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Life’s pretty good, and why wouldn’t it be? I’m a pirate, after all.
April 17, 2009 3:25 AM   Subscribe

"It used to be only movies, now even verdicts are out before the official release." Peter Sunde of the Pirate Bay manages a little black humour after hearing word of the trial judgement. 1 year in prison and a 30m Kronor fine (£2.4m). Streaming press conference to be held today at friday at 13.00 swedish time (GMT+1 / CET). Get your pirate phrases at the ready.
posted by numberstation (141 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hornswaggled.
posted by Saddo at 3:42 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Tough week for pirates everywhere.
posted by The Tensor at 3:44 AM on April 17, 2009 [25 favorites]


"The defense largely hinged on an architectural point. Because of the way BitTorrent works, pirated material was neither stored on, nor passed through, The Pirate Bay's servers. Instead the site merely provided an index of torrent files -- some on its servers, some elsewhere -- that direct a user's client software to the content.
But prosecutor Håkan Roswall argued successfully that the defendants were culpable anyway, citing past prosecutions of criminal accomplices. In a Supreme Court decision from 1963, he noted, a defendant who held a friend's coat while the friend beat someone up was considered culpable."
posted by iviken at 3:46 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


It doesn't surprise me that they were found guilty. Think of Pirate Bay as the owners of a flea market, each file transfer is a sale in the market. If one or two sales are illegal, you go after the merchants who made the sales. If the entire market is rife with lawbreakers, and it's clear that the market's owners are aware, you move to shut down and sue the market.

Granted, by this analogy, the RIAA and MPAA have spent years and millions trying to shut down all flea markets, and I don't support them in the slightest. But in this case? Yeah, the Pirate Bay folks shouldn't be surprised.
posted by explosion at 3:48 AM on April 17, 2009


From the chairman of industry body the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry in the article:

There has been a perception that piracy is OK and that the music industry should just have to accept it. This verdict will change that.

Man, good luck with that. Really, tell me how that works out for you. Piracy exists and, right or wrong, no number of unpopular jail sentences or lawsuits is going to make it go away. Short of utterly destroying the internet and then putting a muzzle on every consumer recording device on the planet there isn't any endgame scenario where the music industry wins and piracy is banished forever. And even if that came to pass (or especially if that came to pass) I'd still be sitting here completely uninterested in paying money for the mediocre product you're selling these days. So how were you going to change that again?

Rhetorical venting aside, too bad for The Pirate Bay guys. Not surprising, but still unfortunate that they're going to jail over this.
posted by CheshireCat at 3:58 AM on April 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


Have the kidnapped recordings been safely returned to their loved ones?
posted by pracowity at 3:58 AM on April 17, 2009 [36 favorites]


Word has it that The Pirate Bay's earnings are buried in a chest in the West Indies. I was given a map, but need to raise some money to mount an expedition to dig up the treasure. Who's with me, me hearties?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:09 AM on April 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Short of utterly destroying the internet and then putting a muzzle on every consumer recording device...

No. A coin-slot in every head would be more elegant.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 4:10 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


So does this affect the other torrent servers at all?
posted by Laotic at 4:11 AM on April 17, 2009


On a side note, can we have some sort of campaign to make the record execs and their lawyers stop using the word "piracy"? There's real piracy going on even today on the high seas, with guns and people being held hostage. This sort of hyperbole is kind of insensitive, in a sort of way that's similar to a victim of a wet-willy claiming "rape."

It's not "stealing," either. No merchandise was ever removed from store shelves or warehouses. It's "copyright violation and dilution of product value," and I'm sorry you're the victim of such an un-sexy-sounding crime, but the campaign of bullshit has gone on long enough. People consume more media than ever before, and it's ludicrous to assume that they'd consume as much if they had to pay for it all. Kids in the 60s, a group of 6 friends, one would buy a new record, and others would go over to that kid's house and listen to it. Today 3 of those 6 buy the CD, 3 download it, and you have the nerve to imply that "theft" is going on?
posted by explosion at 4:16 AM on April 17, 2009 [21 favorites]


Hey, even Martin Luther King, Jr. had to do some time. This is how all revolutions work.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:18 AM on April 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


This verdict isn't too surprising, although from following the trial it seemed like the prosecution was doing a terrible job of proving things that were obviously true, such as that most of the files on TPB are copyrighted material shared by people other than the IP owners. It's not going to even put a dent in file-sharing though, there are always going to be people who will be willing to take the risk of hosting a massive file sharing site and there wasn't anything special about The Pirate Bay that made it better than any of the other big general purpose BitTorrent trackers.

If the entire market is rife with lawbreakers, and it's clear that the market's owners are aware, you move to shut down and sue the market.

Given that depending on how you measure it BitTorrent traffic makes up 20-35% of all Internet traffic, would that mean that anyone providing Internet infrastructure would be required to police their systems? Such as giant companies like Google and Verizon? I know that in this case it's clear that The Pirate Bay is used more or less only for illegal file sharing, but what happens if someone is smart enough to embed the tiny amount of overhead necessary for P2P file sharing into a mostly-legal system? They aren't dumb enough to do it, but it would be interesting to see what would happen if Wikipedia editors decided to turn it into a tracker by posting .torrent files on the pages for popular music and films. In many ways the whole Internet is one big flea market, and nobody wants to see it shut down or even cleaned up (other than the music and film industries).
posted by burnmp3s at 4:30 AM on April 17, 2009


Smart move now? For the guys behind the Pirate Bay to set up an account so anyone who wants to can help them paying the damages.

Not only cos they aren't the only ones who should be paying, really its the internet community as a whole, but to show that top down legal judgements just aren't appropriate and unjust, targeting a few when its the whole that's responsible. And we need to show that it's not that we can't pay, but that we choose not to. Shake off the whole 'potheads and cheap skates download illegally' stereotype that's being pulled.

It would also mean that any chilling effect this judgement could have on other websites, I can already see this logic being applied to sites hosting links to videos like sidereel or surfthechannel, would be at very least decreased.

Like the article said, there's a deeper debate here that just isn't being addressed and it shouldn't be that piracy is being fought with scare tactics on a medium that's perfect for public debate.
posted by litleozy at 4:31 AM on April 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Today 3 of those 6 buy the CD, 3 download it

If this was Wikipedia, I'd slap a [citation needed] on your post. Or move it to the "metal" page.

But since this is MetaFilter, I'll just claim that a much more likely scenario is that of those six, one buys the CD (heck, most "kids" I know don't even have a CD player), one buys it from iTube or a similar service, 3 listens to the song on YouTube or on some other streaming service, 2 gets it from some friend's mobile phone, 3 gets it via a torrent, and one buys the ringtone.
posted by effbot at 4:32 AM on April 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


King:
Oh, better far to live and die
Under the brave black flag I fly,
Than play a sanctimonious part,
With a pirate head and a pirate heart.
Away to the cheating world go you,
Where pirates all are well-to-do;
But I’ll be true to the song I sing,
And live and die a Pirate King.

For I am a Pirate King!
And it is, it is a glorious thing
To be a Pirate King!

For I am a Pirate King!

Chorus:
You are!
Hurrah for our Pirate King!

King:
And it is, it is a glorious thing
To be a Pirate King.

Chorus:
It is!
Hurrah for our Pirate King!

King & Chorus:
Hurrah for the/our Pirate King!

King:
When I sally forth to seek my prey
I help myself in a royal way.
I sink a few more ships, it’s true,
Than a well-bred monarch ought to do;
But many a king on a first-class throne,
If he wants to call his crown his own,
Must manage somehow to get through
More dirty work than ever I do,

For I am a Pirate King!
And it is, it is a glorious thing
To be a Pirate King!

For I am a Pirate King!

Chorus:
You are!
Hurrah for the Pirate King!

King:
And it is, it is a glorious thing
To be a Pirate King.

Chorus:
It is!
Hurrah for our Pirate King!

King & Chorus:
Hurrah for the/our Pirate King!
posted by Jofus at 4:38 AM on April 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'd still be sitting here completely uninterested in paying money for the mediocre product you're selling these days.

If the product's so mediocre, why steal it?

Today 3 of those 6 buy the CD, 3 download it, and you have the nerve to imply that "theft" is going on?

Do you stiff your waitress on tips because some other guy at the table already gave her a buck?
posted by rodgerd at 4:40 AM on April 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


The whole problem is that (at least as far as TV goes) the product has gone from being consumers to advertise to over to the shows themselves. And they've been giving away the shows so long for free.

Now, I'm a good widdle consumer. I buy a good proportion of my TV on DVD. For a country like Australia with a very minor penetration of cable and flaky network schedules this isn't surprising. But there's just one thing you forgot.

We don't like being held from stuff because some douchebag with a rights contract said so.

Australia has the highest TV piracy rates per capita. And the sad thing? We're not all dirty fucking pirates. We pay for our shit. We just want it now.

I would be perfectly happy if you partnered with a local national advertising firm to show Australian ads during your ad sponsored catchup broadcasts on your site. But instead you sold us up the fucking river to a bunch of dolts who refuse to screen a show more than two weeks in succession if it doesn't set the world on fire. They cancelled The Office over here. The motherfucking OFFICE.

I don't fancy waiting two years for the current season to come out on DVD so guess what? That shit just gets added to my uTorrent queue and you lose the game. That's the end.

So my point I guess is get your shows away from shitty networks and I'll start buying it.
posted by Talez at 4:41 AM on April 17, 2009 [14 favorites]


We're not all dirty fucking pirates

Nope. Just proud dirty fucking convict spawn, here!
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:45 AM on April 17, 2009


iTube

Note to self: if you notice a silly typo ("iTubes") during preview, make sure to check the preview again after you've "fixed" the typo.
posted by effbot at 4:48 AM on April 17, 2009


3 down, a gazillion more to go. A true blow against piracy everywhere.

I wonder if the companies are ever going to smarten the fuck up and just start trying to make some actual money off this mysterious The Internet. If a service could match the quantity, quality, ease of use, accessibility and speed of the Pirate Bay and its ilk, I would gladly pay moderately large sums of money for it.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:53 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


The court case was going well for the Pirate Bay boys to begin with, but then the prosecution brought in the dolphins..........
posted by panboi at 4:56 AM on April 17, 2009


It was the dolphins wot done him in.
posted by jbickers at 5:01 AM on April 17, 2009


rodgerd: I don't steal music, never implied that I did. I don't buy it either. Still, I feel like the way the music industry is acting is particularly worthy of scorn. Between gouging customers with inflated prices (which have only recently started to drop) and their continuing efforts to lock up common culture behind ever lengthening copyright terms, it makes it hard for me to be sympathetic to their side of the argument. There's more than one way to steal from a person, and they've done a rather good job of it so far, so seems only fair that the internet should level the playing field a bit.
posted by CheshireCat at 5:02 AM on April 17, 2009


It royally pisses me off how the music industry has actually managed to convince so many people that "piracy" is somehow as morally wrong as stealing CDs off a shelf. It's just a fact that the technology now exists to painlessly duplicate the finished product.

Just because there are unfortunate side effects to it doesn't change reality. The classic distribution model is no longer workable. How would we feel if chefs tried to pull the same bullshit with a magic food cloner?

I wrote a ranty post [self link] about anti piracy campaigns from the film industry recently, but the same arguments and sentiments apply to this for me.
posted by lucidium at 5:13 AM on April 17, 2009


On a side note, can we have some sort of campaign to make the record execs and their lawyers stop using the word "piracy"?

It's a reasonable point, but in this particular case, the convicted were the first to call themselves pirates.

It's not "stealing," either. No merchandise was ever removed from store shelves or warehouses. It's "copyright violation and dilution of product value,"

By that reasoning, when some burglars broke into my parents' house, looted it, stuffed their loot into my parents' car, drove away in it, then proceeded to crash the car and fleed, they didn't steal anything either (car and loot were eventually returned to my parents, slightly dog-eared), it was merely a "unauthorised entry and dilution of product value". Come on!

Just because nothing physical is stolen, it doesn't means that it isn't theft. If I take advantage of somebody else's property to his detriment and my own enjoyment, then, yes, it's most definitely stealing. And before you answer that "intellectual property is theft", I must add that I can hardly thing of a property more legitimate than that of one's own ideas or creations.
posted by Skeptic at 5:14 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]




Anyone know how damages are assessed in a case like this? Not the conclusion of guilt, but the damages. It seems -- along the lines of another case (MeFi'd previously; can't seem to find it) that the prosecutors would have to show not only that users obtained materials illegaly, but that they obtained materials that they would have otherwise paid for.

Which seems difficult if not impossible.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 5:35 AM on April 17, 2009


Skeptic, "intellectual property" is not analogous to property in the way you're thinking. Copyright violation is just that - a violation of the rights to copy. That does not make it theft.

Also, when one or more persons removed property from your parents' house without their consent, that was theft. They were lucky the property was returned, but that doesn't change that it was theft, just pulled off really fucking badly.
posted by Dysk at 5:49 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Incidentally, I wish copyright theft werepossible. I'd love to take possession of the copyright to loads of things...
posted by Dysk at 5:51 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Even DVD Jon supports the principle of copyright:
"Picture is Copyright (C) 2004 Per Johan Johansen. All rights reserved."
posted by iviken at 5:51 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Skeptic - Just because nothing physical is stolen, it doesn't means that it isn't theft. If I take advantage of somebody else's property to his detriment and my own enjoyment, then, yes, it's most definitely stealing.

But I think the argument here is about whether or not this particular detriment should be called "stealing".

Obviously there are a range of possible benefits one might draw from creating something. For example, from the singular value of selling a thing once, all the way through to the possible value the creator might gain from building on and modifying the work.

I think I'm right in thinking we already allow other people to build on and modify a work without having to pay the originator. But we could just as well have decided that because the creator might at some point profit from doing that, other people shouldn't be allowed to.

What people are disagreeing on is where we should draw the line between letting someone reasonably profit from their effort, and the good of everyone else.
posted by lucidium at 5:53 AM on April 17, 2009


my main concern in life right now is who will be around to update the graph?
posted by the aloha at 6:10 AM on April 17, 2009


In the US it's called contributory infringement:
There is another form of secondary liability in copyright law, "contributory infringement," which stretches back to 1911.3 As the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has explained, contributory infringement occurs where "[o]ne who, with knowledge of the infringing activity, induces, causes, or materially contributes to the infringing conduct of another."4 In general, the two elements of contributory infringement are (1) knowledge of the infringing activity; and (2) material contribution to the activity.
.So, that old chestnut that "there is nothing illegal stored on the tracker, just metadata, so the proprietors can't possibly be guilty of copyright infringement" has always been false in the US, and now apparently elsewhere.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:11 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Just because nothing physical is stolen, it doesn't means that it isn't theft. If I take advantage of somebody else's property to his detriment and my own enjoyment, then, yes, it's most definitely stealing."

Ya! When those neighbourhood kids came and skinny dipped in my pool; the pool I built, by hand; they totally stole it.
posted by Mitheral at 6:14 AM on April 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


(Although you could certainly make the case that the proprietor of a tracker that's predominantly used for non-infringing purposes like linux distros or artist-sanctioned live bootlegs could not be found guilty if someone used that tracker to commit infringement without the operator being explicitly aware of it.)
posted by Rhomboid at 6:16 AM on April 17, 2009


Small time copyright violations are not theft any more than libraries are theft, nothing has been taken away.

Copyright was created originally so that publishers had to pay authors, not so individuals pay authors. Why must publishers pay authors? Well, traditional publishers were a bottle neck and natural oligopoly. Is TPB a publisher? Yes, they organize the distribution, but no, no oligopoly can form around them.

We can take the library analogy even further, most movies distributed there are low quality, so people must still buy them for high quality versions. So very good movies actually make money off TPB. So what's the problem?

Well, the publishers have now fully circumvented copyright laws, establishing their oligopoly that pays the producers little. It's basically trivial to make money off distributing your work on the pirate bay, but this might damage their oligopoly.

We're seeing just another internet vs. middle men conflict : Hollywood loses everything if independent bands & films start making money off banner ads in pirated version leading to sales of pirated versions.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:23 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Mitheral: What part of "to your detriment" don't you understand? Of course, if just a couple of neighbourhood kids skinny dip in your pool, your detriment may well be almost nil. If, however, several thousand kids come skinny-dip in your pool, then you could well say that they're stealing it from you. Finally, if you are the owner of a public pool charging 1$ for each entrance ticket, and somebody has opened a hole in your fence and is charging the kids 0,1$ to give them directions to that hole, I bet you'll call him a thieving bastard.
posted by Skeptic at 6:23 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


jeffburdges Small time copyright violations are not theft any more than libraries are theft, nothing has been taken away.

First of all, libraries pay for their books, and secondly there are well-established legal rules as to what libraries can and cannot do with the content they lend.
posted by Skeptic at 6:29 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Small time copyright violations are not theft any more than libraries are theft, nothing has been taken away.

In many parts of the world, libraries pay royalty to authors and translators under "Public Lending Right" programs. In Sweden, the royalty is currently ~15 cents per loan, with a cap at roughly $20k per author and year. I suspect TPB's fine is not even close to ~15 cents per download.
posted by effbot at 6:45 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Small time copyright violations are not theft any more than libraries are theft, nothing has been taken away.

Right, because libraries are places you take the books from and never return them and create permanent copies that you keep forever and Jesus Christ how did you actually write that without pondering how fucking stupid it sounded.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:47 AM on April 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


Skeptic, your arguing that infringing copyright is detrimental to the copyright holder is entirely circular, because it assumes the legitimacy of the artificially induced value due to copyright. That is the is the heart of the problem. As a wise man, Jerome Frank, said way back in 1935:
The vicious circle inherent in this reasoning is plain. It purports to base legal protection upon economic value, when, as a matter of actual fact, the economic value of a sales device depends upon the extent to which it will be legally protected. If commercial exploitation of the word "Palmolive" is not restricted to a single firm, the word will be of no more economic value to any particular firm than a convenient size, shape, mode of packing, or manner of advertising, common in the trade. Not being of economic value to any particular firm, the word would be regarded by courts as "not property," and no injunction would be issued. In other words, the fact that courts did not protect the word would make the word valueless, and the fact that it was valueless would then be regarded as a reason for not protecting it. Ridiculous as this vicious circle seems, it is logically as conclusive or inconclusive as the opposite vicious circle, which accepts the fact that courts do protect private exploitation of a given word as a reason why private exploitation of that word should be protected.
This is why copyright infringement is not a case of simple "theft."
posted by chinston at 6:49 AM on April 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


my main concern in life right now is who will be around to update the graph?

On the other hand, the graph showing membership in Sweden's Pirate Party just got more interesting. Here's the last week.
posted by martinrebas at 6:50 AM on April 17, 2009


My favorite part about copyright threads online are all the ridiculous analogies, on both sides.
posted by inigo2 at 6:51 AM on April 17, 2009 [17 favorites]


I thought the whole theft / not theft debate was settled? Maybe we can pretend that is has?

Copyright infringement is a violation of someone elses monopoly on exploiting whatever it is that falls under "intellectual property" and isn't covered by patents or similar legal devices.

If I download an unathorised copy of a book you've written, it doesn't follow that I'm causing detriment to you. Of course that could be construed as a cop-out — "Oh, I wouldn't have bought that anyway" — but it's a valid argument. Also, I could maybe even profit from it, (one of the charges levelled against tbp) but this does not automatically constitute detriment to you, unfair thought it might seem. (Big corps fucking over small time artists is a familiar theme)

I might enjoy your book, but that is a weak argument since it's about moral right more than financial or other damage to you or your ability to make a living as an author. It's saying "only if you pay me are you allowed to enjoy my work" which seems reasonable but is about your feelings and convictions more than detriment caused.

There are technical aspect to consider in this as well; If I use Bittorrent and seed as much as I leech, I might aid someone else to your detriment (Oh I don't know. It's an unedited copy and it'll garner you a negative review. Or that other person is someone who otherwise would have bought the book. Whatever.) which of course has a bearing on your argument. (Difficult to measure though.)

But you need to differentiate between purely moral arguments which are founded on your thoughts of authorship — originality, uniqueness and the "creators" right to his/her own "work" — and more practical and pragmatic convictions and policies (A majority of our population believes musicians should be able to make a living off of music) and the implementation thereof.

Regardless on what side you come down on, the very way the Internet works forces the issue of copyright infringement to come head to head with other interests. It's not fair, but in this case I don't see how you can imbue technology with morals or a material model of scarcity.

Every decision that has been made lately (In Sweden as elsewere) regarding laws online, have eroded the notions of right to privacy in favour of political and financial gain. As much as I like having such a plethora of music, books and film to choose from, I'd rather have my privacy.

But until the fear and shortsightedness is beaten out of people by one fifteen year old with time on her hands after another, let's put the same broken record on once again, shall we?

The pool analogy doesn't work because it's a limited resource (and most probably said said in jest to begin with.)
posted by monocultured at 6:51 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


..of those six, one buys the CD... one buys it from iTube... 3 listens to the song on YouTube... 2 gets it from some friend... 3 gets it via a torrent, and one buys the ringtone.

Not that I don't agree with your point, but your math skills are RIAA-level creative.
posted by rokusan at 6:56 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Skeptic Finally, if you are the owner of a public pool charging 1$ for each entrance ticket, and somebody has opened a hole in your fence and is charging the kids 0,1$ to give them directions to that hole, I bet you'll call him a thieving bastard.

I don't think a public pool is a great analogy, because pools cost money to maintain, and people using it must by the nature of it stop other people from using it.

It's more like you built a sculpture, tried to charge people a fee to view it, and then claimed the people looking at it from the roof across the street are "stealing" from you. Sure, you could say they might be stopping you from making money, but it's your fault for trying to run a business that ignores the rules of physics.
posted by lucidium at 6:56 AM on April 17, 2009 [22 favorites]


By that reasoning, when some burglars broke into my parents' house, looted it, stuffed their loot into my parents' car, drove away in it, then proceeded to crash the car and fleed, they didn't steal anything either (car and loot were eventually returned to my parents, slightly dog-eared), it was merely a "unauthorised entry and dilution of product value". Come on!

At any point in time were your parents unable to access their belongings? If yes, move 1 space towards the "Probably stolen property" square.
posted by odinsdream at 6:59 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


That Pirate Party membership graph is absolutely ridiculous.
posted by Roach at 7:05 AM on April 17, 2009


But inigo2! Analogies are like holding a ruler to a line, they help you see the true properties of a thing by giving you new context!
posted by lucidium at 7:08 AM on April 17, 2009


On the other hand, the graph showing membership in Sweden's Pirate Party just got more interesting. Here's the last week.

agreed, that really is a spike. good for them.
posted by the aloha at 7:11 AM on April 17, 2009


Do you stiff your waitress on tips because some other guy at the table already gave her a buck?
posted by rodgerd at 4:40 AM on April 17 [+] [!]


The recording industry is like a waitress at a buffet. I got my own plate, loaded it up with food myself, and brought it back to my table, but the waitress wants me to tip her for bringing me a glass of water. Oh, and if I don't tip her, she'll sue me.

My favorite part about copyright threads online are all the ridiculous analogies, on both sides.
posted by inigo2 at 6:51 AM on April 17


How did I do?
posted by Thoughtcrime at 7:16 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


That Pirate Party membership graph is absolutely ridiculous.

Not really. The graph isn't zero referenced, so while it looks like a huge spike, it really only amounts to about a 9% increase.
posted by rocket88 at 7:17 AM on April 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


The pool analogy doesn't work because it's a limited resource

How in the world is content not a "limited resource?" It didn't spring from a crack in the sky like a Norse god. Someone had to make it, providing their time and resources. If a musician dies, they will no longer be able to make music. If an artist is broke, he has to go work at Burger King instead of writing another screenplay. The fact that you came in at the ass-end of the production process doesn't mean there wasn't a production process.

The most irritating aspect of the bittorent/filesharing argument is how it turns petty thieves into philosophy majors. You are not altering the physical structure of the universe here. What you are doing is personally setting your own value of another person's work, and using your own sense of value to justify reacting to it that way. Convincing yourself that online content is "worthless" or "unlimited" is required, morally, to validate stealing it.

These dime-store metaphors that would fail a college exam are a thousand times more irritating that the actual act of stealing music. Dear fucking god, be for or against it, just please stop it with the goddamn analogies, I beg of you.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:19 AM on April 17, 2009 [12 favorites]


..of those six, one buys the CD... one buys it from iTube... 3 listens to the song on YouTube... 2 gets it from some friend... 3 gets it via a torrent, and one buys the ringtone.

Not that I don't agree with your point, but your math skills are RIAA-level creative.

Well, yeah -- the same person that bought the CD also had to buy it from iTube so they could listen to it on their computer, and also had to buy the ringtone so they could have it on their phone. Then they realized the iTube version was locked, so they couldn't play it on their non-iTube player, so they downloaded the torrent. If they had simply ripped the cd themselves to do all these things they'd be infringing copyrightSTEALING.
posted by inigo2 at 7:23 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not really. The graph isn't zero referenced, so while it looks like a huge spike, it really only amounts to about a 9% increase.

It's a 14% increase by now. It'll be interesting to see how many members they have in a week.
posted by martinrebas at 7:24 AM on April 17, 2009


Am I the only person disappointed that they weren't sentenced to walk the plank or flogged and then rubbed with salt?

What kind of a namby pamby landlubbing punishment is some light jail time and a fine?
posted by MuffinMan at 7:25 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


The recording industry is like a waitress at a buffet. I got my own plate, loaded it up with food myself, and brought it back to my table, but the waitress wants me to tip her for bringing me a glass of water. Oh, and if I don't tip her, she'll sue me.

Well, the waitress's role is to get drinks for the customers in her section. By sitting at that table you're using up the restaurant's (and by extension, the waitress's) limited resource (seats). So it's not quite apt, I don't think. (Though the suing-your-customers comparison is accurate.)
posted by inigo2 at 7:26 AM on April 17, 2009


The most irritating aspect of the bittorent/filesharing argument is how it turns petty thieves into philosophy majors.

And it turns people on the other side into legal scholars.
posted by inigo2 at 7:27 AM on April 17, 2009 [10 favorites]


I'll send them good thoughts as I torrent Wrestlemania XXV today.

And yet it moves.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:30 AM on April 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


I've got to say (and I am not about to wade into all the debate about the ethics of it all) that if you don't want to be brought up on charges for piracy of something, choosing a more subtle name for your site than "Pirate Bay" in the first place would have been a good way to go.
posted by misha at 7:30 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


"totally legal file transfer middle man bay" just doesn't have the same ring to it though.

On the is it stealing or not debate: Just because people argue it shouldn't be called stealing or piracy doesn't mean they believe it's right or justified. Sticking wet fingers in random people's ears isn't right and shouldn't be allowed, but I don't think it should be labeled rape. Trespassing on someone's property isn't right and shouldn't be allowed, but I don't think you should label it arson. Copyright infringement isn't right, but I don't agree it's stealing.
posted by ShadowCrash at 7:40 AM on April 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


The final verdict isn't in yet. One can expect that two higher Swedish courts will hear the case in succession. Then, depending on whether there are any EU laws in effect, it may reach the EU level where it finally will be decided. So save your "har har"s there is more to come.

What strikes me about this verdict though is the huge fine. You could blind a man with a rusty fork while you're raping his daughter and still not be fined that much.
posted by JeNeSaisQuoi at 7:42 AM on April 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


The thing that file sharing apologists tend to overlook, in analogies and otherwise, is that it doesn't matter if stealing a virtual good isn't the same as a physical one.

Studios, for all their DRM-loving sins, invest in a bunch of films or artists. Some won't make money some will. The ones that do hopefully subsidise the operation. The whole business model simply falls to bits if the ability to make the money back disappears if consumers claim a special right to view/use/listen for free.

Quite apart from anything else, for however long before the model collapses it means that legal users subsidise illegal ones.

I just don't get the self-righteousness about piracy. It's not water, or sunlight.

We're not talking about an essential commodity. We're not talking about a distribution or production monopoly. Pirates are basically claiming the right to use something for free because they can and robbing legal owners of the right to make money of their investments. The actual stolen property might be virtual, but the cash invested in it certainly isn't.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:44 AM on April 17, 2009 [9 favorites]


Did anyone actually watch that "press conference"? Looked like a couple Swedish hipsters waiting for their pizza to arrive.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:45 AM on April 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


JeNeSaisQuoi, that's because it isn't a fine, it's damages, being paid to the "victim", the IFPI.
posted by Dysk at 7:57 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


If the product's so mediocre, why steal it?

The way he put it was...inartful. But this is the whole problem: the copyright system, as practiced in the United States and extended by treaty, etc., creates HUGE deadweight losses for consumers. I would gladly pay 50 cents per track for a whole variety of music, but because there isn't any real competition for reselling a given song (assuming that songs aren't fungible), copyright-owning firms subvert copyright to maximize short-term profit when the whole point of copyright (even as expressed in US Const. Art I., Sec. 8., Cl. 8) is to maximize societal benefit. The internet is a great opportunity to have a near-perfect competitive market for music and this could be enabled with a few minor statutory changes, at least here in the U.S., but lobbying keeps a wholly artificial (e.g., Lockean rationale has been totally discarded by US courts) and wholly inefficient monopoly going. Ideas are free, and while creative efforts certainly take serious investment, copyright ownng firms are now most similar to privately held, publicly enabled monopolies like regional telephone and cable providers. I don't need to point out the practicality and administrability disconnect here.

I'm about the most laissez-faire, self-determination guy you'll find on Metafilter, but as long as the state is creating new and artificial forms of property, they have an obligation to administer that system for the public good.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:59 AM on April 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


(Obviously, don't support piracy, etc.)
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:01 AM on April 17, 2009


How in the world is content not a "limited resource?"

Google some string like Merges, Posner, non-rivalrous.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:02 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


MuffinMan: " Pirates are... robbing legal owners of the right to make money of their investments."

Some laws deserve more respect than others.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:02 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pirates are basically claiming the right to use something for free because they can and robbing legal owners of the right to make money of their investments.

YOU'RE...A...CROOK! Captain Hook! Oh, won't you throw the book! At the Pirate King!
posted by youarenothere at 8:03 AM on April 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


Not that I don't agree with your point, but your math skills are RIAA-level creative.

Not sure how you can agree with my point when you didn't get it :-)
posted by effbot at 8:06 AM on April 17, 2009


iviken: "Even DVD Jon supports the principle of copyright:
"Picture is Copyright (C) 2004 Per Johan Johansen. All rights reserved."
"

One can use copyright while not believing in the underlying principle or that it's even a generally good idea. To simply ignore the existence of copyright would be self-defeating, even if your eventual goal is to change copyright or abolish it altogether.

I think there are a lot of people who are opposed to copyright either on philosophical grounds, or believe that it does more harm than good overall in modern society, but given that it is the dominant paradigm right now aren't willing to shoot themselves in the foot by pretending it's already dead.

I don't know what DVD Jon thinks, but using or being a part of the system (any system, really) while simultaneously believing that system needs radical reform or abolishment isn't exactly uncommon or without precedent.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:07 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Am I the only person disappointed that they weren't sentenced to walk the plank or flogged and then rubbed with salt?

I'm hoping for a keelhauling.
posted by brundlefly at 8:11 AM on April 17, 2009


iviken: "Even DVD Jon supports the principle of copyright:
"Picture is Copyright (C) 2004 Per Johan Johansen. All rights reserved.""


Besides what KAdin2048 said, I don't know if "DVD Jon" was ever against copyright or not. He just wanted to watch DVDs on his linux machine, something that was impossible to do legally at the time. (At least, that's the story.)
posted by inigo2 at 8:11 AM on April 17, 2009


Some laws deserve more respect than others

I agree. But between the options of "fuck you for investing in stuff I'm going to take it without paying" and "your business model and desire to control pricing and distribution sucks" there is a middle ground.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:16 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]



Do you stiff your waitress on tips because some other guy at the table already gave her a buck?


If my waitress brought me a world full of $20 CD's and DRM-laden BS like Sony's rootkit, I think this only ends with me throwing plates at her head.
posted by bhance at 8:18 AM on April 17, 2009


The complaints mentions 33 copyrighted files. I wonder how many active torrent files pointing to those copyrighted files can be found with a simple google search.
posted by DreamerFi at 8:18 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


The internet has changed the way entertainment functions, on a global scale. Right now, if I so choose, I can download a high-definition copy of the latest episode of practically any current American TV show of my choosing. Now, if I want to legally have access to the same content, I have to wait until it gets picked up by a local channel (as long as I don't care it will be dubbed). Or until it comes out in Region 2 DVD. I completely understand that downloading the show is illegal and me being impatient does not make the act any more justified. This is simply reality and I'm pretty sure most people don't even consider the implications in anyway before clicking download. The companies are fighting tooth and nail to erase this reality. They want to make sure that the TV shows aren't available on the internet, rather than looking for a way of providing people with the content and profiting off that. I mean, no one I know downloads South Park anymore purely because you can watch them, anywhere in the world, for free on the same day as it is shown on television. They tolerate the advertising present there because, hey, it's free, current South Park without even the hassle of downloading/finding it. They have effectively beaten the pirates by providing people with content that is current, high quality, easily accessible and free. Revenue that they make off the advertising/page hits is money they weren't making before. As I mentioned earlier, I (and most of my friends) would gladly pay for that kind of service.

The truth is, copyright infringement is the reality and its not going away. It's even less tangible than terrorism and drugs, so declaring war against it is futile. Especially as the tools of the trade are moving forward at breakneck speed. Yes, it's illegal and hurts the bottom line of a lot of people. It's still going to keep happening. Though I understand the need to fight against what is in no uncertain terms illegal, I would rather expend energy on trying to come up with alternative revenue streams and ways to exploit the internet for additional profit to make up for the losses in TV/cinema viewership and physical media sales. Lots of webcomics and gaming companies, obviously enough, are on the cutting edge of this.

I love stuff like netflix, iTunes, Spotify, Steam and the like that give me what I want immediately with the least amount of hoops to jump through.

Just my 2 cents, for what it's worth.
posted by slimepuppy at 8:25 AM on April 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


But between the options of "fuck you for investing in stuff I'm going to take it without paying" and "your business model and desire to control pricing and distribution sucks" there is a middle ground.

Well now we're getting somewhere. (The theft/not theft argument is wankery)
For many downloaders, the ultimate goal seems to be "free stuff for everyone", which isn't a workable solution. For rights owners, the goal seems to be "keep jailing/fining everyone until all file trading ends", which is even less workable.
Somewhere there exists a middle ground. And I think it's ultimately up to content owners to create it and implement it. As long as they're following their current attack strategy and current business model, no real solution is imminent.
posted by rocket88 at 8:26 AM on April 17, 2009


Studios, for all their DRM-loving sins, invest in a bunch of films or artists. Some won't make money some will. The ones that do hopefully subsidise the operation. The whole business model simply falls to bits if the ability to make the money back disappears if consumers claim a special right to view/use/listen for free.

I agree that widespread file sharing effectively destroys the business model of most of the entertainment industry, but most of their business models are bound to change drastically even without considering P2P. For example, what does the music industry do?

1. Find artists that have already gained all of the skills necessary to create popular music, and have bought enough equipment to put on live shows and make a good demo tape.
2. Pay the artists enough money to create and record some new material, in exchange for exclusive rights to sell those recordings. The recording contracts are not all the same, so the exact amount of profit sharing and rights holding between record company and artist can vary.
3. Manufacture copies of those recordings.
4. Distribute the physical copies to stores.
5. Spend money marketing the music to consumers.

So, out of those, #1 doesn't do anything other than facilitate the later steps, #2 is the main part that helps the artists directly and is less necessary these days due to the fact that recording an album can be done with relatively cheap equipment, #3 can be non-existent with digital music, #4 is significantly easier if done over the Internet and can be done by companies like Amazon and Apple rather than record companies, and #5 can either be done via word of mouth online or by marketing professionals outside of record companies. Most of the obstacles around selling music that made record companies useful to begin are being removed.

The record companies are dinosaurs at this point and my guess is that they can't or don't want to evolve into something that can survive in the current technological environment. I don't know what the best business model will end up looking like when CDs go the way of cassettes, 8-tracks, vinyl, etc. and the vast majority of music is sold digitally over the Internet. Will file sharing mean that artists have to make their living off of ticket sales, merchandise, licensing for commercials and movies, special collectible media, donations, etc. rather than actual music sales? Will that result in less or worse music? I don't know, but something's going to change no matter what laws are passed and who goes to jail.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:34 AM on April 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


It can hardly result in worse music.
posted by Dysk at 8:39 AM on April 17, 2009


I've never thought there was much in the questions over verbiage ("theft" vs. "copyright dilution"), much as the motivations in the choices are clear; kinda like "death tax" vs. "estate tax."

Seems the concerns are not the small-timers someone touched on above, but those who do this as more the norm.

In this day and age of songs for about a buck on Amazon, etc., the thought that this is largely a result of gougy, dumb distribution models is one that holds less water, if any.

My sense has been that in a couple respects, concerns are at least as much about the future as the present. People like my 19-year-old nephew and his friends have used computers all their lives, always used torrents for pretty much everything, can be expected to keep right on doing so. As we all get older, reasonable to expect that broadband speeds will increase dramatically, if not to the extent of numbers of people and speed in the recently announced plans in Australia.

All the more in recent years, artists from the person happy to sell a thousand to people who sell a thousand a minute have the option to easily give away their music. To me, those who choose not to are simply asking people to pay them a fair price for their music. To get it off a torrent feels like saying, "uh, no. I'm going with free." I don't begin to see how that's right.

(The Radiohead model of letting people pay what they want, if anything, is interesting; if nothing else, by definition, they are okay with people getting the music for free.)

Of course, anyone's thoughts aside, the genie is outta the bottle and it's damned hard to see how s/he is getting back in there.
posted by ambient2 at 8:42 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Blasted. I wrote this one mother of a post but as rocket88 pointed out there was much wankery. Copying is not stealing because nothing is stolen!

On what MuffinMan said: Is the death of large scale productions a bad thing? I'm serious here, how long would it take you to get used to a world where a 1 million USD movie was big news?

Or is it the death of sound recording studios or writers or photographers or guitar string manufacturers that we are talking about? I don't care if all music stores disappear, so tell me why I should care about the overhead that they're adding to the price of music?

Regarding the middleground: How would the stuff you produce change if what the Swedish Pirate Party suggests (commercial copyright exprires after five years, not-for-profit sharing allowed) become law?

Like, ignore the "it's my stuff so I should decide what happens to it" side of things. What would change, and would you roll with it as creator / consumer / buyer?
posted by monocultured at 8:44 AM on April 17, 2009


Is anyone watching the hilarous press conference?
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 8:47 AM on April 17, 2009


The sentences seem disproportionately lenient, when compared to the Jammie Thomas verdict and such. The rationale (fully supported by the Bush and Obama DoJ) which resulted in Jammie Thomas being fined $222k for sharing a handful of songs is inconsistent with running what is effectively a WMD against copyright holders being punishable by only one year (in a soft Swedish prison too).

If Thomas deserved a $222k fine (and Barack "Hope" Obama swears she did, so she must have, right), then TPB should have been prosecuted much as one would a non-state agent that built devices that made perfect copies of dollar bills, and gave them away to everyone. (Currency counterfeiting is an act of war under international law, and under the abovementioned doctrine, intellectual property counterfeiting cannot be any less grave a matter.) I.e., the only proportionate sentence would be measured in three digits at least; these boys would die in prison.

My prediction; the IFPI will appeal, and push for much longer sentences, or else the US Government will request the extradition of the Pirate Bay convicts to face trial in the US (and apply sufficient pressure behind the scenes to get this; I mean, Ikea want to be able to sell to the English-speaking world, don't they?)
posted by acb at 9:01 AM on April 17, 2009


Metafilter: iTube
posted by Rumple at 9:03 AM on April 17, 2009


The whole business model simply falls to bits if the ability to make the money back disappears if consumers claim a special right to view/use/listen for free.

it'll fall apart even more when consumers claim a right to be producers and distributors, and that THEY are the ones who should determine what our culture consists of, not some manipulative executives in los angeles

it's not about money, it's about control - whether people control the commons of language, cultural reference, mutual creation and sharing of symbols or monopolists do

somehow i can't see the idea of identical artistic products being sold to and consumed by millions of people as anything but a function of 20th century civilization with its mass markets, tv networks and promoters - it wasn't like that before and it won't be like that after

and for those who ask how artists will be supported, the answer is "we don't know" - any more than henry ford knew how to design superhighways and parking garages

the premises this whole argument is based upon are dating fast
posted by pyramid termite at 9:05 AM on April 17, 2009 [10 favorites]


There was a world before torrents, before the internet, and before home VCRs. Back then, movie studios made almost all of their profits on theater ticket revenues. Anything else (TV rights, etc) was gravy, and not fundamentally a part of their business model. They did quite well for themselves. Similarly, TV producers made their money on commercial revenue from the (usually) one and only broadcast of their program. A single summer re-run episode or syndication release (not very common back then) may have padded that, but that was pretty much it. Music producers made money selling hardware and didn't worry too much about home cassette recording.
Nowadays, producers have the DVD release, but instead of saying "OK, we've made our money in ticket sales/commercial run" and sell the DVDs as 'gravy', at a decent price slightly above cost (for their troubles), they see it as another major profit center...a chance to double-dip and gouge as much as possible on both ends. In short, they got greedy. Personally, this is what soothes my conscience when I download.
posted by rocket88 at 9:09 AM on April 17, 2009


Metafilter : iTube :: The Pirate Bay : ?????
posted by owtytrof at 9:09 AM on April 17, 2009


another thing - people of our stature complaining about the "whole business model" falling apart remind me a lot of joe the plumber complaining about taxes on the rich
posted by pyramid termite at 9:10 AM on April 17, 2009


THE PIRATE BAY: Modern-day Robin Hood prosecuted by Socialist regime.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:17 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I am the Pirate King!

I find it amusing that the only RIAA approved way to listen to this song would cost you $65, on vinyl.

My copy only cost $30, but thanks to Jofus and the metafilter/google conspiracy, demand is sure to skyrocket, and I already ripped it =p
posted by nomisxid at 9:20 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


The actual pirate bay case defense was about how they were a public carrier -- not a direct participant. They're argument was that if you could sue them over their torrent search engine, then you could sue google just as well.
posted by garlic at 9:26 AM on April 17, 2009


In this day and age of songs for about a buck on Amazon, etc.

Amazon and Apple both just raised their prices for some songs--during a recession--from $0.99 to $1.29. That's a big step in the wrong direction.

Instead of trying to put sites like AllofMP3 out of business, the record companies should buy them and adopt their business models. $10+ for an album is too much when there's a readily-available free alternative. I believe there's a price point, maybe around $5.00 per album, where the the convenience and assured quality of an official download would be worth the cost, and they could do good business on volume.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:29 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


XQUZYPHYR's aversion to analogies is like a monkey disdaining a proffered beehive. pair of underwear in Vladimir Putin's sock drawer. Swede flouting the rights of artists with his feet. one foot.

No, that's not quite right. BRB.
posted by everichon at 9:32 AM on April 17, 2009


According to the OED the word piracy has been used this way for hundreds of years.

1700 E. WARD Journey to Hell II. vii. 14 Piracy, Piracy, they cry'd aloud, What made you print my Copy, Sir, says one, You're a meer Knave, 'tis very basely done.
posted by Wood at 9:41 AM on April 17, 2009


THE PIRATE BAY: Modern-day Robin Hood prosecuted by Socialist regime.

I see what you did there...

I work in a totally normal office environment. There are maybe 300-400 employees here and everyone pirates. All of them. There were people discussing the early leak of the new Wolverine movie totally openly and these are regular people, ranging from 18-65, male and female. They are not all IT literate nerds - just average people who just simply are not willing to pay for their content.

I personally am not interested in Wolverine but I did just torrent the tv series Dark Skies as it is not available on DVD and I don't have a TV aerial/Cable/Satellite. I know full well that it is wrong for me to have downloaded it but from every indication - the cost of licensing the original 1960s music for a DVD release are prohibitive. Should it become unavailable because of this? I genuinely don't know the answer but in this instance I don't feel particularly bad because otherwise it would be completely lost to me.

I try and stick to downloading stuff that is neither in print or is prohibitively hard to get hold of and considering that my other choice is to not be able to take advantage of any form of art due to being poor I have to say I have no real defence. I can see that copyright laws are clearly not working and that people's expectations have changed. A solution isn't within my grasp but for now I will continue to pirate. The only other choice is to go on Ebay and buy someone's VHS copies of stuff and nobody will be making any money off that other than the person selling it to me.
posted by longbaugh at 9:43 AM on April 17, 2009


"Finally, if you are the owner of a public pool charging 1$ for each entrance ticket, and somebody has opened a hole in your fence and is charging the kids 0,1$ to give them directions to that hole, I bet you'll call him a thieving bastard."

The guy could be giving directions on how to build a nuclear bomb to blow up my pool and I wouldn't call him a thief.
posted by Mitheral at 9:50 AM on April 17, 2009


The whole business model simply falls to bits if the ability to make the money back disappears if consumers claim a special right to view/use/listen for free.

This line of reasoning neglects the idea that the free distribution has the effect of bringing more artistic works to the attention of people willing to pay for it. As in, "I stumbled on a few of XYZ band's tracks from a torrent, and liked them and bought a couple of their older albums from itunes and went to their concert," or "I thought XYZ movie was going to suck so I leeched the R5 but it turned out to be quite good and I went and saw it again in the theater."

I feel that people are, for the most part, willing to pay for their entertainment. It's just that they want to dictate the terms; they need a familiarity that the old model of "pay first, then listen/watch" does not afford.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:54 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


@longbaugh: except that out of print TV series (and games and books and so on) are competing for your finite time and attention with ones currently in print. Even if no-one will accept your money for them, if you download Dark Skies, that makes you proportionately less likely to buy, say, the 30 Rock box set or what have you to fill the entertainment gap in your life, and thus causes quantifiable damages to rightsholders. You see, every time you reduce the amount of scarcity, you make the Baby Jesus copyright industry cry.
posted by acb at 9:57 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Parasite rights!
posted by Artw at 10:26 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're probably right about the terminology Brother Dysk, I stand corrected. It's damages not a fine.
But stopping there would be missing something very important. The principle in Swedish law has never been to set damages to levels that would also serve as a deterrent, only to compensate the victim for what he has lost. In this case that was the expressed purpose: deterrence. That's something that hasn't been seen before, and I suspect it's an imported concept from the USA legal system.
posted by JeNeSaisQuoi at 10:28 AM on April 17, 2009


At the point the graph was posted in this thread membership was just over 16k, it's now at 18340, and rising.
posted by knapah at 10:43 AM on April 17, 2009


As K.W. Jeter explained in Noir, the penalty for an offense must be exponentially proportional to the likelihood of getting away with it to serve as a deterrent. As such, copyright infringement would have to become a capital crime for there to be any chance of winning the War On Piracy.
posted by acb at 10:54 AM on April 17, 2009


Kennedy said music and movie industry groups planned to file additional litigation to try to get The Pirate Bay shut down. He said that while he expected the defendants in the case to “hand over the baton” to others, that might now be more difficult. “There will be less people willing to step up to the plate,” he said.

What are they smoking?
posted by gottabefunky at 10:55 AM on April 17, 2009


Christ. Don't argue this thing. It will be settled only when the recording industry collapses, starts selling everything at prices that somehow beat the cost (in time and bother) of finding and downloading illegal copies, or finds a copy-resistant way to sell recordings.
posted by pracowity at 10:56 AM on April 17, 2009


"Just because nothing physical is stolen, it doesn't means that it isn't theft. If I take advantage of somebody else's property to his detriment and my own enjoyment, then, yes, it's most definitely stealing."

It's not called "theft" or "larceny" in the legal code, however. It's called copyright infringement, which is not the same legal concept. The government created an artificial monopoly on creative works for a limited period, which means you have the exclusive copyright (right to copy/distribute) as the owner/holder of the intellectual property. You can call it whatever you want, but it doesn't make it so.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:15 AM on April 17, 2009


"Music producers made money selling hardware and didn't worry too much about home cassette recording."

That's not true at all. In fact, the first time we saw this fight was over cassette decks, and how people could just record anything, like their friend's album or a song on the radio, and therefore the music industry would collapse if we allowed anyone to record anything on blank tape (which they could also do before on reel-to-reel, though that's certainly not as convenient). I leave it up to the reader to determine whether their predictions were prescient.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:23 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


"These dime-store metaphors that would fail a college exam are a thousand times more irritating that the actual act of stealing music. Dear fucking god, be for or against it, just please stop it with the goddamn analogies, I beg of you."

Although your particular analysis may give you satisfaction, it's entirely divorced from a real discussion on intellectual property and the law. Using words like "theft" to describe copyright infringement is a bit like calling anyone who commits a crime a "terrorist," and all it does is allow you an emotional outlet, not a basis for productive discussion.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:30 AM on April 17, 2009


I don't know what DVD Jon thinks, but using or being a part of the system (any system, really) while simultaneously believing that system needs radical reform or abolishment isn't exactly uncommon or without precedent.

DVD Jon wrote on his blog:
"I recently discussed Sony BMG’s infringement of my copyright with a lawyer. I have not taken any action against Sony BMG so far for the following reasons:

Statutory damages are only available if the work was registered with the U.S. Copyright Office before the infringement occurred.
Proving actual damages of any substantial amount will be very difficult due to the fact that the work was licensed under the GPL.
I will be registering my future works with the Copyright Office and releasing my works under a different license (possibly GPL + a liquidated damages clause)."

Quite a few people have publicly supported The Pirate Bay, including Paolo Coelho. DVD Jon has not given any kind of public support to the owners of The Pirate Bay.
posted by iviken at 11:30 AM on April 17, 2009


Copyright infringement: It's not a cheese sandwich.
posted by delmoi at 11:31 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


"it's not about money, it's about control - whether people control the commons of language, cultural reference, mutual creation and sharing of symbols or monopolists do

somehow i can't see the idea of identical artistic products being sold to and consumed by millions of people as anything but a function of 20th century civilization with its mass markets, tv networks and promoters - it wasn't like that before and it won't be like that after
"

I think that this, especially when applied to movies, is naive and optimistic.

I see this a lot, folks who claim that the death of the major label apparatus is right around the corner, because it doesn't support what they want out of music.

Which is fine. But I think that it's important to note that folks like pyramid termite, burnmp3 and even myself are not regular music consumers. We're the equivalent to power users. I have thousands of albums, and I listen to them. Of those, a diminishing proportion are physical, in large part because I can't get them otherwise. That's also the sector where the complaints about the quality of music come from, and we're certainly over-represented on the internet. In the dark days, to get the stuff I want to hear, it would have meant road trips and weekend passes to record shows (sometimes it still does). More than anything else, my music collection is defined by relentless curiosity, and the internet makes that both financially feasible and makes the access possible.

Major labels have been a diminishing factor for folks like us, well, since about when we figured out there was independent music. We're the long tail and if every major label went out of business today, we'd still never want for music the rest of our lives.

That takes a fair amount of effort—I'm going to spend an hour this evening looking through the archives of Bookhouse's brother's Ozark punk blog to find folks I've never heard of before, and who won't get a penny because there's not really anyone to give that penny to.

But most folks don't want that. They want a big summer song that all their friends know too. They want something to play at prom. They want a popular anthem. And for folks who only buy twelve CDs a year, for folks who only really tune into music in the car or at the office on the radio, the scale of promotional muscle required means that major labels will be required, and instead of being replaced by a polyglot multi-culti stew of a million niches, they'll be folded into media properties that make promoting that music more efficient. The vast majority of sales still take place in the big head, not the long tail.

That's also where the real pain of file sharing happens—major labels are much more concerned with Kanye getting bootlegged than folks like The Flaming Lips. Kanye's an investment, a property, whereas The Flaming Lips are basically some dudes who do their own thing and don't really take any promotional muscle to make sure that every teen has a copy of the album. They make money, but they don't support posses.

And, though major labels care more about Kanye, it's going to be the folks further down the food chain that get hit hardest. It's that the same tools required for access to obscure, weird shit are also used by the middle third of music listeners, the lifestyle folks who might have otherwise bought a Touch and Go album, but now can get the Crystal Antlers on Rapidshare. They used to be able to ape the cool and weird affectations of class taste through paying for it, but now they can load up an iPod with music they'll listen to once. The shift between music identifiers as consumption versus knowledge means that "cool" bands no longer get the cash to support the "cool."

So, to wind up a ramble, I don't think that major labels will disappear, just pare down, whic is painful for them, and I don't think that indies will be able to take up the slack in a financially viable way, even though there will be a lot more music out there.

(As an aside, regarding music as functionally unlimited: In, what, 2002, the last year that I know the numbers for—so feel free to correct me—major labels put out over 30,000 albums. At an hour apiece, that's about three and a half years worth of music to listen to. Add in all the indie releases, and back catalog, and the fact that you're not going to be able to listen to music 24 hours a day, music is functionally unlimited. At the very least, supply exceeds demand.)
posted by klangklangston at 12:09 PM on April 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Has anyone ever changed their minds based on an argument in one of these copyright threads? Ever?

Ignoring my own presumed advice:

The nature of music is that people will keep making it, whether it is worth money or not. You built your industry by buying the rights to sell the creative output of musicians? Sucks to be you.
posted by idiopath at 12:19 PM on April 17, 2009


As a back of envelope calculation, it's taken me about four years to listen to about 100,000 songs (by last.fm plus about 40% for non-computer listening), with an average of about 4.05 minutes each (taking iTunes to be a representative sample). That comes out to about 277 minutes per day, on average, or about 4.6 hours per day of listening to music. At that rate, it would take me 17.8 years to get through what's released by major labels in one year, without listening to anything on an indie or any album twice.

I would guess (just a guess) that I'm in the upper quintile in terms of music listening (professional, full-time music reviewers beat me out, and probably spend six to eight hours per day listening to music, but that's a really small minority, even within professional music reviewers). Obviously, professional musicians listen to more music, but most of that is the same stuff (theirs) again and again.

Assuming a bell curve (not even the log long tail that I posited before), the median is probably less than half that. Which means that it'd take them their entire adult life to listen to everything released in 2008.

So yeah, I think the idea that music is functionally unlimited with regards to time is pretty well supported. These are mostly guesses, but I think that a lot of folks arguing pro-file sharing positions should note that their music habits are likely not typical and reflect a different relationship with music. (And not necessarily a better one, just a hobby with more invested in it—I watch far fewer sporting events than average, for example, and couldn't tell you who was on most of the teams of any league aside from the few I do follow.)
posted by klangklangston at 12:58 PM on April 17, 2009


The Flaming Lips are basically some dudes who do their own thing and don't really take any promotional muscle to make sure that every teen has a copy of the album.

Sidenote: The Flaming Lips are playing a free show on the Mall in DC this weekend for Earth Day.

You may now return to your discussion.

posted by inigo2 at 1:04 PM on April 17, 2009


Coming at this from a film/tv/video angle, I am convinced that it is, and always has been a matter of cultural control. Why, just yesterday I was watching this short produced by the NAB in 1957, touting the ability of the tv industry to self-regulate in order to provide an appropriate path of acculturation into the future for our children, and to promote the flow of commerce by the flow if ideas. See how that logic is directional, the ideas precede the commerce? It has always been thus, even in the ethos of those with control. Creative industries operate at a natural loss because of their aspirational quality, most people working for far less than their expertise would indicate, and the "nobody knows" principle of cultural value. The more the consumers (and I mean consumers of media, not consumers as a synonym for spenders) become apprised of the factual heft of the media's enmeshment in this culture, the more they will desire to move freely in the information archive and create their own perspective unrelated to a proprietary band or sanctioned brand.

For anyone whose participation in mediated culture is completely nil, this matter of access to the archive of recorded content will, of course, not be an issue. Some people don't need to share cultural literacy to feel well. For the rest of us, for better or worse, with the invasion of mediated and cpmmercial culture into public space, even, it has apparently become imperative to have as non-monetized an access point to information as possible. Broadcast, at least, in its short history, has always acknowledged a responsibility to serve the public good, alongside a need to expand and reach more consumers. At this point, the market control sought via that drive by the financial controllers and the access which is more and more indistinguishable from the public good have begun to noticeably conflict. The barrier to access is market scarcity, and socialized options have been unduly disregarded, resulting in this countercultural revolution.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:21 PM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


“They want to make sure that the TV shows aren't available on the internet, rather than looking for a way of providing people with the content and profiting off that.”
Bingo. One of the big problems I have with buying most music is that you don’t get to listen to it first. Or watch a movie first. You have to depend on the previews, advertising, etc. So if I go to, say, “17 Again”, and I hate it – well, sucks to be me, they got my money, har har har.
And this model has gotten us overhyped, undertalented, hyperproduced crap where we’re amazed that someone who doesn’t have a magnificent ass and is over 25 can actually carry a tune or be a serious actor.
Doesn’t much affect me because I don’t have a lot of time to download anything. But I don’t like being – or seeing anyone - P.T. Barnumed into buying the egress and then being smacked down because the companies have more money to spend on lawyers. And on the rare occasion I do download something, it’s mostly to see if I want to buy it. I’d rather have a nice clean copy of a film or music, etc. Comes with liner notes, all that. It’s more worth it to me to spend the money rather than the time. But if I can’t listen to it – I’m not buying it.
Remove responsibility for providing value – marginalize the consumer’s right to determine the value of a product – and you get the mostly trash pop culture we seem to have.
Plenty of very good work out there. Is Radiohead just stupid or do they genuinely think they’re talented and providing something valuable that people will willingly pay for? I think it’s the latter.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:24 PM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've really managed to ramble coherently obscuring my point, which is simple. Like it or not, our culture is largely defined by its overwhelmingly privatized mediated representation, and as a free people, we simply WILL strive to have as much access to the content of this mediation as we choose to, regardless of capital considerations. There's not a lot of ethical deliberating that needs to go on on that issue.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:31 PM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


incoherently, actually.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:32 PM on April 17, 2009


Also, hacker != cracker.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:35 PM on April 17, 2009


In short, they got greedy. Personally, this is what soothes my conscience when I download.

Oh, come on. You like getting free shit. Stop trying to justifying yourself with such transparently self-serving tortured logic. You want what you want and you don't want to pay for it. Congratulations.

You don't download stuff FOR OUR FREEDOMS!!!11!1! You just like free stuff.
posted by Justinian at 1:41 PM on April 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


This doesn't seem much different from what's happening to the newspaper industry - except the music people have a lot more money and provide much less obvious good to society. It's still change or die. The money helps them survive a little longer, but the result will be the same.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:09 PM on April 17, 2009


But most folks don't want that. They want a big summer song that all their friends know too. They want something to play at prom. They want a popular anthem. And for folks who only buy twelve CDs a year, for folks who only really tune into music in the car or at the office on the radio, the scale of promotional muscle required means that major labels will be required, and instead of being replaced by a polyglot multi-culti stew of a million niches

I don't see why casual users would need to have heavier promotion though. Apple's App Store for the iPhone is popular with casual and power iPhone users, and the people who write popular casual apps don't have to work any harder promoting their apps than the ones who write power user apps.

The technical advances that made buying software so easy have opened up the industry in a way that would have been inconceivable back when buying software meant either physically going to a store like Software Etc. or ordering something through mail order. Back then, AOL had to literally send 3.5'' floppies to random addresses to try to attract new casual customers. These days, there are still big software companies like Microsoft and Adobe but the playing field has leveled to the point where anyone with a great app has a decent chance of finding a significant amount of customers.

I think the same kinds of changes are what the music industry faces, and I expect similar consequences. The software industry has had a lot longer time being exposed to file sharing and easy networked distribution, and the industry has evolved to support massive market leaders like Windows, big open source projects, and ad-supported software like Google's. There will never be a end to file sharing or a complete collapse of the industry, but advances in technology will force changes in how things are done.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:14 PM on April 17, 2009


"This doesn't seem much different from what's happening to the newspaper industry - except the music people have a lot more money and provide much less obvious good to society. It's still change or die. The money helps them survive a little longer, but the result will be the same."

Well, except that the newspaper situation is tremendously more complicated, and a lot of the problems came from corporate folks noting that newspapers were making double-digit profits even after the dot-com bubble, not realizing that a tremendous amount of the profits came from costs cut by moving to digitization, not a growth in readership or revenue, so folks bought out places like Tribune Media by saddling the company and employees with an incredible debt load (86% in excess of assets, if I recall regarding the Trib), which meant that when longer-term trends in newspapers (you can't cut costs forever, plus an erosion of classified revenue) caught up with these businesses, especially in the context of a predictable business cycle slump AND the massive fuckery of the financial system, newspapers caught holy hell. Add that to fraud on the part of at least a few major media owners, and you'd be hard pressed to come up with another industry as fucked by management and circumstances. The music industry, despite their protestations, still makes a fair amount of loot, and they're only having a bit of a hangover based on the unsustainable bullshit of the '80s peak and their own '90s conglomerations.

"Change or die" is incredibly simplistic, and I wish folks would quit saying it like it summed up cars, newspapers or music.

"I don't see why casual users would need to have heavier promotion though. Apple's App Store for the iPhone is popular with casual and power iPhone users, and the people who write popular casual apps don't have to work any harder promoting their apps than the ones who write power user apps."

How many people have iPhones and bought an app? Despite media over-representation, iPhones are not mainstream, certainly not in the way that music is. How many apps are there, versus the number of albums?

Prices for Britney Spears latest LA show were from $50 to $188. That's what major label muscle gets you. I love Jonathan Coulton as much as the next guy (though not enough to make sure I'm spelling his name right), but he's an alternative model, not the mainstream model. People buying 12 albums a year aren't buying his album.
posted by klangklangston at 2:44 PM on April 17, 2009


Currency counterfeiting is an act of war under international law, and...intellectual property counterfeiting cannot be any less grave a matter.

Excepting the fact that you're totally wrong, you're totally right.

My prediction; the IFPI will appeal, and push for much longer sentences, or else the US Government will request the extradition of the Pirate Bay convicts to face trial in the US (and apply sufficient pressure behind the scenes to get this; I mean, Ikea want to be able to sell to the English-speaking world, don't they?)

The United States isn't the only country in the English-speaking world. The UK and Ireland also count.

...you're new to this sort of thing, I take it.
posted by oaf at 2:52 PM on April 17, 2009


Is the death of large scale productions a bad thing?

Why don't you go ask the Whedon fans having hissy fits about him being able to get his TV shows funded past a season these days?

I work in a totally normal office environment. There are maybe 300-400 employees here and everyone pirates. All of them. There were people discussing the early leak of the new Wolverine movie totally openly and these are regular people, ranging from 18-65, male and female. They are not all IT literate nerds - just average people who just simply are not willing to pay for their content.

Wonder how they'd feel if their place of employment operated on the same basis. "Yeah, I know you put in a week's work on this, but, frankly, I didn't like your work enough to pay for it. Hey, it's not like I stole anything from you."
posted by rodgerd at 3:29 PM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Wonder how they'd feel if their place of employment operated on the same basis. "Yeah, I know you put in a week's work on this, but, frankly, I didn't like your work enough to pay for it. Hey, it's not like I stole anything from you.""

Did you work at my last office? Of course, their relentless drive to rip off everyone (especially freelance photographers) preceded their internet piracy.
posted by klangklangston at 3:31 PM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Change or die" is incredibly simplistic, and I wish folks would quit saying it like it summed up cars, newspapers or music.

But you're letting all those trees obscure your view of the forest a bit. The circumstances of the newspaper industry are different, but its basic problem is the same as what's facing the music industry: a better distribution system has been invented, and more and more people are choosing to use it instead of the previous one. The old distribution system is much easier to make a profit from, but there's no way it can be as efficient as moving electrons through wires. Over time, people are always going to move towards using things that give them the most benefit for the least cost.

In some cases like books and movies, the "most benefit" may sometimes include the delivery system itself, if there are other considerations involved besides just receiving the data (ie: books are collectible, can be read on the can and don't need electricity, while movies can be enjoyed as a group experience) - but music is just information when you come right down it - data that can be enjoyed through many different technologies. People used to collect record albums, but now they download singles in the same way that they read headlines at the top of some blog feed. Nobody collects newspapers, or enjoys them for their artistic presentation, and now nobody does that for songs. They just consume the information.

If the music industry really wants to survive, it should stop wasting money on quixotic crusades like ruining the lives of those Swedish guys, and put some serious dollars into redefing the way people enjoy their product. Make albums something people want to buy for their own sake again, instead of just downloading the information contained within them.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:06 PM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


But you're letting all those trees obscure your view of the forest a bit.

Funny, I'd say the same about you - who do you think is going to pay for the creation of the editorial content in those newspapers? Google? Google doesn't pay for shit, but they're owning the advertising market and leveraging the editorial of... the papers that are going broke.
posted by rodgerd at 5:57 PM on April 17, 2009


I don't understand what you're saying, rodgerd. I'm not trying to argue that the problems these industries are facing are a good thing, or that we'll all be better off tomorrow. Change is inevitable, whether we like it or not, so it's better to get in there and try to direct the change in ways that favour these industries, instead of trying to hold back the tide.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:05 PM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why don't you go ask the Whedon fans having hissy fits about him being able to get his TV shows funded past a season these days?

Rodgerd: Since you seem to have read their comments already, why don't you tell us more about this Whedon fellow and the hissy fits of fans thereof? I honestly don't know what you mean.

But to change focus: Would you care if all major movie studios would go belly up? Why/not?
posted by monocultured at 6:30 PM on April 17, 2009


Have you all seen the numbers on unauthorized downloads in China? It's pretty much the exclusive distribution model there: no one buys music. No one.

For what it's worth.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:14 PM on April 17, 2009


Is the death of large scale productions a bad thing?

Yes.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 8:07 PM on April 17, 2009


Have you all seen the numbers on unauthorized downloads in China? It's pretty much the exclusive distribution model there: no one buys music. No one.

Google.cn now offers legal music downloads for free.
posted by fatehunter at 8:19 PM on April 17, 2009


But most folks don't want that. They want a big summer song that all their friends know too. They want something to play at prom. They want a popular anthem.

i see no reason why a subcultural folk tradition couldn't provide them that - or, for that matter, pepsi - but my point is that the audiences are fragmenting into smaller pieces all the time and the day is going to come when there's no "mass audience" to speak of

that most people don't have that kind of involvement that we power users do is a given - but that lack of involvement is also a lack of concern as to where the music comes from - whether it comes from a source everyone knows or just their kind of people know - or whether it comes from now or 1970

one of the real problems the record industry is facing is that a good proportion of kids today are listening to what they like from the distant past - classic rock, oldies, whatever - contemporary music isn't grabbing them

the whole thing about music being some kind of social glue just doesn't seem to mean as much as it used to be - back when i was growing up, new records really meant something - i'm not sensing that with this generation as much

also, i'm not sure why you'd describe my feelings as optimistic - there are real drawbacks to what i'm predicting here, especially when it comes to politics - there are people whose social reality dictates that obama is a muslim who isn't a real citizen - of that lizard people secretly control the world - or that elvis is still alive and well in kalamazoo ...

my point being is that modern technology and the fragmentation of culture and common perception of what is real are going to do away with mass music, mass culture, and mass history, politics and economics

as far as music is concerned, it's not that great a loss - but the fragmentation of perception in other areas worries me - and i wouldn't call it optimism or naivete

"most folks" seem to be a shrinking majority
posted by pyramid termite at 8:57 PM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Been caught stealing
Once
When I was five

I enjoy stealing
It's just as simple as that

Well it's
just a
simple fact
When I want something and I don't wanna pay for it
I walk right
through the door
Walk right through the door

Hey all right
If I get by
It's mine!
posted by flabdablet at 10:51 PM on April 17, 2009


Wonder how they'd feel if their place of employment operated on the same basis. "Yeah, I know you put in a week's work on this, but, frankly, I didn't like your work enough to pay for it. Hey, it's not like I stole anything from you."

I assume they'd quit. If musicians don't feel like the money is good in recorded music they can quit. Piracy doesn't affect the market for live acts, and I would imagine that touring would make money for a lot of bands.
posted by delmoi at 2:54 AM on April 18, 2009


mr_roboto: Have you all seen the numbers on unauthorized downloads in China? It's pretty much the exclusive distribution model there: no one buys music. No one.

Loads of people buy music in China. I used to do it myself often enough, as the CDs on sale in the street were almost always pirated copies, and therefore not only dirt cheap despite being of comparable quality to "real" ones, but often had the playing time padded out to what the disc would hold by throwing a random selection of the artist's back-catalogue on the end of the disc, after where the album itself ends.

Last time I was in Guangzhao, for example, a proper, legal copy of a CD cost maybe RMB100 to RMB180. An almost identical (save for the additional 'bonus tracks') pirated CD would be RMB20.
posted by Dysk at 3:13 AM on April 19, 2009






klang, that's an interesting link, and it props up one of my own preconceived notions: that leaving aside the rights and wrongs and looking at what widespread unauthorized downloads actually do, it's often seemed to me that they function pretty much exactly like broadcast radio. In both cases, large amounts of music are made available at no charge to anybody who has the right equipment to record it.

I understand that radio stations are in theory required to pay a fee for the right to broadcast the material that they do. But in practice, anything you hear in high rotation on the radio will have got that rotation because the publisher has paid the radio station operator to promote it.

I've long been puzzled that an industry that's quite happy to break the law to get its material pushed out via broadcast radio isn't actively funding sites like Pirate Bay instead of trying to shut them down.
posted by flabdablet at 5:34 PM on April 23, 2009


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