies want. Just as one has to take a license to transmit television or radio, the world they understand is a small population of speakers and a large audience of listeners. That world is under threat -- nay, that world has already been destroyed -- yet they are trying to re-regulate it into existence.

I fear they have a good chance, for as the mainstream did not stand up for Pirate Radio, they may not stand up for BitTorrent. Yet the spirit of Jobs may in fact save freedom, as in the interim, entrepreneurs are working hard on micropayment systems that facilitate content distribution.

I don't know many people that would continue to pirate if the commercial world could catch up with the technological reality. And the equation is very simple. Release all content simultaneously on all platforms in all geographies. No more delays between US and UK distribution. No more crazy season passes. Each show, £3 - 5 a pop. Each song, £1 a pop. No DRM. Stop fighting and start listening. Until then, no one is hacking at the root of evil. The root of evil being that the old way is the right way.

Thus, the real battle of the future will be between established interests legislating their business models, and new entrepreneurs outrunning and outgunning them. And whilst the latter are certainly winning now -- and have been for some time -- as this action indicates, the former are formidable. Look at energy for example. Carbon energy is poisoning the planet, yet it's difficult to have a rational policy conversation about it, much less look at alternatives.

Thankfully, whilst the media is powerful, it is nowhere near as powerful as energy. Witness Young Murdoch exiting the UK over voicemail. So there is hope and the battle will be interesting.

2) Someone will make a mint off an anonymised lifestyle data service. Basically, you get a box in the mail. It is coloured bright red and it is called TheAwesomeNet. All TheAwesomeNet does is route your data through a centralised, anonymised, high-capacity data centre. Plug TheAwesomeNet into any internet connection, and TheAwesomeNet will find a way. Only way to block TheAwesomeNet will be to block VPN traffic, and the IT managers of the FTSE100 will tell one where in their body to place that idea.

And TheAwesomeNet will be part of TheAwesomeLifestyle package. TheAwesomeLifestyle package is essentially a shell company where people that want privacy and access to unfiltered experiences pay TheAwesomeCompany a service fee. They tell TheAwesomeCompany that they want an iPhone4 with a UK number for mobile, TheAwesomeNet at home, and TheAwesomeGateway on their laptop. Now, all their traffic comes from TheAwesomeCompany, and since TheAwesomeCompany is based... well, somewhere... it will be very hard for anyone to track them down. It will be a private, highly-serviced version of Tor

What I say is true. People will begin paying a premium for privacy. And they will pay that premium because a handful of dinosaurs bullied the government into publicly mis-stating that there is no comet and there is no dust. When it's plainly obvious that the temperature has changed.

Someone reading this should start TheAwesomeCompany. You will make a mint. Start by purchasing the assets of StrongVPN and go from there. I would do, except for I am already committed to kickstarting AnotherAwesomeCompany, and protecting the world's privacy is going to be a full-time job.

3) Finally, this law and this thinking represents the first step in the next global revolution. It will not be a bloody revolution of nation versus nation. It will be a demographic evolution of young versus old. A revolution of those who do not understand why the government would ban The Pirate Bay against those who do not understand 'what's wrong with the world today?'

It will cross privacy, accessibility, freedom of speech, finance, pensions, and everything else, where the old guard simply cannot adapt to what technology has enabled. An old guard that does not understand why students riot in the streets against paying debts they did not charge. An old guard that does not understand 'the message of Occupy Wall Street'.

I was doing research years ago on connected youth around the world, and what was fascinating is that older individuals define themselves by nation first. "I am American," or "I am South African," or "I am Chinese." Then, there was a small pocket of trendy teenagers that started identifying in a different way. "I am a Nike girl (said a girl in San Francisco)," or "I am a Raiders fan (said a teen in Germany), or "I work for Kiva (said a girl in San Francisco), or "I'm part of something you don't understand (quite a few answers)".

This movement will take a bit longer. It's funny, because the Internet was a defence agency project to create an information network that could not be taken down. A self-healing network that could route around disruptions and hostile forces. Well, it's worked. Only now instead of carrying defence information, it's weaving the world together in a way that has never been seen before.

Young adults that stream media, legally or illegally, cannot imagine catering their schedules to a TV schedule. They watch it when they would like to. Young adults cannot relate to a time when you could not speak to anyone, in any country, for free over services like Skype. Young adults see little difference between the American youth in the mirror, and the Chinese youth in the mirror, both wearing Lakers jerseys.

So whilst this is ostensibly about blocking a website from Sweden that infringes on copyright, in this case, a duck is not simply a duck. This duck is not quacking. It's roaring. Wen Jiabo gave a speech in China a month ago in which he said that China cannot stop the tide of democracy. That speech was not televised in China. Interesting that the leadership that invented the Great Firewall sees a day where there will not be a Great Firewall, and in the same year, one of the nations that claims to have invented democratic rule, takes the first steps toward building one.
posted by nickrussell at 10:49 AM on April 30, 2012 [49 favorites]


>There is something wrong with you if you are more concerned with the business model of the shoe store than the possibility of no child in the world ever going shoeless again.

Think of the Children, and of the multitudes who now can wear all the mp3s on their chilled and bleeding feet, their formerly malnourished frames now fortified by all the episodes of Mad Men they could ever desire.
posted by darth_tedious at 10:51 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and that person may have two friends, which means two more lost sales.

Oh, and they may have two friends.

Ad infinitum.


Causing an infinite amount of sales to be lost, fraying the fabric of finance-space-time and resulting in the creation of a black hole from which no profits can escape, that eventually consumes the universe. And everyone's dead.

Are you happy now, downloaders? Are you?
posted by XMLicious at 10:53 AM on April 30, 2012 [10 favorites]


How about we just make everyone who pirates music sign a contract stating that, within their lifetime, they have to release one album of equal or greater success than the most sold album they've downloaded. Everyone wins!
posted by griphus at 10:57 AM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Think of the Children, and of the multitudes who now can wear all the mp3s on their chilled and bleeding feet, their formerly malnourished frames now fortified by all the episodes of Mad Men they could ever desire.

Yes, because poor people don't deserve or need art or knowledge in their lives, and it would in no way make their lives better or more tolerable or maybe even help them make a better lives for themselves.
posted by empath at 10:59 AM on April 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


Yes, because poor people don't deserve or need art or knowledge in their lives, and it would in no way make their lives better or more tolerable or maybe even help them make a better lives for themselves.

As a high-school dropout, if I hadn't pirated software as a teenager I absolutely wouldn't have the skills I use today to make a living.
posted by Jairus at 11:00 AM on April 30, 2012 [16 favorites]


Sometimes it feels like what these guys desire most isn't fairness, or profits, but control.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:01 AM on April 30, 2012 [12 favorites]


There are many VPN services that both increase your privacy and help bypass censorship of the tracker, but you might also consider seedbox services.

Seedboxes reduce your local bandwidth consumption by running bittorrent elsewhere. I believe some provide VPN services as well, but if they don't you could download the .torrent file using Tor.

It appears seedboxes start around $10 or $16 per month, significantly more expensive than VPNs, which start around $3 to $5 per month.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:01 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's really disappointing that this has derailed into a discussion of the merits of file-sharing. I would have expected some commentary on the role of governments with respect to the internet as a public service.

The internet is unlike anything that's ever existed before in human history. Legislators are only just now beginning to realize the danger of allowing this thing to remain under the control of the people. That's a discussion I'd really like to participate in, rather than the "is it stealing or not" one that's been done thousands of times.
posted by odinsdream at 11:11 AM on April 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


I blame Star Trek, with their glorification of replicators and holodecks.

Seedboxes reduce your local bandwidth consumption by running bittorrent elsewhere.

Plus, they usually sit on fat pipes, which makes them preferred seeders. Important if you're on a private tracker (and, really, who isn't these days?)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:12 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Only way to block TheAwesomeNet will be to block VPN traffic
And HTTPS traffic, don't forget. Even plain SSL doesn't distinguish between "trying to safely buy something online" and "trying to get a free copy of Master of Puppets".

It may even be theoretically impossible (or just as hard as solving Friendly AI) to design a communications medium which allows snooping on and blocking of evil messages but prevents snooping on and blocking of good messages. Either all your users' credit card numbers, trade secrets, private messages, and political speech are unsafe; or all your users' money laundering, copyright infringement, child porn, and terrorism is safe. Let's all decide which of those nightmare endpoints we prefer, because the only "middle ground" is like what we had back when encryption was contraband, where highly motivated criminals can circumvent every safeguard but innocent people don't realize they need to until it's too late.

In fact, is it too late for me to reconsider how many awful keywords I'm throwing into a public comment? Hi FBI!
posted by roystgnr at 11:17 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


>So whilst this is ostensibly about blocking a website from Sweden that infringes on copyright, in this case, a duck is not simply a duck.

Well, yes... but the duck in question might not be simply the duck you think it is.

Yes, the social dynamic of the Web is in part about tearing down geographical walls and creating self-selecting groups, through the sharing of information. That's self-evident.

But the free, unrestricted flow of information, though, also militates against individual surplus: If, taken to the extreme, you cannot sell information, then you must sell service.

Basically, when all information is free, you must work for The Man.

If all information is free, then who is in the position to "sell" information? Well... The Man. Because The Man does not need to take payments in dollars or yuan, but can do so in terms of behavior tracking, psychographic profiles, your specific location (and the merchants ten feet away, who'd like to know what you like, right now!), the identities of your friends, and so on and so forth.

The logic of the Web is that of information-spread.

The logic of Web-enabled commerce is infinite customization; that is, the spread of information-- among people who want your money, your votes, and your decisions--, about you.

If the public is unwilling to pay for digital goods with money, it will wind up paying in something else, and probably, to someone else-- and the less that money itself is the currency in play, the larger and less accountable will be the entity collecting payment.
posted by darth_tedious at 11:18 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


It may even be theoretically impossible (or just as hard as solving Friendly AI) to design a communications medium which allows snooping on and blocking of evil messages but prevents snooping on and blocking of good messages.

There's actually an RFC for that that hasn't been implemented yet.
posted by empath at 11:20 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


If the public is unwilling to pay for digital goods with money, it will wind up paying in something else, and probably, to someone else-- and the less that money itself is the currency in play, the larger and less accountable will be the entity collecting payment.

I know it probably sounds to you like you've said something that makes sense here, but you really haven't.

The value of copies of digital goods is (or well soon be) essentially nothing. Eventually there will be no money to be extracted there beyond the commodity priced value of actually moving the bits around.
posted by empath at 11:24 AM on April 30, 2012


I wonder if we can do some sort of infodump magic to determine what percentage of RFCs linked on MetaFilter were published on April 1st.
posted by griphus at 11:25 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


A bunch of people are trying to negotiate a price for their labor. "If you won't pay us what we believe is a fair price, then you can't have our labor," they say. "Yeah, well ha ha on you," says The Man; "I don't have to negotiate with you--I'll just get what I want from somebody else." This is called strikebreaking, and it's bad because it takes away the only leverage that the workers have.

A bunch of artists and musicians are trying to sell the products of their labor on the internet. "If you won't pay us what we believe is a fair price, then you can't have the products of our labor," they say. "Yeah, well ha ha on you," says The Public; "I don't have to negotiate with you--I'll just download whatever I want for free." This is called, apparently, The Glorious Internet Revolution, and it's different from the first example because _________________.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 11:26 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


People will begin paying a premium for privacy.

Oh cool, like HBO?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:27 AM on April 30, 2012


If, taken to the extreme, you cannot sell information, then you must sell service.

I think I agree with that, although it's not quite clear what the full implications will be. Here's a meditation on that very topic: “All products are going to become services.”

derailed into a discussion of the merits of file-sharing. I would have expected some commentary on the role of governments with respect to the internet as a public service.

Isn't that exactly the point? It is, in fact, governments with decisions like these that have taken the conversation to the merits of file-sharing and away from the internet as a public service.

If the government was treating the internet as a public service, they would have told companies to piss off and go get new business models. But they didn't. Instead they are doing That Which Is Most Unholy, and breaking DNS. If those entrusted to guard public services saw the Internet as a public service, we would not be sitting here discussing file-sharing.

But file-sharing is what they want to discuss, so sadly I think we're starting there.
posted by nickrussell at 11:28 AM on April 30, 2012


Oh, I see. Purchasing it legally and ensuring that the creative talent who made the show get some financial reward is inconvenient!

Yes, it really, really is.

I recently decided I wanted to start watching Once Upon a Time, and wanted to do it by starting at the beginning and watching in the correct order. I have a beautiful HD computer monitor, purchased in 2009, and decided I would buy the entire series in HD through iTunes.

So I did, and downloaded the first 18 episodes, and then tried to play them. I received an error along the lines of "No HDCP over HDMI cable." I thought "WTF is this?" and looked it up. Turned out to be an error message Mac users have encountered since *2004*. They listed not enough cpu as a possibility -- couldn't be that, this is a killer Mac Pro Desktop, with 8 cores and 16 gigs of RAM. They also mentioned that this could be because the monitor doesn't recognize certain new types of DRM protection. It's not that old a monitor, but it is a Dell, rather than a Apple.

This seemed insane to me, but I figured, hell, I bought it, I'll download it on my macbook air instead, watch it there, an ep a night in bed or something. Whatever. And it wouldn't play on my 3 month old macbook air.

These are iTunes episodes, purchased by an all mac user, being played on top end macs, and I couldn't watch stuff legally purchased.

My solution was to purchase Noteburner (another $40), which I had read would rip the drm out of iTunes episodes. For whatever reason, I couldn't get it to work on the seriously overpowered Mac Pro. I was able to get it up and running on the MacAir, and two days of converting later, I finally had a format that I could watch.

My method of getting it? No idea if it was legal. I no longer care. I spent boatloads on the hardware and software to legally watch this stuff, and I still had to resort to third party software to rip out their deranged, overkill protections, which are stopping the people who want to obey the law and are willing to give them cash money to play Apple Products on Apple Hardware and still cannot do so. I knew I could have downloaded the damn series in under an hour from half a dozen places, and they made sure I regretted not doing so.

It is, in fact, out of control.
posted by instead of three wishes at 11:29 AM on April 30, 2012 [40 favorites]


Either all your users' credit card numbers, trade secrets, private messages, and political speech are unsafe; or all your users' money laundering, copyright infringement, child porn, and terrorism is safe.

Y'know, it's actually a sort of inverse broken window theory. By going after things like file sharing they drive everyone deeper underground, which actually helps hide the child porn guys. There's WAY more interest in VPNs, DNS, etc. than there was a few years ago.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:29 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


If the public is unwilling to pay for digital goods with money, it will wind up paying in something else, and probably, to someone else-- and the less that money itself is the currency in play, the larger and less accountable will be the entity collecting payment.

There are so many ways to make digital copies that violate copyright, but don't put money or information in anyone's, uh, pocket. I could borrow CDs from my friends and rip copies, which I can then share on my local network for the sake of my housemates and neighbours, one of whom might put it on a USB stick and give to her friends, one of whom runs a private FTP server on his PC, which in turn distributes it to his friends all over the world and so on and so on...
posted by Dysk at 11:30 AM on April 30, 2012


The value of copies of digital goods is (or well soon be) essentially nothing.

Do you mean cost or value? If something has no value, who would want it to begin with? Digital goods can have a significant value, even when the cost per copy becomes comparatively meaningless.
posted by timfinnie at 11:32 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is no economic necessity in this push towards preserving obsolete digital industries, it is simply a matter of powerful interests coinciding. This absurd stance on intellectual property is a metaphor for control over culture vis a vis the mechanics of language. We see it all the time, wherever there is an opportunity to assert control over language, control is attempted. The discourse of copyright enforcement is meant to engage in overt, conscious, political theater and is not concerned with practical matters. The effect of this new pronouncement doesn't matter. Enforcement at this level is by designation of the capricious sovereign. Of course, there is no figurehead we can point to, except perhaps the market forces whose dollars clamor for protection, and this is the subtext:

Economic interests, left unchecked, will devour culture.

I don't want to discount the digital artifacts that now augment and orchestrate our physical economy because this is a yet stronger reason to push against intellectual property. If language is shackled, even at the margins, we come to a situation where the global economy is subject to frictive, coercive forces at all scales. This is about power. Ultimately, the entrenched sources of hard economic power like oil, steel, and grain, industries that define the current economic order, these become the wellspring of authoritarian language (copyright). Sources of soft power like music and software are isolated, and are easier to politically appropriate. This is where the Pirate Party steps in: economic justice starting with the Cloud. I think this is real debate, at least on the Pirate Party side of things: How can we denote a well-spring of economic and social justice?
posted by kuatto at 11:35 AM on April 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


A bunch of people are trying to negotiate a price for their labor. "If you won't pay us what we believe is a fair price, then you can't have our labor," they say. "Yeah, well ha ha on you," says The Man; "I don't have to negotiate with you--I'll just get what I want from somebody else." This is called strikebreaking, and it's bad because it takes away the only leverage that the workers have.

A bunch of artists and musicians are trying to sell the products of their labor on the internet. "If you won't pay us what we believe is a fair price, then you can't have the products of our labor," they say. "Yeah, well ha ha on you," says The Public; "I don't have to negotiate with you--I'll just download whatever I want for free." This is called, apparently, The Glorious Internet Revolution, and it's different from the first example because _________________.


You've already highlighted the key difference here. They're not selling their labour. They're selling a product. Much like it isn't strikebreaking to go to a different blacksmith to get your tools made if the village blacksmith charges stupid amounts of money - even if the village blacksmith invented the clawhammer and all the others are making copies.
posted by Dysk at 11:35 AM on April 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Do you mean cost or value? If something has no value, who would want it to begin with? Digital goods can have a significant value, even when the cost per copy becomes comparatively meaningless.

But value to whom? The public? Or the rent seekers?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:36 AM on April 30, 2012


Oh, I see. Purchasing it legally and ensuring that the creative talent who made the show get some financial reward is inconvenient! Why didn't you say so?

yoink - I *did* say so. I'm not arguing that people shouldn't get paid. I'm telling you why people who think those folk should get paid are acting in a way that means they don't. When a TV show spent four seasons on a free-to-all channel over here and then is bought up by a channel that can only be accessed by paying £40 or so a month, then not everybody is able or willing to do that. That's why viewer numbers for Mad Men on Sky Atlantic aren't even close to what they were on BBC4. (Game of Thrones has never been on terrestrial here, but a similar thing happened with Lost and 24.)

Taking me as an example, if I wanted to get Sky, I'd have to pay at least £20 per month, and I'd have to persuade my landlord (who lives here) not only to have the work done to get the cable service installed and assurance that I would live here throughout the contract length of 18 months, but also switch his phone service and pay the £13 per month line rental. That ain't happening. Luckily for the fine people of AMC, I can afford the box set and blank out any spoilers. A lot of people who were in for seasons 1-4 might not be able to, or might not be willing to, pay for something they used to get for free and now can only access with a lot of hassle and cost involved. If you eliminate or minimise the latter, piracy will fall.

As I said, if iTunes or whoever could sell me a season pass, or I could subscribe to some kind of streaming service for channels I don't receive, I'd be all over it for my favourite shows. But that service does not exist.
posted by mippy at 11:38 AM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


"If you won't pay us what we believe is a fair price, then you can't have our labor," they say. "Yeah, well ha ha on you," says The Man; "I don't have to negotiate with you--I'll just get what I want from somebody else." This is called strikebreaking, and it's bad because it takes away the only leverage that the workers have.

It's called negotiation, and it's perfectly legal.
posted by empath at 11:44 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]



I think Hulu and Netflix and Cable TV make it pretty clear people will pay for TV.

I would love them to make Hulu available over here. Aside from the shows that we don't get to see on TV over here, you can get back catalogue stuff and spend all day in bed watching Frasier without even needing to take a disc out the box! We have separate sites for the main channels, but things disappear off of iPlayer after a week or so, and 4oD doesn't show all the import shows they do on broadcast TV (I can never keep up with series at the time they're broadcast, which is why I'm yet to watch Homeland.)
posted by mippy at 11:45 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


so when the entertainment companies hire hackers to go after file sharers, will the file-sharers suddenly love the courts and go to them for help? posted by Ironmouth at 9:37 AM

No, the delivery system will change, and life will go on. People like me will always continue to pirate until prices reflect the actual value, and the middle man is eliminated. I will not be tied into your silly program, drm, nor rules for how I will consume media. Plus, there is little if nothing those bastards can do about it.
posted by handbanana at 11:46 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think Hulu and Netflix and Cable TV make it pretty clear people will pay for TV.

The only thing I bittorrent right now is Game of Thrones and True Blood. I bought all of The Wire, all of Six Feet Under and the first season of True Blood, but I'm not going to sign up for cable just to watch the new episodes of Game of Thrones and True Blood to come up. If they want my money, make it easier for me to give it to them.

HBO is like a waiter telling me they won't accept tips in anything but money orders.
posted by empath at 11:48 AM on April 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


When the files I create and sell are easily accessible via sharing sites, my sales go down, dramatically. After I knock down some of the sharing sites, my sales go up, dramatically.

I would love to hear how you accomplish "knocking down" sharing sites. :-)

Believing that the broad mass of people will pay for some specific X when they can get the exact same X for free, and do this consistently, is absurd.

If you've made money from your digital files (which are ALL inherently copy-able) that are placed on the internet (which inherently facilitates copying digital files -- that's pretty much ALL it does) then your income is the proof that what you claim is untrue.

Every digital file that anyone has ever bought is something they could have gotten for free, and didn't.

The cat's out of the bag. Either find another line of work, or accept that the stuff you sell will be pirated. Even if The Pirate Bay were closed down -- and it won't be -- there are a million other sites that do the same thing.

Argue all you want, but it's impossible to produce an un-copyable digital file. And if your files are at all interesting, some people will ALWAYS copy them. (Personally, I rarely buy music I haven't already pirated.)
posted by coolguymichael at 11:49 AM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


scaryblackdeath: You can tell me that my book got more exposure from this, or that people who download it for free will all have the courtesy to turn around and buy it, but all I'm left thinking is, "Really? Three bucks makes me a vicious oppressor of the working class? I'm an icon of corporate greed who deserves to be ripped off now?"

Fundamentally, you are "selling" a number. That's all your book really is, a very large number. And you are transmitting this number to other people in exchange for cash. Every one of your customers has a highly specialized, incredibly intricate machine that has one main purpose: copying large numbers. There are hundreds of millions of these number-duplication machines in the market. You're selling numbers into a market of number factories. It's like selling ice to Eskimos.

You are no longer in charge of this relationship. Rather, the people running the number duplicators now decide how this relationship works. You're providing very little value by copying the number for them. They can do that themselves, trivially. Your value was in creating the number originally, so I'd suggest that the relationship needs to change to recognize this, perhaps gradually shifting to something like Kickstarter.

I don't know what the new structure needs to be, but the old structure doesn't apply very well anymore. Printing a book had inherent value; it was hard to do, and took specialized equipment. But almost anyone in the entire United States can copy numbers for free, so doing that for people isn't of much value to them. They may still "buy" your books, but they're doing it out of kindness, not necessity.

darth_tedious: Believing that the broad mass of people will pay for some specific X when they can get the exact same X for free, and do this consistently, is absurd; note that when someone writes, "Well, I first pirated mp3 M, and then I liked it so much I bought it," it's usually in a context wherein they also pirated countless other mp3s from countless other artists, whom they did not see fit to reward with payment.

Except that it's been shown, over and over, that the people who "pirate" the most also spend the most on music.

I've seen this in my own life. In years when I've done a lot of pirating, I bought a LOT more music. I was in a Second Life music group for several years, back in the early days before the whole place turned into a sex club, where we'd meet once a week and spin some tunes, and we madly all swapped files around and shared like crazy when we heard things we liked. And during those years, I bought music at probably ten times the rate I had been before. Over a period of, um, I guess three or four years, my legit music library expanded by a good third, and I hadn't really been buying music since my early 20s. I had a bunch from when I was young, and then very little for a very long time, and then a ton more stuff that I absolutely would never have bought, except for our little 'piracy' group.

You're thinking about this the same way the record companies did. What they yelled about was the tracks I was copying. (I'm not sure how many it was... I'd guess maybe 50 a month.) They saw that 50/month, and they called it a loss of $50. But those fifty tracks didn't cost them anything, since we duplicated them ourselves, without using up any record company resources whatsoever. What they SHOULD have seen was that I was buying a couple albums a month for about four years, all money they wouldn't otherwise have gotten. They weren't at negative fifty, they were at about plus twenty.

Since our music group broke up, and I stopped pirating, my music purchasing (except for a few artists I was introduced to during this period) has once again dropped to nearly zero. If I don't hear music I like, I don't get my wallet out. In the years where I was pirating, if I copied your track and didn't pay you, that meant I just didn't like it that well, and you weren't out anything. If I happened to really like your track(s), then you'd probably get some of my cash. That's much better than the zero chance you had before I copied the track.

I would argue that, while you may see your sales figures go up in months where you stomp on copies, what you're not seeing is customer satisfaction. Someone who buys your album when they can easily get a free copy is a fantastic customer, someone who will probably pony up again and again. (I buy everything Imogen Heap comes out with, for instance.) Whereas if they buy it blind, and don't like it, they'll be much less likely to buy anything else from you in the future. You're making more in the short term, but you may be cannibalizing your potential market to do it.

I'd rather just toss you five or ten bucks and copy the music myself, but maybe the album/single track/book sale format helps remind people to pay for stuff they really like.

It's also worth pointing out to both of you that authors and musicians rarely make much money in either business, and I'd very strongly suggest that in the Age of Sharing, particularly if you're a musician, you probably have a better chance of making a living off what you're doing than you did in the Age of Distribution. You're less likely to become obscenely wealthy, but that chance was so low that it's almost certainly a good trade. In this world, you've got a better chance of being able to survive, and even prosper like regular working people, based on your creative output.

But a chance is not certainty. Plenty of people are going to use your work for free. This doesn't cost you anything. It means they just didn't like it all that well. Don't worry about the people who don't pay, focus on the people that do. Since they are now the ones that define the relationship, make the ones that relate to you in the way you want as happy as you possibly can, and they should, in turn, pull in more like-minded folks.
posted by Malor at 11:50 AM on April 30, 2012 [23 favorites]


I am quite lucky in that my landlord buys phenomenal amounts of DVDs, so if there's a series I want to watch, he'll probably have it. (I'm waiting for The Mentalist's current season to come out on DVD, as he'll probably buy it, and I've missed too many that have been on.) Sadly for me this doesn't extend to Northern Exposure or NewsRadio, which are expensive/difficult to get here as well. (One day I will buy ALL OF FRASIER.)
posted by mippy at 11:51 AM on April 30, 2012


>I would love to hear how you accomplish "knocking down" sharing sites. :-)

DMCA, and complaint to hosts and ISPs.

Sometimes this process works, sometimes it does not.
posted by darth_tedious at 11:57 AM on April 30, 2012


I would love to hear how you accomplish "knocking down" sharing sites. :-)

DMCA, and complaint to hosts and ISPs.

Sometimes this process works, sometimes it does not. posted by darth_tedious at 11:57 AM on 4/30


Fortunately with servers located in countries that actually have a concept of privacy as well as sovereignty your takedown notices are useless.
posted by handbanana at 12:05 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


If they want my money, make it easier for me to give it to them.

The BluRay of Season 1 has been trivially available for quite some time.

You don't just want access to the shows, you want immediate access under your terms. That's not the same thing as being forced to pirate because the show isn't available. It's not "I can't get the show any other way without signing up for cable!" it's "I'm not willing to wait a few months, waaah!".
posted by Justinian at 12:07 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think Hulu and Netflix and Cable TV make it pretty clear people will pay for TV.

Speaking of Hulu, it is considering requiring users show proof of tv subscription. They already do this with Fox content. If you don't have a Fios or Dish subscription, you have to wait 5 days to watch Fox content (unless you pay for Hulu Plus, for now).
posted by birdherder at 12:11 PM on April 30, 2012


you want immediate access under your terms.

Just like every other market out there. A movie theatre closed on Friday night isn't going to do so well. A bar open in the morning and shut in the evening isn't going to do so well either.

Previously, it was not technically possible to have instant access to content, at any time, from any location. Now it is possible. Thus, yes, I think it's right that we expect business to take advantage of the technology.

More importantly, it's right for government to protect business's capability to take advantage of the technology. It is not right for government to restrict technology in favour of a few businesses at the expense of other businesses and consumers.

I guess another way of saying it is that 1) it is possible for a content company to deliver content on my terms, 2) it is in the interest of a content company to deliver content on my terms, 3) if a content company is not delivering content on my terms when it is possible and in their interest, something is broken.
posted by nickrussell at 12:14 PM on April 30, 2012 [11 favorites]


The reason the show isn't available is purely because of archaic licensing deals, not because of any technical difficulty. The entertainment industry still seems largely unaware that the internet is a river which flows around obstructions.

There are three aspects to this: one is moral, one technical and one is practical. The argument from morality is, I'm afraid, completely doomed to failure. The technical solutions have proved to be staggeringly unpopular as well as completely futile. That leaves the practical solution, which is that the entertainment industry does indeed have to accept that the playing field has been levelled, and that if they don't wish to provide content in all territories at prices which consumers will pay, it will be pirated.

It's just a fact and if they ignore it, they will cease to exist.

Musicians will however continue to exist, for some strange reason that nobody can work out.
posted by unSane at 12:14 PM on April 30, 2012


Sound engineers and video editors don't get royalties, do they?

It's not that simple. Yes they do get mechanicals or residuals, in some cases, depending on genre, platform, licensing agreement, country, etc.

I think there has to be some line drawn between wholesale theft of easily purchasable content and the promotional or informational circulation of rare, out of print, or otherwise hard to find content, and using Fair Use arguments to justify massive commercial piracy strikes me as special pleading. You have to admit that the vast majority of illegal downloading of copyrighted material happens because someone wants easily purchasable content for free. You may be the snowflake exception who finds it annoying not to be able to buy something you want at all, or without buying a lot of other stuff you don't want. But most people are downloading Kanye West and Taylor Swift songs and major studio movies they could otherwise purchase legally. Come on, admit you know it's true, because it makes the arguments in favor of Fair Use as a restraint on Draconian enforcement of IP rights and laws sound silly if they do not acknowledge that some significant proportion of illegal circulation of digital media is solely and intentionally theft, plain and simple.

The site is called "The Pirate Bay," for fucks sake. As in "we steal and plunder, what are you going to do about it?" It is a government's job to do something about it. It is a citizen's job to lobby her government to change the ways it does such things.

TPB has existed for years, openly mocking international trade agreements, national laws, and other modes of selective, example-making prosecutions and lawsuits. And really, as many here realize, it could be nuked from orbit tomorrow and it would still only make a tiny dent in the problem of value leaching inexorably out of creative labor, no less so than dirt cheap wages in South China sucked the value out of highly-compensated skilled labor in Ohio or Birmingham.
posted by spitbull at 12:18 PM on April 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Digital goods can have a significant value, even when the cost per copy becomes comparatively meaningless.

If by "meaningless" you mean "valueless" I'm curious how that is not a paradox. Can you expand?

How many complaints from people who make a living creating and selling data files do you need to read?

Honestly, if an artist makes a public statement for users to stop taking unauthorized digital copies of her work, I will stop. I can't think of a case where I didn't.

Also, yes, give as much money as you can to the artists you support. (Yes "much as you can" is very subjective.)

FWIW, I think the terms "pirate" and "piracy" are very off-base here. I think the terms should be restricted to the entities who are profiting financially off unauthorized copyrighted material.

Users are not pirates unless they are selling bootlegs; they are file-sharers.

Musicians will however continue to exist, for some strange reason that nobody can work out.

Anyone who's done it knows that playing music is a lot of fun. Playing music professionally is also a lot of work, but there is an intangible reward that you probably don't get as much filing papers. Tons of people would do it for free.

So, yeah, musicians have an uphill battle. But so do video-game testers. And some of those folks get paid.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:19 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Previously, it was not technically possible to have instant access to content, at any time, from any location. Now it is possible. Thus, yes, I think it's right that we expect business to take advantage of the technology.

The problem is that they want all the advantages of digital distribution, but ALSO all the advantages of physical restrictions.

Sorry, but regional locks are no longer a sane option.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:19 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Software engineers will continue to exist if no one pays them for code either.

Really, substitute your own profession for "musicians" and there's probably someone somewhere saying the same thing about you.
posted by spitbull at 12:22 PM on April 30, 2012


Very, very much of this thread reads to me as "I can graze all of my sheep on the commons, therefore I must, and it is down to, er, someone else to come up with a new business model that will ensure there is plenty of grass".

Maybe the greenskeeper can sell T-shirts to buy seed.
posted by fightorflight at 12:22 PM on April 30, 2012


TPB can't be "nuked", they have released an entire torrent of all the magnet links they hold. It would be a zombie at that point, and someone else would pick up the flag.

The industry is fucked, has been fucking us for years and needs reform.


Torrenting, and usenet and the like are fixes to market failure. It isnt the governments job to prop up a shit industry that is still making bank.
posted by handbanana at 12:23 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think there has to be some line drawn between wholesale theft of easily purchasable content and the promotional or informational circulation of rare, out of print, or otherwise hard to find content

I would love to see you or anyone try to draw that line.

You have to admit that the vast majority of illegal downloading of copyrighted material happens because someone wants easily purchasable content for free.

The obvious corollary there is that someone wants easily purchasable content that they can't afford.

Very, very much of this thread reads to me as "I can graze all of my sheep on the commons, therefore I must, and it is down to, er, someone else to come up with a new business model that will ensure there is plenty of grass".

Sure. If you had a magical commons that could fit all the sheep in the universe with magical grass that filled them up but never disappeared, sure. Bring all your sheeps down to the commons, Mister. They can graze next to mine. I swear it's not a robot!
posted by mrgrimm at 12:26 PM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just like every other market out there. A movie theatre closed on Friday night isn't going to do so well. A bar open in the morning and shut in the evening isn't going to do so well either.

Absolutely true. It doesn't, however, give you the right to break into the movie theatre and screen the film for yourself even if you put everything back the way you found it. That's illegal. It's not as morally wrong as actually stealing the print of the film, no, but it is still wrong.
posted by Justinian at 12:28 PM on April 30, 2012


Absolutely true. It doesn't, however, give you the right to break into the movie theatre and screen the film for yourself even if you put everything back the way you found it. That's illegal. It's not as morally wrong as actually stealing the print of the film, no, but it is still wrong.

And while we're on the topic, how dare Jesus multiply those loaves and fishes? Doesn't he know that bakers need to eat too?
posted by Jairus at 12:30 PM on April 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


TPB has existed for years, openly mocking international trade agreements, national laws,

Sorry, that's not going to fly.

Those trade agreements are the same trade agreements that allow massive flows of capital to trot the globe whilst restricting the mobility of labour. Those agreements allow capital to exact huge returns whilst playing labour against labour.

Those trade agreements are the same trade agreements that create policies set by corporations like Monsanto.

Those are the same national laws that are destroying creativity with time periods for copyright that are too long, and a patent system that is a fucking mess.

Those are the same national laws that privatise the profits from publicly-funded investments (like the internet).

Those are the same international laws and treaties that are privatising water supplies, preventing restrictions on carbon emissions, and allowing deportation of teenagers for simply holding domain names. The same laws and treaties that allow the US to destroy MegaUpload.

Just because it is a law doesn't mean it is right. Just because it is a law does not mean you must abide. Slavery was legal. Discrimination based on gender was legal. Gay marriage is not legal.

TPB exists because a 35 million people at any given time (yes, the average user traffic of TPB is equivalent to the population of Canada) disagreeing with the laws.

When I see 35 million people disagreeing with a law, I think you have a problem with the law and not the people.
posted by nickrussell at 12:31 PM on April 30, 2012 [19 favorites]


you want immediate access under your terms
I just want to say that parenthood is the cure for the desire for immediate gratification and novelty in entertainment. Some days I feel like I need to plan for time on the crapper, let alone see a first run movie in a theater that isn't made by Pixar or Dreamworks.

So yeah, I've read the Game of Thrones series and when I saw that HBO was making it, I put it in my Netflix queue and I'll get to see the first episode of the first season sometime this week if I'm not so bone tired that sleep is more appealing.
posted by plinth at 12:33 PM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


The drug cartels also exist because millions "disagree" with drug laws, by virtue of breaking them.
posted by spitbull at 12:33 PM on April 30, 2012


The drug cartels also exist because millions "disagree" with drug laws, by virtue of breaking them.

You realize the cartels wouldn't exist if it wasn't for the unjust laws, right? For the same reason that bootlegger gangs dried up when prohibition ended?
posted by Jairus at 12:35 PM on April 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


Copyright infringement =/= theft.

Not sure why people cant grasp a relatively simple concept.
posted by handbanana at 12:37 PM on April 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


The drug cartels also exist because millions "disagree" with drug laws, by virtue of breaking them.

Drug cartels exist because the people of the United States want to voluntarily consume things that the government won't allow. Thus, there is STRONG demand and unnaturally no production. Hence, the externality that is the war on drugs and drug cartels. It's fascinating if you want to have a google about the legalisation of drugs all through Latin America... right to the US border.

Bad laws made the drug cartels too.
posted by nickrussell at 12:37 PM on April 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Theft" and "piracy" are the wrong words. Nothing is being stolen. No property is being taken.

Some people point to loss of sales or loss of an opportunity to sell. But if depriving someone of a sale is wrong, then advertising is wrong, opening a new business -- especially one that offers similar goods or services to an existing business -- is wrong, and even re-using something you already purchased is wrong. In all of those cases, some business is deprived of an opportunity to sell.

Loss of a potential sale cannot be the basis for securing intellectual property rights.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 12:39 PM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


The drug cartels also exist because millions "disagree" with drug laws, by virtue of breaking them.

One man's modus ponens ...
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 12:40 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Let's say I borrow a season of "30 Rock" from my local library. Am I a pirate now? The studio isn't getting anything from my rental. The producers, writers, actors and director receive no revenue either. How is downloading a torrent of last week's east coast and west coast live shows any different?
posted by BrianJ at 12:43 PM on April 30, 2012


>Except that it's been shown, over and over, that the people who "pirate" the most also spend the most on music.

Yes, but your argument demonstrates my point: If you're pirating from musicians Jane and Fred and Starwillow... and, on reflection, you decide you want to buy from musician Jane, you've still done nothing to pay Fred or Starwillow. You aren't paying some collective, MusiciansWhoseStuffI'veTried-- nope, you're just paying Jane. Meanwhile, you've gotten the benefit of Fred and Starwillow-- howsoever little that might be-- and they haven't gotten the benefit they asked for.

> You're thinking about this the same way the record companies did.


I'd argue that you're thinking about this in terms of record companies. Specifically, you're thinking, "Well, even if I don't pay for Musician X or Y or Z, EMI should be happy-- I still paid for Musician A!" You're thinking in terms of aggregates and catalogues, and dollar-a-unit products that go with dozens of other dollar-a-unit products; you're focusing on EMI, rather than Fred and Starwillow.
posted by darth_tedious at 12:43 PM on April 30, 2012



"Theft" and "piracy" are the wrong words. Nothing is being stolen. No property is being taken.

You spend 3 years writing a book on an obscure topic in your field, say engineering or law. You have been employed in this field for 15 years and are one of only a dozen people in the world with this highly-specialized knowledge. Because you know only a few thousand copies of this book will sell due to its obscure nature, and because of the amount of effort it took to write, you decide to charge $1,000 for the book. You find out that a (former) friend, who is also in your field bought the book, copied it and then returned it because he thought the price was too high. Did he steal from you or not?
posted by gagglezoomer at 12:46 PM on April 30, 2012


If by "meaningless" you mean "valueless" I'm curious how that is not a paradox. Can you expand?

I can try. First, 'value' is not cost and neither is it price. Some things, like IDE software in the hands of a competent programmer, have a higher value than in the hands of someone who won't use it. A digital copy of a song by Justin Bieber will have a higher value for a fan than for me because they might actually want to listen to it. Even if a thing costs nothing to produce, it still has a value so long as someone wants it.

But removing commercial products from this if we can, maybe consider digital family photos.

If you have a particularly valuable family photo, let's say the last holiday when everyone got together before Grandma passed or something like that. It takes negligible time to create copies to send to your family, and sending them costs "nothing" if you don't get charged for bandwidth. If you lose your copy, and someone sends you another, the cost to produce is again pretty meaningless. But if you lost your copy and couldn't get another one for whatever reason, then you lose the full value of the picture, even when other copies are probably still out there.
posted by timfinnie at 12:47 PM on April 30, 2012


Did he steal from you or not?

No.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 12:48 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did he steal from you or not?

Of course not. That's not what the word means.
posted by Jairus at 12:49 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, why is this a former friend ... and why didn't I give my friend a copy in the first place?
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 12:50 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


[A couple comments removed. If you're getting to the point of just vaguely dismissing the site as having a monolithic opinion about something it's probably past time to take a break from the thread.]
posted by cortex at 12:51 PM on April 30, 2012


You slmply have a shitty friend first and foremost. Secondly, no theft did not occur, copyright infringement did.

Look, I want to support the artist, authors and others who create things I enjoy. I do not want to support the status quo of the business model. The sooner an artist or network ditches the current system and has delivery methods that meet my requirements then I will stop pirating.

I know many artist who do a pay as you wish model, even saying that they make more distributing directly than itunes.
posted by handbanana at 12:54 PM on April 30, 2012


Yes, but your argument demonstrates my point: If you're pirating from musicians Jane and Fred and Starwillow... and, on reflection, you decide you want to buy from musician Jane, you've still done nothing to pay Fred or Starwillow.

Isn't this just saying that people should pay for music they don't like? Seems like that is a bug in the system, not something you should want to encourage.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:54 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's called a thought experiment. I know what the dictionary definition of theft is thanks.
posted by gagglezoomer at 12:54 PM on April 30, 2012


Did he steal from you or not?

Of course not. That's not what the word means.


This argument over what the word steal means happens in around half of the file-sharing threads here. I personally don't see the point in arguing about it on either side. Some people might have different definitions of the word that they use or think are correct, and continuing to argue about it isn't going to bring anything new to the discussion.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:55 PM on April 30, 2012


Looks like it was an appropriat time for me to re-post [shameless self-link] this
posted by mmrtnt at 12:55 PM on April 30, 2012


BrianJ: "Let's say I borrow a season of "30 Rock" from my local library. Am I a pirate now? The studio isn't getting anything from my rental. The producers, writers, actors and director receive no revenue either. How is downloading a torrent of last week's east coast and west coast live shows any different?"

Libraries lend their archives to the public with the consent of the copyright holder. You don't copy what you take out of the library, and you don't get to keep it. Copyright law is primarily concerned with duplication of content, not how many people consume it in one sitting.

In a similar vein, you can legally lend your copy of the Firefly dvd set to a friend. But ripping and duplicating the discs to provide that friend with a copy they can keep is illegal.
posted by zarq at 12:56 PM on April 30, 2012


Copyright infringement =/= theft.

Not sure why people cant grasp a relatively simple concept.


Maybe if they stop thinking of it as "theft" and more like "she's dressing like me!"
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:56 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's also worth pointing out to both of you that authors and musicians rarely make much money in either business, and I'd very strongly suggest that in the Age of Sharing, particularly if you're a musician, you probably have a better chance of making a living off what you're doing than you did in the Age of Distribution. You're less likely to become obscenely wealthy, but that chance was so low that it's almost certainly a good trade. In this world, you've got a better chance of being able to survive, and even prosper like regular working people, based on your creative output.

I never had any illusions about making obscene wealth. Lately I sell four or five copies a day, with $2 of that $2.99 download price coming to me (eventually). That feels pretty cool.

But again, there are no discernible dividing lines in this. I somehow doubt most people cruising TPB and sites like it stop and ask, "Hey, is this a wealthy, corporate-backed artist I'm pirating, or is it the local barrista who did this in his spare time?"

And, to be blunt, even the piracy of the stuff that IS corporate-backed often seems obscene. People tell me all the time they never pay for music, and even say it with pride. So paying, what, $1.30 for that new Shinedown single is some sort of affront to your sensibilities? If I like the musician(s) in the bar or on the street corner, I'll put a buck or two in their tip jar or instrument case or whatever, and I don't get to take their performance home with me to replay whenever I want.

Just seems awfully crummy to me.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:01 PM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fair enough, zarq. I was honestly unclear about that and, from that point of view, it makes perfect sense. Thanks!
posted by BrianJ at 1:03 PM on April 30, 2012


Because you know only a few thousand copies of this book will sell due to its obscure nature

If we're talking about an academic book a few thousand copies is a best seller, a pretty impressive one. And your production of that book has been subsidized (probably) by various governmental agencies that pay at least part of your wages. To bring this a bit back on topic, there's an enormous battle going on now about the cost of academic journals, all of which not only get their content free, but get the review process free as well, but still claim copyright over the contents. A lot of academics just post articles on sites like Academia.edu because it is in our interest to have our work out there, not locked down. Are we facilitating piracy? Of course, we are. But the public has already paid for this stuff. This is not the same as music piracy, for sure, but it is worth considering the tax breaks that various companies take advantage of - tax breaks that we all pay for - to produce material that we then pay a premium for.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:05 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


$1 or more for a shitty, compressed mp3 is too much. Sorry, but why the hell is a song worth a dollar? Seriously?
Considering we no longer buy CDs or vinyll, prices should reflect a more accurate market price.
the delivery system is now more efficient, global, and easier than ever... no song is woth a dollar.
posted by handbanana at 1:06 PM on April 30, 2012


So many typos in that post. So much shame...
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:08 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


(FWIW: Suddenly I feel pretty crummy myself having talked about sales numbers just now. I'm not trying to brag. It goes up, it goes down, and in the end I feel lucky that I've had any sales at all. The book will eventually fall off the map, and I feel lucky for my tiny slice of pseudo-success. Just trying to point out that not everyone with online content is selling millions or part of a corporate machine. Anyway, I'm gonna go sit with my foot in my mouth for awhile.)
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:09 PM on April 30, 2012


Users are not pirates unless they are selling bootlegs; they are file-sharers.

Selling does happen, though. I've seen people sell sets of UK TV shows on eBay - ones which aren't on DVD or were ever released on video, granted, but therefore would have been acquired via a file-sharing site. The sellers are wrong to profit on someone else's work in that way (and this particular TV show has never been made available because two of the main performers have never authorised it for whatever reason) but the market is there, and were it available, people would clearly be willing to pay. If those sellers were taken to court, would the rights-holders need to prove loss of earnings? I wonder how that would work for a product that isn't actually available.

In a similar vein, you can legally lend your copy of the Firefly dvd set to a friend. But ripping and duplicating the discs to provide that friend with a copy they can keep is illegal.

I looked into this when I was scanning a bunch of sewing patterns. Apparently, if I scan them - which I always do because I carry them around and they get tatty very easily - but don't keep the originals, I'm technically breaking the law. Even if I recycle them or give them to my friend. Even though some of these patterns have never been reprinted since the magazine was published, so the only way said friend could get a copy would be to buy the magazine from eBay for twice the original price. The Firefly example is different as the friend might have bought the DVD if you hadn't duplicated it - but I don't get how ripping my DVD then giving that DVD to Oxfam is breaking the law.
posted by mippy at 1:09 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


>The music distribution racket is dying. Good.
>The sooner an artist or network ditches the current system and has delivery methods that meet my requirements then I will stop pirating.

A great many people invoke the name of the record labels, and the idea of The Big Content Middlemen, as justification for piracy.

The labels, though, are irrelevant: Sure, they're a bad deal, for the most part; it's not as if artists have to be educated on this topic by File-Sharing Revolutionary Promethean Light-Bringers.

The point is this: Very often, even when you don't work with a label-- assuming sufficient popularity-- you still get piracy. Popularity-- that is, perceived value-- is the driver, not the distributional infrastructure.

So piracy, I would suggest, is not fundamentally about dinosaurs of distribution: It's about getting yummy woolly mammoth meat, free.

It's simple, it's primal-- and technology is not the root, but the enabler, because the root is that root of all roots: Avarice, and the desire to get what you don't have, with the least expenditure possible.
posted by darth_tedious at 1:10 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


This argument over what the word steal means happens in around half of the file-sharing threads here. I personally don't see the point in arguing about it on either side.

The point is that theft has a specific moral basis: theft is wrong because you deprive the rightful owner of the thing stolen. In the case of intellectual property, that moral basis is lacking. Copying does not deprive the owner of the thing copied. At most, it deprives the rightful owner of the opportunity to sell some copies of the thing. Now, maybe that is wrong. (I don't think it is, but I'm willing to have the debate.) But the basis for making the judgment that mere copying is wrong is distinct from the basis for saying that theft is wrong.

If you want to say that whenever one deprives another of the opportunity to sell something, one has stolen an amount equal to the price of that something, I suppose I have no serious objection. But I will point out again that if you define theft in that way, everyone is a thief, and theft or attempted theft occurs all the time. (And my first reaction, then, is to say that theft as such is not wrong.)
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 1:12 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


no song is woth a dollar.

I completely disagree. If you told me you objected to the relative value of the dollar, I might be willing to hear you out, but in the current economy you're telling me that none of my favorite songs measure up to the value cheeseburger at McDonald's.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:14 PM on April 30, 2012


I for one find little value in "a cheese burger from mcdonalds".

Feel free to spend a dollar on a single song. If that were the case my library would cost north of $100k.
posted by handbanana at 1:16 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


The point is this: Very often, even when you don't work with a label-- assuming sufficient popularity-- you still get piracy. Popularity-- that is, perceived value-- is the driver, not the distributional infrastructure.

Being popular is worth way, way, way more to 90% of artists than being paid for mp3s is.
posted by empath at 1:16 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Being popular is worth way, way, way more to 90% of artists than being paid for mp3s is.

The actual threat to 90% of artists isn't piracy, it's obscurity.
posted by Jairus at 1:17 PM on April 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


Another, shorter way of putting my long argument above:

In a capitalism, the people with the factories and the money generally set the rules for how the economy is going to work. Since about 2005ish, when individual storage on computers got big enough to comfortably hold dozens or hundreds of hours of video, the people with the factories and money in the digital world became millions of Joe and Jane Sixpacks.

Ergo: the Sixpacks now set the rules for how media is consumed. The strong copyrightists can wave their hands and shriek all they want, but they've already lost. Joe and Jane decide what happens.
posted by Malor at 1:20 PM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


At most, it deprives the rightful owner of the opportunity to sell some copies

It deprives the owner of their moral and human right to control the exploitation of their creative works, and is in that sense a much worse kind of theft than stealing a physical object worth £3.

Sure. If you had a magical commons that could fit all the sheep in the universe with magical grass that filled them up but never disappeared, sure.

Magic grass? Sure. Magic grass seed? Not so much. We'll be eating dirt and insisting it's just as great as the old grass used to be before anyone will admit that the overgrazing could possibly have had any impact whatsoever.

It's like climate change denial for creative works. No human impact! Just natural cycles. Of course films and music go through cold periods!
posted by fightorflight at 1:21 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Most of my friends that make music would do summersaults if they found out their song got pirated a million times.

They're lucky if 500 people listen to it on soundcloud. In fact, I know several producers who have paid money to get followers on soundcloud just so they can get more people to listen to their songs...
posted by empath at 1:21 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


99% of artists.
posted by unSane at 1:21 PM on April 30, 2012


If you told me you objected to the relative value of the dollar, I might be willing to hear you out, but in the current economy you're telling me that none of my favorite songs measure up to the value cheeseburger at McDonald's.

I think the problem for me is that when I download a song from itunes (if I can find it), I don't get anything except a file that will only work on itunes. And only on a certain number of computers (and I still have songs I could burn it and then be able to play it...but Apple doesn't do that. I have to spend my time doing it. Personally, I think a song on a CD is worth a dollar, because I am getting something that I can load up anywhere, share with friends, play in my car, and so forth. A song that only exists as a file, not so much, and I think that's the problem here: charging what itunes does for songs and movies, when they're not really giving you as much as if you bought the CD/DVD for the same price is a total rip off and which is why I buy my music from Emusic which seems a better deal. And Itunes has (at least in Canada) a really, really limited selection. And I say this as someone who doesn't pirate anything really, beyond the odd academic article from academia.edu and fansubs of various Asian shows.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:23 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


BrianJ: "Fair enough, zarq. I was honestly unclear about that and, from that point of view, it makes perfect sense. Thanks!"

You're welcome! :)
posted by zarq at 1:23 PM on April 30, 2012


It deprives the owner of their moral and human right to control the exploitation of their creative works, and is in that sense a much worse kind of theft than stealing a physical object worth £3.

Fortunately, the US does not recognize the bullshit idea of 'moral rights'.

Once you sell it, it's SOLD. If someone wants to cut up your book and turn it into paper mache, your opinion is fucking irrelevant.
posted by Malor at 1:24 PM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


(and I still have songs

This was meant to be: I still have song lost to itunes forever, despite having paid for them. And dealing with Apple's support is just not worth the hassle, as they inevitably make me feel like a criminal.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:25 PM on April 30, 2012


...you're telling me that none of my favorite songs measure up to the value cheeseburger at McDonald's.

Can one of your songs keep me alive for another day?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:25 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


think the problem for me is that when I download a song from itunes (if I can find it), I don't get anything except a file that will only work on itunes. And only on a certain number of computers (and I still have songs I could burn it and then be able to play it...but Apple doesn't do that.

Itunes doesn't have DRM any more.
posted by empath at 1:26 PM on April 30, 2012


I still have song lost to itunes forever, despite having paid for them.

Also, if you have ever paid for a song in itunes, you can download it again for free now.
posted by empath at 1:27 PM on April 30, 2012


scaryblackdeath,

I hate to say it but times changed. The relativistic substance of culture has shifted. I used to be able to get some flimsy square records from McDonalds. I would take them home and play them on a record player. The technological/social coordinates that allow you to compare a song to a burger have changed
posted by kuatto at 1:27 PM on April 30, 2012


Can one of your songs keep me alive for another day?

That honestly has to be the stupidest comment every posted to Metafilter. Congratulations, sir! You WIN.

It certainly would be a compelling argument if all music purchases were made by people who would be dead in 24 hours unless they ate a cheeseburger.
posted by unSane at 1:27 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


>Being popular is worth way, way, way more to 90% of artists than being paid for mp3s is.
>The actual threat to 90% of artists isn't piracy, it's obscurity.

Yes, and this is precisely my point.

For 90% of artists, just getting known is the battle-- and that 90% should have the choice to distribute their work for free.

Conversely, the 10% of artists who are known, and who actually sell their work at sufficient price and at sufficient volume to make a living at it, ought to have the ability to retain the choice not to give their work away.

The crux here is choice-- and who gets to make it and enforce it.
posted by darth_tedious at 1:28 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


It deprives the owner of their moral and human right to control the exploitation of their creative works.

Why do you think creators have such rights?
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 1:28 PM on April 30, 2012


I might be willing to hear you out, but in the current economy you're telling me that none of my favorite songs measure up to the value cheeseburger at McDonald's.

This is kind of facile, since we're not talking about the value of the song itself, but the value of one person listening to the song vs. one person eating a cheeseburger. For the vast majority of songs and the vast majority of people, the cheeseburger is worth much more, yes.
posted by mek at 1:29 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fortunately, the US does not recognize the bullshit idea of 'moral rights'.

But it is signatory to the UN declaration of human rights, which is the other side of the "and" you missed.

And you can do what you like with your instance of the work -- cut up your books -- but you can't use it to create another instance. Because you were not sold the right to copy.
posted by fightorflight at 1:30 PM on April 30, 2012


Probably because he/she is a bitter "content creator"
posted by handbanana at 1:30 PM on April 30, 2012


Is piracy morally right? Well, inasmuch as you're choosing not to send money to the people who create, produce and perform in the works you're downloading, the answer is clearly “no.” I'm a writer, and I sure as hell don't want people getting the benefit of my work without paying the agreed-upon price for it. But no matter what I or anyone else wants, the technology and infrastructure for easy, cheap (with respect to hosting/bandwidth costs) downloading of digital media still exists. Problem is, the companies producing such media seem to think that if they hold their ears long enough, or spend enough money on re-election campaigns, they won't have to compete with it.

They want to keep holding back content from people who live on the other side of a border, even though it doesn't cost anything extra to export a megabyte. They want to keep charging the price of a pressed DVD, even though they're competing with free. And when they do sell digital copies, the ones we're talking about here make no effort to beat the pirates to the punch, even though that would usurp the one thing all the torrent groups actually care about – being first. Instead, they want to dictate to customers exactly where and how and how often they can use a file, even when they charge the same price as for a physical object with no such restrictions. And then they cry bloody murder when people use the Internet to get their stuff instead, as opposed to using the Internet to sell people their stuff. Faced with the marketplace of the future, they're simply declining to participate.

What you're seeing now might not be just, especially not for the people who depend on royalties for their income, but individual pirates are no more to blame than individual drug dealers are to blame for the death rate in Mexico. When a thing is available, and people want it, they will get it. If you dedicate yourself to stopping them, you're just going to make it uglier and more embarrassing for all involved, including yourself, but you won't win. This is the long, slow, yet inevitable bitchslap of the invisible hand.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:31 PM on April 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


Also, if you have ever paid for a song in itunes, you can download it again for free now

I believe you, I really do. But itunes doesn't. There are a range of songs that it happily tells me it cannot download or play on this machine. Which is registered to the same account that purchased the songs in the first place.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:31 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


That honestly has to be the stupidest comment every posted to Metafilter. Congratulations, sir! You WIN.

So you honestly think your music has the same value as food?

I don't think you understand the concept of value.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:33 PM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why do you think creators have such rights?

Because the global community said so, and enshrined it in article 27 of the universal declaration of human rights /not meant as pompous as it sounds, but y'know.
posted by fightorflight at 1:33 PM on April 30, 2012


This is the long, slow, yet inevitable bitchslap of the invisible hand.

Favorited for awesome.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 1:33 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


McDonald's cheeseburger, dude.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:33 PM on April 30, 2012


Conversely, the 10% of artists who are known, and who actually sell their work at sufficient price and at sufficient volume to make a living at it, ought to have the ability to retain the choice not to give their work away.

I don't agree with this premise. Releasing an album is tantamount to broadcasting, and you don't get to choose who receives your broadcast. The only reason artists have ever had that
'choice' is because the technology was a bottleneck. It never will be again.

More importantly than an artist's rights, I don’t believe access to art should depend on how much money you have. I don’t believe that a trust fund kid with an iTunes account connected to daddy’s credit card deserves more access to art than a kid on welfare. The idea that the trust fund kid is “allowed” to listen to more music is so absurd to as to be complete nonsense.
posted by Jairus at 1:34 PM on April 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


It deprives the owner of their moral and human right to control the exploitation of their creative works

Ahhh. Authorship. Yes, it does rob us of that. It may have already irrevocably done so. But what is an author? (pdf) And for that matter, what is intellectual piracy? These are actually complex questions, with historically specific answers. When anyone starts taking their rights as an author for granted, well, let's just say it's revealing.
posted by mek at 1:35 PM on April 30, 2012


Great point about art Jariu!
posted by handbanana at 1:36 PM on April 30, 2012


A cheeseburger costs 99p here. $1.25?
posted by mippy at 1:36 PM on April 30, 2012


Whoops totally copied the wrong link for Foucault's What Is An Author.
posted by mek at 1:36 PM on April 30, 2012


So you honestly think your music has the same value as food?

I thought you were talking about McDonald's.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:36 PM on April 30, 2012


Because the global community said so, and enshrined it in article 27 of the universal declaration of human rights /not meant as pompous as it sounds, but y'know.

"Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author." is rather different from a supposed "moral and human right to control the exploitation of their creative works."

As has been said, as long as there has been scissors, authors have been unable to tell people they can't turn their books into paper mache.
posted by kafziel at 1:37 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Huh. I am very disappointed in the global community ... Thanks for pointing it out, though, fightorflight.

I don't often have a complete disagreement with moral claims, but I do not understand this. At all. How does one go about amending that thing?
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 1:39 PM on April 30, 2012


Yes, but your argument demonstrates my point: If you're pirating from musicians Jane and Fred and Starwillow... and, on reflection, you decide you want to buy from musician Jane, you've still done nothing to pay Fred or Starwillow. You aren't paying some collective, MusiciansWhoseStuffI'veTried-- nope, you're just paying Jane. Meanwhile, you've gotten the benefit of Fred and Starwillow-- howsoever little that might be-- and they haven't gotten the benefit they asked for.

Assuming that this hypothetical me would not be buying Fred or Starwillow's music in any case (this is the hypothetical me who spends more due to filesharing), then what is the problem? I have benefited, Jane has benefited, Fred and Starwillow have not lost anything.

I think much of what the disconnect with the morality of copying/stealing comes from is in what part of theft people find morally wrong.

The effect of file sharing from the point of view of the "victim" can be pretty much equivalent to theft. Someone with the means to pay, who otherwise would bought the product does not buy the product, so the victim directly loses money. It can also have pretty much the opposite effect. Someone who would not otherwise have bought the album, who is now a fan, pays to see shows, supports future projects, and acts as free advertisement for life.

The effect of file sharing from the POV of the downloader is pretty much identical to theft. They get a thing they want, and do not have to pay. I feel like this part is what a lot of strongly anti piracy people have an emotional reaction to. Even in cases where there is no harm done, or even when there is net benefit, the downloader has acted like a thief, with the same motive as a thief, and to them the same outcome as theft. Therefor this is theft, or at least it feels a lot like it.
posted by St. Sorryass at 1:40 PM on April 30, 2012


Because the global community said so, and enshrined it in article 27 of the universal declaration of human rights

I never got to vote on that.

I thought you were talking about McDonald's.

Go 24 hours without food and music and get back to me about the relative value of a McDonald's cheeseburger and unSane's music.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:42 PM on April 30, 2012


I did mean to type "economic exploitation", but you're right, the debate is much better served by focusing on the papier mâché and pretending the larger point doesn't exist.

Making your copy of a book into pulp does not affect the author's material interests. Making copies of it does.
posted by fightorflight at 1:42 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


>I don't agree with this premise. Releasing an album is tantamount to broadcasting, and you don't get to choose who receives your broadcast.

I always wonder how ardently those who believe all information should be free would welcome having their bank account and government ID numbers released into the wild.
posted by darth_tedious at 1:42 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, I was talking about McDonald's. If I was talking about food in general, I'd have probably used a more respectable example.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:43 PM on April 30, 2012


Go 24 hours without food and music and get back to me about the relative value of a McDonald's cheeseburger and unSane's music.

Fortunately not all music purchases are made by starving people with no disposable income.
posted by unSane at 1:44 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Making your copy of a book into pulp does not affect the author's material interests. Making copies of it does.

How do you feel about used book stores?

I always wonder how ardently those who believe all information should be free would welcome having their bank account and government ID numbers released into the wild.

Protip: "Information should be free" refers to price, not distribution.
posted by Jairus at 1:44 PM on April 30, 2012


Well, I was talking about McDonald's. If I was talking about food in general, I'd have probably used a more respectable example.


That only strengthens my point.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:44 PM on April 30, 2012


I find it interesting that the answer to the question "Is it wrong to copy music without the artist's consent?" isn't universally accepted to be "no." I mean i totally get not wanting to pay $12 for the new album by yourfavoriteband and I'm as guilty as anyone in that respect, especially with things like DRM and hard drive crashes, but how do people not get that it is wrong to go on the pirate bay and download music and movies for free?
posted by gagglezoomer at 1:45 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Assuming that this hypothetical me would not be buying Fred or Starwillow's music in any case (this is the hypothetical me who spends more due to filesharing), then what is the problem? I have benefited, Jane has benefited, Fred and Starwillow have not lost anything.

Because you're begging the question. Clearly some people pirate material they would not otherwise buy. But clearly some people also pirate material which results in a loss sale. Anyone who claims they know the exact ratio of these two groups is trying to sell you something.

It's generally impossible for the law to distinguish between these two cases because that would require seeing into a man's heart.
posted by Justinian at 1:46 PM on April 30, 2012


And just think! If you starved your customers to the point of death, they'd probably sell you their house for a loaf of bread! Ergo, houses are worth less than bread. Awesome!
posted by unSane at 1:46 PM on April 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


but how do people not get that it is wrong to go on the pirate bay and download music and movies for free?

Wanting free shit is a powerful force for self-justification.
posted by Justinian at 1:46 PM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


>Protip: "Information should be free" refers to price, not distribution.

Distribution=>scarcity=>price
posted by darth_tedious at 1:47 PM on April 30, 2012


...how do people not get that it is wrong to go on the pirate bay and download music and movies for free?

Do you value free speech? What have you paid for it? (Hint: being able to repeat something is part of free speech.)

And just think! If you starved your customers to the point of death, they'd probably sell you their house for a loaf of bread! Ergo, houses are worth less than bread. Awesome!

That's a shitty way to treat your customers, but well, yes.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:50 PM on April 30, 2012


Distribution=>scarcity=>price

What is your point? That I'd start freaking out if someone posted my SIN number online? People already sell SSN/SIN numbers and bank account numbers to each other. Maybe mine! Maybe yours! That's the reality of living in a digital world.
posted by Jairus at 1:51 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's a shitty way to treat your customers, but well, yes.

So you really don't get the notion of disposable income - ie the money left over after you have paid for the essentials of life - at all? Not even a little bit?

I hope you are buying up cheeseburgers with all your spare cash and then selling them to the poor schmucks who foolishly bought MP3s instead and are now realizing the superiority of your ideas.
posted by unSane at 1:54 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think it's a pretty shitty argument to compare torrenting the new Black Keys album to "free speech." Have you heard of fair use? (Hint: You can repeat things you hear without violating the copyright laws.)
posted by gagglezoomer at 1:55 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Itunes doesn't have DRM any more.

Wait, really? Then why am I still getting "this content has been authorized for 4 out of 5 possible devices" or whatever that sniffy little message is?

itunes hates me
posted by elizardbits at 1:56 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


>Assuming that this hypothetical me would not be buying Fred or Starwillow's music in any case (this is the hypothetical me who spends more due to filesharing), then what is the problem? I have benefited, Jane has benefited, Fred and Starwillow have not lost anything.

The case here rests on that assumption.

Have you ever downloaded a song or album you wound up not liking?

If so, you downloaded either out of curiosity or avarice.

These are the same drives that lead someone to purchase an unknown quantity-- either yourfavoriteband's new, unheard album, or someunknownband's album.

Assume that some quantity of Fred and Starwillow's purchasers don't like their purchases-- that this is a natural and expected phenomenon.

By opting out of the purchase loop for Fred and Starwillow on the basis of not liking their music, you have actually opted out of the standard set for "unsatisfied but possibly still profitable purchasers". Yes, even if part of your Unhappy Purchase includes telling seven other people not to buy from Fred or Starwillow.

Basically, by downloading stuff you don't like for free, you're still serving yourself, while causing Fred and Starwillow to lose your potential "curiosity" purchase.
posted by darth_tedious at 1:57 PM on April 30, 2012


Making your copy of a book into pulp does not affect the author's material interests. Making copies of it does.

It would if that universal declaration article were enforced properly, though, right? I mean, whenever that book is re-sold, part of the profit of the re-sale should go to the content creator. So, by destroying the book, one deprives the book of the opportunity to be re-sold.

Or if that's too unbelievable, then go to the moral side of the article: by destroying that copy, one has deprived the creator of some future distribution of his or her ideas.

I hope that strikes you as absurd.

And in any event, that copying affects an author's material interests is at the very least a fact in dispute in this debate, right? Making a copy might keep a potential sale from becoming an actual sale, but it doesn't prevent the creator from selling at all, and in some cases, at least, "piracy" appears to actually increase sales.

Again, we're down to preventing potential sales from becoming actual sales as the material threat. So, why isn't it "piracy" or "theft" from McDonald's when I decide to prepare my own food at home? Why isn't it "piracy" or "theft" when I convince my friends or family to go to see movie X rather than movie Y? Why isn't it "piracy" or "theft" when advertisers convince people to drink Coke rather than Brand Z?
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 1:59 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wait, really? Then why am I still getting "this content has been authorized for 4 out of 5 possible devices" or whatever that sniffy little message is?

You have to download it again. Or convert to MP3. Either way.
posted by empath at 2:02 PM on April 30, 2012


>>Distribution=>scarcity=>price
>What is your point? That I'd start freaking out

There are two points:

1) For how-to information, information designed to create advantage, the scarcity of the information impacts the scale of that advantage; the scarcer an advantage it is, the more value it is, and the more widely distributed it is, the less valuable it becomes.

2) Well, if your info does get distributed, I'd be surprised if you didn't freak out.
posted by darth_tedious at 2:02 PM on April 30, 2012


Basically, by downloading stuff you don't like for free, you're still serving yourself, while causing Fred and Starwillow to lose your potential "curiosity" purchase.

See also: Radio.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:04 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


So you really don't get the notion of disposable income - ie the money left over after you have paid for the essentials of life - at all?

Sure, although don't presume that the things I spend that money on are in any way equivalent to the essentials.

Then why am I still getting "this content has been authorized for 4 out of 5 possible devices"...

That's video. Music is sans-DRM these days. If you bought music back when it was still DRMed, you can upgrade it.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:04 PM on April 30, 2012


For how-to information, information designed to create advantage, the scarcity of the information impacts the scale of that advantage; the scarcer an advantage it is, the more value it is, and the more widely distributed it is, the less valuable it becomes.

This is complete nonsense.
posted by empath at 2:05 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, iTunes hates everybody. It is what elemental hate would be, if hate had memory leaks.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:05 PM on April 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


You may be the snowflake exception who finds it annoying not to be able to buy something you want at all, or without buying a lot of other stuff you don't want.

I see this statement quite often on MeFi piracy threads. Please remember (nearly?) everyone commenting here has paid for the right to have online discussions with you. As you may be aware there are plenty of sites where they could be having discussions for free. You are arguing with a self selected set of people who are a 'snowflake exception' in this regard and this sort of statement gets right up their nose.
posted by robertc at 2:06 PM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


fightorflight: And you can do what you like with your instance of the work -- cut up your books -- but you can't use it to create another instance. Because you were not sold the right to copy.

Exactly, that's why it's called copyright. The US does not recognize moral rights. Having an idea gives you nothing inherently. You can exercise some control over an idea with patent, copyright, and trademark law. But patent and copyright laws are supposed to be sharply time-limited, to encourage the creation of new works.

Basically, the idea of the commons is that you don't own ideas. You just don't. In exchange for articulating one, you get a brief monopoly to exploit it, and then everyone is supposed to have it, forever. Again, this is to encourage the creation of new works, not sitting on one's laurels, collecting cash from old ideas one had fifty years prior.

If Mickey got into the public domain, Disney would have to create a new mascot. But god forbid we have copyright law encouraging creativity.
posted by Malor at 2:09 PM on April 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Please remember (nearly?) everyone commenting here has paid for the right to have online discussions with you.

Nearly. Some damn dirty pirates got in early and stole the commenting rights from Mathowie. Poor bastard.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:10 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sure, although don't presume that the things I spend that money on are in any way equivalent to the essentials.

I hate to break it to you, but 'money' is the societal means we use to establish equivalent values between different types of goods.
posted by unSane at 2:12 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey, empath, doesn't iTunes charge 30 cents a track to upgrade to the DRM-free versions?

And yes, you can convert to MP3, but that's not usually a good idea. Converting from one lossy format to another can have a pretty severe impact on sound quality. You get all the accumulated errors of both formats, plus all the problems of the super-crappy iTunes MP3 encoder.
posted by Malor at 2:12 PM on April 30, 2012


>This is complete nonsense.

As I mentioned above, network effects mainly apply to methods, not instances of their use; tothe English language, not a specific novel; to C++, not a specific app.
posted by darth_tedious at 2:12 PM on April 30, 2012


If you bought music back when it was still DRMed, you can upgrade it.

From that link: "Song upgrades are available for 0.30 USD". I am guessing this means that my right to DRM free copies of songs I already own will cost me 30 cents a song (or whatever it is in Canada). That somehow doesn't seem fair.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 2:13 PM on April 30, 2012


30 CENTS THIS IS AN OUTRAGE

Well it is when you've spent hundreds of dollars on music over the past couple of years and just want a copy that won't have conniptions if you try and play it on machine six or disappear randomly from time to time. (Or is that just me?)
posted by lesbiassparrow at 2:18 PM on April 30, 2012


From that link: "Song upgrades are available for 0.30 USD". I am guessing this means that my right to DRM free copies of songs I already own will cost me 30 cents a song (or whatever it is in Canada).

Oh, right. Forgot about that, since I never bought DRMed songs.

And you're in Canada, so you've already paid a media tax. Just pirate it.

30 CENTS THIS IS AN OUTRAGE

It's per song, you realize.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:19 PM on April 30, 2012


Look, if you're complaining about the price or distribution restrictions of a song or a book or a program... maybe you should consider that you didn't make it, and don't naturally have access to it.

The creator is offering access to it, under certain particular conditions-- including, but not limited to, price.

Typically, those limitations will be spelled out for you, in mind-numbing detail, before you purchase.

If you don't like those conditions, go make your own music, or go write your own book.

Problem solved.
posted by darth_tedious at 2:20 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Enthotropica,

....you did already purchase the song. This is a perfect example why the industry sucks and needs to go.
posted by handbanana at 2:20 PM on April 30, 2012


For what it's worth, lesbiasparrow, the DRMed tracks are 128K AAC, and the unprotected tracks are 256Kbit, which will be basically identical to CD quality. Whether you can hear the difference between the two is highly dependent on your ears and gear... most can't. But you do get technically better music files, as well as stripped DRM, for your thirty cents.

If it were me, I'd just shrug, figure out what was DRMed in my library, and go grab nice FLAC copies of same. I'm sure this is technically illegal, but I see no moral issue.

Oh, if you're on the Mac, FLAC is a little hard to work with. You might want to convert FLAC files to Apple Lossless, ALAC. Drop me a PM if you need help. Converting between lossless formats is usually easy, and always results in perfect copies, so just use whatever format is easiest. In iTunes, that's ALAC.
posted by Malor at 2:21 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


And yes, you can convert to MP3, but that's not usually a good idea.

I bet if you did an A/B you couldn't tell the difference, if you converted to a high bitrate mp3.
posted by empath at 2:22 PM on April 30, 2012


Actually, this would be like making a shoe that feels pretty much the same to your foot and lasts just as long, while leaving, distinctly, a surplus to your bank account-- since you didn't have to pay for the shoe-- and an equivalent detriment to the account of the shoe store.
It's amazing to me that it's 2012 and people are still trying to claim that a single pirated copy is equal to exactly one lost sale. If you weren't going to buy it anyway, (or especially if you cannot buy it, due to arbitrary restrictions - that is one of the problems here, U.S. shows unavailable in the UK) then there is no corresponding lost sale.

And anyway, you asked "how many complaints do you need" but at this point, but honestly after trying to push laws from the SSSCA to SOPA I hope they do fail. I don't even watch that much TV and I would be perfectly happy to go without Hollywood products for the rest of my life, yet somehow they feel like they have the right to lobby the government to fuck up my internet.

And you know what? Why should I have any sympathy for them at this point? It's not just like they're sitting there making slightly less money then they otherwise would, they are actively damaging the internet and the ability for people to share information freely. Why should I have any obligation to give them money?

There was a thread about Whole Foods no longer selling endangered fish, and people were bitching because fishermen were going to loser their jobs. Well fuck 'em. Why are they entitled to continue to make money the way they've always made money regardless of how much damage they cause?

Talk about entitlement? What's more entitled then feeling you have the right to destroy the internet in order to make a little extra cash.
If all information is free, then who is in the position to "sell" information? Well... The Man. Because The Man does not need to take payments in dollars or yuan, but can do so in terms of behavior tracking, psychographic profiles, your specific location (and the merchants ten feet away, who'd like to know what you like, right now!), the identities of your friends, and so on and so forth.
This is paranoid nonsense that makes no sense at all. P2P services, such as bittorent, don't need to make money to exist. They don't need to take payments at all, in any form - other then perhaps as bandwidth and CPU cycles.
If, taken to the extreme, you cannot sell information, then you must sell service.
Or, you know, you could sell physical objects.
But it's damn hard to do, and not many people will really do it even when they can.. I like it when I can buy music directly from artists websites. But these guys have tried doing that with television and the results are pretty damning for that viewpoint: $13,000 collected for 1.7 million downloads. So the argument that "people would pay voluntarily if they had a way to do so" seems to only hold true for a tiny fraction of a percent of "people".
Louie C.K made a ton of money selling DRM free videos of his performances. Maybe "These guys" didn't make much money because their product sucked?
Absolutely true. It doesn't, however, give you the right to break into the movie theatre and screen the film for yourself even if you put everything back the way you found it. That's illegal. It's not as morally wrong as actually stealing the print of the film, no, but it is still wrong.
Is it wrong to sit through a second screening of a film, or slip into another theater after the movie you just watched is over? People do that from time to time and most people don't find it particularly reprehensible.
It deprives the owner of their moral and human right to control the exploitation of their creative works, and is in that sense a much worse kind of theft than stealing a physical object worth £3.
What the fuck? Where exactly did this "moral and human right" come from, exactly? The fact it's in some toothless U.N document? Bullshit. At least in the U.S. constitution, copyright was created to facilitate the creation of new works. So long as that's happening, it's serving it's purpose, regardless of the level of piracy.
So you really don't get the notion of disposable income - ie the money left over after you have paid for the essentials of life - at all? Not even a little bit?

I hope you are buying up cheeseburgers with all your spare cash and then selling them to the poor schmucks who foolishly bought MP3s instead and are now realizing the superiority of your ideas.
No, I think you're the one who doesn't understand. Food is an essential of life, and disposable income comes after you buy all the food you need. Cheeseburgs are a type of food, and calorie for calorie, fairly cost effective.

In any event, I have no idea what this crazy cheeseburger derail is even about.
Magic grass? Sure. Magic grass seed? Not so much. We'll be eating dirt and insisting it's just as great as the old grass used to be before anyone will admit that the overgrazing could possibly have had any impact whatsoever.

It's like climate change denial for creative works. No human impact! Just natural cycles. Of course films and music go through cold periods!
The difference is, it doesn't matter if fewer movies and less music is made. Seriously, it's fine if that happens. Who cares? I certainly don't care.
ought to have the ability to retain the choice not to give their work away.
Yeah, but here's the disconnect. I don't care if they have that choice. Not if it means censoring the internet. It's not my problem and I Just. Don't. Care. If they feel that's not fair, they can stop making music or art or whatever. That's fine. I don't care. I don't need it.

If everyone stops doing that, that's fine too. I seriously doubt that would ever come close to happening, but if it does, I'm fine with it.
posted by delmoi at 2:22 PM on April 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


And I thought the drug point was a derail, not to mention the McDonald's cheeseburgers.

Some Lessig would help this conversation.

As far as "curiosity" purchases, we do not have to make "curiosity" purchases any longer. iTunes and Beatport and all the rest allow you to preview songs. A friend of mine makes mixes of songs she likes. She listens to a licensed online radio station, accumulates songs she wants to compile, and then goes to purchase them on Beatport or iTunes. Sometimes she listens to the recommendations and discovers new songs.

Who needs to make "curiosity" purchases any more? That's like saying you can go out in the woods and kill yourself some meat rather than getting that cheeseburger.

And this is where the Lessig would help. I doubt anyone has anything against artists or composers. Very few people expect something for nothing and in fact, unfairness detection is wired into the brain. When there is a malfunction of the fairness circuit, the result is a psychopath.

Are the people using TPB all psychopaths? I doubt it.

What has changed is that music distribution has ceased to be profitable in any form beyond the marginal cost of bits as mentioned.

A mate of mine in Seattle raised $6k on Kickstarter, bought studio time, recorded an album, and distributed it via Dropbox. When I received the link, I thought, "Great! Easy!" What I did not expect was that the quality was actually better than anything I've purchased in quite a while. It shows what happens when you get the "business" out of music. For $6k, he made and distributed an album far superior to that which the studios green light for much more.

Because the point of the music business is not to make music. It's to make profit.

And that is what the protest is about. Right now, the music business screws the consumers and the producers. The consumers get products of inferior quality priced to old standards, and the producers get shafted out of the true value of their creativity. All so the middleman can take a cut.

What is a middleman? He is the man without the money and without the talent. He's a trader. It's hard being a trader when you're no longer needed. And yes, many people are employed by the music business, and that does matter.

But what the music industry is doing is pitting consumers against artists through these legal manoeuvres. The reality is Consumer > Kickstarter > Artist > Dropbox > Consumer works well. The difference? Lots of artists making smaller profits rather than fewer artists making larger profits.

What's going on is technology has killed the rockstar. But the rockstar was a creation of the music business to begin with. Now, the real bastion of profitability is touring. Which is why Madonna and all the dinosaurs are still out there making the slog. Because records just aren't profitable. But recording companies aren't live music companies. And live music does not scale for the distributor the same way record sales did.

So before you guys get all cray talking about cheeseburgers, and who doesn't want who's kids to eat, and a generation of kids raised on cheeseburgers that expect the world is free... keep in mind Lessig.

People WANT to pay. If people are not paying, it's because you haven't given them the right way to pay. And you do not tell the consumer what the right way to pay is, the consumer tells YOU what the right way to pay is.

People are not inherently criminals. Back to the drug cartel point, California has voted for marijuana. People want to smoke weed. They want to buy weed and smoke weed. Just like people want to listen to music. They want to buy music, smoke weed, and have a cheeseburger. Nobody expects anything for free, and people want to pay. But "the law" says, you cannot smoke weed, we're going to regulate the prices of music (by not exposing record companies to the free market), but you can have the cheeseburgers.

The problem is that the music industry has given a false, binary option. Our rules, or no music. And what people are saying is "your rules are shit. charge us fair prices and we'll buy music. you don't charge us fair prices, and we won't buy music."

I cannot believe we're still even having this conversation more than 10 years after Napster proved the emperor had no clothes.
posted by nickrussell at 2:22 PM on April 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


Assume that some quantity of Fred and Starwillow's purchasers don't like their purchases-- that this is a natural and expected phenomenon.

Correction: it was a natural and expected phenomenon, under the old technological model. It's also a self-evidently undesirable situation. The new technological model - which, like it or not, Fred and Starwillow are a part of - means that this need no longer be the situation. It is no longer natural or expected that people should have to buy music they don't like.

This new model brings Fred and Starwillow customers that they would not have had under the old one, but it also deprives them of customers they would have had under the old one. If that's a net loss, then oh well. That's the reality of the situation.
posted by kafziel at 2:23 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you don't like those conditions, go make your own music, or go write your own book.

Why, no, thank you. I'll just download it.
posted by empath at 2:23 PM on April 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Look, if you're complaining about the price or distribution restrictions of a song or a book or a program... maybe you should consider that you didn't make it, and don't naturally have access to it.

We have very different ideas of "naturally."
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:23 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


You already purchased the song and agreed to the terms as they were. You gain increased utility and quality by upgrading to iTunes Plus (non-DRM) tracks. Seems reasonable to me. If you purchased 83 or more tracks, might as well sign up for iTunes Match, which will let you do your entire library and give you cloud storage for the year.

are ALL CAP comments verboten now, herr mods?
posted by entropicamericana at 2:24 PM on April 30, 2012


I don't believe I should have to pay for songs from countries who peg their currency to the U.S. dollar. It's kind of like draughting behind a truck -- you're creating a drag and costing him fuel. Well, those people are creating a drag on my dollar.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:24 PM on April 30, 2012


Look, if you're complaining about the price or distribution restrictions of a song or a book or a program... maybe you should consider that you didn't make it, and don't naturally have access to it.

Nobody naturally has access to reproductions of media. It's all technological reproductions of the original performance. You're claiming some reproductions are legitimate and other reproductions are not, and those claims of legitimacy emanate from an authority bestowed upon certain specific agents by the legal system. That is not a natural authority either, it is socially constructed.

The claim that social constructions should override the physical reality (which is that yes, we do have increasingly greater and unrestricted access to reproductions, due to technological innovation) is a moral claim, not a "natural", physical or logical one.
posted by mek at 2:25 PM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dart_tededious its called torrenting, we dont need to go without.
posted by handbanana at 2:25 PM on April 30, 2012


darth tedious: Look, if you're complaining about the price or distribution restrictions of a song or a book or a program... maybe you should consider that you didn't make it, and don't naturally have access to it.

Or, maybe you should understand that you're trying to sell numbers to number factories, and realize that the old relationships don't work in that kind of environment.
posted by Malor at 2:27 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


That is not a natural authority either, it is socially constructed.

indeed:
If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.
posted by empath at 2:28 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't “naturally” have access to songs in that if it were just me in the world and nobody else, there would be no songs worth listening to because I'm sure not going to make any. But in the modern world, with the Internet as it exists now, you can't stop people from downloading songs any more than you can stop the tide. So yes, in that sense, it's natural. Part of the ecosystem and beyond your or anyone's control.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:30 PM on April 30, 2012


At most, it deprives the rightful owner of the opportunity to sell some copies

It deprives the owner of their moral and human right to control the exploitation of their creative works, and is in that sense a much worse kind of theft than stealing a physical object worth £3.


Yeah, the moral argument on behalf of copyright is entirely bankrupt and the publishing groups are the people responsible for that.

Copyright is supposed to be a bargain between two groups who both contribute to the published work. Every artist works within a culture the public has created for them.

The deal is, artists and publishers make their money with the protection of the law behind them for a limited period of time, after which the public domain gets its due. The greedy fucks decided to bribe politicians so that the public domain should not get anything, not for decades past the average human lifespan which is limited only in a semantic sense. This is occurring at the same time the pace of culture has sped up to incredible levels thanks to technology and education.

If the publishers want to start honoring their moral obligation, we can talk about the public honoring theirs. Of course, it remains difficult for the entertainment industry to argue the public isn't already giving them enough money.

Guardian: A surge of more than 50% in spending on e-commerce services such as Netflix and Amazon – helped by booming sales of Blu-ray discs of films such as the Star Wars franchise – has fuelled the first rise in home entertainment spending in the US for more than three years.

Consumer spending on services that provide films and TV shows digitally – including streaming, video-on-demand and subscription services such as iTunes and Hulu – grew 55.79% year on year to $811m in the third quarter, according to a report by industry body the Digital Entertainment Group.

The booming growth of digital services and surge in Blu-ray disc sales fuelled an overall 4.87% year-on-year increase in total US home entertainment spending in the third quarter to $4bn.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:30 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


empath: I bet if you did an A/B you couldn't tell the difference, if you converted to a high bitrate mp3.

Well, I haven't used it in years, but the iTunes MP3 encoder was so bad at one time that it was audibly evil at almost any bitrate. If it hasn't improved, I bet a lot of people probably could successfully ABX the tracks.
posted by Malor at 2:31 PM on April 30, 2012


are ALL CAP comments verboten now, herr mods?

No, but preemptively sarcastically shouting the imagined counterarguments of people you disagree with does not improve conversations one bit. If you want to discuss this further, you know where to do it.
posted by cortex at 2:33 PM on April 30, 2012


Look, if you're complaining about the price or distribution restrictions of a song or a book or a program... maybe you should consider that you didn't make it, and don't naturally have access to it.

I don't know: in the past I could just wait for it to turn up second hand and buy it cheaper that way. Or I'd just wait for it at the library. It seems to me that my options get more limited that way each year.

But there are larger issues here, I think. It's not just films/tv/songs; there's a ton of stuff that is charged for that has effectively already been paid for by the taxpayers of various countries. Look at scientific journals: they're absurdly expensive and yet that information costs the journal nothing at all. Even the evaluating is done for free (and not infrequently the editing). One of the biggest hives of open piracy I've ever seen is Academia.edu. There's a ton of papers on there that have just come out in journals posted by their authors, who technically aren't allowed to do this. I can only hope that in 20 or so years online journals become the acceptable norm to publish in (I say 20 or so years because academia does move slowly).

(As for the Itunes purchases, yes I did agree to the terms of the original sale. I still think 30 cents a long is a ridiculous over the odds extra charge, when if I'd bought the CD then I wouldn't have these problems. This is why I just don't buy music from itunes anymore, unless I can't avoid it. I either buy stuff from emusic or get the CD. I know this is the obvious sign that I am getting old because I can't get over that I pretty much pay the same price for a download that I do a physical object, which I could do whatever I liked with. Even give it to a friend if I wanted.)
posted by lesbiassparrow at 2:35 PM on April 30, 2012


The creator is offering access to it, under certain particular conditions-- including, but not limited to, price.

And anyone who has had accessed the idea - of putting those words in that order, of putting those notes in that order, those millions of binary digits in that order - can then also offer others access to it, and indeed often do - in forms ranging from cover songs through photocopied books to digitally shared media - with much fewer conditions than the access that the creator continues to be able to offer, if they want.
posted by Dysk at 2:36 PM on April 30, 2012


> But there are larger issues here, I think. It's not just films/tv/songs; there's a ton of stuff that is charged for that has effectively already been paid for by the taxpayers of various countries. Look at scientific journals: they're absurdly expensive and yet that information costs the journal nothing at all.

Scientific journals seem like interesting edge-cases, because there are, in effect, two claimants, interested in two different currencies-- the supporting institution (in turn, supported at least in part by taxpayers), which claims publication rights, and the scientists themselves, who want, in essence, high-fives, recognition, public impact, and greater marketability and esteem within their fields.

The increasingly important question within that edge-case, I think, is privatization of research, given the way that ever more university work is being funded by private dollars...
posted by darth_tedious at 2:47 PM on April 30, 2012


I don't often have a complete disagreement with moral claims, but I do not understand this. At all. How does one go about amending that thing?

Hopefully one starts by trying to understand it, first. It stands beside a lot of fairly major and fundamental claims that underpin what we might think of as society, and none of them were included thoughtlessly

It would if that universal declaration article were enforced properly, though, right? I mean, whenever that book is re-sold, part of the profit of the re-sale should go to the content creator. So, by destroying the book, one deprives the book of the opportunity to be re-sold.

Yes, and no. If an author sells that book in an area with a first-sale law or equivalent, then they do so on the understand that there will be no future profits for them from that item. This was not always the case. But again, it wasn't something that we just happened upon, as a society. The pros and cons were weighed.

Now we're revisiting that discussion with Kindle books and some video games.

by destroying that copy, one has deprived the creator of some future distribution of his or her ideas. I hope that strikes you as absurd.

It strikes me as absurd only in that it's a poor argument. It's as tenuous as saying the used kleenex contains unborn children, but, again, this depends on the terms of the sale. If the book had been licenced, as some encyclopedia were, then yes, the posessor would have done the creator damage by destroying it. The fundamental principle, though, is that the creator was the one who chose, who decided which model their work would be used under.

And in any event, that copying affects an author's material interests is at the very least a fact in dispute in this debate, right? Making a copy might keep a potential sale from becoming an actual sale, but it doesn't prevent the creator from selling at all,

How do you know? As the potential value of copies drops, perhaps the value of originals will increase dramatically. Perhaps a wealthy patron will be able to purchase exclusive rights to an album for a period of time – or forever! A single copy would destroy those rights. There are plenty of examples of economic models destoryed by just a single unauthorised copy.

Again, we're down to preventing potential sales from becoming actual sales as the material threat.

No. We're down to a creator's right of the control of their works, and the loss of the ability to fully exercise that right by unauthorised copying. The counters all amount to "many of them have chosen to exercise their rights in ways that erode their ultimate or total control over the works" but that was, nonetheless, their choice.

None of it justifies copying without the creator's consent. Nothing does, really*. The arguments overall here are essentially no deeper than "might makes right, is equals ought, and creators need to get used to it because we want it".

* Well, except the argument of civil disobedience that says the laws we have chosen to protect the creator's rights (copyright, mainly) are badly broken and subverted, and that copyright terms are far too long. That argument I have an awful lot of sympathy for
posted by fightorflight at 2:50 PM on April 30, 2012


And this is where the Lessig would help. I doubt anyone has anything against artists or composers. Very few people expect something for nothing and in fact, unfairness detection is wired into the brain. When there is a malfunction of the fairness circuit, the result is a psychopath.
Maybe not initially. But this isn't a thread about the hypothetical nature of art and morality. Its' a thread about the U.K. censoring the internet. Why should I put up this false piety about whatever. The huge content companies? The people spending millions lobbying the government to crack down on the internet?

You know what? No, I don't care about them. I'd be perfectly happy if they went bankrupt. It's not even coming close to happening, despite all the fear mongering, but honestly if I had a choice between restricting the internet and giving up on their products, I'd of course chose to give up on their products. I don't need them.

What makes them entitled to make money off of ideas. There is no realistic moral law that says they should be able too. Rather, a calculated choice was made that granting them a monopoly would promote the creation of new works. But that monopoly doesn't need to be an iron fist, clamping down on all illicit copying in order to succeed in the promotion of new works. There are lots of artists who are making money today, despite widespread piracy.

And there is tons and tons and tons of music being made, much of which by people who will never get a dime off it. Clearly, with music at least it's being made because people enjoy making it, just like you all were motivated to create content to fill up this thread without compensation.

In the case of Hollywood, well, so what? Why is it taken as a premise that the human race needs more Hollywood movies? We don't need them. They are nice, but ultimately they are not really that important. We don't need them. It won't be the end of the world if they go out of business.
Look, if you're complaining about the price or distribution restrictions of a song or a book or a program... maybe you should consider that you didn't make it, and don't naturally have access to it.
Copyright, and other restrictions, are artificial. Ideas themselves are not "Natural" but to the extent that things on the internet are natural, access to everything ever written is the "natural" sate of affairs. It's restrictions which are artificial. I didn't create the air, but I don't feel guilty breathing without paying a licensing fee.

In any event, discussing what's "natural" on an artificial network with respect to artificial constructs is somewhat nonsensical.

--
The arguments about whether or not copying is stealing is actually a derail. In fact, one might go so far as to say that the opportunity to discuss the UK ISP block has been stolen.

Not only that, but people are just repeating the same thing over and over again: That there is some kind of "moral" right to prevent people from experiencing your creative works if they haven't done what you want them to do (i.e. pay for it. or buy cable so they can see it. Or live in a country that hasn't been region blocked. Whatever).

The problem is you can't just stipulate that a moral right exists, and then get upset when you find out other people don't think it exists. That's not how morals work. Most moral rules basically boil down to "don't hurt people"

But at the same time, you have to recognize people's autonomy.
Scientific journals seem like interesting edge-cases, because there are, in effect, two claimants, interested in two different currencies-- the supporting institution (in turn, supported at least in part by taxpayers), which claims publication rights, and the scientists themselves, who want, in essence, high-fives, recognition, public impact, and greater marketability and esteem within their fields.
Bullshit. The "supporting institutions" get assfucked the hardest. They're the ones that have to pay massive fees - in some cases millions of dollars a year - to access these journals and receive nothing, despite paying for the work to be done.
posted by delmoi at 2:51 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


this isn't a thread about the hypothetical nature of art and morality. Its' a thread about the U.K. censoring the internet.

How is the UK censoring the internet not a case of morality?
posted by nickrussell at 2:56 PM on April 30, 2012


Software engineers will continue to exist if no one pays them for code either.

Ludum

I think the music and TV/movie industries are unique simply because of its literal mass appeal and the technologies involved (universal file formats).

"I am a Nike girl (said a girl in San Francisco),"

I wrote a sci-fi story in junior high about a future with Coke and Pepsi gangs. So stupid. I should have known it would be Nike, Adidas, and Puma.

I somehow doubt most people cruising TPB and sites like it stop and ask, "Hey, is this a wealthy, corporate-backed artist I'm pirating, or is it the local barrista who did this in his spare time?"

I download a lot of music (via Google and hosting sites, not Torrent), the first thing I do is look up the bio of the band and info about she/him/it--how popular they are on Last.fm, what their YouTube presence is (most major acts have 100% of the catalog on YT in one form or another). That's even before I download it (trying to figure out if even the download is worth it). Of the music I like, I make sure I compensate the unsigned bands and buy swag if available--e.g. I was buying RAA T-shirts before they even had a record to sell.

Also, if I haven't heard of the artist before, I'm almost always going to check Bandcamp to see their presence there and what they have available for free. If the same album is free on Bandcamp, there's no reason to get it from MegaYouSendItLinkShare.

So, yeah, I actually think a lot of "pirates" actually do consider the artist when deciding how to spend their music money.

You can say that I'm not a usual downloader, but hang out on some forums for a while and hear people's perspectives (realizing that the asshole crowd will always be louder) before concluding that.

technology is not the root, but the enabler, because the root is that root of all roots: Avarice, and the desire to get what you don't have, with the least expenditure possible.

"An avarice of knowledge is a laudable avarice indeed" - Vicesimus Knox

Also (more thought experiments for the copyright purists) who is "better"? A music listener who buys one album every few years but doesn't download anything (maybe uses a Spotify free account, subsidizing artists via advertising) or a music listener who downloads 200 albums a year and buys 25?
posted by mrgrimm at 2:57 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Scientific journals seem like interesting edge-cases, because there are, in effect, two claimants, interested in two different currencies-- the supporting institution (in turn, supported at least in part by taxpayers), which claims publication rights, and the scientists themselves, who want, in essence, high-fives, recognition, public impact, and greater marketability and esteem within their fields.

Which is why most scientific papers get thrown on arxiv or something like it now.

Interesting that you concede that scientists aren't really doing it for the money, though.
posted by empath at 3:00 PM on April 30, 2012


The problem is you can't just stipulate that a moral right exists, and then get upset when you find out other people don't think it exists. That's not how morals work. Most moral rules basically boil down to "don't hurt people"

Likewise, when you discover that such a right *was* stipulated, in the closest thing we have to a global declaration of such things, you can't just handwave it away with a "well, I don't think it should exist anyway so I will argue as if it doesn't"

The UK is trying to protect that right. That they are going about it ineptly, technologically illiterately, and in ways that damage other, arguably more valuable things, is cause for scorn and derision. But the deed can be stupid when the motive isn't entirely so.
posted by fightorflight at 3:00 PM on April 30, 2012


We're down to a creator's right of the control of their works

The creator has the option of staying entirely in control of their works, simply never publish it or share it in any way and they will be in complete control of it throughout their lifetimes. However if they want to share their work with society, and even take advantage of society to make some sort profit from it, then they'll have to accept some compromises on this front.
posted by robertc at 3:00 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


None of it justifies copying without the creator's consent. Nothing does, really*. The arguments overall here are essentially no deeper than "might makes right, is equals ought, and creators need to get used to it because we want it".

"Is equals ought" is missing the point. When it comes to commerce, "ought" is academic. "Is," like Darkseid, is. You have to deal with the world that exists.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:00 PM on April 30, 2012


Yes it is, no it isn't, you are a thief, no I'm not and you're a moron--bullshit, how can you be so stupid, it is morally offensive, you can't lecture me on morals and on and on and on. I would suggest this indicates that there are grounds for legitimate disagreement and the truth ( or what ever it is ) will emerge, change, be challenged and evolve. It was noted in an earlier post much of this, particularly as it relates to music, is only several generations old--wrong--copyrighting music/text/content goes back at least 400-500 years and has evolved primarily as a means to protect artists/creators and also rights holders. What happens when rogue printers start making books and take all the profit. As I have stated before--my one consistent position is that it is the artists/creators call--wrong or right.
posted by rmhsinc at 3:03 PM on April 30, 2012


We're down to a creator's right of the control of their works, and the loss of the ability to fully exercise that right by unauthorised copying.

Wrong way 'round (at least in the US.) It's about the public's interest in feeding the public domain. Copyright is justified in those terms and those terms only. If copyright gets in the way of expanding the public domain, it no longer has any justification.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:04 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Y'know, I've long been a defender of file copying because of corporatist legislatures having corrupted the copyright principle (particularly 'limited times') and the fact that going through retail channels doesn't, by and large, result in the artist actually getting paid. My approach is, get the content any way you like and compensate the artist any way you can.

But most of the arguments here in favor of file copying seem to be from the perspective of entitlement and a complete dismissal of the idea that the artist is entitled to payment for work which they did not release with a free license or into the public domain. I think this just rationalizes being self-serving, and is contemptuous of the artist.

I don't think I'll be taking the pro-copying side publicly anymore in debates that shape up like this one. It's already too well defended by people I don't share many values with.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:07 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


ChurchHatesTucker: as I mentioned Copyright can be broken as a legal tool (and I think it is) without that right also being somehow also broken.

(Also I'm not sure it was justified quite as explicitly as a one-way street in the UK.)
posted by fightorflight at 3:08 PM on April 30, 2012


It was noted in an earlier post much of this, particularly as it relates to music, is only several generations old--wrong--copyrighting music/text/content goes back at least 400-500 years and has evolved primarily as a means to protect artists/creators and also rights holders.

Artistic/creative intellectual property is only several generations old. It's only as old as the possibility of mass production of creative works, really; there was artistic fraud before then, sure, but it wasn't until real recording and copying showed up that those laws appeared.

The history of intellectual property that goes back 400 years is the history of science, and those regimes were put in place to ensure experimental protocols and data remained intact and accurately reproduced. This is because the results of an experiment had to be corroborated over space and time, and issues with piracy could actually destroy scientist's reputations internationally, as bad copies resulted in failed experiments. That history is heir to the current academic publishing regime (which obviously has its own set of issues), but that has little to do with the main debates today over music and movies. Copying music and movies wasn't even practically possible until the beginning of the 20th century. It was philosophical treatises like Newton's Principia Mathematica that the early publishing guilds were concerned with.

So please, keep the appeals to history to a minimum if they're going to be such derails.
posted by mek at 3:13 PM on April 30, 2012


>Interesting that you concede that scientists aren't really doing it for the money, though.

It's not a concession, but an element of my basic point:

Different people have the right to demand different payments, of whatever kind, for their particular work. It's perfectly legitimate to not want to pay that price-- if you don't want access to the work.

Are 90%, or 99%, of artists, willing to generate Art for Art's Sake?

Sure-- that's plausible, even if for Art's Sake equates to Being Able to Sneer at My CFO Brother at Thanksgiving, or Meeting Nineteen-Year Old Nubiles by the Truckload, or Crashing On Couches from Here to Jakarta Whenever I Want.

The point is not the price: The point is being able to set the price of your choice, and have it accepted, or not, in exchange for the good you are offering.
posted by darth_tedious at 3:22 PM on April 30, 2012


Likewise, when you discover that such a right *was* stipulated, in the closest thing we have to a global declaration of such things, you can't just handwave it away with a "well, I don't think it should exist anyway so I will argue as if it doesn't"

As kafziel pointed out you're doing a good bit of handwaving yourself about what it says in the UNDHR. Talking about protecting a creator's moral and material interests is a far cry from granting utter control over works or endorsing the current international corporate intellectual property regime. The Soviet Union had a large hand in enumerating the rights in the UNDHR and it certainly didn't support anything remotely like what is asserted by private industrial interests, certainly not for works from outside the USSR.
posted by XMLicious at 3:30 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Likewise, when you discover that such a right *was* stipulated, in the closest thing we have to a global declaration of such things, you can't just handwave it away with a "well, I don't think it should exist anyway so I will argue as if it doesn't"
First of all, you're are lying about what the U.N. declaration actually says, at least in terms of it's wording. It does not give people the right to "control creative exploitation" or whatever.

Second of all, the confederate constitution stipulated the moral right to own slaves. Does that mean, when the confederacy existed there really was a moral right to own slaves?

The fact that something is written in some document somewhere does not make it true. Likely, the U.S. and other big content producing countries pushed to have those rights included in a corrupt way. Just like they pushed treaties like ACTA and other totalitarian bullshit. The fact that someone signed a treaty absolutely does not mean that there is an underlying moral right. To say so is truly idiotic. Almost unbelievably so. It's practically a text book example of the Appeal to Authority logical fallacy.
None of it justifies copying without the creator's consent. Nothing does, really*. The arguments overall here are essentially no deeper than "might makes right, is equals ought, and creators need to get used to it because we want it".
The problem is the assumption that it needs justification in the first place. Yes, the "might" of the union in the civil war meant slavery was over, despite the fact that the moral right to slavery was stipulated in the confederate constitution!

Again. The argument is just a reiteration of your belief in some absurd moral right as if you saying it over and over again is going to make it true. That's not how morality works.
Different people have the right to demand different payments, of whatever kind, for their particular work. It's perfectly legitimate to not want to pay that price-- if you don't want access to the work.
Again, you're just saying the same thing over and over again. You say these people have a right well, where does that right come from? Why should people respect that right just because you say it exists? You can't just say a right exists and expect people to take you seriously.

I could say I have a right to 10% of the money in the pockets of every person in the world right now. Would anyone give it to me? No, and they wouldn't start no matter how much I whined and complained about them "violating my rights" You can't just "state" a new "right" to benefit yourself for no reason.

all of your arguments come down to this idea that you, personally, get to decide what rights exist and then claim that everyone has to follow them. That's just not how it works.
posted by delmoi at 3:33 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


as I mentioned Copyright can be broken as a legal tool (and I think it is) without that right also being somehow also broken.

Agreed in the abstract, but I think the 'right' is misguided here.

There was a Member of Parliament who famously decried one of the early copyright regimes. I'll have to find a copy of his speech (assuming I can secure the rights!)

The point is being able to set the price of your choice, and have it accepted, or not, in exchange for the good you are offering.

And what goods are being offered?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:34 PM on April 30, 2012


If you bought music back when it was still DRMed, you can upgrade it.

My problem with the upgrade is it is an all or nothing proposition. In my case, I got all these sampler albums from Apple for free each time I bought a new iPod. I'd download the free song of the week from iTunes or one of those little cards from Starbucks. So I have hundreds of songs that I got for free and I'd need to pay 30¢ for. Then there's the songs that I actually paid money for that I don't want at all. If I could tick off the songs I'd like I'd happily upgrade. But I'm not going to pay an extra $50 for a shit ton of songs I don't want and would love to delete from my iTunes payment history. Some of the songs are downright embarrassing.

But this seems to work if you have iTunes Match:
Delete the protected m4p song from your library and tick the box saying also delete if from iCloud. Then go into the iTunes store in Purchased section and find the song. It will have a little cloud icon to download. You download it and it is replaced with a m4a file. I'm not sure it works on everything, and it is a hoop to jump through that should be unnecessary.
posted by birdherder at 3:38 PM on April 30, 2012


>And what goods are being offered?

It doesn't matter.

Here's my product, X.

Here's my price, P.

If you don't want the product at that price, that's a-okay.

You don't get the product, but you also can spend your money on whatever you'd like.
posted by darth_tedious at 3:39 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


"The biggest culprits of this, really, are the younger demographic who just haven't been convinced that doing this is somehow morally uncomfortable.

People try to put us d-down (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Just because we get around (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (Talkin' 'bout my generation)

posted by yoHighness at 3:41 PM on April 30, 2012


* Well, except the argument of civil disobedience that says the laws we have chosen to protect the creator's rights (copyright, mainly) are badly broken and subverted, and that copyright terms are far too long. That argument I have an awful lot of sympathy for

That's not what civil disobedience is. Civil disobedience is publicly declaring to the authorities that you intend to break an unjust law and then publicly breaking that law with the intention of being caught. Surreptitiously breaking a law is the opposite of civil disobedience.
posted by Justinian at 3:55 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you have iTunes Match and want to replace your DRM-ed files, if the protected songs are already matched, just go to your library in iTunes, and delete the items. Don't select "Delete from Cloud". You can choose the option to delete the local files or not, this process will work either way.

The deleted songs shouldn't vanish from your playlist or library. Instead, you should see greyed out songs with a nice little cloud (with a little arrow in the cloud) beside them. Click on the cloud for each of the songs. They'll re-download as unprotected AAC files.

It's a pretty easy process and you don't have to dig through your purchased songs list, which can be annoying if you have a ton of them.
posted by honestcoyote at 3:57 PM on April 30, 2012


Talking about protecting a creator's moral and material interests is a far cry from granting utter control over works or endorsing the current international corporate intellectual property regime.

Nobody is doing the former. People are painting it as if it were so because an extreme position is easier to attack and avoids dealing with the uncomfortable position nearer to the middle. and nobody is doing the latter, because I think virtually everyone here sees at least some of the problems with Copyright, Inc.

First of all, you're are lying about what the U.N. declaration actually says, at least in terms of it's wording. It does not give people the right to "control creative exploitation" or whatever.

"Lying" is pretty fucking strong there, delmoi, and I don't think you can back it up. I read the declaration as protecting the rights to control of the material interests in one's creation, and all my arguments are based on that. If you have a reading that is counter to that I'd like to hear it.

Second of all, the confederate constitution stipulated the moral right to own slaves. Does that mean, when the confederacy existed there really was a moral right to own slaves?

Am pretty sure you could have found an example from Germany in the period before 1949 there too. And you know what, there were many moral debates over slavery. And now we have settled it, we enshrined our decision. Will it take slaughter before you will accept any other similar moral rulings? Will you pretend that any moral not the direct product of a war is just pulled out of someone's ass?
posted by fightorflight at 4:00 PM on April 30, 2012


I make things and give them away on the internet.

They are, for want of a better description, web comics.

It is my hope that by doing this, some day (when I get more than 40 unique
visitors in a day) I will become well known enough and popular enough that
people will give me money for better-quality reproductions or things that can't
be downloaded (t-shirts, original canvases, etc).

This is the reality now for many people who want to be graphic/cartoon artists.

Before the internet the reality was, try to get in the Dandy Dime, then the
college paper, more college papers, then a local paper, then maybe, one day,
picked up by a syndicate.

Unfortunately, not everyone is Gary Larson or Scott Adams. This reality did not
work well for the thousands of artists who might not be top-drawer, but still
have decent art, jokes and views.

There were other realities - you could group-fund publications with other
artists, try to get them into stores or picked up nationally. Go to college or
art-school and develop relationships that would develop into markets for your
work. I'm sure there were a few more.

Right now, if you visit my site, you copy my stuff. That's just how the
internet works. Maybe not so much MeFites, but many people do not understand
that you are not looking through a magic tube at websites. Your computer is
making a copy of my site and showing it to you.

That is the reality. I am comfortable with this reality. It is much, much
better than the reality at work years ago the multiple times I tried to get
traction as an artist.

If you want to copy one of my images, blow it up, frame and put it on your wall
(you poor demented fool), I don't mind. You are marketing for me, (assuming you
are not so demented that people don't come visit you. If so, I hope my work
gives you some comfort).

If you make a copy of my stuff and give it to a guy/girl as a gift, if you're
poor, that's fine. If you're not, well you probably don't get a lot of repeat
dates.

If you make copies of my stuff and sell them and actually make a profit, you're
doing better than I am - I want to talk to you! I think I'm fairly witty
and an okay artist, but I suck at marketing.

I accept this reality and I want the record, publishing and movie companies to
accept it as well or go out of business, because they are threatening to destroy
this reality, the reality that has come the closest in decades to helping me
achieve what I dearly desire to do.
posted by mmrtnt at 4:07 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


And I had no friggin' idea that thing would wrap like that!!!
posted by mmrtnt at 4:08 PM on April 30, 2012


It doesn't matter.

Here's my product, X.

Here's my price, P.

If you don't want the product at that price, that's a-okay.

You don't get the product, but you also can spend your money on whatever you'd like.
See, what is this nonsense? You're just stating things as if they were true. If I own a radio station, I don't have to negotiate with musicians to play their music. I have to pay a fixed rate, specified by law, and I get to play whatever I want. That's what the law says, regardless of whether or not the musician hates my guts or whatever. The musician might want to charge $50 or whatever for a radio station to play a song - but it doesn't matter. I get to play whatever I want, whenever. In fact, I only have to pay for the underlying musical work, not the specific recording.

Is the law wrong? According to your "stipulated morality" it is. But what difference does it make. Why don't you understand that you don't get to just decide for everyone else what's right and what's wrong?

This whole thread is a huge derail because you don't seem to understand that just because you say things, it doesn't make them true.
Nobody is doing the former. People are painting it as if it were so because an extreme position is easier to attack and avoids dealing with the uncomfortable position nearer to the middle. and nobody is doing the latter, because I think virtually everyone here sees at least some of the problems with Copyright, Inc.
Except it is an extreme position, and you lied about what was in the UDHR.
posted by delmoi at 4:10 PM on April 30, 2012


But most of the arguments here in favor of file copying seem to be from the perspective of entitlement and a complete dismissal of the idea that the artist is entitled to payment for work which they did not release with a free license or into the public domain. I think this just rationalizes being self-serving, and is contemptuous of the artist.

You seem to be reading a different thread to the one I am, no-one has suggested that artists deserve to be penniless that I've seen. Some people have suggested that they don't necessarily deserve to be multi-millionaires for singing a few songs, but that's a different issue.

But back to that perspective of entitlement, concentrating entirely on music because that's the softest current target: when I go into work for the day I create some stuff, mostly out of my own head, which is mostly digital bits. I get paid for that day. I don't expect to still be getting paid for that day in 99 year's time. I know that musicians largely have a different funding model right now, but the funding model they do have is an accidental byproduct of the technological possibility of recording a one off performance coupled with the limitation that making and distributing those recordings required greater resources than any individual musician had access to.

Prior to that musicians got paid the same way everyone else does - they turn up, they do the gig, they get paid.

Now that the technological imperatives have shifted and the financial obstacles have dissolved it's time for them to figure out how they're going to get paid in the future. They have no reason to expect that the old way will continue to work despite the disappearance of the reasons for the old way existing.
posted by robertc at 4:13 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


trying to sell numbers to number factories

I can't believe no one has called on how little sense this makes yet. It's cute, but specious at the very best.

You're not paying for the numbers. You're paying for the arrangement of them. Do we have to dig up the story of the engineering billing a large amount of money for whacking something with a hammer, and listing "knowing where to hit" as the most expensive item in the invoice?

I think the entertainment industry's reaction has been terrible, and that DRM and attempting to force people to not copy things is doomed to failure, but this... this is a terrible argument.
posted by flaterik at 4:14 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's far from clear that downloads are the determining factor on downward music sales. As was pointed out above, there are a number of studies that have failed to identify downloading as a significant negative impact. Additionally, here are a bunch of other negative factors on music sales that bear consideration!

Free Media Transition: Music sales from the 70's through 200's gained significantly from sales due to inefficiencies of the media involved, the big culprit being conversion of media from LP/Casette to CD. With the digital transition, people can do the conversion of old CD media themselves, essentially nullifying the media-switch bonus that has occurred in past transitions to new media, as well as further destroying the boundary between the Hi-Fi and portable media.

Death of Broadcast: I would also argue that the music industry as it was profited heavily from the effects of broadcast media, which led to a homogenization of culture in which it was relatively easy to make a lot of money off a very few products. The music distributors had a great deal of control over what was playing on the radio, and thus the ability to dictate that demand led straight to their doorstep. This control over what people listen to while locked in their cars and cubicles has disappeared. This homogeneity of consumption is why we had gigantic artists like the Beatles and Stones; I believe Mick Jagger himself has stated that the time of megalithic rock stars is past. There's a lot more consumer choice now, and that leads to much smaller Big Hits. And these Big Hits are really what's driven the industry: This guy notes that one-half-of-a-percent of all album sales ever were Thriller.

Return of Single-Song Sales: Another issue (pointed out here) is that the music industry used its monopoly power to create the age of the LP album essentially from nothing; we're currently seeing a transition back to (much cheaper) single-song sales. Millions of people are now spending 99 cents for a favorite song (or two) instead of $20 for the album.

End of Curiosity Sales: As was mentioned above, there is really no reason anymore to buy an album you haven't listened to a significant chunk of, as pretty much everything is available for a listen (legally!) on youtube, spotify, etc. Indeed, one begins to wonder if buying an album is essentially so you can listen to it between access to cloud services, which is essentially an inversion of the old role of radio...

The Global Recession and Other Large Economic Trends: The last big tank in music sales happened in the late 70's, at the onset of the oil crisis. And the current drop just happens to have been concurrent with the dot-com crash and the 2008-present global recession. (Recalling, of course, that the 'end' of the current recession had mainly to do with investment banks and little to do with improvement of conditions for the bulk of the public.) Indeed, it's probably worth noting the impressive stagnation of household income over the last thirty years contrasted with the proliferation of entertainment options; there are more people, sure, but video games are pricey.

---

So against that backdrop, I think it's worth it to restate MrGrimm's thought experiment: '[W]ho is "better"? A music listener who buys one album every few years but doesn't download anything (maybe uses a Spotify free account, subsidizing artists via advertising) or a music listener who downloads 200 albums a year and buys 25?'

Because that's really the trend, I think; you have a much larger stable of musically-literate people out there, exactly because of the proliferation of choice. The big hits are smaller, and go for .99 instead of $20. We have consumers (with probably fewer dollars set aside for music) listening to massive amounts of stuff, legally or not, and purchasing here and there the things they really care for.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:18 PM on April 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


>Again, you're just saying the same thing over and ove br again. You say these people have a right well, where does that right come from?

Typically, from the Terms and Conditions on the fine-print of the shopping cart, which usually has stuff about the purchased product being single-user, not for distribution, and so forth.

>If I own a radio station, I don't have to negotiate with musicians to play their music. I have to pay a fixed rate, specified by law, and I get to play whatever I want.

I'm not a musician, and I sell to individuals, but the point is this: There is a price. In the case of radio, it's a rate specified by law; and as a radio owner, you get to play whatever you want, but you also have to pay the price.
posted by darth_tedious at 4:20 PM on April 30, 2012


Do we have to dig up the story of the engineering billing a large amount of money for whacking something with a hammer, and listing "knowing where to hit" as the most expensive item in the invoice?

Unless they were collecting rents on that job a hundred years later, or took out a patent on 'a method of hitting with a hammer,' it's not really comparable.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:20 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another thought I had in regards to this is how there is a huge overlap between people that say two things-

1- These industries need to adapt to the changing times and figure out different revenue streams!
2- I hate anything that is done to monetize me or my attention, and will do everything in my power to eliminate companies ability to do so.

The first is pretty much just an observation, but it comes with a prescription... then every effort is made to thwart anyone that follows it. I want more money to go to artists and technical staff actually producing works, privacy of consumers needs to be respected, etc, etc, but...
posted by flaterik at 4:20 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Giving computers agency in this situation is still absurd.
posted by flaterik at 4:23 PM on April 30, 2012


Except it is an extreme position, and you lied about what was in the UDHR.

You realise you're talking to two different people in your post, right? And seriously, if you're going to throw about "lying", you need to do better than "you stated what was in the udhr in such a way that was consistent with what is literally there, and some people took your phrasing to the extreme, and I skimmed their take like I skim every thread I participate in, and am now holding you to that barrel of poor-faith participation slurry I bring with me every time"?

Take the literal wording. Insert it wherever I have paraphrased. The arguments stand. They're only extreme if you think the udhr is. If you want to actually address the problem of it stating rights where you need and demand no rights can exist, begin whenever you like.
posted by fightorflight at 4:24 PM on April 30, 2012


This whole thread is a huge derail because you don't seem to understand that just because you say things, it doesn't make them true.

The converse is just as true; just because you say something isn't true doesn't mean it isn't true.
posted by Justinian at 4:25 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


You don't get the product, but you also can spend your money on whatever you'd like.

Or, I can get it from the Net, without costing you anything. I'm in control of the relationship. I don't need you, and in fact don't even need to know you exist. But if you want money, you need me.

So, it's in your best interest to be a likeable sort of person that's doing interesting creative stuff, at least if you want to get paid for it. I buy digital stuff all the time -- for instance, I just bought a second copy of Planescape:Torment from GOG for a friend. I didn't have to do that, since I already had a perfect, DRM-free copy. I chose to pay for something I didn't need to pay for, and I do this constantly. But I'm not paying for copies, I'm paying because I really appreciate what GOG did in making that old classic available to everyone. I've spent twenty dollars on a twelve-year-old game because they really did me a favor. And it seems like they're doing very well, so I don't think my behavior is particularly unusual.

The old idea of getting paid just to make copies is going away very rapidly. In the future, you'll get paid because people like what you're doing, and want to contribute. But they will set the terms, not you. This is already happening... they can get your goods no matter what, and then you offer them a binary choice of choosing to pay you X dollars, or choosing to pay you nothing. Not surprisingly, a fair number of people choose to pay nothing.

It doesn't matter what your opinion is about this. It does not matter at all. You can like this, or hate it, and it doesn't change one iota of anything. Make digital goods, or don't make digital goods. That's your sole choice. Everything else after that is up to the people with the money and the digital duplicators. Their opinion matters, because they have the factories and the money. Yours doesn't.

This is not the world you grew up in. As a digital content creator, you are no longer in charge of the transaction. People can get your goods whether they pay you or not. So you want to make paying you a more attractive proposition than getting something for free. This can certainly be done; GOG is doing a fabulous job.

You're spitting into an ocean, and then you actually have the gall to demand that the ocean not mix with your spit.
posted by Malor at 4:26 PM on April 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


It doesn't matter.

Here's my product, X.

Here's my price, P.

If you don't want the product at that price, that's a-okay.

You don't get the product, but you also can spend your money on whatever you'd like.



But I can get X over there for less than P. So I'm gonna do that.

And what's the response to that? "No, you can't" is demonstrably untrue - try as much as you like, it's always going to be possible. Can't unring that bell. All that's left is to adapt your hardline approach to the existence of the alternate vendor, or make a case for "You can, but you shouldn't." And it needs to be a better case than "But that's not how it's supposed to work!"
posted by kafziel at 4:27 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is a price. In the case of radio, it's a rate specified by law; and as a radio owner, you get to play whatever you want, but you also have to pay the price.

Amusingly, it used to be that the labels would pay the stations until the law "fixed" that bit of the free market at work.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:28 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think there's a fundamental difference in viewpoints that can be explained by how we all view the PURPOSE of copyright.

a) I believe that copyright exists in order to enrich all of society. All of my views on copyright begin with that as the launching point (and yes, I've made $$ on selling my copyrighted works, which is an important part of the process. So I'm not implying at all that by selling a work, you're working against the public interest). The Constitution agrees.

b) Others believes that copyright exists specifically so that they can make money off their work (or others' work that they "own"). This is how we wind up with ridiculously long copyright periods, works being removed from the public domain, and millions of taxpayer dollars being spent to attempt to enforce unenforceable laws.

Piracy becomes less of a problem when viewed from position A. Yes, individuals may lose out from time to time. But society loses nothing as long as the creative process isn't stifled (and there's no evidence -- despite occasional anecdata -- that piracy does this).
posted by coolguymichael at 4:32 PM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


295 comments and I'm the only person who read it as British Pornographic Industry?
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:32 PM on April 30, 2012


295 comments and I'm the only person who read it as British Pornographic Industry?
posted by bonobothegreat


I think I see why.

:-)
posted by Malor at 4:35 PM on April 30, 2012


Just the first to comment on the thought, bonobo.
posted by flaterik at 4:35 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is a price. In the case of radio, it's a rate specified by law; and as a radio owner, you get to play whatever you want, but you also have to pay the price.

It's worth mentioning that many countries, including my own Canada, have a private copying levy on blank media. Many of us have already paid the price to play whatever we want.
posted by Jairus at 4:36 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't believe no one has called on how little sense this makes yet. It's cute, but specious at the very best.

I suspect no-one is calling him on it because it's fundamentally true. Once stuff is digital it's a number, that's what digitizing means. The packaging of that number is then secondary to the number itself, the number doesn't increase or decrease in quality because it's been placed on vinyl instead of cassette tape.

You're not paying for the numbers. You're paying for the arrangement of them.

Clearly I'm not, because if I was just paying for the arrangement then the movie studios would let me download, for free, Blue Ray quality versions of the arrangements of numbers I've already purchased on DVD.
posted by robertc at 4:36 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I saw The Avengers yesterday in a theatre full of people. It's a great movie, tentpole Hollywood at its finest. I laughed so hard during the ragdoll scene and a couple of others that I missed a few minutes. Of course it's mandatory to see it in the theatre, because this is where it belongs. But I wish I had been able to buy a glorious MKV file on the spot (put my debit card in a machine, get a download code), in order to watch it again at home immediately to see the stuff I missed. But no such thing, of course: that product, the one I was prepared to buy, does not exist. The BluRay will be out in a few months, but I'll be less pumped up about the movie and I don't care for BR discs, which are just pretty shiny and unreliable wax rolls to me and about as useful.
posted by elgilito at 4:39 PM on April 30, 2012


robertc: But the BlueRay has, like, so many MORE numbers in it!
posted by kaibutsu at 4:39 PM on April 30, 2012


But the BlueRay has, like, so many MORE numbers in it!

Yeah, but you can't skip any of them.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:45 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


darth_tedious: "Basically, by downloading stuff you don't like for free, you're still serving yourself, while causing Fred and Starwillow to lose your potential "curiosity" purchase."

And that's a reprehensible attitude. It's the attitude that in order to make a purchase, you must agree to purchase a pig in a poke. That's what record companies have been doing for decades. Two things. First, it really slows down sales. I've always bought a lot of music, but I've bought even more since I've been torrenting. The reason I buy more is precisely because I can sample the stuff first. Back in the day, I would hesitate to take a chance on an album, because I didn't know if it would be bad. That reluctance translated into fewer sales. So it is economically self-defeating. And it's incredibly customer hostile. Imagine if cars were sold with no option of being test driven. Books that we were not allowed to look at in a bookstore. And so forth. Fuck that shit.

And that "curiosity" purchase - your great satisfaction that you managed to rip off some poor kid by selling him an album he won't like, and what a clever scammer you are... well, even that doesn't hold water. Because I have returned CDs before. And books. I have demanded - and gotten - my money back at a movie theater. So your "curiosity" ripoff isn't even permanent. An artist is losing nothing by my downloading a wide selection of albums, if I decide not to buy an album because I don't like it. Not even the "curiosity" purchase - as it would have been returned in meatspace.

The thing people don't appreciate, is that time is scarce, and your hard drive space is at a premium. I will not hold onto music I've downloaded that I don't like - I won't waste my time listening to it, and I won't waste hard drive space storing it. I download it, I listen and if I don't like it, I erase it. If I love it, I buy the CD - because I like to have a hard copy instead of relying on hard drives, and yes, I like to support artists whose work I enjoy. I download a ton, but keep only a fraction - and eventually I buy it (sometimes I can't because it's out of print, a bootleg etc.).

The internet has empowered the consumer. We can no longer be held hostage and compelled to agree to only buy pigs in a poke. We now have the power to sample first and decide on its merits. No "curiosity and fuck you" purchases, thank you very much. I applaud that. Artists deserve to get paid and consumers deserve to buy only stuff they actually want.

I will continue to torrent and no amount of technical restrictions will stop me. I'll get VPN services, seed boxes, whatever. And I'll continue to support artists and buy their work.
posted by VikingSword at 4:46 PM on April 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


Sometimes I don't feel like I'm a bad person because I almost never pay for the music files I download. No, I feel like a bad person because endless arguments like the one going on in this thread bore the everloving shit out of me.
posted by item at 4:51 PM on April 30, 2012


None of this debate matters much. As long as the Internet remains capable of moving bytes between two arbitrary points, some of those bytes will be information that somebody else considers they should be paid for - and aren't being paid for. And you can't stop that without completely breaking the Net. (Not that some aren't trying.)

I work in an industry that is having the money sucked out of it by the Net, entirely legally, because that industry is based on the idea of controlling information distribution. We will have to learn to live in a world where that just does not happen, or we will have to learn to do something else. Much of my working life is spent wrestling with this realisation, and the same desperate attempt to regenerate, Doctor-like, is consuming just about everyone in my company and those of our peers.

I think we'll do it, but it's very painful and it severely limits all the good things I'd rather be spending my time on. For my friends who lost their jobs, it sucks. I may lose mine at some point.

That's OK. It's a revolution, and they're never pretty. We don't have the luxury of having some nice IP law protecting our arses, which means (I hope) that we're not tempted to do a lot of damage to our customers and the new world in some futile rearguard action.

Because that new world is coming, and the rules are changing, and that nice content distribution business that grew up around physical media is going away. Yes, it is. It had a good run, on the back of a particular technology, and many grew rich on it. But those that think this endows it with some right to continue haven't been reading their history books.

This doesn't touch on morality. It. Will. Happen.

What the shape of music, movies, books and journalism will be like afterwards, I don't know, any more than the industries which serviced home piano use knew what would happen after the wax cylinder.

That there will be music, movies, books and journalism, I have no doubt. I'll probably even make a living at it (not a thing I've done for the past fifteen years at my job has been anything other than free to the end user. I have published a novel on Amazon,with DRM and everything,but that was really just because I'm inconsistent and don't think things through).

As far as I can tell, the moral thing to do is to chart a path from here to there that attempts to minimise harm, but really - it's going to do its own thing.
posted by Devonian at 4:51 PM on April 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


The irony is that there's nothing new about this -- Hollywood is in Hollywood precisely because the first movie companies didn't want to pay Edison for using his patents, so located themselves as far away from him as possible.

These 'wild west' moments are always followed by something interesting.
posted by unSane at 4:52 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Devonian wins the thread, by the way.
posted by unSane at 4:53 PM on April 30, 2012


But most of the arguments here in favor of file copying seem to be from the perspective of entitlement and a complete dismissal of the idea that the artist is entitled to payment
The argument against copying is entirely from the perspective of "entitlement". That's what's irritating about this. There is an entitlement that you feel you have to control the "exploitation" of creative works. But where does that entitlement come from? You just made it up!

Whether or not you feel people are "entitled" to copy stuff without permission, they have the ability to do so. So why, exactly, should they not exercise this ability? Just because it makes you mad? Why is that a valid reason?
You're not paying for the numbers. You're paying for the arrangement of them.
No, you don't understand the mathematical basis. An "arrangement" of numbers is, itself, another number.
this is a terrible argument.
Well, it would seem like that if you didn't understand the math.
Typically, from the Terms and Conditions on the fine-print of the shopping cart, which usually has stuff about the purchased product being single-user, not for distribution, and so forth.
What, are, you talking about? You don't have to agree to any terms and conditions to torrent a file! And arguing that you have a moral obligation to abide by terms and conditions on some shopping cart conditions is completely idiotic anyway. Holy shit.

Seriously, who ever even pays attention to those? If you asked any person on the street if they thought it would be immoral to do something they "agreed" not to do in the click through agreement on some software? No one!

This is so absurd. You're just restating your own views over and over again, coming up with increasingly insane reasons why they have to be followed by everyone else. Seriously. Click through agreements!? Copying stuff is immoral now because it violates a click through agreement?

And as I said, it isn't even true that most of people who pirate stuff agree to click through agreements in the first place!
I'm not a musician, and I sell to individuals, but the point is this: There is a price. In the case of radio, it's a rate specified by law; and as a radio owner, you get to play whatever you want, but you also have to pay the price.
Yes, but the price isn't set by the artists. This whole thread, you've been saying that artists have the moral right to demand whatever price they want. I gave you an example of a situation where the law says you don't have to negotiate with an artists, you don't have to pay them what they want you just pay them the flat royalties.

A new law could be passed tomorrow that would make it legal for people to download any movie they wanted for 10¢s;. Obviously, that would completely violate your rules about how people should be able to have control and negotiate. There would still be a price paid. But there would be no negotiation, and no control.

People could take whatever they wanted, and simply send a dime to the artist. There is little difference between that and what you're complaining about. In both cases, the artist has no control.

So what's the difference if the Pirate party takes over and sets the price to zero? Is it somehow different if it's de facto or de jure?

All your arguments again and again are simply re-stipulating your basic premise about how it's immoral consume media if you don't like the terms the author set forth.

But the problem is, the fact that you believe it does not meant that anyone else has to believe it.

Anyway, too bad this thread was completely derailed by this "is it stealing" nonsense. Other then a demonstration of how weak the arguments of the "nu uh it is stealing" side are it was largely tangential to the UK thing IP block thing.
posted by delmoi at 5:00 PM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


(and even more ironically, Universal Studios is exactly 100 years old today).
posted by unSane at 5:00 PM on April 30, 2012


Anyway, back to the actual point of the thread although it's not used very often these days, most people actually have IPv6 access to the internet.

Supposing you have a DNS block, it would be easy to simply add an entry to your hosts file. But what if they use an IP block as well?

Well, one thing you could do is have people setup tons and tons of IPv6 proxies to the piratebay. Since each each ISP user has access to billions of addresses, you'd only need to use a few. Those could be pooled, and each user could be given a unique IPv6 address to add to their hosts file.

That way, rather then using a VPN, which might slow down access to every other site, they could still access TPB easily.

That would allow for a 'softer' workaround then a hard VPN for all traffic. But, an international VPN would also shield all network traffic, including the p2p traffic itself.
posted by delmoi at 5:10 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


If governments make dns blocking a thing, DNS will just become decentralized. If they start blocking DNS ports, then people will just start encrypting DNS traffic.

There is really no way to stop this.
posted by empath at 5:12 PM on April 30, 2012


There is an entitlement that you feel you have to control the "exploitation" of creative works. But where does that entitlement come from? You just made it up!

There's a saying with a lot of currency these days that everyone is entitled to his opinion, but not to his own facts. That you are unacquainted with, for example, the relevant clause of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution does not mean that I or anyone else in this thread "just made it up."
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:17 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's a saying with a lot of currency these days that everyone is entitled to his opinion, but not to his own facts. That you are unacquainted with, for example, the relevant clause of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution does not mean that I or anyone else in this thread "just made it up."

The part that grants exclusive control for only a limited time and then condones a total free for all?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:24 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


The part that grants exclusive control for only a limited time and then condones a total free for all?

Moreover, it's an option for Congress, not artists.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:26 PM on April 30, 2012


Actually, I'm excited by all of this hegemonic exercise of censorship, in a deck-chairs-on-the-Titanic sort of way. Honestly it's time and past time for the net to start doing what it does best: routing around all this fucking damage.

All of this blathering on about piracy is a fucking distraction. Governments around the world are right now trying to control what parts of the net are legal, and which are not legal. And the parts that they decide are illegal will be hidden, or blacklisted, and if you access them and they find out, you will be in trouble, mister.

And they are not making these determinations of "approved" sites for our benefit. Governments, even in theoretically free societies, are scared to death of the ease at which information flows these days. And they want the legislated right to lock that shit down.

"First they came for the pirates, but because I sell ebooks online, I said nothingfuck yeah!"
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:28 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


The part that grants exclusive control for only a limited time and then condones a total free for all?

That's the one, pretty much. That Congress has lately made it clear that they're never going to let that second part happen again is something I oppose vehemently, and have said so once or twice in this thread already. I'm a huge supporter of limited times along the lines of the earliest copyright statutes (14 years would be enough time for creators to recoup a reasonable economic reward), and of the public domain. But that's not the point. The point is that it is not something someone in this thread invented, as has been asserted a couple of times now.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:31 PM on April 30, 2012


< I>I'm not a musician, and I sell to individuals, but the point is this: There is a price. In the case of radio, it's a rate specified by law; and as a radio owner, you get to play whatever you want, but you also have to pay the price.

How about libraries? I don't pay per book for that. Schools, they're not going to be paying you per copy for bits they use in a classroom either.

How about the public domain? Your works will (eventually) be free for all. Is that stealing from you too?

Or first sale doctrine. I bought a copy, someone buys it from me, and now they've got a copy without paying you anything for it. Say they sell it on, to a hundred people, one at a time, yet only one person paid you for it, everyone else got their copy without paying you a dime. Theft too?

Just curious how far you think the 'I'm the copyright owner, I get to dictate what happens to my work and deserve to get paid every time' should actually go.
posted by ArkhanJG at 5:31 PM on April 30, 2012


It's OK, guys, we know delmoi is right. Nobody has ever believed artists should have any right of control over any facet of their works until this thread. There is no need to justify copying in any sense, especially since it is technically feasible.

There is really no way to stop this.
That has stopped governments when? My fear is that this becomes another war on drugs situation, where money and lives are wasted chasing an unattainable goal for questionable motives doing real harm in the process.

Encrypted DNS does you bugger-all when they're carrying out a dawn raid. Your router is no use at getting around any damage at all in an impound cage. And they've done this sort of shit for copyright violations even in the days before the web; I've no reason to think they wouldn't step it up if called upon.
posted by fightorflight at 5:34 PM on April 30, 2012


There is an entitlement that you feel you have to control the "exploitation" of creative works. But where does that entitlement come from? You just made it up!
There's a saying with a lot of currency these days that everyone is entitled to his opinion, but not to his own facts. That you are unacquainted with, for example, the relevant clause of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution does not mean that I or anyone else in this thread "just made it up."
Lol, do you mean this:
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises...

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;
...

To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;...
That is exactly what people are saying, there is no intrinsic moral right to a copyrighted work, rather congress has the power to create copyright laws for limited times, for the purpose promoting the progress of science and useful arts. There is nothing in there about any moral right. There is no requirement that congress make copyright or patent laws, they simply have the power to do so.

But the key point, about what it says in the constitution is that the reason for having copyright laws is to promote art. That's the only reason it's there. Not because of some moral right, simply because it's useful. But piracy, at current levels anyway, does not prevent the creation of new works, and therefore, it does not interfere with the actual purpose of copyright, at least according to the U.S. constitution, which obviously has no baring on the U.K, which is what this thread is supposed to be about.


Seriously... have you actually read the thing you just cited? It certainly doesn't entitle you to anything at all. Rather it, allows congress to write laws that entitle you to copyright, but only if they chose to do so. And only for a limited time. And only to the extent they specify.
posted by delmoi at 5:40 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just curious how far you think the 'I'm the copyright owner, I get to dictate what happens to my work and deserve to get paid every time' should actually go.

What's the lifespan of a corporation?

Your router is no use at getting around any damage at all in an impound cage. And they've done this sort of shit for copyright violations even in the days before the web; I've no reason to think they wouldn't step it up if called upon.

posted by fightorflight


I'm guessing the answer is 'flight?'
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:41 PM on April 30, 2012


It's OK, guys, we know delmoi is right. Nobody has ever believed artists should have any right of control over any facet of their works until this thread.
I didn't say no one did. I just said not everyone does. The fact that some people think something doesn't make it true.
There is no need to justify copying in any sense, especially since it is technically feasible.
That's true. Why should we have to justify it? Just because you demand we do? Some people in this thread simply do not seem to understand that just because they say something is true does not make it true, in fact when you are dealing with something subjective like morality, there is no fundamental 'truth' anyway.

When it comes to the law in a democratic society, it should up to the people to decide. And clearly, in the U.S at least many people are opposed to internet censorship in order to protect copyright, thus the failure of laws like SOPA, and the success of the pirate party in countries like Germany.

The irony is, in other countries people feel the same way, but the U.S. government has been able to pressure governments to adopt draconian anti-infringement laws over the will of their own people.
posted by delmoi at 5:45 PM on April 30, 2012


The irony is, in other countries people feel the same way, but the U.S. government has been able to pressure governments to adopt draconian anti-infringement laws over the will of their own people.

While fighting the same laws in draconian countries. The irony has not gone unnoticed.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:52 PM on April 30, 2012


Can't stop piracy, no bother even trying. We will just come up with new ways of sharing.
Until I can buy media at a fair price, without ads (fuck dvds and their 5 promos), and available immediately when released, with no drm or stupid restrictions, I will continue to pirate.

I have no need to justify it any further. I will continue to download 200 gigs or so a month and upload close to double that.
I wont wait for a US distributor for a UK show, nor deal with regional restriction bullshit.
posted by handbanana at 5:53 PM on April 30, 2012


Until I can buy media at a fair price, without ads (fuck dvds and their 5 promos), and available immediately when released, with no drm or stupid restrictions, I will continue to pirate.

This level of pure entitlement is astoundingly assholish.
posted by Justinian at 5:56 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


This level of pure entitlement is astoundingly assholish.

I know! Forcing people to watch ads every time the start a movie, preventing them from moving it from one device to another...

There ought to be a law!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:00 PM on April 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Perhaps, but no where near the "assholish"ness of the industry people hear continue to support. I am tired of the damn shake down. They've gotten my money, and now I will own my media.
posted by handbanana at 6:00 PM on April 30, 2012


The level of entitlement of studios thinking that when you've forked out for a DVD, you'll want to watch their lame trailers until you die is also quite astounding.
posted by unSane at 6:02 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


* here

Besides, who said pirates were nice?
when it comes to zeros and ones, i will copy as I damn well please.
posted by handbanana at 6:02 PM on April 30, 2012


This level of pure entitlement is astoundingly assholish.

He can maybe get a shitty product that's crippled and expensive, or he can get a superior product for free, and you're calling him an asshole for opting for the latter?

The products definitely don't need to be crippled, could be released worldwide simultaneously, and probably don't even need to be expensive. The studios are the jerks in this equation, abusing their customers. He's opting out of being abused.
posted by Malor at 6:06 PM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Lol, do you mean this:

The Congress shall have Power[...]


Yes, that's the one. To save you any further googling, there almost certainly isn't another Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution that it's likely to be confused with in this context, unless it's the Constitution of a country other than the U.S., and that would be quite a coincidence.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:13 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Clearly I'm not, because if I was just paying for the arrangement then the movie studios would let me download, for free, Blue Ray quality versions of the arrangements of numbers I've already purchased on DVD.

This is just another instance of reductio ad absurdum that pairs perfectly with the original number machine nonsense. Do you really think there was zero time and effort on anyone's part to create the higher resolution release?

Do I think that justifies HDCP or any of the other nonsense? No. And not that the studios would ever do anything like this, but I think something like $5 should be able to cover it. Why does it have to be FREE? Why can't people just gravitate towards reasonableness?

But the insistence on NO NO YOU MUST GIVE ME EVERYTHING I WANT AND IT MUST BE FREE BECAUSE BYTES CAN BE COPIED is just... tiresome. Seriously. I'm on your side on the majority of points here, but the attitude turns me off.
posted by flaterik at 6:15 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


...you seemed to miss the point of "untill they...."

I will pay when my requirements are met, until then, fuck em. Its not about free, its about a fucked up business model that I plan on continuing to undermine.
posted by handbanana at 6:19 PM on April 30, 2012


This level of pure entitlement is astoundingly assholish.
So what? The whole existence of copyright is premised on an entitlement some people feel they have to control copying of their works. It's an entitlement granted by the people in a democratic government.

The question is why media companies feel entitled to ignore the wishes of the population and impose draconian censorship laws in order to maintain their entitlement to have control over creative works they manage to acquire.

In any event -- the whole thing is ridiculous. Some people feel entitled to X, other people feel entitled to Y, and in this case X and Y contradict.

In the case of DVD promos, why should content creators be entitled to put un-skippable ads on DVDs that you purchase? Who gave them that right? Why should they be more entitled to do that then someone who purchases a disk be entitled to skip those ads?

Seriously. It's obnoxious. And why do you think anyone cares whether or not people are acting "entitled"? You know what? Maybe people are actually entitled to something other then bending over and getting ass-fucked by powerful corporations doing whatever the fuck they want.

Why shouldn't we be assholes to them? They are assholes to us.
Yes, that's the one. To save you any further googling, there almost certainly isn't another Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution that it's likely to be confused with in this context, unless it's the Constitution of a country other than the U.S., and that would be quite a coincidence.
Right, which had apparently not read, because it does not at all grant anyone a moral right to control creative works, which is what you said it did, because you don't know what you're talking about.
posted by delmoi at 6:23 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Louie C.K made a ton of money selling DRM free videos of his performances. Maybe "These guys" didn't make much money because their product sucked?

This is certainly the reason I've decided not to pay them anything. I just don't care if they ever make a 2nd episode.

Mini review time:

Production values: surprisingly good
Acting: not bad
Script: boring

At the end, I was not particularly interested in any of the characters or in the plot development (such as it was). Even if a 2nd episode is made, I will not bother to watch it. Of course, Luis C.K.'s first stand-up set probably bombed as well.
posted by Thalience at 6:26 PM on April 30, 2012


because it does not at all grant anyone a moral right to control creative works, which is what you said it did,

Y'know, there were several comments from others, who, in disagreeing with me, showed perfect reading comprehension and a preexisting familiarity with both the wording of the constitution and its subsequent interpretation and legislative history. That's pretty much worthy of respect and it's possible to have an intelligent argument based on that. And I'll just stop there, duly reminded by the exhortation below the comment field.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:34 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


But the insistence on NO NO YOU MUST GIVE ME EVERYTHING I WANT AND IT MUST BE FREE BECAUSE BYTES CAN BE COPIED is just... tiresome. Seriously.

Speech is bytes, and vis versa. For me, that never gets old.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:48 PM on April 30, 2012


But the insistence on NO NO YOU MUST GIVE ME EVERYTHING I WANT AND IT MUST BE FREE BECAUSE BYTES CAN BE COPIED is just... tiresome. Seriously. I'm on your side on the majority of points here, but the attitude turns me off.
Who cares if it's tiresome? If the attitude turns you off, feel free to go away. The "copyright infringement is stealing" argument is also tiresome, and that's what started this entire derail.

I mean seriously. Someone says "Copyright infringement is stealing, how is this justified" - then, when people explain why it doesn't need to be justified you suddenly start complaining how the explanation is "tiresome"? Really?

Here's the thing. It isn't happening in a vacuum. The huge content companies are lobbying for oppressive laws to censor the internet. They've succeeded in a number of countries. Money you use to pay for content goes to fund those lobbying efforts. in addition they then use those copyright laws to add content restrictions like unskippable ads, HDCP and other technological nonsense to make movie viewing a pain in the ass for people who do want to pay.

Now, given all that, why the hell should I have any sympathy for them, when they clearly don't have any concern for the average customer or and certainly not for the free flow of information on the internet, which they clearly hate.

You know what I find tiresome? The idea that the average person should just sit there and take whatever abuse the large corporations dish out as a mater of "principle" and "morals" while they do whatever they want in order to "maximize shareholder value" which is the only acceptable moral constraint they have. It's a submissive, downright masochistic attitude to have.
Y'know, there were several comments from others, who, in disagreeing with me, showed perfect reading comprehension and a preexisting familiarity with both the wording of the constitution and its subsequent interpretation and legislative history. That's pretty much worthy of respect and it's possible to have an intelligent argument based on that. And I'll just stop there, duly reminded by the exhortation below the comment field.
You certainly used a lot of words to say nothing. You seem to be one of those people who likes to imply they have a point rather then actually articulating it. Same with your bizarre comment about it not being the constitution from some other country.

In any event, here's what you said earlier:
There's a saying with a lot of currency these days that everyone is entitled to his opinion, but not to his own facts. That you are unacquainted with, for example, the relevant clause of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution does not mean that I or anyone else in this thread "just made it up."
Which was in response to me saying this:
There is an entitlement that you feel you have to control the "exploitation" of creative works. But where does that entitlement come from? You just made it up!
Now again, that's a pretty good example of using a lot of words to say nothing and talking around a point rather then making it. But you seem to be saying that article 1, section 8 does indeed grant some kind of entitlement to control creative works. But it does not, rather it grants congress the right to do so, if it feels like it. Or it can grant modified rights like the fixed fee licensing used with radio. Or they can simply not grant a right at all, such as with fonts, which are not copyrightable in the U.S. Or perfume smells.

So the only way you could have made that comment, was if you hadn't read the relevant passage and/or didn't know what you were talking about.

posted by delmoi at 6:53 PM on April 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


But the insistence on NO NO YOU MUST GIVE ME EVERYTHING I WANT AND IT MUST BE FREE BECAUSE BYTES CAN BE COPIED is just... tiresome. Seriously. I'm on your side on the majority of points here, but the attitude turns me off.

You missed the point of his argument. You were saying that he wasn't buying a number, he was buying 'an arrangement'. His counter-argument was that if he was, in fact, buying the arrangement, then the movie companies logically would let him have a new copy in different format for free or almost free. He's not making any demands, just observing that the companies think they're selling the number, that their copying of a bitstream is somehow a valuable service. (It isn't... or at least is worth pennies, not dollars.)

He's not saying that things should be free, he's saying that the fact that they aren't puts a pretty large hole in your argument.

Ultimately, it costs so little to copy the numbers that are being generated that it's probably going to end up being free. Right now, you can get copies of everything for just short of free (bandwidth does have some cost), but I think, in the future, this will end up being what everyone does, routinely. Then they'll toss money at the artists they actually like.
posted by Malor at 7:14 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


@mek--unless I am misunderstanding you the history of copyrighting music/art/text/intellectual content goes back to the 1600's. Of course recording music is a recent phenomena but the protection of its reproduction is quite old--or I am misreading. It goes back to the 1800's in American Law
posted by rmhsinc at 7:14 PM on April 30, 2012


Malor, we disagree about the trivialness of the rearrangement. I agree that if it was trivial, then I'd agree with the conclusion.

Delmoi, don't tell me to go away. I happen to think its an important topic, and that the side I'm on is being poorly served by the level of rhetoric on display.

Push comes to shove I'm in your corner. I just don't agree with the binary thinking going on.
posted by flaterik at 7:33 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


...unless I am misunderstanding you the history of copyrighting music/art/text/intellectual content goes back to the 1600's.

Yup. Slavery goes back even further.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:06 PM on April 30, 2012


I foresee a time when all media is paid for the same way as the I have heard that German radio is. Everyone pays into a giant pot and then the pot is split between everyone depending on how much demand they have.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 8:33 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Having read through this whole damn thread I:

a) Would like my medal please;
b) Would like to thank nickrussell, Malor, delmoi et al for restoring my faith in humanity;
c) Would like to thank darth_tedious for reminding me just how infinitely Wrong some people who are Wrong on the Internet can really be - seriously - if you are making a living from selling digital files on the internet and you are worried that file-sharing is affecting your bottom line then you are flat-out in the wrong business - either make more and better digital files until the file-sharing doesn't matter any more or go and do something else. If your business is based around selling files then it's pretty basic to know what files actually are and what the environment they exist in consists of. Worrying about file-sharing is a fairly clear indicator of a failure to understand key parts of this. The failure to comprehend that My product is P and my price is Q simply does not obtain in the digital realm is hilarious in the case of large corporations but somewhat tragic in the case of small vendors;
d) Would like, in passing, to post this shameless self-link inspired by the BBC article in the OP;
e) Would like to go to bed now please, since as a working musician I need to go busking tomorrow in the absence of a better gig that will involve me getting paid.

posted by motty at 9:33 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Libraries lend their archives to the public with the consent of the copyright holder.

I'd just like to put out there, that this statement is not even remotely true. Libraries do not need to seek the permission of the copyright holder; if they did, there would probably be precious few libraries and not very much in them. Historically, there have been times when various publishers have trotted out the libraries-are-lost-sales argument. In the US, it has never gained any significant traction, and libraries are protected both by First Sale and in some cases by specific legislation that give them more rights than the average purchaser.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind whatsoever, that if the concept of a lending library were invented today, that the publishers and movie studios and music labels would be trampling each other on their way to the doorsteps of Congress with bags of cash in hand in order to nip the idea in the bud, just on general principle.


There is nothing particularly "natural" about copyright law. Unlike prohibitions on, say, murder, where you can at least make a plausible argument that ties modern law back to some sort of natural (or divine, if you prefer) law, cf. Aquinas, Kant, Dworkin, etc., copyright law has been shaped quite transparently by the efforts of various groups who happened to be in power at the time that the laws were crafted. A good example is radio broadcast rights. Radio stations have an extremely favorable set of rules giving them the ability to broadcast music without having to seek permission from each individual rightsholder, which would be obviously inconvenient. This was achieved, if not exactly over the dead bodies of the music industry, than at least over their best efforts. There is no particular reason why this ought to be so, rather than the other way around, and it easily could have been the other way around had the music industry played their hand a bit better at the time. (The result probably would have been radio stations owned by the major labels, each only playing that label's music, which is not that absurd considering that it would have mirrored the old theater/studio distribution system.) It strikes me as fairly difficult to make an argument, without sinking into hard positivism, for the inherent rightness of a set of laws which could be magically inverted without much else changing. It is practically the definition of arbitrary.

So before we start seriously considering a lot of pearl-clutching arguments about one's duty to obey copyright law, which seems to be the whole point of rhetoric likening copyright violation to "theft" or other well-understood crimes, we should at least give some hard thought to where those precious copyright laws came from and whether we really want to put them on an untouchable pedestal -- and if we do, what else must we also put up there?

Whenever someone likens copyright violation to theft, they are in a stroke begging a whole series of questions, some of which are bound to be controversial in front of almost any audience. For that alone, anyone employing that particular rhetorical trick should be suspect.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:05 PM on April 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


It's not just the music industry, and it's not just big businesses.

I recently found out that my undergrad research thesis, which I wrote in a 30-hour stupor after I researched for a year, is up on some mysterious file-sharing sites. Some enterprising soul even prints it on demand, complete with an exotic cover. And this for (what I thought would be) a boring mathematical treatise involving LISP and graphs. The rest of the downloads in this site seem to be occult-related, so I'm thinking whoever downloaded this was tripped up by the "tantra" in the thesis' title.

At least for ebooks, people are hoarding stuff without reading anything through. Basically, hoarding coz they can. I personally am not sure how I feel about this, or even if it is any way stoppable. If you think about it, even Wikileaks is, in reality, a manifestation of the same phenomenon, albeit for classified cables.
posted by the cydonian at 10:43 PM on April 30, 2012


I'm guessing the answer is 'flight?'
No, it is fight. It is not, however, "think that because it is technically possible it is therefore right and we don't need to come up with anything better uh uh free speech?"

There are a lot of people so convinced that they will still be able to pirate therefore nothing bad will happen that they have lost all perspective. You know what? It's always going to be possible to buy marijuana too. Yet people are regularly going to jail and having their lives ruined over it.

Step up your game. And god help us if Delmoi is the best there is. "copyright infringement doesn't even need to be justified, because I said not!"; "--"; "the UDHR does not enshrine any moral rights because it is inconvenient and was misquoted!"; "the laws are exactly the same thing as the ethics!".
posted by fightorflight at 11:49 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's still a strawman even if you use quote marks.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:56 PM on April 30, 2012


It's still drivel even if it's pithy
posted by fightorflight at 12:19 AM on May 1, 2012


I just support piracy because I am better off with it than without it. But it certainly helps that everyone who claims to be going bankrupt from it seems to still be raking in enough money to buy enough lobbyists and media attention to convince politicians in almost every industrialized country that it is their moral duty to break the Internet.
posted by Pseudology at 12:41 AM on May 1, 2012



How about libraries? I don't pay per book for that. Schools, they're not going to be paying you per copy for bits they use in a classroom either.


Public libraries in the UK pay a royalty to authors per lend.
posted by mippy at 1:37 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


A long-winded attempt to "step up my game" as fightorflight suggests.

I hope that both sides of the debate will agree that we cannot settle the issue by direct appeal to our intuitions about the morality of copying without permission. Any such direct appeal to our intuitions is question-begging.

So, rather than simply appeal to my strongly held intuition that copying without permission is not morally wrong, I will proceed as follows. Beginning with Article 27 of the UN Declaration as the source of the supposed intellectual property rights, I will argue first that many instances of copying without permission are not wrong and second that taking the article as a whole, intellectual property rights should be eliminated or greatly reduced. My main thrust will be that eliminating or greatly reducing intellectual property rights would be a definite, large gain for society and only a potential small loss to authors.

There are two points in Article 27 of the UN Declaration. The first has to do with the right of all members of society to avail themselves of the creations of authors. The second has to do with protecting the moral and material interests of authors.

Question: If the two points in Article 27 come into conflict, how is the conflict to be resolved.

I propose two general resolutions -- one consequentialist and one deontological. The consequentialist resolution will be to weigh the utility gained and lost in the society as a whole. The deontological resolution will be to satisfy the largest number of equally-held duties. These will usually agree, since the number of people in society as a whole is much greater than the number of authors. (In principle, they could come apart if the dis-utility to authors were great enough.)

Question: What are the moral and material interests mentioned in the second point of Article 27?

Material interests are not too hard to understand: they are monetary proceeds of a creative act. Moral interests are not so straightforward. Conjecture: A prototypical instance of a violation of a moral interest is the use -- without permission -- of a scientist's work to build a weapon of mass destruction.

Now, one might claim that an author has a moral interest in his or her work not being copied without permission. But I do not think that is the sense of the article. Rather, the protection of the moral interest of an author is meant to keep others from putting an author's work to an immoral purpose.

But copying is not itself to put a work to any purpose.

The only moral interest that an author has with respect to some intellectual material is in what a person uses the intellectual material for. Since intellectual material does not have a unique physical instantiation, intellectual material itself cannot be used for the purpose of copying. (Except possibly if the intellectual material is, say, a plan for building a copy-machine.) This or that instantiation of the intellectual material may be used for the purpose of copying, but the intellectual material itself cannot be so used.

Hence, copying in and of itself -- even without permission -- does not violate an author's moral interests.

The material clause makes it wrong to use an author's intellectual material without permission for monetary gain -- e.g., it is wrong to copy without permission and then sell the copies. The moral clause makes it wrong to use an author's intellectual material without permission in order to put that intellectual material to an immoral purpose -- e.g., it is wrong to use the ideas of a virologist without permission in order to infect small children with a nasty virus.

Neither clause makes it wrong for someone to copy some intellectual material for the purpose intended by the author -- e.g., to experience some simple pleasure by listening to music or watching a film -- so long as the author's material interests are not compromised.

Now we have an empirical question. When a copyist makes a copy without permission of the author, does the copyist compromise the material interests of the author?

No general, a priori answer should be given here, for one could imagine two equally realistic cases: (1) a person copies without permission simply in order to get out of paying what he or she could have afforded to pay, and he or she would have paid had the opportunity to copy without permission been unavailable; and (2) a person copies because he or she could not otherwise have afforded to pay, and hence, he or she would not have paid even if the opportunity to copy without permission had been unavailable.

The individual morality of an act of copying without permission comes down to whether one finds oneself in something more like situation (1) or something more like situation (2). Why? Because if the copyist would not have paid the author even if copying were impossible, then the act of copying does not compromise the material interests of the author. Since the copying also does not compromise the moral interests of the author, the copying is not wrong.

That is the story on the level of the individual. What about social policy? Should society recognize a right to intellectual property? I think the answer is no.

The laws serve society, not the other way round. We make laws in order to promote the general welfare. Or, at least, we ought to do so. When the laws fail to serve society by promoting the general welfare, they should be replaced by laws that do serve the society.

Hence, we ought to ask whether copying is good for society on the whole. Here, we have to weigh two things: the material interests of society and the material interests of the authors. Again, the question is empirical with respect to how much harm (if any) is done to authors. Studies are not especially clear on this issue (pdf), with some saying that copying harms authors (pdf), some saying that copying helps authors (pdf), and some saying that it depends on marketing strategies.

What about on the side of society? Obviously, copyists derive value from copying. But there are two further issues. First is the question of innovation. Would eliminating intellectual property rights significantly reduce innovation? Many economists think so, but the best available empirical evidence suggests they are wrong (pdf). (The economist who wrote the linked paper expresses some surprise and dismay at his own results.) Second is the question of whether policies designed to make unwelcomed copying difficult (by enacting and enforcing strict copyright laws) have undesirable side-effects, like chilling free speech (pdf) or introducing uncertainty that creates unnecessary risk aversion (pdf).

Weighing all of these issues is difficult, but it seems to me that eliminating (or at least greatly reducing) intellectual property rights presents definite gains for society and only hazy, potential losses for authors.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 3:03 AM on May 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


Excellent answer. A few thoughts:

Why? Because if the copyist would not have paid the author even if copying were impossible, then the act of copying does not compromise the material interests of the author.

I disagree, here. Even if the copyist themselves would not have paid the author, it does not follow that the copy does not compromise the material interests of the author. In the instance of a photograph, for instance, there is an extraordinarily high premium put upon the first use rights and for limited-run prints. That value would be destroyed by unauthorised copies, regardless of whether the copyist ever intended to pay.

There are many more instances where copying dilutes the value of the copied item for those who would have paid for it. And the copyist is not a position to determine that, therefore they cannot be certain they will not be infringing on the author's material interests. Therefore:

Since the copying also does not compromise the moral interests of the author, the copying is not wrong.

Does not stand. But, I think:

Weighing all of these issues is difficult, but it seems to me that eliminating (or at least greatly reducing) intellectual property rights presents definite gains for society and only hazy, potential losses for authors.

Does. Although I find it far easier to weigh in favour of greatly reducing rather than eliminating. I think many people who currently pirate would welcome paying for copyrighted items within some reasonable term -- say 13 years again? -- especially given the wealth of items that would have been returned to the public domain. This would have the very neat side effect of focusing all the economic activity surrounding creative works on to new creations.

That, I think, is an outcome I'd like to see. In a world of perfect digital copying, we are inevitably reducing the amount of money that will be directed to creative works via payment for copies of them. I think we should attempt by policy and social means, to re-direct that dwindling cashflow to the creation and promotion of new works.

The old works should return to the commons, as copyright always intended for them to do until it was subverted.
posted by fightorflight at 3:38 AM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sorry, mis-paste. I meant to say then the act of copying does not compromise the material interests of the author does not stand. I agree with your argument on the moral interests.
posted by fightorflight at 3:40 AM on May 1, 2012


@Jonathan Livengood: tremendous post, consider the game to have been stepped up.

Weighing all of these issues is difficult, but it seems to me that eliminating (or at least greatly reducing) intellectual property rights presents definite gains for society and only hazy, potential losses for authors.

To take it back to the original point, if we look at the counter of that, increasing intellectual property rights presents a definite loss for society and only hazy, potential gains for authors. Which is the crux of the matter.

In attempting to block The Pirate Bay, the UK government is in effect proposing intervention at the infrastructure level of the internet (a definite loss for society, and a slippery slope) for the hazy, potential gains of industry.

Whilst the media industries claim they are losing massive sales to piracy, on 10% of piracy has been assessed as lost sales. Further, often 10% of revenue goes back to the artists/authors. Thus in terms of an "artist benefit", what is a very real loss for society (government intervention in internet infrastructure) is only of slight (1%) benefit to actual talent.

You have explained with much more clarity what I was poorly attempting to say earlier, that the commercial industry is playing artists against consumers. If you hold the artist up as the victim and make the case that these interventions are being done for artists, they have very little to gain (1%). In fact, one could argue that it does more harm then good, as another primary revenue stream for artists is touring. In the case of touring, there is a very real possibility that piracy helps put butts in chairs, for piracy is exposure, and exposure sells tickets.

Thus I guess I would modify your statement to say:
Increasing intellectual property rights presents a definite loss for society, only a hazy potential gain for authors, and a definite gain in terms of market power for industry incumbents.

It's a game theory argument really isn't it:
If artists and consumers cooperate, each gets 5,5
If artists cooperate and consumers steal, artists get 2, consumers get 8
If artists steal and consumers collaborate, artists get 8, consumers get 2
If artists steal and consumers steal, artists get 2, consumers get s.

It's not that simply, but right now, each is getting 2, as artists are 'stealing' copyright power, and consumers are 'stealing' content.

The reality is more like artists get 2, consumers get 2, and industry takes 6. And THAT is the crux of this issue. Industry is usurping government power for its own benefit to the detriment of both artists AND consumers.

Old model: Label ($) > Artist (Make art) > Label (Distribute art) > Retailer (Sell art) > Consumer (Consume art) > Label ($) > Artist (Make art)...

New model: Kick-starter ($) > Artist (Make art) > Dropbox (Distribute art) > Consumer (Consumer art)

That is what this is about. The labels real lock has been on distribution channels, and that is what The Pirate Bay attacks. The labels are in essence saying they cannot compete any longer, and therefore using their war chests to prevent consumers from accessing alternative distribution channels via quasi-legal methods.
posted by nickrussell at 3:52 AM on May 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


metafilter: It's still drivel even if it's pithy
posted by unSane at 4:07 AM on May 1, 2012


Interesting to note (way, way, way down here) is that some "cult" basic cable or small network shows may be putting low-rez episodes of their show on Youtube under an assumed identity, as if it were a fan making pirated copies available. The tip-off is that there's no network watermark, no in-frame ads for upcoming shows, etc - even before the episode is available on DVD, and the image quality is always terrible. The thinking is that if the fans can get anytime access to the show, they will watch it if they come across it in hi-def on cable, and buy fan merch. ("Like the Hat" probably sold a few hundred thousand copies of AB's coffee-table books.)

Gordon Ramsey used to be a prime example - all of his Kitchen Nightmares and Hell's Kitchen episodes were available under a couple of "downloader accounts!" who all specialized in carefully organized and edited-for-youtube Gordon Ramsey shows, apparently. Then he signed on with Masterchef, and they all disappeared overnight. New production company, new rules, I guess.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:10 AM on May 1, 2012


What's interesting to me is what might come before the "Kick-Starter" phase in nickrussell's New Model.

Some bands (as some authors, other creatives) will be ace self-promoters, have jobs or other private means, and will be able to tour and otherwise publicise enough to get sufficient funding to produce an album.

Most bands are likely to be dafties, and fairly impoverished. The problem these bands now face is that even if they're shit hot musically, they don't have the organisation or initial funds to get well-known enough to get things done on Kick-starter.

So perhaps... folks working as managers now - or even as record company execs - might front these bands a small sum, manage an initial tour, and take a subsequent cut of Kick-starter earnings?
posted by ominous_paws at 5:51 AM on May 1, 2012


So perhaps... folks working as managers now - or even as record company execs - might front these bands a small sum, manage an initial tour, and take a subsequent cut of Kick-starter earnings?

It wouldn't surprise me.

I heard an interview on one of the indy music podcasts with a guy who got into managing because he was doing a really good job of managing and promoting his band. Another band asked if he could help them out, too, and then another. Ultimately, he was doing so much managing he didn't have time to perform anymore. I've seem similar things happening with amateur writers who discover they're really good at editing and archiving and pick up a "stable" of other writers they help out.

All it would take is for a few people to work out what a fair cut is for that sort of thing, and for cultural norms to coalesce around it.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:12 AM on May 1, 2012


swift: Are there any other sites ISP's must block in the UK?

If not, this is an interesting precedent, and a bigger story than the pirating/music industry angle.


This isn't the first time this has happened. Previously, movie studios won an order forcing ISPs to block Newsbin (see Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp & Ors v British Telecommunications Plc [2011] EWHC 1981). It seems as though the order specifies a particular URL, so if I'm reading it right then it shouldn't be too hard to get around it.

This doesn't seem to set a precedent - the rulings are based on a statutory provision in section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act.
posted by Infinite Jest at 6:33 AM on May 1, 2012


Malor, we disagree about the trivialness of the rearrangement. I agree that if it was trivial, then I'd agree with the conclusion.

I don't think so. We're disagreeing about how to source the revenue to fund the rearrangement. Charging huge sums of money for distribution, which is the current model, is what breaks down in the face of the copying numbers argument.
posted by robertc at 6:47 AM on May 1, 2012


Some bands (as some authors, other creatives) will be ace self-promoters, have jobs or other private means, and will be able to tour and otherwise publicise enough to get sufficient funding to produce an album.

Most bands are likely to be dafties, and fairly impoverished. The problem these bands now face is that even if they're shit hot musically, they don't have the organisation or initial funds to get well-known enough to get things done on Kick-starter.
That's not true anymore. Labels aren't interested in unknown bands, they want to sign bands that already have a following and lots of fans (locally, at least). Of course you need to be good at self promotion in order to be successful to the point where you can get signed, let alone become successful after you do.

--
Delmoi, don't tell me to go away. I happen to think its an important topic, and that the side I'm on is being poorly served by the level of rhetoric on display.
Well, then don't just declare that the other sides arguments are "tiresome". Why does it matter if you find it 'tiresome'? I find the arguments of the other side "tiresome" -- it's simply a reiteration of the mantra "Copying is stealing!" over and over again as if repetition would make it true is tiresome.

Or else whining about "entitlement" while there is no analysis of the underlying "entitlement" to have control over copyrighted works.
There are a lot of people so convinced that they will still be able to pirate therefore nothing bad will happen that they have lost all perspective. You know what? It's always going to be possible to buy marijuana too. Yet people are regularly going to jail and having their lives ruined over it.
People are going to jail and having their lives ruined because of the laws against marijuana. I'm not aware of anyone going to jail or having their lives ruined over marijuana in Amsterdam.

Seriously... You have no argument here other then "I think it's wrong". You're not saying anything that could convince anyone else that you're position is correct. You're just repeating over and over that we somehow need to justify it to you.
Step up your game. And god help us if Delmoi is the best there is. "copyright infringement doesn't even need to be justified, because I said not!"; "--"; "the UDHR does not enshrine any moral rights because it is inconvenient and was misquoted!"; "the laws are exactly the same thing as the ethics!".
I didn't say copyright law didn't need to be justified because I said it didn't. I said it didn't because it doesn't. Why would it need to be justified? All we've seen in this thread is people demanding it be justified to their satisfaction. What right do you have have no right to demand that from people? You're opinion on the issue is of no relevance to anyone but yourself.

Of course the UDHR does not enshrine moral rights any more then the confederate constitution enshrined moral rights. It's just a piece of paper. And as it happens it's a piece of paper that isn't even enforced anywhere. A lot of the stuff in there is good, but there is no reason why we should accept every word of it. The UDHR defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Does that mean gay marriage is unethical because it violates the UDHR?

And in any event, it absolutely does not grant a moral right to control copying of a creative work, if that were true our radio licensing laws would be in violation of it.
"the laws are exactly the same thing as the ethics!".
So you think the UDHR defines ethics, but the law does not? Pretty weird standard. Also, we obviously haven't been arguing that, but rather showing examples of laws that don't follow what copyright huggers have been arguing, which is the intrinsic moral right to control what you create.
"then the act of copying does not compromise the material interests of the author" does not stand. I agree with your argument on the moral interests.
See, That's what's so annoying here – you feel that you have the right to decide for everyone else what's morally true and what isn't. It's actually kind of obnoxious. You get to decide for yourself, sure. But no one is under any kind of obligation to follow what you, personally, think is the right thing to do. You seem to have no idea that people don't care whether or not you, specifically, approve of what they're doing. Why should they?

you aren't convincing anyone of anything, you're demanding that we convince you. No one has any obligation to justify anything to your own personal satisfaction. You seem to think the world revolves around you and that you have the right to demand things from people. That's not how it works at all. You're just wasting people's time. This isn't even a thread about the moral and ethical nature of copyright infringement. It's about ISP blocking in the UK. The entire "Justify copyright infringement" thing is a derail.

posted by delmoi at 7:03 AM on May 1, 2012


Or more concisely: what happens if we don't justify copyright infringement. Nothing! That's why we don't need to do it. If there isn't any consequence of not doing something, then it isn't something that needs to be done.
posted by delmoi at 7:04 AM on May 1, 2012


Most bands are likely to be dafties, and fairly impoverished. The problem these bands now face is that even if they're shit hot musically, they don't have the organisation or initial funds to get well-known enough to get things done on Kick-starter.

There are blogs out there who make it their job to find talented unknown bands and make them known. This is an invented problem.
posted by empath at 7:05 AM on May 1, 2012


This is an invented problem.

So the existence of some blogs is enough to deal with all issues of logistics, organisation and publicity to get a band to the point of sufficient Kickstarter funding to put out a release?

I'm thinking out loud here, not trying to argue with anyone; this feels unnecessarily snippy and dismissive (cf. Karmakaze's comment).
posted by ominous_paws at 7:11 AM on May 1, 2012


I'd suggest that the relationship needs to change to recognize this, perhaps gradually shifting to something like Kickstarter.

I just wanted to say that the Kickstarter model is one that has been used historically with some interesting and progressive results. Pretty much all the 18th century peasant/laboring class English poets were published via subscription (see Stephen Duck and Ann Yearsley for good examples). The problem was then that you had to have someone gather subscriptions and act as initial patron; in Yearsley's case that blew up the first time because of conflict with her patron, Hannah More. I'm not keen to see a patronage model reappear for writers and artists, but with better modes of communication and the net, it should be possible to use a subscription model. I know there have been arguments made that female authors did better under the subscription model than in the 19th century, so it doesn't necessarily have to be a regressive system.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 7:23 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


So the existence of some blogs is enough to deal with all issues of logistics, organisation and publicity to get a band to the point of sufficient Kickstarter funding to put out a release?

Yes, the existence of thousands of blogs which have already broken a bunch of bands (hell, entire scenes and genres) without any major label marketing at all is enough.
posted by empath at 7:25 AM on May 1, 2012


Fair enough. It'll be interesting to see what, if any, middle ground emerges between old-model major label + massive advance and a pure band + blog + kickstarter model; I'm guessing most blog-broken bands currently go on to deals with at least indies?
posted by ominous_paws at 7:37 AM on May 1, 2012


I can't really talk about bands, but a lot of the indie dance producers just started their own labels, and sell tracks on beatport, etc..
posted by empath at 7:41 AM on May 1, 2012


I didn't say copyright law didn't need to be justified because I said it didn't. I said it didn't because it doesn't. Why would it need to be justified?

And your argument for the "because it doesn't" is what? You haven't offered anything, which leaves us only with "because you say so". The onus is on you, because it's established law, and it's enshrined in other places, such as the constitution and UDHR, and if you're saying that infringing those laws and norms needs no justification, you need to explain why.

Now, as you never tire of pointing out, just because it's in these pieces of paper doesn't mean those documents are right, but it does mean you have to provide more of an argument to counter them than "because". Slavery was enshrined in documents, but it was also very easy to provide arguments why they were incorrect.

You are failing miserably at justifying why authors should have no control over the material interests in their creations. There are much better arguments being offered over the damage particular sets of copyright laws are doing, but those don't undermine the basic principle in the least.

See, That's what's so annoying here

Why does it matter if you find it annoying? I find you annoying, and unutterably obnoxious.

you feel that you have the right to decide for everyone else what's morally true and what isn't.

You're aware that it's possible to have discussions about moral matters? That positions on them can be critiqued and discussed and a consensus reached? But that aside, I am still not doing what you say. In the comment you quoted, I was agreeing with an argument that says copying files can have no impact on the author's moral interests in a work. That has nothing to do with what anyone finds morally true for themselves, or even an abstracted moral code.

This isn't even a thread about the moral and ethical nature of copyright infringement. It's about ISP blocking in the UK.

ISPs that were blocked because the UK government has taken upon itself to prevent copyright infringement. Deciding whether or not it is right to do so is intimately connected with the moral and material consequences of copyright infringement.
posted by fightorflight at 8:31 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


the existence of thousands of blogs which have already broken a bunch of bands (hell, entire scenes and genres) without any major label marketing at all is enough.

Podcasts are another means of exposure. There's the music ones, obviously, but even the other ones can point a lot of ears in the right direction. Anamanaguchi got a lot of attention because Chris Hardwick used one of their songs for his podcast's opening theme, e.g.

Slavery was enshrined in documents, but it was also very easy to provide arguments why they were incorrect.

Copyright is an abridgment of free speech, plain and simple. The onus therefore is on its advocates to justify it.

And it better be good, because the only way you can even attempt to enforce it is to enact something like the Great Firewall of China. The UK's actions are a step in that direction.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:39 AM on May 1, 2012


Slavery was enshrined in documents, but it was also very easy to provide arguments why they were incorrect.

You are failing miserably at justifying why authors should have no control over the material interests in their creations.


Because no one creates in a vacuum, and everyone benefits from the work of those who came before them and because the benefits for distributing the information freely vastly outweigh the cost to anyone of distributing it, because the societal cost of enforcing copyrights is tremendously wasteful, onerous and near-tyrannical, and because we have the right free speech, and if sharing ideas and knowledge isn't free speech, then the term has no meaning.
posted by empath at 8:41 AM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


One of the dirty secrets of label "promo" is that it's largely accomplished by sending out free copies of your album, usually ahead of release, to thousands of station managers and music critics who are receiving literally thousands of these from every other label also. I worked at my college's small, low-listener count radio station and we were dumping out hundreds of these promo discs unlistened because we simply couldn't listen to them all, even with our entire staff helping. If nobody had heard of the band name and there wasn't something SUPER attention grabbing about your packaging, there were pretty good odds none of us would hear it. Which means we certainly wouldn't play it, which means none of our listeners would hear it, which means the "promo" was worthless, really. Of course much bigger bands get TV appearances, magazine ads, paid plays on major fm radio stations, and so on, but you have to already be big for a label to spend that kind of money, for the most part.

Plus only a small subset of bands out there get signed to labels. So this largely futile service is available to a fraction of the bands trying to make it.

On the other hand, if you find a music blog curator with similar taste in music to you, you have a much higher chance if getting your album heard, which results in a much higher chance of it getting posted. And people following a blog tend to agree with that curator's rate, or else they wouldn't have chosen to follow it, so there's a higher chance that they'll be interested in your music.

Which didn't even approach the effects if listener targeting via sites like Pandora and last.fm. Between music blogs and those sites, in the lady five years, I've discovered hundreds of new band that I've seen in concert, bought albums from, and so on. In the same period of time, I've discovered maybe... One? Two bands from fm radio?

If you're trying to get big instead of already being big and trying to get even bigger, internet promo is far more effective, I've found, both as a music fan and as a musician.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 8:50 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


* curator's taste. Sorry, Swyping mishap
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 8:53 AM on May 1, 2012


Why does it matter if you find it annoying? I find you annoying, and unutterably obnoxious.
So why do you keep talking? As I've said before. This thread isn't even supposed to be about whether or not you, personally, think piracy is justified. It's about internet censorship in the U.K. All your posts are offtopic anyway.
You're aware that it's possible to have discussions about moral matters? That positions on them can be critiqued and discussed and a consensus reached?
It's possible, but you don't seem capable of it, since you don't seem to understand that people look at moral questions from different premises, and you can't just declared your premises correct, and demand that people justify themselves according to your premises. The fact that you keep making fallacious appeals to authority, and that you keep misrepresenting the UDHR and now the U.S constitution, which absolutely does not grant anyone any moral right to copyright - but rather allows congress to write copyright laws, but does not require them to do so.
And your argument for the "because it doesn't" is what? You haven't offered anything
Just to be clear, the reason people don't need to justify piracy is because if they don't -- nothing happens.

If you don't eat, you starve. If you don't drink water, you dehydrate. If you don't pay your taxes, you go to jail. These are things people have to do, because something bad will happen. Neither I nor anyone else have any obligation to justify anything to you.

If they don't justify piracy to your satisfaction, what happens? Nothing - except that you post more annoying, derailing, offtopic comments.
posted by delmoi at 8:56 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, lots of typos, sorry. Anyway, I've sworn off copyright theory threads lately, but I wanted to address the blog vs. label promo point without voicing opinions that might get me called "unutterably obnoxious" by those who disagree.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 8:58 AM on May 1, 2012


One of the dirty secrets of label "promo" is that it's largely accomplished by sending out free copies of your album, usually ahead of release, to thousands of station managers and music critics who are receiving literally thousands of these from every other label also.

And they usually charge the bands for all of that shit, which is one of the reason so many of them never get paid.
posted by empath at 9:04 AM on May 1, 2012


Copyright is an abridgment of free speech, plain and simple. The onus therefore is on its advocates to justify it.

Well, I'm no advocate of it, but the current justifications of copyright are i) systems that encourage the creation of artistic works are valuable to society and ii) copyright protects the author's material interests in their creations. And, yes, those two justifications can also be examined. I don't think copyright law as it stands is particularly good at serving either goal, and I think technology is making it even less defensible.

But none of that means that "it needs no justification because it doesn't" works as an explanation for infringing a law.

And it better be good, because the only way you can even attempt to enforce it is to enact something like the Great Firewall of China. The UK's actions are a step in that direction.

It's probably worth noting here that it doesn't actually have to be that good, because the UK has no enshrined right to free speech. And they're in the middle of mounting missiles on the top of tower blocks for the Olympics, so they're not exactly strangers to draconian idiocy, either.

It's about internet censorship in the U.K. All your posts are offtopic anyway.

I explained why I think the subject is on-topic. It's even mentioned in the OP, which you'll have skimmed past, naturally. You know that bolding isn't argument, right?

Just to be clear, the reason people don't need to justify piracy is because if they don't -- nothing happens.

Wrong. If they don't, the thread goes nowhere. Someone comes into the thread, skims, then posts "I infringe copyright!". Someone asks "why?". They reply "I don't need to justify myself to you!".

If they don't explain their stance, the thread becomes little more than "is not", "is too". But that's where you're most comfortable, I guess.
posted by fightorflight at 9:11 AM on May 1, 2012


There's also pointing out that no matter how frequently you repeat that a right to international control of written and invented works is "stipulated" or "enshrined" in various documents, that doesn't make it true. I'm quite comfortable with that.
posted by XMLicious at 9:24 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wrong. If they don't, the thread goes nowhere.
Only if it were true that you, personally were the arbiter of the thread. Again, this is an incredible sense of entitlement you have. You think we're all here to entertain you and and do what you tell us to do. That's not the case. You don't have any right to demand things from other people. You're completely preventing any other discussion from happening. No one has any obligation to you to justify piracy or justify a free and open internet if it allows piracy.

If you feel the thread is going nowhere, just stop posting.
posted by delmoi at 9:26 AM on May 1, 2012


And pointing out that existing features of American copyright law relating to radio, satellite and cable TV, jukeboxes, and steaming internet deliveries currently violate that interpretation of said documents without frothing outrage, so maybe that interpretation is not recognized even in our current, heavily anti-commons implementation of copyright theory.

(or that Swype thinks "rightsholder" should be "roughrider")
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 9:33 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wrong. If they don't, the thread goes nowhere. Someone comes into the thread, skims, then posts "I infringe copyright!". Someone asks "why?". They reply "I don't need to justify myself to you!".
Well that's exactly correct. They don't have to justify it to you. The thing is, lots of justifications actually have been posted. It's just that you, personally, don't think they're good enough. That is the thing that doesn't matter. And that's the thing that you can't seem to wrap your head around.

The UDHR thing is practically a textbook example of an appeal to authority logical fallacy. And on top of that, you're not correct about what it says, and you're not correct about what's in the constitution. If someone isn't even rational to begin with, you can't have a productive discussion with them. But if they're not, it's impossible.
posted by delmoi at 9:35 AM on May 1, 2012


Well, I'm no advocate of it, but the current justifications of copyright are i) systems that encourage the creation of artistic works are valuable to society

We appear to agree that it does this poorly at best, and actively gets in the way at worst.

and ii) copyright protects the author's material interests in their creations.

"Moral rights" to art is a mystifying concept to me. I don't see why an artist should get to exert more control than, say, a bricklayer. Fortunately, the concept is largely a non-starter in the states.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:39 AM on May 1, 2012


XMLicious: I haven't said that there is. I've said that there's a right listed in the UDHR to protection of the moral and material interests in your works. There's no right to copyright (or "international control"), though I think the two are being conflated a lot.

Delmoi: I wonder that we are butting heads so, because we appear to be accusing each other of behaving like the other. Since your very first post in this thread you have been telling people how nobody gives a shit about them or their views, how they irritate and annoy you, and dictating to them your terms about how morality and discussions work. Then you talk to me about my entitlement about how a thread should be conducted?

cobra_high_tigers: None of those things violate that right, as the author has already traded a portion of it for money or other considerations, and contracts pretty much always stipulate all those ancillary uses. If they want to prevent the libraries/radio/etc getting copies, nobody is forcing them to publish. They can keep total exercise of the right.

The thing is, lots of justifications actually have been posted. It's just that you, personally, don't think they're good enough.
Not by you, and I was addressing you.

The UDHR thing is practically a textbook example of an appeal to authority logical fallacy.
I don't think this argument appeals to authority - I am not saying the right exists simply because it is written in the document. I am saying that the document exists is evidence that it has been considered a right by more than just the people you accused of pulling it out of thin air.

And that's the thing that you can't seem to wrap your head around.
Absolutely no-one has any obligation to respond to me. I am only ever asking, and am sorry if the tone suggests otherwise. But I always hope they do, because when people do respond, like Jonathan Livengood, addressing positions they had previously been unaware of, the resulting posts can be to everyone's benefit.

"Moral rights" to art is a mystifying concept to me. I don't see why an artist should get to exert more control than, say, a bricklayer.

Yes, it's slightly weird to me, too. It'd be interesting to see a scientist trying to exercise the right, for sure.
posted by fightorflight at 10:04 AM on May 1, 2012


Delmoi: I wonder that we are butting heads so, because we appear to be accusing each other of behaving like the other. Since your very first post in this thread you have been telling people how nobody gives a shit about them or their views, how they irritate and annoy you, and dictating to them your terms about how morality and discussions work. Then you talk to me about my entitlement about how a thread should be conducted?
I am simply pointing out that people are under no obligation to justify themselves to you. Other then your threats of taking the thread "nowhere" there is no reason to do so.

The difference between our arguments is that you are demanding people do what you say, whereas I am pointing out they do not. You're telling other people what they need to do to satisfy you.

People have no obligation to do so. All you're doing at this point is completely derailing the thread. The "is copyright infringement stealing" argument has happened a million times. You're not adding anything, and in fact you're not even bothering to make any points, rather, you're just demanding people do what you say, and essentially making any other discussion impossible.
posted by delmoi at 10:10 AM on May 1, 2012


You're not adding anything, and in fact you're not even bothering to make any points, rather, you're just demanding people do what you say, and essentially making any other discussion impossible.

And this last post of yours is what, exactly? It adds nothing, and makes no on-topic points. Seriously, your blitzkrieg attacks and refusal to engage on the points is what is destroying the discussion. If you want to continue it, please take it to my MeMail. It is no longer appropriate for this thread.

posted by fightorflight at 10:15 AM on May 1, 2012


And this last post of yours is what, exactly? It adds nothing, and makes no on-topic points.
Look, If you make a bunch of off topic or barely on topic posts, you can't then complain that people pointing it out are off topic. The "Is copyright infringement stealing" argument has played out a million times. And you're not even arguing for it, but demanding that other people "justify" themselves to you over and over again and even saying the thread would "go nowhere" if they failed to do so. As if there was nothing else to discuss other then your personal feelings.
It is no longer appropriate for this thread.
Again, another example of you telling other people what to do it in this thread, as if it were up to you to decide.

It's true that the "Is copyright stealing" thing is somewhat related to the topic of internet censorship, but only in the most abstract way. But it's something that's already been discussed a million times, with no conclusion. The thread should have stayed on topic discussing the U.K, internet filtering, the pirate bay, and so on rather then getting mired in an abstract discussion with no concrete relevance to anything.
posted by delmoi at 10:38 AM on May 1, 2012


"Moral rights" to art is a mystifying concept to me. I don't see why an artist should get to exert more control than, say, a bricklayer. Fortunately, the concept is largely a non-starter in the states.
Moral rights are supposed to prevent third parties from using a work in ways that the author finds detrimental. It's deeply rooted in several European legal systems (AFAIK) and based on the idea that works are the offspring of authors, not just a transferable property, as in Anglo-American law. One landmark case was the opposition to colorization of movies.
It's a bit of a derail, but as a continental European, the US/UK notion of copyright, which tends to assess intellectual productions only through their monetary value, is much more mystifying to me. Filesharing typically violates copyright but it can respect moral rights. For instance, if someone uploads the book I've written a few years ago so that other people can read it for free, that will not violate my moral rights, because the point of writing the book was not to sell it (an ancillary matter) but to provide knowledge to people. In fact, my moral rights would be more respected by illegal filesharing than by copyright, since the latter actually prevents the dissemination of the book.
posted by elgilito at 10:45 AM on May 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


[Guys, if you're telling each other at length what's wrong with each other's comments, maybe just take it to email or let it drop? Thank you.]
posted by cortex at 10:51 AM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I haven't said that there is. I've said that there's a right listed in the UDHR to protection of the moral and material interests in your works. There's no right to copyright (or "international control"), though I think the two are being conflated a lot.

You've said things like this:
fof: It deprives the owner of their moral and human right to control the exploitation of their creative works.

JL: Why do you think creators have such rights?

fof: Because the global community said so, and enshrined it in article 27 of the universal declaration of human rights...
If you don't think there's a right to copyright, maybe we're in closer agreement than it seems, but it hasn't really sounded that way.
posted by XMLicious at 10:56 AM on May 1, 2012


Oops, little bit of a misquote crept in: that first sentence doesn't end with that period but goes on.
posted by XMLicious at 11:04 AM on May 1, 2012


The thread should have stayed on topic discussing the U.K, internet filtering, the pirate bay, and so on rather then getting mired in an abstract discussion with no concrete relevance to anything.

The abstract issue greatly informs what's going on in the UK. The High Court is trying to (however effectively) censor the Internet. That's a rather extraordinary thing, and the justification for it is obviously of concern.

It's deeply rooted in several European legal systems (AFAIK) and based on the idea that works are the offspring of authors, not just a transferable property, as in Anglo-American law.

Curiouser than I suspected. You don't retain control of actual offspring for more than 18 years or so. Nor do you get to sell them, I suppose.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:26 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Curiouser than I suspected. You don't retain control of actual offspring for more than 18 years or so. Nor do you get to sell them, I suppose.
Well, the author-as-a-father concept is as old as the Latin word auctor, which means father, among other things (and male Roman citizens could sell their children...). In several romance languages, "the author of your days" is your father. There's certainly a long tradition of respect, in many cultures, for the author as a creator and the sacred ties that bind the father/author and his sons/works (sorry for the patriarchal lingo).
posted by elgilito at 12:57 PM on May 1, 2012


Well, the author-as-a-father concept is as old as the Latin word auctor, which means father, among other things (and male Roman citizens could sell their children...)

Well, now I feel much better about using slavery as an analog to copyright.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:46 PM on May 1, 2012


Techdirt (prompted by one of their readers) asks When was The Pirate Bay put on trial? Apparently they weren't even notified about the proceedings. Said reader follows up in the comments.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:41 AM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


In other news, a judge has ruled that an IP address doesn't identify a person.
posted by Obscure Reference at 2:12 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, TPB got a 12M traffic boost around the time of the ban.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:35 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Massive DDoS attack keeps The Pirate Bay offline for over a day
posted by homunculus at 8:59 PM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd considered writing a post about bittorrent becoming the new radio, including thepiratebay.se getting into the promotional game and observing that thepiratebay.se's doodles contains all the promobay selectees.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:44 PM on May 17, 2012


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