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This new RIAA lawsuit
August 17, 2002 10:03 AM   Subscribe

This new RIAA lawsuit really frosts my cookies! I can't believe the Recording Industry Ass. of America has the balls to think they can censor the Internet, but they contend that "As a matter of fact, copyright itself was written into the Constitution before the Framers ever even got to the first 10 amendments." Therefore, the RIAA reserves for itself the right to determine which Internet websites you may view. Please discuss.
posted by Maxor (71 comments total)

 
The RIAA is freaking stupid. It is like that lawsuit where the guy is suing fast food makers for making him fat and unhealthy.

But, then again, the government was successful in suing the tobacco industry, but that was more for them misleading people into thinking there are no health hazards in smoking. Suing internet backbone providers isn't going to get them anywhere........
posted by ericdano at 10:07 AM on August 17, 2002


...but scaring providers might make them start self-censoring in order to avoid lawsuits. I could see providers taking down sites that have mp3s on them of any kind, unless specific proof of copyright ownership is provided.
posted by amberglow at 10:12 AM on August 17, 2002


Somehow the RIAA needs to be stopped, but I sure don't have the answer. It's hard to fight against a huge corporation with unlimited funds that bribes members of congress to fight the war for them using taxpayer dollars.
posted by Maxor at 10:16 AM on August 17, 2002


now that they're actually going to sue someone who can financially take them on, i hope that they:

a>lose
b>bled dry

they can't win. they just can't win. oh god, i hope they don't win.
posted by RubiX^3 at 10:18 AM on August 17, 2002


Unfortunately, I fear that they can win. The courts have ruled in favor of the RIAA every time, so far.
posted by Rebis at 10:22 AM on August 17, 2002


Don't buy their stuff, and ignore the law. They are fighting a fundamentally losing battle.
posted by swift at 10:24 AM on August 17, 2002


The DMCA they often hide behind lets ISPs skirt any responsibility for what exists on their networks. I don't know what basis the RIAA's lawsuit can stand on, it's like suing the Department of Transportation for building the freeway when a speeding car hits and kills a family member in a car accident.
posted by mathowie at 10:30 AM on August 17, 2002


"I could see providers taking down sites that have mp3s on them of any kind, unless specific proof of copyright ownership is provided."

This is already happening. I can't upload an mp3 file to my own homepage for example because the server running it has a flat ban on any and all mp3 files. I put up with this because 1) I don't have any mp3s of my own worth sharing anyway, and 2) the webspace is VERY cheap. My point is, this will continue to happen so long as the market will bear it. If the RIAA & gov't can convince enough people that mp3 afficianadoes should be treated like outlaws, it'll happen.

Look at how smokers are treated today. We're pariahs now.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:49 AM on August 17, 2002


Zach, I didn't know providers were already doing it. (I hate to say it, but from a business standpoint it makes sense for them--they don't have to waste $$ and time on legal battles--frivolous or otherwise)
posted by amberglow at 10:55 AM on August 17, 2002


The only solution is to move everybody's servers to Bermuda, the laissez-faire capital of the Western Hemisphere.
posted by insomnyuk at 11:04 AM on August 17, 2002


Recording Industry Ass. of America Says: Myth number "7. Moving my unauthorized music site to a server outside the U.S. would make it legal.
First, U.S. law applies when the uploading and downloading takes place in the United States, even if the server is physically located in another country. "
posted by Maxor at 11:14 AM on August 17, 2002


Suggestion for a web campaign: include a prominent link to a mp3 file on your homepage. Of course, make sure it's a legal file to distribute, and include a few words and/or links explain what's up.

I don't have a web page, but here's my link: Instant Klazzixs

This won't, obviously, take the wind out of the RIAA's sails, since they claim to be chasing "pirates" but it will raise the fact that a lot of this trade is legit, and that doing things like banning all mp3s for a server is just stooopit.

Heh.. the White Stripes just came on: I think I smell a rat indeed..
posted by slipperywhenwet at 11:20 AM on August 17, 2002


"motherfucking bullshit artists! stop buying their pap, support your local artists and independent labels!" exclaimed my dad, a jazz musician and recording artist whose career spans 5 decades.

(yes, i learned all the best swear words at home)
posted by t r a c y at 11:22 AM on August 17, 2002


Maxor: The RIAA says that, but how can it be true? What possible legal claim do they have on a business whose servers are in Bermuda, or some such country that has no similar copyright laws? They may be able to go after the American that downloads it, but not the business. I'm not a lawyer though, so feel free to correct me.
posted by insomnyuk at 11:25 AM on August 17, 2002


The RIAA pays well for its political strength. A related but underreported story is the proposed bill that would give copyright holders vigilante powers. This has been covered at blogs including EdCone.com and Scripting News but needs a lot more exposure before Congress starts talking about it in September.
posted by Buckley at 11:38 AM on August 17, 2002


The RIAA gets all their money from us.

How about we just stop buying music unless the label/artist that released it is not a member of the RIAA? How about boycotting music stores that sell music made by RIAA member labels? It would mean we'd all have to give a little something up, but it wouldn't be long before artist started jumping the corporate ship if they realized being on a major label meant being boycotted.

A lot of big artists have tight contracts they can't get out of, but there are clever ways out of a record contract.
Most importantly, new artists would be more inclined to go with an indy label. Imagine a market full of nothing but indy labels...
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:55 AM on August 17, 2002


I sincerely believe that the RIAA, with their seemingly weekly assault upon the very people who support them, is about to run out of the last vestige of good will they have.

I for one am tired of listening to their weekly rants about the evils of filesharing, of the digital era, etc. etc. etc. Luddites of the world, UNITE! What a bunch of fools they are.

Does anyone here have any suggestions to mount a counter-campaign against the RIAA? And I mean seriously, not just in a flippant "tell them they suck" manner. I think its time for a focused, consumer-oriented effort to counter their luddite talk.

What suggestions hath the community?
posted by tgrundke at 12:18 PM on August 17, 2002


It should be completely clear that this is the new RIAA business model:

1. Sue the pants off of everyone.
2. Sell them new pants.

Seriously, that's what they're doing here, it's a simple ploy for the control they had pre-internet. Shut down all channels to obtain music except for their 100% RIAA controlled ones. They seem to have made some inroads and had a few successes, but ultimately they will fail, and fail spectacularly.
posted by mathowie at 12:33 PM on August 17, 2002


How about we just stop buying music unless the label/artist that released it is not a member of the RIAA?

That may be easier said than done. I think it's been listed before here, but does anyone have a list of artists/labels that aren't associated with the RIAA?
posted by 40 Watt at 12:55 PM on August 17, 2002


tgrundke: "Does anyone here have any suggestions to mount a counter-campaign against the RIAA?"

The only thing I know to do is to stop feeding the mouth that bit me. I stopped buying music from RIAA supported artists. I've written to my congressmen about the issue. I'm afraid though it's too little too late. I don't see a way of stopping them.

mathowie: "...ultimately they will fail, and fail spectacularly."

Not if there's still people willing to support RIAA by buying their crud. And if RIAA loses money, they simply blame it on the Internet anyway, turning their losses into ammunition to stop their perceived enemy, when their real enemy is themselves. The RIAA is lobbying to make us all criminals and unless something dramatic happens, they're gonna get away with it.

But they will have to pry my private mp3 collection from my cold, dead fingers.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:02 PM on August 17, 2002


I've been watching the RIAA thing for awhile now. It's not that I care about 2p2 or other file trading schemes, but I see this as an interesting set of precedents.
1) The definition of property has changed immensely in my lifetime. Objects could be property, but ideas seemed to be of the public domain. One wasn't allowed to plagiarize for profit, but the market of ideas was open for anyone with a library card. The Internet (yes, the internet) changed everything. Ideas were freed from the physical and became digital. Bytes not books, you dig? MP3s not CDs.This was a problem mostly for the recording industry. Ideas entered the commons, outside of industry control.
2)The recording industry refuses to change their business model of selling over-hyped, over-priced, derivative LCD genre music. Blames lack of sales on the customer. Sues everybody. Hopes to clear the road for their future dominance on the Web (like Mathowie says.)
3)Meanwhile the "free market" is actually stifling competition and innovation. Not to troll but I'm starting to think the "free market" doesn't exist in the way we'd like to believe. Did deregulation of the energy markets create more freedom (ie access) to the markets? Will court interpretations of copywrite law create more freedom/ access to the information markets? Theses things are being done in the name of the "free market" of a few.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:06 PM on August 17, 2002


but they will have to pry my private mp3 collection from my cold, dead fingers.

They'll pry mine from my cold dead hard drive.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:09 PM on August 17, 2002


Because of the Internet radio decision, there is no more free broadcasting on Live365. No matter what content you are broadcasting, you have to pay $5 per month RIAA royalty fees. Whether or not you broadcast RIAA music. Live365 is the ony broadcasting relay that I know of that has not yet been sued out of existence. I refused to pay the $5 per month RIAA tax, so they shut me down. Not their fault, they have to comply with the law.

I greatly fear that the RIAA can't lose; when sales go down they just blame the Internet. Who can defend against that? The media won't - they're in bed with the recording industry. Congress won't - they're bought and paid for. The consumers won't - the sheep who buy what the RIAA tells them to buy will keep the RIAA in business.
Boycotting doesn't do any good; whatever money is lost to a boycott is just blamed on piracy, giving them even more ammunition.

I am seriously seeking a solution to this problem.
posted by Maxor at 1:21 PM on August 17, 2002


Regime change, maybe a tax break for the record excutives and lawyers.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:32 PM on August 17, 2002


I seem to be in the minority here, but I think the RIAA has a point. MP3 sharing is theft, pure and simple, in my opinion. You can justify it by saying " I go out and buy the album if I like the music.", but it doesn't work for me.
posted by bradth27 at 1:33 PM on August 17, 2002


Ok, i'm not a CompSci, but does scaring a ISP into not allowing users to access particular sites stop users from taking advantage of p2p connections? Does it stop users from accessing files through ftp's (what're they going to do, block IRC) (i have a feeling it would work on this).

I'll assume as long as there are nerds out there, there will be some form of open source p2p software that people are willing to make without attempting to profit (if nothing else but to piss on the RIAA).

What i think will be interesting is what's shaping up to be the battle royal between the RIAA and the computer companies. I'm expecting a surge in the purchasing of congressmen.
posted by NGnerd at 1:34 PM on August 17, 2002


Another solution? Let's see. It strikes me that the RIAA acts like without them music would vanish. If the pirates have their way, it'll be the day the music died. Yet humans have always made music and always will. My solution: learn to play an instrument, post haste.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:40 PM on August 17, 2002


oh yeah, OLGA got sued too. Nevermind.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:42 PM on August 17, 2002


ZachsMind - what do you mean "lobbying" to make us all criminals. It's done. If you fire up KazAa and are sharing copyrighted materials, the No Electronic Theft (.NET) act makes you liable for 3 years in prison and/or $250,000 fine plus statutory damages up to $150,000 per work infringed. This is the law that several congressmen are pushing the Justice department to start enforcing.

The only solutions are simple: widespread civil disobedience, and a willingness to get arrested, technical workarounds through filesharing or peercasting, getting involved off-line by talking with friends, neighbors and your representative, spending money at organizations like the EFF who are horribly underfunded, and a massive Big Content boycott.

At this point, however, while there is a lot of rumbling, no individual or organization has come to the fore to spearhead any meaningful actions.
posted by jonnyp at 1:46 PM on August 17, 2002


"does anyone have a list of artists/labels that aren't associated with the RIAA?"

I can only find a list of RIAA members which are the ones we'd have to boycott. About a thousand record labels & similar organizations. The list of independent artists would be over ten times that number. Basically I support local artists in my home town who have not yet been signed on a label. I've never had to worry about what I might do if one of my fave bands went RIAA. It hasn't happened. Would I be a hypocrite if I still supported them? Would I be a betrayer if I did not? (UN)Fortunately that's a bridge I haven't had to cross.

I'm already doing most of these things to try and support what I believe to be right, but again I don't see how we'll put a dent in the fender of The Machine. They have our money already. I wish I stopped supporting them fifteen years ago.

"Theses things are being done in the name of the "free market" of a few."

Welcome to the corporate oligarchy. The revolution already happened, and the guys in suits won. America has not been a democracy for a very long time now. It's not just music, but the bigger picture. Corporate interests are the real 'voters' in this country. The idea that everyone's voice is equally heard is a joke.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:54 PM on August 17, 2002


mathowie: They seem to have made some inroads and had a few successes, but ultimately they will fail, and fail spectacularly.

This seems to be a relatively popular opinion. But to me it seems pretty uninformed (which I know you're not from personal experience, Matt). So what exactly gives you and others this optimistic perspective given the deep coffers of the RIAA, the courts' clear willingness to intervene?

There seems to be a sort of burying of heads in the sand on the part of the tech/web/blog community which is rooted in an almost calvinistic belief that the RIAA just can't win. Why? Because they're "bad?" To put it bluntly, so what?
posted by Sinner at 1:54 PM on August 17, 2002


As a follow-up, I do think it's interesting to consider the effect of the RIAA lawsuits on their own PR and the amount of empathy consumers have for them.

Many of my friends who used to simply download in the interests of trying-before-they-bought now do so as a sort of fuck-you to the music industry. In short, the RIAA is making this into a battle that they must win, because should they lose in court, people like my friends - who are slowly beginning to download instead of purchasing, which many formerly claimed not to do - will not turn around and start buying CDs again.
posted by Sinner at 2:00 PM on August 17, 2002


but they will have to pry my private mp3 collection from my cold, dead fingers

This is my first post here, and I think I may be posting something really stupid, (hi everyone) however, I know the RIAA is evil. I get that. But the solution is not stealing. If you think something costs too much, you don't get to steal it. Artists should be paid for their work like everyone else (if they are worth listening to.)

If I were still in a band, I would be thinking about new ways of marketing my music outside of the old channels. The problem is that it is really hard to go outside. It is hard enough inside them. Going outside pretty much insures that you will always have a day job.
posted by free pie at 2:04 PM on August 17, 2002


Sinner: I completely agree. The only reason I can see for that kind of blind ambition is a mixture of fear and arrogance. Fear of losing market share, and arrogant about controlling the congress and courts. The RIAA might not lose, though, as fear and arrogance has seemed to work for our political leaders. I do see a template for 'the bigger picture' buried in the battle of the RIAA v. us.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:13 PM on August 17, 2002


"Does anyone here have any suggestions ... ?"

Politics, baby, politics. Fight fire with fire.

Give money (better yet, give money and volunteer your time and skills) to EFF, CPSR and the ACLU.

Then dust off that old civics book, and start writing letters to the editor, to your Representative and Senators, and to your friends. Educate the public. Organize dissent.

A LOT of people in this country either don't know what the RIAA (and its entertainment-industry axis of evil) is up to. or they don't understand what it means, or both. I'm all for people like us, who know it, understand it, and rightfully despise it voicing our outrage to each other, but we really need to start preaching beyond the choir.

You can start, today, right where you are. Start getting loud about it. Raise a ruckus. Build a countermovement.

It's a silly, clunky way of changing things, but unfortunately, it's the only way that works.
posted by AlexSteffen at 2:20 PM on August 17, 2002


"...will not turn around and start buying CDs again."

Many of us won't now anyway.

The RIAA would have to practically disband (without just creating a new name and performing business as usual behind a different curtain). A lot of things would have to change before my faith in the established record industry was restored, Rosen's termination or resignation being just one item on a long list.

"I know the RIAA is evil. I get that. But the solution is not stealing."

Ownership of mp3s is not theft. Years ago I used to record songs off the radio. If I noticed I'd listen to a certain song more often, and noticed that band consistently played newer stuff that I liked, I went and got the CD.

This has not changed.

What has changed is instead of taping from the radio, I listen to mp3s. If I notice I go back to a certain artist, I research more and when I can afford it, buy their CD. For the most part my collection is karma-free. There are times when I've postponed that purchase for months or even years. For example, I admit I owe these guys. I'll put away my 'bootleg' CD of theirs and then a few months later I find myself gravitating back. Their stuff has longevity. I do intend to someday actually buy their CD, but local artists take precedence. Paying bills takes precedence. Not having a job for a year, that took precedence.

The CD purchases I have made since the mp3 revolution have greatly enriched my music collection overall. When I like an artist enough, I buy their album. Fifteen years ago, had someone told me taping tunes off the radio for my own personal use was a criminal offense I would have laughed in their face. I see my use of mp3s no differently. It's a tool for discovering which artists have lasting power when put up against my tastes, so I never again buy albums that just gather dust. They help me be a more informed consumer to my own music appreciation palette.

I'm no longer buying an album for one song and then never picking it up again because I discover the rest of the album sucks. Maybe that's what scares the RIAA, because they made an industry out of that practice.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:36 PM on August 17, 2002


bradth27, that's over simplifying the issue and doesn't justify the actions of the RIAA. This is more about the over-extention of corporate control rather than wheter or not its "ok" to trade mp3s.

But the solution is not stealing.

I really don't think that if we all stopped using mp3s and started using DRM manged media files or copy-protected cds that the RIAA would back down and we'd all be happy. Consumers would still have less control over what we can do with music that we have bought outselves and the RIAA would still be controlling the development of new technology and technology legistlation. It's a coporate lobby group that's starting to decide what you can or cannot do with your own property (by which I mean your computer at home and any other media-related hardware).

Besides, by what I've seen lately, cd sales aren't being hurt that much. and it's never been about giving artists their money. The big labels will probably keep deciding to pay the artists whatever they damn well please, regardless of how well their albums sell.

I just don't want to bow down to my corporate masters. I think they should be listening to us. I should be able to decide if it's ok to buy a mp3 file online vs. a cd in a store. I just wish they would sell it to me.
posted by Hackworth at 2:47 PM on August 17, 2002


"Ownership of mp3s is not theft. Years ago I used to record songs off the radio. If I noticed I'd listen to a certain song more often, and noticed that band consistently played newer stuff that I liked, I went and got the CD. "

That is not the same, because recording artists get royalties from the sales of blank tapes. I know, because I used to get those checks. They were not much, but they were something. Artists are not compensated at all for (non-authorized) mp3 downloads.
posted by free pie at 2:49 PM on August 17, 2002


ZachsMind,

Disclaimer: I have downloaded mp3's. Lots of them. Many of them were songs I previously owned on CDs, others I will never purchase in any format. But I don't attempt to justify it. It is theft of a sort, and I choose to ignore what is to me a pretty clear but relatively (for the moment) minor crime. I ignore jaywalking laws as well, but appreciate their value and the reasons for their existence.

I had a lengthy MeFi argument along vaguely similar lines with ... bingo, I believe. I don't feel like dredging all of that back up again, but will respond that your good will (your choice to try-before-you-buy) is admirable, but unequivocally opens the door for people to simply try-and-not-buy.

Absent this new technology, you couldn't simply walk into the record store, walk out with the CD and say "I'll pay you if I like it." And if such a store did exist, though I'm sure it would be popular, it would need some sort of legal protection from people who decided to take advantage of the system and use it solely as a means of obtaining music without cost.

I do intend to someday actually buy their CD, but local artists take precedence. Paying bills takes precedence. Not having a job for a year, that took precedence.

Clearly it didn't. You didn't purchase the bootleg CD, so you chose to have your cake and eat it too. Absent filesharing/cd burning, you couldn't simply have walked into any record store, taken the CD and said "I'll come in and pay you when (if, really) I get a chance."

I don't doubt you're of the high moral caliber to follow through on any of those things even though I myself may not be. But I'm certain that the general populace is not, and that this "system" would, to put it lightly, be prone to abuse and theft.

I'm no longer buying an album for one song and then never picking it up again because I discover the rest of the album sucks. Maybe that's what scares the RIAA, because they made an industry out of that practice.

I wish I could find the link, but my understanding is that several of the record labels are now selling tracks for $1 each, and albums for $10. If that is in fact the case and it were to spread, is that your panacea? Would that resolve your problems or is what you are really saying that you want to be able to choose after the fact?
posted by Sinner at 2:52 PM on August 17, 2002


Besides, by what I've seen lately, cd sales aren't being hurt that much.

That's not possible to determine.

and it's never been about giving artists their money. The big labels will probably keep deciding to pay the artists whatever they damn well please, regardless of how well their albums sell.

The amount of money an artist gets is always contingent upon the number of sales.

What pisses me off more than the fact that a cd costs me so much is the fact that music, in general, would just be better without the suits trying to tell us all what we should like.
posted by free pie at 3:01 PM on August 17, 2002


Funny, I was just thinking of going out and buying a few CDs today. Screw that! But hey, does the RIAA get a cut of used CD sales? I'd think so but it'd be nice to know for sure.
posted by furiousthought at 3:06 PM on August 17, 2002


I find it amusing that within this thread I've found myself on both sides of this debate. I love how technology has allowed me to enrich my music collection without impoverishing my bank account, but I shudder at the implications for other intellectual property.

Hackworth: ..."this is more about the over-extention of corporate control rather than wheter or not its "ok" to trade mp3s. "

Is it?

It's a coporate lobby group that's starting to decide what you can or cannot do with your own property (by which I mean your computer at home and any other media-related hardware).

To play devil's advocate here, what would be acceptable to you? Most of the time, we in the web community hear messages like what you said above: essentially that the record labels will never be satisfied, no matter what we give up. But to some extent, I sympathize with the record labels: intellectual property, unlike physical property, allows for easy duplication which makes its distribution much, much harder to manage.

What about you? When would you be satisfied? Should you be allowed to duplicate, and give away for free or distribute for profit the music that my hypothetical record label and I worked hard to produce? How many copies should you be able to make for personal use? Or should you have carte blanche and the recording industry has no say (this is not the way it's always been - look at macrovision on videotapes, and the financial/logistical/technological hurdles which were formerly relied upon as a means to prevent duplication/distribution - printing presses (for books and movies) or CDs (of other CD's, obviously)

Besides, by what I've seen lately, cd sales aren't being hurt that much.

This may be the case, but I truly doubt the numbers from both sides. Truthfully, it seems like common sense to me that CD sales would decline.

and it's never been about giving artists their money. The big labels will probably keep deciding to pay the artists whatever they damn well please, regardless of how well their albums sell.

How, exactly is this any of your business, though? It's probably accurate, but it was that artist's choice to sell their product to a company who will then distribute it. So long as it's within the bounds of the law, who appointed you/me/us that artist's caretaker?

I should be able to decide if it's ok to buy a mp3 file online vs. a cd in a store. I just wish they would sell it to me.

See the end of my prior post ridiculously longwinded post.
posted by Sinner at 3:07 PM on August 17, 2002


If I were still in a band, I would be thinking about new ways of marketing my music outside of the old channels. The problem is that it is really hard to go outside. It is hard enough inside them. Going outside pretty much insures that you will always have a day job.


There are some nice advantages to all the new technology available now... CDRs can be burned for anywhere from $.10- $.25 and so a band can burn CDRs as needed rather than keeping a stock (and make a healthy profit)...

MP3s are nice, but cost bandwidth if you put them up on your own site... I also like the idea of MPEG movies, but haven't done it yet, as I haven't found them.

Going inside the channels of the music industry means you'll probably always have a day job. Most talented Indie bands don't make enough money to survive on, and the Major label ones are even worse. For, with major labels, you get a loan of say $100,000 that has to pay for your bands touring expenses, recording costs, your living money, equipment, and eventually you have to pay it back... Most Indies (the ones I know at least) give their artists far less money, but also don't saddle them with debt.

The days of major artists are slowly coming to an end as people fractionalize into smaller subcultures based on their particular tastes. With the fall of the major artists, will come the fall of many major labels.
posted by drezdn at 3:17 PM on August 17, 2002


Absent this new technology, you couldn't simply walk into the record store, walk out with the CD and say "I'll pay you if I like it." And if such a store did exist, though I'm sure it would be popular, it would need some sort of legal protection from people who decided to take advantage of the system and use it solely as a means of obtaining music without cost.

Sure you could. Blockbuster and many others would let you listen to whatever the hell you wanted and then you could buy it if you liked it. Same principle, you just dont have to go to the store. You can order it online even. Same idea, as long as you adhere to the principle of buying it instead of just burning it.
posted by dig_duggler at 3:44 PM on August 17, 2002


Sinner: "your good will ..is admirable, but unequivocally opens the door for people to simply try-and-not-buy."

Oh I do that too. I try it. If I don't like it I don't buy it.

"Clearly it didn't. You didn't purchase the bootleg CD, so you chose to have your cake and eat it too.

The mp3s were not stolen from them. The boys in The Argument from West Virginia freely gave those mp3s on the Internet. I took them and made a personal CD for my own use. I don't sell it. I don't even let people borrow it. Well actually, I would if someone wanted it, but it's just easier to point them to theargument.net.

The boys in that band know the power of mp3 technology. I'm in Dallas. They're on the east coast. Without mp3s, I'd never know what they sound like. Now, I actually want to buy one of their CDs, and will eventually. Without mp3s, that's a purchase they'd never have had a chance to receive.

What you call theft, I call publicity.

Absent filesharing/cd burning, you couldn't simply have walked into any record store, taken the CD and said "I'll come in and pay you when (if, really) I get a chance."

Prior to the invention of fire, I had to eat my meat raw.
Prior to the invention of the wheel, I had to walk on two feet.
Prior to the invention of the aeroplane, I was anchored to the Earth.
It's called progress.

It's a shame the record industry can no longer try to lure me with a 'breakaway pop hit' that they play over and over again on the radio to get me to buy a ten track album that has that one 'hit' and nine pieces of phlegm. It's a shame I can now look under the lid to see if the rest of what they're selling me is any good. It's a shame they can't trick me anymore. And it's a shame when I educate myself and become an informed consumer, I'm accused of theft.

"my understanding is that several of the record labels are now selling tracks for $1 each, and albums for $10. If that is in fact the case and it were to spread, is that your panacea? Would that resolve your problems or is what you are really saying that you want to be able to choose after the fact?"

A couple weeks ago I went to see Courtney perform live. After her set I asked her if her new CD was out yet. She said yes and offered to sell it to me for $12. I gave her a $20 & refused the change. I knew without even listening to it that her new CD was going to be worth at least $20 to me, and I was right. However, this was AFTER listening to some of her mp3s I'd uncovered over the 'Net over the past year or two. I educated myself and learned she's a powerful and consistent talent. I like most anything that comes out of that lass' mouth. So to me, she's worth more than the pricetag she puts on herself.

I believe the price of a given commodity should be decided upon not by big business, but by a mutual agreement between the purchaser and the seller. The RIAA has removed both the artist and the consumer from the bargaining table. It's either their way or the highway, and I for one am sick of it.

If a track is worth a buck, I'd pay it. If it's not, I won't. I pay what I think it's worth.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:45 PM on August 17, 2002


"The days of major artists are slowly coming to an end as people fractionalize into smaller subcultures based on their particular tastes. With the fall of the major artists, will come the fall of many major labels."

That's one of the few things I don't dig about the new direction of music. Perhaps the appeal of top pop divas and studs for the younger generation isn't so much whether or not Backstreet Boys or Brittney Spears are any good, but it's a matter of peer pressure. Whatever's popular that other kids their age are listening to at the moment, they want to belong so they'll listen to that too.

I'm not into cliques or anything like that and never really have, so I march by the beat of whatever drummer suits my fancy. However, at times it is kinda lonely, and would be nice to find people with similar interests. Perhaps top pop invents that similar interests field for those people who want to fit in and don't care what it is they fit into.

Guess I'm just too smart for my own bad. *smirk*
posted by ZachsMind at 3:52 PM on August 17, 2002


I think this is definitely a control issue. Again just my opinion, but I believe the reason the RIAA is so adamant is not because of money they are loosing on CDs sales presently (come on! whats the consensus number..about 5% drop in sales) but the future sales in a world where an artist can sell directly to the public as a common (widely know) practice.

We as a community need to play middle man to guide our friends and family towards new indy artists or they will keep making the easy decisions.

I know that, personally, I am constantly finding new “independent”* artists and turning on friend who I think would like them I am usually met with great appreciation.

*however upon further inspection of RIAA members I see that some labels I thought might not be affiliated actually are. Pie in my face.
posted by Dr_Octavius at 4:59 PM on August 17, 2002


I've never seen a service that sells mp3 for a buck since emusic went subscription. If such a thing exists, then that, to answer sinner's question, is what I would be satisfied with. I realize that services like pressplay are now trying to establish ways to do this, and I say good, but I still like to chastize them for jumping on the bandwagon two years too late.

What I want is for the labels to come up with a way to properly captitalize on digital media rather than just trying to squash it. That seems like a much more responsible way to deal with the problem than technology-ignorant legislation and lawsuits. Laws are no replacement for industry smarts, which is what, in my opinion, the RIAA lacks a lot of.
posted by Hackworth at 5:26 PM on August 17, 2002


bradth27: I seem to be in the minority here, but I think the RIAA has a point. MP3 sharing is theft, pure and simple, in my opinion. You can justify it by saying " I go out and buy the album if I like the music.", but it doesn't work for me.

Unfortunately, you've been brainwashed by the RIAA into thinking that all MP3 sharing must be theft. In reality, there are many independent artists that actively encourage their music to be distributed in MP3 format. My radio station broadcasts non-RIAA independent legally distributed MP3 music [er, used to broadcast, until they shut me down because i wouldn't pay the RIAA tax]. So you see, it's not about preventing music piracy. It's about preventing artist independence.
posted by Maxor at 5:36 PM on August 17, 2002


Ah yes, and remember as Tom Poe says:
Do not go to the bathroom during commercials. It is theft.
If you want to copy something, use a pen and paper.
Do not read ... out loud, without paying. It's considered a performance.

Yes, you too are facing jail time.
posted by Maxor at 5:44 PM on August 17, 2002


Zachsmind -

Sinner: "your good will ..is admirable, but unequivocally opens the door for people to simply try-and-not-buy."

Oh I do that too. I try it. If I don't like it I don't buy it.


Although I thought I made it clear, "try-and-not-buy" means try, KEEP and not buy. It is a necessary function of "try-and-buy" that sometimes you don't buy the merchandise, but that also assumes you don't get to keep the merchandise.

The mp3s were not stolen from them. The boys in The Argument from West Virginia freely gave those mp3s on the Internet.

Well, you've got me here. I should've done my research... let me ask you this, then - if they *had* been burned from mp3's procured via some file-sharing service, would that have been equally acceptable to you?

What you call theft, I call publicity.

I wholeheartedly rescind my specific reference to theft in this particular case. I was assuming you were among the generality to which I was referring... However... on a related note what use would that publicity be for them if you, having downloaded these tracks, simply decided that was good enough and to quote the commercials "saved a buck or two?"

Absent filesharing/cd burning, you couldn't simply have walked into any record store, taken the CD and said "I'll come in and pay you when (if, really) I get a chance."

Prior to the invention of fire, I had to eat my meat raw.
Prior to the invention of the wheel, I had to walk on two feet.
Prior to the invention of the aeroplane, I was anchored to the Earth.
It's called progress.


Actually, it's called reductio ad absurdum. How about prior to the invention of the firearm, you couldn't have stolen the CD as easily. Is that progress, too? This is a stupid little game..

And it's a shame when I educate myself and become an informed consumer, I'm accused of theft.

It's equally a shame when even the "boys in the argument" have people download their mp3's for free and never purchase them, and as a result, have to keep washing dishes. But of course, that's not theft.

So to me, she's worth more than the pricetag she puts on herself.

And for the second (third) time in one post, you've proven yourself the exception that proves the rule. You seemed pretty proud of your little anecdote there, perhaps because it's rather abnormal? While again, it's admirable, it's not going to happen with most people.

I believe the price of a given commodity should be decided upon not by big business, but by a mutual agreement between the purchaser and the seller. The RIAA has removed both the artist and the consumer from the bargaining table.

So what? The RIAA is the seller. If you don't like their prices, don't pay. That's the agreement you're referring to.
posted by Sinner at 7:11 PM on August 17, 2002


It's equally a shame when even the "boys in the argument" have people download their mp3's for free and never purchase them, and as a result, have to keep washing dishes.

Unless they care more about having their music heard than making money off it. It happens.
posted by Hackworth at 7:48 PM on August 17, 2002


But hey, does the RIAA get a cut of used CD sales
From what i have gathered in past MeFi threads, no they do not. And before you ask why the RIAA allows this, the sell of used CDs was upheld in court a while back...There was an good part of a MeFi thread about used CDs and such that a lawyer went into depth about (it was right after the Inteternet-radio law was inacted)
I seem to be in the minority here, but I think the RIAA has a point. MP3 sharing is theft, pure and simple, in my opinion. You can justify it by saying "I go out and buy the album if I like the music"
When in reference to the major labels and major bands, this rings true to me...to me, downloading an entire CD and burning it is as bad as stealing one from a store- unless you send money directly to the artist (I may not like RIAA, but how else does the artist get money? And before anyone says they don't get money from record sales, unless they sell records in the first place, they won't get a contract extention)...The whole indi-band thing is a different situation and is in the very small minority. And while many MeFi'ers may support only indi's, the culure here is quite a bit different than America's music culture as a whole.
posted by jmd82 at 8:04 PM on August 17, 2002


Although I thought I made it clear, "try-and-not-buy" means try, KEEP and not buy. It is a necessary function of "try-and-buy" that sometimes you don't buy the merchandise, but that also assumes you don't get to keep the merchandise.

I don't know about you, but when I sample a song and find out that the artist/track isn't my cup of tea, I don't bother keeping it.

Isn't "radio" basically a try-before-you buy promotional mechanism? I turn it on, and listen to music. I might like something here and there, but most of it is pure shit. I definitely am not keeping it, but I surely am trying it out.
posted by mkn at 12:17 AM on August 18, 2002


OT Thomas C Greene needs to go on a news writing course. That first sentence is 100 words long. Shrill, emotional language doesn't help either. /OT
posted by Summer at 6:02 AM on August 18, 2002


mkn: I don't know about you, but when I sample a song and find out that the artist/track isn't my cup of tea, I don't bother keeping it.

Well, that's real nice of you. But if you think they're, say, mediocre - good enough to hang on to for a while, but not great enough to buy the disc - what's to prevent you from keeping the track? To that end, what's to prevent you from keeping the ones that you think are really great? The implication by a lot of people here seems to be that all music purchasing should be based on the honor system, which frankly amazes me.

Isn't "radio" basically a try-before-you buy promotional mechanism? I turn it on, and listen to music. I might like something here and there, but most of it is pure shit. I definitely am not keeping it, but I surely am trying it out.

Sure, except until very recently, what you heard over the radio couldn't be recorded with minimal audible difference from the original track, then almost instantly redistributed (by you) to anyone else who wanted it. The logistical barriers were too high. Then there are whole (stickier, I admit) advertising-as-payment and subscription-as-payment (which affects cable, not radio) conversations, but in the long run, I've been talking about the dangers of simply downloading music from KaZaa or LimeWire and having absolute freedom to do with it what you wish.
posted by Sinner at 8:01 AM on August 18, 2002


"Unless they care more about having their music heard than making money off it. It happens"

Why shouldn't an artist want both? What if someone suggested that you shouldn't really want to get paid for the work that you do? Wouldn't that be absurd?
posted by free pie at 9:32 AM on August 18, 2002


I may not like RIAA, but how else does the artist get money?

Well, there's Fairtunes. (yes, I realize this is an option that almost no one will embrace, though it's a cool idea.)

boycott-riaa.com seems to be a nicely organized headquarters for some of the ideas being discussed here.
posted by El_Gray at 12:22 PM on August 18, 2002


"So what? The RIAA is the seller. If you don't like their prices, don't pay."

Sinner, you're missing the point. RIAA is the seller. There is no bartering. The artist and the consumer have no input regarding price. This is why CDs are over twice the price they should be. RIAA has people by the short & curlies cuz they control access and distribution to the artist. It's a built-in, legal monopoly of certain talented artists.

If there was only one company which had the right to sell washing machines, there'd be people up in arms demanding an end to the monopoly. However, that's not the same thing as a company having sole right to sell anything that comes from a certain artist, is it? Of course not.

It's perfectly legal for Warner to railroad Prince with lawyer rhetoric and strong arm tactics in contracts that he foolishly signed, which ultimately caused him to lose control not only of his artistry but his very namesake. Prince didn't start becoming "the Artist formerly known as" to be an asshole. He did it cuz legally he was given no other choice. Does that sound fair? Does that sound even remotely SANE?

But of course it's legal. RIAA is the seller. Don't like it? Don't pay. This is why I support local independent artists and not RIAA supported artists. That's why I boycott the RIAA.

Music wants to be free. I'm not speaking monetarily. I'm speaking of the natural inclination of music going from the artist to the audience.

This is a natural state of things, with music having the same force and the same patience as water in a river wanting to return to the sea. The RIAA can build all the dams and tributaries & whatnot to force music to conform to its selfish needs, but after mp3s have come and gone it'll be something else. And either RIAA or something else will probably always be there trying to redirect music to its own selfish needs.

Music's natural state is to be free. Artist to listener. Middlemen just get in the way.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:43 PM on August 18, 2002


ZachsMind "RIAA has people by the short & curlies cuz they control access and distribution to the artist. It's a built-in, legal monopoly of certain talented artists. "

I'm quite with you in condemning the dominance of the major labels. Through a system of payola, they control what songs get played on the radio, and therefore what albums get heavy-duty sales. As you point out, the way to undercut this is indeed to support the independent musicians of your choice. The web offers a great way to do that.

I don't buy, however, that total disregard for copyright is in any way beneficial or fair to the artist. In a few months my band will be finishing our new CD. When that happens, I will put a couple of songs from the album up on our website so that folks can download and check them out. The songs will be free to listen to, copy and even redistribute on the web as long as you include a link to our website so people can find us and buy the album. However... if I find someone has gotten a copy of the album, converted all the songs to MP3s and distributed them around the web - I'm coming after them. I've put too much of my own damn money and effort into this project and I'm not giving the whole thing away for just anyone to take and spend a couple of years deciding if they want to reimburse me for it.

Of course, in the case of the major labels, they've got exploitive contracts which give them the overwhelming majority of the profit from album sales. I suppose if this offends you, you could download a Prince song and send a check directly to Prince. Otherwise, you're still ripping off the artist at the same time you're ripping off the label. Bottom line, if the artist doesn't sell a lot of albums, the artist don't get any money.

I agree with Sinner, that much of the difference of the new technology (for good and bad) is in the ability to make an essentially infinite number of almost perfect copies. You might be able to record a song off the radio, but you can't copy the whole album and turn around and re-broadcast it to the whole world. (If you do, you're a radio station and you have to pay royalties.)

All that being said, I don't like the RIAA. I feel that it was totally appropriate for Internet radio stations to pay royalties. However the amounts dictated were totally unreasonable, as evidenced by the fact that most internet stations can't afford them. Traditional radio stations can make a profit while paying royalties, and they have other expenses that are higher, therefore the rates are not proportional. I suspect the RIAA may have deliberately set a too high rate in order to make the internet stations close down, because the number of niche internet stations would be impossible to control via payola as the traditional commercial radio stations are controlled. I don't have any evidence to back that up, though. Also the digital vigilante bill is just insane.

BTW - It occurred to me that since I'm participating in the MeFi CD Mix swap, that a fair question could be asked of me - "Isn't that just as bad a copyright violation?" It's a fine line, but here's how I justify it: 1) I select artists/albums that the recipients hopefully have not heard of before (so they wouldn't have known to buy it.) 2) I put only one song from the album on the mix (I won't give them the whole thing.) 3) I give information on the album the song came from and encourage the recipients to pick up a copy. 4) Because I'm investing my own money in the media and postage, I'm limiting the distribution involved here. If I am in any way hurting the artist, I'm keeping it down to down to a very small level (Which should be negated if anyone in my swap group actually buys one of the albums I made the mix from.) Maybe it's a rationalization, but I suspect that most of the artists I included in my mix would be okay with it. I'm not so sure they'd appreciate my offering their songs to the whole world online without permission.
posted by tdismukes at 5:47 PM on August 18, 2002


"if I find someone has gotten a copy of the album, converted all the songs to MP3s and distributed them around the web - I'm coming after them. "

As well you should. I'm not saying anything against that. The artist should protect their property. And yes, big labels exist in part to represent artists as legal counsel and the strong arm to defend the rights of their artists.

That's the trick though. "distributing." If I started mass producing CDs of my mp3 collection and selling them to whomever was interested, then keeping the profit for myself, THAT's when I step over the line and deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. That's when I'm taking money out of the hands of those who deserve it.

What I do privately with my own collection of music is my business. If I copy them to CD so I can play them in my car or when I'm away from my computer, that's my business. If I share them freely with my close circle of friends and let them know about these really cool bands that I think my friends should get into, that's my business.

The modern technology of filesharing does expand the "close circle of friends" concept, and that's why the RIAA is shutting down places like Napster. That's the grey line which is getting trampled. Is that wrong? To expand one's friends to include anyone online with a similar interest in music? I honestly don't know the answer to that question. I do not jump to the conclusion of saying yes or no to that question, because as Xander might say, "that way lies evil carnival death." The consequences of finalizing that answer either way has serious and unsettling repercussions.

As long as I'm not making money, I'm not hurting the artist. In fact in some cases I'm encouraging others to learn about these artists that interest me. If I were to broadcast them over radio waves, or play them as a DJ at a public venue, YES by all means I owe the artists a portion of whatever profit I make. If there's no profit involved, there's no harm. There's no theft.

Possessing an mp3 of a song that I didn't compose, perform or record personally doesn't suddenly strip me of personal liberties.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:20 PM on August 18, 2002


Detroit (AP) - After the careful examination of several studies suggesting consumers are putting off buying their next car, Ford and GM announce their intent to curb the problem, including the introduction of a legal initiative aimed at several states and political action committees.

The state of California and Greenpeace, round out the total of eight states and PACs accused of promoting the so-called "car pool," and the executives of America's top car companies are seeking a legislative response to control the trend.

"It's called theft, people. Those freeloading car poolers should be rotting in jail, along with other hardened criminals," says Bill Ford, CEO of Ford Motor Company.

General Motors chairman Bob Lutz shares the same sentiment and added, "...we're also looking to abolish the entire used-car industry. Whatever it takes to keep America rolling. Since 9/11, the auto industry has been faced with drastic cut-backs in revenue. We need to stop the bleeding somehow."

Greenpeace and California state officials could not be reached for comment.
posted by cinematique at 6:38 PM on August 18, 2002


Zachsmind: That's the trick though. "distributing." If I started mass producing CDs of my mp3 collection and selling them to whomever was interested, then keeping the profit for myself, THAT's when I step over the line and deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. That's when I'm taking money out of the hands of those who deserve it.

No, that's your opinion. Does that mean that if you steal someone's car, so long as you don't sell the car to someone else, you shouldn't be prosecuted?

"Uh, officer, I was just using it to drive to work."
"Oh, OK. You're free to go."

If you get the track without paying for it and were not given it by its rightful owner - defined as an artist or label - you've stolen it. Why is this so hard to understand?

As long as I'm not making money, I'm not hurting the artist. In fact in some cases I'm encouraging others to learn about these artists that interest me.

This is the kind of rationalization that boggles my mind. Both clauses here are false. Umm, yeah, it does hurt the artist, because you're possessing something for free that they could have sold you. So they're at -$x.

And second, what does it matter if you're making money? It's the band's money to make or not make. Say you're just a really swell guy and don't make any money and instead just give away this CD for no profit. To millions of people. That's OK? Doesn't that severely alter the potential saleability of the record? Wait, I know the defense you're going to use here - you're doing the band a favor, PR-wise. Well, unless you work for them, that's not your job, and it's not your choice.

Further, doing simple math here, a million users giving out ten copies each has the exact same effect as one user giving out ten million. The cumulative effect on the artist is the same (altho the artist may sell a million records in the first scenario, in both the artist may lose a sizeable chunk of money that could have come from the *other* nine million people).

What I do privately with my own collection of music is my business.

Except your definition of privately seems to include any use you see fit.

If I copy them to CD so I can play them in my car or when I'm away from my computer, that's my business.

Very few record labels that I'm aware of disagree with this practice or are trying to limit it - the "backup copy" provision seems pretty well entrenched in the law, and DRM software generally allows you to make some copies.

If I share them freely with my close circle of friends and let them know about these really cool bands that I think my friends should get into, that's my business.

So what are you saying? That the government is only allowed to interfere if you go outside your "close circle of friends?" You're the one who used "close," so clearly you don't think you should be able to share with anyone and everyone you choose. So how, pray tell, do you legislate "close friends only," beyond the existing practices of criminalizing the act, but only really pursuing and prosecuting egregious offenders?

Possessing an mp3 of a song that I didn't compose, perform or record personally doesn't suddenly strip me of personal liberties.

So far as that song is concerned, uh, yeah it does, actually. How is it different than my saying "possessing a car I didn't purchase and in fact stole from my neighbor doesn't suddenly strip me of personal liberties"? There are limitations on your personal liberties and many of them concern your use of other people's things - and hence their personal liberties. This is reality, not some libertarian utopia.
posted by Sinner at 8:50 PM on August 18, 2002


ZachsMind: RIAA has people by the short & curlies cuz they control access and distribution to the artist. It's a built-in, legal monopoly of certain talented artists.

Umm, not to be dense here, but the RIAA to my knowledge doesn't control anything. It's an industry association. So my understanding is that by very definition, it's not a monopoly. Its members do have a great deal of collective power, but the RIAA itself doesn't sell or distribute anything.

But of course it's legal. RIAA is the seller. Don't like it? Don't pay. This is why I support local independent artists and not RIAA supported artists. That's why I boycott the RIAA.

I encourage you to do so, and want to make it very clear that based on what little you've said, in this regard, you're a significantly better person than most of my friends and probably me, as well. What you have to understand is that I'm talking about RIAA artists and their fans, who are downloading a steady stream of millions of songs with no intention of buying the CD, sending Prince a check, or serving as ad hoc PR flacks. There are a lot more people like them than you.

Boycotting the RIAA is one thing. Pretending that your distaste for them justifies stealing from them is another entirely.

Music wants to be free. I'm not speaking monetarily. I'm speaking of the natural inclination of music going from the artist to the audience.

What? Music has "natural inclinations?" You're not speaking my language. Music doesn't "want" anything. I've never understood these arguments, because they're stated as facts but no one ever seems interested in backing them up. Prove to me how music "wants" to be free any more than pretzels, or toaster ovens, or happiness, or the color blue do/does?

Music's natural state is to be free. Artist to listener. Middlemen just get in the way.

Uh, how? By bringing more artists to the listener? By amplifying said music so that more people can hear it? This strikes me as empty, unfounded rhetoric. But perhaps I just don't get it because I'm not hip enough.
posted by Sinner at 9:04 PM on August 18, 2002


What I would like to see is an alternative and equitable way to compensate artists directly for their music without having to purchase a cd. Pressplay does not count in my books as being equitable.

I really feel that artists get too small a piece of the action from the sale of CD's. I also feel that environmentally it would be better to not have music distributed via CD's because of shipping and packaging costs and the space wasted by songs the listener does not want.

Another gripe I have is that artiststs and record companies in general do not want take advantage of the full CD. It seems that it is very rare when 70+ minutes of the CD's capacity is used.

just my $.02
posted by tallpaul at 11:56 PM on August 18, 2002


For everyone still participating, the MeFi link I mentioned earlier (The link's no longer valid, but you get a sense for it from the commentary):

Music industry makes first mature move in years!
Universal and Sony will respond to piracy by selling CDs at $9.99 - and singles at .99. How easy was that? (Link requires free registration but well worth it, IMO)
posted by magullo at 11:14 AM PST [trackback] (51 comments total)

posted by Sinner at 4:45 AM on August 19, 2002


Sinner: "you're possessing something for free that they could have sold you"
Or probably wouldn't... just because 1000 people downloaded a copy of a song does not mean that 1000 people would actually buy it.
"Does that mean that if you steal someone's car, so long as you don't sell the car to someone else, you shouldn't be prosecuted?"
False analogy... after stealing the car the person you stole it from has no car and thus you are depriving him of the use of his car. A better analogy would be Ford not allowing you to let a friend use your car, or to prohibit people who don't own cars to hitch rides on friends' and acquaintances' vehicles.
posted by talos at 6:16 AM on August 19, 2002


Talos - your analogy would apply if the RIAA tried to keep you from lending a friend your album or playing it at a party with friends present - they're not doing that.

Actually, the metaphor is flawed either way, because recorded music (a product which requires time, effort & money to create a template which can then be duplicated indefinitely for almost zero money) has no really good anolog in the realms of manufactured objects like cars. You can't effortlessly make thousands of duplicates of your car to give to everyone you meet. If you could, automakers would either go out of business (because it takes money to design & create the cars in the first place) or else they would have to come up with legal restrictions on how you could duplicate your car. Copyright restrictions aren't wrong - it's just that the RIAA (and other corporate copyright holders) have been pushing to extend them too far. Of course, they're balanced out on the greed scale by the millions of kids who feel they're morally entitled to Britney Spears' latest songs without compensation due to anyone.

Of course, the ability to make instant, near-perfect, near-free duplication of music or any other artform is historically a very new thing, which explains why we haven't been able to work out a moral consensus on the issue yet. Maybe if this generation works out those issues, we'll be ready when technology does give us the ability to duplicate our cars for free. :-)
posted by tdismukes at 7:53 AM on August 19, 2002


As a matter of fact, copyright itself was written into the Constitution before the Framers ever even got to the first 10 amendments.

Wow, two errors in a single sentence!! It takes real effort to achieve that.

1) What is written in the constitution is the authority for Congress to enact copyright laws. In other words, Congress has the option to enact copyright laws if they see fit. Nowhere does the constitution say that we must have copyright.

2) Since the amendments came after the original constitution itself, they take precedence over it. Otherwise, you must argue that we should still have slavery: since it was authorized by the original constitution, and the 13th amendment only came well after that.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:26 AM on August 19, 2002


Sinner: "No, that's your opinion."

I'll clue you in. MeFi comments are opinion 99.9% of the time.

"it does hurt the artist, because you're possessing something for free that they could have sold you. So they're at -$x. "

Perceived profit. Not conclusive: follow.

"So what are you saying? That the government is only allowed to interfere if you go outside your "close circle of friends?"

I believe the gov't should intervene when there's conclusive proof that actual profit is not making it to the intended persons. If I'm offering a song to a friend as incentive to educate this person about the band and encourage them, there's not yet any conclusive proof to actual profit. There's potential, but if my friend disagrees with me and think the band sucks, there never was any profit to be had in the first place.

This goes back to the Shroedinger's Cat theory. Put a cat in a box with a poison gas capsule that may or may not go off and kill the cat. The cat may or may not be alive in the box before opening it. RIAA wants profit whether or not there's profit to be had, which is like assuming the cat is alive in the box even when he may be dead.

And generally speaking, your comparison to music & cars is ludicrous. Music is not a car. You can't digitally duplicate a realspace car via the Internet at no cost. Is it against the law to take a picture of a car and show it to a friend? No. That's more accurate to what's happening with mp3s and filesharing, and even then the metaphorical comparison loses ..how shall we say? Dimension.

"Umm, not to be dense here, but the RIAA to my knowledge doesn't control anything. It's an industry association. So my understanding is that by very definition, it's not a monopoly. Its members do have a great deal of collective power, but the RIAA itself doesn't sell or distribute anything."

Actually it's more like an oligarchy, but the RIAA consists of many labels which accumulatively utilize the RIAA to lobby its efforts in control of music. It's a number of entities proverbially working as one for legislative & judicial purposes, interacting with the American government in hopes of scewing things their way.

They can do this legally of course, but that doesn't change the fact that they are ultimately operating as if they were a monopoly, in the area of attacking music fan file swapping. A hydra may have 100 heads, but it still functions as one (albeit mythical) creature.

"Prove to me how music "wants" to be free..."

Ever been to a drum jam? A jazz improvisation? A night in some local club where a handful of artists just get together and play to whomever is listening, experimenting and sharing their talent with one another?

Music in its natural state is not a physical commodity to be treated like Flinstones chewables on a grocery aisle. It's sound generated by talented individuals which travels through the air and reaches your ears. It's not the CD. It's what's ON the CD. Music is not the instrument. It's what is done to the instrument. What the big label music industry has done over the past century to music is akin to bottling air or water and selling it. That's perfectly legal and is done. But what RIAA is doing to music fans by restricting mp3 file swapping would be like if Ozarka suddenly got upset that people are bathing every day with water that could potentially be their product.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:14 PM on August 19, 2002


ZachsMind (and tdismukes)

ZachsMind: I'll clue you in. MeFi comments are opinion 99.9% of the time.

Gee, thanks for the smugness and condescension. I refer you to your original comment where it was stated as fact. Not even a "I think," or a "in my opinion." Take a look: "That's the trick though. "distributing." If I started mass producing CDs of my mp3 collection and selling them to whomever was interested, then keeping the profit for myself, THAT's when I step over the line and deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. That's when I'm taking money out of the hands of those who deserve it."

ZachsMind: And generally speaking, your comparison to music & cars is ludicrous.

Ludicrous? No. But as imperfect as your use of the word "ludicrous" is hyperbolic? Yes. And I stated this numerous times above, by saying intellectual property is harder to manage than physical property.

Zachsmind: Music is not a car. You can't digitally duplicate a realspace car via the Internet at no cost. Is it against the law to take a picture of a car and show it to a friend? No. That's more accurate to what's happening with mp3s and filesharing, and even then the metaphorical comparison loses ..how shall we say? Dimension.

How so? You're not taking a picture, you're building a fully functional replica (disregarding, for the moment, lossy compression). Are most consumers, not you in your soon-to-be-beatified-altruistic glory, then going to pay the originating car company out of the goodness of their hearts? The problem here is that physical property can not be effortlessly duplicated, but intellectual property can. So you can make a copy and retain your original. That is equivalent to theft.

I refer you to tdismuke's excellent explanation:

tdismukes: Talos - your analogy would apply if the RIAA tried to keep you from lending a friend your album or playing it at a party with friends present - they're not doing that... You can't effortlessly make thousands of duplicates of your car to give to everyone you meet. If you could, automakers would either go out of business (because it takes money to design & create the cars in the first place) or else they would have to come up with legal restrictions on how you could duplicate your car. Copyright restrictions aren't wrong - it's just that the RIAA (and other corporate copyright holders) have been pushing to extend them too far. Of course, they're balanced out on the greed scale by the millions of kids who feel they're morally entitled to Britney Spears' latest songs without compensation due to anyone

Exactly. I agree completely. The RIAA is not 100% wrong, nor are the downloading kids. People who insist the issue is black and white and can't understand that it's truly grey are the ones standing in the way of any real progress. As always.

Sinner: "Prove to me how music "wants" to be free..."

ZachsMind: Ever been to a drum jam? A jazz improvisation? A night in some local club where a handful of artists just get together and play to whomever is listening, experimenting and sharing their talent with one another


Umm, yeah, I've been to all three. How does that prove music what music "wants" to be? Or are you just spouting new-agey claptrap that has no place in the real world? Are you really saying that intellectual property is valueless? Why shouldn't musicians/writers/artists commoditize and sell their work? You seem to be deeply pro-content-creator. How is this beneficial for them?

ZachsMind: : Music in its natural state is not a physical commodity to be treated like Flinstones chewables on a grocery aisle. It's sound generated by talented individuals which travels through the air and reaches your ears.

Sorry, but this is nauseating. It's a commodity. Everything is a commodity.

It's not the CD. It's what's ON the CD. Music is not the instrument. It's what is done to the instrument.

Yes, by someone. Those things are done by someone. They count as work. An ironworker's performance is measured and compensated based on the work that he or she does. How and why is this any different for writers and artists? Why doesn't their work matter enough that they should be able to own it and disseminate it as they wish? And if said artists are represented by someone, why shouldn't those rights transfer?

But what RIAA is doing to music fans by restricting mp3 file swapping would be like if Ozarka suddenly got upset that people are bathing every day with water that could potentially be their product.

What?! Talk about false analogies. This doesn't even come close to being coherent... But adapting your dodgy framework a bit, if people are diverting a stream or better yet, a system of pipes, that was going to "Ozarka," you're damn right that Ozarka has a right to be upset. It's not that it could have been their product, it's that it was and then someone took it over.
posted by Sinner at 12:58 PM on August 19, 2002


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