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a.k.a. the "Spectrial"
February 16, 2009 9:21 AM   Subscribe

Today was Day 1 of The Pirate Bay trial.
posted by tybeet (181 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Among the artists that have seen their work illegally downloaded are Backyard Babies, Joakim Thåström, Amy Diamond and Håkan Hellström.

I was going to torrent some of their shit as a gesture of solidarity. But it's all Swedish crap - so fuck it.

If the Bay had the financial resources of Google - whom I mention since they happen to provide the exact same service - they could start planning their acquittal party now. As it is, they'll have to rely on a fair administration of Swedish law - which, as best I can tell, is entirely on their side.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:43 AM on February 16, 2009


I wonder if this news is carried by any news outlets that I can reasonably access through SurfControlled work.
posted by kalessin at 9:46 AM on February 16, 2009


The server at trial.thepiratebay.org is taking too long to respond.


Hm.
posted by Shepherd at 9:53 AM on February 16, 2009


The Guardian's coverage
posted by iso_bars at 9:55 AM on February 16, 2009


The server at trial.thepiratebay.org is taking too long to respond.

Too bad they don't have some sort of system to distribute the content to many different users quickly, and allow new users to get the content from those first users, their peers.
posted by borkencode at 10:02 AM on February 16, 2009 [60 favorites]


Say whatever you want, but it is stealing money from the artists' pockets.
posted by plexi at 10:07 AM on February 16, 2009


Say whatever you want, but it is stealing money from the artists' pockets.
posted by plexi at 10:07 AM on February 16 [+] [!]


Citation please.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 10:10 AM on February 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


Say whatever you want, but it is stealing money from the artists' pockets.
posted by plexi at 10:07 AM on February 16 [+] [!]


It might be groping them in crowded rush hour subway cars too.
posted by Keith Talent at 10:15 AM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was in a crowded subway car, and The Pirate Bay fondled my package.
posted by rusty at 10:17 AM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Say whatever you want

Thank goodness! Jesus Christ died because he was weak and stupid! Hail Satan!

FREE AT LAST
posted by synaesthetichaze at 10:17 AM on February 16, 2009 [78 favorites]


Say whatever you want, but it is stealing money from the artists' pockets.
posted by plexi at 10:07 AM on February 16 [+] [!]

It might be groping them in crowded rush hour subway cars too.


Dibs on Avril Lavigne.
posted by SPUTNIK at 10:18 AM on February 16, 2009


I wonder if this news is carried by any news outlets that I can reasonably access through SurfControlled work.

TheLocal.se is probably not blocked (but I cannot say for certain).
posted by cmonkey at 10:18 AM on February 16, 2009


PREEMPTIVE COMMENT

Piracy is not stealing. The latter removes a physical object and directly causes a loss to the creators, while the former makes a copy of the original and does not directly take anything from anyone else, except for the debatable 'loss of sales' aspect. My opinion on that aspect is that many people who pirate, due to the ease of doing so with today's technology, wouldn't buy the product in most cases.

Still, both piracy and stealing are against the law, despite your particular morals.
posted by flatluigi at 10:19 AM on February 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


Say whatever you want, but it is stealing money from the artists' pockets.

So is this, but somehow I'm no more worried than Joe Beese is about Google getting in trouble for it.

Of course, Google doesn't just have high priced lawyers on their side, they've got a good defense: an automated spider that can't distinguish between illegal download offers and legal ones is probably hard to ban based on laws that depend on "intent". I don't know enough about Swedish law or about how the Pirate Bay runs to be confident that, even in a fair trial, they could get away with the same excuse.
posted by roystgnr at 10:21 AM on February 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


flatluigi: All well and good. The problem here (and the Guardian coverage misses the same point) is that TPB doesn't engage in any piracy. It is an index of links. Links to files, that are kept elsewhere and never appear on TPB servers at all. Nor are these files handled by TPB, ever. It's an index of links.

See above Re Google. If indexing and linking make a website responsible for stuff that's linked to, then the internet is basically illegal.
posted by rusty at 10:22 AM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Shepherd: "The server at trial.thepiratebay.org is taking too long to respond.


Hm.
"

It's been really overwhelmed these last couple of days, sez so on the page. when it loads.
posted by merelyglib at 10:24 AM on February 16, 2009


rusty: I know, it's just that nearly every discussion tangentially related to technological piracy devolves into 'is it stealing or not' in my experience, and I'd love for it to not happen here so we can talk about the actual subject.
posted by flatluigi at 10:25 AM on February 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


It might be groping them in crowded rush hour subway cars too.
Dibs on Avril Lavigne.
I think she needs a new boyfriend...
posted by delmoi at 10:27 AM on February 16, 2009


Fun fact: piracy actually involves boats.
posted by swift at 10:28 AM on February 16, 2009 [27 favorites]


Interview from trial
posted by pianomover at 10:28 AM on February 16, 2009


Artists want to be not paid!
posted by Artw at 10:30 AM on February 16, 2009


It is also your duty to watch commercials.
posted by swift at 10:34 AM on February 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Fun fact: piracy actually involves boats.

It also involves theft, physical duress and all sorts of other things that don't happen in file sharing. It's a pretty stupid word to use. Originally I think it was meant to apply to act of making and selling knockoff copies for profit, an offense of a rather different nature than running a content-agnostic sharing index.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:37 AM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Too bad they don't have some sort of system to distribute the content to many different users quickly, and allow new users to get the content from those first users, their peers.

Here is a thing!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:37 AM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


My opinion on that aspect is that many people who pirate, due to the ease of doing so with today's technology, wouldn't buy the product in most cases.

This is the case with all my "friends" that have ever downloaded albums. The albums that are actually wanted are purchased. With some of the more dubious music, sometimes you want to have a few listens before you decide to shell out that $20.
posted by LunaticFringe at 10:37 AM on February 16, 2009


Fun fact: piracy actually involves boats.
posted by swift


You sir, are a Veteran for Truth.
posted by gman at 10:46 AM on February 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


It's all been said before, but in the interest of completeness, none of these carbon-copy discussions is complete with out a mention of the "significant non-infringing uses" test.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:56 AM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is the case with all my "friends" that have ever downloaded albums. The albums that are actually wanted are purchased. With some of the more dubious music, sometimes you want to have a few listens before you decide to shell out that $20.

I also do this constantly, and I'm someone who spent well over $1000 on music purchases last year.
posted by rollbiz at 10:59 AM on February 16, 2009


Hi record companies! I heard about your latest lawsuit. Thanks for not suing me directly. So you guys know about BitTorrent now? I thought you were still on Kazaa. If you need any help with port forwarding or anything like that let me know, it's kind of confusing to set up.

Anyway, not to put a damper on things but I'm not sure that this lawsuit will help much. I mean, have you seen how many trackers there are out there? It took you guys over five years to go after a few of the most obvious ones and once you shut one down another one will pop up somewhere else. And if we ever move onto a new technology, you're always the last to know.

You know, maybe this whole "record company" thing isn't right for you guys. I mean, it made sense when you were pressing vinyl and whatnot, but nowadays we have that part covered. These days it's all about bits and bytes, cyberspace and all that, so you might as well just let Apple take over (those nerds are good at that kind of stuff). Why not open your own investment bank? I heard the guys over in the financial sector are too big to fail, so whenever they make giant mistakes that cost them money, they get it all back in bailouts. Seems like a lot less hassle to me. Anyway, think it over, and thanks again for not suing me!
posted by burnmp3s at 11:02 AM on February 16, 2009 [30 favorites]


The argument that there is no loss of sales strikes me as completely disingenous.

I'm sure there is a line graph somewhere which shows some effect of downloading.

I'm sure there is a lot of grab that people get that they would not otherwise purchase and only get it because it is free.

But I'm also sure there is a large percentage of people who say, "Hey, the new Springsteen album is out. I'll buy it on iTunes, but first let me see if I can get it for free. Here it is! Great! $10 saved."

Artists need to make money so they can afford to not work normal jobs and can spend times writing and recording. While the record industry is poorly run and unfair to the artists, there still needs to be some ability for artists to profit from their works. And increasing downloading is going to negatively effect that to some degree.
posted by dios at 11:17 AM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I make some typos, but I'm trying to figure out how "crap" became "grab" in that third sentence.
posted by dios at 11:18 AM on February 16, 2009


Those of you saying they provide exactly the same service as Google are letting the technical definitions cloud actual reality. TPB is widely used for illegal purposes. It's used to enable piracy, and it has "pirate" in the freaking name. That the same practices have legal applications elsewhere (or to a limited extent on their own site) is a footnote.

Hiding behind that footnote is precious to a fault. Would you really consider someone on a street corner handing out a list of "escort" phone numbers to be engaging in fundamentally the same activity as the phone book? Granted, it's not the same as committing the crime itself, and I don't think TPB should be held to that legal standard. It is nevertheless fatuous to turn a blind eye to the way TPB is actually used.

You want to argue that TPB was just an innocent common carrier and these sordid types happened to congregate there, fine... I will want to see citations of good faith efforts by TPB to combat piracy. If you counter that they should have no such obligation, I'll remind you that they have actively set up their site in a way that makes piracy easier, and have the word "pirate" in the name. That's not beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt evidence that they encourage piracy, but it's in enough bad faith as to require a good faith response.

If you instead want to argue that Information Wants To Be Free, be my guest; but pretending you don't know why TPB happens to be so popular is not an acceptable shortcut for that issue.

Finally, if you want to argue that they shouldn't be held to international standards for piracy, then sure. I concede that point, in much the same way that I concede the sketchy financial policies of the Cayman Islands or the poor labor protections in China. Finding a loophole to make it legal doesn't make it right.
posted by Riki tiki at 11:32 AM on February 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


The argument that there is no loss of sales strikes me as completely disingenous.

It's not as simple as this. For example, let's say I hear a single song by an artist on the radio, or at a friend's house, and then I acquire the entire album illegally. Now, it's also rather disingenuous to say that I have stolen an entire album's worth, since who knows if I would've purchased the thing or not, but let's say that I've stolen $2 from the record company as a result.

The tricky part comes when I download this illegal music and love the artist and become enamored of them. I will buy their t-shirts and go to their shows, or have an increased chance of actually purchasing their later albums sight unseen. Perhaps my later purchases, irrespective of whether I ever actually purchase an album, end up giving the record company $3.

So, my illegal download is a net gain for the record company. Of course, I've just randomly created these numbers, but the point is that an act of piracy may result, with suitable conditions, in a net gain of wealth.

So it's disingenuous to simply claim that downloading hurts the artists. It's completely unclear one way or the other without serious research that no one is willing to do.
posted by TypographicalError at 11:33 AM on February 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


Y'know, I disagree with Riki tiki on a number of points, but at least he's staying on the topic of TPB's actual culpability, and not letting this devolve for the millionth time into the question of whether or not infringement is or is not always immoral and unethical.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:42 AM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I thought pirate bay only hosted questionable to illegal porn. They have music on there too?
posted by kigpig at 11:44 AM on February 16, 2009


So, my illegal download is a net gain for the record company. Of course, I've just randomly created these numbers, but the point is that an act of piracy may result, with suitable conditions, in a net gain of wealth.

I don't dispute that it is possible. But I suspect that the above example is less likely than my Springsteen example. After all, I suspect that if the industry really was profiting from the "net gain of wealth" example you provided, they would not be working so hard to stop it.

Plus, knowing human nature, I suspect it is far more likely that people are going to look for the free album first before paying for a widespread impact then people looking to "test drive" an album before purchasing more.

The music industry thrived for a long time with people become music fans and learning about/following new bands before pirating came along.
posted by dios at 11:49 AM on February 16, 2009


Would you really consider someone on a street corner handing out a list of "escort" phone numbers to be engaging in fundamentally the same activity as the phone book?

I see your point, but you've got this backwards. If you want to stop the guy on the corner, you've also got to shut down the people printing the phone books. But I think they should both be allowed to continue, and law needs to intervene where the individual meets and solicits the 'escort'.

Of course, personally I don't think the law should intervene in prostitution at all, but that's a subject for another thread.
posted by mannequito at 11:54 AM on February 16, 2009


Hey, guys, how about you steal all my digital artwork and hang it on your walls and make advertisements out of it and shit. Just one thing, though -- please keep my name on it. See, I can make MORE art, just like they can make MORE music. And if my name becomes well known enough, some people will pay me money just because they want to, and some people will pay me money to make custom art, and some people will want me to teach them how to make art. And some people will rip it off and call it their own; and they suck, but whatever.

Because, damn. My kids need to eat. And in order for that to happen, I need to become well known. So, please, "steal" my shit.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:00 PM on February 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Is it piracy at all if you already own the 8-track, cassette, 45 or 33 1/3LP, and all you want is an easy way to get that already purchased content onto your computer or MP3 player? Fair use would seem to indicate it is not, but the recording industry will tell you that every format is a unique property that much be repurchased (or is it re-licensed). So let me ask you if you've ever tried to get a damaged CD replaced by the record label? Remember you already own the license... These people can't have it both ways. If someone owns the license, and someone else has taken the time to digitize the music, then why shouldn't I be allowed to download it?
posted by Gungho at 12:02 PM on February 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


Riki tiki: "TPB is widely used for illegal purposes."

So are automobiles. I'd still rather prosecute the bank robber than the salesperson who sold them their getaway car.

But this all obscures the fact that the law being broken: 1) derives from technological conditions as they existed 300 years ago, and 2) is not respected by the society for whose benefit it is supposed to exist.

Still, let us heed Mr. Spiggott. This thread will be more valuable as a discussion of the trial rather than Copyright Infringement: Hot or Not, round number 463.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:05 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I thought pirate bay only hosted questionable to illegal porn. They have music on there too?
posted by kigpig at 8:44 PM on February 16 [+] [!]


I assume you are joking, but there has been a few cases where child porn torrents appeared on TPB. They disappeared quite quickly, though.

Which actually makes things worse for the owners. They can't really claim to be a neutral third party when they're doing filtering like that.
posted by ymgve at 12:12 PM on February 16, 2009


The argument that there is no loss of sales strikes me as completely disingenous.

I'm sure there is a line graph somewhere which shows some effect of downloading.



Well, and there's also the recent release of a bunch of full Monty Python clips on Youtube, and that it increased their DVD sales enormously. Or the any number of starting out artists who have made it due to downloads. Or NIN using creative commons copyright to have people share their music and make Trent millions of dollars.

It's not black and white, I agree, but the record industry is continuing to paint piracy and sharing as the end of their industry, simply because they are too stupid or scared to use it to their advantage. And hell, if it gets them out of the business and lets the musicians take over, or if it kills the TV networks and lets the writers and producers take over, I'll be happy!
posted by opsin at 12:16 PM on February 16, 2009


Hey, guys, how about you steal all my digital artwork and hang it on your walls and make advertisements out of it and shit.

You wish.
posted by swift at 12:19 PM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Those of you saying they provide exactly the same service as Google are letting the technical definitions cloud actual reality.

I would argue that the technical definition is the actual reality. How may of us, before torrents came along, borrowed and traded albums, games, software and books with friends and either bought them or didn't? All sites like The Pirate Bay do is extend our network of friends to borrow with. Efforts to limit that will always come up short because the technology is already out there. Before The Pirate Bay it was Suprnova, before Suprnova it was KaZaA, before KaZaA it was Napster. How long after OiNK got shut down did it take for half a dozen copycat sites to show up? Less than a week. Outlawing file sharing has only streamlined it and made it easier to do. My hope is that the Swedish court system is savvy enough that they won't perpetuate this cycle for another iteration.
posted by Demogorgon at 12:19 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Riki tiki and ymgve both make interesting points. Riki tiki's is that it's almost certain that TPB knowingly abets infringment; this is suggested by their name and their stance. So the interesting question is whether or not that makes a technically legal operation illegal.

If operate a site that monitors the comings and goings of rich people with specific reference to when they're home and when they're not, and call that site "The Burglar's Information Exchange", it's pretty obvious that I'm abetting burglary. But is it illegal if no law was broken in the gathering and distribution of that information?

ymgve's point is also interesting: if you remove content that breaks one law but not content that breaks another, have you abrogated your common-carrier immunity?
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:20 PM on February 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oh wait, you really do wish.
posted by swift at 12:21 PM on February 16, 2009


swift : Fun fact: piracy actually involves boats.

My goal is to expand this to include automobiles. I know it's going to be an arduous task, but if I have to leap onto the odd oil tanker truck, buccaneer-style, just to make a point, so be it.

Also, this give me a great excuse to mount cannons on my car.

I've been looking for a reason.
posted by quin at 12:22 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


File-sharing seems to be good for the artists and bad for the distributors. I find it hard to feel sympathy for distributors who are unable or unwilling to innovate and alter their business model.
posted by Hildegarde at 12:25 PM on February 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


After all, I suspect that if the industry really was profiting from the "net gain of wealth" example you provided, they would not be working so hard to stop it.

These people are not savvy businessmen so much as monopolistic thugs. They are looking for the quick score rather than the ultimately productive method, out of fear or stupidity.
posted by TypographicalError at 12:26 PM on February 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


When the music industry came for the home tapers
I remained silent
I was not a home taper.

When the music industry shut down Napster
I remained silent
I was not online yet.

When they came for the down loaders
I did not speak out
I was not a down loader.

When they came for the pirates
I remained silent
I was not a pirate, rrrrrrr.

When they came for me,
I only had a Limp Bizkit.
posted by pianomover at 12:29 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


If the Bay had the financial resources of Google - whom I mention since they happen to provide the exact same service -

Google does not host any bittorrent trackers, nor can you use google to upload illegal software to any bittorrent trackers.

i mention this only in an attempt to un-muddy the waters. I'm actually on The Pirate Bay's side, here, but that doesn't change the fact that what you said is fundamentally and provably untrue.
posted by shmegegge at 12:33 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Off topic, but these portraits are awesome, Puckett!
posted by Squid Voltaire at 12:35 PM on February 16, 2009


Would you really consider someone on a street corner handing out a list of "escort" phone numbers to be engaging in fundamentally the same activity as the phone book?

Didn't follow my link, huh? Would you prefer this one, for an even closer match? Or, to return to your analogy: what if the phone book had a section entitled "list of escort phone numbers", and what if one of the things it contained was copies of the street corner guy's list? We might still quibble over what "fundamentally the same activity" meant, but surely you'd agree with me that there was some overlap?
posted by roystgnr at 12:35 PM on February 16, 2009


nor can you use google to upload illegal software to any bittorrent trackers.

to clarify, since i typed quickly, you cannot use google to upload illegal software, music, movies, tv shows (etc) to other people through any bittorrent trackers.
posted by shmegegge at 12:35 PM on February 16, 2009


Artists need to make money so they can afford to not work normal jobs and can spend times writing and recording.

I'm not sure if this is tongue-in-cheek or not, but this is the point I often disagree with.

While some could argue that the guy who lays bricks or pours my coffee doesn't deserve to get paid to do what they do, I'm confused as to when we all decided artists deserved a particular compensation for providing to us what any one of us could do. Granted, while my musical talent is equal to that of a lemur, I could still play and record "music" and put it out there for all to "enjoy."

What are the actual fixed costs of making and distributing digital music? I have to imagine it is considerably lower than it used to be. Any of us could do it. Does that mean that we deserve compensation for any piece of garbage we put together?

I support lots of artists, musicians, craftsmen, bloggers, teachers, and philosophers. But I don't send them all checks every month. Many of these individuals have to make choices in order to turn their talents into a way to make money.
posted by snapped at 12:37 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fun fact: piracy actually involves boats.

My goal is to expand this to include automobiles. I know it's going to be an arduous task, but if I have to leap onto the odd oil tanker truck, buccaneer-style, just to make a point, so be it.


Piracy isn't a big truck, it's a series of tubes.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:40 PM on February 16, 2009


Someone really needs to make a "downloading music Bingo" so we can all fill in our favorite squares like "pointless posturing comment addressed directly to record company," "explanation of favorable business plan that would be great if it wasn't illegal," and "vacant declaration of downloading as alleged act of political statement" and then whoever wins can get an iTunes card so they can shut up and stop making same said comments in every thread over and over again.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:41 PM on February 16, 2009 [14 favorites]


you cannot use google to upload illegal software, music, movies, tv shows (etc) to other people through any bittorrent trackers.

shmegegge, bittorrented content does not go through the trackers. Tracker sites connect them what has with them what wants; that's it. You could do the same thing with craigslist: post a message saying "I have this file, connect to host.domain:port to download it". It's just a whole lot less convenient and doesn't implement an efficient distribution algorithm, but it's technically no different in terms of the site's participation in the act.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:44 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


XQUZYPHYR: "Someone really needs to make a "downloading music Bingo" so we can all fill in our favorite squares like "pointless posturing comment addressed directly to record company," "explanation of favorable business plan that would be great if it wasn't illegal," and "vacant declaration of downloading as alleged act of political statement" and then whoever wins can get an iTunes card so they can shut up and stop making same said comments in every thread over and over again."

Don't forget "pissy declaration of unutterable boredom".
posted by Joe Beese at 12:45 PM on February 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Joe Beese: did you even read my comment? Do you truly believe that the proportion of legal uses of TPB comes close to the proportion of legal uses of motor vehicles? That is, after all, the distinction I was explicitly making. Google and TPB do the same thing, technically speaking. To believe that "therefore, the ends they achieve are also morally/legally equivalent" willfully ignores reality.

the law being broken: 1) derives from technological conditions as they existed 300 years ago, and 2) is not respected by the society for whose benefit it is supposed to exist.

1) You're oversimplifying. The law derives both from the technological conditions, and the philosophical basis for intellectual property. The former has changed, the latter has not. You might as well argue that the first amendment only protects freedom of literal presses.

2) You're overstating. The fact that many, many individuals violate copyright protections doesn't mean society doesn't respect those laws. Many, many people violate speed limits. It doesn't mean we as a society don't respect the principle behind speed limits.

I claim that this argument ends with The Pirate Bay in the wrong, whether we frame it as a general ideological discussion of copyright and piracy, or whether we frame it on the merits of the actual case (as best we can, since I assume none of us are Swedish attorneys).
posted by Riki tiki at 12:46 PM on February 16, 2009


Don't forget "pissy declaration of unutterable boredom".

That's the free space, DUH.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:48 PM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


shmegegge, bittorrented content does not go through the trackers.

hence my clarification.
posted by shmegegge at 12:48 PM on February 16, 2009


hence my clarification.

Your clarification is what I quoted and was responding to. Google, craigslist and a million other sites provide a way for people to find that which is available to be downloaded by others. Bittorrent sites are merely a variant of the same concept, highly optimized for a particular protocol.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:52 PM on February 16, 2009


"But I'm also sure there is a large percentage of people who say, "Hey, the new Springsteen album is out. I'll buy it on iTunes, but first let me see if I can get it for free. Here it is! Great! $10 saved.""

Four times in the last month, I've tried to legally buy mp3 versions of albums that I know I want (not even test drives), and in each case I've been thwarted either by being unable to find the album or by it only being offered in a format that is suboptimal (like, since I just have a regular mp3 player, not an ipod, I can't play mp4 files). I'm not going to pay money to download something just to rerip it into a format that I want (and lose data) just because paying money somehow makes the files more virtuous.
posted by klangklangston at 12:54 PM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm confused as to when we all decided artists deserved a particular compensation for providing to us what any one of us could do.

1760 B.C.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:55 PM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Someone really needs to make a "downloading music Bingo" ... so they can shut up and stop making same said comments in every thread over and over again.

I thought the "hail Satan" comment was breaking new ground, frankly.
posted by swift at 12:56 PM on February 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's just a whole lot less convenient and doesn't implement an efficient distribution algorithm, but it's technically no different in terms of the site's participation in the act.

again, I'm on The Pirate Bay's side in this discussion, but you should clarify this statement a bit. when you use the phrase "the site" here, are you in this case referring specifically to The Pirate Bay, or a theoretical bittorrent site that could possibly fit your description?

I ask because craigslist doesn't specifically categorize its entries under titles like "Games (Windows)," or "Tv Shows" the way the Pirate Bay does.

This kind of goalpost shifting argument bothers me a little bit. I don't know why everyone feels like they need to pretend that the Pirate Bay is no different from [Undeniably Legal Website X] in order to justify its existence. It is different. It is a site designed from the ground up to facilitate the trade of torrented data files such as retail licensed games, music, movies and tv shows. It is a place designed to facilitate downloading retail software and data without paying for it from other people who feel like sharing it.

The defense for this is that it's not illegal where they run the site and it's not morally wrong, either. The defense for this is not some "gee gosh, officer, I can't help it if people want to trade illegal software on my tracker, sir" kind of aw-shucks routine. It is what it is. There's nothing wrong with it, and as far as I'm aware it's not illegal in Sweden.
posted by shmegegge at 12:57 PM on February 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Riki tiki: "I claim that this argument ends with The Pirate Bay in the wrong, whether we frame it as a general ideological discussion of copyright and piracy, or whether we frame it on the merits of the actual case (as best we can, since I assume none of us are Swedish attorneys)."

IANASA. I merely assume that the TPB boys, with a lot more at stake than either of us, have consulted the relevant laws and decided that their position is strong enough for them to get away with the nose-thumbing they've indulged themselves in.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:01 PM on February 16, 2009


> Riki tiki and ymgve both make interesting points. Riki tiki's is that it's almost certain that TPB knowingly abets infringment; this is suggested by their name and their stance. So the interesting question is whether or not that makes a technically legal operation illegal.

If operate a site that monitors the comings and goings of rich people with specific reference to when they're home and when they're not, and call that site "The Burglar's Information Exchange", it's pretty obvious that I'm abetting burglary. But is it illegal if no law was broken in the gathering and distribution of that information?


Technically in America it is not illegal to operate a website that abets infringement while not breaking any laws itself. The case of Jack McClellan disgustingly proves that.
posted by Demogorgon at 1:06 PM on February 16, 2009


Fun fact: piracy actually involves boats.

My goal is to expand this to include automobiles. I know it's going to be an arduous task


Allow me to ease your ardor : La Contessa!
posted by mannequito at 1:08 PM on February 16, 2009


When committing a crime is easy to do, and the harm done is only
abstractly understood, and it leads to direct material gain, you
can expect people to claim that it should not be a crime.

I look forward to a future with no professional musicians, except
those few who can get hired for commissioned work (movie
soundtracks, scores for orchestral performance, ad work, live
performance, etc), because it is not even a question of morals,
preventing copyright infringement of digitally reproduced work is
impossible.
posted by idiopath at 1:08 PM on February 16, 2009


If the page is not loading, take a look at this. This is how they usually respond to legal threats, and some of it is very entertaining. I specially like it when big companies (like Apple) spend a LOT of money on lawyers to send thereatening latters to TPB, and basically get this back:

1) TPB follows Swedish law, the country where we live
2) DMCA is an american law
3) Sweden is not a part of the United States
4) TPB has no connection to United States and hence does not follow US law

I would really suck if TPB loses this case. That means I would have to start getting my torrents from sites that are also illegal in their home countries, and that is like evil and shit.
posted by dirty lies at 1:08 PM on February 16, 2009


I think I figured out a possible legal argument for the Pirate Bay operators (with whom I sympathize, although they're pirates in name only). Try this: they censor out the child pornography because the material itself is illegal, which means that nobody has the legal right to possess or distribute it. The copyrighted data, however, is not intrinsically illegal. Some people do have the legal right to distribute it, namely the copyright holders. Since the operators of the Pirate Bay have no way of knowing who does and who does not possess the right, it only makes sense to assume that the people using the service are themselves the copyright holders and therefore operating legally. Innocent until proven guilty, right?
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:10 PM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Your clarification is what I quoted and was responding to. Google, craigslist and a million other sites provide a way for people to find that which is available to be downloaded by others. Bittorrent sites are merely a variant of the same concept, highly optimized for a particular protocol.

Let me be a little clearer about this. You cannot, through google, send someone else data. You cannot, through google, set yourself up as a passive sharer of data which google then automatically directs other people to in order to get that data if they feel like it.

You can, if you want, set up a website which hosts whatever data you want. But google has nothing to do with that. People can access your website, if they find it, and download from it directly, which again google has nothing to do with. In order to find your website, they can try searching google, and that's the very first point where google has something to do with the process.

If I create a torrent file for a piece of data on my home computer, no one will ever find it. Google will not show it to them. It will never direct anyone to my home computer to get that piece of data I want to share. But if I include The Pirate Bay's tracker in that torrent, and then I upload the torrent to the Pirate Bay website so that people can search The Pirate Bay for that torrent they can download it from The Pirate Bay and use it to connect to The Pirate Bay's tracker so that The Pirate Bay's tracker will point their torrent client to my computer so that the sharing can happen.

The role The Pirate Bay plays in that transaction is far more substantial than Google's role in web searching. To pretend that they're the same is disingenuous and it's a wrong headed way to go about trying to defend them. They have Swedish law on their side for running a bittorrent tracker, even one that intentionally specializes in facilitating illegal file sharing. Let's leave it that way, rather than trying to adopt some other stance on the matter.
posted by shmegegge at 1:13 PM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Say whatever you want, but it is stealing money from the artists' pockets.

I'd like to use my newfound freedom to say that it really, really isn't.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:17 PM on February 16, 2009


Let's leave it that way, rather than trying to adopt some other stance on the matter.

shmeggege, I haven't advocated for one side or the other, and I don't intend to. On the contrary, as I have pointed out above (following Riki tiki, actually), it's fairly obvious that TPB knowingly abets infringement. This weighs against my own opinions on the matter, much as you have done as well. I was merely pointing out that in a strictly mechanical sense a tracker no more hosts the content than a craigslist ad hosting a URL would.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:20 PM on February 16, 2009


snapped, you present your question in a way that makes me feel like you're skipping a step. These artists made their work available in for-pay media venues. You don't want to pay for it, fine. But it's not like they tricked you into enjoying it for free before rudely nudging you and opening their hand expectantly. I encourage you to hold to your principles and listen exclusively to freely available, lemur-authored music.

I'm not going to pay money to download something just to rerip it into a format that I want (and lose data) just because paying money somehow makes the files more virtuous.

klangklangston, no one's forcing you to do that. Don't pay the money! That's fine! But why do you feel that the mere fact that you rillyrilly want these albums and are physically capable of obtaining them without paying thus entitles you to them? On what basis do you assert that right?

And don't give me this garbage about the DRM or audio quality... I recognize the problems in those areas, but the labels have no obligation to offer their content in a format that suits our every whim, and failing to do so does not in any way inherently delegitimize their intellectual property rights.
posted by Riki tiki at 1:23 PM on February 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think snapped's comment strikes to the heart of the matter, and as an independent artist I have some strong opinions on the subject.

No one should make a consumer "send money each month" to the creator of art. Similarly, no consumer should "force" an artist to accept that the value of what they have created is negligible. Ultimately, as the creator of something, the choice of what to do with it should remain the artist's -- I should be able to give one thing away for free, put something else on DVD and sell it, and take a third thing that I've made and hide it under a mattress and share it with no one. Sometimes, I've even made unconventional choices -- like reserving the copyright of a finished film but release the source footage "open source" if other's wanted to use it for other purposes.

Some artists have chosen to sell their copyrights to distributors, and while those distributors might be dinosaurs and have a proven tendency to rip off the artists they enter into those relationships with, that's also a choice an artist has a right to make -- artists have as much right to make bad decisions as they do to create bad work. So while I tend to believe that services like Pirate Bay have a relatively small impact on the financial fates of distributors, they also clearly do contribute to copyright infringement. While copyright law is frequently used as a battering ram by the major distributors, it also clearly protects independent artists from abuse by those same major players -- otherwise, I'm sure they'd take stuff and distribute without paying artists in ways that would make even the Pirate Bay blush.

My personal opinion is that the great benefit of digital distribution is that it erodes at the reasons why an artist might feel they NEED to have a partnership with a corporate distributor. That, in the long run, is going to be great for artists and the consumers of art (whether that's music, film or what have you.) Copyright, itself, isn't the enemy ... being short-sighted about what one can do with their copyrights is.
posted by bclark at 1:25 PM on February 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


You know what, I overextended myself earlier. I shouldn't have said I think this ends in the wrong when we're talking about the merits of the TPB case. I don't know the merits of the case, I don't know if Swedish law would prohibit their behavior, and I don't even know if American law would prohibit their behavior. IANAL.

I maintain that the specific behavior of TPB makes it fundamentally different, morally, from the specific but technically identical behavior of google or craigslist. I think that it should be illegal. I don't think it should be the same crime as piracy, but given the scale and success of TPB I definitely think the penalty should exceed that of a friend loaning you the new Fallout Boy album to rip onto your ipod.
posted by Riki tiki at 1:29 PM on February 16, 2009


I was merely pointing out that in a strictly mechanical sense a tracker no more hosts the content than a craigslist ad hosting a URL would.

this is undeniably true. so i figure the best thing at this point is a quick look over the thread to see where the confusion was, cause I think we're talking about slightly differrent things, here.

ok, after going through the thread again, i see the problem. I was responding to joe beese's earlier comment about how The Pirate Bay performs the exact same function ("exact same function in italics, even!) as Google, without qualifier. this was the sentiment I took issue with. I completely agree with you that a bittorrent tracker is basically just a transfer protocol, and that the actual file hosting and sharing begins and ends with the individual sharers using a torrent client.

so my gripe was with the idea that The Pirate Bay, specifically that site, does more than simply run an innocent tracker, or that their website is no different functionally than Google.

so it looks to me like we've kind of been talking past one another when we don't really disagree as much as we thought, or at least we disagree differently than we thought we did. or something.

so yeah. problem solved? i guess?
posted by shmegegge at 1:31 PM on February 16, 2009


2) DMCA is an american law

I would think the Berne Convention would still apply, with Sweden having ratified the 1971 revisions.
posted by bclark at 1:33 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


so yeah. problem solved? i guess?

I think so. I suspect we're in agreement on principles and ethics and are just interested in how the legality plays out. Personally I believe that TPB knowingly, but indiscriminately, abets infringement. I think the moral burden is on the infringers and not on someone who broadly and indiscriminately abets. The supreme court held that it was not Sony's burden that people could use their devices for infringing purposes. You can argue that there's no way Sony could not have known that people could and would make infringing use, and that furthermore they could and did profit from people who bought them for that purpose. But I believe that the law should focus on the prosecution of those who infringe not on those who indiscriminately assist in the general ability to infringe, even if they know they're doing so. It sounds like Swedish law agrees, so let's see how this plays out.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:41 PM on February 16, 2009


I fundamentally reject the idea that it should cost me $15 to find out if I like a band or not. I've spent far more money on music than I otherwise might have because of that- I'm far more willing to buy music if I know I like it. I would never, for example, have got into Depeche Mode, and bought their entire back catalogue, had a friend not slipped me some mp3s.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:43 PM on February 16, 2009


Don't these people know it's Presidents' day?
posted by nevercalm at 1:56 PM on February 16, 2009


I fundamentally reject the idea that it should cost me $15 to find out if I like a band or not.

Pope Guilty: fine, it shouldn't cost you $15. I agree, that's exorbitant.

So. Don't. Find. Out. You can live without Depeche Mode, and you can live without knowing whether or not they're the band that would change your life, man.

$15 is the price. Pay it or don't, but no one here has explained why they still have the moral right to enjoy the benefits of the work even if they choose "don't," simply because they are physically capable of doing so.
posted by Riki tiki at 1:58 PM on February 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


See, this is the problem with talking about "rights" to the exclusion of consequences.

There's two worlds available: one in which I obtain illegal copies of Depeche Mode songs, and one in which I "respect the rights" of the people fucking Depeche Mode out of most of the proceeds of their work.

In the one where I obtain illegal copies of Depeche Mode songs, I end up spending a lot of money on Depeche Mode music. Outcomes: I enjoy great music, Depeche Mode gets some money, and Depeche Mode's record label gets a lot of money.

In the one where I don't, I don't enjoy their excellent music, Depeche Mode doesn't get any money, and Depeche Mode's label doesn't get any money.

That you think the second is the preferable world is baffling to me and suggests that your opinion is worthless.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:03 PM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Fun fact: piracy actually involves boats.

Fun fact: words can have more than one meaning.
posted by oddman at 2:04 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"ymgve's point is also interesting: if you remove content that breaks one law but not content that breaks another, have you abrogated your common-carrier immunity?"

Does common carrier apply in Sweden?
posted by krinklyfig at 2:20 PM on February 16, 2009


Pope Guilty, you wrote eight lines just to say "the end justifies the means?" Perhaps you shouldn't be so quick to call others' opinions worthless.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:21 PM on February 16, 2009


Pope Guilty, you're just justifying the action you already want to take. You could have just as easily heard Depeche Mode on the radio or at a friend's house and made your discovery as well, and skipped the copyright infringement part. Piracy is hardly the only way to discover new artists, right? I also think you suffer from the copyrights = "people fucking Depeche Mode out of most of the proceeds of their work" analogy. If Depeche Mode were a self-distributing indie band, would your argument still stand?
posted by bclark at 2:31 PM on February 16, 2009


That "the end justifies the means" is a universally wrong and immediately dismissable claim is ridiculous and intellectually lazy.

The claim that Riki tiki makes is that the right of the copyright holder to not have unauthorized copies made is so powerful, profound, and important that it must be upheld regardless of the consequences. I do not feel that this right- which is not a right as traditionally understood, but a privilege conferred by law- is important enough to permit it to get in the way of the outcomes mentioned. Not every means is equally powerful, and not every end is equally powerful.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:32 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Say whatever you want, but it is stealing money from the artists' pockets.

Only if they were actually going to buy the stuff in the first place.

I try to be a conscientious pirate. I used to torrent great stuff like Deadwood and The Wire, and I still download Battlestar Galactica, for a few reasons, but the primary reason is this: I can't pay to see those shows here. Deadwood was on cable for about five minutes, The Wire I don't think has been shown on Australian television ever, and Galactica, well, I think Channel 10 owns the rights to it but they simply don't show it. They capped out at Season 2 IIRC. Curb Your Enthusiasm? Ditto. Same with a bunch of great British comedy, like Nathan Barley and The Day Today and Jam and BrassEye and Peep Show. Those have been out for years. Peep Show is starting on Series 6 soon and we only have the first series on DVD.

I download shows that I love because, in the 21st century, in a global community with practically limitless capacity for data transmission, nobody legit in Australia gives me the opportunity to watch them legally. And even if they did, I would likely be wating anywhere up to a year for episodes to show up on TV over here, which is unacceptable.

But I buy the DVDs as soon as they are released. I ordered Curb and Deadwood DVDs from the States - paying anywhere between $60 and $120 for the box sets - simply because I enjoyed the shows so much, and I wanted to pay my way. Which is costly enough, but then you have this ridiculous region coding on DVDs and you have to fork out more for a region-free player, or you bend the law by unlocking your DVD player or downloading software for your PC (which again costs money).

Some movies simply aren't released. Punisher: War Zone? I don't care how well it did financially in the States - not very - but I wanted to see the fucker and it wasn't released in cinemas over here (possibly because it couldn't secure anything less than an R rating, and censorship of material is just a whole other irritating barrel of frustrating fish) and there's certainly not going to be a DVD so all that I can really do is download the bloody thing.

I want to pay for these shows but I also want to watch them whenever I please, uncensored, uninterrupted. Not only are we very rarely given them, but on the rare occassion that we are, they are butchered and the narrative is busted up by shrill advertisement. So I'll get them myself, thanks.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:33 PM on February 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


...TPB is widely used for illegal purposes. It's used to enable piracy, and it has "pirate" in the freaking name...

Because "pirate" is synonymous with ADVENTURE!
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:38 PM on February 16, 2009


Pope Guilty:

First of all, keep the discourse on the level please. Your loaded phrasing about "the people fucking Depeche Mode out of most of the proceeds of their work" has no bearing on the issue. Unless you're arguing that Suge Knight held Depeche Mode off a balcony to get them to sign a shitty contract, it is entirely irrelevant. Labels are scum, but being scum doesn't change your rights.

To your actual point: In the illegal copy world, you claim that you "end up spending a lot of money on Depeche Mode music." Even if that's true (and it's hardly something you can simply state as proof of the principle), on what basis do you assert the right to redefine Depeche Mode's distribution scheme? You don't like the existing market mechanism, I get it... you want your free taste before you buy the ice cream cone, but it's not yours to redefine those terms. You can take or leave the transaction as it exists, and drop a helpful comment in the box if you like. You have not, in any way, explained why other people's work should be subject to your whims.

Meanwhile, you present the false dichotomy that the only other option is a world in which you behave legally but would never buy Depeche Mode songs because you'd have no means of being exposed to their music. Maybe that's true for you, someone who apparently has disposable income you'd potentially spend on music but no access to a radio and no friends or access to a favored reviewer who could recommend it. Yours is certainly not the only possible scenario, though, and so it fails as an argument of principle. Some people will pay to explore unfamiliar music. Maybe it's against Depeche Mode's overall self-interest to market to them instead of to the "free sample" crowd, but I reiterate... it is their damn choice to do so and you have not explained why shouldn't be true.
posted by Riki tiki at 2:40 PM on February 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


"klangklangston, no one's forcing you to do that. Don't pay the money! That's fine! But why do you feel that the mere fact that you rillyrilly want these albums and are physically capable of obtaining them without paying thus entitles you to them? On what basis do you assert that right?"

I know that you have your hands down your drawers over this, rillyrilly, and that you can totally feel the throbbing member of property rights justification right there. Oh, oh, it's so good!

If you really want to delve into an argument about rights and the assumptions that underpin them, fine, but it's a bit of a derail. But I don't see intellectual property as a pure, absolute right, and I note that rights exist only as long as they're defended. Given the scale of civil disobedience regarding whether creators, and their assigns, have an inalienable right to control distribution totally, I'd say that it's you who has to justify why that "right" should be respected by society.

And why you think that poor people shouldn't have art.

And don't give me this garbage about the DRM or audio quality... I recognize the problems in those areas, but the labels have no obligation to offer their content in a format that suits our every whim, and failing to do so does not in any way inherently delegitimize their intellectual property rights.

Yeah, it kind of does. Or rather, it delegitimizes one aspect of their intellectual property "rights," in that their "rights" are not acting in the interest of society as a whole. As such, it makes sense for the collective decision to stop defending those rights. You can argue about whether that needs to be legislative to be legitimate, but that's just gonna end up further afield than we already are.

Copyright is a negotiation in which the monopoly of a unique property is granted for the benefit of society. While my government has negotiated on my behalf, I don't believe they have done so with my interests or the broader social goals to which I subscribe in mind. While it's certainly within their power to prosecute me, I don't at all feel convinced that real demonstrated harm is there—You note that it's within my rights to not buy their product. I didn't. I couldn't. I "purchased" a similar product, for a much better price, from someone who mixed their labor with property that was already released to the public. If the original rights owners wanted my money for their property, they would have offered it for sale in a form I wanted. They fell down on their end of the bargain, so I went elsewhere.
posted by klangklangston at 2:40 PM on February 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


Pope Guilty, you're just justifying the action you already want to take.

So are you. So is everyone. This is a stupid claim which looks like an attack but is instead something that every human being does. I mean, seriously: I'm providing justifications for the things I do. How terrible a person that makes me. I ought to instead doing things which I cannot justify!

You could have just as easily heard Depeche Mode on the radio or at a friend's house and made your discovery as well, and skipped the copyright infringement part. Piracy is hardly the only way to discover new artists, right? ... If Depeche Mode were a self-distributing indie band, would your argument still stand?

It's a good thing that every band is played on the radio, and that I have friends who listen to everything, then. Let's use a different band that went similarly: ¡Tchkung! I heard about them online and had to go to some lengths to acquire a free copy of some of their work- they'll never be played on the radio for a variety of reasons, and none of my friends know about them who didn't hear about them from me. Had I not "pirated" their music, they'd have never sold me any albums, nor sold any to my friends. It is odd that you bring up independent musicians, since indie bands are the most fucked over by the current system of music promotion.

I also think you suffer from the copyrights = "people fucking Depeche Mode out of most of the proceeds of their work" analogy.

Not copyrights, but the way that the music industry is structured, in which nearly no artists actually have the rights to their work. I do in fact purchase CDs with the full knowledge that a tiny percentage of what I paid is going to the band; unlike you, my eyes are open about that fact.

I'm not against copyright. I'm against a) the idea that copyright is absolute and that violating it is inexcusable no matter what the outcome, and b) the way that copyright is used by the music industry to steal nearly the entire revenue generated by artists.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:41 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


In many cases, the copyright holders (i.e. the musicians themselves) DO want copies shared and spread around for free (to one extent or another) because they understand the dynamics of the long tail, especially as it relates to music and art.

It's the labels which represent them who are causing the trouble with their overly litigious and short-sighted attitude, in many cases against the explicit wishes of the artist in question.

I completely agree that the narrowly-defined argument over "rights" in these cases is meaningless without the larger context.
posted by Aquaman at 2:49 PM on February 16, 2009


Your loaded phrasing about "the people fucking Depeche Mode out of most of the proceeds of their work" has no bearing on the issue. Unless you're arguing that Suge Knight held Depeche Mode off a balcony to get them to sign a shitty contract, it is entirely irrelevant.

When the alternatives are "labour forever in obscurity and play local shows in tiny venues whenever everybody can get off work at the same time" and "be able to perform professionally at the cost of losing your rights to your own creations and at the cost of nearly all of the revenue you generate", I don't think you can really call that a free choice.

Even if that's true (and it's hardly something you can simply state as proof of the principle), on what basis do you assert the right to redefine Depeche Mode's distribution scheme? You don't like the existing market mechanism, I get it... you want your free taste before you buy the ice cream cone, but it's not yours to redefine those terms. You can take or leave the transaction as it exists, and drop a helpful comment in the box if you like. You have not, in any way, explained why other people's work should be subject to your whims.

I don't agree that the record labels have the right to unilaterally state how the entire network of music distribution is going to be structured, which is what you're proposing here.

it is their damn choice to do so and you have not explained why shouldn't be true.

Except, as has been explained repeatedly to you personally and to the public at large, it's not their choice.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:52 PM on February 16, 2009


$15 is the price. Pay it or don't, but no one here has explained why they still have the moral right to enjoy the benefits of the work even if they choose "don't," simply because they are physically capable of doing so.

Thank you. This is actually a frothing at the mouth argument that I've had with many friends, who pulled the whole "well, I tried to buy it in a format that fits my generic MP3 player, but I couldn't, so I downloaded it!" argument.

There's a whole other option that they seem to ignore. If it's not available to buy in a format you require or at a price that you're willing to pay, don't consume it. A business' unwillingness or inability to provide you with the exact item, format or price point you want is not a justification to break the law.

Right. End rant.
posted by generichuman at 2:52 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have a simple solution to this entire problem. The RIAA should set up the TheNinjaBay.com and have the two websites fight.
posted by ryoshu at 2:53 PM on February 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


> "But I don't see intellectual property as a pure, absolute right, and I note that rights exist only as long as they're defended."

I get the justification, but I'm not sure you've fully thought that out -- copyrights are (supposedly) a limited duration right for those of us who create art to control what other's do with it, with certain exception for the public good such as education, critique, etc. Copyrights protect us little people from those big bad corporations.

>"So are you. So is everyone. This is a stupid claim which looks like an attack but is instead something that every human being does."

Come on, Pope ... that's a little harsh. So it's a dog-eat-dog-eat world, and that means we can all justify whatever we want?

Not copyrights, but the way that the music industry is structured, in which nearly no artists actually have the rights to their work. I do in fact purchase CDs with the full knowledge that a tiny percentage of what I paid is going to the band; unlike you, my eyes are open about that fact.

If you read any of my comments previously, you'd realize what a strawman you're trying to make me out to be. I'm an independent artist, one of those people who PURPOSEFULLY chooses not head down the route of entrusting distributors to create my livelihood. I tend to be tireless in trying to convince musicians and filmmakers that the "golden ticket" they've been sold on isn't going to work out as well as they think. Which mean I own my own copyrights. So please do be opposed the way artists have been abused by traditional distribution system ... but realize there are more than two sides to this. There's also the independent artist's side: I'm pro-artist, not pro-pirate or pro-label. If you turn the argument into pirate vs. label, it is the artists that will get crushed in the middle.
posted by bclark at 2:56 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


So it's a dog-eat-dog-eat world, and that means we can all justify whatever we want?

That's not what I said at all. I attacked the idea that "you have provided a justification for your actions" is an attack.

I'm an independent artist, one of those people who PURPOSEFULLY chooses not head down the route of entrusting distributors to create my livelihood. I tend to be tireless in trying to convince musicians and filmmakers that the "golden ticket" they've been sold on isn't going to work out as well as they think. Which mean I own my own copyrights.

Good for you! I'm still not paying money for a copy of something I don't like.

There's also the independent artist's side: I'm pro-artist, not pro-pirate or pro-label.

Then defend the best interests of the artists.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:02 PM on February 16, 2009


A business' unwillingness or inability to provide you with the exact item, format or price point you want is not a justification to break the law.

It is, actually. There is nothing sacrosanct or inherently valuable about laws; they exist to protect and better society and the individuals within it. When the law does not do this, there is no ethical reason, beyond the possible negative impact of being caught, to follow it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:04 PM on February 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah! Stop trying to get paid and live off tips and T-shirt sales, like Cory Doctrow does!
posted by Artw at 3:05 PM on February 16, 2009


Yeah! Stop trying to get paid and live off tips and T-shirt sales, like Cory Doctrow does!

Did you even read the thread, or is this your one night a week that you're allowed to spend with your strawman since your wife got custody of it in the divorce?
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:07 PM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


If I create a torrent file for a piece of data on my home computer, no one will ever find it. Google will not show it to them.

oh really?

---

Does common carrier apply in Sweden?

as far as the internet is concerned, there's not even a consistent set of rulings that says that isps or websites have it in the u s - people keep talking as if they do, but it's really not settled that the common carrier provisions that were designed for the phone companies apply to the internet

by the way, did you know that people used to argue about whether it should be the law that a man with a red flag, or a couple of lanterns at night, be required to walk 25 feet in front of an automobile so pedestrians wouldn't get run over by them?

isn't that silly and quaint? your great-grandchildren will think much the same about the whole argument we're having here
posted by pyramid termite at 3:08 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Riki tiki: "no one here has explained why they still have the moral right to enjoy the benefits of the work even if they choose "don't," simply because they are physically capable of doing so."

Copyright law is not a "moral right". It is an arbitrary law - some shit we just made up. Society made it up 300 years ago when they thought such a law would work to its benefit. Its own benefit, mind you - not the artist's.

When a society no longer holds beliefs it once did, it changes its laws. Once people were accorded property rights over human beings. Today they are not.

Today people are accorded property rights over long binary numbers. Soon they will not be. Because an already large and ever-growing segment of society no longer believes that such a property right outweights the benefit to itself of getting to listen to the new Springsteen album without paying for it.

You may think them mistaken in this belief. But you will not be able to shame them out of it with talk of "moral rights". Nor will you be able to build enough prisons to house them all.

So why not just try building a new business model instead?
posted by Joe Beese at 3:10 PM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's a whole other option that they seem to ignore. If it's not available to buy in a format you require or at a price that you're willing to pay, don't consume it.

But absolutely nothing is lost if this happens. No one loses any revenue or property. This argument lacks a logical basis, it seems to me. The question of 'why not' seems to have no answer other than 'because it's wrong,' which isn't really an answer at all.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:12 PM on February 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


>Good for you! I'm still not paying money for a copy of something I don't like.

And you totally should be made to: however, I don't think you get the right to make the decision of how the transaction takes place. You have the right not to pay for something if you don't know if you'd like it or not. It is a false argument that the only alternative to piracy is "paying for something you don't like." By all means, stick it to the (distributing) Man by not buying their overpriced pablum.

Then defend the best interests of the artists.

Absolutely, and I will continue to. One of those best interests is not throwing out copyright protections for independent artists with the "screw the evil distributors" bathwater. You and I are having the same argument I had editorially with Jason Calacanis in 2000. To quote myself from that 8+ year old article:

"The key concern is forcing business models upon the creators of intellectual property. If a musician wants to make a tape in their basement and Napster it to the world, more power to 'em. If a filmmaker wants to sell their film to a major studio to gain distribution even though the contract is going to screw 'em in the long run, more power to 'em. If an artist wants to paint canvas and put them in a locked strongbox away from the eyes of everyone, more power to 'em. That's the basis of the copyrights -- those decisions lie in the hands of the creators of the work, not in some outside force that fosters it upon them."

(disclaimer: for many years, I was the publisher of indieWIRE but no longer, so that last link trudges the line of "self-linking")
posted by bclark at 3:17 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did you even read the thread, or is this your one night a week that you're allowed to spend with your strawman since your wife got custody of it in the divorce?

Yeah I read the thread, it was embarassingly like the sort of thing I'd come out with when I was twelve and pirating the shit out of everything, and who made somewhat dodgy arguments for the moral superiority of pirating the shitout of everything.

Now, twelve year old me never had much money and I doubt his warezing activity did that much damage to anyone economic model as a result of that, and you could make argumenets as to the effect of this activity on the IP ecosystem that includes some positives (hey, I went on to earn money and buy stuff!), I would posit that he was not, in fact, an awesome copyfighter who was revolutionising the world of content and making everything groovy, but in fact basically just a greedy freeloading little fucker. I wish him well, but if he came out with any of that twaddle I'd give him a slap around the ear and tell him to go get a job.
posted by Artw at 3:18 PM on February 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Fun fact: words can have more than one meaning.

Diverting actuality: buccaneering propaganda fools multiple populations.
posted by swift at 3:20 PM on February 16, 2009


Meanwhile, if anyone still doubts the erosive effect on the moral force of copyright law by its effectively indefinite extension by incremental means, read the latest and weep. I'd have some sympathy for the usual "oh won't somebody think of the artists" plea if there were any reason at all to believe that this is intended to benefit the artists, or will in any but the most trifling and unrepresentative instances.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:24 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


You want justification, klang? Here it is:

1. These artists created this work on the basis of our current legal definition of copyright. They put it out there, knowing that in all practicality it could be pirated, but not consenting to that behavior. Their motivation for creating and releasing it, at least in part, was money... or else they'd have released it for free. Pirating the work, therefore, is an act of ill faith against their motivation for creating the work. You talk about copyright as being designed for the benefit of society, well this is what that refers to... enabling the motivation and effort for more art to be created, using the most effective tool we possess (money) for that purpose and in a way that DOES NOT PREVENT artists from creating and releasing their work for free if they so choose.

2. Expanding upon 1, the capitalist version of intellectual property protections in no way intrinsically inhibits any other distribution mechanism. It adds motivation, and subtracts nothing. That is why it is beneficial to society. You may argue that the corruption within these industries is an unacceptable evil, but you have to actually argue that... find a way to prove in a rational way that they result in less "art", by some measure, than if they did not exist. Good luck with that, since it's basically like trying to argue that anarchy would be an effective social structure for the modern U.S.

3. Questionable decisions such as DRM or limited-quality recordings fall under the blanket of capitalism-based intellectual property exchange. You and I both think they do more overall harm than good, but the issue is hardly settled and well within the leeway where the rights holders get benefit of the doubt. After all, the harm to you if you don't like it is negligible... you just don't get to enjoy that content.

4. Widespread "civil disobedience," as you call it, rings very hollow. The great examples of civil disobedience in our history came at great cost and sacrifice to their practitioners. They disobeyed, publicly and as a gesture. For the most part, they did not gain personally from their actions except insofar as they improved society as a whole. Ghandi explicitly stated in his rules for disobedience that resisters would voluntarily submit to arrest when it is sought by an authority. If you claim this is comparable in nature to getting to enjoy music for free and being insulated from legal consequences by safety in numbers, you are absolutely deluding yourself.

P.S.: Nice try with the "poor people don't get art" posturing... how do you think poor people "got art" in copyright-free societies? I'd venture that they either made it for themselves for free, which they can do now just as easily, or they got it as a discarded hand-me-down from the wealthy aristocrats who commissioned art-for-pay; aristocrats who had that kind of disposable income, by the way, because of the grossly unfair social structures of the time that subjugated the poor in the first place.

But hey, I'm no history Ph.D. Maybe you can point to a society with no concept of intellectual property, but with the depth and breadth and density of art that we currently enjoy and in which every economic stratum had wide access to that content.

And I do of course hold it in good faith that you will address these points as a whole rather than disagreeing with a particular assumption or assertion and pretending that refutes my entire argument. And further, that you will hold yourself to a high level of intellectual rigor and avoid posturing like "why don't you think poor people should have art?" I hold this in good faith because I am a moron.
posted by Riki tiki at 3:34 PM on February 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


"I get the justification, but I'm not sure you've fully thought that out -- copyrights are (supposedly) a limited duration right for those of us who create art to control what other's do with it, with certain exception for the public good such as education, critique, etc. Copyrights protect us little people from those big bad corporations."

Right, but copyright doesn't work like that in practice. They are not, functionally, a limited duration, they overly restrict what others can do with the work, and the exceptions are too limited.

But fundamentally, copyright is a negotiated right, and a much more negotiated right than most of the other rights that we respect. And that means that it requires consent from both parties in order to make it defensible.
posted by klangklangston at 3:39 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dios: I don't dispute that it is possible. But I suspect that the above example is less likely than my Springsteen example. After all, I suspect that if the industry really was profiting from the "net gain of wealth" example you provided, they would not be working so hard to stop it.

That argument gave me pause Dios, but I think it can be resolved this way. The interests of the "industry" are not necessarily aligned with the interests of the artists. The industry has a well defined distribution model that they'd like to protect. The artists can profit from any distribution model. That's why you're starting to see a lot of artists rights groups and new labels come out against the record labels' position.
posted by Popular Ethics at 3:41 PM on February 16, 2009


Could someone with some legal knowledge explain to me why p2p and BitTorrent services haven't argued in court during these trials why they are considered to be illegal when VCRs and cars are not? Or if they have argued this, why the argument didn't work?

Because the way I see it, sure, p2p and Bittorrent can be used for piracy. But they (arguably) werren't designed for that purpose and can be used to trade legal files. Similarly VCRs can be used to copy video tapes and shows off of TV, but they aren't considered illegal because they were (arguably) designed to allow you to tape sports broadcasts. And cars were designed to get you around, but can be used to speed, rob banks, do ram raids... and so on.

So again, could someone with some legal knowledge explain to me why this isn't being argued in court, or if it has been, why it hasn't worked?
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:43 PM on February 16, 2009


Could someone with some legal knowledge explain to me why p2p and BitTorrent services haven't argued in court during these trials why they are considered to be illegal when VCRs and cars are not? Or if they have argued this, why the argument didn't work?

P2P is totally legal. Using it to illegally distribute or acquire copyrighted materials are not. The reasoning is exactly the same as in the Betamax trial- that a thing having illegal uses does not make it illegal.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:50 PM on February 16, 2009


It's interesting how morality on the internet is based on authorship and reputation, rather than ownership.

We'd all be flipping out if someone took someone else's work and presented it as their own, but copying it with proper references to ownership is a non-issue.
posted by amuseDetachment at 3:56 PM on February 16, 2009


proper references to ownership authorship is a non-issue.
posted by amuseDetachment at 3:58 PM on February 16, 2009


That "the end justifies the means" is a universally wrong and immediately dismissable claim is ridiculous and intellectually lazy.

I made no such statement. It doesn't have to be universally wrong or immediately dismissable to call your absolutist position into question.

I mean, seriously: I'm providing justifications for the things I do. How terrible a person that makes me.

Terrible? No. Self-serving? Yes. You are obviously behaving differently from the people who would also like free stuff but don't download it, and from the people (like me) who do download stuff without rationalizing our behavior as somehow the right thing to do.

I do not feel that this right- which is not a right as traditionally understood, but a privilege conferred by law- is important enough to permit it to get in the way of the outcomes mentioned.

Yes, the outcome of you discovering Depeche Mode is clearly, without question, more important than, well, anything else I can think of.

There is nothing sacrosanct or inherently valuable about laws; they exist to protect and better society and the individuals within it. When the law does not do this, there is no ethical reason, beyond the possible negative impact of being caught, to follow it.

There does not seem to be a consensus that this law doesn't protect or better society. So who decides if there are ethical reasons for a given law? You? You can go in all sorts of directions from this point, none of them good.

Today people are accorded property rights over long binary numbers. Soon they will not be. Because an already large and ever-growing segment of society no longer believes that such a property right outweights the benefit to itself of getting to listen to the new Springsteen album without paying for it.

This doesn't sound so good either. All information can be reduced to numbers, including your private conversations.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:09 PM on February 16, 2009


Terrible? No. Self-serving? Yes. You are obviously behaving differently from the people who would also like free stuff but don't download it, and from the people (like me) who do download stuff without rationalizing our behavior as somehow the right thing to do.

I'm also behaving differently from people who download things as an alternative to paying for them, but acknowledging that doesn't serve your bullshit argument, does it?

Yes, the outcome of you discovering Depeche Mode is clearly, without question, more important than, well, anything else I can think of.

More bullshit. This is one of the positive outcomes, along with me giving a fair bit of my goddamn money to the band and to the people who own the rights to the band's output. Of course, again, acknowledging that wouldn't serve your argument's needs, would it?

There does not seem to be a consensus that this law doesn't protect or better society. So who decides if there are ethical reasons for a given law? You?

Again with the bullshit. Are you incapable of arguing without going after a strawman?
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:23 PM on February 16, 2009


It's interesting how morality on the internet is based on authorship and reputation, rather than ownership.

This might be one of those chicken-egg things, though. Because if you put something "out there" on the internet, you know that, realistically, you have no way to stop anyone from copying it, blowing it up, putting it on their wall... whatever. The only palpable currency, then, is fame and reputation. Claiming someone else's work as your own would be the most extreme act of piracy possible, because (unlike digital reproduction) this would actually be depriving you of something.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:27 PM on February 16, 2009


I pirate stuff when I think it's appropriate, and much more often I pay for stuff. I give little thought to the morality of the situation. The vast, overwhelming majority of the public is just like me. All this debating morality is missing the point; the reality is that the public has already decided this issue.

The sooner the labels realize the fight is already over, the more likely they will be to survive.
posted by cseibert at 4:32 PM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


There are three main types of copyright offences in the US and most of europe.

1) direct copyright infringement, by distributing copies of works you don't own. Posting files on your own website, or sharing them through kazaa are examples of this online. There are arguments over whether merely 'making available' for others to copy is sufficient to break the law, or whether it's necessary to prove others have actually downloaded them for the copyright to be infringed. Most copyright infringement is a civil offence, with the penalties including making good the losses, and also punitive damages to discourage others. Commercial infringement, i.e. selling copies of works you don't own the rights to above a certain threshold becomes a criminal offence. Direct copyright infringement is illegal in Sweden, in part under their implementation of the EUCD, the roughly equivalent EU version of the DMCA. The Pirate Bay are not breaking these laws, as they do not directly host the files themselves, only links to the files.

2) contributory infringement. This requires (1) knowledge of the infringing activity and (2) a material contribution. Posting serial numbers on a forum, which may not be sufficiently original to be copyrighted themselves, may still be a breach of this type of law. Hosting a forum where detailed discussions of copyright infringement take place, including methods, may get you sued under such a law. Generally, it has to be shown that the webmaster knew, or should have known, that the activity was going on. In the US, it was this type of law that was used to nail napster, and various torrent and other indexing sites hosted in the US. AFAIK, Sweden does not have a law making contributory infringement illegal. There was a swedish case where a BBS was sued for hosting copyright infringing material posted by users, but the BBS won.

Under the US DMCA 'safe harbor' provisions, hosting companies are safe from charges of contributory infringement if they take down alleged infringing material posted by users, when notified by the copyright holder. Google has been relying on this with youtube, though there have been attempts to sue them for not taking a more 'proactive' role.

In a another line, Sweden do have laws against circumvention of DRM, or the assistance of the same, again under the EUCD. Given that the pirate bay hosts links to tools specifically designed to circumvent copyright protection measures (cracks, amongst others), it may be the could be nailed for that - though I don't believe they've been charged with that specifically. 2600 lost a case under the DMCA in the US where they hosted decss, a tool to circumvent DVD protections.

3) vicarious infringement. Vicarious infringement results when there has been a direct infringement and the vicarious infringer is in a position to control the direct infringer and benefits financially from the infringement; even though they don't contribute materially themselves. The classic example is a market owner who knows a stall-renter is selling dodgy copies of DVDs but does nothing to prevent it. Though he is not directly helping, he is aware of the activity, benefits from it financially, and could stop it. Napster was nailed for this too. This is why you see the emphasis by US lawyers over the supposed financial benefits TPB is getting via advertising; even if they are not judged to be materially helping others infringe; being aware of the infringement, and being in a position to prevent it (by removing infringing torrents), and making money out of not doing so, they'd be guilty of vicarious infringement in the US. AFAIK, this is not illegal in sweden either.

Whether what TPB does is illegal in the US or the UK (which it almost certainly would be, based on previous torrent site and P2P hosting cases) is rather irrelevent though. Selling Nazi memorabilia is illegal in France; Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany. Neither is illegal in the US, and people would laugh at a case being brought in the US over these acts (though cases have been brought against US companies operating a european arm and allowing the sale of nazi items in these countries). What matters is the law in Sweden.

As I understand it, TPB admins are being charged with conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. This alleges that the copyright infringement of the users assisted by TPB reaches the standards for criminal infringement under the EUCD, and TPB admins intentionally conspired with them to help them commit these criminal act(s), even though they did not intend to or actually break copyright law themselves.

It's a novel approach, and one which has not yet been tried with regards p2p or online copyright infringement before to my knowledge; normally such trials against hosting sites revolve around contributory and vicarious infringement charges.
posted by ArkhanJG at 4:47 PM on February 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


This trial appear to be...wait for it....rated ARRRRR! *exiting stage left*
posted by scarello at 5:10 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"1. These artists created this work on the basis of our current legal definition of copyright.

Nope. Which artists? If I infringe on, say, Disney works that would have been public domain by now had the term not been extended, that's just as illegal. Likewise, if I infringe on copyrights from other countries or other times, those works have clearly not been created with our American contemporary legislation regarding copyright. Why is this important? Because it demonstrates how artificial the idea of copyright is.

They put it out there, knowing that in all practicality it could be pirated, but not consenting to that behavior. Their motivation for creating and releasing it, at least in part, was money... or else they'd have released it for free.

So? I mean, let's leave aside whether or not offering intellectual property for sale constitutes informed consent regarding our IP laws. The motivations of creators are contributory to the work, not inherent. I don't have to enjoy Mein Kampf in the spirit in which it was intended. Once a work is made public, it enters the public discussion.

Pirating the work, therefore, is an act of ill faith against their motivation for creating the work. You talk about copyright as being designed for the benefit of society, well this is what that refers to... enabling the motivation and effort for more art to be created, using the most effective tool we possess (money) for that purpose and in a way that DOES NOT PREVENT artists from creating and releasing their work for free if they so choose.

Then that's emphatically not a moral claim, but rather a practical one—that copyright is the best way to encourage the creation of intellectual property. But while some artists make the commercial realm an explicit part of their work (say, Jeff Koons), that doesn't mean that other artists' work is sine qua non commercial, nor that they are making a free choice not to provide it for free.

2. Expanding upon 1, the capitalist version of intellectual property protections in no way intrinsically inhibits any other distribution mechanism."

That's not true at all. Even beyond the obvious case in point of The Pirate Bay as an alternate distribution system, and moving closer to what I think you actually meant, in not limiting the creator's ability to release their work for free, that's not true either. The continued reliance upon this model makes it essentially necessary for creators to get paid privately in order to survive.

It adds motivation, and subtracts nothing. That is why it is beneficial to society. You may argue that the corruption within these industries is an unacceptable evil, but you have to actually argue that... find a way to prove in a rational way that they result in less "art", by some measure, than if they did not exist. Good luck with that, since it's basically like trying to argue that anarchy would be an effective social structure for the modern U.S."

As for the "less art" suggestion, that's easily provable—See Biz Markee's loss against Gilbert O'Sullivan. And you forget yourself—I don't have to argue less art, you have to argue more art than other copyright schemes. Not only that, you have to argue that there is less art out in the public eye than there would be if I didn't pirate. Given your triumphalist bullshit, I take it you also understand just how absurd any argument for more or less art is.

"3. Questionable decisions such as DRM or limited-quality recordings fall under the blanket of capitalism-based intellectual property exchange. You and I both think they do more overall harm than good, but the issue is hardly settled and well within the leeway where the rights holders get benefit of the doubt. After all, the harm to you if you don't like it is negligible... you just don't get to enjoy that content."

Well, no, you're the one suffering the negligible harm here, as I found those albums and downloaded them without any trouble. Which also falls under the blanket of capitalism-based intellectual property exchange, a fairly amoral beast. But yes, the harm to me is negligible—I risk reducing incentives for musicians I like to continue creating music. But I feel like I do enough to mitigate that risk in other wasy, so I'm comfortable with it.

"4. Widespread "civil disobedience," as you call it, rings very hollow. The great examples of civil disobedience in our history came at great cost and sacrifice to their practitioners. They disobeyed, publicly and as a gesture. For the most part, they did not gain personally from their actions except insofar as they improved society as a whole. Ghandi explicitly stated in his rules for disobedience that resisters would voluntarily submit to arrest when it is sought by an authority. If you claim this is comparable in nature to getting to enjoy music for free and being insulated from legal consequences by safety in numbers, you are absolutely deluding yourself."

All those black people at segregated lunch counters who enjoyed their soda and weren't arrested weren't engaged in civil disobedience. Gotcha.

I don't particularly care whether or not it rings hollow to you. I realize that it's roughly equivalent to speeding, but you're the one who wants to turn this into Leviticus. I don't think speeding is immoral either. Or drug use. Or any number of other things that are against the law.

P.S.: Nice try with the "poor people don't get art" posturing... how do you think poor people "got art" in copyright-free societies? I'd venture that they either made it for themselves for free, which they can do now just as easily, or they got it as a discarded hand-me-down from the wealthy aristocrats who commissioned art-for-pay; aristocrats who had that kind of disposable income, by the way, because of the grossly unfair social structures of the time that subjugated the poor in the first place."

Look, I understand that you're upset here, but after all, you do believe that only people who can pay whatever a rights holder demands should be able to experience a great work of art.

Wait, you have a more nuanced position than that? Well, then why do you insist on arguing it from an absolutist point of view and assuming everyone who disagrees with you is absolutist too?

Because you're so close to bustin' that hardcore IP nut all over your keyboard?
posted by klangklangston at 5:47 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"The only palpable currency, then, is fame and reputation. Claiming someone else's work as your own would be the most extreme act of piracy possible, because (unlike digital reproduction) this would actually be depriving you of something."

The only reason I pay for anything is to forestall this nightmarish Whuffie economy.
posted by klangklangston at 5:55 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I look forward to a future with no professional musicians, except
"those few who can get hired for commissioned work"


I worked in music for more than a decade.

This is no different than it was 20 years ago, and it's no different than it is today. Very few musicians make a living at what they do. This has always been true. Those on the fringes have always made more touring. Studio work is all about the work you describe above. The big money, as always, has been in royalties, which mostly comes through radio/commercial play and can last for many years. I don't see this changing too much, although the radio business model is changing a bit. But a lot of non-artists own the copyrights to many, many songs, so the royalty machine doesn't necessarily benefit the artist. SAG gets a better deal for its members who do commercial work.

OTOH, I work with a guy in his 60s who just self-released a jazz guitar CD a couple years ago. You've never heard of him, but he's worked as a studio musician for many years in the past and has toured and recorded. He invested $400 in his CD, sold all of them, and netted over $15,000. That was without even trying. That's years post-Napster, 2006 to be exact. Never once heard him whine about p2p or torrents.

He's still playing, because he loves to play. This would be true whether he could sell CDs or not, but he can, so why not? You should see his guitar. Custom made, extra humbuckers in the neck, fat jazz strings, incredible tone. He has to do tech support to make some extra income, but that has more to do with his 401k shrinking to nothing in the '08 crash than it does the music industry, per se.

Let me repeat: he plays music because he loves to play. Welcome to the future.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:01 PM on February 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Even more rude was that a reporter and a photographer from the Swedish TV4 showed up, even though we already told them they weren’t welcome.

Well fuck, really?
posted by mattoxic at 6:11 PM on February 16, 2009


"P2P is totally legal. Using it to illegally distribute or acquire copyrighted materials are not. The reasoning is exactly the same as in the Betamax trial- that a thing having illegal uses does not make it illegal."

I believe that the fine line is whether the technology in question has significant purposes besides violating copyright. I can't remember the exact wording, but the idea is that technology which wasn't specifically designed to violate copyright is in itself not criminal. But the RIAA and the MPAA made the same arguments against VHS/Beta and cassette tapes, so there is similarity. If anything, there is nothing new to the basic arguments against the technology.

IANAL.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:15 PM on February 16, 2009


me & my monkey: "All information can be reduced to numbers, including your private conversations."

The new Springsteen record is not a private conversation. It's something he specifically created for public consumption. So I don't see what your point is.

As Riki correctly points out, Springsteen released that record both: 1) asking that people pay a certain amount to listen to it, and 2) knowing that some people will disregard those wishes and listen without paying anything. But to paraphrase his other statement: The people who listen without paying anything in no way inhibit the other people from paying what Springsteen asks.

Now the doomsday scenario being trotted about is that not enough people will pay what Springsteen asks to make the production of a new record worth his while and so there will be no more Springsteen records. Which of these seems like the most practical response? 1. Lower the price of the record to what the market is willing to pay. Cuz a $19 list price is some kind of bad joke. 2. Lower his own costs to the point where the current market will support it. How many more times expensive was the production of this record compared to Nebraska? And is it that many times better? 3. Enhance the value of the record by including something extra - like a voucher to premium seats at his concerts. 4. Try to put the people who listened without paying in prison.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:15 PM on February 16, 2009


"So again, could someone with some legal knowledge explain to me why this isn't being argued in court, or if it has been, why it hasn't worked?"

It hasn't worked partly because the law changed. The DMCA removed a lot of uncertainty, that's for sure, but it moved many violations into criminal law rather than civil law. Some technology is now considered criminal if its intended to circumvent copy-prevention. And even if the technology has significant uses besides copying or distributing copyrighted material, if that's the primary use and the intent by a particular individual, I don't think using that as a defense works. If you're using a car to run someone over, you can be charged with a crime, even though using a car in itself is not a criminal act. Using it to run someone over is, or can be.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:24 PM on February 16, 2009


Maybe you can point to a society with no concept of intellectual property, but with the depth and breadth and density of art that we currently enjoy and in which every economic stratum had wide access to that content.

i call foul - the depth and breadth and density of art that we have has everything to do with our technology - no electricity, no printing, no mass media, no wide access
posted by pyramid termite at 6:28 PM on February 16, 2009


"Some technology is now considered criminal if its intended to circumvent copy-prevention."

I wanted to single this out, because traditionally there is fair use, including making personal copies. The DMCA made it possible to usurp that consumer right if the publisher utilizes copy protection, making the consumer a criminal if s/he exercises a right to make a copy for backup or any purpose at all, nevermind if that person distributes the material or not. This in itself is a significant change. It means if you buy a Disney DVD for your kids, for instance, and they scratch it all to hell in a week, Disney expects you to buy another, not exercise good judgment and make a backup so you don't have to waste your money. Because, who knows? If you want to make a copy you're probably a nasty pirate! Arrrrrrrr!
posted by krinklyfig at 6:35 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm also behaving differently from people who download things as an alternative to paying for them, but acknowledging that doesn't serve your bullshit argument, does it?

My, you're testy. It seems to me that if you download something without paying for it, you are doing so as an alternative to paying for it, unless you've already purchased it. Sure, maybe you'll go buy a bunch of other stuff instead of buying this, so that makes it all ok, but you're still not paying for what you downloaded.

Now personally, I don't have any problem with that. On the scale of bad things, violating intellectual property laws is pretty far down the scale. What I do have a problem with, is your claim that it's the right and proper thing to do. That bullshit you smell is on your shoes, not mine.

More bullshit. This is one of the positive outcomes, along with me giving a fair bit of my goddamn money to the band and to the people who own the rights to the band's output. Of course, again, acknowledging that wouldn't serve your argument's needs, would it?

It doesn't really serve any needs, because it's irrelevant. "I'm going to do this bad thing today, and it will be outweighed by far by the good thing I do tomorrow!" Or, if you object to that, "I'm going to violate your legal rights today, and give you money tomorrow!"

The new Springsteen record is not a private conversation. It's something he specifically created for public consumption. So I don't see what your point is.

My point is simply that the fact that information can be represented as numbers is irrelevant to how we allow that information to be used. Your digitized conversations, after all, are just numbers, so I should be able to distribute them just like any other numbers, right? Your intent for how those numbers should be used, and who should be allowed to see those numbers, is irrelevant according to your own arguments.

The people who listen without paying anything in no way inhibit the other people from paying what Springsteen asks.

Really? You've never heard the phrase "setting a bad example?"
posted by me & my monkey at 7:13 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm just in this for the eyepatch.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:27 PM on February 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Holy shit, my preemptive comment actually worked. This is a great thread.
posted by flatluigi at 8:03 PM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, if you're interested in the whole copyright situation even slightly, I can't endorse the documentary Good Copy, Bad Copy enough. Go watch it.
posted by flatluigi at 8:24 PM on February 16, 2009


"This is the case with all my "friends" that have ever downloaded albums. The albums that are actually wanted are purchased."

I'm glad your friends do this. But I know a lot of people who haven't paid for music in years and intend never to do so.

The size of the music industry in 2007 dropped by more than twice the entire size of the digital music market. I haven't seen 2008 stats yet but every indication is it will be about the same.

In parallel has come the collapse of live music venues in the major metropolitan areas due to the real estate boom. The boom is over, but the clubs are still gone and the spaces they were in often turned into living spaces.

This means that except for a very small number of musicians at the top, and an ever-decreasing stable of session musicians (because why hire someone when you can just take a classic performance from a dead person?), the only way to make any sort of living out of music (or even to just about break even) is to relentlessly tour wide geographical areas. (*)

Now, I still see a lot of good live bands (and you'd better believe that if I even halfway like the band I buy all their merch) - but what makes me very very sad is how few of these excellent bands I ever get to see twice. My reading of it is that these tours are like extended holidays that kids take after college, and then they simply can no longer afford to be musicians any more.

I love the energy of young musicians, but even more I love the maturity of seasoned musicians who have developed their talents over years. I simply don't get to see many of them any more (except of course for world music - unfortunately, the Bush government slashed the number of visas by about half so we don't see them as much either...)

(* - actually, there's another route - get an advanced degree in music and then an academic job, then play music in your spare time. But I know exactly one person who managed that, whom I interestingly met through MeFi...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:29 PM on February 16, 2009


Doing a quick look over my iPhone.

* Bought from iTunes
* Bought from iTunes
* Bought from Bigpond Music
* Bought from iTunes
* Bought from Bigpond Music
* Bought from iTunes
* Bought from iTunes

Oh here's an album I pirated. Super Eurobeat 176. Which I can't buy in this country or on any online music store. Here's another, the NiGHTs OST which had 3 copies made in total and occasionally one got shipped to an outlet mall in the Alice Springs when they found a jewel case for it.

FUNNY THAT.

If I can buy it I buy it. Music is a fairly reasonable price and if I buy it on iTunes it's available for immediate download from a fast server (rather than traipsing around the internet for a torrent who's only seed is from some guy in Finland on a 56K modem), decent quality and DRM free so I can play it on all my devices anyway. It's basically a cheaper CD with cover art instead of a CD cover and a PDF file instead of liner notes.

If I can't buy it you better believe that the $10 I would have paid for your CD is going to cover half an hour of my time it took to find a torrent and pirate it.
posted by Talez at 9:22 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you have been alive and paying attention for the last 20 years and you're at the point where you read New Lawsuit: Recording Industry vs. $name and you're not instantly rooting for $name ... then something is very, very wrong.
posted by bhance at 10:28 PM on February 16, 2009


MY GOD THE RECORD COMPANIES STEAL FAR MORE FROM THE ARTISTS THAN DOWNLOADING FREE ALBUMS DOES. FOR FUCKSS'S'S'S' SAKE.

The Problem with Music. Steve lays it all out for us.
posted by exlotuseater at 10:31 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're missing the point, exlotuseater. If wannabee pop stars, in their desire for fame and fortune, want to bend over and have the record company ream them so hard and so often that their arseholes look like goatseman, they have every right to do so -- and it's the right thing to do.

However, if some poor teenager or old granny happens to tape a copy of their music off of the radio, then those corrupt thieving bastards need to be bankrupted and flogged to within an inch of their life because it's an artists bounden duty to enrich the corporations and fuck the poor. Their precious talent is like golden jism, and the public are johns who *must* be charged the absolute maximum for every single drop that they wish to swallow.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:59 AM on February 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


In the meantime, there's always Isohunt... and Newsbin... and eMule... and WinMX... and Share... and PerfectDark... and...
posted by metaplectic at 2:27 AM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Precious talent like golden jism.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:30 AM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


MY GOD THE RECORD COMPANIES STEAL FAR MORE FROM THE ARTISTS THAN DOWNLOADING FREE ALBUMS DOES.

BY JOVE WE SHOULD BEHAVE LIKE THE RECORD COMPANIES AND RIP OFF THE ARTISTS TWICE. AND HERES A LINK FROM A THIRD-RATE GUITARIST I FOUND ON THE WEB WHO AGREES WITH ME.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:07 AM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have no dog in this hunt Blazecock but did you just dismiss Steve fucking Albini, producer extraordinaire?
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:14 AM on February 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't particularly care whether or not it rings hollow to you. I realize that it's roughly equivalent to speeding, but you're the one who wants to turn this into Leviticus. I don't think speeding is immoral either.

What a great analogy! The worms in this can were not nearly enough!
posted by ghost of a past number at 4:42 AM on February 17, 2009


Torrent sites makes me think of Rizla. Because sure, you can use Rizla's rolling paper for "legal" tobacco cigarettes. And twelve of their customers probably do. The rest make joints. With delicious, "illegal" weed.

Rizla should take responsibility for their superhigh customers' usage of Rizla's criminality-enabling quality papers. ...or something. Awrr.
posted by Glee at 6:02 AM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


And so ends day 2:

---

50% of Charges Against Pirate Bay Dropped (TorrentFreak)

There has been high drama on the second day of the Pirate Bay trial. Due to serious shortcomings in the prosecution evidence, around 50% of the charges in the case are going to have to be withdrawn. The defense describes it as a ’sensation’, seeing half of the charges being dropped on the second day...

What has been shown in court today is that the prosecutor cannot prove that the .torrent files he is using as evidence actually used The Pirate Bay’s tracker. Many of the screenshots being used clearly state there is no connection to the tracker. Additionally, prosecutor Håkan Roswall didn’t adequately explain the function of DHT which allows for so called “trackerless” torrents.

Tomorrow morning the prosecution will continue to build (or break) their case and on Thursday the defense will have its say.


---

Cocky texts on The Pirate Bay (Some Swede)
Per E Samuelsson identifies another weak point in the case.

"There are certain cocky words on the site, encouraging crimes. If they could prove exactly who wrote them, it could be on the verge of being punishable. But I don't think they can, because the prosecutor has not mentioned them at all."

Another thing that might make it difficult for the defense attorneys is that they also have to deal with the enormous compensation that the 16 companies involved in the Pirate Bay case demand.

"I'm a criminal case lawyer, and I don't want to handle civil law cases with damage claims. We have tried to separate the issue of damages from the criminal trial, but the district court has refused. It's unreasonable that 75 percent of a criminal case is about civil law, says Ola Salomonsson."

---
posted by tybeet at 6:03 AM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, here's a link to the Press Conference from Sunday in English.

some snips:

Q. How big is TPB today?
Well.. about half of the BT traffic is coordinate through TPB, and it is extreme amounts. About 80% of the worlds Internet traffic is expected to be BT traffic, and about half of it is tracked by TPB. That should be roughly just about 40% of all Internet traffic in the world is somewhat depending on TPB.

Q. How much data are we talking about here?
I cant even begin to estimate it, we have no figures of that.. It’s, It’s a lot. More than I can store at home. Last weekend TPB was down during a couple of hours and we can see graphs of this.. that about 108 Tb of data was missing from the Swedish Internet. That’s quite a lot during 5 hours.

Q. Do you have any thought on how artists should be compensated?

In this panel we have two people who have been earning their money as programmers, one active musician…Piratbyrån is actively participating in discussion in different areas, music, art etc. and those discussions are good. On the other hand to start a discussion saying there is an awful lot of files being transferred and how do we get compensated for that is the wrong way to start. Selling single files is a boring way for doing business leading to boring culture. One file, one sale is not what we believe in, we believe the digital needs to tie back into the analog world to become meaningful. What we have seen from 2000’s when file sharing has grown in popularity is that the music business in all ways, except physical media sales, is blooming. Other areas will follow this development as long as business models adapt to the new reality.

Q. Is TPB good business?
Eh.. I don’t think so at all..Many people wonder if we make a lot of money from this. Take into consideration; Someone starts a site that consumes enormous amounts of bandwidth, there is no way to make money from the tracker itself that everyone uses, that itself costs most of the money. An then to publicly suggest, to some of the most (capital)solid industries of the world to shove a baton up their ass and to recommend different types of batons for this purpose. No it’s not a good way to make money.
posted by tybeet at 6:12 AM on February 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I fundamentally reject the idea that it should cost me $15 to find out if I like a band or not.

I agree. Further, I fundamentally reject the idea that it should cost me $15 to find out if I like a movie or not. So I should be able to go to the movies for free, amirite?

But seriously, how's the ACTUAL CASE going?
posted by nushustu at 8:08 AM on February 17, 2009


nushustu: "But seriously, how's the ACTUAL CASE going?"

Let's see. Half of the charges were dropped after the first day - since the prosecution doesn't even understand the fucking technology involved.

But it's too soon to celebrate. If half of the remaining charges are dropped each day, the legal threat will approach but never quite reach zero.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:39 AM on February 17, 2009 [10 favorites]


> But seriously, how's the ACTUAL CASE going?

Well, one of the accused offered this eloquent sound bite.
posted by you at 10:00 AM on February 17, 2009


A THIRD-RATE GUITARIST

watch it now, blazie.
posted by Hat Maui at 10:29 AM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


watch it now, blazie.

I think this thread could easily hit 250-300 comments, if we each put in the effort.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:02 AM on February 17, 2009


My biggest issue with the "try before you buy" argument is that there is a cheap, legal solution to it. Subscription services like Rhapsody are phenomenal for this. Yes, there's DRM and you can't take the music with you without a compatible player, but the artists I'm listening to do get compensated and I get to screen out the crap before I buy music.
posted by PFL at 11:42 AM on February 17, 2009


I agree. Further, I fundamentally reject the idea that it should cost me $15 to find out if I like a movie or not. So I should be able to go to the movies for free, amirite?

Well, if you're not too eager to see a particular movie, you could just wait for the ISO to come out (from PirateBay or myriad other sources).

Let's face it: the concept of intellectual property is no longer tenable, regardless of any moral or legal arguments.
posted by metaplectic at 2:03 PM on February 17, 2009


"So I should be able to go to the movies for free, amirite?"

Psst. There's a Pirate Bay for that.

"My biggest issue with the "try before you buy" argument is that there is a cheap, legal solution to it. Subscription services like Rhapsody are phenomenal for this. Yes, there's DRM and you can't take the music with you without a compatible player, but the artists I'm listening to do get compensated and I get to screen out the crap before I buy music."

I like Rhapsody, actually. I had a roommate who was a subscriber. But the problem I have with them is the same one I have with a lot of legal music buying services—the catalog is pretty limited, compared to what I listen to.

And honestly, I've been using Last.Fm's full album streaming for a lot of my preview needs, and y'know what? It's really drastically decreased the amount that I'm swiping from the internets. I mean, before, I likely woulda downloaded Glass Candy's latest album, then realized that I already had the good songs and been vaguely annoyed about wasting my time before I deleted it. And if it's something that I missed, like the School of Seven Bells, I can buy it right there through Last.Fm. Then I talk it up here (it's really pretty good, you should give them some dollars too).

It's not like I don't want to give artists my money when I like their music. It's just that I want to buy it in a format that I want, at a price I can afford.

(But I also admit that I'm an edge case for music on the whole, both buying and downloading much more than the average.)
posted by klangklangston at 3:20 PM on February 17, 2009


Let's face it: the concept of intellectual property is no longer tenable, regardless of any moral or legal arguments.

Question: Suppose I took my favorite Led Zeppelin songs and released them on a self-produced CD. What would happen to me?

Answer: if I persisted, armed men ("the police") would break into my place of business, arrest me and destroy all the CDs.

You are wrong.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:50 PM on February 17, 2009


"Question: Suppose I took my favorite Led Zeppelin songs and released them on a self-produced CD. What would happen to me?"

Nothing. Unless you became famous for it or somehow made money at it, both of which are unlikely. And even then, it would take quite a while for anyone who does care to both find out and act on it.
posted by klangklangston at 3:53 PM on February 17, 2009


By "released" I mean "sell for money".

Police arrest people seize pirated and counterfeited music, clothing, software, movies and etc. every single day. If you read New York newspapers, you read about some huge bust in the metro area every month or so (not that you don't see pirated videos in the subway each day...)

If you mean "not tenable" as in the dictionary definition of "can't make an argument for", then the sentence becomes self-contradictory: "You can't make an argument for intellectual property, regardless of any moral or legal arguments."

I've been hearing this "IP is dead" rap for well over a decade while billions of dollars in IP have changed hands. The concept of intellectual property has changed dramatically over the last 20 years, much new technology has been built pushing it in many directions, it's a dynamic and changing concept which is completely viable.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:16 PM on February 17, 2009


Question: Suppose I took my favorite Led Zeppelin songs and released them on a self-produced CD. What would happen to me?
Straw man. The relevant question here is: What will happen to Atlantic Records when nobody buys Led Zeppelin's music anymore, because it is trivial to download for free?
I've been hearing this "IP is dead" rap for well over a decade while billions of dollars in IP have changed hands. The concept of intellectual property has changed dramatically over the last 20 years, much new technology has been built pushing it in many directions, it's a dynamic and changing concept which is completely viable.
Sorry, but this is complete bullshit. The major record labels are being devastated by people choosing to download rather than buy, with the major studios soon to follow -- it is only a matter of time. I would love to hear some examples of the exciting new directions in IP technology. The DRM of Windows Vista/7 and unbreakable Blu-ray encryption come to mind.
posted by metaplectic at 8:28 PM on February 17, 2009


O ho, Blazecock, you are too funny!
(stuff I was going to say about how it really is true, record co's suck, and fans that "take" a song or two often buy the entire album and end up supporting the artist, who ultimately has a net gain from all those DL's, etc)

I'm trying to avoid ad hominem, but really-- Albini is an acknowledged authority, and your aesthetic judgment of his music (which is a different issue) is suspect.
posted by exlotuseater at 8:46 PM on February 17, 2009


Day 3 -
The Pirate Bay’s ‘King Kong’ Defense


...
As Carl Lundström’s lawyer, Per E Samuelsson took the floor and pointed out the weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case. The defense argued that prosecutors have failed to prove that Lundström has been involved in any transfer of any copyrighted material. He played the King Kong defense.

“EU directive 2000/31/EG says that he who provides an information service is not responsible for the information that is being transferred. In order to be responsible, the service provider must initiate the transfer. But the admins of The Pirate Bay don’t initiate transfers. It’s the users that do and they are physically identifiable people. They call themselves names like King Kong,” Samuelsson told the court.

“According to legal procedure, the accusations must be against an individual and there must be a close tie between the perpetrators of a crime and those who are assisting. This tie has not been shown. The prosecutor must show that Carl Lundström personally has interacted with the user King Kong, who may very well be found in the jungles of Cambodia,” the lawyer added.

After the King Kong defense the court decided to adjourn the court case, which will continue tomorrow on day 4. Thus far, the trial is ahead of schedule.

Peter said that after today’s proceedings they all went for some pizza, where they met the whole opposing side. He asked if they could pick up the check. “They refused,” he said.
posted by tybeet at 6:48 AM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


It boils down to this: Copying no longer requires investment in a huge (printing/distribution/broadcasting) infrastructure. I do it daily on my computer. The prosecuters in this case do it daily on their computers. Everyone's a pirate, whether they know it or not. Use the web? You're making copies. See how simple that is?

Trying to shoehorn laws that were designed to apply to eighteenth century presses onto the internet is just laughable, or it would be if the occasional goat wasn't sacrificed.

What everyone has to wrap their heads around is that the online world is not like the physical world. COPY is the default. MOVE is actually COPY (and check to see that copy took place correctly) and then DELETE. It's easier to COPY than MOVE (in fact, you can't MOVE without COPY.)

Get used to it. Adjust your business model around it. Otherwise you're denying reality and thus, by my definition, insane.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:26 AM on February 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


I can't say I sympathise entirely with TPB or "pirates", but they do have a creative view of legal proceedings. Their responses to DMCA takedown notices are pure comedy, and must surely have made the blue before. I hope the lawyer did not miss the opportunity to present the King Kong defence with the aid of a flipchart displaying a large gorilla next to a tiny human figure for scale.
posted by ghost of a past number at 10:24 PM on February 18, 2009


"I agree. Further, I fundamentally reject the idea that it should cost me $15 to find out if I like a movie or not. So I should be able to go to the movies for free, amirite?"

At $8+ for first-run, screw that. Rarely go to the movie theater anymore. We don't have a good arthouse/alternative theater here, but there is an active local group of film people, and they manage to find space to show interesting film, but nothing really established. Price of living in a small town. I do buy DVDs, however, but rarely spend more than $10, but no Netflix account yet. I also buy CDs. Because I'm old and wretched, and because having a physical copy is somehow comforting. But I'm the exception, not the rule anymore.

Beatport knows how to do it. They offer WAVs if you want, though they do come at a hefty premium, but no DRM on anything. The mp3s are pretty good quality, if you want that. No BS iTunes database crashes. Well, if you're into that sort of music, but it works. It's a big resource for DJs now. I've bought there, and I don't even like buying downloaded music for the most part.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:36 PM on February 18, 2009


Day 4 -
Pirate Bay Defense Calls Foul Over Evidence:


Carl Lundström’s lawyer Per E Samuelsson continued with his client’s defense, reiterating the weakness of the links between him and the other defendants, and The Pirate Bay operation as a whole. Samuelsson also pointed to Lundström’s email correspondence in 2005 with Gottfrid and Fredrik, where they discussed the possibility of having to move the site to another country. This, he said, was an indication that the defendants kept an eye on the changes in the law and were mindful that they should operate legally within it...

After a break, the court’s attention switched to Fredrik Neij (TiAMO)...

Fredrik was then questioned about his relationship with advertiser Oded Daniel. When the prosecution asked if Oded was involved in the technical aspects of TPB, Fredrik replied.. “No, he’s not good at that. He uses Windows, so…” There was laughter heard on the live audio feed after that remark, not from the court room, but from the listening lounge next door where the bloggers are situated...

When questioned about the situation that some torrents are removed from the site due to bad labeling it was noted that TPB site is uncensored, with thousands of new torrents added every day and it is an impossible task to review them all. The tracker is completely open and anyone can and does add to it regularly, completely without any input or correspondence with TPB staff...

After the lunch break IFPI’s lawyer Peter Danowsky continues Fredrik’s questioning. He tries to pin something on him, but Fredrik points out that the email he’s referring to is a reply, and that the quotes mean that he didn’t write that part of the email...

Then the Prosecutor handed over a printed page from TPB and said: “This is a print out from a part of your web page. You call this a screenshot?” Fredrik answered: “This isn’t a screenshot, just a printed page.” Fredrik then explains what’s on the print (a Pink Panther torrent), and how the upload process on TPB works...

Wadsted later asked Gottfrid how they handle torrents that (allegedly) link to child porn. He said that they would inform the police. She then asked if they removed those torrents. He said some. “Not all?” was Wadsted’s reply. Gottfrid explained that it is not up to them to investigate crimes, but that they do inform the police. “We can’t do investigations of our own. And if the police says we should remove a torrent, we will,” he said...

Around 4 PM the Prosecutor announced that he wanted to bring in additional evidence, some actual torrent files on a diskette (he probably meant CD). The prosecutor demanded a statement on it at 9 in the morning tomorrow...

--

And in related news...

IFPI website hacked to protest Pirate Bay trial:

The Swedish website for IFPI, the International Federation of the Phonographic industry was hacked yesterday to protest the ongoing Pirate Bay trial in that country. It was replaced by a simple message,.which according to Betanews translates to the following.

Stop lying HÅKAN ROSWALL!

The ruthless hunt conducted by the IFPI, Anti-Piracy Office, Warner Bros., and all the other companies with a pawn in the game has now resulted in a trial in which four innocent men are accused of copyright infringement.

This is a declaration of war against anti-piracy and the industry players behind it, and we urge the public to boycott and lynch those responsible.
IFPI is just a beginning. To be Continued.


Håkan Roswell is a prosecutor arguing the case against four Swedish men in charge of The Pirate Bay.
posted by tybeet at 7:46 AM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


On twitter @Sofia is providing realtime English updates. The hash tag is #spectrial (of course) and there's a bot that retweets them @spectrial. Peter Sunde (one of the defendents) is twittering from court @brokep. His latest tweet:

"#spectrial whom ever is hacking the ifpi websites, please stop doing that. it only makes us look bad!"
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:40 AM on February 19, 2009


--

Ahh.. today was an interesting day...

Day 5 -
Peter’s “Political Trial”


...in a repeat of yesterday’s performance, the Prosecution started again to introduce more evidence that had not been cleared pre-trial... The judge reprimanded Danowsky and the defense told him to cut out this American-style trial strategy.

...After the break Danowsky’s questioning of Peter resumed. “Did you hold a lecture called “How to dismantle a billion dollar industry?” “Yes I did,” replied Peter.

Danowsky started to quote some of Peter’s comments from his blog at Brokep.com. Peter says that everything he writes on his blog isn’t about TPB even if prosecutors would like it to be the case.

Pressed further on his opinions on copyright, Peter asked Danowsky, “That is a political issue. Is this a political trial or a legal trial?” Danowsky continued, ignoring the question but Peter pulled him back. “I want an answer from the lawyer Danowsky. Is this a political trial? Can I get a reply?”

“How can copyright law be a political issue?” said Danowsky, but had no follow up questions...

...When Altin asked about the amount of copyright material tracked by TPB, Peter explained that he carried out a survey of a random 1000 torrents from the tracker and 80% of the content linked by the site was not copyrighted, noting that there is much more illegal material on YouTube...

At 3 o’clock in the afternoon the hearings ended, after discussing next week’s schedule...
posted by tybeet at 8:49 AM on February 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Thank you, tybeet, for keeping this thread updated with the details!
posted by flatluigi at 9:58 AM on February 20, 2009


flatluigi: "Thank you, tybeet, for keeping this thread updated with the details!"

My pleasure!
posted by tybeet at 3:11 PM on February 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


"...Peter explained that he carried out a survey of a random 1000 torrents from the tracker and 80% of the content linked by the site was not copyrighted..."

I have to wonder about that. The problem is that EVERYTHING is copyrighted from inception nowadays, and I don't think there's that much hundred-year-old public domain material on The Bay.

That's actually a great defense, since any calls to "take down copyrighted materials" would wipe out pretty much any site out there. Copyright Monopolists no longer have the burden of registering their crap, so it only seems fair that they should bear (bare?) the burden of policing it.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:12 PM on February 20, 2009




The Local provides news coverage of Sweden in English. They have a bunch of TPB Trial related articles up including this round-up from Thursday, and this editorial cartoon.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:45 PM on February 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


--

Feb. 24th was Day 7:

...
Defendant Gottfrid Svartholm questioned Mårtensson on his evidence gathering techniques. The following questions are particularly interesting as they show that the prosecution has no evidence that the Pirate Bay trackers were actually used.

Gottfrid: Before taking the screenshot, did you turn off DHT and Peer Exchange?

Mårtensson: DHT was obviously on. I wanted to be like an average user.

Gottfrid: So in other words, you can’t check if the tracker was used?

Mårtensson: The tracker address was visible on the screen. From that I assumed it was used in some way.

Gottfrid: But since you had DHT on, you have no possibility to state to the court as to whether The Pirate Bay’s tracker was actually used or not?

Mårtensson: No.

It seems unthinkable that the Prosecution has gathered ‘evidence’ in this way. Mårtensson was further asked if he was aware that Google can also act as a torrent search engine. The IFPI lawer seemed to be unaware of that, and he stated that they never had any problems with Google.

...After a short break ex-policeman Magnus Nilsson of the Anti-Piracy Office was next up. He described how he downloaded several .torrent files from The Pirate Bay as part of his evidence gathering, and he explained in detail how one downloads files with BitTorrent. Nilsson told that he downloaded several games and movies, all with uTorrent.

...Then, Nilsson came out to say that he was sure that a majority of the content on The Pirate Bay was copyrighted. However, he had no evidence that supports this claim. The defense lawyers pressed him on this and he had to cave in, “I have no documentation as to the claim that most material is copyrighted. It is just an opinion,” Nilsson said.

...One of the defense lawyers (Carl Lundtröm’s) used the same line of questioning as he did with Magnus Mårtensson. He asked what BitTorrent program Nilsson used. Then he asked if he downloaded that program from The Pirate Bay. When told no, he asked a couple of questions about the download process to show that TPB isn’t involved in the actual transfer.

“So the actual downloading [of the pirated works/files] happens outside of TPB?” Carl Lundström’s lawyer asked. “Yes,” Anders Nilsson replied...

--

After Day 7, TPB issued An Open Letter to John Kennedy of the IFPI, rather hilariously requesting a "token of appreciation" to the sum of £47,500,000.00.:

"Having consulted with my fellow kopimists, based on the intelligence generated from the Piratbyrån Chambers Of Computation And Piracy, I have the privilege to accept Your peace offering. We request this. The Internets are tired of war, and uttermost truly deserve peace.

As a token of Your appreciation we ask You to transfer the sum of £47,500,000.00 (forty seven million, five hundred thousand British Pounds) into our accounts..."

--

Today, was Day 8

Today’s first witness is Tobias Andersson from Piratbyrån and later on the IFPI’s CEO John Kennedy will testify, although it’s not expected that he will respond to the open letter and peace offering issued yesterday by the ‘Kopimists’...

IFPI’s John Kennedy confirmed he was the CEO of IFPI and summarized his duties there, noting the group has 1500 members worldwide and it’s main aims were to ‘improve’ copyright laws through government lobbying and fight piracy around the world since “piracy has done immense damage to the music industry.”...

Kennedy said that for a long time the industry sold its product in physical form (and experienced a limited piracy problem) but with the advent of digital music this situation has grown worse, with some claiming that copyright didn’t even exist in the digital world. He noted that the main sets of previous litigation were in the US (Grokster) and Australia (Kazaa).

Kennedy then said how pleased the music industry was with the legal wins against these two companies and in the wake of their demise, The Pirate Bay took their chance to develop their business. Kennedy said he first heard of TPB in 2004 and it was quickly becoming the #1 source of illegal music and this was damaging to the industry.

Kennedy noted the transition to digital music was a great threat to them, and although more music is currently being consumed than ever before, “less is being paid for than ever before.” If music is available for free, says Kennedy, many people find that temptation too much to resist and new business models can’t flourish...

When put to him that some claim that illegal downloading promotes sales, Kennedy labeled this as old-fashioned thinking and said that people don’t think this way anymore...

When asked about the differences between TPB and Google, Kennedy said there is no comparison. “We talk to Google all the time about preventing piracy. If you go to Google and type in Coldplay you get 40 million results - press stories, legal Coldplay music, review, appraisals of concerts/records. If you go to Pirate Bay you will get less than 1000 results, all of which give you access to illegal music or videos. Unfortunately The Pirate Bay does what it says in its description and its main aim is to make available unauthorized material. It filters fake material, it authorizes, it induces.”...

Carl Lundstrom’s lawyer asked about the profit on the industry’s $18bn turnover from 2008. “Terrible,” Kennedy replied. Of the big players “..only one company is making a profit.” Kennedy was pushed, if he knows the turnover, why doesn’t he know the profit. He said it was difficult to say.

He was also asked how much of this $18bn turnover is used to fight piracy, Kennedy said there are three main areas of expenditure. Funding the RIAA in US, IFPI globally and more local groups such as IFPI (Sweden). They all have budgets and a large proportion of this is used to fight piracy.

The global amount used by IFPI on lobbying and fighting piracy is £75 million...

Kennedy was asked if IFPI has taken any action against the actual sharers of the music made available via TPB, as detailed in this case. He said he couldn’t say and didn’t know who these individuals are. He then admitted to not knowing how The Pirate Bay works so the defense lawyers put it to him - if you don’t understand how TPB works, how can you say they are to blame? Again he was pressed why he took no action against the actual sharers but he said he didn’t know and admitted “It’s probably unlikely we took action.”...

After the break the hearings continued as Bertil Sandgren, a board member of the Swedish film institute took the stand... blahblah "we're losing money too"...

After lunch Per Sundin, CEO of Universal Music and Louis Werner of IFPI Sweden were questioned. Again, most questions dealt with the amount of damages the entertainment industry suffered, with the defense questioning whether the figures presented by the entertainment industry are justified. Werner told how music sales declined in 2002 and 2003, but as blogger Anna Troberg points out, IFPI’s own data seems to contradict this statement. Illegal file-sharing was the main reason of the loss in sales in recent years Werner stated.

When Per Sundin was asked whether the decline is sales could be fully attributed to illegal filesharing, he said yes. Sundin went even further and claimed that 50% of the loss in sales the music industry has suffered can be linked to The Pirate Bay. He had to admit, however, that he has no evidence to back these claims up. “It is what they see and experience every day,” Sundin said....

At 16:00 the court decided to end the hearings for today.
posted by tybeet at 8:32 AM on February 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the updates tybeet!
posted by Tenuki at 2:23 PM on February 25, 2009


--

From thelocal:

Following testimony from Pär Ekengren of the Lindebergs Grant Thornton consultancy about how damages for the case were calculated, the head of the Swedish chapter of IFPI, Ludvig Werner, took the stand.

Werner explained that The Pirate Bay was especially damaging for smaller, independent record companies who can find their already small sales figures decimated by file sharing.

He added that it’s impossible to calculate lost value on a per recording basis and that one must instead rely on sales figures.

“And they’ve fallen by 50 percent,” he said.

Defence attorney Jonas Nilsson returned to the question of whether IFPI had ever carried out any analyses on specific works.

“No, we haven’t done any analyses on specific albums,” replied Werner.

“You realize that it’s not The Pirate Bay which handles the musical works, but rather internet users?” pressed Nilsson.

“Yes.”

“Have you tried making contact with any internet users?”

“No.”

Werner then theorized that The Pirate Bay was bribing Swedish hip-hop artist Timbuktu to speak favourably about file sharing.

“I don’t know why he speaks like that,” said Werner.

“Maybe he’s getting paid by The Pirate Bay.”

--

Today was Day 9:

First up today was Kristoffer Schollin who spoke via telephone from Gothenburg University...

Answering questions from the defense, Schollin explained that .torrent files are a more sophisticated type of Internet link (such as an http hyperlink) and that The Pirate Bay is an “open database” of .torrent files. Several large companies are using BitTorrent technology said Schollin, including Blizzard who use it for World of Warcraft...

When asked about TPB specifically, Schollin noted that the site is essentially a BBS (Bulletin Board) for .torrent files, attached to a forum for debate... When speaking with Carl Lundstom’s lawyer Per E Samuelsson, Schollin admitted that while searching for .torrents via Google (using Harry Potter as an example) more results could be found than with TPB’s search alone. Indeed, said Schollin, EU law documents are easier for him to find via Google than they are on the EU’s own website...

The so-called King Kong defense also resurfaced, with Samuelsson asking Schollin if it was possible to conclude that the torrent file uploaded by user ‘KingKong’ was first published on TPB. Schollin said it was not possible.

Then it was Prosecutor Håkan Roswall’s turn to question Schollin... Roswall asked Schollin why he felt the TPB had grown so big and so popular. Schollin said that many users may feel that participation might be considered ‘cool’...

Next up to question Schollin was Monique Wadsted, representing the movie companies. She asked Schollin if he had heard the rumor that 40% of the Internet’s traffic is down to TPB. Schollin said this was incorrect and it was more likely that they were responsible for 40% of all BitTorrent traffic. Wadsted then put it to Schollin that 50% of all the world’s .torrent files sit on TPB, and he denied this amount too, but recognized that there would be a significant number...

Up next as a witness was Roger Wallis... Altin asked Wallis if there is any connection between illicit downloads and lost sales in the music industry. Contradicting the opinion of John Kennedy of the IFPI in his testimony yesterday, Wallis said that downloading caused an increase in sales of live event tickets and although there has been a reduction in CD sales, this won’t continue...

Wallis believes the music industry is shooting itself in the foot by going after file-sharers, for the reasons mentioned in the previous paragraph. He said that on the whole, file-sharing is beneficial to the music and movie industries, pointing out that the movie industry just had its most successful year ever. But the music industry doesn’t help itself he argues. Anyone who has bought a Beatles single in the past, simply cannot buy the same single in the digital domain due to licensing issues. “This is madness,” he said...

Next up to question Wallis was Peter Danowsky, who immediately started to annoy him by questioning his credentials. Danowsky mused if Wallis was even a proper professor, while disputing the year when Wallis qualified as such, calling him into doubt and criticizing him. “Have you no better questions to ask?” Wallis replied, reportedly visibly annoyed...

Pontén went on where Danowsky left off and asked the professor if he could elaborate a bit more on how he acquired his title. “Can you use Google? Wallis replied “Then you could easily find my CV,” he added, and the court agreed with his assessment that they have already been over this.

When Wallis left the stand he was asked whether he wanted compensation for his appearance. “You are welcome to send some flowers to my wife,” he responded...

The rest of the day the court will go over the personal charges against Fredrik Neij and Gottfrid Svartholm. These are seperate cases, not related to TPB, and we will therefore not cover these on TorrentFreak.

--
posted by tybeet at 1:28 PM on February 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Remember how yesterday ended?... well...

Today the headlines read: Professor Wallis' Wife Overwhelmed With Flowers

[Wallis] was heavily attacked by industry lawyers Danowsky, Pontén and Wadsted who did everything they could to discredit and slander his reputation. When Wallis was asked whether he wanted to be reimbursed for travel expenses etc, he light-heartedly suggested sending some flowers to his wife.

“We have been married for 38 years. He proposed half an hour after we met and I said maybe. After a day, he had convinced me”, she said.

At a local flower store in Stockholm they had received 100 orders by 20.30 last night. Owner Kristian Skald said that two nearby stores had received an equal amount of orders.

“Last delivery was 33 bouquets Thursday night. There will be more to come on Friday,” the owner of the flower shop commented.

Today, Friday, the couple celebrates their wedding day anniversary and on Saturday it’s Görel’s birthday. Roger Wallis feels she is worth all the flowers she gets.

“She was very worried before the trial. They questioned my competence and that made her very sad. She hadn’t slept for two days,” Roger said.

A web page has been set up that collects what has been given so far, complete with an ever-growing stack of CDs that show how many sales the music-industry has lost by slandering the Professor.

Thus far, in an amazing show of generosity from a section of society labeled by the music industry as ‘thieves’, more than 4100 Euros worth of flowers, chocolate and gifts have been sent to the couple.

The Wallis’ soon ran out of vases for the flowers but Görel knows that sharing is caring and will distribute the flowers to all residents in their apartment building.

“We will make sure it will be beautiful here.”
posted by tybeet at 8:59 AM on February 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


--

The last two days of the trial!:

--

On Monday, The Pirate Bay prosecutor, in its final statements demanded prison terms:

The Swedish prosecutor in The Pirate Bay illegal downloading trial today called for the four defendants to be jailed for one year.

"I believe that the correct punishment should be one year in prison and that is what I am requesting that the district court hand down in this case," prosecutor Haakan Roswall told the court in Stockholm...

They are also facing 120 million kronor ($14.3 million) in claims for compensation and damages from music and movie companies including Warner, MGM Pictures, Colombia Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Sony BMG, Universal and EMI.

-

Today, the defense, in its final statements, emphasized that The Pirate Bay's operations are completely legal:

"The prosecutor has said that it is not the technology that is on trial, but it is Pirate Bay's technology and how it is used that renders it permissible," Jonas Nilsson, representing Fredrik Neij, said to the court.

Nilsson also pointed out that the prosecutor had stated that the majority of the material available on The Pirate Bay is copyrighted material.

"There is no evidence that supports this."

"It is a completely legal technology that is offered by The Pirate Bay. It is an open site where users themselves upload content. There is certainly a lot of copyrighted material but this is an internet problem, not a Pirate Bay problem."

"Bit torrent technology can be used for both legal and illegal means on Pirate Bay in the same way as by Google or MySpace. That someone at The Pirate Bay has a cocky attitude or certain political standpoint is not sufficient to issue a guilty verdict," Nilsson continued.

Nilsson also dismissed prosecutor allegations that the men behind the site have made millions from its operation.

"It is not proved that Fredrik Neij has earned any money, just that the Pirate Bay's advertising revenues have gone to paying the site's costs."...

-

And now, The Pirate Bay awaits a court verdict.

TorrentFreak sums up the trial, asking: The Pirate Bay - Innocent or Guilty?:

What is pretty much certain is that this won’t end with the verdict that is due on April 17. No matter what the outcome it seems unthinkable that either side will accept a defeat. An appeal seems almost inevitable.
posted by tybeet at 4:33 PM on March 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


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