Skip

Recording Industry vs. The People
August 28, 2005 2:38 AM   Subscribe

Recording Industry vs. The People
I just got so aggravated about how threatening they were. I didn't do anything wrong. Why should I pay them? Patricia Santangelo looks to be the first person to take a file-sharing lawsuit to trial instead of settling with the RIAA. Now, with the help of the EFF, her lawyers have started a blog where you can track the case's progress. Is the RIAA making any friends these days?
posted by TunnelArmr (32 comments total)

 
I hope she not only wins, but also defeats the appeal that will likely ensue. Would be nice to have a big, middle-finger-esque precedent that tells the RIAA to go fornicate itself with an iron rod.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 3:24 AM on August 28, 2005


I was not aware that the RIAA was interested in having friends, other than the ones they've been buying.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:27 AM on August 28, 2005


The outcome of this case will have zero effect on file sharing.

On a tangential note, when did former RIAA chief, Hilary Rosen, become a liberal lesbian activist?
posted by euphorb at 4:01 AM on August 28, 2005


I don't care if she has a girlfriend, when did she start almost making sense? And linking to the EFF?
posted by loquacious at 4:09 AM on August 28, 2005


Love the initial court conference (before Santangelo had a lawyer). The judge wasn't taking any crap from the RIAA:
MR. MASCHIO: We would just like -- we think it's appropriate for herto say, yes, I did this or, no, I did not do this under oath...

THE COURT: First of all, you didn't file a verified complaint, and she doesn't have to file a verified answer. So she doesn't have to do anything under oath.
Then later, when the RIAA lawyer didn't want to give the defendant his card, asking her to deal with the RIAA's "conference center" instead:
THE COURT: If you are here, you are here as an officer of the court. You're taking up my time and cluttering up my calendar, so you will do it in the context of the Court. Maybe it will be with a magistrate judge, but you will be representing your client, not some conference center. And if your people want things to be done through the conference center, tell them not to bring lawsuits.
posted by grouse at 4:16 AM on August 28, 2005


THE COURT: -- I live in perpetual fear that something I don't know my kids are doing is going to come back and biteme in the butt. And the difference between you and me, Ms. Santangelo, if it happens to me, it will be in the headlines of the New York Post.

THE COURT: So, anyway, you have my sympathy. I mean, I can look at this list and I can look at you and I can see that you weren't the person who downloaded these pieces.

This seems to be one thing the UK and the USA have in common. We elect our politicians but we do not elect our judges. I'd place my trust in the hands of a judge over the hands of a politician any day of the week.
posted by nthdegx at 6:11 AM on August 28, 2005


Yeah, some good stuff here.

"THE COURT: Okay. Well, I think it would be a really
good idea for you to get a lawyer, because I would love to see a mom fighting one of these.

MS. SANTANGELO: Okay."

But anyway, this is not going to make file sharing legal or slap down the RIAA or anything. There is no denial here that it happened or that it should be allowed, just an admission that it was the kids who did it.

The mom is blaming Kazaa.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:27 AM on August 28, 2005


Nice stuff, I like the judge's attitude.
posted by OmieWise at 6:45 AM on August 28, 2005


OK, I finally have to give in, and get involved in one of these discussions.

Put aside the particulars of this woman's case, and talk about copyrights and how the affect the original *creators* of materials. Illegal downloads aren't just screwing over some crappy corporation. They're screwing over the songwriters. And not all songwriters are wealthy rockstars.

I used to be a musician, and I am a writer. I know that the writers of songs make a few pennies per sale.

And I know it sucks that if you buy a CD it stills cost so much. But a lot of expenses in life suck - my rent, my taxes, the cost of a plasma TV. People pay lots of money for lots of things. But when they get music or other entertainment without paying for it, do they think about the *artists* who are being cheated out of compensation.

Would you keep doing your job if someone was finding a way to use your skills without paying you?

I remember reading an interview with that prick Michael Phelps, who when asked about the music on his player admitted it was illegal DLs. And I thought jeebus, the guy makes like 20 mil/year in endorsements and he can't even pay for the tunes he listens to before one of his bigtime swims?

I just don't have a sense that kids, in general, even think about this. But are the adults here in favor of paying *something* for their own copy of a song, like through itunes?
posted by NorthernLite at 7:24 AM on August 28, 2005


Northernlite, are you getting paid less for writing songs now than you were 10 years ago? Is the music industry less profitable right now than it used to be?
posted by Hildegarde at 7:44 AM on August 28, 2005


I just don't have a sense that kids, in general, even think about this. But are the adults here in favor of paying *something* for their own copy of a song, like through itunes?

Well, I wouldn't buy a song from iTunes because I won't buy music that's encumbered by a bunch of crappy DRM, but putting that aside...

I can't speak for all the adults on MetaFilter, but I can speak for myself. For myself:
  1. My employer pays me, and if other people benefit from the work that my employer pays me for without also paying me, I don't much care or if I do care, I actually feel good about it not cheated. There are a number of ways that an artist can be compensated that doesn't require a penny for every copy of the song on every computer in the world.
  2. I don't accept the premise that an artist is cheated if I don't buy a song that I wouldn't have purchased anyway. There is no additional cost to the artist, only a potential loss of revenue, and most of that potential isn't really potential at all. I think a lot of these downloads barely get listened to and certainly wouldn't have been purchased. It's a one off kind of thing or it's a completion kind of thing and both have a value that is very, very low. Not every time obviously, but enough times that it doesn't bother me in the least
  3. I know that for myself, I have purchased songs I wouldn't otherwise have purchased because I downloaded, which means file sharing at least in my case is a net win for artists not a net loss. And I don't care at all if some people think it should be up to the artist to make that choice for themselves. In this day and age, if you put your creation out into public, you've made your choice. Whether you would prefer to be able to make a different choice isn't a factor for me, and I doubt that you could persuade me to view that differently.
  4. I think that copyright was originally created to expand the arts and sciences for the public, but I don't believe that it currently does that (if it ever did that). Rather, I think copyright is used to restrict the amount of content that is available to the public, so I actually get a juvenile thrill by flouting it.
posted by willnot at 8:09 AM on August 28, 2005


Northernlite, are you getting paid less for writing songs now than you were 10 years ago?

Although I tried my hand at songwriting, I'm not actively involved in it. But as mentioned above, songwriters get paid PER COPY SOLD. So if less copies of songs are being bought through legit means, then yes, it's logical to assume songwriters are making less than they would be making if everyone bought a copy legally.

Actually, songwriters make money in two ways - when people purchase a copy of the song, and for broadcast play. Screenwriters often just get a flat fee, or sometimes a share of distribution rights.

But often the creators are not making as much as some might assume. So I resent people who make a good income in some other profession who have kind of a cavalier attitude towards artists, or perhaps don't even realize how little most of them make.

People deserve fair compensation for the work they do, especially something that requires originality/creativity.

Most remarkably to me, some people don't even stop to think that a work is *created* by someone.

True story - a number of years ago I told someone I was working on a screenplay. I got this incredibly blank look from him. So I said, well, I'd really like to sell to TV. A bit more chatting, and I realized - this guy didn't even seem to understand that people *wrote* the dramas/comedies he watched on TV or in the theatre.
I'd heard writers jokes that people think the actors make it up as they go along - but I didn't realize that's actually true.

I've worked in many areas of the arts, in front of and behind the scenes. Being in the arts in the US is often a challenge, whether you're trying to raise funds for a major cultural organization, or make it as an artist/writer yourself.

Now, I wouldn't trade my talents and my interests for some other profession that's better paying but seems boring to me like engineering or corporate law. Not ever.

But I think this attitude of "I'm getting away with not paying for this" is a bit infantile and unethical, and perhaps a symptom of a lack of regard for the artist in our culture.
posted by NorthernLite at 9:17 AM on August 28, 2005


I buy a lot of couches. I mean, A LOT of couches. I'm into the comfort thing, lounging around my apartment (it's big, to fit so many couches). On a good Saturday night I find myself at the furniture warehouse with all the hip kids in town. The door charge is totally worth all the great couches I get to laze about in. But lemme tell ya, a couch is expensive. It looks even more so when you spend the percentage of income that I do on couches. So I carefully evaluate every couch I'm interested in before I buy it. I sit in it, make some time for the cushions to mold to my ass, get up and walk around for a bit, then sit down again. It takes a bit of time, but the people who sell me the couch understand that I'm seriously considering investing in their couch, and that if I like it I'll recommend the model to everyone I meet at the next warehouse blowout or online. If it fits, I buy it. If not, next couch! Some couch retailers don't understand my situation, and I just don't buy couches from them. But I do buy couches; not as many as I try out, true, but a lot of couches nonetheless.
posted by carsonb at 9:25 AM on August 28, 2005


What carsonb said.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:43 AM on August 28, 2005


I'd place my trust in the hands of a judge over the hands of a politician any day of the week.

*shudder*

You, my friend, have not been in courts enough. There are some judges out there who would make you blood run cold if you ever thought any aspect of your life was in their control. The ideal of the election system is accountability. Now maybe both our countries are in a situation where that seems to be falling by the wayside, but judges face almost none.

NorthernLite, I think the problem here has nothing to do with people not understanding there are a rock band behind rock songs. That's kind of ridiculous to posit. The problem has to do with people being made aware of the massive multinational that is between them and popular music. I, for one, am not going to pay a goddam dime for the steppenwolf albums I loved in my childhood because steppenwolf isn't getting any of that money. And it's even more frustrating with artists who have been dead for years and years. Who exactly is benefitting here?

Furthermore, let's not forget that this spate of shitheaded behaviour by the riaa began not with napster, but with cd burners. They don't just want to stop you from being a giant music pirate. They want to stop you from sharing music with your freinds. And before you get all "well digital is a whole different ballgame" remember that the industry has tried to stop sharing at every step, from tape sharing all the way back to player pianos (go ahead and google those, if you don't believe me).

So, yes, I pay artists. I go to see the ones I love. I buy music from them directly whenever I can. But, and I say this as someone who's in the middle of a cd release, if you want to stop me from making a mix cd with your tracks, or burning a copy to turn my friends on, well you just lost a customer.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:43 AM on August 28, 2005


But I think this attitude of "I'm getting away with not paying for this" is a bit infantile and unethical

I don't believe any expressed this sentiment here. If this was a political thread would have point to this and make much wittier comments than I am capable of concerning straw-men.

If you want people to pay for music online, don't just fight the downloaders. Fight the system that makes the only legitimate option for buying music so unattractive that people will break the law to avoid it. If I buy a song, I want to have full rights to play that song on any peice of hardware or with any software that I choose. Anything less than that is an unacceptable choice to me. Why would I pay for something that is less useful to me than the free version?
posted by aburd at 9:51 AM on August 28, 2005


The problem is that the RIAA is clinging to an outdated model AND at every step in this process, their response to the problem has been the WRONG one.

Now, don't think I am 100% condoning illegal acts, but sometimes the victim DOES bring it upon themselves. Just to toss out a hypothetical - if you had a bank which had no vault and never locked its doors at night, could you possibly NOT blame the bank for inviting the inevitable robbery?

When Napster came on the scene, *no one* knew about it. We're talking a tiny, tiny faction of one percent of the public. Such a tiny fraction that it could never harm the RIAA's profits in any way.

What did they do? They publicized it. (Metallica helped) They made sure every human being in the country with an internet connection knew there was free music on teh intarweb and lots of it. Trust me. I worked tech support for a cable ISP at the time. WITHOUT FRICKING FAIL every time the RIAA went whining on the evening news about how horrible the online piracy is, the next day I'd get calls from rednecks wanting to know how to find all that free music.

They could have purchased Napster for a pittance and turned it into a distribution platform right off the bat and saved themselves a lot of trouble.

So they sued Napster into nonexistance and ensured that the number of Napster clones out there would forever make it impossible to prevent more from springing up. So they BUY LEGISLATION that gives them draconian controls over what we can do with our computers. Not just stopping music piracy, but things like saying I can't crack the encryption on a DVD to be able to play it on Linux. Way over the bounds of fair use.

Then they try to go into the online music selling business themselves. But they do so in such a ham-handed way that only a fool would agree to their terms - a dollar or more a song AND with a subscription model that said if you ever stop paying them their monthly extortion, all your "purchased" music goes away forever.

And even then, $1 a song is too much. You pay as much for a lossy, digital-only copy of an album as you would for the album itself with lossess audio, liner notes, jewel case, etc. It's passing the costs onto the consumer and doubling your profits, and it's a stupid business plan. Apple only gets away with it because Apple is trendy and easy-to-use. (and they quietly cultivate a feeling of martyrism)

In the meantime, the general quality of musical output keeps going down and down. They pour more millions into one or two major pop tarts and try to use them to fund everything else in their operations. (from a certain point of view, NOT buying a Britney album in favor of a little-known, barely-gold band actually costs the labels money) Radio becomes a wasteland of crap.

And now what do they do to top things off? SUING THEIR OWN CUSTOMERS! Yeaaahhh! The ultimate example of "just because you CAN do a thing, you might not WANT to do that thing." PR problems galore, and not even fair trials, but blatant barratry against which your average person - guilty or innocent - has virtually no defense. No matter how guilty the file-trader might be, they come off looking like a hero.

So at this point, I'm rooting for the RIAA's downfall. They have proven that their right to exist as an organization is merely a technicality. They clearly have no business in the modern world, and no clue how to ACTUALLY make money or produce products that the people want. (or even how to keep their customers from hating them) The sooner the artists recognize this, the better. The online world offers so many opportunities for profit - legitimate, non-coerced profit - that there's just no excuse for the sort of behavior the RIAA engages in these days.

They're trapped in a 50s model of the world, they have shown a willing resistance to innovation of any sort, and it seems they would rather rewrite all of copyright law and erase our right to actually own what we buy than attempt ANY major change in their business model. At the point they tried to legislate themselves into profittability, they lost any claim to the moral highground in this battle.

Let the most adaptable win.
posted by InnocentBystander at 10:07 AM on August 28, 2005


Rather than just saying, "I buy stuff I download," or "Downloading hurts artists," why don't we try taking a look at the actual evidence? I mean, we have record sales, we have numbers, let's take a look at them. Surely, with the unanimous opinion that the RIAA is completely right that downloading is "theft" in both the law and public opinion, we'll see the numbers bear out their case nicely, no?

No. No, we don't. Instead, we see that every independent study agreeing that file sharing has absolutely no significant effect on record sales.
posted by jefgodesky at 10:33 AM on August 28, 2005


Also, let me point out, again as a person who has been involved in a couple cd releases, and much more second hand. If you want to sue someone for stealing money from artists, you might want to start with the member companies of the RIAA.

Ask any successful artist about record companies and you'll get a litany of fraud, deception, and outright theft. For those that never get successful enough to get laywered up and get some of thier money, they'll just look at you with cold, dead eyes and talk about their new job in an accounting firm.

The RIAA isn't going after grandma's because it gives a rodents' ringpiece about music, artists, or the future of culture. It's doing it because those companies have been making millions off of a rigged game in which they never lose. Ethically, they're right up there with casino owners, and they're about five minutes from breaking legs.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:20 AM on August 28, 2005


But I think this attitude of "I'm getting away with not paying for this" is a bit infantile and unethical, and perhaps a symptom of a lack of regard for the artist in our culture.

Do you feel the same way about people that listen to NPR without subscribing? Or people who watch a street performance and fail to put money in the hat?
posted by euphorb at 11:26 AM on August 28, 2005


I don't care if she has a girlfriend, when did she start almost making sense? And linking to the EFF?
posted by loquacious at 7:09 AM EST on August 28 [!]
Maybe around November of last year, when she wrote: How I Learned to Love Larry
posted by bragadocchio at 11:54 AM on August 28, 2005


The article that turned me from a Hilary Rosen hater.

Rosen always got a bad rep because of the short-sighted morons she was working for, IMO. She went to the labels before Napster and *way* before iTunes and said "listen, the Internet is going to eat your lunch, you'd better do something about it." The labels responded by ignoring her and insisting they could legislate the problem away and basically failing to understand the problem. I'm actually amazed she stuck around as RIAA head for as long as she did. It's good to see she's fighting to reclaim her soul as a democratic lobbyist.

As a further example of how the RIAA still just does not get it, they want to hike the price on legal downloads. The one bright spot in a miserable decade for the music industry, and they want to kill it before it really gets off the ground. The sooner the RIAA just dies, the better.
posted by jimray at 12:19 PM on August 28, 2005


Thanks to file-sharing, I've learned about innumerable artists I would otherwise never have been exposed to, and have given enthusiastically to support them. I've had to order most of my music; the majority of recording labels aren't as effective as the handful of giants at promoting their artists. I get enough of their recommendations about what rocks, who's pretty, what's most demographically pleasing... By doing my part to spread the word, theoretically, an obscure band from Norway could suddenly find out that it has a reason to play in the States, even though most people on the other side of the nearest fjord may have never even heard of them. I suppose it's possible to buy a bootleg concert t-shirt, but not the concert itself.

I think a lot of the fear is that musicians are now able to, and will, skip the "turnstyles" and do it on their own.
posted by hypersloth at 12:34 PM on August 28, 2005


NorthernLite, I think the problem here has nothing to do with people not understanding there are a rock band behind rock songs. That's kind of ridiculous to posit.

Actually, I was pointing out that sometimes there are songwriters behind the singer or band who *aren't* part of the band, who only make money from song sales or broadcast, not from touring, etc.

I, for one, am not going to pay a goddam dime for the steppenwolf albums I loved in my childhood because steppenwolf isn't getting any of that money.

No, again, the songwriter would make money. (And depending upon a band/singer's contract, so would they.)

But I also do agree with points made about the record companies' bad practices.
posted by NorthernLite at 4:23 PM on August 28, 2005


NorthernLite: I know that the writers of songs make a few pennies per sale...Would you keep doing your job if someone was finding a way to use your skills without paying you?

I don't want to start another filesharing morality flamewar, but I will mention this: The argument that you are unfairly being denied payment for your work rarely gains any sympathy amongst the non-artist public. The reason? - They generally only get paid once for their labour.

The fact that you've sold your work with the expectation of continuous license revenue sounds more to them as a failed business model than a grave injustice.
posted by Popular Ethics at 4:39 PM on August 28, 2005 [1 favorite]


I can afford music, but now I just steal it out of spite.
posted by wakko at 4:42 PM on August 28, 2005


Well said, Popular Ethics, and much what I was thinking. One thing that most working people have in common, whether they produce wooden chairs, websites or legal briefs, is that if they want to continue receiving income, they need to continue producing those chairs/sites/briefs. Whether that's a fair way to structure a society isn't for me to judge, but it's the way most people live their lives. With that as the baseline, what is the rational argument for a song, novel or cartoon character continuing to produce revenue for the remainder of its creator's life, and even its creator's children's lives? Seems ta me like all you fancy-pants arteests need to just keep on workin' like the rest of us.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:42 PM on August 28, 2005


$1.00 a song still doesn't cut it. Lower it to a range of .10-.75 and I might bite. But, showing that they are as doomed as the dodo bird (what is the 'intelligent design' version of this concept?) they want to raise prices. Idiots.

If I was an artist or a songwriter I would try to use the net to move those leeches out of the whole process.
posted by UseyurBrain at 9:06 PM on August 28, 2005


RIAA?

Yes, they're making friends.

For me to POOP on!
posted by telstar at 10:05 PM on August 28, 2005


When Napster came on the scene, *no one* knew about it. We're talking a tiny, tiny faction of one percent of the public. Such a tiny fraction that it could never harm the RIAA's profits in any way.

What did they do? They publicized it. (Metallica helped) They made sure every human being in the country with an internet connection knew there was free music on teh intarweb and lots of it.


I'm glad someone made this point. I remember the day I found out about file sharing. I was new to computers then, watching the news somewhere around '99 (I was a little late to the whole computer thing, and unfortunately a little late to Napster), a news piece came on about this very thing, and even gave me a handy address where I could go to look at this horrible crime.

6 years and 250 album purchases later, I would like to think I would have found out about file sharing eventually anyway, but who knows, I could still be a clueless idiot sitting believing that the Top 40 was the only music out there. Instead I've found numerous bands there's no way I would have come across otherwise.

Sorry, I realise this is a little off-topic, but InnocentBystander hit the nail on the head. From day one the RIAA have done nothing but shot themselves in the foot by making people aware of file sharing. Perhaps we should even thank them for this. There are now important bands out there who have given up on the idea of selling their music and are giving it away for free because they realise people are much more likely to get into a band who make their music easily available.
posted by jellyfish at 6:16 AM on August 29, 2005


I expect the RIAA to settle before a decision gets handed down. They won't win this case and they know it.
So they'll put on a dog and pony show, and demonize her at every possible chance. Then at the last second, they'll settle and force her to sign a non-disclosure so no-one will know that their litigation threats are full of crap.
If they lose this case officially, the dam will break loose.
posted by HiveMind at 4:05 PM on August 30, 2005


are the adults here in favor of paying *something* for their own copy of a song, like through itunes?

Nope. Not me. If I download something, like it enough, and it comes in an LP, I buy it. If not, I don't. I don't care if it is copyright infringement, though I'm not so sure the law is settled on that matter.

As an aside, is downloading via HTTP link any different legally compared to downloading via a p2p network? Is it even illegal to download music from an open HTTP directory? How is it different than recording a song off the radio? Is ripping online streaming radio illegal too? Just curious...
posted by mrgrimm at 5:56 PM on September 6, 2005


« Older Why are you wearing that fur raincoat?   |   BBC on broadband Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post