Sony-BMG Exec Tells Two Whoppers In File-Sharing Trial

from the say-what? dept

Wired's Threat Level blog has been doing some excellent work covering the first RIAA file-sharing case to go to trial, in my home state of Minnesota. In the latest post, reporter David Kravets quotes a couple of whoppers in the testimony of Sony BMG exec Jennifer Pariser. First, Pariser claims that "Selling music is the only way a record company makes money." That's just silly. While record sales are certainly a major source of revenue for record labels, there are lots of other revenue streams out there: concert tickets, merchandise, online subscriptions, endorsement deals, advertising revenue, and so forth. Just yesterday we had an excellent example of a band experimenting with offering name-your-own-price downloads coupled with a premium "discbox." And even some of Pariser's fellow record label execs have begun acknowledging that relying so heavily on music sales is a bad business strategy. At least I can see why Pariser might have thought it was a good legal strategy to pretend that record sales are the only conceivable revenue source for the music industry. Her other claim is even more puzzling: when asked if it's legal to make just one copy of a song you've legally purchased, she apparently said that was "a nice way of saying, 'steals just one copy.'" Not only is that flatly untrue as a matter of law, but saying it also seems like a lousy legal strategy, because (as Kravets points out) some of the jurors probably own MP3 players and won't like being accused of stealing. It's also worth mentioning that this is something the industry keeps flip-flopping on. Sometimes (like when they're arguing before the Supreme Court) they say that of course iPods are legal. Other times they call anyone who rips their CD collections for personal use thieves.

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Companies: sony bmg

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Comments on “Sony-BMG Exec Tells Two Whoppers In File-Sharing Trial”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Hopefully the defense will use some of these comments to open up the Recording Industries books…To the court they say they make money on records…to the artists they say “sorry, you’re 100 million selling album lost money…we don’t owe you, youy owe us.” As an example. The more the execs are allowed to put things on the record, the more that can be used against them by others later on.

SteelBeach says:

Woo Hoo!

Anyone know where I can get the audio recordings of this proceding? I really want to make them available for download on the net. I want to store them on a CD-ROM, so when I am feeling blue, I can listen to them in the privacy of my own headphones and have even more belly laughs.

What? You say they are only available from Sony on the proprietary and DRM riddled Blu-ray format? Damn. Thats a shame. Too bad I haven’t purchased a Sony product since they made the mistake of making minidiscs useless for anything except their proprietary hardware…

John Duncan Yoyo says:

First point not really a lie

The claim that “Selling music is the only way a record company makes money” is probably mostly true. Many of the other streams of revenue listed in the article don’t belong to the recording industry but the artists- concert tickets, merchandise, endorsement deals and etc. This is where where many artists make their money. For the recording industry to go after the artist’s main stream of income since they already screwed them out of most of the recording sales money would be a fairly ballsy move.

This is why the Radio Head make me an offer for the recording deal scares the record industry. They figured out that they didn’t make much money selling albums but they did make the money touring, selling t-shirts and etc. They may more if the only get a couple of bucks per album downloaded than if the recording industry gave them a fairly standard if not great recording deal.

The recording industries main problem is that they became fairly risk averse and stopped putting out new and interesting stuff. So we get sold Britney and American Idols and they wonder why people aren’t buying this crap at the inflated prices they are offering it at.

It is the same problem with publishing all over not enough mid-list creators getting paid enough to get buy and the industry only betting on homerun hitters. They don’t give people room to grew into careers that would make them both money just not as quickly.

PTTG says:

Oh Well, I don't mind...

As the senator once said, if it’s inevitable, you might as well lay back and enjoy it… My point is, no matter what happens in this or any other case, you will still pirate. I will still pirate. We will be singing salty sea-dog songs for as long as music can be copied. And what’s more, so what if the recording industry tries to stay alive with lawsuits and legislature? It is already sliding down unto the Sarlac pit of bancruptcy inevitably. So, you guys have fun watching this particular foregone conclusion; me, I’ll be playing Dwarf Fortress.

Just Me says:


I can see how the second quote (Stealing one copy) might be considered an opinion rather then a fact or argument, but if the defense can demonstrate that yes in fact you are allowed to copy music to your iPod or that the company has other income streams then doesn’t her testimony qualify as perjury?

I’m no legal buff but I thought to outright lie in court was illegal in itself.

Just My 2 cents.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

There is a difference between perjury and stating something that is untrue. If you actually believe what you are saying, its ignorance, not perjury.

Sounds to me like this case is not about the woman but about the whole issue of copyright and file sharing. That can be good or bad.

Good in that this issue will start to be defined in the eyes of the law. They are talking about the overall issue, not what this woman is charged with. One way or another, there will be an answer.

The bad is that if the woman loses, the court will probably look to make an example of her as a warning to others. Personally, I never want to be made an example of. She could get hammered if she loses. Hopefully the folks that are backing her will take care of her fines should she lose.

Just Me says:


“There is a difference between perjury and stating something that is untrue. If you actually believe what you are saying, its ignorance, not perjury.”
Good point, thanks for clearing that part up.

I wonder though- if a jury is supposed to be made up of your “peers” it would be interesting to compare these people to the overall demographics of the area/US.
I know that isn’t how jury selection works, but of the 12 people only 5 own mp3 players and some have little to zero experience of with the internet.
I wonder how this translates to the real world? Is 5/12 close to accurate for mp3 owners vs non owners nowadays? And what level of internet usage is typical compared to the people on the jury.

In any event I think it’s likely you would see a very different outcome if the jury was stocked with people that are a) internet savvy with no exclusions vs b) non-users entirely.

Would have been an interesting study to have put the court system under the microscope and have 3 separate trials to see what/if there was a difference (1 very internet, 1 non-internet, and 1 as we have now).


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