SIIA's Sequel To Don't Copy That Floppy Lies About Criminality Of Copying

from the which-is-more-unethical? dept

So here’s a question? Which is more unethical? Making an unauthorized copy of a piece of software or music for personal use… or outright lying in a commercial? I’m pondering this as a bunch of folks have sent in variations on the news that the SIIA is (bizarrely) resurrecting its old discredited “Don’t Copy That Floppy” educational campaign:

The original campaign is widely seen as a total joke that did nothing to slow down the pace of copying, and it simply showed how out of touch the Software Publishers Association was with the market. The campaign did nothing to cut down on copying, but it did an amazing job informing the market how easy it was to copy software. It also was in the middle of the software industry’s long and fruitless struggle with DRM, which was later mostly abandoned as a failure that did more harm than good for legitimate consumers.

So it’s difficult to fathom who could possibly think it’s a good idea to bring back the campaign… but that appears to be what’s happening. Still, the “chorus” of the song claims that copying is a crime. I would argue that this is false advertising. Copying may be a crime, but the scenarios shown in the film don’t appear to involve criminal activity, but civil torts. For it to be criminal copyright infringement it needs to involve being done “willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain.” So the ad is falsely promoting the idea that personal copying is a criminal matter — in fact it falsely suggests that simply downloading software or music will put you in jail.

So which is more ethical? Getting a personal copy of a song you wanted to hear? Or flat out lying about the criminality of that action to the widespread public?

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Companies: siia

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Comments on “SIIA's Sequel To Don't Copy That Floppy Lies About Criminality Of Copying”

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Anonymous Coward says:

OMIGOD. I used to have hair just like that girl in the video. What was I thinking?

That video was the funniest thing I’ve seen in years. Yes, I understand that the riot-shield, club-wielding black-clad stormtroopers (FBI agents?) that stormed into the house to put juvenile suspects in handcuffs was supposed to be part of a dream sequence.

However, if anyone EVER kicks in my front door without first screaming the words ‘FBI’ and ‘Warrant,’ and then flashing shiny gold badges, I reserve my right to load up my Smith and Wesson and start firing, in defense of my home and family.

Furthermore, if any person acting as an agent of the RIAA, the BSA, the MPAA, or the SIAA EVER puts my children in handcuffs over alleged bootleg music, movies or computer programs, you and your hired goons will regret that decision for the rest of your lives because I will sue you into the ground.

F–k all of you. Go pound sand.

Sadien, Inc. ( (profile) says:

Re: Stop.. and think... before posting childish comments...

Yes, the BSA, SIIA, RIAA and MPAA sometimes use heavy-handed tactics when pursuing their respective agendas (my group deals with their tactics everyday)…

Yes, the video is a bit… um… odd.

And no, I’m not exactly sure how these videos will do anything, other make people discuss how odd the videos are..


Let’s address some misconceptions here and try to discuss this issue like adults, without condescending cliché rap videos in the background…

A. The RIAA, BSA, MPAA and SIIA are not government agencies, and have absolutely NO authority to “handcuff” anyone, including your children.

These groups are classified as “trade organizations.” And, just as the name implies, they are group solely dedicated to serving the best of their respective industry clientele.

In short, trade organizations fight for their members, the same way lawyers fight for their clients. It’s not about what’s fair, right or wrong. Their fighting to improve their members hold & control, on trade & commerce.

B. There is a key message that is getting lost with these ridiculous videos, and those that (for whatever reason) think piracy is “ok.”

Unauthorized copying of software, music and movies… is a crime. Period.

It doesn’t matter if you agree, or disagree. It’s the law. And if you disagree with the law… petition to have it changed. Breaking it doesn’t change anything and exposes you and your family to tremendous personal liability.

I would ask people to think about what you’re asking for before you “rally the troops” and head off to Washington…

Asking for unauthorized copying to be “legal,” is basically asking software companies, record labels and the motion picture industry to spend millions of dollars creating something… that you get to enjoy… for free.

It’s not going to happen.

Let’s say hypothetically, you’re successful… and you make it so that EVERYTHING can be copied… for free.. no restrictions… no consequences.

Those groups will simply stop spending millions to create software, music and movies.

When you remove profitability, you remove incentive. Period.

C. “But G.C. You’re stupid. There is no incentive for Linux programmers to create software, but they do. An what about software apps like Firefox ?”

Linux is great. I work extensively with various issues and projects that incorporate Linux, Unix and freeware apps like Firefox. And I am both a fan and advocate for free software…

However, there are two key issues to think about here…

1. Linux is completely free. Windows is very NOT free. Yet the Windows operating system is utilized 1000 times more, than Linux. Why is that? On the same token.. but IE and Firefox are “free,” and Firefox is decisively giving IE a run for its money.. Why is that? (There are many reasons for scenarios… way to many to discuss here… but, seriously think about those points and draw your own conclusions.)

2. Free software is not license-free software. It’s still protected by copyright law. It’s still controlled with a license.

The law is written such that authors have the right to control HOW they distribute their work… it says virtually nothing about them getting paid.

If an author CHOOSES to get paid, they can.

If an author CHOOSES to give their software, music or movie away for free, then can do that too.

The law protects the author’s freedom of choice… period.

The message that should be presented, without insulting peoples’ intelligence with horrible rap lyrics, is as follows:

For some unknown reason… when a group becomes successful and generates a profit from a solid business model… a large group of people think it’s ok to “screw them over… because they can afford it.”

Virtually NO ONE would ever say that it would be ok to copy/steal/pirate the work of an individual that spent hours, months or years creating music or software in his basement, while trying to pay his rent and feed his family.

Yet… when that individual is successful… and makes money… and grows… adding to our economy… employing people… paying taxes… and presenting a product that millions of people enjoy and use daily… many opinions shift 180 degrees to “Screw ‘em… I’m not paying for that crap.”

Why? Why is success bad? Why is building a company, employing 1000’s people, paying taxes and improving our society with software, music and movies somehow “evil” when done on a mass scale?


There will be many of you that call me names… say mean things… and generally act like children rather than discussing the issue with a mature, pertinent argument.

And before you anonymously post childish comments…

Take a second to ponder why trade groups treat you like children, with silly, insulting, cliché rap videos.

G.C. Hutson
Sadien, Inc.

SomeGuy says:

Re: Re: Stop.. and think... before posting childish comments...

Unauthorized copying of software, music and movies… is a crime. Period.

False. Unauthorized copying that is done “willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain” is a crime. Unauthorized copying below that is possibly a civil matter. Unauthorized copying for certain usages is covered under Fair use.

And if you disagree with the law… petition to have it changed. Breaking it doesn’t change anything and exposes you and your family to tremendous personal liability.

Generally I agree with you, but there’s something to be argued for civil disobedience. Refusing to abide by an unjust law, or the unjust enforcement of a law, is an appropriate means of protest.

When you remove profitability, you remove incentive. Period.

Again, false. There are plenty of other incentives to create content, and people who have something to say — through music, movies, or literature — will still find ways to say it. At worst it might mean the end of “professional” artists, and we’ll see an influx of people funding such projects through regular day jobs. But that’s ignoring the fact that different business modles can be set up to capture funding and profits from content that’s free to copy, not to mention that current systems have major inefficiencies baked into them. Get rid of the inefficiencies and you’ll be talking costs in terms of thousands, not millions.

Sadien, Inc. ( (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: ... Adressing "SomeGuy's" Comments

SomeGuy?s makes some interesting arguments and I?m glad to see people posting well-positioned, thoughtful retorts?

SomeGuy said:
?False. Unauthorized copying that is done “willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain” is a crime.?

So, are you saying the putting 3 illegal copies of Windows XP on 3 generic white box machines? would be an accident?

Allowing 1000?s of people access to your MP3?s via a bit torrent would be a simple oversight?

Or making 2 copies of Photoshop for your buddies in art class was an ?act of God??

I do agree that the intent of the statute is likely to prosecute those who intentionally sell bootlegs. And I do concede to your point on that matter. However, 17 USC 506 specifically reads ?financial gain,? not ?charging a fee.? It?s not a stretch to say that circumventing the licensing fees listed above, could be considered a ?financial gain,? ?thus making those simple copies? a crime. (Copyright law is ENTIRELY subjective. And it?s one few areas of law that the power is weighted entirely on one party?s behalf? the copyright owner)

I also agree that the FBI kicking in the door while mom is in the kitchen making brownies and Jr. is upstairs downloading a copy of COD4? is a bit much. 😉

SomeGuy said:
?Unauthorized copying for certain usages is covered under Fair use.?

This is a common, and dangerous misconception of 17 USC 107, ?Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use?
There is a very, very limited allowance under the law for use certain works, without permission from the copyright holder, pursuant Fair Use. Basically, Fair Use allows a reproduction of another?s work for criticism, parody, comment, news, scholarship, and/or research. (And so that you?re aware, loading software on a computer RARELY falls into any of those categories.)

There are four primary considerations when determining Fair Use.
-The commercial or nonprofit educational nature of the use
-The nature of the original copyrighted work
-The amount of the original copyrighted work used
-The effect of the use on the market

In most cases, a user of another’s copyrighted material must prove Fair Use, not simply claim it.

Example… A school could not load 500 computers with Windows XP, and claim “Fair Use.” They would have to prove that the loads were for scholarship in direct relation to the software (as in scholarship of the software itself)… and most importantly they would have to justify the COMPLETE USE OF 500 COPIES… and further prove that the use of those 500 copies had no impact on the market… (Which would be impossible… given that the retail value of 500 XP copies is approximately $150,000.)

The intent of Fair Use was not to give people software for free..

The intent of Fair Use is to allow for parody and criticism of other people’s work.

SomeGuy said:
“Again, false. There are plenty of other incentives to create content…”

Respectfully, you are wrong, for several reasons.

A. There is nothing that says an author HAS to charge a user. They merely have the right to charge, if they so choose. I agree that there are several business models that would allow for free use of copyrighted material. That’s not the point. The point is that the law is designed to allow an author to choose ANY business model he or she wishes to engage.

B. We live in a capitalistic society. Our financial and economic systems are based on the idea that if one does work and/or provides a product or service, that entity deserves to be compensated. Period. For better, or worse… that’s the nature of how we do things in this country and virtually all other democratic societies.

Excellent arguments on your part. Great discussion points.

G.C. Hutson
Sadien, Inc.

Sadien, Inc. ( (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Stop.. and think... before posting childish comments...

Almost Anonymous said:
“Would it be considered childish for me to call you a corporate IP shill?”

Um.. well.. Yes. Considering the fact that I am the chief executive of a group that works to protect clients from the actions of the BSA and SIIA. That statement is also irrelevant, misinformed, pointless and apparently posted out of anger, for some unknown reason.

Almost Anonymous said:
“I’ve got one phrase for you, shill:
Death plus seventy years.”

I honestly have no idea what that means. I’m assuming you were trying to “look cool” by quoting the term of duration for copyrightable works that were created in the US on or after January 1, 1978, granting them sovereign rights of protection for a period equal to the life of the author, plus seventy years. A term of statutory protection that is also recognized by Sweden, Great Britain, Russia, Ireland and approximately 30 other countries.

I’m not sure what any of that has to do with my original post, the original article or any other post in this string.

But… aside from completely being misguided with your feeble attempt at an insult… and completely misquoting the phrase “life plus seventy…” …well done. Ya got me.

G.C. Hutson

Cynix says:


I’ve just seen this video and my jaw had dropped all the way to the floor by the end of it. I mean, are they for real? Serious??!! First, they’re lying, copying is NOT a crime as Mike says.

It’s done like a big movie production and pop video and it’s so fucking lame. Just how much did they have to pay that rapper to lose all his street cred for life?

Corporate America! Fuck yeah! Fuck you!!

+cuban says:

"in any language"

actually, there are only about a dozen countries that even come close to the US’s notion of copyright laws. in more than have of the world’s 190ish countries, there is either no copyright law at all, or it’s so archaic that it’s not worth attempting to enforce. so no, copying is not a crime in “any language”.

up until 2003, sending files over the internet was not infringement in russia. it wasn’t infringement in the US until 1996, and there’s still legitimate debate as to whether the sending of video over the internet in itself is infringement.

still today, the linking to (and possibly sharing) of files for noncommercial use is not infringement in spain. canada is possibly in this same boat.

if you want to know what the rest of these countries are, look at the USTR’s “special 301” report on IP rights, and see which countries the USTR bashed for having a “misconception in the law”.

also, the criminal copyright infringement must be done willfully, and this cannot be proven solely by evidence of reproduction or distribution. what is sufficient hasn’t really been determined yet.

Doctor Strange says:

It is a quite silly video.

By at least three dictionaries I checked, colloquially any sort of lawbreaking is a crime. I’d venture that the video is intended colloquially: most Americans, let alone children, probably could not explain to you what the difference is between a crime and a tort.

But on Techdirt we are all much more cautious about the distinction, correct? Well, not always. Here is an article that mentions that a new bill would “make it a crime to induce copyright infringement.” The bill amends 17 USC 501 dealing with infringement and liability in general, not 17 USC 506, which deals with criminal copyright infringement. By using the term “liable” rather than “guilty,” it’s doubly clear that this is bill is talking about making induced infringement a tort.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Impersonating a Police Officer.

About five years ago, the RIAA did something really dumb.

It might be worth investigating whether the Software Industry Association has done anything which might lead to a twenty year stretch in a federal penitentiary. Oh, sure, they _say_ that the people in the video are only actors.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Impersonating a Police Officer.

Wow. I had no idea the RIAA had tried to sink that low, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Thanks for the link to the article.

I just watched this stupid video a second time, and it scared me. Not because I partake in bootleg music, software or movies, but because of the high level of arrogance displayed by those who created the video. Someone should drop an email to the FBI or ATF with a link to the video, because the characters really do look like U.S. Federal agents conducting a raid.

There’s also an implied you’re gonna get your a– reamed scenario between the teenage bootlegger and a larger and older inmate, which is way over the top and completely unacceptable. If you copy that floppy, now you can also look forward to having your a__ f–ed in prison? The SIAA should be ashamed of themselves as an organization for releasing such a misleading video product.

Andrew (profile) says:


I don’t think I ever commented here as yet but this video had me cracking up. Don’t copy that floppy was the lamest excuse of a video ever. This one is even worse, they lie, they try to impose false ideas. When is it all going to stop? Then to top it all of they used Klingons who arent even speaking proper kilingon…

Seriously someone should sue them for false advertising.

hegemon13 says:

Re: WTF?

This is a “public service announcement”-type video. There is no product, therefore no consumer protection. You can’t sue them for false advertising. They are idiots, and I don’t like their message, but lying is not a crime except in very specific circumstances. As Mike always likes to say, just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s illegal.

Another anonymous poster says:

Okay, did this “discussion” change anyone’s behavior even one iota? No? Didn’t think so.

Seriously, why do people even talk about this issue when no one is going to change their habits, be they related to downloading, uploading, activism, or anything else? Do people just like to hear themselves type? I have yet to come across anyone after everyone on all sides has been bitching about this issue and have them say, “Yes, I was definitely swayed by my opponents’ arguments, and I (no longer) do action X.”

I wish people would just do what they’re going to do anyway and shut the hell up about it. Just go ahead and copy and support the death of whatever industry, or don’t copy and feel smug and self-righteous for paying a crapload of money for the latest overpriced whatever. No one really cares what your opinion is either way.

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