U2's Manager Lashes Out Yet Again: Blames Absolutely Everyone For Not Making U2 Even Wealthier

from the let's-try-this-again dept

Back in January, U2's longtime manager, Paul McGuinness went off on a bit of a rant, blaming ISPs and pretty much any internet company for destroying the music business. His points were easily debunked -- especially coming off the fact that U2 had just completed a year in which it made $355 million on touring -- and I'd bet that a fair portion of that came from folks who listened to U2 mp3s they didn't pay for. Apparently, McGuinness chose not to read any or understand any of the criticism towards his position, because five months later, he's back again, blaming absolutely everyone but the recording industry for the industry's own failure to adapt (found via Mathew Ingram who makes some excellent points in responding to McGuinness). So who does he blame?
"Cable operators, ISPs, device manufacturers, P2P software companies -- companies that have used music to drive vast revenues from broadband subscriptions and from advertising."
Uh huh. So let me ask McGuinness this: if all of those other companies benefited from the music industry -- is he willing to also concede that the music industry benefited from some of them as well? The radio industry, for years, has helped promote the recording industry. Does he believe the recording industry is morally obligated to pay the radio industry? The internet has made it so much easier to create, distribute and promote music. Does McGuinness believe that musicians have a moral obligation to pay some portion of their own proceeds to these firms who have made that all work? I wonder why not.

McGuinness seems totally oblivious to the idea that there are such things as complementary goods, and the fact that an externality from one market may impact another market doesn't also include a moral obligation for payment. This is really the same problem we've seen over and over again, where content creators overvalue the contribution of the content, and totally undervalue (or sometimes negatively value) the contribution of the platform. Cable operators, ISPs, device manufacturers, P2P software companies have all worked quite hard to make music so much more useful to individuals.

What McGuinness is really admitting, is that everyone else (including U2, by the way) has figured out how to make good money off of music being free. It's just the recording industry that hasn't figured it out. So, clearly, there is tremendous economic value in music being free. The fact that the recording industry is unwilling to come up with ways to capture some of that value (and they don't deserve all of it) is no one's fault other than the recording industry's.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    M., Jun 5th, 2008 @ 1:58pm

    ignorant article

    I guess you don't get paid by copyright. Songwriters derserve to get paid.

     

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  2.  
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    Wayne, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 1:59pm

    Behind the times

    Kids and adults recorded music off the radio for years. Taped their TV shows. Now all of a sudden the industry doesn't like it. I read one good point U2 just made 350 million off concerts. I think it's time that the music industry realize that you can't throw out a few new CD's and make your money. Singers are actually going to have to have concerts and do real work like the rest of us. I refuse to pay 20$ for a cd and get one good song. If i buy a Song i should be able to play it anywhere i want, be it the computer, home stereo, my mp3 player or even my friends mp3 player. Seems more like the recording industry has been pulling off it's own nose to spite it's face.

     

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  3.  
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    Black666, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 2:04pm

    U2 corporate BS

    how many curic's make up U2 anyhow ?
    their BS regarding stifling others sampling their material and then going on tour sampling TV from everywhere (for free without permission etc etc )
    read here :
    http://www.negativland.com/edge.html

    and now more drivel from their minions...please U2 et al, your corporation, go have a meeting in a large lemon and get stuck there again

    like anything is original - the circle connects through the sphere..

     

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  4.  
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    $T3VE 8, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 2:08pm

    U2m Me2 We All 2

    I stopped listening to Bono and his crew of self-aggrandizing a.s.s-hats years ago when they started doing things other than playing music, like involving themselves in the U.S. presidential election (they are freaking Irish, for God's sake). Just because they are celebrities doesn't make them better or smarter than us. They should stick to what they do well (some of them) and keep their mouths shut the rest of the time unless they are ordering a cheeseburger.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 2:15pm

    Don't you get tired of talking about the same shit over and over again?

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 2:15pm

    What amuses me is that he could come out with the most valid points possible for their side of the argument, and still no one would listen to him, because it's fucking U2. No one even remotely connected to U2 can complain about a loss of profit and expect to be treated seriously.

    If he were remotely intelligent, he'd get another, less successful band and / or their manager to take up the torch. I'd be more inclined to listen to this argument from a band that's finding it hard to make any serious money than from U2's manager.

     

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  7.  
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    ehrichweiss, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 2:30pm

    Fuck U2

    Seriously fuck those guys. I think they used to have a heart but then they sued Negativland for copyright/trademark infringement(or something, it's a complex case) over an album they released as a parody. To show U2's sense of morality, they blamed every bit of it on Island Records and claimed neither they nor their manager had seen or heard the album in question BUT the video below has one of the members of Negativland talking with the person who sent U2's manager a copy of the album and he's not "just some guy" with no credibility, he was REM's (road?)manager. So in my book U2=lying corporate scumbags. One of the members, I think it was Larry Mullen, Jr., had promised that U2 was going to "help take care" of the legal fees that Negativland got stuck with(over $100,000) but that never happened.

    http://realserver.law.duke.edu/ramgen/spring04/framedafternoon2.rm

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 2:55pm

    Re: ignorant article

    Didn't you know M? THEY DID GET PAID. 355 million dollars just from the tours, not counting the sales of the album music or anything else U2 branded.

    There is only one difference now. Music is digital. It doesn't take effort or even cost to reproduce the same track. A kid with a POS computer, a few blank CD's, and a burner can make the same quality reproduction of the tracks burned to disc as the RECORDING industry can.

    Again, look at the breakdown on prices on CDs. Per CNN, the artist makes less than 10%. Hell they make less than 2% of the money you pay for a CD.

    Buy a CD, give an artist a dollar.

    Obviously, the price for music SHOULD have declined but its being ARTIFICIALLY kept at the same value. Historically this leads to piracy. Happened with books, its happening with music.

    The article is far from ignorant. Ironically, you are the one that is ignorant. In every article Mike has ever written about the way the recording industry conducts its business he points out the FACTS I've mentioned above. This article too, points to them although not directly.

    The article says that the some moron thinks everyone but the recording industry is why U2 "only" made 355 million dollars (personally, I'd be happy with 1 million but thats me). The whole point to the article is that they should be LEVERAGING the music to generate more revenue.

    Instead, they complain people don't want to get ripped off buying their product. If they'd take their head out of their ass they'd see SEVERAL means to make even more profit even though they are selling music for less.



    Oh and BTW: Fuck the Recording Industry. I'm not even a NIN fan but musicians should follow Trent Reznor. Due the math yourself, while the "total revenue" of his self released album is lower than if it had been through a studio, the ammount of money he GETS TO TAKE HOME IS EVEN MORE THAN IT WOULD HAVE BEEN.

    Million dollar artists bitching about not making money? TAKE OUT THE MIDDLE MAN. ITS BASIC BUSINESS SENSE.

     

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  9.  
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    Nick (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 2:56pm

    McGuinness should hang out with Bono when he does his charitable diplomacy campings. He could blame corrupt governments for poverty and war. That deserves much more attention. But he would probably mess that up as well.

     

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  10.  
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    Gus, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 3:08pm

    U2's Manager Lashes Out Yet Again:

    People like Paul McGuinness just make me feel tired and sore all over.

     

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  11.  
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    Jeffry Houser (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 3:14pm

    Radio Industry and Recording Industry...

    [quote]
    The radio industry, for years, has helped promote the recording industry. Does he believe the recording industry is morally obligated to pay the radio industry?
    [end quote]

    For years the radio industry was paid to help promote the recording industry. They still are. Every song you hear on major radio is indirectly payed for by a label.

    Middleman companies are called "Indies" in the industry. The "Indy" goes to a radio station and says "play what I tell you to play and I'll give you X amount in promotion money." The radio station says yes. Then the Indy goes to the record label and says "I'll get your songs played here for X amount."

    Because the Indy is separate from both the record label and the radio station, Payola laws do not apply.

     

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  12.  
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    Reg, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 3:17pm

    Context

    No shit, the world's biggest band has no trouble making money despite massively widespread piracy... smaller bands aren't having it so easy. Techdirt, home of the freetard.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 3:45pm

    justifying theft?

    This is a mind-numbingly consistent position taken by Techdirt. That is, it's ok to steal music because it costs too much anyway.

    Why not apply that policy more broadly. That BMW 5 series I've been wanting is just a rip off. I think I'll just steal one instead. After all BMW should adapt to me stealing their cars and find other ways to make money.

    And I won't have to sweat $4+ per gallon of gas. I'll just fill up for free. It's not my problem, the fuel vendors will just have to adapt. Maybe they can just make up the difference by increasing the price of Slim Jims. Until those get too expensive and I have to start stealing those too...

     

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  14.  
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    Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 4:00pm

    Re: Context

    No shit, the world's biggest band has no trouble making money despite massively widespread piracy... smaller bands aren't having it so easy. Techdirt, home of the freetard.

    Did you miss the articles we've shown about smaller artists now able to make money thanks to getting attention from giving away their music? Or do you just repeat what you think we've said?

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 4:01pm

    Re: justifying theft?

    Good job comparing artificially scare items like music or anything digital with actually scarce items like gasoline (though I believe that the energy industry is artificially limiting gasoline too in order to get $4/gallon prices) and cars.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 4:02pm

    Maybe if they started creating good music like they did earlier in their career, it may sell. But like milk, every product has a shelflife.

     

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  17.  
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    Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 4:03pm

    Re: justifying theft?

    This is a mind-numbingly consistent position taken by Techdirt. That is, it's ok to steal music because it costs too much anyway.

    This is a mind-numbingly consistent position taken by commenters who clearly do not read what we say.

    (1) We have never said that it's okay to "steal" music. Hell, we've never even said that it's okay to infringe on music.

    (2) We have never said anything about music "costing too much anyway."

    Please do not make up the arguments you think we said.

    What we *have* said, is that artists can embrace certain new business models that will get them more fans and enable them to make more money. What does that have to do with stealing? I have no idea.

    But why bother understanding when you're hear to insult.

    Why not apply that policy more broadly. That BMW 5 series I've been wanting is just a rip off. I think I'll just steal one instead. After all BMW should adapt to me stealing their cars and find other ways to make money.

    Again, please try reading before you try to slam us. Otherwise you won't make it clear that you have no idea what we actually wrote.

    We have been clear from the very beginning, that you always sell *scarce* goods, but you give away the infinite goods. And it (again) has nothing to do with "stealing."

    A car is a scarce good. So that's why we would never suggest it's a good business model to give away a car.

    I mean, seriously. If you want to challenge what we write, at least challenge what we write. Not some made up fantasy of what you wished we had written.

     

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  18.  
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    Not Applicable, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 4:22pm

    Re: Behind the times

    Kids and adults recorded music off the radio for years. Taped their TV shows


    Back when he initially ranted, I went to U2s site and some fan sites and I challenged MR. McGuiness (and U2's members) to say that they were never guilty of doing these exact things. Needless to say, I never got an answer.

     

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  19.  
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    kiba, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 4:27pm

    Re: justifying theft?

    Obviously techdirt never did advocate theft because they never mentioned it.

    Make me wonder how people jump to erronous conclusion.

    Confirmation bias?

    Any psychologist or cognitive scientist care to ring in?

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 4:29pm

    Re: ignorant article

    If all copyright infringement were to stop tomorrow, the musicians and songwriters would still not get paid.

     

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  21.  
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    Melvillain, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 6:15pm

    Bono is GOD

    McGuinness works for the biggest band on the planet (they can't even rightly be called a band, they're an entity) yet all he has to do is complain about how much money they don't make because those god-forsaken pirates and ISPs are stealing profits away from them. U2 should worry about a Metallica-like backlash. Oh yeah, I forgot that won't happen because Bono is GOD.

     

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  22.  
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    jib, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 6:41pm

    Re: ignorant article

    Artists deserve to get paid for the work they do. They deserve to get paid for performances, and for recording songs. What they don't deserve is to record the song *once* and then have the government force society to pay for it *every time it gets used*. The artists aren't going to starve; they can sell concert tickets and merchandise and a few CDs. But they shouldn't have the government guaranteeing them excessive income by forcing us to pay them for CDs we could have copied ourselves.

     

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  23.  
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    M., Jun 5th, 2008 @ 6:45pm

    Re: Re: ignorant article

    you are a pin head. So U2 fits all. What about all of the songwriters that write music for the boy bands of the world. They deserve their career. And you don't deserve anything for free.

     

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  24.  
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    M., Jun 5th, 2008 @ 6:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: ignorant article

    and... if you want to bitc@ - complain about Bono-head trying to cram his politics down the throats of AMERICAN TAX PAYERS! Poof!

     

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  25.  
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    On a new business model, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 6:49pm

    People are having trouble getting

    It's a new world out there. There are new rules. One rule remains constant: Some will get paid under the rules, some will not. There's a new fence. Some will, unfairly, go unpaid. Others will, unfairly, get paid. Same rules. The fence moved.

     

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  26.  
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    Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 7:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: ignorant article

    you are a pin head. So U2 fits all. What about all of the songwriters that write music for the boy bands of the world. They deserve their career. And you don't deserve anything for free.

    M. you came to this website for free. Do you not "deserve it"?

    And, why do you keep saying that the musicians and songwriters don't get paid. We have already shown that they do get paid.

    You keep claiming that we're ignorant (and pin heads, which is very convincing), but you seem to be responding to a strawman, that somehow people won't get paid. Which part of "a better business model" do you not understand?

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 7:52pm

    Re: ignorant article

    Why?

    Songwriters can sell commissioned works if they're good songwriters.

    But beside that point, there are plenty of incredibly famous songs that were written by some guy in a some of about 10 minutes, while the meat of the song's music is fleshed out by talented performers.

    Hundreds of years ago, commissioned works and invited appearances were pretty much the only ways songwriters got paid and there was no "copyright" belonging to the songwriter. Yet, somehow, Mozart still existed.

     

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  28.  
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    Brandon, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 6:59am

    Record deals

    I've always been confused by how bands and artists get paid. I hear about multi-million dollar 3-album recording contracts and such. I always assumed that artists got paid this flat amount no matter how many albums they sell. They're always talking about record deals and recording contracts. So my thought was that typically most all of the money made from CD sales just went to the label and not the artist. So please correct me if I'm wrong. I fear the RIAA has scrambled my brain to make me think I should feel bad for the poor artist not getting paid for their hard work when actually they're getting paid that flat amount and it's actually the labels and the RIAA that aren't getting the money.

     

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  29.  
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    The Voice of Sanity, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 7:59am

    The real problem here...

    You're absolutely right, Brandon. Very few bands make anything off of their cd's, the labels just suck it all back in by charging the band for everything they do. When you get to be the size of U2, you can reverse that trend, but for a fresh new band trying to build a career? Impossible in our current system.

     

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  30.  
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    edjay, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 9:36am

    Copyrights - Paul McGuiness

    ..........and now we will all watch Mike Masnick make a copyrighted work...........and give it away for free! Oh...........no??
    ;-]

     

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  31.  
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    John Wilson, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 11:31am

    Re: Re: Re: ignorant article

    What about all of the songwriters that write music for the boy bands of the world As, largely, the work in songwriting factories, modern versions of The Brill Building, they do get paid. Up front. How many get residuals, that is a cut on the sales, is questionable. Just as often part of the deal is to assign the copyright to the record company or management company responsible for inflicting yet another boy band on a suffering planet. You could try to learn how the industry actually works instead of swallowing the RIAA propaganda with your night cap. ttfn John

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 1:30pm

    Re: justifying theft?

    Ok, I apologize for the "mind-numbingly consistent" comment. It was unnecessarily negative and also hurts my own position.

    My other examples were an attempt to use a little hyperbole and humor to make my point, but I failed at that too by opening with the wrong tone.

    My primary gripe with Techdirt is that in pretty much all articles on this subject on this site, the general undertone is that the recording industry is getting what it deserves when people steal music. That is, because they haven't adapted their business model to account for digital distribution, they should expect and accept that people will steal music instead of paying for it. I just don't agree with that sentiment. If the cost is unreasonably high, consumers just shouldn't buy it. I agree that they should adapt. I agree that they haven't. But I think they have the right to charge what they choose for the products they produce.

    I don't believe your point on scarceness is as black and white as you want it to be. I'm not a big U2 fan myself, but I can certainly argue that of the enormous body of available music, U2 produces an extremely small percentage. Given that U2 is wildly popular, and their music is still in high demand, I believe they are justified in expecting to get paid. No, digital copies of music are not scarce, but if you want a U2 song, you can't get it from Justin Timberlake. So they see their talent as being scarce and to some extent that's what they think they're selling.

    I think you can agree that if music wasn't so easy to steal, consumers would pay for it. That's why I think my examples, while exaggerated, were still appropriate. For popular music, the market would actually bear a high price, if it wasn't for the ease of theft. That theft may just be a fact of life at this point, but I don't think it's justified.

    Sorry again for taking the low road earlier.

     

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  33.  
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    DanC, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 4:58pm

    Re: Re: justifying theft?

    the recording industry is getting what it deserves when people steal music. That is, because they haven't adapted their business model to account for digital distribution, they should expect and accept that people will steal music instead of paying for it.

    The recording industry is getting what it deserves because it blatantly ignored the emerging digital marketplace, believing that it would be able sell plastic discs forever. When faced with the inevitability of change, their first reaction was resorting to lawsuits against device manufacturers and consumers. They then proceeded to develop crippled digital offerings, preferring to rely on the declining plastic discs.

    These half-hearted attempts at establishing a foothold in the digital marketplace actually pushed more people to piracy, since the pirated product was simply more valuable than the legitimate product.

    So, while making every effort to put as little value into their digital products as possible and suing their consumer base, they continued to blame piracy for their losses instead of a declining CD market and the consumer backlash against their actions.

    Their piracy statistics are essentially meaningless, yet are constantly held up as proof that we need stricter laws to combat it. They have been caught using questionable methods of pursuing their lawsuits, including using scare tactics, hiring Media Sentry (who repeatedly violated state laws), and dropping out of lawsuits with weak evidence, sticking the defendants with lawyer fees.

    But I think they have the right to charge what they choose for the products they produce.

    They do have that right. Whether the market will support their price is another matter.

    I think you can agree that if music wasn't so easy to steal, consumers would pay for it.

    Consumers do pay for it, which is why iTunes recently supplanted Walmart as the #1 music retailer.

    That theft may just be a fact of life at this point, but I don't think it's justified.

    Infringement (not theft) may not be justifiable, but it is understandable. When the RIAA chose to ignore the demands of consumers, those consumers were left with a choice: find alternatives, or obtain the products by alternative means. With the RIAA essentially encouraging piracy due to their self-destructive actions, it should come as no surprise that many chose to pirate the music.

    For popular music, the market would actually bear a high price, if it wasn't for the ease of theft.

    The music, once digital, is no longer a scarce good. In order to demand a higher price, scarcity must be a factor. And attempting to create artificial scarcity means resorting to DRM, which in turn punishes your legitimate customers, and effectively encourages them to either avoid your products or get them illegally.

    In all honesty, piracy of digital content is a consumer response based on basic economic principles; if the cost of reproduction is effectively zero, then the price of that product will naturally trend to zero as well. This doesn't make it legal, or even justifiable, as you mentioned, but it is important to understand it. This is why all the efforts by the RIAA to combat piracy have failed so spectacularly. They continually try to fight against basic economics instead of trying to embrace it.

    They have no one but themselves to blame.

     

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  34.  
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    DanC, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 5:05pm

    Re: Copyrights - Paul McGuiness

    now we will all watch Mike Masnick make a copyrighted work...........and give it away for free! Oh...........no??

    What do you suppose this blog is?

    Copyright is automatic upon creation, and Mike has given explicit permission to reproduce the content multiple times.

     

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  35.  
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    edjay, Jun 7th, 2008 @ 3:01am

    Re: DanC

    Copyright is automatic upon creation...
    The clearer that people understand this, the less this argument would even exist.

    ...Mike has given explicit permission to reproduce the content multiple times.
    Exactly: Mike has given his permission.

     

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  36.  
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    Xanthir, FCD, Jun 7th, 2008 @ 3:45pm

    Re: Re: DanC

    I'm not sure you actually understand your own position, edjay.

    You started by sarcastically suggesting that Mike should create a copyrighted work and give it away for free (implying that Mike wouldn't, because he uses copyright to make money like all the musicians).

    It was then pointed out that the very blog post you are commenting on is a copyrighted work given away for free. Mike practices exactly what he preaches - he gives away an infinite good (copies of his posts over the internet) for free, and uses them as advertising for his main business, the TIC. Even within the TIC he sticks to his guns, as he allows the people who commission him to do whatever they want with the information he provides them, even give it away to other people.

    I mean, if you want to change your position now, you can, but it's pretty clear that your original post was a stunningly stupid comment. Even your changed position isn't very intelligent, as Mike has never advocated copyright infringement on the part of the users (as he says over and over and over again), but rather implores the *artists* to free their copyrights and use the infinite goods for their own benefit.

     

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  37.  
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    Mike (profile), Jun 7th, 2008 @ 4:26pm

    Re: Re: DanC

    Exactly: Mike has given his permission.

    To be clear, it has nothing to do with permission. While I have "given permission" it was only because people asked -- and when they ask I usually tell them that they don't need my permission, but they should feel free to use it as they wish.

    Lots of folks use the content here without permission, and that's their choice.

     

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  38.  
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    edjay, Jun 28th, 2008 @ 2:51am

    Re: Re: Re: DanC

    Thank you for proving that you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about: Change my tack??? A copyright belongs to the copyright holder. That's as clear as it gets.

    I'm sure we will hear Mikes text played on the stage, on the radio, the television, films, Youtube, computer games and in garden fetes all over the world in infinite altruism.

    Stunning stuff eh.

     

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  39.  
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    edjay, Jun 28th, 2008 @ 2:56am

    Re: Re: Re: DanC

    Again Mike, exactly, it is your choice to say that people don't need permission. :)

     

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  40.  
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    injection molding, May 4th, 2009 @ 10:47pm

    The Maori Experience

    While Jen and Amanda were off running in the Redwoods, I decided to go the tourist’s route and see a Maori Twilight Cultural Tour in Rotorua (it’s the lazy woman’s way to pick up some basic local history, fast). This involved boarding a bus with about 50 other travelers before getting dropped off in a “village” to watch poi dances (where women twirl balls of woven flax) and haka (war dances where the men paint their faces, wave spears and belt out fierce battle calls). Our group wandered around the make-believe scaffolding village to witness woodcarving and tattoo demonstrations and listen to tribe members tell their people’s stories. Long before the Europeans first set foot on the islands, these Polynesian descendants called it home. Exactly when the Maori arrived, and injection molded plastic where they originally came from (Tahiti? The Cook Islands? Marquesas?) is still up for debate.

     

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  41.  
    icon
    pdiddy (profile), Sep 25th, 2009 @ 11:08pm

    what the f???

    there is a lot of heat here....what is up??? take it easy people....work through it! be civil!

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    James Kavanagh, Jun 25th, 2011 @ 4:19am

    U2

    U2 Have always been on the the band wagon, they have no political agenda and are a completely unmalicious band... or so it would seem .. they are a reasonable band , not very nice people and have got away with taking the the piss out of people ... Its strange that this band will be famous while other bands with will carry their fame and reputation to the graves .. I feel people will want to to dissociate with them , because of with they mean .... HOW DARE YOU EVEN MENTION JOE STRUMMER you arseholes!!! He was a man you are wimps!!!!!
    Punk rock was supposed to be a sham like U2 .... I really dislike the way you think you Know it all .... Fuck off and die....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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