RIAA Response To Gary Shapiro

from the FUD dept

Last month we posted a story about how Gary Shapiro, the head of the Consumer Electronics Association blasted the music industry, saying that downloading is neither illegal or immoral. Well, the RIAA has finally sent out one of their angrier spokespeople, Cary Sherman to respond in the typical, misleading manner of the RIAA. I find it especially amusing that he completely trashes Shapiro in fairly mean terms (and suggests that no one else supports him) and then tries to say that “last thing we need” is more “overheated and polarizing rhetoric”. That’s like saying, “you’re a complete jerk, but I’m above any name calling”. However, more to the point, Sherman is the one who is wrong in many of his arguments. He makes the huge mistake of saying that sharing a song is the same as stealing a dress from a store, saying that both are “depriving [the artist] of a potential sale”. What Sherman doesn’t seem to understand is the idea that every transaction, in some way deprives someone of a potential sale. If I go into a music store, and buy a CD of one artist, I’ve just deprived every other artist of that potential sale. In fact, I’ve also deprived the bookstore down the street, the clothing store next door, the pizza shop around the corner, and every other place in the world of a potential sale by choosing to put my dollars towards this one CD. The “depriving an artist of a potential sale” doesn’t hold much weight.

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Comments on “RIAA Response To Gary Shapiro”

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Anonymous Coward says:

depriving an artist of a potential sale

I still don’t see how downloading an mp3 is depriving an artist of a sale.

I’ve listened to untold thousands of songs on the radio. Some were real bad and others were must haves. The ones in between were good but were not on my must have lists. Mp3’s brought back a lot of these songs (mostly 80’s one hit wonders). I still would not have purchased the CD. My downloading the song should not be viewed as concrete evidence that I would have bought the CD. In the case of music from the 80’s I’ve had 10 – 20 years to buy the CD/Tape/Record/8-Track. I said NO long before the public was allowed on the internet.

How does RIAA (or anyone other than myself) know I don’t already have the CD? D/L a song is faster than encoding it. I also don’t bring my entire music collection to work. Occasionally I’ll download a song that’s stuck in my head.

There’s a serious flaw in the dress and mp3 analogy. The dress is a physical object. The mp3 is an non-physical object. If I take a dress from a store, that store is now unable to sell that dress. The physical item is now missing. The mp3 is a copy. I can download the hottest CD in mp3 format and the physical objects remain in place. The mp3 is a faxsimile. All CDs remain available for sale. mp3 downloads are as dangerous to the music industry as photographs are to tourism, libraries are to writing and copy machines are to the printing press. Granted, some people will use the system for all its worth. Most are more than willing to buy a good product at a reasonable price.

Tom Is Everywhere says:

Re: depriving an artist of a potential sale

Another silly argument of the RIAA is that downloading an MP3 is somehow immoral. How about the price fixing in the CD industry? Isn’t that much worse? When CDs came out, they were somewhat expensive to produce, but the industry made up for this by charging almost twice the vinyl album price. They said for years that the price would drop when volume soared.

Well, guess what. It’s been twenty years, CDs are the dominant format, there are only a few producers of commercial CDs, the cost to make them has dropped to pennies (plus a little more for the liner notes, etc.) and the price has INCREASED!! Hmmm, this seems like simple logic to me. The industry has decided to play against the laws of supply and demand and join together to screw the public. Some morality.

Despite this, I will still pay FULL PRICE for a CD I love. But, like the poster before me, I will NOT pay $10-$18 for a CD to get ONE SONG that I liked from 20 years ago NO MATTER WHAT! Get OVER IT you ignorant executives.

Jim Bresee says:

Re: Re: depriving an artist of a potential sale

Did you see the recent news story that the major labels and record stores settled a price fixing suit?
Cought with their hands in the cookie jar, big time. All this time they call their customers crooks.

I keep wondering if they are losing business because they have been unable to develop sustainable acts. Where are the rolling stones of this decade? Which of the current acts will still be filling stadiums in 35 years? None, I suspect.

Richard says:


Actually, read it again – they both argue that stealing a dress and stealing music are both “depriving the copyright owner of a potential sale.” They both agree that the theft of the song from the internet does deprive the artist of a sale (regardless of how little is passed on to the artist from the proceeds of the sale, of course).

The key difference is that Sherman doesn’t get (actually, he blatantly ignores) that it’s doesn’t “diminish the product”. In a lot of cases, stealing music online enhances the product by encouraging wider listening and further purchase.

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