Copyright Maximalists' Incredible Sense Of Entitlement: If It Challenges The Biz Model We Chose, It Must Be Illegal

from the incredible-sense-of-entitlement dept

Having followed the copyright industry for so long, I’m often shocked at the incredible sense of entitlement of those who argue strictly for greater and greater copyright powers. One thing we’ve discussed in the past is that the gatekeepers (and it always is the gatekeepers) have an issue of constantly overvaluing the content and undervaluing the service. That is, any time they see a new service come along that the public really likes, they insist that all or nearly all of the value must be attributable to the content and not the service. Thus, they will always argue that “the service” is somehow ripping them off. We’ve seen it over and over again, from ringtone royalties to Guitar Hero to Pandora and others. Every time the story is the same: these other companies are making some money (even if they already pay us) and therefore we’re getting screwed. If anyone else is making any money, then the copyright holders start screaming about how it’s completely and totally unfair.

In their minds, the value of the service is meaningless. The fact that they were unable to provide such services directly themselves gets totally ignored. They just insist that 100% of the value is the content, and thus they need to get more money. Nevermind the fact that companies like Pandora already pay nearly all of their revenue to the copyright holders. There’s always more blood to be squeezed from that stone, even if it means killing the golden goose (to mix a few parables).

Two recent stories illustrate this extreme entitlement, and total dismissal of the value of anyone else, perfectly. Let’s start with the Aereo case, which was heard today at the Supreme Court. It will be some time before the court rules, but check out this quote from Gordon Smith, the president of the National Association of Broadcasters on why he believes Aereo is breaking the law:

“Quite simply, Aereo takes copyrighted material, profits from it and does so without compensating copyright holders,” said Gordon Smith, the president of the National Association of Broadcasters.

Of course, that’s misleading in the extreme for a variety of reasons. First of all, there are lots of areas where it’s perfectly legal to profit from copyrighted materials without compensating copyright holders. Used book stores and used record stores (back when such things existed) are a perfect example. Fair use is another. The point is: just because someone is making a profit does not mean that the copyright holders have to get paid. That’s never been the case. In fact, it’s the same fallacy described above. People are flocking to Aereo because it provides a better service than the cable companies. But the broadcasters ignore all of that and insist all of the value must come from the content itself.

That brings us to the second story highlighting this, which involves comments over in the EU concerning the legality of reselling digital media. Not surprisingly, the record labels, represented by the IFPI and BPI, are 100% against this sort of thing for no logical reason, other than that consumers might actually prefer such a system. They specifically highlight that the quality and convenience of digital resales are too good, and that might upset the business model the record labels have chosen. The argument echoes the labels’ argument against ReDigi in the US, a service that allows people to resell digital content that has been shut down in the US.

Again, the focus here has nothing to do with what’s right or what’s best for the public. In fact, the entire argument appears to be “fuck the public, we need more money.” It completely ignores multiple studies that have shown that a thriving used goods market increases the value of the original market. It ignores the idea that making things easier and better for consumers is a good thing. Instead, it’s all about overvaluing the content and undervaluing everything else.

This all goes back to a point we made years ago: industries that have embraced copyright for the entirety of their business model have set copyright up as a crutch on which they lean. Rather than exercising the rest of their body, finding all sorts of other good business models that allow them to improve the experience for customers, they just keep leaning on that crutch and insist it’s entirely necessary for them to live. And thus, those other muscles atrophy and wither away. So now that the world is changing and innovating, and others are demonstrating lots of great ways to better serve the public, the copyright maximalists are insisting it’s all impossible. They need that damn crutch, and anything else is “piracy.” They only have themselves to blame, of course. For decades, people have been explaining to them and showing them how to build better services, how to offer better experiences for everyone, while still making money. And, all they do is lean more on that old crutch and insist it’s the only possible way to walk.

It’s a massive sense of entitlement, in which they appear to have no self-awareness that they’re actively advocating for a world in which the public is worse off.

Filed Under: , , , , ,
Companies: aereo, nab, pandora, redigi

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Comments on “Copyright Maximalists' Incredible Sense Of Entitlement: If It Challenges The Biz Model We Chose, It Must Be Illegal”

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50 Comments
Lurker Keith says:

Re: Re: Ads are all still intact.

From what I understand, they embed either ultrasonic or subsonic signals in participant’s audio for their device to pick up. A true HD capture should retain those signals, so Aereo may be counted, but how it’s counted may not be accurate.

I have no clue how they determine DVR status, which Aereo should count as.

Anonymous Coward says:

To be fair, they only overvalue THEIR content.

You notice that once MySpace, which was initially built around finding alternative music, got massively popular that the lgacy industries bought into it, plasting their content all over the sight and forcing any alternative content underground, And while it was far from the only reason, it’s not a total coincidence people started abadoning the site in droves not long after.

Same goes for eMusic. Once the site’s non-major label format started gaining serious traction, the labels bought their way into the site (even dropping prices and the “all-important” DRM) and plasting their content all over the front of the site and forcing much of the alternative content down where you had to go hunting for it.

It’s not about THE content, it’s about THEIR content.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s not about THE content, it’s not even about THEIR content.

It’s about entitlement.

If it were only about their content, then they wouldn’t be trying to re-copyright public domain works.

If it were only about their content, then they would be wanting to get their content everywhere. But they try to restrict it everywhere. This isn’t just about cost. It’s about the fact that THEIR content needs to be difficult to access, inconvenient to consume, annoying to sit through unskippable commercials and scary FIB WARNINGs, as well as expensive.

If anyone comes up with innovative ways to make content easy to buy, easy to watch, and enjoyable to watch, then it is a major crime and the government should spend taxpayer resources to go after these horrible criminals.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The starving artists is as much a creation oh how they keep as much of the income from content as they can by Hollywood accounting. Even by doing this they have to refuse to publish much of the content that they are offered.
It is likely that the next generation will totally ignore there services and content unless they can gain control of, or destroy all competing means of distribution. The distribution model developed by Kim Dotcom was a huge threat to their business model, as it enabled many more artists to publish their works and earn from it in proportion to its popularity. If they allow anyone to establish such a business model as legal then they will go the way of ice sellers.

Violynne (profile) says:

The most terrifying aspect of the verdict, should Aereo lose, will be that AT&T U-verse will automatically turn me and my family into infringers of copyright.

AT&T U-verse doesn’t give me 3 antennas for anything over its box, and if the issue is re-transmission, this means that single box will re-transmit its contents into every non-receiving box into my house. At a maximum of $250,000 per instance, I can be found liable for $750,000 if those three other boxes even dares “publicly” play NCIS, the show my wife watches (but I do not).

Three times, because we’ve that many boxes in the house.

This isn’t an issue of a public performance, this is an issue of CBS (et al) getting paid thousands of times from its affiliates (who then license the signal to be carried on local cable stations, which is why it’s always in the news LOCAL CBS BLACKOUT ON TIME WARNER CABLE and CBS just laughs its ass off).

Just how damn long is it going to be before these fucking broadcasters scream “There are 5 people in this household, so they must pay for the signal 5 times!”

Tomorrow? Next year?

SCOTUS will allow it very soon if Aereo loses.

Coyne Tibbets says:

Aereo broadcasters already paid

In the Aereo case, it’s actually worse than that: The broadcasters were paid by the advertisers for the content. That’s the whole profit basis of broadcast TV. So what are they really complaining about? That Aereo didn’t pay them again!

“We must be paid every time you download. Every time you play the media. Every time you get a new machine. Every time you move to a new home. Every time you hum a note, we must be paid! We must be paid again and again and again and again and again…!!!”

Like little kids throwing a tantrum.

BernardoVerda says:

Re: Aereo broadcasters already paid

And it’s yet even worse:

Aereo doesn’t alter the programing, nor the advertisements
— and furthermore, makes those Over-the-Air broadcasts available ONLY to those already in the broadcast area.

So Aereo’s service actually increases the viewership of (and consequently the value of) those very same, aforesaid broadcasts, and advertisements.

It’s pretty much the definition of “Win-Win”. What, exactly, is supposed to be the problem?

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Well that explains it...

In England a 1571 Act of Parliament to stimulate domestic wool consumption decreed that on Sundays and holidays all males over 6 years of age, except for the nobility and persons of degree, were to wear woolen caps on pain of a fine. This law instituted the flat cap as part of English wear. The Bill was repealed in 1597, but the flat cap continues to be widely used today.

Science fiction cartoons of people in the future often include antenna on peoples’ heads as a future fashion trend. This suddenly seems not only plausible, but probable. Legally required thanks to the National Association of Broadcasters.

scotts13 (profile) says:

No one has trotted out the Heinlein quote?

?There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No one has trotted out the Heinlein quote?

Ah; but the whole point of the entitlement cabal is that they want to embed this “right” into statute. To do so, they’ve first raised a generation of lawmakers who they’ve blitzed with the concept this should obviously be so. So now when they ask for it to be so, many of the decision makers have lost sight of the fact that saying something is so doesn’t make it so.

Anonymous Coward says:

Maybe it would help if people stopped to use the term “used goods market” for digital goods.

Because as expected from anyone with some common sense or a bit of intelligence (and it might be surprising to some, but the record label representatives don’t lack the later) understands that digital goods don’t become “used”.

And that is exactly the line of those representative. So if something cannot become “used”, how can a market for “used goods” possibly exist for that, except if in a crazy twist of language for the purpose of legalizing something currently illegal?

The use of carefully chosen words is crucial here, because it allows to trigger the common sense of people. Copyright maximalists carefully chose “used goods market” (because people with common sense will find something fishy about it for unusable goods).

We have to choose something else. Like resale market. Every arguments that can be made in favor of a “used digital goods market” can be made for a “digital goods resale market”, without people’s common sense tingling. So it becomes a lot easier to defeat arguments against a resale market for digital goods. (It is still possible do make analogies with a used goods market, but it should be just that: analogies, if possible with big warnings everywhere.)

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: kind of like futures contracts...

“Digital” goods are licensed. A license is just a contract. Contracts are regularly resold and have been for decades if not centuries.

There is nothing really new here. The idea that there is is just nonsense propagated by flim flam artists that want to confuse everyone while the steal us blind.

Of course the transaction overhead of reselling a consumer media license might make the whole thing impractical but it’s hardly a unique idea.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“The use of carefully chosen words is crucial here”

Indeed, which is why we want them to be honest about the difference between a licence and a purchase (this seems to change whenever most convenient) and to stop using loaded language like “theft” when referring to copyright infringement.

If they can’t be honest about people not actually “buying” a digital good, then they’ve created a situation where people think they have indeed purchased something. Everything else you purchase can be resold in a used marketplace. If it’s made clear that it’s not a purchase, then not only do their own contracts demand different royalties to be paid, but consumers will not pay such high prices for them.

If the issue is with the expectations and language being used, it’s one they’ve created. This is yet another things that could have been sorted out if they had looked at their own business models and provided decent services for reasonable prices, rather than trying to force unworkable DRM and draconian laws that had no effect while lying about their own customers. But, here we are.

Mark Warner (user link) says:

If they stopped producing content, other “services” would not exist, so they feel they have value and they are correct, but YOU are correct in saying that they overvalue their content.

If they stop producing content, these “service” websites are not going to start paying them to produce again. There are too many content generators who ARE properly valuing their content, and they tend to be the less litigious type. They can simply replace those who feel more entitled. This is always a negotiating scenario and your content is worth what people are willing to pay for it… some folks are just not happy that the number is roughly $0.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If they stopped producing content, other “services” would not exist, so they feel they have value and they are correct

Wrong. If they stopped producing content, someone else would. That’s the beauty of the Internet: it is not a content service; it’s a connectivity service. If you build it, they will come.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“If they stopped producing content, other “services” would not exist”

Demonstrably incorrect.

“If they stop producing content, these “service” websites are not going to start paying them to produce again.”

So, Netflix, Amazon, et al. don’t produce their own content? Another tired argument, demonstrably false.

“This is always a negotiating scenario and your content is worth what people are willing to pay for it… some folks are just not happy that the number is roughly $0.”

Then stop lying and whining, and sell to the people who are willing to pay more than that. There’s plenty of them, once you stop falsely accusing them of things and trying to push laws and DRM to stop them using the content they’ve paid for.

Do you have an argument that doesn’t depend on lies and hasn’t been debunked hundreds of times?

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

MAFFIA News Conference on Entitlement Charges

Entitlement. You accuse us of entitlement? Let me tell you what we are entitled to:

1. To spend as much money as we like to buy your elected representatives to force our interpretation of our business model on the entire world.

2. To use the DCMA to stifle speech that controverts our business model.

3. To use our resources, listed above, to turn the Internet into our private broadcast medium,

4. To continue to collect maximal revenues from our collective creations.

(comment from the gallery) You don’t create anything, your middlemen!

(retort from MAFFIA representative) Don’t change the subject!

5. To ignore the public, their wants, their spending habits, their comments.

6. To publish and republish and re-republish bogus studies that have been thoroughly debunked by nit picking statisticians who just don’t understand.

No questions, we have a meeting with the USTR to study things you cannot possibly comprehend.

David says:

The real solution isn't boycott, but alternative consumption

Copyright is supposed to promote the Science and Useful Arts. The way copyright is being used, some of these Arts are no longer sufficiently useful. So stop supporting them. You don’t have to boycott, just do something else.

Read a classic novel, go to a live performance, take a walk with your family, play a game, learn a musical instrument (lots of good classical music to play). Consume alternative entertaining options.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The real solution isn't boycott, but alternative consumption

Self publishers suffer the same problem as Linux, it requires people to put in a little effort to find it. Alternative content is out there, much of it is available for free, it just takes a little searching, rather than waiting for someone to put it in front of you.

tracyanne (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: The real solution isn't boycott, but alternative consumption

Actually I think you’re wrong there, the internet makes it possible for self publishers to gain a very strong audience, via numerous cobntent presentation sites, if they are good enough, and they engage with their potential followers well.

It’s actually a lot less like Linux in that respect than you might imagine. People are actually looking out for new creative content, or stumbling upon it when looking for something they already know, while, unless they are very dissatisfied with Windows and Mac, they are unlikely to be looking out for a replacement operating system, or even care when they stumble across references to Linux while surfing.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: The real solution isn't boycott, but alternative consumption

You don’t have to boycott, just do something else.

Read a classic novel, go to a live performance, take a walk with your family, play a game, learn a musical instrument (lots of good classical music to play). Consume alternative entertaining options.

How is that not boycotting the major labels/studios?

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