Dear Mr. Ashcroft:
August 10, 2002 7:43 AM   Subscribe

Dear Mr. Ashcroft: People who download copyrighted music files deserve jail time, and you should start prosecuting them. Signed: Joe Biden, John Conyers, Dianne Feinstein...
posted by xowie (54 comments total)

 
Obviously, jailtime for this kind of crime is beyond ridiculous, but isn't this what the mp3 traders want? The mantra since 1999 has been, "Don't make our software or networks illegal, go after the pirates." Of course no law enforcement agency in the world can arrest hundreds of thousands of people, well other than the DEA, for arguably victimless crimes.

Ideally, law enforcement should be going after the baddies who get media and SELL IT on a mass scale, not Joe Filetrader who downloads music because the local radio monopoly doesn't serve his needs.

I know the above sounds like a poor justification, but Joe Filetrader is also Joe Concertgoer and Joe CD buyer. The mass reseller of pirated media is neither of these, to him its just business.

What ever happened to securing your own products? The RIAA releases their wares on unencrypted CDs which are easily copied. Why isn't the burden of securing their product on their end? Instead of fighting the ever losing battle fighting file swappers they should move to more secure formats. The government should not be subsidizing a poor security format. I certianly cannot call a police officer to hang out outside my apartment all day because my door lock or window is broken and the same rules should apply to the RIAA. The cops would tell me to put bars on the window, buy a new lock, and get a dog.
posted by skallas at 8:04 AM on August 10, 2002


Joe Biden, John Conyers, Dianne Feinstein... its the stooges from mordor. Parts of the 'industry' are dealing and exporting drugs, murders left and right and the dynamic idiots come upwith this shit. Conyers is fool who should be flogged in Hart plaza that sell out mofo...this is just another precident so these cowards can peek into your harddrive....yeah i havent had me coffee.
posted by clavdivs at 8:15 AM on August 10, 2002


On the other hand if you leave your doors opened and unlocked it is still illegal for someone to come into your house and take your stuff. The cops may snicker cuz yer a fool. But it is still illegal.

It's time me thinks for Diane Feinstein to change jobs. When is the online community to organize and throw these boobs out of office?

The early 21st century saw the extinction of the right of "fair use" son. Perhaps someday creativity & innovation will move forward again but for now...hey where's the Nick at Night? Damn did I forget to pay the bill again?
posted by filchyboy at 8:20 AM on August 10, 2002


I never thought that anything would make me a Republican, but this almost would:
Joe, John, Di,

I got better things to do.

John
posted by goethean at 8:31 AM on August 10, 2002


What ever happened to securing your own products? The RIAA releases their wares on unencrypted CDs which are easily copied. Why isn't the burden of securing their product on their end?

No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.

DRM doesn't work, and I won't buy it. The only thing DRM does is make it harder for me the consumer to use and enjoy the work in the way I want to enjoy it.

When I first heard about this stuff, my initial gut reaction was why don't these clowns go away. I'm not sure that intellectual property violations really constitutes criminal activity. It certainly doesn't rise to the level of theft in my mind. I'll stipulate that the law and my opinions may be out of synch on this. Obviously that's a problem, and I certainly intend to vote for whoever is running against Feinsten. Please - if you live in CA, let's send this person a loud and clear message.

Still, this is better than trying to go after the networks or the software. The signers claim they want justice to focus on major distribution notes - not the ones running the clients. I'd rather the companies pursue their civil options before involving justice in the battle, but this is better than a lot of the rest of the crap that's been floated in this fight.
posted by willnot at 8:35 AM on August 10, 2002


Any day now I'm expecting to learn that some little know part of the Patriot Act classifies copyright infringement as a terrorist activity.
posted by wfrgms at 8:35 AM on August 10, 2002


Well I'm glad the government wants to add the War on Filesharing to the War on Terrorism and the War on Drugs.

In my experience, I do buy fewer CDs now that I can get them online first. These are the CDs I may have bought only to like one song and it would end up being sold to a used CD store (another practice the RIAA hates). And of all the songs I download, most end up being deleted.

What the industry must do is find a way allow those of us who would pay to download a song a method to do so. $0.99/song for a high quality, unencrypted song seems about right to me.

The reason the recording industry is "losing" money now is because it has been releasing some shitty CDs lately and is charging more for that shitty product. I'm not going to pay $18 for a CD that might have one decent song on it. People will pay for a product where they find value. The state of the business today is formulaic crap is churned out and no one wants to buy it. The people who "steal" it over the Internet wouldn't have bought the music in the first place.

Christ, this is such an easy problem to solve without penalizing the consumer. Fining Joe Six Pack for downloading the new Britney CD isn't going to stop anything.

Perhaps I should go to LA and fix this.
posted by birdherder at 9:25 AM on August 10, 2002


willnot: DRM doesn't work, and I won't buy it.

Then don't buy it. I fail to see the problem here. I'm not recommending a federal mandate. These companies should be taking care of themselves. They have an insecure product. Our tax dollars should not be subsidizing the security measures they should have implemented years ago. This keeps coming up under the DMCA under 'security circumvention' and its just wrong.

filchyboy: On the other hand if you leave your doors opened and unlocked it is still illegal for someone to come into your house and take your stuff.

Fine. But you should not have the right to demand special legislation because you refuse to lock your doors.
posted by skallas at 9:33 AM on August 10, 2002


willnot: The signers claim they want justice to focus on major distribution notes - not the ones running the clients.

The clients are the nodes. Almost every P2P has some kind of supernode setting. So one day you're a client and the next day you're a node. With Gnutella everyone is a client and a node. That's how peer to peer works. I wonder if that quote means that they're going after the guy with the most mp3s online.
posted by skallas at 9:37 AM on August 10, 2002


What ever happened to securing your own products? The RIAA releases their wares on unencrypted CDs which are easily copied.

What ever happened to charging a reasonable price? Twenty bucks Canadian for a CD is crazy - and yet, since I started serious d/l mp3 I've bought dozens more CDs than I ever did before. And, as I've become more aware of some of the drawbacks of the mp3 format, I've become even more inclined to buy CDs, but the price is still much too high.

On preview: what birdherd' said.

posted by slipperywhenwet at 9:44 AM on August 10, 2002


>>What ever happened to securing your own products? The
>>RIAA releases their wares on unencrypted CDs which are
>>easily copied. Why isn't the burden of securing their
>>product on their end?

>No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.

>DRM doesn't work, and I won't buy it. The only thing DRM
>does is make it harder for me the consumer to use and
>enjoy the work in the way I want to enjoy it.


The only way the record companies are going to get out of this mess they made is with two little words: value added.

They can no longer compete on price (did they ever??) because they can't beat free. But they can offer other incentives: high-quality recording, convenience, innovative packaging that can't be reproduced by scanning/printing, enhanced data files that provide additional content. Add in a truly fair price that the market will embrace (probably around $10), and I would be willing to bet that most consumers would come back to them.

All of this stuff is currently available and has been used occasionally, but it won't take hold until it becomes industry standard.

Look at DVDs for a good example. Entire movies can already be ripped and distributed online, but it hasn't really taken off beyond the hardcore fileshare crowd. I don't think it's bandwidth that's holding it back. I think it comes down to the basic choice presented...

Do you want to spend several hours downloading and assembling The Matrix for free, or would you rather go to your local department store and pay $10-12 for a widescreen anamorphic transfer, 5.1 Dolby Digital sound, chapter selection, behind the scenes footage, filmmakers' commentaries, isolated music score, etc.?

I download plenty of MP3s because I think most CDs are a scam. I also buy plenty of DVDs because they are a great entertainment value.

Oh, and I also predict that Ashcroft will blow this off until he realizes that you can get *pornography* from P2P.
posted by Dirjy at 10:00 AM on August 10, 2002


slipperywhenwet: those are two completely different issues. The RIAA's profits and mp3 trading are arguably mutually exclusive. If they want a secure product they should make one. If they want to make money they should be delivering a better product. Content and media are not the same thing.

birdherd: The state of the business today is formulaic crap is churned out and no one wants to buy it.

When wasn't the industry like this? Sorry, but the music business is doing fine, they just aren't doing as fine as they want to. If they continue to blame P2P users for their problems then they can simply secure their media.

Regardless, I listen to very few RIAA bands so this isn't my fight. But when they come into my network and my PC and screw with my apps then it is my problem.
posted by skallas at 10:03 AM on August 10, 2002


The 80/20 "rule" applies to most p2p programs. Twenty percent of the people are servers for eighty percent of the files. By many estimates, gnutella is close to 90/10. It would be fairly easy to use a DoS attack on those 10-20% of servers to "prevent" other users from downloading pirated files.
posted by LimePi at 10:34 AM on August 10, 2002


skallas:

True, the music industry has not changed in eons which is part of the problem. This can almost be likened to blacksmiths complaining that people aren't buying horseshoes anymore.

And true, the recording industry is doing fine financially which is why I put losing in quotes in my post. They are profitable but not as profitable as they'd like when they controlled the means of distribution exclusively.

If P2P didn't exist, they would blame radio of MTV for the falloff in sales. Everything invented since the gramophone was supposed to kill commercial music.

Unfortunately there are artist represented by RIAA that are among my favorites.
posted by birdherder at 10:44 AM on August 10, 2002


slipperywhenwet: Canadian CD prices are actually the cheapest in the world. But that aside, many people complain that CDs are too expensive. If that's the case - don't buy them (although I would not necessarily advocate infringing on artist copyright), and the industry will reduce the price on CDs. That's how the market works - if something's too expensive, people don't buy, and to maximize profits manufacturers reduce price.

Skallas: Sorry, but the music business is doing fine, they just aren't doing as fine as they want to.

Isn't it grossly premature to say such a thing? I mean, honestly! The Canadian and American music markets saw a 10% decline in 2001. No, this isn't necessarily because of P2P, and no, the trend may not continue, but we're certainly not in a position to say that the business is "doing fine", at least not yet. By the same token, we don't yet know if the sky is truly falling.

Birdherder: The reason the recording industry is "losing" money now is because it has been releasing some shitty CDs lately.

This is a silly argument. Record companies are releasing music you and I don't enjoy. But other people do - many, many people - and the new Nelly and Default albums continue to sell millions of copies. The people who blame the shitty quality of "teenpop" or what-have-you should look into music history - disposable schlock has been the major driving force of the record industry since the 1940s (or earlier).

Skallas' argument about the government not subsidising a problem-format seem pretty apt. There is a need, however, for the gvmt to enforce copyright infringement laws, so long as such laws exist, and they do need to find creative ways to do so.
posted by Marquis at 10:47 AM on August 10, 2002


First they stole the election, then they immediately starting passing the budget surplus out to the segment of the population that needed it least...They were shopping around for an int'l conflict all of 2000 till Al Qaida volunteered for the role of bad guys. Now this, still another flagrant flip o' the bird to the great American political unconscious.
All of these moves can be loosely filed under "political suicide".
Meanwhile, the prez is a slacker and the veep has a weak ticker.
You know, when you take it all in, the big picture I mean... I keep coming back to the same conclusion: They don't even wanna get re-elected. They're gonna get their stuff done in 4 years, like their backers are wanting them to, and then Adios! (and thanks for the great white house retirement benefits neither of them in any way needs).
Not only are they buttfucking America, but they made sure to put sand in the vaseline.
Isn't this how Rome fell from predominance?
posted by BentPenguin at 10:48 AM on August 10, 2002


I would like to hammer home two points brought up above.

1. There is stuff online that I WOULD NOT buy that I do download. For instance, I like to download "novelty" songs, like Zamfir or Jim Nabors, for my amusement. My amusement in this arena is not worth $15 per. This is not "costing them money" because I would not buy it. But it does open the door for #2 below.

2. I have bought many (I estimate 30) CDs that I would not have bought *SOLELY* because I downloaded a sample track and liked what I heard. One band in particular (Cake) can thank the nefarious world of P2P for selling me 4 of their albums.

I also want to know what they think about the out-of-print problem? Is it still stealing if I can't find one to buy?
posted by Ynoxas at 10:50 AM on August 10, 2002


Is it still stealing if I can't find one to buy?

Yes, because even though they aren't pressing and selling it, they still own the copyright. Which brings up the argument that instead of going after file traders, they should be studying what they're trading, and marketing to them. If people are actively trading out-of-print stuff, print a small run and sell it - they've got a built-in audience and guaranteed profit if they do the math right.

I don't get it. The RIAA member companies could send their cashflow through the roof if they would work WITH the filetraders instead of trying to prosecute them.
posted by RylandDotNet at 11:02 AM on August 10, 2002


War on Filesharing to the War on Terrorism and the War on Drugs.

Don't forget the War on corporate corruption! (ha!)
posted by rhyax at 11:04 AM on August 10, 2002


"Such an effort is increasingly important as online theft of our nation's creative works is a growing threat to our culture and economy," the letter said.

On the contrary, I would think that the impact of the distribution of our nation's creative works would give quite a boost to American culture, allowing it to penetrate places it can only reach through the internet. If anything, online theft of America's creative works are a threat to OTHER countries and their cultures. Bringing exposure to American creativity would bring new customers, and for this reason I doubt it would be harmful to the economy either.
posted by banished at 11:09 AM on August 10, 2002


Remember those Qwest "ride the light" commercials a few years ago? Guy walks into a diner and is unimpressed with the food/drink then asks about the jukebox and is told something like the jukebox has every song by every artist of every genre. [the motel version/inroom move version of the spot is on mefi sponsor ad-rag's site to super adgrunts]

I'd pay $20.00 month for something like that.
posted by birdherder at 11:32 AM on August 10, 2002


To throw in my two cents, yes, MP3s were responsible for a few CD purchases for me as well. In the last two years, though, I've stopped using p2ps altogether. It's too difficult to find and download music I actually like. Everything that the corporate music world touches falls to shit. Even a band that I really love has started to sound like crap now that they're signed to RCA after three albums and numerous EPs on a true indie label, one of the best around imho.

So what do I do? I go to shows and support the bands and labels that I enjoy, and not ones that I don't enjoy. At shows and by mailorder, CDs are anywhere from $6 to $11, and LPs (yes, vinyl) and 7"s are even cheaper, and it all has the added benefit of directly supporting things that are good, not crap (I think this article and discussion from MeFi a few weeks ago is quite pertinent.)

So there it is. Go forth, find new, exciting, and independent music, and enjoy it. Or listen to NPR and classical music, which is a great alternative as well.
posted by The Michael The at 11:40 AM on August 10, 2002


Dear RIAA:

Thank you for the money. Would you like us to spit or swallow?

Signed,

Delaware Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden; Wisconsin Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner; Virginia Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott; Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers; North Carolina Republican Rep. Howard Coble; and California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:33 PM on August 10, 2002


find new, exciting, and independent music, and enjoy it.

That reminds me of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy computer game, where you have to type ENJOY POEM at one point as the Vogon captain reads you his poetry.

In other words, while it's true that much major-label material is crap, much indie-label material is crappity crappy crap, and it's a real stretch to suggest people "enjoy" some of it. There's a reason a lot of those bands can't get major-label contracts. Proceed with caution; you only have one set of ears.
posted by kindall at 12:40 PM on August 10, 2002


the record industry, as we know it, is doomed. DOOMED....and they know it too. So far if anyone innovates and attempts to find new ways to distribute music, the RIAA merely sues them out of existence. The music industry doesn't want to change their business plan, they want to prevent anyone from creating a better business plan. They've been ripping off the consumers for years and now a small minority has found a way steal a little something back. Ask yourself, why is a CD cheaper than a cassette tape to produce, but CDs cost the consumer more? It's pure greed, blind greed. Here is a case where the "free market" stifles innovation and competition.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:46 PM on August 10, 2002


This whole argument still produces the memories of Metalica and Dr. Dre crying about napster users stealing their profits. When I think of starving artists, neither Metalica or Dr. Dre pop into my head. In fact, P to P filesharing really helps unsigned bands starting out to build a fan base.
Instead of claiming poverty because they're not making millions off their CDs, couldn't they just tour more, you know...work for their money. Just a thought.
posted by black francis at 2:07 PM on August 10, 2002


When I think of starving artists, neither Metalica or Dr. Dre pop into my head.

What about Aimee Mann? She's an independent artist who has scorned the majors who screwed her over, and yet still (!) comes down against the unfettered trading of her work. Mann's hardly living in the dark ages - she's currently streaming her entire album, prior to its release - but she's firmly stated that people don't have the right to exchange her work without purchase or permission.
posted by Marquis at 2:37 PM on August 10, 2002


What about Aimee Mann?

Aimee Mann will never have to worry about me downloading any of her music, with or without permission.
posted by black francis at 3:09 PM on August 10, 2002


Another thing:

Musicians who care more about making millions than they do about making music get what they deserve. The letter said "Such an effort is increasingly important as online theft of our nation's creative works is a growing threat to our culture and economy."
I don't think anything could be further from the truth. When those who produce music simply for profit find no profit in it, music will cease to be something simply to market to young people. Although this may hurt our economy somewhat, it can only benefit our culture.
posted by black francis at 3:24 PM on August 10, 2002


IP is a thorny issue for me, because I'm a computer geek who likes freedom and a writer who likes paychecks. "Piracy" is a lousy word for filesharing, but "stealing" -- even if it isn't zero-sum -- seems pretty apt. That said:

It's perfectly obvious to all the tech-savvy consumers that the record industry's business model is no longer tenable, or at least quickly becoming untenable. They charge too much for too little, don't have the support of their artists, and the brains they've been able to hire have yet to find a security scheme that

(1) Customers will buy, meaning it can't degrade the quality or require all new hardware; and

(2) Crackers can't tear apart between school and dinner.

Obviously the argument that they should rely on "value added" products is good (hell, I'd rather pay for quality then spend my time and get a crap end result), but it will take time for them to see that. Meanwhile, they have fat sacks of cash, and what I'm really worried about is that they'll use 'em to get insane garbage like DRM built into everything from my car cd player to my nose hair trimmer. This isn't an issue of whether or not they'll come around -- they will, eventually, because they like money. But they're in a position to do tons of damage to the consumer's ability to use the products they bought, and I'm not optimistic about a change in the business model coming before ill-advised, technically backassward protective legislation.

What I really can't believe is that there are still people who buy the industry's "we're trying to protect our artists" horseshit. Even a cursory look at the money breakdown and legislative history of the RIAA shows that they're interested in getting as much money and IP from the artist as possible, yet our lawmakers lap up this line of reasoning like mewling little kittens. I think we really, really need to get people who have experience with modern technology into the legislature. More academics, more geeks, more people with their heads on straight. And fewer lawyers, for god's sake.
posted by amery at 3:31 PM on August 10, 2002


What about Aimee Mann?

What about her? Does her opposition to file sharing singlehandedly undermine the entire argument for it? Would this change if someone did the math and convinced her that it was in her best interests to have her songs traded freely?

I love Aimee Mann, but I don't take her word as gospel. I think the artists who are actually hurt by file sharing are the ones who are more successful than they deserve to be -- the ones who have so much exposure already that there aren't many people left to convert.

Those artists shouldn't exist. The recording industry is in the trouble it's in because of a truly awful business model, one which expects "failure" of most of its product but tries to compensate with a few huge sellers...and now that the public's taste is getting more eclectic (thanks to the internet), the pop junk isn't selling like hotcakes anymore. What they have to do is find a way to break even with fewer sales, which means spending far less money on promotion and accepting smaller profits. It means that there will not be stars anymore, at least not stars of the magnitude known today.

And it means creating a real alternative to P2P, one which will win back most of the listener base it's lost to piracy. A few determined people will always steal what they could buy cheaply, but give us a useable and reliable system that doesn't cost a fortune and we'll be delighted to give everything else up.

Of course, there's one more issue with the recording industry, one that Aimee Mann knows even more about: that it's been ripping off its artists for decades. It's a testament to the repulsive corporate atmosphere of America that we're discussing how to pay the corporations and not how to pay the people on whom their industry depends.
posted by Epenthesis at 3:46 PM on August 10, 2002


Epenthesis: Does her opposition to file sharing singlehandedly undermine the entire argument for it?

No, of course not. I brought her up only to counter the tired argument about the opponents to P2P being fabulously wealthy bands such as Metallica.

But that said, Epenthesis, your post is the best of the thread thus far. I agree with your wholeheartedly - and appreciate the measured, educated nature of your analysis.
posted by Marquis at 4:49 PM on August 10, 2002


Here's the actual letter (pdf)
posted by mathowie at 5:48 PM on August 10, 2002


It was only due to the glory of Kazaa that I went out and bought 4 Susan Vega CDs. Prior to this, my purchase of music was limited to soundtracks.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 5:50 PM on August 10, 2002


Bumper sticker:

I file-swap and I vote.
posted by fleener at 6:27 PM on August 10, 2002


I don't think anything could be further from the truth. When those who produce music simply for profit find no profit in it, music will cease to be something simply to market to young people. Although this may hurt our economy somewhat, it can only benefit our culture.

Bullshit. Musicians can make music for whatever purposes they like, and if thousands of people are taking that music and using it to enrich their life, they should have to pay the artist - and the record companies who made the distribution possible - back for the privelidge. Your judgements of the quality of the consumers & artists taste should have absolutely zero to do with who gets to have music published and what consumers get to buy.

You think only poor artists should be making music for consumers who feel entitled to take it for themselves at will?

Some of the reasoning in this thread is ludicrous. Of course the record companies should get whatever large cut of the money artists grant them - it is their marketing and distrubution muscle that gets the music heard in such large scales. If an artist wants to bypass the record companies they are free do to so - they can try publishing an album by themselves online and see if the crowds come running.

I agree that pressure from filesharing will transform the music industry whether they like it or not, but lets not try such odd moralizing of the theft from which the pressure comes.
posted by tirade at 7:01 PM on August 10, 2002


Here's why I don't buy many CDs (and #1 is different than most of the opinions here, I bet).

- First off, I don't buy from people who consider me a criminal. They call me a theif, they charge a CD-R levy in my country, therefore they consider me a theif before I buy it. I don't consider myself a theif, or anyone else a theif, unless they lose something. Show me some proveable losses directly and proveably related to P2P sharing and then you _might_ get me to consider it theft. Until then, its piracy, which is totally different.

- Second off, I can get a CD-R blank for $0.26, of which $0.21 is levy, making the CD-R cost $0.05 cents. I'm a hardcore techno fan (and I do a crappy job of DJing it on the radio too! :-) so there is 0% advertising cost related with what I buy, as the music companies don't advertise techno. So, assuming there's some distribution costs, the band gets paid, and the middlemen get paid, the product should cost no more than $5 a CD. If a silver CD actually costs more to produce, burn it onto a CD-R. I don't care, and neither does other consumers.

- Third off, as long as there is a levy, there can be no excuse to call me a pirate, never mind a theif. All my P2P downloading was paid for the minuite I burned it onto a CD.

Oh, just FYI, I'm talking about the Canadian CD-R levy. I wouldn't be so worried about American laws if it weren't for the fact America keeps trying to impose their copyright laws on other countries.
posted by shepd at 7:21 PM on August 10, 2002


The future of the music industry is the book industry.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:29 PM on August 10, 2002


So does anyone here belive that Metallica is really going to end up giving blowjobs in front of White Castle because I have Gnutella? I guess what I'm getting it is that it is pretty rare that I hear this "protect the artists" line from the artists themselves.

Please, someone, name for me two bands who have had more people get their music for free than the Grateful Dead or Phish (or any of the other tape-trading bands). Now name me two more filthfully rich bands. Hard to do. Obviously, there is something to the idea of exposure. That an industry that spends in the hundreds of millions each year in marketing can't grasp this is total bullshit.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 7:44 PM on August 10, 2002


slipperywhenwet: those are two completely different issues. The RIAA's profits and mp3 trading are arguably mutually exclusive. If they want a secure product they should make one. If they want to make money they should be delivering a better product. Content and media are not the same thing.

Fair enough, but my point was that instead of trying to develop a technical fix - which they seem fairly inept at doing - or pushing for possibly Draconian legislation, they should be pushing the advantages of the format, and finding ways to get 'em out cheaper.

Canadian CD prices are actually the cheapest in the world.

They just get more expensive? Shit - now I'll have to cancel that Caribbean CD buying vacation.. What's your source for that info, Marquis?
posted by slipperywhenwet at 7:49 PM on August 10, 2002


What's your source for that info, Marquis?

I've worked for the Canadian federal government, in areas where these issues are directly applicable. Google wasn't giving much help, but this link ratifies the fact, to some degree.

Also keep in mind that in Canada, CD-R levies will very likely be increased by a sizable amount, within the near future. The legislation has been passed, I believe, so I'm not sure what they're waiting for.

And frankly, a levy that is kept low by splitting it up over CD-Rs, ISPs, computer, and burner purchases seems the best solution, IMHO. Of course, the artists should fight for contracts that allow the revenues from this tax to go to them, and not to the greedy labels. Though this "punishes everybody", it's the way that we pay for roads, hospitals and the police - seems a fair tradeoff in exchange for free access to any and all music.

Oh, and the labels should make an intelligent pay service. But that goes without saying.
posted by Marquis at 8:08 PM on August 10, 2002


shepd: I don't consider myself a theif, or anyone else a theif, unless they lose something. Show me some proveable losses directly and proveably related to P2P sharing and then you _might_ get me to consider it theft. Until then, its piracy, which is totally different.

The quantity of singles sold in 2000 fell 40% (source, although my Google-fu is weak at the moment). Many filesharers download hit singles. As has been mentioned earlier in this thread, the Canadian and American music industry saw a 10% decline in 2001. Music industry revenue started to really tank when filesharing became widespread in 1999. correlation seems clear. Just because the actual theft isn't zero-sum does not mean the end effect is without loss.

The industry wants to to believe the entire 10% is because of Napster/Kazaa/GNUtella, etc., and filesharers want you to believe that it's because people are wising up. The truth is probably a combination of these. It's evidence that their business model is tanking, but that doesn't mean filesharing isn't theft.

As much as I admire the semantic attention to the word 'thief', most people agree that a thief is somebody that takes something without paying for it. I'm afraid the shoe fits. Hell, if you're a thief, so am I, but let's not try and deny it. I think 'thief' is a much more accurate term than 'pirate', actually, although I'd like to run around yelling 'Arr!' and threatening to have my enemies keelhauled.

Filesharing is not a bold moral statement. It is not the new rock and roll. It's a way to save a few bucks. We're not doing it to stick it to the man. We're doing it because we want our music, and we don't want to pay the going price. All the handwaving in the world isn't going to change the fact that we're taking things for free because we can.

I've got to be honest, here. I don't give much of a damn about filesharing as such. What I want is my fair use, my ability to make n backups, my ability to use what I've paid for unencumbered. I don't like the DMCA. I don't want the UCITA. I don't like Palladium, and I certainly don't like the possibility of them forming up, demented Voltron style, into some unholy smiting arm of god that assures all our use of music is strictly metered and regulated. As long as filesharing is what the legislature fixates on, rather then customer's rights, this is a disturbing possibility.
posted by amery at 8:12 PM on August 10, 2002


seems a fair tradeoff in exchange for free access to any and all music
So if you buy a CD-R you're allowed to pirate music? I thought it was a tax on probable theft, I had no idea buying blank CD-Rs gave me rights!
So does anyone here belive that Metallica is really going to end up giving blowjobs in front of White Castle because I have Gnutella?
Obviously yes. All profits should be based on subsistence levels - no more, fat cat!

//

I'm so glad that they're finally going after the pirates themselves. The networks should have never of been the target, though. My only worry is how they gather evidence. If they're like Metallica they'll go after filenames. I suspect that like previous laws they'll consider their burden of proof too much burden to bother with. This is the only problem I have with the idea.
posted by holloway at 8:25 PM on August 10, 2002


Tirade: Bullshit. Musicians can make music for whatever purposes they like, and if thousands of people are taking that music and using it to enrich their life, they should have to pay the artist - and the record companies who made the distribution possible - back for the privelidge. Your judgements of the quality of the consumers & artists taste should have absolutely zero to do with who gets to have music published and what consumers get to buy.

HeHeHe...lighten up.
posted by black francis at 8:31 PM on August 10, 2002


>The quantity of singles sold in 2000 fell 40% (source, although my Google-fu is weak at the moment). Many filesharers download hit singles. As has been mentioned earlier in this thread, the Canadian and American music industry saw a 10% decline in 2001. Music industry revenue started to really tank when filesharing became widespread in 1999. correlation seems clear. Just because the actual theft isn't zero-sum does not mean the end effect is without loss.

Correlation, circumstantial evidence, etc. etc. Wouldn't stand up in court for 5 minutes.

I want hard evidence that shows without P2P the music industry would have made more.

I think these losses are due to the increasing stupidity and achaity of music companies. They decide they are going to stay offline. Then they decide to go online, but make anything you can download worthless through DRM. They buy the DMCA. Then there's the CD Levies.

There's so many more reasons why consumers shouldn't support these jerks than ever. P2P is just a small amount of the reasons. I doubt its impact is so great, and will continue to until I see a hard correlation in the numbers.

>The truth is probably a combination of these. It's evidence that their business model is tanking, but that doesn't mean filesharing isn't theft.

Sorry man , but the dictionary supports what I say. Unless you can prove a loss, it isn't theft.

>most people agree that a thief is somebody that takes something without paying for it

Well, the dictionary says this:

"criminal who takes property belong to someone else with the intention of keeping it"

Taking would mean that it would be removed. Unless you shoplift your CDs, I don't see how my downloading of a song removes it from the RIAAs collection.

And if you want to say its still thievery, then I say the term is being so watered down it has no meaning. I may as well say "He is a thief because he designed a house the same as mine". If this is how you're taking the word thief, I put it to you that the word thief has no meaning, and therefore we should redefine laws on thievery to take light of the fact that thieving now includes making replicas of things. Maybe I can be called a thief for having a fake Rolex watch! Woohoo!

>I think 'thief' is a much more accurate term than 'pirate',

Well, while I hate the word pirate as much as the next guy, it is the only word I can find in the dictionary that actually includes illegal copying as part of its definition. At least it is accurate.

>We're doing it because we want our music, and we don't want to pay the going price.

I don't disagree at all. However, when a private company attempts to lock up the public vault (and don't forget that when you accept copyright your works become public) and charges an admission fee higher than what most people make (I don't know the average wage, but I bet it's less than $20 per hour) I think the public has a right to get the price down.

Provably, piracy brings down prices. Just look at China, where one can buy an official copy of Windows for under $20 due to the pressures piracy has put on Microsoft to lower prices.

>So if you buy a CD-R you're allowed to pirate music? I thought it was a tax on probable theft, I had no idea buying blank CD-Rs gave me rights!

The CD-R levy specified special rights to be given in return to Canadians. One right is the right to copy the music of a friend. Wether this means the copy has to be made on the friend's equipment at their house in CD-Audio format or if it is allowed to be downloaded from the friends house in MP3 format is, to me, moot, although the CD-R levy people have a different take on it.

Oh, and one last take on theft -- here's another reason why piracy isn't theft. All, and I mean all, copyrighted works are part of the public domain. All copyright does is afford these works a legal protection for x number of years (depends on what country you're in). After those years, those works are in the public domain, unprotected.

So, is it theft when someone has already made their intention for you to have something in the future for free clear? Is it theft when the "victim" has no provable loss from the crime?

I think its time to update the dictionary to more directly specify the stance on copyrighted materials. At least the word larceny, a synonym for theft, is clear on this:

"The unlawful taking and removing of another's personal property with the intent of permanently depriving the owner; theft."

Thanks dictionary.com for the quotes. I suppose they were pirated, or stolen, depending on how serious you take those words.
posted by shepd at 9:06 PM on August 10, 2002


Taking would mean that it would be removed.
Hey now, the dictionary doesn't say that. More to the point - the dictionary isn't a legal definition, nor should it be expected to be.
posted by holloway at 9:41 PM on August 10, 2002


Semantics are boring.
posted by Marquis at 10:13 PM on August 10, 2002


Epenthesis: It's a testament to the repulsive corporate atmosphere of America that we're discussing how to pay the corporations and not how to pay the people on whom their industry depends.

Amen.

I'm so disgusted and tired of hearing the RIAA talk about protecting the rights of "copyright holders" (i.e., artists), when for decades they've parasitically sucked the lifeblood out of so many great bands/musicians held up in litigation and indentured servitude. It'd be great if someone would do a website of the egregious abuses the "music industry" has committed over its history. It would be something awesome to behold. I can hear the naysayers saying "yeah...but what about all the great music they've put out...." Okay....but I put forth that most great records that have been put out in the last 3 decades or so have been in spite of the industry NOT because of it. There are lots of good caring people in the industry who know what they're doing, but sadly none of them are being listened to at this point....the big 5 are run by the same species of insect as Worldcom, Tyco, Enron and the US of A. It's done....it's over they just don't realize it yet. Either they get on board and stop treating musicians and music listeners with contempt or they'll be steamrolled over....and if they do pull their lobbyists in to squeeze the life out of the honorable concept of "fair use" then I think their demise is going to be even quicker....

Great music will survive anyway cos as Mr. Nietzsche said "life without music would be a mistake".
posted by BruceLee_Archdiocese at 1:58 AM on August 11, 2002


amery: The quantity of singles sold in 2000 fell 40%. Many filesharers download hit singles. As has been mentioned earlier in this thread, the Canadian and American music industry saw a 10% decline in 2001. Music industry revenue started to really tank when filesharing became widespread in 1999. correlation seems clear. Just because the actual theft isn't zero-sum does not mean the end effect is without loss.

A more important cause of falling sales of singles is that they are no longer available like they used to be. The recording industry has made a concerted effort to force consumers to spend $20 on the full CD rather than the still-ridiculous $5 for a single by not releasing them in that format. Unsurprisingly, they then blame file sharing for a drop in sales that they initiated themselves. But you cannot sell what you do not produce.

The remarkable popularity of the Now That's What I Call Music series shows that there's still a market for crappy popular singles despite file sharing.
posted by mookieproof at 11:15 AM on August 11, 2002


Singles are still very widely available outside North America, and sales there have gone down, too.
posted by Marquis at 11:52 AM on August 11, 2002


What gets me is that the Democrats are completely shooting themselves in the foot by going after popular culture. The entertainment industry is one of the most reliable backers of the Democratic party in corporate America. Members of the Christian Right faction of the GOP bash immorality in popular culture from Tinky Winky on the Teletubbies to Eminem to Friends. This could represent a boon to the Democrats by attracting swing voters alienated by censorious Christian Rightists, but instead the Democrats denounce Eminem or Napster or the latest pop cultural bugaboo just like the right wing. You can't simultaneously call yourselves the party of the people and disdain the culture that people actually consume or the way that people choose to consume it.
posted by jonp72 at 7:51 PM on August 11, 2002


(1) Someone should go round to see Joe Biden, John Conyers and Dianne Feinstein, and sue them for every copied cd they own, every mix tape they've been given by friends, every radio program they've taped and listened to more than once. If people want to ban music copying, then let's start with the people who will be making / enforcing the legislation. That's my angry $0.02.

(2) There's some confusion over whether the drop in CD sales has been caused by a drop in the quality of music, or by an increase in filesharing. I think that the increase in filesharing has increased peoples dissatisfaction with what is marketed to them. You can go on Kazaa, type in two random words, download the first three things which are presented to you, and nine times out of ten, it's better than the stuff the record companies want us to buy. Has Filesharing harmed CD sales. Yes. Because the music Maverns are no longer willing to buy into what the big record companies are selling.

(3) If Sony could sell you blank non-writable polycarbonate discs for $18.00 a shot, then it would. For the larger companies, Intellectual Property is treated as a resource / ingredient which is used in it's manufacturing process.

(4) If you want this to change, stop buying CD's. Buy a guitar, buy a synth, tape your friends, share what you've created yourself as open source. It's not going to be as good, but it'll belong to you.
posted by seanyboy at 2:23 AM on August 12, 2002


We are writing to urge that the U.S. Department of Justice vigilantly enforce intellectual property laws on the Internet to punish online theft of our copyrighted works...

Is there that much online theft of the copyrighted works of Robert 'M.C.' Scott, Swingin' James Sensenbrenner and Da Bomb Joe Biden?
posted by rory at 5:31 AM on August 12, 2002


Better yet, can we send a letter to Ashcroft to prosecute these politicians for lackluster representation?
posted by ed at 2:08 PM on August 12, 2002


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