Even With A Catchy Name, Copyright Infringment Still Isn't Theft

from the we-make-other-stuff-up,-why-not-words dept

It may not be a requirement, but it certainly appears to help to be obnoxious when you run a group like the RIAA or MPAA. The head of the record-label trade group, Cary Sherman, is now trying to introduce the term “songlifting” to describe people that download music illegally, trying yet again to connote downloading with stealing. It bears repeating that copyright infringement isn’t stealing, no matter how much they want to throw people in jail.

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Comments on “Even With A Catchy Name, Copyright Infringment Still Isn't Theft”

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Another Mike says:


I see copy-right infringement as stealing. If someone (or a group of someones) puts their time and effort into creating something like a song, movie, or video game, I believe they have the right not to share it, or share it for a price. It works the same way with more traditional forms of art (like painting, or poetry). Just because something is digital does not make it free. And just because something is ubiquitous and socially acceptable (like file sharing) does not make legal. Intellectual property to me is just as real as physical property and should be protected under the same laws. Now, if you want to talk about how record companies overcharge for music, I agree with you, but the point remains that downloading unpurchased information is illegal.

Brian says:

Re: Song-Lifting

To a degree you are correct, however what is wrong with me putting a link on my site and having you or anyone being able to play those songs to which i paid for. You are essentaily downloading them to your speakers. You may not aquire a copy however you are using it.

Also if I have a cd boom box and then i am playing them outside in the street someone else also has a boom box and borrows my cd to play not to make a copy. Isn’t that in both cases “fair use”?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Song-Lifting

“I see copy-right infringement as stealing.”
Good for you. However the judge disagrees with you, and I’m going to trust his judgement over yours. The issue isn’t whether it’s illegal, the issue is whether it’s theft. The law says it isn’t. Copyright infringement is still illegal, but it’s a lot less defined and a lot less severe than property crime.

Blake (user link) says:

Re: Song-Lifting

If thats the case then “song-lifting” could also be applied to things. Have you ever gone to a museum or an art galery and taken photos? Ever had prints made of those photos? Congrantulations your a ‘thief’…

Of course if you couldn’t have taken those photos according the the RIAA/MPAA then you would have gone out and bought the original painting or artwork too.

bigpicture says:

Re: Song-Lifting

Your logic is twisted. I create things every day at my job, but the type of things that I create are by law not recordable or copyrightable, so I must perform to get paid. So my position is that all creativity is copyrightable or none is.

Back before the days of recording, musicians and actors had to perform to get paid just like everyone else. Then there was some very creative people who invented recording, and now musicians, actors, and especially the recording industry want to monopolize a technology that they did not create in the first place. The people who invented recording should charge the musicians, actors and the recording industry a per copy fee to use the technology. How come no-one ever mentions that.

Why are the musicians, actors treated differently than everyone else, and get paid many times for past performances, while everyone else only gets paid for present performance only. Is that not occupation discrimination. These occupations should also only get paid for present performance only. The Rolling Stones got paid $62M for their 2005 performances, so it is not like they cannot do this. The whole concept of intellectual property is twisted, because culture by its very nature presupposes prior art. Were they just born with this ability, or was it learned from the cultural environment? Are musical instruments not heritage items? Books cannot be written without a language, and if words exist then the ideas behind the words existed before the words. How did this whole thing go so wrong?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Song-Lifting


There are some definite holes in your argument:

First, your analogy about what you do at your job is, I think, only applicable if you’re talking about an actual live performance. That is, the every day work of a musician or an actor is the performance. Thus, your argument may apply to the sale of live records and the ethics of bootlegging, but it doesn’t fit very well with the idea of a finished recording. It’s true that a live performance is not a tangible product, just like the lesson that I taught to my students yesterday is not a tanglible product. However, a finished recording *is*, in a sense, a tangible product.

Second, even though I’m sure the RIAA would love to control all rights to audio recording equipment of any sort, they definitely do not have a monopoly on the technology. As a matter of fact, the technology to produce quality film and audio is getting more and more available. If there _was_ any monopoly on recording, then it is weakening.

Third, books may not be written without language, but no one is claiming ownership of the C scale or a D dim chord. No one has a patent on the guitar, or the human voice.

Finally, actually, talent is a combination of inate ability and work. So yes, in one sense, musicians are born with an ability that many people don’t have.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Song-Lifting

First, your analogy about what you do at your job is, I think, only applicable if you’re talking about an actual live performance. That is, the every day work of a musician or an actor is the performance. Thus, your argument may apply to the sale of live records and the ethics of bootlegging, but it doesn’t fit very well with the idea of a finished recording.


It’s true that a live performance is not a tangible product, just like the lesson that I taught to my students yesterday is not a tanglible product. However, a finished recording *is*, in a sense, a tangible product.

No, a CD is a finished product. A recording is not.

As for bigpicture’s original statement, it’s not hard to extrapolate out and realize why s/he’s making a very good point. Most jobs, you get paid for what you will do today and in the future — everything you did in the past is proof that you can do things in the future.

There’s no reason that music couldn’t work the same way. use the recorded music to promote things. It could be anything, from concerts to T-Shirts to soft drinks to backstage access… who knows what. That’s why we have marketers to figure this stuff out.

The point is that there are business models, so the rationale for charging for a recording is greatly eroded.

duane (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Song-Lifting

Thus, your argument may apply to the sale of live records and the ethics of bootlegging, but it doesn’t fit very well with the idea of a finished recording.


I answered the why with the next statement you quoted. Because:

It’s true that a live performance is not a tangible product, just like the lesson that I taught to my students yesterday is not a tanglible product. However, a finished recording *is*, in a sense, a tangible product.

No, a CD is a finished product. A recording is not.

Maybe a finished master recording isn’t a finished product to you, but to an artist it is. It is like the mold that someone spends huge amounts of time creating so that copies can be made that can be sold. You don’t sell the mold, but it is still a finished product.

Just because music is easy to copy doesn’t mean you have a right to do it without the artist’s consent.

That’s where the real problem is. Making a copy of something so my friend can listen to it is well within fair-use, and I would agree that much of what the RIAA is doing is attempting to erode even that. But despite the fact that people like to view the Internet as a “community”, the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of those people are not my friend.

There’s no reason that music couldn’t work the same way. use the recorded music to promote things. It could be anything, from concerts to T-Shirts to soft drinks to backstage access… who knows what. That’s why we have marketers to figure this stuff out.

The point is that there are business models, so the rationale for charging for a recording is greatly eroded.

I agree with the idea. But it’s not your choice to make. This choice should land squarely on the shoulders of the creator. The RIAA is one of the barriers to that choice; they want to control the means of production without doing anything.

The internet gives creators a great deal more freedom than was found in the past. But that freedom is not license to anyone to do what they want with someone else’s work.

Shady Figure says:

Re: Re: Re: Song-Lifting

There are lots of different reasons that people download music. Some people just want to get something for free and wouldn’t buy the CD’s even if they had the money. Others want to “try before they buy”. Some do it just to spite the music industry. And some people download it because even though they wish they had the money to buy the CD’s, they are only lower class workers who don’t have the kind of income to pay the outrageously engorged prices that the music industry tacks onto them.

In ANY of the above cases, the fact stands that anybody who downloads music is going to let other people know what they think. This is turn gets more people interested and those people tell someone else, and SOMEWHERE along the line, a few people will go out and buy a CD or download a few tracks onto their Ipod, hence…the music industry is NOT losing any money, but rather gaining it.

I swear…logic is so hard for some people to understand…

LiLWiP says:

Re: Re: Re: Song-Lifting

There are problems here. What I do at my job daily I get paid for, however if I do a poor job, then I potentially lose my job or get demoted. My boss has the right to look at the quality of my work PRIOR to allowing me to continue working. Why should Musicians and Actors be held to a different standard? I should be allowed to hear the music on the album prior to paying for it. If it is good, I will buy it, go see the person in concert, whatever… If it is CRAP, then I will “FIRE” the artist and not buy their junk. There was a quote on Slashdot stating that the Recording Industry had found a great way to combat piracy. Produce music and movies that NOONE wants to see or hear, and thus are not worth the time it takes to download or pirate it. Let’s hold these people who make more in a month than we do in a year to a higher standard. MAKE GOOD MUSIC AND MOVIES and I will be happy to pay for it. Keep making the same crap that has been made multiple times, over and over again, with worse lyrics and/or poorer performances and you will NEVER make any money from me.

The RIAA and MPAA are ripping us off… It costs on average, what, $0.25 cents a cd for them to print, and maybe $0.50 for a DVD? They are charging us $15.99 for a cd ($9.98 at Best Buy on sale) and $19.99 or MORE for a movie on DVD…. That is BULLSHIT and we stand for it. We keep buying the shit that they shove down our throats. We listen to the radio stations that play crap music and buy the junk albums that have 1 good song on them at artificially inflated prices. The ONLY people who benefit are the execs in the RIAA and MPAA. The artists see a very small cut of that album sale. The way the artists make their real money is by TOURING. You want to support your favorite band? Go and see them in concert.

ELS says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Song-Lifting

OMG, the ignorance…

” It costs on average, what, $0.25 cents a cd for them to print, and maybe $0.50 for a DVD? They are charging us $15.99 for a cd ($9.98 at Best Buy on sale) and $19.99 or MORE for a movie on DVD…. That is BULLSHIT “

CD’s are expensive because of what it costs to market them, not what it costs to make them. Go to the cut out bin in a record store, look at the CD’s no one buys. No count up how much it costs to market all those bands that DIDN’T catch on. The labels eat those costs. Most bands FAIL, the artist doesn’t go into debt, the label eats the loss.

The successful bands pay for the failures.

ow are the labels run by luddite idiots who have no clue how to leverage online distribution and marketing? You betcha.

But to say cd’s are overpriced because of the cost of blanks is like saying books should only cost what the paper costs.

Bill says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Song-Lifting

CD’s will only be over-priced when people stop paying the price for them. When CD’s first came out, they were cheaper to produce than an audio cassette. But, because of the improved sound quality and convenience people were willing to pay more for them.

No price is bullshit if the masses pay for them.

2.50 for a ringtone when you can get the whole song for .99…now that’s bullshit! j/k, it’s the same concept. They price as high as the market will allow them to.

BV says:

Re: Song-Lifting


Lets look at this a different way. Lets say a song is a enzo ferrari. Certainly if I took your enzo from your driveway thats stealing. But lets look at the circumstances here.

You park your enzo in my driveway with the keys in the ignition. You call me every couple of hours and tell me (and in some cases force me) to drive it for 10 minutes. Which I do. (RADIO/TV)

Now its Friday night and I have a hot date and need a car. So I look in my driveway and the enzo is there. So instead of waiting for you to call I jump in and take a ride.

Is that stealing? You parked it in my driveway and you encourage me to drive it constantly.

But on the other hand I am now using it without your permission!

Music downloading is certianly not theift with those type of conditions, but it also is certainly breaking some form of relationship between me the the “owner.”

I feel that the law should be out of the picture because the situation is too muddled with so called “intellectual property” being pushed via tv and radio in its full form.

What should happen is the guy who owns the enzo… well if he is going to park it in everyones driveway and encourage/force them to drive it every day… Well when he doesnt want them to drive it, it should be his responsibility to lock the car. Also if they do borrow it without asking he should bill them for the use, or remove the privilage of using it for some time.

This is the whole copy pertection thing. Seriously if someone takes and afternoon to dycrypt(pick the lock) a locked peice of property then that is verging on criminal activity.

If the RIAA wants to procecute people they need to show they are protecting their property first. You dont do that buy loaning out the ferrari 24 times a day so to speak.

Just a different viewpoint, think about it.

ASH says:

Misreading the Supreme Court decision

You know, this is a bit like watching someone trying to perform surgery after watching an episode of M*A*S*H or ER. The Supreme Court didn’t rule that copyright infringement wasn’t “stealing”; it ruled that it was a different kind of stealing.

The only issue that the ruling addressed was whether transporting bootlegged records across state lines violated Title 18 U.S.C. 2314, a federal law that covers stolen “goods, wares, merchandise, securities or money”.

Since only the copyrights were stolen, and not the physical records themselves (they were pirated copies, made by the bootlegger), the Court ruled that this particular federal law didn’t cover the type of theft that had occurred; and so prosecutors would have to charge the defendants under a different statute.

In fact, the Court noted, the Copyright Act already has a criminal infringement provision, which is why the “interstate stolen goods” statute need not apply.

Adam says:

Re: Misreading the Supreme Court decision

“In fact, the Court noted, the Copyright Act already has a criminal infringement provision, which is why the ‘interstate stolen goods’ statute need not apply.”

“Criminal infringement provision” does not equal stealing. Crime does not equal theft. You are misreading the Supreme Court decision. Why don’t you actually read the Copyright Act.

ehrichweiss says:

Re: Misreading the Supreme Court decision

“They clearly distinguished between copyright infringement and theft in a 1985 case, where they said, “(copyright infringement) does not easily equate with theft, conversion, or fraud… The infringer invades a statutorily defined province guaranteed to the copyright holder alone. But he does not assume physical control over copyright; nor does he wholly deprive its owner of its use.”


So it seems you’re in need of doing some legal research yourself.

Technopundit says:

Re: Re: Misreading the Supreme Court decision

Given the Unfailing Honesty the music industry is famous for in dealing with their own artists, the ruling is fair.

I’m just glad I got rid of my Betamax before the poop hits the fan.

And I’m destroying those old cassettes I recorded from the radio.

Takes forever to rip all that tape out of those cartridges, though.

Yep, those distorted sounding songs spilling from my 3-inch PC speakers is like blood flowing on a great battlefiedl.

Matt Sherwood says:


as a songwriter, i view this as “theft”. maybe it’s not like my manager stealing from my account… although, on a deep level, it really is the same thing (money that is rightfully mine is not in my account..)..

if the law doen’t call it “theft”, but still punishes it rather severely, then who cares what it’s called?

“A rose by any other name”..

gh says:

Re: Re: OK.

Its actually most like counterfeiting.

You dont take anything from anyone else, you make your own version.

The owner loses nothing, but you gain something.

Other peoples items arent necessarily worth less, but there are more items in circulation.

Instead of the problem with counterfeit money being that (even if no one catches it) the value is devalued, counterfeiting copyrighted materials only makes things worth less in the sense that someone else paid and you didnt, and now they may feel a bit stupid and less like paying next time.

That said, its also free advertising, and often people who will take the (even marginal) effort to download things are also probably more likely to talk about it and spread it around. This is publicity that cant be paid for, because its real.

Advertising on TV/radio/announcer/endorser is fake, and people know the difference. Even though theyre still influenced.

billybob says:

Re: Re: OK.

You are a moron. It is not the fact that he is not supposedly “missing” anything…
How would you feel after a long hard day’s work (at wherever you work) your boss saying he won’t pay you.
Are you missing something then?
Why should artists/performers do anything productive if someone is going to take it and give it away for free.

suv says:

Re: Re: Re: OK.

“Why should artists/performers do anything productive if someone is going to take it and give it away for free.”

What you just said is what RIAA is doing, but it’s worse: they are selling those albums (not free) and taking the profit. I know artists who have contracts with RIAA, none of them makes a buck from the album sales, they might even end up with a negative balance after the costs labels take for producing the album in first place.

Those people make profits from live appearances.

So judge for yourself which is worse: free promotion or paying to the labels for the promotion.

Only the biggest names make grand dollar from album sales… If you don’t realize this, then why discuss this at all

suv says:

Re: Re: Re: Uhhh....Yeah

Of course not, because I’m busy arguing whether it’s a theft or not!

Or how about this. Leave RIAA call its crappy music and copying it whatever it feels like, as long as it’s just talking.

The problem is they are suing grandpa-s and 13yo girls for sharing an mp3, the problem isn’t if they properly call it “theft” or not.

Just amazes me about the kind of arguments people can have in the face of a much larger problem.

Songlifting? Fine, songlifting, call it songlifting, or theft or stealing-lollipops-from-poor-babies who cares what the silly RIAA says?

Tyshaun says:

Re: Re: OK.

And honestly, as an artist, I would be honored if enough people liked something that I created enough to spread it to their family and friends. You can’t buy that kind of publicity (but you CAN give it away!)

I agree that pure artistry is about the product and not the profit, however, why should a good artist be a starving one? I work as a computer programmer. I love what I do and my company pays me to do it. By your logic, I’m not a “true” computer programmer unless I give my code away so that people can use it for free. While that sounds great, I also like the idea of being able to eat and pay rent!

So yes, artists should be about making art but let’s also keep in mind that they have to make it in the world too! Copyright infringement, theft, call it what you like, the minute you reproduce someone elses creation that they are selling to make money (music, books, etc) without paying for the original, you are depriving them of money.

Let’s not let our shared hatred of MPAA/RIAA detract from the fact that they may have a legitimate arguement every now and again (not always!), albeit for their own selfish money grubbing reasons. If the art is that good that you want to share it, buy it!

However, I do make the exception for those who says its OK to passively listen to music (on a boombox, in a car driving by, on a non-recordable web stream), that is a great way to spread the word about good art/music.

Mike says:

Re: Re: Re: From a fellow coder...

You are correct that in the end, we all need to live somewhere and have something to eat. But how about the idea that has been expressed here on TechDirt before concerning the entertainment business model and how it could adapt.

In the “old” days (pre-P2P/broadband), people had no choice but to go to the record store and buy an album or record off the radio and get snippets of commercial or radio DJ voice with their music. In those days, the value of a CD in the store could be partially justified in distribution costs, packaging, etc. In the world of code, this would be similar to pre-CD Burner days and distribution of games on CD. You either bought the game, played it at a friends house, or maybe (if they were nice) borrowed the disc and installed it on your machine.

Now, fast-forward to today with massive P2P networks and broadband readily available to a lot of people. Thanks to iTunes (and a BILLION downloads), we know that distribution costs can be dropped to mere pennies per item. The revenue stream for the average artist from this is likely marginal as well because people only buy the specific songs they want/like. However, it has the benefit of raising public awareness of the group so that when they go on tour and play concerts, they sell more tickets and thus more merchandise. The take from a tour is FAR more than they will see from song sales. This was true even in the old record store business model.

With code, this would be like writing the “killer app” that everyone is always looking for. You can try to control the distribution, thus limiting your revenue stream to product sales. On the other hand, you could give away the full-fledged app, sell the components for a much smaller price and make your money on “training seminars”. Granted that you could still do seminars if you controlled the distribution, but there will be a MUCH larger user base with the second option (greater public awareness) providing for a MUCH larger subset of people needing the training. Since the seminar is a higher profit margin item (like the concert), that is where you make your money.

The big issue here is the overwhelming desire by a lot of companies to make sure they get EVERYTHING they can out of a product for the benefit of the shareholders. This causes them to live in real-time (or Wall St. time) and forces them to only look at what profits the products can generate for the next 3 months (current quarter) and, for the most part, completely ignore any strategy that might generate profits in the next 1 or 2 quarters. Of course, this is all just my opinion and worth every penny you pay for it…. 🙂

cycle003 says:

Re: Re: Re:2 From a fellow coder...

“The big issue here is the overwhelming desire by a lot of companies to make sure
they get EVERYTHING they can out of a product for the benefit of the shareholders.”

Mike hit the nail on the head with this line. Unfortunately, there is little anyone can do to change the MEGA-corporate climate despite the power of the pen, blogs, forums, etc.

However, I see a clear opportunity to take advantage of market-place economics and make the mainstream business models of the recording industry obsolete. The information age provides us the tools to significantly impact the greedy recording industry (and perhaps the entertainment industry in general) by providing an alternative marketplace that is more inline with the culture of the majority of consumers.

In the “old days”, the role of the record companies was essential (especially to unestablished artists) because of the high cost of production, marketing, and distribution. Now the record companies are not so important for producing and distributing music, which is why they have to fight so hard to maintain control of “their” intellectual property and to “close the analog hole”. This corporate middle-man (at least the one stuck on the current business models) can be eliminated by exposure of independent labels, by technological advances, and by educating artists on how to use these technologies. Cooperation among artists, fans, and all of us “little people” is required for any of this to work. The major revenue source for these greedy corporations is strangely who the recording industry is criticizing over copyright policies and targeting with overly inhibiting DRM. This customer base also happens to be the same group who is embracing the technological changes that the industry fear. I agree with Mike?s comments on encouraging low-cost or free distribution and making money through other avenues. However, by cutting out the middle-man and implementing a more reasonable price model, more artists could probably make a decent living from selling/distributing music. As consumers, only we will be able to influence change by shifting our purchasing habits in a way that alerts the industry that alienating their prime customer base is bad for business, especially in a day-in-age that allows us to produce and distribute music without them.

Many artists are already reaping the benefits of ‘doing it yourself’ recording, and many consumers are taking stances of refusing to pay for music or of only buying music from independent labels or directly from the artist. However, the change has been much slower than necessary probably because the recording industry has built a financial stranglehold over music rights and over legislators. Eventually, these type of changes are likely to impact the motion picture industry as well, but such a move will be harder because of the cost associated with the quality of cinematography to which we have become accustomed. Hopefully, wealth distribution for the entertainment industry will become more balanced as digital recording and information-age tools become more efficiently implemented.

Let’s all do our part to show the recording industry that they cannot alienate their best customers and that they are no longer a crucial component in making and distributing music. In doing so, we will regain our rights to fair use, encourage more creativity, put the profits in the hands of artists instead of corporate executives and lawyers, and make more music readily available to all.

nonuser says:

who cares what you call it

Suppose I swipe a copy of “The World is Flat” from Borders, take it home, carefully read it, and stealthily return it two weeks later, placing it on a stack of identical copies which tells me that the store never ran out. Maybe I should insist on calling that “unsanctioned borrowing” to distinguish it from stealing, which I strongly oppose on principle. But in either case, I’m costing the author, publisher, and store a potential sale since I’m one of a minority of customers who was interested enough in that particular title to invest hours of time in reading it.

Other than that missed sale, I didn’t cost them anything, but who’s paying the rent and the help? Answer: the customers who are honest.

A followup question: suppose on the basis of my illicit read, I post of flattering review of the book on a web site and cause other people to buy it. Am I therefore morally absolved (though not legally of course) because I ended up helping them out? How about if I also happen to think their business model is obsolete?

Mike (profile) says:

Re: who cares what you call it

But in either case, I’m costing the author, publisher, and store a potential sale since I’m one of a minority of customers who was interested enough in that particular title to invest hours of time in reading it.

“Costing the author, publisher and store a potential sale” is not a crime. If I convince you not to buy from a store, is that a crime? Based on what you claim above, it is.

Copyright infringement is illegal, but you’re confusing matters when you claim that costing a sale is a crime by itself.

ehrichweiss says:

Re: who cares what you call it

If you have physical possession of something, like your aforementioned book, you have stolen, period. Your further conjecture about returning it is irrelevant once that fact is created so your analogy falls apart at that point.

However, to play with your conjecture a little bit, you need to realize that the author and publisher have already been paid once it makes it to the bookstore so you aren’t robbing *them* of anything. And some bookstores will give you a full refund if you come in and complain that it sucked. They’re actually more concerned with your happiness than a single sale.

Now what if you borrowed a copy of the book from someone and read it? You and your friend just cost the bookstore a potential sale. Did you just steal from the author, publisher and bookstore? What if you post a totally unflattering review about this borrowed book? Are you now stealing money from them again?

How do libraries loaning out CD’s, DVD’s, books, etc. fit into your arguement? Are THEY costing the author, publisher, and ALL the bookstores a potential sale?

What if you took the book to a copy machine located in-store and made photo copies of the book? How will that fit into your arguement?

I’m being told that I can’t take MY CD’s and loan them to friends in whatever manner I choose whether that be an archived CDR copy or an mp3. When my friends loan CD’s to me and I like them, I buy them AND I tell the artist, record store, etc. about it. Makes it awfully hard to tell me that my friend or myself are committing some form of crime when that happens.

As a matter of fact, this past weekend I told the comedian Doug Stanhope(www.dougstanhope.com) that I was introduced to his comedy thanks to a friend loaning me some MP3’s he had and due to that I bought Doug’s entire boxset..over $80. Know what Doug told me? He said he ENCOURAGES filesharing and copying because he makes more money that way with people like me who “do the right thing” and buy his CD’s/DVD’s and go see his shows. So I netted him around $150 because of something that the RIAA says isn’t a workable model. Doug has something to say to the contrary about that, I bet.

Now, if an artist is against filesharing, I don’t download their work nor do I buy it. I refuse to be a statistic that they can point to when they say that their sales are down “because of downloading”(heaven forbid that it should be because they SUCK DONKEY GONADS and everyone knows because they MADE someone buy their album and that person put a bad review for everyone to read on Amazon, etc.)..I’ll simply be someone who didn’t bother to give them a chance when I was in the record store and couldn’t open the CD packaging to give it a listen like I would be able to if, say, they made the album available as a free download. I know someone will chime in about why someone might not buy it if it were free to download but that’s an overused and dead arguement much in the same way that saying that a guy won’t marry a girl if she has sex with him. Sure that MIGHT be the case but if so they probably weren’t interested in marriage in the first place. It’s far better to make potential customers happy by providing services above and beyond the call of duty than to treat them like they are criminals because of a measly few who are either too cheap or too poor to purchase your stuff anyway.

So call me a thief and I’ll help put you out of the game as well.

Rose von Perbandt says:

Re: who cares what you call it

It’s funny that you chose “The World is Flat”. The original cover art on that book was taken from an unauthorized copy of artist Ed Miracle’s painting “I Told You So”. No one ever asked Ed Miracle if they could use his work. No one ever paid him for it’s use. The image was cropped, his signature was missing, and his copyright notice in the book’s credits was altered to include the name and web address of a firm that was selling cheap, counterfeit copies of his artwork.The bestselling book made the prints very popular-there were dozens of stores selling counterfeit posters (so many that Miracle’s own website disappeared in search listings) 6 weeks after being asked to stop using the image Thomas Friedman authorized his U.K. publisher to distribute the book in 78 countries around the world-over half a million copies have been sold so far-he’s still using it in countries that don’t have strong I.P.enforcement(India). Whatever you call it-it sucks.

john says:

Stop buying CDs/DVDs!

First off – these rulings are important to help establish that not every piece of P2P and person on their network is a thief or pirate! More importantly we all know in the grand scheme of things money rules, and the RIAA, MPAA, both have more money than you or I likely do. Lobbying and campaign contributions are what will decide the fate of fair use, the DMCA, and so on.

But let’s also remember one VERY VERY VERY important point – I rarely see brought up…


By this definition of ?loosing money? you cannot have friends over to watch your tv, you cannot roll your windows down and play music, nor can you have a radio at the beach, you cannot display a poster or work or art, because by doing all these things someone is ?loosing money.?

This is much like me picking a newspaper or magazine out of a trash can – I would not have purchased the magazine or newspaper – but I am still reading it, getting the “service” it is providing – but I would have a NEVER paid for it, so clearly there has been NO MONEY LOST!

Let us remember – we can stop this non-sense, don’t visit your local movie theatre, don’t purchase movies or cds, and stop supporting the industry that has proven time and again that it has no shame in biting the hands that feed it.

duane (user link) says:

Re: Stop buying CDs/DVDs!

I agree with a lot of what you say, but not necessarily the conclusion. I agree that the RIAA/MPAA is wrong when they equate downloads with money lost, and many people who download wouldn’t buy the product because they don’t value it or they don’t have the money.

I also agree with your anti-industry stance, as they have been screwing artists over for a long, long time.

However, what I’m confused with is why you would bother listening to something that you wouldn’t pay for? If it’s so worthless, why even waste the time downloading it? I choose to listen to music that I am willing to pay for; otherwise, it isn’t worth my time. I choose to support artists I like and try to buy directly from them whenever it is possible.

Another problem with your argument:

Regardless of whether or not anyone is “losing” anything, at what point were you given the right to something just because you wanted it? If you receive a benefit for something, then payment should be rendered. Theft is definitely the wrong term, but that doesn’t make it right. You may not be stealing, but instead you’re asking songwriters, musicians, etc. to work for free.

Jimmy Bear Pearson (user link) says:

This is really tough...

I understand and recognize Mike’s distinction between copyright infringement and theft.

Artists of all stripes have varied opinions on this subject – from “the RIAA is right”, to “the RIAA is wrong” (and lots of points in between). However, and more universally, the vast majority of artists with whom I’ve interacted want to be heard and to get exposure, and would like to make money along the way if it is possible. If the RIAA spent even half of the money (they spend on litigation and posturing) on new artist development and promotion, they’d get LOTS more business and income than they’re “missing” due to “songlifting.”

john doe (user link) says:

Something to remember

Apprently several of you are forgeting that when this all first started it was not illegal or thieft. In fact it was not even in the law untill the RIAA started puting pressure on the lawmakers to do something a few years back.

Now I will tell you what is a crime.

Double taxation is a crime, its even written in the constitution, but it still happens. Its called money, if you have the money you have the power, this you wield the influence.

Know what else is illegal? Having both patent provisions and copywrite provisions on the same material btw the RIAA does do this and so does dinsey and every other entertainment affilerated company. although by federal law it is considered illegal, but then why do they get away with it?

Anything can be made a law and thus illegal, but this is just a matter of who has the money. the important thing to remember is whether or not it is RIGHT.

IF i buy music, why cant I DOWNLOAD a spare copy or make a digital copy on my computer? I am allowed by law to be able to record tv shows, so why cant I copy music or movies that I already own? Does that seem right?

So here is something to consider: The peer-to-peer technology is and was revolutionary, but because of the RIAA suing 12 year old girls for downloaing nursery rhymes, the technology is dying. And thats not all, if you look at the major improvments in internet connections(mainly dsl and cable), these came about because of the P2P demand for high speed acess.

If we curve to much in the intrest of business, how do we retain the technological growth?

why should we bend to these corporations that are using out dated business models and put the blame on people for thier lack of business sense? Why are the asian markets gaining so much succuess while the united states is losing ground, is it because of the consumers or the business mentality?

and btw for all you idiots screaming bloody murder over the downloading: here is something to remember:

There are studies conducted by harvard and stanford suggesting that downloading has actually improved media sales for music and movies.

Go look it up, but i doubt you will find it. The RIAA was screaming bloody murder over it and the people who conducted the reseach were all fired.

was the reseach falsfied? or did the money speak?

btw, right after the reseachers were fired both harvard and stanford recivied VERY large annon donations to thier schools….kinda convient dont you think?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Something to remember

Why is it legal for radio stations to play music without paying a penny to the copyright holder yet it is illegal for a podcast to play music without paying up.

–Radio stations pay a heck of a lot of money to play that music to thousands (or millions) of people. Instead of just buying the CD, they have a completely different licensing scheme. Best read up!

And a quote by Thomas Jefferson:

“If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it.”

Hints on intellectual property. Your assessment of the music’s value is based on your presupposition that the author should be rewarded for their time and effort. Some would argue such a motivational factor is necessary for the contiuation of music on the whole (which I entirely disagree to). Nonetheless, like the author of this post said, we’re not taking anything from the owner. They still have everything they had to begin with. On that note, I pay $15 a month for Rhapsody to Go, quite enjoy it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Something to remember

This is the world we live in. One side scews everyone to make money. The other side thinks they should be able to get anything they want for free.
Well regardless of what you want to call it. And regardless of its legality. Both sides are wrong! Maybe the record companies would make more money if they paid their artists more and tried different buisness models. And I agree the cost of CDs is grossly inflated, so one strike against the business.
But, and this is a big but… This generation has to stop thinking they are entitled to anything they want whenever they want for whatever price (or lack thereof) they want to pay. The songs, movies, programs, or any other form of digital information does not belong to the masses unless its creator (or owner) wants it to be. You have been told that they do not want you to take their songs for free, so what the downloaders are doing is wrong, even if it was legal.
Alot of the posts i have seen here act like they are all for the little guy, but most downloaders are not doing it to prove a point they are doing it because they dont want to pay… period.
And btw I disagree with the restrictions on fair usage, with 3 kids the no backup copy rule is bull, but I did pay for the original and still have it, so i feel that some of the ideas discussed are legit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Something to remember

“The Effect of File Sharing on Record Sales – An Empirical Analysis” Felix Oberholzer-Gee & Koleman Strumpf
From the conclusion:
“Using detailed records of transfers of digital music files, we find that file sharing has no statistically significant effect on purchases of the average album in our sample. In specifications that identify the effect of file sharing on sales relatively precisely, we reject the hypothesis that file sharing is responsible for the majority of lost sales. This result is plausible given that album sales have increased in the most recent past while the growth of file sharing has continued unabated.”

Spyvie says:

Change is good

If someone were to create a seemingly magical machine that could almost effortlessly create an exact copy of any physical object, be it a car, a computer or whatever you point it at, would it be stealing to zap yourself up a new Toyota?

The original Toyota would still exist, the owner wouldn?t be harmed in any way. Of course, the manufacturer would be out a sale. (assuming the user of the machine could afford a new Toyota)

If such a machine were to be created, what would happen to the automotive industry, or any other manufacturing industry? If the machines were cheap and obviously useful for this and other things, would they still be outlawed to protect industry? Or would all the manufacturers simply go out of business except those that were making the new machines?

Things change, business models and industries die off.

Is it really worth a life?s wages to write a song? Even today when the distribution channels have changed?

Mike says:

Re: Change is good

And consider this twist on the magical machine: The manufacturer only has to make ONE Toyota. Then he could “zap” all the copies he wants. His production costs are no longer thousands per item, but pennies. He can now afford to sell the Toyota for $1,000 instead of $20,000 (compare to music: $1 vs $20). Since it’s comparitavely cheap, it’s not worth the hassle of potentially skirting the law to get a “free” one when a “legal” one is available for so little as compared to it’s former price. Distribution method changes, business model changes, etc.

As for the subject, change is not only good, it’s inevitable.

Peri says:

Why are there copyrights?

The RIAA and MPAA do not represent artists and creators, they represent an industry. An industry of buggy-whip and horse-shoe manufacturers, dealers, installers, sales people, stage coach mechanics, buckboard drivers… CD pressing factories, CD stores, and soon DVD production and distribution systems will simply die. But they will not go quietly. Cant blamb them, these guys dont know any other line of work, they certainly cannot hack it in the tech business, they are just doomed. I am sorry for them. But, make no mistake, they are doomed.
It may take a while, but society will wake up, and remember, the fundamental, original purpose of copyrights and patents are not there to protect the rights of the creators–(I can hear the protests now WHAT WHAT WHAT!?!) No, the underlying reason for copyrights and patents are for the benefits of SOCIETY as a whole–the METHOD decided on to maximize benefits to society is, to
1) protect the rights to the creators to the extent that they are encouraged to create,
2) depriving the society of the benefits of their creation.
And in my opinion, when the rights of the creators are used as an excuse to destroy or limit clearly beneficial technologies, such as P2P, it is a violation of rule 2)
It is time for a change, and it is time for elected officials to realize that copyrights need to be brought into this century. Have you let your rep know how you feel?

Justin Clark says:

Re: Smarter Labels.

Personally I do realize that downloading music is Illegal but IF copyright infringement was treated as a crime punishable by incarceration would it do anything? Would it deter the millions of people that download music daily from downloading all that music? No. If the MPAA or RIAA sue arounf 4,000 people a year, how much of an impact would that make on the download base? None, It really hasn’t so far. What if those 4,000 people got thrown into jail? A slight impact may occur, but that is 4,000 people worth of taxpayer money YOU are paying for because they were jailed for downloading music. I personally download music from the internet, with every intention to purchase it later. In the old days some artists could put out some real crap and get away with it because they have one good song. Not anymore. I download the full cd for just this reason, to make sure it isnt. If i listen to it and i determine it to be ok I will go out and buy it, no problem. Some labels are actually getting smarter in this sense. Labels and Artists allowing MTV to preview their WHOLE ALBUM over the internet before it launches, Charging less for cds, and making sure artists are pumping out those quality tunes we all love. Some other labels are not. Namely the big labels that tend to lobby against file sharing. Again some labels use file sharing as a means of promotion. Some labels/artists will release a low quality copy of a song onto a p2p network to find that sales of that CD has gone up since release.

HINT TO RECORD LABELS: Use the distribution channels (ie. P2P) to your advantage. It can be a great marketing tool.

suv says:


“it’s a crime”
“it’s not a crime”
“wait we said it’s not theft, but it’s a crime”
“it’s a theft, but not a crime”
“it’s a bird”
“it’s a plane”
“I agree it’s a crime, but not theft”
“it’s not theft”
“it’s theft, since it’s a copy of commercial work”
“it’s not a theft”


Anonymous Coward says:

Yes and No

I take something, you no longer have it – stealing.

I take something, you still have it – copying.

I download a music file for free by P2P instead of paying for it – original creator still has the music (copying), but now lacks the profit from the sale of it (stealing). Not theft of the music itself, right, but, theft of profits.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Yes and No

I download a music file for free by P2P instead of paying for it – original creator still has the music (copying), but now lacks the profit from the sale of it (stealing). Not theft of the music itself, right, but, theft of profits.

Again, this is flat out wrong. Loss of profit from a non-sale is not a crime. Otherwise, any time you convinced someone not to buy something, you’d be a criminal.

z0idberg says:

Re: Re: Yes and No

I download a music file for free by P2P instead of paying for it – original creator still has the music (copying), but now lacks the profit from the sale of it (stealing). Not theft of the music itself, right, but, theft of profits.

But not everyone who downloads something off P2P would have purchased it if it wasnt available on P2P. So how can you determine which instances are “lack of profit” (i.e. instances where they would have bought the product instead of downloaded it) and which are just people taking advantage of the “free” product but wouldnt have ever purchased it? answer: you cant.

Alternatively how can you determine if someone downloaded a product from P2P and liked it so much they went out to purchase the product, therefore actually “creating profit” that wouldnt have been there in the first place without P2P? answer: you still cant.

The RIAA and MPAA are going nuts because they think that every download off P2P is “lack of profit”. They believe that every P2P downloader had gone to the local HMV, picked up the DVD/album, took out their wallet and were about to pay when they realised they could download it for free from P2P.

They also refuse to believe the second case above could ever happen.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Yes and No

“Again, this is flat out wrong. Loss of profit from a non-sale is not a crime. Otherwise, any time you convinced someone not to buy something, you’d be a criminal.”

But when you don’t buy a chair, you don’t use it either, you don’t sit on it. When you download a song from P2P without buying, it’s not like not buying a chair, because you listen to it, you use it. Anything beyond listening once or twice as a preview (to decide if to buy, and if not then you delete the file) would be stealing profits.

Wizard Prang says:

What if you buy?

Suppose one downloads a song, likes it and goes out and buys a CD. Has theft still occurred?

What if they buy the tracn from iTunes?

What if one buys the CD second-hand on eBay?

Speeding is illegal, yet most people consider speeding tickets a tax and not a crime. Many employers do not consider speeding tickets to me a “crime”. I suspect that downloading is headed the same way.

elaine (user link) says:

copyright infringement = term in prison?

This kind of provision seems a little to harsh for young people supposedly enjoying the benefits of technology by downloading songs, videos, and other stuff for free. Situations like this could be considered as the negative effects of modern technology. Since there is technolgy created yet to prevent such situations from happening, the decision is placed upon the shoulders of consumers but with the word “free” engraved in this kind of downloading, who could resist the temptation?

Kristian Joensen says:

"Stealing" profits

“Anything beyond listening once or twice as a preview (to decide if to buy, and if not then you delete the file) would be stealing profits”

Nobody has any rights what so ever to profit from anything at all. You have to right to TRY to do that but not the actuall right to do it.

Again everyone has the right to not buy a product/service, the basis of property rights is scarcity, I world with out scarcity wouldn’t have property rights it is as simple as that.

This is why it is wrong to steal an actuall physical CD, because they are scarce.

As for all the hard labor, etc. Well that is voluntary, nobody is forced to write songs or sing/record them.

Don’t think you can make any money from it ? Don’t want to do it otherwise ? Then DON’T do it in the first place.

IP rights are a government created FIAT, they are monopolies.

As for the (irrelevant) Utilitarian arguments for IP rights , alot of art predates the existence of copyright, alot of inventions predate the existence of patents. Proving that the argument is complete and utter BS.

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