Wed, Apr 28th 2010 4:11pm
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Mar 11th 2010 4:47pm
from the gov't-for-the-lobbyists,-by-the-lobbyists dept
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Mar 8th 2010 10:00am
from the more-pie-for-everyone dept
You may have heard the story. It's about a bunch of villagers all taking a little nibble of a pie, insisting that just a little bit won't hurt -- and then, of course, the entire pie is gone, and everyone claims that it was "Not I" who ate the pie.
Yes, it's a wonderful fable that you should read to your children in nursery school. But, for the adults who actually understand basic economics, it's clear that the situation the RIAA is facing has absolutely nothing to do with the situation described in the book. So let's fast forward from nursery school to econ 101, and perhaps educate the RIAA a bit.
The reason the pie story functions the way it does is because the pie is a scarce and limited resource. As such, each time someone takes, it means that there is less for others. It's a zero-sum game. In contrast, with a digital file, the content is abundant and an infinite resource. Each time someone makes a copy, rather than less for everyone, there's actually more for everyone. You're actually growing the pie. Neat!
The problem the RIAA and its labels face is not everyone nibbling on the pie. It's that it has always focused on selling pie at greatly inflated prices, because in the old world, you could only get the pie from a few RIAA-run pie shops. In the new world, with abundant pie, where each copy of a piece of pie expands the pie, suddenly people can get their pie from many other places. And it's been great for pretty much everyone, other than the proprietors of the RIAA pie shops. More musicians are able to get their "pies" out there, since the old pieshop gatekeeper is no longer the bottleneck. More musicians are able to make money since they no longer have to rely on the pieshop to fund their ability to make new flavors of pie.
Now, when you have a market with an abundant resource, that actually tends to open up all sorts of new business models around pie (pie eating contests, pie toppings, pie making lessons, pie crusts, pie tins, etc.). In fact, those business models are working quite well. But the RIAA seems to have become confused about where the pie has gone:
In the music industry, it takes the investment of many peoples' money, effort, and time to create the songs and albums we all get to choose from and enjoy. Since most acts never even reach the breakeven point in sales, music labels need to operate like venture capitalists and count on the successes to subsidize the continued development of many artists and releases that may never break out of the red. And it's easy to ignore the harm being done when you're only stealing one copy.Such a nice story. Too bad that it's just as much a children's fiction as the original pie fable. Recent studies have shown that the music industry has been growing, not shrinking over the past few years. It's just that the money is going to different places. Again, the RIAA has a blindspot for all the other places where people can get pie, and how they've build up great business models around it, assuming that if you're not getting pie from an RIAA shopkeeper, then you must be "stealing." But that's like saying every time I order pizza from Domino's, I'm stealing from Pizza Hut. Or, even worse, every time I make my own pizza at home, I'm stealing from Pizza Hut.
Music companies continue to develop more ways for fans to enjoy their favorite artists and songs legitimately -- and provide additional sources of revenue. But when more music is obtained illegally, and less money is available to invest in finding, developing, and recording new artists, the resources available for the next round are diminished. So if the investments dry up, and fewer new artists are able to be developed, will filesharers who stole bit by bit look at each other and say it was "Not I" who stole the pie?
The real problem is not different people taking "just a little bit." The people haven't been taking, they've been growing the pie. Massively. And the musicians and record labels who understand this have been growing and profiting nicely. So, seriously, RIAA, let's leave the children's fables where they belong and start focusing on updating your antiquated business model to deal with the twenty-first century.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Mar 5th 2010 11:33am
from the oh-please dept
The claim is based on the fact that some musicians quickly put out a "Hope for Haiti Now" digital only album, with the proceeds going to help Haiti. It apparently did quite well, topping the Billboard sales charts. Considering there were tons of ways to donate to Haiti, this was basically a way to get some free music with your donation. Fair enough. But the RIAA noticed that the tracks also appeared on file sharing sites. This is hardly a surprise, nor is it meaningful. But, according to the RIAA's interpretation, this somehow "undermines" humanitarian efforts:
The album is now widely available on illicit BitTorrent sites like The Pirate Bay, Torrentz and more. The posting highlights a truly ugly side of P2P piracy -- the undermining of humanitarian fundraising efforts via online theft of the "Hope for Haiti Now" compilation. So much for the notion that illegal downloading ("sharing") is an effort to help advance the plight of artists.So much wrong in so few words. First of all, the album is "available" on the internet. The Pirate Bay, Torrentz and those other sites aren't hosting the album at all. They may be pointing to it, but so is Google. Is that also an "illicit" site? It's amusing, but the blog post the RIAA links to, in an effort to back up this claim, highlights how he found out about it being available via a Google search. But notice what the RIAA did here? Rather than focus on where the file actually is, it blames The Pirate Bay, even though their own source actually used Google to find it, and the files aren't hosted by The Pirate Bay. That's called being disingenuous, at best.
Next, how does this "undermine" anything? If someone wanted to donate to Haiti, there were countless ways to do so. If someone donated a bunch of money directly to the Red Cross, and then chose to get those songs via an unauthorized copy, is that really undermining humanitarian efforts? And for those who downloaded an unauthorized copy and didn't donate anywhere, does anyone at the RIAA seriously believe they would have bought the album otherwise? I recognize that the RIAA thinks music powers everything, but no one bought the album because it was the best way to donate to Haiti.
And that last sentence is a total non sequitur. What does humanitarian aid have to do with advancing the plight of artists? And who said that file sharing was "an effort to help advance the plight of artists" in the first place? No one. The RIAA is just setting up bizarre totally unrelated strawmen to knock down.
But the much bigger issue is that the whole premise of the RIAA post appears to be wrong. It turns out that, while the albums are available via these unauthorized means, almost no one is downloading them. MusicAlly saw the RIAA's blog post, and figured it would check in to see just how much downloading was going on to undermine those Haitian humanitarian efforts... and discovered that very, very, very few people are downloading the album. Considering the sales of the album topped the charts, a comparison was done between downloads of this album and Lady Gaga's hit album, and they found that the charity album is barely noticeable:
At its peak on 24th January, Hope For Haiti Now was being downloaded 2,680 times a day according to BigChampagne -- compare that to The Fame Monster's 63,845 downloads the same day. Meanwhile, by 23rd February, Hope For Haiti Now's daily downloads had dwindled to 820, compared to 47,971 for the Gaga album.In other words, despite the claims of the RIAA, file sharers certainly weren't "undermining" anything. They certainly weren't particularly interested in downloading this album at all. Looks like the RIAA has been caught making up arguments that have no relation to fact, yet again.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Feb 25th 2010 11:15am
from the how-out-of-touch-are-you? dept
In January, Chinese hackers infiltrated the systems of the biggest technology dog on the global block and, according to the company, stole Google's intellectual property.I see where you're going with this, but to compare hacked code being copied with fans sharing music (neither of which, by the way, is actually "stealing") is so far off-base that it's guffaw-inducing. In Google's case, this was information for private use -- not something protected by intellectual property law that it was trying to sell. The two situations are entirely different and, unlike Mitch Bainwol, the folks at Google clearly do understand the difference.
In texting parlance, Google has finally had an OMG! moment when it comes to intellectual property. Unfortunately, it took this theft of their IP to flip on the switch.Ignoring the bizarre and slightly creepy attempt to sound hip, nothing in Google's response suggests any change in opinion on the issue of intellectual property. That's because, as stated above, the hack had nothing to do with intellectual property or intellectual property law. If it caused any sort of epiphany, it should have been in relation to the problems with gov't mandated surveillance, which is what opened Google up to being hacked. Again this has nothing whatsoever to do with intellectual property law and everyone knows it. Except, apparently, Mitch Bainwol.
Frankly, Google has never been very warm to the idea of copyright protections. Google routinely has sided with the "free access" (more aptly the "free of charge") crowd against those who actually create the intellectual property.I can't speak for Google, obviously, but my sense has always been that they actually do take copyright law incredibly seriously. They went out and hired one of the world's foremost experts in copyright. But it's that second sentence that is so amazingly wrong that I'd like to formally request that Mitch Bainwol and the RIAA issue an apology for being blatantly insulting to everyone who believes in the use of "free" as part of a smart business model. I'll note, of course, that the RIAA itself has long used "free" in parts of their business model -- and to then imply that this is against those who actually create intellectual property is obnoxious in the extreme.
I create intellectual property every single day, as do people at Google, and many others who recognize the value of free content. To imply that those who understand basic economics are somehow "against" content creators is ridiculous. How can you claim that, when we spend so much time showing how content creators -- including a bunch who the labels that Bainwol represents have clearly ripped off repeatedly -- are now making more money by ignoring copyright and leveraging free to their advantage, often to make more money than any RIAA-label ever helped them make?
Mitch, you owe all supporters of "free" an apology.
Remember the Big G's idea to digitize every book in the world and put it in their digital library? That went over so well that Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild of America sued to stop Google from creating the virtual library.Wait, what? A lawsuit, by itself, doesn't mean anything. Mitch? The Authors Guild hasn't won its lawsuit, and has admitted that the reason it settled was because a bunch of copyright experts told them they had a pretty good chance of losing the lawsuit to Google.
Hell, the RIAA has been sued for racketeering a bunch of times. By Bainwol's own logic here, the RIAA must be racketeers.
Google argued that they were just trying to make the world a better place by making important works of literature available to people all over the globe. A rather egalitarian idea (unless you're the authors and publishers who depend on people actually buying books in order for you to make a living).Yes, you heard it here first. The RIAA is apparently against people having more access to books. As for that final sentence, again, Bainwol is playing fast and loose with the facts. Google Books only showed mere snippets of books, and most authors found that when their books were available on Google books it helped them sell more and make a better living. Isn't that the point? Or should we not be surprised that the guy who's the spiritual leader of an industry that sued tens of thousands of its biggest fans and presided over the massive collapse of its revenue doesn't quite understand how to focus on the actual bottom line results rather than making up false stats?
Last month, Google found out just how dangerous free access to one's property can be to one's business model. Like Inspector Renault who is "shocked" to find gambling in Rick's saloon in "Casablanca," Google was "shocked" to find their systems hacked and their precious intellectual property stolen. Now, I'm not expecting Google to make a 180° turn and join us in our fight to protect IP the way Claude Raines joined Bogart to fight the Nazis, but perhaps Google will have a more reasonable view of the need to protect IP.Why? Seriously? Please explain how the hell intellectual property laws would have made the slightest difference here. You could have had the most powerful copyright laws in the world, and it would have had zero impact on the ability of Chinese hackers to break into Google's servers. The hack had nothing to do with intellectual property laws.
The problem here -- and this is quite common with folks who don't actually understand this topic -- is that Bainwol is confusing intellectual property laws with the intellectual property (which isn't actually property, but that's another issue...).
What's the effect of IP theft on the U.S. economy? First, let's look at the IP industry's share of the economy. A 2007 International Intellectual Property Alliance study found 11.7 million people working in the total copyright industries. That's 8.51 percent of the U.S. workforce. These industries help drive our nation's economy. In 2007, IP companies added $1.52 trillion or 11.05 percent to the GDP. When people say "we don't make anything in America anymore," just hit them with those facts.I see your bogus $1.52 trillion dollars and raise you to $2.2 trillion. That's the amount of the US economy dependent on exceptions to copyright law such as fair use. And that, by the way, is using the same methodology as your $1.52 trillion bogus number. And you know, companies like Google are a big part of those that rely on exceptions in copyright, such as fair use -- something your organization has tried to deny exists.
In cities and towns throughout America, the IP community creates good paying jobs that have an enormous, positive impact. Those jobs come with health care plans and retirement savings accounts. They benefit our cities and towns with increased tax revenues that help pay for the services we all need.See what Bainwol is doing here? He keeps shifting back and forth between content and IP laws, as if they're the same thing. But they're not. Most of those jobs don't rely on IP laws to exist. In fact, as noted above, a much greater number rely on avoiding IP law through exceptions to have those jobs, with that even larger enormous, positive impact.
Most importantly, the IP industries create products that are enjoyed the world over--games, movies, books, and of course, music. Yet every year, as broadband technology advances, intellectual property thieves become increasingly more sophisticated. The assaults grow more ferocious. The broader the broadband, the easier to steal copyrighted works.Mitch, those aren't "IP industries." They're content industries, and a significant portion of their income doesn't come because of IP laws. Hell, if we just look at your own industry, music, we see that a significant and growing portion is the part that doesn't rely on IP laws at all. And please can the faux moral panic about broadband being to blame here. You and your organization have had well over a decade to learn how to adapt. Many in the music business have adapted. It's just the organizations that you represent that have been resisting and making bad decisions -- many under your leadership -- that have resulted in nothing but greater and greater losses. This isn't about broadband, but about a basic failure to adapt to a changing marketplace.
Like our friends at Google, we fully support the adoption of broadband and the new and exciting opportunities it provides for consumers to enjoy movies, television programs and music.And that, right there, explains why you're so far behind. You still don't realize what the internet is. It's a communication platform. It's not for consumers to just enjoy music, television programs and music. It's for them to communicate. You want to turn the internet into a broadcast medium when it's a communications medium. The reason people share content online is because that's what the internet is for. To communicate -- and communication is just a way of sharing information. Until you understand that simple fact, you're going to keep flailing.
Yet there is no question that despite our extensive and innovative offerings of legal content, the levels of online and physical theft around the world extract a profound toll. That activity has a direct and harmful impact on American jobs and our economy. And as Google has found out, this illegal activity is exacerbated by the unwillingness of some--including some businesses and even some governments--to take reasonable steps to address these problems. As we know too well, IP theft has "enablers" all over the place.Again, no, what Google found out was that it needed better security, not stronger IP laws.
If it is in the national interest to protect the millions of Americans who use Google's services--and it is-- it is also in the national interest to stop the theft of intellectual property. But doing so requires cooperation by other industries and a commitment on the part of government to take reasonable steps, both at home and abroad, to combat the harmful economic effects of IP theft.Again with the apples and oranges comparison. You're still talking about two totally different things. And your readers know it. They're not stupid. Why treat them as idiots who can't tell the difference?
Working with our partners in business and in government, we hope to ensure that the American intellectual property community remains a strong, vibrant world leader that helps fuel our nation's economic resurgence. With the light shining on Google, one of the 21st century's business icons, perhaps we will see a renewed sense of purpose at home and abroad to protect the heritage and the future of our IP community.Again, what Google needs is better security. But, given that one of the stellar moments under your watch was when the recording industry decided to place security-eviscerating rootkits on people's computers in the form of DRM, perhaps we should prioritize computer security as an issue before we focus on your wasted effort to prop up an obsolete business model.
I try to take the folks at the RIAA seriously, but when they published something this ridiculous, insulting and wrong, it really makes you wonder.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jan 25th 2010 3:50am
from the probably-not,-but-they-need-to-clarify dept
Reading through the details, what it appears to have happened was that a Verizon person misspoke, and News.com accurately reported the misstatement (suggesting that users had been kicked off). Verizon is still claiming it "reserves the right" to kick users off, but has not actually done so. Hopefully it realizes that doing so based solely on accusation is a huge mistake and one over which it would almost certainly face serious backlash.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Dec 23rd 2009 1:46pm
Hey Whatever Happened To Those Andrew Cuomo-Backed, RIAA Agreements With ISPs To Kick People Off The Internet?
from the still-waiting... dept
And so Greg Sandoval, over at News.com, smartly realizes that these "preliminary agreements" we were told about last year are still nowhere to be found and goes exploring to find out why. Reading between the lines, it appears the answer is that the RIAA flat out lied (no surprise, but...) and the Wall Street Journal bought it (again, no surprise, but...). Basically, with various record labels hemorrhaging money, they started to cut back on their allowance to the RIAA, such that the legal strategy of suing tons of people was getting too expensive. But they didn't want to make it look like they were just giving up.
So they concocted a myth: this idea that ISPs would cut people off. It was, in fact, what the RIAA and other international entertainment industry lobbying groups had been pushing for with little success (since then they have had a few wins on that front, but also many losses). But they couldn't wait for their usual process of pushing through legislation (*cough* ACTA *cough*) to complete before they had to cut back on individual lawsuits. So they brought in Andrew Cuomo, because he had successfully threatened ISPs to get them to cut off Usenet, despite no legal basis for doing so. But, that worked because Cuomo threatened (again, despite no legal basis) to shame them for offering access to child porn. When it came to unauthorized access to music, the moral outrage aspect isn't nearly as strong (not that the RIAA and their lobbyist friends haven't tried six dozen ways to try to link file sharing to child porn -- but most people realize how ridiculous that is).
Given that the ISPs seemed to have little interest (i.e., no interest) in moving forward with this plan, they leaked it to the WSJ, figuring that if ISPs thought others were doing it, then they'd start to sign up, and the whole thing would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Except they failed to account for the simple fact that people protested against any ISP dim enough to think that it's smart to kick off customers based on accusations (not convictions), and ISPs quickly stepped up to deny any such deal, shedding light on the RIAA's big lie.
So, here we are today, with no such agreements in place, and the RIAA back to trying to sneak through "three strikes" legislation through international treaties that they write (which the public has no access to). But, shouldn't someone call them on the fact that they blatantly lied last year? And also, shouldn't someone ask where the WSJ's correction is on that story?
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Nov 5th 2009 9:12am
from the do-these-guys-ever-make-sense dept
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Aug 12th 2009 6:30am
from the moby-and-mossberg? dept
"underpins the failure of major labels--they think, it used to be this way, so it ought to be this way." Their ethos is, "Please go away. Make the future die."Not much new, but the quote is definitely a succinct way of explaining the position held by some at the major record labels over the past decade. Rather than deal with reality, they just want it to go away.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Aug 6th 2009 1:10pm
from the we're-waiting-for-the-check... dept
So I can see where some of the opening comments from the RIAA's Cara Duckworth come from (basically trying to tear down Joel). But, for the life of me, I can't figure out what good the post does for the RIAA. It's a rather typical tone-deaf pronouncement from a group that's been about as tone deaf as it could possibly be to consumer desire for over a decade. To the people who already support Joel, it comes across as yet another attack. To people who already support the RIAA, it adds nothing new. To people in the middle... it just looks mean to attack this guy. Yes, Joel broke the law. But he was fined $675,000 for 30 songs (and, yes, the RIAA tries to point out that he downloaded/shared much more, but if that's their point, they should have sued him for that as well). Plenty of people see that punishment as totally out of line with any sense of reality. There's a tremendous amount of evidence that file sharing has not been a problem for the music industry -- it was a failure of the labels, often at the urging of the RIAA itself, to embrace new technologies and new business models.
And rather than recognize that, it now wants to smack around a guy they may have just sentenced to a life in poverty? That'll win over supporters...
I can't believe it needs to be said again, but you DON'T win customers by suing the biggest fans of your product. You DON'T win customers by doing everything you can to hold back innovation unless its under your terms. You DON'T win customers by exacting a massive pound of flesh and overvaluing your contribution over everyone else's.
As for the specifics of the RIAA's "facts" they get a bunch wrong. For example:
FACT: As much as he wants to make this into one, this is not a crusade against the RIAA or the laws that protect creators. This is not about us. It's about Joel Tenenbaum and his egregious illegal behavior which robs artists and music creators of the right to be paid for their work, and robs record companies of the ability to invest in new artists and bring new music to the public.That's not a "fact." That's very much an opinion, and the second part of it is flat-out wrong. It's not a fact, it's a lie. Tenenbaum's actions robbed no one. No one has a "right to be paid for their work." You have a right to try to convince people to buy, and the RIAA and its labels FAILED in convincing Tenenbaum to do that. But that's the market at work. Today for lunch I may pick the deli rather than the pizza shop next door. Based on the RIAA's logic here, I have just "robbed" the pizza place of its "right to be paid" for its work. There is no right to be paid. Only a right to try to convince people to buy. As for "robbing the ability to invest," again, please explain how people choosing not to buy your product is the fault of the people not buying? If you simply put in place business models that work (which we point to all the time, showing artists who embrace file sharing and make more money because of it), there would be plenty of money to "invest in new artists."
And, of course, the woe-is-us routine is bogus as well. As we've seen in two recent studies (the latter from the music industry itself), the music ecosystem is thriving. More money is going into music and music-related goods than ever before. It's just that less and less of it is filtering through the RIAA's labels who (oops!) have a nasty history of not actually paying their artists money they owe them. The idea that not giving money to the RIAA somehow means less music will be brought to the public is laughable. It's not a fact, it's pure propaganda. Thanks to these same new technologies that the RIAA has tried to kill off, it's easier than ever for bands to create, promote and distribute music. And because of that, there's more new music out there than ever before.
Hey, let's agree on the fact that Joel broke the law and it was silly for him to go through with this lawsuit. Done and done. But don't spew a line of pure bull that this was ever about investing in artists.
FACT: Mr. Tenenbaum has put forth the defense that "his generation" has grown up learning that file-sharing isn't wrong. This is a bogus argument. I'm a member of Tenenbaum's generation. I was taught I shouldn't take what doesn't belong to me without permission.Funny, then, can you explain all the lawsuits that artists have filed against major record labels asking where the money owed to them has gone? Why is it the RIAA's biggest name members seem to have no problem "taking what doesn't belong to them without permission"? And can you explain why the RIAA has been fighting for a new tax on radio stations? Isn't that just "taking what doesn't belong to you" as well? The RIAA has no problem taking what doesn't belong to them (though, usually it works hard behind the scenes to get politicians to pass laws to give it the appearance of legality).
FACT: The best anti-piracy strategy is a thriving legal marketplace that gives music fans a wide variety of innovative options where they can get their favorite music in affordable, hassle-free ways.Which is why your members, under your legal direction and strategic input have sued a significant number of those services and tried to make the MP3 player itself illegal? Uh-huh.
Because there are some people like Mr. Tenenbaum who believe music should be free, we've had to enforce our rights to protect all those hard-working individuals who create the music.There's a bit of a problematic logic train here... Because someone doesn't want to buy from us, we have to sue, to get money for the people we work so hard to not give money to. Hmm. Can Cara Duckworth and the RIAA share with us some details on how the "settlement fees" from all the folks threatened by the RIAA has been distributed to artists? The RIAA has no requirement to enforce its rights. As we've seen time and time again, artists who purposely chose not to enforce those rights, but to instead provide something of real value to consumers have found that they can make more money than they ever got from an RIAA member. There's no such thing as that you "had to enforce" your rights. Instead, you could have innovated. You chose not to.
FACT: We do not want to be in court. We'd rather be investing in new artists and bringing great music to the public's collective ears.If we're dealing in "facts" here, we should get one straight. If a plaintiff doesn't want to be in court, then he or she doesn't sue. It's that simple. Making this out like the RIAA was somehow forced to go to court is ridiculous. Edgar Bronfman Jr. announced nearly a decade ago that he was sending an army of lawyers to sue file sharers. You made the conscious decision to declare war on your best customers. You weren't forced into it at all.
But artists, musicians, music companies, and all the working-class folks who rely on the legitimate sale of music to make a living deserve to be paid for their work.There we are with the "deserve to be paid." Hell, I "deserve to be paid" for my work too. But, the world doesn't work that way. Deserving to be paid for your work and a nickel gets you five damn cents. You earn money by offering something in the marketplace that people want to buy. You didn't do that. You failed at business 101 and you started suing people because of it.
FACT: We remain willing to settle this case, but Tenenbaum is so far insisting on filing more motions and appeals in order to continue to pursue his misguided mission to get music for free.You could drop the case. You've already declared (somewhat misleadingly) that you were giving up this strategy of suing music fans. Why continue to tarnish the RIAA's reputation by bankrupting a kid for listening to music?
Nobody can argue that people don't deserve to be paid for their hard work. But through all his illegal actions, Tenenbaum has argued exactly that.Indeed. No one is likely to argue that people don't deserve to be paid for their hard work, but out here in the real world, deserving to be paid is meaningless. Cara, since I spent so much time correcting your errors, half-truths and misdirections, I feel that I deserve to be paid for this hard work I have done for you. Based on your logic, I should see a check in the mail from you shortly, yes? Clearly, if you don't pay up, we can only assume that you are arguing that I don't deserve to be paid for my hard work. So which is it?
No matter how clearly Tenenbaum broke the law, it doesn't change the only real fact: the RIAA has failed to embrace new business models when they appear, has attacked and held back new technologies and innovations at nearly every opportunity until dragged kicking-and-screaming into the new era (which it still refuses to fully embrace), and has created a PR nightmare for itself that isn't helped by lying to the public in the name of a bunch of bogus "FACTS."