Andy Kessler: Piracy Happens, Get Over It

from the indeed dept

Andy Kessler's latest opinion piece is in Forbes, where he basically makes the point many of us have been making for years: piracy happens; so get over it, focus on new business models and stop thinking lawsuits will save you. There isn't necessarily much new in the article for folks around here, but it is nice to see more of these sorts of articles hitting the mainstream press, where maybe the message will start to sink in: copyright infringement is a business model problem not a legal problem. Once you realize that, your whole perspective changes.


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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 12:29am

    That's like saying bank robbers have it, get over it. Shouldn't you try to stop the bank robbers instead of being complacent? Piracy is illegal.

     

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      FatGiant (profile), Jun 16th, 2009 @ 12:44am

      Re:

      Of course it is.

      But, what people actualy do is file-sharing, not piracy.

      Piracy is making money out of something that isn't yours.

      File-sharing is NOT making money, while sharing with everyone what you like.

      Somehow, file-sharing got conoted with piracy, I'll give you one guess of who did it.

      You really want to compare bank robbing and file-sharing? Really?

      And another small thing, just out of curiosity, are you being payed to post, that's why you hide behind a anonymous handle? Just curious.

       

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      Marcel de Jong (profile), Jun 16th, 2009 @ 12:45am

      Re:

      The act of downloading movies/games/music is not theft, no matter how you spin it.

      Yes it's annoying for businesses, and yes it's illegal.
      But lawsuits are not the way to solve that problem.
      The only way is to make enough incentive for prospective buyers to buy the product. And you don't do that by suing those prospective buyers, nor do you do that by annoying them with DRM crap. They need to compete with the pirates, offer the customers something that the pirates can't offer.

       

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        Anonymous Poster, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 1:19am

        Re: Re:

        And those who can do this will succeed, while those who can't will fail and blame those who succeeded for poisoning the market and giving in to the pirates or something like that.

         

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      Vincent Clement (profile), Jun 16th, 2009 @ 5:29am

      Re:

      Except that bank robbers actually steal something, sometimes under the threat of deadly force. The owner of the thing that was stolen is deprived of its use.

      Downloading something does not deprive the original owner of its use.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 3:23am

    It's sort of like saying that drugs aren't bad, they just require a lifestyle adjustment. Crack isn't bad, you just need a good pipe.

    It's a nice papering over the reality of massive "infringing" and the creation of the expect ion that everything is free. There is no business model when you clients are no longer paying.

     

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      Vincent Clement (profile), Jun 16th, 2009 @ 5:58am

      Re:

      The reality is that the cost of distributing digital goods is almost zero. So, yes, people (as in the demand side of the market) do have an expectation that it should be free or close to free.

      There is no business model when you clients are no longer playing

      Suggest you look at Google, Microsoft, Firefox, etc. They all offer free products and seem to be doing okay.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 8:23am

        Re: Re:

        Google does not produce content. Microsoft has a number of models most of which aren't free or anything close to it. Firefox isn't for-profit or even a business, really.

         

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    Old Time Record Guy, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 3:57am

    Universal & Virgin UK: The Beginning of the End

    The answer you have all been waiting for. Voluntary enforcement by the ISPs. No lawsuits just no access. The End.

     

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      SamIYam, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 4:51am

      Re: Universal & Virgin UK: The Beginning of the End

      Under no circumstance should ISPs be playing traffic cop. We pay for a connection, not filtering.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 8:18am

        Re: Re: Universal & Virgin UK: The Beginning of the End

        Read your Terms of Service. I'll bet your ISP is entitled to do all sorts of things you probably don't think its right. Al those agreements that most of us just click "I Agree" or check a radio button to say you accept include a bunch of controls and permissions. I'm not saying it's right, I am saying it IS.

         

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      Hephaestus (profile), Jun 16th, 2009 @ 6:39am

      Re: Universal & Virgin UK: The Beginning of the End

      Cutting people off, unless it is backed up by an order from the court will get the ISP's sued, or worse criminal charges could be filed.

      We all know how efficient the record labels investigators are at getting the TCPIP Address correct, I mean that printer really loves mp3's, and that IP Telephone loves movies.

      Some people rely on Cable/FIOS/DSL for their phone service.
      The first time an ISP makes a mistake and someone dies because they cant dial 911, it's the end of this foolishnes.

      Now enter the private citizen who walks into the grand jury, in whatever jurisdiction, and files manslaughter charges against the heads of the ISP, investigators, and record label.

      Quite the wake up call.

       

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    Sammie Houston (profile), Jun 16th, 2009 @ 4:23am

    Watunes, The New Music Industry

    WaTunes is a social media distribution service that offers a viable solution to piracy/illegal downloading issues as well as enables artists, groups, and record labels to sell music, music videos, and audiobooks through leading online entertainment retailers, including iTunes,ShockHound, and eMusic which allow all entities to take back control. Artists and labels can sell unlimited music and earn 100% of their profits – ALL FOR FREE!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 4:39am

    It continues to astound me to see such effort being spent to build some kind of post facto justification for illegal behavior. So the problem isn't that some people unilaterally decided that because the technology now exists to digitally copy and distribute works - movies, music, games, books, software - that it is somehow okay to do that, knowing full well that it is illegal and unethical by business standard? The problem is with the business model??!?? That is a hilarious justification for illegal and unethical activity. Just because it CAN be done does not mean it is right or SHOULD be done.

    To basically develop an illegal habit and then pound feet like children that everyone else has to accept your view and change the entire intellectual property underpinnings of the western (and eastern) world is self-centered, adolescent and just plain silly.

    Going back to pre-Napster, basically those engaging in illegal activity have been scrambling to justify it. First it was about the right to make a archive copy for personal use. Then it was about the "right" to share that copy with friends using neat-o cool file sharing methods. Then, after the businesses that legally own these works started clamping down, the SHREEEEKING about evil Big Business began. As they attempted to enforce their legal rights, it became SHREEEEKING about persecution of the little guy. "The ISP's should protect us" the babies cry, like they have some kind of moral obligation to protect illegal activity on their networks and systems. Have their been transgressions and overzealous prosecutions, sure. Have there been millions untouched still continuing to knowingly break the law, absolutely. Then the kids try to hang it on those transgressions saying, "because there have been businesses or governments that have oversteped as they try to stem these rampant illegal activities, ALL of our rights have been violated. We're all VICTIMS now." So sad, all those business and judicially inclided people trying to enforce laws and rights and such. It's just terrible that they are insisting that people respect the rights of businesses and artists/engineers/designers/staffers/shareholders who are contracted to those businesses. TERRIBLE.

    And now it's all the business' fault. The just don't get it. Everything should be open sourced and given away. They claim someone will stumble upon a business model that might allow a few people to make a buck and put dinner on the table. Maybe. Sometime. At some puny scale. Maybe. Just maybe. In the meantime, all the children cry "let us take what we want and use it or give it to whom we want. Don't you dare enforce any laws or we'll cry VICTIM and blame BIG ENTERPRISE for hurting the little guy."

    Pathetic. Get jobs. Produce something. Learn about running a business. Learn about running a business that involves more than 10 folks in a former warehouse, all wearing T-shirts and making overly clever references to pop culture crap from the 1960s, at time when even your parents were just babies. Open your mind to something other than your own adolescent needs. And stop trying to build a foundation under this illegal, unethical house.

     

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      JonMontgo, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 5:04am

      Re:

      You know Coward, you should really let out your anger more often. it's unhealthy to let that boil inside.

       

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      R. Miles (profile), Jun 16th, 2009 @ 5:16am

      Re:

      So the problem isn't that some people unilaterally decided that because the technology now exists to digitally copy and distribute works - movies, music, games, books, software - that it is somehow okay to do that, knowing full well that it is illegal and unethical by business standard?

      Pathetic. Get jobs. Produce something.

      You just don't get it, do you? Digital distribution has opened the door to allow millions to enjoy the works of those who do create, but it's the distributor of those works who continue to run under what I call true piracy.

      Given the cost reduction of what it takes to distribute music, as an example, explain to us why it costs consumers $1.30 per song? Explain why it'll cost more, per song, to buy a complete album when the plastic version can be found for less?

      Maybe idiots like you should take your head out of your ass and look around you to see the big picture.

      Get a job, you say. Why don't these artists get a job instead of relying on a welfare system to distribute their works? After all, it costs little to set up a website and a little effort to freely publicize themselves, so why a distributor?

      I'll contend piracy is illegal, but I'll also contend its rampant choice is done such that filling an iPod truly doesn't cost a consumer $30,000+.

      Think about that, genius. $30,000+ to fill an mp3 device capable of storing thousands of songs. To think these devices aren't pushing the hidden message to fill up the space is laughable.

      In addition, digital distribution gives us potential consumers more choices than ever before (provided these distributors don't spend millions shutting down web sites threatening them). We consumers aren't stupid and we have ABSOLUTELY NO PROBLEM paying when we feel THE VALUE IS WORTH THE COST.

      Under the distribution system (regardless if it's news, music, TV, movies, or even art), we are controlled by what we can view, hear, or read. Worse, we're to endure their prices with absolutely no options. $16 for a CD just to obtain one song is wrong. The industry then turned and offered us "singles", which were $3 each. Seriously, think about this "business model" and how it truly relates to those out to "get a job".

      When was the last time you saw a major music label pick up someone they didn't deem as attractive? Can you imagine what it's like for an overweight 14 year old girl who has one of the greatest voices you'll ever hear compete with a teenage sex object?

      Of course you can't. You're too damn busy worried about the loss of profits rather than focus on true artistic talent.

      When music was $1 per song, I related just how much more Apple and company could make by dropping the price to $0.10 per song. The monies would be made faster, profits would be made faster, all because consumers will find great value in owning 10 songs for $1.

      Yet I don't find it coincidental the Napster incident finally forced these distributors to begin offering their products online. Why did it take a start up company, using people's ripped songs, to wake this damn industry up?

      More importantly, with the hundreds of millions these distributors made, why did they never once invest in new technology for consumers? Yeah, that's what I thought. It would be too much work to "produce something" and "get a job".

      But instead of working with Napster, the industry sued.

      When a movie like The Dark Knight surpasses its production costs via theater release, shouldn't it be obvious the DVD itself should sell for the cost of the material?

      But we'll never see this in the business model of old, because everything's always been about profits, not sharing the "talents" of others to the world.

      Because the day someone thinks Britney Spears has talent is the day I show you who really does.

      So get the hell off your high horse and accept the fact humans place significant value on the works of artists, but have a hard time trying to share their money to them when there are no alternatives but through greedy industries who take more of our cash, while producing nothing, all in the name of "art", you ignorant fool.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 5:56am

        Re: Re:

        I'm confused. You say "You're too damn busy worried about the loss of profits rather than focus on true artistic talent." So...is this about business (which is really about profit, investment, shareholder/owner value, market share, etc) or is it about "true artistic talent?" You people mix these things up so much that it makes everyone's heads spin.

        "When a movie like The Dark Knight surpasses its production costs via theater release, shouldn't it be obvious the DVD itself should sell for the cost of the material?" Where does that come from? Is profit not allowed in your new world? Do you understand that for every blockbuster a studio produces (or top 10 book a publisher produces, etc, etc) there are dozens of flops and barely break-evens? Do you understand that a decent portion of those "profits" actually go to offsetting loses on other works, and developing the next set? Are you against the participating artists (actors, screenwriters, cinematographers, make-up artists, stunt people, etc) getting a share of the profit or windfall on Dark Knight, knowing that many of them also participate at scale on a bunch of flops?

        And you write "humans place significant value on the works of artists, but have a hard time trying to share their money to them when there are no alternatives but through greedy industries who take more of our cash, while producing nothing." So if an artist's direct website prices their work at $1 a song, the model holds and all these people who value art so much will pay the artist's price? No, they won't. What you guys forget is that once a work of content is out and about, available freely, the incentive to pay ANYTHING for it begins to evaporate, especially among people who felt no ethical problem with stealing artists work to begin with. I mean, have any of you downloaders ever sent a check to an artist directly with a note saying, "even though I downloaded your last five albums free, I value your music so much that I wanted to pay yo something for them." Doubtful. A number of bands have done experiments with giving away music for free, a pay "if you like" model. Same deal as shareware. The success on the music, as I recall, was pretty much non-existent. Shareware also has few success stories to point out of late, hence the change to time-limited demos for just about everything.

        Part of the problem is that you guys want to sound like you're fighting for 'artists' (though the proper term would be content producers, since many of you like to extend your arguments to every sector of business) but at the same time sound business-y. I'm not saying you can't do both, but few do it well. The gut-reaction, emotional Artist v. The Man thing is really hard to take, which is why it falls very flat outside of close circles of basement dwellers on blog sites.

         

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          BigFN-J (profile), Jun 16th, 2009 @ 7:18am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "I mean, have any of you downloaders ever sent a check to an artist directly with a note saying, "even though I downloaded your last five albums free, I value your music so much that I wanted to pay yo something for them." Doubtful"

          Actually I was listening to a psy-trance mix from a DJ named Howard Hughes, I went to his website, and he had EVERY CD for sale 'except' the one I was listening to on the internet radio station I PAY MONEY FOR (you dick)...

          I emailed the artist, sent him a paypal for $50 (he asked for ONLY $5) and he sent me his ENTIRE collection of CD's pay and not for sale, as well as a lot of unpublished works.

          Making broad & general statements will nail ya... and do I, as a responsible, HARD WORKING adult, feel that I am breaking the law by nabbing up a few CD's or Movies...

          do i feel that its unethical....

          If milk were $18 a gallon, i would make copies of it to with my particle duplicator... just sayin'

          ~J

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 7:59am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            If challenging insular thinking on this site makes me a dick, fine.

            Kudos on being a stand-up consumer. But that fact that you did that for music does NOT mean it is a viable business model at scale.

            So, actually, the broad and general statements I made are probably a lot more true, and your activities more of the exception. I'd note that willingness to pay a "fair price" - fair being defined, I guess, by the downloader - does not mean that there is a sustainable business model attached. And "willingness" does not mean 90% of those individuals actually would (or do currently) pay or support. I hear that phrase "willingness to pay a fair price" a good bit, but it's hard to base a business on that, especially when freeloaders will grab your content and distribute it without regard at all to whether the price is "fair." Once that content is out there free, the incentive to pay anything for it erodes by the minute. It's just human nature...not saying we can't evolve, just that in all of human history, we people have been pretty consistent on this front. There is great risk is basing a business on that given that we have not yet evolved.

             

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          R. Miles (profile), Jun 16th, 2009 @ 9:45am

          Re: Re: Re:

          You people mix these things up so much that it makes everyone's heads spin.
          So, by comparison, when distributors whine about loss of profits because it takes away from the artist, that's not the same? No confusion here, as (admittedly) the context seem interchangeable. I'll try to be more accurate as to prevent your confusion even further.

          Is profit not allowed in your new world?
          ***THINK*** about this question, genius. Now, go re-read the article.

          The rest of your rhetoric is blind arrogance and invalid assumption. It has been proven time and again people will pay for what they feel.

          The distribution industries telling consumers there's an over-inflated cost to an infinite supply isn't selling well with them. Thus, they're finding other options, despite their legality.

          Mike (and crew) have always stated, and I firmly agree, give customers a reason to buy and there's no worries over file sharing.

          This is where people like you have a problem, given you think it's the content people pay for. Clue: it's not. It never has been. It never will be.

          Wrapping new ideas around this is a new concept most people just can't seem to grasp without the obligatory "T-shirts!" comments.

          The problem, as I see it, is there are very few examples of success to warrant a global adaptation. That, in itself, is a problem, for if everyone sells the same thing, it removes the scarcity.

          We never asked these artists to create, which they did on their own merit and on their own dime. By utilizing a 3rd party to distribute their works (usually based on popularity), they remove themselves from the content.

          That's their choice. Nothing says I have to endorse it (nor will I), so if they choose to sell their song for $1 on their website, I'd pay it knowing full well 100% of the dollar goes to them, not some corporate shill taking away my ability to enjoy the content all the while calling me a damn thief in the process.

          I truly feel sorry you can't understand this, but then again, it's not surprising. It's a global ignorance.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 10:01am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "It has been proven time and again people will pay for what they feel." Huh?

            "...given you think it's the content people pay for. Clue: it's not. It never has been. It never will be." Okay, I'll bite: what are they paying for? Consumer likes Guns and Roses and wants to get a copy of "Welcome to the Jungle." This is content. They have the option of getting it free without DRM via eDonk or paying $1 direct on a hypothetical G-n-R webite, direct to the artist, maybe with DRM, maybe not. Where will the casual music lover go to get their media, assuming ease of access is similar (a reasonable assumption given today's technology) and sound quality is similar (an absolutely reasonable assumption)? The answer: the free site. Artist gets nothing. And that unique composition which is scarce on its face because there is only one original is made ubiquitously available and free, thus devaluing it and damaging the artist.

             

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      duane (profile), Jun 16th, 2009 @ 5:20am

      Re:

      The problem with your arguments, beside the fact that they are all wrong in whole or part, is that you probably run a business somewhere that could really benefit from understanding how wrong you are.
      1. If enough people do something, it stops being wrong and becomes the norm. Sometimes laws have to change to recognize that and they have. (prohibition, slavery, taxation without representation)

      2. People don't want ISPs to protect them because they're whiny, but because it is wrong for a business, not the government, but a business to just demand our information based on a flimsy pretext and expect to get it. If my ISP gives up my info on this lamest of reasons, what else will they give it up for? Perhaps if I say something in a forum someone doesn't like. Perhaps if I try to anonymously organize a little pro-choice or pro-gay marriage Web site and the local church doesn't like it.

      3. Like everyone of your ilk, you're missing the point, no one believes everything should be given away, but here's the scoop, it is all for free right now. That's what technology has done. It has made certain things that were once scarce infinite. You can try to protect those infinite goods or you can leverage them to make money on something that is scarce or market your service as superior to free or more secure or more American. If you accept that and try to build based on those rules, the real rules of today, you're going to do a hell of a lot better than trying to sue people into submission. People hate you for those actions. It really doesn't even matter if you are "right" or "wrong." The impression is that your an asshole and no one should buy from you. That's what's called bad press and enough will kill your business.

      4.This is all just silliness here. Just because you don't understand what's happening, you don't have to belittle it. I'm a mature and ethically developed person and I've been working since I was 12 years old. I've worked for businesses of all sizes and I have seen that the Internet has changed every single one of them. I was privileged to help some of these businesses re-tool to take advantage of that. If the movie & music industry re-tooled, if they recognized that this is a brand new game, then everyone could be a winner. Even you.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 6:20am

        Re: Re:

        Here goes:

        1. If enough people break the law, then it creates a new norm that should just be accepted. Actually, you said if enough people do something, it stops "being WRONG." Wha?? O let me count the ways that is flawed thinking. So if enough people murder or steal is ceases to be wrong? Very flawed thinking. Even your examples are largely wrong. Prohibition, maybe. Slavery? Actually the Civil War was, in part, about overthrowing the NORM in the South. In that case, it was the norm that was wrong, and the change that eliminated that. Taxation without Representation......I can't really see why you included that.

        2. ISPs comply with business requests for a few reasons. First, many ISPs have business relationships with content providers. Some even own or are owned partly by content providers, so there is a mutual interest thing. Second, for many ISPs, these illegal activities violate their terms of service. TOS is a B-to-B and/or B-to-C contract, having nothing to do with law enforcement. They are entitled to enforce them. Thirdly, knowingly allowing people to break the law on their servers or networks places ISPs in jeopardy of either reliability or enhanced regulatory scrutiny, which no one wants. And finally, people and other businesses pressure businesses all the time. Think of protests against advertisers for a bad joke made on a radio show or a controversial episode of something. Think of a business cooperating with law enforcement and other companies with regard to corporate espionage...happens all the time. There is no ISP-Consumer confidentiality. You ain't a priest, a journalist, an attorney or a doctor. Basically, the analogy here is someone stealing a DVD from a newsstand, then the other business owners on the block point him out and one of them chases the thief down and sits on him until the police arrive. In case it's not clear, the artist/distributor is the newsstand, the ISPs are the business on the block saying "he went thataway" and the RIAA or other rights consortium is the one that tackles the thief. Actually, that's a pretty damn perfect analogy, especially since everyone seems to agree that these activities are ILLEGAL.

        3. On the whole infinite goods thing that you guys at TechDirt seem to like to over-intellectualize, how about when the good itself is all that the producer has to offer. Unlike software, the Dark Knight movie has no maintenance contract to offer (like when you by Java from Sun) and the only upgrades it can charge for are in the form of special editions and re-releases. It's rare that a movie is changed in a material way for a subsequent release (with apologies to George Lucas). What they have is that content and what is basically that one opportunity to sell it to an individual or a household. And please don't say "but merchandising" because that's beside the point; the product categories need to stand alone.

        4. Kudos on your work ethic, though I contend that working for a business is a very different thing than owning and operating a business. But I'm not going to argue about someones life experience.

         

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      minijedimaster (profile), Jun 16th, 2009 @ 7:28am

      Re:

      tl;dr

       

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      Travis, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 10:38am

      Re:

      So what you are saying is that laws should never change as our society evolves?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 10:50am

        Re: Re:

        Excerpts from comments already submitted:

        ....Actually the point I've made repeatedly is that just because a lot of people do something illegal/wrong does not mean that it suddenly becomes legal/right. I do agree that a lot of intellectual property law needs revisited, but not at all because a few million people choose to break the law to download legally protected content free of charge.

        ....The law can be wrong, and lots of laws are. And the law constantly changes - at least in most democracies - which is good. But the argument that the law is wrong simply because the technological means exist to break it is just really poor thought construction and, again, bucks the basis for the rule of law.

        ....I do think that copyright laws need to change and big companies need to modify their approaches. But infringers trying to hold a virtual gun to their heads saying "we'll keep stealing until you give it away free" is just silly and runs counter to the rule of law.

         

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    martyburns, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 5:11am

    Hey Anonymous prat

    You are missing the point entirely. Music no longer needs big business to exist. Anyone can (and lots do) produce their own music (dont need a big studio) and get it heard (internet provides the distributaion), and make (some) money from it. They may even still have day jobs (god forbid).

    It is the end of million dollar record deals and blinging b1itches. We dont need to pay money to fat pompous c*nts to listen to their sh1t because lots of people like making music for realistic returns - maybe not from selling CDs, maybe from, like, doing what they love playing gigs etc.

    The record companies business model is wrong because technology is making them irrelevant.

     

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    redrum, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 5:12am

    ac-8

    Pre-napster? Hmmm, like since the 70's when you could bring a blank maxell tape to your friends house and record whatever you wanted? Or when the radio was playing songs you actually wanted to hear and you would tape it? Or when you would go to the library and copy their albums/tapes/cds? When was there EVER a point when people weren't sharing and listening to music that they didn't pay for? Seriously, when? You're talking about times that have never existed.

     

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      Vincent Clement (profile), Jun 16th, 2009 @ 6:09am

      Re:

      We have a winner.

      I can't count how many CDs and LPs I recorded onto Maxell tapes during the 70s and 80s, especially during my four years at university. It expanded my musical horizons.

      But during my university years, I visited the record store at least once or twice a week, usually buying something, sometimes based on the stuff I recorded on to the blank tapes.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 6:53am

      Re:

      Thanks for hitting upon another common flaw in this thinking. The fact is that scale matters. Tape making and trading (whether off the radio, from an LP or on a Betacam sitting in a movie theater) was largely manual and largely face to face. Yes, there were rogue tape trading/selling groups underground doing it on a slightly larger scale via mail, but it's scale and economic impact was puny. The global scale and degree of automation, as well as the increasing portability makes a big difference. So does the negative economic impact to the businesses who, like it or now, legally own this content. You can argue that the laws should be changed, but for now, it's their stuff and they have the legal right to control its use and distribution. That's a fact.

      But I agree, the concept then is highly similar to the concept now. It was stealing then and it's stealing now. Just because it's easier now or more ubiquitous does not make it legal or right.

       

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    Gert-Jan, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 5:29am

    water to the see

    It is like a salesman trying to sell salt water, and telling everybody they cannot "borrow" or steal water from the ocean for free, because there is some law that forbids that. It is naive to think you can force everyone to buy it from you if the supply is everywhere. You need to give your customers a positive reason to buy. No law is going to save your ass when you are not offering a product that the customer wants to buy. That is the reality check.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 7:00am

      Re: water to the see

      "The supply is everywhere" But the supply is illegal! What is so hard for you guys to understand about this? The content isn't yours to chose what is done with it. Plus there are, in fact, laws - ancient ones, well respected and enforced - regarding what can be done with, in and on the endless sea you mention. Maritime laws and treaties, territorial waters and such guide our collective nations and civilizations on what can and can't happen in those waters and even with the water itself (in terms of sewage discharge, water quality regulations and the redirection of water). So, that analogy fails miserably.

      You all should stop pretending that these wild and only mildly interesting philosophical arguments are actually applicable to real life. The reality is that if something is available free of charge, humans are not likely to be willing to pay anything for it at scale. I'm not talking about one specific band's fanboys, I'm talking about a whole economy. Collectivism and societal self policing fail at scale, time and time again through history.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 7:53am

        Re: Re: water to the see

        These are applicable to real life, like it or not. You can be as fervent as you want, can shout your feelings from the rooftops, but in the end, anything digital is FREE.

        -----Most of this is just blowing off steam. Skip to the bottom if you like-----

        Legality doesn't enter into the issue. Yes, we can argue about the moral and ethical implications, and the legality, but it just doesn't matter. People will share. It has been illegal in one form or another for quite some time (if we insist on using the term piracy, and all the things implied by it, then it has been documented as illegal since at least 13th century BC when the Aegeans were attacked at sea. On a more serious note, however, trading tapes, movies, software, this has all gone on for quite some time, just in the last decade or so it has become easily accessible to everyone). Is people sharing a good thing? You've clearly already made your decision about the subject, and you can clearly support it. Bravo for you. But once again, that doesn't matter. Simply because something is illegal, something is wrong, or there may be negative repercussions, people will not stop filesharing (or stealing, killing, robbing, sleeping around, drinking, smoking...the list of wonderful vices goes on and on). The current generation fileshares. The old man (59 yo I believe) at my parents work fileshares. The upcoming group
        of youngins with their fancy phones and Twitter fileshare.

        ---------------------------------------------------------

        Illegal or not, it is happening. Making it illegal hasn't changed anything. Obscenely large monetary punishments haven't changed anything. Government help hasn't changed anything. It's still illegal and still happening. Kicking people off the internet won't change anything, they will just move to a provider who won't do it (we call that a business opportunity), or trade hard drives (that's how I got started as a real copyright infringement fiend, trading around spare harddrives full of music) or simply find a better way of hiding what they are doing (proxies, TOR, etc...).

         

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    identicon
    RD, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 7:50am

    Right

    "Taxation without Representation......I can't really see why you included that."

    Of course you wouldnt. Big surprise there. If people like you ran things, we would have Stalin's Russia or Nazi Germany all over again, stomping on the people's rights, taking everything they own for the good of "big business."

    A$$tard.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 8:08am

      Re: Right

      Boy, must have really hit a nerve. So I am now a dick AND a fascist. Yes, it's all about the little guy being the victim and evil big business getting its way every time. You are just entering into the predictable arguments (whining) I already covered above.

      The previous poster's point was that if enough people are doing something, that is ceases to become "wrong." How does taxation without representation fit into that? Taxation without representation was a norm in the British colonial system that was, in the view of colonial American leadership, wrong. So it, like slavery, was the triumph of those who were "right" throwing of the norm which was WRONG. Anyway, it doesn't make the point the original author intended. But thanks for helping me recall history lessons that hadn't crossed my mind in 20 years.

       

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    anymouse (profile), Jun 16th, 2009 @ 9:13am

    leagle scheagle.... is grey area

    Lets say I wanted to market a highly addictive and toxic substance to millions of consumers, would that be legal or not? If I'm 'big tobacco' than it's fine, go ahead and kill the populace as long as you are giving the government enough money they don't care. Try bringing a similar product to market today (without the lobbiests and bribes that sustained big tobacco in the early years) and see what happens.

    Laws are written by humans, and like everything else we do, they are not perfect. Most of them are a 'forced morality' to try and get society to fit into somebody's model (the ones passing the laws usually), when the majority of society no longer recognizes a law as valid, it's time to throw out the law, not jail everyone who disagrees. What happened during prohabition? Why isn't alchahol still illegal, I mean it was at one point, so it must still be right? Oh that's right, we as a society decided that law was CRAP and needed to go.

    Things are coming to a tipping point and there are going to be some serious changes coming soon. People are only going to stand for this 'corporate welfare' mentality for so long before they realize that we do have the power to change things, it was given to us in the constitution by our founding fathers (who apparently saw the current situation coming from hundreds of years ago, which is pretty amazing coming from a bunch of stoners who liked to dress up in powdered wigs and shirttails and sit around swapping stories.)

    The law is only the law as long as people accept it as the law, if the majority of the people don't recognize a law, then good luck enforcing it, and if you do try to enforce it, be prepared for the backlash that it will bring.

    Just remember.... if the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 9:50am

      Re: leagle scheagle.... is grey area

      I don't disagree with your sentiment, though I think your argument is flimsy.

      You write that most laws are "a 'forced morality' to try and get society to fit into somebody's model (the ones passing the laws usually)." Well that's pretty much called civilization and rule of law. Nothing new or shocking here. And I agree that when a majority of the society disagrees with a law, they are sometimes changed, though in American politics there are numerous examples of that NOT being the case. As a matter of fact, protection of the minority view (whether a racial, religious, political or even business one) is a hallmark of the American political system so much so that laws and judicial decisions with which a majority disagree are regularly forced on the populace to promote or defend these special interests.

      I also take issue with the intimation that a "majority" is even close to forming on these issues. Not even close. And within the small minority who ARE focused on these issues, the motivations and desired outcomes vary wildly. Not that this minority can't or won't grow, just that it is much smallrt and less impactful than the impression you get when trolling free-friendly sites like this one.

      Again, I come to the analogy of building a foundation for a shaky house after the fact. Just because a lot of people (still a small minority, but millions globally) choose to ignore the law and often take great pains to hide their activities because they know them to be illegal, does not mean on its face that the current law is wrong or should be changed. Hundreds of thoughts of people shoplift in the US every year. Perhaps millions (after all even 1 million is just 1/300th of the US population) if we include those thta aren't caught. Does that mean de facto that anti-shoplifting laws are wrong? Certainly not. So, we have now established that the popularity of an activity is not an indicator of its illegality, ethics or correctness. You guys really need to stop with this line of justifcation because it just falls apart.

      The other problem is that because so much of the present very real violation of emerging privacy rights stems from illegal activity, you get into a chicken and egg thing. The downloaders will crow about transgressions on their rights, but the only reason the distributors and royalty companies had to push it to that extent was because their content was being grabbed and distributed free, often illegally to begin with. Given that illegality came first, the legal and ethical high ground remains largely with the companies. That the infringement community has more recently tried to change all this into a civil rights issue, highlighting the overzealousness of the companies in prosecuting folks is a shrewd move, but smacks of disingenuousness given that it was all started with illegal activity.

      I do think that copyright laws need to change and big companies need to modify their approaches. But infringers trying to hold a virtual gun to their heads saying "we'll keep stealing until you give it away free" is just silly and runs counter to the rule of law.

       

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    Ikonoclasm, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 9:44am

    Unenforceable Laws

    What's the difference between something outlawed by an unenforceable law and something that's legal?

    Nothing.

    This is a point that's been hinted at but not strongly addressed in TechDirt's posts on the topic. As Mr. Kessler's article states, even totalitarian control of the internet like the Great Firewall of China is fallible. It is, for all practical purposes, impossible to enforce the laws preventing P2P copyright infringement in all but an irrelevantly tiny fraction of the infringers. The benefits of pursuing those few infringers unlucky enough to get caught in no way justify the costs of pursuit. Though I doubt it's possible to accurately calculate the odds of being pursued by a copyright holder, it's possible to calculate a rough estimate based on the number of letters the copyright holders sent out compared to the numbers visible on TPB or Demonoid or any of the scores of torrent trackers available. Even a conservative estimate would put the odds of getting pursued as trivially low.

    The word that everyone involved in fighting the P2P infringers should spend meditate upon is , "Practical." What's a practical solution to the problem of those business models no longer being profitable? That is the problem, after all. Not the copyright infringers. What makes more sense? Dumping money into a legal system with an impossible-to-win set of circumstances or modifying the business to take advantage of the status quo?

     

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    RD, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 9:44am

    Right, but

    "The previous poster's point was that if enough people are doing something, that is ceases to become "wrong." How does taxation without representation fit into that? Taxation without representation was a norm in the British colonial system that was, in the view of colonial American leadership, wrong. So it, like slavery, was the triumph of those who were "right" throwing of the norm which was WRONG. Anyway, it doesn't make the point the original author intended. But thanks for helping me recall history lessons that hadn't crossed my mind in 20 years."

    Yes but you have been making the argument that the law should not be changed just because many people disagree with it and are doing something illegal (file sharing). If the founding fathers had thought this way, they never would have come to america.

    Also, consider the lesson of Prohibition. It was ILLEGAL to buy or sell alcohol. But so many people were doing it (even the lawmakers themselves!) that the pressure to repeal it became overwhelming, since otherwise you would be making criminals out of a large portion of the people. Was this also a "Wrong" that needed to be righted? Many people think alcohol is more destructive and "Wrong" than many other things that are "legal" (like smoking), and yet its now legal to do so.

    This "its the law therefore its NEVER WRONG!!" is the fascist attitude that will bury this country.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 10:18am

      Re: Right, but

      "Yes but you have been making the argument that the law should not be changed just because many people disagree with it and are doing something illegal (file sharing)." Actually the point I've made repeatedly is that just because a lot of people do something illegal/wrong does not mean that it suddenly becomes legal/right. I do agree that a lot of intellectual property law needs revisited, but not at all because a few million people choose to break the law to download legally protected content free of charge.

      Prohibition is an interesting example because it took activities (making and consuming alcohol) that HAD BEEN LEGAL and made it illegal. That's not the case here...redistribution of copyrighted content without the owners permission has been illegal to one extent or another for generations in the US, certainly within anyone's living memory. Also, as a percentage of population, there are a whole lot more drinkers in the US at the time of Prohibition than there are habitual copyright infringers. So the whole majoritarian argument fails to fit the present day as well.

      The law can be wrong, and lots of laws are. ANd the law constantly changes - at least in most democracies - which is good. But the argument that the law is wrong simply because the technological means exist to break it is just really poor thought construction and, again, bucks the bsis for the rule of law. Sadly, a lot of what is spewed by infringers and their allies boils down to just this. If you guys would get off of justifying the illegal and get on to taking all this theoretical business model stuff and making it real (or at least realistic), you'd have an easier time with politicians, business and the general public. Saying "don't be ridiculous, we're not pirates" and then continuing to engage in activities that basically represent the definition of electronic piracy just cuts the legs of your more serious arguments for change, and virtually eliminates sympathy in the majority general population for those few poor souls who are hit hard by overzealous content owners. You're making the bed much tougher to lie in than it needs to be, all for some free songs, software and movies.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 12:02pm

    Actually, saying stopping file sharing is impossible and an unenforceable law is a straw man. Our government does not really try to enforce that law.

    Think file sharing would go down any if people were put in jail for it? I do. Would you stop it all? No laws stop every instance, but you would limit it.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2009 @ 12:16pm

    "is just silly and runs counter to the rule of law."

    Well, as we have seen with the actions of our government in the bail-outs of two auto companies, I don't think our government is too concerned with the rule of law.

     

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  •  
    icon
    Sammie Houston (profile), Jun 17th, 2009 @ 4:28am

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


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