Skip

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
October 4, 2007 4:01 PM   Subscribe

[Newsfilter]: Fighting a recording industry lawsuit for file sharing saying "it wasn't me!" is probably a really, really bad idea. Jury awards recording companies $222,000 for willfully infringing the copyright on 24 songs in first-to-trial file sharing lawsuit.
posted by Muddler (209 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
From what I read on wired, the RIAA didn't have to prove that the files were downloaded by anyone, they didn't have to prove that the woman they sued was the actual kazaa user, and they didn't have to prove that she wasn't the victim of malware of any sort.

They just showed that some IP addresses matched up.

I have no idea if this woman did it or not, but for a judgement of nearly a quarter million dollars, I'd expect a little more proof.

I also know nothing about the woman's financial situation, but I know very few normal people who could just write a check and go on with their lives. Will she lose her home? Her retirement? Her savings? Children's college funds? Is the RIAA really going to go around making people destitute because they did some file sharing? Or am I misunderstanding the situation?
posted by jeffamaphone at 4:08 PM on October 4, 2007


(Here's the wired article, btw.)
posted by jeffamaphone at 4:08 PM on October 4, 2007


I don't understand why they don't just make her buy the cds and pay a reasonable fine. Nothing released on a major label could possibly be worth 222k.
posted by zennoshinjou at 4:08 PM on October 4, 2007


If the court costs were less than the possible penalty, why not fight it?
posted by infowar at 4:08 PM on October 4, 2007


Or am I misunderstanding the situation?

Not knowing the RIAA.
posted by blucevalo at 4:13 PM on October 4, 2007


Fuck the RIAA. Fuck them long and hard with a way-too-big and obviously diseased penis.

The only lesson anyone's learning here is to be more careful about how you get and give music without paying for it.
posted by item at 4:13 PM on October 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


Yeah, time to do two things—lobby for new laws that reflect a reasonable view of file sharing (like there are in Canada), and convince more people to download illegally.
posted by klangklangston at 4:15 PM on October 4, 2007


zennoshinjou: didn't she have the CD's? Part of what I'd read in another article discussed how it was brought up in court how quickly one could rip cd's, as she had a ton of files from one day that had timestamps with each mp3 per album being 25-35 seconds per mp3, and an additional 35-45 seconds inbetween each album. RIAA said said that was indicitive of hard drive copying (that's one helluva slow disk), while the defense demonstrated in court that they could rip two cd's in about 2.5 minutes each.
posted by nobeagle at 4:18 PM on October 4, 2007


222K! That's all!?

I hope the lock them all up. All ... what... 7 million or so... copyright violators... we may have to raise taxes to build more prisons. But it would be worth it to see that kind of dangerous scum off the streets.
posted by tkchrist at 4:19 PM on October 4, 2007 [4 favorites]


Note also, dear reader, that in the testimony the head of Sony BMG stated that they view making copies of music you purchased for your own use (i.e. copy your cd to your iPod) as theft too. This woman is looking at a quarter-million in fines for 24 tracks. How many tracks are on your iPod?
posted by bitmage at 4:20 PM on October 4, 2007


I'm convinced. I'll never make the mistake of buying RIAA music again.
posted by mrnutty at 4:21 PM on October 4, 2007 [9 favorites]


By the logic that this case teaches if I were to stack gold plated diamonds in my front yard and you put some of them in your pocket when you were out walking your dog, I'd be the one arrested.
posted by item at 4:22 PM on October 4, 2007


As if you needed another reason to never again give these parasites so much as another dime. The RIAA represents what are essentially music pimps. Technology has changed, and the Record companies can no longer exploit artists and fans.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 4:22 PM on October 4, 2007


Is the RIAA really going to go around making people destitute because they did some file sharing?

Oh....heh.....heeehhh.....hehheheh....HEHA HAHHAHAH

HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA

AHHHHHHHHHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

AHHAHAHAHAHahehhehahaha...heeh......heh....

yeah.

Or, to put it another way, the RIAA would roast live babies over an open fire if it meant holding on to a single tuppence of their filthy lucre.
posted by Avenger at 4:24 PM on October 4, 2007 [21 favorites]


Bah, firstly, in my comment, I got the times wrong from what was listed in the article. 15-20 seconds to rip, with 30-45 seconds between albums. That kicks the crap out of my 1G athlon :)

Secondly, regarding finances, I find it hard to imagine the case where someone risks hundreds of thousands via judgement against a few thousand, unless one doesn't have anything close to a few hundred thousand. So likely she'll max out her credit cards doing a lot of gift giving, and file bankruptcy. At least she'll try, it looks hard to file bankruptcy unless you're rich, or took out a suicidal mortgage.

At anyrate, I think that this gives good evidence that there aren't juries of peers available. No way that I'd push for any judgement beyond $10 a track for non-commercial infringement.
posted by nobeagle at 4:26 PM on October 4, 2007


Man, I wish I was on that jury.
posted by milarepa at 4:27 PM on October 4, 2007


Lulz are still free.
posted by Poolio at 4:28 PM on October 4, 2007


item: Fuck the RIAA. Fuck them long and hard with a way-too-big and obviously diseased penis.

Hey! The doctor said a shot of penicillin would clear that up for me, and I'm not going to fuck the RIAA. You want to do that, use your own penis.

I've nearly quit buying music from majors:
  1. The music these days sucks.
  2. The music That doesn't suck, they try to sell to me over and over again remastered with bonus tracks (making me feel like I got screwed the first time).
  3. Just like red meat, I refuse to contribute to an industry I no longer believe in.
These guys do scare me though.

I can't believe the jury went this route. You grab me any 12 of my peers and one or two might be innocent of illegal downloads. Hard to believe not one person out of 12 didn't say, "I can't go after her for something I know at least one person in this room has done. Raise your hand if you want to be on trial next." Disgusting.

This said, she did kinda come off as guilty, but I think we should have just thrown her in the water, and if she sank, then called her guilty. Of course if she floated, we'd have to burn her as a witch.

And from what I've read, she a single mom with very little money. I think she's actually pretty much judgement proof. But this would still suck.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:28 PM on October 4, 2007


Catch me if you can.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 4:28 PM on October 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


milarepa: Man, I wish I was on that jury.

Jury selection would have precluded that.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:33 PM on October 4, 2007


If she had been hot, it never would have come to this.
posted by psmealey at 4:34 PM on October 4, 2007


Hot tip: If you did it, settle.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 4:38 PM on October 4, 2007


"I can't go after her for something I know at least one person in this room has done. Raise your hand if you want to be on trial next." Disgusting.

That's not really how fact finding is supposed to work. The fact finder is supposed to figure out, you know, what probably actually happened.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 4:41 PM on October 4, 2007


I don't understand why they don't just make her buy the cds and pay a reasonable fine. Nothing released on a major label could possibly be worth 222k.

I'm sure they offered her a settlement, they usually offer settlements for $10k-$12k, from what I've heard. But she chose not to settle, probably because she couldn't afford it.

One of the interesting facets in this trial was that the defense claimed the record companies couldn't prove they owned the copyrights to the music. Did they manage to get some musicians to come in and testify that they signed over rights?
posted by delmoi at 4:46 PM on October 4, 2007


Anyway, I, for one, will never buy recorded music again unless I know for sure none of the money will go to RIAA associated companies.
posted by delmoi at 4:51 PM on October 4, 2007


The man can't can bust our music.
posted by porn in the woods at 4:53 PM on October 4, 2007


Cool. So the artists are going to get all that money now, right?

Right?

*crickets*

(I am soooo glad I’m a classical music fan)
posted by Smedleyman at 4:53 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


By the logic that this case teaches if I were to stack gold plated diamonds in my front yard and you put some of them in your pocket when you were out walking your dog, I'd be the one arrested.

Ridiculous. I think the MPAA and RIAA are rackets and directly opposed to actual progress in a number of fields, but just because they are against something doen't necessarily make them wrong.

Your analogy is totally inapt. A direct analogy would be if you bought a DVD of "Finding Nemo", ran off a hundred thousand coupies on your DVD burner, and put them out in your yard with a sign saying "FREE MOVIE".

It's not stealing like jacking a car, but it is still morally dubious at best.
posted by Justinian at 4:53 PM on October 4, 2007


I can't believe the jury went this route. You grab me any 12 of my peers and one or two might be innocent of illegal downloads. Hard to believe not one person out of 12 didn't say, "I can't go after her for something I know at least one person in this room has done. Raise your hand if you want to be on trial next."

Jurors are chosen for stupidity, naivete, and bias, I understand. For example, they were kicking people off this jury if they themselves had downloaded music.

You don't get a jury of your peers, you get the 12 people who seem most malleable to big words and lies from lawyers.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:54 PM on October 4, 2007


jeffamaphone-- in fairness, Mr. President Dr. (etc) has it right. All the plaintiff has to do is show by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant did the bad thing. The IP addresses are a reasonable way to do that. The defendant can then try to rebut the inference by putting on evidence of malware, or that others used her comp, or whatever.

Doesn't make the outcome suck less, but I don't think a jury finding for the plaintiff is really shocking.

The amount strikes me as excessive, though.
posted by ibmcginty at 4:59 PM on October 4, 2007


How about "It wasn't me, I have unprotected WiFi and it must have been someone else, plus there's nothing on my hard drive and there's no way to prove I formatted and repeatedly filled it with random data". Is that a watertight defence?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:00 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


"I can't go after her for something I know at least one person in this room has done. Raise your hand if you want to be on trial next." Disgusting.
That's not really how fact finding is supposed to work. The fact finder is supposed to figure out, you know, what probably actually happened.


Uh, what are you quoting? I can't find any of that text in any of the linked articles.
posted by delmoi at 5:00 PM on October 4, 2007


And meanwhile, filesharing and downloading just keep growing.

Copyright law sets a damage range of $750 to $30,000 per infringement, or up to $150,000 if the violation was "willful." Jurors ruled that Thomas's infringement was willful but awarded damages of $9,250 per song; Gabriel said they did not explain to attorneys afterward how they reached that amount.

It should have been $750 per song--if anything at all--i'd appeal if i was her. This is clearly excessive. How could anyone prove that there were any more damages than just $12-15 per cd or whatever it costs nowadays? And why does the music industry persist in alienating its customers over and over?
posted by amberglow at 5:01 PM on October 4, 2007


The people on the jury who voted for this verdict looked at Jammie Thomas. Then they looked at whomever was there representing the record company. Then they thought, "Man, that bitch really screwed that poor guy. I'm gonna make her pay big time."

WHO WOULD DO THAT?!
posted by PhatLobley at 5:02 PM on October 4, 2007


delmoi, that's a quote from cjorgenson above.
posted by Partial Law at 5:04 PM on October 4, 2007


So, they have her IP, they have a user name that she's known to use & she apparently replaced her hard drive after getting a notice about infringment but gave a different date during deposition. Sounds like they busted her.

It's bogus, but we can't rely on jury nullification to save our country.
posted by Wood at 5:06 PM on October 4, 2007


The username Ms Thomas allegedly used, “tereastarr”, is the same as the username on her MySpace page, which features the quote: “What’s the definition of insanity? Doing to the same thing over and over again, yet expecting different results.”

Yeah, that's beyond a reasonable doubt methinks. Nothing can justify the size of the fine though.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:12 PM on October 4, 2007


Anyone notice if there's a charity going to her for having the misfortune of facing the dying throws of a vicious bureaucracy?
posted by OrangeDrink at 5:16 PM on October 4, 2007


Anyway, I, for one, will never buy recorded music again unless I know for sure none of the money will go to RIAA associated companies.

I'm going to go one step further and not shop in music and dvd stores that sell RIAA products. That includes Amazon and iTunes.

ffffffffffffffffffffffffffffuckem.
posted by fleetmouse at 5:18 PM on October 4, 2007


Wood: other than jury nullification what could save the US.

Because other than repeated jury nullification in any and every case of class warfare, the only thing that looks likely to succeed is probably something that will get one a visit from the SS just for mentioning.

"Wanna witness some blue blood bleed red." - NoFX, Murder the Government.
posted by nobeagle at 5:19 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wood: other than jury nullification what could save the US.

The thing is they try very hard not to let anyone bright enough to have heard about jury nullification or independent-minded enough to figure it out on their own onto juries.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 5:21 PM on October 4, 2007


So, I download a song from Kazaa or BitTorrent.

Best case scenario: I like the song and decide to buy a copy to support the artist. I tell my friends about the song. They buy copies. The artist becomes wildly successful.
Profit to record labels: Millions of dollars.

Most common scenario: I never buy a copy. On the other hand, I was never going to buy it anyway.
Cost to record labels: $0

Worst case scenario: I'm loading up the iTunes store, credit card in hand, about to buy my favorite song in the world, when Satan himself arises from the ground and commands me to download it illegally instead. I do as he says, cackling as I listen to my ill-gotten pirate track over and over again without paying a dime.
Lost revenue to record labels: 70 cents out of the 99 cents I would have paid to iTunes.

Yeah, I can totally see where they came up with the $750 - $30,000 per song figure.
posted by designbot at 5:24 PM on October 4, 2007 [4 favorites]


I can't believe the jury went this route. You grab me any 12 of my peers and one or two might be innocent of illegal downloads. Hard to believe not one person out of 12 didn't say, "I can't go after her for something I know at least one person in this room has done. Raise your hand if you want to be on trial next."

I can believe it. People tend to do what they're told. I would bet that 99.99% of citizens would never even consider jury nullification. Probably half of them think they'll get in trouble if they break the rules.

The verdict form said if jurors believe Thomas' file sharing on Kazaa was "willful," they can ding her for up to $150,000 for each of the 24 violations in the case.

But the form left off the minimum, $750, per violation.


How lovely.

It should have been $750 per song--if anything at all--i'd appeal if i was her. This is clearly excessive. How could anyone prove that there were any more damages than just $12-15 per cd or whatever it costs nowadays?

Well, if they could prove that X people downloaded the song from her at a loss of $X per song for the industry ... I suppose that penalty guideline figures 750-150,000 people download the offered song.

Note also, dear reader, that in the testimony the head of Sony BMG stated that they view making copies of music you purchased for your own use (i.e. copy your cd to your iPod) as theft too.

I believe that's always been the RIAA's contention.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:27 PM on October 4, 2007


Is deterring the general public supposed to be factored into deciding the size of damages?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:29 PM on October 4, 2007


What makes me angry is that none of the "musicians who hate the RIAA" are handing over checks to these poor people. Whats 200k to Bono or Radiohead or NIN or Led Zeppelin or McCartney/Ringo? Or all these new money rap/hiphop acts?

These fuckers who got rich of the fat of the land should be paying all these families for the recklessness of their labels until everyone settles down. At the end of the day the labels would be fall apart if all the big acts left it. They wont. They like the money and the easy living.

The first rich musician to write out the checks for these fines to these families will be remembered as a hero forever. Considering they usually settle for 5k and they only do a dozen or so a month, its not a lot of money.

Funny how the idealism in the music never ever translates into idealism in, you know, real life.
posted by damn dirty ape at 5:32 PM on October 4, 2007 [14 favorites]


Shit like this makes me sick. Nearly a quarter of a million dollars for a couple of songs? Insanity.

All I can hope is that those jurors, who now are all intimately familiar with file sharing, decide to give it a try themselves. And someone slaps them with an equally absurd penalty.

And 'Brainerd'? That sounds like a grade-school insult for one of them smart kids.
posted by quin at 5:39 PM on October 4, 2007


Catch me if you can.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 10:28 AM


"These are not the downloaded tracks you are looking for..."
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:41 PM on October 4, 2007


Well, if they could prove that X people downloaded the song from her at a loss of $X per song for the industry ... I suppose that penalty guideline figures 750-150,000 people download the offered song.

They can't, though. What the RIAA does is downloads from you and then records the IP address. They can't ding you for downloading- only for "making available".
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:52 PM on October 4, 2007


And 'Brainerd'? That sounds like a grade-school insult for one of them smart kids.

Brainerd, actually, was the setting of Fargo. The film was named "Fargo" because the Coens thought "Brainerd" was a dumb name for a movie.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:55 PM on October 4, 2007


And 'Brainerd'? That sounds like a grade-school insult for one of them smart kids.

Brainerd was originally established by independent settlers fleeing intolerance & persecution in their homelands in Europe. This peculiar sect were seeking a new home where they could practice their traditions in peace, such as carrying abacuses in their pockets at all times, and endlessly quoting their favourite humorous passages from Jonathan Swift to each other.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:55 PM on October 4, 2007 [5 favorites]


Thomas' testimony was complicated by the fact that she had replaced her computer's hard drive after the sharing was alleged to have taken place — and later than she said in a deposition before trial.

Good god this lady and her lawyer were about as stupid as it's possible to be in this situation. If I was on that jury, I'd be mad as hell at her too for almost certainly lying under oath about when she replaced her hard drive. It's just a short step from that to "what else is she lying about?"

The damage amount is fucking insane, though. Just fucking insane.
posted by mediareport at 6:02 PM on October 4, 2007


The thing is they try very hard not to let anyone bright enough to have heard about jury nullification or independent-minded enough to figure it out on their own onto juries.

Jury nullification is profoundly anti-democratic and antithetical to the rule of law. It's perhaps justifiable when corrupt police and prosecutors are railroading people due to, say, their race or ethnicity, but in disputes between private parties, I'd just as soon have everyone uphold the law.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:03 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jury nullification is profoundly anti-democratic and antithetical to the rule of law.

Isn't that the point, though? People on a jury think the law is wrong, so they vote against it. If too many people think this way, then the law will (effectively, if not legislatively) be overturned. If it's only one or two people, then yeah, some cases will be found differently, but overall the system will continue to operate as-is.
posted by inigo2 at 6:18 PM on October 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


Jurry nullification makes absolute sense in cases where the rule of law runs right up against the law of unintended consiquences.

Where was this "changing hard drives" bit in the infodump we saw on this a week ago? Reading the "expert" testimony there I figured for sure the RIAA was going to go down in flames on this, but that little nugget was completely absent.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:25 PM on October 4, 2007


Steve Elvis: That's not really how fact finding is supposed to work. The fact finder is supposed to figure out, you know, what probably actually happened.

Some people think that one of the main (only) justifications for even having a jury is the possibility of jury nullification (mentioned several times above). That is, the reason we let juries (instead of judges) return criminal verdicts or civil damage awards is so your peers can decide not to apply the law to you, whether because they view the law to be unfair or inappropriate generally, or because they think a law that is fair in some circumstances is being abused by an overzealous plaintiff, or they see your behavior as excused in some way not cognizable under the law, or... or...

If juries are merely supposed to determine facts, there is little justification for wasting the resources that the jury requires when a judge, already familiar with the case at the start of trial, could determine the facts herself. It's evidently not a difficult task, given that we trust it to 12 people plucked at (quasi-)random from the general populace.
posted by dilettanti at 6:26 PM on October 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


People are supposed to vote for and against laws at the ballot box, either directly or through their representative, not in the jury room!

If corrupt officials or egregious flaws in the democratic process are giving rise to injustice that cannot otherwise be corrected from within the system, jury nullification may be appropriate, but a jury should not usually be measuring duly-enacted laws of general applicability against its own conscience. When people petition the courts for redress, they deserve to have their cases tried according to the law and facts, not according to the sentiments of the jury.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:34 PM on October 4, 2007


Is there someway I can send this poor woman money to pay her fine? $1 from 200,000 file sharers would send a message, i think.
posted by empath at 6:52 PM on October 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


That's a lovely and idealistic position, Steve, but it's hard to pretend that the reality matches the sentiment.
posted by klangklangston at 6:59 PM on October 4, 2007


What are you talking about?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:03 PM on October 4, 2007


Where was this "changing hard drives" bit in the infodump we saw on this a week ago? Reading the "expert" testimony there I figured for sure the RIAA was going to go down in flames on this, but that little nugget was completely absent.

It was in there. The RIAA actually found a receipt. The interesting thing is they actually got the Geek Squad to testify that the hard drive replacement was necessary, due to real computer problems.

I'd be just as mad as hell about the "RIAA Expert" saying that the files had to be downloaded over P2P, despite the fact he found no p2p software at all, given that was obviously false.
posted by delmoi at 7:03 PM on October 4, 2007


I hope you people aren't out there distributing copyrighted music. I sure hope so, you, you, criminals. (cue silent movie type music)

I think the main thing is when some cd you're listening to gets copied, maybe, troopers came down from above on wires and, upside down, suspended outside the window, swat uniform and ski mask, they sneak in and make a copy of that music. Now, where does that copy go? Into their possession. They keep digital copies of it for years in secure datacenters. Well, so, I was playing the backup copy of my CD, you know, fair use.
posted by nervousfritz at 7:03 PM on October 4, 2007


Smedleyman's first comment had me going for a moment. The RIAA, torture, "this 'real world' tripe they push," going to war...
posted by exogenous at 7:06 PM on October 4, 2007


What are you talking about?

I think he's talking about the fact that, like, don't necessarily reflect the will of the people. Laws, particularly on obscure topics reflect the will of interest groups. I can vote for a democrat or a republican, but I can't vote for someone who will roll back copyright law, because it's a minor issue.

If 90% of the people feel one way very weakly, but 10% of the people feel the other way strongly, and have money, the 10% will get their way, because the 90% will vote on other issues.

As far as respecting the rule of law, that's great and all, that's fantastic. I suppose that means you think Martin Luther King should have been thrown in jail? After all he was violating the Rule of Law. So was Ghandi. I don't exactly see what the point is enforcing unjust laws. Do you think segregation and slavery were OK because they were the law? What about the fugitive slave act, that would have required escaped slaves to be returned to their owners, even in non-slave states?

Either morality is absolute, in which case morality should be followed in the case of immoral laws, or morality is relative, in which case the Rule of Law is just one more squishy value to be ignored or upheld depending on the circumstances. Which is it?
posted by delmoi at 7:11 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't think anything I say is going to convince you. You're apparently comfortable setting up little panels of tyrants to rule for a moment according to their passing whims, and I'm not.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:18 PM on October 4, 2007


Is there someway I can send this poor woman money to pay her fine? $1 from 200,000 file sharers would send a message, i think.

It would send the message to the RIAA that pressing lawsuits is potentially profitable. Regrettably, I think it is preferable that she go bankrupt and that the RIAA never see a penny from her, mkaing it a money-losing proposition.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 7:36 PM on October 4, 2007


The FPP link is a dead end now. 'RIAA' shows a snip of the story in the Star Tribune search engine but that link is also a dead end. Not that it matters. The Wired story covers it.
posted by peacay at 7:39 PM on October 4, 2007


If she didn't download the songs she wouldn't have to pay all the money.
posted by caddis at 7:41 PM on October 4, 2007


I suppose that means you think Martin Luther King should have been thrown in jail? After all he was violating the Rule of Law. So was Ghandi.

Okay, first of all, come on. Second of all... come on. We're talking about file-sharing here. Ghandi? Really?

Really?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:46 PM on October 4, 2007


You're apparently comfortable setting up little panels of tyrants to rule for a moment according to their passing whims, and I'm not.

Well, Mr. Steve Elvis Longname Whatever, I am of the opinion that my elected representatives have become the "little panels of tyrants" you're talking about. Unless I missed the bit where I got to vote for or against the PATRIOT Act and other various insane "passing whims" now encoded in the rule of law. I, for one, am glad that jury nullification allows a safety valve. Unfortunately, as was pointed out earlier, anyone who is aware of this legal right will never ever make it onto a jury.
posted by pgautier at 7:54 PM on October 4, 2007 [5 favorites]


StarTribune's dropping of the story is actually very interesting. I'll have to see if it shows up in tomrrow's paper.
posted by jmd82 at 7:58 PM on October 4, 2007


Okay, first of all, come on. Second of all... come on. We're talking about file-sharing here. Ghandi? Really?

Really?


Yeah, principles are only extensible to equally large problems!
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:59 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't think anything I say is going to convince you. You're apparently comfortable setting up little panels of tyrants to rule for a moment according to their passing whims, and I'm not.

Those "little panels of tyrants" are called the US House and Senate, respectively. I can't think of a more bought-out, corrupted, compromised and bribed organization of professional know-nothings anywhere in the world.

Hell, if the purpose of juries is to give an up or down vote on the mere facts of a case, we could just replace juries with computers. Set up the proper logic gates [if defendant DNA at scene, then award 10 guilty points] and it could render a judgement in seconds.

Jury nullification is a sort of last resort way for the people to fight against unjust laws. It'd be better if we could do that at the ballot box, of course, but success along that route is becoming increasingly unlikely, especially when massive corporate dollars are concerned.

Anyway, yes, the size of the judgment is meant to be a warning. The RIAA's primary weapon is fear. And why not? Fear is the only "true" weapon. All others are merely tools to create fear.

Naturally, they don't have to sue everyone who's ever downloaded music. They just have to ruin the lives of a few thousand people before it begins to cast a shadow across most people's lives. Its how the Drug War works -- or how its supposed to work, anyway.

Hmmm...."War on Music" sounds ominously apt....
posted by Avenger at 8:17 PM on October 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


Toolmaster of Brainerd.
posted by jiawen at 8:24 PM on October 4, 2007


The FPP link is a dead end now. 'RIAA' shows a snip of the story in the Star Tribune search engine but that link is also a dead end. Not that it matters. The Wired story covers it.

Other online articles:
CNET News -- RIAA wins key victory, accused file sharer must pay $220,000.

Globe and Mail -- Record industry bankrupts single mom.

New York times -- Labels Win Suit Against Song Sharer.

Variety -- Woman to pay $200K for file-sharing.

Other articles.
posted by ericb at 8:26 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's not illegal to download 'pirated' music, as much as the RIAA would like it to be. It's only illegal to distribute it.
posted by empath at 8:32 PM on October 4, 2007


It's not illegal to download 'pirated' music, as much as the RIAA would like it to be. It's only illegal to distribute it.

Let that be a lesson: Only leech. Don't seed.
posted by jmd82 at 8:39 PM on October 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


New/updated URL for the FPP's StarTribune.com story: Brainerd woman guilty in Internet music sharing.
posted by ericb at 8:44 PM on October 4, 2007


Your link is broken.
posted by pravit at 8:46 PM on October 4, 2007


I think it's time we stop hating on acronyms and calling people out on this.

Dear Musicians: The people who represent you are fucking insane and I won't give them or you any money until you stop them.

There is plenty of legal free or independent music out there.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:53 PM on October 4, 2007


I, for one, am glad that jury nullification allows a safety valve. Unfortunately, as was pointed out earlier, anyone who is aware of this legal right will never ever make it onto a jury.

Why do you think random people judging according to whim is "safe?" What exactly about that process leads you to believe it will give good results?

I'm very glad that people who are disposed to judge contrary to the law are excluded from juries. Doing otherwise would undermine the purpose for having laws in the first place.

If I'm in court, I want my case to be judged according to the law, the law that I had a fair chance of learning and structuring my affairs around. If I'm a plaintiff, I don't want a handful of self-appointed arbiters of "justice" telling me that even though I might legally have a remedy, I'm out of luck, because the defendant is more sympathetic.

I see all the bleating about "justice" in the thread above as little more than people's attempt to justify living outside of our democratically established norms. No, the system doesn't work perfectly, but that doesn't give you an excuse to do whatever the hell you want and call it "justice."
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:57 PM on October 4, 2007


Your link is broken.

Original URL for Star Tribune article in FPP: http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1464264.html:
"404 File Not Found:The page you requested could not be found. It may have been moved; more likely it has been removed from our servers. Most articles are automatically purged from startribune.com's free news database after three weeks. Exceptions include obituaries, recipes and movie reviews."
Updated URL for Star Tribune article:
http://www.startribune.com/467/story/1464264.html (notice the change from 462 to 467):
"Brainerd woman guilty in Internet music sharing -- Duluth jury ordered Brainerd defendant to pay $222,000 for violating song copyrights."
The latter link works for me! Clear your cache and try again.
posted by ericb at 8:57 PM on October 4, 2007


Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America writes "People are supposed to vote for and against laws at the ballot box, either directly or through their representative, not in the jury room!"

Cripes the ballot box isn't even close to be naunced enough for that. How many bills were passed in the last for years? How many candidates would we need to get even 75% of the combinations or approve/disapprove for each of those bills.
posted by Mitheral at 8:59 PM on October 4, 2007


jmd82: seeding only means that you've downloaded 100% of the file(s) in question. When you're leeching on bittorrent, you're still distributing to other peers. Even if you've only downloaded 10% of a song, you're potentially distributing to other peers who don't happen to have that particular 10%. Crap, did I just give the RIAA more fodder?!? Sorry, everybody.

empath: do you have a citation for your claim that only distribution is illegal? I thought that both ends of the transaction violated copyright law.
posted by pgautier at 8:59 PM on October 4, 2007


Cripes the ballot box isn't even close to be naunced enough for that. How many bills were passed in the last for years? How many candidates would we need to get even 75% of the combinations or approve/disapprove for each of those bills.

That's why I said "through their representative." Anyway, that's our system. The people don't get a direct say in federal legislation.

I don't see that as justification for encouraging individual jurors to judge according to their personal feelings, though.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:06 PM on October 4, 2007


jmd82: seeding only means that you've downloaded 100% of the file(s) in question. When you're leeching on bittorrent, you're still distributing to other peers. Even if you've only downloaded 10% of a song, you're potentially distributing to other peers who don't happen to have that particular 10%.

My fault; didn't mean it literally. Seeding in the sense of sharing at all and leeching referring to the old warez scene where you only download and never upload. Was meant to be a play on that if you only download and never upload, you'll be good to go.
I fail at Internet jest.
posted by jmd82 at 9:30 PM on October 4, 2007


Why do you think random people judging according to whim is "safe?" What exactly about that process leads you to believe it will give good results?

Because sometimes the law is fucking insane. And sometimes the law is ok but the punishment is fucking insane. In this case, for me, it's the latter (but the former is often true as well). A quarter of a million dollars for a CD and a half is indefensible (although that obviously won't stop you from trying to defend it).

Also, they're not "random people". They're a jury-- a legal entity of judicial mediation. You apparently have utmost respect for the system unless there's some small chance that it will disagree with you.

Jury nullification isn't a blank check for people to do whatever the hell they want, despite your protestations. As I said before, it's a legal right. It's a way for a citizens to say the law (or the mandated punishment) is wrong. Because sometimes it really truly IS wrong.

Can we agree that if you were a black man in 1949 on trial for dating a white Mississippi woman and facing 10 years in prison, you might have more sympathy for the concept? (And, no, I haven't studied Mississippi case law from the late 40s so I don't know if that was on the books, before you're tempted to ignore the forest and criticize a tree-- it's a thought experiment not too far from the truth). Sometimes the law is wrong. Sometimes citizens can't wait for the ballot box to catch up with their inborn concepts of justice. That's why jury nullification is our legal goddamn right.

Jury nullification should be rare. The way the system is set up, it's about as rare as the Dodo bird. The real travesty of justice is that jury nullification is so diligently hidden from the public civic education and that knowledge of it will more likely than not disqualify one from a jury.

If you don't like the fact that jury nullification is my right, maybe you should vote better.
posted by pgautier at 9:34 PM on October 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


jmd82: No, it's cool. I kinda knew you were kidding. My inner pedant couldn't let it slide. Especially since those among us who don't know how bittorrent works might think they were good to go as long as they're progress bar wasn't full.

Let's be careful out there, people.
posted by pgautier at 9:37 PM on October 4, 2007


Jury nullification isn't a blank check for people to do whatever the hell they want, despite your protestations.

Actually, it pretty much is. "Jury nullification" is a side effect of the fact that there's no practical way to hold juries accountable for their behavior. That's by design, and it's a good thing, assuming juries approach the process with sufficient respect for the law.

Jurors can vote whatever way they please for any reason at all, and after they're done, they don't ever have to tell anyone what influenced their vote.

I'm not at all interested in your hypothetical trial. First, I've never suggested that jury nullification should be abolished. In fact, that's basically impossible. Second, comparing copyright law with laws banning miscegenation demonstrates a shocking lack of perspective. It's simply not at all clear to me what fundamental human right is purportedly violated by disallowing the unapproved distribution of Green Days.

What I have argued, though, is that jurors shouldn't be encouraged to substitute their feelings for the dictates of the law. You, and many others in this thread, have tried to make this an issue of "justice" (whatever that is), but it's all too easy to attach that label to one's preferred outcome, isn't it?

If the law truly shocks the conscience, jurors will always rebel. There's no need to remind them, though, that they're free to judge according to their own values, or, dare I say, their own prejudices.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:52 PM on October 4, 2007


If the law truly shocks the conscience, jurors will always rebel. There's no need to remind them, though, that they're free to judge according to their own values, or, dare I say, their own prejudices.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:52 PM on October 4 [+] [!]


Well, no. If jury nullification isn't a right, they won't rebel - they'll be replaced with obedient jurors.

Whether jury nullification is a right or not is still a very hot debate. The legal system has done its best to minimize jury nullification's impact, but it's certainly still available as an option.
posted by mek at 10:24 PM on October 4, 2007


As my personal opinion, the case itself is legally sound, but the punishment of $222 000 is pretty absurd.
posted by mek at 10:27 PM on October 4, 2007


Can I have the cherry you picked from my comments? It would taste good in the Out-Of-Context martini you're making.

Try to stay with me here: if the law and/or the punishment attached to the transgression of that law is wrong, citizens should have a chance to stand up and say so.

I was not equating copyright violation and miscegenation. My point was, more generally (not really talking about the FPP any more here, so seriously stop pretending that I was, ok?), that laws and the punishments associated with them can be wrong, wrong, wrong. Attempting to shoehorn my argument into your contrived "perspective" is desperate and silly. You're either being willfully ignorant or the other kind of ignorant.

The potential downside of jury nullification that you're harping about would require so much collusion between jury and defendant that . . . wow. Seriously? Wow. That would be like, "Hey, guys, I'm gonna kill this other guy, but you should nullify the verdict on the grounds that murder is totally cool."

If the law truly shocks the conscience, jurors will always rebel. Bullshit. Case in point, this case. Again, my problem is with the penalty and not the law. In case you care. And, yes, now I'm talking about the FPP again. Just wanted to make my context shifts explicit.

What I have argued, though, is that jurors shouldn't be encouraged to substitute their feelings for the dictates of the law. Not only are jurors not encouraged to "substitute their feelings dispassionate rationality for the dictates of the law", they're actively discouraged. Like, for example, being dismissed from the case.

And if Green Day spontaneously appeared in my MP3 collection one day, I would use my laptop for skeet shooting. That doesn't have anything to do with you argument. I just really hate Green Day.
posted by pgautier at 10:28 PM on October 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


Huh. I just realized that unlike a criminal trial, civil lawsuits are decided on the preponderance of evidence. That changes things a little bit. I mean, she probably did share the songs, but I certainly think there would be enough reasonable doubt in a criminal trial (Well, not really, but I wouldn't convict anyway).

So, if I was on a jury, I might consider something like a $2,000 or $3,000 fine. But in this case the minimum fine was $750/song or $18,000. Even that seems like way to much.
posted by delmoi at 10:29 PM on October 4, 2007


Forget about a collection of $1 from each file sharer. Let's let the artists answer for it... this organization represents them. Sarah McLachlan, Aerosmith, Sheryl Crow, Reba McEntire, Gloria Estefan, No Doubt, Destiny's Child and Green Day could each throw in some cash.

Either they support the RIAA's approach to protecting their livelihoods and are willing to live with what this verdict has now done to a single mother of two or they can put their money where their mouths are, bail her out and tell their industry that lawsuits are a flimsy way to plug a sinking business model.

(Yes, I left off GnR. Axl surely needs the cash.)
posted by VulcanMike at 11:08 PM on October 4, 2007


If the law and/or the punishment attached to the transgression of that law is wrong, citizens should have a chance to stand up and say so.

Not once have I said otherwise. Try to keep up. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, jurors can render verdicts however they wish. As a matter of fact, jurors can refuse to convict because the law is wrong, because the victim is black, or because they're bored. There's no real way to fix this, so stop arguing that jury nullification should be allowed. It's a given.

I know that you feel that laws can sometimes be wrong. Very wrong. I appreciate your feelings. Many people share them.

Interestingly, though, there's a lot of disagreement about precisely which laws are wrong. Some people think copyright is wrong, but for others, it's the income tax. Some people think the FDA is complicit to the murder of millions of beef cattle, while some people think all property is theft.

Now, as I understand your position, all of these people, as jurors, should be encouraged to vote their conscience and, if necessary, disregard the law? If someone thinks that criminalizing the rape of one's spouse is an immoral invasion of marital privacy, should we encourage them to acquit a husband accused of raping his wife?

Now, the case in the FPP clearly bothers you, and I suppose you imagine that your moral sense is clear enough that you're reacting to some inherent "wrongness" that will be visible to the majority of jurors. As I understand it, "dispassionate rationality" (which presumably the jury will exercise) would bring one to the conclusion that the copyright laws are so wrong that they should not be enforced. I'm very skeptical of this.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 11:12 PM on October 4, 2007


Huh. I just realized that unlike a criminal trial, civil lawsuits are decided on the preponderance of evidence. That changes things a little bit.

Yes. The standard is whether it's "more likely than not" that the defendant did the bad act. Basically, the jury just needs to be 51% sure the defendant did it. This is a far lower burden of proof than is carried by the prosecution in a criminal trial.

It's not clear why this case went to trial, since she obviously probably did it (again, 51%). She was clearly going to lose, so she should've settled for that $3,000.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 11:16 PM on October 4, 2007


Anyone know who are the artists who made those 24 songs? We should write them a letter to tell them why a lot of people will stop buying their music and ask them to take side, the side of their fans.
This is looking like Prohibition.
posted by zouhair at 11:34 PM on October 4, 2007


The RIAA is in the early stages of its death tthroes, and so is the recording industry as we know it.

As bandwidth becomes more and more available, and the tools of digital production become ever cheaper and more easy to use, we will begin to see a proliferation of Internet-distributed, recorded music, that dwarfs what we see today - none of it sponsored by the majors.

This is the beginning of the end for those bean-counting theives, who have ursurped the talent and creativity of the musicians they want to "protect", ever since recorded music was born, and became distributed.

These changes will take a little time, but they WILL happen. Then, I will be happy to dance on the grave of that little piss ant organization, with its slimy attorneys, and pathetic excuses for executives.

they steal with one hand, and litigate with the other. They protect no one but themselves, and in the offing stimulate ever more clever ways of getting music free.

What I love most about this is that these assholes are fighting a losing battle, as their business dries up right underneath their snotty noses, as the world of music distribution changes forever, without them.

Good riddance!
posted by MetaMan at 12:05 AM on October 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


It's not the law that I have a problem with in this case. It's the punishment. It is so completely disproportionate to the crime as to be horrifying. More to your point than to mine, the jury presumably levied that fine on this woman (unless there was a minimum mandatory in play). I think that's shameful, and I don't think the jury knew there was an alternative. If they did, they most likely wouldn't have been on the jury in the first place.

Really, though, the kind of juror revolt you're describing simply doesn't exist in practice. Jurors don't acquit because they're bored. Jury nullification is vanishingly rare by design (much to the disservice of actual justice IMHO-- you obviously disagree). In the cases that nullification might actually reflect "justice" as opposed to "vengeance" (or the steamroller of entrenched and monied interests), I'm glad it's an option. I don't see it as a threat to liberty and the rule of law. She should be held liable for the actual value of that which she deprived the record companies of. That is not $244,000. If you disagree, please explain. Remember, we're talking about 24 songs.

She may be guilty as fuck, but I think that copyright law has sharper teeth than it deserves in the punishment phase, as demonstrated by this case. She broke the law, but I would rather see her set free completely than be required to pay a quarter of a million dollars for sharing 24 songs. Unless your concept of justice is completely broken, I can't see how you think this is in any way fair.
posted by pgautier at 12:20 AM on October 5, 2007


Hi folks - sorry the original link went dead. At the time I wrote my post it was the first and best live link, not to mention a local news source for the case, but in true craptastic StarTrib style, they killed the original url and moved the story elsewhere behind a (free) subscription wall.

As others have noted, obviously by now the web has plenty of other links on the subject.
posted by Muddler at 12:44 AM on October 5, 2007


There is plenty of legal free or independent music out there.

Like here, for example! So how about going over there and commenting on what you hear so we can make more of what you like!
posted by strangeguitars at 12:55 AM on October 5, 2007


Boycott-RIAA.com

RIAA Radar
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 1:09 AM on October 5, 2007


definitely appeal. This judge and jury have nothing to go on and of course side with the corporate powers. Still, evidence? IP addys? I can see clever lawyers having a field day.
posted by telstar at 1:40 AM on October 5, 2007


Can we agree that if you were a black man in 1949 on trial for dating a white Mississippi woman and facing 10 years in prison, you might have more sympathy for the concept? (And, no, I haven't studied Mississippi case law from the late 40s so I don't know if that was on the books, before you're tempted to ignore the forest and criticize a tree-- it's a thought experiment not too far from the truth). Sometimes the law is wrong. Sometimes citizens can't wait for the ballot box to catch up with their inborn concepts of justice. That's why jury nullification is our legal goddamn right.

Actually, no it's kind of far from the truth, so apologies for defying you and pointing out your inaccuracy. Having actually studied a little bit of the history of civil rights in the American judicial system, I should point out that the far more likely wonderful example of this situation you're espousing would have been juries acquitting white people for murdering black men over this. Furthermore, jury nullification is one of the leading legal tactics of the extreme anti-abortion right wing in attempts to override laws meant to stop disruptive and terroristic actions against women's clinics and their clients.

My point being, I'm glad you're all happy and dancing around with your fantasies of 12 people consistently re-enacting the ending to A Time to Kill, but the reality is jury nullification is far closer to Dr. Steve Elvis' examples than the visions of all injustice in America being reshaped by a dozen people.

That's not to say it's an inherently awful concept, but kneejerk "aargh stupid verdict smash the system!" responses to legal stories like this tend to ignore a rather vital point in that there are millions of people out there who have a vary different idea of "justice" than you do.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:55 AM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Though this debate in the L.A. Times was about webcasting, they covered the issue of file sharing. Not surprisingly, the anti-RIAA/Sound Exchange opinion expressed by Kurt Hanson was considerably more compelling, not to mention reasonable. Can the record industry sue its way to profit? No, of course not, but the verdict in the Minnesota case shows that they can and will hurt a lot of people in the process. Like MetaMan, I'm looking forward to the day when the RIAA as we know it ceases to exist.
posted by Dead Man at 5:46 AM on October 5, 2007


I'm curious, does anyone ever picket record companies, or record stores, or even concerts, over all this outrage I read here? I've never heard of this happening, which proves absolutely nothing, since I've lived outside the US since this all got going.
posted by Goofyy at 5:50 AM on October 5, 2007


I give this style of enforcement 5 years before someone appeals, countersues, and rips the guts out of their strategy of creating fear. Or could we, as internet users, file some kind of class action for creating an environment that stifles regular internet usage? I know the precedents don't support this, but real world evidence sure does. I'm sure lots of independent artists could be gathered to claim a loss of income from the climate of fear. Kill the beast, says I.

And if someone can show me where to direct my dollars so they reach this woman, I'll donate.
posted by saysthis at 5:55 AM on October 5, 2007


I thought she might get off until I saw in one article that they matched up her MAC address, which is unique to her hardware. Not a lot of room for doubt there. IP addresses could be faked, but it would take someone trying to set her up to fake the proper MAC and IP address. Guilty.

Now, the fine for offering 24 tracks? Should have been $240... maybe. Unless she had really bad taste in music. Then it should have been higher.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 6:21 AM on October 5, 2007


The maximum allowable fine for illegal; downloading / file sharing should be the cost of purchasing each song individually from a retailer. Basically $1 / track. Add in a small but reasonable fine (such as the fine for shoplifting a CD from a brick and mortar store). End of story.

The idiotic insistence that copying a track equates to piracy on the order of thousands of dollars is every bit as sane as the tactic of referring to a kid with a 52x burner as having "a computer setup with the equivalent of over 50 CD copying devices" in the RIAA news releases. They have convinced everyone that matters that the worst possible case must be accepted as the standard case: I put one song on BitTorrent, thus every single person in the world who uses BitTorrent must have copied it, thus I must be charged cost of track x total number of BitTorrent users. Clearly, that is fair. I have two burners in my computer - 52x and 48x. Oh, I forgot my laptops (24x and 48x, old and new, respectively). Collectively, that means to the RIAA I have over 170 CD copying devices. Why? Because it sounds more incriminating to a jury than just telling them my computer(s) were no different in general setup or capability than anything you can buy off the shelf at Best Buy.

I really, really wish that juror selection were really random, and not the carefully contrived methods we really use to eliminate from the "pool of my peers" any person who might actually know anything. I understand the reasons for wanting to remove persons with a clear bias or agenda - for example, I wouldn't want an RIAA lawyer in the jury in this case, nor would I want a KKK member in the jury for the trial of any non-white person - but we seem to have developed a method of ensuring that any person sitting in the jury box is as uninformed as possible. It's stupid. I mean, would I end up on a jury? Probably not. Too educated. Too liberal. Too environmentally conscious. I wouldn't make the pre-screening unless I played extremely dumb and lied to most of the questions.

Sometimes I think that juries should be composed entirely of lawyers. That way, they would at least be certain to understand the tactics chosen by the trial lawyers, and be able to see through the transparent shit each side uses to try to win the case. They would be better able to focus on the laws, perhaps choose more appropriate punishments, and given that they would be paid peanuts for doing this, trials would probably be a whole lot shorter.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:33 AM on October 5, 2007


I go back and forth on jury nullification, myself. Sometimes I'm pretty sure that I'm all up with Steve's ideal and want a fact-finder to find facts, etc. At these times, I'm pretty convinced that the jury is a useless institution - a sham attempt to dress our legal system in the garb of "legitimacy" by pointing to the public faces and saying, "See, it must be fair because your own peers found you guilty/liable!"

Other times, I find myself thinking that the jury can serve as a useful check on a highly complex legal system that is continually extended to novel situations not contemplated by the original drafters. Our laws are not usually written and adopted by legislators - they are sketched roughly by interest groups, ratified in skeletal form by our representatives, and only given flesh and substance by the courts. Sometimes I am quite sure that juries can provide a necessary check to make sure that this particular application of a law makes sense to the community, that yes, we really are okay with calling each mp3 shared a separate infringement, and yes, we really are okay with assigning damages of well over $700 per song (and I note in passing that this woman's "peers" didn't award damages anywhere near the minimum, so they were evidently quite okay with applying the laws to her case), which just might not have occurred to some of our representatives in adopting our copyright laws.

And then I remember that the most vocal advocates of jury nullification are the gun-toting crazies and abortion-clinic bombers, and I change my mind again.
posted by dilettanti at 6:39 AM on October 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


A couple things to keep in mind, especially if you've read this far down in the comments.

1) The monetary penalty in this case was not for "downloading," which corresponds roughly with songs valued at $1 per. It is for "making available," or offering for distribution, which is a more serious infringement of a copyright holder's rights. (I'm not saying it's $200,000 more serious, but whatever.)

2) The $200,000 penalty was imposed by the jury in this case; it was not required by law. Per the Wired blooger attending the trial, the jury actually queried the judge during deliberations as to the minimum amount that could be awarded to plaintiffs; that figure is $750 per song, or $18,000. So the jury went way above and beyond the required punishment, multiplying it in this case by a factor of 10. So much for "jury nullification." This jury wasn't even close to outraged by the punishment required by law.

I don't really doubt that this woman is guilty -- I think the RIAA proved that it's more likely than not that she was responsible for the file sharing, though they probably didn't prove it beyond the "reasonable doubt" required in a criminal trial -- but I do wonder what the verdict would have looked like if the jury had included more technically savvy people who could easily grasp the scope of the issues involved.
posted by Joey Bagels at 6:54 AM on October 5, 2007


Good point, XQUZYPHYR, thanks for the perspective. This knife, it cuts both ways?
posted by pgautier at 9:27 AM on October 5, 2007


Steve, what are you really arguing against? No one is talking about "setting up little panels of tyrants", that's the system we have & always have had.

Sure, the great legacy of jury nullification is many (probably hundreds) of people who were acquited even though they lynched Black folk in this country. Hardly a great tradition but we can even it all out by letting off some cancer patient busted for possession. Or something like that. Anyway, I already said we can't rely on it. Civil disobediance is much more reasonable & besides it's got a better legacy to boot.
posted by Wood at 9:31 AM on October 5, 2007


What if the RIAA/MPAA offered a service like newsgroups**?

Servers full of files in various formats then charged $10/GB. No DRM and no holding back on what's available and no restrictions on how often you download.

Wouldn't they make billions? Sure, other people could turn around and release it to torrent sites** or something but the RIAA/MPAA would be preferable because of the amount of stuff and the quality. It's a win-win for everyone. Why can't they do this instead of trying to put the genie back in the bottle?

**Dear RIAA/MPAA: This is all theorectical knowledge from wikipedia. I have no actual knowledge of such services.
posted by who squared at 9:41 AM on October 5, 2007


"What are you talking about?"

I was replying to this: "When people petition the courts for redress, they deserve to have their cases tried according to the law and facts, not according to the sentiments of the jury."

Jury verdicts have always involved sentiments.

(Personal feelings on the matter: This is both good and bad and is a structural reality of any system that relies upon members of the public to reach consensus. That the history of jury nullification involves segregationists doesn't destroy the important precedent of John Zenger's trial. I think that I largely agree that it should be only an absolute last resort, and I don't believe—even though I am personally very opposed to the laws under which this woman was prosecuted—that it would have been a good use of J.N. in this case).
posted by klangklangston at 9:48 AM on October 5, 2007


I'm interested by people's outrage over this issue. People seem to believe strongly that they have an absolute right to freely distribute and share copyrighted material without providing compensation for the copyright holders. Is that correct?

I'm wondering if someone would like to offer a principled defense of that position. Are you arguing that copyright is inherently unjust? If you published a book, would you consider it perfectly fair for someone to buy it, scan it, and put it online for anyone who wants to to read it? If not, why not?
posted by yoink at 10:33 AM on October 5, 2007


Jury verdicts have always involved sentiments.

Yes, thank you. I know. This is hardly a reason to encourage juries to be swayed by sentiment, though. I think this is precisely what informing them about jury nullification would do.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:39 AM on October 5, 2007


Steve, what are you really arguing against? No one is talking about "setting up little panels of tyrants", that's the system we have & always have had.

I disagree. Jurors my technically be tyrants now, but they're toothless so long as they don't know their own power. Other people in the thread seem to think it's a good idea to emphasize to jurors that they are not accountable for their decision making process and can thus decide cases on whatever grounds they please, but I think this is a bad idea.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:43 AM on October 5, 2007


"Yes, thank you. I know. This is hardly a reason to encourage juries to be swayed by sentiment, though. I think this is precisely what informing them about jury nullification would do."

I'm sorry, but that's foolish. The idea that juries are better off not knowing the law is both an insult to the idea of jury trials and to your fellow Americans. Further, the idea that if they are informed about their options, juries would be encouraged to sentiment is a profound leap that again seems grounded in a contempt for juries.

The answer, Steve, is that if you don't like the long precedent of juries being unaccountable, is for you to lobby your representatives, not to deny knowledge. Unless, of course, you're a hypocrite. And noting that you've mentioned studying for the bar (I don't follow you well enough to know whether you're practicing), I am disheartened by this callow and cynical view of justice and juries.
posted by klangklangston at 11:28 AM on October 5, 2007


I'm interested by people's outrage over this issue. People seem to believe strongly that they have an absolute right to freely distribute and share copyrighted material without providing compensation for the copyright holders. Is that correct?

No. That is not correct. I don't think anyone would be making a fuss if this lady had been ordered to pay the record labels $24 for the 24 songs she downloaded.

She was charged $222,000. If the jury had decided they didn't like her looks, she (a single mother) could have been forced to pay the RIAA (an organization worth billions of dollars) $3.6 million. For 2 CD's worth of music.

I'm interested in your lack of outrage.
posted by designbot at 11:29 AM on October 5, 2007


Having actually studied a little bit of the history of civil rights in the American judicial system, I should point out that the far more likely wonderful example of this situation you're espousing would have been juries acquitting white people for murdering black men over this.

The verdict in this case may be more connected to race than we realize. Jammie Thomas is a Native American who worked as an administrator for an American Indian tribe. Given the prejudice you find against Native Americans in Minnesota, North Dakota, and the Great Plains, I wonder if this was a factor, especially when you consider that the jury deliberately chose to fine Ms. Thomas more than minimum penalty required by law.
posted by jonp72 at 11:39 AM on October 5, 2007


"No. That is not correct. I don't think anyone would be making a fuss if this lady had been ordered to pay the record labels $24 for the 24 songs she downloaded."

Yeah, but the idea behind the law is that the RIAA can't prove how much actual damage she did by making the songs available. Thousands of people may have downloaded those songs and consequently not purchased the music (if you buy that canard). That, plus punitive damages for making the RIAA sue her, is what the judgment was based on (well, that and the law that sets minimums etc. etc.).
posted by klangklangston at 11:45 AM on October 5, 2007


designbot, the money is supposed to be a deterrent. $24 would not be a deterrent.

I mean, let's agree to live in reality. A model where I pay what I would have payed had I not downloaded is basically no deterrent to downloading at all.

(Not to mention that she wasn't busted for downloading, she was busted for sharing. They could have been ripped from her CD for all anyone cares.)

Now, the question is, supposing you don't want to argue that people have the absolute right to share this stuff & you drop the $24 non-starter, what is a reasonable deterrent for this sort of thing?

The quote: "Though the companies limited their case to 24 songs for what they called simplicity's sake, witnesses testified that an Internet sleuth hired by the industry caught Tereastarr one night in February 2005 making 1,700 illegally downloaded songs available to the 2.3 million Kazaa users on the network at that moment." is telling. We all know that ipods hold 1000's of songs & plenty of kids are sharing WAY more than 24 songs. The law appears to allow for damages in the hundreds of millions of dollars for more-or-less run of the mill offenders. Sounds a bit over the top.

How about a $10,000 fine for all-you-can eat piracy?
posted by Wood at 11:45 AM on October 5, 2007


I'm interested in your lack of outrage.

Well, perhaps I'm misreading the thread, but it seems to me that the outrage is, for the most part, over finding her guilty at all--not the size of the fine. Those who are calling for jury nullification, for example, seem to think that the entire legal basis on which the case was brought is unfair and unwarranted.

In this instance the size of the fine is certainly breathtakingly large--but that sort of thing happens when you have a "per case" penalty and a very large number of instances of infraction. She could, of course, have avoided the fine altogether by settling (she was, after all, clearly guilty).

But, seriously, how many people here think the RIAA was right to bring the case, and the jury was right to rule against the woman, but wrong only in the size of the fine that they brought?

Could those who think that *any* fine would have been wrong please explain to me the principle (other than "I like getting stuff for free") that they feel they are upholding?
posted by yoink at 12:03 PM on October 5, 2007


As Wood mentioned, the RIAA, for whatever reason, only chose to sue for 24 of the songs. If they had felt like it, they could have sued her for her entire music folder, because it was sharable to the public.

That folder contained a normal music collection: 1,702 songs. About enough to fill an iPod nano. She might have paid for all of those songs; she would still be liable for making them sharable.

If the RIAA had decided to sue for all of those songs, the jury would be required to fine her between $1.3 million and $255 million.

If, next time, or the next, if the RIAA decides to sue someone with a larger library (say, 40,000 songs—enough to fill an 80 GB iPod), the mandatory fine would be $30 million to $6 billion. From one person.

And, with this precedent established, they wouldn't even have to prove that anyone downloaded a single song from that shared folder.

The RIAA has launched 14,800 lawsuits in the last 2 years alone. If these cases had gone to trial instead of being settled, and we assume a typical 1000-song library for each defendant, the RIAA could have collected up to $2.2 trillion.

There are about 9 million people sharing songs online at any given time. If the RIAA sued each of them, and they each had 1,000-song libraries, under current law, the RIAA would be entitled to damages of $6.75 trillion to $1.35 quadrillion.

So, at the low end, the RIAA deserves more money than exists in the entire United States, and at the high end, enough money to cover the entire Earth with $100 bills 27 times over.

What kind of hippie anarchist pirate would find fault with that?
posted by designbot at 12:18 PM on October 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


designbot, the money is supposed to be a deterrent.

I don't know where that's written, but if that's the true purpose of these lawsuits, then they should drop them right now. File sharing has gone up consistently ever since these lawsuits began. If the money's not for compensating the artists, and it's not an effective deterrent, then what's the point?
posted by designbot at 12:23 PM on October 5, 2007


yoink writes "I'm interested by people's outrage over this issue. People seem to believe strongly that they have an absolute right to freely distribute and share copyrighted material without providing compensation for the copyright holders. Is that correct?"

Few people would take it to that extreme. However, the public is getting royally screwed by the copyright special interest group. I think they realize this.

The original deal was pretty good: to encourage artists to distribute their work the public will discourage anyone from distributing copies for a limited time. This deal enriched both the public domain and the artist.

Originally stuff entered the public domain after 14 years (with provisions to double that if the artist wanted). However now, through the actions of the copyright special interest groups, stuff never enters the public domain. Ever. My daughter will be dead before many of the works copyrighted today will enter the public domain. And that only if the laws don't continue the trend to retroactively extend copyright. In the long term this is just as bad for artists as it is for the public.

So I feel no need to play fair with rights holders as they aren't playing fair with us. Unfortunately not a terribly nuanced response in most cases. Many of the smaller players will be hurt. The greater tragedy in my mind is the loss of common culture because it isn't legal to preserve stuff if the copyright holder doesn't make the effort. Even when the rights holder is still distributing the content, they can warp it to fit their agenda. Call it the Han Shoots First problem. Under the original deal Star Wars would now be in the public domain. Fan boys who wanted could not distribute the original in all it's glory but could make derivative works legally.

I could rant on this for hours but it's kind of off topic and besides I don't want to be riled up for the long weekend. So one more point: your average person already has access to better information about the 1920s than the 1940s. Why? Pre 1928 source material is almost entirely in the public domain and can be redistributed. Lee Valley for example has an entire series of public domain books that they are redistributing. I have several dozen shelf metres of Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, and Radio Experimenter from the 1940 up into the 1970s. I've converted a few articles within into PDFs and I'd do them all if I could only legally distribute them. But it's not clear at all whether they are in the public domain and I haven't either the money or the time to defend an infringement case. So they stay in my private library where a select few can access them and maybe my daughter will be able to distribute electronic copies some time in the future. Assuming they haven't turned into dust, after all they weren't exactly printed on archival paper.
posted by Mitheral at 12:45 PM on October 5, 2007


Mitheral writes "Fan boys who wanted could not distribute the original in all it's glory but could make derivative works legally."

Damn it: Fan boys who wanted could not only distribute the original in all it's glory but could make derivative works legally.
posted by Mitheral at 12:50 PM on October 5, 2007


Mitheral writes :So I feel no need to play fair with rights holders as they aren't playing fair with us.

So because powerful industry interests manage to get favorable treatment from politicians, you're within your rights to refuse compensation to artists who created music to which you enjoy listening. Or are you saying that if an artist loudly spoke up in favor of limiting copyright to 12 years, you'd refrain from pirating their work on principle?

I happen to agree entirely that copyright has been extended for absurdly long periods of time and that it should be cut back. But I'm struggling to see how poor public policy on copyright duration gives you the right to infringe anybody's copyright any time you wish. You and I both know that many of the people in this thread who are so full of outrage have extensive collections of copyright material that they obtained for free and which is less than twelve years old. I'd be interested to hear one of them offer a principled defense of their "right" to have that material without compensating the artist or the company that enabled the artist to bring that material to the market.
posted by yoink at 2:16 PM on October 5, 2007


Unlike unalienable rights copyrights only exist because of the deal between creators and the public. What incentive is there for the public to hold up their end (limited protection) if the copyright holders don't hold up their end (creative works entering the public domain)? If enrichment of the public domain doesn't happen why should the public expend resources so that copyright holders can make money? In fact we'd be better off not having copyrights at all. At least that way the public domain would grow courtesy of those artists who are driven to create regardless of the monetary feedback loop.
posted by Mitheral at 3:37 PM on October 5, 2007


Enron Hubbard:

MAC addresses are FREQUENTLY cloned at the push of a button these days. They are easily changed.

It's but a flash of a bit of firmware on many cards.

Just sayin.
posted by tomierna at 4:04 PM on October 5, 2007


Actually reported MAC can be changed in windows.
posted by Mitheral at 4:48 PM on October 5, 2007


In fact we'd be better off not having copyrights at all. At least that way the public domain would grow courtesy of those artists who are driven to create regardless of the monetary feedback loop.

So, you're saying that if people aren't paid to make music more music will end up being made. It's an interesting theory, but I fail to see why these people who don't care about being paid for making music aren't already making it. After all, there's nothing preventing people releasing things into the public domain right now, is there?

Also, what you say in no way provides any kind of defense for copying work by people who *do* in fact assert their copyright and are not doing so for an unreasonably long time. But I rather suspect that "getting stuff I want for free" is the only real 'principle' here.
posted by yoink at 4:55 PM on October 5, 2007


DesignBot: "She was charged $222,000. If the jury had decided they didn't like her looks, she (a single mother) could have been forced to pay the RIAA (an organization worth billions of dollars) $3.6 million. For 2 CD's worth of music.

"I'm interested in your lack of outrage."


...

What?

I got nuthin' to add to that.

I just felt like pirating it.

...

Or would that be parroting?
posted by ZachsMind at 7:38 PM on October 5, 2007


"So, you're saying that if people aren't paid to make music more music will end up being made."

No, that's not what he's saying. He's saying that more music would make it into the public domain, and thus enrich all of us.
posted by klangklangston at 7:45 PM on October 5, 2007


yoink writes "So, you're saying that if people aren't paid to make music more music will end up being made."

What klangklangston clarified. More content would enter the public domain because as it stands now only the stuff specifically released to the public domain is making it there.
posted by Mitheral at 8:00 PM on October 5, 2007


klangklangston: "He's saying that more music would make it into the public domain, and thus enrich all of us."

Woah... I just felt Ayn Rand's ghost walk on my grave.

The book Atlas Shrugged was about this. A guy named Reardon comes up with a special kinda steel which is stronger than anything and was a funny color. He did all the work in figuring out how to make it, he smelted it, he developed the marketing and the distribution. Then all his rights to the Reardon metal were taken away from him by a combination of terrorist acts (they blew up his plant) and bureaucratic litigation. The argument was that by holding on to his patents, he was being selfish and unfair to the masses who deserved to be enriched by his discovery more than he deserved profiting from it.

I ain't saying I liked the book, or agreed with it, and I ain't saying I'm for copyright laws as they stand today.

And I ain't saying a guy who invents a new metal is just like an artist who makes a new song...

Okay... I think I might be saying that last bit...

Be one an inventor or songwriter, one should be able to profit from their discoveries, if there's a legitimate market. One should be able to opt to defend their right to their discovery, and use it to benefit your descendants. One should be able to opt to sell their discoveries to a corporate entity for profit, and that corporate entity should be guaranteed that the marketable quanity won't just fall into the public domain too soon for it to be worth their purchase in the first place.

However, this not being in the public domain (in the US)? That's just messed up. I don't know where the lines can be drawn to make this fair or even remotely sensible, but where they are drawn now? Not working. For anybody. Even the people who think it's working for them. Especially not for the consumer.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:17 PM on October 5, 2007


You presume recorded music has a value today, Zach.

It doesn't.

It's broadcast freely, everywhere, all the time. Almost every public space is filled with music. It's in the store aisles, in the elevator, I hear it when I'm on hold, I can tune it in over the airwaves, I can't get away from music.

It has next to no value: it is background noise.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:40 PM on October 5, 2007


Also, Zach, did you note this: "There are about 9 million people sharing songs online at any given time. If the RIAA sued each of them, and they each had 1,000-song libraries, under current law, the RIAA would be entitled to damages of $6.75 trillion to $1.35 quadrillion."

That is the value RIAA places on their music.

That is the value the US Government has, apparently, placed on their music.

And believe it or not, it's the value a jury of your moronic peers put on it.

The RIAA is now owed more money than has ever existed.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:42 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


There are about 9 million people sharing songs online at any given time. If the RIAA sued each of them, and they each had 1,000-song libraries, under current law, the RIAA would be entitled to damages of $6.75 trillion to $1.35 quadrillion.

I'd say this is a pretty good estimate of how much RIAA executives *think* Britney Spear's worthless songs are worth. Remember kids, every time you download a song that you never would have bought anyway, a potential trillionaire cries.

Won't someone think of the trillionaries?!?
posted by Avenger at 10:04 PM on October 5, 2007


Amazing that so many people feel so outraged at being denied free access to something they consider "valueless." Why download this "valueless" product to your computer if you don't want to have it? Why wish so ardently for it to be released to the public domain if it is "valueless."

Again, there are all sorts of great arguments to be made for shortening the period of copyright protection. So far no one has even tried to make an argument for why I should be able to copy and play someone's recording without compensating them *at all* (not, "for the first twelve years" or "the first 20 years" or the "the first five years" but at all).

You download music that you want to have and want to listen to. You therefore find it valuable. The person who spent time, money and creative energy to make it deserves to receive compensation for having produced that music that you find valuable enough to download to your computer. The fact that you think copyright law should be amended (not abolished, amended) in no way releases you from your obligation to recompense the creator of the music. that you clearly value because you chose to download it and listen to it.
posted by yoink at 1:41 PM on October 6, 2007


No, that's not what he's saying. He's saying that more music would make it into the public domain, and thus enrich all of us.

So, I ask the same question you didn't bother to answer: why--if people are going to release music to the public domain if we stop paying them to create music--aren't people currently releasing all this great music to the public domain. No one *has* to copyright their music. Why should removing a monetary incentive for the creation of music result in an explosion of music created for free?
posted by yoink at 1:43 PM on October 6, 2007


Amazing that so many people feel so outraged at being denied free access to something they consider "valueless." Why download this "valueless" product to your computer if you don't want to have it? Why wish so ardently for it to be released to the public domain if it is "valueless."

Well, i for one grew up taping songs off the radio onto cassettes. The songs were free and broadcast freely--we had free access to them. Record companies used to want people to hear songs freely, and later to see them on MTV, which people recorded as well. The whole broadcast model is based on "free" and it made them billions. Expecting us to pay for stuff that used to float freely (and was capturable) is absurd. Now it floats freely online and we act the way we used to--we capture it.

Why record companies don't treat p2p and torrents as publicity-generating entities like radio and music video is something i still wonder about.
posted by amberglow at 2:28 PM on October 6, 2007


Plus, smart record companies provide sample songs on the artist webpages. Those are free too. Sometimes you can even listen to an entire album for free--and capture it.
posted by amberglow at 2:32 PM on October 6, 2007


yoink writes "Why download this 'valueless' product to your computer if you don't want to have it? Why wish so ardently for it to be released to the public domain if it is 'valueless.'"

It's not valueless, that is why the original deal was stuck: to encourage artists to distribute their works instead storing it in their closet. But the overwhelming societal value is to the public domain and if works never reach public domain status then they are effectively valueless to society.

yoink writes "if people are going to release music to the public domain if we stop paying them to create music--aren't people currently releasing all this great music to the public domain. No one *has* to copyright their music. Why should removing a monetary incentive for the creation of music result in an explosion of music created for free?"

Two reasons stuff is still being copyrighted yoink. First the default is for creative works to be copyrighted. Unless the creator takes extra steps to place it in the public domain it's not. Second the current copyright structure creates a disincentive to release works into the public domain.

And despite that people so do as a quick browse of the CC tag on Flickr will reveal. And people are constantly creating works with zero expectation of making a buck. Good stuff too as a browse through music will show.

And I didn't say removing copyrights would result in an explosion of music created for free. I said the public domain would be richer than it is under the current regulations. Even big media companies like Disney would benifit. Look at their catalogue. The vast majority of Disney's films are derived in part or in whole from stuff in the public domain. The way they are strip mining the public domain is very short sighted.

It's not directly applicable but I enourage anyone who hasn't done so to read Melancholy Elephants by Spider Robinson. It touches at the end of the societal need for a public domain.
posted by Mitheral at 2:51 PM on October 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, i for one grew up taping songs off the radio onto cassettes. The songs were free and broadcast freely

They weren't free. The radio stations paid the artists every time they played the song. They played the music (which they knew you would value) in order to get you to listen to advertising. The advertisers paid the stations to play their ads. No part of this was "free."

It's not valueless, that is why the original deal was stuck: to encourage artists to distribute their works instead storing it in their closet. But the overwhelming societal value is to the public domain and if works never reach public domain status then they are effectively valueless to society.

I've already said that I agree that copyright protection is extended for too long. If all you want to argue about is the length of copyright protection then I have no argument with you, but you are also making an argument that has no bearing on this particular case, or on the outrage most of the posters in this thread are expressing. They feel that all music--recent or not--should be freely downloadable as soon as it is recorded. I don't agree. To restate: I'm asking for someone to make a principled case as to why a living and breathing artist who wants to make a living from creating music should not have the right to get compensated when people download copies of his/her music?
posted by yoink at 3:08 PM on October 6, 2007


Yoink, the value is not in the music: the value is in having the ability to control the noise in one's environment. The music is available for free in every shop, elevator, and radio station. The ability to skip to the next song is, sadly, not so available with those media.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:02 PM on October 6, 2007


Also, yoink, please do go look into what Sheeba and Prince and the like are doing. Especially Sheeba: she lets you pay what you want to pay and has done nicely by that. Then go read Courteney Love's exposé on just how badly RIAA fucks-over artists, putting them into massive debt even while their albums go platinum.

The money to be made in music is in live shows, not recordings. Always has been.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:07 PM on October 6, 2007




Yoink, the value is not in the music: the value is in having the ability to control the noise in one's environment.

O.K., I've seen some pretty thin rationalizations in this thread, but this is getting truly diaphanous. Yeah--of course the value is being able to control the "noise" in our environment. If I want to hear the noise of, say, Leonard Cohen singing "Hallelujah" or of Rene Pape singing Mozart then please explain to me what right I have to the pleasure of starting and stopping that "noise" at my convenience for free? The radio that is blaring in a shop did pay for the right to play it at their convenience.

Then go read Courteney Love's exposé on just how badly RIAA fucks-over artists

Yeah, I love this one: "I'm so outraged at how the RIAA rips artists off that I'm going to make sure the artist gets absolutely nothing." I'm sure the artists thank you for your courageous stand.
posted by yoink at 7:00 PM on October 6, 2007


five fresh fish: "The money to be made in music is in live shows, not recordings. Always has been."

I used this argument with a friend recently and she laughed at me.

"When was the last time you talked to a someone in a band?"

I was too embarrassed to say. I've mostly abandoned that life, whereas a decade ago I actually knew what I was talking about.

"It costs so much to tour, they are lucky if the tour pays for itself," my friend continued, "they barely break even."

"So I'm wrong? they're making money with their CDs?"

"Not really. The guys I know are touring and selling some of their CDs but they give as many away to people like promoters and venue owners and college radio people. CDs are a band's calling card - not a way to make money."

"So how do bands make money?"

"If these guys wanted money they wouldn't be in a band. They don't do it for money. They do it cuz they have to play. They do it for the music."

At least that's the guys she runs into, who run regional (multistate) circuits and are signed to independent labels if they're signed at all. She often lets them crash at her house.

Unless you're signed to a major label, there is no money, and for the major label, it's not exactly money so much as a gravy train that will run out when you're no longer the next big thing, and sometimes the 'talent' is left holding the bill. Big record companies don't care what happens, cuz they can just replace you with the next big thing.

[CONSPIRACYTHEORY mode="illuminati"]
I'm thinking that's what's really happened to Britney Spears. Whatever juggernaut monolith was playing genie for her until now has disappeared on her, and she tried to come back without it. Whatever used to protect her, fed her to the dogs.

There are forces artificially generating these big stars, and the teeming masses follow like lemmings from one next big thing to another. I honestly can't see how anyone's making any money from this, [/CONSPIRACYTHEORY]

but it's certainly not the talent.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:47 PM on October 6, 2007


"If these guys wanted money they wouldn't be in a band. They don't do it for money. They do it cuz they have to play. They do it for the music."

Ah, right. "They do it for the music." And if they don't do it for the music then they're beneath my contempt and they deserve to have me steal their music.
posted by yoink at 8:43 PM on October 6, 2007


I've already said that I agree that copyright protection is extended for too long. If all you want to argue about is the length of copyright protection then I have no argument with you, but you are also making an argument that has no bearing on this particular case, or on the outrage most of the posters in this thread are expressing. They feel that all music--recent or not--should be freely downloadable as soon as it is recorded. I don't agree.

But I do. I believe that data has, due to ongoing technological development, achieved essentially the same status as water and air; it's now a material that, while certainly having value, cannot be assigned a monetary value without dire consequences. Over the past 5-10 years we have been on the brink of this, but it will become only increasingly evident. We can discuss to death whether or not data (in the form of mp3s, docs, avis, isos, whatever) should be free, but it doesn't matter. Our rationalizations are completely irrelevant. Information is free. Control is no longer possible, let alone efficient.

What we ought to be discussing is how we can adjust to this new reality.
posted by mek at 9:54 PM on October 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


But I do. I believe that data has, due to ongoing technological development, achieved essentially the same status as water and air; it's now a material that, while certainly having value, cannot be assigned a monetary value without dire consequences.

So, if you wrote and published a book you'd see nothing at all wrong with someone scanning the book and putting the content up online for free distribution?

Also, it is one of the great environmental disasters of our age that we have been encouraged to think of water as "free." The dire consequence was to fool ourselves into thinking that water magically appeared at our taps without cost. If you wanted to provide a nice analogy to the foolishness of those who kid themselves that the music they want to hear just magically appears in their computers without anyone needing to benefit financially, you could hardly have done a better job.
posted by yoink at 7:26 AM on October 7, 2007


They weren't free. The radio stations paid the artists every time they played the song. They played the music (which they knew you would value) in order to get you to listen to advertising. The advertisers paid the stations to play their ads. No part of this was "free."

It was and still is free to listen and capture music off the radio, and/or internet--any money paid is not by us nor is it for our benefit--it's for publicity reasons, or to support old "advertising needs content" and "media is advertiser-supported" models. Songs are sold to movies for their soundtracks and for commercials all the time too.

And Payola is still illegal and widely practiced--to mention something monetary you didn't. None of these, tho, are paid by the consumer, even if they exist ostensibly for the consumer.

Take the existence of Newspapers and Magazines online--reading them for free and printing it out from online or saving it to a hard drive is not stealing. That content is not at all valueless either, and it's copyrighted, and it's stuff people are paid to produce, and that advertisers pay to be near. We all can turn off and block the ads and images--rendering the advertising null. The sites even give us the option to print and save to hard drives or hard copy. ... Why is that different from music?
posted by amberglow at 9:16 AM on October 7, 2007


I have a Python script that listens to radio feeds, identifying the songs that are playing on over a dozen channels simultaneously (and identifying any commercials as well). It buffers the music it determines I'd like to hear.

Thusly, I get over eight hours of delightful music with no commercial interruptions at no cost to me.

How is that different from simply pirating the music?

If it is not, then should I be forced to listen to the commercials? Should I be prevented from changing the channel when a song comes up that I don't much like?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:02 AM on October 7, 2007


"If all you want to argue about is the length of copyright protection then I have no argument with you, but you are also making an argument that has no bearing on this particular case, or on the outrage most of the posters in this thread are expressing."

Bullshit. The argument he's making has no bearing on the straw man you're railing against, but the majority (especially now) of comments aren't advocating an anarchic freebooters island. They're arguing that the penalties are too steep and that the music is over-valued, and that copyright periods are too long. All things that even you shouldn't have a real problem with.

"I'm asking for someone to make a principled case as to why a living and breathing artist who wants to make a living from creating music should not have the right to get compensated when people download copies of his/her music?"

Because the current structure of the music distribution system does not provide a good way to set that compensation, as shown by both emerging social norms and the massive distortions being imposed by the current distribution apparatus.

Further, I'd argue that as a consumer, I have the right to know what I'm buying. That right conflicts with the right of an artist to control how their intellectual property is distributed (that's OK. Rights often conflict). Leaving aside Mitheral's argument, which would include a contention over how intellectual property is created (see: The Rolling Stones, who I believe have unduly and unjustifiably benefited from copyright controls), and dealing only with the most defensible portion of the copyright (how ideas are transfixed), the discussion must come back to how the public benefits most—through the ability to know what they're buying, to not be swindled, and to have a moderate enforcement structure set to not unduly penalize the consumer for protection of their assets, or through the draconian protection of copyrights, and both the injury to consumers and the resources required to ensure such a scheme.

I obviously believe the former is a better structure.

I'll also note that your dismissal of music not having a value is premature. Mek's water analogy was wrong—there's a limited amount of water and air. There isn't a limited amount of music (or words or art). Music has no intrinsic value, just as when I write a column, it has no intrinsic value. Most of what I get is based on novelty—the magazine is the first place to print what I wrote, and they pay for that right. And while they usually purchase reprint rights, I've never known them to object to it being reprinted elsewhere (or to reprint it themselves). There's no reason that our current valuation system for albums has to be the same as the one we've got, or the one we've got for any media currently produced.

I'll also say that the RIAA're-crooks-too reasoning that you rejected makes sense from a harm perspective: if you don't feel like any of your money is getting back to the band anyway, there's no harm in duplicating the music.
posted by klangklangston at 10:19 AM on October 7, 2007


So, if you wrote and published a book you'd see nothing at all wrong with someone scanning the book and putting the content up online for free distribution?

Well, I'd probably make it available on my website for a small donation ($5?) in a convenient format like .doc or even HTML.

If you wanted to provide a nice analogy to the foolishness of those who kid themselves that the music they want to hear just magically appears in their computers without anyone needing to benefit financially, you could hardly have done a better job.
posted by yoink at 7:26 AM on October 7 [+] [!]


On the contrary, I provided that somewhat controversial analogy intentionally as bait. The privatization of water has been pretty consistently disastrous, similar to the privatization of healthcare. Much like the existing recording industry, the people who "benefit financially" from the privatization of these assets are overwhelmingly unrelated to their production or delivery.
posted by mek at 12:45 PM on October 7, 2007


I'll argue that screwing RIAA helps artists.

The RIAA is nothing more than a straight-up Mafia racket.

The more harm that comes to it, the more artists will be free to find other means of distributing their music and generating income from that distribution.

The more artists can pursue other licensing schemes, the more money they'll make. Distributor competition will increase their take-home from each album sale by several orders of magnitude: instead of tenths-of-a-penny from RIAA, perhaps a dime from iTunes or Amazon. While sales volume may be lower, profit margin and revenue will be much, much higher for them.

What's really needed, though, are more artists like Sheeba, Prince, and Radiohead. These are people making a damn fine income by giving their music away, and trusting the consumer to "pay what they think it's worth."

There are huge cracks in the ice on which RIAA's been skating. It's about time it opened up, swallowed them whole, and drowned the bastards.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:09 PM on October 7, 2007


Amberglow: Take the existence of Newspapers and Magazines online--reading them for free and printing it out from online or saving it to a hard drive is not stealing. That content is not at all valueless either, and it's copyrighted, and it's stuff people are paid to produce, and that advertisers pay to be near. We all can turn off and block the ads and images--rendering the advertising null. The sites even give us the option to print and save to hard drives or hard copy. ... Why is that different from music?

It is different from downloading music without compensating the copyright holder because in the instances you cite the copyright holder has chosen to make this material available. There is no reason that any band shouldn't say "here, take all our tracks for free." If they do, well and good. Just as you have every right to bake a batch of muffins and set them up on a stall outside your house with a sign saying "free muffins." But if you do that it doesn't mean that if you then bake some muffins and offer them for sale at the local farmer's market I have the right to take them without paying you because in some other circumstance you chose to offer them for free.

Really, this isn't complicated. When you go into a mall you benefit from the lighting and the air-conditioning they supply for "free." This does not mean, however, that you have the right to tap into their electricity supply and divert it to your own home. It also doesn't mean that you're allowed to steal lightbulbs from the hardware store in the mall. The fact that your grocery store gives free samples of cookies every so often doesn't mean you can open other packets of cookies and eat them when you feel so inclined. Is this really so difficult to understand?

five fresh fish: How is that different from simply pirating the music?

If it is not, then should I be forced to listen to the commercials? Should I be prevented from changing the channel when a song comes up that I don't much like?


When you pirate the music you have the ability to play it as and when you like. When you're listening to it on the radio you hear it as and when it is played by someone who paid the artist for the right to broadcast it. If you think that pirating the song gives you no added utility then why do you pirate the song? The RIAA isn't trying to prevent radio stations from playing music--they're trying to prevent people from illegally taking copies of music which the copyright holder does not wish them to take. Again, just because a shop offers free samples on Thursday doesn't give you the right to shoplift that product on Friday.

klangklangston: Bullshit. The argument he's making has no bearing on the straw man you're railing against

What straw man am I railing against? Are you actually claiming that nobody pirates music by living performers? Are you saying that no one in this conversation has done so, or is continuing to do so? One of us is badly misreading the sentiments expressed in this thread ("music is free, just like water and air")--and I don't think it is me.

klangklangston: (the quoted bit is from yoink)"I'm asking for someone to make a principled case as to why a living and breathing artist who wants to make a living from creating music should not have the right to get compensated when people download copies of his/her music?"

Because the current structure of the music distribution system does not provide a good way to set that compensation, as shown by both emerging social norms and the massive distortions being imposed by the current distribution apparatus.


So again, we have the argument that because the RIAA is "ripping off the artist" then it is fair for me to ensure that the artist gets nothing at all. I think we all agree that there are corruptions and inefficiencies and regulatory distortions in every market imaginable--does that mean that I'm now free to steal every good and service I use? If I think the waiter is underpaid by the restaurant management I should stiff them on the tip, right? If I think that a shop is overcharging for the items it sells I'm free to steal those items. Is that right?

Me, I think that if I think that the regulatory environment in which music is operating is poorly designed then I should start to agitate for legal changes. Show me a petition on copyright law and I'll sign it. In the meantime, however, I also feel that I have a moral obligation to compensate the artists who make the music that I want to listen to. It would be nice if there was some way to make sure that they got a fairer slice of the money I spend on CD's--but I'm very confident that they're happier with the small amount of money they receive from me than the nothing they receive from someone who pirates their music.

klangklangston: Further, I'd argue that as a consumer, I have the right to know what I'm buying.

Yes, if only there was some way to find out what the music on a CD sounds like before you buy it. Perhaps the management of music shops could hire the band to stand atop the music bins and play their songs whenever requested? No...that would be too labor intensive, wouldn't it? I know: the band could play in a central location and listening tubes could be run under the streets of the city to every single music shop so that potential customers could bend their ears to a "listening horn" of some kind? Hmmm--you're right sir, this is clearly a technological barrier that needs to be overcome.

mek: Well, I'd probably make it available on my website for a small donation ($5?) in a convenient format like .doc or even HTML.

Oh, so your intellectual creativity deserves reward, does it? It's only those lousy musicians who should provide everything "free" like the air and the water. I see.
posted by yoink at 1:28 PM on October 7, 2007


klangklangston: I'll also say that the RIAA're-crooks-too reasoning that you rejected makes sense from a harm perspective: if you don't feel like any of your money is getting back to the band anyway, there's no harm in duplicating the music.

Ah, if I don't "feel" this then "there's no harm in duplicating the music." Of course, the money does in fact get back to the artist (if the label takes a big chunk to pay back development money that they've spent on the artist that isn't money "not going to the artist" that is the artist spending the money s/he received in order to pay back a loan; I doubt you'd be happy if your boss cut your salary by an amount equivalent to your mortgage because s/he "doesn't like making banks rich").

This argument is so flamboyantly specious that I find it hard to believe anyone really believes it--but I guess you'll grab whatever fig leaf is available if it means you keep getting stuff that you value for free.

If I "feel" that someone is underpaid for the work they do then it's o.k. for me not to pay them at all. Amazing.

Here, by the way, is an actual musician giving a breakdown of the money he receives per album sale. If you buy the album from cdbaby.com he gets $8.97 from the $12.97 sale price. Yeah--that's such a risibly small percentage that I'm sure he's happy to see you take the music for free instead.

I notice, too, that the people who make this argument don't ever seem to bother finding out the mailing address of the artists whose music they've stolen so as to mail a check directly to them. They're very deeply committed to the artist's welfare ("yah boo, lousy RIAA! How dare they rip off the artists that I love") but even more deeply committed to getting stuff that they value for free.
posted by yoink at 1:44 PM on October 7, 2007


"So again, we have the argument that because the RIAA is "ripping off the artist" then it is fair for me to ensure that the artist gets nothing at all."

Really? Where do we have that argument? Because it isn't what I said, and it isn't what anyone else said.

Oh, I see, you were being disingenuous as a rhetorical technique.

How about this: You go back and read what I wrote, very slowly so that you understand, and then write up five reasons why what I said wasn't what you just pretended I said. Then I'll assume that you're not just a moron and can actually parse a pretty simple set of distinctions.
posted by klangklangston at 2:15 PM on October 7, 2007


"Yes, if only there was some way to find out what the music on a CD sounds like before you buy it. Perhaps the management of music shops could hire the band to stand atop the music bins and play their songs whenever requested? No...that would be too labor intensive, wouldn't it? I know: the band could play in a central location and listening tubes could be run under the streets of the city to every single music shop so that potential customers could bend their ears to a "listening horn" of some kind? Hmmm--you're right sir, this is clearly a technological barrier that needs to be overcome.
"

How about this: A system of tubes allows me to select whatever I want to hear, generally in a lossy format, for free. I listen to it and decide whether or not I want to buy it.

OMG THAT'S WHAT FILE SHARING IS!

You can talk to the adults again once you stop being retarded.
posted by klangklangston at 2:17 PM on October 7, 2007


Yoink: "So, if you wrote and published a book you'd see nothing at all wrong with someone scanning the book and putting the content up online for free distribution?"

I already wrote a book and published it on the Web. It's freely available online. I didn't wait for someone else to scan the book in and put the content up online for free distribution.

You'd call it a blog. I used to call it my online journal. Now it's just zachsmind.com. If you printed it out and put it in a binder, it'd be a book. I ain't saying it's a good book, but It's my book, and I gave it away for free.

So don't accuse me of stealing cuz I download the occasional mp3 and listen to it in the privacy of my home. Not that it's worth much, but I freely gave what little I have to offer humanity. I don't ask for much in return. Just what you have to offer humanity. Whoever you are.

Don't call me a criminal because I'm still idealistic enough to believe that in the end, the 'giving and receiving' model is still noble and viable.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:33 PM on October 7, 2007


Yoink: I'm asking for someone to make a principled case as to why a living and breathing artist who wants to make a living from creating music should not have the right to get compensated when people download copies of his/her music?"

Klang: Because the current structure of the music distribution system does not provide a good way to set that compensation, as shown by both emerging social norms and the massive distortions being imposed by the current distribution apparatus.

Yoink asked for a principled case; that part of your response is a practical case, not a principled one, I think.

My principled case is simple: I don't think that lossy digital copies should be considered to have value (I think Klang and I agree here). The current distribution model charges about the same for an album's worth of material on CD as it does for an album's worth of material via lossy MP3, give or take. Another principled case might be that no participant in the marketplace should assume that they have the right to earn capital in the marketplace. Copyright is granted, not inherent, and thus a principled case can be made against copyright as a wholesale concept or against selected elements of the idea.

And lastly, if one accepts that one can make a principled stand against elements of copyright law, one might conclude that it is more ethical to keep one's money (while still enjoying lossy copies) than to throw it into an outmoded and wasteful distribution system.

While I'm here: y'know, the pair of you: it's entirely possible to disagree with someone without calling them an idiot.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 2:40 PM on October 7, 2007


klangklangston: How about this: A system of tubes allows me to select whatever I want to hear, generally in a lossy format, for free. I listen to it and decide whether or not I want to buy it.

OMG THAT'S WHAT FILE SHARING IS!

You can talk to the adults again once you stop being retarded.


Do you seriously propose that most of the people downloading music from file-sharing sites then go out and buy CDs of the music that they decide they "really" like? If you genuinely made a practice of rigorously doing that (say, you play a track more than twice you make sure you buy it) then I'd say I have no real argument against the way you're behaving. On the other hand, if that is the way you behave you are also wildly atypical and clearly not the advocating the kind of behavior I'm arguing against.

Many people download tracks which, lossy or not, are as good as they want for their purposes. So no, file sharing is not the equivalent of a listening booth at a record shop; it isn't a way to have a "trial listen" to something you want to buy. It is a way of getting music for free.

Zachsmind: I already wrote a book and published it on the Web. It's freely available online. I didn't wait for someone else to scan the book in and put the content up online for free distribution.

You'd call it a blog.


Oh, I see. So if I, for example, give away a car, I'm allowed to steal as many cars as I happen to want in future. Is that it? I'm sure your blog is just terrific stuff, but I fail to see why the fact that you want to give it away for free then means that nobody else has a right to get paid for the things they do.

I also think comparing a blog to either a real book OR a musical album is a bit of a stretch. I'd say blog is to book as jam-session is to album. There's a reason that most bands don't charge for recordings of their jam-sessions.

ten pounds of inedita: I don't think that lossy digital copies should be considered to have value (I think Klang and I agree here). The current distribution model charges about the same for an album's worth of material on CD as it does for an album's worth of material via lossy MP3, give or take.

Again, the fact that "lossy digital copies have value" is proven by the fact that people A) download them and B) get hysterical if you suggest that that might not be entirely ethical. It is simply disingenuous to say "well, product X should be free because it is of no value to me" and then to amass a collection of thousands of examples of product X.

Another principled case might be that no participant in the marketplace should assume that they have the right to earn capital in the marketplace.

Well, yes, that's a principled argument. But it's a principle that also justifies shoplifting. Are you really advancing that argument?

it's entirely possible to disagree with someone without calling them an idiot

I think he called me "retarded." I don't think I called him anything at all.
posted by yoink at 4:41 PM on October 7, 2007


if the label takes a big chunk to pay back development money that they've spent on the artist that isn't money "not going to the artist" that is the artist spending the money s/he received in order to pay back a loan; I doubt you'd be happy if your boss cut your salary by an amount equivalent to your mortgage because s/he "doesn't like making banks rich"

How's that fit with a RIAA = Mafia loansharks, artists = desperate gamblers motif? 'cause that's pretty much what we got.

Maybe toss 1% of our budget on staffed, public recording studios. Put up a Youtube clone of self-made music videos, use stats off that to determine priority for studio usage; otherwise it's first come, first served. Make it easy for a band that's shown decent local success make it to greater success. Help them get independent; once they've got wide exposure, they can pay their way.

We need a music stockmarket. Let the public invest in the bands they like, and use that investment to studio-produce more of their music. The band can pay it back at a reasonable rate of interest. We get to feel good about supporting our rising stars, and make money at the same time. They get to produce themselves to the point of taking it big, and if they're any good will more than make back the amount invested in them, to everyone's benefit.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:46 PM on October 7, 2007


Well, yes, that's a principled argument. But it's a principle that also justifies shoplifting. Are you really advancing that argument?

Actually, it isn't. Again, copyright is a granted right, not an inherent right, whereas the right to own physical property has ben ingrained into nearly every culture in the world. Don't conflate disagreement with one law with disagreement with other laws.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 5:18 PM on October 7, 2007


I rarely feel the need to compensate an artist I'm listening to, because I'm listening to that artist by virtue of the fact they are already successful. They've been selected by some process, relatively invisible to me, and found their way to my radio or playlist. For every (already popular) artist I listen to, there's 1000 more talented ones I'm not hearing, that are probably more deserving of compensation.

You can argue that we're not making a "principled argument," but that's a terribly myopic point of view. Approach the question from the opposite angle: before technology enabled recording and playback, charging for music was difficult if not impossible. Concerts were the only means of mass transmission. When the record was invented, did people demand a "principled argument" as to whether or not it was moral to sell physical copies of music? Or did they just seize the opportunity? Are you considering this subject objectively, or just through the lens of recent history?
posted by mek at 7:47 PM on October 7, 2007


five fresh fish: We need a music stockmarket.

You might be right that some other form of market would be a more rational way of distributing payment for people's creativity. That still doesn't give you the right to ignore the copyright holder's right to be compensated for their creative labor.

ten pounds of inedita: Actually, it isn't. Again, copyright is a granted right, not an inherent right, whereas the right to own physical property has ben ingrained into nearly every culture in the world. Don't conflate disagreement with one law with disagreement with other laws.

I was replying to your claim that "no participant in the marketplace should assume that they have the right to earn capital in the marketplace"--I didn't realize you were limiting that strictly to the copyright-protected marketplace. Sure, if you say simply that you don't believe anyone has any right to any compensation for their creative labor that is a principled argument in favor of free downloading. All I can say is that I think creators do deserve to be compensated, and that a legal framework which grants creative talent the right to control the distribution and sale of their creative products for a reasonable period of time is a good way to encourage the kind of creativity that is beneficial to society.

The fact that people are clamoring to download for free precisely the music that is fostered and created by people who seek to be professional music makers (rather than weekend hobbyists who are grateful merely to find an audience and therefore happy to give it away for free) suggests to me that most people in fact do want these people to be able to make a living at their chosen profession. They just don't want to be among the ones paying for it.

mek: I rarely feel the need to compensate an artist I'm listening to, because I'm listening to that artist by virtue of the fact they are already successful. They've been selected by some process, relatively invisible to me, and found their way to my radio or playlist. For every (already popular) artist I listen to, there's 1000 more talented ones I'm not hearing, that are probably more deserving of compensation.

Wow. Just wow.

You can argue that we're not making a "principled argument,"

Yes, I think it is safe to say that no one would confuse the above with a "principled argument."
posted by yoink at 8:26 PM on October 7, 2007


If you continue to cherry-pick then I'm done here. If you care to respond to the rest of my comment, then do so.
posted by mek at 8:45 PM on October 7, 2007


I didn't realize you were limiting that strictly to the copyright-protected marketplace.

As others have also rightly mentioned, you are both cherry-picking and taking statements out of context by not considering the surrounding commentary.

Klang, I take it back. Call it like you see it.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 10:12 PM on October 7, 2007


ten pounds of inedita: As others have also rightly mentioned, you are both cherry-picking and taking statements out of context by not considering the surrounding commentary.

Klang, I take it back. Call it like you see it.


Jeez, tpoi--I explained to you why I'd misread your statement (a pretty reasonable explanation, as far as I can see; it looked to me like you were instancing copyright as one particular example of the marketplace in general rather than limiting "marketplace" to mean solely "the copyright-marketplace"--when I reread your post it still looks as if that is what it means, but I accept your claim that you didn't mean that; it is, however, what you wrote) and then I gave a full answer to what I now understood you to have meant to say. There was no "cherry picking" there or in my reply to mek (mek made two unrelated statements. I replied to one of them; that isn't cherry picking or "taking things out of context"--the second part of his/her argument had no bearing on the first part--which I quoted in full.)

In any case, on further reflection I see that I conceded a little too much to you in saying that a wholesale opposition to the principle of copyright would constitute a "principled" reason for downloading copyrighted music. Copyright is, as you say, a right conferred upon the copyright holder for the good of society as a whole, and not for the good of the individual copyright holder. But it is not a right conferred by the individual consumer upon the copyright holder. It is a right conferred by the state upon the copyright holder. So, in order to claim that you, as an individual, have the right to ignore copyright you also have to be claiming that you as an individual have the right to ignore the state's adjudication of property rights in general.

So, for example, there are people out there who are firmly convinced that the government does not have the right to tax them. I'd be interested to know if you think that it is fair for those people to choose not to pay taxes because they do not agree with tax law. If those people should, in your view, be prosecuted by the state what distinction do you draw between their personal decision to flout the state's power to determine tax rates and your personal decision to flout the state's power to determine copyright?
posted by yoink at 9:17 AM on October 8, 2007


mek: Approach the question from the opposite angle: before technology enabled recording and playback, charging for music was difficult if not impossible. Concerts were the only means of mass transmission. When the record was invented, did people demand a "principled argument" as to whether or not it was moral to sell physical copies of music? Or did they just seize the opportunity? Are you considering this subject objectively, or just through the lens of recent history?

For some reason it troubled you that I didn't address this part of your post (utterly unrelated as it is to the first part of your post, that I quoted in full). Frankly, this part of your post contains a glaring contradiction which I thought it kinder to simply pass over in silence. But as you wish me to be complete I will point it out:

"Charging for music was difficult if not impossible," "Concerts were the only means of mass transmission." Do you see the contradiction? There was no difficulty whatsoever in charging for music--then as now you put someone at the door of the concert hall and you didn't let people in unless they'd paid for a ticket.

Before the advent of recorded music most people simply couldn't afford to hear professional musicians of the highest calibre except in the context of religious ceremony. The pre-recording days weren't some utopian period in which music was freely available to all comers; it was a period in which composers and performers tended to be in the direct or indirect employ of the nobility. The sale of recorded music (and its protection by copyright) has resulted in an extraordinary democratization of access to elite musical performance. Of course, it has also largely killed off the widespread culture of amateur performance; pub sing-a-longs, ballads etc.

Now--do I have to spell out in detail for you why your argument that "I don't pay for the music I download because all those people are rich enough as it is" has absolutely no logical relationship whatsoever with your (false) "music used to be free" argument? Or will you accept that that wasn't in any sense "cherry-picking"?
posted by yoink at 9:32 AM on October 8, 2007


The actual point of my argument was not "music was free," but that a change in our technical capability completely altered the way in which we interacted with (and sold) music. If there was some sort of RIAA-like trying to prevent this "democratization of access to elite musical performances," they were long ago lost to history. In more recent history, the movie industry's violent resistance to the VCR is similar, and similarly futile.

If anything, the modern piracy crisis is just another step in that same direction. Recordings are now so prolific and uncontrollable as to be devalued almost entirely, but this isn't the end of the world for the value of music itself. Recordings are merely one relatively recent aspect of the music industry. My point is that the music industry is shaped around technology, not vice versa; it is currently trying to forget that, but it won't.
posted by mek at 11:11 AM on October 8, 2007


That still doesn't give you the right to ignore the copyright holder's right to be compensated for their creative labor.

True, that. What gives me the right to freely make copies of music is that (a) I have the legal right to do so; (b) there's a surcharge on media that also gives me the moral right to do so.

The CRIA (the Canuck branch of RIAA) is, of course, doing its best to change that by purchasing the elected representative who happens to be in charge of dealing with these sorts of concerns.

Still, until they're successful at thwarting our electoral system (the last minister they purchased was dumped on her ass before she could do total harm), we're good to go in Canada.

Download and burn your CDs while you can, fellow Canucks!
posted by five fresh fish at 11:22 AM on October 8, 2007


also, a number of Canadian artists and labels are against any changes to our laws: they do not want downloading and sharing to be made illegal.

mind, I suspect the folk involved in the music business in Canada tend to be a little more math literate, as several studies have demonstrated that file sharing is actually of net benefit our music industry.

posted by five fresh fish at 11:24 AM on October 8, 2007


mek: Recordings are now so prolific and uncontrollable as to be devalued almost entirely, but this isn't the end of the world for the value of music itself. Recordings are merely one relatively recent aspect of the music industry. My point is that the music industry is shaped around technology, not vice versa; it is currently trying to forget that, but it won't.

"Devalued almost entirely" in the sense solely that people willfully break the law in order to avail themselves of them. Nobody seriously pretends that if, say, the music industry could create an uncopyable form of music recording nobody would bother to buy any music. People value the music highly--look at the lengths they go to download it and carry it around with them on their shiny iPods--they just don't want to pay for it.

I agree that the ubiquitous copyability (is that a word?) of digital files means that in a sense the argument is over; until such time as the uncopyable file is developed the music industry is not sustainable on the old basis. When people can steal music from the comfort of their bedrooms they get so habituated to the act that they stop thinking of what they're doing as stealing (indeed, as this thread shows, they get really, really, annoyed when it is pointed out to them). I tend to agree that the music biz would be better advised to devote its energies to coming up with a new business model than to sticking its finger in a crumbling dyke.

But my query wasn't about "is this the smartest business plan by the RIAA"? That's a question of pragmatics, not principle. My query was "what makes people think they do in fact have the right to take music for free from living people who put time, money and creative work into producing it and who want to charge money for their labor. "Everybody's doing it" is not a defense of unethical behavior. Nor is "well, what difference does it make if I join in."

And, further, I doubt that the brave new world to which we are heading will be quite so liberatory as the pro-free-downloading crowd likes to think. What I foresee is a smaller pool of professional musicians who make their living off live concerts that the vast majority of people are unable to afford to attend. When you can't make a living off small margins in a mass market you market exclusivity. No doubt those left out in the cold will have oodles of "watch me shred" youTube videos to enjoy, but why will anybody bother to spend months in a studio crafting a Pet Sounds or a Sgt. Peppers or a Dark Side of the Moon or a Bryter Layter or a Shoot Out the Lights or a Insert Album Name that You Don't Think is Naff?
posted by yoink at 11:40 AM on October 8, 2007


five fresh fish: True, that. What gives me the right to freely make copies of music is that (a) I have the legal right to do so; (b) there's a surcharge on media that also gives me the moral right to do so.

As to the legal right, the woman in the case under question was sued for uploading music to the internet. That is illegal in both the USA and in Canada. So, shift the question just a tiny bit--what makes you think you have a "moral" right to upload music to the internet? If you don't think you have that moral right, how could you think you have a moral right to profit from someone else's unethical act?

As for the "surcharge on media"--if you're not paying for the music you download, how do you pay this "surcharge"? How does any of the money from this "surcharge" make its way to the people whose music you're downloading (or uploading) for free? [By the way, I Googled "Canada Surcharge Media" and got nothing--so I did try to find out what you were talking about].

fff: a number of Canadian artists and labels are against any changes to our laws: they do not want downloading and sharing to be made illegal

Again, yay for them. How does that give you the moral right to download music made by someone who does not want the product of their creative labor to be taken without compensation?
posted by yoink at 11:50 AM on October 8, 2007


Ethics are so terribly 19th century. Your moral rights are dependent on your selection of (an arbitrary) framework. As you noted earlier, from a cost-benefit analysis the argument is over. I'll just add that physically speaking, downloading a music track is no more remarkable or special than (actually significantly less complex) than the act of listening to one. It's just the relative newness of "downloading" which makes it seem alien. And re: the surcharge, there's an additional levy on recording media (importantly CD-Rs, extra $10/spindle).

But I'll bow out now, since I'm obviously not interested in discussing "ethics."
posted by mek at 12:09 PM on October 8, 2007


yoink: we pay a surcharge on our media, which is given to the CRIA, which purports to deliver it to artists in proportion to their sales, ie. Celine Dion gets it all.

In truth, the CRIA pays its executives very handsomely, purchases our elected representatives, and doesn't share with the artists.

The woman in this case did not "upload music to the Internet." That would be true if she'd, say, posted it to Usenet. She did not. What she did allow open access to files on her computer.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:26 PM on October 8, 2007


five fresh fish: The woman in this case did not "upload music to the Internet." That would be true if she'd, say, posted it to Usenet. She did not. What she did allow open access to files on her computer.

Po-tay-to po-tah-to--at least in this case (the files are "uploaded to the Internet"--not a technically precise term--because her open-access computer is now part of the 'Internet'--just as much as if the files were resident on some Usenet server). In any case what she did is illegal under Canadian law and my question still stands.

As to the "media surcharge" you're saying that the existence of a surcharge which you avoid paying because you download music for free absolves you from the economic consequences of your action. What am I missing, because that sounds like a pretty weird claim.

mek: Ethics are so terribly 19th century. Your moral rights are dependent on your selection of (an arbitrary) framework.

Hum. Like I said, no one will confuse your argument for one based on principle. I'm sure you rigorously believe and act on this basis--until, that is, someone does something that harms you.
posted by yoink at 12:38 PM on October 8, 2007


Woman to Pay Downloading Award Herself
"Jammie Thomas makes $36,000 a year but says she's not looking for a handout to pay a $222,000 judgment after a jury decided she illegally shared music online.

'I'm not going to ask for financial help,' she told The Associated Press on Friday. But she added, 'If it comes, I'm not going to turn it down, either.'"
posted by ericb at 12:41 PM on October 8, 2007


Man, did that poor woman get spectacularly bad advice from her lawyers. I wonder if they'll help out on the payment at all.
posted by yoink at 1:13 PM on October 8, 2007


I contacted Jammie's legal team and they gave me these contact details for anyone who wants to make a contribution to the legal fund. Please mail your contribution to Jammie Thomas Defense Fund, c/o Chestnut & Cambronne, Suite 3700, 222 South Ninth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402. If you choose to use PayPal, go to www.freejammie.com.

I guess anyone who has shared music over the internet might want to do this as any appeal directly protects those people... whoever they maybe...
posted by merocet at 1:14 PM on October 8, 2007


I think you're really not understanding what I'm saying when I say it's legal to share music in Canada, yoink.

I'm saying it is unequivacolly legal to file-share music in Canada. The Copyright Board of Canada has explicitly stated so.

Had that woman been in Canada, she would not have broken any laws whatsoever.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:30 PM on October 8, 2007


As for the tariffs, yoink, in Canada all recording media has a built-in bit on coinage for the CRIA, regardless whether the end-user is going to actually use the media for purely data-backup purposes.

Indeed, Canadians have overpaid CRIA by millions of dollars because of this broad tax. It has always been legal to make private copies from original purchased source in Canada, so every person who has used a CD to back up his computer, or a DVD to store family pictures, or copied a CD borrowed from a friend has paid the tariff despite not using the media for the purpose addressed by the tariff.

Kinda funny, isn't it, how it has always been legal to make copies of music in Canada, and yet at the same time we've a fantastic music industry in which a fair number of people make a damn fine living doing what they love.

Why, it's as if it benefits them! Who'd have thunk it? (Other than the dozens of Canadian artists who are pissed at the CRIA for presuming to interfere with their fans.)
posted by five fresh fish at 1:36 PM on October 8, 2007


five fresh fish: I'm saying it is unequivacolly legal to file-share music in Canada. The Copyright Board of Canada has explicitly stated so.

Well, I'm neither Canadian nor a lawyer, but that's not what Google keeps telling me. Michael Geist is the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law at the University of Ottawa. I assume he knows more than either or us about Canadian law in these matters. Here's what he says about this issue:

First, the right [to file-share] applies solely to copying, not to those who “upload” music on peer-to-peer networks. This objection is certainly valid as neither the Canadian courts nor the Canadian Copyright Board have ever indicated that private copying could be used as a defense against the act of uploading.

He's explicitly talking about P2P filesharing here, so he doesn't mean "uploading" in the restricted (Usenet) form that you were talking about. So, yes--the Canadian courts have made it hard to sue for downloading music, but uploading music remains explicitly illegal.

And thanks for explaining the surcharge in more detail. In other words if you download music to your computer and upload it to your iPod you avoid this surcharge altogether. You only get dinged with it if you buy CD-R's to burn the music onto. Doesn't sound like a great system to me; there's no proportion between the amount of music downloaded to the surcharge paid. In fact, the richer you are the less likely you are to rely on burning your files to transportable physical media like CD-R's.
posted by yoink at 2:03 PM on October 8, 2007


Hum. Like I said, no one will confuse your argument for one based on principle. I'm sure you rigorously believe and act on this basis--until, that is, someone does something that harms you.
posted by yoink at 12:38 PM on October 8 [+] [!]


I'm exceedingly principled, and my arguments follow from those principles, which I've attempted to explain several times. My principles just don't match yours. You believe your principles match with a seperately-existing absolute ethics, and I reject that.

For all I know, I'm being harmed by intellectual theft right now. I wouldn't be able to tell.
posted by mek at 2:45 PM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


mek: You believe your principles match with a seperately-existing absolute ethics, and I reject that.

Where did I say that? To say that ethics are culturally relative (as they obviously are) is not to say that there's no such thing as ethics and that no act is unethical. You can't have this both ways. You say you are "exceedingly principled" but then say "ethics are so 19th century."

If you are "exceedingly principled" then you have ethical principles that you consider it important to uphold. Great. Explain to me how downloading music without compensating the person who created that music (and who asserts their copyright) fits in with your principles.
posted by yoink at 2:58 PM on October 8, 2007


(spelling derail: it's "unequivocal". Sorry, FFF, broadly speaking I'm agreeing with you, it's just that I'm what Languagehat would call a Presciptivist. Or Jerk. One or the other.)

why will anybody bother to spend months in a studio crafting a[n] Insert Album Name that You Don't Think is Naff?

Because they love it and can't not do it. Millions of us do it, despite the fact that we don't have the talent or skill to attract more than a handful of people at a time to see us perform. The mass Major-Label roster layoffs mean that more and bigger names are joining us. It's not all about money, mostly it's vocation.
posted by Grangousier at 3:13 PM on October 8, 2007


In other words if you download music to your computer and upload it to your iPod you avoid this surcharge altogether.

No, there is or was an iPod tax, and there is debate about an iTunes tax. Hell, I think there's a damn ringtone tax; one was proposed.

We can agree that Geist has repeatedly demonstrated the legality of obtaining music over the net. It has always been perfectly legal to make a copy of a work for oneself. It has always been legal to make a copy of a copy for oneself.

What is also equally factual is that it has never been legal to make a copy to give away to someone. Which is where everyone cries "oh, but that's what you're doing with P2P!"

Nonesense. There is, at all times, a single copy of the work on my computer. I do not make any copies for anyone. The downloader is making the copy using a small part of my resources. As if you came to my house, listened to a CD you really liked, and borrowed my laptop to burn yourself a copy.

Truth of the matter is that the issue has not been brought to a legal head in Canada: the industry is trying desperately to avoid making it into a legal issue because they're pretty sure that between their history of tariffs combined with legal precedent would result in loss for them. They're highly motivated to come up with a solution that promotes file sharing and simultaneously benefits artists.

Our artists are, more and more, seeing the advantage of independence from the CRIA. Time and again we've seen fortunes made on the net through innovative self-marketing. They want a slice of that, and screw the middle-man.

I want them to have a slice of that, too.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:18 PM on October 8, 2007


spelling derail: it's "unequivocal".

Glad you got that off your chest.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:20 PM on October 8, 2007


Grangousier: despite the fact that we don't have the talent or skill to attract more than a handful of people at a time to see us perform

And there, for me, is the rub. Of course people will continue to make music for the love of it. I happen not to believe (though you may) that music made solely for the love of it is better than music made by dedicated professionals who can devote all their time to it.

I sing all the time and I love a good singalong. It's terrific fun. But I don't confuse what I do with what, say, Barbara Bonney does, or Rolando Villazon does, or Richard Thompson or Keren Ann, for that matter.

So, as I said, there'll always be amateur music (the YouTube "watch me shred" videos that I instanced)--but that won't replace the efforts of dedicated professionals devoting their entire creative energy to a sustained project.
posted by yoink at 3:24 PM on October 8, 2007


five fresh fish: I'm saying it is unequivacolly legal to file-share music in Canada. The Copyright Board of Canada has explicitly stated so.

Truth of the matter is that the issue has not been brought to a legal head in Canada

Is it really so hard to say "Oh, that's interesting, I was wrong"?
posted by yoink at 3:27 PM on October 8, 2007


It was the Federal Court of Canada that ruled that uploading via P2P was legal, not the Copyright Board. Regardless, it did come to a legal head, and a ruling was made, and it is legal.

Is it really so hard to not be a smug fuck?
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 3:37 PM on October 8, 2007


Explain to me how downloading music without compensating the person who created that music (and who asserts their copyright) fits in with your principles.
posted by yoink at 2:58 PM on October 8 [+] [!]


I'll quote grouse from another thread: "Copyright is not real or personal property. It is a monopoly the state offers for a limited time to encourage people to create." It might stick in your craw that "intellectual property theft" isn't actually theft, but a dictionary can teach you that much. Copyright is not an intrinsic legal right, as if that meant anything special. It's not a criminal action to break copyright either, it simply opens you up to civil liability. This is still the case everywhere except the USA (where, since 1997, copyright infringement is sometimes a criminal matter) It is imposed by the state to serve a purpose; all I have to do to remain principled, is demonstrate that purpose is not being properly served.

Whether or not copyright is a good thing is still an open debate; it's not clear at all that copyright is even benefiting copyright-holders, let alone society in general. Copyright as-it-currently-exists-in-the-USA is pretty obviously broken. Many artists (most recently Radiohead, but there are many) are rejecting the modern conception of copyright, and there are entire genres of music which now exist outside of the legal domain because they engage in mixing and sampling. They see copyright as functioning to prevent people from listening or accessing their music, and therefore running contrary to their interests.

I believe copyright should exist but it should only apply to financial transactions. Burning that mix CD is okay, giving it away is okay, selling it isn't. NBC should have the right to exclusive broadcast of their TV shows, but I should have the right to download them from a P2P network instead of tuning in at 9pm.
posted by mek at 4:25 PM on October 8, 2007


Hey, I didn't realize the court had actually gone all the way on it! Man, the CRIA is good at blowing smoke; I was pretty sure the issue was still pretty much up in the air, legal until ruled otherwise.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:42 PM on October 8, 2007


ten pounds of inedita: It was the Federal Court of Canada that ruled that uploading via P2P was legal, not the Copyright Board. Regardless, it did come to a legal head, and a ruling was made, and it is legal.

Is it really so hard to not be a smug fuck?


tpoi: I have no idea why you've got your panties so thoroughly in a bunch. I made a (slight) misreading of something you expressed rather ambiguously and I corrected myself as soon as you pointed that out. Somehow this has put me beyond the pale as far as you're concerned.

As for the issue you're jumping into here, if you'd bothered to read my exchange with five fresh fish you'd have seen that I had contended precisely that in Canada downloading is legal and uploading is not. He had said that I was wrong; I demonstrated that I was not. So your comment is completely irrelevant. Here, just so you don't have to go scrolling back up I'll quote the relevant passage from my post before:

yoink: As to the legal right, the woman in the case under question was sued for uploading music to the internet. That is illegal in both the USA and in Canada.

five fresh fish: I'm saying it is unequivacolly legal to file-share music in Canada. The Copyright Board of Canada has explicitly stated so.

yoink: Well, I'm neither Canadian nor a lawyer, but that's not what Google keeps telling me. Michael Geist is the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law at the University of Ottawa. I assume he knows more than either or us about Canadian law in these matters. Here's what he says about this issue:

"First, the right [to file-share] applies solely to copying, not to those who “upload” music on peer-to-peer networks. This objection is certainly valid as neither the Canadian courts nor the Canadian Copyright Board have ever indicated that private copying could be used as a defense against the act of uploading."

He's explicitly talking about P2P filesharing here, so he doesn't mean "uploading" in the restricted (Usenet) form that you were talking about. So, yes--the Canadian courts have made it hard to sue for downloading music, but uploading music remains explicitly illegal.


So no, it is not "legal" and it did not "come to a legal head"--in other words you're completely wrong. It seems to me that in argument about the legal status of file sharing in Canada it's worth knowing what the actual legal status of file sharing in Canada is. You, apparently, think it's more important just to hurl crude insults.
posted by yoink at 4:58 PM on October 8, 2007


mek: I believe copyright should exist but it should only apply to financial transactions. Burning that mix CD is okay, giving it away is okay, selling it isn't.

That is a perfectly defensible position. Now explain to me why you have the right to act as if the law had been changed when it has not in fact been changed? I come back to my tax-defaulter example. If you think income tax is "wrong" do you have the right to refuse to pay income tax? Why do you have the right to ignore the nation's copyright laws just because you'd prefer that they were formulated differently?
posted by yoink at 5:01 PM on October 8, 2007


Minnesota Woman to Appeal $220,000 RIAA Ruling
"Jammie Thomas, who last week was ordered to pay the recording industry for copyright violations, says she will appeal the verdict."
posted by ericb at 5:04 PM on October 8, 2007


Not only do I have the right to violate the law when I feel it is unjust, as a member of a democratic society I feel morally obligated to. If everybody tolerated unjust laws, then those laws would never change. If we weren't actively resisting copyright in its current incarnation, then the RIAA and MPAA would inevitably succeed in maintaining the status quo.

Perhaps it's somewhat relevant that I'm not breaking the law, as I'm Canadian. Maybe it's possible I am, but I'm reasonably confident I'm not. At any rate, there's plenty of unjust laws I assure you I _am_ breaking; my behaviour isn't dictated by what country I reside in.
posted by mek at 5:16 PM on October 8, 2007


Here's another example of copyright stupidity. Apparently there's such a lockdown on the word "Olympic" that I just committed a crime. Lordy, lor', save us from corporations!
posted by five fresh fish at 5:28 PM on October 8, 2007


mek: Not only do I have the right to violate the law when I feel it is unjust, as a member of a democratic society I feel morally obligated to.

Hmmm--I would agree that one is obliged to violate a law which one things utterly repugnant to your fundamental moral principles. That is, if a law is passed demanding that all left-handed people be rounded up and killed, one is obviously compelled to violate that law.

But this seems a long way from that. You don't believe copyright should be abolished or that it is morally odious; you think it should be modified and that it has somewhat deleterious effects upon the richness and vibrancy of cultural practice. That's a policy argument, not a ground for moral outrage. If I think the tax rate is too low for high income earners (as I do) am I justified in refusing to pay taxes altogether?

I take it, by the way, that you do in fact believe that a person who believes that taxation is wrong is right to refuse to pay taxes. Do you also think the state is wrong to prosecute those people?
posted by yoink at 5:30 PM on October 8, 2007


Hey, I didn't realize the court had actually gone all the way on it! Man, the CRIA is good at blowing smoke; I was pretty sure the issue was still pretty much up in the air, legal until ruled otherwise.

What bugs me is that my favourite semi-private P2P tracking site, demonoid.com, has blocked Canadian users from viewing its webpage because of some nebulous threats by the CRIA. And yet the ruling is there that the CRIA has no teeth in Canada.

Canadians can still get in through proxies, and the tracker itself doesn't block Canadian users so you can still share without going through proxies. It's still annoying.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 5:31 PM on October 8, 2007


five fresh fish: Hey, I didn't realize the court had actually gone all the way on it! Man, the CRIA is good at blowing smoke; I was pretty sure the issue was still pretty much up in the air, legal until ruled otherwise.

I take it you're responding to ten pounds of inedita here. He's simply incorrect. The report he links to is describing the very same case that Michael Geist is analyzing later, in more depth (and more knowledgeably) in the article that I linked you to.
posted by yoink at 5:34 PM on October 8, 2007


Do you also think the state is wrong to prosecute those people?
posted by yoink at 5:30 PM on October 8


There's the rub. The state has the right to prosecute people for breaking the law, regardless of whether or not the law is just. People should do what they think is right as long as they are willing to accept, fight, and/or evade punishment. That person who feels they are overly taxed can (and will) evade taxation as best they can, but they will be careful to manage the risk of being caught. (Rich people do this all the time.)

Bringing that back to the FPP, I feel bad for this lady, and I feel especially bad considering her apparently incompetent lawyer. She had no case, and she should have settled.
posted by mek at 5:59 PM on October 8, 2007


From the article I linked to:
"This has certainly stalled (the record industry's) current round of litigation, and...thrown into doubt whether there is infringement at all," said Michael Geist, a University of Ottawa law professor who closely follows Canadian copyright issues.
Geist has also talked about the issue on his blog very often. I don't have the time or inclination to link to dozens of such articles, because there's no point. I will point out Geist's opinion that personal computers are covered by the levy and leave you to read every post he's made for the last seven years, as I have.

I'm not wrong -- I have an informed opinion and Geist appears to share my opinion, not yours: P2P is legal in Canada until ruled otherwise.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 6:09 PM on October 8, 2007


Well, it remains a fact that the CRIA is unwilling to prosecute, because it's afraid it will lose. I think that says a whole lot about how "legal" or "illegal" it is. It aint, it's grey, and it's on one's own conscience as to what one does.

Me, I tend to go on to purchase that music which has brought me the greatest enjoyment. File sharing has, in my case, been a net win for artists: I am finally, after more than a decade of not purchasing new artists' albums, back to exploring music and discovering new interests.

That was never, ever going to happen so long as CDs were expensive and non-returnable.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:11 PM on October 8, 2007


Yoink: "Oh, I see. So if I, for example, give away a car, I'm allowed to steal as many cars as I happen to want in future. Is that it?"

No silly. I wasn't saying that. Someone used the example, "so if you were to write a book and someone published it for free you'd be okay with that." I countered by saying that has already happened and I am okay with that which negated that previous argument.

You're now putting words in my mouth. I didn't say anything about giving away cars. You did. Tho a bit of a stretch, books and music make for viable comparisons. Throw a car into the mix, and you just stop making sense.

You have two cows. The government takes your cabbages and feeds you pterodactyls, but you say they're extinct. Then special interest groups drive a flock of seagulls into your guacamole. The two cows cuss you out and stowaway on a greyhound to bermuda. You die of lyme disease and sleep wiff dah fishes.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:56 PM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


« Older Solitary Delights of Infinite Space   |   So, it wasn't the Happiest Town on Earth? Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post