RIAA Takes The Cake: Equates File Sharing To Children's Fairy Tale

from the more-pie-for-everyone dept

Something must be in the water over at the RIAA. After first trying to link the Chinese hack of Google to Google's position on copyright and then ridiculously claiming that file sharers were undermining humanitarian aid in Haiti (despite neither being even close to true), now it's resorted to using simplistic fables to try to demonize file sharing. Perhaps it's part of the RIAA's propaganda campaign for school children, but in a recent blog post, RIAA VP Joshua Friedlander compared the file sharing situation to the children's fable Nobody Stole the Pie by Sonia Levitin (by the way, you would think that the RIAA, so concerned about content creators getting paid would at least provide a link to information about that book so you could buy it if you wanted to -- but we'll fix that omission for the RIAA).

You may have heard the story. It's about a bunch of villagers all taking a little nibble of a pie, insisting that just a little bit won't hurt -- and then, of course, the entire pie is gone, and everyone claims that it was "Not I" who ate the pie.

Yes, it's a wonderful fable that you should read to your children in nursery school. But, for the adults who actually understand basic economics, it's clear that the situation the RIAA is facing has absolutely nothing to do with the situation described in the book. So let's fast forward from nursery school to econ 101, and perhaps educate the RIAA a bit.

The reason the pie story functions the way it does is because the pie is a scarce and limited resource. As such, each time someone takes, it means that there is less for others. It's a zero-sum game. In contrast, with a digital file, the content is abundant and an infinite resource. Each time someone makes a copy, rather than less for everyone, there's actually more for everyone. You're actually growing the pie. Neat!

The problem the RIAA and its labels face is not everyone nibbling on the pie. It's that it has always focused on selling pie at greatly inflated prices, because in the old world, you could only get the pie from a few RIAA-run pie shops. In the new world, with abundant pie, where each copy of a piece of pie expands the pie, suddenly people can get their pie from many other places. And it's been great for pretty much everyone, other than the proprietors of the RIAA pie shops. More musicians are able to get their "pies" out there, since the old pieshop gatekeeper is no longer the bottleneck. More musicians are able to make money since they no longer have to rely on the pieshop to fund their ability to make new flavors of pie.

Now, when you have a market with an abundant resource, that actually tends to open up all sorts of new business models around pie (pie eating contests, pie toppings, pie making lessons, pie crusts, pie tins, etc.). In fact, those business models are working quite well. But the RIAA seems to have become confused about where the pie has gone:
In the music industry, it takes the investment of many peoples' money, effort, and time to create the songs and albums we all get to choose from and enjoy. Since most acts never even reach the breakeven point in sales, music labels need to operate like venture capitalists and count on the successes to subsidize the continued development of many artists and releases that may never break out of the red. And it's easy to ignore the harm being done when you're only stealing one copy.

Music companies continue to develop more ways for fans to enjoy their favorite artists and songs legitimately -- and provide additional sources of revenue. But when more music is obtained illegally, and less money is available to invest in finding, developing, and recording new artists, the resources available for the next round are diminished. So if the investments dry up, and fewer new artists are able to be developed, will filesharers who stole bit by bit look at each other and say it was "Not I" who stole the pie?
Such a nice story. Too bad that it's just as much a children's fiction as the original pie fable. Recent studies have shown that the music industry has been growing, not shrinking over the past few years. It's just that the money is going to different places. Again, the RIAA has a blindspot for all the other places where people can get pie, and how they've build up great business models around it, assuming that if you're not getting pie from an RIAA shopkeeper, then you must be "stealing." But that's like saying every time I order pizza from Domino's, I'm stealing from Pizza Hut. Or, even worse, every time I make my own pizza at home, I'm stealing from Pizza Hut.

The real problem is not different people taking "just a little bit." The people haven't been taking, they've been growing the pie. Massively. And the musicians and record labels who understand this have been growing and profiting nicely. So, seriously, RIAA, let's leave the children's fables where they belong and start focusing on updating your antiquated business model to deal with the twenty-first century.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    lavi d (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:10am

    Ouch

    Bravo Mike, bravo.

    That was masterful.

     

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      william (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:51pm

      Re: Ouch

      while half way through the article, I was hoping Mike would bring up the story of Jesus. But he didn't so I'll bring it up here.

      Remember the story that some of you heard in Sunday school about the 5 bread and 2 fish? After Jesus blessed and break the bread and fish, he passed them down to his audience (about 2-3000 people) and have everyone take a bit, then pass it down. In the end, they end up with 5 baskets full of leftover fish and bread. It's a miracle!

      Same with digital content sharing, as more sources become avaliable, more people have access to it WITHOUT going hungry themselves, since the stuff is infinitely copyable.

      It's a miracle too! ;-)

       

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    Free Capitalist (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:11am

    Warning

    The Record Company Executive Wears No Clothes


    Avert your eyes children, it may change form!

     

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    Steve, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:14am

    Agreed,

    Well done, Mike. I can't believe they would honestly trot out an example like that when digital goods is nothing like physical ones.

     

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    Joe Pie Eater, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:17am

    Good points

    It was a great idea to take the pie analogy and use it as a thoughtful argument against the RIAA, but there's one problem.

    I'm really hungry.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:23am

    The cake is a lie!

    Sorry.

     

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    Chill, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:23am

    Or, even worse, every time I make my own pizza at home, I'm stealing from Pizza Hut.

    I find the home-made-food-is-hurting-restaurants claim to be profoundly amusing. You've made my day, Mike.

     

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    Dean Landolt (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:41am

    Who killed the Recording Industry?

    If the RIAA were intellectually honest perhaps they could have used a more apt analogy -- right from their own archives no less -- Dylan's Who Killed Davey Moore [1].

    So who _did_ kill the recording industry? Everyone knows but them -- in the end, basic economics.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Killed_Davey_Moore

     

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    Pie Man, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:43am

    The Pie Beggar's Tale...

    The *only* way the story would serve as a proper analogy for the RIAA (the pie beggars) would be to flip it on its head, i.e., that the pie tin starts out empty, and each person would be asked (begged) to contribute a bit of pie into the tin for a song, eventually making a whole pie! This pie would then be split up between the real pie consumers, to wit, the music labels and other assorted middlemen, with what few crumbs brushed off into the artists' plates.

    Yup, totally ridiculous fer sure, I know, but there yez are. =8)

    Ya ken thank me later wi' some pie, please! Yar!

    Pie Man

     

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    Simon, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:44am

    Nope

    Dear RIAA, you're still not the entire music industry, quit pretending you are.

     

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    Tom Landry (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:45am

    I like pie...

     

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    crushingcharlos, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:47am

    Thank you

    This is great.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:51am

    I am still waiting for the RIAA to make an argument based off of the classic, Everyone Poops.

    If everyone would just stop pooping then maybe the RIAA could go back to selling shiny plastic discs for $19.99.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:51am

    mmmm..... Pie

    Well crap.. now I'm hungry.

     

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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:53am

    Wait a minute!

    I thought pi went on forever...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:55am

    To be honest, Dominos is stealing from Pizza Hut. Its customers,that is.
    Nyuk Nyuk.

     

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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:56am

    Mmm. Pie.

    Wish I had some kind of graphic or video skills. RIAA is just begging for reponse made of a video about a town controlled by an entrenched pie monopoly, a new baker who wants to sell new types of pies, a tech company who made a pie replicator, and lots of cutesy sad people who are turned to happy people by the upstarts.

    Also, pie is yummy.

     

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    yozoo, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:58am

    I dont the pie is content

    I think the pie in the anology is capital (investment capital not content).

     

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    Rob.Etler (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:00am

    Hey RIAA cronies, here's another fairy tale for ya: Robin Hood, and his part will be played tonight by P2P and BitTorrent.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:09am

    Wrong story

    The old story most appropriate to filesharing is - the feeding of the 5000. Had they been around at the time I'm sure that the RIAA would have protested on behalf of the bakery/fishing industries!

     

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    MAC, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:11am

    You get what you pay for...

    First, let me qualify myself, I work for a label.
    Second, selling music to the masses in not my company’s primary function.

    With that said let’s try a little education...

    No matter how badly all of you want something for nothing economically, in the real world, it just doesn't work that way.

    Developing talent is not the issue even though the company I work for spends a lot of money at the grammar/high school level on just that.

    The real issue is promotion and advertising. That's where the major expense comes in. And the only way you will be able to pay for promotion and advertising is through a revenue stream. If the revenue stream is too small then you can't afford promotion and advertising which is exactly why artists get involved with labels and publishers in the first place.

    Advertising on the net is a hit or miss approach. It's not like radio or television in the following manner:
    There are limited radio and television venues in a given region compared to the net's almost un-limited number of venues.

    So, where am I going with this? In order to reach say a national venue using either radio or TV you have to spend 'really' big bucks. This assures you of massive coverage for your product. On the net you can spend 'little' bucks and get little coverage, unless of course your medium is something like Google, yahoo, etc. And they are starting to get just as expensive as traditional venues.
    So, not only does a lot of money go to the 'fat-cat' labels but a great deal of that money goes towards promotion without which you would never hear of acts like Fleetwood Mac or Canned Heat just to name a few.

    The internet can pull some acts to the top but by its very nature it's not going to help the majority of the artist out there make it. It's just too scattered and before long, there won't be any differences between internet companies that promote music and the labels.

    Why? Because the labels are not stupid. They realize that the internet is going to be the way go for a lot of their business and they are aggressively pursuing that line of business.

    But the old requirement for promotion and advertising will not change, it will simply morph. And when the dust settles it will probably be just as expensive as it is now if not more so.

    Oh, one more thing... Did the people in the village ever pay for the pie that they stole? I bet not. I'm sure they believed that someone else’s hard work did not matter because as this generation believes "Hey man, everything should be free. I mean, why should I work for anything if it's supposed to be free?"

    You get what you pay for...

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:23am

      Re: You get what you pay for...

      Radio and television? What audience are you targeting? Senior citizens?

      Other than satellite radio, I haven't discovered any new artist on the radio or television in years.

       

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      Xanius, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:30am

      Re: You get what you pay for...

      My only response to this is, who the hell is Canned Heat?

      Looks like advertising didn't work for them either.

       

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        PaulT (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 3:18am

        Re: Re: You get what you pay for...

        "who the hell is Canned Heat?"

        A one hit wonder, with the song "Let's Work Together". Not to say they're bad, but come on - a 70s band known for exactly one song and Fleetwood Mac? That guy can't work for a great label if they're the best he can come up with...

         

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:32am

      Re: You get what you pay for...

      No matter how badly all of you want something for nothing economically, in the real world, it just doesn't work that way.

      I really don't understand this comment -- because that's not what anyone here is arguing. In fact, we said in the post itself that the money people are spending on the music industry is GOING UP.

      The problem with the industry is not that people are unwilling to spend. They're very happy to spend when you give them a real reason to buy. The problem is that selling music directly is no longer that reason to buy.

      Also, you are being misleading in saying that "things don't work that way" in the real world. In the real world you quite often get stuff for free all the time -- as a part of a bundle. And all we're saying is that labels need to learn how that music works in a bundle, rather than focusing on it alone as the product.

      The real issue is promotion and advertising. That's where the major expense comes in. And the only way you will be able to pay for promotion and advertising is through a revenue stream.

      Indeed. But as we said, there's MORE REVENUE going into the music industry than ever before. It's just that it's going to different places than the old record labels.

      So, not only does a lot of money go to the 'fat-cat' labels but a great deal of that money goes towards promotion without which you would never hear of acts like Fleetwood Mac or Canned Heat just to name a few.

      No one has argued otherwise.

      The internet can pull some acts to the top but by its very nature it's not going to help the majority of the artist out there make it. It's just too scattered and before long, there won't be any differences between internet companies that promote music and the labels.

      You are describing the way the world is today. It need not be that way in the future. What you've identified is that the problem today is with the filters. So there's the opportunity. If your label is helping to filter stuff, then you're in a good position.

      But the old requirement for promotion and advertising will not change, it will simply morph. And when the dust settles it will probably be just as expensive as it is now if not more so.


      I would argue that's not quite true. It will still be expensive -- no doubt -- but what the new technology is allowing is a more efficient setup, and when you add efficiency to the mix, the price goes down.

      Oh, one more thing... Did the people in the village ever pay for the pie that they stole? I bet not. I'm sure they believed that someone else’s hard work did not matter because as this generation believes "Hey man, everything should be free. I mean, why should I work for anything if it's supposed to be free?"

      Again, this is a strawman. If anyone believes that last sentence it's a very group of people. As we've seen people will pay if you give them a reason to buy.

      You get what you pay for...


      How much did the air you breathe cost you?

       

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        Hephaestus (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 5:49pm

        Re: Re: You get what you pay for...

        GRIN!!

        "It will still be expensive -- no doubt -- but what the new technology is allowing is a more efficient setup, and when you add efficiency to the mix, the price goes down."

        Thats a great point. It Goes back to efficiencies creeping into the monopoly from outside. The music industry is set up for bulk distribution and advertising of one item in one way. They dont seem to be capable of targeted advertising or micro scale sales.

        The internet eludes them ... short cats tail meet long cats tail.

         

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      DH's love child, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:41am

      Re: You get what you pay for...

      you make some very lucid points, but you fail to miss the big picture. Even if YOUR primary function is not to sell music to the masses, I'd be willing to bet that's your COMPANY'S function and you labels are obsessed with putting a genie back in the bottle (those shiny silver thingys) that ain't gonna happen.

      Yes you need a revenue stream, but trying to create scarcities when they don't exist is doomed to bite you in the ass. We consumers don't give a rat's ass about what it costs for you to promote or advertise your artists. We are also smart enough to realize that digital music files SHOULD not cost nearly as much, because of distribution and production. If you are paying as much to produce and distribute an album digitally as it costs to manufacture those disks, you are in SERIOUS need of a head slap! What we care about is what we are getting for our money. If there is value in it, then we will buy it. If there isn't, we won't. I have got LOTS of legally free music that is much higher value to me than most of the garbage you labels charge me for, and I'd be willing to pay (and do) for those things that I value.

      We consumers have been beaten up by you labels for long enough and now we get to have our say. Give us something we value at a price that we feel is reasonable, and you will rake in the $$$. Keep force feeding us the same crap repackaged, and you will wither in the vine. As in nature, adapt or die!

       

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      JB, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:44am

      Re: You get what you pay for...

      Hey, MAC, you just got this article for free! You must have stolen it by the RIAA's logic.

      That aside, I find it troubling that your company is throwing massive amounts of advertisement money on a burgeoning act. In the real world, you start small to see if there is any interest in your product. If there's no interest, you are only out a small amount of money. However, if it is successful, then you start expanding the breadth of advertisement. You will also find in practice that less money would need be spent over time with a highly successful product as it tends to advertise itself.

      Now, to address you comment that artists "can't afford promotion and advertising which is exactly why [they] get involved with labels and publishers in the first place." Have you not been noticing the trend toward independent funding? Artists are discovering that it doesn't really cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce an album and to start grassroots campaigns within their communities by giving out free copies of their albums (about $0.25 each to distribute). Then, if they become popular, small venues can be rented out for performances and advertisement could be easily accomplished through band and fan websites.

      So, MAC, the point here is that what you do may be important to some, but it is not the only way music is made. Besides, the accounting practices of labels has been long hailed as inaccurate and inadequate, so why should an artist sign all their rights away, get their advancement, spend it expecting later royalties which may never come and then be shoved aside while the label focuses on the next big thing?

       

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      Matt (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:50am

      Re: You get what you pay for...

      Is your argument that the labels can not effectively promote on the internet and must therefore pass the cost on to consumers?

       

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      RD, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:02pm

      Re: You get what you pay for...

      "Oh, one more thing... Did the people in the village ever pay for the pie that they stole? I bet not. I'm sure they believed that someone else’s hard work did not matter because as this generation believes "Hey man, everything should be free. I mean, why should I work for anything if it's supposed to be free?"

      You get what you pay for..."

      Explain iTunes then moron.

       

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      R. Miles (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:29pm

      Re: You get what you pay for...

      "Did the people in the village ever pay for the pie that they stole?"
      Do the artists, who contributed to the pie, get their fair share of the cost it took to make the pie?

      Doubt it. Why is it labels often whine about the losses but have yet to challenge the issues artists have with their labels on getting their "fair share"? Explain it to all of us.

      I've no doubt distributors need money to sign more artists to keep the cycle going. But who the hell gives the label the right to sign a 14 year old sex object rather than the one with the real talent?

      I feel sorry for distributors who can't wake up to the digital age to work with customers, rather than treat them like thieves.

      I've *never* taken a bite of the pie, so why is 90%+ of my legally purchased content preventing my enjoyment of the piece I did buy? DRM. What a wonderful way to say "Screw you!" to the last remaining customers who are willing to buy.

      Oh, but music is DRM free now, right? Sure, for an extra damn $0.30.

      We're done here. Best find a new day job if you continue to believe people are taking your pie one bite at a time. Adapt or die. Business 101.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:30pm

      Re: You get what you pay for...

      I too have been part of the music industry. I used to be a program manager for a large-market radio station and morning show host.

      Your post explains exactly why you are failing. The music industry is taking the "art" out of "artist" and making it pure commodity.

      1. Quit trying to market music to me that is junk. You waste most of your advertising and marketing money building up bands and acts that at the basic level, aren't good musicians.
      a. This forces me to look elsewhere for decent music.

      2. Realize if the music is good, people will clamor for it. The internet has become its own marketing machine and word of mouth spreads within hours and days, not years.
      a. An example is the show "Chuck". Ask Daniel Zott how much his CD sales went up last week after one of his songs was background music on the show. Sales went up within hours.

      3. Learn to be flexible. Businesses survive or die on their ability to change with the times. I don't expect anything for FREE. I still spend a lot of money on concerts, merchandise and songs. But flexible song pricing, promotional songs will go along way.
      No matter how much you argue it, I can't count how many times I've been GIVEN (oh no, FREE stuff ) a song and end up taking all of my friends to an artist's concert because of that song.
      The reason the labels don't like that is because the label doesn't make money off the concert. But the attendance on that concert just went up because of that one song. You can't argue against it.


      4. To summarize: Shift your marketing dollars from TV / Radio advertisements to research and development on finding good artists. Use some songs as promotional materials by offering them as "Free" in an effort to get the music out to the world. This includes allowing the song to be played on TV Shows royalty free, in bars, at sporting events, WHEREVER Royalty Free! Watch all of the people start attending the concerts, buying the albums and merchandise. Quit trying to make all of your money on the sale and play of a song.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:38pm

      Re: You get what you pay for...

      The real issue is promotion and advertising. That's where the major expense comes in. And the only way you will be able to pay for promotion and advertising is through a revenue stream. If the revenue stream is too small then you can't afford promotion and advertising which is exactly why artists get involved with labels and publishers in the first place.

      This is also part of the out-of-date logic of the labels. The only reason you need such a large spend on these is because you need to sell huge numbers of a relatively small number of titles.
      The reason that that used to be necessary was because, in the days of vinyl and early CD's, copies had to be made in large numbers in order to bring the marginal cost down.

      Now the marginal cost of a 1 off copy is zero you don't need to do that anymore so the basic premise of your argument is out of date.

       

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      vivaelamor (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 1:07pm

      Re: You get what you pay for...

      "With that said let’s try a little education..."

      First, let me apologise for replying to your post. You seem arrogant and my contribution to the discussion could cause some sort of feedback loop, consequently killing us all.

      "No matter how badly all of you want something for nothing economically, in the real world, it just doesn't work that way."

      This lacks context, what is your point? GNU/Linux is costly, yet free; Social welfare is costly, yet free; Radio is costly, yet free; Google is costly, yet free; Wikipedia is costly, yet free. Please finish your paragraphs.

      "The real issue is promotion and advertising. That's where the major expense comes in. And the only way you will be able to pay for promotion and advertising is through a revenue stream. If the revenue stream is too small then you can't afford promotion and advertising which is exactly why artists get involved with labels and publishers in the first place."

      Lets add to that list: MySpace is costly, yet free; YouTube is costly, yet free; Bandcamp is costly, yet free. Air time is one of the major costs of traditional promotion and advertising. Twitter is a costly, yet free, means of promoting. Advertising isn't my strong suite but I'd bet it doesn't defy the overall trend of costs.

      "Advertising on the net is a hit or miss approach. It's not like radio or television in the following manner:
      There are limited radio and television venues in a given region compared to the net's almost un-limited number of venues.

      So, where am I going with this? In order to reach say a national venue using either radio or TV you have to spend 'really' big bucks. This assures you of massive coverage for your product. On the net you can spend 'little' bucks and get little coverage, unless of course your medium is something like Google, yahoo, etc. And they are starting to get just as expensive as traditional venues.
      So, not only does a lot of money go to the 'fat-cat' labels but a great deal of that money goes towards promotion without which you would never hear of acts like Fleetwood Mac or Canned Heat just to name a few."


      That you seem to believe the unlimited vistas of the web to be a disadvantage to musicians as a whole is ironic. Of course, if you only care about the ones who get played on radio and TV then I can see your point. Personally, I don't see any of my favourite Punk bands getting played on mainstream media these days.

      It seems to me that your biggest complaint with moving away from tradition is that there will be a more level playing field. That those who currently can afford to buy up all the air time will have to use something other than their wallets to gain attention.

      "The internet can pull some acts to the top but by its very nature it's not going to help the majority of the artist out there make it. It's just too scattered and before long, there won't be any differences between internet companies that promote music and the labels. "

      Lets set some scope here, what do you mean by 'make it'? I would suggest that the Spice Girls and whatever other mainstream monthly flavours 'made it', would struggle to do as well on the internet for good reason. Limited to buying off popular websites (which are two a penny) rather than radio and TV stations I imagine previous success stories would be stunted. This is a good thing, this is a better market, this is economics.

      "Why? Because the labels are not stupid. They realize that the internet is going to be the way go for a lot of their business and they are aggressively pursuing that line of business."

      Woah! That paragraph left me dizzy. Way to make a U-Turn. The internet is the way to failure, but the big labels are going to take it over because they are so smart?

      "But the old requirement for promotion and advertising will not change, it will simply morph. And when the dust settles it will probably be just as expensive as it is now if not more so."

      For someone who was previously so concerned about where the cost lies, you are very loose with the term 'expensive'. Expensive as you use it implies more spending, not necessarily more cost.

      All trends seem to point towards costs getting lower, which doesn't preclude more being spent as the market becomes more competitive. This is not a bad thing because it just means those with more money are having to spend more to compete with those on a shoe string. Those on a shoe string might not make the same returns as those investing millions but at least they are able to participate in the market. Those who are investing millions might spend more than they currently do but who gives a damn? Go find another get rich quick scheme and stay away from music would be my advice.

      'Oh, one more thing... Did the people in the village ever pay for the pie that they stole? I bet not. I'm sure they believed that someone else’s hard work did not matter because as this generation believes "Hey man, everything should be free. I mean, why should I work for anything if it's supposed to be free?"

      You get what you pay for...'


      As someone who has long hair and is fed up of the hippy stereotype: fuck you. Seriously, what are you trying to say there? If you're going to be insulting then you could at least attach a coherent point.

       

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      Richard (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 2:05pm

      Re: You get what you pay for...

      No matter how badly all of you want something for nothing economically, in the real world, it just doesn't work that way.
      Seems to me that it is rights holders who want something for nothing.

      They want to sell something with zero marginal cost for a finite sum and retain the "rights" undiminished.

      That sounds like something for nothing to me - and of course it just doesn't happen in the real world because the public won't pay for soemting with a marginal cost of zero.

      You see it is your own argument - when properly applied - that defeats your position.

       

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        vivaelamor (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 2:34pm

        Re: Re: You get what you pay for...

        "You see it is your own argument - when properly applied - that defeats your position."

        You stole his argument! THIEF!

         

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      lux (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 3:18pm

      Re: You get what you pay for...

      "Why? Because the labels are not stupid. They realize that the internet is going to be the way go for a lot of their business and they are aggressively pursuing that line of business."

      ROFL

       

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      DTS, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 4:20pm

      Re: You get what you pay for...

      That said, I'm very heartened to know that you've been paying for intrusive investigative systems that have been proven to be unreliable; lawsuits that, out of which, only a select few have been dragged out to farcical levels and used up voluminous amounts of time and other taxpayer money without drawing to a close; even more wasted time and money on going after the dolphins in your dragnets; generally alienating future generations from your supposed product.

       

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      PaulT (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 12:17am

      Re: You get what you pay for...

      You've already been answered well, but my 2 cents:

      "First, let me qualify myself, I work for a label."

      ...which is probably why you attach yourself to tired talking points that aren't stated in the article you're commenting on.

      "No matter how badly all of you want something for nothing economically, in the real world, it just doesn't work that way."

      Please, point out the part where Mike asks for freebies. I don't see it. What's being argued is that economics based on scarce goods don't work when the goods are infinite.

      "The real issue is promotion and advertising. That's where the major expense comes in."

      Translation: "we haven't worked out that the internet allows people to buy what they want, rather than depending on whatever crap the RIAA happens to be shovelling right now."

      "Advertising on the net is a hit or miss approach."

      See above. Online, you're competing with every song ever recorded. It's no "hit & miss" approach, you just have to have product that's worth selling. The problem with pop music nowadays is that once you're online, there's often so much higher quality stuff out there than the product you're attempting to push.

      "In order to reach say a national venue"

      This proves you're an idiot. The internet is not a "national venue", it's international. Your industry is still living in the last millennium, where international borders mattered for commerce. It doesn't now.

      Let me give you a prime example from today. I had heard that the new Gorillaz album was available through Amazon UK for just £3.99 as a digital download. I like Gorillaz, but refuse to pay more than £4 for a digial download - it's not worth it for a non-physical product. So, this was perfect for me. I go to Amamzon, try to buy it, and get the following message:

      "We're sorry. We could not process your order because of geographical restrictions on the product which you were attempting to purchase. Please refer to the terms of use for this product to determine the geographical restrictions. We apologize for the inconvenience."

      Amazon were not allowed to sell to me by YOUR industry (I'm English but currently live in Spain). They ARE allowed to sell me a CD, but this costs £8.93 - more than TWICE as much, not including shipping. There is no Amazon Spain, so I can't buy from there, and the CD is really no good because the postal system here is atrocious, even if I was prepared to pay double - which I'm not.

      THIS is your industry's problem - high prices, low consumer convenience. You edged toward the 21st century with the removal of DRM, let's see you price the goods what they're worth and allow people to buy the product they wish to buy in the format they want.

      "You get what you pay for..."

      Apparently you do, if you're allowed to pay in the first place. Stop blocking online commerce, new models for people trying to make your products more valuable and online discussions about said product. You might sell more - if your product isn't low-grade trash to begin with, of course!

       

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    yozoo, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:19am

    the Techdirt credo

    "I mean, why should I work for anything if it's supposed to be free?"


    yeah man . . . speak the truth

     

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    Jamie Y, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:33am

    Re: Pie

    I love pie analogies, but I believe I was the first person to use it with the Netflix story the other day, so I think I'm going to have to sue.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:45am

    Not surprising ...


    RIAA = Real Ignorant Assholes of America

     

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    Rob, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:59am

    Mmmm... pie. That is all.

     

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    mooty, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:05pm

    Re: You get what you pay for...

    The problem with the recording industry is the chosen medium. It's way too easy to manipulate digital information in the modern age... especially on a medium common to the general public. It's totally predictable, that is... if you leave a loophole, *someone* is going to stick a finger in it and tear the facade away. Wrong or right, however you want to paint it, it's going to happen.

    You can't control it so you resort to a couple options, the first being ridiculous encryption methods(a la itunes)--that'll only get you so far before people laugh it off. The second is ruthless copyright enforcement via agencies like the RIAA. I've read some of those stories... like the single mother of four children getting sued beyond her means because she downloaded a couple songs... yeah, that's enough to scare the likes of me. The industry said "ok.. forget the distributors and the couriers, let's send a message that we'll go after ANYONE."

    This is what the labels are reduced to. You're terrorizing people because you can't control your product. Did it ever occur to you that IF your product can be copied.. it deserves to be copied?

    Better change your business model before you wind up taking on the whole world.

     

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    Kyle (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:05pm

    Unrecouped bands

    The quote about bands not making money reminds me of this post from gizmodo.

    Gizmodo: Major labels cook the books

    Basically it goes on to say that the labels aren't losing money on bands. This was really an eye opener for me on how the record companies work.

    From the Link:

    "A word here about that unrecouped balance, for those uninitiated in the complex mechanics of major label accounting. While our royalty statement shows Too Much Joy in the red with Warner Bros. (now by only $US395,214.71 after that $US62.47 digital windfall), this doesn’t mean Warner “lost” nearly $US400,000 on the band. That’s how much they spent on us, and we don’t see any royalty checks until it’s paid back, but it doesn’t get paid back out of the full price of every album sold. It gets paid back out of the band’s share of every album sold, which is roughly 10% of the retail price. So, using round numbers to make the math as easy as possible to understand, let’s say Warner Bros. spent something like $US450,000 total on TMJ. If Warner sold 15,000 copies of each of the three TMJ records they released at a wholesale price of $US10 each, they would have earned back the $US450,000. But if those records were retailing for $US15, TMJ would have only paid back $US67,500, and our statement would show an unrecouped balance of $US382,500. I do not share this information out of a Steve Albini-esque desire to rail against the major label system (he already wrote the definitive rant, which you can find here if you want even more figures, and enjoy having those figures bracketed with cursing and insults). I’m simply explaining why I’m not embarrassed that I “owe” Warner Bros. almost $US400,000. They didn’t make a lot of money off of Too Much Joy. But they didn’t lose any, either. So whenever you hear some label flak claiming 98% of the bands they sign lose money for the company, substitute the phrase “just don’t earn enough” for the word “lose.”"

     

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    jupiter (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:13pm

    RIAA blog

    gee, I wonder why the RIAA doesn't allow comments on their blog?

     

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    Joel Coehoorn, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:30pm

    Wrong symbol

    You know I support the economics here. I firmly believe you're right in telling the RIAA to look for scarcities to sell instead of persecuting file sharers. But this time, I think you missed their argument. Or, even if you nailed what they intended, you missed a better part of their argument.

    You see, the pie doesn't represent an inventory of music from which every takes just a small piece. Instead, it represents music dollars flowing into the industry. They're trying to say that everyone who chooses file sharing is taking a small amount of money out of the industry, and if enough do it the industry will disappear.

    Of course, we know that's not true. Consumers have a fixed amount of entertainment dollars available, and they _want_ to spend those dollars. If you can save them money in one area they'll find another related area to put it. If the RIAA members can't find a way to make that money stick, other business will rise up that can, and the music will play on.

    Still, I'd like to hear you guys make that argument rather than me.

     

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      vivaelamor (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 1:26pm

      Re: Wrong symbol

      "You see, the pie doesn't represent an inventory of music from which every takes just a small piece. Instead, it represents music dollars flowing into the industry. They're trying to say that everyone who chooses file sharing is taking a small amount of money out of the industry, and if enough do it the industry will disappear."

      I thought that Mike's analysis addressed that point exactly: "Recent studies have shown that the music industry has been growing, not shrinking over the past few years."

      I'd settle on an argument that he might have gone off on a tangent with the metaphor, but he didn't miss their point.

       

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    Joe BOGO, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:34pm

    RE: MAC

    No matter how badly all of you want something for nothing economically, in the real world, it just doesn't work that way. -MAC

    I disagree, it happens fairly often, espcially where money is involved:
    A. Two-for-One sales
    B. Promotional products
    C. The Baker's Dozen
    D. Music on the radio

    Are decent examples, if you ask me. As a consumer, they're at no cost to me, with the reason being that the seller realized that they stand to gain other benefits from it, examples in corresponding order:

    A. Clearing overstocked inventory
    B & C. Cultivating postive relationships with the consumer, (the original intent of the Baker's Dozen were to prove that certain food laws were being obeyed)
    D. Drawing consumer's to other revenue streams, like commercials.

    And another thing:
    Oh, one more thing... Did the people in the village ever pay for the pie that they stole? I bet not. I'm sure they believed that someone else’s hard work did not matter because as this generation believes "Hey man, everything should be free. I mean, why should I work for anything if it's supposed to be free?"

    Take a moment and re-read the original article. If there's only one pie and each slice makes it smaller until it's gone, then it makes a lot of sense to talk about the price of the pie, and even theft if it's being nibbled on, but that's not what's happening, and is the primary flaw of the RIAA's take on the analogy.

    Each bite (copy), is actually making more pie! And at this moment it's so easy to to make (again copy), ship and store all of this pie digitally that it can be ridiculously cheap (practically free) to do so*. So instead of just making pies that will only grow and become practically free, bakers will have to figure out what folks find tasty about the pie and leverage that for new things that people can pay for:

    Custom or Future Work: As has been discussed here before, it's possible to charge for stuff that hasn't come out yet.

    Accessories: From what I can tell, just about every artist nowadays recognizes the pitfalls of putting all of their hopes into a single revenue stream. Savvy sellers are always looking for something new or reliable to sell to their customers.

    Network Exploitation: You have a group of people who are willing to consider your opinions and thoughts. All of a sudden you're an advertiser on the side. "Hey company X, I love your stuff, and for a little money, I'd send a shout out to my friends about it. Whadd'ya think?

    This is only a short list, and not every combination or idea will work for everyone, but there are so many possible ideas, that there's bound to be something that will work.

    I'm willing to admit that this is a new economic frontier for artists, musicians, and the like, but the sooner they embrace the new realities of this market, and start basing their business decisions from that fact, the sooner they can stop worrying about how much money they're not making the old way.

    *A recent WIRED magazine article puts the price per GB of hard drive space at around 7 cents (15 cents for web storage), making that about .0000683 (.000146 web) cents per MB, considering that the average song takes up about 4MB of space that's 256 songs per GB at .0002732 (.000584) cents per song. Furthermore distribution can be surprisingly inexpensive, especially if you're willing to take advantage of file-sharing, which transfers the costs from your own servers to as many individuals who are willing to carry your files.

     

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    Josef, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 12:42pm

    Reason to Buy

    I'm an average consumer ( I like to think), and all that comes to mind when I hear the RIAA and MPAA whining, is my recent experience with the movie Avatar.

    I watched it streamed online first (free). I guess that makes me a thief? I didn't actually film it and stream it online, but I did watch it. So am I an accessory to theft? Then the second time I watched it was with a friend, and again it was streaming online. I was excited and wanted to share the experience with friends. Oh gawd. I'm such a thief. So the third and fourth and fifth time I watched it were just like the second time but with different friends.

    Now here's where it gets wonky. The sixth time I saw this movie I was with a few of the friends who I watched it with streaming online, but this time we went with dates to a movie theater. That was a great time, so we figured we just had to see it a seventh time but this time we paid to see it in 3D. The eighth time was with a similar group but at an IMAX theater.

    Guess what? I havent even watched Hurt Locker online for free. It won a few Academy Awards and I still have no interest.

    If the product is good people will buy. Free is great advertising.

    If those morons at the RIAA and MPAA would learn to leak information about "secret promotions and perks" that can only be found on CD's or DVDs that are purchased, they might actually see a spike in sales.

     

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      Jaws4theRevenge, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 8:05pm

      Re: Reason to Buy

      tl;dr: I saw Avatar eight times.

      Seriously? That admission has completely overrided (overrode? Not a word?) my ability to get the point of your post. I just keep thinking, "Eight times? Eight?! Avatar... eight times? Really...?"

       

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    fishbreadpie, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 1:03pm

    LET THEM EAT FISHBREAD-PIE!

    the analogy to eating a small nibble of pie and actually creating more pie is excellent, it even reminds me of another fable.
    First of all, If eating a nibble of the pie is akin to downloading a piece of a bittorrent file, then indeed, once eaten, you recreate the original pie for more to eat, eat enough pieces on your own and you have a whole new pie for people to enjoy, while retaining the original delicious pie(i like to think its apple, or maybe Rhubarb).
    That being said, you can feed many people with a single pie. Where have i heard that before? i think some dude named Jesus is said to have fed a whole mass of people with just five fish and five loaves of bread. I wonder if the fish mongers and the bakers sued Jesus for taking away their monopoly by creating an infinite good out of their finite goods. Probably not as im sure they were in line with the rest of crowd to eat tasty fishbread pie with everyone else.

    So by their own logic, the RIAA is terribly un-christian. which also means the Internet is the next incarnation of Jesus. i wonder how the internet will handle the walking on water thing?

    P.S-Not some crazy fundamentalist, but hey, when in rome, do as the laywers do. Or, fight fire with fire, or in this case, fable with fable. ;-)

     

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    lux (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 1:25pm

    This is a great post Mike. I always come back later in the day for the chance of a possible "Update" to the story, but the RIAA never seems to respond to these questions/notions.

    Any idea why the refuse to take part in a good old fashion dialectic?

     

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      vivaelamor (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 1:31pm

      Re:

      "Any idea why the refuse to take part in a good old fashion dialectic?"

      They're scared of all the comment trolls Mike has working for him; namely the Insider Squad. Oh wait, shouldn't he be paying us.. I'm confused.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 1:45pm

    Jesus was the first "file sharer".
    in the bible story of the feeding of the 5000.
    JC starts off with the 5 loaves and 2 fish's album that he didnt even own to begin with, some guy in the crowd loaned it to him. so anyway he got the album and dicides that everyone should partake cause its some good shizzle. so through earliest use of bit torrent recorded he uploads the 5 loaves and 2 fish's to the sandle-net and later on he logs back on to the sandle net and does a quick search and finds that although he only started one 5 loaves and 2 fish's album there are loads more, just like our modern bit torrent.
    File Sharing Is A Gift From God
    the end

     

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    Laurel L. Russwurm (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 2:14pm

    Remedial Lesson for MAC

    First off let me qualify myself Mac, I'm the daughter of a singer/songwriter/musician/recording artist. I grew up in a very creative family. As a music industry flack you seem desperately in need of a little education about what you are selling.

    http://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com/2010/03/05/the-golden-age-of-canadian-country-music/

    Over the last 50 years or so an ever smaller group of record execs (fewer companies) decided who gets to record their music. Certainly not because record execs have any idea what will sell-- you guys understand marketing not art.

    Creative people are traditionally easy to take advantage of because most truly creative people will create whether there is an income in it for them or not. Certainly there is an occasional exception (Madonna springs to mind). But the music business took advantage of this when it began to extort some or all of the copyright from the artists they sign. And artists signed so they could make art.

    But really, what have the artists got out of this? Promotion? Distribution?

    Whose money are record companies really gambling on promotion?

    Although the record company appears to be paying the bills at the moment, they bill it all back to the artist or the act. The record company decides how much or how long to promote the artist. And when to turn off the tap.

    The losers have been the acts who put in the effort but the record company did not make into stars. They pulled the plug before the big break. The middle earners who don't earn enough to live on themselves from their recording contacts that actually foot the bill for the record execs' Maseratis.

    It is actually all those bites of pie extorted by the record company underwriting the big revenue stream. And the record companies have all the time in the world after all to recoup because they're working on making copyright last forever.

    But now we have technology means that allows artists to distribute themselves and find their own audience. Artists no longer have to sell their souls to get recorded. That's why 30% of the Canadian Music Industry has already gone Independent.

    Your industry has already shot itself in the foot trying to criminalize your customers instead of adapting and offering artists equitable deals. So you see, Mac, if the entertainment industry intends to survive, it needs stop putting so much time and money trying to legislate anti-progress, and adapt. Because the competition is growing.

    If they don't, you'd be best off finding a new job.

     

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    Overcast (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 2:15pm

    Good Analogy.

    And I don't think the RIAA of old has a place in the 12st Century...

    All of the King's horses and all of the King's men, no matter how much in kickbacks they got - couldn't put the RIAA back together again.

     

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    Overcast (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 2:22pm

    Oh and...

    No matter how badly all of you want something for nothing economically, in the real world, it just doesn't work that way.

    Then shut down - your label, all the rest, along with the RIAA - just shut down, completely.

    But...

    I guarantee there will still be people making music - and perhaps it will be just for the love of the music and not so much for the love of money.

     

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    openuniverse, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 2:43pm

    pie

    you can copy pie, and you can copy pi. for some bizarre reason, you can't copy music.

    you can't get something for nothing, but you can get something for something. money isn't the only thing artists get, but often free copies turns into record sales. it still hurts the control of the record monopolies, who want something and offer the 21st century nothing. give us something unique- you can't make people use your business model, you have to offer us something we can't get ourselves. and thanks for nothing!

     

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    Paul (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 3:55pm

    This thread is likely dead, however....

    I'd like to point out that once upon a time a Label sold a product... A plastic disk, a cassette, or vinyl disk. They loaded this stuff up in trucks, shipped it around, and then it took up room in a store. We walked in, took it to the front, bought it, and then carried it home in a bag.

    Now they want to sell only the content for the same price.

    Now many people think, well, that's okay. With MP3's there isn't any physical media to buy, nothing to transport into trucks.

    But that isn't true. The customer pays for the internet connection they use to "transport" the content. And the customer provides the media (disk space or whatever) on which the content gets stored.

    With DRM, the customer has to buy the hardware to run it to protect the content for the content company.

    So IF the pie is the physical embodiment of the content in this story, then who is it nibbling at the pie without paying? I'd say that once upon a time, the content providers once supplied the pie. But in this new world, they expect the customer to do so. And even as the customer does so, they claim the customer is stealing if they don't pay as much as they ever did.

    Which is odd.... Content is like a recipe... and the labels used to deliver a piping hot pie made with that recipe. But no more. Now I just get the content/recipe. Why should I pay just as much for just the content while supplying my own berries and flour and butter and lard and sugar (I prefer a butter/lard crust) as I did when I used to get the actual pie?

     

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    Karl (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 4:03pm

    Better analogy?

    A better analogy is this: a baker makes a pie, but no matter how much people eat, the pie doesn't get any smaller.

    The question is, who pays the baker? Once the pie is made, people can eat as much as they want for free, but the baker still had to buy the apples.

    ...But that's the baker's problem. People shouldn't starve just because the baker needs a new apron.

    (Were I a hippie, I'd also pull out the ol' stone soup analogy, but I'm not.)

     

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    mike, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 4:51pm

    I don't understand; isn't creative talent also a scarce and limited resource?

     

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    DerekCurrie (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 6:48pm

    Tardation: Killing off free marketing

    Prologue: I entirely agree with supporting artists via BUYING their artwork.

    However, where I find the RIAA is most Tardy is in their pursuit of killing off free marketing. There have to be some ridiculously stooopid marketing morons over at the RIAA to treat every form of access to music as evil piracy that threatens to destroy the entire recording industry. When they started pulling this stooopidity on every Internet 'radio' website I was utterly amazed. It's all FREE MARKETING! Hello?!

    What I think really goes on behind the scenes at the RIAA is a freakish requirement for CONTROL of everything we are ALLOWED to hear. They want to push Lady Gaga today. How DARE we instead listen to Little Boots instead?! They don't care if we happen to like Little Boots better and are likely to actually BUY her music if we get to hear it first. NO! It's Lady Gaga for us dammit!

    I'm hoping the marketing moron domination of the recording biznizz ends in a hurry so we can get back to sanity. Let us all listen to what we LIKE. How can I know what I like if I can't HEAR IT FIRST?! How can I know Little Boots is ultra-Radi-Kewl to my ears if the RIAA manages to destroy every outlet that allows me to hear her work? I don't want frickin' Lady Gaga! You're wasting my time playing her on the approved industrial radio sites and frequencies!

    I'm not going to buy what I don't like. So GET THE HELL OUT OF MY WAY RIAA!!! Let me buy stuff!

     

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    PIES R US, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 7:30pm

    remember dark helmets RETARDs

    now l;ets get inventive here and creative

    SO until now ONLY htat pie maker existed so only place you could get a pie was HIM.
    his pies go for 999.99
    you have no choice but to buy from him and what happened is someone bought one and figured out the recipe ( DRM destroyed wohoo). SO now we have a freer market cause now he wnet and gave the recipe to all his friends and now everyone enjoys FREE pie.

    NOW if that BONEHEAD piemaker had not been so greedy

    ( i remember the 2005 29.95 music cdr and thats when i said im a pirate for life now)

    i'll bet he would nto have had this issue at least for a longer period of time where he could have developed a cheaper pie to compete.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 8:20pm

    "Something must be in the water over at the RIAA."

    It's that fluoride I tell you :) It's a mind controlling substance.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 9:36pm

    A better children's story to describe the digital age would be "The Magic Pudding" by Norman Lindsay. A much loved Australian classic.

     

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    Mark, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:15pm

    I feel compelled to point out what I believe is a fundamental flaw in the above article's train of thought.

    Their premise is that what is being taken is not a finite resource, like the pie that slowly disappears as everybody helps themselves. This premise is faulty, as it fails to consider that there actually *IS* a finite resource that is being depleted by the unauthorized copying of copyrighted works. Although, like the small pieces of pie in the fairy tale, what gets taken is so small that it is easy for most people to believe that it would be unnoticeable.

    Copyright is supposed to be an exclusive right of the copyright holder to copy his or her works. Everybody else needs permission. This is fundamental to copyright. When somebody copies a copyrighted work without permission, they deprive the copyright holder of some of his or her exclusivity on that right. Exclusive means nobody else is doing it, so it follows that it is true BY DEFINITION that some amount of the copyright holder's exclusivity is being taken from them when somebody else copies the work without permission. Given the current population of the planet, each such unauthorized copy would deprive the owner of roughly one 6.8 billionth of the copyright holder's exclusivity. One might reason that this is so small that it is not worth worrying about, but consider the fairy tale, which had a bunch of villagers who thought that their tiny nibble wouldn't be taking anything anybody would notice either. One 6.8 billionth by itself might not be very much, but when the file is shared on a service with the potential audience of the Internet, that order of magnitude changes substantially. Even something that small has the capability to add up to something measurable.

    That said, typical copyright laws limit the exclusivity so that, for example, copying for private or fair use is often considered non-infringing. These are "tiny nibbles" that, while they do still wear on the copyright holder's exclusivity, are at least allowed by copyright law in most countries (largely owing to the impracticality to enforce more than anything, at least in a lot of cases).

    One might also argue that this "exclusity" is intangible and therefore not something that should "count", but what is of little or no value to one person may be of countless worth to another. It is, in truth, nobody's right to say that merely because something does not have any value to them, it has no value, period. Besides, if it truly had no value (and by value I do not necessarily refer to monetary worth), there would be absolutely no point to copyright at all. Non-monetary values are virtually impossible to objectively weigh, but that does not mean they do not exist.

    Now I am not suggesting that the damages that are typically being sought by copyright holders for infringement these days are necessarily appropriate, considering the actual percentage of their exclusivity that is lost by copyright infringement. I am only asserting that what I think copyright holders are most upset about is not so much the act of copying itself, nor the distribution of their material but rather, only when it is done without permission, when exclusivity on the "right to copy" is supposed to be part and parcel of what the entire concept of copyright actually entails.

     

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      Chargone (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 3:08am

      Re:

      Gotta give you points for actually making sense. People on that side of things rarely do.

      Still, i can't help thinking there's something fundamentally wrong here. Probably it is the nature of the exclusivity granted, who ends up in possession of that exclusivity, and their behaviour in relation to it.

      At least your response makes sense once one assumes the exclusivity is a good thing. That's a a marathon's worth of steps ahead of most arguments made from a similar position, even if many here disagree with the basic premises.

      Though does your logic take into account the perpetual legal creep the corporations keep pushing that keeps making the 'pie' bigger?

       

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        Mark, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 8:04am

        Re: Re:

        Well, one can only accept the notion that the exclusivity is a good thing if they think that copyright itself is a good thing (ignoring what ridiculous actions have been taken by some people who want think they have it in their power to actually control it). Also, the perpetual creep that the corporations keep pushing keeps infringing on the allowances that have been traditionally made by copyright law, which permit private and fair use. Given that the public's former privileges are starting to be denied, it is not any small wonder that people react to them with as much contempt as they do.


        Moreover, exclusivity granted is entirely artificial... it is not inalienable, it is only a right granted by copyright itself, and is only upheld when the general public obeys the social contract of adhering to its requirements.

        However, I believe copyright itself to be a good thing, so I choose to respect the copyright holder's right to his or her exclusivity and do not copy another's works without permission. I would deeply wish that other people would do likewise, because all that ongoing disrespect of copyright by consumers is causing is organizations like the RIAA pushing back, and hard... with increasingly more draconian laws ending up getting created (that are largely unenforceable, by the way) and ultimately only negatively impacting people who would have rather chosen to be completely above board about their activities, and who may end up having to resort to underground communities and illegal technologies simply to enjoy the privileges they once could do without need for secrecy.

         

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      Karl (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 6:57pm

      Re: Exclusivity

      That's an interesting theory - that what's "stolen" is not the pie itself, but the power to choose who eats it.

      The question is, how much of this exclusivity is beneficial? How much is the pie owner harmed when it is taken away?

      I'll give you a musical example: blogs that only post out-of-print material. (No Longer Forgotten is a personal fave.) These blogs are committing copyright infringement to exactly the same degree as a blog that posts the latest Madonna record the day it comes out.

      In this case, they can't possibly be harming sales, because those sales do not exist in the first place. Yet they're just as much "copyright criminals" as anyone else. According to your analogy, they're equally culpable in eating that exclusivity pie.

      If you truly mean that "exclusivity" is what is taken, then you would be forced to agree that it would be just to file charges against them.

      I don't believe this, neither do most artists and labels, and I suspect you don't either. So, exclusivity seems to be a pretty poor measurement of "harm."

       

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        Mark, Mar 10th, 2010 @ 8:08am

        Re: Re: Exclusivity

        Personally, I would prefer that labels release materials that they do not wish to continue to print into public domain. Copyright durations are absurdly long, and only result in the wearing down of copyright as people sometimes inadvertently infringe.

        Secondly, how much harm the taking away of exclusivity causes is really just a measurement of its immaterial value, which, as I said before, is virtually impossible to objectively quantify, but that does not mean it does not exist. Once one can accept that it causes any harm at *ALL*, then one must also accept the notion that violating it is taking those "tiny nibbles" that can, over time, add up.

        Currently, as I said, laws exist that permit some amount of "tiny nibbling" to legally occur, although my greatest concern is that increasingly more draconian laws are getting pushed through that infringe on these privileges. It is my perception, and admittedly this may be incorrect, although I do not believe there are any hard facts to back up any counter-argument, that these laws are entirely the result of organizations like the RIAA pushing back at consumers once they saw that consumers were not obeying the social contract of copyright, and so decided to restrict what consumers could do with legally obtained materials in an effort to stay the activity. In the end, of course, such actions are as futile as trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon, because people who really want to copy those materials will do so even if they have to break the law to do it. It is the fact that honest people who do *NOT* wish to break the law are the ones being the most negatively impacted. However, the RIAA does not and will not likely care about that.... they only want to drive the problem far enough undergound that they cannot see it, under the assumption that most people do not desire to break the law.

         

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      Laurel L. Russwurm (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 8:47pm

      Re: copyright ... is this thread yet dead?

      Gee Mark, Your first post certainly sounded like MAC in sheep's clothing, but when both comments are put together, it's entirely possible that you're MAC's smarter brother.... Whoever you are, you've done an excellent job of appearing to be reasonable in your copyright lecture, but you missed a few key points.

      First: People don't buy music or any other type of art sight unseen. The only way to sell music or any other type of art is to allow people to see or hear it. DerekCurrie is absolutely right, and you are being disingenuous.

      Next, copyright terms were originally finite -- long enough to sell to most of the people who would buy -- after which it would revert to public domain. The idea was to monetize the Intellectual Property careers for the talented so they weren't wasted on a day job. Copyright that ends after a reasonable period of time ensures the artist keeps creating more, and possibly even better works.

      A rich culture benefits society, the creator gets to make a living. But that's not how it works anymore. Mark points out the biggest problem with today's copyright laws when he writes:
      "Copyright is supposed to be an exclusive right of the copyright holder to copy his or her works."
      Copyright has been assumed by all sorts of people and corporations who have not in fact created anything:
      • Some copyright holders are record companies who extorted copyright from the recording artists-- iIf the artist wanted to reach an audience they had no choice. Agreements made under duress didn't used to be legally binding.

      • Some copyright holders are corporations who happen to own companies that invested in a creative project.

      • Some copyright holders are heirs or assigns of the creator.

      • Some copyright holders are copyright collectives.

      • It's entirely possible that Google Books will end up controlling the digital rights to all American, Canadian and Australian copyright materials under the terms of the Google Books Settlement (the demented result of Google Books being charged with copyright infringement). Which would make Google Books one of the most powerful copyright holders in the world.

      • Some copyright holders are even creators.

      The problem is that we are at a point where creators have the least amount of say over copyright. The priorities of creators are often not the same as the priorities of corporate copyright holders.

      It doesn't matter to a corporation if the art is appreciated, only the bottom line matters. A corporation would rather not sell the audience what it wants today, so that it can demand higher prices tomorrow. If the corporation decides they can't make a large enough profit they may decide the creation will never be released again. Because of this, many copyright works are allowed to go "out of print".

      Particularly today, when so much IP exists on impermanent media, there is a very real probability that a great deal of today's art will be lost forever rather than released into the public domain. Civilization loses when art is lost or destroyed.

      In today's world the RIAA's third floor janitor probably makes more (and certainly steadier) income from the music industry than most recording artists.

      For centuries creators have been paid next to nothing for their contribution to books and music, on the understanding that it was so expensive to manufacture this book or that vinyl disk.

      But now, when we have known all along that a physical CD costs mere pennies, and digital distribution costs even less, the corporate copyright holders refuse to remunerate the creators more equitably.

      So the RIAA and friends have lost all claim to any moral high ground, making your arguments specious.

       

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        Mark, Mar 10th, 2010 @ 7:48am

        Re: Re: copyright ... is this thread yet dead?

        Well, first of all, I didn't say "creator", I said "copyright holder". However, your arguments on creators vs copyright holders holds merit in my opinion. As a creator of some copyrighted works, my own personal views on the issues of copyright would tend to prefer the creator being in that position anyways.

        Secondly, at no point have I said that copyright holders should *NOT* attempt to take advantage of the distribution capabilities that await them should they utilize a distribution channel like the Internet, nor should they not be willing to allow their materials to be freely copied, with some conditions. Many creators of copyrighted works do this already, and it's something I heartily endorse, because the culture is being diversified with the creation of new creative works while simultaneously we can still uphold our end of the social contract that allows copyright to exist.

        Finally, I have long since realized that I will not *EVER* change a single person's mind about copyright infringement. I choose to uphold it in my household, but outside of that, I know that how I feel on the matter is unlikely to change anybody's opinions or methods of operation. As I believe copyright itself to be a good thing for society, and it is because the dishonoring of the social contract that creates copyright results in the slow dissolution of the value of copyright as a whole that I would desire that others would do likewise. Probability of getting what I would want, however? Zero. I know that. Probability of organizations like the RIAA pushing for increasingly draconian laws and getting them pushed through that restrict what honest people are legally allowed to do with the materials that they *DO* lawfully acquire in response to ongoing infringement? Alarmingly high.

         

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          Chargone (profile), Mar 11th, 2010 @ 1:55am

          Re: Re: Re: copyright ... is this thread yet dead?

          Of course, just to make life fun, it's a recursive loop.

          Most of their* behaviour just makes people hate them and/or makes it harder for people to follow the legitimate rout, leading to more piracy. (Though I'll admit it's more complected than that in most cases, in the case of computer games it's often very direct in just that manner.)

          The main problem with copyright, really, is greed. No matter where it starts, the two create a positive feedback loop, and copyright that's out of balance is, at Best, ineffectual, and at worst tends towards the tyrannical. At least once corporations and the incredibly wealthy get hold of it.

          Or so it appears to me.

          *that is, the RIAA and the like

           

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            Mark, Mar 11th, 2010 @ 8:57pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: copyright ... is this thread yet dead?

            Copyright is out of balance right now... consumers ignore copyright because it's so difficult to enforce (a problem caused not so much by technology itself, but the ubiquity of it), and the corporations are trying to get stricter and stricter in what they want to allow consumers to do, so that they can hopefully prevent infringement on a scale that was utterly unheard of before the Internet started to become mainstream.

            I forsee one of two possibilities as the ultimate outcome of all this:

            One, a future in which the laws about copying are so draconian that ordinary people will require underground connections with people who are involved in illegal activities in order to copy most copyrighted works, even for COMPLETELY personal and private use. Or...

            Two, copyright will ultimately dissolve completely, and there will be nothing to prevent any person or company from copying absolutely anything they want from anybody else, without limit, and possibly even for commercial gain.

             

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    BraveAnonymousPerson, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 12:33am

    The RIAA, MPAA and other fuckers know that they're wrong. It's more profitable, however, to keep crying about how much you're not making enough money and keep hoarding the resources and terrorizing the population.

    That way they are able to keep their leech-style business model and get to make competing and groundbreaking business models illegal.

    It doesn't matter whether or not they could be making more money some other way, they want to be the only ones making money. Stupid, greedy behavior. Friggin' sociopaths.

     

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