Since The RIAA & MPAA Say That A Copy Is Just As Valuable As The Original, Send Them A Copy Of Money

from the proving-a-point dept

As a bunch of folks have been pointing out, in response to the Paul Graham essay on property that we were just discussing, a guy by the name of Jake Gold set up SendThemYourMoney.com, which is a site encouraging you to send “money” to the RIAA/MPAA. But… by “money” he means “copies” of money, since the RIAA/MPAA’s whole argument is based on the idea that a copy is no different than the original:

The Problem

The MPAA & RIAA claim that the internet is stealing billions of dollars worth of their property by sharing copies of files. They’re willing to destroy the internet with things like SOPA & PIPA in an attempt to collect that money.

The Solution

Let’s just pay them the money! They’ve made it very clear that they consider digital copies to be just as valuable as the original. That makes it a lot easier to pay them back in two ways: a. We can email them scanned images of dollar bills instead of bulky paper and b. We don’t have to worry about the hassle of shipping huge quantities of cash.

Further instructions are on the site, including a copy of a dollar bill which I’ve also copied here (theft!).

Of course, there’s a concern. We also hear from folks at the RIAA/MPAA and their supporters all the time about how all this copying “devalues” the content. So I’m a bit worried that Jake’s little plan here is going to totally devalue US currency and drive the world into a massive recession. Clearly, that’s the only possible result of this kind of plan (if we’re using RIAA/MPAA logic).

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Companies: mpaa, riaa

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Comments on “Since The RIAA & MPAA Say That A Copy Is Just As Valuable As The Original, Send Them A Copy Of Money”

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149 Comments
ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Uh….I would think twice before jumping on this bandwagon (unless, of course, you like evening visits by the Secret Service).

See: 31 C.F.R. PART 411

I was just thinking that too — I wonder if/when Mike will get another visit from the Secret Service. More ammunition for the trolls to jump on; “Techdirt encourages counterfeiting currency.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes, not at all a good idea to photocopy. The pertinent portion from the Code of Federal Regulations reads:

? 411.1 Color illustrations authorized.

(a) Notwithstanding any provision of chapter 25 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, authority is hereby given for the printing, publishing or importation, or the making or importation of the necessary plates or items for such printing or publishing, of color illustrations of U.S. currency provided that:

(1) The illustration be of a size less than three-fourths or more than one and one-half, in linear dimension, of each part of any matter so illustrated;

(2) The illustration be one-sided; and

(3) All negatives, plates, positives, digitized storage medium, graphic files, magnetic medium, optical storage devices, and any other thing used in the making of the illustration that contain an image of the illustration or any part thereof shall be destroyed and/or deleted or erased after their final use in accordance with this section.

(b) [Reserved]

Manfred Manfriend says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well if you’re that worried about it, you can just use the ASCII dollars…it’s the same thing–right?

Here’s one to get you started:

______________________________________________________________________
|.============[_F_E_D_E_R_A_L___R_E_S_E_R_V_E___N_O_T_E_]=============.|
||%&%&%&%_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ %&%&%&%&||
||%&.-.&/||_||_ | ||||||_| (_ ||||_(_ /|_ ||V||_|)|/ | %&.-.&&||
||&// | || ||_ _/| ||||_|_/ ,_)|||||_,_) /| ||| ||_||_|| &// |%||
||| | | |% ,—–,-‘____’-,—–, %| | | |||
||| | | |&% “””””””””” [ .-;”`___ `”;-. ] &%| | | |||
||&===// `).” .’`_.- `. ‘.’.(` A 76355942 J \===/&||
||&%’-‘%/1 // .’ /` \ %’-‘%||
||%&%&%/` d8888b // / _ _;, \ .-“””-. 1 `&%&%%||
||&%&%& 8P |) Yb ;; ( > a a| ;; //A`Y A\ &%&%&||
||&%&%| 8b |) d8 || ( , | ) || ||.-‘-.|| |%&%&||
||%&%&| Y8888P || ‘–‘/` — /-‘ || \_/~_// |&%&%||
||%&%&| || |`-.__/ || ‘-…-‘ |&%&%||
||%%%%| || /` |._ .|-. || |%&%&||
||%&%&| A 76355942 J /; _.’ } ‘-. /; |%&%&||
||&%.-; (, ‘. } ` ‘ ,) ,.,.,.,., ;-.%&||
||%( | ) 1 “”””””” _( ;…———.;.; / )_ “`””””””” 1 ( | )%||
||&%’-‘==================`——————`/==================’-‘%&||
||%&JGS&%&%&%&%%&%&&&%&%%&)O N E D O L L A R(%&%&%&%&%&%&%%&%&&&%&%%&||
‘””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””`

bob (profile) says:

Ugh. There's a reason that Counterfeiting is illegal

The world of currency and the effects of counterfeiting is a good proof of what I’ve been saying all along: copying destroys value. If people can make their own copies without paying their fair share of the development costs, no one will invest in the system.

The example also explains what I’ve also been saying all along: rampant copying steals from the honest people who pay for their content. It’s not stealing from the studios, it’s stealing from the little guys who are played like fools for supporting the artist.

This is why we have laws against counterfeiting. But I don’t expect you to understand any of this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Ugh. There's a reason that Counterfeiting is illegal

We missed you and your infinite wisdom on the definition of stealing debate. Glad to see you’ve graced us with your presence again.

It’s only counterfeiting if it’s actually PRINTED in the attempt to pass it off as legitimate currency, you moron.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Ugh. There's a reason that Counterfeiting is illegal

> It’s only counterfeiting if it’s actually
> PRINTED in the attempt to pass it off as
> legitimate currency, you moron.

Not true. Counterfeit currency is contraband and as such mere possession is enough to violate the law. Just like drugs.

18 USC 471

Also, one need not actually print the image onto paper in order to violate the law:

18 USC 474

Whoever, with intent to defraud, makes, executes, acquires, scans, captures, records, receives, transmits, reproduces, sells, or has in such person’s control, custody or possession, an analog, digital, or electronic image of any obligation or other security of the United States… is guilty of a Class B felony.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Ugh. There's a reason that Counterfeiting is illegal

> “with intent to defraud”

> You just broke your point in the same post.

No, I didn’t. The claim was that it’s not counterfeiting if “it’s actually PRINTED in the attempt to pass it off as legitimate currency”.

My response addressed that erroneous claim and nothing more.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Ugh. There's a reason that Counterfeiting is illegal

Your points are well made. It is too bad, however, that there still remain individuals here who fail to grasp the potential consequences of following the lead of the individual whose site is linked in the article. For their sake I hope they decline the invitation to participate.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Ugh. There's a reason that Counterfeiting is illegal

Your points are well made. It is too bad, however, that there still remain individuals here who fail to grasp the potential consequences of following the lead of the individual whose site is linked in the article. For their sake I hope they decline the invitation to participate.

You honestly think the Secret Service is going to go after people for emailing a jpg of one side of a dollar?

Really?

Stranger things have happened, but if the Secret Service wants to make incredible fools of themselves… I guess let’s see them try.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Ugh. There's a reason that Counterfeiting is illegal

I rather doubt the Secret Service will be knocking down doors, but as a general rule I believe it is unwise to tempt fate in view of a federal law that is clear on its face. This is why I mentioned the section from the Code of Federal Regulations that lays out acceptable ground rules relating to photocopying of paper currency.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Ugh. There's a reason that Counterfeiting is illegal

Ok the key words there are “with intent to defraud” which the prosecution would have to prove in order to obtain a conviction.

So unless they were printed you they would have to prove that you INTENDED to print them and pass them off as legitimate currency. Yeah. Web images qualify for that.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Ugh. There's a reason that Counterfeiting is illegal

Bob…you honestly think we’re trying to counterfeit money here?
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

“If people can make their own copies without paying their fair share of the development costs, no one will invest in the system. “
Bob, all those successful free-to-copy services would like to have a word with you. I watch Youtube and copy their videos for free (it has to be copied, otherwise how would it work?) and yet…its still online.

muljner says:

Re: Ugh. There's a reason that Counterfeiting is illegal

Ever heard of open source?

Try investing something that has true equity,: time, research, effort. Not a fictional currency that is backed by nothing and acrues debt from the moment you “earn it”. Which is taxed, then if you use it to survive its taxed, then you pay tax on property.

Debt=slavery

fogbugzd (profile) says:

I doubt that anyone at the MPAA/RIAA will learn anything from this because they have invested way too much in not understanding.

It is possible that the value will come from educating people outside the RIAA/MPAA. I have already had a discussion about the project with someone who is strongly pro-IP. It did serve as a useful example of how a physical item and an copy of the physical item are different. The discussion started with him maintaining that the digital copy isn’t really a copy because it isn’t physical like the dollar bill. But that opened the door to me asking how a file of music was a physical object any more than the file containing the picture of the dollar bill is a physical object. I asked how having an .mp3 file extension makes it any more physical than a .jpg extension. He has finally come around (for the first time) to admitting there is a difference between a physical good and a digital good. One small victory at a time!

Gracey says:

Re: Re:

I have a new epson scanner – not an all in one, but a fairly expensive model.

It warns you that you can’t scan money, but then it will do it anyways.

I’ve scanned a bunch of our Cdn money for a photoshoot.

Still have the scans. I also scanned an old American dollar from the 1930s…maybe it doesn’t recognize it as real money.

Beta (profile) says:

Fun’s fun, but I think this is specious and silly. Money isn’t just information. It’s an abstract entity that actually can be degraded by duplication. An obvious counterfeit is worthless (unlike a mediocre copy of a musical recording), and a convincing copy reduces the value of the original (again, unlike a perfect copy of a musical recording). Either way, “paying” these agencies with counterfeits doesn’t prove our point, it gives the appearance of bolstering theirs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I marked your comment as funny because you think the Euro is stonger than the dollar! Greece is bankrupt, Italy and Spain are not far behind and much stinkier pieces of shit. Euro will collapse once the can is kicked to the wall.

On another note to all the people saying that having digital images of Federal Reserve Notes is illegal. Search google images for “dollar bills.” Should all of these sites be shut down because they have digital images of FRN’s on their site, which promote [insert scare tactic]?

Yartrebo (profile) says:

The copies are stated to be copies, and it should be plenty obvious from the fact that these ‘dollar bills’ are just bits.

AFAIK, it’s perfectly legal to pass around an image of a bill so long as it isn’t of super-high quality and I thought that the US government even made moderate-resolution images of US currency available specifically for use in artwork.

PS: Being a work of the US government, there are no copyrights attached to US currency and they are in the public domain, copyright-wise.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

> PS: Being a work of the US government, there
> are no copyrights attached to US currency and
> they are in the public domain, copyright-wise.

Yes, the prohibition on copying money has nothing to do with copyright. It’s a separate crime in and of itself and has its own separate constitutional authority in Article I, Section 8.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“The copies are stated to be copies, and it should be plenty obvious from the fact that these ‘dollar bills’ are just bits.”

And digital copies of motion pictures are also bits that are obviously different from the series of original images captured on celluloid.

BTW the law (previously quoted) says nothing about having to be used for artwork only that there can’t be an “intent to defraud”.

hfbs (profile) says:

Re: Copies

And it’s exactly the same as a downloading a film – it’s similar to, but not exactly like, watching a store-bought DVD. Mainly the actual physical part of it, which incidentally is the same difference here. They’re not looking to replicate money exactly and a pirated film is not an exact replica of a Hollywood-endorsed one.

Seems a perfect solution to me.

Zakida Paul says:

The Solution

Let’s just pay them the money! They’ve made it very clear that they consider digital copies to be just as valuable as the original. That makes it a lot easier to pay them back in two ways: a. We can email them scanned images of dollar bills instead of bulky paper and b. We don’t have to worry about the hassle of shipping huge quantities of cash.
————————————————————
What a ridiculous suggestion and I hope this article is tongue in cheek because I cannot believe that a well respected tech blog would advocate such a thing. If it is tongue in cheek I will look foolish (something I can live with) and if it is not I will be attacked.

I am very much anti SOPA/PIPA/ACTA as I believe in a free Internet where we can give our opinions without reproach. However, I am also anti piracy as I believe we should pay for available content when it is available and we can afford it and if we cannot afford it we should go without. This article, if serious, is saying that we should simply take what we want and say “screw you” to the media industry. How exactly does that make you any better than the shady things that the media industry has gotten away with in the past?

Pirate Apologist says:

Re: Re:

“I am also anti piracy as I believe we should pay for available content when it is available and we can afford it and if we cannot afford it we should go without.”
silly, but serious question…
Fan F really like Band B… Fan F would really like to buy song S from band B, but can’t because he lacks money or lives in the wrong area of the world…
Fan F is already suffering, he either has no money or has to speak French or something…
there are already physical things/limited resources he cant have thanks to his predicament that may not be his fault…
either way, hasn’t he already suffered enough? why cant he just download a copy?
how exactly would Fan F downloading Song S hurt band B in any way?
band B still has all their songs (that they haven’t signed away the rights to), they haven’t lost a sale, as a sale would be impossible. how are they hurt?

in the absence of harm, we should just “go without” to create harm? is there some moral imperative that harm must be created?

Anonymous Coward says:

More Mike word games.

First off, a copy of money (if you make it the right size) will get you legal troubles. It is essentially as valuable as the real thing. Sending it to the record labels would effectively be counterfeiting. I really don’t recommend it.

Further, let’s be clear here. Some things copy and retain value, and some things don’t.

You are so busy trying to prove yourself clever Mike, instead you just come off as a nasty dickhead. Sorry, it’s my opinion.

Benjo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“authority is hereby given for the printing, publishing or importation…”

How could emailing a picture of a dollar be counterfeiting? What kind of idiot thinks he can spend an image of a dollar on his screen? It’s not printed on paper, so clearly the laws pertaining to importation/printing/publishing do not apply, moron. Keep making shit up, you nasty dickhead.

James Foster (profile) says:

Although I completely agree with the idea behind this (infringement is not theft), this is not a very transferable comparison.

Money obtains its value by the way in which it is accepted by society i.e. it can be exchanged for goods and services, and has value. There is no value in a copy (especially a digital copy), as it cannot enjoy the same use as the original.

There is, however, some value in a digital copy of a song or movie. I’m not specifically talking about dollar value, but in the use of the original vs the use of the copy. People are able to enjoy the same content and use as the original.

Not a very good comparison in my opinion, and I think this weakens the argument against the ridiculous claims which are made by the MPAA & RIAA.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If we are not talking about “dollar” values then the argument can be made that the scanned image included in this article also has value as its VALUE has contributed to VALUE of the content of the original article and the evidence is the fact that over 120+ comments have been added to the article so far.

Robert Shaver (profile) says:

That's why counterfeiting is illegal.

Look, I agree with you on copying in general but this analogy isn’t correct. If you can scan currency AND you print it out AND you can pay for stuff with that scanned currency:

A. That will devalue the currency due to inflation of the money supply. (That’s also why it’s bad when the government does it legally. Same result: inflation.)

B. Printing copies of money is illegal in all countries in the world because … see A above.

This analogy only works if you scan, print and use the scanned currency. If you put a CD in a scanner and scan the art and put that scanned picture of the CD on the internet for people to download, they can’t play the songs. Nobody’s suggesting they care of you scan the CD art work … although I’m sure they’d complain about it.

So, in fact this is a good analogy for the copyright maximalists. They would say that copying copyrighted infinite goods and putting them on the internet devalues them in the same way as counterfeiting money, if unchecked, will devalue that money. And that’s why, they’d say, that the prohibition of counterfeiting is strongly enforced and that’s exactly why the prohibition of copying copyrighted goods should be strongly enforced too.

In fact the marginal cost of printing another currency bill is very low also, compared to its value in circulation. But we all know that printing a huge supply of paper money will not add value to the economy.

To summarize, I think that copyright as it is currently practiced is broken and I also think scanning and printing currency as a analogy to devaluing copyrighted infinite goods is an argument FOR strong copyright enforcement just like counterfeiting laws.

Or did I miss something?

Anonymous Coward says:

Pick one of the government own photographs and send it to the entertainment industry then is not counterfeiting is it?
http://www.moneyfactory.gov/uscurrency/smalldenominations.html

I am sending the entertainment industry a digital copy of a hundred dollars.

http://www.moneyfactory.gov/images/252_New100front2.jpg

http://www.secretservice.gov/money_illustrations.shtml

And if the secret service didn’t go after Wikipedia I doubt they will come after anyone else using it for fun.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:United_States_one_dollar_bill,_obverse.jpg

Howard says:

Theft of IP is a serious issue and should not be trivialized with stunts like this. There needs to be more a conversation between the RIAA/MPAA and the public on the impact that stolen content is having on the industry. It is substantial, that is for sure. Then there should be a public policy discussion between the tech industry, content producers and the public as we come up with a way to address this issue. Protect IP and we preserve the integrity and quality of the content that we have all come to love.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Theft of IP is a serious issue”

Empirical Evidence?

“There needs to be more a conversation between the RIAA/MPAA and the public on the impact that stolen content is having on the industry.”

First let me FTFY…

There needs to be more a conversation BETWEEN the RIAA/MPAA and the public on the impact that shared content MAY be having on the industry.

“Then there should be a public policy discussion between the tech industry, content producers and the public as we come up with a way to address this issue.”

“Conversation” and “discussion” require two way communication and they aren’t interested in listening, only dictating.

goron says:

It is no longer about appreciation for the film and music. It is about having more money than they know what to do with. Excessively rich individuals who have no limit when it comes to their insatiable greed are the scum of society!

When was the last time you have heard about rich people pirating music and movies? I can’t remember, can you? What sets them apart from the people who do pirate music and movies?

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