No way to run a candy store
July 14, 2010 7:28 AM   Subscribe

The RIAA paid Holmes Roberts & Owen $9,364,901 in 2008, Jenner & Block more than $7,000,000, and Cravath Swain & Moore $1.25 million, to pursue its "copyright infringement" claims, in order to recover a mere $391,000. ... for a 3 year period, they spent around $64,000,000 in legal and investigative expenses to recover around $1,361,000. (via Slashdot)
posted by Joe Beese (63 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I would imagine there is some harder to quantify benefit in scaring people into pirating less...
posted by ghharr at 7:29 AM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think they're missing the point. This has always been about a revenue stream for lawyers. It has little to do with the actual artists.
posted by stavrogin at 7:30 AM on July 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


would imagine there is some harder to quantify benefit in scaring people into pirating less...

How's that been working out for them?
posted by mikelieman at 7:32 AM on July 14, 2010 [15 favorites]


All to protect the artists, of course.

*snert*
posted by Aquaman at 7:33 AM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


It was never about recovering damages but instead was about battering the defendants- and the rest of the public into submission.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:40 AM on July 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


What Hath Lars Ulrich Wrought?
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:40 AM on July 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think they're missing the point. This has always been about a revenue stream for lawyers. It has little to do with the actual artists.
posted by stavrogin at 10:30 AM on July 14


RIAA = Recording Industry Association of America. It has nothing to do with artists. It represents record companies. Piracy does not hurt artists. The more people hear their music, even if they hear it for free, the more people will show up at live concerts, which is where artists make their money.

Piracy does hurt record labels, because they only make their money on people paying to play their music. They don't care if you pay for a CD or pay to download from iTunes, as long as you pay.

If spending $64 million prevents the even the majority of just iTunes or Amazon customers from realizing that they can get the exact same music from The Pirate Bay in fewer clicks, faster, and for free, then it is worth it for them to do it.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:40 AM on July 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


A "mere" $391,000? But think of the human misery!
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 7:41 AM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Its more about deterrence than collecting. Many people I know will not DL music or movies due to the fear of being caught.
posted by circa68 at 7:42 AM on July 14, 2010


Pastabagel is on the right track here.

It can be expedient to spend orders of magnitude more to litigate a claim than the claim is actually worth if doing so establishes precedent you can use elsewhere or is somehow essential to your business model.

The RIAA doesn't actually care about individual users as such, but if they can't get p2p classified as piracy under the law, their entire business strategy collapses overnight. Their business is not selling content as much as it is leveraging regulatory giveaways. At its core, copyright doesn't really exist to protect labels' or even artists' revenue streams, it exists to protect the integrity of published works. It's entirely possible to have a robust copyright environment which does not permit the sort of multi-billion dollar revenue streams which the copyright industry has built for itself.

So accruing $64 million in legal costs over three years to defend those streams, which happens to be predicated entirely on a wrinkle in the legal environment, is totally worth it.
posted by valkyryn at 7:49 AM on July 14, 2010 [15 favorites]


the problem being that they forgot they couldn't charge the fees to the artist's future royalties, like they do everything else

the riaa and major record companies are running themselves out of business with good old-fashioned incompetence and self-sabotaging greed

and they haven't deterred people from piracy as much as they've deterred people from MUSIC - the bottom line is that sales are down and people are choosing to spend their entertainment dollars elsewhere
posted by pyramid termite at 7:51 AM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


A morally- and logically-incorrect position just became financially-incorrect as well. Good.
posted by DU at 7:52 AM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's probably worth pointing out that a lot of civil litigation ends up this way. In the US, most causes of action are designed to compensate the plaintiff (i.e., put him or her in the position she was in before the defendant's bad action). So at most your damages should be just enough to bring you back to zero, but you also have to pay your own attorney's fees in most cases, so in reality you end up at least somewhat in the red. It's not uncommon to ultimately end up paying more to your attorneys than you get in damages, especially when it actually comes time to collect the judgment (e.g., defendants go bankrupt, flee the jurisdiction, etc).

Of course, in copyright cases there are statutory damages that vastly outweigh the real compensatory damages, and even those can be enhanced in willful infringement cases, but the point stands that the same basic story could be told about many lawsuits (although I'll admit that the numbers are particularly absurd in this case). As others have pointed out, the goals in these cases were to 1) scare other potential defendants into not infringing copyrights and 2) establish precedents that would make future litigation and settlement negotiations go more smoothly.

In the end, though, those goals clearly weren't being met, at least not cost effectively, and the RIAA largely ceased these kinds of suits 18 months ago.
posted by jedicus at 7:57 AM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


it seems like the RIAA likes to deter musicians from money, too
posted by pyramid termite at 7:59 AM on July 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Many people I know will not DL music or movies due to the fear of being caught.

Oddly enough, there are a list of labels I try not to buy from due to the fear of not supporting artists I want to patronize. It's a funny old world.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:04 AM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've stopped buying music. Nearly all music. For sure new music. Never any digital. I also don't pirate music (anymore).

I used to have a voracious appetite for both.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:06 AM on July 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Seems to recount a story told in 2008: RIAA sues Napster, KaZaA, and Bolt, collects $400 million, and then claim that "after legal bills were subtracted from the hundreds of millions in settlements, there wasn’t much left over to hand out."

Could this zero-sum game have anything to do with Operation In Our Sites - a.k.a., the U.S. government's War on Piracy?
posted by tybeet at 8:15 AM on July 14, 2010


Just to yell "get off my lawn" or something, can I say that it truly annoys me that people talk about the RIAA as if it were some truly independent creature? It's a front group, used in this case so that the people funding it can keep their own names clean PR-wise. So why can no one ever point out that it's the "Universal-BMG-EMI-Warner Cartel" not really "The RIAA" per se?
posted by tyllwin at 8:19 AM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


and they haven't deterred people from piracy as much as they've deterred people from MUSIC - the bottom line is that sales are down and people are choosing to spend their entertainment dollars elsewhere
posted by pyramid termite at 10:51 AM on July 14


Sales of music are down, but they've been down for about ten years. Music sales peaked in 2000. The fact that that time frame coincides with the rise of blogging, social networking, youtube, etc. suggests that music sales are down because music simply isn't as important as it once was. In the 70's, as a teenager you'd sit around listening to an album all the way through on a routine basis. Then maybe you watched some primetime TV. Every once in a while you went to the movies. In the 80's you watched a lot more TV, but if you were a teenager, much of that was MTV. And you'd go to the movies, and the mall. In the late 80's and 90's, you'd go to the movies, rent videos, watch TV, watch mtv, hang out at the mall, and listen to music. In the late 90's, you get online, and do all the other things. In the 2000's, you'd write a blog, upload some photos to flickr, upload videos to youtube, watch youtube, twitter, facebook, watch movies, maybe go to the movies, go to starbucks, maybe watch some tv in the evening, and maybe listen to music in the downtimes between those things.

Of course this is a generalization, there will always be some hardcore fans of every medium. You are in the minorty. The RIAA, the MPAA, the TV broadcasters, FM radio, cable TV etc cater to mass communication, top-down media. They are struggling to adapt to the new era where there is no mass market.

The kind of music that the RIAA made its fortune with is becoming less culturally relevant with each passing year.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:19 AM on July 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


Could this zero-sum game have anything to do with Operation In Our Sites - a.k.a., the U.S. government's War on Piracy?
posted by tybeet at 11:15 AM on July 14


In my opinion, it is absolutely not a coincidence that Operation In Our Sites shut down nine major pirate sites a mere six days after Hulu rolled out a $10 a month subscription plan. The message is clear - you can download movies, as long as its from us.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:24 AM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Piracy does not hurt artists. The more people hear their music, even if they hear it for free, the more people will show up at live concerts, which is where artists make their money.

This is not a universal truth.
posted by mkb at 8:26 AM on July 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


It was said "Piracy does not hurt artists. The more people hear their music, even if they hear it for free, the more people will show up at live concerts, which is where artists make their money" Let's be clear--songwriters and composers are artists and there is ample objective and independent data that their incomes have been significantly reduced over the last 5-7 years. Some musicians/performers do not care about file sharing and some care deeply as it directly effects their lively through reduced royalties an/or an unwillingness/inability to do live shows. I think it is time that blanket statements about artists and revenue become more specific and data based.
posted by rmhsinc at 8:26 AM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


In my opinion, it is absolutely not a coincidence that Operation In Our Sites shut down nine major pirate sites a mere six days after Hulu rolled out a $10 a month subscription plan. The message is clear - you can download movies, as long as its from us.
The government wants you to use the site that's legal and a business wants you to use a site that they actually get money from? I'm all for conspiracies but I'm sad to report you haven't written the next Dan Brown novel there.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:31 AM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Use services like RIAA Radar to make sure I don't support these artists.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:33 AM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Looks like the war on piracy will be about as effective as:
a) The war on drugs
b) The war on terrorism
c) both
posted by blue_beetle at 8:33 AM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I bought my first CD in years just yesterday. I haven't had enough money that's not already been pre-spent on bills, rent, food or what have you for a long time. My first thought the other day was that I had some cash left in my bank account and that I wanted to thank a musical artist for supporting me through that very tough period.

As time goes by and I get on top of my finances I'll spend more of what little money I have to pay artists for the pleasure and the support they've given me through hard times.

I freely admit I've a lot of music that hasn't been officially purchased but I'd not have made it through the last 10 years of my life without it. I can't reward every artist for getting me through those hard times but I'll do my best to pay them back (one at a time!) for a priceless life that I get to keep on living. I just wish I could hand it directly to the artist rather than force them to split it with a bunch of guys who have had no part in the artistic process.

So anyway, I bought an early Tom Waits album. I already have all the tracks individually but now I can listen to it in the car and, so far as I am aware, Mr Waits is awesome and not-at-all a dickhead (which is very important to me). I'm happy that I have paid some money to him finally, although I'd have preferred to buy the man a drink and say thanks directly, this feels like at least a start.
posted by longbaugh at 8:34 AM on July 14, 2010


Also - I'm going to go see GY!BE in December. Only another 1500 odd artists to reimburse...
posted by longbaugh at 8:37 AM on July 14, 2010


The kind of music that the RIAA made its fortune with is becoming less culturally relevant with each passing year.

shit is cyclical..it will come back. remember in the 50s and way early 60s music was fractured, regional, and mostly about singles. this is just the big wheel keepin on turnin.
posted by spicynuts at 8:37 AM on July 14, 2010


you haven't written the next Dan Brown novel there.

Actually, according to this, they have.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:41 AM on July 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


So anyway, I bought an early Tom Waits album. I already have all the tracks individually but now I can listen to it in the car and, so far as I am aware, Mr Waits is awesome and not-at-all a dickhead (which is very important to me). I'm happy that I have paid some money to him finally, although I'd have preferred to buy the man a drink and say thanks directly, this feels like at least a start.

Yes, and assuming you didn't buy it USED and it was a CD and it was a more or less $15-$20 purchase price, I'm sure Mr. Waits will personally receive at least 83 cents of your hard earned money. Or maybe, if he's got a particularly good deal, two bucks. Regardless, less than the cost of a decent beer.
posted by philip-random at 8:48 AM on July 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


This is why I only ever buy old vinyl. (I wish I was joking.)
posted by Eideteker at 8:49 AM on July 14, 2010


This is why the RIAA, etc, have been pushing to make copyright infringement a criminal matter (stuff like this). That way, taxpayers foot the bill for lawyers and prosecution, but the RIAA & co still collect any fines.
posted by fings at 9:12 AM on July 14, 2010


While I have paid to download a few single songs here and there, I cannot bring myself to down to pay for downloading an entire album. I'm one of those guys who loves pouring over liner notes and the tangible experience, so I end up buying the CD, ripping it, and shelving it except to browse the liner notes. I'm paying for a lousy 5x5" set of artwork. I wish more artists would sell vinyl with codes for a free digital download of the album; that would be the best of both worlds.

As for iTunes LP, it's good idea, but the prices are ridiculous. From what I hear, it was a RIAA thing that they strongarmed Apple into doing, so I expect both sides to lose interest any day now and the product to quietly fade from iTMS.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:15 AM on July 14, 2010


the problem being that they forgot they couldn't charge the fees to the artist's future royalties, like they do everything else

But did they? Really? Or is that now somewhere in the expense column for said artists...
posted by twidget at 9:22 AM on July 14, 2010


So basically the RIAA are victims too.

I know copyright protection for corporations isn't a very popular cause on Metafilter. And I think the RIAA is ham-handed, artist-hostile, and ignorant. But it's important our society allow creative people to profit off of their creative works. Just like some amateur photographer deserves to be compensated when their photos are used on a TV program, music artists deserve to be compensated when fans listen to their music.

The problem is how to do it. DRM is fail. The RIAA suing fans isn't working and was always a bad idea. What will work? Making money off tours is one way, but I don't think live performances should be the only way to get paid. Recordings have value.
posted by Nelson at 9:35 AM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Making money off tours is one way, but I don't think live performances should be the only way to get paid. Recordings have value.

But does it necessarily follow that everything with value should be monetized?
posted by tybeet at 9:41 AM on July 14, 2010


In general, yes, I think people should be compensated for producing things of value. I'm careful to use the word "compensate", because it could be some benefit like fame, or exposure, or access. But money is a primary means of compensation.
posted by Nelson at 9:44 AM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think corporations should enjoy copyright protection, but not for 120 years after creation.

Today's culture moves much, much faster than it did back when the U.S. first enacted copyright law. Ideas are now transmitted at the speed of light instead the speed of horse or sail, and yet they are now granted copyright for at least 5 times longer? Horseshit.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:47 AM on July 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


I guess I'll paypal him the remainder of the beer money then. Tom - if you're out there not only will I spring for a beer but I'll buy you a MeFi membership as well.
posted by longbaugh at 9:51 AM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


In general, yes, I think people should be compensated for producing things of value. I'm careful to use the word "compensate", because it could be some benefit like fame, or exposure, or access. But money is a primary means of compensation.

That doesn't necessarily imply that the creators need to depend on a business model that requires everyone who gets a copy of a work to pay for it, though. I don't think there's some sort of great new business model that will suddenly make it easy to make a living as an artist, but even in an environment where illegal copies are pervasive there are ways for artists to get paid. For example I think Kickstarter shows that collecting donations from fans upfront to fund the production of a new album can be a viable alternative to getting an advance from a record company. Most musicians on a traditional record label never recoup the money that the label pays them, so from the average artist's perspective they make all of their money upfront with the traditional business model already. And that's just one alternative model, the point is that if people still want to hear new music and musicians still want to get paid to produce it, there will be some way to direct the fan's money to the artists.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:22 AM on July 14, 2010


Recordings have value.

I value them, no question. But sadly, The Market by way of filesharing technology doesn't seem to anymore.

The problem is how to do it. DRM is fail. The RIAA suing fans isn't working and was always a bad idea. What will work?

The problem is that the geniuses who could've done something when filesharing was brand new (12 years ago or whatever) didn't. They behaved like greedy morons, declared war on their most significant customers (the true music junkies who could never get enough good, fresh music) and eagerly drove them to piracy where, it turns out, the treasure was (and still is) pretty much endless.

Now, as I see it, the only real power in this discussion lies with the pirates. What do they want exactly from a "Music Industry"?

Great music? no doubt.
Fair compensation for those who create it? little doubt.

The vast share of all revenues funneled into the pockets of a bunch of greedy middlemen who have brought nothing to the table in terms of truth, beauty, creativity? FUCK OFF!
posted by philip-random at 10:25 AM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, the RIAA has a huge interest in preserving the concept of statutory damages. If they're forced to settle for actual damages, they'd be looking at pennies per pirated track, the amount they stand to gain from each online sale.

But if you applied statutory damages to, say, the media on a hard drive of a reasonably serious music downloader you can easily hit multi-billion dollar damages.

Again, getting this from individual users is totally impossible, but also totally not the point. What they really don't want is someone else using their portfolio to make money, e.g. soundtracks, advertising, political campaigns, etc. But because 1) corporate users are generally savvy enough to avoid infringing on other people's copyrights deliberately, and 2) possess the wherewithal to defend themselves in a legal battle, it makes sense to use individual users as a proxy to get the validity of the statutory damages upheld in court before they have to try to enforce them against someone they actually care about.
posted by valkyryn at 10:33 AM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've stopped buying music. Nearly all music. For sure new music. Never any digital. I also don't pirate music (anymore).

I used to have a voracious appetite for both.


Yes. I've totally lost my appetite for music as well since I stopped buying. And I stopped when I bought a CD as a gift for somebody, and got a complaint that track 1 wouldn't play on her computer. I proceeded to rip the cd and re-burn it without DRM, and I decided to complain about this on the website the Dutch artist ran. I got accused by the webmaster (not the artist!) for stealing because of this, and had to quote dutch copyright law to get that ass hat to retract his statements.

I don't like being treated like that by a company I spent money with, looked around and discovered all media companies were like that - I now consider an FBI warning that cannot be interrupted by the legitimate buyer to be an insult to the buyer.

So I stopped buying altogether. And now, 6 or 7 years later, I don't miss it at all. I used to visit a cinema at least once a week when I was younger. Of course growing older has something to do with it as well, but I haven't seen the inside of a cinema in a long, long time, and the way things are going it's going to take a long, long time before I will again.

Fuck them all.
posted by DreamerFi at 10:59 AM on July 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


In fact, there are sound approaches for building a completely new music distribution channel which pays the artists but uses the existing free pirate networks, philip-random. I'll outline the two components for my personal favorite :

(1) We'd need internet radio software that broadcasts only mixing instructions and song urls or torrents. Your computer would cache upcoming songs and reconstruct the audio stream using the mixing instructions. You'll clearly see massive bandwidth savings under normal usage, plus radio stations now escape licensing fees unless they serve the songs themselves.

Why does this help the artists? If an official song version exists, radio DJs can reduce listeners bandwidth by mixing the official version, thus improving their own station, i.e. fewer "buffering" delays. Artists would therefore gain considerable influence over what version everyone listens to.

(2) We'd need a standard for linking to graphical advertisements from audio files. Any nice music player would support this standard by displaying unobtrusive banner advertisements.

You'd obviously see dishonest people try altering the advertisement urls inside music files, but the radio stations push users towards the official versions. Also, very nice music players might have tricks for blocking ads not controlled by the copyright holder.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:07 AM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was born in the early '80's, so in one way or another people have been sharing files over long distances for roughly as long as I've been alive.

When I was a kid, I loved music. It was, by far, the single most important thing I did, to listen to music. Very close to every dollar that came into my hands in my early teenage years was spent on music. I loved music so much that I almost never bought new albums, I bought current albums, sure, but almost never New albums. I lived in the Used section, where the price of one New album would get you two whole CDs, and, if you were lucky, bringing three of those used CDs back in later would get you two more. I would scour the bins, finding tons of great stuff. I would go to three or four shops, some of them twice a week, just in case something new-to-used came in. The New CDs I bought were things that were too limited run, things that people who bought them were probably going to keep, the small label, smaller run type things. Even those I frequently held out for for a while before putting a special request in for them. And when the Used section had a sale? Oh buddy, I was there with bells on.

As a result of this, my lifetime collection of CDs purchased is well over 2,500. The vast, vast majority of those were either purchased used or on close-out sale, which means that the recording artist, the publisher, the label, none of them made a dime off of my purchase. They made money at some time, sure, but not off of me directly, and not when I re-sold the CDs I decided to get rid of. This was not a deliberate design on my part in any way, in fact I never really considered it until later. But it is true that the only one who got a cut of those CDs I bought was the store.

Eventually, internet bandwidth became cheep enough and widespread enough that good quality mp3s could be shared fairly easily. At this point, I had the option to consume the same amount of music, with the same exact amount of money going to the creators and distributors as before, but without propping up the used CD shops that charged me triple what they paid for CDs. I wouldn't get the dirty plastic case or the possibly torn liner notes, but I would get the music, eventually in the same exact quality.

Nowadays I wish there was some way to buy a personal, non-commercial license for the music. Whatever the artist's cut of the album was, let me pay him or her that amount, and have a legal right to possess, listen to or play (non-commercially) that music any time I want from any source I want any time I want as often as I want. Non-transferable, non-resell-able, but also a Get Out Of Trouble Free card for that one individual album. Personally, I'd buy tons of them.
posted by paisley henosis at 12:03 PM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


PS- limit Copyright to 25 years, and create a National Public FLAC Archive with taxpayer money.
posted by paisley henosis at 12:07 PM on July 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I doubt you would even have to create a National Public FLAC Archive. Just create a gov Bittorrent tracker and people would happily host and distribute the files.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:38 PM on July 14, 2010


I doubt you would even have to create a National Public FLAC Archive. Just create a gov Bittorrent tracker and people would happily host and distribute the files.

You wouldn't even need to do that. If the government passed a law putting every recording of music published before 1985 into the public domain, dozens of new privately-run legal trackers would pop up to within days to host torrents. Who knows, Google might even decide to host one. The only reason that Project Gutenberg-like projects don't already exist for music is that there are basically no recordings that have ever had their copyright protections expire (and as of today's laws there won't be any until 2067).
posted by burnmp3s at 1:08 PM on July 14, 2010


I'm happy that I have paid some money to him finally, although I'd have preferred to buy the man a drink and say thanks directly, this feels like at least a start.

If you want to support musicians, send them the check directly instead of allowing the suits to siphon off the bulk of it.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:23 PM on July 14, 2010


Minor caveat about RIAA Radar, possibly more relevant for those of us outside the USA: it will show 'warnings' for some albums by non-US, independent acts, that were released on majors in the US. For example, Joy Division, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine: all on good, independent English labels; but released/distributed by RIAA labels in the US. If you get the original English versions, you're safe.

On copyright reform: I came up with a simple idea that could work: change the law so that only a natural person can own copyright (e.g. a human, not a company). OR (stronger version) change the law so that only the copyright creator can own copyright. The creator can license a company to use the work - e.g. to publish a book, or release an album. But the company can never own the copyright. Screw the artist over? S/he just cancels your license, and assigns the rights to someone else. The artist can even license more than one person to publish the work (think about how there are multiple editions of Shakespeare or Dickens, and they still make money, because of the quality of the physical book, or the editing/footnotes, or the cover art).

No more Prince feeling like a slave. No more John Fogarty sued for plagiarism for writing sounds that sound like himself. No more Stone Roses forbidden to release records because of an obscure clause in their contract. No more record companies releasing shitty rip-off greatest hits albums with one extra track, to hook in the obsessive fans.

Will never happen, of course. And like most of you, I think the copyright ship has sailed for the record companies.
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:39 PM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Music Industry started a slow-motion suicide when they gave away their music to the Radio Industry, believing that it was the best way to promote the physical records. Heck, they even got caught paying DJs to play them a few times (a practice that never totally stopped, although payments ended up centralized to Program Directors who controlled the playlists). But this created a mindset, built up over DECADES that if there was no physical medium, the music was, and should be, FREE!

From my own experience, when I had more than one Favorite radio station playing music I enjoyed, my record/cassette/CD purchases pretty much stopped, except for an occasional favorite artist/group that didn't get enough airplay (Weird Al and Barenaked Ladies are the most obvious beneficiaries). I can't be the only person who has behaved this way. (Or maybe I could be)
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:41 PM on July 14, 2010


The problem is how to do it. DRM is fail. The RIAA suing fans isn't working and was always a bad idea. What will work? Making money off tours is one way, but I don't think live performances should be the only way to get paid. Recordings have value.

Of course they do. As of February of this year, 10 billion songs have been sold through iTunes alone. It's not as if people stopped paying for music, but the market has changed.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:46 PM on July 14, 2010


The Music Industry started a slow-motion suicide when they gave away their music to the Radio Industry, believing that it was the best way to promote the physical records.

Er ... you are aware that royalties are paid whenever a recording is played on the radio, right? It's not free.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:48 PM on July 14, 2010


Fuck them all.

That's too bad. The changes in the industry haven't prevented me from loving music. In fact, I'm buying more than I ever have before. The fragmentation in the market has opened up a lot of choices that were never easily available before, except through indie imports, tape sharing and the like. I'm not happy about the RIAA's approach but I'm not going to become a martyr over it.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:52 PM on July 14, 2010


Back in the 80's, I used to record songs off the radio like mad. I would make mix tapes of my friends and my favorites and then make dozens of copies and just give them away to friends or to people that I thought might like the music.

When I because a college DJ (which was bound to happen due to years of social isolation, Dungeons and Dragons, and exposure to Dr. Demento), I recorded everything I could. Obscure stuff that I can't even find references to online. Popular stuff that is forgotten now. Stuff that I couldn't get anybody to listen to then that is considered classic now. I also made mix tapes of these tracks and gave them away like mad to anyone who would take them.

Basically, C30 C60 C90 Go.

The quality of most of what I recorded off the radio or copied repeated times was so low that I've become something of the opposite of an audiophile. I'm used to music sounding shitty. When I hear a really good pressing of a record, I feel like I'm being exposed to a full color palette when I'm used to just working in brown.

Anyhow, home taping was supposed to kill the record industry. No matter how many copies of "Bastards of Young" by The Replacements I passed on, the record companies survived and my beloved 'placemats broke up and curiously never seemed to make any serious money.

Here we are in an age where file sharing is supposed to be killing the record industry and creating the opportunity for today's Replacement-like artists to get exposure like never before. It seems like the record industry is still making ocean liner sized stacks of money off of acts like Justin Bierber while the cool acts still languish in obscurity and keep their day jobs.

I posit that while I was passing around recording of The Replacements for free in the hopes of inspiring my poor friends to love them, fans of Motley Crue were actively buying records. Similarly, fans of Justin Bierber are paying like mad for his stuff while arguably better acts are having their tracks passed around for free and praised like crazy.

I don't know if I have a point here except that I used to think the Recording Industry was a dinosaur that would die off, but I'm coming to realize that they're more like Doomsday, the character that killed Superman. Doomsday evolved in such a way that every time an earlier Doomsday was killed, he (or his descendants) adapted the ability to be immune to being killed in that particular way.

So, basically, the Recording Industry can't be killed. They'll just mutate or grow a new head or move to South America or something.

Meanwhile, most of us aren't really helping out the actual artists all that much, whether we buy their music (they don't get much per purchase), or share their music (they don't get paid for that, of course), or whatever.

Moral - if you want to make money off of music, don't go into actually making music.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:32 PM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Johnathan Coulton would most likely have languished in obscurity had he been born twenty years earlier.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:56 PM on July 14, 2010


If spending $64 million prevents the even the majority of just iTunes or Amazon customers from realizing that they can get the exact same music from The Pirate Bay in fewer clicks, faster, and for free, then it is worth it for them to do it.

Lolwut.

Let's review.

iTunes
* Open iTunes
* Click "Store"
* Type an artist in search
* Choose an album and click "Buy Album"
* Watch as iTunes downloads the album to your library automatically

Pirate Bay
* Get to pirate bay
* Search for what you're looking for
* Find a torrent that's four years old and has 0 seeds
* Find another torrent
* Open the torrent up in your torrent client
* Find that the torrent is going slower than molasses
* Setup port forwarding in your modem
* Find that the torrent is still going slower than molasses because the only seed you've connected to is the only dialup modem left in Finland and 30 other people are trying to grab it
* Leave it going for a day or two in the hopes that you get it all before the seeds all disconnect

Pirated music is only free is your time has no value. I've got better things to do than find torrents for random songs and albums when I can pick them up off iTunes DRM free for 99c or $9.99.
posted by Talez at 5:28 PM on July 14, 2010


Talez: Let's review.

iTunes
* Open iTunes
* Click "Store"
* Type an artist in search
* Choose an album and click "Buy Album"
* Watch as iTunes downloads the album to your library automatically


The correct comparison is:

Private Torrent Site
* Open Site in a tab
* Click "Store"
* Type an artist in search
* Choose an album and bitrate and click "Buy Album"
* Watch as your torrent client downloads the album to your library automatically

So, it's actually fewer steps and more options. Or at least that's what I hear from the kids, when they talk about it.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:29 PM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's too bad. The changes in the industry haven't prevented me from loving music

I see your point - but what the RIAA and MPAA have been doing has done almost exactly that: prevent me from loving the music and movies I would pay for. I cannot enjoy a product I buy under these conditions. I still love music, and enjoy a live performance very much, but I couldn't buy a CD without being reminded every time about the treatment every time I take it out of the jewel case.
posted by DreamerFi at 9:33 PM on July 14, 2010


Er ... you are aware that royalties are paid whenever a recording is played on the radio, right? It's not free.

the royalties are paid to the songwriter and the publisher, not the record company
posted by pyramid termite at 10:11 PM on July 14, 2010


The correct comparison is:

Private Torrent Site
* Open Site in a tab
* Type an artist in search
* Choose an album and bitrate
* Watch as your torrent client downloads the album to your library automatically


Spotify:

*Open Spotify
*Type in artist (or song, or album, or genre, or record label)
*Choose album and listen

For me, it's easier and quicker than torrenting [although a good private tracker is about the same]

Shame for the industry it didn't embrace things like Spotify earlier...
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:03 AM on July 15, 2010


"Pirate Bay
* Get to pirate bay
* Search for what you're looking for
* Find a torrent that's four years old and has 0 seeds
* Find another torrent
* Open the torrent up in your torrent client
* Find that the torrent is going slower than molasses
* Setup port forwarding in your modem
* Find that the torrent is still going slower than molasses because the only seed you've connected to is the only dialup modem left in Finland and 30 other people are trying to grab it
* Leave it going for a day or two in the hopes that you get it all before the seeds all disconnect
"

You're doing torrents wrong, even on an open tracker like the pirate bay. You can add the pirate bay to your search bar. Always sort by seeders; that way the best seeded torrent pops to the top. As a bonus it'll probably be the version you are looking for 99 times out of a 100. And I never see 1:30 seed:leech ratios except for day 0 stuff; people are pretty good about giving back. If you do end up with a flash mob trying to get a torrent off a modem link it'll be well seeded for quite a while after one copy gets downloaded.

Having never used the iTunes store what is their back catalogue like for obscure or non mainstream titles? This is where I find .torrenting to shine. If I'm looking for some out of print book published in 1977 and never reissued since torrents are often the only realistic source. I see for example that Milla Jovovich - The Divine Comedy ( a title recently recommended on Metafilter) isn't available from Apple but has multiple seed torrents on the pirate bay in both FLAC and MP3.
posted by Mitheral at 1:02 AM on July 15, 2010


Shame for the industry it didn't embrace things like Spotify earlier...

They still haven't in Canada, which has already complicated my life with regard to one contract (costing time + money).
posted by philip-random at 8:36 AM on July 15, 2010


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