Stealing Isn't Saving, But Sharing Isn't Stealing

from the time-to-learn-some-economics dept

Last week we wrote about Janko Roettger’s GigaOm post concerning the fact that file sharing continues to grow. We focused on how the MPAA and the RIAA might be declaring “victory” too soon. Amusingly, the MPAA’s Alex Swartsel took offense to Janko’s article and posted one of the organization’s typically laughable responses, in which they attempt to scold Janko for his “intellectually dishonest” claim that file sharing is “socially acceptable.” Let’s just say that between the Swartsel and Janko, one of the two is in denial, and it’s not Janko.

The part that the MPAA takes issue with is the following part from Janko’s post:

The U.S. credit ratings downgrade, tumbling stocks and international instability have made not just financial analysts nervous this week. Consumers are also starting to wonder whether we?re about to enter another recession. Whenever that happens, people start to tighten their belts and cut unnecessary expenses — like paying for movies and TV shows…. With memories of the housing slump still fresh, many people could simply return to BitTorrent and download movies for free instead of going to the movies or paying for VOD.

It’s pretty clear that there is no statement of support or cheering on or anything here. Janko is simply reporting a simple fact. Some group of people will continue to find unauthorized means of accessing content a better deal than authorized offerings. I don’t see how that’s objectionable at all. It’s a pretty easy prediction to make because who honestly doesn’t think it’s true?

But, to the MPAA, this is “intellectually dishonest” and the equivalent of Janko supporting “shoplifting clothing.” Wow. You know what would be intellectually dishonest? Pretending that lots of people don’t use file sharing would be intellectually dishonest. Pretending that a bad economy combined with dumb moves by movie studios might drive fewer people to unauthorized file sharing would be intellectually dishonest. Repeating blatant falsehoods from the MPAA would be intellectually dishonest. Comparing stealing of physical goods to someone making a copy of a digital file would be intellectually dishonest. Calling out a reporter for accurately making a point would be intellectually dishonest.

What’s not intellectually dishonest is accurately reporting what’s happening.

But the MPAA and Swartsel are so in denial that apparently they’ve decided to “shoot the messenger.” This is all too typical of the MPAA. Rather than adapt and deal with reality, the folks there like to pretend the world is a very different place and will attack any messenger who shows otherwise. Honestly, Swartsel’s post reads the same way an MPAA blog post would have read a decade ago if it had a blog back then. It’s full of misleading or downright incorrect claims:

T-shirts and jeans aren?t made out of zeroes and ones, at least not yet. But just because movies and TV shows and songs can now be packaged and distributed as data, not just as film reels or vinyl records or DVDs, and can be acquired or distributed with a few clicks of a mouse, doesn?t mean that the labor and time and money that went into making them is any less meaningful.

No one — especially not Janko — has claimed that “the labor and time and money that went into making” movies is “less meaningful.” Swartsel is simply changing the topic because she can’t actually argue against what Janko has said — because it’s accurate. So she’s pretending he said something entirely different. The fact that labor and time and money goes into something doesn’t make a difference. I put “labor and time and money” into Techdirt, and then it’s my job to figure out how to make a living out of it. It does me no good to sit around and say “but I worked hard — now pay me.”

No one cares how hard you worked or how much money you spent. People buy things based on the market. They buy things based on the intersection of supply and demand — and this is an economics lesson that the MPAA and Swartsel apparently remain ignorant of.

We doubt many people will subscribe to the kind of intellectual dishonesty that suggests that it?s fine ? or really, that it?s inevitable ? to steal as a way of saving. But it?s troubling that by suggesting that stolen content available on rogue sites and elsewhere is just another substitute good, Roettgers is tacitly arguing that content theft is legitimate and socially acceptable.

He made no such argument, tacitly or not. I will, however, make the argument that for a very large segment of the population, it absolutely is socially acceptable. It is not socially acceptable to me. I don’t engage in it myself and never have. But it’s intellectually dishonest to pretend that many, many people don’t find it socially acceptable. If the MPAA were really concerned about adapting to the changing market, the first step would be actually recognizing that. But that’s not how the MPAA works. It works by denying reality, and then running to Congress to get them to change the laws because its member studios don’t want to have to change. Tellingly, it appears that Swartsel’s last job was… working for Congress.

It would be nice, just once, if the MPAA (and the RIAA) could actually be intellectually honest. If the folks there could admit some basic facts: the market has changed and many, many people find unauthorized file sharing socially acceptable. If you start at that point, and then say, “now what do we do about it?” you can come up with all sorts of productive answers. But that’s not what they do at all. They just keep trying to demonize it, and don’t seem to realize that every time they insist reality isn’t real, people trust them even less.

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Companies: mpaa

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Comments on “Stealing Isn't Saving, But Sharing Isn't Stealing”

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121 Comments
dfed (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

DO not fear, citizen. Our ISP’s will ensure we cannot in fact download a car fast enough to get to work. They have committed themselves to ensuring all cars downloaded are properly registered and will enforce bandwidth caps to ensure you lowly poor who can only afford low-resolution pinto 4 cylinders do not in fact download a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.

…unless you proxy through Brazil. Then you can drive to work at 274 mph, but you can’t use the windshield without a crack.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Mike, I fear two errors/typos in your article have made it a bit incoherent.

“Pretending that a bad economy combined with dumb moves by movie studios might drive more people to unauthorized file sharing would be intellectually dishonest.”
And “But it’s intellectually dishonest to pretend that many, many people do find it socially acceptable.”

Both those statements portray the exact opposite the rest of the article wants to show.

In the first sentence, I think you meant “less” instead of “more”, and in the second “don’t” instead of “do”.

Andy (profile) says:

business models for the riaa mpaa

The Movie Industry knows they could make money from supplying movies at no charge. I would download a movie that had advertisements in it if i knew the quality was good. I would even be prepared to pay to download official hd releases if the price was 2.00. There is money to be made, i mean how many people already wait for a few months before downloading a movie because they do not want a cam copy, how many people would be prepared to wait for an official high quality release.I would even seed for a month if it was a free download , thereby giving the movie industry a free distribution network
All I want is what i get if i had to download a torrent. Easy of use and no restrictions at all.

Paul (profile) says:

Re: Re: business models for the riaa mpaa

There are solutions to these sorts of problems. As long as the ads are not so painful, I think most will leave them in support of the movie.

Make the ads painful (tons of boring, low quality ads spread through out the video) and you bet they will get edited out and the edited version distributed.

Just a few, with reasonable quality, and people will not bother to avoid in favor of using the “official” release.

Big Mook (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: business models for the riaa mpaa

I stopped watching AMC and IFC because they now have commercial breaks every few minutes. Both of them were commercial-free in the past, and I was a frequent viewer. They didn’t just introduce a few commercial breaks, they went totally overboard (like the big 3 networks have been for decades), with only 37 minutes of your show for every 60 minutes of air time.

Even though I could DVR and time-shift the commercials out for the most part, I don’t want the hassle, so I never record anything on those channels.

These are channels that I get “free” with my Dish package, and they’re both in HD, but I won’t watch them, just because they have so many commercials and they have to cut so much to get a movie into its time slot.

My point is that I would rather wait weeks or months to get the content via Netflix (BD or streaming) than to watch it with commercial interruptions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 business models for the riaa mpaa

Me too. IFC especially. Their slogan is (last I saw) “Slightly Off”, which came to mean that the shows are only on for so long, then “off” for commercial breaks. I stopped watching completely, even spitefully! I AM ALREADY PAYING FOR CABLE, DAMMIT! The hell?

The mate and I recently sat through commercial breaks on NBC – muted, which is de riguer anymore – and got up to 13 promos/ads during one break…which we sat through to get about 30 seconds more of the end of the show. I realize NBC is an over-the-air station, but I AM ALREADY PAYING FOR CABLE, DAMMIT.

It’s totally tiresome. The way they cut films up is ridiculous. Was watching Kill Bill on some commercial channel (AMC?), because I can’t not watch Kill Bill for some reason, and they went to commercial in the middle of a 2-sentence conversation. They have no regard for continuity nor enjoyment of this precious IP these broadcasters claim to be so protective of.

Gah. Sorry, got kvetching.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: People are very lazy...

…and not quite as dishonest as a certain people think. If you make a halfway decent gratis version, most people simply won’t bother with anything else. It doesn’t matter how easy the alternative is.

If you make it, they will come.

If you don’t make it, some will find what else is out there.

Tons of people gush over Netflix and it’s really kind of crappy.

out_of_the_blue says:

Okay, Mike: "come up with all sorts of productive answers".

Problem: The MPAA has practically “infinite goods”. Soon as available to the public, files are shared without a single penny going to the producers. How would you prevent that? Or, if you prefer, how you “monetize” the non-authorized distribution channels?

Seems to me an utterly intractable problem. And, no, I don’t regard your notions as having solved it. You have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines, but if the industry just lets piracy go, then its income most certainly will fall to practically nothing. Many people are vitally interested in the problem, to some degree legitimately, regardless of the MPAA’s prior actions.

This is just another piece where you dump on the MPAA — it’s irrelevant whether deserved or not; they’re stuck with their methods when no CLEAR or even likely alternative — and then you assert that there are “all sorts of productive answers” without ever detailing a /general/ solution — not one requiring prior and large popularity where the crucial threshhold of visibility has been crossed.

John Doe says:

Re: Okay, Mike: "come up with all sorts of productive answers".

I am sure Mike will work on a solution as soon as he is paid to do it.

As for the people who are paid for a solution, non has been forthcoming, hence the criticism. They are not stuck with their methods, they run the industry and can work toward a solution. FUD is the only solution they have come up with which as you know, is not a solution.

Vincent Clement (profile) says:

Re: Okay, Mike: "come up with all sorts of productive answers".

Despite the wide availability of ‘free’ music, iTunes has become the biggest retailer of music.

Despite the availability of cheap treated water, people pay for bottled water.

Despite a pop, popcorn and chocolate bar not costing anywhere near $10, people pay that at a movie theatre.

Lots of example where something can compete with free or real cheap.

Lord Binky says:

Re: Okay, Mike: "come up with all sorts of productive answers".

I know even the simple ideas hurt like that one time snorted the line of rolaids (those assholes) instead of coke, but you can always do the business thing and hire a more intelligent person to brainstorm for you.

The easy option, is to copy a successfull digital distribution sales business model from. For this I would propose the Steam service, which has a large loyal and satisfied customer base. So, to adapt this business model for say movies, you would have the customer make an account, purchase a movie, and have the selection added to their personal account. There are NO time limits, NO viewing limits, and should be able to download the movie with no limitations. Additionally adding other features such as being able to stream the movie, download in different formats/sizes/bitrates for the most common Portable Media Players (PMP). I would expect this type of service to be well recieved.

Now, please keep in mind contrary to popular belief individual customers are NOT STUPID. If you charge $30 dollars for a new movie disc, people do not expect to pay $30 dollars for the infinitely reproducable digital version. They inherently understand there is a cost that goes into materials, printing, packaging, warehousing, transportation of physical goods that does not go into the transmission of a digital good. They expect the full savings between the physical and digital goods to show up in the price of the digital good. It is also nice you don’t overproduce a digital good.

The reason you make more money this way is because you sell more product, as in VOLUME (which is the main exploitable aspect of digital goods). NOT because you charge more for the same product while distribution costs go down, that way leads to short term profits and long term troubles and we don’t want that AGAIN do we?

“BUT THAT WILL NEVER WORK!” And I ask “WHY? You sound like a child refusing to try ice cream for the first time because you don’t like how it looks. You can’t understand that if you would only try it, you would love it.” If you do things FOR the customer, they will pay you for it. I know people do NOT want to spend hours converting media into a format they can put on their PMP of choice. If you charged $5 dollars for the addition of each movie (even new ones) you would have a rush of people filling out their movie catalogs on your service. Maybe not $5, but you keep the price point where it is more convienent to buy the movie then find a way to have a friend that bought the movie lend it somehow, just download it, or simply forget the whole thing entirely.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Okay, Mike: "come up with all sorts of productive answers".

“If you charge $30 dollars for a new movie disc, people do not expect to pay $30 dollars for the infinitely reproducable digital version.”

While Steam is all well and good (I do have a sizable catalog of Steam games myself), the quote there is also one of Steam’s biggest problems. They frequently charge more for games than say Amazon do. For example, Amazon has Dragon Age Origins Ultimate Edition for ?12.99 while Steam has it for 26.

MrWilson says:

Re: Okay, Mike: "come up with all sorts of productive answers".

It seems like you haven’t been paying attention. Beyond Mike’s articulation of several options for decent business models, there are companies that are actually using decent business models.

Example: Netflix – cheap, popular distribution method with millions of users. What have the studios done or tried to do in response to Netflix making their content affordable and available to consumer demand? Limit the availability of whole catalogs of movies, lengthen the amount of time it takes for Netflix to get movies to consumers, and price licensing deals out of range so the Netflix won’t even carry them.

The industry doesn’t even need a decent business model if they’d just stop trying to hamper the business models of companies that are innovating. They still stand to make money. But they just don’t stand to make every penny being made off of “their content” and so they are outright refusing money in favor of thinking they can stop piracy. What is more absurd is that this type of approach (i.e. ignoring consumer demand for cheap, conveniently accessible content and hindering those who are trying to provide it) is what drives more people to piracy.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Mistake?

No. What he’s arguing is that a lot of people find filesharing networks acceptable. The pros and cons of each can be discussed at length.

There wouldn’t be a bittorrent site if there were only a handful of people sharing files.

Same goes for cyberlockers, online storage of files, etc. I’m not saying they’re all used for piracy, just that a lot of people use them for various purposes.

BigKeithO (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I am in my late 20’s, I’ve never met a single person in my age group who found file sharing, of any kind, to be morally wrong. Most people say the only reason they don’t file share is because they aren’t computer literate enough to setup bit torrent.

That seems like a pretty big problem for the content industry that won’t adapt.

Jesse (profile) says:

“I will, however, make the argument that for a very large segment of the population, it absolutely is socially acceptable. It is not socially acceptable to me. I don’t engage it in myself and never have.”

I hope you don’t get offended by me saying so, but I’ve always wondered how you really feel about it. I mean, I know many opponents try to say you are just “supporting the pirates.” So naturally, you would never want to come off as a pirate or actually supporting piracy, or say that you yourself think that file sharing is socially acceptable. So I always wonder if you are just saying that so as to not fuel the troll fire, so to speak, or if you are genuine.

And if you don’t find file sharing socially acceptable, then I wonder, why not? Because it’s against the law? Because you find it morally wrong? Because people worked hard, and their brows got sweaty, and they deserve money even when they don’t offer a compelling product at a price the market will pay? For you to find file sharing socially unacceptable seems a little contrary to most of the content posted on Techdirt, in my humble opinion.

Loki says:

What makes these stories really sad, is that even if the RIAA/MPAA found a way to completely and utterly block piracy with 100% efficiency, they would still be totally and utterly baffled as to why their businesses are still in the toilet.

Ending piracy would not end my boycott of all things Sony (as least as much as it realistically possible to avoid buying products as diverse as Sony sells).

Ending piracy is not going to get me to buy more music (in fact I think I’m currently buying more music than I did ten years ago, before “piracy”, just none of it is produced my the major labels).

Ending piracy is not going to increase business when there is a good chuck of the population (I can easily name several dozen people I know) making 15-30% LESS an hour than they were a decade ago while prices continue to go UP. Gas alone is significantly higher than it was a decade ago, and unlike CDs and movies, is pretty much a necessity these days.

Ending piracy is not going to force people with less money (often in real $ and not just adjusted for cost) offered to them in/under terms they do not want.

Ending piracy by ratcheting up copyrights and other protections policy (even if it did work) isn’t helping to do more than piss an increasingly larger segment of their consumer base to look for other alternatives (legal or otherwise).

Watching the industry trying to fight piracy is like watching someone try to plug little holes in a dam while a gorge has opened up allowing the flood waters to bypass the dike altogether.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What is equally sad is the people who can’t understand that getting something for nothing without permission just isn’t right.

It doesn’t matter how stupid the RIAA and MPAA or any of the others are, you can’t just take from them. You can’t steal candy from the stupid kid in your class, why can you take from them just because they are stupid.

It is as if everyone lost their morals. Obtaining something for nothing when you are suppose to pay or get permission just isn’t right. Intentionally going to out to do it is even less right.

There are not little holes in the dam, just a bunch of little a-holes who think they can have everything for nothing.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

What is equally sad is the people who can’t understand that getting something for nothing without permission just isn’t right.

How much did you pay to read Techdirt? Nothing? but.. but.. but.. That’s not right!!!!!!eleven Give it a rest, guy.

You can’t steal candy from the stupid kid in your class, why can you take from them just because they are stupid.

What if I just copied his candy? Is that okay?

It is as if everyone lost their morals.

Assuming you were ever enrolled in a school system of any type, what did your kindergarten teacher tell you about sharing? Did he said it was immoral, or that it was nice?

Obtaining something for nothing when you are suppose to pay or get permission just isn’t right.

Locking up our culture and paying for laws to keep it locked up isn’t right, either. Which one does more harm?

There are not little holes in the dam, just a bunch of little a-holes who think they can have everything for nothing.

Very few people actually want something for nothing. Most of us want something worth paying for before we pay for it. VPNs usually charge around $8/mo. These people who want “something for nothing” gladly PAY for a VPN service. Why do you think this is so? Clearly they are willing to pay at least $8/mo for something, aren’t they?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I love idiots.

How much do I pay to read techdirt? Well, how many ads on the page? How much of my internet connection is used to see techdirt? I pay for Techdirt, you all do. No, not “money out of my pocket directly at the door”, but I pay for it, in the same manner that I pay for “free” television, and “free” radio.

You said “Locking up our culture and paying for laws to keep it locked up isn’t right, either. Which one does more harm?”

Me: What the heck? How are we “paying for laws”? There is no “locking up of culture”, that is perhaps the ultimate strawman. It wouldn’t be culture if you never saw it, heard it, whatever. So obviously what is out there is being seen and enjoyed, and is part of the culture. “locking it up” would suggest nobody saw it ever, and that is just not the case.

As for VPN, it is pretty much proven that idiots will pay almost anything to avoid paying. It’s the classic stupidity of the Tardian nation.

Any more lies and misdirection you want to apply here?

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

How much do I pay to read techdirt? Well, how many ads on the page? How much of my internet connection is used to see techdirt? I pay for Techdirt, you all do.

Uh, wow. Okay, I agree. I’m going to venture a guess that 100% of the people who infringe on copyrights do it on an internet connection that has been paid for by someone. So, I guess that’s it– problem solved. As long as you pay for it, directly or indirectly, it’s okay. I expected you to put up way more of a fight, really.

As for ads, which is a great point– do you think Mike should be able to sue you if you block ads? Afterall, you’re “stealing” his potential profit, right?

Boy, I’m bet you’re glad you never put a name to anything, aren’t you.

Me: What the heck? How are we “paying for laws”?

Tell me what you mean by “we”, and I’ll elaborate, with pleasure.

There is no “locking up of culture”, that is perhaps the ultimate strawman. It wouldn’t be culture if you never saw it, heard it, whatever. So obviously what is out there is being seen and enjoyed, and is part of the culture. “locking it up” would suggest nobody saw it ever, and that is just not the case.

That is not the only way to lock up culture. For example: I wanted, initially, to simply respond to you with this link. That is an image from my culture, and by linking to it, some would say that I have committed a crime. You see, my culture does not belong to me because it is locked up by laws that no longer have a place in our society. I never meant to suggest that no one saw it, and I apologize if that is what you thought.

As for VPN, it is pretty much proven that idiots will pay almost anything to avoid paying. It’s the classic stupidity of the Tardian nation.

I am amazed that you so casually dismiss this. You *just* said that copyright infringers want “something for nothing”, and then you go on and say that they will pay almost anything. You’re about to get downgraded to troll, because the ability to reconcile those two ideas requires a level of insanity that would render coherent sentence impossible.

I am confident we can come to some middle ground here, since we both share a love for idiots.

IronM@sk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

How much do I pay to read techdirt? Well, how many ads on the page? How much of my internet connection is used to see techdirt? I pay for Techdirt, you all do. No, not “money out of my pocket directly at the door”, but I pay for it, in the same manner that I pay for “free” television, and “free” radio.

I love you too.

Funny how you haven’t responded yet. Realised you kinda fucked up, didn’t you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Assuming you were ever enrolled in a school system of any type, what did your kindergarten teacher tell you about sharing? Did he said it was immoral, or that it was nice?

This is why I personally hate the usage of the word “sharing” for copying and distribution. “Sharing” as your kindergarten teacher meant it is the act of depriving yourself of something so others can enjoy it. I can’t share my toys and still be the sole possessor of them. That kind of sharing is good and healthy for society. File-sharing is nothing like that. If it can’t be theft because one can’t be deprived of it, then it also can’t be shared.

To use your own analogy, how did your teachers feel about you “sharing” test answers with the kid seated next to you?

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

While sharing when you’re not losing out also isn’t as altruistic as sharing when you are deprived, there’s no reason why it can’t also be good for society. If you had a vaccine for an illness that you needed and someone else also needed, it be good for society if you could copy and distribute it without having to deprive yourself of it.

You have a very specific definition of sharing. What is the teacher doing when they provide their students with knowledge? They’re sharing information – information that the teacher cannot deprive themselves of. Does this mean that teaching children isn’t good and healthy for society also?

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I can’t share my toys and still be the sole possessor of them. That kind of sharing is good and healthy for society.

Oh boy. So, in the physical world, I cannot share a toy and keep possession of it, true, but imagine if I could. No child would be without a toy, ever. Is this fantasy world better, or worse, than our current one? Clearly, it is better to be able to share something *and* keep it. The laws of physics prevent this in the physical world, but digitally, this has been possible for a years. And people like you want to hold back, to limit culture to those with disposable income. Sounds like someone didn’t learn the spirit behind why sharing is good.

File-sharing is nothing like that.

No, it’s better.

To use your own analogy, how did your teachers feel about you “sharing” test answers with the kid seated next to you?

Ah, nice misdirection– I’m impressed. Cheating was only wrong because it defeated the purpose of the test. Before or after the test, sharing knowledge is encouraged. They call these dens of knowledge pirates “study groups”. Nice try, though, with the cheating thing.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

This is why I personally hate the usage of the word “sharing” for copying and distribution. “Sharing” as your kindergarten teacher meant it is the act of depriving yourself of something so others can enjoy it. I can’t share my toys and still be the sole possessor of them. That kind of sharing is good and healthy for society. File-sharing is nothing like that. If it can’t be theft because one can’t be deprived of it, then it also can’t be shared.

If sharing stuff that costs you nothing to share is not good morally because you don’t lose anything yourself then how bad is it to refuse to share something that costs you nothing to share? (Like – you know rightsholders do).

This is one of the reason why I personally feel that IP is itself immoral.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Re:

I think you’re missing a lot in the equation.

If the RIAA and MPAA were just being stupid, it might not be okay, but if they’re being actively malicious towards not only their own artists and customers, but also towards the citizens of the countries they operate in (in the act of subverting the democratic process with their lobbying and legal bribery/campaign contributions/revolving door), it becomes unethical by some points of view to patronize their businesses. By supporting the entertainment industry, you are supporting the suppression of your own rights and freedoms.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Of course I can and I do it all the time.

I watch TV and its free.
I listen to radio and its free.

I pay nothing and take it all the time.

You see there are divisions on the space, you people should stick to the commercial side of things not the public side of it, the public space should be out of range of any legal action, it is not part of what you people need to conduct business.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Big Bird the immoral twat teaches kids to share.

OMG I also constantly take things for free from my TV and radio.

Now one things I will never do is to go buy all the stuff again that I bought for $25 a pop again, it is in the thousands of items right now and I wouldn’t want to rebuy all that stuff again. That would be like $75K or more, are industry CEO’s that stupid? yes they are and so is you, who don’t understand that the medium for distribution is changing and that people are not going to keep paying high recurring expenses it just ain’t happening and if another solutions is there people will take it.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: Moral nonsense.

> What is equally sad is the people who can’t
> understand that getting something for nothing
> without permission just isn’t right.

…that’s because it isn’t.

There is no moral imperative people to pay for creative works.

There is only enlightened self-interest.

Copying is not stealing.
Copying is not immoral.

This isn’t about having “everything” for nothing. This is about having stuff that really can’t be owned for nothing.

Moral crusaders continue to ignore morally relevant facts.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

What is equally sad is the people who can’t understand that getting something for nothing without permission just isn’t right.

That’s why we always say that copyright infringement is indeed illegal!!!!!!!
But it’s not the same as theft.
It has never been the same as theft, never will be.

And most people feel disenfranchised by the MPAA and the RIAA. It also doesn’t help that those two organisations have tried their damned best to criminalize their audience, not learning from past mistakes. They also don’t offer what the market wants, and that’s the death knell in this case. The MPAA and RIAA failed to respond correctly when ‘piracy’ started to be more prevalent (it’d be a lie to say that there never was any piracy, nor that it has a 100% detrimental effect on the content providers), they still (10 years after Napster) don’t offer something similar, instead hedging their bets on DRM and restrictions and lawsuits. Meanwhile destroying any goodwill they might still have. More and more people know about the MPAA and the RIAA, and more and more people hate their guts and see no problems in screwing them by downloading movies and music.

Sure, it isn’t right, legally. But morally, perhaps not so much. The public is fed up being fucked by the RIAA and the MPAA, and decided to fuck them back.

crade (profile) says:

Umm, it may be debatable if unauthorized file sharing is “right or wrong”, but I don’t see how you could debate if it’s socially acceptable with a straight face. I often have to explain myself as to why I refuse to partake, and I’m always the only one (of course, the others all buy stuff just as often as I do anyway, so what actual difference there is I’m not sure ;). I’m pretty sure even Swartsel knows how socially acceptable it is, despite the pretense at delusion.

JMT says:

Re: yes, it is stealing

“sharing what you dont own is stealing. “

You can’t repeat that until you’re blue in the face but it won’t make it true.

“and unless you own the copyright, you do NOT have the right to COPY…”

And yet people do, and on a massive scale. How long will you keep trying to hold back the tide of technological progress by yelling the same thing over and over? No amount of wishful thinking or bad over-reaching laws will bring back the control the entertainment industry once had over content. They need to stop wishing for the past to return and adapt to the current realities, or continue to wither away.

Skeptical Cynic (profile) says:

Just a small comment on...

With memories of the housing slump still fresh, many people could simply return to BitTorrent and download movies for free instead of going to the movies or paying for VOD.

It’s pretty clear that there is no statement of support or cheering on or anything here. Janko is simply reporting a simple fact. Some group of people will continue to find unauthorized means of accessing content a better deal than authorized offerings. I don’t see how that’s objectionable at all.

This is the same issue we have here in America with just about every news outlet: To mention it (in their minds) is to condone it.

Look at racism. News outlets will not tell you the race of anyone unless it’s a white person.

Anonymouse says:

Ad Hominem

Greetings from a first-time poster. There are few things I love more than a feisty, thorough IP debate, which I hoped to find here at techdirt. Instead, I found the quality of Mr. Masnick’s coverage to be exactly that. Dirt. As in, the stuff of playground dust-ups, the only known venue in which mean-spirited personal attacks are considered effective weapons.

Why are you so angry, Mr. Masnick? We’re talking about digital media, not the debt ceiling. Sure, let’s discuss the value intellectual property vs. the cost of media, but let’s do so with some real “intellectually honest” research on the subject you counter. Nobody likes a bully.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Ad Hominem

Where do you find this Ad Hominem? This post is all about the posting by this Swartsel dude. It doesn’t even mention a thing about him other than he works for the MPAA and wrote that post. He does seem annoyed at the end when he mentions that the MPAA seem to keep putting out this crap that seems intended to mislead people but, well, they do (this is far from the fist post with an example) and it is annoying / upsetting.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Ad Hominem

The horse drawn carriage sales have been slashed to extremely low values by the advent of the car, must have been illegal too.

The recording industry destroyed the pianola. Cause? Piracy. Duh!

The computer completely destroyed complete and entire other industries.

Robots killed human jobs in the auto-manufacturing.

It’s called PROGRESS!

But by your logic:
– The video recorder must have killed the movie industry, like the Boston strangler killed women. Right?
– The audio recording destroyed live performances.
– Radio killed the music star.
– TV killed the movie star.
– People whistling their favorite music are dirty pirates, and should pay an extortion fee every time they even think about music.

Wake up, kid. it’s not the 70s, 80s and 90s anymore.

Let’s be honest, the time of the middle man in the music world is over. They’ve had their time, but now it’s up to the artist to sell themselves, they don’t need the labels for that, they have the vast Internet to help them.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Ad Hominem

Music and movies, etc? Loss of demand of physical media, changing times.

The only person being mocked and *sniggered* at is you, anonymous coward.
You can stick your head in the sand, but that won’t change the fact that the world has changed.
Labels aren’t guaranteed the gazillion dollar profits that they were used to.
Their practices of not paying artists is also well known now. So people see even less of a reason to actually pay for the stuff.

That’s not to say that it’s illegal by law. But morally viewpoints of the masses can change. And the actions of the RIAA and the MPAA caused a lot of that moral change. It started by suing Napster. That action alone soured a lot of people, and created one hell of a game of whack-a-mole.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Ad Hominem

Correlation does not prove causation, friend.

I find it far more likely that sales of recorded music are down due to the ability to buy individual songs instead of whole albums. Also, there is *way* more media fighting for my attention but the number of hours in the day have, sadly, remained the same.

Piracy, no doubt, has *some* effect on sales, but it is being used as a scapegoat to explain away the reality that times have changed; selling recordings alone isn’t going to be as insanely profitable as it was in 1999.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

The Impact of Increased Poverty

If we slip into a double dip recession, there will be an increase in the number of people living below the poverty line and greater unemployment. This is likely to be accompanied by a higher murder rate, theft, and more violent crime.

There. Using Swarstel’s Laws of Reason, I just endorsed unemployment and violent crime. Apparently, I find murder socially acceptable.

John Doe says:

I am tired of paying for dates, so now I woman-share (gang rape)

You are an idiot if you think calling stealing sharing makes it right.

If you kid comes home saying he is now into woman-sharing, and you say fine because sometimes the woman likes it, you are an idiot.

If your kid comes home and says woman-sharing if fine because nothing physical was taken from the woman, you are an idiot.

You are an idiot if you are wasting time reading this blog.

All men are sinners, and most will steal when given the temptation, but you are an idiot if you think it’s right.

Anonymous Cowherd says:

No pity

Content owners are robbing their own wallet more than they realise.
I’m a huge consumer of media, especially the nicer shows from Showtime, AMC, USA, HBO etc.
I’m Dutch, so there is no legal offering available unless i wait for the DVD or until some local cable network licenses it, which may take years.
It’s not that I’m unwilling to pay, I believe in rewarding work that I appreciate.

Until there is a legal alternative with the same convenience and speed that BitTorrent provides, I have no pity at all with the woes of content owners.

Patty (profile) says:

MPAA

I was watching a cam version of Cowboys & Aliens a few weeks ago and was amazed at how much the quality has improved in just a few years ago (BTW, no lost sale as I would not have paid to see it given the reviews). In a few years someone will be able to sit in a theater with a camera lens the size of a pencil eraser and capture a film at near 100% quality. The MPAA has to accept this and deal with it. There are so many opportunities for increased distribution if they would stop crying in their beer and take advantage of technology instead of bemoaning it. Also, make better movies.

Anonymous Coward says:

When I tell people about my setup of downloading content, they don’t chide me for it as Swartsel would have you believe, they ask me for help in setting up the same or similar things. Piracy is socially acceptable, that’s a fact, and Mike, you’ve done a great job in explaining that.

What the MAFIAA continues to fail to do is give me a reason to buy when it’s far more convenient for me to pirate…

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