Greene's Speech Filled With Lies

from the how-surprising dept

I guess today is “debunking the media industry’s lies” day. Last week we posted an article about Michael Greene’s Grammy speech where he went off on one of the most ridiculous rants about file sharing as stealing. The NY Times has taken the time to point out that not only did Greene basically admit that he had hired people to do what he himself claims is illegal (oops!), but that he lied about the results also. One of the “students” (who wasn’t actually a student) says that all of the downloading took place over 3 days, and not 2 as Greene claimed. He also says that they had a lot of trouble downloading a large percentage of the files, so they certainly didn’t get anywhere near the 6,000 complete files Greene claimed they did. Finally, he says, the two other folks involved got most of their songs from friends over instant messenger programs, rather than “publicly available websites”. Is it any surprise that the industry has been stretching the truth or even outright lying to make their point?

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Comments on “Greene's Speech Filled With Lies”

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Mike (profile) says:

Re: What's the point?

The point is simply that he was being misleading, and showing that the industry is willing to twist any numbers they can to their advantage.

However, I do agree, that in the end it doesn’t really matter, because there definitely is stuff online and the amount is only going to increase in time. So quibbling over the specific numbers is a minor point. The overall point about his being misleading is still a valid one, however.

Of course, I’m still hoping (though I know it won’t happen) that one day Mr. Greene will realize that he should interpret whatever numbers he sees as an opportunity instead of a threat.

whit says:

Re: Re: What's the point?

I’m not convinced that Greene’s stunt had much of a point to begin with, beyond being a publicity stunt set up for the Grammys. The actual numbers are basically meaningless — the students could (and may well have) have spent the three days playing Unreal or writing their term papers for all that it really matters.
In my opinion, the fact that no one is actually sure how the students got the music points to a more interesting issue. Did they get the songs “from easily accessible Web sites?” Did they get them via Napster or Gnutella? Did they get them from friends via AOL IM? Did they set up a public FTP server and have people transfer files? I don’t know, and I don’t think that it really matters.
What record companies would like is a return to the time when the content could not be separated from the physical artifact. You want to listen to the new Chuck Berry song? You buy the actual plastic record — no other options available. From the industry perspective, this was the perfect arrangement.
Since recording devices first became available to the consumer market, however, that arrangement has changed drastically. I myself once owned hundreds of 90 minute cassette tapes, filled with music that I may or may not have paid the record companies for.
Technological developments (drag-and-drop CD ripping and burning, mpeg compression, a worldwide computer network) have made illegally duplicated music more readily available, but we can’t unmake that technology, nor (probably) change anyone’s inclination to make such illegal copies.
The various experiments with copy protected CDs, burners that won’t write certain data, etc. seem thus far to indicate that a technological approach to restoring the content/artifact link may work in the short term, but that link will be broken again by future developments.
The record industry has to approach this situation from a business perspective: it has been decades since it was possible to prevent people from copying and sharing content. It may be possible to minimise this sharing, but not to eliminate it. I believe that record companies will have to take that fact into account (if they haven’t started already) and start working on building some business models that reflect the current and projected future technological situation.

John Williams says:

Re: Re: Re: What's the point?

This situation may force the record companies to figure out how to make online advertising worth money to somebody. In an abstract sense, you also “download” music from the radio and it is there for “free” only because that industry, long ago, figured out how to make a business out of getting money for advertising.

The owners of the music (record companies) need to design the online music distribution business so that giant soft drink, clothing, etc. companies want to pay large amounts of money to be associated with the music on the site. If they can innovate (pretty hard for them, obviously) and build on multimedia capabilities that allready exist, they can expect revenue streams similar to popular television shows.

whit says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What's the point?

In an abstract sense, you also “download” music from the radio and it is there for “free” only because that industry, long ago, figured out how to make a business out of getting money for advertising.

As I understand it, the record companies make their money off of royalties paid by the broadcaster, not the advertising revenue. Radio stations pay the record companies royalties for the right to broadcast their music, and the stations make their money (in theory) by making more in ad sales than they pay out in royalties.

I’m not certain, however, that the two situations are analagous. When you “download” something from the radio, you’re getting a one-time use license: you listen to the song when it’s broadcast, and if you want to hear it again you wait (listening to ads) until the next time the song is played. You don’t get to play the song as often as you like after the first time, skipping out on the radio station’s ads.

My sense is that this radio model is actually the scenario that the record companies would love to replicate online, via some sort of digital protection scheme that provides one-time or otherwise limited use of the downloaded songs.

As as interesting side note to this, check out this LA Times story on the current court appeal regarding payment of royalties for online broadcast of music.

Interesting questions…

Major Bellows says:

The Genie

The music sharing genie is out of the bottle and the recording industry can not put her back in. The need to work with consumers and artists for win/win situations. Otherwise the consumers and artists will work out something between themselves and either eliminate the current middlemen or create new ones to their liking.

Go to and you can find a lot of fine, but relativily unknown, musicians selling wares at reasonable prices. You can listen to track samples, download some for free, download the whole album for a fee or order a hard copy for snail mail delivery. In many ways it is better than going to a music store where you usually can not preview the album and paying $15-20 for a shrink wrapped CD that has only one or two decent tracks.

Digital music is the meteor that may wipeout the recording industry dinosaurs unless they learn to evolve.

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