New RIAA Evidence Comes To Light: Napster Killed Kerosene Too!

from the i-can-math-like-the-music-industry dept

The RIAA has stepped up its game in the final stages of its lawsuit against Limewire, where the focus is on determining damages. As part of this, it has cranked out an illuminating chart showing that the decline of the music business rests entirely on file sharing. Nowhere among the multi-colored lines will you find any references to an aging record-buying demographic, the proliferation of thousands of independent labels or even the ultimate game-changer itself, the internet.

As you well know, the internet was invented in 1991 by billionaire tycoon, Al Gore. In its infancy, the internet was nothing more than a forum for conspiracy theorists to exchange anti-government writings and ASCII porn. However, everything changed in 1998 with the simultaneous debut of Napster and the mp3, both invented by Shawn Fanning. With this new "distribution system," the music industry could no longer afford to ignore the looming force of the internet, at least not for more than the next half-decade. Now, with billions at stake, the RIAA has unleashed its ultimate weapon: the line chart. Below is their devastating "Exhibit A:" filed in the lawsuit against Limewire:

Broken down bizarrely into "Albums per Capita," the RIAA’s chart takes care to point out two things:

1. Napster.
2. All else being equal, record sales will grow indefinitely.

But that’s not all. The number crunchers over at the RIAA have also entered the following charts as eye-catching evidence of the havoc wreaked by file sharing. 

Exhibit B: Napster vs. Kerosene Sales

Kerosene usage dropped off considerably before the 1990’s, but was still growing slowly for most of the decade. As this previously unpublished RIAA chart clearly shows, 1999 (1 P.N.*) was kerosene’s peak, which was then followed by a decade-long slide. Consulting economists from George Mason University have stated that Napster’s arrival "didn’t have a goddamn thing to do with kerosene’s decline." This testimony has been stricken from the record as "irrelevant," as no economist consulted was a former employee of the major labels. Conclusion: the world would be a better (if slightly more odorous) place if Napster had never existed.


Exhibit C: The Internet vs. Vehicle Theft

With this chart, obviously the RIAA intends to show a clear correlation between the internet’s introduction and the decline of vehicular theft, an unfortunate situation that has put many honest car thieves out of work. It is also hoping to prove the old adage that "illegal downloading is exactly like stealing a car — which is why car theft declined as file sharing increased."

As the data shows, vehicle theft followed the music industry’s decade-long climb from 1986-1996. Or tried to, anyway. Vehicle theft peaked in 1991 at an unsustainable level of .0066 vehicles stolen per capita. Unfortunately, the web turned these hard-working car thieves into lazy music thieves, thwarting a vehicular theft pattern that should have risen to epidemic levels over the next decade. The data points to one damning fact: you can do more financial damage with a single internet connection than has been done in the entirety of human history up to 1998.

Exhibit D: The RIAA and the Honest American Farmer

As everyone knows, Real Americans Don’t Share™. And nothing is more American than farming, one of the first victims of the internet’s cruel efficiency. The American farm has been on a decline since well before records were kept (ca. 1992, apparently), and the arrival of file sharing decimated both of the U.S.A.’s prime cash crops: compact discs and popcorn.

The fate of these declining industries are apparently forever intertwined, much like the essentially meaningless overlaid chart above. Both lines run downhill in an indictment of, well, everything un-American. In fact, if you look closely enough, you can see the two graph points bravely embracing each other as they weather the onslaught of progress.

And there you have it: incontrovertible proof that copyright infringement is killing American institutions one download at a time.

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Companies: limewire, riaa

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Comments on “New RIAA Evidence Comes To Light: Napster Killed Kerosene Too!”

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Brian Schroth (profile) says:

Also, consider this: In 1986 there was one fledgling Internet, and there was one global class 7 nuclear disaster in Chernobyl.

Now in 2011, we have Internet2 ( ), and we have had a second class 7 nuclear disaster at Fukushima.

We must destroy all internets if we want to prevent a nuclear holocaust.

aldestrawk says:

Re: Re:

Wow! What supports this is that in 1959 there was a meltdown in a Sodium cooled reactor (Sodium Reactor Experiment, SRE) at the Santa Susana Field Laboratories near Los Angeles. Around the same time in the late 50’s the DoD was starting to look into a command and control network that could survive a nuclear war. In 1960, the RAND Corporation got a DARPA contract and one employee in particular, Paul Baran (who died just recently), was instrumental in coming up with the idea of a distributed digital packet switching network. The Pentagon liked the idea and asked AT&T to build a prototype. AT&T said, no way, it couldn’t be done.
It makes sense that since the Internet was designed and built to survive a nuclear holocaust that, in effect, its existence is encouraging one.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Now you're just being silly.

And the comments on that tell a far different story with the very biased data Terry is using.


The scary thing is you’re serious that the article actually debunks anything. All it does is propogate the same tired stories trying to link filesharing with untold amounts of damage that’s “hurting” no one.

MrWilson says:

Re: Now you're just being silly.

You keep posting this like it proves anything.

Flawed original methodology and flawed re-examination based on interpretation bias does not conclusive evidence make.

The only thing a survey can truly show is that respondents answered a certain way to a certain question, but not whether or not they were honest or were even real people.

Not to mention the fact that the way the questions are asked are essential.

For example: “three out of every four respondents said that if P2P were not available they would have purchased some or all of the music”

Lets say that roughly all songs cost $1 on iTunes, if they’re available. Some people have downloaded more than 40,000 songs. Did they necessarily have $40,000 to spend on those songs? Probably not. The difference between “some and all” as far as downloading music can be $5 and $40,000 or more. If the question doesn’t allow for respondents to qualify their answers, which they never do, the results cannot be conclusive of anything except that the respondent chose Answer A instead of Answer B.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Now you're just being silly.

Dude, as someone who’s illegally downloaded a trillion dollars worth of music, I can conclusively say that I totally would have purchased a trillion dollars worth of music if I couldn’t have illegally downloaded it.

Why would I lie? A trillion dollars worth!

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Kerosene ?

My theory has something to do with a bunch of Crackers wearing Kerosene Hats back in 1993-1994, which were then discarded as college rock vanished and alternative rock became the nameplate for such lousy artists as Linkin Park and Staind.

Sandra Bernhard may have been involved, but so far no one has been able to graph it.

StrongStyle81 says:

If this chart proves anything its how badly the music industry adapted and utilized new technology. The major growth started in 88/89 and really kicked off in the 90’s. The reason is because CDs were a better format and were about fifteen dollars an album. In 1999 mp3 was the new technological edge and instead of using it, the music industry tried to sue it out of existence. If they had embraced that technology and Napster early on, the sales figures would have kept up and maybe continued to climb.

yogi2200 (profile) says:

It's Autotune's fault

According to figure 1, the music decline happened about the same time that autotune was first released therefore singers were putting in less effort and consumers responded by buying less until of course Rebecca Black came along and now they are starting to ease up (lol)

How come no one compares music and video entertainment to games? 30 years ago you could write the entire Invaders sfx in a few minutes and now it takes years for a game to be developed and yet the lifetime of games is only a few months IF it’s extremely good, a few years and yet movies and music expect to put in the same amount of effort as they always have and expect the returns spanning decades in a ever evolving technological society that we live in today even though musicians ADMIT that they muck around to make lyrics/riffs and accidentally make a number 1 hit… you’d think the groupies would be enough but I guess the producers don’t see any of that action

a-dub (profile) says:

Its interesting that they are blaming Napster, what about the rise in popularity of the mp3 file format and broadband internet access ubiquity.

IMO, That leveling off displayed in the first graph from 1994-1996 was due to .mp3’s rise in popularity and then the dip in 1997 was when mp3’s really took off.

I’ve always view the drop in record sales revenue as a long overdue market correction.

Steven (profile) says:

Albums per person

That first graph doesn’t even pass the basic laugh test (not that any of them do).

It’s measured in albums per person, and they are asserting that individuals would have continued to purchase more and more albums over time.

We’re going to ignore that sales plateaued for for six years after a spike and just draw a line going up forever. That graph should be the most meaningful, but the fact that they push crap like that tells me they have nothing.

If I were a judge I’d laugh that one out of the courtroom.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re: Albums per person

We’re going to ignore that sales plateaued for for six years after a spike and just draw a line going up forever. That graph should be the most meaningful, but the fact that they push crap like that tells me they have nothing.

Yeah I was hoping some statistician could point out the correlation of their line to the preceding data because to my mere motal eyes it looks like the line is entirely arbitary and unrelated….. not to mention possibly done by someones 7-year old child with a ruler.

It’s measured in albums per person, and they are asserting that individuals would have continued to purchase more and more albums over time.

… and since it’s in ALBUMS per person, perhaps some helpful label executive could carefully explain why most people now buying singles rather than albums has absolutely nothing to do with the reality line too.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Albums per person

It’s measured in albums per person, and they are asserting that individuals would have continued to purchase more and more albums over time

This x1000.

Expecting people to just buy more and more albums is exactly like expecting that home prices would continue to rise indefinitely. Could someone remind me how well that worked out?

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

Re: What's the data based on?

It says “Including dig singles,” whatever that means. I’m not sure what kind of multiplication they’re using because the RIAA hasn’t made the data on this chart available. I’m not even sure if this includes just iTunes or everywhere else.

Are they going with 8 songs per album? 15 per album? 12 per album? Who knows?

charliebrown (profile) says:

Who is to blame?

How about the fact that (in Australia) between 1991 and 1999 a new release CD album was around AU$30 whereas by 1998 a CD single was AU$10 ~ Of course you “can’t compete with “free” when you’re charging ten bucks a song!

Apparently actual units of CD’s sold began to decline in 1995 but the fact that they put the prices up offset any monetary decrease in those sales. As soon as I revive the other computer (where the source is bookmarked) I shall provide a source if wanted

Comboman (profile) says:

Surprising (but understandable) graph

I’m surprised that the albums-per-person number is still as high as it is. It’s basically the same now as it was in 1975 (after which there was a jump as people re-bought albums they already owned on 8-track and cassette) and in 1982 (after which there was a jump as people re-bought albums they already owned on CD). Since people can now rip CDs they already own to whatever digital format they want, there is no more need to re-buy albums (which based on this graph, seems to be what the record business is counting on).

I’d love to see a graph of singles-per-person. I suspect that graph would look very different, with a gradual decline from the 1970’s to 1990’s (as 45RPM singles fall out of favor and tapes/CDs didn’t have a viable single format) then a huge jump when iTunes is released. I bet the RIAA don’t want to show that graph in court.

Anonymous Coward says:

I blame iTunes

The 2000 decline may have just been a normal cylic occurance, or maybe by then all us fools had finished re-purchasing our already-purchased music in that new CD format yielding less sales, but iTunes came out in 2001 at which point it was no longer necessary to purchase entire albums to get the one or two tracks you actually wanted. Of course album sales per person went down. Morons.

slander (profile) says:

Re: Al Gore?

During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country’s economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.

Al Gore, 9 March 1999

Straight from the horse’s mouth, I’d say. Or, are you somehow implying that he’d lie about something like that? Next thing you know, you’ll be saying that since he lied about that, he probably lies about many other things, and not merely the those from which he profits.

Sheesh, the nerve…

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

Re: Why do people keep this stupid "invented" lie going?

Your information (while informative) is not relevant. I don’t think it matters who invented Napster (or the mp3 format) because this suit is the RIAA vs. Limewire. But for some reason, they slap Napster’s name on the graph.

Perhaps they’re hoping to get a chunk of Napster all over again.

slander (profile) says:

And now, the rest of the story...

January 12, 1999 – Britney Spears releases her debut album. Soon afterward, music sales started taking a steep downhill slide. On the other hand, sales of 2.73-minute montages of semi-melodic noise and insipid, repetitive lyrics started increasing in record amounts.

For generations, Pakistan had what is still considered by some a very traditional form of dowry-dispute resolution called “Bride Burning,” where the newly-wed young lady mysteriously burns to death while using a kerosene stove. In 1999, the number of reported cases rose to 1600+, bringing international attention to the problem. As a result, kerosene sales worldwide plummeted as young, hip, tech-savvy Pakistanis started shunning the practice. Caustic acid sales, however, have risen dramatically since then.

Regarding the statistics on vehicle theft, 1991 saw the emergence of what are called “RiceBoys.” As most of the aficionados of this new (lack-of)culture were, simply put, too poor to afford the objects of their (twisted) desires, many simply stole them. (Apparently, they couldn’t afford big hard drives, either, or they would have simply downloaded them.) Note the increase in 1991. That was the year that Honda started selling Type-R stickers directly, instead of requiring a full car purchase (or theft, as the case might be).

As far as the farm operations data is concerned – I got nothin’…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The first chart is indeed part of the argument that is going to prove the RIAAs case. (Or that is their intent I am sure.) As such, it is ‘real’.

The rest of the charts use the same method of projection against other elements that are measured and tracked. Basically, it assumes the first chart is right, and the method used to display the data is right, therefor, these also have to be right for the same reason.

In all cases it is showing a correlation, that is, they are happening. However, in no case should one assume a causation, because, frankly as the other charts show, it is utterly foolish to believe that Napster caused kerosene sales to fall, yet, that is what they (the RIAA) wants you to believe about Napster and album sales by showing its chart.

Hopefully I got my terms in order…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: RIAA Using only two data points?

Wonder what the chart would look like with a third point showing ‘piracy’ numbers. Since they didn’t even try… I am guessing it would make the chart tell a worse story. After all, if you believe their arguments that Piracy is the only cause, piracy numbers should be shrinking from 1986 hitting an all time low in 1999, and then skyrocketing without any dips in the last 11 years.

They probably don’t include that number since it would make the graph tell a slightly different story.

Peg Leg Jack says:

Piracy at Peg Leg Jack's


I’ve been downloading free music via mp3’s since before you guys had any clue as to what to call people like me. Since I’m basically the OG pirate now, I would like to extend an offer to my fellow pirates out there…

I will be creating an internetical sensation of Buc’s Den that isn’t 4chan. It will be called “Peg Leg Jack’s”. At Peg Leg Jack’s you can compare drinking ability with other pirates, trade booty, swoon wenches, and mp3 it up to your hearts content. There will be only 2 firewall rules at Jack’s;

The first rule of Peg Leg Jack’s: If it aint at least CD quality, it aint at Peg Leg’s.

The second rule of Peg Leg Jack’s: DRM will get you a coach trip to the goat locker.

I’ll be seein you swash bucklin sea rats at Jack’s!

-Peg Leg Jack

Bob D (profile) says:

Couldn’t possibly be because the music industry hasn’t found a band worth a damn since the 90’s. Couldn’t possibly be because everything played today is vetted by Clear Channel lacking any soul, depth or correlation to “music”. The music industry died when rap went mainstream and actually started calling that shit a musical album and the crap they arranged (or should I say rearranged) songs. The industry would do well to focus on finding “musicians” and “songwriters” as opposed to suing people who refuse to pay for their crap. I’ve never once downloaded music from any band that i didn’t buy the album first if I considered them to be musicians. Most of the bullshit out today doesn’t even qualify as commercial-worthy (read ad). Much less good enough to warrant spending money on. If the band is worth it though most of us support them by buying. Assholes.

Robert Driggers (profile) says:

I’m not an expert either but if you want to see a band achieve commercial success and garner some air-play record sales are an important component. Clear Channel won’t play what record companies don’t have sales of. Believe me I don’t support records sales because of companies; most companies suck. They could care less about the artistic value of a group’s creation only asking does it sell? Just look at the fact that in order to please the conservatives in this country (and to be available at Walmart) they have “radio” versions of songs and edited albums.

The good bands get money from their sales; although they derive their primary earnings from tours and t-shirt sales from what I understand. Unfortunately (although the paradigm is shifting) the labels are needed to get the exposure. You got to make the playlist if you want to be heard.

Jose_X (profile) says:

a few items that may not have been mentioned earlier

Overheated 90s economies?

Year 2000 predictions and uncertainties?

Presidential elections?


Twin tower attack?

That fact that turning points don’t necessarily correlate with peaks but also with trends and averages?

The fact a great many other things did not coincide at those points in time (of all things to look at, you can find data points for anything just about, especially if you have loads of money)?

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