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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » On the Benefits of Music Piracy.. (Page 1)

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Author Topic: On the Benefits of Music Piracy..
Lanfear
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One of my group projects for Mass Communications involves a debate over whether music piracy is helping or hurting the industry.

My sentiment, and the one shared by the majority of the internet is that music piracy is actually helping the artists. Many artists are able to get exposure they wouldn't otherwise have, and they make bank on the concert tickets.

Naturally, my group was assigned to say that music piracy is hurting the industry.

First stop, the RIAA's website. They have some nice statistics, but other than that I honestly can't find other statistics and pieces that argue against music piracy.

I was raised on the internet and consider myself pretty google-savvy. It's kind of unnerving to not be able to find the information.

Anyways, just curious as to what your thoughts are in regards to music piracy.

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ricree101
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It's a real difficult topic, and one that probably isn't going to be easily answered to any satisfaction.

One avenue of research I might recommend is to look at artists who have offered their work for free online. The data is probably going to be better and more easily available, and while it is not a perfect analogy, I suspect that there will be a lot of useful parallels.

A couple interesting questions that come to mind that might be worth looking into:

How well have artists who became well known through free music been able to monetarize that fame? One example off the top of my head is Jonathan Coulton, who became popular distributing free music weekly. I'm sure there are other artists you can find that fit this.

Along those lines what effect does the changing value of publicity have on the benefits of offering free music. When a musician is unknown, fame has a huge marginal value, but as they become more known and the market saturates the value of publicity begins to decline. Again, it might be useful to look at how artists use free music, and how that use changes over time.

Does free music offer any advantage when everyone offers it? This question is still probably too broad to comfortably address, but it is one worth thinking about. One source of information would probably be music sites such as garageband.com which specialize in offering independent musicians a place to share their music, organize fans, publicize their acts, etc. Looking at places such as this where all music is at least available for free streaming might offer some insights into a larger marketplace where filesharing is acceptable and widespread.

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James Tiberius Kirk
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quote:
My sentiment, and the one shared by the majority of the internet is that music piracy is actually helping the artists. Many artists are able to get exposure they wouldn't otherwise have, and they make bank on the concert tickets.
I'm not sure this follows. Assuming piracy has reduced sales over the last 15 years, has revenue from concert tickets increased to make up the difference?

(Well, I guess the impact depends on what fraction of the profit from album sales goes to the band, versus the fraction of ticket sales -- I wouldn't know either.)

--j_k

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Christine
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As I understand it, artists receive relatively little money from album sales. They get most of their money through concert sales. If anyone is hurt by piracy, it's the RIAA.
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scifibum
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quote:
My sentiment, and the one shared by the majority of the internet is that music piracy is actually helping the artists. Many artists are able to get exposure they wouldn't otherwise have, and they make bank on the concert tickets.
The majority of the internet, really?

Do you have any examples of bands that succeeded because of piracy (as opposed to deliberate free digital distribution of their music)? ricree has suggested looking into the results of the latter, which would be interesting and informative, but you're making a claim about the former.

Let me put it this way: I do not think people pirate music out of a desire to help the artist.

FWIW I think the RIAA, along with some players in software and the MPAA, are overreaching and are actually encouraging piracy through their intrusive and annoying efforts to curb it, which mostly affect their paying customers. I think you could make a better argument that some piracy could be a beneficial form of protest against overly restrictive copyright protection measures (beneficial to consumers). Of course most piracy is purely selfish and would continue even if it caused net harm to artists, consumers, and the universe.

quote:
First stop, the RIAA's website. They have some nice statistics, but other than that I honestly can't find other statistics and pieces that argue against music piracy.
You could start with a search on "piracy" on Google Scholar. The first page has some promising-looking results. You could then track down any citations you find in those papers to get more sources.
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Lisa
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I saw this this morning.
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ricree101
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:


Do you have any examples of bands that succeeded because of piracy (as opposed to deliberate free digital distribution of their music)? ricree has suggested looking into the results of the latter

More specifically, I think that it offers some interesting parallels that might shed light on the benefits of piracy (or at least test some of the claims from people on both sides of the issue), and the data available is much better.

Right now, the issue is so charged that I suspect that it would be real hard to find an abundance of good unbiased data. Even for such basic things as the rate of piracy, all that is available are rough estimates.

Besides the question of data, freely distributed music allows some claims regarding piracy to be examined.
Many advocates of piracy, for example, argue that the free availability of music can provide enough in concert revenue, donations, CD purchases from new fans, etc to offset any lost revenue from people who would have bought but didn't because it was online for free. By looking at the many artists who do offer free music, we can gain some insights into whether or not these claims have any actual basis in reality.

Of course, it is not a perfect analogy. For one thing, there are some sorts of musicians who really have no parallel with independent online groups. For one thing, there still aren't really any true internet megastars yet. There are some big names, yes, but no one even close to filling out the huge concert grounds or stadiums that some mainstream acts can. I suspect that this will change before too terribly long, but for now they just don't exist in the free internet world. The piracy argument includes them, but drawing any conclusions about them from legitimate free music is iffy.

Due to the internet's relative youth, there also aren't many retired or semi-retired musicians who are banking on their back catalogs. These people are certainly worth considering for any conversation on music distribution, but aren't really addressed by free music, which mostly consists of practicing musicians who are still actively trying to grow their audience.

Despite these drawbacks, though, I think that looking into the legal free music market will offer a lot of insight into the question of how legitimized file sharing would impact the music industry.

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Lisa
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I don't really get the idea of calling it piracy. Piracy would be taking something that isn't yours and selling it. Taking something that is yours and sharing it shouldn't be called piracy.

The music industry is faced with a new technology. It allows people to share music and video with one another. It's a change in reality that screws up their business model. That sucks for them, but it doesn't justify their lobbying to have a perfectly legitimate sharing of personal property declared illegal by the government.

This is protectionism, plain and simple. It's no different than buggy whip manufacturers lobbying to have cars banned. It's Coercive Nostaligia. CN is the reason for banning big department stores, for ridiculous zoning laws, for the (failed) lobbying to have VCRs made illegal and for a dozen other infringements of individual rights.

People dislike change that inconveniences them. I do. Everyone I know does. But not everyone tries to have it made illegal.

"Piracy" is a biased and illegitimate term for file sharing.

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Lanfear
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From a strictly moral ground I don't think it's right.

Many people, not just the artists, put time into a CD, from the music mixers, to the person in charge of album artwork.

If you really don't think they've lost any revenue from people downloading their music online, there must be something wrong with you...

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Threads
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quote:
Originally posted by Lanfear:
If you really don't think they've lost any revenue from people downloading their music online, there must be something wrong with you...

That's an interesting way of putting it.
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scifibum
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"It allows people to share music and video with one another. It's a change in reality that screws up their business model. That sucks for them, but it doesn't justify their lobbying to have a perfectly legitimate sharing of personal property declared illegal by the government."

Transferring digital copies of copyrighted materials to others without license is not "legitimate" in a legal sense even prior to the DMCA and other recent or proposed copyright legislation. It's a clear violation of copyright law.

I figure you're well aware of the above already, but your argument seemed to presume that file sharing wasn't already illegal.

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pH
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It's my (booking agent, former indie label marketing head, and former band manager) opinion that the artists most hurt by illegal downloading are the ones in the middle. They're not small, local acts. They're not big, arena-filling acts. They're the guys who have a record contract, who get some radio play from time to time, who play at mid-sized venues. Those are the ones you're hurting. Sure, you can claim that you're helping them get their music out there, and you can claim that this somehow helps their concert ticket sales...but in the end, it's not enough to make up the difference. No matter how little money the artist actually sees from CD sales, the fact remains that without adequate CD sales, they're going to be dropped from their label. Once they're dropped, they lose tour support. Once they lose tour support, they most likely won't be able to afford to play concerts outside their own city and the surrounding areas.

-pH

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Synesthesia
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Dir en grey is relatively popular in Japan.
They have a following outside of Japan mostly because of file sharing because they've never been played on mainstream radio to my knowledge and only recently have they been played on Launchcast.
Their videos only recently have started being played on MTV.
They have managed to develop a foreign following mostly due to word of mouth and the internet.
So sometimes, it can be a good thing. I spend at least two times as much on a Japanese copy of a Dir en grey CD and go to their shows when they come here.

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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Lanfear:
From a strictly moral ground I don't think it's right.

Many people, not just the artists, put time into a CD, from the music mixers, to the person in charge of album artwork.

If you really don't think they've lost any revenue from people downloading their music online, there must be something wrong with you...

Oh, please. Anyone who has ever made a mix tape is a criminal? Anyone who ever copied an LP onto a cassette for portability is a criminal? It doesn't matter if they've lost revenue. Buggy whip makers lost not just revenue, but their whole business, when cars came on the scene. The question is whether they're losing their revenue because of wrongdoing or not.

Imagine opening up a box of cookies and reading, "By opening this box, you agree not to serve these cookies at any public gatherings or to transfer them to a third party." I'm sure someone will point out that I can't eat a cookie and give that cookie to someone else (not without being really gross), but what would happen if someone developed a technology that allowed me to duplicate food? Like one of those Star Trek food gadgets. Would the original baker of the cookies be able to get the government to prevent me from doing so just because it takes sales away from them?

No. If I can copy something that I own, I can give it away. It's fair to say that I can't sell it, at least not for more than the cost of copying, but it's certainly not fair to say I can't give it away. It's mine.

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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
"It allows people to share music and video with one another. It's a change in reality that screws up their business model. That sucks for them, but it doesn't justify their lobbying to have a perfectly legitimate sharing of personal property declared illegal by the government."

Transferring digital copies of copyrighted materials to others without license is not "legitimate" in a legal sense even prior to the DMCA and other recent or proposed copyright legislation. It's a clear violation of copyright law.

"If the law supposes that," said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, "the law is a ass — a idiot."
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fugu13
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Why on earth is it fair to say you can't sell it? If it is yours, where does the restriction proceed from?
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Dagonee
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quote:
"Piracy" is a biased and illegitimate term for file sharing.
True. But "file sharing" is also a biased and illegitimate term for file sharing.

Each tries to use a metaphor to physical property that ignores its crucial difference with digital media.

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Epictetus
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The way I see it, it's not the consumer's responsibility to make sure a company makes a profit. The company takes that responsibility.

From the other point of view, (and to address the OP) have you looked into court opinions that concern intellectual property?

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Lisa
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What difference is that? If I buy a CD, you're claiming that the music industry has some sort of covenantal lien over what I can do with it? If I sell the CD at a yard sale, their lien continues?

This is so ridiculous. I can (just barely, mind you) accept the idea that I don't have a right to profit off of someone else's work for a period of time. So I can't run off copies of Time magazine on a photocopier and sell them for twice what it costs me to copy it and half of what Time sells for on a newsstand, calling it "B&W Time" or something. I'm not 100% convinced of it, but I'm not talking about getting rid of all intellectual property law.

I'm talking about the fact that if I make a mix CD for a friend, I'm doing no more and no less than I'd be doing by posting a torrent of that mix CD to a tracker for others to download.

The music industry knows that making mix CDs illegal is so preposterous that everyone will be able to see how dumb the idea is, so they don't try and enforce it (even though their rules make it technically illegal). They know that forbidding me from playing my CD at a party where many other people are present isn't something they can possibly stop, so they don't bother. Though I'm sure they'd rather each party-goer be required to pay to hear the music.

Remember the absurd Divx idea (not to be confused with the mp4 DivX format) of DVDs where you pay for a certain number of plays, after which the disk goes dead? They actually tried marketing that.

Basically, they'll use the power of government to milk every cent they can out of people, despite the fact that once you sell something, it's really not under your control any more.

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scifibum
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Lisa, it sounds like you think copyright - except for perhaps a modified version that only prohibits profiting from unlicensed copies - is bunk, because making a copy isn't doing anything wrong.

I actually like copyright, because copyright doesn't just serve the interests of the individuals who create copyable works. It encourages such creation by protecting the economic incentive for it, and that benefits everybody.

I don't think copyright is some intrinsic human right and that copying is inherently wrong. However, I think most people can recognize that copyright serves a useful purpose and complying with it helps encourage the creation of new books, songs, and movies. Problems with overly restrictive copyright law, exploitative record companies, and the near impossibility of enforcement are somewhat beside the point that copyright is actually a good thing.

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El JT de Spang
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quote:
Originally posted by Lanfear:
If you really don't think they've lost any revenue from people downloading their music online, there must be something wrong with you...

I'm an artist, and I'm pretty positive I haven't lost any revenue from people downloading my music illegally. I sincerely hope the day comes that I'm being downloaded so much it's costing me money.
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Chris Bridges
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This article has links to several studies on the subject, and points out some of the fallacies of each.

"I'm talking about the fact that if I make a mix CD for a friend, I'm doing no more and no less than I'd be doing by posting a torrent of that mix CD to a tracker for others to download."

Lisa - do you honestly not see a difference in scale? Making a mix tape or Xeroxing a magazine takes time and materials and produces a lesser-quality product. In both those cases the impact to the copyright owner is so small as to be useless and counterproductive to follow up on. File-sharing, however, allows perfect copies to be distributed worldwide immediately, without limit. The first example is, as you say, useless to prosecute and even helps advertise the product. The second makes buying the product unnecessary for anyone past the first sale. You don't see a difference there?

You are, in fact, calling for an end to intellectual property law, or at least making it utterly unenforceable.

I do think that the reality of this situation means the market will (and should) change, but I don't believe that infringement becomes OK just because it's really easy.

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fugu13
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The music industry has been stupid about mix CDs, but using mix CDs as an example is being disingenuous when talking about file sharing. File sharing is mostly people putting downloading copies of digital content from large numbers of random people with whom they have no connection other than a route through the internet and a desire to download what the person is making available for download.
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Lisa, it sounds like you think copyright - except for perhaps a modified version that only prohibits profiting from unlicensed copies - is bunk, because making a copy isn't doing anything wrong.

I didn't say that. I'm a little ambivalent about the concept of intellectual property. It inevitably leads to lame results, like Micky Mouse being protected even though Walt Disney has been dead for decades, and the way pharmaceutical companies extend patents dishonestly, and the utterly bizarre idea of patenting types of DNA.

But think about this. I buy a CD. I give the CD to you. Have I committed a crime? Okay, I buy a CD, and I rip it to my MP3 player so that I can listen to the music I bought while I'm at the gym. Have I committed a crime? Okay, I give that MP3 player to you. Have I committed a crime?

There's no clear and objective point at which I've done anything even remotely immoral here. Yet it's probably the case that the second and third actions I've described are illegal. I don't know, mostly because I don't care. I'd do either one of them without a qualm in the world, because any law saying I can't is dumb.

quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
I actually like copyright, because copyright doesn't just serve the interests of the individuals who create copyable works. It encourages such creation by protecting the economic incentive for it, and that benefits everybody.

Well, I think you (and everyone else here) knows how I feel about laws that exist for the purpose of social engineering. Laws should prevent violations of rights. They should not exist to encourage or discourage any sort of social phenomena whatsoever. People are people; not pawns.
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Chris Bridges:
"I'm talking about the fact that if I make a mix CD for a friend, I'm doing no more and no less than I'd be doing by posting a torrent of that mix CD to a tracker for others to download."

Lisa - do you honestly not see a difference in scale? Making a mix tape or Xeroxing a magazine takes time and materials and produces a lesser-quality product. In both those cases the impact to the copyright owner is so small as to be useless and counterproductive to follow up on. File-sharing, however, allows perfect copies to be distributed worldwide immediately, without limit.

Without debating the questionable point of whether an MP3 is a "perfect copy", I'm not sure why scale is relevant. If something is wrong, it's wrong. If something isn't wrong, it isn't wrong.

So are you saying that making a mix CD is morally wrong, but it's no big deal because it's not worth enforcing? Are you saying that something is only wrong if it's big enough to be worth enforcing? That lack of enforcement makes anything essentially moral?

I can't imagine you'd hold those views, and I'm not suggesting that you do. I'm simply pointing out that they seem to be corrolaries of what you're saying. If I've misunderstand what you're saying, could you correct me?

quote:
Originally posted by Chris Bridges:
The first example is, as you say, useless to prosecute and even helps advertise the product. The second makes buying the product unnecessary for anyone past the first sale. You don't see a difference there?

I dispute the premise. Let's take the example of Wanted. The recent movie with Angelina Jolie. I downloaded it. It stunk. In truth, I wasn't sure it was going to be worth my time, and I certainly wasn't going to pay anyone to see it. Not in the theater, not at Best Buy, and not at Blockbuster. No one lost a penny through my downloading it and watching it.

On the other hand, I've gone out and bought any number of videos on DVD after having downloaded them, because they were amazing, and quite frankly, they were something I wanted to own, with all the extras, playable on any DVD player, and with better resolution than I could get by converting an XviD file.

But maybe you're right. Maybe file sharing will make it less likely for people to buy some things. I don't see why that's a problem. My brother has a collection of the old Speed Racer cartoons on DVD. If I borrow that, it's something I don't need to buy any more. What's the difference between me making a copy for myself before returning it or not?

quote:
Originally posted by Chris Bridges:
You are, in fact, calling for an end to intellectual property law, or at least making it utterly unenforceable.

An end to some of it, yes. I don't think someone should be allowed to sell something as their own creation when it's someone else's. But I don't like subjective law. And there's no objective point on the spectrum from mix CD to torrent server where you can say reasonably that harm is being done.

quote:
Originally posted by Chris Bridges:
I do think that the reality of this situation means the market will (and should) change, but I don't believe that infringement becomes OK just because it's really easy.

I don't see it as infringement.
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:
The music industry has been stupid about mix CDs, but using mix CDs as an example is being disingenuous when talking about file sharing. File sharing is mostly people putting downloading copies of digital content from large numbers of random people with whom they have no connection other than a route through the internet and a desire to download what the person is making available for download.

Okay, so there's a difference in mechanics. Why does that make a real difference?
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Chris Bridges
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No one has suggested that those cases are immoral. You've conveniently forgotten that we're talking about putting those ripped MP3s online where everyone with Internet access can take a perfect copy. I submit that there is a difference in scale, if not process, in making a few extra copies and making a few billion extra copies.
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Chris Bridges
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Say Martha takes a nude picture of herself and gives it to her lover, Mark.

Would you agree that there is a difference between Mark showing that picture to his friend Bill and Mark putting that picture online to be seen by anyone in the world? The act is exactly the same: he has made the picture available for viewing. And it is his property; Martha gave it to him.

I submit that the first instance might be excusable, but the second would be grounds for Martha to beat the crap out of Mark.

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fugu13
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That's not just a difference in mechanics, but in the nature of the relationship with the recipient.

If you don't like subjective law, the gov't could easily lay down a bright-line standard for copyright infringement, even in civil cases. Of course, part of the reason the gov't doesn't lay down a bright line standard is there almost certainly already would be, with more coming, instances of infringement that didn't feel right to prohibit.

Of course, part of this is that you're treating copyright as a natural right, when it is not treated as such under the law. When people (well, many people) say something is copyright infringement, they mean that it contravenes a particular set of legal criteria that have been set up to incentivize creative activity while preserving the public interest. And whether or not it contravenes those criteria is a matter of law, not individual opinion. You might think that it should not be copyright infringement, but (in many clear-cut cases), thinking that it isn't copyright infringement is factually incorrect.

Think of this in the context of laws about which side of the road one is allowed to drive on. The side chosen is ultimately arbitrary, so arguing from natural rights there is no way to derive which side of the road is correct to drive on. Yet, clearly it is wrong to drive on the other side of the road in many circumstances, and this in large part is because things would be very bad if everyone drove on whichever side of the road they felt like.

Similarly, the argument (which I feel has been applied to too restrictive a set of possibilities) for copyright is that the situation for creators would be much worse if there wasn't some protection for them. The degree of that protection, like the side of the road we drive on and other traffic laws, is ultimately some arbitrary choice that tries to balance concerns.

So that's why some larger sharings are illegal when sharings that are analogous but smaller are not. Because that's the arbitrary side of the road the law ended up picking, not because there's some qualitative difference that makes that makes the larger sharing worse than the smaller sharing.

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That doesn't mean the second instance should be protected by law.

EDIT: In response to Chris.

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Flaming Toad on a Stick
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Martha would have grounds to beat the crap out of Mark in either case.

And in this analogy, Martha's nudity seems to play a greater part than the number of viewers.

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scifibum
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quote:
I didn't say that. I'm a little ambivalent about the concept of intellectual property. It inevitably leads to lame results, like Micky Mouse being protected even though Walt Disney has been dead for decades, and the way pharmaceutical companies extend patents dishonestly, and the utterly bizarre idea of patenting types of DNA.

But think about this. I buy a CD. I give the CD to you. Have I committed a crime? Okay, I buy a CD, and I rip it to my MP3 player so that I can listen to the music I bought while I'm at the gym. Have I committed a crime? Okay, I give that MP3 player to you. Have I committed a crime?

There's no clear and objective point at which I've done anything even remotely immoral here. Yet it's probably the case that the second and third actions I've described are illegal. I don't know, mostly because I don't care. I'd do either one of them without a qualm in the world, because any law saying I can't is dumb.

quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
I actually like copyright, because copyright doesn't just serve the interests of the individuals who create copyable works. It encourages such creation by protecting the economic incentive for it, and that benefits everybody.

Well, I think you (and everyone else here) knows how I feel about laws that exist for the purpose of social engineering. Laws should prevent violations of rights. They should not exist to encourage or discourage any sort of social phenomena whatsoever. People are people; not pawns.
I fully agree that copyright has no objective existence. The laws based on it are not objective either. Copyright is in no way an intrinsic right.

But how ambivalent are you really? If you're against laws that exist for the purpose of encouraging some kinds of behavior, rather than to protect rights that have some existence outside of law, then you're against legal protection of intellectual property. Period. Those laws do not recognize or protect rights that exist outside of the express purpose of incentivizing creativity.

Like you said: you have a piece of information in your hands, who are you objectively harming by making copies? No one. You're just discouraging people from making the product you're benefiting from. Subjectively, I think that's a net harm to people in general.

Do you really think the world would be a better place without copyright? What would we gain, compared to what we'd lose? We get freedom to copy whatever we possess without penalty - but we lose out on a lot of yet-uncreated inventions, in my view.

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Lanfear
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quote:
Originally posted by Lisa:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Lanfear:
[qb]

Imagine opening up a box of cookies and reading, "By opening this box, you agree not to serve these cookies at any public gatherings or to transfer them to a third party." I'm sure someone will point out that I can't eat a cookie and give that cookie to someone else (not without being really gross), but what would happen if someone developed a technology that allowed me to duplicate food? Like one of those Star Trek food gadgets. Would the original baker of the cookies be able to get the government to prevent me from doing so just because it takes sales away from them?

No. If I can copy something that I own, I can give it away. It's fair to say that I can't sell it, at least not for more than the cost of copying, but it's certainly not fair to say I can't give it away. It's mine.

Your really comparing it to an invention from the future that won't and doesn't exist?

I'm honestly floored by your sentiments. Like truly. I knew everybody pirated music off the internet, but I wasn't aware people actually think that because it belonged to someone originally, that it now belongs to them.

There would be no reason to create intellectual property if only one person in the entire world had to buy it.

What if the government decided to buy a copy of each new album that came out and sent every single person in their country a copy.

how on earth is that right.

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quote:
Originally posted by Lanfear:
There would be no reason to create intellectual property if only one person in the entire world had to buy it.

The existence of open source free software contradicts that claim.
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The White Whale
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Here's a link to a blog post regarding one of the more famous music torrent sites around, until it was closed down and the creator / operator arrested.

The post brings up many good points, argued in a way that makes sense to me and seems to cover most of the major points.

When Pigs Fly: The Death of Oink, the Birth of Dissent, and a Brief History of Record Industry Suicide.

I don't know if anyone here was a member of the site, but from my experience with it, it was a virtual heaven for audiophiles. If there were some way to make what was OiNK legal, I would gladly pay a monthly fee for it. It was glorious.

He makes a good point about the artist vs. the production company:

quote:
1. Stop buying music from major labels. Period.

...The only way to force change is to hit the labels where it hurts - their profits...Don't buy CDs, don't buy iTunes downloads, don't buy from Amazon, etc. Steal the music you want that's on the major labels...Make it very clear that you will continue to support the artists directly in other ways, and make it VERY clear that your decision has come about as a direct result of the record company's actions and inactions regarding digital music....

2. Support artists directly.

...Here's a little secret: Anything a band sells that does not have music on it is outside the reach of the record label, and monetarily supports the artist more than buying a CD ever would. T-shirts, posters, hats, keychains, stickers, etc....

3. Get the message out.

4. Get political.


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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:
If you don't like subjective law, the gov't could easily lay down a bright-line standard for copyright infringement, even in civil cases.

I think you and I mean different things by "subjective law". Having a government lay down a well-defined standard doesn't make it less subjective. It's subjective because there's no objective criteria behind it. It's what got legislated. Since I'm not a member of the Government Worshipping religion, I don't think that matters.

quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:
When people (well, many people) say something is copyright infringement, they mean that it contravenes a particular set of legal criteria that have been set up to incentivize creative activity while preserving the public interest.

Wow. How many buzzwords can you fit into a single sentence. "Public interest"? "Incentivize creative activity"? Tomato, tomahto. It's still social engineering, and as such, not something a government has any right to do.
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Lisa
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Actually, one of the torrent sites I use is in the process of suing the CIAA (or whatever it's called in Canada. Should be interesting.
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Chris Bridges
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I'd like to add at this point that I do believe more companies should release their products as open source or under creative commons copyrights. It seems to help sales on many items, particularly items that benefit from widespread word of mouth.

The part that bugs me in this conversation is the apparent assumption that because one can do something on a small scale, it is exactly the same as doing so on a large scale.

I'm also not fond of changing a law just because it's become impossible to enforce. I do think copyright laws should be changed but they should be changed because they are flawed, not because everyone can now violate them with relative impunity.

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fugu13
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Excellent job not actually responding to the point of my post.

edit: especially when all the non-ad hominem parts of your post can be applied just as well to your (admittedly not very motivated) defense of penalties for infringement involving payment.

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Kwea
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She doesn't admit you HAVE a point, because she doesn't really care about why those laws exist.

If I read her position correctly (please feel free to correct me if I don't) since in her opinion those laws don't fit her idea of what government SHOULD be legislating, she doesn't feel any need to follow the laws passed regarding those actions.


I disagree with her...yet I still feel very little remorse for downloading things. I just have different reasons for feeling that way. [Smile]

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scifibum
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It's interesting to note that Rand in "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" wrote the following:

quote:
The government does not “grant” a patent or copyright, in the sense of a gift, privilege, or favor; the government merely secures it—i.e., the government certifies the origination of an idea and protects its owner’s exclusive right of use and disposal.
quote:
Since intellectual property rights cannot be exercised in perpetuity, the question of their time limit is an enormously complex issue . . . In the case of copyrights, the most rational solution is Great Britain’s Copyright Act of 1911, which established the copyright of books, paintings, movies, etc. for the lifetime of the author and fifty years thereafter.
Source
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AvidReader
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Great link, White Whale. It was too much for me to finish in one sitting, but I loved the piece I did read.

That took me back to college downloading stuff I liked on Napster and then trying something new I'd never heard of before. I was on a T1 so it didn't take long, and if I didn't like it, I could just delete it. The ultimate in "no harm, no foul".

I've still never forgiven the big labels for shutting down Napster. Just like the author in the link said, how could it cost them money for me to listen for free to something I'd never heard of and couldn't have bought anyway? The only ones really losing money were the radio stations since I listened to them less - assuming radio has some way to know how many people are tuning in.

But then, I've been disgruntled over CD prices for as long as I can remember buying them. Twenty something bucks for something that probably only has three good tracks anyway? I usually waited for the band to have a greatest hits album first. (Boston and The Guess Who were my most recent purchases.)

The idea that the labels have the inherent right to put out a substandard product, overcharge for it, and refuse to allow any other ways to enjoy it just bothers me. I want the bands to make money; I want music to be a viable career option. But surely there was a better way than this?

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Chris Bridges
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CDs were one of the first indications I had that the music industry was full of it. They assuaged our complaints about having to buy our music all over again by assuring us that CDs were cheaper to make than LPs (true) and that after the initial period the price would come down.

Amazingly enough, this never happened. Fancy that.

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The White Whale
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It's hard to explore music, especially when your interests are obscure and/or unusual. Going to Barnes and Noble, say, and sampling their CDs are nice, but they don't have all of them on file, and often only have only a few of the songs to listen to. And I'm sure not paying Barnes and Noble prices for a CD when I haven't had a good enough sample of it.

That's why OiNK was so incredible. They had ways to search for other artists that members also downloaded for each album. They had recommendations and forums to discuss and share. They had it by category, and popularity, and it didn't cost anything to try it out. Now, when I found something I liked, I would tend to keep an eye out for the stuff in stores, or kept an eye on the musician's website for shows and the like.

I found an Australian musician that me and my brother fell in love with (Loren), and we actually emailed him when we couldn't find his CDs available anywhere. He responded, with amazement that we, two brothers in NY, had heard of him, and he sent us personal burned copies of the CDs we were asking about, as well as an unreleased one he had done with his buddies. Now, that would never happen at Barnes and Noble, or through Amazon, or anywhere else really (we have no plans to go to Australia anytime soon).

So now, my brother and I share, send, sample, and support. And yes, we don't go out and buy every album we download, but the ones we care about we do. And he's gone into college for music industry and business, I'm sure as a partial result of the musical availability supplied by OiNK.

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Speed
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Do you have any examples of bands that succeeded because of piracy (as opposed to deliberate free digital distribution of their music)?

I don't have time to look up the name of the person that said this right now, or the evidence that he had for it, so take this with a grain of salt.

A couple of months ago I was listening to a podcast called Sound Opinions, and there was an interview with some music industry executive. He said that in several cases (I believe the one he quoted specifically was Kanye West's Graduation), people in the marketing departments covering these albums will deliberately leak these complete albums on illegal file-sharing sites before their release dates to generate buzz.

I don't know how it would be possible to compare record sales with or without this strategy. But Graduation sold phenomenally well in its first week, despite the fact that many people already owned it before it hit the shelves. And although it's never officially endorsed (or even admitted), many people in these marketing departments do feel that these albums do better in legal sales when assisted by piracy.

Again, this is all based on my memory of this conversation rather than hard numbers, so take it for what you will. But I found it interesting.

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twinky
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quote:
1. Stop buying music from major labels. Period.

...The only way to force change is to hit the labels where it hurts - their profits...Don't buy CDs, don't buy iTunes downloads, don't buy from Amazon, etc. Steal the music you want that's on the major labels...Make it very clear that you will continue to support the artists directly in other ways, and make it VERY clear that your decision has come about as a direct result of the record company's actions and inactions regarding digital music....

If you have a problem with how the labels do business, don't buy their products. Good. Stop there. Don't just turn around and pirate them. If you do that, all you're doing is showing the copyright holders that the commodity they're trying to control is desireable and that they should step up their efforts to regain control of it.

Boycotting *IAA products while simultaneously pirating them cuts your argument off at the knees.

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Clandestineguitarplayer
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The producers are the only ones who get hurt, I promise, and they have plenty of money to spare, with every record deal I have ever heard of, the artist gets paid the same regardless of who 'steals' their music... Usually, (and this excludes Metallica) the artists arent terribly butt-hurt by people listening to their music for free, its usually quite high praise... I wouldn't mind, thats for shizzle! And on the concerts money making thing, 1/4 of the money usually goes to the venue 1/4 to the producers and 1/2 goes straight into the band's pockets, so in that way, pirating raises their popularity and more people show up to their concerts to pay them... Those are my thoughts anyway... From my experience...
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Clandestineguitarplayer
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The producers are the only ones who get hurt, I promise, and they have plenty of money to spare, with every record deal I have ever heard of, the artist gets paid the same regardless of who 'steals' their music... Usually, (and this excludes Metallica) the artists arent terribly butt-hurt by people listening to their music for free, its usually quite high praise... I wouldn't mind, thats for shizzle! And on the concerts money making thing, 1/4 of the money usually goes to the venue 1/4 to the producers and 1/2 goes straight into the band's pockets, so in that way, pirating raises their popularity and more people show up to their concerts to pay them... Those are my thoughts anyway... From my experience...
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Clandestineguitarplayer
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The producers are the only ones who get hurt, I promise, and they have plenty of money to spare, with every record deal I have ever heard of, the artist gets paid the same regardless of who 'steals' their music... Usually, (and this excludes Metallica) the artists arent terribly butt-hurt by people listening to their music for free, its usually quite high praise... I wouldn't mind, thats for shizzle! And on the concerts money making thing, 1/4 of the money usually goes to the venue 1/4 to the producers and 1/2 goes straight into the band's pockets, so in that way, pirating raises their popularity and more people show up to their concerts to pay them... Those are my thoughts anyway... From my experience...
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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
Without debating the questionable point of whether an MP3 is a "perfect copy", I'm not sure why scale is relevant. If something is wrong, it's wrong. If something isn't wrong, it isn't wrong.
Oddly enough, I actually agree for the most part with Lisa's opinion. I'm a poor college student at present, with limited budget. If pirated versions of certain TV shows or music wasn't available, I would not spend money on it, but having downloaded them illegally, some of them I end up deciding to pay for eventually. However, I think your core logic (especially in the statement about scale) is flawed.

I don't know if the net effect of piracy encourages or discourages creativity. But your assumption seems to be that this is irrelevant - even if rampant piracy drove the entire creative industry to a halt, it'd still be perfectly okay to "share" things you purchased.

It seems to me the bottom of line of "is it right or wrong" is "does it hurt people or not?" If it hurts people overall, don't do it. Otherwise go for it.

My guess is if piracy became so efficient that anyone could acquire anything for free with no loss of quality, creative people would still do creative things because that is their nature, but they wouldn't be able to rely on it for a living and the number of truly professional quality productions would drop. OR the companies that made them would become increasingly tyrannical about protecting them.

That's just a guess, quite possibly wrong. But if that point was reached, then I'd definitely say that sharing a DVD with your friend is perfectly fine, but reproducing that DVD ad naueseum for the entire internet to have to free would be irrevocably wrong. One action harms the creative output of humanity, one does not. It doesn't matter that the two actions are pretty similar and the line between them hard to define.

How do you find, legislate and enforce that line? I have no idea.

Maybe your moral system is based on something different, I dunno. Most religious texts are pretty silent on the nature of copyright law. I vaguely remember you discussing your adherence to Ayn Rand philosophy but I don't know enough to know how that applies here.

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