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Be thrifty, kind and a good MPAA brainwashing canidate.
October 20, 2006 9:46 PM   Subscribe

The MPAA has come up with a new way to stop pirating early (PDF), let the scoutmasters drill it into the kids while their brains are still malleable. via
posted by IronLizard (32 comments total)

 
Before the fireworks start, some folks on Digg did point out it was a locally-sanctioned patch, not a merit badge.
posted by rolypolyman at 9:51 PM on October 20, 2006


mmm, nothing like indoctrinating the young!
posted by delmoi at 9:56 PM on October 20, 2006


Why does this look like it was slapped out in fifteen minutes, using mspaint for the patch design?
posted by Pimonkey at 10:17 PM on October 20, 2006


When I was in sixth grade, we watched a video called "Don't Copy That Floppy!" which delivered, in hip-hop form, a lesson on Why Pirating Is Bad.

... which didn't stop a single one of us three or four years later, when Napster broke out.
posted by anjamu at 10:33 PM on October 20, 2006


Don't Copy That Floppy.

As for the Scouts and the MPAA, well, they have free speech. It's when they get their hands on the law that I get pissed off.
posted by dhartung at 10:37 PM on October 20, 2006


why does this strike me as the Junior Anti-Sex League?

Playing pirated Apple II, C64, and Amiga games was the s*it, back in the day. As a content creator myself, I have no problem with a kid with no job playing my stuff for free, as long as I haven't actually lost a sale, so to speak.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:56 PM on October 20, 2006


This does nothing about those punk gay atheist teens running amok with the bittorrents! /waves_cane_grumbles
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:13 AM on October 21, 2006


The first sentence is "Intellectual Property is no different than physical property." Truthfulness? They've heard of it.

Clearly it's all about money and power for these guys. They'll exploit principles as cudgels when it's convenient.

When people go on about how the copyright cartel "just don't get it" and would change their business model if only they realized that they could make more money, I've been skeptical and leaned more to the "control freak" theory.

But this is evidence for the "blockhead" theory. Otherwise it would have occurred to someone that this kind of indoctrination will only get the kids thinking about copyright and piracy, give them the idea of pirating if they never had it already, and lead them to question the cartel's propaganda when the inevitable reaction sets in.
posted by jam_pony at 12:40 AM on October 21, 2006


As a content creator myself, I have no problem with a kid with no job playing my stuff for free, as long as I haven't actually lost a sale, so to speak.

Well, that's the problem isn't is Heywood Mogroot? When people think it's OK to copy for free what properly should be paid for you DO loose sales. Simple as that.

The argument that intellectual property isn't the same as real property is a little bit correct. Yeah, when you make a copy of a CD you don't deprive the copyright owner of any physical property. Digital information is inexhaustible.

But inexhaustible is not the same as non-rivalrous. Something that is non-rivalrous is something that can be shared amongst many without reducing the value to anyone. Thomas Jefferson's quip about an idea being like a candle "I can share my taper with others without reducing the light coming from my taper" is entirely true.

But if the candle in Jefferson's hand enables him to occupy a market space for the production of light, lighting another's candle creates a competitor and absolutely reduces the value of his lighted candle.

Copyrighted digital information IS inherently rivalrous.

Copyright works in large part because people used to respect it. The IT generation seems to think anything digital is free for the copying and this mentality is simply wrong. Moreover it's dangerous to those of us who make our living producing knowledge instead of real property.

Content owners can either find another line of work, or try to re-instill some respect for copyright. This can be done in two ways: lawsuits against infringers, or by educating the public. The former is awfully harsh. The latter approach by the MPAA (hamfisted as it is) is far less so. Self policing is better than real policing.
posted by three blind mice at 1:06 AM on October 21, 2006


3bm, you're partly right, but your argument exemplifies something that very commonly confuses the issue. The whole "think of the creators" theme usually lumps together "copyright owners" and "creators who deserve to be paid" on one side and "pirates" and paying customers on the other.

If we're going to simplify at all, it's more realisitc to at least recognize three major parties. There are creators who indeed work hard and put talent into culture and deserve reward. There are consumers the vast majority of whom are willing to pay reasonable prices for copies on reasonable terms. And sitting astride the connection between the two is a realtively small set of middlemen sucking the life out of artists on the one side and culture on the other. That nasty blob character in Star Wars would be a suitable representation in a dramatization. This cartel, rather than creators , are the copyright owners in the majority of cultural "content".

Hopefully I need not recite about the kinds of contracts they impose on musicians. In the case of movies, the Hollywood accounting is a notorious shell game. And in relations with the rest of society, they have expanded copyright law far beyond all sane boundaries and strangled competition in the middleman industry.

Any complaint about piracy is a mistake about where reform is really needed.
posted by jam_pony at 1:49 AM on October 21, 2006


Any complaint about piracy is a mistake about where reform is really needed.

Really? It seems to me, jam_pony, that the MPAA exists because artists don't have a reasonable replacement.

It would be great if artists could deal directly with consumers - and the Internets offer a real possibility for that - but so long as the attitude of internet users is that anything digital can be copied for free, the internet is more of a problem for artists than a solution.

Fostering a respect for copyright of artists amongst internet users would do more to kill the MPAA than defending piracy which only increases the need for the "cartel" and its legal muscle.
posted by three blind mice at 2:29 AM on October 21, 2006


3bm, the single biggest reason people copy music is because it's too expensive. And it's too expensive because of the middleman. They built a business based on scarcity. That scarcity no longer exists, but they want to use the guns of the government to preserve their obsolete business models.... and extraordinary pricing. They want to keep their monopoly in distribution... and it's possible they might even succeed. See also: DeBeers.

If you'll notice, allofmp3.com is not free. You have to pay for music there. And they still do ENORMOUS volume, even though people could get the same thing for free. That's the important part.... you can talk (rightly) about the fact that artists probably aren't getting paid by allofmp3. So obviously there are problems. But the site is proof that people will pay for content, even when they have alternatives.

The problem is that they don't want to pay enough to keep the middlemen bloated and wealthy.

There's more than enough money to keep those artists eating, probably more than there is now, in fact. The RIAA et al are well-known for ripping off everyone they are involved with. They are extraordinarily dishonest. If they went away tomorrow, and there was a method of splitting revenue between the download site and the artists, most of them would make a lot more money. A few of the highest-profile ones would lose out, and of course they're loud and obnoxious about it... but the VAST majority of artists would benefit in an RIAA-free world.

Now, the apologists will talk about how the RIAA is good at marketing and getting bands on the radio and such. That is true, and it's a good function. But they don't need to hold the copyright to do that. They are a cartel, and control the current business end-to-end, and there's no reason for that at all. The artists should not be in a subservient position, as they are now.

For nearly all smaller artists, the era of digital distribution is a godsend, because all those copies are free advertising.

See: The Baen Free Library. As far as I know, their sales went way and STAYED up after releasing it.
posted by Malor at 2:52 AM on October 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


It seems to me, jam_pony, that the MPAA exists because artists don't have a reasonable replacement.

Neither MPAA nor RIAA represents artists/creators. These organizations represent movie companies and music companies respectively. This may be thought of as indirectly representing artists to some degree, if fighting piracy sometimes helps the musicians to get their five cents from a $15 CD, or slightly improves the job market for the "best boy grip" or cameraman or whatever. This is only an accident, however; the ** Ass. of America simply maximize revenue for their constituent companies by whatever means they can regardless of whether any action happens to help or hurt artists.

It would be great if artists could deal directly with consumers - and the Internets offer a real possibility for that - but so long as the attitude of internet users is that anything digital can be copied for free, the internet is more of a problem for artists than a solution.

There's no need for, or prospect of dealing directly. What's needed is a situation where there's competition in the industry of music recording, promotion and distribution; honest movie accounting; protection of creative people from ripoff contracts; legal restraints on DRM and of overreaching "license agreements"; and reasonable limits on duration and extent of copyrights. Then there would be low-priced content available conveniently; artists realizing a decent proportion of the value from their own works; and a revival of respect for copyright.

Fostering a respect for copyright of artists amongst internet users would do more to kill the MPAA than defending piracy which only increases the need for the "cartel" and its legal muscle.

I'm not defending piracy in general. I do speak up for that part of it which is illegal today but would not be illegal if we had better laws - for example, copying old works that ought to be out of copyright by now or those which are unavailable commercially. By saying this "increases the need for the 'cartel'" you're asserting that the laws are perfect as they are, and I disagree.

I'm totally in favor of "fostering a respect for copyright of artists". The problem is that "copyright of artists" today is a seemingly unattainable utopian ideal. All it would take, however, is legal reform to break the power of the middle-man cartel, and then artists would be able to retain their copyrights and profit from their own works.
posted by jam_pony at 3:02 AM on October 21, 2006


See: The Baen Free Library. As far as I know, their sales went way and STAYED up after releasing it.

I actually e-mailed the admin about how it went and never recieved a response. Have they even added to it in the last year or two?

I can't believe it, not a single scoutmaster drilling joke. WTF?
posted by IronLizard at 3:06 AM on October 21, 2006


Malor writes "The artists should not be in a subservient position, as they are now"

Eh nice theory, but practice is artist wants the advertising machine necessary to make them become famous (constructed celebrity as opposed to natural outstanding talent) and to maintain visibility and to generate a revenue stream. They also need accountant, lawyers and managers to do all the boring, "dirty" job they don't want to do, like contracting distribution terms, contacting and maintaining good economical relations with the other part of showbusiness. Big brands like Madonna, financially indipendent and intelligent enough, can dictate their conditions and pick these who add more value to their own talent.

Certainly they could skip or reduce a great part of middle man by shipping the content directly to customers by internet , but that would not insure them a constant revenue stream as big giants like WalMart do, buying whatever album they produce in mass and taking the risk of not selling the physical good CDs and offering the artist a comparatively immense exposition surface.

Imho, internet is only a rapid close-to-zero-cost delivery method, but I guess the powers-that-be would rather strangle and choke the method rather then kill the 100000% or more markup on each copy, there are too many people interested in doing that. For instance, consider the so-called Media Taxes , in which each media container like cd-r , dvd-r or hard disks are subjected to a "levy" (or tax, or some other formalism enabling this syphoning of money) increasing its sale-2-consumer cost : officially this happens to defend the POOR OH SO POOR artist like Metallica from the bad evil pirates AAARRR ! Yet in practice it is a way to make EVERY consumer pay something to the music industry cabal, regardless of the fact the user isn't using the media for illegal purposes.

This convenienty put blame on bad bad pirates ARRR they harm consumers ! This is a crock of piling fuming bullshit, as the industry should protect their own interest and NOT make every consumer pay for their own failure to protect their own interenst...but hey a media tax generates a lot more constant revenue ! Next, internet tax ! Blame terrorist, blame pirates, people can't tell they harse from an hole in the wall.
posted by elpapacito at 3:13 AM on October 21, 2006


Tons of problems with the current system, sure. But two wrongs don't make a right, as they say. I can't understand that the debate is even about piracy, which is obviously not a moral thing to do. We're talking about ENTERTAINMENT here. This isn't something necessary for life, work or pretty much anything. The only morally acceptable way to show your distaste for the overbearing tendencies of the respective industries is to stop using their products. Pirating just gives them a target. You.

Hell, it's even true that sales decrease due to bootleg copies. It's not that people are immoral (but lots are), they just can't help feeling as if they're not taking anything away from the artists and others involved in bringing them the art. After all, it's just a COPY. That's how your average person (I assume, no I have no statistics and yes I'm fairly average) feels about the whole thing, regardless of what propaganda they're hearing at the moment (on both sides). They make excuses: "I'll buy it when I have the money", then go out and buy something else when they do. "I'm never going to buy this, so they aren't really losing anything", then what the hell are you doing enjoying it? And of course: "Well, I paid too much for this CD, so I'll just download this one....". Then there's those who just don't give a shit. Free advertising? I'm sure if they wanted that they would be giving it away, eh?

Whatever the rationalizations, if they turn out false even an eighth of the time: that's a damn lot of money. Not just for the industry, but for the artist who create the movies and music you love. Fine, the RIAA and the MPAA members are something of a ripoff, but they're not the only game in town anymore.
(Software is a bit of a different story with it's monopolistic grey areas and all, IMNSHO.)

No, I think the annoying thing here is the marketing to kids as a captive audience (as with religion in school, ect...). This issue has raised it's malformed head in my kids' school, as well. I have no problem with commercials on television, a venue I control, or something similar. Even though this is probably a more benign example, it's still irritating.
posted by IronLizard at 4:12 AM on October 21, 2006


"Play your favorite CD for your troop leader and explain why you enjoy listening to it." - Yeah, that'll be fun for the troop leader...
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:41 AM on October 21, 2006


three blind mice: Copyright works in large part because people used to respect it. The IT generation seems to think anything digital is free for the copying and this mentality is simply wrong. Moreover it's dangerous to those of us who make our living producing knowledge instead of real property.

Historically copyright has always been respected only to the degree that it was easier in terms of inconvenience to buy a legal copy. Across national borders, copyright was almost never respected at all until the Berne convention.

IronLizard I can't understand that the debate is even about piracy, which is obviously not a moral thing to do. We're talking about ENTERTAINMENT here. This isn't something necessary for life, work or pretty much anything.

I've always thought the "but it's only entertainment!" argument a little precious coming from the MPAA/RIAA. Haven't they just spent months trying to make people want this thing, telling them their lives are worthless and empty without this product and with this product they will become, for the first time, truly happy ... and now they say "it's just entertainment, nobody needs it". Right. One of those two assertions is a lie, and either way, nobody likes liars. Further, that argument neatly turns around: if it is "only entertainment", then why do its purveyors get to have the threat of criminal penalties protecting their business model? Nobody gets arrested for failure to stop and pitch a dollar in a busker's hat, despite gaining the benefit of the busker's song.

Every new trens in history has been made out to be some sort of risk to wider society by those whose profits are at risk by change. And yet, when the dust settles, only the businesses working under the old model have suffered, and new business models--invariably more useful to more people--have arisen. If the MPAA/RIAA were to disappear tomorrow (and I hope that they do), then there is still more music than I could possibly listen to and more movies than I could possibly watch even if I spent the entire rest of my life doing nothing else. If the only new .mp3s are recordings of live concerts, the only new programs are open source projects, and the only new movies are found on YouTube - I think I can live with that, and I think you can too, even if you did have to do what many a human being has had to do in the past, and get another job.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:00 AM on October 21, 2006


"Hell, it's even true that sales decrease due to bootleg copies."

Actually, that's not true. Every study I've read about shows that in the real hotbeds of music piracy (colleges were one prime area they looked at), the more known piracy is happening, the more sales go UP, not down. It's the advertising effect... folks find out about someone new they like, get enthusiastic, and go buy CDs.

The problem that the VAST majority of artists face isn't "piracy" it's "lack of exposure". A few, a very few, hit it big. The rest toil in obscurity. What few profits they do make are sucked away by the record companies. They may gross millions, but see only a few thousand actually in their pockets. The contracts are slanted to begin with, and then the record companies use completely crooked accounting on top of that.

Internet piracy takes the power away from the record companies. That's why they hate it. Their soft cushy jobs are threatened. But the actual ARTISTS nearly ALWAYS benefit. It's only the very biggest that get hurt. Of all of the artists, they're the ones that can most afford to lose some sales. Generally, being limited to just one mansion isn't likely to seriously impair their quality of life.

I mean, just in my own life, I get exposed pretty often to new music via piracy. Since I started doing more of it, a couple years back, my music purchases went way up. In the last two or three years, I've bought more music than I bought in the last fifteen before that. It was a fairly low percentage of what I sampled, but it was a HUGE increase over what I was spending before.

The record companies are shrill about the albums I didn't buy, shrieking that they're losing profits, they're losing profits! When they don't see are the albums I DID buy... quite a number. They made money on this deal. ACTUAL money, rather than the phantom losses they're so anguished about. if I hadn't copied anything, then no copyright infringement would have happened, I wouldn't have bought the CDs I really liked, and the RIAA would be happier but poorer.

If you talk to people who pirate a lot, you will find this pattern over and over. The more music they copy, the more real music they buy. Their absolute spending goes up, not down. This probably isn't true of all of them, but all the ones I personally know follow exactly this pattern.
posted by Malor at 7:20 AM on October 21, 2006


IronLizard writes "Pirating just gives them a target. You."

The "moral" brigades would like you to think so, but just consider the following : why should I respect the "moral" code proposed by the same people who , a minute later, impose a levy on media/cdr/dvdr that strikes everbody, regardless of their innocence ? Isn't that far far worse then making a copy of a disc, which isn't _theft_ because I haven't subtracted a copy from anybody else ? Why should I even consider respecting the will of these hypocrite leeches ? Why should I tolerate their terror campaing on innocent families whose kids , maybe, played some time with a "dangerous" program not really understanding the implications of their doing ?

No my dear ironlizard, I don't buy into the concept that one is a _criminal_ because one made a copy, no sir. I don't even buy into the delusion that these people are really like pirates, plundering and killing the people on the boats they attacked. I am not a goddamn kid, I don't believe in Santa and false equations copymaker=pirate, so these people must shove it.

IronLizard writes "Not just for the industry, but for the artist who create the movies and music you love"

And I would gladly pay him and the ones of his immediate entourage which factually _work_ to produce stuff I like, from the writers to the scenographer to the audio techinician et al. Usually these people get paid in advance and see a fraction of a fraction of what the rest of the chain profits from a DVD or a CD. One could argue that they get paid less because they have less risk to carry, but it is NOWHERE proportional to the billions the leeches chain makes on them, arguing that they are taking enormous risk and investing bazillion in advertising, which is often artificially overpriced anyway.


IronLizard writes "I think the annoying thing here is the marketing to kids as a captive audience (as with religion in school, ect...)"

Exaclty, it is indoctrination. As some jesuit priest said, if my memory serves but don't quote me, "give me a child and I will turn him into a soldier of christ".
posted by elpapacito at 7:28 AM on October 21, 2006


Exaclty, it is indoctrination.

you say that like "exaclty" like it was a dirty word. so, what will YOU turn YOUR child into? no matter what the answer, it's indoctrination you are talking about. do you think you somehow escaped indoctrination? ever question the source of your OWN beliefs? or are you unique in all of humankind?
posted by quonsar at 8:33 AM on October 21, 2006


blaneyphoto: ""Play your favorite CD for your troop leader and explain why you enjoy listening to it." - Yeah, that'll be fun for the troop leader..."

In some instances, it might generate a reply of "Hey, mind if I borrow that disc? My kid would love a copy" from the troop leader.
posted by caution live frogs at 9:16 AM on October 21, 2006


"In some instances, it might generate a reply of "Hey, mind if I borrow that disc? My kid would love a copy" from the troop leader."

True, I suppose - but borrowing the cd to copy would run against the purpose of the badge wouldn't it?
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:28 AM on October 21, 2006


quonsar writes "you say that like 'exaclty' like it was a dirty word"

What the fuck is a dirty word ?

do you think you somehow escaped indoctrination? ever question the source of your OWN beliefs? or are you unique in all of humankind?

Of course I am unique in all of humankind, but I am not special or above-them-all, if that is what you wanted to say. Nobody really is, even when some likes to believe so, maybe in some
messianic delusion.

I don't investigate the source, rather I investigate the sources because they are often more then one and conflicting.

I didn't escape indoctrination, but I did resist it when I noticed I was being told what to think and believe and my questioning was taken lightly. Clearly belief is present in many
aspects of our life, but that doesn't imply we must resist all of them or indulge in all of them as if they were perfect and everlasting.
posted by elpapacito at 9:29 AM on October 21, 2006


When young, I was told to look both ways before crossing the street, not to have sex before marriage, and to just say "No" to drugs.

While I was real flippin' impressed at the time and eager to show all the adults how expertly I could live my live within the anfractuosities of the rules, as I aged and sprouted a mind of my own, I pretty much did or did not as I saw fit.

While I'm clearly not a "normal" kid, others are just like it. Virginity-pledge teens only put off their awkward encounters for a year or so. Drug use is still prevalent. I routinely narrowly avoid hitting jackass jaywalkers all the time.

Plus, all the former boy scouts I know are now wasted UPS workers who live to pirate hentai and share warez.

Kids are not tabula rasa. They have their own desires and goals and they'll eventually decide if you're full of shit or not.
posted by adoarns at 9:45 AM on October 21, 2006


"In the last two or three years, I've bought more music than I bought in the last fifteen before that."

Same here. the problem I face is that the stuff I've pirated is 7+ years old. It was around during the CD age but well before the Napster age yet I cannot find most of it on CD anymore because it's now out of print. I scour used CD shops quite often and rarely find stuff I'm looking for. I find some of it on Amazon, but because it's out of print they charge 3-6 times the original price. I've seen some CDs going for $350!! (Don't believe me? Look on Amazon for "Girls with Guns" by Tommy Shaw.)

I think that piracy might drop a bit if the notion of an "out of print" CD went away forever.
posted by drstein at 9:47 AM on October 21, 2006


"Hell, it's even true that sales decrease due to bootleg copies."

I think this has already been debunked upthread, but it might be worth reminding people about how Metallica got their start. Back in the day, Metallica got no radio play. None. They were too hard and too different. The only reason they got well known was word of mouth. One fan would introduce it to someone else and the word would spread. In this time period, Metallica actively encouraged people to bring recording devices to concerts. The bootlegs were their primary way of getting to their fans. Hell their video Cliff 'Em All is almost exclusively drawn from bootlegged video. The reason they took off so fast when the finally did start getting radio play, was that they had already established a huge fan base.

So now, today, has Metallica been more hurt or helped by bootlegs?
posted by quin at 10:34 AM on October 21, 2006


This is almost implicit in what has been said, but piracy today has taken over the role that radio used to have. It used to be that you could hear a variety of music on radio and decide what you liked based on that, and buy albums accordingly. At the peak of radio you could hear a sampling from a very large proportion of all the new music recordings that were being published, at least if you were in an area with a few good stations (pop/rock, classical, even jazz in some places).

This worked because of independent ownership of stations and DJ autonomy in selections. Then gradually the "format" or "playlist" concept took over and started shrinking the selection, and then consolidation of station ownership accelerated the trend. By now we have only a tiny fraction of music represented on radio, mostly what the record companies are trying to push and what a few big media companies have researched and concluded it will maximize revenue. So now it is mostly worthless for a large proportion of music fans. But they can turn to p2p and hear a vast variety, and decide what to buy, or just settle for the mp3s if the CDs are too hard to get or too expensive.

The "try before you buy" segment of users is only a subset of the p2p demographic - the rest just want free music or music unavailable elsewhere. But on the other hand, I would venturethe p2p demographic comprises practically all of the "try before you buy" crowd because they have no other alternative anymore.

It is unreasonable to expect people to pay 99c each for DRM-infested, lossy files just to hear a variety of music and decide what they like. The industries have taken away the "try before you buy" which always sustained their customer base, yet they expect people to keep buying like they used to. Maybe they should read the fable of the goose and golden eggs.
posted by jam_pony at 11:51 AM on October 21, 2006


jam_pony writes "because they have no other alternative anymore."

Also because If I hear another time Shakira in heavy rotation I will puke
posted by elpapacito at 12:03 PM on October 21, 2006


threeblindmice: Content owners can...find another line of work

Bears repeating.
posted by stinkycheese at 5:18 PM on October 21, 2006



"Copyright works in large part because people used to respect it. The IT generation seems to think anything digital is free for the copying and this mentality is simply wrong. Moreover it's dangerous to those of us who make our living producing knowledge instead of real property."



FART.


excuse me!
posted by stenseng at 10:33 PM on October 21, 2006


I only buy independent music. The RIAA/MPAA can kiss my butt, and they are not going to get another dime from me as a consumer or as an artist. There are other solutions out there.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 11:27 AM on October 23, 2006


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