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You can run, but you can't hide
February 10, 2005 7:34 PM   Subscribe

LokiTorrent was a popular spot to get movies and they even put up a fight against the recent crackdown, raising thousands in a legal defense fund. Today, it seems the MPAA won, forcing the owner to shut down. That's understandable and I'm not surprised, but they've gone a bit further than I expected, turning the site into a big scary ad against filesharing and warning that you're next. Even worse, the old owner is turning the logs over to the MPAA, for them to go after folks.
posted by mathowie (110 comments total)

 
If only there was some kind of international computer network, so that we could bypass these American laws...
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:40 PM on February 10, 2005


I wonder if they'll go after individual downloaders (as opposed to site owners), a la the RIAA. I certainly hope not, for reasons I'm legally not willing to discuss...
posted by jonson at 7:42 PM on February 10, 2005


As simpleminded as this may sound, fuck those fucking MPAA fuckers.

Bring it. I'm not scared.
posted by item at 7:42 PM on February 10, 2005


The illegal downloading of motion pictures robs thousands of honest, hard-working people of their livelihood. . .

. . .and denies underpaid stars like Ben Affleck the mountains of uncut Colombian cocaine they require.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 7:42 PM on February 10, 2005


All your torrents belong to us. Did they sell out though?
posted by phirleh at 7:46 PM on February 10, 2005


TorrentReactor works great, and is based out of Tomsk, Russia, a nation which still has a rather communist attitude to copyright laws. I don't see it being closed down.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:47 PM on February 10, 2005


They say we can run, but we can't hide. I cry "Bullshit!"

They'll never stop file-sharing, never ever nerver erver nerver! Since Ihave discovered bittorrent, I have bought more movies , more full seasons on DVDs, and more games than I ever have.

And when I stumble onto a movie that is a sack of heaping manure, I have paid nothing! If the MPAA wants our loyalty, they can stop letting shitty movies be green-lighted. I don't want no 'splosions in my movies, I want stories!

long live bittorrent!

newfers
posted by newfers at 7:47 PM on February 10, 2005


As long as movies like Alone in the Dark, Battlefield Earth, Catwoman, etc. keep getting made, I'm not at all worried about the jobs of the thousands of honest, hard-working people who make movies.
posted by nmiell at 7:49 PM on February 10, 2005


No offense, but you have to be a little sleazy to run a torrent site. The guy got paid by his users, and he got paid by the MPAA.
posted by delmoi at 7:52 PM on February 10, 2005


Jack Valenti (former head of the MPAA) on the anti-piracy PSAs that appear before movies, 'I found the most convincing part to be the working stiffs, the guys who have a modest home and kids who go to public schools. They make $75,000 to $100,000 a year. That's not much to live on. I don't have to tell you that.'

From Joel Stein's Entertainment Weekly article.
posted by Arch Stanton at 7:58 PM on February 10, 2005


Torrents are not safe despite where the torrent site is located. Other downloaders get your IP address. It seems that other protocols aren't safe either. Kazaa was recording IP addresses.
posted by caddis at 8:03 PM on February 10, 2005


Ouch. Nice clipping, Arch.
posted by NickDouglas at 8:06 PM on February 10, 2005


Server logs? IIS or Apache logs? If so, I visited Lokitorrent, I'm sure my IP address will appear along with many others, including reporters, officials, MPAA employees, or bots associated with Google, Microsoft, or Yahoo.

I don't recall visiting a web page could result in a copyright infringement claim by a third party.
posted by quam at 8:13 PM on February 10, 2005


never fear;

del.icio.us torrents
del.icio.us torrent
del.icio.us bittorrent
posted by ssinct at 8:18 PM on February 10, 2005


I wonder if they'll go after individual downloaders (as opposed to site owners), a la the RIAA.

I have it on good authority that individual BitTorrent downloaders can and are being tracked by a company called BayTSP, which is sending out takedown notices to the ISPs of violators.
posted by kindall at 8:30 PM on February 10, 2005


If screwing the MPAA and its ilk is a sleazy action, then we need a hell of a lot more sleaze in this world. We have zero chance of seeing decent entertainment until the U.S. movie industry has been brought to its knees (for reasons other than intramural blowjobs).
posted by bshock at 8:31 PM on February 10, 2005


Anyone know the current legal status of the anonymity of IPs? I remember Verizon, which was my ISP at the time, fought against ratting out their users to the RIAA and won a court victory - I don't know if it was a universal thing or just for that case.

These sites should start erasing their logs daily.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:32 PM on February 10, 2005


kindall, by "takedown notices," do you mean requests that the ISPs shut off the violator's service, or do you mean, requests that the ISPs hand over name & physical address?
posted by jonson at 8:33 PM on February 10, 2005


I have it on good authority that individual BitTorrent downloaders can and are being tracked by a company called BayTSP, which is sending out takedown notices to the ISPs of violators.

Are they sniffing ports or swarms?
posted by Dean Keaton at 8:35 PM on February 10, 2005


'They make $75,000 to $100,000 a year. That's not much to live on. I don't have to tell you that.'

OK.
Now i'm
officially
depressed.
posted by spock at 8:39 PM on February 10, 2005


In Los Angeles, where those "working stiffs" live, that $100K is not enough to buy property. The rent on one bedroom apartments in Westwood is $1500/month.
posted by jonson at 8:45 PM on February 10, 2005


Man, if these companies would only embrace the future instead of being dragged into it kicking and screaming and suing everyone, their mother and their brother.

Dumbasses. Technology will always outpace legislation.
posted by fenriq at 8:51 PM on February 10, 2005


kindall, by "takedown notices," do you mean requests that the ISPs shut off the violator's service, or do you mean, requests that the ISPs hand over name & physical address?

I mean requests that the infringing materials must be removed. With BitTorrent, remember, you are uploading the whole time you're downloading, so they can nab you before you've even finished getting the file.

From their site:

I am a user and received a take down notice from you. Why?
You have been identified of having our client's copyrighted material publicly available on your computer without the proper authorization/license. Under the DMCA (USA) and the Bi-lateral Treaty and Berne Convention (International), this constitutes a copyright violation. You must promptly remove the infringing works. We also strongly recommend you reply to the infringement notice verifying removal of the infringing files. Please note that blocking access/removal of infringing material does not relinquish our client's right for further action against you. For additional information or clarification on the notice you may contact our compliance management team at dmca@baytsp.com.
posted by kindall at 8:57 PM on February 10, 2005


It's spreading.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 8:59 PM on February 10, 2005


My resentment for the major Hollywood studios knows no bounds (except insofar as the RIAA is even worse). I desperately want to see an economic structure implemented that will give directors and writers more power. So news like this depresses me. But I hope people can remember that downloading movies is not good. Arguments can be made, and I'd make some of them, that its a pretty tiny moral offense, less offensive than actually stealing a physical DVD, and might even be good for society in the long run if it can change the movie industry. But that doesn't make it right. Downloading movies might only be a little wrong, a tiny bit wrong, but it really is still wrong.
posted by gsteff at 9:07 PM on February 10, 2005


gsteff: I have no moral problems downloading a movie I know I would never rent or buy. I shouldn't download movies I would buy, but I do it anyways....
posted by null terminated at 9:23 PM on February 10, 2005


Rightness or wrongness in this area is a difficult subject, pretty similar to the whole home taping mess of a few years back. If you copy a movie, CD or song here or there that you weren't going to buy anyway it hardly hurts the studio, although it might be technically forbidden. However, if you pretty much stop buying DVDs and CDs because it is too easy to download it instead, well now you are just plain stealing. Most behavior falls somewhere in between. A lot of people seem to think that the studios can not seem to fathom that small amounts of downloading actually lead to greater sales. I think the studios are well aware of this. Their campaign is all about scare tactics , "be afraid of us, we will sue you." Yet they reach only a tiny percentage of all the infringers. They go after a few small downloaders just to keep the fear up, but I bet they only worry about the folks who have decided to stop buying their products. Unfortunately for them, the heavy handed tactics probably only help people in the latter group to justify their downloading behavior. I only shudder to think where DVD and CD prices would be without all of this downloading.
posted by caddis at 9:24 PM on February 10, 2005


However, if you pretty much stop buying DVDs and CDs because it is too easy to download it instead, well now you are just plain stealing.

I'd disagree on that point. While I certainly don't see any basis for denying that the downloading of movies/games/whatever is dishonest and only quasi-legal at best, it's only ever copyright violation, not theft. For theft, the guy downloading torrents would have to be taking something away from the studio, and he's not. The studio is not made worse off by someone downloading a DVD rip of Spiderman, it just isn't as well off as it would be if they were paid for it. It's a hit to theoretical intake, not to what they actually have.
posted by kafziel at 9:34 PM on February 10, 2005


Semantics.
posted by caddis at 9:37 PM on February 10, 2005


Peer-to-peer is legal in Canada, right?

If so that makes it pretty much the trifecta: legal p2p, legal marijuana, and no Bush. Fuck it, I'm moving, and I won't be alone.
posted by mullingitover at 9:38 PM on February 10, 2005


Here in Washington, getting caught stealing a DVD would be a gross misdemeanor and subject to a fine of not more than $5000 or imprisonment for not more than 90 days or both.

Getting caught downloading a DVD iso via bittorrent would be a felony subject to a fine of not more than $250,000 or imprisonment for not more than 5 years or both.
posted by Tenuki at 9:38 PM on February 10, 2005


Am I the only one who wonders what happened to all the money people donated to the LokiTorrent legal defense fund?

The best response to this kind of stuff comes from The Pirate Bay:

"It is the opinion of us and our lawyers that you are fucking morons, and that you should please go sodomize yourself with retractable batons."
posted by jsares at 9:50 PM on February 10, 2005


In Los Angeles, where those "working stiffs" live, that $100K is not enough to buy property. The rent on one bedroom apartments in Westwood is $1500/month.

Fuck that shit. $100K is not going to get you a house (what I assume you mean by 'property') in probably 80% of California (that isn't a state or federal park). Hell, there are condos in Redding (my hometown) going for $150K--and there's shit there compared to BA, LA, SD, or Sacramento. And I'm paying $825/month for a decent one bedroom apartment in San Bruno (~10 min south of SF).

Valentti's so out of it he probably thinks the minimum wage is around $20/hr and includes benefits. The crinkled piece of shit can just shrivel up and die. (Yeah, I have fucking issues with him & the *AAs, and not just because of torrent sites going down.)

And what Tenuki said [via]
posted by MikeKD at 9:58 PM on February 10, 2005


HAHAHA i love all you fuckers that go 'oh if hollywood would stop making shit, i'd stop STEALING their good stuff'.

what a fantastic, enlightened mind and set of morals you have.

keep it up dickheads, this fancy technology that allows you to download your pirated stuff, can just as easily allow the the **AA to bust you. all from the comfort of their cushy offices.

go ahead, pirate away. someday, you'll be caught, and man will you be bumming when they prosecute you.

i say this not because my job revolves around movie making, but because i'd rather you were sued to the point where it would be more difficult for you to pollute the gene pool with your mindset.

regardless of how you justify it, it's no different from walking into some video shop, and shoplifting to your hearts content - be it the asshat morality of the action, or the resulting consequences to the creators and vendors of the product - no different.

so have at it fuckers. download away. right now, there' are many thousands of computer-types, working away, 24/7 with their databases and IP collectors, cataloging what you're doing. and someday, you'll quite probably be receiving email from some computer program telling you to knock it off, or else.

those retards that keep it up, will get their's in the end, and lower their chances to contaminate the future with their morality and warped logic. fucking eh.
posted by jimjam at 10:39 PM on February 10, 2005


It is a difficult issue. It is clear copyright violation, just as much as photocopying an entire book. Downloading is a movie ticket or video rental not sold. At the same time, I know that because of downloading, I have been able to see a very good series (Farscape) which I could not possibly afford on DVD (about $200-400, currently). I am now a fan, and do hope to buy the series when I am more gainfully employed. Downloading had already sold me another series (Firefly - much cheaper) on DVD; similarly, the last CD I bought was due solely to finding a few MP3s on someone's site. It is true that I might have rented some of these, except that I don't have a a membership at a video store (no driver's liscense, no credit card in the country I live in).

Of course, I did go on to committ more copyright violations after getting Firefly on DVD. Because it was so very good, I ended up lending the DVD to several friends, who have become fans as well now. That might have cost Fox DVD sales, though they didn't plan on getting the series before, indeed had barely heard of it (just like me). Of course, now they will likely go see the feature film coming out later this year.

I wonder if there is anyone who has tracked what the effect of downloading has been? Janis Ian said that for her, as an independent musician, a few carefully seeded songs increased her sales. Could downloading have the same effect for some of the lesser known movies orseries?
posted by jb at 10:48 PM on February 10, 2005


jimjam, if you think that intellectual property is treated by the law or the constitution the same way as physical property, then you don't understand the issue, and you don't understand the law. Here's a good starting place: why does intellectual property have a time limit associated with its ownership, while physical property does not?
posted by krinklyfig at 10:52 PM on February 10, 2005


what a fantastic, enlightened mind and set of morals you have. keep it up dickheads

How about: I have no qualms paying for 1/3 as many movies as I once did, back before ticket prices rapdily tripled. There's nothing moral about it. It's about economics, and putting pressure back on these fuckers to lower prices.

LokiTorrent, a Web site that tracks and indexes BitTorrent files, says it's setting up a legal defense fund to fight a lawsuit filed by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

The site's operators have collected $13,955 of the $30,000 needed to start defending themselves from the MPAA's lawsuit, according to a recent posting on the Web site.


I think this is wrong. After they collected $30K, they started turning it into a monthly collection. If I recall correctly, they were halfway to their second (third?) month's collection when it all came crashing down.

I'm not surprised that the journalist got it wrong. That's typical when the dorkus writing the article only learned about the phenomenon yesterday. What disappoints me is that Loki took my $30 and turned it into a big MPAA-cock-sucking ad. Some "fight" that was. They obviously settled under duress, or perhaps, as has been intimated, took money and ran.

I have no reason to believe the latter until I see evidence, but I have to say this is a sad fucking day and a poor fucking showing. Boo!
posted by scarabic at 10:55 PM on February 10, 2005


Dear Sir(s), Madam(s), and/or Slimemold(s),

I have the distinct pleasure of informing you that no Swedish trademark and/or coypyright law is being violated, regardless of how the situation may or may not be under UK law. I would advise you to read up on Swedish trademark law, more specifically Varumarkeslag (1960:644), as this might save you a great deal of future humiliation.

I would also advise you to
a) not write the subject all in UPPERCASE, as it makes spam filters go nuts
b) not attach meaningless data from trademark registrys in PDF format and
c) stop lying.


Dear whatever-you-are,

thank you for providing us and our users with such great entertainment. I'm not talking about Enya (hey, Enya fucking sucks), but instead of your nonsensical email.

You have
- confused us with our ISP
- no knowledge whatsoever about BitTorrent
- no knowledge whatsoever of the appliciable laws (trademark or copyright)
- made very entertaining threats (hey, go ahead and contact RIPE NCC, please, I beg you)

You have scored 10 out of 10 points on our Legal Threats Entertainment scale. You win the grand prize: A lifetime of ridicule on our legal threats section (http://static.thepiratebay.org/legal/)! Congratulations!

Please also note that I'm not currently out of toilet paper, so you may wait a while before sending legal papers.

posted by gottabefunky at 10:58 PM on February 10, 2005


The Pirate Bay responses crack me up everytime I read them. They know where the law stands, and uphold it, I love it.
posted by litghost at 11:47 PM on February 10, 2005


Who the hell would be stupid enough to give money to a site like that? $13k (or however much) worth of idiocy, right there.

Reminds of when that 15 year old kid who was a moderator on somethingawful's forums took up a collection for torrentse.cx. At the first sign of trouble, he shut it down and kept the money. He collected something like $5k, and only spend about $1k of it on the site. Jeez, people are dumb.
posted by Potsy at 11:57 PM on February 10, 2005


Odd timing on this. I got home to find out that Cox had suspended my internet for violation of the DMCA. Yay. All it took was a phone call to fix it, but it was still a bit of an eye opener.

Only one file was being complained about; some companies have more astute spybots than others I suppose.
posted by Stunt at 12:07 AM on February 11, 2005


I love my ISP. They have no accounting. They keep no logs. They never know who was using what IP when, the only thing they can tell is who is on the IP right at this moment. I'm not worried in the least, especially since I get a new IP every 12 hours. =)
posted by geeknik at 12:46 AM on February 11, 2005


jimjam, thank you so much for showing me the error of my ways. I have thought about it, and you are completely right. I was stealing from video, music and software stores all the time! I will never steal steal again. Thank you!11!!one!!!
posted by Dean Keaton at 12:50 AM on February 11, 2005


A nostalgic look back to the Feb 28, 2004 archived version of LokiTorrent. R.I.P.
posted by Metauser at 1:08 AM on February 11, 2005


It seems like all these bittorrent places are just in it for the money - lokitorrent, suprnova, etc, theyre all business run on this bittorrent stuff.
That downhill battle slogan "bring the mpaa to their knees by downloading things" is just that you're bringing money to someone else with a unique business plan - to make money by offering unlimited resources for free.
Once everything is made by indepedents out of their own pockets (ie once technology is cheap enough to make episode II on a laptop with a lot of spare time) then this will be the only viable business plan.
I mean how can a business that's bloated and wasteful and whos only advantage was having access to the elite tools compete when everyone has the tools?
Whatever can make more money is going to win this battle, and so go ahead and spread the "bring the mpaa down to their knees" message, but not because thats how its going to happen but because it's as catchy as nikes "just do it" and p2p needs more customers.
posted by klik99 at 1:12 AM on February 11, 2005


i say this not because my job revolves around movie making, but because i'd rather you were sued to the point where it would be more difficult for you to pollute the gene pool with your mindset.

Oh Jeez, pot meet kettle. So lesse, you say movie copying apologists "pollute" the gene pool ..so what exactly are you going to do with you nazi-like eugenics ideas, breed ordinary decent people or arian superhuman monsters ?

Dude, if you really are -working- in the movie industry you're getting the shaft regardless of piracy because, quite simply, you wouldn't get ANY of the movie industry massive cuts of money...they go to few privileged copyright holders, not to grunts like you...assuming you really are a grunt.

Which is the wrong thing to begin with ! If grunt doesn't have enough money to waste on movies (yes its wasted money or unwisely invested, if you wish) he/she will rather eat then go see yet another movie at $10.

So the generous industry thinks "let's rent him at $3-5 at Blockbuster" and in just ONE rental the studio have recovered almost all of the copy and distribution costs..so the 2-3 next ones is pure profit...oooh but I forgot rental copies of DVD are sold at premium price, studios want the privilege in advance, the risk goes all to the renting industry, which in turn pays people working at blockbuster few dimes.

So more people with less money still want their daily fix of crap movie and guess what, bittorrent or whatever technology delivers at 0 cost...and big evil company could still make tons, botloads of money by selling movies online at a lower price, maybe with bittorrent or something else.

But even if they put copyright devices all over the internet to make bittorrent legal movie viable, they would only ruin and destroy it because ISPs would start rising price for service, to get more cut of profit.

So guess what, BIG SOLUTION ! Rent dvd for cheap, Netflix model...leave little piracy to internet as advertising generator.
posted by elpapacito at 1:43 AM on February 11, 2005


you're bringing money to someone else

Yeah. People I don't pay money to. Fuck 'em.
posted by trondant at 1:49 AM on February 11, 2005


Jack Valenti is vastly overestimating what ordinary people in his industry make. The average salary of a professional TV or film actor is less than $30,000 a year. For film and TV writers, it's about $40,000 a year. The million-dollar script deals and the $20-million-a-picture deals are the outliers; using Tom Cruise as a gauge of what actors earn is like using Bill Gates as a gauge of what self-employed business owners earn.

It's true that most of your DVD purchase price is going to the pockets of the studio's shareholders, rather than to the guy who wrote the movie. But don't kid yourself that you're helping out the artists when you pirate movies; there's a reason that the WGA (screenwriters' union), the DGA (directors' union) and SAG/AFTRA (actors' union) are all heavily anti-piracy. Money lost to piracy means actors, writers, and directors have smaller savings, which makes it harder for the unions to organize a strike. And without a credible strike threat, the studios keep getting more powerful.

Piracy hurts the whole industry, but it hurts the little guys more. When the pond gets smaller and smaller, who do you think gets eaten first--the big fish or the little fish?

Just to be clear on something, I do think the MPAA is handling the piracy issue really badly, and I do make a moral distinction between downloading a product you can't buy and downloading one you would buy if you weren't getting it for free. And I do think that the entertainment industry needs to figure out how to make online distribution work for it, rather than against it.

But I also think that anybody who claims that they are in some way fighting a noble fight by getting free entertainment is kidding themselves.

If you AREN'T kidding yourself--if you really, sincerely are trying to change the entertainment industry--then take the money you would have spent on DVDs, and send it as a donation to the WGA strike fund, the Motion Picture and Television Fund or any other fund that will have a positive impact.
posted by yankeefog at 2:30 AM on February 11, 2005


yankeefog - You are missing the same point on which the Pirate Bay responses hinge. P2P is a *global* phenomenon.

You're probably right on your appreciations - but why should *I* care about anybody in the US movie industry in the first place? In most countries (like mine), that same industry has strong-armed the distribution market in such a way that U.S. movies compete with a hugely unfair advantage against the local product.

Maybe it's payback time.

Disclaimer: You won't find unlawful copies anywhere in my house or my computer. But then again, farms that used to require 40 workers only decades ago can be run these days by employing just 2. So cry me a river.
posted by magullo at 4:04 AM on February 11, 2005


In Los Angeles, where those "working stiffs" live, that $100K is not enough to buy property. The rent on one bedroom apartments in Westwood is $1500/month.

You don't need a $100K salary to live in LA. My bro lived in westwood his entire grad student career on about $20K/ year.
posted by fshgrl at 4:43 AM on February 11, 2005


So cry me a river
Magullo, in posting about the relatively low salaries of actors and writers, I am not pleading for sympathy. There is no universal human right to make a living as an actor or writer. But if somebody's moral justification for piracy is "I'm just taking money away from rich people," they should know that they are factually incorrect.

Still, you're absolutely right that my previous post was too US-centric. Fortunately, my point holds up just as well when generalized: if somebody claims that downloading movies is a principled stand against {X}, they ought to be willing to donate the money they would have spent on DVDs to {an organization that fights against X}. That's true whether X is "the fact that creative people only get a small cut of DVD sales" or "the unfair tactics that US studios use abroad."

I guess I'm just inherently skeptical of somebody who only believes in a cause insofar as it gets them free stuff. (Not aimed at you, Magullo--I know you've mentioned you don't pirate.)
posted by yankeefog at 5:00 AM on February 11, 2005


If you have downloaded anything from LokiTorrent, now's the time to remove your machine's hard disk, open it up, and drop the platters into a bucket of hydrochloric acid. Not in an hour or tomorrow: now. In an hour, the police could be smashing down your door.

Don't bother with deleting/wiping files in software; modern forensic techniques can recover multiply overwritten evidence.
posted by acb at 5:12 AM on February 11, 2005


I guess I'm just inherently skeptical of somebody who only believes in a cause insofar as it gets them free stuff.

Yeah, me too. But I am also skeptical of those who cry foul because they can't keep up with the technology they themselves introduced a few years back. Specially since they've already made a killing out of that technology and also specially since they have been fighting further innovation all along. Apparently, "digital quality" is only ok when *they* sell it. Ha-ha.
posted by magullo at 5:28 AM on February 11, 2005


jimjam: "regardless of how you justify it, it's no different from walking into some video shop, and shoplifting to your hearts content."

Your not too clear on this stuff are you?

There is a huge difference between the theft of real property and the distribution of intellectual property. I'm not going to take the time it would require to explain -- I fear this would pretty much fill a work week -- but you might want to consider doing a bit of basic research before launching another profanity laced tirade. Not too long ago some 'computer-types' invented this thing called a search engine. Try one, they're like really cool, dude.

You'll find that people around here have a great deal of tolerance for bad language and are pretty flexible on grammar -- provided you have a basic understanding of the subject -- however, when a post lacks both coherence and content, you come off not only as ignorant but stupid.
posted by cedar at 5:30 AM on February 11, 2005


Jimjam,

If I take a picture of you, have I stolen you? If I quote a passage from a book to someone, does that passage cease to exist in the original document? If I sing a song in the shower, does the copyright holder lose a sale?

Of course not. This is the fundamental difference between theft and copyright violation - duplication does not equal removal, and possible revenue has no value. You can't quantify what someone may have spent had circumstances been different.

Calling copyright violation theft would be the same as calling you an educated, intelligent conversationalist on the subject. Go read something.
posted by davelog at 6:20 AM on February 11, 2005


They can have my 40 gigs of Simpsons episodes when they pry my hard drive from my Doritto-powder covered hands.
posted by wfrgms at 6:30 AM on February 11, 2005


If you have downloaded anything from LokiTorrent, now's the time to remove your machine's hard disk, open it up, and drop the platters into a bucket of hydrochloric acid. Not in an hour or tomorrow: now. In an hour, the police could be smashing down your door.

Dude, get a grip:

(1) Has the MPAA actually sued any individual users yet? I was under the impression that they were only targeting the tracking sites.

(2) Even if they sue individual users, what is the statistical proportion of people sued vs. total users of the p2p systems? Really fricking low, I expect. You might as well melt your gym shoes in hydrochloric acid so that you don't get run over by a bus while jogging.

(3) If there is a log showing that you d/led a movie to a certain IP address, that log ain't going away when you melt your HD. They could sue you anyway, at this point. Melting the HD, I guess might help you make it harder to prove that you d/led the warez, but, then again, the court just might want to know how your HD spontaneously melted right before you got sued. The court can draw a negative inference against you (i.e., rule that you are a liar) if it finds that you have destroyed evidence.
posted by Mid at 6:45 AM on February 11, 2005


Actually, I think jimjam's incoherent screed has brought one of my favorite points forward - the similarity the **AA's try to bring between physically stealing a CD/DVD or downloading a copy. If I steal from a store I'm actually physically depriving the store owner of an opportunity to sell said copy of the product and make his 37 cents profit. If I rent from Netflix, copy the DVD, then put it up on a torrent, I haven't physically taken anything from Netflix - they can continue to rent the disc after I return it - or from the industry, for that matter, because Netflix bought the movie from them to begin with. What I have done is illegally copied a movie that I didn't own, very similar to me redistributing a .pdf file of a journal article to people who didn't pay the subscription fees to read the article. This sort of thing is happening all the time in the science world - do you see Elsevier or Sage or Cell Press hunting down and prosecuting scientists who give out .pdf reprints? Same physical distribution model (exact digitized copy of copyright-protected material) but different mindset (more exposure is good for a journal...)

Sure, there's a difference in general popularity of the content in question (how many of you subscribe to a journal from one of the above, vs. how many see movies or listen to music?)

The big point I'm trying to make is that there are reasonable limits on copying print. I can grab any journal and make one copy of an article without paying a dime, legally, if it is for my own use. I don't have to have a subscription to the journal, I just need to know someone (person or library) who does. Hell, if I print it in color on semi-gloss paper my .pdf reprint is as good as the original, just as good as a copy of a CD or DVD. Why then are there no reasonable limits on copying movies/music? I am allowed to make one archival backup copy of a movie that I own, just in case the original disc gets ruined, as long as the backup copy is not passed freely around to my friends.

You can argue that it's a matter of how much that movie cost to make, but have any of you ever looked into how much it costs to fund the research that went into producing the 5 page research paper I used in my example? Time, effort, funding, print costs, equipment costs, personnel (lab techs, etc.)...

Anyway, if there is going to be a fine for passing around digital copies of a thing, the fine should not exceed the penalty for physically stealing the thing in the first place - if it is theft, then punish it as such. Do not, however, try to make the theft seem as if it is much worse than it is - thousands of dollars in fines, years in prison, and a felony record for downloading a crappy movie seems pretty damn excessive.

One last little thought here... the digital copies? How exact are they, really? MP3/AAC/WMV etc. do lose some audio quality during compression. Pirated DVDs generally come either downsampled or compressed in some way to make the 8-plus gig movie fit on the 4-gig media most people have. Sure, dual-layer burners are out there - I have one - but ten bucks for one blank dual-layer disc? At that price, I'd rather drop the extra $5 and get the cover art and liner notes that come with the retail copy.

(On preview, I'm sort of suspecting jimjam is an industry troll.)
posted by caution live frogs at 6:57 AM on February 11, 2005


The studio is not made worse off by someone downloading a DVD rip of Spiderman, it just isn't as well off as it would be if they were paid for it. It's a hit to theoretical intake, not to what they actually have.

With logic like that, I suspect you could rationalize anything. And there's a lot of tortured rationalizing going on in this here thread.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:11 AM on February 11, 2005


I think klik99's on to something, that they're moving against the torrent sites because they're taking in money and are easy targets. Suing users makes you unpopular and is of dubious effectiveness, as the RIAA surely knows- P2P traffic hasn't gone down. If you can say, "This site took in $30k for providing illegal software," you look a lot better.

And wow, I'm agreeing with pardonyou? There's a difference between a statement being logically true and following common sense.
posted by mkultra at 7:29 AM on February 11, 2005


I still don't get how copyright infringement is hurting the "working stiffs". Don't they get a set wage? It's not like someone will say, "Sorry Steve, Spiderman was pirated 2 Million times, so you're going to have to do without this year." The only possible rationalization would be that piracy is decreasing the amount of films made. And maybe I've just missed it entirely, but I've never seen any evidence of that.
posted by ODiV at 7:39 AM on February 11, 2005


Bring it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:41 AM on February 11, 2005


With logic like that, I suspect you could rationalize anything.

I disagree; I think the rationale is perfectly sound. Harm can only be shown if the download is actually preventing a sale. In the vast, vast vast majority of downloads, this is not the case.

Once upon a time, VHS movies sold to video stores for $100 or more and then would appear in retail outlets a few months later for $20 -- the difference between rental pricing and sell-through pricing; the movie companies did this in order to maximize profit per renter. Today, no such pricing scheme exists.

Thus, if you rent a movie today instead of buying it, by some of the logic displayed in this thread, you're stealing from the studio. The studio would prefer that you buy the DVD rather than rent it, after all.

The studios only wish that they could find some way to make the rental market illegal.

So: you download a movie instead of renting it. The studio doesn't see any money from either choice -- the copy of the movie that the video store might have rented has already been purchased. Who is harmed? Only the video store, but they don't have a dog in this hunt.

The anti-sharing folks contiue to argue that by downloading we are somehow costing the studios money. I just don't see that. They're showing record profits, aren't they?

Yes, I buy fewer DVDs with the advent of high-speed filesharing. But what I do buy, I enjoy more. And I'm buying different stuff than I would have bought previously; this is a healthier market. Fewer impulse purchases, with more repeat sales.

I have no moral or ethical problem with filesharing. I don't feel what I do is wrong. And, as a Canadian, there's some judicial support for that feeling.

Besides, I download very little except for TV shows, using my computer as a PVR, in a sense. It's less of hassle than actually hooking up cable to my video card and recording the show that way, which is perfectly legal. Who is harmed by my downloading the other night's episode of House?

Apple has shown that in a world where you can download all the music you want for free, people are still wiling to pay a buck a song. Well, I'm willing to pay a buck for a half-hour sitcom or two bucks for an hour-long drama, even though I can get those for free right now.

The MPAA needs to adapt to the new technology. This change is inevitable, and it is evovlvign faster than they can stifle it.

Sometime this year we will see a major breakthrough with a decentralized BT-style system where IP addresses are encrypted and then decrypted through proxies; neither the uploader nor downloader nor tracker will have the IP address of the uploader, downloader or seeder and there will be no central repository to sue. It will be essentially untraceable, and only very slightly slower than current BT systems.

If the studios don't start selling two-dollar downloads by then, it might well be too late for them.
posted by solid-one-love at 7:46 AM on February 11, 2005


Yeah, piracy bad. Watching movies for free rips off the artists! Right on man! Sue the bastards! Yeah!

'Scuse me while I visit my local library to check out Spiderman for free and then record it.

I'm curious what the MPAA would do to folks with photographic memories?
What happens if I memorize a song?

Where this 'piracy' thing breaks down is where memory and interaction intrudes.
On some level our computer memory IS our memory.
Just as our papers, our checkbooks, etc. are extensions of ourselves, so too are those more advanced tools we use to extend ourselves.

At what point do we own that which we are exposed to?

Never? Because I'm pretty certain I own my own thoughts, but do I then own the language from which they are derived? How about thoughts I create based on other ideas?
What if someone relates to me the gist of a movie and I am entertained enough by that so I don't go see it?

There is recognition that a work is a thing in itself without the need for a creator, but let's not confuse the middlemen for the medium.
They are only carriers of the artist's message to his audience.
Artists should be paid. The forum should be paid, but let us not forget who generates the material and who the parasites are.

I think caution live frogs was on to something - we're paying the distribution network.
Now that that network is outmoded, I'm not seeing the problem with bittorrents - etc.

For some reason many assholes seem to think that if there is a buck to be made they have a RIGHT to make that buck.
While this is what the modern perversion that is called capitalism is - it certainly isn't free and competitive trade.
It definitely isn't fair that just because some blackguard has a contract that he can throttle innovation and change.
Rome fell, Feudalism gave way, and corporate supremacy's time is limited.

Hoist then the black flag and jolly roger lads and heave to.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:50 AM on February 11, 2005


Just 6 minutes short of getting my (albeit breezy) arguement in before solid-one-love made the point for me.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:55 AM on February 11, 2005


I disagree; I think the rationale is perfectly sound. Harm can only be shown if the download is actually preventing a sale. In the vast, vast vast majority of downloads, this is not the case.

Fine (if unprovable) argument on a specific download level. Doesn't hold up on a macro level (as you yourself acknowledge). I assume we can all agree that the industry is damaged by downloading, to some degree (whether that's $10,000 or $1 billion). The fact that it's impossible to prove whether a specific download actually takes away from a sale (and no downloader would ever admit that it did) is exactly the reason the laws have been written the way they are (i.e., to make the act of downloading itself illegal). Why should this confusion benefit the downloaders -- who are getting something for nothing --over the people who are actually harmed?

That said, I have serious concerns about the punishment fitting the crime, selective enforcement, and a number of other issues. I just find the rationalization of downloaders to be intellectually dishonest.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:22 AM on February 11, 2005


I still don't get how copyright infringement is hurting the "working stiffs". Don't they get a set wage?

Yes and no. Focus pullers, script supervisors, and most of the other people on the set get fixed wages. Piracy-by-people-who-would-otherwise-buy-a-DVD hurts them indirectly, by decreasing the expected return on a movie, and, therefore, the amount that a studio is willing to pay in wages.

Writers, directors, and (I think) actors actually get a small royalty for every DVD sold. I'm a writer, so I don't know what it is for actors and directors--but for writers, it amounts to about a nickel for every DVD sold. This is an insanely low amount for the studios to pay, given their profit margins on DVDs, and was one of the major issues in the recent negotations between the labor unions and the studios--but the studios knew the unions weren't going to strike over this issue, and so they refused to budge.

I don't want to oversimplify here--there are a lot of reasons why the unions weren't prepared to strike over the issue of DVD residuals, and revenue lost to piracy is just once piece of a large and complex puzzle. But is a piece.

And the modern studio system is no friend to writers, directors, actors, and other artists--but neither are pirates.
posted by yankeefog at 8:42 AM on February 11, 2005


Doesn't hold up on a macro level (as you yourself acknowledge).

I acknowledged no such thing -- where do you see that? -- and disagree that it doesn't hold up on a macro level, as there has been no compelling evidence linking widespread filesharing to any reduction in sales.

There is no probative harm. And as far as I'm concerned, nobody has the right to prevent me from doing something that cannot be shown to harm others.

is exactly the reason the laws have been written the way they are (i.e., to make the act of downloading itself illegal).

Your laws, not mine.

I just find the rationalization of downloaders to be intellectually dishonest.

The only anti-filesharing argument that I find remotely compelling is that if you completely ignore sales and money (as I do, for the reasons stated), you are still infringing a copyright.

But that's only remotely compelling; I as an individual am only willing to extend a copyright to a point where the rightsholder may prevent harm to himself. That is, harm can be shown if I duplicate a Spider-Man 2 DVD and sell it to someone.

Look, we break the law all the time where it harms none -- I will jaywalk downtown when the oncoming one-way traffic is stopped at the light, for example. There is nothing intellectually dishonest about rationalizing an act by claiming that there is no harm; that is the default position -- harm must be proven, and so far there has been no compelling evidence doing so.
posted by solid-one-love at 8:47 AM on February 11, 2005


Yes and no. Focus pullers, script supervisors, and most of the other people on the set get fixed wages. Piracy-by-people-who-would-otherwise-buy-a-DVD hurts them indirectly, by decreasing the expected return on a movie, and, therefore, the amount that a studio is willing to pay in wages.

I'm having trouble imagining the studios paying more for wages then they have to, regardless of expected return. Maybe I'm clueless as to how the system works though.

If there were less movies being produced, and less jobs available as a result of piracy, I could buy that. But it doesn't really seem to me like there are less movies coming out.
posted by ODiV at 8:57 AM on February 11, 2005


There is a huge difference between the theft of real property and the distribution of intellectual property.

Indeed. One is taking something that doesn't belong to you, and the other is merely taking something that doesn't belong to you.
posted by kindall at 9:12 AM on February 11, 2005


solid-one-love.
I'm glad you have this attitude to file-sharing. How's this for an experiment.
I've started to steal the recipe's that you put up on your blog.
As you say, no compelling evidence to harm and you're unlikely to make any money from it anyway.
Tomorrow, I'm going to rip everything I can that looks good and that you wrote and I'll surround it on my own site with Google ads. And I'll not stop doing that until I get the cease and desist.
posted by seanyboy at 9:16 AM on February 11, 2005


I assume we can all agree that the industry is damaged by downloading, to some degree (whether that's $10,000 or $1 billion).

That’s not a good assumption. At this point I’m not willing to concede that, and I am pretty sure I am not alone. I’m not making a point about ethics. That is a separate discussion. My point is that it is not an obvious conclusion to some of us that the movie industry is being harmed in any scrutable way.

Certainly P2P file sharing makes a compelling target for media companies and their lawyers; with the technological intermediary there is the possibility of proving copyright infringement without busting into people's homes. How does this activity compare with untrackable forms of sharing? How many people are lending their DVDs to friends? And what about the used DVD market? What percentage of sharing and copyright infringement does P2P actually make possible that would not be happening in other forms? And then, once you have that number, can you prove damage?

While I acknowledge that it is possible that the industry is damaged by downloading, I have not yet seen compelling evidence that would lead me to even concede on that small point, particularily in light of record profits. It’s possible to make a case that the effect of P2P is negligable, or even beneficial to the industry.

Apparently Meet the Fockers was a high traffic P2P file. (I have not seen it.) January 5, 2005: North American box office champ Meet the Fockers helped push overall movie sales to a new record in 2004, and the sequel film earned almost as much after two weekends as the original, Meet the Parents, drew in its entire run, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

Did we not go through this twenty-five years ago with "Home taping is killing music"?
posted by KS at 9:46 AM on February 11, 2005


you're unlikely to make any money from it anyway.

Already do, already have, through my Amazon affiliates. Likely to do more, as the book is coming along nicely.

Tomorrow, I'm going to rip everything I can that looks good and that you wrote and I'll surround it on my own site with Google ads. And I'll not stop doing that until I get the cease and desist.

As I have implied, when you start to make money on it, you're inflicting harm. Vis: "That is, harm can be shown if I duplicate a Spider-Man 2 DVD and sell it to someone."

By the way: in a digitally copied work, the original author is credited. You're simply an asshole.
posted by solid-one-love at 9:46 AM on February 11, 2005


Kindall, you seem very fuzzy on the whole concept of intellectual property. Intellectual property is a temporary monopoly on the right to make copies of a specific intangible thing.

Let's say you have Thing X, and I make a perfect duplicate of it that I name Thing Y. You still have Thing X, and can toddle along happily with it.

I have not 'taken anything' from you. I have infringed on your temporary state-enforced monopoly. As a writer, I certainly see how important these sorts of protections can be, but calling a spade a spade in these discussions is important.
posted by verb at 9:50 AM on February 11, 2005


Can't speak for solid-one-love seanyboy but I'd have no problem with it. I have a very RMS take on IP. I believe that not does information want to be free but that it should be free and over strong IP laws are bad both for society and business. It pisses me off to no end that **AAs have managed to pervert something that was supposed to be for a limited time and made it effectively perpetual. I get so mad I could lick the white crud off a battery terminal everytime I think about the fact that works (often based on the Public Domain) created before I was born will not enter the public domain until after I'm dead.

I'm not Ghandi. I see no reason to play fair with someone who isn't playing fair with me (no record broadcast flag, Region Coding of DVDs, CDs whose "copy protection" isn't standards compliant, non-escrowed registration schemes that mean when a company goes out of business you can't reinstall the software you have licensed, strong arming resellers of software, artists stopping people from taking pictures of "art" bought by the public for public spaces, governments requiring anything but copying fees for data collected with public money, [fill in your blatantly unfair practice here].)

It makes my day everytime I receive a DMCA C&D. The DMCA is not only a bad law in the legal sense but it is also an unethical law and stiffiling of innovation.

I assume we can all agree that the industry is damaged by downloading
I don't agree. The fact that the **AAs can post record profits (both in absolute terms and per unit shipped) despite all the "theft" should raise an eyebrow or two.

I assume we can all agree that the industry is damaged by downloading
Even if that was true, I don't think it is, the net gain to society as a whole could be greater than the losses to a specific industry. The **AAs are looking more like modern day buggy whip manufactures everyday and bad laws trying to push back the tide are bad for everyone.

Onb preview ditto KS.
posted by Mitheral at 9:52 AM on February 11, 2005


I acknowledged no such thing -- where do you see that?

Here: "Harm can only be shown if the download is actually preventing a sale. In the vast, vast vast majority of downloads, this is not the case." In other words, in a tiny, tiny minority of downloads that is the case. Multiply that tiny, tiny minority times the number of downloads, and you have lost sales on a macro level.

and disagree that it doesn't hold up on a macro level, as there has been no compelling evidence linking widespread filesharing to any reduction in sales.

Now you're just being fatuous. Hence my "intellectual dishonesty" claim. Are you really contending there have been no lost sales from filesharing?

on preview: I have not yet seen compelling evidence that would lead me to even concede on that small point, particularily in light of record profits.

Record profits have nothing to do with it, unless you're Robin Hood. A company is damaged if it makes a profit of $499 million instead of $500 million.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:53 AM on February 11, 2005


A lot of you are playing right into the MPAA's hands. My sense is that lowkee didn't give them anything they could use on 99.99% of users (in terms of logs), but they included the gag order in their settlement to keep him from telling us that, so that people would panic.

First point: the MPAA is not suing individual downloaders. If you didn't originate a torrent, you're almost certainly fine.

Second point: Even if the MPAA began suing individual downloaders, they'd only sue the very largest of the uploaders. So 95% of downloaders are fine *even if* they start suing downloaders, which they're not.

Third point: if your originated torrents but not in the last couple of months, you're probably fine. Trackers aren't designed to keep copius logs - why would they be? - so, even if lowkee screwed everybody as much as possible, he could only possibly have been keeping logs for the past couple of months. This is why I think lowkee didn't give them anything they can use, and the whole thing about logs is just a scare tactic.

So everybody just calm down. The odds are tiny that you'll be sued. Don't let the MPAA win by panicking.
posted by gd779 at 9:56 AM on February 11, 2005


Electricians, lighting techs, grips, make-up artists, set designers -- these people do not get paid in percentage points of the movie's box office gross. They get a salary, which is unaffected by how well the movie does. So, why should they care whether a movie is being pirated?

(even assuming piracy is correllated with lower ticket sales, which nobody has proven, or presented any evidence of to my knowledge -- though I'm sure I could, with 15 minutes Googling, show you at least circumstantial evidence that the opposite was true)

The answer is that the people behind the scenes of movies shouldn't really give a shit, unless internet piracy starts causing fewer movies to be made, which, again, isn't being suggested by anybody, and would be counterfactual to what we're seeing with our own eyes. The ONLY people who get directly affected by lower ticket sales, in any measurable way, are the movie studios, to whom your money goes, the directors, producers, and some actors who are lucky enough to get points in their contract.
posted by Hildago at 9:57 AM on February 11, 2005


kindall, you seem very fuzzy on the whole concept of intellectual property.

It's true that I've only paid attention to intellectual property for twenty years or so, so I can see how I might still be fuzzy on it.

Let's say you have Thing X, and I make a perfect duplicate of it that I name Thing Y. You still have Thing X, and can toddle along happily with it.

See, the problem with this is -- I own Thing Y. Thing X is mine, and there is no magic in the act of copying that makes the copy yours. And taking something that doesn't belong to you is the very definition of theft. Saying "That's not theft, it's copyright infringement!" is like saying "That's not killing, it's murder!" Copyright infringement is a category of theft.
posted by kindall at 10:04 AM on February 11, 2005


I see no reason to play fair with someone who isn't playing fair with me

My sentiments exactly.

Seany can put all the recipes he likes of mine on his site so long as he credits me. (On a sober second look, surrounding my work with Google ads isn't going to cost me a cent and can only increase my exposure.)

If he doesn't credit me, of course, I'll just phone up Purple Paw, his provider, and have him shut down. Shrug. And then have my buddies in Wuhstuh break his jaw and maybe that of his youngest blood relative. Shrug.

And now pardonyou:

In other words, in a tiny, tiny minority of downloads that is the case. Multiply that tiny, tiny minority times the number of downloads, and you have lost sales on a macro level.

Nope, sorry. I don't buy it. That's not what I said or implied, and you are making a false implication.

Now you're just being fatuous.

No, I'm being truthful. There is none, zero, nada. There is as much evidence that filesharing reduces sales on a macro level as there is of the existence of gods. None.

Are you really contending there have been no lost sales from filesharing?

I don't have to make that contention; innocence is the default position and you have to show otherwise.

A company is damaged if it makes a profit of $499 million instead of $500 million.

Please provide compelling evidence that they didn't make that million dollars. You might win the Nobel Prize for Economics.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:07 AM on February 11, 2005


Curiously, a posting here dated 11/30/04 says:

"LokiTorrent has made an out of court deal with the MPAA and so have shut down. Ed Webber, the site owner, is to hand over $1,000,000 and all the activity logs. Some say users are now at high risk, but there will be over 1gb of logs for everyday Loki was up and keeping logs. Some releasers may be in danger if they do not keep a low profile for a while."

Today, the LA Times [reg req.] reports the same thing.

So, I'm with phirleh, I smell a sell-out.
posted by DBAPaul at 10:07 AM on February 11, 2005


Record profits have nothing to do with it, unless you're Robin Hood. A company is damaged if it makes a profit of $499 million instead of $500 million.

Clearly we have a different working definition of damage.
posted by KS at 10:09 AM on February 11, 2005


And taking something that doesn't belong to you is the very definition of theft.

Copyright infringement is not theft. Labelling it as such is like shouting "abortion is murder!" or "a woman's right to choose, always!" -- you might as well put up a soundproof wall between you and everyone else, because we stop listening.

Copyright infringement is not a category of theft, by any stretch of the imagination. Well, actually, I guess it is, but only in the imagination.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:09 AM on February 11, 2005


Ignore that, the referred posting was updated.
posted by DBAPaul at 10:10 AM on February 11, 2005


It's true that I've only paid attention to intellectual property for twenty years or so, so I can see how I might still be fuzzy on it.

If this is your comprehension level of the situation after 20 years of involvement, you might wish to consider a new hobby.
posted by davelog at 10:37 AM on February 11, 2005


One is taking something that doesn't belong to you, and the other is merely taking something that doesn't belong to you.

Exactly. Except that one of those things, after you take it, it's still there. And there's no way to prevent anyone from "taking" it in this fashion. And the only sense in which it "belongs to you" is in the sense that there is a (flimsy) legal apparatus that you could potentially employ to attempt to prevent people from sending numbers to each other.

Despite the best efforts of our illustrious legislators to violate the nature of the universe we live in, the fact is that numbers cost next to nothing to transmit, copy, store, or modify. If you don't like it, take it up with Claude Shannon, or get a business model that doesn't rely on up being down to remain solvent.

Personal feelings about "artist's rights" have nothing to do with it; the economics seem to indicate pretty clearly where our society is headed.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:51 AM on February 11, 2005


It could be argued that IP laws bring benefit to society by encouraging artists, much like patents encourage inventors. But instead, they have resulted in a decrease in the quality, because of the volume of sales of mass copied works. If Mozart wanted to get paid, he had to write something good enough for a sponsor to pay for it. A folk artist had to perform each time he got paid. Shakespeare had to write something popular and then put on performances for each time he was paid. Has the quality (or even quantity) of music, art and acting increased proportionally with the increase earnings caused by IP laws and reproduction? I believe that not only has it not, but that it has shifted artistic control to large companies who can "make" artists popular.
posted by 445supermag at 11:00 AM on February 11, 2005


In the past year the RIAA and MPAA have made more money from Bittorrent vis a vis my subsequent purchases of various CDs and DVDs, than they did in the previous ten years.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:02 AM on February 11, 2005


What happens if I memorize a song?


karaoke?
posted by matteo at 11:13 AM on February 11, 2005


I've never download a movie (well, a non-porn one anyway) but I do download a lot of TV shows to send to my brother in Iraq. If bit torrent went away tomorrow, I would still Tivo these shows, transfer them to VHS and send them over. Am I still violating the same laws?

So, are all the people slamming filesharing saying that if a friend said, "hey, can I borrow that VHS tape of Desperate Housewifes from last night" you would say, "Sorry, I can't. It's for private use only."

This is that same argument that went on 25-odd years ago. And the MPAA lost that one.
posted by Cyrano at 11:22 AM on February 11, 2005


Kindall: And taking something that doesn't belong to you is the very definition of theft.

But isn't "taking" the very definition of taking?

Or, rephrased:

"Taking something that doesn't belong to you is the very defintion of theft. However, copying something protected by law from copying is not the very definition of theft, it is the very definition of violating IP law."
posted by Bugbread at 11:26 AM on February 11, 2005


Kindall, if I was to take something of yours, you would no longer have it. If I copy something you created or own the rights to, you still have your creation. I now have it too, and I am not necessarily saying my making a copy is ethical, but in no way can it be construed as taking it from you. I may have taken potential profits. I may have taken a chunk of your eventual estate. I may even have stolen a chunk of your soul -- but, in no way, have I stolen your property.

I don't follow your logic. As someone who has followed this issue for twenty years, perhaps you can explain to me why copyright violators are not charged with theft, dragged into criminal court and if convicted sent to prison? This is a serious question. If as you put it, copyright infringement is a category of theft, why are they treated differently by the US judicial system?
posted by cedar at 11:41 AM on February 11, 2005


Clearly we have a different working definition of damage.

What's important is that you and the government do, and that's all that matters.

Please provide compelling evidence that they didn't make that million dollars. You might win the Nobel Prize for Economics.

Sure, that's technically unprovable, but come on. Look at it this way- Company X charges $Y for product Z. People discover that it's possible to get Z for $0. Do you HONESTLY expect ANYONE to not believe that X is selling fewer units of Z and therefore making less money? Even if you factor in the number of "good samaritans" who buy Z after getting it for $0, you're not going to cover the gap caused by people who just take the $0 version and walk away.

I despise the economics of commercial art distribution as much as anyone, but the logical and rhetorical leaps made by filesharers fly in the face of reality and reek more of trying to convince themselves than anyone else.
posted by mkultra at 11:57 AM on February 11, 2005


Sure, that's technically unprovable

I guess the accusations of harm can be ended, then.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:59 AM on February 11, 2005


Please provide compelling evidence that they didn't make that million dollars. You might win the Nobel Prize for Economics.

In major litigations this problem occurs frequently. The solution is to have dueling experts opining as to the effect upon the plaintiff's sales due to the misdeeds of the defendant.
posted by caddis at 12:09 PM on February 11, 2005


It's my gut feeling -- and I have absolutely no hard evidence for this -- that yes, filesharing has prevented sales of inferior products. And it's increased the sales of superior products. More people getting the product for free means greater exposure means more positive word of mouth means more sales, almost certainly more new sales than were lost by people downloading. Because a significant percentage of both the freeloaders and those who buy the product wouldn't have known it was worthwhile if it weren't for filesharing.

Someday, maybe not soon but it's getting closer, all media will be available for free, and all revenue from media will be payed by people who have already enjoyed it and deemed it worthy of being rewarded.

And it will be good.
posted by squidlarkin at 12:11 PM on February 11, 2005


mkultra: Joe Pirate may not spend $Y on Z, but he may spend >$Y on Q, R, and S, which he would not have heard of if not for getting them off p2p.

Now, this is also unprovable, and just as useless an argument, because if we were debating, we can only base our beliefs on which scenario we feel is more plausible.

Expected earnings - actual earnings != loss.
on preview: what squidlarkin said.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:14 PM on February 11, 2005


Do you HONESTLY expect ANYONE to not believe that X is selling fewer units of Z and therefore making less money?

No, I don't. And, just like you, I'm bothered by the logical gaps being used. However (hopefully), like you, I am bothered by the logical gaps being used on both sides.

It was really brought home to me when I was like 12 years old, and, unbeknownst to my dad, had gotten a pirated copy of Corel Draw (which then sold for something like $400 or so). I remember him reading something about how much the software industry was losing due to piracy, and him arguing the point that any pirated product was, ipso facto, a lost sale and therefore lost revenue. I remember thinking, "If he really believes that, he would really believe that I, on my $20 a month allowance, would have actually bought Corel Draw for $400?!"

So, yes, I believe that piracy hurts the industry. I buy far fewer CDs than I did before p2p arrived. I still buy CDs, but only if the artist is signed to a non-RIAA label. In my opinion, what I'm doing (piracy) is often wrong (not always, of course. For example, the only way I can watch certain television shows is to download them, as they are not shown or sold in Japan). However, what the RIAA is doing is also wrong. As such, I'll give my money to artists that get a significant share of my sale, but if an artist has chosen to team up with the mafia (or the equivalent), I'll take the good (their music), and not the bad (money in the RIAA's pocket), even if I realize it's not the right thing to do.

Of course, the irony about being a professed hypocrite is that your opinion is automatically devalued, even beyond the opinions of unprofessed but actual hypocrites.
posted by Bugbread at 12:16 PM on February 11, 2005


Fair enough bugbread, but my response to the "I wasn't going to buy it anyway" is that every illegally-obtained copy of music/film/software/whatever adds up to a cumulative decline in the perceived value of it. I haven't seen this in the music or film industry yet, but it's certainly present in the software world. I can't tell you how many people I know just assume that I can (nay, ought to) just give them a copy of MS Office or Photoshop by installing it from my disk. The perceived value of those products in the public space has dwindled to almost zero because they're so widely pirated.
posted by mkultra at 12:32 PM on February 11, 2005


The perceived value of those products in the public space has dwindled to almost zero because they're so widely pirated.

If they would just sell them for what they are worth they might not get pirated so much. These are very popular and pricey software packages. Buy them together at retail and that is about the price of an inexpensive computer. Price them at $100 to $150 and the percentage of illegal copies would drop dramatically.
posted by caddis at 12:40 PM on February 11, 2005


Hadn't really thought of that, but you're right. I bought Win XP, managed to lose the disc, and am steamed that due to the startup verification, I'll probably have to buy another copy. If I transpose that to losing a DVD, or a walkman, or any other physical good, all the annoyance is at myself, not the product.

However, I would say that while that's an unfortunate result of piracy, I don't think it falls within the criminal scope. It's a little hard to clearly state my thoughts on this, though. The closest analogy is, for example, (pretending that the Fair Use doctrine didn't exist, for the purpose of the argument), putting up screenshots of the bad guy in some monster or SF movie, and everyone thinking that it looks like crap, and that they won't go to see the movie. Arguing that screenshotting is illegal (in this hypothetical context) seems valid, but arguing that one reason it should be cracked down on harshly is because screenshots may dissuade people from buying the product seems like a tenuous link.

I'm not inferring that you're saying that copies of MS Office or Photoshop have perceived declined value due to flaws. As I say, my comparison is weak, but the best I can come up with on short notice. However, I do think that there are certain revenue losses that can be used as anti-piracy arguments (professional photographers with pirated Photoshop, etc.), but "dilution of perceived value" seems like it's going into the silly end.
posted by Bugbread at 12:42 PM on February 11, 2005


The perceived value of those products in the public space has dwindled to almost zero because they're so widely pirated.

You've got to be kidding. Both Adobe and Microsoft have a long history of encouraging piracy in certain areas to increase market share, and then attempting to enforce the copyright through the legal system (with taxpayer money.) They've made their own beds.

Talk instead about the perceived value of music or movies; these industries face new threats to their business model, and are not reacting well at all, but at least they can't be blamed for instigating the problem and then crying for bailouts.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:53 PM on February 11, 2005


And the only sense in which it "belongs to you" is in the sense that there is a (flimsy) legal apparatus that you could potentially employ to attempt to prevent people from sending numbers to each other.

Well, there is the moral sense in which all creative work belongs to its creator, but -- hey, look over there, free movies!
posted by kindall at 12:57 PM on February 11, 2005


Well, there is the moral sense in which all creative work belongs to its creator

Er, which moral system is this part of?
posted by Bugbread at 1:04 PM on February 11, 2005


Well, there is the moral sense in which all creative work belongs to its creator, but -- hey, look over there, free movies!

Admittedly, your own conceptions of moral behavior were not taken into account by my previous analysis. A huge oversight.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:05 PM on February 11, 2005


Focus pullers, script supervisors, and most of the other people on the set get fixed wages. Piracy-by-people-who-would-otherwise-buy-a-DVD hurts them indirectly, by decreasing the expected return on a movie, and, therefore, the amount that a studio is willing to pay in wages.

Is this true? Did the focus pullers and script supervisors for Spider-Man 2 get paid more than those for Sideways?
posted by Kevin1911 at 2:20 PM on February 11, 2005


Kevin1911: I think you're misinterpreting the statement. It's not that "pirating an individual movie will decrease the amount that a studio is willing to pay in wages for people involved in that particular movie" (after all, that would violate plenty of laws of physics regarding causation and time), but that "If there's lots of pirating, studios expect less overall revenue, and will then squeeze the focus pullers, script supervisors, etc. on future projects, anticipating similar levels of piracy loss"

The initial statement doesn't presuppose that people on fixed wages get paid differently for different jobs. In fact, through the use of the phrase "fixed wage", it pretty explicitly states the opposite.

And just for reference, I'm not arguing that this position is true. It just seems like you're misinterpreting the statement you're opposing.
posted by Bugbread at 2:31 PM on February 11, 2005


mkultra: The perceived value of those products in the public space has dwindled to almost zero because they're so widely pirated.

I think it's more that the whole IP sphere is understandably counter intuitive. Compare a piece of software with say a hammer. When I buy a hammer Estwing doesn't care what I do with that hammer. I can pound nails, tenderize steak, sell it on eBay, lend it to my buddy, grind the head to a custom shape to better suit my purpose, set up a lending library, publish a review of the hammer or donate it to charity. Compare with software.

Despite the fact I can go into any [Insert name of Evil Big Box Here] and buy a disk containing a software product the maker's of the software product are only selling me a license to use the thing I've just bought. Despite the fact that I often can't examine the license before I enter into the contract (and unless it's GPL practically every license is different) the maker insists I only use the software in the proscribed manner. Most commercial licenses will say you can't lend the software to a friend. They will often say you can't resell the software (imagine if book sellers had managed to defeat the first sale docturine?) or in any way transfer the software to someone else, even donations to charity. They'll for sure say you can not reverse engineer the product or change it to make it work better for you and most will restrict how many back up copies of the fragile CD you can make (because despite the fact you are buying a license it's actually about the disk). Some software will restrict you from making comments about the software (good or bad). Some software will restrict which computer you can install it on.

My favourite software license WTF is Windows Server and Client Access Licenses. Microsoft sells a OS product specifically designed to serve files and services to other machines. But wait, if you actually have the nerve to connect other machines to that server you have to buy additional licenses for each machine or client connecting.

To contrast back against real property can you imagine Ford trying to get you to sign a contract when you bought a car that limited who you could sell your used car to? That limited your ability to rave about the car or tell others that the car sucked. Could you imagine Dodge selling you a pick up and then telling you that if you want to haul a load of gravel you must first buy a licence? And if you want to haul fence boards next week you'll need another license for that different load. Can you imagine Toyota telling you you couldn't tint the windows on your corrolla or Honda not allowing you to change the seats?

kindall: Well, there is the moral sense in which all creative work belongs to its creator, but -- hey, look over there, free movies!

No work exists in a vacuum. For copyright holders to mine the public domain and at the same time insist nothing they create enter the public domain is both unethical and (as long as no one organisation owns all IP) short sited as a business plan.

Copyright law isn't based on morals. It's a deal between the public and creators. The public agrees to safe guard the creators work from large scale systematic infringment for a limited time. In exchange the artist distributes works rather than burying them in their back yard. At the end of the protected time the work transfers to the public domain. Under this model everyone wins. The artist gets to try and make some cash to feed his family, the public gets to see the work and after a limited time the fields of the public domain are enriched. Unfortuantely copyright holders are attempting to welch on their half of the deal. See my post earlier for examples of the many ways this is being accomplished. The public is pushing back.

The Star Wars fan boys get this on a gut feeling level even if they can't articulate it. They all feel betrayed by what has been done to parts of their childhood memories by George Lucas. Note that the orignal copyright agreement in force in the US would have seen Episode Six enter the public domain last year allowing the fan boys to legally trade and preserve copies of the feature release of the film. They even would be allowed to make (horror) derivaties which would be (gasp) copyrightable. Of course Lucas would be out a few million. Woe is he. Note that now, even if I live to past my expected lifespan by ten years Star Wars will not have entered the public domain before I die.
posted by Mitheral at 2:34 PM on February 11, 2005


Make that Episode Four would have entered the public domain. bloody jedi on my mind .. .. ...
posted by Mitheral at 2:41 PM on February 11, 2005


Haha!

Thank you!11!!one!!!

Cute!
posted by erratic frog at 1:47 AM on February 12, 2005


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