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Storming the Pink Palace
October 23, 2007 6:27 AM   Subscribe

Oink.busted
posted by awesomebrad (405 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
see also: http://ask.metafilter.com/74439/Where-are-people-going-now-that-Oink-is-gone
posted by yeoz at 6:30 AM on October 23, 2007


rats! doubled. delete at will.
posted by ashbury at 6:34 AM on October 23, 2007


Good.
posted by spitbull at 6:41 AM on October 23, 2007


How about some context? What’s Oink? Why should I care?
posted by breaks the guidelines? at 6:44 AM on October 23, 2007


How about some context? What’s Oink?
Hey grandpa, RTFA.
posted by hjo3 at 6:46 AM on October 23, 2007 [10 favorites]


.
posted by enfa at 6:47 AM on October 23, 2007


"Extremely lucrative"?! WTF??

Also, I don't think the AskMe post makes this a double.
posted by exogenous at 6:47 AM on October 23, 2007


Sad day.

Also, lucrative my ass. The guy wasn't doing it for the money.
posted by ReiToei at 6:50 AM on October 23, 2007


Was OiNK really that "central" to the file-sharing chain? I mean, it was a great tracker that had virtually everything, but I fail to see how it had a really central role in the release of newer albums to the file-sharing community. I think people just leaked albums to OiNK because if you were the first to upload something you got an upload credit that you could use to download more music than you ever knew existed. In lossless format to boot.
posted by ofthestrait at 6:51 AM on October 23, 2007


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posted by awesomebrad at 6:52 AM on October 23, 2007


An IFPI spokesman said: "Once an album had been posted on the OiNK website, the users that download that music then passed the content to other websites, forums and blogs, where multiple copies were made."

He went on to say that OiNK stole an amount of music equal in area to 3 Texases and that if you stacked the music it would make a pile 1.4 miles high.
posted by DU at 7:01 AM on October 23, 2007 [12 favorites]


Weird. I am listening to an album right now that I downloaded from there late last night.
posted by ND¢ at 7:01 AM on October 23, 2007


Sounded like my kinda place. Rue the dead hard drive.
posted by carsonb at 7:04 AM on October 23, 2007


I'm kind of conflicted about Oink - on the one hand, thanks to them I have music that I could otherwise only obtain by spending silly money on eBay, on the other, I know folk whose album was leaked via the site months before release, which seriously pissed them off, and rightly so.
posted by jack_mo at 7:06 AM on October 23, 2007


If only I would have known ahead of time so that I could have downloaded like a mad man without worrying about my ratio.

So it goes.

.
posted by patr1ck at 7:07 AM on October 23, 2007


lucrative. heh. everything in the media is an obvious lie. what's scary is to realize that to some degree, it always has been. cronkite, huntley and brinkley, edward r. murrow, all bought and paid for in their own settings.
posted by quonsar at 7:07 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


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posted by signal at 7:14 AM on October 23, 2007


I didn't have an invite, but really, shutting down sites like this is like trying to cork a sieve. If the music industry would just get off their 20th century addiction to "units" and start thinking of how to recapture the audience, perhaps we could stop criminalizing kids who want to hear tunes.

Bootlegs and whatnot have always been a part of the industry. Heck, back in the days before Metallica became evil, they used to let tapers stand up in the sound board area to record. Bootlegs from their American concerts sent to listeners in Europe is how they finally broke the international barriers.

There will always be people like me who will pay for music, but I'll be damned if I'm going to buy prepackaged, teenybopper, pop masquerading as music. At this point, if the industry wants me to buy an entire CD, they're going to have to give me a taste of what's there, or I'll just pass it by, assuming it's the same crap they've been pushing.

By the same token, if I own the actual vinyl of something, I don't feel particularly bad downloading a rip of that music. The technology exists for me to rip my own, but I don't own the tech, and someone else does. Well, yay them, and thanks for sharing.

Some of the stuff I've downloaded are things that have never been released in the American market, and I will poke myself on a rotisserie and baste myself with my own juices before I'm willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a CD of an album I bought 25 years ago and still own. That's just ridiculous.

Frankly, the entire music industry is full of evil, money grubbing, music hating, fan hating, stuffed shirt MBAs who should be clubbed like baby seals.
posted by Peecabu at 7:19 AM on October 23, 2007 [9 favorites]


Also shut down last week: TV Links. So much for my access to near-complete archives of QI.
posted by maudlin at 7:22 AM on October 23, 2007


Oh, man. I might not go on without TV Links. Damn!

.
posted by carsonb at 7:25 AM on October 23, 2007


Utter bollocks about having to pay to join or offer music yourself too (other than trying to keep a decent ratio). Terrible one-sded reporting from the Beeb there.
posted by Abiezer at 7:26 AM on October 23, 2007


.
posted by parudox at 7:33 AM on October 23, 2007


Well, that was a surprise entrant. I know a little bit about him and I enjoyed 'Good Night and Good Luck' - Edward R. Murrow bought and paid for, please elucidate. [Seriously, I'd like to hear, or maybe just use that new fangled mail thingy to avoid a derail].
posted by tellurian at 7:34 AM on October 23, 2007


WHO'S GOT MY INVITE????
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 7:34 AM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


As far as I know, Oink had less than 250k memebers, which is a drop in the bucket compared to the larger torrent places out there.

I guess they had the right 250k members.
posted by sparkletone at 7:35 AM on October 23, 2007


NRHM: I will continue to favorite that comment as long as you continue you make it. It is relentlessly hilarious.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:42 AM on October 23, 2007


.
posted by crawfishpopsicle at 7:50 AM on October 23, 2007


God fucking damnit.
posted by Skorgu at 7:51 AM on October 23, 2007


I guess they had the right 250k members.

Yes, they did.
posted by signal at 7:59 AM on October 23, 2007


Don't these folks understand that every site they shut down just makes The Pirate Bay more powerful? At the very least, they're diverting important resources from suing grandmothers.
posted by mkultra at 8:07 AM on October 23, 2007


Oink was definitely not lucrative. Not sure why the media is latching onto that.

Moreover, did it really "specialize" in not-yet-released albums? From my experience, it specialized in old, rare albums that were so far below the radar that the RIAA could have cared less.
posted by roll truck roll at 8:10 AM on October 23, 2007


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posted by absalom at 8:10 AM on October 23, 2007


maudlin, most of the QI episodes are hidden in plain sight.

Also available: Never Mind the Buzzcocks
posted by stefanie at 8:11 AM on October 23, 2007


...and I was only beginning to enjoy that site.

RIP until the next one comes around. There will always be another one.
posted by thebigdeadwaltz at 8:12 AM on October 23, 2007



A criminal investigation continues into the identities and activities of the site's users


This should go well.
posted by absalom at 8:12 AM on October 23, 2007


Squeal! Squeal like a pig!
posted by klangklangston at 8:13 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Run out of my home town, no less, which was something of a surprise. And the buggers still wouldn't give me an account.
posted by holgate at 8:14 AM on October 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


Until there are no more professional musicians, anyway.
posted by spitbull at 8:15 AM on October 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


.
posted by nonliteral at 8:15 AM on October 23, 2007


The thing about Oink that was so great was the community. Oink was a way to find out about new music, find rare music and remixes, talk to other people who were really into music. I found a lot of people who were serious about it in the same way I was. I'll miss that the most I think.
posted by hazyspring at 8:19 AM on October 23, 2007


Thanks, stefanie. I've trawled through YouTube for the series 5 materials and various clips, but I preferred TV Links for the older shows because they keep them in one piece instead of three slices. and they're much easier to find in a nicely sorted set of lists. Yes, I'm that lazy.
posted by maudlin at 8:33 AM on October 23, 2007


Not sure why the media is latching onto that.

then you really *are* clueless. it's integral to the core of the whole deception that The Sheeple are led to beleive that someone is getting filthy rich at the expense of america, apple pie, the girl next door and the good people who bring you britney spears and nickelback. then they'll gladly support and loudly demand that the transmission / reception of TCP packets configured in certain ways and in a certain order be made a criminal offense. it's all indistinguishable from magic anyway, so the corporations have to feed them something they can respond to. "cheating driven by filthy lucre is hurting us all" is a concept The Sheeple can grasp. TCP/IP conducting P2P, not so much.
posted by quonsar at 8:34 AM on October 23, 2007 [13 favorites]


Until there are no more professional musicians, anyway.

Exactly. I listen to a lot of music, so I buy a lot of music, because I want to support the musicians. Yes, I know, the evil record industry takes most of the money, etc. etc. And a lot of people use that as an excuse to take music without paying for it. But that's still depriving the musicians of money, even if it's not depriving them of as much money as it should be.

I have nothing against downloading music that's out of print or otherwise unavailable (e.g. bootlegs), and I even have nothing against downloading music if you're not sure whether you'll like it (though if you do end up liking it, you should then go and buy it). But if you want artists to keep making good music, then you should be willing to pay them to do that by buying their albums.
posted by klausness at 8:35 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


.
posted by finite at 8:35 AM on October 23, 2007


Until there are no more professional musicians, anyway.
posted by spitbull at 10:15 AM on October 23


Right, since there were no musicians before the RIAA. Or recording, for that matter.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:36 AM on October 23, 2007


This is extremely sad, especially for people who care about obscure, out-of-print records. I know several musicians that used Oink regularly.
posted by waxpancake at 8:36 AM on October 23, 2007


This little piggy went weee weee weee weee, all the way to prison.
posted by Reggie Digest at 8:37 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


.
posted by chunking express at 8:51 AM on October 23, 2007


TV Links just linked to content hosted elsewhere, mostly in China, so anything you found there is still out there somewhere.

That's why that bust strikes me as so interesting and outrageous. I meant to post an FPP about it, but assumed someone else must have gotten to it first and then got distracted by something shiny before I could search.
But seriously, if you can bust a site that just links to illegally hosted content, isn't the whole internet now at legal risk on some level?
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:54 AM on October 23, 2007


You know, when you talk about lucrative, there is lucrative in terms of money generation and lucrative in terms of gaining assets.

If you file share and download, say, 10,000 songs, you've saved yourself $10,000 for a dollar a song standard download price. Now, the dynamics of reality don't work that way because not every song is available for a dollar download and very few people would download as much music if it were not free, but we can't sit back and pretend that the downloaded music is worthless.

Hey, does the music industry need to figure out new revenue models? Yes. Are the music prices too high considering the money that goes to the actual artists? Yes. Are you still stealing music? Yes.

Let's not pretend that our common justification for sharing sites like Oink is nothing more than two wrongs make a right. Casting harsh stones at the music industry for closing down Oink while sitting back and stealing music comes off as more than a little whiney.
posted by Muddler at 8:56 AM on October 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


i got at least a hundred gigs of shit off oink. fuck you, RIAA.
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 8:57 AM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Until there are no more professional copyright police, anyway.

fixed your post for you.
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 8:58 AM on October 23, 2007


while sitting back and stealing music comes off as more than a little whiney.

Yep, stealing music. Several few years ago I stole the entire Beatles discography. Michael Jackson doesn't own it anymore, I do.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:04 AM on October 23, 2007 [19 favorites]


I wanted to listen to Yesterday recently and couldn't because you had stolen it TheOnlyCoolTim. You cockass!
posted by ND¢ at 9:10 AM on October 23, 2007 [8 favorites]


Is Was oink better than Soulseek? I'm continually blown away by the amount of ridiculously obscure "stuff" that's available on SSX.
posted by porn in the woods at 9:14 AM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


They seemed approximately the same in terms of available stuff, but Oink was Bittorrent and thus much more reliable and faster.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:17 AM on October 23, 2007


I've always assumed that there was a lot of crossover traffic between the two, though it's hard to get lossless on SSX.
posted by item at 9:23 AM on October 23, 2007


Are you still stealing music Infringing Copyright? Yes.

Fixed that for you. We all know there is a difference, no?
posted by absalom at 9:23 AM on October 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


Damn, someone near me had such a good ratio as well.

I wonder how this is going to play in UK courts. Conspiracy to fraud I can see, but copyright infringement? From a tracker? I suppose they get an old judge and talk about popular beat combos having their "bits" stolen, mlud.

Any English lawyers know how this works? Has there even been a succesful tracker prosecution there?
posted by bonaldi at 9:26 AM on October 23, 2007


And:

Fuck fuck fuck fuck FUCK. I't been a while since I've had a non work related computer that I could use to download as much music as I want. I've had an OiNK account since the site went live, and was really looking forward to dusting off that account (with a stellar ratio)... TODAY - when our new computer arrives.

Fuck everyone that had anything to do with this. Ass-fuck them with a broken bottle and no lube.
posted by item at 9:28 AM on October 23, 2007 [5 favorites]


Are you still stealing music? Yes.

No. Copyright infringement is not stealing. It's copyright infringement.

*removes OiNK from personal toolbar*
posted by oneirodynia at 9:28 AM on October 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


.
posted by dead_ at 9:29 AM on October 23, 2007


Aaaaah! What an awful way to wake up.

.
posted by wemayfreeze at 9:35 AM on October 23, 2007


ya, what happened to Death Cab's Chris Walla was stealing music... I don't think the same term should be used to describe copying.
posted by TechnoLustLuddite at 9:37 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is so depressing.
posted by geoff. at 9:37 AM on October 23, 2007


Quonsar nails it above, and TheOnlyCoolTim follows close behind.

Most people, including the computer literate, have not yet grasped what digital content really is. It can't be "stolen". There is no good there. Or, maybe better put, there is a good of zero value there, at least in the traditional terms of valuation.

"Stealing" a song online cannot be equated to any other form of theft because what has been stolen is, by definition, perfectly, infinitely and freely reproducible, and therefore (classically) valueless. You at least are "stealing" $1 worth of packaging if you shove a CD down your pants. In digital, there is simply no loss to the content producer, except the nebulous idea of selling less due to some indeterminate number getting it for free.

It is gross, and sloppy, extrapolation at best. There has not been a CD I have bought in the past 5 years that I have not listened to online first. Many of those I would simply have never bought had I not had access to those files. In those cases, the record companies and that artist actually benefited from my hearing it for free first.

Digital content turns every notion we have upside down.

Say J.K. spends a billion of her dollars getting scanners outlawed, since they are only used to scan in the pages of her latest Harry Potter novels and make her lose some indeterminate amount of income.

A determined individual could still take digital photos of each page. Or they could read the book into a voice recognition engine. Or they could record themselves reading the book in an audio or video file. Or they could simply type it up in Notepad.

Whatever happened to the "a computer file is just one very long integer, and numbers can't be copyrighted/trademarked"? Did that defense ever actually get tried in court?

If that is overturned, then you could conceivably copyright a song before it was written.

Talk about turning the world upside down. Could you imagine? A random number generator spitting out a file made up of 1's and 0's of the requisite length that just happened to sound exactly like 50 Cent doing "Oh Come All Ye Faithful".

Is such a thing even possible? I'm thinking this would make an excellent askme.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:37 AM on October 23, 2007 [15 favorites]


Any English lawyers know how this works? Has there even been a succesful tracker prosecution there?

As interesting as that will be*, I'm more interested in how the TVLinks case will go. As others have pointed out, nailing a guy for linking to content hosted in another country because it's illegal to host in the country of residence opens up an unbelievable number of the ol' cans o' worms.

* - (I know there's been at least one conviction with jail time in the US for piracy)
posted by sparkletone at 9:38 AM on October 23, 2007


Also, any word on if us non-British users who weren't anyone special on the site should start worrying?
posted by geoff. at 9:40 AM on October 23, 2007



Could you imagine? A random number generator spitting out a file made up of 1's and 0's of the requisite length that just happened to sound exactly like 50 Cent doing "Oh Come All Ye Faithful. Is such a thing even possible? "


It is, but you would need an infinite number of monkeys typing 1s and 0s.....
posted by TechnoLustLuddite at 9:49 AM on October 23, 2007


Is such a thing even possible? I'm thinking this would make an excellent askme.

Not possible: for filesize n bits, there are 2^n possible files of that size. If we're making songs, ignoring the restrictions put on by being valid MP3 files, let's assume a 5 megabyte song.

5*1024*1024*8 = n = 41,943,040

2^(41,943,040) files is a lot, to understate it.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:58 AM on October 23, 2007


Well I can stop worrying about my ratio now...

Let the whack-a-mole game continue.
posted by mullingitover at 10:05 AM on October 23, 2007


Do we really want to move towards a world where artists cannot sell recordings of their music? Artists in America are already economically marginalized as it is and throwing copyright out the window will only make it even more difficult to survive.

And don't give me that old live music line. Underground artists don't make enough at the door to cover their gasoline. They need to sell CDs and records at the merch table to survive.
posted by Pinwheel at 10:08 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pinwheel, we're inexorably moving to a world where X-content-creator cannot sell X-copies of their content. Movies are one of the few exemptions, and that's only while people still value big screens, but as ticket prices tend towards £10 a pop, they're going to go online as well.

Print media is the first to feel this effect. Already newspapers can barely sell their (expensive to create) stories. The common wisdom is that newspapers "have to" work out some model to make money online while the content is free.

What is going to stop the same thing happening to music? The fact that it might be bad overall? That's not how the tragedy of the commons works.
posted by bonaldi at 10:17 AM on October 23, 2007


Saying that we're "inexorably" moving towards a world without copyrights and unit sales of recorded music is denying the possibility of consumer activism on this issue.

We're inexorably moving towards a world dominated by Starbucks and Wal-mart because of economic power laws, etc. But does that mean it's fruitless to ask if that's really a good idea after all?
posted by Pinwheel at 10:19 AM on October 23, 2007


Yes, file sharing will be the end of musicians making money on their work.

Just like how libraries put all writers out of business.
posted by mullingitover at 10:20 AM on October 23, 2007 [9 favorites]


Whatever happened to the "a computer file is just one very long integer, and numbers can't be copyrighted/trademarked"? Did that defense ever actually get tried in court?

09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0
posted by designbot at 10:20 AM on October 23, 2007


"And don't give me that old live music line. Underground artists don't make enough at the door to cover their gasoline. They need to sell CDs and records at the merch table to survive."

And that's where I buy my CDs, after downloading lossy versions from the internet. (Also, they can sell t-shirts).
posted by klangklangston at 10:21 AM on October 23, 2007


If libraries allowed you to take home a book and KEEP it, then yes, it would put many writers out of business.
posted by Pinwheel at 10:21 AM on October 23, 2007


Er, that is, 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0.
posted by designbot at 10:22 AM on October 23, 2007


Saying that we're "inexorably" moving towards a world without copyrights and unit sales of recorded music is denying the possibility of consumer activism on this issue.

The day we have consumer activism to pay for "free" things is the day OiNKs will fly.

Though, to be fair, FairTrade is sort-of activism to pay more for things, but it's hardly like clamouring to pay for "free" things
posted by bonaldi at 10:25 AM on October 23, 2007


"And that's where I buy my CDs, after downloading lossy versions from the internet. (Also, they can sell t-shirts)."

But all we need is a slight bandwidth upgrade before FLAC and WAV files become the lingua franca of the p2p realm. Why will you buy CDs then?

Underground bands sell t-shirts now and it's not enough to allow them to quit their jobs washing dishes. We're talking about cutting out a central revenue stream from an economic class (underground musicians) that can barely afford to create and promote their art as it is.
posted by Pinwheel at 10:25 AM on October 23, 2007


I never got to use Oink, but I have a lot of co-workers who are exceptionally irate about this.

I look forward to the day that administrators of sites like this coordinate with other like-minded people, and mirror the entire content of their server on several other machines, including encrypted authentication. That way, when one site goes down, withing minutes, another one is up and running with the exact same user base.

We all comment on how as soon as one goes down, another pops up. What I'm looking forward to is not just another one, but the same one popping up. Ideally, in a completely different country.
posted by quin at 10:25 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sad. Oink was the only place I could find a few albums after the band gave me explicit permission to pirate them (no longer in print).

.
posted by SemiSophos at 10:28 AM on October 23, 2007


I wouldn't dismiss the lucrativeness of the site. How does one really know that the big donate button on the top of every page raised funds that went entirely to paying the hosting bills? We might actually find out as the investigation goes forward.
posted by zsazsa at 10:28 AM on October 23, 2007


From a practical matter. What is the likelihood that any of this will come back to the users?
posted by CCK at 10:39 AM on October 23, 2007


CCK writes "From a practical matter. What is the likelihood that any of this will come back to the users?"

They have everyone's account information, so it's probably only a matter of time before they start rounding up the users and putting them in forced labor camps. Pretty much the same as they do any time they take down a major tracker.
posted by mullingitover at 10:47 AM on October 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


Do we really want to move towards a world where artists cannot sell recordings of their music?

I can think of worse worlds.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 10:52 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Mullingitover,
Should I just start shooting any police officer I see then? I mean just to be on the safe side.
Wait!

I mean should a user of OiNK start shooting...
posted by CCK at 10:55 AM on October 23, 2007


it's integral to the core of the whole deception that The Sheeple are led to beleive that someone is getting filthy rich at the expense of america, apple pie, the girl next door and the good people who bring you britney spears and nickelback.

I think that's a marginal overstatement, at least in so far as that it's 10% guile and 90% lazy sound-byte reporting. Certainly RIAA etc want to continue to pretend there's no distinction between 'theft' and 'copyright infringement' and the massive corporation that own all the media outlets are not motivated to fight that in the reporting.

But you look at what a hard time the media has in talking about the concept of open source software - "people make stuff but then they GIVE IT AWAY! They're so WEIRD!" - and I think the simpler answer is that they just can't comprehend someone spending so much time and money on an endeavor that doesn't yield them financial gain. Since they can't conceive it they can't report it, so they throw in junk like "lucrative" to fit things into their worldview.
posted by phearlez at 11:00 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


ARGH FUCK DAMN
posted by SansPoint at 11:01 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


If libraries allowed you to take home a book and KEEP it, then yes, it would put many writers out of business.

And if downloading a CD from OiNK kept someone else from having it, you'd have a point.
posted by SansPoint at 11:03 AM on October 23, 2007


"Underground bands sell t-shirts now and it's not enough to allow them to quit their jobs washing dishes."

Perhaps they should be better bands? Or at least work at being more fiscally successful bands?

I mean, I write for all sorts of weird little places and I still have to have a day job. I'd love to be able to quit and only make art and music and bound curvets in the daffodils, but I don't.

It was great when Pollard could quit being an elementary school teacher in order to put out music, but it didn't result in better music (just more of it).

"But all we need is a slight bandwidth upgrade before FLAC and WAV files become the lingua franca of the p2p realm. Why will you buy CDs then?"

Probably, though not necessarily. Is this gonna happen after I upgrade my computer to have the storage space for all that? And my sound card to support a cleaner output?

You're talking to someone who still buys vinyl. You're not going to make me feel guilty about this, sorry.
posted by klangklangston at 11:07 AM on October 23, 2007


You're not going to make me feel guilty about this, sorry.

Was he trying to? I think he was just trying to argue that there are a lot of bands eking out a marginal existence from music that are going to have a harder and harder time doing so. Ok, so that doesn't bother you, but it's helpful to understand that there are people who are impacted by filesharing who aren't record industry fatcats.
posted by lbergstr at 11:14 AM on October 23, 2007


Alluc is a good replacement for TV Links.
posted by empath at 11:14 AM on October 23, 2007


Do we really want to move towards a world where artists cannot sell recordings of their music?

You mean like how Evian can't sell bottled water because you can get it other places for free? Or auto manufacturers can't sell cars anywhere that people can just take the bus?

Even within digital media like computer games companies manage to find ways to create differentiators and upsell things. There's no reason you have to get Halo 3 in a metal box but you can, and for more money and higher profit for the seller.

Some people will never pay for your stuff. Others always will. Fighting battles over those groups is pointless. The place the music industry seems uninterested in focusing on is those folks in the middle. The video game folks seems to be starting to Get It what with special editions and things like special-edition-only Penny Arcade comics bundled with the game. Yes, it can be scanned instead, but again: some people will never pay. They're inevitable and unimportant, and a financial distraction.
posted by phearlez at 11:17 AM on October 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


Perhaps they should be better bands? Or at least work at being more fiscally successful bands?

So: who cares if life becomes more difficult for obscure artists, eh? They must suck!

Well I certainly don't see how I can argue with you there...
posted by lbergstr at 11:18 AM on October 23, 2007


Perhaps they should be better bands? Or at least work at being more fiscally successful bands?

More fiscally successful how? If the only path to solvency lies at the stadium-rock level, then we're going to move towards a culture that produces more crap music.

If you buy vinyl, then you're off the hook. If you "can't remember the last time you bought a CD," feel proud of this, think that the occasional night out on the town to see a band pays the diff, and think that you're really sticking it to the man, then you're drinking kool-aid and oversimplifying a very complex issue.
posted by Pinwheel at 11:18 AM on October 23, 2007


Bummer. I was looking forward to restoring my ratio during the Xmas amnesty.
posted by punilux at 11:21 AM on October 23, 2007


I think he was just trying to argue that there are a lot of bands eking out a marginal existence from music that are going to have a harder and harder time doing so. Ok, so that doesn't bother you, but it's helpful to understand that there are people who are impacted by filesharing who aren't record industry fatcats.

But are they? It's a big industry and impossible to know every way people get compensated, but I have heard nothing that indicates that the "signed and no real profit will gold record #3" model has changed.

Gasoline claims aside, I still have heard nothing that indicates the people below Everclear-level are the ones taking the hit. Bare Naked Ladies managed to sell an album on a memory stick and I don't think someone like Jonathan Coulton could have had a career in the traditional model.
posted by phearlez at 11:22 AM on October 23, 2007


Crap - no real profit TILL gold record #3, that should say.
posted by phearlez at 11:23 AM on October 23, 2007


Do we really want to move towards a world where artists cannot sell recordings of their music?

I can think of worse worlds.


Well, I can think of worse worlds, too (I have a pretty good imagination). But that would still be a pretty bad world. Frankly, I have somewhat selfish reasons for wanting artists to make money from their music. If they make money from their music, then they can spend their time making more music, instead of washing dishes (or whatever their day job is).

"Underground bands sell t-shirts now and it's not enough to allow them to quit their jobs washing dishes."

Perhaps they should be better bands? Or at least work at being more fiscally successful bands?


Would they sell more t-shirts if they were better bands? I don't buy band t-shirts, because I don't wear them. How, concretely, is being a better band supposed to make them more fiscally successful if they aren't going to be able to sell their music? Sure there's live shows, but a non-mainstream band is lucky to break even on a tour. So is selling out (so that you can fill up stadiums and rake in the bucks from a tour) the answer? And what about musicians who basically compose in the studio, and therefore don't even have a live show to speak of?

It was great when Pollard could quit being an elementary school teacher in order to put out music, but it didn't result in better music (just more of it).

But more music is a good thing (at least if it's more music that you like).
posted by klausness at 11:24 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I picture these anti-file sharing people as the guy with the acoustic guitar playing crap music nobody wants to hear in coffee houses and wondering why he can't quit his job delivering pizza and live off making music. "It must be file sharing!" he says as he walks off the stage/area in front of the window temporarily cleared of tables to bored stares. If it weren't for us people stealing music then someone would have signed your band to a major label and you'd be living in a mansion, boning super-models and just rocking all day.

I would rate these people about on par with the unemployed white guy that swears that it is affirmative action that is keeping him down and the libertarian IT guy that thinks that government regulation is all that is keeping him from finding a girlfriend and moving out of his parent's basement.
posted by ND¢ at 11:25 AM on October 23, 2007 [12 favorites]


Ibergstr,
There were albums listed on OiNK that the members of the RIAA didn't deem necessary to post on iTunes. If those albums were listed there I don't think Oink would have been as popular as it was.
I don't understand the concept personally. There is a market that is untapped by the major labels, and they seem wholly uninterested in tapping it.
As long as songs on iTunes cost more in one country than in another, albums are released in one country but not another, tracks are missing from albums in one country, albums are "out of print" for whatever reason; expect file trading to continue.
I'm a music fan. I buy CDs of artists I like. If you make it impossible for me to buy those cds, I will look for alternatives. And large segments of the population apparently feel the same as I do.
posted by CCK at 11:27 AM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


phearlez - a lot of the artists I love are on independent record labels that structure their deals more fairly.
posted by lbergstr at 11:27 AM on October 23, 2007


.
posted by es_de_bah at 11:29 AM on October 23, 2007


LOL - I love how people skirt the fact they are breaking the law and downloading songs by saying "it's copyright infringement, not stealing." Man, that is some serious self-justification going on.

I hope that when you say that you realize that most people don't see the difference, and for good reason.

Look, if you want to justify downloading illegally, do so based upon market factors, the inequity in the system, price fixing, etc. As much as I hate to take a line from the RIAA, don't fool yourself into thinking that downloading is really any different than stealing a CD off the shelves of Walmart. Even if you left a buck or two to cover the cost of the media, you can bet your ass would be in jail all the same.
posted by Muddler at 11:30 AM on October 23, 2007


Everyone is taking the hit. But you know what, how are we going to stop repeating these claims that rampant downloading helps indie artists until someone does the research? But people who question this really poorly reasoned dogma are shouted down within geek cultures.

This is not a red vs. blue issue.

And the Bare Naked Ladies (who derived success from mass culture before their enlightened marketing approaches) and Jonathan Coulton are aberrant cases - not the underground that I am speaking of.
posted by Pinwheel at 11:31 AM on October 23, 2007


One thing I can cede to the anti-piracy crowd: historically, being a musician has always been a guaranteed easy way to become wealthy. I mean, who's ever heard of a starving musician? Exactly.

This file sharing business could derail that gravy train for musicians.


Oh, wait, did I say musicians? I meant people with lots of capital who control access to production and distribution.
posted by mullingitover at 11:35 AM on October 23, 2007 [6 favorites]


Do we really want to move towards a world where artists cannot sell recordings of their music?

Of course we're not moving toward that world, but we are gladly moving toward a world where middlemen cannot make millions off artists' work anymore. If you want to talk about stealing from artists, there it is: Actual quantifiable millions of dollars of real money, not some theoretical money that might have been.

Pinwheel: Do you want to live in a world where the quantity of new music which you can be exposed to is defined by how much money you have? Or, where the number of people who will hear a musician's music is limited to the number of CDs they can afford to make and distribute? If you do, I suggest you build a time machine and return to the previous century.
posted by finite at 11:38 AM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


DAMMIT DAMMIT DAMMIT NEW COMPUTER CAN'T USE OBSCURE WARP SOMA SILENT REMIXES STUPID FUCK FUCK FUCK DREXCIYA OUT OF PRINT DESTROYED BACK STOCK GOD DAMMIT !@#$!$!#$!#$!

So, um, does anyone here have, uh, the Iz remix of Rumpfunk (original version Mr. Ski, Digs & Woosh of DiY Nottingham)? No?

I was about to be able to delete my wishlist on GEMM and go with the digital versions of all the rare records I've been looking for over the past decade....

ugh, like, GAK4, Elecktroids, Black Dog....

How about Cityboy, the single, by Troy Anderson? I heard only 500 were pressed and I was going to look when I got home...

sigh.

This is like when I went to buy a print off Kurt Vonnegut's web site and it was shut down because HE HAD JUST DIED. ARGH.

Technology = fail.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:38 AM on October 23, 2007


Muddler writes "Look, if you want to justify downloading illegally, do so based upon market factors, the inequity in the system, price fixing, etc. As much as I hate to take a line from the RIAA, don't fool yourself into thinking that downloading is really any different than stealing a CD off the shelves of Walmart. Even if you left a buck or two to cover the cost of the media, you can bet your ass would be in jail all the same."

That's a fine dead horse you've got there. Must you flog it so mercilessly?
posted by mullingitover at 11:40 AM on October 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


LOL - I love how people skirt the fact they are breaking the law and downloading songs by saying "it's copyright infringement, not stealing." Man, that is some serious self-justification going on.


It's not self-justification, it's understanding legal terminology instead of drinking RIAA koolaid. Your position is weakened if you don't know what the hell you're talking about, no matter what side you're on.

If you're going to trot around proclaiming from on high, make sure you're riding a horse, not an ass.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:43 AM on October 23, 2007 [7 favorites]


One thing I can cede to the anti-piracy crowd: historically, being a musician has always been a guaranteed easy way to become wealthy. I mean, who's ever heard of a starving musician? Exactly.

This file sharing business could derail that gravy train for musicians.


So you're saying that, since most musicians are being ripped off by the record industry, it's OK to deprive those musicians of what little money they can make from their music? Yeah, that makes sense...
posted by klausness at 11:44 AM on October 23, 2007


Thing that occurs to me: I have read that Oink was selling tshirts?

I wonder what those'll go for on eBay now.
posted by sparkletone at 11:45 AM on October 23, 2007


MUDDLER'S NOT DRINKING THE KOOL-AID, HE'S GOT A FUCKING KOOL-AID IV.
posted by quonsar at 11:45 AM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


quonsar, caps-lock day was yesterday.
posted by klausness at 11:47 AM on October 23, 2007


Muddler: 15 years ago you would be in jail for shipping encryption software to a foreign country. Just because you are punished for stealing and punished for infingement does not mean they are the same crime. Period. Full Stop. Not that I really should expect any sort of intellectual honesty from you at this point, but what the hell:

theft is "Wrongful taking of property with intent to permanently deprive the owner of possession." Infringment has to do with inappropriate or unauthorized used. See?
posted by absalom at 11:48 AM on October 23, 2007


don't fool yourself into thinking that downloading is really any different than stealing a CD off the shelves of Walmart

Of course it's different. That doesn't make it right, but it's pretty obviously different.
posted by klausness at 11:49 AM on October 23, 2007


Frankly, I have somewhat selfish reasons for wanting artists to make money from their music.

there are plenty of ways to do this without getting gun-toting, lawyer-happy middlemen involved.
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 11:52 AM on October 23, 2007


There are a few ways you can make money as a musician.

1) You can sell your music.
2) You can sell merchandise.
3) You can get paid to play shows
4) You can license your music for ads, movies, or games.
5) You can ask for donations.

There are probably a few other minor ones.

In some ways number 1 is harder now because it's so much easier for people to get your music for free. Granted, in some ways 1 has gotten easier (very cheap distribution, and cheaper recording equipment)

As for number 3, it's getting a lot harder. There just aren't as many clubs as there once were, because clubs have found it far cheaper to just get a DJ to come in (the picks some tracks to play sort).

If you focus on merch sales, eventually don't you just become a jingle writer for your t-shirt brand?

Personally, I'm fine with people trading my music for free, but I do think people who are looking to make a little money off their music are going to find it harder.

In the same way, as more and more publications lose money, and writing moves to the net, I think the amount writers get paid will decrease as there will be a greater pool of talent for paying companies to choose from.

A similar thing is happening in photography where cheap technology and people that are willing to give their work away for free are leading to cheaper ways to get photos.
posted by drezdn at 11:53 AM on October 23, 2007


Of course, once good 3-D fabrication printers become common enough, the only people making any money will be sellers of raw material or plans.
posted by drezdn at 11:54 AM on October 23, 2007


don't fool yourself into thinking that downloading is really any different than stealing a CD off the shelves of Walmart

is taking photos at an art gallery stealing, too?
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 11:55 AM on October 23, 2007


LOL - I love how people skirt the fact they are breaking the law and downloading songs by saying "it's copyright infringement, not stealing." Man, that is some serious self-justification going on.

There may be people using that as self-justification but there are also a number of us who think it's a significant distinction regardless.

As much as I hate to take a line from the RIAA, don't fool yourself into thinking that downloading is really any different than stealing a CD off the shelves of Walmart.

If your intention is to say that for certain cases it's got similar impacts, yes, that is true. If you're making the case that it's across-the-board the same then you're just wrong. Physical theft deprives Walmart of a product they could otherwise sell. Downloading that album, from Walmart's perspective, is identical to the result of your purchasing it at Circuit City instead.

And the Bare Naked Ladies (who derived success from mass culture before their enlightened marketing approaches) and Jonathan Coulton are aberrant cases - not the underground that I am speaking of.

They are aberrant to the prevailing music business culture, but examples of people who were successful in a different manner. This makes them perfectly reasonable example to bring up when people make the case that the existing business model must be maintained because no other is tenable.

I think it's also worth pointing out that Coulton's sometimes touring buddies, Paul and Storm, made a change in their distribution to start offering things under the creative commons model. These are guys who have been working musicians as part of Da Vinci's Notebook and prior to about a year ago were using the traditional copyright, but they moved to a model with less control, not more.

That's their choice to do or not to do, but the point is that claiming the sky is falling because of file sharing and zero-degradation copy methods is demonstrably false. Maybe you don't like the new system, maybe less people overall make money, maybe it's more or less democratic in who makes the money. But models for financial gain short of royal patronage will still exist.
posted by phearlez at 11:55 AM on October 23, 2007


LOL - I love how people skirt the fact they are breaking the law and downloading songs by saying "it's copyright infringement, not stealing." Man, that is some serious self-justification going on.

I hope that when you say that you realize that most people don't see the difference, and for good reason.

Look, if you want to justify downloading illegally, do so based upon market factors, the inequity in the system, price fixing, etc. As much as I hate to take a line from the RIAA, don't fool yourself into thinking that downloading is really any different than stealing a CD off the shelves of Walmart. Even if you left a buck or two to cover the cost of the media, you can bet your ass would be in jail all the same.


Was that intentionally eponysterical, Muddler?

It's not skirting a fact, it's stating a fact. Copyright infringement is not stealing, no matter how much the RIAA says it is.
posted by empath at 11:56 AM on October 23, 2007


People are angry about corporate music practices and they've been persuaded to believe that downloading as much music as they want is somehow making a countercultural stand.

But they're stepping on real countercultures to do it.


Pinwheel: Do you want to live in a world... where the number of people who will hear a musician's music is limited to the number of CDs they can afford to make and distribute?


Supply is almost infinite now, so that's not the issue. CDs are wasteful and need to be shown the door.

But yes, I'm willing to live in a world where I have to pay artists to listen to their work on-demand. Why wouldn't your logic apply to any industry?

If laptops could be taken for free, would it become political activism to take them? Even if it slowed Apple's ability to make them so wonderfully?

As much fun as it would be to not have to pay for music, you'd be denying a whole class of people their right to a fair living wage.
posted by Pinwheel at 11:56 AM on October 23, 2007


BBC Coverage is now on YouTube.

Inaccuracies:
- Subscribers did not pay by requirement, only optionally, and certainly not to gain access.
- The claim that all of the music posted was pre-release and had never darkened a store shelf? Very wrong.

Nice that the BBC reporter was invited along for a ride in the police van, like some kind of RIAA/IFPI-approved Chris Hansen.
posted by grabbingsand at 11:58 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have yet to hear a convincing argument that justifies file sharing. All the rhetoric sounds driven by one's avarice and greed,with no alternative offered to the people who takes the most damage. If digital distribution is so robust and versatile, then why aren't you willing to pay for those downloads?

Granted I never got the opportunity to enjoy Oink or other file sharing sites ( which would then color my reasoning). But may of the points that the proponents of FS cede seem like excuses. I'll bet you anything the vast majority of people who torrent could give a rat's ass about the musicians or producers.
posted by Student of Man at 12:03 PM on October 23, 2007


the existing business model must be maintained because no other is tenable

But no one is arguing this! We're just arguing that it would be nice if artists could be compensated for recorded music, somehow. That's not the same as arguing that everyone should buy $20 CDs, or even that filesharing should be stopped.
posted by lbergstr at 12:05 PM on October 23, 2007


I'll bet you anything the vast majority of people who torrent could give a rat's ass about the musicians or producers.

This may be going too far. My feeling is that most file-traders are sitting comfortably within their feeling of self-satisfied free consumption because they made they've shut off the complaints of their super egos by feeling that they're somehow fighting on the same side as these musicians in a grand culture war.

You know? I hate the Bush administration, think art is important, comment on Mefi, steal music.

It's become a cultural badge of honor. And that's what's ridiculous about all of this. Think about it, folks.
posted by Pinwheel at 12:07 PM on October 23, 2007


People are angry about corporate music practices and they've been persuaded to believe that downloading as much music as they want is somehow making a countercultural stand.

American heritage Dictionary defines counterculture as: "A culture, especially of young people, with values or lifestyles in opposition to those of the established culture." I fail to see how this differs in the slightest from the above assessment.

But they're stepping on real countercultures to do it.

For example...?
posted by Reggie Digest at 12:08 PM on October 23, 2007


A similar thing is happening in photography where cheap technology and people that are willing to give their work away for free are leading to cheaper ways to get photos.

This is what I'm saying. It's not just music, it's all "content". Most wedding photographs are now done on a flat-fee basis. It used to be a smaller up-front fee and then money off the prints, but nobody buys the prints. They buy one, then scan it.

This is not exclusive to music.

Pinwheel: As much fun as it would be to not have to pay for music, you'd be denying a whole class of people their right to a fair living wage.

It's not about fun, it's actually pretty simple economics. There used to be scarcity of supply, albeit artifically created in some senses, so there was money to be made. Now there is no scarcity, hence no money.

That people are getting squeezed or crushed is sad, but it's going to happen short of some incredibly draconian anti-market measures. So, yes, just like photographers did, newspapers do and films will have to, musicians need to come up with a new economic model.

Appeals to emotion aren't going to do it, sorry.
posted by bonaldi at 12:08 PM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Student of Man writes "I'll bet you anything the vast majority of people who torrent could give a rat's ass about the musicians or producers."

Um, a lot of the people who torrent *are* musicians and producers.
posted by mullingitover at 12:11 PM on October 23, 2007


If digital distribution is so robust and versatile, then why aren't you willing to pay for those downloads?

There are heaps and heaps of things that simply aren't offered, by anyone, anywhere. I buy a lot of things on Itunes, but there's a ton of stuff that's missing.

In the case of anything shown on PBS, those shows have already been paid for: by grants from the So-and-so foundation, pledges, and taxes.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:12 PM on October 23, 2007


Are you serious?

As for [You can get paid to play shows] it's getting a lot harder. There just aren't as many clubs as there once were, because clubs have found it far cheaper to just get a DJ to come in (the picks some tracks to play sort).

What's your definition of "once were," 1910? Pre-player piano? There may be a live vs recorded music tug of war but it's driven by cultural interest, not technology - recorded music has been an available option for clubs in sufficient quality for better than forty years.

A similar thing is happening in photography where cheap technology and people that are willing to give their work away for free are leading to cheaper ways to get photos.

Photography is more than stock photos. If you want a photographic parallel to the music biz you'd be better served looking at how digital has impacted wedding photography. A decade ago you paid someone to shoot your wedding and they could be reasonably sure they'd spend a lot more money beyond the initial shoot fee to buy albums and prints.

Scanners changed that and consumer understanding of digital changed it even more - they knew the pictures were all on a chip and you weren't printing or assembling the album yourself so they didn't see why they had to put up with the photog as a gatekeeper for their access.

So now a lot of togs charge a higher base price and hand over the photos. Many still sell album services and the like but they're now dealing with the people who value that service and would rather pay for the assistance rather than a captive crowd. In some ways it's surely a harder existence but in other ways its easier. The world changes and in most cases, expertise persists in being marketable.
posted by phearlez at 12:13 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Suing file-traders won't do it and shutting down trackers won't slow illegal file trading. You know what would?

If consumers decided not to (or that they would also buy vinyl or licensed digital copies) because it was the right thing to do, morally.

If downloading became as uncool as Starbucks and Wal-Mart, that would be a good start.
posted by Pinwheel at 12:14 PM on October 23, 2007


It's become a cultural badge of honor. And that's what's ridiculous about all of this. Think about it, folks.

I don't find most straw men worthy of a lot of my pondering and yours is no different. I'm glad you've come up with a concept of what "the other side" is like and are comfortable with what you're sure they think and feel, but that doesn't make you right and doesn't obligate me to agree.
posted by phearlez at 12:17 PM on October 23, 2007


If consumers decided not to (or that they would also buy vinyl or licensed digital copies) because it was the right thing to do, morally.

Are my posts invisible here? That's not how market economics works, and IT NEVER WILL. Consumers can get better-quality products AT NO COST TO THEM. They will not agitate or campaign or volunteer to PAY MORE and GET LESS.

Parallel: It really hurts newspapers when you read stories online. Seriously. Some may fold, and good newsgathering disappear. If consumers decided to buy the papers instead, that would be a Good Thing. Is it going to happen? Is it fuck.
posted by bonaldi at 12:17 PM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


And, Ynoxas' point about the "digitization of music annuls it as a 'good' since it is infinitely reproducible " just could not go down the pipe with me. For example, the latest video game The Orange Box was available for download at $50 through the Developers' site. While I'm sure you could obtain the game for free if you know where to look, you would not be able to play it. While it is infinitely reproducible, it is a GOOD. That kind of good has been digital since the birth of that industry. Pro file sharers seem to see their logic as only applying in the music industry. You are lying to me and yourself.
posted by Student of Man at 12:18 PM on October 23, 2007


I download a lot of music and television, and I also buy a lot of music and television (on dvd). There are a lot of people that only download music and television. They won't buy shit. The problem with the suits in charge is that they waste all their time and energy on these people. These people aren't their customers and never will be. The people in charge need to focus their attention on people who are willing to spend their money on music, and there are still plenty of people like that judging by how well Apple's iTunes store has done, and how well Radiohead did with the MP3 downloads. When it is easier for me to download the 3rd season of Battlestar Galactica than it is for me to buy it (which is something I can't actually do right now) than something is wrong.
posted by chunking express at 12:18 PM on October 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


If downloading became as uncool as Starbucks and Wal-Mart, that would be a good start.

Shooter McGavin: I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast.
Happy Gilmore: [laughing] you eat pieces of shit for breakfast?

Those are two of the most financially successful businesses in modern society. I don't think you mean what you think you mean.
posted by phearlez at 12:19 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sorry everyone, but I can't resist wasting some more space in this thread giving muddler some probably undeserved benefit of the doubt.

don't fool yourself into thinking that downloading is really any different than stealing a CD off the shelves of Walmart.

CDs cost money to manufacture and distribute, and stealing one would result in there being one less that can be sold. It really is quite different to download something than to steal it.

you can bet your ass would be in jail all the same.

Yes, stealing a CD will land you in jail. Yet, the penalty for infringing on a copyright by downloading the same CD from the internet is a large fine, and not jail. Criminal copyright infringement, like the oink admin sitting in jail today will probably be charged with, is a different matter. But it still isn't theft.

I hope that when you say that you realize that most people don't see the difference, and for good reason.

The law does see a difference, and for good reason.
posted by finite at 12:19 PM on October 23, 2007


Pinwheel writes "If consumers decided not to (or that they would also buy vinyl or licensed digital copies) because it was the right thing to do, morally. "

If you want to bring morals into this, why not start with the unconscionable copyright terms? "For a limited time..." as per the Constitution, does not mean 'forever minus a day' which is what the RIAA companies would like and are well on their way to getting.

At some point, the government's 'mandate of heaven' was lost with regard to copyright. People are just reacting appropriately.
posted by mullingitover at 12:22 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's not how market economics works, and IT NEVER WILL. Consumers can get better-quality products AT NO COST TO THEM. They will not agitate or campaign or volunteer to PAY MORE and GET LESS.

So there is no moral component to a purchase decision? Then every nasty, evil-hearted corporation in the land dealing in scarce physical goods will triumph and there's no use in trying to campaign against them.

Just eat your McBurger and be quiet?
posted by Pinwheel at 12:22 PM on October 23, 2007


Phearlez, I didn't say that there were less places for bands to play because of technology.

In the less 10-20 years, the amount of places available for bands to play has decreased because it's cheaper for a club to bring in a DJ than it is to bring in a band. Plus, you don't need a sound guy and the DJ isn't likely to start cranking their amp if the audience talks to loud.

On top of that, city council members tend to frown on live music and deny performances permits. Just look at places like Chicago for examples of the limited number of places for bands to play.

I agree that there will always be money made for the really really skilled professionals, but I think people are going to make less in the long run because the mystique of the professional photographer is less great.
-----

One thing no one ever seems to mention in these arguments is that it costs money to make music. If you live in a city, odds are you rent out a practice space. You have to pay for instruments, the gas to get to the show and the money for the website.

Then there's recording...

Personally, if someone wants their music to be available for free for download, that should be their choice, not the downloaders.
posted by drezdn at 12:23 PM on October 23, 2007


If you want to bring morals into this, why not start with the unconscionable copyright terms? "For a limited time..." as per the Constitution, does not mean 'forever minus a day' which is what the RIAA companies would like and are well on their way to getting.

I agree, copyright terms are completely unreasonable.

It does not then follow that we should not pay for albums that came out last month. Do you see how you've conflated two VERY different things?
posted by Pinwheel at 12:25 PM on October 23, 2007


So there is no moral component to a purchase decision? Then every nasty, evil-hearted corporation in the land dealing in scarce physical goods will triumph and there's no use in trying to campaign against them.

Er, yes! As they do. The campaigns that work against corporations are those that affect their bottom line. You don't plead with corporations to be nice, you make them -- either by government intervention, or by affecting their profits.

If you don't want to eat a McBurger, then don't. Pay someone for an EthicBurger. If there aren't enough people to make this economically viable, that company will fold. If there are, then McDonald's will begin selling them too.

But you're never going to get anywhere saying to people who are happy to pay £1 for a McBurger "hey! Pay £20 for this burger! It's ethically good, but it tastes a bit worse!"

In fact, your argument is both more difficult. "pleasepleaseplease STOP EATING THE FREE BURGERS. Take this crappy £20 ONE!"
posted by bonaldi at 12:31 PM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Pinwheel writes "It does not then follow that we should not pay for albums that came out last month. Do you see how you've conflated two VERY different things?"

The system is broken, and by adding money to it you're only contributing to the problem. You are the problem. The first step when you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging.
posted by mullingitover at 12:32 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Phearlez, I didn't say that there were less places for bands to play because of technology.

You stated it was because it was cheaper to get a DJ. I'm just pointing out that that is not a remotely new condition. You say 10-20 years but why not 30? 40? Permits and things I'll give more credit to but it's not like dance clubs are so much quieter.

As far as the photogs, the mystique may be less great but most people who see someone's pictures that were taken by Uncle Bob then go hire a pro for their own wedding. Some do without, but in line with chunking's brilliant comment those are not the buyers anyway.
posted by phearlez at 12:34 PM on October 23, 2007


As for the moral component: people indicate their morals by what they're prepared to pay for. If they object to battery farming, they pay for free range eggs. Any price paid is an exact indication of what that item is worth to the purchaser.

People aren't paying more for downloaded music, at least not in numbers that come close to the magnitudes downloaded. The ethics of downloading aren't worth that much to them. Music isn't worth that much to them. In a large number of cases, it's worth £0. Sorry.
posted by bonaldi at 12:37 PM on October 23, 2007


So there is no moral component to a purchase decision? Then every nasty, evil-hearted corporation in the land dealing in scarce physical goods will triumph and there's no use in trying to campaign against them.

The point, Pinwheel, is that no matter how much we may want morality to drive consumer behavior it doesn't, or at least not on a scale large enough to matter. Guess what? Every nasty, evil-hearted corporation is triumphing. Sure, campaigning against them is important, but appeals to consumers' morality are rarely successful.

bonaldi isn't saying that the market is right or wrong, just that it is. Waiting for consumers to decide en masse to alter their behavior is wishful thinking of the highest order, especially when the actual ethical questions involved are as muddled as they are.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:39 PM on October 23, 2007


''I don't even know why I would want to be on a label in a few years, because I don't think it's going to work by labels and by distribution systems in the same way,'' he said. ''The absolute transformation of everything that we ever thought about music will take place within 10 years, and nothing is going to be able to stop it. I see absolutely no point in pretending that it's not going to happen. I'm fully confident that copyright, for instance, will no longer exist in 10 years, and authorship and intellectual property is in for such a bashing.''

''Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity,'' he added. ''So it's like, just take advantage of these last few years because none of this is ever going to happen again. You'd better be prepared for doing a lot of touring because that's really the only unique situation that's going to be left. It's terribly exciting. But on the other hand it doesn't matter if you think it's exciting or not; it's what's going to happen.'' - Dame David Bowie 2002
posted by merocet at 12:42 PM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


To anyone for whom music is worth nothing: I've known music fans and you are no music fan. But hey, if you're a philastine who didn't buy a single CD before the internet came along, no harm done.

But if you really love music but you find yourself not buying it now because you can get it free? Just don't fool yourself into thinking that you're fighting "the system."
posted by Pinwheel at 12:42 PM on October 23, 2007


Plus, you don't need a sound guy and the DJ isn't likely to start cranking their amp if the audience talks to loud.

As a sound guy that has primarily done events with DJs, and who has frequently wished for an automated device to smack DJs who don't know that making all of the red lights on the mixer flash is a Bad Thing, I beg to differ on both points.
posted by flaterik at 12:43 PM on October 23, 2007


Pinwheel writes "To anyone for whom music is worth nothing: I've known music fans and you are no music fan. But hey, if you're a philastine who didn't buy a single CD before the internet came along, no harm done.

"But if you really love music but you find yourself not buying it now because you can get it free? Just don't fool yourself into thinking that you're fighting 'the system.'"


What about people who went to the library or taped it off the radio?
posted by mullingitover at 12:44 PM on October 23, 2007


Pinwheel: from a straw man emerges the last true Scotsman.
posted by bonaldi at 12:45 PM on October 23, 2007


When a band records an album out of pocket, and the record labels and retailers skim off 90% of all the profits, that is a worse affront to musicians than copyright infringement. Fans steal music; labels steal money.

The fact of the matter is that the concept of record labels (i.e. the RIAA) is completely obsolete. They are not needed at all when artists can use the internet to promote, distribute, and manufacture their work.

If artists went out on their own and offered downloads for a reasonable fee, they'd make truckloads more cash than they do currently. They could charge $3 per album and it would still be a significant pay raise.

The only missing piece of the puzzle is an online retailer who'll take no more than its fair share. It is up to the artists to organize this for themselves, since they are the only interested party. Otherwise, they'll simply continue to take the RIAA's bitch-slaps and to slowly leak their meagre earnings to the frugal masses.
posted by Reggie Digest at 12:47 PM on October 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


What about people who went to the library or taped it off the radio?

Or bought it used.
posted by Reggie Digest at 12:48 PM on October 23, 2007


Phearlez, I think part of the reason that places have stopped bringing in bands is because a DJ is more predictable and less of a hassle. If you have someone DJ they just bring in their own records, CDs, or files and play away.

Partly it's a culture change, people are possibly less interested in seeing live bands than just drinking while a DJ spins some songs. I can't speak as to what was happening 20 years ago (I would have been eight), but when I was in bands playing shows, I'd always hear how bars weren't as interested in bands.

Some do without, but in line with chunking's brilliant comment those are not the buyers anyway.

From a marketing perspective, it's a good point, and if I were promoting a band I think I'd work to do something to reward the people that buy in. What if you didn't sell albums, but fan club memberships. For $20, you get to download any of the band's tracks, show discounts, and some exclusive thing of some sort.
posted by drezdn at 12:51 PM on October 23, 2007


So what about those of us who live in countries where it is expressly legal to download all the music we can eat and we pay a levy for media which goes to the artists through their industry association?

Are we unethical if we freely download? If so, why? It's not my fault if the artists don't collect enough from the media levy, after all. Is it "stealing"? If so, why? Because clearly, I can be criminally prosecuted for one but not the other. Unlike Americans, I don't even have to worry about being sued.

See, I can freely download last month's album, I am legally permitted to do so, and the government has decided how the artists, indirectly, may receive what they consider fair payment. ("That's not fair payment!" you may cry. Hey, 70-odd years of copyright protection isn't fair, either, so we can split the difference.)

Frankly, I look at the rest of your legal systems as being backwards, not mine as being aberrantly permissive.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 12:52 PM on October 23, 2007


Also, Pinwheel, the idea that countercultures are struggling or dying because of file sharing is laughable (though I recognize that actual research needs to be done to figure this one out). Because of file sharing, Kids These Days have access to ridiculously rich libraries of music. They're finding obscure shit, old shit, foreign shit. They're mixing and remixing it in new ways and sending it back out into the tubes or playing shows. They're learning about new bands and going to see them play.

I'm curious to know why you think otherwise.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:55 PM on October 23, 2007


Bonaldi: ha. I admit that I am making some sloppy rhetorical points here. But you have to admit that I have typified the views of one important archetype of the illegal file-trader scene.

Alright, I gotta run and have a meeting. About this.
posted by Pinwheel at 12:56 PM on October 23, 2007


"More fiscally successful how? If the only path to solvency lies at the stadium-rock level, then we're going to move towards a culture that produces more crap music."

Luckily, it doesn't. More fiscally successful means things like reducing overhead (home recording), building a local fanbase by playing out ALL THE TIME, capitalizing on merchandise, getting grants, making smart deals with distributors, engaging alternate distribution schemes, licensing your work, and establishing a reputation as a smart, professional band.

Being in a band is either essentially a job or a hobby, and if you do it right, it's a job that pays your way into being lower-middle class (for an indie musician). And for folks that don't want to throw themselves into it like a job, I don't feel bad that they have to pursue other engagements in order to make rent.
posted by klangklangston at 12:56 PM on October 23, 2007


Pinwheel: "As much fun as it would be to not have to pay for music, you'd be denying a whole class of people their right to a fair living wage."

See, that's the big error in your thinking. There is no right to earn a wage for whatever work you do. Just because you create a product, people are under no obligation to pay you for it. It's like we've all forgotten how money fundamentally works. It's just a token to have a standardized way to exchange goods and services. If I want to exchange my labor to have you play music for me, that's fine, but I don't have to pay you because I've listened to your song. A song doesn't have a monetary value unless someone is willing to pay for it.

Artists of the past didn't get paid for their music; they were paid for their performances. When recorded music came around, a lot of people figured out how to make a lot of money selling those recordings. Sucks for them that people aren't willing to pay for recordings anymore, but that doesn't mean people are stealing out of their pockets. It means there's no longer a market for their product. Maybe musicians have to go back to just being paid for their performances, but I don't think so, really. People are willing to give money to musicians they like. Musicians just need to find new ways to capitalize on that. RIAA lawsuits and calling their fans thieves certainly isn't the way to do it.
posted by team lowkey at 1:02 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


As far back as 2005 (and maybe earlier), Lawrence Lessig, and probably other people paying attention to the way things were going, noted that current IP practices were creating an entire generation of people who feel that the law is being an ass (as Lessig put it).

Basically everyone I know (statistically, anyway) is a member of that generation, one way or another.

More of them are in this thread.

This should be worrying, and yet for some reason, I'm not worried...
posted by sparkletone at 1:04 PM on October 23, 2007


Wah wah wah, my favorite pirate music site closed down. Wah wah wah I can't get my music for free. All the cool indie bands blah blah.

I'm going to let you in on a secret. That music you've been downloading? It sucks. What do you need new music for, huh? Tell me. What are you, fancy? Overprivileged and fancy. "Oh no, no classic rock for me. That's so vuglar. I must have my D major chords imbued with a delicate dandiness that can only come from an indie label."

All of a sudden the classic D major of old is not good enough for you? You need a new fancy D major, with an ironic third and a sardonic fifth.

Jimmy Page on a Les Paul in bell bottoms with a violin bow too low brow for you? What do you use? A Rickenbacker? You make me sick, you know that? A Rickenbacker. You used to be fucking cool, you know that? You used to be happy with Journey or Styx on the 8-track, back in the days when we all were "working hard to get our fill". But you stopped believin', man. You stopped believin'.

Well, la-dee-da, I beg of thee a thousand pardons. I guess The Melancolics performing Ennui No. 4 at the fucking Knitting Factory on a Monday night is the ne plus ultra of music. The wave of the future is shoe-gaze or shoecore or whatever the fuck you call it. Poor baby has too much anxiety on stage to look at the audience, so he gazes at his shoes. Yeah, that's so much better to watch than jumping off the monitors while playing your Strat with your teeth and then setting it on fire.

You know what your music sounds like? It sounds like tweed.

Dandy tweed music. That's probably a band you like. The Dandy Tweeds. From Leeds. Playing Rickenbackers.
And there's you listening on your iPod to Dark Side of the Remix feat. DJ Melancolic and the Dandy Tweeds.

Back in the day, bands flew pig balloons and we paid to see them in arenas from 200 yards away. Tell me, can you float a pig balloon with indie and get anyone to salute? I bet it would pop, and it would smell like patchouli.

That's what you turned rock and roll into, a fucking inflatable patchouli pig in tweed sportcoat.

Back in my day, you paid for a record, you took it home, and you played it. Then you played it backwards. Then you freaked out and told your parents and they took you to church because cool backwards music is obviously the spawn of the devil.

Your music? The devil doesn't want anything to do with your music. You think the devil is going to talk to you on a Broken Social Scene record? What does he say? "I like rainy days." Can you even play music backwards on your iPod? Don't bother. Broken Social Scene sounds the same backwards as forwards.

Now you take those buds out of your ears and listen to me. You take your Rickenbacker iPod and your Broken Social Scene feat. Kanye Diddy and Disco Dangermouse and you get off my lawn.

We're having a block party, you get that? We're playing three in a row.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:06 PM on October 23, 2007 [32 favorites]


flaterik, noted. I'm more likely to be around the bands that decide to "solve" problems with the soundman's mix by cranking their amps.

To completely sidestep the piracy/screwing the labels perspective, the next ten years will be interesting. Will there still be major labels in 10 years? Will some new model of making money off music be created (This Photek record is brought to you by Coke Fuk)?

From my perspective, there a bunch of changes taking place in music that are all coming to a head around the same time. The first is the dying of a single mainstream culture. Another is the changing cultural role of the musician. Is the era of the "rock star" over? On top of that, there's bands trying to find a new way to make money.

When a band records an album out of pocket, and the record labels and retailers skim off 90% of all the profits, that is a worse affront to musicians than copyright infringement.

Most bands that are on labels have their recording costs paid for by the label. The bands that record an album out of pocket are in a much better position to negotiate, as the only thing they might need the label for is distribution and maybe marketing.

I'm kind of curious to see cases where bands paid for their own recording and then watched the label take 90% of the profits.
posted by drezdn at 1:06 PM on October 23, 2007


Most bands that are on labels have their recording costs paid for by the label.

...which the band then has to pay back.
posted by Reggie Digest at 1:09 PM on October 23, 2007


(linky)
posted by Reggie Digest at 1:11 PM on October 23, 2007


the idea that countercultures are struggling or dying because of file sharing is laughable

Countercultures are dying because they are not given the room/time necessary to really grow before they are harvested by corporations and commodified/monetized/whatever. (Completely correct idea courtesy William Gibson circa early 00s)

It happened to the hippies. It happened a bit more quickly to punk. It happened even more quickly still to grunge. These days, the process is more or less instant.
posted by sparkletone at 1:12 PM on October 23, 2007 [7 favorites]


Being in a band is either essentially a job or a hobby...

I once compared being in a band to model railroading. My musician friends did not like the comparison.
posted by drezdn at 1:13 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


"In the less 10-20 years, the amount of places available for bands to play has decreased because it's cheaper for a club to bring in a DJ than it is to bring in a band."

Well, I'd say that it's more because music has to compete against many more entertainment options now. It's harder to get friends to come out to shows with me because they've got Halo 3.

And I know that regarding the scene I covered, the biggest blow was the gentrification of practice space.
posted by klangklangston at 1:15 PM on October 23, 2007


Reggie's talking about bands that have to pay recording costs out of their advance that they then have to pay off with profits from sales.
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:16 PM on October 23, 2007


Exactly. In other words, they put the money in your pocket, and then they take it out again. Didn't turn a profit? Guess who's filing for bankruptcy.
posted by Reggie Digest at 1:18 PM on October 23, 2007


DJ Rupture:
Think about that… a free website, which gives fast downloads of music at equivalent or higher quality than the paid music sites. And this free site has an incredibly deep collection of both new and old releases, usually in a variety of file formats and bit-rates. It’s overwhelming! First thought: wow, Oink is an amazing library. Second thought: wow, I really need to start selling DJ Rupture t-shirts, CD sales will only continue to drop & I gotta make money somehow!
posted by bonaldi at 1:19 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


"I once compared being in a band to model railroading. My musician friends did not like the comparison."

I just watched a documentary on people who grow giant pumpkins, talking about the amount of practice and luck that goes into growing a record breaker. And yet, there are these people out there that are actually trading seeds instead of buying them from the people who had invested all this time and effort into crossbreeding the giant pumpkins to begin with. Can you believe it?
posted by klangklangston at 1:20 PM on October 23, 2007


Reggie Digest, what the Albini piece shows is how the recording industry mostly works, but it isn't from making a piece of recordings bands already paid for.

The short version is that the label is making money by loaning money to bands and in theory offering them marketing and distribution to ensure that the loan makes money.

The biggest trick that the labels pull is by minimizing their risk, often by structuring the deal with a band, so that if the band doesn't earn back the initial loan the difference comes out of the bands pocket.

The bands that record their own album don't have to play the game as much because the biggest cost (recording) has been taken care off. The only leverage the label would have would be marketing clout (not what it once was) and the allure of the band being able to brag that they were signed.
posted by drezdn at 1:20 PM on October 23, 2007


And I know that regarding the scene I covered, the biggest blow was the gentrification of practice space.

That's a huge problem here as well.
posted by drezdn at 1:22 PM on October 23, 2007


Yes, thank you for summarizing my point.
posted by Reggie Digest at 1:23 PM on October 23, 2007


Reggie, sorry, I didn't see your most recent comment until after I posted.

I do think the model of the advance is a scam.
posted by drezdn at 1:24 PM on October 23, 2007


drezdn writes "The bands that record their own album don't have to play the game as much because the biggest cost (recording) has been taken care off. The only leverage the label would have would be marketing clout (not what it once was) and the allure of the band being able to brag that they were signed."

I randomly met a Bigshot Music Producer who explained that the main thing the labels have to offer now are limos, coke, and whores.
posted by mullingitover at 1:25 PM on October 23, 2007


Will there still be major labels in 10 years?

I think the one thing that's missing in these arguments is the fact that the major labels are still making a TON of money, despite all this pirating. So yes, they will still be around.
posted by inigo2 at 1:31 PM on October 23, 2007


(No worries, drezdn. Turns out this is one of those quick-moving MeFi hot issues. If only we could somehow incorporate Zionism and torture into the conversation...)
posted by Reggie Digest at 1:32 PM on October 23, 2007


the major labels are still making a TON of money

And even if the labels themselves aren't, their parent companies (all two of them) certainly are.
posted by Reggie Digest at 1:34 PM on October 23, 2007


Some of you are forgetting something important:

FUCK MONEY. MAKE ART.
posted by loquacious at 1:34 PM on October 23, 2007 [8 favorites]


I wish I had a dagger that blinked so I could stab loquacious with it.
posted by phearlez at 1:37 PM on October 23, 2007


Listen.

Bits are cheap. I have about 4,000,000,000,000 of them in my computer. I can create discs containing over 32,000,000,000 of them. It is very easy for me to cause some of these bits to be 1 and some of them to be 0 in any way I would like.

Random people on the internet will instruct me as to interesting ways to arrange these bits, because their cost to tell me is effectively nil.

This process is very easy; so easy that it cannot be stopped. The law can't get people to stop smoking dope, so it sure as hell can't stop people from telling each other how to arrange bits.

As mentioned above, one day there might be a machine that will take in electricity, raw materials, and some bits and produce just about anything. Right now, for a start, there are machines that take in electricity, plastic, and bits, and make different shapes of plastic. I certainly don't think the final machine will exist in my lifetime, but I'd love to see the shitshow when people are bittorrenting the plans for crap they have to buy now.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:39 PM on October 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


TheOnlyCoolTim writes "As mentioned above, one day there might be a machine that will take in electricity, raw materials, and some bits and produce just about anything. Right now, for a start, there are machines that take in electricity, plastic, and bits, and make different shapes of plastic. I certainly don't think the final machine will exist in my lifetime, but I'd love to see the shitshow when people are bittorrenting the plans for crap they have to buy now."

I bet they'll call it "The Diamond Age," because it'll be cheaper to make diamond than glass.
posted by mullingitover at 1:46 PM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


What I haven't seen in science fiction yet is the legal shitshow. People would be downloading the files for their constructor to make a BMW and then BMW would accuse them of grand theft auto.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:51 PM on October 23, 2007


One thing is clear: people love free shit, especially when they ordinarily have to pay for it. Sort of reminds me of looting.
posted by MarshallPoe at 2:37 PM on October 23, 2007


Some facts and some rumors about the OiNK takedown.
posted by grabbingsand at 2:50 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Funny thing is, OiNK probably had more material than the Library of Alexandria did in its heyday. A lot of it wasn't available anywhere else, for sale or otherwise.

Taking down OiNK has a lot of similarities with burning down a great library.
posted by mullingitover at 2:57 PM on October 23, 2007 [5 favorites]


Taking down OiNK has a lot of similarities with burning down a great library.

In terms of the access Oink provided, yes, maybe it's comparable. However, when a library burns, everything in it is lost. Everything that was "on" Oink, still exists; all Oink did was link to it.
posted by inigo2 at 3:05 PM on October 23, 2007


Fuck. There goes my 450G/90G ratio. It'll be back in some form in a few weeks. Probably hosted from China.

What's going to be interesting is when someone figures out how to distribute ratio counting across trackers. It's easy to distribute authentication, but ratio counting is done with a different keys for each user in the torrent file's tracker URL. I don't know of a way to distribute that ratio data in a non-attackable way, but someone will figure it out. It'll happen.
posted by blasdelf at 3:11 PM on October 23, 2007


I just feel bad that every time I was invited I'd accept and never use it. Now I'll never be able to find the 2 gigs of Gary Usher outtakes and b-sides. But blasdelf is right, something will be back soon.
posted by sleepy pete at 3:38 PM on October 23, 2007


So where are we all going now OiNK's dead?
posted by imperium at 3:51 PM on October 23, 2007


I'm going to see Black Mountain at the Echo tonight, now that Oink's dead.
posted by klangklangston at 4:00 PM on October 23, 2007


Taking down OiNK has a lot of similarities with burning down a great library. (mullingitover)

Yeah, a library I had a kickass ratio at.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:05 PM on October 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


imperium writes "So where are we all going now OiNK's dead?"

Fuck it, dude. Let's go bowling.
posted by mullingitover at 4:06 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I blame Fraunhofer for this.
posted by Fupped Duck at 4:12 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've always wondered why no one has tried to quantify this, because as I see it, there are 2 opposing effects that result from music piracy:

1. some people who would have bought the CD don't. Total money spent on music down

2. some people who would not have tried listening to a band if it were not for free and easy access to downloading a band end up liking the band, and then buying the band's CDs, or merch, or going to their shows. Total money spent on music up

Since it is difficult to observe either effect in isolation, I think there is a tendency for many anti-music piracy people to see the first, since it follows the logic of "stealing" most physical and digital goods: you get an item for free, so you don't buy it.

As I understand it, bands are somewhat different, in that a large portion of the money they make is not based off sales of their music:

http://digitalmusic.weblogsinc.com/2006/06/14/weird-al-yankovic-says-digital-is-a-raw-deal-for-some-artists/

but rather from playing shows and selling other crap like shirts, etc.

I think what really counts is the total amount of money consumers are spending on the entire music industry, NOT music sales.

I see record companies as a middleman that used to be handsomely compensated because, before the advent of the internet and the proliferation of effective alternative distribution and promotion tools, their services were highly valuable. Now, their services have been devalued as a result of technological progress.

It's only natural that they are making less money now, and that they are fighting to maintain their monopoly on music distribution. But it's wrong to equate losses to the record company with losses to the artist.
posted by I like to eat meat at 4:52 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


FUCK MONEY. MAKE ART.

But watch out for the papercuts. Nasty.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:07 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


"But if you want artists to keep making good music, then you should be willing to pay them to do that by buying their albums."

Yeah, look what happened when no one bought Van Gogh's shit.
posted by 31d1 at 5:17 PM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


inigo2: "Taking down OiNK has a lot of similarities with burning down a great library.

In terms of the access Oink provided, yes, maybe it's comparable. However, when a library burns, everything in it is lost. Everything that was "on" Oink, still exists; all Oink did was link to it.
"

The same kind of 'lost' as it was 'theft'.
posted by 31d1 at 5:26 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, look what happened when no one bought Van Gogh's shit.

He died?
posted by lbergstr at 5:28 PM on October 23, 2007


metafilter: a fucking inflatable patchouli pig in tweed sportcoat.
posted by quonsar at 5:35 PM on October 23, 2007


When I didn't own any copyrights, copyright infringers silly spew sometimes seemed to make sense. Now I make money, partly because of copyright, and even though the works whose rights I own aren't available via the Internet, I make sure that the use licenses under which I offer those works, and the technology I use to grant licenses to an admittedly very small audience, ensure they won't be freely distributed so long as I control them, and that if some misguided soul goes informacion libre on me, it'll be a short, straight route back to him, with massive, intentionally punitive, pre-agreed additional license fees and additional conditional license terms. Fortunately, I don't license to individuals, so I've a different class of license users, and therefore of potential problems, than music publishers seem to have, but I sympathize with what I understand of their situation. If I could lift copyright on some of the works I control, entirely, I would, but I can't.

Copyright is carved into law for socially beneficial reasons, as is its intellectual sister, patent. As soon as anyone who has struggled to create something new, that is commercially worth billions, cedes all rights, immediately, to public domain, I'll believe Christ has come again, because I don't see it happening before. But the fact is, eventually, every creator of works protected by copyright will cede ownership to public domain. That certainty is the massive social value in copyright of which I speak, and it is worth, in real terms, across the broad spectrum of human thought and endeavor, through history and into the future of our race, quite a bit more than the dismissive infringer sympathizers in this thread, with their typically short term focus, and their limited pop music horizons would like to believe, and would especially like other prospective infringers to believe. But the enormous value that the eventual certainty of public domain after expiration of copyright creates shouldn't be ignored now because, in this day and age especially, there are feasible alternatives to copyright, that mean works, or ideas (in the case of patent analogues) will never hit the public domain.

I suspect, ultimately, that the music business will move away from a copyright based business model, which in a mass market, ultimately depends on the willingness of an educated populace to support the model voluntarily, as it did until the early 90s, to something that doesn't require an educated, supportive market. For a while, it will be a smaller, less vital, less creative music business, but that, apparently, is what the current "market" wants. Once the music business sees it can't survive on the additional terms and mechanical rights granted under copyright, it will move away from copyright as a business strategy, as soon as it identifies a technical base for doing so. Effectively, that may be another 15 or 20 years, but real, multi-level, situationally aware DRM is coming, tough enough that even the technically savvy won't be able to work around it, with repeatable success. Formats will go obsolete, 20 or 30 years will pass, and the 1/2 of 1% of people who want to try to beat that kind of DRM will be wanking off together, over in the corner, over old Beatles bootlegs. 30 years may seem a long horizon to pop music fans, but, already, it's about 1/3 of the historical time since the development of the mechanical performance right, alone. 30 years is nothing in copyright discussions, to the music business. The oldest lawyers in the music business have already been practicing twice that time, and there are 2 generations of IP attorneys, already, under the old gents' wings, waiting, for their turns in court, and law schools graduate more lawyers every year.

My poor properties mean I don't have to work more, and may provide for my dependent heirs and family, when I no longer can. Plus, shelter the families of accountants and lawyers employed to administer any stream of funds from those properties, after my demise. Those ethical positives, to me, mean that the rights to benefit from the works should command a fair, agreed value, with those who wish to license them for use, irrespective of any considerations of marginal costs for copies, supposing such costs are entirely digital. In fact, the very argument of marginal cost, frequently put up by mass copyright infringers, is ludicrous, and infuriating, since the marginal costs of a product or service are not, in fact, of any concern to those granted a license, nor the cost of the thing copyrighted, and never, therefore, the reason to purchase it, the value to the user, and the reasonableness of negotiated payment to the copyright owner, or the statutory proscription thereof in the absence of a negotiated agreement, instead, being the whole of the economic proposition under copyright. Period. Nothing more to be said, by law. Except by bandits, pirates or those that would argue idly.

The very nature of the properties I have means their franchise is not indefinite, but I could imagine some that are, and have paid for a few idle conversations with good IP people, as to how best to assure "perpetual" properties could continue to produce, for my heirs and for their users, in perpetuity, outside of copyright, should I be able to realize ownership of such items in this life. Those have been some fascinating, if frustrating conversations, but they have certainly not had a null result.

From what I know of the case from public sources, the Oink kid knew what he was doing, and thumbed his nose at society. Again, based on what I know of the case from public sources, Oink users aided and abetted his efforts. If he's convicted of charges, and if his users can be traced, I hope, in aggregate, a punitive example is made of the lot. In my mind, that would mean the kid gets serious prison time (and given the size and scope of his network, I would think that would be in the 30 to 50 year sentence range, but IANAL, and know nothing of British sentencing options), and a lifetime technology and network prohibition, plus monitoring that's effective in making sure he doesn't get his hand on a keyboard, or owns a computer or communication device more complex than a DTMF handset, ever again. His users, as convicted, the same.
posted by paulsc at 6:42 PM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


30 to 50 year sentence range

Yeah, because it's not something little, like murder.
posted by pompomtom at 6:57 PM on October 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


You're an idiot, paul.
posted by hincandenza at 7:00 PM on October 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


Jesus Christ, I've rarely read something so incredibly inane in MeFi, even though it is cloaked in pretension.

You used to sort-of understand the arguments for filesharing, but now you benefit from copyright, you don't. That sounds like self-interest talking -- exactly the same self-interest that basically underlies the drive for free music.

I also think you're desperately underestimating that drive among the key demographics for music and movies: skint teenagers. Hell, I've seen fifty year old people go from "this is a mouse?" to "What ports do I need to open on my router for BitTorrent?", driven by incredible libraries such as oink. 30 years for DRM? The RIAA won't last that long.

My poor properties mean I don't have to work more, and may provide for my dependent heirs and family, when I no longer can.
I rather think the assumption that it's a Good for your offspring to gain income without income creation is a bit much, while you're lauding the social excellence of copyright provisions. Which, as you well know, started out rather shorter than they are now.

There is a very poor social utility argument to be made for a 70-year copyright term.

the Oink kid knew what he was doing, and thumbed his nose at society
I'm afraid you've got this the wrong way around. Society is, even as I type, thumbing its nose at your business model, the one that supports the indefinite franchise of such properties as stream you funding for conversations with IP people, accounts and lawyers wherein you may perchance find time to discuss items of interest you occasion upon in the public sources. You tit.
posted by bonaldi at 7:09 PM on October 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


There's a lot to unpack in your comment, paulsc... Or at least it seems that way? Your writing seems unnecessarily dense and tangled in places.

So. A few quick notes:

1) That it's a certainty that everything under copyright will eventually enter the public domain is technically true. Technically. However, the period of US copyright is currently so long, that when combined with the fact that copyright is automatic... Well. Essentially nothing created during the life time of my grandparents will enter public domain until late in my life. And that's if the period of copyright doesn't get extended retroactively. Again.

2) No one is debating the usefulness of copyright as a concept. No one worth talking to, anyway. That's certainly not the debate here. Copyright is a very real sense a contract which needs to balance the good of the creator against the value in a vibrant, open culture. The problem is that the contractual balance between the good of the creator, and the good of the culture at large is out of balance. The lack of balance represents an abuse of the system brought about by large companies who own many, many copyrights and would like to own them in perpetuity. So far they've been pretty successful at that. Go, Team Disney!

3) You fundamentally cannot give someone content, and the means to consume it, and not also give them everything they need to get that content out of whatever complicated padlock you've built for your content. The sort of DRM that would truly stump the technically ept is not feasible. It pisses off normal consumers to the point where they won't put up with it. People can barely tolerate the DRM on iTMS files, much less anything draconian enough to be a real stumbling block for determined users.
posted by sparkletone at 7:17 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Addendum to #3: It's getting easier and faster to share bits, not the other way around, attempts at DRM systems have not changed this a single, erm, bit.

As painful as the transition will be, rather than criminalizing your customers (the ones who love your product the most, even!), why not try to find a way to make money without depending on the scarcity of 1s, 0s and methods for storing large numbers of them.

I'm not saying it's easy. But it's possible. Other industries have survived worse upheavals.
posted by sparkletone at 7:26 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


"3) You fundamentally cannot give someone content, and the means to consume it, and not also give them everything they need to get that content out of whatever complicated padlock you've built for your content."

I disagree, and I think you will, too, sparkletone, if you grant that the thing that is required to unlock it is significantly different, nearly every time the thing is wrapped and unwrapped. The kind of multi-level, situationally aware DRM that I mention is essentially an infinitely large, infinitely complex, not necessarily related set of technologies, from which an encryption mechanism is built and discarded, like a monstrously devilish one-time pad, for each use.
posted by paulsc at 7:27 PM on October 23, 2007


"I suspect, ultimately, that the music business will move away from a copyright based business model, which in a mass market, ultimately depends on the willingness of an educated populace to support the model voluntarily, as it did until the early 90s, to something that doesn't require an educated, supportive market. For a while, it will be a smaller, less vital, less creative music business, but that, apparently, is what the current "market" wants."

I suspect you'll be wrong, again, Paul.

First, because you base your suspicions on false premises. The "educated" populace didn't support invasive copyright restrictions, the uneducated masses did. There's a corpus of academic work on this going back prior to the advent of mass market recorded music, and nearly every avant movement has included a reappraisal of intellectual property rights.

Second, which is tied into the tail of the above point, creative expansion isn't something that can be well correlated with respect for copyright. Unless you want to argue that home taping in the '80s killed music.

Third, and this is an aside to the peanut gallery, am I the only one struck with a pernicious urge to find out what Paul's IP is in order to circumvent and pirate it?
posted by klangklangston at 7:40 PM on October 23, 2007


"The problem is that the contractual balance between the good of the creator, and the good of the culture at large is out of balance. The lack of balance represents an abuse of the system brought about by large companies who own many, many copyrights and would like to own them in perpetuity."

That's a pretty small problem for a society to have, if the alternative is that it never has access to things never intended to be protected under copyright. In other words, if a workable technical DRM system can exist, why would anyone copyright something instead of protecting it under DRM, without disclosure or any promise of ceding to the public domain, assuming the DRM is strong enough that rights holder never really risks the material's licensed use be broken?

And so far, most societies seem to favor copyright extension. Nowhere in the world has copyright been significantly cut back in term, or further limited, in the last 100+ years. In fact, nearly everywhere in the world, new rights, such as the mechanical performance right for musical recordings, have been specifically added, and extended, in that time frame. In a world where billions of people, some organized into massive competitive interests with current copyright holders, and all of whom have access to plenty of courts, how is that possible, if it is not the general will? I think you give the current copyright "conspiracy" far more credit than it is due. The "conspiracy" is all of us; "us" being, together, the public domain, that is patient, and willing to wait for ownership to vest, and in the meantime, willing to license, under compulsory conditions, which the copyright holders cannot fail to accept.

It's a system that guarantees access for all, and compensation to creators. It balances, effectively, competing interests, in the short term, but in the long term, it's clearly society that comes out ahead.
posted by paulsc at 7:43 PM on October 23, 2007


I saw this super DRM implementation once. It was on the onboard entertainment system of the plane that can't take off on a conveyor belt.

If this DRM that's coming is so good, what means will it use to prevent me from wiring the analog signal in my speakers into the input of some recording device?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:43 PM on October 23, 2007


"I disagree, and I think you will, too, sparkletone, if you grant that the thing that is required to unlock it is significantly different, nearly every time the thing is wrapped and unwrapped. The kind of multi-level, situationally aware DRM that I mention is essentially an infinitely large, infinitely complex, not necessarily related set of technologies, from which an encryption mechanism is built and discarded, like a monstrously devilish one-time pad, for each use."

Your imagination is delightful, Paul. Unfortunately, you still haven't understood that this multi-level, situationally aware DRM Skynet still needs to allow my brainchip (or whatever) to decrypt the music/text/images into an analogue medium so that my senses might take it in. And that the more complex you envision this mechanism, the more likely it is to fuck up when my hypothetical sentient fungus toddler wants to listen to backwards-masked Patrick McGohan monologues.
posted by klangklangston at 7:45 PM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


from which an encryption mechanism is built and discarded, like a monstrously devilish one-time pad, for each use.
Even the most cryptologically pure one time-pad is useless paul, if the person reading the message wants to disclose its contents.

Also, Metafilter: multi-level, situationally aware.
Damn, I've resisted that fucking meme for years
posted by bonaldi at 7:49 PM on October 23, 2007


In a world where billions of people, some organized into massive competitive interests with current copyright holders, and all of whom have access to plenty of courts, how is that possible, if it is not the general will?

Billions of people have access to the courts? Really? Let alone the same access as industry cartels? And the current law on copyright reflects the general will? And the 70-year term is ultimately good for society? Dear God, I suddenly have a pernicious urge ...
posted by bonaldi at 7:54 PM on October 23, 2007


One point that generally gets lost in copyright fairness discussions is the provision for compulsory license in copyright. Although IANAL, that principle is the guarantee that no purchaser can be denied a right to use material he licensed, in consideration of a capped maximum fee, which the copyright holder is compelled to accept. That's another tremendous social benefit of copyright, that situationally aware DRM promises to eclipse.

Suppose a device reproducing a tune you like knows the source of the tune is radio broadcast, and is capable of reflecting the fact that you listened to the tune to the copyright holder who has a contract with an advertiser, for use of that tune in a special broadcast. Why should the reflected cost of the performance right for that tune be the same to advertiser, as it might be to you, if you purchased that tune on a CD? Perhaps the advertiser is able to leverage the meaning of the lyrics uniquely, to create an indelible memory in the minds of millions of people, at once, and has the means to pay to do so. Surely, that is a different "right" beyond the mere musical performance right, that is as yet unenumerated in copyright law, but easily administered by a situationally aware DRM system, hooked up to a billing system of no more complexity than the average cell phone billing system of today.

Situationally aware DRM is coming, simply because it enables commerce in a more fluid, effective way than copyright law ever can.
posted by paulsc at 8:01 PM on October 23, 2007


"If this DRM that's coming is so good, what means will it use to prevent me from wiring the analog signal in my speakers into the input of some recording device?"
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:43 PM on October 23

Why would it necessarily have an analog signal?
posted by paulsc at 8:09 PM on October 23, 2007


"Why would it necessarily have an analog signal?"

Oh, Paul, does this line of thought end with Keanu Reeves in a leather duster?
posted by klangklangston at 8:21 PM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Why would it necessarily have an analog signal?

Loudspeakers are based on electromagnetic coils. You could put some chips in the box with the speaker and have digital signals over the speaker cables, but somewhere there's a Digital-to-Analog Converter.

(The really primitive version - stick a microphone in front of your speakers.)
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:22 PM on October 23, 2007


Why would it necessarily have an analog signal?

You are aware that audio is, eventually, a compression wave that is by nature analog, right?

Something in that path has to stop being digital and become analog before you can hear it.
posted by flaterik at 8:24 PM on October 23, 2007


TheOnlyCoolTim, you forget about chipping babies with DRM modules. Surely that is why it would take 30 years?
posted by aye at 8:25 PM on October 23, 2007


And I'd just made it to Power User+ on Monday. Shitcock.
posted by educatedslacker at 8:35 PM on October 23, 2007


"You could put some chips in the box with the speaker and have digital signals over the speaker cables, but somewhere there's a Digital-to-Analog Converter.

(The really primitive version - stick a microphone in front of your speakers.)"

posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:22 PM on October 23

Actually, as far back as 1970, Infinity Systems was selling a servo sub-woofer, whose amp was a Class D device. The only place an "analog" signal existed, within that system, was at its inputs, and, instantaneously, at the position of the speaker diaphragm.

Actually, although aye meant it as snark, the point of multi-level DRM is, sort of, to chip "babies." Once DRM "enables" enough extra "uses," or "rights," it's bound to be a pretty simple proposition to sell to the masses, as a feature. The real problem with DRM, so far, is that it hasn't brought the consumer any benefits, to go with its limitations, and that's idiotic marketing. But that can change, even if the "benefit" is no more than enhanced reliability and interoperability for an ever greater "soup" of electronic gadgets. In 5 or 10 years, it may be all the rage to "chip" every baby, so to speak, meaning, in reality, to only buy devices with advanced DRM that give you access to all kinds of content and capabilities you want, for relatively small, or no, limitations in your life.

And then, it becomes not so difficult to put DRM in lots of things. It doesn't have to be perfect to be effective. Even approaching 99%, it's commercially secure, for most uses. And the 1% of folks still buying ancient "analog" microphones, and tape or wire recorders, or disc cutting tables, or whatever, might even be welcome to sit over in the "taper's section" and conduct their hobby. What they produce, in the main, won't have much broader meaning, simply because it won't be hard for pervasive multi-level DRM to reject propagating it.

Hey, it's really not my idea, or money.
posted by paulsc at 8:50 PM on October 23, 2007


There are only, like, twenty or thirty thousand things I'd kill to prevent happening, and widespread DRM is one of them.

But then again, even if it does gain a proportionally greater toehold, it'll only be amongst the stupid and hence disenfranchized, and I plan to be keeping them in my cryonic vats for organ replacements anyway, so fuck 'em.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:56 PM on October 23, 2007


I disagree, and I think you will, too, sparkletone,

At this point, all I can say to this is, sadly, "O RLY?"

I disagree, and I think you will, too, sparkletone, if you grant that the thing that is required to unlock it is significantly different, nearly every time the thing is wrapped and unwrapped.

You suffer from a fundamental misunderstanding of what cryptography is capable of in this application. For me to consume the content I've been sold: 1) The encrypted content. 2) The means to decrypt that content.

You then expect me to not be able to decrypt that content and do as I please with the results.

This would like Germany transmitting the day's Enigma key at the beginning of each message and being shocked that the Brits were reading all their messages.

Let's say you protect the signal chain end to end. From disc/network to the video output being displayed on my Super Protected Flatscreen.

I can still point a camera at the screen and a mic at the speakers. And if there's a quality loss there... Well, I can make infinite perfect copies of that initial one

But that's just me. I do all right, but I'm not super smart. At least not in this area.

What's worse for you: a large group of talented SRMT people will work together to break your system simply to impress a very peculiar sort of girl, and then tell everyone who wants to know how to break it.

There are encryption systems which would thwart these SMRT people, but in these encryption systems you are not giving out both the encrypted text and the means of decryption to an attacker.

To top it all off: All it takes is one copy getting loose. One. A single copy to get out. And because bits are easy to copy, and only getting easier... Well. At that point, game over.

In addition, good luck designing such a system that is transparent enough to the common user that it does not piss them off. Even the somewhat minimal (relatively speaking) iTunes DRM can't pull that one off.

So, no. I do not see me changing my mind here, despite what you think.

I saw this super DRM implementation once. It was on the onboard entertainment system of the plane that can't take off on a conveyor belt.

Ha. That's awesome.
posted by sparkletone at 8:59 PM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Muddler writes "I hope that when you say that you realize that most people don't see the difference, and for good reason."

Sure, the media companies have been waging a propaganda war that infringement=theft at least as far back as Bill's rant to the Homebrew Computer Club.

Pinwheel writes "If downloading became as uncool as Starbucks and Wal-Mart, that would be a good start."

Wouldn't make any difference: entropy always increases, information wants to be free.

Pinwheel writes "It does not then follow that we should not pay for albums that came out last month. Do you see how you've conflated two VERY different things?"

You can't bargain with a book burner. The copyright holders are essentially book burners. Last month they came and said we're going to stop producing content if we don't get copyright extended a month. And what do you know they said the same thing the month before that and the month before that.

paulsc writes "real, multi-level, situationally aware DRM is coming, tough enough that even the technically savvy won't be able to work around it, with repeatable success."

A fundamental law of computer security is that you can't trust the client. It's as real as the law of gravity and why all attempts at consumer DRM are doomed to failure.

paulsc writes "I disagree, and I think you will, too, sparkletone, if you grant that the thing that is required to unlock it is significantly different, nearly every time the thing is wrapped and unwrapped. The kind of multi-level, situationally aware DRM that I mention is essentially an infinitely large, infinitely complex, not necessarily related set of technologies, from which an encryption mechanism is built and discarded, like a monstrously devilish one-time pad, for each use."

Content has to be consumed by humans using the very low tech devices nature has provided. Add 60 gazillion encryption layers and technology locks and at the end of the day you are outputting photons and pressure waves that must be able to be sensed by the eye and ear. And therefor other sensors as well. And once the DRM has been stripped it's everywhere as this case demonstrates.
posted by Mitheral at 9:03 PM on October 23, 2007


And the 1% of folks still buying ancient "analog" microphones

I'm sorry. Wait. What? I can't stop laughing at the fact that analog is in quotes, and am boggling as to what the alternative might be.
posted by sparkletone at 9:03 PM on October 23, 2007


"if the person reading the message wants to disclose its contents."

Why would a person reading a message, or listening to a tune, ever need the whole message, bonaldi? A lot of old, basic security consists of making sure any person in a trust chain only has the bare minimum of what they need, at any moment. Some such systems require the receiver of a coded message to surrender previous message parts to gain access to further parts.

So, you could say, "but, at some point, they know the whole content." Sure. But what they might regurgitate, based on what they know, is not, necessarily, the same as what they were given. For example, what they reconstruct as "signal" from "memory" (meaning I suppose, ancillary recording devices) might not have extra embedded "noise" coding to permit additional next generation transmission or storage in a multi-level DRM system.
posted by paulsc at 9:09 PM on October 23, 2007


"... Content has to be consumed by humans using the very low tech devices nature has provided. ..."
posted by Mitheral at 12:03 AM on October 24

Consumption isn't really the issue in a pervasive DRM world. If the only devices that store, manipulate, or playback your "analog copies" of media are 30, 40, 50, then 60, then 70 year old relics, or hand built copies of such made by antique vendors, how useful will those copies be, globally? And if every one of those "files" sets off warnings in every DRM equipped devices you try to use it with, or worse, causes your rights on DRM protected networks to be dropped as a result of you trying to do something with non-DRM files, when does the possession and maintenance of pre-DRM information become more of a problem in your life, than an advantage?
posted by paulsc at 9:16 PM on October 23, 2007


Oh paul, you silly, greedy, insane man. Thank you for the laughs.

I CAN HAS ANALOG HOLE?
posted by mullingitover at 9:21 PM on October 23, 2007


Wow. So.

At this point.

I always kind of wondered what it was like to converse with someone who actually thought that DRM could be made to work in a way that consumers would go for.

And now I have.

Once again, MeFi provides me with an experience I might not have had otherwise! (Given that I don't routinely have lunch with entertainment industry execs.)
posted by sparkletone at 9:27 PM on October 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


"I'm sorry. Wait. What? I can't stop laughing at the fact that analog is in quotes, and am boggling as to what the alternative might be.
posted by sparkletone at 12:03 AM on October 24

Just as the sounds of a line of machine guns firing is never an "analog signal" at any point before being integrated by your ear's mechanisms, so there is no requirement that a transducer for converting variations in air pressure have a single diaphram, or any analog processing or signal, to function. In fact, some sensitive acoustic pickup systems already consist of thousands of elements, each of which responds to very narrow frequency, or duration signals.

Here's a lesser part, in terms of having a conventional analog transducer, but already integrated on a chip with Vista compatible DRM digital output, and, for present convenience and market acceptability, an analog output. I think you would grant that a DRM only output version might be cheaper, and slightly less power hungry? Thus, analog, from the microphone, is already "optional".
posted by paulsc at 9:29 PM on October 23, 2007


A point that is often neglected in considerations of pervasive DRM is that a DRM network can be significantly smarter than the algorithms instantaneously contained in its components. Time delays, for example, become significant when nodes of a DRM network must handshake in order for information to move. Over time, an agent trying to subvert DRM can give something up to the network, significant enough to mark and track the agent, in trying to subvert it.
posted by paulsc at 9:40 PM on October 23, 2007


sparkletone writes "I always kind of wondered what it was like to converse with someone who actually thought that DRM could be made to work in a way that consumers would go for."

I know, it's really amazing! I bet you a dollar he thinks missile defense will work, too.
posted by mullingitover at 9:43 PM on October 23, 2007


Just as the sounds of a line of machine guns firing is never an "analog signal"

This is nonsensical. Any sound is by definition an analog system. We turn them into 1s and 0s via various analog-to-digital conversion methods. To suggest otherwise is laughable.

As to chips-as-microphones, that's fine, but:

I think you would grant that a DRM only output version might be cheaper, and slightly less power hungry?

In what world is it cheaper to make a device capable of doing some heavy duty encryption than it is to make one that doesn't have to bother?

In what world is a device spending it's time encrypting the 1s and 0s it just converted from compression waves in the air going to consume less power than one that doesn't bother?
posted by sparkletone at 9:45 PM on October 23, 2007


Err, sorry the link above for the Akustica DRM capable microphone, should be this, and the link above was an example of simple arrayed acoustic devices, also from Akustica.
posted by paulsc at 9:45 PM on October 23, 2007


So they're going to DRM the whole internet. I won't be able to send arbitrary bits from arbitrary point A to arbitrary point B, but without intractable inconvenience to anyone who isn't infringing copyright. Meanwhile IPv6 hasn't even been rolled out after being done for how many years.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:49 PM on October 23, 2007


I won't be able to send arbitrary bits from arbitrary point A to arbitrary point B

I know! Right?

It's like really wanting to eat that goose that lays golden eggs without somehow eliminating your only supply of golden eggs!

Pretty brilliant, really.
posted by sparkletone at 9:52 PM on October 23, 2007


"... Any sound is by definition an analog system. ..."

Not to jump too far ahead, but the ears of most human beings know better. The "sound" of a line of machine guns firing wouldn't "change" with position, at every point along the line, unless it never existed, anywhere, except at the ears. Human ears, or a typical microphone, force integration of multi-source pressure waves, simply because they are the inserted diaphragms, and therefore the pressure integrators in the system. Your ears, or a microphone, are the integrators of "sound." And anyone whose listened carefully to a stereo recording of an orchestra, even on binaural earphones, and then, from the same seat, the real orchestra, and can't tell the difference, needs an audiologist.

But there is nothing about that design that is, inherently, superior, to a system which might never integrate the signal, from the time it is collected, to the time it is presented to your ears.
posted by paulsc at 9:54 PM on October 23, 2007


Yargh.

I typed "system."

I meant signal.

Any sound is by definition an analog signal.
posted by sparkletone at 9:56 PM on October 23, 2007


"...Meanwhile IPv6 hasn't even been rolled out after being done for how many years."
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:49 AM on October 24

And what, again, for the faulty memory of an old man, is the compelling commercial advantage of IPv6? And to whom does that advantage accrue?


I ask this as a big supporter of IPv6. And as one who has been reminded, many times, that just as soon as we really run out of IPv4 space, we'll really need IPv6...

As I said above, DRM has been badly marketed, up to now. I believe that is bound to change.
posted by paulsc at 9:58 PM on October 23, 2007


paulsc writes "As I said above, DRM has been badly marketed, up to now. I believe that is bound to change."

I feel the same way about free energy devices. When these technologies mature and really change the world we'll have to get together for a drink just to say, "Suck it, haters!"
posted by mullingitover at 10:06 PM on October 23, 2007


Copyright is carved into law for socially beneficial reasons, as is its intellectual sister, patent.

Agreed

But the fact is, eventually, every creator of works protected by copyright will cede ownership to public domain.

On a geological timescale, maybe. But the fact is that, ever since the proto-idea of a 'copy right' was conceptualised a few hundred years ago, the trend has been against ceding ownership.

... and may provide for my dependent heirs and family, when I no longer can.

And that's the nub of the problem. Quite apart from the question of "why should they have any ongoing right to the benefit of it just because of the happy accident of being your offspring?", what's the benefit to the greater world? And what's the benefit to anybody else in being able to cede / sell that artificially-endowed right to a near-immortal "organism" like a corporation?

I'm not arguing that the concept of copyright is wrong. I'm arguing that its nominal raison d'etre, that of "the greater good", is nullified when it's implemented in any but the most limited, most restricted, most transient, most insubstantial form possible. And that's leaving aside the current trend of doing a technological end-run around that raison d'etre, in the form of DRM.

And so far, most societies seem to favor copyright extension. Nowhere in the world has copyright been significantly cut back in term, or further limited, in the last 100+ years. In fact, nearly everywhere in the world, new rights, such as the mechanical performance right for musical recordings, have been specifically added, and extended, in that time frame.

Hmmm, you seem to be contradicting your original post here...

Whole 'nother subject:
Actually, as far back as 1970, Infinity Systems was selling a servo sub-woofer, whose amp was a Class D device. The only place an "analog" signal existed, within that system, was at its inputs, and, instantaneously, at the position of the speaker diaphragm.

Well, yes. Class D amplification is no different to any other form of PWM signal transmission if you leave out the integration step - in the case of class D, integration is due to the finite physical response of the speaker.

Just as the sounds of a line of machine guns firing is never an "analog signal" at any point before being integrated by your ear's mechanisms

Of course it's analogue - the finite compressibility and speed of air molecules see to that, in the same way as the integrating speaker in a class D system. If that wasn't the case, you'd never hear them - the rise time of the signal is too fast for the human ear to respond.
posted by Pinback at 10:10 PM on October 23, 2007


"Any sound is by definition an analog signal."
posted by sparkletone at 12:56 AM on October 24

By whose definition?

Gunfire, for example, is an interesting example of "sound." Do you know that it is possible for a bullet to exit a gun muzzle at better than supersonic speed? And that there is some point in space, around and probably a little behind such a muzzle, where air might be "torn," meaning be unable to flow in normal pressure waves, at that instant? Is the "sound" of such a shot going to reflect, in an analog way, that discontinuity? What does that tear-in-air "sound" like?

I bet it "sounds" like whatever a diaphragm positioned at that point would be doing, trying to integrate the impossible, in response to a sharp discontinuity in ambient pressure.
posted by paulsc at 10:11 PM on October 23, 2007


... "When these technologies mature and really change the world we'll have to get together for a drink just to say, "Suck it, haters!"
posted by mullingitover at 1:06 AM on October 24

Can we just do it when DRM is pervasive, mullingitover? Not that I don't think the world and all of the perpetual motion machine crowd, but DRM has a lot more money, and shipping products, behind it at this point. And I'm an old guy :-)
posted by paulsc at 10:16 PM on October 23, 2007


Why would it necessarily have an analog signal?

Bwahahahaaaaaaaaaa!!! You lose. Keep investing in that DRM.
posted by pompomtom at 10:30 PM on October 23, 2007


"... Hmmm, you seem to be contradicting your original post here..."
posted by Pinback at 1:10 AM on October 24

How so? Why are additional enumerated rights, and longer statutory copyright terms not a recognition by society of much greater eventual social benefit of material going into public domain, in an increasingly larger, more connected, and diverse world? Surely, if existing copyright holders are statutorily bound to accept compulsory payment on only enumerated rights, in a world where rights and markets are multiplying much faster than copyright law can track, it is only fair that the occasional statutory adjustments to copyright, crude and untimely though they be, try to compensate?

Indeed, the inflexibility of copyright is the principal argument for holders of IP to avoid copyright altogether, if DRM or alternative protection schemes present themselves.

"... I'm arguing that its nominal raison d'etre, that of "the greater good", is nullified when it's implemented in any but the most limited, most restricted, most transient, most insubstantial form possible. ..."

Here's where you and I (and most of the world) part company. If copyright has a "nominal raison d'etre" it's to balance the rights of IP holders and the rest of society, thus making new material widely and readily available, and under predictable terms. The key is in balancing the interests of all.

"... Quite apart from the question of "why should they have any ongoing right to the benefit of it just because of the happy accident of being your offspring?", what's the benefit to the greater world?..."

Not to put too personal a point on it, but I have a younger brother who is a mentally disabled schizophrenic, and quite likely to outlive me, as well as a grandson with enormously expensive special needs. If I do not provide for them, will society? So far, U.S. society has been absolutely pitiful in responding to my family's needs. How is it doing with yours? How much do you want to bet your family's future on public policy and public finance?

Frankly, I find your question offensive, although I suspect that, not knowing me personally, you did not intend it that way. Therefore, for purposes of this discussion, no harm, no foul.
posted by paulsc at 10:36 PM on October 23, 2007


I wonder if people in rural areas are more likely to be anti-piracy. And not for some lame blue-state/red-state reason, but because of the lack of availability of live music.

When I lived in the Midwest, I was definitely squicked out by the idea of music piracy. I was regularly ordering CDs directly from the record labels and taking 6-hour road trips to see bands I liked. On a kneejerk level, I suppose that the Napster people probably struck me as lazy and disrespectful of musicians.

Now, I'm going to shows all of the time, usually after downloading bands' albums on a whim and then getting emailed by Sonicliving. Most of the time, I end up buying the CD at the concert, the same CD I "already have."

I'm not saying that I'm a model music fan, but I am saying that my idea of what it means to be supportive of musicians is very different, now that I can see almost any musician I want to see live.

But even putting all of that aside, bittorrent has cost me thousands of dollars. More access to music has made me more aware of what music is out there; therefore I spend more money on it. I'm not saying that's true for everyone, and I'm not saying that it means piracy doesn't matter. But let's keep in mind that people who use services like Oink are some of the best customers the recording industry has.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:36 PM on October 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


"... But let's keep in mind that people who use services like Oink are some of the best customers the recording industry has."
posted by roll truck roll at 1:36 AM on October 24

You raise a good point, roll truck roll, and one I could really agree with, if the proprietors of Oink, and its users, had really acted like superior music customers. It's not that hard, or expensive, but they didn't do it.

Under copyright law, they would have been free, at any point, to go to any of the bodies or agents that handle copyrights for the music industry, and to have said "Hey, we have a 250,000 of the most music savvy people on the planet, and we'd like to be able to run an essentially private music file sharing network. We can't see paying normal distribution royalties, but we're capable of offering, oh, $0.0000001 per copy, and we expect to pay these royalties from ad revenue on our Web site, and "premium" user fees. We'll take steps to limit re-distribution, such as maintaining invite only, ratio limits, and tracker logs, but maybe we can't guarantee 100% compliance, until appropriate technology is available. We estimate that for each tracker copy of a file that is made in our network, 3.23 CD copies of the work are sold because of our savvy users' recommendations to out of network friends and acquaintances (or whatever they thought to say), with 1 of those being full retail. How about making us a deal?" They would have been proposing a lower-than-compulsory licensing fee agreement, with additional indemnifications for user actions. Pretty standard alternative deal, these days, but not one that makes the papers every Tuesday.

I promise you they would have a hearing. They would have gotten some pushback, and they would have probably had to dicker for terms, but I bet, with 95% certainty, they would have got a contract, at some affordable price point, pretty near their offer. If only for a couple of years, just to see what happened. The next re-negotiation might have been more prolonged, but getting honest, in this day and age, isn't usually all that tough.

But, they didn't, so far as I know from public sources. That left the copyright holders and their agents, really, no choice. Although there's not a positive duty to "defend" a copyright, in practical terms, allowing indefinite unlicensed reproduction of copyrighted works is tactically equivalent to abandoning your franchise.

What do you think the copyright holders, and the British police, and now the courts, should have done, in the continued breach of copyright law Oink represented?
posted by paulsc at 11:05 PM on October 23, 2007


paulsc writes "Why are additional enumerated rights, and longer statutory copyright terms not a recognition by society of much greater eventual social benefit of material going into public domain, in an increasingly larger, more connected, and diverse world?"

The costs of production and distribution are at historic lows, and the barriers to entry are the lowest ever, and there are more content creators than ever. Epic-scale deflationary forces. Meanwhile, nothing being produced will enter the domain in our lifetime. Not a damn note, not a single word from anything published since the day we were born until we die. Yeah, that's a great benefit. I can see how everyone can really get behind that.

You're telling us, with a straight face, that this system is benefitting the average person who supports the artists, and that it's only unfair in not giving enough compensation to the artist. Oh, and you think that society will voluntarily have their culture taken away and leased to them.

Think about it, man. You're at the twilight years of your life and all you can think about the culture that produced you is how much money you're going to try to get out of it.
posted by mullingitover at 11:28 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I promise you they would have a hearing.

I disagree. Napster tried this. The RIAA came a-knockin', and they said, "Let's make a deal." They were unequivocally turned down, and then sued, for all intents and purposes, out of existence.

The industry as a whole does not appear to have gotten any less heavy handed in the years since. For example, it has started suing its own customers.
posted by sparkletone at 12:02 AM on October 24, 2007


Another thing to throw on the fire: There exists an entire scene of musicians who make not a single penny from CD sales, and expect their music to be freely copied and distributed.

They seem to be doing okay for themselves. At the very least, they get to throw some killer parties.
posted by sparkletone at 12:18 AM on October 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, fuck.

I don't have a job where I can access the Internet at work. I only found out about this a few hours ago.

I can't afford very many CDs.

For the last two years, OiNK has been my lifeline to new (and old) music. It has helped me discover countless new bands and albums I had never heard of before. It has even (God forbid) directed the decisions I've made about which CDs I do purchase.

Personal note: There was a user on the site who, every few days, would upload a number of industrial/EBM albums in pristine quality. This was generally obscure stuff, very hard to come across due to its limited audience. I love this stuff, generally.

I was sure to download every single one, even the ones I hadn't heard of. A treasure trove. 'dieslugs', 'malophant', whoever and wherever you are, if you see this: Thank you so very much. It was appreciated.

Right now, I'm listening to the last album I got from the site (Heavy Water Factory - "Translucent Amber").

It's pretty good.
posted by neckro23 at 12:20 AM on October 24, 2007


Wow. Thanks, paul. I've never been exposed to anyone who believes so strongly in intellectual property rights. It's really eye opening.

You truly think, given that we're talking about an industry allegedly being destroyed by millions upon millions of copyright infringers, that society at large agrees with and supports said laws? And not that most people either don't agree with or don't feel strongly enough to oppose the multi-million dollar lobbies creating and protecting those laws? That essentially ignoring those laws doesn't mean that the laws are meaningless or ridiculous to them, but that instead they just don't have an easy way to express their support? That most people when asked would respond that they think it's better for society that your children's children should be taken care of because you wrote an entertaining song?

And that the companies trying to protect their product will create an encryption scheme so advanced as to be unhackable? A scheme that will be usable by sub-average humans, but not broken by the smartest humans? Not even at the level of recording the output into a microphone?

And you look forward to a future wherein hardware manufacturers retain control over all information distribution? And that people will welcome this scheme if it is just marketed properly? That people will eventually choose, nay prefer, to be chipped with decrypters in order to receive the highest quality, industry-approved content, rather than use antiquated "analog" equipment?

I'm amazed. Truly. I thought Idiocracy was just a comedy.
posted by team lowkey at 12:36 AM on October 24, 2007 [7 favorites]


"... You're at the twilight years of your life and all you can think about the culture that produced you is how much money you're going to try to get out of it."
posted by mullingitover at 2:28 AM on October 24

I presume your post is for effect, to yourself, impressed as you are with your own rhetoric. Because I might have already paid copyright on all the books I've bought, all the music I listen to where copyright payment is owed, and bought tickets galore, and made contributions most of my life, for what "culture" I've "consumed," although I'd argue that no culture "produced" me, to quote you.

That's one aim, after all, of copyright: to make possible, as much as possible, a reckoning. Count me reckoned. You?
posted by paulsc at 1:13 AM on October 24, 2007


"... The RIAA came a-knockin', and they said, "Let's make a deal."

Big difference if you knock on The Man's door, or if The Man knocks on yours...
posted by paulsc at 1:15 AM on October 24, 2007


"... You truly think, given that we're talking about an industry allegedly being destroyed by millions upon millions of copyright infringers, that society at large agrees with and supports said laws? ..."

I think Apple is doing pretty well with iTunes. I think some labels are doing all right. Starbucks thinks music distribution might be a good business to be in. Even old folks are starting new record labels! I think satellite radio and market fragmentation may have as much to do with changes in CD unit distribution, as Oink did.

Can we agree that the real world might not fit all your pre-conceptions so neatly?
posted by paulsc at 1:23 AM on October 24, 2007


so paulsc, i'd like to revisit the internet justice you proposed meting out above.

did i read you correctly as stating that, were i an oink account holder, i should be subject to a 30-50 year prison sentence and prohibited from using the internet in perpetuity?

you've said a lot of silly stuff in this thread, so maybe your whole stance is one big wind up, but i'd like to know if you really believe that people should be subject to such harsh punishments for infringing copyright.
posted by Hat Maui at 1:55 AM on October 24, 2007


paulsc writes "Can we agree that the real world might not fit all your pre-conceptions so neatly?"

Ah, the real world. It's good to hear you talk about this place. If only you were here.

Paul, you casually expressed a hope that a group of over 100,000 people who committed an offense no more serious than sharing art would go to prison for a term of 30-50 years.

It's unfortunate you were born in a free country, because you really don't belong in one.
posted by mullingitover at 2:05 AM on October 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hat Maui writes "did i read you correctly as stating that, were i an oink account holder, i should be subject to a 30-50 year prison sentence and prohibited from using the internet in perpetuity? "

Jinx!
posted by mullingitover at 2:06 AM on October 24, 2007


Why would a person reading a message, or listening to a tune, ever need the whole message, bonaldi?

So that their ears and eyes could process it? Even if doled out in micro-second increments, the entire message must pass before them. Or the sensor reading it for re-digitisation.

Your world would only conceivably work if DRM was universal, and it isn't. Not by a long shot! Basically every computer from the past 15 years is capable of exploiting the analogue hole, and every one being sold today.

The horse hasn't just bolted on this one, it has been upgraded to a car. Meanwhile, you're still trying to shut the stable door.

I wonder who sold you all this stuff? Because I'm certain it was people with a vested interest in others believing DRM would work. You sound very much like the old execs at work who demand we try and hide our stories from Google so that they don't "steal" our readers and who think full-page PDFs of newspaper pages for printing out at home compete with news.bbc.co.uk.

Also: it's not bad marketing that the "benefits" of DRM haven't been sold to consumers ... those benefits don't exist, and it's very difficult to see what could compare favourably to one or no payment leading to a universal file that can be played unlimited times, on an unlimited number of unauthorised devices, in perpetuity.
posted by bonaldi at 2:07 AM on October 24, 2007


What do you think the copyright holders, and the British police, and now the courts, should have done, in the continued breach of copyright law Oink represented?

Redefined the law, as Canada has?
posted by bonaldi at 2:10 AM on October 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


LOL Recording industry! Bunch of asses.

Radio sucks. So, how would I know what music I'd like to buy? Oops, I don't, except maybe when I hear something live (here in South Africa, that means street musicians in Cape Town), or maybe something in a shop (usually some place selling African artifacts, with some African CDs to sell).

Once upon a time, there was Napster. Downloading actually expanded my music awareness so I knew what to buy. It was fun and easy. Just find out who had what I liked, and look at what else they had, and try some. Wee!

But those jackasses had to close it down. Their loss. Now they threaten lawsuits against torrent users. Okay. No more new music for me to discover that way. I don't mind too much, I can always find some other thing to spend money on. All because those total idiots pissed themselves over young people getting free music they probably couldn't have bought if they'd wanted.

I got a great idea: Get some signed bands to sue the record companies for mismanagement, destroying a great way to promote bands!

And Paulsc: I haven't a clue what you're on about. You sound like you're on some kind of Time Cube trip, or something. If you want investment tips, I can forward some to you.
posted by Goofyy at 4:40 AM on October 24, 2007


It amazes me how people who even dare to suggest that maybe there is a point to saying downloading music in violation of the law is of questionable morality are SLAMMED by people. This is childish and destroying the chances for a real debate on the issues. Making such statements marginalizes your point of view and hurts your cause.

I've had folks on here suggest I don't know the law, that I'm on kool-aid, that I'm just an ass it seems, for even suggesting that maybe people who are downloading illegally are engaging in some self justification for their actions. Tell me, where did that get you?

If you are downloading illegal music, at least some percentage of what you are downloading you might have purchased. That means you are getting something for nothing that the copyright owner would like to charge you money for obtaining. That starts to sound like stealing. This is not my point of view, it is the reality of how a jury of your peers will see you in court - just see the recent decision in Minnesota.

In fact, it sounds so much like stealing that contrary to a bunch of people's rather ignorant posts, it can be a criminal offense to break copyright law (see section 506 of the copyright code and title 18, part 1, chapter 113, section 2319 for criminal sanctions). I suggest you take a long look at that section as its definition of a criminal copyright violation could cover a large number of peer-to-peer users.

Now, as much as you want to pretend I'm some RIAA corporate defender, I raise these issues just to have a complete and honest debate. Too often those that hate copyright will NOT engage in an honest discussion - not any more than the RIAA or copyright holders.

Personally I believe that copyright law is out of control. It has gone beyond encouraging the useful arts and moved into a monopolistic money making machine. I think there has been price fixing on music and a big sucking sound of money going to corporate middle men making money off of artists and fans.

I think all of this, and I also recognize that illegal music downloading is also largely about getting something for nothing. A LOT of people downloading free music are not turning around and supporting the band through concert revenue (another money suck to middle men lots of times). Aside from the recent Radiohead experiment, fans have not been lining up to send in even a buck or two to artists for albums they've downloaded.

Maybe people think copyright shouldn't exist. Maybe they think the laws should change. These are fine stances, and the question back should be what was posed by others - if we abandon or modify copyright law, will artists still make the type of music we want to hear available in the forms we want to hear it. Frankly, if the answer is yes, then kill copyright laws.

Unfortunately, artists really haven't been all that interested in giving their music away. They keep signing on to record labels to get rich and the laws help make that happen. That law in fact does make downloading an infringment subject to civil penalties and much of the peer-to-peer activity criminal. In many ways, whether you want to admit it or not, the consumers are alone on this issue.
posted by Muddler at 5:03 AM on October 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


i wonder how many oink users paid for the radiohead album.
posted by ellipse at 5:06 AM on October 24, 2007


Muddler writes "It amazes me how people who even dare to suggest that maybe there is a point to saying downloading music in violation of the law is of questionable morality are SLAMMED by people."

"Why do people get annoyed when I try to equate legality with morality?" They're not the same thing and you know it. People get tired of playing games with you perhaps?

Muddler writes "Maybe people think copyright shouldn't exist. Maybe they think the laws should change. "

I think most of us would be happy if they went back to the original, genuinely limited 15-year term the founders saw fit to give them in the first place...if not shorter, given that the internet and digital technology in general have all but eliminated the marginal cost of distribution.

Muddler writes "Personally I believe that copyright law is out of control. It has gone beyond encouraging the useful arts and moved into a monopolistic money making machine. I think there has been price fixing on music and a big sucking sound of money going to corporate middle men making money off of artists and fans. "
Here's a thought--maybe adding money to the system makes you part of the problem. What have you personally done to correct things?

Muddler writes "A LOT of people downloading free music are not turning around and supporting the band through concert revenue (another money suck to middle men lots of times)."

Is this why every show I try to get tickets to (all too often priced over $50 for nosebleed seats) is sold out? Can you cite anything showing that revenues from ticket sales are down or are you just trolling?
posted by mullingitover at 5:29 AM on October 24, 2007


Nonliteral: Right, since there were no musicians before the RIAA. Or recording, for that matter.

Are you just obtuse or really ignorant? There were no computer programmers before computers were invented. Or Microsoft. So computer programmers don't need to get paid.

Musicians have to make a living so they can eat, just like everyone else.

I never get a straight answer from non-musicians on this. Would you give away your work for free?
posted by spitbull at 5:55 AM on October 24, 2007


"If sharing copywritten music without paying for it were legal, than Oink was the best music website in the world."

That was the best quote in that DJ Rupture article linked above. And he's right, Oink smoked any other music site on the planet.
posted by chunking express at 6:00 AM on October 24, 2007


Mullingitover -

I'm happy to point out that are downloading illegally need to consider the morality of what they are doing. I'm sorry if you feel that you personally are on some moral crusade to download as much music as possible to prove your point "to da man!", but I have to point out that you personally are probably receiving a benefit from your huge, free music collection. That is something for nothing, and that has moral implications that most downloaders just don't want to face. If you've faced those issues and found justification for yourself, fine. Just don't pretend that your average 12-30 year old is even thinking about moral justification. They want something for free, and that's it.

Now, you've stated you would be happy to go back to a 15 year copyright term. If that is the case, ask yourself how much of your music and the music that is being downloaded is more than 15 years old. You have to at least suspect that a huge volume of downloading and peer-to-peer trading is for very recent music. Where do we stand on sharing of that music? Is it OK to download the Beatles but not 50 Cent? That's at least partially a moral question, and one that I don't think most self-proclaimed copyfighters is ready to answer.

As to adding money to the system helping the problem - that is a far stretch and it begs the question what is the problem. If the problem is giving money to record companies AT ALL - then you advocate buying no music that passes through record companies. I guess you are suggesting a form of civil disobedience is the proper route to change the system. I'm not so sure as illegal music downloading has been going on for many years now and the laws have not changed. The debate has raged, and that is good, but the debate is not being carried forward by the illegal downloaders. It is being taken forward by people that are better respected by the political structure. Those are the advocates that rise above civil disobedience and take action on a more direct legal front. I will not say what I have done personally as I think keeping our personal identification private key to debate, but I will say that I have taken this issue further than mere civil disobedience.

Finally, as to tickets, I have no idea why you think I'm telling you that ticket prices or sales are down. All I said is that many people that download albums don't support the band by going to concerts. Everyone knows that album downloads to ticket sales are not one-for-one. Everyone also knows that with concerts record companies, promoters, ticket brokers, and venues all get a cut of the action.
posted by Muddler at 6:09 AM on October 24, 2007


Here's a thought--maybe adding money to the system makes you part of the problem. What have you personally done to correct things?

This is a TERRIBLE argument to make, IMO, and it aggravates me to no end that otherwise intelligent people continually make it. EVERY INDUSTRY IS COMPROMISED. By this logic, should I assume that you never do things like go to the movies, eat out at restaurants, purchase pharmaceutical drugs or even pay taxes?

Is this why every show I try to get tickets to (all too often priced over $50 for nosebleed seats) is sold out? Can you cite anything showing that revenues from ticket sales are down or are you just trolling?

The artists ostensibly being "harmed" most by filesharing aren't the ones selling out $50/ticket concerts. By-and-large, those artists are all doing just fine. It's the ones who aren't selling much music to begin with, who rely on every album sale and who play smaller clubs.
posted by mkultra at 6:40 AM on October 24, 2007


mkultra typed "The artists ostensibly being 'harmed' most by filesharing aren't the ones selling out $50/ticket concerts. By-and-large, those artists are all doing just fine. It's the ones who aren't selling much music to begin with, who rely on every album sale and who play smaller clubs."

Why do people keep saying this? Every smaller act that's become well-known in the past few years has done so thanks to filesharing. Traditional promotional venues don't seem to care much about the non-Britneys anymore.

I'm not defending filesharing per se, but use better arguments.
posted by roll truck roll at 8:05 AM on October 24, 2007


Apologies for going mostly off topic.
Here's a thought--maybe adding money to the system makes you part of the problem. What have you personally done to correct things?

This is a TERRIBLE argument to make, IMO, and it aggravates me to no end that otherwise intelligent people continually make it. EVERY INDUSTRY IS COMPROMISED. By this logic, should I assume that you never do things like go to the movies, eat out at restaurants, purchase pharmaceutical drugs or even pay taxes?
Actually, there is nothing wrong with that logic, and everyone should at the very least minimize their engagement with the prevailing economic system.

Dictators and corrupt officials in poor corners of the world want their hookers and BMWs, as well as the guns and the security cameras and whatever else they need for maintaining their status. This whole package is unattainable without dollars or euros, which they get through bribes and taxes from the same companies that sell us our toys and drugs and clothes. These companies won't come unless you can offer them something they need, and for most tyrants, that something is labor that is cheaper than anywhere else. Labor that is cheaper than anywhere else does not form through magic, it forms through beating people and poisoning their fields, until they are more hungry and desperate than millions of others with a similar fate.

Living people are getting their limbs hacked away, to scare other living people into submission, because we like buying things for "reasonable" prices, and our kids won't stop whining for more buzz-marketed trinkets. Stopping this would take the sort of change in our lives that may sound terrible, but going on is worse.

Again, I'm sorry for going off topic, and I'm also sorry if I sound like I'm attacking you, mkultra, but the sort of argument that you so strongly oppose is exactly the sort of argument that we need to embrace, if news from places like Burma or East Timor move us at all.
posted by Anything at 8:09 AM on October 24, 2007


"I'm sorry if you feel that you personally are on some moral crusade to download as much music as possible to prove your point "to da man!","

If you were wondering why people dismiss you as an idiot, try looking at how you misrepresent the arguments of the people you're attempting to engage.
posted by klangklangston at 8:23 AM on October 24, 2007


Finally, as to tickets, I have no idea why you think I'm telling you that ticket prices or sales are down. All I said is that many people that download albums don't support the band by going to concerts. Everyone knows that album downloads to ticket sales are not one-for-one.

In late-modern capitalism this is the problem. When the individual controls the capital, the means of production, there is no inherent economic advantage to production. There's no $4 million factory to build. These were self-limiting in the past and the intention of copyright laws. This is actually efficiency at work, and should be encouraged, but the previous beneficiaries (record companies, artists) are no longer the future beneficiaries (the consumers).

I don't understand why the implicit assumption is that artists and record companies should be receiving the maximum possible profit. This seems to me to be an unsatisfactory and sub-optimum place to be. Indeed, with this is proven with the very presence of this large, secondary market.

The result is incredibly non-linear, and hurts the artist as a whole. What are people complaining about? The loss of Britney pre-leases? No, yet she is by far one of the highest selling artists in the world (in relation to your coffeeshop indie band). That is the sort of industry current copyright laws encourage and celebrate. Diversity is an added cost, more talent is an added cost. The result is an incredibly uneven wealth distribution with musicians. A few make incredible sums of money, some more make enough not to have to work, and a whole lot have schlum day jobs.

I am confident that changes in the copyright code would flatten the distributions. There would be fewer, less wealthy Bono or Maddonas. Not regular people, by any means, but just not living-in-a-castle wealth. There would also be a lot more bands on the low end, incredibly niche, that previously had no economic feasibility. Now with distributions costs near zero, that no longer becomes a factor.

Really, economics is about the allocation of scarce goods. Suddenly that is no longer an issue. The raw materials and production costs do not support the gateway anymore. The scarce goods are the artists themselves, which turn out not to be that scarce anyway.

I am all for copyright and patent laws, but it is getting more than ridiculous. Instead of embracing technology and making our lives easier, media companies seem insistent on maximizing their long-term profits. Laws are only enabling this racket.
posted by geoff. at 8:26 AM on October 24, 2007 [8 favorites]


I like music. I like to share music. I have always done this, since childhood. Now I can share more music with more people.

It is interesting to me that people who have been using Oink have pride in their ratio. This shows that they also like to share music. Sharing music via Oink results in qudos due to the fact that the quality of music shared via Oink was so high. Lovely music shared by music lovers.

One of the somewhat confusing things about the stance paulsc is taking for me is his love of old jazz. Music sharing makes more old jazz available to more people. This has no impact on the artists themselves as, if they are still alive, no doubt their contracts screw them royally. The major lables that have bought up their discographies (where applicable) will not re-issue unless they are sure of a market. The market is likely to be created by someone sampling the music in question, which the stupid media conglomerates are trying to make as difficult as possible. They are working against the public good and against music.

Stonesthrow compilations of rare funk and soul are made by music lovers and often pay the artists directly for inclusion. This involves traking them down and visiting them personally to hand over the cheque. Interesting interviews and insight into the scene they came from result. Usually the stonesthrow cheque is in excess of the total amount they made from the record included in the compilation. This is because they were screwed by the media moguls of the day. Can you imagine any of the big media conglomerates attempting such a labour of love?

This kind of boutique label benefits from file sharing directly as the people who would buy these comps anyway do so regardless, and more people are exposed to the music, raising the artists profiles and sometimes leading to bands reforming and touring after half a century of inactivity.

Most artists give access to their songs via their website (or myspace page). They enjoy the exposure and the direct response from listeners.

This is all good for both the artist and the listener.

The only thing missing for me (sometimes) is a way to directly remunerate the artists that I appreciate. I may listen to a track I download many times in a day and feel that I have had much enjoyment from it. I want to show my appreciation to the artist, if it must be in monetary form that is fine by me. I do not, however need to pay the redundant middle man who has spent so much time trying to rip-off both myself and the artist as a career. If I pay the artist a fraction of a dollar for my enjoyment of a song this is likely to be far in excess of what they might have got from the sale of a CD produced by a major label.

There is qudos in buying music from artists today. It is like everyone is their own A+R and can discover bands that will go on to become household names. I have CDs hand made by the artists, including the cover art and construction. I like them for the objects of love that they are and have no intention of selling them. But like a Leonardo Da Vinci sketch, should they become known and popular in the future I have a fiscally valuable item to boot. It's win-win.

The idea that DRM and copyright, as per the current model, are necessary to for music to remain a worthwhile pursuit is ludicrous.

Also, what pastabagel said with the fucking and the art and stuff.
posted by asok at 8:44 AM on October 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


Meh. Another shall rise.

Demonoid ain't terrible.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:56 AM on October 24, 2007


It amazes me how people who even dare to suggest that maybe there is a point to saying downloading music in violation of the law is of questionable morality are SLAMMED by people. This is childish and destroying the chances for a real debate on the issues.

That's really just comic. You grossly misrepresent the behavior of those of us who think there's a lot of subtle nuance in the issue of intellectual property, then blame us for nixing real debate.

When you're engaging in hyperbolic misrepresentation about the people you disagree with it's not the other side that is killing the ability to discuss things reasonably - it's you.
posted by phearlez at 9:15 AM on October 24, 2007


I never get a straight answer from non-musicians on this. Would you give away your work for free?
I do. And I work in content creation. By having a salaried job on a newspaper, you waive all your copyright in return for a living wage. There are ways to get paid from content creation without requiring 70 years of copyright.

It's much easier to see this issue when you put it in terms of writing. What social utility arises from my employers holding copyright of that article about a house fire in 1958? Virtually none -- and they make very, very little money from it. Whereas if these old articles were one giant, free database, the historical and cultural value would be immense.
posted by bonaldi at 9:51 AM on October 24, 2007


i wonder how many oink users paid for the radiohead album.

At least one that I know of.
However I don't think Oink would have allowed the new Radiohead to be posted due to insufficient bitrate.
posted by brevator at 10:01 AM on October 24, 2007


I never get a straight answer from non-musicians on this. Would you give away your work for free?

I have and do.
posted by brevator at 10:03 AM on October 24, 2007


brevator, you don't give away all of your professional work for free or you don't eat. and wouldn't you like it to be *your* choice what you give away and what you charge for? isn't it your choice, actually?

i like music too. i like to play it. and i like to survive.

just think about it. if you want music to be free, how are musicians going to be paid? there are options to the current model, but making music an entirely amateur affair is not one of them that works for musicians who make a living at their art.
posted by spitbull at 10:23 AM on October 24, 2007


brevator - you are right about the new Radiohead. I've heard the minimums there were 192, so 160 wouldn't cut it. It seems that if Oink was anything, it was unrelenting in its standards... even for Radiohead.
posted by zennoshinjou at 10:25 AM on October 24, 2007


Why do people keep saying this? Every smaller act that's become well-known in the past few years has done so thanks to filesharing. Traditional promotional venues don't seem to care much about the non-Britneys anymore.

That's sort of beside the point I'm making, but really, how many acts have "broken through" this way? I can probably count them on my fingers. It's a nice American Idol-esque fantasy to buy into, but 99.9999% of "smaller" acts continue to languish.

Actually, there is nothing wrong with that logic, and everyone should at the very least minimize their engagement with the prevailing economic system.

If you want to walk the walk, that's great, but are you saying an acceptable response is to steal from the producers, rather than simply disengage? The logical extension of your point would be to only listen to Creative Commons-licensed music.
posted by mkultra at 10:29 AM on October 24, 2007


.....but 99.9999% of "smaller" acts continue to languish.

How is this any different than 50 years ago? Small acts can/will/may languish regardless.
posted by zennoshinjou at 10:34 AM on October 24, 2007


That's my point.
posted by mkultra at 10:46 AM on October 24, 2007


if you want music to be free, how are musicians going to be paid? there are options to the current model, but making music an entirely amateur affair is not one of them that works for musicians who make a living at their art.

It's not about wanting music to be free ... Music is going to be free. This is inevitable. Short of fantasy-land can't-exist DRM like paulsc imagines, or China-esque online patrolling, music files are going to be shared, online, for no money.

Musicians, and pretty quickly, are going to have to come up with a new way of making money. I imagine they're going to want to cut out the middlemen quite soon, too.

I don't want to harp on about this, but what applies to text applies here. If you want news (sites) to be free, how are journalists going to be paid? Making reporting an entirely amateur affair is not something that works for journalists who making a living at their art.

These are very tough questions, and the answers are often unpalatable -- especially when they are "there's going to be a lot less money to be made" -- but ignoring changing economic realities does not make them go away.
posted by bonaldi at 10:52 AM on October 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Why is it Bonaldi is the only one who seems to understand this? Everyone else is complaining that there won't still be monasteries guaranteed for the scribes once this Gutenberg fellow has his way.
posted by klangklangston at 11:42 AM on October 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


^^ That is precisely the example I've been searching for. Nice one.
posted by bonaldi at 11:48 AM on October 24, 2007


Why is it Bonaldi is the only one who seems to understand this?

He isn't. I didn't really have anything to say in response to his comments beyond, "Yes. What he said. That rings true to me."
posted by sparkletone at 11:50 AM on October 24, 2007


how many acts have "broken through" this way? I can probably count them on my fingers. It's a nice American Idol-esque fantasy to buy into, but 99.9999% of "smaller" acts continue to languish.

How is this any different than 50 years ago? Small acts can/will/may languish regardless.

That's my point.


So your point is that if there's a change in the way the culture and copyright and music compensation happens that an unfortunate reality... will continue to be an unfortunate reality?
posted by phearlez at 11:51 AM on October 24, 2007


phearlez - Well I think others are trying to say that copyright law changes will some how bring us to a magical utopia where stark economic reality and the unavoidable changes that technology brings will some how not apply.
posted by zennoshinjou at 12:29 PM on October 24, 2007


all of those somehows up there should be joined. I got space happy.
posted by zennoshinjou at 12:34 PM on October 24, 2007


So your point is that if there's a change in the way the culture and copyright and music compensation happens that an unfortunate reality... will continue to be an unfortunate reality?

No, my point is this- roll truck roll defended illegal music sharing on the grounds that it brings success to lesser known bands. I'm pointing out that it's a form of confirmation bias at work and that the proportion of unknown bands has likely not really moved that much. I don't think there are many reasonable people left who think that there isn't a dramatic shift coming in the economic model of commercial music (as bonaldi pointed out), but it has to be a model that helps artists more. The incremental gain in exposure most artists get from people sharing their music is still not getting them more money unless they're very, very lucky or very, very good.
posted by mkultra at 1:06 PM on October 24, 2007


team lowkey: "You truly think, given that we're talking about an industry allegedly being destroyed by millions upon millions of copyright infringers, that society at large agrees with and supports said laws?"

paulsc: "I think Apple is doing pretty well with iTunes. I think some labels are doing all right. Starbucks thinks music distribution might be a good business to be in. Even old folks are starting new record labels! I think satellite radio and market fragmentation may have as much to do with changes in CD unit distribution, as Oink did.

Can we agree that the real world might not fit all your pre-conceptions so neatly?
"

I don't know what you think my pre-conceptions are, or what they have to do with it. You seem to have argued that since no one has stormed the Bastille, that the general public is giving their implicit support to copyright law. It looks to me that millions of people breaking the law every day is evidence that they aren't so supportive.

I think that fact that people are still buying music, despite their ability to get it for free, shows that people want to compensate artists for their work. I don't think it shows that they support copyright law as it exists.

Personally, the last major label album I bought was a Foo Fighters CD a couple years ago. I liked the band and wanted to support them. The CD had DRM that made it so I couldn't rip the songs and play them on my music player. So it was basically useless to me. I had to go download the album via P2P. I'm not going to waste my money on DRM products again, so as long as that's the only way for the band to be compensated for their work, they aren't going to see any more money from me. On the other hand, if there were a channel for me to support them directly, they would probably get more money from me than they would have gotten from their meager cut of an album sale. I don't want to "steal" anything. I feel that the recording companies are trying to control the channels of distribution so tightly because they want to continue the racket of "If you want to give the artist a dollar, you have to give me ten". They are stealing from me. The fact that they want to then control how I may use the product I purchased from them in perpetuity in order to further maintain their racket is a deal breaker. And then to call me a thief and a music hater for not supporting their racket is just a slap in the face that certainly doesn't win me back to being a customer. It's really as simple as this: Give me a product I find valuable and I will pay for it. Music does have a value to me. That's not what they're selling.

Whenever there is a discussion about P2P music sharing, the people who actually use the systems say the same things again and again. "I discover a lot of artists this way, and end up buying more music because of it. I can download things that the record companies don't even offer for sale. Most of the stuff I download, I wouldn't have purchased anyway. The musicians aren't losing money because of my download. I think the recording industry is a corrupt system that don't have my best interests or the artists best interests in mind, and I'd prefer not to support them". Why must this be dismissed as justifying stealing rather than taken at face value? The person doesn't have a moral problem with sharing music. They do have a moral problem supporting the industry. No one is trying to screw over the bands except for the labels. They are fighting to hold on to their revenue stream in a market that doesn't need them any more. Maybe the days of the billionaire pop star are over, but if musicians can figure out how to cut out the middle men between themselves and their fans, I bet they'll be able to make a decent living. I've never heard of a fan that wasn't willing to fork over plenty of money to the band they love.
posted by team lowkey at 1:18 PM on October 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's sort of beside the point I'm making, but really, how many acts have "broken through" this way? I can probably count them on my fingers.

nonsense, unless you have polydactyly. you've never heard of the "blog band" phenomenon? let me make a quick list:
--arcade fire
--go team
--clap your hands say yeah
--tapes n tapes
--ghostland observatory
--vampire weekend
--MIA

...i could go on. none of these artists would have experienced anything like the success with which they met were it not for "illegal" dowloading and sites like oink. read about 'em on a blog or on pitchfork, dowload from oink or similar, and all of a sudden someone with no rightful expectation of a music career has one.

in the early '90s, when "punk broke," those seminal artists that are fondly remembered in revered terms were selling 10k copies of their records (with obvious exceptions like nirvana). that was the threshhold of indie success and few bands crossed it. now that sales threshhold (call it "indie gold") is many times higher, and enjoyed by far more bands.

one anecdote: my friend john vanderslice sold more copies of "pixel revolt" than any of his previous albums. he attributes much of that to making mp3s available for free via his site, but also to "illegal" downloading. ironically, he had a band in the late '90s that no one ever heard of called "mkultra."

the point is that for bands that are establishing themselves and don't have a bloated major label promo budget, "illegal" downloading is a godsend -- it expands a band's audience in ways that were heretofore completely impossible. i'm personally almost resentful of it, because kids now can access any music, any time, as simply as entering a text string on google, whereas when i was a budding young music fan, my choices were camelot records in the mall (where american indies were classified as "imports" because the only way camelot got them was to import the british versions for twice as much as regular retail!) and the occasional trip to hegewisch records. i had to work for everything. now, there is no barrier to entry and no barrier to discovery, and to argue that's not a good thing is wrongheaded at best.
posted by Hat Maui at 3:15 PM on October 24, 2007


two other points:

-- downloading is a far different activity than purchasing a disc, especially w/r/t the "value" to the consumer, and to conflate them is a mistake. many if not most copyright infringers download voluminous amounts of stuff that they either end up not liking or not listening to (likely by sheer dint of time, as in my case. there's a lot of fucking music out there! more than ever!). it's hard to quantify, but the record business is attempting to treat each dowload as a lost sale. it's not even close to that. and if they were to manage to shut the door on all infringing downloading, it would be a pyhrric victory in a best case scenario. sure, no one's "stealing" anymore due to, oh hell, paulsc's magical drm, but even fewer people would be buying than buy now.

--i couldn't find the data compiled anywhere, but my strong sense is that if you looked at all consumer spending on products like video games, concert and movie tickets, cable/satellite tv, dvds, and cds (aka "content") you would realize that in the aggregate, sales of "content" are way up. granted we're talking about different products, but there are only so many consumer dollars (not to mention time, ferchrissakes) that can be devoted to such things. i would argue that there's no crisis in the entertainment business whatsoever when it's looked upon as a whole. record years in the movie business (this year saw the first 4 billion dollar summer!), video gaming, and concert ticket sales bear this notion out. the record business acts as if it has no competition or incentive to deliver a better product, and the "competition" (often different divisions within the selfsame mega entertainment conglomerates) is kicking its ass. but the industry continues to blame the people that participate in it the most. foolhardy. and it's especially sad, because there's not a soul (well, maybe a couple on this thread) who feels any sympathy for such a historically greedy industry.
posted by Hat Maui at 3:38 PM on October 24, 2007


"... One of the somewhat confusing things about the stance paulsc is taking for me is his love of old jazz. ..."
posted by asok at 11:44 AM on October 24

Actually, asok, jazz has been one of the "special" cases, where, had it not been for some incredibly dedicated people opening and operating record labels, and hiring producers, many of the musicians would never have come together, and much of the music we have, as a result, simply wouldn't exist. Poke any serious jazz fan, and you're going to find someone pretty grateful to Blue Note, Atlantic, and Verve, and the incredible people behind these and many other jazz labels. To the point that I, and many other record buyers would often look for those labels, find a new artist we'd not heard of previously in a bin, flip over and find that Orrin Keepnews, Teo Macero or some other well-known producer for the label was involved, and buy the record on the strength of those associations. And I don't remember being badly disappointed, a single time, although some of those buys took me years to "get" once I owned them.

Jazz record labels have a long history of a far different relationship with both artists and the jazz record buying public, than seems to be the case in many other forms of recording. Although, I do see, to a lesser extent, something of the same relationship with the bigger classical labels, i.e. Deutsche Grammaphon, Delos, etc. Still good two way loyalty between classical labels and listeners, to some degree. And, I think, in hip-hop, the label/producer relationship has been important in "endorsement" marketing, simply because hip-hop, as much as jazz, depended, early on, on "reputation" for attracting listeners and interest.

"... Music sharing makes more old jazz available to more people. ..."

Eh, I don't know. Maybe, in some ways, particularly where the expiration of copyright has already placed tons of jazz material, perpetually, into public domain. I really hope that through legal P2P file sharing of early public domain material, a lot of people who otherwise would never be interested in early jazz, are becoming big fans of Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, and Art Tatum. Although, I rather doubt it :-)

But in other ways, it's keeping the vaults closed on tons of unreleased material, simply because, for a small market interest like jazz, the copy pressure that file sharing networks can potentially put on a release is just enough to keep marginal, but intellectually valuable projects, from ever getting funding. I'd love to see Orrin Keepnews revist the whole Thelonious Monk catalog, and re-release it in remastered box set, where Keepnews was doing the remastering, rather than see the kinds of label based "compilations," that keep coming out, cheaply, to fill collector interest. But, for every Never No Lament: The Blanton-Webster Band that comes out, under the artful supervision of a guy like Ben Young, a noted jazz researcher, you get a ton of low end compilations of already released material, that add little or nothing to our understanding of well known artists, or their music, simply due the costs of re-producing vault material, sensitively, and with respect and agreement of the artists estates.

When your total market might be 10,000 units (a good run, still, for a jazz album or compilation) at a price point of only $50 or $100, it just isn't worth it to a Sony to spend any money on these things, with added risk of file sharing. So thousands of hours of unreleased tape continue to sit in vaults, aging, not getting transfered to digital media, while the remaining living musicians and producers get older, and die, and take their memories and perspectives to the grave.

Damn shame, really, and if it weren't for the dedication of guys like Keepnews for this music, even less vault work would be being done, than is. And some of that lack of corporate financial support, while not due actually to P2P, is, I know from personal conversations with label personnel, due to the threat of P2P.
posted by paulsc at 8:31 PM on October 24, 2007


spitbull writes "I never get a straight answer from non-musicians on this. Would you give away your work for free?"

I do it everytime I answer a computer question in askme.
posted by Mitheral at 8:38 PM on October 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


drezdn writes "To completely sidestep the piracy/screwing the labels perspective, the next ten years will be interesting. Will there still be major labels in 10 years? Will some new model of making money off music be created (This Photek record is brought to you by Coke Fuk)?"

You know what labels do? They promote. That's about it. Well, sometimes they strive to create an atmosphere conducive to creativity, or a particular style of it. I think there's still a place for that. In the days of corporate rock they would sometimes even create a band from scratch and map out the releases ahead of time. There's still a place for that, too, but it doesn't have to be in the hands of a cocaine-fueled A&R dude to be worthwhile. People like Jello Biafra would still be selling music on his own label even if the big industry collapsed tomorrow.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:00 PM on October 24, 2007


paulsc writes "you get a ton of low end compilations of already released material, that add little or nothing to our understanding of well known artists, or their music, simply due the costs of re-producing vault material, sensitively, and with respect and agreement of the artists estates."

Well, I think the problem lies here ...

"When your total market might be 10,000 units (a good run, still, for a jazz album or compilation) at a price point of only $50 or $100, it just isn't worth it to a Sony to spend any money on these things, with added risk of file sharing. So thousands of hours of unreleased tape continue to sit in vaults, aging, not getting transfered to digital media, while the remaining living musicians and producers get older, and die, and take their memories and perspectives to the grave."

Why won't Sony do this? Not for the sake of the music. I understand that there has to be some money involved to get Sony interested, but I think that's a big part of the problem. Not that Sony should be doing charity work, but that a different entity might still be able to capitalize on the situation to some degree and put something of value into the world. But the current distribution model doesn't favor scarcity. There might be less money in it than there would be before. But if it's worth doing for the sake of the art, then it's still worth doing.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:10 PM on October 24, 2007


so paulsc, now that you're back in the thread, are you going to address your remarks about copyright infringers deserving 30-50 year prison sentences? or was that remark just for larfs?
posted by Hat Maui at 9:18 PM on October 24, 2007


"I don't know what you think my pre-conceptions are, or what they have to do with it. You seem to have argued that since no one has stormed the Bastille, that the general public is giving their implicit support to copyright law. It looks to me that millions of people breaking the law every day is evidence that they aren't so supportive.

I think that fact that people are still buying music, despite their ability to get it for free, shows that people want to compensate artists for their work. I don't think it shows that they support copyright law as it exists. ..."

posted by team lowkey at 4:18 PM on October 24

I think we're coming from far different experience bases, team lowkey. Maybe, we're even operating in parallel universes.

I, for one, believed what I was taught in high school, about plagiarism, fair use of copyright and scholarship, and part of that tradition of respect for originality, and preservation of the rights afforded by publication, was a transmitted sense of the value of copyright, over all. I think that was later reinforced in college, where I was expected to be able to do specific forms of academic citations, some of which demanded I actually read copyright notices in books, and be able to understand them, and care, at least a little bit, that they often, still, included things like city of publication. So, to me, a lack of respect for copyright tends to be the mark of an uneducated person.

I also happen to know probably 100 people who are owners of commercial copyrights, either that they've purchased, or created themselves. I'm talking about works that produce commercial revenue, and that have market value. Some of these are humble things, like a $2.95 guide map to fishing holes on the Blackwater River that is produced by a 79 year old man I know in northerneastern Florida, who has a 7th grade education, but a lifetime of fishing that river, and a deep respect for copyright, which protects the source of his beer money, in the form of the 2 or 3 copies of his guide he sells a day, at bait stores along the river. He'd be personally pissed, and somewhat impoverished, if he found he couldn't sell it anymore, because it was being traded on P2P networks, and I doubt any concomitant increase in public recognition he might get would be worth, to him, the loss of his beer money.

That's the only copyright he owns. That's the sum of knowledge he's personally gained, and put down, which has a value the world pays him for when it's wanted, and he's as proud of it, in a reasonable degree, as Stephen King is of any of his novels. I've seen him take back a thumbed, dog-eared front-of-stand copy from a purchaser, put it back in the front of the rack, and be sure to give a purchaser an unworn copy from the back of the rack, which is the kind of little touch you do, only for things of your own in which you have a continuing, quiet pride.

Now, that's a homey little example of the power of copyright, but I make it to illustrate an important point. P2P networks that encourage copyright abuse aren't just a strike at big, evil corporations, and people that make those arguments can't guarantee that the tools they so easily endorse will just change the balance of power between a faceless Sony/EMI and similar corporate giants, and beleaguered consumers. Because actually, the body of copyright holders is actually millions of individual people, and only thousands of corporations. For me, copyright has a 100 faces, whereas for you, it seemingly is an abstract argument.

I think, more than you're willing to grant, out of my personal experience, that millions of those commercial copyright holders, authors of magazine articles, cookbooks, original T-shirt designs, and Xeroxed "how to" instruction sheets though they be, have some sense of what it means to earn something for providing an idea, and respect that, when they need an idea. I know I do. Because they, too, see it, from personal experience, as a way to expand the commerce of the world, and encourage others to create new works, which they can then trade for. I know nothing pleases me more than when I can buy, out of royalties I earn, something else I want from some other copyright holder. It feels very much, like we are printing and using our own personal form of money, like doing stock swaps (which I like, too).

And I do think that base of popular support for copyright does write letters to Congress, and thinks that extension of copyright, and development of new rights in copyright law might be a very good thing. But I'll also say, that if some form of uber-DRM comes along, copyright is going to be a hard case to make, for anyone who can employ it. Even the 79 year old friend of mine with the fishing guide asked me once about copy-resistant printing, and if it hadn't been for the high cost to him of doing it, he would have printed his next batch on copy-resistant paper.

So, I suspect that the Oink guy will get his day in court, if he wants it, as he should. He should get a fair trial, and if the facts at trial are found that he's guilty of copyright violation, the law's penalties should apply. I think I'm one of millions of "little guys" who shares that view.
posted by paulsc at 9:50 PM on October 24, 2007


"so paulsc, now that you're back in the thread, are you going to address your remarks about copyright infringers deserving 30-50 year prison sentences? or was that remark just for larfs?"
posted by Hat Maui at 12:18 AM on October 25

IANAL, and certainly not a British one. And all I really know about the Oink thing is what I read in the papers, and what I saw of it on a friend's computers, who was all hot to send me an invitation about 14 months ago. Which I didn't take.

But, from what I understand, Oink didn't grow to the size it was before it was taken down, overnight. From what I understand, the idea of it being an invite only operation, and of requiring upload/download ratios was initially intended to keep it from quickly getting into Napster level notice of the RIAA. I think, from what little I understand, that the operator of the site took steps to make the operation difficult for the RIAA to serve takedown notices, or other establish other civil communications, and it apparently took some investigative resources of British law enforcement, in conjunction with Dutch officials, to discover the operator, and shut down the tracker servers. So, in a broad sense, that's the basis of my sense that the operator knew what he was doing was illegal, and that he took steps to make it hard for people to approach him about his activities on a civil basis. To me, that's "thumbing your nose at society."

In my book, he's welcome to play Thoreau, if he wants, out of a personal belief that copyright is wrong. But if he plays Thoreau in the criminal arena, with an enterprise of large, and international scale, he knowingly choses his position, attendant with its greater risks. I'm unsure if British law even provides a criminal penalty involving jail time, but I hope it does, and I think any such penalty assessed, if the operator and his users are found guilty, ought to reflect the very nature of the scale of the operation; the endeavor depended on network effect, and so stood on the shoulders of giants. If they now find out those giants didn't approve, they shouldn't be surprised at the giants' wrath.

We're talking about an international enterprise of 250,000+ people, organized in a functional conspiracy, to perform millions of daily acts of piracy. That's not just "civil disobedience" based on personal philosophical differences with majority opinion and civil/criminal law.

30 years in prison for the owner, and a lifetime technology prohibition seem like a slap on the wrist, to me. As for "users" of Oink, the very nature of the thing as a P2P network, and its insistence on operating parameters like maintaining a "favorable" upload/download ratio, making sure you had a "good" upload connection, etc. make it very clear that Oink users were clear that they, individually, were serving files to others in the Oink torrent, were concerned with doing that fast and reliably, and were storing pirated materials on their own machines. I think you'd have a hard time making the case that any Oink user is really a "technical innocent," given the very nature of the enterprise.

The guy that showed me Oink, and wanted me to join, clearly knew what he was doing, and thought I was quaint, for not wanting to join. Fine. I stand on quaint. And I wonder if he's erasing any hard drives tonight...
posted by paulsc at 10:22 PM on October 24, 2007


"Why won't Sony do this? Not for the sake of the music. I understand that there has to be some money involved to get Sony interested, but I think that's a big part of the problem. Not that Sony should be doing charity work, but that a different entity might still be able to capitalize on the situation to some degree and put something of value into the world. But the current distribution model doesn't favor scarcity. There might be less money in it than there would be before. But if it's worth doing for the sake of the art, then it's still worth doing."
posted by krinklyfig at 12:10 AM on October 25

If Sony could satisfy its stockholders and corporate regulators with quarterly reports regarding the "art" they've created out of the goodness of their hearts, maybe they would. I, for one, don't think of Sony management as heartless, evil people. But, they've got legal and fiduciary duties, rather than moral duties to execute. So they need financial reasons to do things.

To get Keepnews to do a full remastering of the Monk catalog, he'd need, off and on, a couple years, along with a staff of engineers, researchers, and archivists. You're talking about, bare minimum, $300,000 in salaries/benefits, travel, and studio costs, for the work. Then legal (clearance issues, check of previous licenses, etc.), production, distribution costs on top that. Plus, at least minimal advertising. And you'd need a 10 CD or greater box set, which you might get an average of $100 sales price, at retail, with eventual markdowns and returns (big compilations aren't impulse purchases). So, 10,000 units at $100 is a $1,000,000 revenue project, but Sony's risk is going to be something like $350,000 to $400,000, out the door. If only 5,000 units move, it's a loss, after tax. It's just a really iffy, small project for Sony, and yet one whose relatively high retail price, and keen collector interest, make it a certainty for piracy on the P2P networks.

Why shouldn't Sony sit on the vault tapes, for another 10 years, if it has bigger, better projects in the meantime, on which to employ its capital? Maybe, in the next 10 years, there will be ways of eliminating the piracy risk, and the surety of achieving that 10,000 unit sales mark will be greater. Maybe, Orrin Keepsake will be willing to do the pre-production now, for a deal where his estate will get a greater share of the eventual release, some years from now. Those are some practical ways in which extend copyright term makes the eventual likelihood of such projects, at least possible, at some future date.

Music business deals can be byzantine.

All I know is, right now, there are still tapes sitting in vaults, and guys like Keepsake are getting older.
posted by paulsc at 10:48 PM on October 24, 2007


paulsc writes "I think you'd have a hard time making the case that any Oink user is really a 'technical innocent,' given the very nature of the enterprise."

paulsc writes "His users, as convicted, the same."

Tell us more of your ideas about locking up tens of thousands of people for decades for sharing pieces of their culture. Your casual totalitarianism fascinates me.
posted by mullingitover at 11:52 PM on October 24, 2007


In the final vinegar strokes of every dying civilization, criminals run businesses and government and are lionized by their propagandists, and ordinary people and heroes are routinely jailed by the dupes.

So it goes. The end is nigh, motherfuckers.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:05 AM on October 25, 2007


Your casual totalitarianism fascinates me.

Isn't it great that he wants to send his "friend", and a fair number of people in this thread, to jail long enough to make it the defining part of their lives?

The number of times the insane life destroying harshness of the US prison system has come up on this site makes it all the more joyous.

I promise you they would have a hearing. They would have gotten some pushback, and they would have probably had to dicker for terms, but I bet, with 95% certainty, they would have got a contract, at some affordable price point, pretty near their offer.

I think this should get more attention, because I think it's central to paulsc's degree of conviction here. If he really believes that there's some level of fairness to be had if you're just Good People and Ask Nicely, then the casualness of the totalitarianism lessens just a bit.

I desperately wish that I could, but I can't begin to believe that there really is any fairness going on. From everything I've ever read, heard, and encountered, businesspeople like the RIAA and the recording industry in general simply do not operate this way.
posted by flaterik at 1:00 AM on October 25, 2007


"... I desperately wish that I could, but I can't begin to believe that there really is any fairness going on. From everything I've ever read, heard, and encountered, businesspeople like the RIAA and the recording industry in general simply do not operate this way."
posted by flaterik at 4:00 AM on October 25

I'm reminded of the whole "Congress killed the Radio Star" thread back in July, where the consensus seemed to be, at least initially, that the Congress and the evil RIAA were going to kill 'Net Radio.

Didn't happen.

Deals can be made, by people who negotiate in good faith.
posted by paulsc at 2:07 AM on October 25, 2007


"... Tell us more of your ideas about locking up tens of thousands of people for decades for sharing pieces of their culture. Your casual totalitarianism fascinates me."
posted by mullingitover at 2:52 AM on October 25

The short form, in your terms, mullingitover, is just this: Oink users didn't have the right to "share" those "pieces of their culture." And they knew it when they did it, and kept doing it.

It's an utterly bizarre notion to speak of the attributable, intellectual property of living men as "pieces of their culture." As rhetoric, it doesn't even rise to the level of bad Hollywood script writing.

But I don't really want to be casual or totalitarian about this. I want you to have your day in court, and only if you're found guilty of being a little pink Oinker do I want you in jail, where you can't do it again.
posted by paulsc at 2:15 AM on October 25, 2007


NARC!
posted by chunking express at 4:54 AM on October 25, 2007


I think that was later reinforced in college, where I was expected to be able to do specific forms of academic citations ... So, to me, a lack of respect for copyright tends to be the mark of an uneducated person.

To the contemporary student, copyright is an incredible millstone: it results in giant notices above photocopiers, restricting what they can copy; in academic websites they can only access from an on-campus computer; in course notes they can't print; in electronic textbooks that expire -- literally vanish from their shelves -- at the end of the year ... in sum, it restricts the advancement and acquisition of knowledge.

For me too, copyright has a hundred faces. My friends are photographers, writers, authors, musicians. All benefit in some form from copyright; not a single one of them is signed up to exploiting 70 years of income from it.

That your fishing buddy wants to keep making money off a bit of work for eternity is no surprise. It takes equal skill to make a chair -- who wouldn't want to make one and live off the resales forever?

Cultural endeavours simply aren't worth that much to society, not least when the free reuse of them is worth so very, very much more. 12 or 15 years to recoup the investment you've made in time and money creating your work? Sure. 70 years to sit back and rake it in? That's morally repugnant. Society has no obligation to keep your buddy in beer.

Nor do your poor properties require society to enact massive hinderances so that your brother and grandkid can be earn without generating wealth. You want to do that, invest your fucking revenue streams like everyone else has to.

Hell, it won't matter anyway. There'll be no-one to buy your properties. We'll all be serving 50-year terms.
posted by bonaldi at 5:28 AM on October 25, 2007


paulsc writes "I'm reminded of the whole 'Congress killed the Radio Star' thread back in July, where the consensus seemed to be, at least initially, that the Congress and the evil RIAA were going to kill "Net Radio.

"Didn't happen.

"Deals
can be made, by people who negotiate in good faith."

So when should I expect to be able to access Pandora again?
posted by Mitheral at 6:04 AM on October 25, 2007


Yet another sane response, albeit one that doesn't really say anything new to anyone who's been paying attention to this sort of thing for the last couple years.

True fact: At no point does this blog post propose 30+ year prison sentences for anyone.
posted by sparkletone at 7:49 AM on October 25, 2007


paulsc typed "Deals can be made, by people who negotiate in good faith."

And sometimes, part of making a deal is telling congress, as loudly as we possibly can, that the lobbyists they're listening to are flat wrong. That's the part of this whole discussion that you don't quite seem to get.

Mitheral typed "So when should I expect to be able to access Pandora again?"

Huh? It still works on my computer.
posted by roll truck roll at 8:10 AM on October 25, 2007


The Oink dude is out of jail and has spoken to the press.

I'm not sure his, "We're just an indexing service" argument will fly. As far as I can recall, it hasn't in the US. We'll see. The TVLinks guy has a much stronger case in that regard. All he was doing was linking to stuff posted on Chinese YouTube clones. Running a torrent tracker, et al., is a much more active thing than that.

Given the number of users Oink had, I'm doubting the Telegraph's claim that Oink "was one of the world’s biggest “peer-to-peer” music download sites," but maybe I'm wrong there.
posted by sparkletone at 9:16 AM on October 25, 2007


Like Bob Dylan said, "The times they are a-changin'" One guess how I heard that song.

There was a time when fishermen could make money by selling maps of their favorite fishing spots. That time is just about up. There was a time when monks made a living by copying books. (I don't think they paid the authors either.) Gutenberg ended the latter, the internet is ending the former.

People are tending more and more to not expect any particular control over or compensation for information they create or generate. Look at Wikipedia, Open Source, Creative Commons, the new Radiohead album, the newly-free New York Times archives, Metafilter posts, and so on. This old guy made & sold a map of his fishing spots because that's how it was for his generation. For the generation growing up now, they'll be more likely to put their favorite fishing spots on some Creative Commons fishing wiki.

Academic research is a great example of this lack of control or compensation - people giving away their life's work for free. Someone submits a paper to the IEEE, then the whole scientific community accesses it, copies & cites bits of it, and creates derivative works, without the original author getting any compensation. The IEEE is making money as a gatekeeper for this, but I tend to think this too shall pass.

I don't know how it will all end up, and if on the whole it will be good or bad, but that's what's happening.

(Note that copyright and plagiarism are somewhat orthogonal. Plagiarism includes a copyright infringement, but the real wrong of plagiarism is the lie that you created this information when you did not. Oink wasn't plagiarizing anyone's music.)
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:31 AM on October 25, 2007


"Academic research is a great example of this lack of control or compensation - people giving away their life's work for free. Someone submits a paper to the IEEE, then the whole scientific community accesses it, copies & cites bits of it, and creates derivative works, without the original author getting any compensation. The IEEE is making money as a gatekeeper for this, but I tend to think this too shall pass"

Man, you really don't know how academic publishers and databases work.

Most require that the author PAY to have his work considered for publication, then require institutions to pay to license access to the work (instead of the old subscription where they owned physical copies of the journal).

The academic journal market is much closer to Paul's vision, and is deeply fucked for it.
posted by klangklangston at 9:50 AM on October 25, 2007


I was glossing over the details, which I'm decently aware of, and yes, they are fucked (the IEEE terms and conditions, for example, are a laugh) - but the point was the authors very consistently share their ideas for no compensation.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:05 AM on October 25, 2007


paulsc writes "The short form, in your terms, mullingitover, is just this: Oink users didn't have the right to 'share' those 'pieces of their culture.' And they knew it when they did it, and kept doing it.

"It's an utterly bizarre notion to speak of the attributable, intellectual property of living men as 'pieces of their culture.' As rhetoric, it doesn't even rise to the level of bad Hollywood script writing."


Here's the thing: I assert that they did have a natural right to do what they did. The fact that the practice is so common and widespread at this point shows that laws proscribing it are out of line with society. I'm sure some day we'll eventually catch up with Canada, but in the meantime we're stuck with laws that men cannot and will not obey.

It's utterly bizarre that you don't understand culture, and you think your wish for government entitlements will trump culture.

Tell me, since you so personally believe in the sanctity of intellectual property rights, have you made your share of reparations to Europe for the hundred plus years that the US was an IP pirate nation?
posted by mullingitover at 10:13 AM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Tell me, since you so personally believe in the sanctity of intellectual property rights, have you made your share of reparations to Europe for the hundred plus years that the US was an IP pirate nation?

Take it the other way. If we're putting infringers away for 30 years, what should we be doing about countries engaging in mass piracy? Eg: China, Brazil, etc., etc., etc., etc.

Do we proscibe Toby Keith-style ass-bootings?
posted by sparkletone at 10:26 AM on October 25, 2007


The idea of pervasive DRM is, of course, laughable. Suppose we have a system whereby the appliances, upon which I view DRM-infected content, report me when I infringe upon a license, or cut me off from a server, or stab me in the eyeballs, or what have you.

I'm going to own a second machine that has been chipped (by some 14-year-old Vietnamese kid, more than likely) upon which I will view all of the pirate content from which his friends have wiped the DRM.

It owuld be inevitable and unpreventable. It doesn't matter how tough the DRM is on that movie, a string of bits is still going to be transmitted from my video card to my monitor, and there is no way that you can prevent me from manipulating that stream.

Well, I suppose that if all of the content providers and publishers in the world were to somehow agree on one standard for umpty-billion-digit encryption and that every monitor, video card output, speaker, microphone, serial port, etc. etc. required a particular dongle in order to play that content, then you could prevent me from manipulating that data stream.

So I'd just have to wait for just one person somewhere in the content creation chain to leak the encryption key. Which, if history has told us anything, should typically happen within minutes of the product "going gold" and several weeks before it hits retail shelves.

And then this all assumes that the consumer base is willing to buy crippleware, which, again, has not been the case historically (vis: the original DIVX, the almost total end to dongle-based anticopying systems in the business software application industry, etc.)

There are a number of truths that content creators and providers need to come to grips with:

1. Your work will be copied.
2. There is, in the long term, nothing that you can do to prevent it.

The guy with the fishing map who is so worried about the map being copied that he'd look into copy-resistant paper? No form of copy-protection and no form of legal redress is going to protect him if someone wants to type out a summary of information by hand and post it to their blog.

Perhaps unfortunately, there is also nothing that he can do in the long run to prevent the value of his map from dropping to zero. He can't take advantage of digital distribution or P2P services to boost the size of his market. He's not going to benefit from tip-jar economics.

But here's the thing: in the final analysis, it sucks to be him. Nobody should expect that their work should maintain value or that their distribution model should remain viable. He, and others like him -- the millions of very minor rightsholders who either will not or can not adopt to the broadband era -- will get the shaft, and I will not shed a single salty tear for the passing of their era, any more than I weep for the iceman, the farrier, the cooper, or the typesetter. They could have become couriers, veterinarians, carpenters or word processors. They might not have had their houses repossessed and their kids might have seen an inheritance. But they couldn't, or didn't, so fuck 'em.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 11:38 AM on October 25, 2007


Actually, asok, jazz has been one of the "special" cases, where, had it not been for some incredibly dedicated people opening and operating record labels, and hiring producers, many of the musicians would never have come together, and much of the music we have, as a result, simply wouldn't exist.

That's apples and oranges, paulsc, and I think you know it. Those legendary labels did what they did within a certain culture and in a specific slice in time. That doesn't denigrate the value of what they did (though I question that it was so monumental that they necessarily deserve to get paid for it in perpetuity) but accomplishing the same kind of thing these days would be radically different, because of technology and urban environments and a million other things.

So what asok is talking about is what about all those classic recordings NOW? Again, because of that specific slice in time, some quantity of those recordings may not exist in formats that will survive past next week if they're not captured and duplicated (in a way that might not pass legal muster under DMCA if some court decided it represented "circumventing anti-copying technology!), at least for their own use.

Some are certainly in formats that some of us can't play. Even if someone handed me an old record because they believed I'd completely love what was on it, I'd be unable to listen to it - I haven't owned a record player in almost a decade. If they handed me the record along with MP3s they ripped off it using a USB turntable they, again, might still be breaking the law.

We've created all these odd little restrictions in the law, and for what? Any law on the books should be put there with a well thought out comparison of who it helps versus who it hurts. In the name of being able to penalize the extreme cases like Oink we doom works to extinction, whether they be music or books. We insure they won't be re-released in some worthwhile format because we're engaging in protectionism for a system built around promotion and distribution that doesn't really work anymore.

I might add, we're also doing it while paying twice. There's a tax levy on recordable cds - as there was on tapes - (and in complete defiance of the reality that those things could have been used in non-copyright-duplication ways) to supposedly prop these people up... but I still have to pay for shit? How many times do I need to compensate someone?

If we were okay with a supporting levy there why aren't we looking into something on a broader base, perhaps based on analysis of P2P networks? Or SOMETHING. Because as others have said upstream, what dinos like you and I think about the morality of the situation is irrelevant - the tide is rushing in and standing there with a broom isn't stopping it. I don't know where or what the candles are but sitting here in the curse-filled darkness is getting old.
posted by phearlez at 11:49 AM on October 25, 2007


I'm going to own a second machine that has been chipped (by some 14-year-old Vietnamese kid, more than likely)

True, but more likely he did it where he worked - the place that makes those gadgets without the special chip that they sell to the people who like throwing money down the DRM hole. Once they meet their production quota on the legit stuff they start cranking out the defeated ones. After all, they have the means of production and the design and are already being hired guns. And since they're being used as the location for production because they can be paid less than the other possible locations they've got a serious motivation to do that dealing on the side.

I base this assumption on the reports I've heard of how many 'knockoff' fashion items are actually the real thing, minus the authentic label that the rights owner manages to keep control of. Which, I might add, plays well into what I said earlier that people do manage to compete with free (a la water) through adding value and marketing - that knockoff bag is the same and looks -almost- identical to the one my darling girlfriend buys on the Georgetown streetcorner, yet somehow Kate Spade keeps making money. Hmm. Lesson?

Maybe not.
posted by phearlez at 11:53 AM on October 25, 2007


Three interpretations of the same bit of news.

Oink founder: "We're just like Google"

Oink Ringleader: I Object to Your Characterization of Me As the Creator and Facilitator of a Large Piracy Operation

Oink Founder: "I haven't done anything wrong"
posted by Prospero at 11:58 AM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oink founder was on IRC last night.
posted by chunking express at 12:07 PM on October 25, 2007


The Idolator coverage has been interesting to me. They've not been completely unsympathetic, or unrealistic, but watching them savage whiners has been amusing.

The Telegraph (which I linked to earlier) plays it about like you'd expect a press outlet too. At least they didn't sit there and reparse IFPI press releases and treat them as unquestioned truth in that article.

Pitchfork is kind of blandly neutral, at least to me anyway.
posted by sparkletone at 12:27 PM on October 25, 2007


Best bit of that IRC transcript:

MooIsTooWrong> do you think most of the people in this channel are asking asshat questions?
OiNK> yes
posted by sparkletone at 12:32 PM on October 25, 2007


roll truck roll writes "Huh? It still works on my computer."

Sure, your in the US.

ten pounds of inedita writes "the almost total end to dongle-based anticopying systems in the business software application industry"

Unfortunately not, dongles have had a real resurgence since they figured out how to make them work with USB. It's become a lot more transparent to the end user though because often that dongle is controlling a network licencing application with automatic license borrowing.
posted by Mitheral at 2:28 PM on October 25, 2007


I wonder how many of the people who are arguing that the masses will refuse buy the technology with the "multi-level, situationally aware" DRM currently have iPods, and have even bought new iPods since Apple added that new cryptographic hash to prevent people from using any software besides iTunes.

To those people, I say: Please, practice what you preach, and boycott the scumbag companies who share Paul's sick world-view. Disclaimer: I myself am typing this from an iBook, but I quit using Mac OS X last year and I won't ever buy another of their products.

Voting with your wallet is the only way your vote is certain to be counted in our present society. And if you're buying stuff from the bad guys, you're voting for Paul's idea of the what the future should look like.
posted by finite at 3:04 PM on October 25, 2007


have even bought new iPods since Apple added that new cryptographic hash to prevent people from using any software besides iTunes.

Apple is definitely one of the worst with this crap. Want to buy our MP3 player? We'll put in some DRM so you have to use our software. Want to use our OS? We'll put in some DRM so you have to use our hardware. Want to use our cell phone? We'll break your phone if you try to use it some other way besides how we tell you.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:10 PM on October 25, 2007


TheOnlyCoolTim writes "Apple is definitely one of the worst with this crap. Want to buy our MP3 player? We'll put in some DRM so you have to use our software. Want to use our OS? We'll put in some DRM so you have to use our hardware. Want to use our cell phone? We'll break your phone if you try to use it some other way besides how we tell you."

The upside to this is that Apple is singlehandedly destroying the market for DRM. Anyone who isn't Apple who wants to sell music online must sell MP3s, and Apple is trying to get rid of DRM as well. It's the labels' lawyers who are insisting on it, and at this point even the labels are getting tired of trying to sell something that everyone agrees is shit.

I'm pretty sure there's a large community within Apple who support interoperability. These people are getting shot down by the combined forces of lawyers, partners, and shareholders (Apple has an exclusive deal with AT&T to sell the iPhone, and they get something like $18 per month per iPhone contract. Unlocking the phone and taking it elsewhere is skewing the subsidy they built into the price). The tying of their OS to their hardware makes sense for Apple, and in fairness it's their perogative: letting it run on hardware it wasn't designed for would make it look like shit, as we see with all kinds of jenky Windows boxen.

finite writes "Disclaimer: I myself am typing this from an iBook, but I quit using Mac OS X last year and I won't ever buy another of their products."

Really? Because of DRM? Apple is far less offensive than MS for this. If you're going to hate them, hate them for the crappy hardware. I'm on my third defective Macbook Pro battery, and they only guaranteed their replacements from the last recall for 90 days. So I'm stuck replacing their defective battery out of pocket. Fuckers.
posted by mullingitover at 4:01 PM on October 25, 2007


Apple has an exclusive deal with AT&T to sell the iPhone

But of course, AT&T has nothing to do with the iPod Touch, and it is just as locked down as the iPhone in terms of iTunes lockin and not letting you run 3rd party apps on it (and, when they eventually do allow you to install apps in Feb 08, it will only be officially vetted cryptographically signed apps, a process which will most likely make freeware impossible).

If you're going to hate them, hate them for the crappy hardware.

Sucks about your battery, but the build quality of my iBook is actually quite good, as was the previous iBook that I dropped several times before finally breaking. And no, it isn't just the DRM that has driven me to boycott Apple, it is that they are no longer the "lesser of two evils". I wouldn't use Windows either, but I actually see Apple as a bigger threat to free culture than Micros~1 because they (still!) appear to be so friendly to so many people. I doubt that many people tell themselves that Microsoft must have a secret large internal community who all disagree with the company's fundamental strategies.

I expect future Mac OS X releases will have an (initially optional) mode wherein they, too, can only run signed code. They probably won't go all the way down that path before they stop supporting all of the old PowerPC systems like mine, but I'm not sticking around to find out.

Apple is far less offensive than MS

Really? How? Apple's wifi handheld devices' complete lack of music sharing ability is every bit as offensive as the Zune's crippled version of this particularly obvious feature. While I agree that Microsoft was more evil compared to the old Apple Computer Inc, I don't see how they are any worse than this new Apple Inc we see today.

I switched to GNU/Linux, in case anyone was wondering.
posted by finite at 4:50 PM on October 25, 2007


Apple is trying to get rid of DRM as well. It's the labels' lawyers who are insisting on it

If you believe that, can you tell us why it is that Amazon and EMusic are currently selling lots of things in MP3 that Apple still only offers DRM versions of?
posted by finite at 5:01 PM on October 25, 2007


"Here's the thing: I assert that they did have a natural right to do what they did. ..."
posted by mullingitover at 1:13 PM on October 25

Here's the thing: In a representative democracy, a "natural" right ceases to exist when it is terminated by black letter law. Thereafter, it's "restored," or "expanded" by changes to black letter law. Once modified by law, no right is "natural." Failing to recognize that, and continuing to insist that the world is as you believe it is, is nearly a textbook description of delusion, or taken to the level you seem to be able to carry it, psychosis. I have a lot of sympathy for the earnest madman, as I live with one, and know, up close, wild eyed, frightened raving when I see it. So it's no surprise to me that you rail, as you do, about "natural rights" and see monsters in copyright, where there are none.

If you don't like the law, you're free to band together with your freeper anarchist pals, and try to change it. Or, move to the People's Meritocracy that is modern China, before they, last holdout of intellectual freedom though they be, become ardent Berne Convention supporters, too (although they have been signatories since 1992). Your line forms here:

In some venue capable of handling their already overwhelming numbers, we'll have a line for the tens or hundreds of millions of commercial copyright holders, and hundreds of millions more people who recognize copyright as a fundamental mechanism for creating and managing wealth in representative democracies, and for all the government functionaries, lawyers, accountants, media company employees, and other copyright stakeholders, that are supported by fees and taxes voluntarilypaid in copyright license and transfer, or the production and distribution of copyrighted materials, and their significant others and progeny (in other words, society). While the copyright hordes are assembling, we'll have the governments they support look into the Oink thing further, in the form of investigations and publicly observed trials, and we'll have the lackey news media that publish under copyright report the whole thing.

You of course, proud culture bearer, shouldn't pay the least attention to these tainted reports of totalitarian proceedings by pawns of the evil copyright lobby.

Poor earnest Don Quixote wouldn't have, either.
posted by paulsc at 5:30 PM on October 25, 2007


finite writes "If you believe that, can you tell us why it is that Amazon and EMusic are currently selling lots of things in MP3 that Apple still only offers DRM versions of?"

Because the labels are realizing they made a deal with the devil when they got in bed with Apple, and now they're frantically scrambling to do anything they can to stop Apple before it becomes the Wal-Mart of music. It's not there yet, but if trends continue...

finite writes "But of course, AT&T has nothing to do with the iPod Touch, and it is just as locked down as the iPhone in terms of iTunes lockin and not letting you run 3rd party apps on it (and, when they eventually do allow you to install apps in Feb 08, it will only be officially vetted cryptographically signed apps, a process which will most likely make freeware impossible)."

99% of iPhone owners aren't going to care about being able to compile and run their own apps on the iPhone. Apple is within their rights to keep a closed, secure platform if they want to.

finite writes "Really? How? Apple's wifi handheld devices' complete lack of music sharing ability is every bit as offensive as the Zune's crippled version of this particularly obvious feature. While I agree that Microsoft was more evil compared to the old Apple Computer Inc, I don't see how they are any worse than this new Apple Inc we see today."

I don't think Apple is stupid in this area. I don't think that many people really care about being able to share music wirelessly as demonstrated by the underwhelming response to the Zune (now in the woot.com bargain bin!). If someone has a track you want to listen to, or an album you want, you plug your iPod (or now the iPhone) into their computer and drag and drop. Done. This business of cramming every conceivable feature into a device is wrongheaded and results in a device that does many things horribly and nothing elegantly.

finite writes "And no, it isn't just the DRM that has driven me to boycott Apple, it is that they are no longer the 'lesser of two evils'. I wouldn't use Windows either, but I actually see Apple as a bigger threat to free culture than Micros~1 because they (still!) appear to be so friendly to so many people."

Apple's market share has been growing recently, but it is still nowhere near the MS' behemoth status. Apple isn't in a position to dictate the terms of the debate. MS is, and MS (as a whole, though there is internal dissent there too) is eagerly going along with the DRM crowd. It's not that Apple doesn't have some bad traits, it's that those bad traits disappear into insignificance when compared to the sheer scale of MS. Microsoft is a gigantic, machiavellian law firm that also happens to make software. Apple is still a boutique shop and will probably remain as much.

I'd complain more vocally about the lack of alternatives to iTunes when using an iPod, but there's no competing music library software that's even close. What, Winamp? Meanwhile, I really don't see them locking down the OS to the point that they'll only run secure code, but if that happens I'll join you in Linuxland. Otherwise, Linux is just too cumbersome and clunky to use as a day-to-day OS. Trust me, I've tried.
posted by mullingitover at 5:39 PM on October 25, 2007


"Here's the thing: In a representative democracy, a "natural" right ceases to exist when it is terminated by black letter law. Thereafter, it's "restored," or "expanded" by changes to black letter law. Once modified by law, no right is "natural.""

Absolutely no, Paul. Once again you're so incredibly wrong that the only adequate defense would be you apologizing for the presumption to lecture on something that you clearly know nothing about.

Natural rights are inherent and inalienable (remember inalienable? Might have seen it in a document somewhere?). They are, if you accept the precept of "natural rights," granted by God, and frequently used as an excuse for insurrection against governments. It was the theory of man's inherent (natural) rights that led to the American and French revolutions, and are a bedrock of both Locke and Rousseau's political philosophies.

Copyright may extend from the Lockian belief of a natural right to property (replaced over here by a "pursuit of happiness"), where the right is to take common property and mix ones own labor with it, effectively walling it off.

But no, no, no, a thousand times no: A natural right does not terminate when it is confronted with black letter law. Ideally, this is what we have courts for—to protect our natural rights from over-reach by governments. If the rights are not protected, then it is the duty of the populace to organize and protect their own rights, and the use of force is legitimate.

Now, if you wanted to argue that natural rights have largely slipped from the common conception of rights, and argue that natural rights have been deprecated in favor of negotiated rights, you'd be correct (though this is an explicit tension in American discussions of liberty).

But I have a feeling that I'd be able to eat any negotiated rights-based argument you put forward without even bothering to cast about for references, so you might just want to post your mea culpa and admit that yet again, you have no fucking clue what you're talking about.
posted by klangklangston at 5:42 PM on October 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


"... Apple is definitely one of the worst with this crap. Want to buy our MP3 player? We'll put in some DRM so you have to use our software. Want to use our OS? We'll put in some DRM so you have to use our hardware. Want to use our cell phone? We'll break your phone if you try to use it some other way besides how we tell you."
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 6:10 PM on October 25

Gee, TheOnlyCoolTim, no one backing IP protection wants to cramp your style, or has impinged your freedom. Unless you want to, no one is insisting you use mp3 files, or have an mp3 player. We all encourage you to write your own OS, from scratch, and if it's superior to any others we know of, we may even choose to pay you for your efforts, unless you're adamant that we never do, in which case, we kiss you, with great thanks! No need for you to carry an evil cell phone, when carrier pigeons you can hand raise from lovely little speckled eggs are so much more environment friendly, and make lovely cooing sounds as they roost.

You see, every copyrighted or patented thing with which you disagree, or think can be materially improved, is, for you, a unique opportunity for wealth and fame. And that's only one practical benefit to you, of the IP protection schemes you so dislike.
posted by paulsc at 5:44 PM on October 25, 2007


I love that of all the points made against you since your last post you pick that one to run with, essentially straw-manning everyone else's.

I don't think anybody here is arguing that copyright isn't a useful mechanism. I see many saying that it's increasingly irrelevant, technologically vulnerable and protected for ridiculously long terms, but nobody really arguing what you say they are.

You should also take note of the fact that the lackey media -- in the form of the Daily Telegraph, that right-wing bastion of the establishment UK press, the one the judges read -- has published an interview with Mr Oink, and a non-condemnatory one at that. Can you see them doing that with a murderer or thief? Society is changing under your feet.

Also: by your standards, you're desperately deluded about DRM.
posted by bonaldi at 5:46 PM on October 25, 2007


Er, that was in reply to this post of Paul's
posted by bonaldi at 5:47 PM on October 25, 2007


paulsc writes "In some venue capable of handling their already overwhelming numbers, we'll have a line for the tens or hundreds of millions of commercial copyright holders, and hundreds of millions more people who recognize copyright as a fundamental mechanism for creating and managing wealth in representative democracies, and for all the government functionaries, lawyers, accountants, media company employees, and other copyright stakeholders, that are supported by fees and taxes voluntarilypaid in copyright license and transfer, or the production and distribution of copyrighted materials, and their significant others and progeny (in other words, society). While the copyright hordes are assembling, we'll have the governments they support look into the Oink thing further, in the form of investigations and publicly observed trials, and we'll have the lackey news media that publish under copyright report the whole thing."

It'll be amazing. A RIAA Nuremburg rally!

Paul, you totally win at the internets. This is awesome.
posted by mullingitover at 6:00 PM on October 25, 2007


This whole thread is winning at the internet.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 6:21 PM on October 25, 2007


"... Paul, you totally win at the internets. This is awesome."
posted by mullingitover at 9:00 PM on October 25 [+] [!]


"This whole thread is winning at the internet."
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:21 PM on October 25 [+] [!]

Thanks, folks. Purple prose on the Blue is fun!
posted by paulsc at 6:44 PM on October 25, 2007


This is quite the derail, but oh well.

Want to buy our MP3 player? We'll put in some DRM so you have to use our software.

You're abusing the term "DRM" here.

There is no DRM keeping you from using software other than iTunes to connect to your iPod. Apple doesn't publish the specs for the iPod database. This is not the same thing as locking it up behind DRM. There are third party tools (eg: gtkpod) that will move files back and forth just fine.

Hell, you can even put custom firmware on it, if you want. (Although last I heard 6th gen. iPods aren't supported yet.)

You do not have to use iTunes.

Want to use our OS? We'll put in some DRM so you have to use our hardware.

So what? Aside from locking the OS to Apple hardware, there is no other copy protection to speak of. You don't have to activate the OS after install. The OS will never deactivate itself because you upgraded a device driver.

They want to sell hardware. Their OS does a damn good job at selling their hardware judging by the last few years. They are not in any way unclear about the fact that the OS will only run on Macs. There is no dishonesty there. What obligation do they have to let you run it on any hardware you please?

Want to use our cell phone? We'll break your phone if you try to use it some other way besides how we tell you.

I don't understand the sense of entitlement here.

You are more than welcome to do things to your phone which Apple doesn't support. Last I heard, the 3rd party app installers, etc. had caught up to the latest firmware, or are very close to doing so.

However, I don't see what obligation Apple has to support you or your phone regardless of whatever stupid, random shit you do to it.
posted by sparkletone at 7:25 PM on October 25, 2007


Late to the party as usual, thanks to a 12hr time lag....

I live in Malaysia. In my isolated part of the country, I literally am unable to buy licensed, official DVDs of American movies. They don't exist. It's all pirated stuff. Let's just say for the sake of argument paulsc's Brave New World DRM was able to lock everything away and insist on the patently ridiculous amount of money they want for it:

the final outcome I see would be a decline in American cultural influence, the soft power that is one of America's greatest assets outside it's borders. Malaysians, and lots of other peoples around the world, have a generally good impression about Americans despite our selfish and destructive foreign policies largely because they consume lots of American cultural products. I think restricting that, if it were even remotely possible, would have significant ramifications on our cultural influence. I'm sure paulsc's technological police state is dreamt of as a global thing, but it's the US that would lock things up first. End result: kids in my neighborhood rock out to more Indonesian dangdut and less American shoe-core. On second thought, that doesn't sound so bad after all...
posted by BinGregory at 7:27 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


"... Let's just say for the sake of argument paulsc's Brave New World DRM was able to lock everything away and insist on the patently ridiculous amount of money they want for it:"

One of the points that gets swamped in most DRM discussions is that among other real benefits of effective DRM, is the possibility that many, many new kinds of "licensing" can occur, essentially, automatically. With effective DRM, providing alternate rental/ownership terms is just a market guided pricing decision between content providers and content users. If you just want to watch a movie at low-res, and with ads, you might even be paid to do so, in such a system, whereas, if you wanted to purchase a hi-res, expanded content, no advertising 1-play license, you could, for a little more, and 3 play "show it for sharing" license for a little more, yet, and a permanent "watch it forever" license for something like what a DVD costs today. Digital Rights Management, unlike copyright, can be, by its nature, a far more fluid means of value exchange, than can copyright, and one which can in principal, be two way.

I do think the very nature of copyright, as it exists, makes it a comparatively inflexible beast. It takes years for new rights to be codified, and additional years for the market to begin developing those revenue streams. And there are always discontinuities in the application of copyright, as nation states come and go in treaties and trade negotiations, and markets cycle through technologies. So, I think ultimately, that copyright holders would generally prefer a technical means of administering rights management, that could avoid the need for compulsory licensing, and statutory regulation of pricing.

But I think DRM can offer significant benefits for media consumers, too, if the platform it provides can give them greater pricing options, and wider access to more material. Indonesian dangdut should be able to compete on a level playing field, worldwide, with American product, and it might, as would small run jazz, under good DRM. No one really wins when it can't, but making it possible for such a competition to really exist, doesn't mean that all content must be "free." Far from it, I would say.
posted by paulsc at 7:58 PM on October 25, 2007


The thing that's better than all those flexible licensing terms is when someone downloads it and watches it at high-res with no ads whenever they want however they want forever.

A few people have tried the "get paid to look at ads" thing. Hasn't worked. In your example, it might just work out to getting a shiny nickel for viewing the ad-laden crap quality version and jumping through hoops to try to prove that you actually watched the ads, versus viewing the high quality version for free.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:14 PM on October 25, 2007


"The thing that's better..."
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:14 PM on October 25

Better? For who? Content thieves? Where's the balance of interests in your vision between content creators and consumers?

Why wouldn't it be "better" to give more people more choice in pricing, and direction of payment, including the option not be a thief while enjoying more choices of media, and perhaps even having options to sell their own intellectual wares, in small volume, easily and securely?
posted by paulsc at 8:22 PM on October 25, 2007


Let's go a little farther down the DRM road, and imagine that if there were effective technology to do it, that it might be possible for people to rent their ears and eyeballs for market rates that would vary, based on who they were, who they could influence, and how public they'd like their usage/consumption to be. Suppose Bill Gates loved Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," and wanted to re-watch it. Suppose he didn't mind being verifiably identified as a watcher of the documentary, and understood that if people knew he was personally a repeat viewer, it might make them want to watch it. Al might want to pay Bill, oh, say $10,000 to watch, not the low-res version with ads, but the high-res version, with expanded charts and graphs, and additional later material responding to criticisms of the factual base of the film. What would be wrong with Al paying Bill $10K to watch the film, again, expecting another 100,000 people to watch it, and each pay $2, just to see what Bill was watching? He's Bill Gates, after all. When "payola" is possible on an open system in which anyone can voluntarily participate, is there even any longer such a thing as "payola?" At some point, technology can enable transparent markets, that needn't be just micro-markets, I believe.

And what would be wrong with paying a 12 year old Malaysian kid $0.05 to watch the low-res version, with some public service ads from Bill's foundation that describe how to avoid getting some of the diseases Bill & Melissa are working against? What is wrong with making that viewership data, stripped of personal information, available to Bill & Melissa, and collecting an additional fee for doing so?

All examples of benefits robust DRM could offer. Got anything against progress?
posted by paulsc at 8:43 PM on October 25, 2007


man, and i thought that the whole prison sentences thing was crazy talk.
posted by Hat Maui at 8:57 PM on October 25, 2007


"man, and i thought that the whole prison sentences thing was crazy talk."
posted by Hat Maui at 11:57 PM on October 25

Yep, crazy talk. Every wild eyed syllable of it :-)
posted by paulsc at 9:17 PM on October 25, 2007


There is no dishonesty there. What obligation do they have to let you run it on any hardware you please?

I mostly agree. Apple has done nothing (that has been mentioned in this thread) that they were not within their rights to do. Which is why the only1 recourse we who do not like it have is to stop buying their products.

I only mostly agree, because I think Apple is actually a little bit dishonest. I know many musicians2 who bought iPods and were surprised when they learned they could not copy their music off of it to share with a friend. Their music. That they recorded, and put on their iPod with iTunes. This technology is so abhorrent that there is no way that Apple would ever honestly describe it prominently enough in their advertising and packaging that all of their customers would really understand what they are buying. Of course, I'm sure they disclose the details in small grey text somewhere on apple.com.

This is why they're worse than Microsoft. Most people already expect a shitty experience like that from Microsoft, and they often perceive Apple as they only other option. And they expect Apple not to suck. So when Apple does suck like they do what they're doing is they're conditioning people to accept a reality of unacceptable sucktitude, imho. Lots of people are perfectly OK with these restrictions, and they'll sometimes insist that Apple probably was forced to do this to stay on friendly terms with the meanie music industry, ignoring completely the fact that lots of their industry-friendly competitors sell USB-mass-storage music players without any artificial limitations imposed.

So, many times I have shown people how to use some of the multitude of programs that will let you copy things from an iPod. But, after the new firmware with the cryptographic hash mechanism, none of those programs worked anymore. Of course, eventually this new iPod DRM (and yes, this is a form of DRM, wtf definition of DRM could you use that says it isn't?) has been broken again, and versions of the [illegal-under-Bill-Clinton's-DMCA] apps which will circumvent this new access control device have begun to circulate. But is this a law worth breaking, in this instance? Is this DRM worth buying? I don't think it is. Of course, when somebody comes to me with their new iPod I'll help them get their songs from it. But I also give them an earful about what kind of bullshit Apple is selling, and why they should join the boycott. So many people over the last decade have bought Macs on my advice, that I now feel kind of obligated to inform people about the reality of Apple's 21st-century value proposition. It's some fucked up shit.

1.: And to derail threads to bash the company and their products. Sorry about that.
2.: All of the musicians who I know download music from P2P networks, but not all of them give all of their own music away themselves. I don't see that as unforgivable hypocrisy, as long as they wouldn't sue (and preferably aren't signed to a label that would sue) their fans who might download their music. And of course they wouldn't. Because they're not greedy fucks like Paul's map-peddling beer-drinking copy-protected-paper-looking-into fisherman friend.

posted by finite at 9:17 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I didn't really believe that the frightening sort of Trusted Treacherous Computing dystopia paulsc is on about could ever come to fruition, until I realized that Apple is already taking the lead in implementing it, even now. As far as I know, the Intel Macs and the new iPhone/iPod line are still the only truly treacherous computers that have sold millions of units at this time.

I expect that it will all be a bit more clear what is going on when the signed OS X apps begin to be common in 2008. There could even be an app that could use the iPhone's mic to tell you (and some company's trusted trusted partners) what you're listening to in your car, or on your home stereo, or what you're whistling, or humming. That is valuable information, so there should be some small incentive (like, 2 free DRM free AppleLossless tracks per month) to install the program and leave it running 24/7. That is hardly any worse than the GMail robots reading your email, right?

There are some pretty serious opportunities for this so-called situationally-aware DRM in place already, just waiting for the time when people are ground down placated enough to accept the new software. If you're still buying Apple products next year, you're almost there.
posted by finite at 9:48 PM on October 25, 2007


paulsc, I just read your comments in several different threads, and clearly you're very smart. I daresay we'd be friends in real life. However, you're saying things in this discussion that really aren't making much sense. Your last comment there really reads like a bad improv comedy act.

It seems that you're trying to balance out other people's stances, and in effect you're taking a few steps past what you really think. Take a deep breath and read back over this discussion.

At the end of the day, I'm a far cry from a bittorrent apologist. I've downloaded a few albums in my day, and learned about some great music in the process, music I went on to spend a lot of money on. Does this mean that I don't understand that it's illegal, or even that I think it should be legal? No, not really. But we're human beings, you know? We're not political postures.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:35 PM on October 25, 2007


Better? For who? Content thieves? Where's the balance of interests in your vision between content creators and consumers?


Yep, better for copyright infringers. And, eventually, that's going to be everyone left.

I'm 22 years old. I can't think of a single person I know my age or younger who I know gives a shit about copyright. Music comes from Bittorrent and Soulseek now, not the store. Ten years ago you paid for an encyclopedia. Now that's free. Ten or fifteen years ago you paid for your newspaper. Now even the New York Times has realized that bits are worthless and it too is free.

Your idea that fundamental human rights come from the law is pretty abhorrent, by the way. The law is supposed to derive from and protect the fundamental rights. I don't think copyright is one of these rights. It's not in the Constitution as such. It's in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and disregarding that I find that document a bit creepy, you can make an interesting reading of its copyright clause:

Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Material interests - the monetary value of your information - are now nil. Monetary value comes from scarcity. Publicly available nformation is now about as scarce as air and about as valuable.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:54 PM on October 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


of which he is the author.

What? That doesn't even address the supposed right for men to buy and sell these protection rights! But some treaties probably do.
posted by finite at 11:11 PM on October 25, 2007


Apple added that new cryptographic hash to prevent people from using any software besides iTunes.

That's false. They changed the database format on the newer iPods to add checksums — so that the whole thing doesn't shit it's pants from minor corruption (It's happened to me before on my 3G iPod). The alternative apps had to add new code to handle it, just like they had to when the format's changed before.

And there's nothing stopping you from copying music off an iPod, it's just that iTunes doesn't do it — the record labels would shit a brick! Just use one of the myriad of third-party apps. Or just mount it as a hard drive and copy all the files off (though they're arranged somewhat unintelligibly as a filesystem optimization). There's nothing stopping you.
posted by blasdelf at 12:46 AM on October 26, 2007


All examples of benefits robust DRM could offer. Got anything against progress?
Not nearly as much as you have. And none of these benefits come close to the benefits of the alternative: zero-cost files that can be played on any device, any amount of times, in perpetuity.
posted by bonaldi at 2:11 AM on October 26, 2007


blasdelf: That's false. They changed the database format on the newer iPods to add checksums — so that the whole thing doesn't shit it's pants from minor corruption

That is ridiculous. If they just wanted a checksum for data integrity, they wouldn't have bothered to salt their hash with a bunch of crap including the device ID and a secret number (aka a private key). Do you believe that they also only locked out every other DAAP client from iTunes 7 for similarly innocent reasons? Companies don't often erect complicated cryptographic barriers accidentally.

blasdelf: the record labels would shit a brick!

Completely ignoring the rest of the MP3 player market is bad enough, but you're also ignoring the part of my very comment you're replying to where I predicted you'd say something like that! If you can't keep up with the conversation...

Back on the subject of the fpp, TorrentFreak reports "OiNK Database Didn’t ‘Self Destruct’, Wasn’t Encrypted But Users Safe?"

Metafilter: Got anything against progress?
posted by finite at 3:21 AM on October 26, 2007


yes, this is a form of DRM, wtf definition of DRM could you use that says it isn't?

No, it's not! DRM is the term for a set of technologies that enable access/copy control for copyright holders. It enables restrictions on copying bits, moving bits around, etc., etc.

Apple not telling you how their internal database works is not DRM. It might be a total Dick Move(tm). It might be Not Nice. That's tangential to what I'm saying here.

But it's not DRM.

FairPlay. That's DRM. PlaysForSure (HA). That's DRM. Me not doing the work of publishing documentation about this file format and method of laying out files on a hard drive? That is fundamentally different.

There is nothing stopping you from reverse engineering this file format and making tools that take advantage of the knowledge you've gained. My understanding of the law is that reverse engineering for interoperability purposes is specifically protected, even under the egregiously-bad DMCA.
posted by sparkletone at 3:37 AM on October 26, 2007


If they just wanted a checksum for data integrity, they wouldn't have bothered to salt their hash with a bunch of crap including the device ID and a secret number (aka a private key).

Apple doesn't care about gtkpod, or even the douches that rip off gtkpod and sell closed-source Windows software based on it.
The open source community figured out the new format in days. They care about companies selling standalone hardware that interfaces with the iPod's filesystem and database without their approval. Not nice, to be sure, but they're out to get other companies, not us.

Do you believe that they also only locked out every other DAAP client from iTunes 7 for similarly innocent reasons?

Having contributed patches to mt-daapd, and having looked under the hood of several of the old open-source abandoned DAAP clients to see if I could fix them — they broke originally because they were written poorly, and later because they were unmaintained, not because Apple really wanted to break them.

Sure, Client-DAAP-Validation should be in plain text, but it's not very hard to get around (it's a token effort to appease the labels).

The change to limit the iTunes DAAP server to 5 users per day in 4.7.1, basically crippled those now-abandoned DAAP clients that used to spam every available server, making them actively destructive when run on college networks (again, demanded by the labels after they caught wind).
posted by blasdelf at 4:08 AM on October 26, 2007


DRM is the term for a set of technologies that enable access/copy control for copyright holders. It enables restrictions on copying bits, moving bits around, etc., etc.

The iPod fit that definition even before they started locking its database with a cryptographic hash and a secret salt. If it isn't designed to be a one-way disk on behalf of the copyright cartels, who do you think they locked it up for? This is an anti-feature.

Do you think the Zune's DRM wrapper that gets applied when sharing tracks wirelessly is also not really DRM, just because it is applied automatically to the user's own MP3 files? Of course it is still DRM. The iPod's fucked-up evil opportunistic DRM is no different. IT'S A TRAP! Every day, unsuspecting musicians put their music in and can't get it back out.

Apple not telling you how their internal database works is not DRM.

When the primary reason that the "internal database" even exists is to prevent copying, it is DRM. When crypto is added, it especially is. That it is weak crypto, is irrelevant. Maybe you haven't ever used an MP3 player other than an iPod, but most don't have an internal database at all. They just use a normal filesystem.

Gtkpod and its ilk are illegal circumvention devices under the DMCA, just like DeCSS is, especially now that the latest versions contain Apple's secret keys (the special salt value).

Not nice, to be sure, but they're out to get other companies, not us.

That doesn't change anything, except for I guess it surrenders your previous argument about how they weren't trying to break compatibility with other software. Why would you care which software they cared about when they decided to break everything?

Having contributed patches to mt-daapd

Cool, thank you!

Sure, Client-DAAP-Validation should be in plain text, but it's not very hard to get around (it's a token effort to appease the labels).

It's not hard to get around? Ok, please show me where I can find an application, or even a library, that can read songs from an iTunes 7 share. I am sometimes in situations where I would really like to be able to, but as far as I know, it is still not possible. I don't know anything about what happened in iTunes 4.7.1; I'm talking about the break (caused by the introduction of a cryptographic hash with no purpose but to lock out other clients) that was introduced after iTunes 6. I can read iTunes 6 shares with several different programs just fine. Of course, an unauthorized program that could access iTunes 7 shares would also be an illegal circumvention device - the crypto in the DAAP-Validation header isn't there for data integrity, it is there to control access.
posted by finite at 6:58 AM on October 26, 2007


"Digital Rights Management, unlike copyright, can be, by its nature, a far more fluid means of value exchange, than can copyright, and one which can in principal, be two way."

Paul, again, you should just admit that you have no fucking clue what you're talking about. Copyright is not inflexible. All the licensing, all of the DRM that you're mentioning, is extensions of copyright and manipulations of current copyright.

It's like saying that the right to free speech is inflexible, so we need a new global PA system where people can say what they want. Licensing does not obviate copyright.

In short, Paul, stop being wrong.
posted by klangklangston at 7:36 AM on October 26, 2007


When the primary reason that the "internal database" even exists is to prevent copying,

What? The primary reason? You clearly have some idea of what's going on under the hood.

How else is the iPod going to know what files, artists, blah, blah, blah, are on the device so it can populate the menu heirarchy? How is it going to keep track of your current position in a podcast? How is it going to associate cover art with music files? How is it going to keep track of what rating I've given a file?

Is the database file iTunes keeps on your hard drive also some sort of crazy copy protection scheme, and no one told me?

If you think the the above sorts of purposes aren't the primary reason there's a database on your iPod... I don't know how to respond. The idea is beyond silly.

The iPod's fucked-up evil opportunistic DRM is no different. IT'S A TRAP! Every day, unsuspecting musicians put their music in and can't get it back out.

What? There are ways to get your files back off an iPod. You hold some strange misconceptions as to what's going on, despite clearly having a certain level of technical knowledge.

If you put unprotected mp3s in, you get unprotected mp3s back out. They're not converting everything to protected AAC files behind your back.

I copy files back off my iPod regularly without the use of iTunes. The program that does it is a bit scuzzy interface-wise, but it certainly works. And it's not decrypting anything (ala Hymn or something). It's not unlocking anything. There's no DRM involved in the process.

Look. I think there's every reason in the world to be wary. Apple's shown a willingness to bend to the whim of crazy label execs in the past, but you're being Doctorow-level paranoid in a situation where I don't think it's warranted.

By what appears to be your definition, the iTunes database file and the file layout scheme used by iTunes when you tell it to organize your music folder also constitute some sort of DRM.

DRM is copy protection. It is usage management. It is the means by which they keep you from consuming or spreading the files you've got.

The iPod isn't limiting the number of times I can play an unprotected MP3 or AAC file. It's not preventing me from wandering around sprinkling MP3s about the land like some sort of goddam music fairy.

If you can't see the difference between what Apple is doing here and what the Zune does (locking up files that had absolutely no DRM on them before!)... I think we're going to need to agree to disagree and move on, as I don't see any way of moving this thread of conversation anywhere.
posted by sparkletone at 7:54 AM on October 26, 2007


Gtkpod and its ilk are illegal circumvention devices under the DMCA, just like DeCSS is, especially now that the latest versions contain Apple's secret keys (the special salt value).


I am not a lawyer, but my gut instinct says this statement is silly and wrong. So I asked a friend of mine who, among other things, does IP law for Google.

His response was to confirm that it is silly. Specifically, he said, "[GTKPod, et al] do not exist for the purpose of circumventing effective access control. They exist for the purpose of being an alternative to Apple's iTunes on platforms where it is not supported."

If you don't see the distinction there, I don't know what to tell you.
posted by sparkletone at 7:59 AM on October 26, 2007


I thought that DeCSS existed so that a guy could play DVDs in Linux.
posted by klangklangston at 1:56 PM on October 26, 2007


How else is the iPod going to know what files, artists, blah, blah, blah, are on the device so it can populate the menu heirarchy?

Are you even reading my posts before replying?! Please refer above to where I said "maybe you haven't ever used an MP3 player other than an iPod".

"[GTKPod, et al] do not exist for the purpose of circumventing effective access control. They exist for the purpose of being an alternative to Apple's iTunes on platforms where it is not supported."

Sorry, sparkletone, but (although IANAL) I think your friend at google is pretty obviously mistaken. Please, ask what he thinks of this again. As klangklangston indicated, it really doesn't matter for what reason gtkpod exists -- it matters what the intended purpose of the access control mechanism that gtkpod enables users to circumvent is. I don't know of any non-iTunes iPod-accessing programs that enforce iTunes rules, just like I don't know of any DeCSS players that prevent you from taking screenshots of movies (which the officially licensed CSS decoding programs are supposed to, but sometimes fail at).

What? There are ways to get your files back off an iPod.

Using software which contains secret numbers that have been obtained through reverse engineering... yes, it is possible to circumvent the iPod's access control. But the same is true of most DRM today.

I copy files back off my iPod regularly without the use of iTunes.

And I watch commercial DVDs in Linux regularly. We've both clearly got a big lack of respect for rules that have been established by the companies we're giving our money to. I think what you're doing, copying things off an iPod, is a significantly more direct violation though, because you are actually using the device in a way that it is specifically designed to protect against and I am just playing DVDs. But, you're sure that the software you're using is not a DMCA-illegal circumvention device even though mine is?

Gtkpod breaks a cryptographic lock. If you don't see that as circumvention of an access control device, I don't know what to tell you.
posted by finite at 3:57 PM on October 26, 2007


Rumor: BOiNK will be up in a day or three and is going to be run by the pirates bay folks. [via]
The most important thing about BOiNK is perhaps the message it sends out to the IFPI and the BPI: It shows that that if you stop one tracker, others will pop up days after.
posted by yeoz at 4:42 PM on October 26, 2007


"... It seems that you're trying to balance out other people's stances, and in effect you're taking a few steps past what you really think. Take a deep breath and read back over this discussion. ..."
posted by roll truck roll at 1:35 AM on October 26

We might, IRL, be friends, as you say, roll truck roll. And your advice quoted above, is, I'm certain, well intentioned, and perhaps even heartfelt. But, our cyber-friend OneOfManyNotVeryCoolTimidGuys, posting right after you, gives life to my comments:

"... I'm 22 years old. I can't think of a single person I know my age or younger who I know gives a shit about copyright. Music comes from Bittorrent and Soulseek now, not the store. Ten years ago you paid for an encyclopedia. Now that's free. Ten or fifteen years ago you paid for your newspaper. Now even the New York Times has realized that bits are worthless and it too is free. ..."

I actually have some pity for that, because I was 22 once, and thought I was something. Naked hubris? Hell, I remember how it feels to have post-adolescent balls swinging between my legs, and testosterone clouding my thinking. And I'm just so grateful now that The Freakin' Revolution Wasn't Televised. All that bad hair! And stupid '60s/'70s clothes! KeeeeeeeRRRRRRistt, what fools we were!

It's amazing I lived to tell about it.

But you couldn't have told me squat at 22, either. I hadn't produced diddly, then, myself. I hadn't paid taxes, or met a payroll, or bought a home, or brought up a child. In a lot of ways, like our young acquaintance, quoted above, I was still a self-centered being, who could get away with being a dullard and a lout, because it was obvious I didn't know the difference between Ginsberg's howls and Whitman's song. If it had existed back then, I might not have been able to tell the difference between the online New York Times and the $4.50 dead tree Sunday Edition, either.

But, thankfully, I can, now.

The right thing for society to do with me, then, was to be merciful, and pay me no attention. And mainly, they didn't, and so I didn't go to jail, much, and got smarter with time, and here I am, today. So, as a recipient of such great kindness long ago, I'm trying to extend the same courtesy, and a little more, now, to those who've shown up in this thread to howl about the freedom longings of digital bits, and decry oppressors who exist only as figments of their own imaginations.

For I know now what the young don't, yet: They may outlive me, but to do so, they'll have to out live me. For perhaps the first time in human history, the inexperienced exuberance of youth is not on the side of the revolutionary. Good thing the revolutionaries, in the main, haven't grasped that fact, yet.

Revolutionaries are rarely detail men. They're "great thinker," broad brush folks, who speak in the kinds of sweeping generalities our quoted young acquaintance does, and leave the messy work of real change to others, generally. They're all hat, and no horse, in my experience. They look better as dead martyrs to their ideas, than they ever would have quietly working. So, I trust the callow in this thread will be able to pardon me, if I continue to pay more attention to these folks, than I do to those with fuzzy economic notions, better framed, long ago, by Marx, Lenin and Lennon (although now largely dis-credited).

Because I, for one, still want my flying car!

And today, the young detail men of China, India, Bangladesh and dozens of other emerging economies, and the silicon foundries they operate, and the 90,000 pages a day of regulations going into effect worldwide that they write, backed by the 200,000 pages a day of standards documents supporting those regs, are building the future, chip by chip, cell tower by cell tower, and paragraph by mind-numbing, bureaucratically dense paragraph. Fuzzy ideas about other people's intellectual property aren't worth consideration, in a world where there is no end of such property holders, most of whom still seem to want their flying cars, too.

And so, I think I probably haven't gone far enough, roll truck roll, rather than that I may have gone too far, for the benefit of the callow spewing in this thread. They don't seem challenged, these youngsters, they seem defensive. They're ideologically passive in the discussion, as they aren't proposing means by which greater opportunity can be created, they're assuming greater opportunity will "happen" at "no cost" as it seems to them, on the thin evidence of their short lives, it always has. They're, apparently, willing to be eyeballs and ears in someone else's click stream, as long as the owner of that click stream is sufficiently invisible to allow them to think they are getting something for "free."

Ah, well. If they live long enough, either the veils will be lifted from their click streamed eyeballs, or they'll die ignorant. As long as people exist who like my ideas enough to keep royalty deposits going into my grandson's account, I doubt anyone is going to notice much, one way or another, including even, my callow grandson, who might think "bits are free!" too :-)
posted by paulsc at 6:29 PM on October 26, 2007


And today, the young detail men of China, India, Bangladesh and dozens of other emerging economies, are all infringers of copyright. They have no use for your IP morals, paulsc, and when your generation is gone only people who have only known piracy will remain.
posted by blasdelf at 7:18 PM on October 26, 2007


The database file on the iPod exists as a speed optimization (did you ever try to use an original drag-and-drop Nomad?). It also saves a ton of battery by avoiding disk writes as much as possible. It's there for robustness, not DRM. The files are stored with their metadata untouched, the files have just been renamed and shunted randomly into folders (as another speed optimization, and to make FAT32 work out for Windows users).

Music players that use a drag-and-drop filesystem instead of a library have a ton of issues with having to do indexing on the device, causing increased battery use and reliability issues. There's also the massive metadata problem, not forcing the use of a library database would result in a user experience very unlike Apple's.
posted by blasdelf at 7:33 PM on October 26, 2007


"And today, the young detail men of China, India, Bangladesh and dozens of other emerging economies, are all infringers of copyright. They have no use for your IP morals, paulsc, and when your generation is gone only people who have only known piracy will remain."
posted by blasdelf at 10:18 PM on October 26

You write generalizations like that, blasdelf, but then I read things like this:
"People's Daily Online:

The Chinese government has passed a new regulation to ban the uploading and downloading of Internet material without the copyright holder's permission.

Under the regulation, effective from July 1, anyone uploading texts, and performance, sound and video recordings to the Internet for downloading, copying or other use, must acquire the permission of the copyright owners and pay the required fee.

The production, import and supply of devices that are capable of evading or breaching technical measures of copyright protection and technical services are prohibited under the regulation."
Interesting last sentence, that, don't you think, in light of the Trusted Computing initiative? Could it be that the Powers to Be in China might realize that copyright and DRM are good ways of raising revenue, in the digital age?

And India seems to be keeping an eye on modernization of its intellectual property law, possibly thinking the same thing. Even in poor Bangladesh, with it's low fine for copyright infringement, cases are brought for infringement, and fines are paid, that are trivial in the West, but punitive by local standards (about 2x per capita annual income); moreover, some wealth is being created there, and tax revenues, from sales of copyrighted material, that weren't be created prior to the 2000 Copyright Law update.

Even in far away, poor places, they're catching painted ponies on the spinning wheel ride... And they'll catch more, once they get the bit in their teeth for it. That's how participative wealth systems work!
posted by paulsc at 8:27 PM on October 26, 2007


It's amazing I lived to tell about it.
And by jove you sure do tell about it!

Have you listened to anything, anyone, at all, anywhere has said in this thread? Have you gained any awareness of things like the analog hole, or the negative impact of copyright/DRM on academia? Have you even gained a glimmer of insight as to the idea that there is an entire generation of people who not only disagree with you but are diametrically opposed to your beliefs? That there are people who don't think that "enabling opportunities for rights holders" is a good reason for them to accept restrictive software and practices?

Because plenty here are listening to you, and by God have we gained a better understanding of the apparently idiotic behaviours of the record companies who think like you. But I don't think anything has gone the other way.

You've seem totally read-only, paulsc, just like those closed files you think are the future of locked-in, proprietary properties. Ah well. If you live long enough, the veil may be lifted, or you'll die a relic. Maybe you'll get a .
posted by bonaldi at 9:10 PM on October 26, 2007


Oh my God, Paul, if you think IP laws in developing countries are voluntary or meaningful, you are out of your rabid-ass mind. Malaysia has taken the steps it has, which are modest and for show, practically at gunpoint from Microsoft and other IT interests. Again, outside the capital, it is virtually impossible to find licensed software for sale retail, while pirated stuff is ubiquitous. Even if the governments were enacting these laws sincerely and coercion-free, there is zero popular support from the consumer for this stuff. The fact is that the ease of access to intellectual property is probably the single biggest advantage developing countries have in their race to catch up with the West, and there is no way in heaven they are going to give that up.
posted by BinGregory at 9:45 PM on October 26, 2007


"... But I don't think anything has gone the other way. ..."

Sure it has, bonaldi. I've read your comments, but it's pointless to respond. You're a low level ideologue, and an inflexible one at that, and nothing you've written has been original, and not said previously, and better, at least in terms of style, by many others.

But worse, you talk about things like an "analog hole" as if it were an inherent feature of every system that can be imagined, or built. That's tired, for an old broadcast engineer who was tweaking Tektronix broadcast monitors in 1972, so that images they reproduced couldn't be videotaped, but were still watchable. Your "analog hole" is a low grade straw man that is only useful in copyright and DRM discussions, because you think people are preferentially willing to accept crap quality media, that isn't useful for additional purposes of value to them, if it's "free." As if "free as in beer" is some holy ethical positive. Which, I guess it is, to Robbin' Hood and His Merry Men.

But I'm not the Sheriff of Nottingham. I'm just his fan, and supporter, by taxes, if he locks up thieves of IP, which is a crime under law. And one, in the 21st century's mythology to date, most people seem to support, since what's going down on the books of democratically operated countries are copyright extensions, DRM authorizations, and DMCA. I'd be a bad guy, I guess, if King Richard the Lionheart were on his way home from the Crusades, and might think all this was a bad idea, but we've moved a bit beyond that.

To suggest that secure systems aren't possible is to bet the negative, and be responsible for losing, if you do. And in the long run, it's not necessary for me to "win," either theoretically or morally, for you to lose. As an example, once, back in the '70s, there were big arguments as to whether it would ever be possible to "secure" the phone system against phreakers. BBS hard drives were filled with people, much like you, who said it would never come to pass.

Out-of-band signaling resulted, and "phreaking" soon became "social engineeering" aka "short cons." But it wasn't until June 15, 2006, that the utility of a blue box, in absolute terms really ended, in North America.

So, I look at what you've posted in this thread, and it sounds like the stuff I heard back when BBS's were the main way we talked about such issues, and I think, "Give bonaldi 30 years to think about it, 2.8 kids, a mortgage, and then let's talk." In the meantime, meh. And good luck with that "analog hole" deal, in future conversations.

But really, isn't it time to update your act? Even Hollywood retires tired scripts, once they quit bringing in the big audiences...
posted by paulsc at 11:24 PM on October 26, 2007


"Oh my God, Paul, if you think IP laws in developing countries are voluntary or meaningful, you are out of your rabid-ass mind. Malaysia has taken the steps it has, which are modest and for show, practically at gunpoint from Microsoft and other IT interests. ... "

The problem with your argument is contained within these two sentences.

Microsoft doesn't have guns. Neither do other IT interests.

I've checked. 12% of Microsoft employees who responded to my recent survey said they owned firearms, but most said they were afraid of the damned things.

Look, Microsoft is a minor competitor in the third world. It's begging it's way into those markets, finally, with low priced, limited editions of its software, and not having much luck, doing that.

Please, let's have a conversation, but let's keep it real, m'Kay?
posted by paulsc at 11:36 PM on October 26, 2007


[via yeoz] From oil21.org, the website of the conference that Mr. OiNK attended after being released on bail:
"Intellectual Property is the oil of the 21st century" - this quote by Mark Getty, chairman of Getty Images, one of the world's largest Intellectual Proprietors, offers a unique perspective on the current conflicts around copyrights, patents and trademarks. Not only does it open up the complete panorama of conceptual confusion that surrounds this relatively new and rather hallucinatory form of property - it must also be understood as a direct declaration of war.
posted by finite at 12:09 AM on October 27, 2007


paulsc says "30 years in prison for the owner, and a lifetime technology prohibition seem like a slap on the wrist, to me."

So Paul, what then do you feel would be a fair penalty for this type of crime, and not a mere slap on the wrist? Would 50 years be adequate? Would multiple life sentences be excessive? Or, do you think perhaps capital punishment should be considered?
posted by finite at 12:12 AM on October 27, 2007


"... Or, do you think perhaps capital punishment should be considered?"
posted by finite at 3:12 AM on October 27

Oh, I dunno, finite. I live in a jurisdiction where "Shall-Issue" and "Stand-Your-Ground" are law. And I note that we have a lower incidence of car jacking since "Stand-Your-Ground," and that 16 other states have since adopted it.

Why do you ask?
posted by paulsc at 12:44 AM on October 27, 2007


paulsc: Why do you ask?

Because, I do not think 30 years for copyright infringement would be a slap on the wrist and, if you really do, I'm curious as to what you think would be a reasonable sentence. I don't see what your answer referencing gun laws has to do with my question at all, unless you're trying to imply that you support vigilante capital punishment for infringers?
posted by finite at 1:02 AM on October 27, 2007


"a unique perspective on the current conflicts around copyrights, patents and trademarks. ..."
posted by finite at 3:09 AM on October 27

"Unique" is hardly evocative enough, of oil21.org's content. "Batshitinsane" is not, in my humble opinion, enough of a sobriquet. Occasionally, you meet an original source of wacky, if unintended humor, and have nothing to say, but "Ha!"

Thanks, finite.
posted by paulsc at 1:06 AM on October 27, 2007


"Because, I do not think 30 years for copyright infringement would be a slap on the wrist and, if you really do, I'm curious as to what you think would be a reasonable sentence. ..."

30 years is about the length of the consumer turnover of VCR to DVD, among other things. Given that it takes a long time for widely distributed technologies to roll over in the user base, keeping criminals segregated from technology they've used seems a basic defense against their further shenanigans.

But beyond that, Kevin Mitnick got 5 years, including some time in solitary, plus 3 years of technology restriction, for what was, in comparison, a minor network hack. Mitnick never accomplished the sheer scale of infractions that Oink, and its 180,000 - 250,000 (or whatever its real user numbers were) users accomplished, because Mitnick was acting, for the most part, alone.

If your criminal enterprise benefits by network effect, so, it seems to me, should your penalty, if your actions are judged criminal.

But, IANAL.
posted by paulsc at 1:18 AM on October 27, 2007


I'm not sure what you mean by a minor competitor, paulsc. Everyone uses their products - they've conquered the market in that sense. It's just no-one pays for it, and I mean no-one, except government and high profile corporations. What I'm getting at is the threat to source IT jobs/investment elsewhere if the government doesn't tighten up regs. It is the desire to attract outside investment and the fear that that money will go elsewhere if they don't.

aside: having 6 kids & a mortgage, and as the proud product of counter-culture revolutionaries who never sold out, l know that it is possible to grow up without growing old, buddy. What is happening with IP is inevitable response to technological change, as klangklangston tried to point out. Treat it as a generation gap issue or some kind of ideological revolutionary movement to your own detriment.
posted by BinGregory at 1:23 AM on October 27, 2007


"... aside: having 6 kids & a mortgage, and as the proud product of counter-culture revolutionaries who never sold out, l know that it is possible to grow up without growing old, buddy. ..."
posted by BinGregory at 4:23 AM on October 27

Really, sincerely, and with all due respect, BinGregory, if you need to live in the wilds of Malaysia, beyond the pale of modern, non-bootlegged software, I wish you well with your 6 kids, and your counter-culture.

Me, I like real-time World Series broadcasts, and being able to go to CompUSA for what I need. I also like hospitals with air-conditioning and plenty of doctors, fast food, and multi-level representative democracy.
posted by paulsc at 1:37 AM on October 27, 2007


You're still evading my question, paulsc. How many years would be fair, if 30 is a slap on the wrist?
posted by finite at 1:40 AM on October 27, 2007


"You're still evading my question, paulsc. How many years would be fair, if 30 is a slap on the wrist?"
posted by finite at 4:40 AM on October 27

How many independent acts of copyright infringement did the proprietor and users of Oink commit, or were a party to? I don't know. I suspect, millions, each, for the biggest of the "big dogs."

As I've said, I think the scale of the crimes ought to figure in the sentence. Of course, in a network enterprise, that's a question of fact, for the courts, to which I don't have a facile answer.

No dodge intended.
posted by paulsc at 2:05 AM on October 27, 2007


Well, IP's not my fight, so I won't stick around to trade insults with my elders. Learned a lot from bonaldi, klangklangston and others in this thread though... Thanks, Metafilter!
posted by BinGregory at 2:12 AM on October 27, 2007


"... Everyone uses their products - they've conquered the market in that sense. It's just no-one pays for it, and I mean no-one, except government and high profile corporations. ..."

Re-reading my own comments above, BinGregory, I can see how they'd come across as "flip." If any apology is due for tone, you have it, here.

The crux of any disagreement we have, it seems to me, you've stated, here. What I want to know is, why do you think that bootleg copies of Microsoft software are good for Malaysia?

Surely, if Microsoft software is good for Malaysia, you want Malaysians to have the "real deal," including maintenance and updates, considering the reputation that Microsoft has for bugs and security problems. In a situation where Microsoft is constantly changing the Genuine Advantage criteria, to screen pirate copies from updates, aren't the continued existence of pirate copies the main source of homes for malware like Internet botnets? Isn't it counterproductive, far beyond any initial cost savings for Malaysian consumers, for their machines to become a large repository of botnets, due to pirated software?

Shouldn't the rest of the world firewall Malaysian IP addresses, if that kind of thing proves common?
posted by paulsc at 2:31 AM on October 27, 2007


The funniest thing is how you're linking to Wikipedia like it's going out of style as you argue your claims that free culture is dead.
posted by mullingitover at 2:46 AM on October 27, 2007


Holy crap. There's so much suck and blow in this thread I can't decide if it's a porn shoot or a hurricane.

paulsc is STEVE BALLMER! Run for your lives!
posted by loquacious at 2:54 AM on October 27, 2007


loquacious writes "paulsc is STEVE BALLMER! Run for your lives!"

No, Steve Ballmer isn't even this intelligent.
posted by mullingitover at 3:06 AM on October 27, 2007


"The funniest thing is how you're linking to Wikipedia like it's going out of style as you argue your claims that free culture is dead."
posted by mullingitover at 5:46 AM on October 27 [+] [!]

Just trying to keep things accessible for you, mullingitover. Didn't think you'd have nasty paid Salon.com subscriptions, et al. ...
posted by paulsc at 3:18 AM on October 27, 2007


It's pointless to respond. You're a low level ideologue, and an inflexible one at that, and nothing you've written has been original, and not said previously, and better, at least in terms of style, by many others.

It's striking to me, Paul, how almost everything you've said applies equally to you. You talk about inflexibility when you haven't wavered an inch from your DRM-is-heaven position, despite numerous well-founded objections to it. You talk about style when your first post in the thread was a multi-level mangling of the language such as I've rarely seen on MeFi since the early days of Bligh.

But worse, you talk about things like an "analog hole" as if it were an inherent feature of every system that can be imagined, or built. That's tired, for an old broadcast engineer who was tweaking Tektronix broadcast monitors in 1972, so that images they reproduced couldn't be videotaped

And did it work? Because I remember as an kid working out with my friends how to defeat Macrovision pretty damn quickly. You can try to dismiss the hole as a straw man, but it's a serious limitation for DRM, and everyone in the discussion except you appears to acknowledge it.

What you don't seem to understand is that I don't exactly welcome this future. I've been happy to pay for music and would be still. More pressingly, I see it creating huge problems for the newspaper industry -- potentially fatal ones -- as we rush to give once-sellable, un-DRMable content away for free. But I've seen the writing on the wall, and am busy trying to work out how we make things work in these changed circumstances, not loudly insisting that we can make it all stay the same if we just wish hard enough and get the governments to help.

To suggest that secure systems aren't possible is to bet the negative, and be responsible for losing, if you do.
Yep. And I'll bet that you can't strike a match on a bar of soap, too.

But really, isn't it time to update your act? Even Hollywood retires tired scripts, once they quit bringing in the big audiences...
... and yet you plunge on with yours, regardless. Since the 1970s you've been working on DRM, and yet media has only become more sharable. I could bootleg those videos of yours with stuff lying about in most homes. I don't need a blue box to make free phone calls. Perhaps you haven't changed as much as you'd like to think since your days as a 22-year-old who couldn't be told squat?

Oh, and good luck with that situationally aware deal, in future conversations.
posted by bonaldi at 7:42 AM on October 27, 2007


One last thing:
As if "free as in beer" is some holy ethical positive.
It's not. But it is an unbelievably powerful market positive, which you seem to think will evaporate once the powerful competition of restricted media arrives. Now who's betting the long-shots?
posted by bonaldi at 7:45 AM on October 27, 2007


"Isn't it counterproductive, far beyond any initial cost savings for Malaysian consumers, for their machines to become a large repository of botnets, due to pirated software?"

Ultimately, Malaysians have decided no. Just like how Nigeria has de facto decided that meaningful enforcement of wire fraud laws is not worth it.

Just like, ultimately, the US has decided that real enforcement of copyright laws is not worth it.

Also, Paul, still waiting on your acknowledgment of my points about licensing or natural rights.

I mean, despite the willingness of folks here to keep poking the ape in the cage, it's pretty clear that you don't have any fucking clue on those subjects, which makes the rest of your rambling suspect. Even when I get close to agreeing with something you say, I have to say, wait, this is the idiot who won't even admit how wrong he was about natural rights. I'm not going to trust his argument on the economics of Malaysia, and I'm not going to bolster his case even if I think there are ways in which it was compelling.

I know, I know, you'll come up with some glib dismissal about my youth or my ideological inflexibility. But I think that you've forgotten that not every young fool becomes wise, Paul—you're one who became an old fool.
posted by klangklangston at 8:17 AM on October 27, 2007


paulsc: But you couldn't have told me squat at 22, either. [...] In a lot of ways, like our young acquaintance, quoted above, I was still a self-centered being, who could get away with being a dullard and a lout [...]

The right thing for society to do with me, then, was to be merciful, and pay me no attention. And mainly, they didn't, and so I didn't go to jail, much, and got smarter with time, and here I am, today. So, as a recipient of such great kindness long ago, I'm trying to extend the same courtesy, and a little more, now, to those who've shown up in this thread
Hey paulsc you ignorant twatwaffle, you want to maybe take a minute to reconcile some of those highlighted statements you made with your previous "slap on the wrist" 30-50 year sentences to those same young people? Because I'm still rankling at the grotesque and psychopathic thought that you'd cast a fellow human being into a rancid pit of rape and torture for the majority of their natural lives because they listened to a technological variant of on-demand radio? Mp3s are like radio- that great music industry killer that never was- if radio had an infinite dial that ensured the tune you most wanted to hear was playing on some station.

But no, you worthless cocksnot, you'd throw people into prison, basically for their entire lives, taking them from society, from their friends and families (although I guess those people would be in the next cell over), from any life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness, all so your senile coot of a friend who thinks knowing fishing holes entitles him to continue to get drunk as fuck in his 'golden years'.

Christ, what an asshole...
posted by hincandenza at 4:19 PM on October 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Whoa! Quit sending people to jail and look what happened to Oink!
posted by roll truck roll at 5:33 PM on October 27, 2007


"... You talk about inflexibility when you haven't wavered an inch from your DRM-is-heaven position, despite numerous well-founded objections to it. ..."

Might that be because I've proposed how DRM benefits content creators and content consumers? Why would I abandon support for something that benefits both sides of a debate? Because you can't see it?

What a strange way of conducting a discussion!

Are you ready to abandon all your points, that I can't see as gospel? Is your purpose here to win some kind of popularity contest? Do you think that numbers of people parroting your line, make your line a better one?

"... But I've seen the writing on the wall, and am busy trying to work out how we make things work in these changed circumstances, not loudly insisting that we can make it all stay the same if we just wish hard enough and get the governments to help. ..."

So is Rupert Murdoch. That he's been phenomenally successful doesn't mean you will be (particularly if he has much to say about it), or that his methods are making for better journalism or a more informed society. Many, including some employed at his most recent takeover target, argue that his methods and aims suck.

But more importantly, if you adopt his model, doing the best you can to make news an "efficient" business in a market where all prices are $0, he's likely to continue to win market share of a "market" that is really a race to the bottom, because he's already got first-mover size and advantage. You may be a visionary, but if you're still working out ways to "make things work" in the news business, glub glub-a-dub, bub, and good luck to you...
posted by paulsc at 6:06 PM on October 27, 2007


Might that be because I've proposed how DRM benefits content creators and content consumers? Why would I abandon support for something that benefits both sides of a debate? Because you can't see it?
Nowhere in this thread have you proposed at all how DRM benefits content consumers, except in a wildly spurious example about how DRM would allow me to watch Bill Gates's comments on a movie (and what stops them paying Bill Gates to do that now?)

I've asked a couple of times, in fact. What advantage is there for consumers in DRM that would make it even slightly competitive with free, infinitely transferable, files playable on all devices in perpetuity?

Do you think that numbers of people parroting your line, make your line a better one?
No, but you certainly do. You've been telling us again and again how "millions" support your vision of copyright enforcement, and how all these governments do. Hincandenza is spot on: you're tying yourself in knots with your arguments; talking about our motes, blinded by your stick.

I'm always willing to learn and modify my position on things -- and MeFi is a good place for that to happen. I've reversed positions more than once after well-put debate by commenters. Your meandering rambles don't come close -- and until you answer the key question above, they won't.

doing the best you can to make news an "efficient" business in a market
Sorry, where did I say that? Cost-cutting efficiences still don't make 0+0=4. I'm looking at the disadvantages free content brings to content sellers, and I don't have the answers. What I can see is what the wrong answers are, and one of them is to pretend that a magic technological wand can close Pandora's box.

Either way, I'm done with the ape jabbing. And my questions need answering far less than hincandenza's.
posted by bonaldi at 7:02 PM on October 27, 2007


paulsc writes "Didn't think you'd have nasty paid Salon.com subscriptions, et al. ..."

I have this cookie, but please, go on using Wikipedia.
posted by mullingitover at 7:36 PM on October 27, 2007


What advantage is there for consumers in DRM that would make it even slightly competitive with free, infinitely transferable, files playable on all devices in perpetuity?

The only advantage to the consumer is access to more stuff. Ostensibly, stronger DRM will do that. The copyright barons will release the old jazz in their vaults as soon as piracy is solved with technology, and it is mostly the pirates' fault that we can't hear that stuff now. Right, paulsc?

Of course, the problem is, the only DRM so far that has not been broken is the DRM that hasn't been applied to every copy of something that lots of people want. Once DRM is really in the way, it is always broken. So, paulsc's argument of course hinges on some future trustedtreacherous computing development that will make unbreakable DRM. And, people really are working on that kind of crap. Just like the alchemists of old, computer scientists today, in the employ of very rich men, will continue to search for that fairy-tale solution. None of their locks will last forever. Some might last for a while, though. Lots of DRM isn't broken yet. For instance, iTunes 7 introduced a new cryptographic hash in the DAAP-Validation header. After people upgraded to iTunes 7, I can't access their music over the LAN anymore. This DRM is not yet broken, because it doesn't matter enough. Because, nothing is exclusively available through it.

Of course, the real problem for people who believe paulsc's argument is that until unbreakable DRM arrives (and it never will), DRM cannot offer the consumer anything that the free internet cannot.

paulsc said: Revolutionaries are rarely detail men. They're "great thinker," broad brush folks, who speak in the kinds of sweeping generalities our quoted young acquaintance does, and leave the messy work of real change to others, generally.

I see a distinction between revolutionary and revolutionist, with the former being more of a theorist and the latter being more action. I am currently a revolutionary, only just born in 1983, but I endeavor to become a revolutionist. I have a solid plan for the post-copyright world's artistic business model, and I'm confident that if my efforts at implementing it are not successful someone else's will be. Because I am opposed to the patent system, I haven't patented my new business plan, so I'll have to leave you in the dark on the specifics for now (others are already working on similar things, and I'll publish my idea RSN if I don't get my business off the ground). But, I assure you, I and many others like me have understood the ramifications of the new digital information reality and we are going to keep on making a living being creative long after we cease charging for every unit consumed.
posted by finite at 12:01 AM on October 28, 2007


And there's nothing stopping you from copying music off an iPod, it's just that iTunes doesn't do it — the record labels would shit a brick!

People say that in such a cavalier manner, but I might point out that not $0.01 of the purchase price of my iPod was paid for by the record labels. So quite frankly, I could give a shit what they think.

I feel similarly annoyed every time I press the jump button on my DirecTV DVR, which fast-forwards though 30 seconds of material rather than just jumping there. No sane person can make a credible claim that this is a feature consumers clamored for. Everyone I know with a Tivo who has discovered the 30 second jump 'hack' uses it. But DTV put this little bit of lameness into my device, for which I paid up front and pay monthly, to make other people happy. People who are not the customer. I am the customer.

"The record labels would be upset" is an argument about as sensible as your girlfriend justifying not telling her ex that she's seeing you "because he took the breakup badly."
posted by phearlez at 1:08 PM on October 29, 2007


[ipod] the files have just been renamed and shunted randomly into folders (as another speed optimization

Seriously, people believe this stuff? How slow do you think disk access is today?
posted by meehawl at 9:58 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


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