Feds Ask For Jailtime For GNR File Sharer

from the with-fans-like-these... dept

I have to admit that I’m still confused why the FBI was spending time going around arresting the guy who put up Guns ‘N Roses’ latest album, rather than focusing on issues that really matter these days. The arrest alone actually led to much more downloading than if they had just let it go. Yet, now, following a guilty plea, the feds are demanding a six-month prison term for the guy. For promoting the band. Considering how much downloads picked up after the news of the arrest broke, why isn’t anyone demanding that we put the FBI agents who spent taxpayer money on this behind bars for even longer? Sure, unauthorized sharing of files breaks copyright law, but it’s difficult to come up with any reasonable explanation for (a) spending taxpayer money on having the FBI track down and arrest the guy and then (b) sending him to jail. Every album that’s released gets leaked online — and plenty of musicians have learned how to use it to their benefit. That should make it clear that getting your music leaked online isn’t about any economic loss. It’s all about what sort of business model you choose. So, because Axl Rose chooses a bad business model, some guy who was sharing GNR music needs to go to jail and the FBI and the Feds need to be involved? Doesn’t something seem wrong with this picture?

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Comments on “Feds Ask For Jailtime For GNR File Sharer”

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Weird Harold (user link) says:

He didn’t promote the band. He pushed out a private copy of an unreleased album, and likely damaged sales.

Consider the recent U2 album – sales are about half in the first week as their last album, this after the whole album was released online for free by file sharers ahead of the album release date.

Now, admitted, the new U2 album sucks rocks, but normally it would have sold well anyway. 200,000 less copies in the first week (at even $10 each) is a 2 million dollar loss.

While I am sure that GNR / Axel Rose didn’t lose 200,000 sales, I would suspect they lost many. Just as importantly, this wasn’t just a cd copy ripped, but apparently hacked into computers and stolen the content outright. Even by your own twisted logic, in that state the product was rare, not infinite.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Re:

You bullseyed it; The new U2 album sucks rocks. With or without downloading, it would sell bad. It’s just, this time, people found out before it came out.

In the end he tried to promote the band by saying check this out but it failed because there wasn’t much for him to promote.

This sentence is just for sharing the songs, not hacking. Nowhere have I seen anything about hacking into anything.

hegemon13 says:

Re: Re:

I promise you that their previous album was also leaked online prior to release. EVERY album of any note is released online prior to release. I think their drop in sales has a lot more to do with the “sucking rocks” part. To say it “would have done better if…” is a pure logical fallacy, since you have nothing but your own opinion to back that up. Since their previous album also sucked, maybe people are just catching on to the fact that U2 just does not have it anymore. Last, complaining about supposed “losses” from piracy when you just finished a record $300+ million revenue year does not befriend you to your fans. (See earlier TechDirt story.)

That said, if the accused in the GNR case did, in fact, break into someone else’s computer system to get the files, they may deserve jail time for that crime in itself. And, yes, I think Mike’s claim of them “promoting” is a bit of hyperbole.

some old guy (user link) says:

Re: Re:

Now, admitted, the new U2 album sucks rocks, but normally it would have sold well anyway.

So we should punish people cause some dinosaur wasn’t as successful at ripping people off?


Don’t you see the irony there?

If it’s good, it sells well, period. Exposure by any means is advertising, and can promote sales, IF THE CONTENT IS ANY GOOD. When it’s it’s crap, and it won’t sell well, but tends to sell better when people are under educated on its (lack of) quality.

You keep accidentally contradicting yourself Harold. It makes me think that even you don’t believe in a word you say here, you’re just being paid to say it, and you keep slipping.

You’re gonna get fired if you keep accidentally promoting free.

TPBer says:

Re: @ harold

The sales sucked ass because the music sucked ass. I DL the album listened to a couple of tracks and thought this is the worst bunch of screaming shit ever and immediately deleted. Maybe if they put together an album as good as AC/DCs Black Ice their sales would have been good.

I do believe that guy should be jailed, but only because he put up such a piece of shit not worthy of taking up hardrive space.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You are a complete moron.

You acknowledge the album sucks yet you ignore that fact and decide that file sharing had to be the reason instead. Since you obviously don’t pay attention to facts, it’s no surprise you make made-up statements like “normally it would have sold well anyway” that aren’t based on any facts. It’s also not surprising that you firmly believe the assumption (also not based in fact) that 1 download = 1 lost album sale.

Oh and the album didn’t get leaked because someone “hacked into computers and stole the content outright”, an Australian site sold it… for MONEY… too early by accident. Read about it here. Since you don’t bother to look up facts, you’ll believe me when I tell you that had U2 immediately released the album at the point it was leaked, any ‘loss in sales’ (if such a thing exists) would have been minimized or not even happened.


Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

He didn’t promote the band. He pushed out a private copy of an unreleased album, and likely damaged sales.

Given that we’ve seen plenty of bands release their own tracks and use it to increase sales, I have a hard time believing, straight up, that it “likely damaged sales.” It’s the bad business model that damages sales. Not the leak.

Just as importantly, this wasn’t just a cd copy ripped, but apparently hacked into computers and stolen the content outright.

Actually, this guy was sent the files. He was not accused of hacking into anything.

If that were the case, then there would be an argument to be made for jailtime. But that’s not what he was accused of doing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Now, admitted, the new U2 album sucks rocks, but normally it would have sold well anyway. 200,000 less copies in the first week (at even $10 each) is a 2 million dollar loss.”

Do me a favor and explain how there is a loss? Loss of projected sales? Loss of Revenue? Did someone rob the vault that had all their money in it and take $2 million?

You cannot count a loss unless there is actual loss. In this case, there is none, because there was no benchmark to go by yet. Now… if sales last week were 200,000 and then this week were 100,000 then I can see that there is a decline.

Times are changing, and everyone is bitching because sales are down. how about instead of saying it is because of piracy, lets get to the root of it and say that since a lot of parents have lost jobs recently, they are not allowing their kids to waste money on music or anything else for that matter. Cannot look at it through a microscope without looking at the entire picture as well.

Grimp says:

Re: Re:

>”Consider the recent U2 album – sales are about half in the first week as their last album, this after the whole album was released online for free by file sharers ahead of the album release date.”

Correlation is not causation.

>”Now, admitted, the new U2 album sucks rocks, but normally it would have sold well anyway.”

Maybe. Or maybe it does suck enough that people aren’t buying. Or maybe people are buying less music in this economy. Or maybe Bono pissed people off, somehow. One big problem with all these filesharing lawsuits is that when it comes to proving that filesharing actually hurt profits, the prosecution can’t do it.

batch says:

Re: Re:

Hey Weird Harold,

Explain to me why I should buy a U2 album that sucks?? How does throwing my money away make any sense to anyone except those who profit from the money I wasted? Record companies don’t want to let us try before we buy, which is bullshit. Why should we pay for a garbage CD? How is that our burden to bare?!? Make a product I want to buy. Don’t try and trick me into helping offset the cost of a garbage product. Its that simple.

ALex says:

Mike frequently calls filesharing “Promoting” — I don’t think filesharing should result in jail time, but not every instance of doing so is “promoting”. The skew on this (and most of Techdirt’s) article is pretty bad these days.

Anyway, in reply to Harold: U2’s more recent music is terrible, and of course that would affect CD sales. You really expect them to sell as many as their last album if the album sucks? You think people just buy it blindly?

Weird Harold (user link) says:

The music was apaprently obtained by someone hacking into the computer where the tracks were stored at the studio.

Knowing that the album wasn’t even in stores, and that no legal copies of the music existing in the wild, the blogger still posted the stolen music on his website.

Standard conspiracy theory, not all members of a criminal undertaking have to perform all of the acts to be found guilty. Basically, the guy plea bargained down to avoid having to face a much larger pile of charges.

Stealing is bad, doesn’t matter what you do with the stolen stuff. Don’t let Mike confuse you with “because Axl Rose chooses a bad business model, some guy who was sharing GNR music needs to go to jail and the FBI and the Feds need to be involved? Doesn’t something seem wrong with this picture?” – there was no business involved, the music was stolen before it was released, not after. by his own measurements, the music was a rare commodity when stolen.

As for U2: My point is this: Without the full album being on the net ahead of time, sales likely would have been higher (more people buying a sucky album I guess). Certainly in the few days lead time that the album had online, plenty of their fans would have downloaded it. The margin fans (the ones who sort of like the band but aren’t rabid about it) likely would have said (like most of us do) “damn this sucks” and thought nothing more of it. Had the album not been online would they have purchased it?

Just imagine what the sale would be without the online slip, and then you know what was lost (I suspect about 50-75k copies in the first week, maybe more).

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Jeez, again?

1. Copying != stealing. If the album was stolen, the studio would no longer have it and would not be able to release it. This was copied or “leaked” via “hacking”, which whether you like it or not is usually treated as a civil offence.

2. The history of music is built on copying. Every student I knew at school, college, colleagues at work copied albums back in the 90s. Many of us went on to buy the same albums afterwards as well as buy merchandise, concert tickets, etc. Why do people like you think this is impossible in the digital age, despite the evidence to the contrary?

3. However you try to spin it, any digital good is infinite. Just because it wasn’t *intended* to be released at that point does not make it a non-infinite good, merely an artificially restricted one. I have “workprint” copies of several movies which have never been officially released in that form, but their restricted status does not make them non-infinite.

“Just imagine what the sale would be without the online slip, and then you know what was lost (I suspect about 50-75k copies in the first week, maybe more).”

Do you have any figures to back this up, or are you just pulling them out of your arse again. Yes, some sales may have been lost by people downloading the album (although from the comments above this has as much to do with poor quality as anything else).

But what about other factors? There are many people who would simply not have bought the album regardless of whether it was available to download or not, thus thus were not “lost sales”. There are also many people who pre-ordered the album but decided to download the album while they were still waiting for an official release (but still bought the album, thus again not a lost sale). I could go on about how fixed release dates are a harmful anachronism in the digital age, but I’ll stop there.

chris says:

Justification is pathetic

Ok… Let me try to spell it out for you
1) He Broke the Law
2) It’s not OK, in any sense, for individuals who are not connected to either the distributor or the creator to take it upon themselves to “promote” and album… especially when the distributor AND the artist are telling you NOT to do that AND you are breaking the law
3) The FBI is doing its job by enforcing the law. There are times for civil disobediance… but “focusing on what really matters the days” is not a compelling argument.

Again,stealing content and illegally distributing that content is WRONG, both morally and legally. You are grasping at straws with this stupid argument: “it’s good for sales”. Even if it is, it is up to the people who have IP rights to decide if they want to waive those rights to help sales.

This argument has no principle, and I am tired of hearing it. YAWN!!!

Yakko Warner says:

Why are you still confused?

You keep using the argument “rather than focusing on issues that really matter these days,” and every time you say it, it makes it sound like you believe that, by investigating this crime, it’s the only thing the FBI was doing at the time.

Was it a crime? Was the crime within the jurisdiction of the FBI? If so, then it is the FBI’s responsibility to investigate. If not, then that’s the argument to make.

How can you claim there is no reasonable explanation for enforcing the law? The law was broken. You may not agree with the law, fine. Argue why the law makes no sense. Argue why unauthorized file sharing shouldn’t be a violation of copyright law (I would hope with a better argument than “it’s going to happen anyway”). But as long as the law is in place, it is not unreasonable to expect that the law will be enforced by those whose job it is to do so.

some old guy (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Why are you still confused?

In a democracy, the mob is supposed to make the laws. When the laws are made without the mobs consent, the laws are not obeyed. It’s very simple actually.

The people demand the benefits that technology brings about. They will not be denied because an old industry doesn’t like it.

Doombringer says:

The question is like Mike said...

Why isn’t anyone demanding that we put the FBI agents who spent taxpayer money on this behind bars for even longer? Exactly, these little piggies who are doing the RIAA’s dirty work should be thrown in jail, because, in the state of the world we live in, wih pedophiles and murderers everywhere your turn, I know the FBI has better shit to do than harass some computer nerd who is file sharing. Go catch a real criminal you fascists.

chris says:



506. Criminal offenses4
(a) Criminal Infringement. —

(1) In general. — Any person who willfully infringes a copyright shall be punished as provided under section 2319 of title 18, if the infringement was committed —

(A) for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain;

(B) by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000; or

(C) by the distribution of a work being prepared for commercial distribution, by making it available on a computer network accessible to members of the public, if such person knew or should have known that the work was intended for commercial distribution.

(2) Evidence. — For purposes of this subsection, evidence of reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work, by itself, shall not be sufficient to establish willful infringement of a copyright.

(3) Definition. — In this subsection, the term “work being prepared for commercial distribution” means —

(A) a computer program, a musical work, a motion picture or other audiovisual work, or a sound recording, if, at the time of unauthorized distribution —

(i) the copyright owner has a reasonable expectation of commercial distribution; and

(ii) the copies or phonorecords of the work have not been commercially distributed; or

(B) a motion picture, if, at the time of unauthorized distribution, the motion picture —

(i) has been made available for viewing in a motion picture exhibition facility; and

(ii) has not been made available in copies for sale to the general public in the United States in a format intended to permit viewing outside a motion picture exhibition facility.

Weird Harold (user link) says:

Re: Re: Oh... In case YOU ARE TOO LAZY TO READ

considering the potential that millions of dollars of sales was lost, this was not a petty crime.

so a) yes it is serious, and b) doesn’t matter, see A.

Even if online is good for the industry (not proven in the slightest) it should be up the artists and those that own those rights to make the choice, not some dumbass with a blog.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Oh... In case YOU ARE TOO LAZY TO READ

I’d be interested to see how it could be proven that “millions of dollars was lost”, especially since there are many studies that suggest that people download actually spend more on music-related items, not less. But, first point taken – yes, it was a crime, he knew he was committing a crime and he should be punished under the current law. This wasn’t an innocent child or dead person getting sued like the RIAA’s actions.

As for the second point, they’re just victims of their own hype. They can’t have it both ways. The GnR album had been hyped for around a decade, the U2 album for 5 years. They can’t generate hype (= making people want the album) and then refuse to sell it to them before X date without people looking for an early copy. Since the major labels refuse to sell digitally before the CD copies are pressed and shipped, they’re basically asking people to go to the pirates in my view. This is especially true in view of the U2 album, which was leaked while people were basically awaiting permission to buy it.

Copying an album before it’s been mastered and approved is a bit much, of course, but it’s hardly surprising given the amount of time that fans – yes, fans – had been waiting. I highly doubt that many sales were lost as a direct result of the leak, however.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Re: Re: Oh... In case YOU ARE TOO LAZY TO READ

You are the last person that should be allowed to comment on this. Just the simple fact that you think that being online is bad for the industry proves that.

Mike isn’t forcing his ideas on anyone nor is he condoning unsolicited file sharing. He’s pointing out the fact that file sharing will not go away no matter what the industry douse and no matter what dilutions people like you have. This, in the end, leaves the industry with two choices:

1) Litigate and risk alienating paying customers. We have already seen this with Metallica and a few other artists that have been mentioned here

2) Embrace file sharing and risk getting a smaller portion of a much larger pie. This has already been proven by NIN and other large and small bands.

I don’t know about you but I’d would rather take 10% of a $2 million pie and possibly making it bigger over a controlling share in a $1,000 pie and potentially making that pie $0.

John says:

*Knock Knock* The past is at the door!

Is it just me, or does this reek of Metallica? I thought UMG learned from this.

What happens? Well, when the risk of being a fan outweighs the value of the art, people generally stop being fans, and find something else.

I’m not saying what happened was right, I’m just saying the negative stigma attached to this type of PR will have a much further reaching effect to any future sales. GNR & UMG could have let this die without a murmer, but didn’t. And the reason you don’t have a lawsuit coming out of Nettwerk or Terry saying nonsensical things loudly about the music business is that they don’t exist; he says sensible things quietly.

GnR’s next albums, (possibly three), will have to be much better than the leaked one to equalize out the negative actions levied by the label and associated artist. By the time they figure that out, surely Terry McBride’s team will have found, produced, and leaked an album by an artist that sounds like GnR.

chris says:

To Paul T

1) I don’t know the specifics of the case. But if the guy did hack into the computer, ripped the content, then posted it. Especially if this was a calculated violation. Yes… I think some sort of time would be warrneted both to discourage this type of behavior and to teach this kid a lesson.
2) Irrevelant side question. It doesn’t matter if there is a global financial benefit to the music industry. To broad an issue. what matters is in each specific case has the Artist been harmed (in any way, not just financially). To that I would say YES… it is harmful to take people’s work and distribute it without their permission.

Finally I would add that if you are trying to make a MARKET DRIVEN Business argument than you are corrupting the idea. If this is true we should start seeing start-ups trying to capitalize on this new found distribution technology and business models. (Which we do). That should be good for everyone. But again, don’t confuse the issue. The change should come because people start listening and buying music that is distrubuted from Artists who consent to the new business model, not from people violating the IP of Artists who do not.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: To Paul T

Exactly. Mike’s business model is a THEORY. It has not been proven on a mass scale (although Mike will use micro examples to claim that it has). The bottom line is as long as it’s theory, no, laws shouldn’t be changed and violators should be prosecuted as an example to others who might do this. And IF Mike’s “free” business model would in fact work on a large scale (though I’d argue ever falling CD sales suggest that it might not) then the proof will come as smaller companies adopt this business model to try to compete. If it’s as good a model as Mike thinks it is, in time they will be the major companies. That will be the proof, not Mike example of “some band somewhere made money by giving everything away for free…see!”

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: To Paul T

It’s not a question of whether “Mike’s business model” (which are actually dozens of different models tried at different times mentioned in different articles) is correct. The question is whether or not actions like this are actually causing more damage to the music industry than they stop.

In this, I always give the example of my own buying habits. 10 years ago, I didn’t care whether I bought a major label product or not. After the RIAA’s constant anti-consumer activities, I made a conscious effort not to fund them. I still buy plenty of music that I enjoy, I just use alternative sources to get them, which include different business models like NIN/Radiohead’s model, AmieStreet, eMusic, buying direct from independents artists’ sites and others. I just won’t spend a dime on a RIAA-related album. I don’t pirate, I just don’t bother with them. Yet, I spend at least €30/month on recorded music, which makes me a heavy duty customer according to the industry’s statistics. I’m sure I’m not the only one to do this, consciously or not.

I’m not arguing that copyright should be removed completely, just that the way it’s being enforced at the moment – at the behest of the RIAA – does nothing to help the music industry, and in my view actually harms it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Well, since he plea bargained, thus pled guilty to something, he’s going to be penalized…really can’t argue with that. Since I’m not privy to all of the facts of the case, I’m not going to comment on whether this was a good move on his part.

However, this doesn’t mean the case should have ever been brought, but all the same, that damage has already been done.

Whether infringing is a criminal offense isn’t relevant here as far as I can see.

Chris says:


“No what I dont think you get, is that we dont give a shit. Moron. Go die you corporate fuck.”

Finally, someone who is willing to get right to the point of it. At least this guys is honest.

And that’s my point. There is no principle, other than “I want something for free”, behind defending people who break the law. It’s just a simple “I don’t give a shit, give me my music.”

At least doombringer has the courage to say he is/supports criminal activity.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: @doombringer

And that’s my point. There is no principle, other than “I want something for free”, behind defending people who break the law. It’s just a simple “I don’t give a shit, give me my music.”

Yup. Let’s ignore 230 years of economic precedent and evidence about how protectionism is bad and limits markets.

Everyone who wanted to get rid of sugar monopolies? Bastards, they just wanted cheaper sugar.

What a bunch of jerks.

How dare some of us suggest that everyone can be made better off with more efficient business models.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

WTF? Are you that obtuse? Really? Guess you missed the part that said “of the people” and “for the people”? In case you were wondering, cause I know you have no clue, the United States Constitution does not endow any rights on it’s citizens, as they are considered “self evident” and “endowed by our creator”. What the constitution does is limits out government’s ability to trample on our self evident rights. Of course in today’s reality they trample our rights with garbage broken laws like copyright and MANY others, but that’s an argument for another conversation.

F!CK da POlice says:

I stopped buy music when the music industry started treating me like a criminal. Why would I grace them with my hard earned money and PAY them to treat as such? Makes no sense. So, I have over 200GB’s of music, mostly NOT payed for that, while not shared online, I share with family and friends freely and often. Fuck those fucking fuckers. That goes for hollywood too.

Bubba may welcome you to Cell Block D says:

Re: Re:

I think your in the minority. Besides, how the hell will you find time to listen to 200GB of music in your lifetime? That’s hundreds of DAYS listening to music 24×7. If I had to guess, the real problem is that most people seek the ability to listen on their terms, remix, or whatever you kids call it these days.

JMG says:

On Stealing

Regardless of how many people there are downloading music…its still people taking something that doesn’t belong to them.

Slightly off topic, but I’d like to respond a bit to these kind of comments, that downloading is “stealing” and “taking things that don’t belong to you”. Putting aside the copyright vs theft arguments and moral arguments (which are kind of weak anyway), let’s look at another scenario:

Suppose that you walked up a vending machine and pushed a button, and out came a can of cola, without putting money into it. Would you take it? Most people probably would, and wouldn’t think twice about it. Now suppose that this particular vending machine did this every time you pushed a button, with an apparently endless supply of coke cans. Most people wouldn’t consider the “moral” implications of “stealing” from the soft drink vendor, or at least I wouldn’t.

But for some reason, as soon as you replace infinite supply of cola with music, people get huffy. Why shouldn’t we treat it like other commodities? If it’s available and there’s demand for it, it should be consumed (even at zero price). Individuals who cannot capitalize on market conditions should have to deal with that fact.

Weird Harold (user link) says:

Re: On Stealing

Sort of a different problem. The owner of the coke machine would noticed a lack of income compared to dispensed product, and be able to take effective steps to stop it. There wouldn’t be any “drink neutrality” people or “drink sharing pirates in sweden” to usurp them. So at most, they would lose a few days sales and figure it out.

Because for some reason some people don’t want to grant music right holders the same control over the product that they would grant the guy with the coke machine. In some weird way, a can of coke is something, but music is nothing.

Corey says:

Re: On Stealing

“Most people wouldn’t consider the “moral” implications of “stealing” from the soft drink vendor, or at least I wouldn’t”

That says a lot about you, and nothing good. Even if it’s the machine that faulty, you are still depriving the owner of that machine, who paid for the cola that you are taking, of money. The fact that you wouldn’t think twice about that does not speak well about your morals.

Music is and isn’t the same thing. Not, it’s not a good you can holds in your hand like the can of coke, but there was an investment of time and money made by the creators of that music. If you want the music that someone created, they are providing you with a service (Entertainment) and should be compensated the same way the person who provided you with the Coke should be. If the band chooses to give their music away for free because they believe that will bring in more money in other ways, that is their choice. If they believe selling the music will net them the most money, that is also their choice and should be respected. If you don’t like the choice, then go download some one else’s music, someone who wants to give it away for free.

JMG says:

Re: On Stealing

Ok, let me spell out something a little clearer. Suppose that my magical vending machine could produce and infinite supply of cola cans, at no cost to the owner of the machine, the building it’s in, etc. So everyone who pushes the button gets some free pop, at no cost to themselves. Is it immoral take the pop? I don’t think so, it’s free and not hurting anyone. Why should I have to pay for pop if I can get it free? Why should anyone? Perhaps the vendor has to worry about this, but a wonder of technology (the magical vending machine) has made things better for all.

This is kind of how I view things like P2P; infinite goods with zero marginal cost. Does it cost the original owner if I download from him? Not except for some bandwidth. Technology making things better for everyone, on the whole. Sure there’s some creative destruction, but that’s progress.

Weird Harold (user link) says:

Re: Re: On Stealing

You get so close to realizing your wrong, and then back away from it.

“This is kind of how I view things like P2P; infinite goods with zero marginal cost. Does it cost the original owner if I download from him? Not except for some bandwidth”

In your “infinite free coke” example (I am sure some Columbians are out there screaming “NO! NO!” right now), you almost get it. Basically, here is the deal: You are thirsty, you are willing to pay, but you get it for free. Now, from your point of view only, you satisfied you needs and it cost you nothing. Win for you. But the real loss is that you didn’t buy anything, and once you learn about the infinite free coke machine, you are likely never to pay for a soft drink again.

If you tell all your friends (or bring them all the free coke they want) then they too are no longer paying consumers. They still consume, they just no longer pay for it. Over time, the market for coke erodes, and suddenly the company that paid to build, install, and maintain the infinite coke machines goes out of business, the machines are removed and sold for scrap metal, and you have nothing left to drink. Now you can’t get a coke no matter how much you pay, the only thing you can find is poor immitations like Kik Kola and Royal Crown. Then someone comes back in with “NEW COKE!”, and charges $20 a can.

Right now in the music business, we are in that fun stage where we have infinite free music and we are telling all our friends and sharing our infinite free music with all our friends. At some point, the music business will end up being cut up and sold for scrap, and there will be no more source left. The only music you can find will be made by some guy in his garage down the street and some weird eurotrash synth-pop loop music.

So yeah, right now it’s all fun and free cola. But it is unrealistic to assume that the free cola will last.

mobiGeek says:

Re: Re: Re: On Stealing

Sigh, silly silly example. If the supply of soft drinks is truly infinite, then there is no market for the drink itself. The only market would be for organizations that add value beyond the drink itself (delivery, marketing, bundling, etc…)

You never get to a point where “no one can get a can of coke” because the premise of this silly example is that the supply is infinite.

Though the example is pointless, the one thing to note is that the savvy business people will seize on the MASSIVE OPPORTUNITY that giving away a free product offers (hmm…ring any bells??) and create a substantially larger overall market.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Several Replies

@Harold and Corey
Did you guys miss the part where he said it was a pop machine that had an infinite supply?
Please see JMG’s response for a logical conclusion that 99% of the population would come to. He did clarify it so you can’t really be confused about what he was implying any more.

You mentioned that downloading music is morally wrong. My morals are not your morals, and don’t try to force your morals down my throat. Just makes you look bad.

AJ says:

Let me finish it for you Harold......

So instead of letting the free cola die, we adapt our business model. Let’s put a sticker on the free cola with a web page and password on it. There you can get your ticket (for a fee) to see the free cola machines perform live. We’ll also give out even more free cola while you’re watching them perform. If you act now, and I mean right now, you can also purchase a private party ticket where the free cola machines will perform “that cola show” at a private party in your home… etc etc….

The point is, the free cola cat is out of the bag and you’re not getting it back in no matter how many people get taken to jail. What you can do is use the interest in your free cola to sell something else that is not free, and can’t be copied. Adapt or Die, you can’t stop evolution.

mobiGeek says:

Re: Re: Let me finish it for you Harold......

Production of the cola is zero. The initial investment into creating the recipe (or whatever silly analogy we are into) can be recovered via the alternative business model because in reality the cost was a limited investment in time by some “Cola Artisans”.

Now, the argument would be that there is no guarantee that the alternative business model would rake in the bazillion-fold profit that the previous model had made. However, since the only investment was that time (and maybe the equipment used to derive the recipe), I wonder why we feel that the Cola Artisans have a “right” to such a ridiculous return?

Ultimately the Harolds of the world end up arguing in favour of the Big Guys. They say that in a world of “Free!”, where business models are based on the new efficiencies of new technologies, there isn’t the possibility to make massive returns on investments (or at least, it involves selling “LOTS of t-shirts”).

The change in the technologies mean that there is a change in the overall markets. Efficiencies mean that the population as a whole should no longer be paying many times the cost of something. So yes, Big Guys won’t be gazillionaires, and inefficient middle-men cease to get anything at all. And this is a problem, why???

Corey says:

Re: Re: Re: Let me finish it for you Harold......

You’re trying to make things too simple. The problem isn’t that the alternative might not make people filthy rich, but if they will make them a decent profit or even make enough money to cover the creation of the initial product.

To use music for an example, I came across an old post of Mike’s where he said “more musicians are making more money.” This is absurdly misleading. It takes into account all of the bands who sell a couple CDs here and there. For example CDBaby made something like $25 million in 2007, but each artist made an average of only $126! This is an irrelevant sum. What we should all be hoping for, creators and consumers alike, is that musicians who have a demand for their music are able to make a decent living off of music. This enables them to do music full time, which lets them create more music, and spend more time perfecting the music they create. We also want them to have the money record the best possible product. So a stat that would be a better measure of whether piracy helps or hurts musician and consumers would be how many musicians are able to make a decent living (I know decent living is subjective, but lets be honest, if most musicians made say $15,000 a year, they probably wouldn’t spend their lives as full time musicians), and how does that compare to 10 or 20 years ago.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:


Two comments: in days of yore, IP law was civil – it gave you the right to sue, that is all. The only time the criminal law was involved was when a country-to-country problem arose.
I am very disheartened that the FBI would be involved in a domestic IP dispute; shouldn’t be that way. Was never intended to be that way.
It shows the power of campaign funds; more and more, all that matters is collecting them.

newph says:


Sharing won’t go away, but people people’s behaviour can be changed. Sometimes that takes legislation, sometimes simply an explanation. People need to understand that it takes a great deal of time & effort to get a piece of music out into the world– $ for equipment; time to write, compose, record, mix, master, etc etc.; time & $ to promote, etc etc.

The argument that music should exist to promote t-shirt sales or live concerts is silly. Isn’t the song the important thing? Shouldn’t the ‘art’ and not the consumer product be supported? And not every tour makes money; not every artist tours. How to compensate people who are songwriters, but not performers?

It’s deeply saddening that people think nothing of spending $2 on a beer or coffee that gets peed out in a few minutes, but refuse to spend half that on a song they’ll have for life.

Which of the posters here arguing for free music, make music as a career? (Full time, not hobbyist; using revenue to pay rent, etc.)

Here’s a thought: if you’ve pirated a song/album and listen to it more than once… why not then go and buy it, knowing that every penny ultimately does help more music to be made?

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