Lily Allen: It's Ok To Sell My Counterfeit CDs, Just Don't Give My Music For Free

from the confusion dept

Dark Helmet alerts us to the news that our good friend Lily Allen is back in the news discussing file sharing again. Tragically, it does not appear that she’s used her “time off” to better understand copyright issues very much. Unlike nearly everyone else who complains about copyright infringement, she’s apparently “all for” infringing on her copyrights, just so long as you pay someone — even if it’s the guy on the street selling the counterfeit CDs. Seriously:

“If someone comes up with a burnt copy of my CD and offers it to you for £4 I haven’t a problem with that as long as the person buying it places some kind of value on my music.”

Yes, so while some musicians have said they’re fine with non-commercial file sharing, but are against anyone selling their unauthorized works, Ms. Allen seems to have taken the opposite approach. Counterfeit all you want, just as long as you profit from it. Yeah. Someone should explain to her the difference between price and value, and also the benefits of word of mouth marketing. But, it doesn’t seem like she’s much interested in actually understanding this stuff, so if you want to help her understand, maybe go set up a shop selling burned copies of her CDs, and see what happens.

Of course, if we take this seriously, it shows how little she’s thought this through. Her earlier complaint was that when people file share, they don’t provide money back to the artists and the labels. Of course, when counterfeiters are selling on the street, the same thing is true, but suddenly it’s okay? At what point does the world realize that Ms. Allen doesn’t know what she’s talking about?

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Comments on “Lily Allen: It's Ok To Sell My Counterfeit CDs, Just Don't Give My Music For Free”

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Ima Fish (profile) says:

The better title would have been: “Lily Allen: I don’t know the difference between price and value.” That’s the real gist of her problem. She thinks that because people are not paying for her music, that they have no value.

Which is complete BS. I don’t pay for Google, the Firefox browser, and plenty of other things, but I still value them.

Conversely, if I tried to sell my shit on ebay, the value would be the same regardless of the price I put on it.

Devonavar (user link) says:


Ok, I thought we were done with Lily Allen. Seriously, I’m sick of hearing about her. I really don’t need to know that some artist I’ve never heard of (but who is apparently big in the UK) doesn’t get copyright. That’s not news to me. Why even give her the dignity of paying attention to her?

Bring on the stories of artists who are experimenting successfully … I can at least learn from them.

Michial Thompson (user link) says:

Re: Seriously?


mikee m couldn’t write enough stories about different artists that are experimenting successfully with free music, that’s why he settles for these type stories or for stories that accomplish nothing more than to put a few more words on the site to pull in more advertising $$$$….

mikee m has no agenda for copyright either way, in fact his vested interest is in nothing happening at all because then he can keep pissing out articles like this one and keep pulling in money from advertisers who have marketing people that are clueless about what this site really does, but are mesmerized by the number of hits that they manage to inflate on paper to sell.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Seriously?

you understand how your comment doesn’t follow any form of logic, right? I’m just stating that if you logically follow each step of your argument, it continually fails to make any sense. It’s akin to just picking a bunch of phrases and then putting them in random order. Even worse, you don’t actually have any real point and the closest thing you have to a point doesn’t even have any foundational argument of made up facts, let alone any actual real evidence.

Henry Emrich (profile) says:

I have a great idea!

Lily will probably totally dig this idea:

1. Let’s all burn Lily Allen CD’s, and sell them for a dollar.

2. People can buy them, get together, and we can have fun destroying the Lily Allen CD’s, as a protest of how completely and utterly insane she is.

3. The money we raise from making the CD’s gets split down the middle, with you keeping half, and the other half donated to your local Pirate Party.

Everybody wins:

1. Lily Allen wins because she gets to see people paying somebody OTHER than her, but at least they’re “placing value in her music”.

2. The CD-burner person wins because they make money off of it (and we all know the *only* acceptable measure of value is if money changes hands, according to these type people).

3 The various Pirate Parties get funding, so they can help to explain how stupid runaway IP laws have become.

4. Best of all, Lily Allen gets to look stupid — yet again.

Does this sound like a good idea, or not?

Stute says:

So according to Miss Allen, I can go into business selling her CD’s at my university for $5 a piece, and she won’t care at all? As long as there is “value”, right?

But if I had a group of Miss Allen fans, and I wanted to give people free copies of her CD… OOOOH NO HE DIDNT!

I see the logic in this. It’s completely foolproof.

BRB, buying lots of CDs and downloading BitTorrent

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

'Counterfeit' does not mean unauthorised copy

A counterfeit is a copy that falsely purports to be the original work, or an authorised copy.

When you burn a CD to give to a friend (without the copyright holder’s permission), you simply create an unauthorised copy. You don’t create a counterfeit.

If however your friend downloads the album art, prints a liner, shrinkwraps the CD case for sale at a car boot sale, then they have created a counterfeit.

Counterfeits are ALWAYS unethical because they involve falsehood.

If you purchase (or are given) an authorised copy, then any copy you make is ALWAYS ethical because you have a natural right to copy (share and build upon) the objects in your legitimate possession and dispose of them at your liberty.

Unfortunately, that natural right to copy was suspended in the 18th century to create the privilege of copyright for the printing industry (Stationers’ Guild). No doubt most of the public assumed it was about preventing plagiarism.

300 years later ACTA represents a similar attempt to confuse people into believing draconian legislation is needed to prevent counterfeiting, when instead it’s about transforming the 18th century’s monopoly of copying into the 21st century’s control of internetworked communication.

From the privilege of excluding others from making copies, to the privilege of excluding others from communicating via the Internet.

And the plebs are supposed to think “Oh, yes, we must have a law to stamp out pirates and counterfeiters”.

ACTA is about transforming the Internet into a cartel owned theme park, where people must pay to enter, and are tolerated only so long as they consume what they’re fed, and pay for it, again and again.

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Re: 'Counterfeit' does not mean unauthorised copy

I should emphasise that a counterfeit is unethical because it intends to exploit its deception. A copy or imitation that is honest in intention is fine.

It’s the attempt to maliciously impair someone’s apprehension of the truth that’s the wrong, not the act of imitation or reproduction.

It is a pity so many believe copyright infringement to be unethical, instead of merely disobedience of a commercial privilege that is fundamentally unethical in the first place.

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Re: Sweet! I'll never work a day again.

The sad thing is, so many musicians believe you would become rich – and so should be arrested and thrown into jail the moment you try to sell a single copy.

Having the liberty to make and sell copies, isn’t a license to print money. In fact that’s the point of copyright: to suspend people’s liberty to make copies so they’re forced to pay the printer a monopoly inflated price for them. Without the monopoly, the price of copies falls to zero (it has anyway).

Thus enlightened artists emancipate their audiences to share or sell copies as the market permits. They are left with the business they’ve always been in: selling their music to those who want to buy it. It’s just that buyer has changed from the record label to the fans. The fans don’t need to buy copies any more, but they still want the music.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Sweet! I'll never work a day again.

I think the Greatful Dead is a great example of what you are saying. They encouraged fans to record live shows and share the recordings. Then the band made tons of money by touring. The (mostly poor) audience recordings are still way more popular than the Dead’s studio albums to this day.

Synoiz says:

Another point of view...

To be fair you all seem a bit narrow minded. Perhaps Lily Allen is trying to address the problem of file-sharing as a whole as opposed to just making money for herself as you seem to assume.
By making it so that even counterfeit copies need to be paid for it could help against a growing trend in younger listeners that things don’t have to be paid for and it is this that needs to be counteracted. People need to know that while file-sharing is possible, it isn’t honest or legal for copyrighted material.

Sure we get services like Firefox and Google for free however they make their money in other ways such as advertising and private funding/public donation. The only way for artists to make their money is through record sales and live gigs, even then for a small-time signed act the costs can heavily outweigh the profits.

I think it would be a good idea for people to stop being so bitter and consider what they’re doing to help struggling musicians out there. Sure Lily Allen is high and dry but doesn’t that make you wonder why she’s taking so much time to help out other people? Show some respect.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Another point of view...

“Sure Lily Allen is high and dry but doesn’t that make you wonder why she’s taking so much time to help out other people? Show some respect.”

If by helping other people you mean whining, being a massive hypocrite, not understanding anything about what she is discussing, and telling other musicians that they’re wrong and she’s right…


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Another point of view...

No. What about the respect shown to the public domain? Or this idea that, ultimately, music is free. All art is a gift.

On the rare occasion I listen to music, I opt for a internet-streaming service. I pay nothing for it. When I was younger, I paid nothing to listen to the radio or watch some music video on television, which were both free for me to do.

“Growing trend in younger listeners that things don’t have to be paid for.”

This has been the trend for a very long time.

Good luck in the future.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Another point of view...

The struggling artist is only struggling if the music they create is unenjoyable or they don’t take the time to offer more to the listener to help support the artist and if that’s the case, why do they deserve money from the listener?.

What Lilly Allen is doing is mistaking value as money. Again, this is pointed out on Techdirt a lot. Value is not money and vice versa. Value is value, something that a person determines for themselves.

When she says that people should be paying for burned CDs, even if the artist is not getting anything out of it, she’s essentially saying that the work of the artist isn’t nearly as valuable as either the medium in which the work is transferred or the money exchanged for that work, yet she’s claiming that the opposite is true. That can’t be true, because if the value is that important to her, then she would forego selling CDs altogether and just play for free, hand out her music for free, basically doing everything for free because the value of her art is, as she wants us to believe, the most important aspect. Not the money.

If I am an artist and I don’t want people to buy counterfeit goods, then I should offer the goods freely where possible so that people can evaluate the work I’ve done and would want to actually purchase other things that I offer that can’t be easily counterfeited or the cost of the items are priced in accordance to their value, allowing people to easily make purchase decisions. This includes cds, t-shirts, hats, posters, and all the usual items. Though it’s just as important to be creative with what you’re selling as it is with your work. So pin-striped red paint jobs on toaster ovens that normally would cost very little but because the artist had a hand in the creation, will cost a lot just because the value has risen from that artists’ interaction with said toaster ovens.

SomeGuy (profile) says:

Re: Another point of view...

“People need to know that while file-sharing is possible, it isn’t honest or legal for copyrighted material.”

This can only be a true statement if the file sharing in question is unauthorized. There are many people who produce software, literature, AND music who want their works to be shared via such networks. Doing so is not only honorable and legal, but it’s obeying the artists’ wishes.

Anonymous Coward says:

If she’s giving permission, then it’s not copyright infringement. Basically, her requirements for getting permission to copy her work for non-personal use is that the person who provides the copy charge for it.

There’s nothing technically wrong with that. It strikes me as peculiar, but it’s perfectly fine within the framework of copyright… as long as she actually has the authority to grant permission to copy in the first place (ie, that it wasn’t usurped from her by a recording label).

Drew says:

Anybody who thinks the world needs their music is just a self important egoist. I play the guitar (poorly) and sing (even worse) by myself, to myself, for myself and that’s really all I need, ever. ‘F’ every single commercial music maker (hack) everywhere. You’re not essential to the world. I will never pay a dime for music. Ever.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Anybody who thinks the world needs their music is just a self important egoist. I play the guitar (poorly) and sing (even worse) by myself, to myself, for myself and that’s really all I need, ever. ‘F’ every single commercial music maker (hack) everywhere.

Look at the size of those sour grapes!


Chris M says:

Thanks Lily

Dear Lily,
Many thanks for your consent to copy your CD’s I have already put your offer into practice, having sold a number of copies of your CD’s to a bunch of my friends for a nominal 1p. This of course, can assure you that we do place a value on your music. (albeit not much), and of course does comply with the ‘letter’ of your offer.
Once again thanks, and I look forward to the profits once I go fully commercial, I am of course assuming that once this permission to copy is given it can’t be revoked however I will bow to greater legal minds than I.
A file sharer…and future music distributer.

Anonymous Coward says:

You guys can trash her all you want, in the end she is at least somewhat right:

She would rather people think her music is worth paying for rather than just something to take for free.

She has already figured out that price and value aren’t entirely unrelated. At some point, free stuff tends to lose it’s value if it’s always free.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I know, right? Air is free to breathe and I never value air. Or sunshine. Or all artistic human expression created before 1923, aka the Public Domain.

Music is supposed to be expensive. Or worth pennies. My point, it has to be worth something, not free, that’s completely outrageous. If people think music is free and easily shared then music will eventually be rendered so worthless that it will up and die.

Lily Allen is only trying to save music, can’t you see that? Well, her music, I imagine she doesn’t care about the Public Domain, otherwise she wouldn’t say such silly things.

Jason B (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Music will not die because it’s free, that’s like saying you can see the future. How do you know this? Secondly I am an old fart to you all most likely. Just 4o years old though, I used to watch TV for free, now I have to pay for it. I used to listen to the radio all the time, and records the songs on cassette. I paid for the cassettes not the music. That way when I wanted to hear the song again I could pop it in the box an press play. Was that unethical? I think not. Legal I think not again. Ethics and laws are not the same, laws are just someones wannabe ethics. Today, 20 years after beginning to use the internet I pay for no music unless I want the CD with art etc. I have purchased a few. I pay for less software, Regan helped Microsnot fleece my country and the corporate world killed small business too. I am not sorry if MicroSnot loses a sale, nor do I feel guilty or such. If people like to play music they will do so, before it was ever recorded it was always free to hear as it travels over air. And to the other dude, I truly value air and sunshine, just as much as life. How could you not value air or sunshine? You cannot live without them dummy…

Valkor says:

Re: Re:

“price and value aren’t entirely unrelated”

That’s actually true, but the relationship is loosely connected, at best. The example that springs to my mind is vodka. In college I learned about a vodka company that decided to price its product slightly *above* the price of all the other bottom-of-the-line vodkas. As a result, a good number of people chose that brand due to perceived value based on price. It was “obviously” better because it cost more. Unfortunately, that doesn’t quite work out in digital music land; no-one is going to think that a 256k MP3 for $1.29 is better than a 256k MP3 for $.99.

Lilly Allen wants us to attach a dollar value to the discrete set of bits that make her song. That makes some sense at first, but then you realize that with a few minutes and the copy/paste function on your computer you can make thousands or millions of copies on your hard drive. Therefore, the bits themselves have no value. She needs to grasp the idea that the value to her music is not in the copies. It is in the creation and the performance, and other things too.

art-products says:

when its money that comes form there mouths 1st

itsnot art …it becomes a product and piracy only exists when you inconvenience people for something that has no need of it or technically can be found easier

when you make bad price decisions.

when i can get a movie in minutes via bittorrent and IM PAYING FOR DISTRIBUTION WITH MY BANDWIDTH, and you have potentially a billion net souls why cant you just say 5 cents please….and move along
i think the actors and big musicians are over paid much as hockey players were at one point ( they had a strike and lost and had wages CAPPED ) perhaps we need a simular system ( thanks gary bettman ) for actors and musicans

give me 20$ million for a film and see how much difference the acting is……

and one poster had it the days of big name making huge cash are over and despite ACTA despite all there attempts they fail the genie is truly out of the bottle and not just one generation but THREE.

revoking copyright says:

ask your mp to revoke copyrights

tell you mp you will vote for a candididate that remvokes copyright priviledges.

IF NO one had copyrights none of this waste of time and money would be occuring. WE could focus instead on open source movies and music and concerts and theatres would be used more.
and yea try not too charge 20$ for pop n popcorn might make it harder to cry your just being greedy

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What about all the free music in the world? Or does that have to come with a price as well?

We get it. Free things are worthless things. There’s no value in free, ever. All that work that is in the Public Domain. Worthless.

Better to pay mere pennies to those who haven’t even contributed, aka the counterfeiters, than pay nothing at all. Am I right?

Sheinen says:

Mike can you add another RtB option of ‘change Techdirts name to ‘Lily Allen Needs Mental Care’ for a day? I’d pay for that…

Also, because I’ve got the hump with people always saying ‘get a new business model’ only to see it quickly rebunted with ‘you think of one for us’ I’ve thought of one:

If you give out your tunes for free and loads of people like them, then you can start to garner interest from tv, advertising and movie producers.

These people can commision you for specialist music to be used in their latest venture – the way the great artists were commisioned to paint certain masterpeices.

You can still tour, you can still sell merchandise, you can still sell bonus content, like behind the scenes films and access to a video blog or whatever you can think of.

As long as you maintain a quality in your music you will be able to make money from it, without actually charging for it.

And regarding royalites, frankly, once you stop actually working there is no reason you should get paid – save some of your cash for a pension like the rest of us!

By the way, I’ve reserved all rights on that idea so that, although I never intend to use it myself, no-one else ever can either, because I can.

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