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April 29, 2003 4:44 PM   Subscribe

Hi! You have the right to remain silent! (wanna cyber?)

The RIAA, bastions of goodness and justice, are sending IMs to nasty file-sharers, telling them that what they're doing is naughty. And that they might just end up in court.
A private company they're hiring plans to send a million messages per week, telling the thieving pirates that the RIAA knows where they live.

Looks like "Hilary Rosen" is one person I'll be putting on my ignore list.
posted by Blue Stone (27 comments total)
Holy crap! kazaaliteuser@kazaa is screwed!
posted by linux at 4:48 PM on April 29, 2003

If you blow them, they go away.
posted by WolfDaddy at 4:49 PM on April 29, 2003

*shits himself, turns the computer off, prepares hammer to immediately destroy hard disk, iPod*
posted by matteo at 4:54 PM on April 29, 2003

Mhh there's an open port in your TCP configuration..oh it's Kazaa port. You're either 1) a terrorist 2) an evil pirate 3) one that doesn't abide the law, no matter if it's total nonsense. Lower your mouse and raise your hands NOW !
posted by elpapacito at 4:57 PM on April 29, 2003

This is better than the other crap they're doing. It might even manage to scare some of the traders off line. I'd still like to see the labels shrivel up and die already though.
posted by willnot at 4:57 PM on April 29, 2003

How are they planning to identify the people they're IMing? Just by checking for open ports?
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 5:02 PM on April 29, 2003

Oh. Nevermind.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 5:03 PM on April 29, 2003

How are we to know whether a song is copyrighted or not? Has the RIAA ever addressed this? If I rip my music and store it in my kazaa folder, and the RIAA scans that folder is the RIAA guilty of hacking? It is unauthorized access of my computer isn't it? or because the folder on my computer happens to be a folder I'm sharing, does that make it public? Isn't it still a trespass on private property?
posted by banished at 5:07 PM on April 29, 2003

Accessing publicly shared folders or folders placed in a filesharing system is not trespassing .. that would mean everyone taking a file from you is trespassing, and that you are trespassing when you access their folder.
posted by linux at 5:16 PM on April 29, 2003

banished - If you have a file in a shared directory, then it's shared. When we access a MetaFilter web page, we're not guilty of trespassing on Matt (or would that be Jason)'s server.

A song is copyrighted by virtue of being fixed as an expression. You may own the copyrights, but if you didn't create the song and didn't buy the rights outright from the holder, then you probably don't.

Of course, much like the labels, I'd also like to see copyright go away since it's not doing more cultural and social harm than good, but that's another discussion for another day.
posted by willnot at 5:16 PM on April 29, 2003

"now doing" not "not doing" which is a different thing entirely.
posted by willnot at 5:17 PM on April 29, 2003

A million emails a week! Let's see, back in November there were over 3 billion downloads, so even if you assume 50 downloads per user per month on average, AND you assume the universe of music downloaders is static, it's almost certain you'll get an email sometime in the next 13.846 years. ONE email.
posted by JParker at 5:21 PM on April 29, 2003

I hope I get one of these messages, so I have someone to e-mail back with my "I'd buy everything I wanted if it wasn't so expensive, you fucking pricegougers" rant.
posted by Dark Messiah at 5:47 PM on April 29, 2003

I dont know a whole lot about the music industry, but isnt the real problem with this whole issue that the artists themselves want to make some money off their work? I mean if brittneyspears.com had all their mp3's for free, and wanted to distribute the music that way and make money off shows or tshirts or porn shoots or whatever, there would be no problem. It might be harder to get mad at bob dylan than some bastard at Sony, but isnt bob the real source of the problem? If the artist made a business decision to give their rights to Sony, then Sony gets to call the shots. But the root of the issue is still the artist, and how they run their business.

Dont get me wrong, I wish all music was free; but I just think the road to free music starts with artists adopting a different business model, not the RIAA giving up their profits.
posted by H. Roark at 9:43 PM on April 29, 2003

An anti-spam law was passed in Virginia today. Would this make the RIAA move illegal? 1 milllion emails/day sure sounds like SPAM to me!

from WSJ:
"Although about half of U.S. states have anti-spam laws, no other allows authorities to seize the assets earned from spamming while imposing up to five years in prison, said Gov. Mark R. Warner

The penalties can apply even if the sender and recipients live elsewhere because much of the global Internet traffic passes through northern Virginia, home to major online companies such as AOL Time Warner Inc.'s America Online and MCI and a conduit to major federal communications hubs in neighboring Washington and its suburbs.

posted by H. Roark at 10:06 PM on April 29, 2003

No, it's not spam.
posted by ed\26h at 1:12 AM on April 30, 2003

If you want to download music by musicians who are prepared to work for nothing, there's MP3.com and similar sites.

Whilst I personally think that the correct response to the download challenge would be to find ways of adding value to the product rather than the bizarre activities of the RIAA and their equivalents (particularly in light of the fact that they've lost the same fight at least twice before with previous technologies), the idea that "music should be free" sounds rather disingenuous. The stuff that you want to listen to isn't free to make, so why should it be free in principle to acquire?

Copyright law was instituted to try to ensure that people who composed the work could earn a living (in the UK, at least, it was spurred on by the death of Samuel Coleridge Taylor, who died of pneumonia, spurred on by chronic overwork, caused by chronic poverty, despite the fact that he was the composer of one of the most popular and performed works of the time, The Song of Hiawatha). That it has turned into a form of slavery doesn't undermine that need.

Actually the official CD itself adds value (whilst there's a lot of music out there, much of the stuff I've found is poorly ripped, with upsetting hi-fi-threatening artifacts and chaotically organised). Downloading has led to an ever-lengthening wish-list in my case - the MP3s are certainly not what I would consider to be the "real thing", in the same way that the music I taped off the radio when I was a teenager was supplanted by vinyl records if I liked it enough. If they want to make the physical products more desirable, the companies could move (and are probably planning on doing so) to a far higher bitrate format (96khz 24 or 32 bit on a DVD), for example.
posted by Grangousier at 2:25 AM on April 30, 2003

No, it's not spam.

Why not?
posted by walrus at 4:39 AM on April 30, 2003

No, it's not spam.

Why not?

Spam is referring to e-mail. This isn't e-mail, this is using the built in instant messaging function of the P2P application.
posted by benjh at 5:10 AM on April 30, 2003

I get spammed on ICQ. What's the difference?
posted by walrus at 5:15 AM on April 30, 2003

I haven't used Kazaa in a while, but I'm going to leave it up today to see if I get one of these.
posted by adampsyche at 6:09 AM on April 30, 2003

JPArker: 3 billion downloads /= 3 billion users
Kazaa reports aprox. 4 million users, so chances are 1 IM every 4 days.
posted by signal at 6:53 AM on April 30, 2003

In the US, the purpose of copyright law is NOT to ensure the creators get paid. Rather, it is to encourage creators to share their creativity with the public. When something like 80% of all recorded/marketed works are no longer available for purchase or use at any price exclusively as a result of draconian copyright controls, obviously the public is not getting the benefit of the bargain it struck with creators. It's a flawed system.

I used to feel bad about violating an artist's the label's copyrights. When I downloaded a song I liked that I thought I might want to keep, I'd go out and buy the CD. I don't anymore. I don't feel bad, and I don't go out and buy it. A couple of years of seeing the labels become increasingly strident and anti-consumer have made me feel as though it's us against them.

Look at that Apple Thread from a few days ago. I was amazed at the tone of that thread because it was a shift in how I've seen these discussions evolve in the past. The people who are aggressively anti-label have probably had their ears to the ground a bit more on this stuff, but everybody else is going to catch up to that thinking eventually. The labels have clearly taken biting the hand that feeds them too far. People would put up with it for a while, but increasingly they aren't going to.

So, people will infringe copyrights. Music is important to our culture, and people aren't going to turn their backs on that. You can't - it seeps in through the radio and through movies and from where ever. But, people will route around the labels, the labels who have been aggressively working to establish that it's them against us, and the real problem for the labels is that people won't feel bad about that. People won't feel bad about that at all.
posted by willnot at 7:01 AM on April 30, 2003

H. Roark: I dont know a whole lot about the music industry, but isnt the real problem with this whole issue that the artists themselves want to make some money off their work?

Drunk the Kool-Aid, have you? This is the argument used by the pro-P2P crowd to justify their illegal activities. That their actions return absolutely nothing to the artists about whom they are supposedly so concerned seems not to give them pause at all. While I respect that there are a small minority of fileswappers who do, indeed, subscribe to the larger agenda of altering the music business' practices, the fact remains that the overwhelming majority are simply cheap fuckers who know how to rip something off for free that other people have worked to create so that they may be paid for it.

That the swapping pirates can do so with almost complete anonymity and with all-but-non-existent risk to themselves is what encourages them. Surely you don't think they'd be passionate enough about this "cause" to start a massive campaign of marching into music shops and hiking the CDs instead of copying across the Internet, do you?
posted by JollyWanker at 8:23 AM on April 30, 2003

Yet another step in the brilliant marketing strategy of attacking their own customer base. "We want you to buy things from us, so instead of giving you what you want, we're going to annoy/harass/theaten to sue/sue/IM-spam you until you do."

Do they not see their own idiocy? Or do they, and feel they just have to put up a good fight for their bosses/consciences/history books as the ship goes down?

Either way, I love it.

*tosses anvil on board, downloads new radiohead*
posted by gottabefunky at 8:41 AM on April 30, 2003

[i] H. Roark: I dont know a whole lot about the music industry, but isnt the real problem with this whole issue that the artists themselves want to make some money off their work?[/i]

Not really.. the problem is that it would take a revolution to change how music is created/sold/etc.... the short short version is that the artist wants to be signed to a label, obstensivly so that thier music can get out there. They sign a contract with a label, who advances them $xx based against the sales of the album that they now have to go in and record. Part and parcel to thier contract is that they will use people that the label wants them to.. whether that means the studio, the engineer, the mixer, the "drum Tech", whomever... the point is that all these people cost money. Then there is packaging for the CD, promo copies for the radio DJs, etc, etc.. At the end of the whole process.. after paying back the advance on the first record, the artists make peanuts. Or.. to put it bluntly, even with a Platinum selling first album, most bands will make ~40k - not per person, but per band.
Most bands do not get a peice of thier backend, nor thier t-shirts, nor anything else the label licenses. Any money they do make generally is used to pay off the advance.. (why do you think most contracts state that accounting will go through the label's accounting firm).

So... for a top teir act.. a Brittney, or an Aerosmith (ugh did I just put thier names together in the same sentence), yeah... you get big, and you re-negotiate! But for most of these bands that do 1 or 2 albums... they don't see nearly what people think they do. Occosional you see some bands that DO release free music, these are either the bottom rung acts, or the TOP rung acts that can afford to tell thier label to stuff it.

I am NOT advocating piracy... as a musican, and someone who has family in this exact situation above, I understand that if CDs didn't sell, then no one gets paid under the current situation. I do beleive that either ehancing the CD/media experience with videos, exclusive content, whatever is a good way to go forward though. I also think that there needs to be ONE label out ther ethat changes the way business is done.. and see if it's a viale business plan.

(yeesh that was more of a rant then I thought)
posted by niteHawk at 9:06 AM on April 30, 2003

About sales and copyright:

Shakespeare sells millions of copies today. As does Beethoven. I believe Starry Night is the most-bought piece of decorative artwork in the States.

None are under copyright, yet they still sell.

Much shorter copyright terms/no copyright encourage innovation, further derivative works (such as a copy of Hamlet with all new literary history essays). No copyright does not mean no sales. Nor does it mean no money for the artist. There's touring. There's sales for adverts (assuming copyright is limited to mean "exclusive right to sell" rather than its more modern legal definition). There's T-shirts. There's the "official" CD, which I'm sure fans will appreciate.

Under the current copyright system, most musicians/authors are making no more money that they would under no copyright - but it's harder for them to spread their work.

If Kazaa is theft, then a library is theft. They're functionally equivalent. I read Glick's book on Thoreau at my library today, making me the umpeenth person to read the book and not pay Glick, yet no one says I'm "stealing" from him. That file sharing is made out to be equivalent to theft (and the SC had, many times, noted that "piracy" and "theft" are very, very, very different legally) is one of the greatest PR coups of all time.

Go file share. Download that music. Enjoy the worldwide library - a library hamstrung only by legalese.
posted by Kevs at 12:49 PM on April 30, 2003

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