Jonathan Coulton Destroys The Rationale Behind The Megaupload Seizure With A Single Tweet; Follows Up With Epic Blog Post

from the and-the-score-is-Coulton:-a-billion;-content-industries:-less-than-zero dept

With Megaupload seized by the feds and everyone else even slightly involved seized by Anonymous, man-without-a-label Jonathan Coulton stepped into the breach and tweeted what we all only wish we were thinking:

(If you can’t read it, Coulton said: “Any other musicians notice that ever since they shut down MegaUpload, the money has just been POURING in?”)

And that’s the crux of it, isn’t it? The DOJ claims that Megaupload’s infringement has cost copyright holders a half-billion dollars over an unspecified timeframe. And now that it’s been shuttered, the money should start pouring in. But, of course, it won’t. So, what then? First off, as Coulton points out, there’s bound to be collateral damage.

Along with all the illegal stuff happening on MegaUpload was some amount of completely legal stuff. People used MegaUpload to send large files around. Some number of those files were personal files owned by the people sending them. I have no idea what the ratio was, and probably it would be impossible to figure that out with any certainty, but let’s stipulate that it was a very large percentage of illegal activity, and only a very tiny percentage of the users were there for anything other than downloading content that they didn’t buy. Still, today that tiny percentage had something taken away from them, without warning, maybe just a service they liked using, but maybe a piece of digital media that belonged to them – if they uploaded something and didn’t keep a copy, that thing is now gone. Them’s the breaks I guess, but in evaluating whether this shutdown was a net positive for us humans, you have to take that into account.

Even some of the illegal usage was likely the kind of activity that approaches what I consider to be victimless piracy: people downloading stuff they already bought but lost, people downloading stuff they missed on TV and couldn’t find on Netflix or iTunes, people downloading stuff they didn’t like and regretted watching or hearing and never would have bought anyway, people downloading a Jonathan Coulton album (oh let’s say, Artificial Heart, the new Jonathan Coulton album, which is an awesome Jonathan Coulton album called Artificial Heart) and loving it so much that in a year they decide to buy a ticket to a Jonathan Coulton show and walk up to the merch table and hand me $20. I know not everyone will think all of those things are victimless crimes, and even I can admit that some of them maybe kinda sorta have victims, but my point is that you can’t easily say that every illegal download is a lost sale, because it’s a lot more complicated than that. So when you evaluate the “damage” that a site like MegaUpload is causing, you have to think about these things too. The grand jury indictment against them says they’ve caused $500 million in damages to copyright owners. Given the complexity of actual usage on a site like MegaUpload, how can they possibly know that?

So, there’s that. An allegedly huge provider of “lost sales” taken down, along with other non-infringing material. Does anyone really think the DOJ is going to bother sorting out what’s legitimate and what isn’t? I wouldn’t hold my breath. And to what end? Supposedly, this is a step towards returning the MPAA and RIAA fortunes to their all-time highs. But when Megaupload’s takedown fails to convert into sales, then what?

No one (not even Coulton) truly expects the seizure of a single storage locker, even a mammoth one like Megaupload, to make an appreciable difference in future sales of music and movies. More sites will have to be seized, sites like Mediafire, Rapidshare, Divshare, Hulkshare, Filesonic, etc. Many of these sites host a ton of perfectly legal, non-infringing media. Look around Bandcamp for a bit and you’ll run across links to these sites (Mediafire seems to be a favorite) posted by artists for their fans to make use of. Hulkshare hosts hundreds of mixtapes, uploaded by the artists themselves and promoted at sites like Datpiff.

And as each of these sites tumble without a noticeable change in sales, the march will continue on towards other sites that might be hosting infringing material. How long will it take before the rightsholders ask to peek at the contents of your cloud services? Are they going to ask, like so many commenters here, that you produce receipts for everything you have stored?

Even though the White House shot down the current incarnation of SOPA, it still made this statement:

Let us be clear-online piracy is a real problem that harms the American economy, and threatens jobs for significant numbers of middle class workers and hurts some of our nation’s most creative and innovative companies and entrepreneurs. It harms everyone from struggling artists to production crews, and from startup social media companies to large movie studios. While we are strongly committed to the vigorous enforcement of intellectual property rights, existing tools are not strong enough to root out the worst online pirates beyond our borders.

But how big is this “piracy problem?” And how much does it actually “harm” the American economy? The way Coulton sees it, there’s no reason to believe this “problem” is crying out for a legislative solution:

Is it really as dire as all that? It’s an emergency is it? Tim (O’Reilly) points out that he and a lot of other content creators have been happily coexisting with piracy all this time, and I’m certainly one of them. Make good stuff, then make it easy for people to buy it. There’s your anti-piracy plan. The big content companies are TERRIBLE at doing both of these things, so it’s no wonder they’re not doing so well in the current environment. And right now everyone’s fighting to control distribution channels, which is why I can’t watch Star Wars on Netflix or iTunes. It’s fine if you want to have that fight, but don’t yell and scream about how you’re losing business to piracy when your stuff isn’t even available in the box I have on top of my TV. A lot of us have figured out how to do this.

So if you can stand me sounding a little crazy, listen: where is the proof that piracy causes economic harm to anyone? Looking at the music business, yes profits have gone down ever since Napster, but has anyone effectively demonstrated the causal link between that and piracy? There are many alternate theories (people buying songs and not whole albums, music sucking more, niches and indie acts becoming more viable, etc.). The Swiss government did a study and determined that unauthorized downloading (which 1/3 of their citizens do) does not create any loss in revenue for the entertainment industry.

When the money fails to pour in, no one will be surprised but the content industry. And they’ll be surprised and angry. Equating casual infringement with lost sales has always been a terrible assumption, but without this key bit of theoretical math, the RIAA/MPAA would be unable to make hysterical claims about job losses, overseas robber barons and Megaupload absconding with a half-billion of their cash. The problem is: the public doesn’t see it this way.

We are constantly demonstrating through our actions what we believe to be the norms for acquiring and consuming content. Right now a lot of us think that it’s OK to download stuff through illegal sites under certain circumstances, and a lot of us think it’s totally fine to use those things to make videos and put them on YouTube even though YouTube profits from it. That’s not ME saying that, that’s US saying that – we’re a nation of pirates and infringers. Based on our behavior, you would not be wrong to deduce that some of us think funny videos on YouTube are more important than honoring intellectual property rights. This kind of thing has happened before. Entire industries rise and fall as the world changes and our priorities shift. Sorry.

I believe in copyright. I benefit from it. I don’t want it to go away. I love that we have laws and people to enforce them. But if I had to give up one thing, if I had to choose between copyright and the wild west, semi-lawless, innovation-fest that is the internet? I’ll take the internet every time.

Amen to that.

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: megaupload

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Jonathan Coulton Destroys The Rationale Behind The Megaupload Seizure With A Single Tweet; Follows Up With Epic Blog Post”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

He makes himself willfully blind to the positive things the media and entertainment companies do. He never stops and asks himself “hey, tens of thousands of people choose to work together making various forms of art and content at these companies. Maybe there’s a reason for that”.

He’s clueless because he has no experience in the field and thus, no idea how things work.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I want to hurt myself now.


He makes himself willfully blind to the positive things the media and entertainment companies do. He never stops and asks himself “hey, tens of thousands of people choose to work together making various forms of art and content at these companies. Maybe there’s a reason for that”.

There is no positive thing they do and as for choosing to work with them it comes out of ignorance or fear of the legal minefield that copyright have turned that profession into.

Almost every artist badmouth the entertainment companies for one reason or another. Heck is even in self-deprecatory works that show how dirty the business is.

Blackballed, glut, creative accounting, creative law enforcement are just a few of the words coming out of that industry right now.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

He never stops and asks himself “hey, tens of thousands of people choose to work together making various forms of art and content at these companies. Maybe there’s a reason for that”.

Well, normally when I stop to ask myself something, it’s a question. But that aside, the reason for what you state is simple: there is a large (to the point of bloated) incumbent system that still has lots of creative professionals within its grips. Are some benefiting from it? Yes. Will some innocents be hurt by the inevitable transitions ushered in by new technology? Unfortunately, yes. Will the creative community end up richer, more vibrant and more profitable as a whole because of this transition? Thankfully, also yes.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Soooo. Some artists want to throw their lot in with the big boys and they like it enough. A bunch of other artists choose to do things on their own and make money that way. So why is it okay for the labels to legislate to protect their business model while shutting down the the distribution methods used by unsigned “indie” artists?

Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

To elaborate what Matt Tate said, Valve is a very well known video game maker (and maker of some very well known games), which expanded into an also very well known iTunesish service for games called Steam. They’re on the record as stating the piracy is almost always a service problem, not a pricing problem: people pirate because it’s more convenient than DRM and other hoops to acquire legally, and people will pay if you make it convenient enough.

Drizzt says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Origin is acceptable (not all the time, ie. not when you just installed n GB and the game tells you, that there is an unspecified problem and you should reinstall the game ad infinitum; NB: with that error message support is unable to help you beyond “well, did you reinstall?”) for easy syncing of bought games (boxed versions, not downloads) between multiple systems. Apart from that it’s strictly worse than the Blizzard Downloaders (and there you have to download a extra downloader for each game…), which just work.

On another note: I still can’t forgive them, that they named this broken system after the company behind the Ultima titles (yeah, I know, they bought Origin Systems back in the day, so no trademark issue)…

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Mike, please print out “Make good stuff, then make it easy for people to buy it” and head over to the table where the content industry is waiting for you to sit down at.

Wouldn’t it just be easier for you to print that out and give it to them yourself? Seems it would cut out the middleman and make it easier for everyone else. Plus, you’d probably get through to them better since Mike is “just a piracy apologist.”

Rainkitten (user link) says:

I have been saying it. The issue is exposure and availability. I see something that I like. I not only buy it, I buy tons more of the same things. “Piracy” = exposure = sales

The wild disconnect that somehow this money will flow back in is likely false. If anything, the more you crack down on uncontrolled exposure, the more you will lose.

This industry spends millions on exposure -I cannot understand why they don’t get that.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

In essence people will do what they’ve always done. Take material, copyrighted or not, mix it and come up with something new or at least newish.

DJs in the 1950s spinning 78s and 45s at dance parties, doing the same after the introduction of the cassette tape for dance parties or for, heaven forbid!, long drives somewhere. Or just to avoid the screaming ads known as top 40 and screaming DJ’s hosting the shows.

Taking copyrighted photographs out of magazines and newspapers and creating a craft fair standard known as scrapbooking. Still being done, Now just on the Internet.

And I seriously doubt one less magazine or CD or photograph was sold as a result. So why would it be now?

OK, so maybe there’s a point to be made about movies though I suspect it’s more about the atmosphere or lack of it in multiplexes that has ticket sales ever so slightly lower. Or just a string of bad, mindless movies that are really just rewarmed over television shows.

Thing is we aren’t doing all THAT much that’s different or that we are certain that we don’t have a right to do (or at least ought to have a right to do) because we’ve been at it for years.

And copyright holders really haven’t done all that badly because of it. In fact, they’ve done very well. (The creators are often another story but we all know that part.)

It’s simple. Adapt or die. RIAA member companies and MPAA member companies don’t want to adapt. Fine. It’s not up to any government to save them from their own hubris or declare them “too big to fail” which is was SOPA and PIPA were really doing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

> declare them “too big to fail” which is
> was SOPA and PIPA were really doing.

You were fine up to here… did you really mean to imply that SOPA/PIPA would have actually had any significant net positive economic benefit for the **AAs? I just see that it would drive both piracy and content distribution further underground and develop better tools (Freenet, RetroShare, OTR, credibility rating systems where people get cred by seeding, hardened P2P, etc.).

Anonymous Coward says:

Oh mercy me, the police just seized the pawn shop just because 90% of their goods were stolen. I guess this means I’ll have to do business with the honest guy across the street.

Give me a fucking break. Have you ever seen the rap sheet on this piece of shit? And you continue to defend him and Megaupload? There may have been some legitimate uses and users of his service, but everyone else was pretty much there for free stuff. Defending human garbage like this truly reveals your agenda. It’s not about censorship and it never has been.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

ummm it was all free stuff, you didn’t have to pay for premium service.

Have you ever seen the rap sheet on the political candidates? Adultery, tax evasion, illegal immigrant employees, etc. we still make sure they get a day in court.

Your agenda is perfectly clear, denounce anyone who thinks differently then your paid to think.

0/10 – Seriously bob has some bad stuff mixed into his stash… stop sharing with him

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Have you ever seen the rap sheet on the political candidates? Adultery, tax evasion, illegal immigrant employees, etc. we still make sure they get a day in court.

Lets see, adultery… couldn’t find it listed as a crime. illegal immigrant employees… well there was Perry’s accusation of Romney having illegal immigrant employees, but it turned out it was the company hired by Romney who employed them. Your problem is with the seizure laws that have been on the books for a generation. I get you don’t like it when the government applies the law to pirates. Go start a petition

Ummm, tax evasion? Here’s what they did to Duke Cunningham:

Defendant agrees to forfeit all of his right, title, and community property interest in the following assets, which constitute or were derived from proceeds traceable to violations 18 U.S.C. ?? 201, 1341, 1343, and 1346 or which are substitute assets:

a. The parcel of real property and all improvements located on Via del Charro, Rancho Santa Fe, California, more fully described as Assessors Parcel No. 265-370-1000, Lot 10 of Rancho Del Cielo, in the County of San Diego, State of California, according to the map thereof No. 7059, filed in the Office of the County Recorder of San Diego County on September 22, 1971, or any proceeds from the sale thereof;

b. $1,851,508 in United States currency;

c. Two silver candelabras with holders for three candles;

d. One large, three-door (with drawers) wooden serving cabinet (?buffet?) with curved wooden backing;

e. One large Persian-style carpet with a red and blue background and dark border;

f. One two-door wooden armoire containing two mirrored doors;

g. Two matching wooden bedside tables;

h. One large Persian-style carpet with a red and blue background and reddish border;

i. One long carpet runner with geometric patterns in the middle surrounded by light background with white and blue striped border pattern;

j. One two-door wooden armoire with a flat top hidden by a curved wooden facade;

k. One French walnut wooden armoire containing two mirrored doors in front;

l. One Persian-style carpet with a red and blue background and bluish border;

m. Two blue glass vases;

n. One antique wooden side table;

o. One leather Mastercraft sofa;

p. One sleigh-style bed;

q. One Persian-style carpet with blue and beige pattern;

r. One two-door wooden armoire containing two doors with stained glass inserts;

s. One wooden sideboard with turned wooden spindles;

t. One red and bluish pattern Persian-style carpet;

u. One three-door wooden armoire containing large, rectangular-shaped mirrors;

v. One carpet runner approximately 20 to 30 feet with a red floral pattern;

w. One three-panel wooden/rattan screen with curved top;

x. One Persian-style carpet with a beige, blue and red pattern;

y. One wooden armoire approximately 12 feet in height;

z. One large, Persian-style carpet with a predominantly red pattern and dark border;

aa. One wooden dresser approximately 4 feet in width by 3 feet in height;

bb. One dark brown wooden armoire approximately 10 feet in height;

cc. One wooden china hutch with stained glass panels;

dd. One two-door, wooden, flat-topped armoire with a full-length mirror;

ee. One three-door wooden dresser;

ff. One wooden, flat-topped armoire with a full-length mirror on a middle panel;

gg. Three antique oak doors with leaded glass panels; and

hh. One Greenbrier Spring House charm and necklace. To the extent necessary, defendant further agrees not to contest the administrative forfeiture of the foregoing assets. Further, defendant knowingly and voluntarily waives any rights and defenses he may have under the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution to the forfeiture of the above-described property in this proceeding or any related civil proceeding.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Adultery is a crime in several states.

And that other stuff was seized after he was found guilty at trial no doubt. A Grand Jury is not a trial.

Due process… but then that seems to be something we don’t have much of around these parts any more.

0/10 – Thanks for playing, here is your years supply of rice-a-roni

PlagueSD says:

Re: Re:

Me thinks this AC is actually a member of the **AA crowd. Leave my interwebs alone and actually make decent material easy to purchase (and not excessively priced) and maybe I won’t download illegal stuff.

It goes like this:

Me:Hey, you gotta check this new movie out, it’s really good.
Friend: I’d love to, but I can only find a region 1 release, I can’t play it here.
Me: Aww, guess you’ll need to download it.

Region codes and DRM was the start of all this. Get rid of them and make stuff available everywhere and you wouldn’t have this issue.

Kingster (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Actually, that’s a really shitty analogy. Megaupload wasn’t a pawn shop. It was a storage place.

You can get a big storage unit, or a small unit. I can give a copy of the key to MY lock to anyone I choose. They can go get stuff out of it. They can give me a key to their lock. And while there may have been plenty of stolen items in the storage unit next to mine… I used mine for my own purposes – storing extra furniture, some old PCs, and a sweet ass ’70 Hemi ‘cuda. Douchenozzle government came in and seized the whole place, simply because the moron next to me was growing weed and storing stolen goods in his unit. I can’t get my car back (worth way more than the weed and the stolen goods), and there seems to be no process for doing so.

Franklin G Ryzzo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

While comparing physical property to imaginary property in an analogy can be difficult, in this case his analogy was apt. He was using the cyberlocker in the same way he would use a physical storage locker. It was a place for him to keep his stuff. He wasn’t passing the keys around to his unit but when the feds came in and seized the entire lot because of the drug grower next store, he lost access to his stuff just the same.

The analogy isn’t perfect when you talk about sharing the locker with others on the internet but it was much better than the totally clueless comparison given by the original AC that is being responded to.

Depending on how someone was using a cyberlocker, there could be many useful analogies, and Kingster’s was accurate based on his stated purpose.

Another analogy could be for people who need to share legitimate large files over a great distance. This would be akin to sending someone a package via Fedex only to have the service shutdown mid-transit because someone else used Fedex to ship drugs cross country and your legitimate content confiscated.

Yet another analogy could be for artists using the cyberlocker as a legitimate distribution source for their music or video endeavors. This would be like having a store in a mall and having it and all your merchandise confiscated because some other store in the mall was selling counterfeit goods.

There are plenty of legitimate comparisons to this situation between the digital and physical world. It just takes a moment to think it through to make sure the analogy is secure. The original AC didn’t do that, and I suspect he/she/it is incapable of such critical thought.

Franklin G Ryzzo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I see your point, but there are plenty of people who may have deleted their content after uploading to MU as an offsite backup. Those people’s data are gone (at least for the time being). If the locker had the only copy, then the situation isn’t much different from a physical seizure.

I think the main point is that there are plenty of legitimate users who have had their distribution platform removed, their legitimate revenue source cut off, their method of legal long distance sharing shut down, and quite possibly their property confiscated based on what was done by a few bad actors. While there may have been substantial illegitimate uses going on within MU, the government’s actions in this case seem disproportionate to the point of prejudicial overkill.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

In the case of cyber lockers and other forms of cloud computing the property may not be gone forever but it may be a long time before the people with legitimate files on Megaupload can access them again. Some may even, foolishly, used it for backup purposes.

So the analogy with physical storage lockers still holds true. The twerp next to me was growing weed and the cops closed the whole place down so I can’t get to my perfectly legal stuff unless and until they release the lock they put on it. Most often after a trial.

Cheer all you want that some scumbag got busted here. Perhaps he is a scumbag and the people closest to him are but that doesn’t take away that legitimate users of the locker (bit of the “cloud”) cannot access legitimate files now. They aren’t to blame for the guy running that place being a scumbag.

Unless, of course, you belong to the group that feels the only use of file lockers on line is for copyright infringement and only copyright infringement.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Unless, of course, you belong to the group that feels the only use of file lockers on line is for copyright infringement and only copyright infringement

No I simply feel that THIS cyber locker was primarily online to facilitate copyright infringement.

The funny thing is that if SOPA had passed AND there was no hook for the US Attorney (like the VA servers) fatboy would have had his day in court before any shit like this went down. Hell, I’d even argue that he probably never would have been seized because the SOPA process would have been well underway before the FBI got deep into his business. He might have been able to change HIS business model to something that won’t him sitting in prison for decades.

teka (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

I know from direct first hand experience that MegaUpload was being used to legally distribute original, self-published game material.

Creators using a system to distribute their own product.
This distribution spurred the printing of a hard-copy edition.. which was sold for money.

People buying something that they were already able to legally copy for free! Calamity! This must be, like, Triple piracy right?

What does you “feel” tell you about this?

Loki says:

Re: Re:

We are not defending him. He may very well be guilty of crimes and deserve to be punished.

What we ARE doing is questions the claims of the people who shut him down and locked him up. The makes claims of up to $53 billion annually in losses from piracy. That’s slightly more than a billion dollars a week, and hundreds of millions of dollars a day.

Given that not only has Megaupload been shut down, but almost all of the other major cyberlockers have shut off, locked up or limited access to their content, a large swath of this “piracy” has effectively been eliminated.

Therefore we should at the very least be seeing tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars pouring into the content industries coffers after five days.

So where’s the money?

Stop bitching about whether or not these people are crooks and SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!

Because in the end, if you can’t show me the money, then it proves what we’ve said all along. Your argument is bullshit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

So where’s the money?

Stop bitching about whether or not these people are crooks and SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!

So now you want a daily sales report? I’m sure you’ll see data. Just like you saw data after Grokster went down. And why isn’t anyone allowed to bitch about these guys being crooks? They are crooks and as slimy as can be. Better question is why doesn’t that matter to you? Troubling.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

They are crooks to you, not to anybody else, your definition of crook doesn’t pass muster with the rest of the world, maybe that is what makes you so distraught.

If Grokster had any impact why is that you think you need more protections? after all if it was that easy, Grokester showed you people how to do it, you have all the tools already.

Oh that is right, it didn’t work, it didn’t make a dent, it created new more powerful tools to keep sharing and now we are seeing a change again to even more powerful sharing tools that will be not only distributed but encrypted and anonymous.

At some point this will even reduce the government ability to watch what is happening on the internet, that is bad for them, when the next OWC comes along it will be a complete surprise for them.

BeeAitch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So now you want a daily sales report?


I’m sure you’ll see data.

WTF? I’m sure I’ll see data as well. I don’t believe for a second that you will interpret the data honestly (you haven’t yet).

Just like you saw data after Grokster went down.

Again: WTF? Do you have a point, junior (besides the one on your head)?

And why isn’t anyone allowed to bitch about these guys being crooks?

Again: WTF? Who hasn’t been allowed to bitch about what? You have bitched plenty. All with no effect. GO HOME, boy.

They are crooks and as slimy as can be.

Finally, something we can agree on: The people behind the RIAA and MPAA are crooks. Thank you, sir, for finally pointing that out.

Greevar (profile) says:

The solution to "piracy"

…is to model your business strategy so that people who download your works aren’t potential customers bypassing your pay-wall, but prospects that help increase awareness for the goods and services you do charge for. If you make free content that people enjoy and you provide value-added services and/or goods for that free content that people want to buy, you don’t ever have to worry about “piracy” that “steals” your “potential” sales.

It’s really just simple logic. You can’t stop copying content because it is information being communicated and copying information is essential to communication. It’s very nature requires it to be copied or it would be useless were it to be impossible to copy and useless content is worthless. If you stop information from being copied, you’re stopping communication and that is censorship. Information acquires its value through its ability to be shared and disseminated. It also gains value for its utility to people. It’s not a product, it’s a method by which we learn and expand our understanding of the world and ourselves. Putting up barriers to that is damaging to us.

Stig Rudeholm (profile) says:

Lost sales?

I love all this talk about “lost sales”…

If “lost sales” should be illegal, should it be illegal to write negative reviews? After all, if I advice someone to not buy your product and they don’t, I have caused you to lose a sale.

If I buy a pizza and split it with you, should that be illegal? I mean, if I hadn’t given you half a pizza, you would have bought your own, right? That’s a lost sale, right there.

Yup! We better get some new laws in place, to protect all the pizza guys in the world from the evil pizza sharers who are trying to take their jobs away…

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:


Well crap. Now I want to got throw some money at Coulton’s site. But that would mean that the money IS pouring in after MegaUploadGate… is there any way to designate music sales that result from actually appreciating the artist as a person as opposed to being forced into buying from a monolithic money vacuum because I’d rather be a “dirty, dirty thief”?

ken (profile) says:

Hollywood's pursuit of phantom dollars.

Hollywood said Megaupload cost them 500 million a year in lost revenues. OK next year I want to see where they are 500 million richer now that Megaupload is gone. the fact is there will be no revenue boost to Hollywood what-so-ever. Hollywood is chasing after phantom dollars and spending real dollars doing it.

Hollywood spent an estimated 100 million supporting SOPA and PIPA. The money they spent chasing phantom dollars and lobbying could have been used to retool their business models to bring them into the 21st century.

Anonymous Coward says:

Economy Accounting

I fail to see how anyone can make an argument that piracy has the ability to affect an entire economy. As such a large scale, it becomes a zero sum game. If you were to grant the RIAA’s assertion that an illegal download equals a lost sale, (which shouldn’t ever, ever be done – except for here) that pirate isn’t going to take 99 pennies and put them in the trash. Eventually, that money always gets spent somehow, doesn’t it?

Andy9279 says:

Content produced today is GARBAGE

Maybe it’s just me, but all the content produced today seems like garbage. Just to clarify, I’m 32. I don’t watch TV anymore except to see the local weather, I never go to the movies, the music is all garbage too. I listen to jazz from the 50s and 60s, watch a lot of old film noir, old time radio dramas, classical music. I don’t know why anyone would want to download anything produced in the last decade.

And the money isn’t going to start “rolling in” because people’s perspectives have changed on how they acquire content.

JayTee (profile) says:

Re: Content produced today is GARBAGE

I’ve been thinking along similar lines recently. The quality of the content which has been coming out of late has been so poor, yet they feel as if they’re automatically entitled to a huge profit if they spent 10s of millions of dollars on a movie.

Just because you create and release something does not mean that anyone will want or HAVE to buy it. Something is only worth what people think it is worth. So if they think it is worthless they will not pay for it.

Suja (profile) says:

you would not be wrong to deduce that some of us think funny videos on YouTube are more important than honoring intellectual property rights.


i’d be one of those people

it is difficult to make a spongebob youtube poop due to the content ID, it’s not always easy to guess which part of which episode will trigger the global block

the sad thing here is that i actually enjoy the YTPs of spongebob MORE than i enjoy the newer episodes

the poops which are little more than edits of old episodes with some added clips/sounds/sentence mixing filled with cuss words, memes, stupidity & nonsensical anarchy are easily TEN TIMES funnier than the episodes that came with the latest season, or every season after the first 2-3

all of this put together random yahoos on the internet who probably only spent 5 minutes on it and yet it is much better than the official episodes produced by paid professionals

does no one else see the problem here?

they could kill spongebob tomorrow and i wouldn’t give a fuck, the internet’s done a better job in continuing that show than viacom ever did, for one thing viacom fucking disses sandy squirrel! everytime she shows up in an episodes nowadays she’s either unimportant or put down in some way

internet has even got friggin’ rule 34 of her, which is way more than viacom has ever done since Stephen Hillenburg left, it is hard to find anything official of her nowadays

which brings me to my point, the internet is like one big family, we take good care of our needs, if it is wanted, it is made and made available, with the exception of some control-freak copyright-artists we don’t give a fuck what people do with it so long as it satisfies our needs in some way

the industries don’t care what we want, they use starvation/negligence as a tool to corral us into the “next big thing”, if i’m interested in your “next big thing” i’ll go there, you don’t need to take away what i loved before to make me go there it will only piss me off

you can’t even get a copy of the ducktales soundtrack, i’ve looked for it, apparently disney’s reasoning is that “people won’t buy outdated content” fuck you disney i’d pay for that soundtrack i’m serious it’s better than the shit you shell out today how can you fucking abandon ducktales for hannah montana?!?

i found all of ducktales on youtube, every single episode, i couldn’t find shit on the official channel, i guess people don’t want to watch “outdated content” either huh? oh wait i just did, dumbasses

i can’t believe it when people say scrooge mcduck runs your company i disagree even he’s not that fucken greedy, if anything he probably would embrace the internet since he’s smart enough to know it’ll give him more money that’s probably why you took the show off the disney channel can’t show rich people who actually have shred of intellect/reasoning same with sandy squirrel can’t have someone who is intelligent on a show full of retards well fuck you disney & viacom

PS. may the ear/eye rape of a thousand youtube poops/rule 34 forever haunt the minds of every copyright/IP (that includes you viacom/disney) supporters for all eternity


Violated (profile) says:


People should keep in mind BLACK MARCH

Between the 1st and 31st of March a media boycott is planned with no DVD/BluRay purchases, no music purchases, no cinema trips, no PPV and more. This does not apply to independent artist media.

Promoting this plan would help.

Then then they can see what we think of their Mega shutdown when their balance sheet shows the loss of millions of dollars.

Remember how easily the GoDaddy boycott worked to quickly convince them to change their SOPA stance? Well if this BLACK MARCH boycott is successful they would freak out over millions of dollars in lost sales.

Anonymous Coward says:


Awesome idea. But one month won’t be enough in the long run.

Sure, a large enough boycott in March could hurt their 1Q financial statements, but if everyone just rushes out to buy whatever they were going to buy on April 1, the 2Q statement will balance out whatever harm was done.

Old Media isn’t going to back down anytime soon. It’s a cornered animal fighting for its survival in a world leaving it behind. We can’t back down either if we want to have a real effect. The boycott needs to last long enough for them to really feel it. Ideally, long enough to deplete their war chest appreciably.

Anonymous Coward says:


What we need is a BLACK MARCH THAT NEVER ENDED, similar to the September that never ended…reference here:

The *AA’s need to be reminded that We. Do. Not. Need. Them!

Instead it is they who need us, And that beyond all else gives us power over them. Their triumph is making us forget that we have the power to end them by simply turning our backs on them.

Violated (profile) says:


Well I did not plan this and it is a start. Look on the bright side when asking people to do this boycott for 1 month is not too disruptive to their lives.

I am doubtful that people would catch up by much when they would have just spent their money in other ways. Instead of the cinema they visit some tourist attraction. Instead of a DVD/BluRay/CD gift for a family member they buy another gift.

I forgot to add on my BLACK MARCH mention of NO INTERNET DOWNLOADS. Living on Indie movies there may prove harsh.

Anyway if this idea gets promoted then millions of dollars they will lose and if they attack us again we can plan the next bigger boycott to December to trash their Xmas sales.

Bronco1080 says:

I purchase just as much

Say I used to have 50 songs and bought them all on CDs. Now say I have 5000 songs and buy 50 on iTunes. How many would I have if I had to pay for them all? Probably 50. But now I can sample 1000 bands and choose what I want to pay for, without being told what to buy by some record exec. Little guy wins, big guy loses.

Loki says:

But if I had to give up one thing, if I had to choose between copyright and the wild west, semi-lawless, innovation-fest that is the internet? I’ll take the internet every time.

This right here is the crux of the industries problems.

The problem here is one of Institutions vs. collaboration

In discussing the issues of the power law distribution (the “80-20 rule” – a variation of the “long tail” the is often talked about in sales), which occurs from about the 6:30 mark, there is this:

Institutions only have 2 tools, carrots and sticks, and the 80% zone is a no carrot, no stick zone. The costs of running the institution means that you cannot take on the work of those people (the 80% zone) easily in an institutional frame. The institutional model always pushes leftwards, treating these people (the 20%) as employees. The institutional response is: I can get 75% of the value for 10% of the hires, great. That’s what I’ll do.

The cooperative infrastructure models says, why do you want to give up a quarter of the value? If your system is designed so that you have to give up a quarter of the value, reengineer the system. Don’t take on the costs that prvent you from getting to the contributions of these people, build the system so that anybody can contribute at any amount. So the coordination response ask not “how are these people as employees”, but rather what is their contribution like.

The issue here is that increasingly stronger copyright obviously benefits the institution itself. It even, to a lesser extent, benefits those in the 20% at the top of the curve. Copyright doesn’t really help the 80% at the bottom of the curve outside the institution. Copyright may help prevent others from abusing. misusing, or profiteering from their works, but it doesn’t really help them make money directly. It’s the collaborative nature of the internet that allows them the tools to benefit from the free exchange of ideas.

The other issue here is that the institutions aren’t just trying to exclude the 80% of contributors, they are trying to retain all 100% of the value, not just the 80% at the top of the curve.

Next we move onto Thomas Power:

(2:30- 4:15) Now outside there, on the worldwide web, are thousands of these communities (in healthcare, but applies to all communities), and they are desperate for two things: they’re desperate for capital, and they’re desperate for scale. And that’s what corporations have, they have capital, and they have scale. But corpoarations have got a problem. Corporations and communities are opposites. Corporations are closed, selective, and controlling. Communities are open, random, and supportive. They don’t match, they clash into each other. They have to be outside of the organization. Corporations (he accidentally says communities instead of corps) are closed, they don’t like information to leak out of them, they’re very selective who they recruit, and they tend to recruit people like them, so they get more of the same. Controlling. Corporations want to be in control of everything.

So this force of the corporation, or the government, which is closed selective and controlling, is meeting this force of community or network, on the internet which is open, letting everybody in. Random, data comes at you in a chaotic form. It’s very very hard fo follow. Even just following the hashtags of tweets today, it’s very hard to follow. If you read some of the tweets today going out to the rest of the world in the room, some people have actually posted things that haven’t been said. How did they do that? They heard something, reinterpreted it, “Oh, I think they said that”, submit. Communities are open, random, and supportive organisms. They are the complete opposites of companies, corporations, governments.

These differences will become important when we get to the issue of censorship in a bit.

Back to Clay (institutions vs collaboration):

And the tension here is between institution as enabler, and institution as obstacle. when you’re dealing with the left hand edge of one of these distibutions, when your dealing with the people who spend a lot of time producing a lot of the material you want. That’s the institution as enabler world. You can hire those people as employees, you can coordinate their work, and you can get some output. But when you’re down here, where the Psycho Milts are adding one photo at a time, that’s institution as obstacle.

Institutions hate being told their obstacles. One of the first things that happens when you institutionize a problem is the institution, the first goal of the institution, immediately shifts from whatever the nominal goal was to self-preservation. And the actual goals of the institution goes to 2 through N.

So when institutions are told they are obstacles and that there are other ways of coordinating the value, the go through something like the Kubler-Ross stages of reaction of being told you had a fatal illness. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Acceptance. Most of the cooperative systems we’ve seen haven’t been around long enough to have gotten to the acceptance phase. Many institutions are still in denial. But we’re seeing recently both a lot of anger and bargaining.

This is where the content industry is. Mostly the anger stage, with a bit of bargaining throw in (although most of their efforts at “bargaining” as so heavily lopsided in their favor it’s almost laughable they make any effort at all.

The bigger question is what do you do about the value down here? How do you capture that? And institutions, as I’ve said, are prevented from capturing that.

Steve Ballmer, now CEO of microsoft, was criticizing Linux a couple of years ago, and he said “oh, this business of thousands of programmers contributing to Linux, this is a myth, alright. We’ve looked at who’s contributing to Linux, and most of the patches have been produced by programmers who’ve only done one thing.” You can hear this distribution (80-20) under that complaint. And you can see, from Ballmer’s point of view, that’s a bad idea. “We hired this programmer, he came in and drank our cokes and played fuzzball for three years and he had one idea”. Bad hire, right?

The Psycho Milt question is was it a good idea? What if is was a security patch? What if it was a security patch for a buffer overflow exploit, of which windows has not some several? Do you want that patch? The fact that a single programmer, can without having to move into a professional relation to an institution, improve Linux once and never be seen from again, should terrify Ballmer. Because this kind of value is unreachable in classical institutional framework, but it is part of cooperative systems – of open source software, of file sharing, of Wikipedia.

The real issue here isn’t really economic loss due to piracy, it’s economic loss due to increased competition. “Piracy” is the issue of the moment simply because that content is the most widely known and distributed thanks to the very institutions that are fighting it. But it is a symptom of their bigger problem, and one that will eventually go away on it’s own as the problem grows.

The problem is this: the free, open collaborative nature of the internet, the Youtubes, the Twitters, the Facebooks, makes the exposure, make the distribution infinitely easier for those outside the institutions, and therefore easier for those outside the institution to slowly take their cut of the 25% of the value (and even to some extent increase the value for those outside the institution by making it more convenient for them to contribute.

Now we move onto a different Clay Shirky talk:

China is probably the most successful manager of internet censorship in the world, using something that is widely described as The Great Firewall of China. And the Great Firewall of China is a set of observation points that assume that:
media is produced by professionals,
it mostly comes in from the outside world,
it comes in in relatively sparse chunks,
and it comes in relatively slowly.

And because of those 4 characteristics, they are able to filter it as it comes into the country. But like the Maginot Line, the Great Firewall of China was facing in the wrong direction for this challange. Because not one of those 4 things was true in this environment:
The media was produced locally,
it was produced by amateurs,
it was produced quickly,
and it was produced at such an incredible abundance
that there was no way to filter it as it appeared.

And so now, the Chinese government, who for a dozen years has quite successfully filtered the web, is now in the position of having to decide whether to allow or shut down entire services. Because the transfer to amateur media is so enormous that they can’t deal with it any other way. And in fact that is happening this week. On the 20th anniversary of Tianeman, they just 2 days ago announced that they were just simply shutting down access to Twitter because there was no way to filter it other than that. They had to turn the spigot entirely off.

This is why efforts like SOPA/PIPA, like ACTA, are ultimately untenable. It requires everything to be vetted prior to distribution, which is practical for large institutions dealing with the 20% at the top of the curve. It is impractical and prohibitive for the collaborative efforts for the other 80% and effectively kills what makes Youtube successful, what makes Twitter successful, what makes Facebook successful.

China understands this, which is why, despite the original purpose of their Great Firewall, they have effectively shifted their their efforts away from filtering content creation. the massive contributions of the 80% makes filtering out those of the 20% impractical other than shutting the whole system down, which is what drives their massive growth. Filtering political speech turns out to be much easier, because totally blocking those mechanisms have far less impact on their economics.

I don’t really expect entrenched supporters of the institutional models to understand or accept their fate. I post this (sort of rough draft of things some of us are working on) to provide further idea for discussion and debate among the collaborative community. For all I care, the main contributors to this forum can lift this whole exchange verbatim for all I care (although I know being wise, they would wisely add their own value to the ideas). Unlike the institutions who think they need to see some form of monetary return for every little creative effort they contribute it is often the free exchange of ideas that create the most lasting value.

Anonymous Coward says:

I believe it was Paulo Coelho who wanted to offer his books free for download on the internet, and had a huge fight with his publisher, who wanted to keep them purchase only. I heard that they compromised and had one book available for download each month, and found that increased sales dramatically.

Unfortunately, it appears that they are no longer doing it. Bummer, I guess it didn’t fit the paradigm at HarperCollins and had to be stopped.

Slade says:

It's not the lost sales

What bothers me about the likes of megaupload is not so much the claim that they steal anything. The problem is that megaupload profits from the work of others without compensating them.
The site’s business model is geared towards selling “premium” accounts that have no speed restriction and no daily limit. The content is just the bait – the hook is the unfettered access to it. They’ve made $175 million from selling premium accounts. They should pay a royalty to the artists like most legitimate users of creative content do (e.g. radio).
The second problem is they pay uploaders for popular content (bait) using a “rewards” scheme. That’s a second layer of people who profit from artists’ work without paying a fair royalty.

pesti (profile) says:

Their afraid, very afraid...

And we know why, because now the artists and actors, musicians and writers, and all the real creative folk, have a medium to be heard and seen, with out the help {if you can call it that..}of the fat and thirsty corporations that have sucked them dry for years.They no longer have to sell their literal soul to the devils that be. Those that are talented
and motivated and ambitious enough to be recognized can flourish thru their own efforts, and along with them will come all those who help and facilitate them. Our community appreciates talent and entertainment and we will support those who supply those thing to us because we want them.
If Joe blow posts that he needs a new guitar or a car to have transportation, We as a community, will do what we can to help and support, why because we like it. The Internet is our connection to one another near and far. It has given us the ability to stay connected now that the human family has grown. The powers that be have no right to take this away…we will fight….

Jamez says:

totally agree!!

Try watching Netflix outside the USA. Try watching anything on those “special” websites that the studios have setup for the American population from abroad.

If the music/entertainment industry want to curb piracy [because they never will destroy it completely], they should stop hiding behind “copyright restrictions” and make their damn content available to everyone.

Christian Engstr?m (user link) says:

Academic studies show the artists are doing fine

This blog post contains links to articles that summarize various academic studies that show that the cultural sector in general, and the artists and creative people in it in particular, are doing better than ever economically:

Gerald Robinson (profile) says:

Illegal restraint of trade

While Megaupload undoubtedly had some infringing material at any given time, the indictment is most likely motivated by DOJ being influenced improperly by the MPAA and RIAA. I was foreman of a Grand Jury and the actions of the Grand Jury are often dictated by the US Attorney nor rationality. This stinks of improper influence and therefore malicious prosecution.

Lots of independent artists were making money on Megaupload without the studios being involved?this is just another example of restraint of trade by misusing the law. The studios can’t stand any competition and react accordingly.

Michael says:

@Tim Cushing

“When the money fails to pour in, no one will be surprised but the content industry. And they’ll be surprised and angry.”

Uuh, no, they won’t. They knew full and well that shutting down MegaUpload would in no way increase their sales revenue. The sole reason MU was shut down was pure censorship — piracy is merely the convenient excuse, the go-to weapon in their neverending fight to conquer the internet.

Rapnel (profile) says:

RantoMatic - Insert $1.29

It saddens me really that the “folks in charge” continue to A) support this clearly, clearly dysfunctional mindset
B) refuse any challenge to the obvious media industry cartels collusion (on a number of fronts)
C) allow the governments of all of us to enable questionable actions for extremely questionable purpose – that effect clear support of shoring up a cartel
D) fail to recognise that piracy is, truly, not the problem
E) reinforce the grip of good old TV type of craptasticness that is taking far too long (relatively speaking) to loosen its grip on the throats of consumers
F)inally, that these “folks in charge” are actually allowing, nay, supporting, encouraging, financing the seemingly endless threats to individual liberty, privacy, freedom to and for information for copyright. For copyright? For fucking movies and pictures and music and whatever! Well I say fuck every single pair of tits and swinging dick that can’t step back from the precipice and give some thought and consideration to the true problem, the true issues currently affecting the *global* societies. Who gets to see your movie when and where is no longer your problem. HOW they see that movie is.

They’re not providing therefore they must be eliminated. No law will prevent this. No law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Not just American artists/musicians/legitimately talented people can lose sales, so can artists/musicians/legitimately talented people from other countries. Korea’s making better music than most of America, just saying. There’s some non-American artists whose content I would buy if THEY WERE EVEN AVAILABLE to this damned self-glorified country.

I propose an international online arts market where anyone can buy any kind of content they want (books/movies/music) whether it be old of new (because Ducktales was flawless and I want) and it could be available to anyone and everyone in the world. It’d be like a worldwide arts market.

Gary Mont (profile) says:

Recovering lost incomes due to Piracy

A simple note to all those artists and writers and programmers and musicians who feel they have lost money to piracy.

The companies that wrote SOPA and PIPA are the same companies that created, promoted and distributed all the P2P software on their own and associated websites for a decade. Disney, Time Warner, Microsoft and their associates in the Entertainment Industry created the Piracy Problem specifically so that they could convince legislators that a piracy problem existed and get their pet content-control laws enacted.

SOPA and PIPA and other identical acts now being initiated in a variety of countries around the world, were designed by corporate think-tanks, to turn the control of all content on the web over to the entertainment industry and their associated friends.

By law, those who created, distributed and promoted software for the purpose of downloading copyright material, are responsible for any criminal use of that software.

If you want to sue someone for stealing your intellectual property, art works, music, stories and programs, start with the companies that made piracy possible, who created the means and the desire to download copyright material and started the entire process, just to screw everyone out of another freedom the corporate fascists disagree with. Freedom of content on the web.

Know your enemy, or continue to strike out at shadows.

Gerald Robinson (profile) says:

Re: Recovering lost incomes due to Piracy

“By law, those who created, distributed and promoted software for the purpose of downloading copyright material, are responsible for any criminal use of that software.

If you want to sue someone for stealing your intellectual property, art works, music, stories and programs, start with the companies that made piracy possible, who created the means and the desire to download copyright material and started the entire process, just to screw everyone out of another freedom the corporate fascists disagree with. Freedom of content on the web.”

Unfortunately or fortunately this is pure BS and ignorance. P2P software is used legitimately by most folks. There is no such thing as software designed for piracy. Ya these lockers have occasional copyright violations but so do YouTube, Yahoo et al. So MS sue MS for making explorer!?

The reality is that there is no piracy problem. The government wants the right to censor and the studios don’t want anyone to make any money without their say so and them getting a cut.

Gary Mont (profile) says:

Re: Re: Recovering lost incomes due to Piracy

Gerald Robinson wrote:


“Unfortunately or fortunately this is pure BS and ignorance. P2P software is used legitimately by most folks. There is no such thing as software designed for piracy.”


So, did you watch the video I posted the link to?

Didn’t think you would. 🙂

This issue is not about people using the software legitimately or illegitimately. Its about the software’s intended usage – to download copyright material without paying the original creator of that material.

This is the purpose the software was developed for and the people who developed it and promoted it and distributed it to the world are the same people who are today trying to push SOPA and PIPA into law. This is the issue. The video proves this beyond a shadow of a doubt.

The Piracy Problem is a sham, created to force lawmakers into putting content-control legislation into law that would give the creators of the Piracy Problem full control of all content on the web.

SOPA and PIPA have nothing at all to do with stopping Piracy and everything to do with taking over control of all content on the internet.

The internet has shown itself to be an outstanding tool in the fight against the mega-wealthy forces of repression and corruption and those forces have decided that enough is enough and are planning to remove that tool from public hands. This is happening world-wide, not just in America. Similar legislation, all of it written by the entertainment industry, is being introduced quietly to governments all over the globe.

So, you’re perfectly within your rights to remain as unaware of the real situation as you like, but please realize that by doing so, you become a part of the problem.

Know your enemy.

Gary Mont (profile) says:

Who created the P2P software

For those of you too young to have personally visited the websites the entertainment industry used to promote and distribute the first P2P software packages, here’s a little video that explains it all with pictures of those old pages.

It would be nice if some of you spread this around as its painfully obvious that this information is not a part of public knowledge any more.

Once the public is made aware of the true criminals in this affair, those who feel they have lost income due to P2P will know who to seek redress and reparation from.

Enough attempted law suits against Disney, Microsoft and the rest and perhaps the delinquent federal government might actually do its job and start investigating these huge criminal corporations.

wvhillbilly (profile) says:

Burning your barn to get rid of the rats

If you want to stop people from downloading illegally the only way you’re going to accomplish that is to take down the whole Internet. And even then people would find ways to get around it. The SOPA/PIPA approach is literally burning your barn down to get rid of the rats. You might think you get rid of the rats by burning the barn down, but the rats just go elsewhere and infest some other barn. Or maybe your house. No matter what you do to try to stop downloading, someone will find a way around it. Get over it. Not every download is a lost sale, as explained in the article.

And suing your customers back to the stone age isn’t going to bring people breaking down doors to buy your product, It’s just going to make them mad and they’ll go somewhere else to get what they want. Setting up a way people could download legally for a reasonable fee would be much, much better, and potentially bring in that bucket at the end of the rainbow you are so badly wanting.

PMGMT says:

Jonothan Coulton is a good speaker buuuuut...

I hate to not be on everyone’s side here, and continue the communal fist pump of the hey-it’s-okay-to-steal-as-long-as-it’s-not-a-tangible-object cause. And as much as I love to DL an album there’s no way I’m getting because it was a merch/tour only release, I also gotta say, you know, you don’t just walk into a record store and grab some CDs off the shelf and walk out because you think you should be able to.

unless you do do that kind of thing.

which would make you a thief.

It’s fine for coulton to give his music away as that is his choice. other artists may not want to give theirs away. both choices should be respected. The bottom line is the creative/intellectual products of someone ARE THEIR PROPERTY. and, it SHOULD be up to them to do with it as they see fit.

as convincing a writer coulton is he uses far too much speculation, and somewhat vague assertations. a careful reader can observe he’s using a “rhetoric (bullshit) reinforced by common sense and truth” tactic. Some of what he says IS irrefutable, granted – but not the parts that count. that is to say, he is using rhetoric to form an argument, and reinforcing that platform of rhetoric with true statements relating to same subject, but, those true statements don’t win the argument. eg. “Jon Coulton is the devil and apples are red”… yes apples are red but coulton is not the devil in any way shape or form. as far as I know. Sorry Jonny, but in that E N T I R E rant, you failed to insert one little very important thing: A statistic, a number, a validated figure OF ANY KIND…

reminds me of an article I read in rolling stone few years back:

check that out.

Those numbers say it all. Piracy does hurt the american economy and the world economy. it hurts the singer, the actor, the mixing engineer, the foley artist, rotoscoper, makeup artist, lighting grip, ad infinitum.

In closing, it WOULD be nice to just be able to get all this wonderful stuff for free. but, only things that people intend to be free should be free. I, for one am happy to pay a new artist 5 bucks for their first EP on itunes.

It actually is quite gratifying, to find an artist and throw them some bones for their hard work, to know that you are supporting and helping the artistic community, rather than harming it.

Gerald Robinson (profile) says:

Jonothan Coulton is a good speaker buuuuut...

I certainly agree that the owner of the property should be able to do as they please with it. If they decide to lock it in the basement they shouldn’t whine that they aren’t making money from it.

As for the Rollingsrone BS its more recycled same same junk. The studios killed the CD album through greed. When I pay $15 for an album I feel that I am entitled to more than 4 songs (I don’t count recycled covers); maybe if all 4 were really great I wouldn’t feel so ripped off but usually one is great, two are OK and one is a dud. In classical the CD is still healthy. Why? I get 60 o 70 minutes of high quality content for my money, yes its not as convenient as MP3 but the quality is far far better.

Speaking as a recording engineer the studios are more interested in ripping off the artists and public than anything else. I don’t feel that its right to rip them off in turn; but can’t find it in my heart to feel sorry for them when they ask for it.

Gary Mont (profile) says:

PMGMT, Feb 11th, 2012 @ 9:18pm, wrote:
“you don’t just walk into a record store and grab some CDs off the shelf and walk out because you think you should be able to. unless you do do that kind of thing. which would make you a thief.”

Nice try. That’s a false argument and I assume you know it.

If you steal something, that something is gone.

Others cannot have access to it because you took it away.

Unless and until the copying of a thing literally removes that thing from circulation for everyone else, it cannot be considered and should not be called theft.

Those who use this kind of false, emotion-laden terminology show only that their goal is misinformation – making everything else they say immediately suspect.

Copying is, at worst, an infringement, entirely because of copyright laws, and in no way harms or disturbs the thing that was copied.

Whether one considers copying to be morally correct or not, copying is simply not theft, regardless of how many laws try and paint it that way.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...