SIIA's Sequel To Don't Copy That Floppy Lies About Criminality Of Copying

from the which-is-more-unethical? dept

So here's a question? Which is more unethical? Making an unauthorized copy of a piece of software or music for personal use... or outright lying in a commercial? I'm pondering this as a bunch of folks have sent in variations on the news that the SIIA is (bizarrely) resurrecting its old discredited "Don't Copy That Floppy" educational campaign:
The original campaign is widely seen as a total joke that did nothing to slow down the pace of copying, and it simply showed how out of touch the Software Publishers Association was with the market. The campaign did nothing to cut down on copying, but it did an amazing job informing the market how easy it was to copy software. It also was in the middle of the software industry's long and fruitless struggle with DRM, which was later mostly abandoned as a failure that did more harm than good for legitimate consumers.

So it's difficult to fathom who could possibly think it's a good idea to bring back the campaign... but that appears to be what's happening. Still, the "chorus" of the song claims that copying is a crime. I would argue that this is false advertising. Copying may be a crime, but the scenarios shown in the film don't appear to involve criminal activity, but civil torts. For it to be criminal copyright infringement it needs to involve being done "willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain." So the ad is falsely promoting the idea that personal copying is a criminal matter -- in fact it falsely suggests that simply downloading software or music will put you in jail.

So which is more ethical? Getting a personal copy of a song you wanted to hear? Or flat out lying about the criminality of that action to the widespread public?
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Filed Under: civil, copyright, criminality, don't copy that floppy, torts
Companies: siia

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  1. icon
    Sadien, Inc. ( (profile), 8 Jul 2009 @ 6:35am

    Stop.. and think... before posting childish comments...

    Yes, the BSA, SIIA, RIAA and MPAA sometimes use heavy-handed tactics when pursuing their respective agendas (my group deals with their tactics everyday)...

    Yes, the video is a bit... um... odd.

    And no, I'm not exactly sure how these videos will do anything, other make people discuss how odd the videos are..


    Let's address some misconceptions here and try to discuss this issue like adults, without condescending cliché rap videos in the background...

    A. The RIAA, BSA, MPAA and SIIA are not government agencies, and have absolutely NO authority to "handcuff" anyone, including your children.

    These groups are classified as "trade organizations." And, just as the name implies, they are group solely dedicated to serving the best of their respective industry clientele.

    In short, trade organizations fight for their members, the same way lawyers fight for their clients. It’s not about what’s fair, right or wrong. Their fighting to improve their members hold & control, on trade & commerce.

    B. There is a key message that is getting lost with these ridiculous videos, and those that (for whatever reason) think piracy is “ok.”

    Unauthorized copying of software, music and movies… is a crime. Period.

    It doesn’t matter if you agree, or disagree. It’s the law. And if you disagree with the law… petition to have it changed. Breaking it doesn’t change anything and exposes you and your family to tremendous personal liability.

    I would ask people to think about what you’re asking for before you “rally the troops” and head off to Washington…

    Asking for unauthorized copying to be “legal,” is basically asking software companies, record labels and the motion picture industry to spend millions of dollars creating something… that you get to enjoy… for free.

    It’s not going to happen.

    Let’s say hypothetically, you’re successful… and you make it so that EVERYTHING can be copied… for free.. no restrictions… no consequences.

    Those groups will simply stop spending millions to create software, music and movies.

    When you remove profitability, you remove incentive. Period.

    C. “But G.C. You’re stupid. There is no incentive for Linux programmers to create software, but they do. An what about software apps like Firefox ?”

    Linux is great. I work extensively with various issues and projects that incorporate Linux, Unix and freeware apps like Firefox. And I am both a fan and advocate for free software…

    However, there are two key issues to think about here…

    1. Linux is completely free. Windows is very NOT free. Yet the Windows operating system is utilized 1000 times more, than Linux. Why is that? On the same token.. but IE and Firefox are “free,” and Firefox is decisively giving IE a run for its money.. Why is that? (There are many reasons for scenarios… way to many to discuss here… but, seriously think about those points and draw your own conclusions.)

    2. Free software is not license-free software. It’s still protected by copyright law. It’s still controlled with a license.

    The law is written such that authors have the right to control HOW they distribute their work… it says virtually nothing about them getting paid.

    If an author CHOOSES to get paid, they can.

    If an author CHOOSES to give their software, music or movie away for free, then can do that too.

    The law protects the author’s freedom of choice… period.

    The message that should be presented, without insulting peoples’ intelligence with horrible rap lyrics, is as follows:

    For some unknown reason… when a group becomes successful and generates a profit from a solid business model… a large group of people think it’s ok to “screw them over… because they can afford it.”

    Virtually NO ONE would ever say that it would be ok to copy/steal/pirate the work of an individual that spent hours, months or years creating music or software in his basement, while trying to pay his rent and feed his family.

    Yet… when that individual is successful… and makes money… and grows… adding to our economy… employing people… paying taxes… and presenting a product that millions of people enjoy and use daily… many opinions shift 180 degrees to “Screw ‘em… I’m not paying for that crap.”

    Why? Why is success bad? Why is building a company, employing 1000’s people, paying taxes and improving our society with software, music and movies somehow “evil” when done on a mass scale?


    There will be many of you that call me names… say mean things… and generally act like children rather than discussing the issue with a mature, pertinent argument.

    And before you anonymously post childish comments…

    Take a second to ponder why trade groups treat you like children, with silly, insulting, cliché rap videos.

    G.C. Hutson
    Sadien, Inc.

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