Ex-RIAA Boss Ignores All Criticisim Of SOPA/PIPA, Claims Any Complaints Are Trying To Justify Stealing

from the this-is-how-you-got-into-such-a-mess dept

Over the long weekend, Jay Rosen was kind enough to tweet out a link to my recent "definitive" post highlighting all the problems with SOPA and PIPA. Lots of folks picked up on it, but the one that struck me as the most interesting was from Hilary Rosen, who tweeted back:
The Definitive Post?? Think analog. If a store doesn't sell u what u want, u are justified stealing it?
Hilary Rosen, of course, spent many years as the CEO of the RIAA. And while she hasn't been in that job since 2003, she presided over the Napster lawsuit and the beginnings of the Grokster lawsuit. I believe she left just before the RIAA started suing individuals for file sharing. She also appeared to have second thoughts about the strategy she led while in charge of the RIAA. However, this comment suggests otherwise.

Thinking analog has been the major problem that the RIAA (and MPAA, among others) have had for a long, long time. Rosen's big mistake when she was in charge of the RIAA was that she kept thinking analog. Isn't it time, perhaps, that she started thinking digitally?

But, even more to the point, it's getting ridiculous how many people defending SOPA/PIPA are doing so using this logic. They brush off all of the specific concerns, the highlights of problematic language, and they conclude "why are you justifying theft?" Of course, that's ridiculous. Beyond the fact that "theft" and "infringement" are very different (don't get me started), nothing in anyone's complaints about SOPA or PIPA have anything to do with "justifying" infringement. In fact, in the post that was being discussed, we clearly noted that infringement is a problem. We just disagree that PIPA and SOPA are reasonably, or even effective, solutions.

It's really quite ridiculous to lay out in such great detail all of the problems of the bill, only to have someone -- and someone who is partially responsible for the mess the record labels are in today -- brush off the entire thing by falsely stating that we're "justifying stealing." Unfortunately, this kind of "debate" is all too common. It seems that almost no one is interested in actually discussing the problems of the bill. They just insist that if you highlight problems in the bill you're trying to justify something.

Filed Under: copyright, hilary rosen, pipa, protect ip, sopa
Companies: riaa


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  1. icon
    Karl (profile), 29 Nov 2011 @ 1:13am

    Re: SOPA

    Dear Ms. Rosen:

    Thank you very much for actually responding to the post. Most people don't. You should be commended.

    Having said that, I vehemently disagree with a number of your statements.

    And so my response was "Think analog" not as in analog policy vs digital policy but think of the real world we live in and the ethical issues we face every day.

    Indeed. And the fact is, the "ethical issue" you face right now, is whether to allow people to share their enthusiasm about music.

    The Internet is a tool that is designed to facilitate person-to-person communication. It literally has no other purpose. None. Now consider what "communication" means.

    If a person likes an album by an artist, it is far easier to simply share the music, than it is to communicate in some other manner (writing a review, or even saying "hey, check these guys out"). Copyright infringement is the same as communication.

    Given that, how do you think that stifling communication is an "ethical issue"? If anything, wouldn't you be on the wrong side of that ethical issue?

    But I don't think that gives me the right to take any of their clothes without paying just because I am an unhappy customer.

    Well, luckily, that is not what anyone does. They simply create THEIR OWN CLOTHES without paying the Gap.

    Incidentally, it's rather ironic that you bring up clothing - because fashion design is not covered by copyright. Those clothes at the Gap, that you don't want to buy? If they had been covered by copyright, they would be illegal to manufacture. You would not be able to buy them at all. And stores like the Gap would not hav ever existed in the first place.

    BUT, there is also stealing. Pure old simple unethical stealing. Call it whatever you want - the march of technology - the inevitable cost of innovation, etc. To the writer or songwriter who makes their money on SALES, it is stealing.

    Well, the Supreme Court disagrees with you: copyright infringement is not stealing.

    And you should be glad of this fact... because copyright infringement is punished far, far harsher than theft ever was. Steal 23 CD's? You'll get maybe a small fine, and a slap on the wrist. Share 23 CD's through Napster? You'll face jail time, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.

    Here's the message that sends to the youth of today: If you want to steal something, simply walk into a record store and take it. Because if you do exactly the same thing on the Internet, you'll be hunted down by the FBI and ICE. It's much better to just steal something, than it is to download the same thing from The Pirate Bay.

    I have no patience for big companies like Google who not only throw huge sums of money out there buying professors and economists and think tanks to kill any effort at copyright protection, they make a fortune on search advertising for those same illegal products.

    Here, we see how much you are, truly, full of shit.

    Google does not, and has never, "made a fortune on search advertising for illegal products." Most pirate sites use ad agencies other than AdSense; and whatever money Google might have made from those sites, is pure peanuts compared to their overall AdSense revenue. Combine this with the fact that Google has voluntarily cut off sites it thinks is infringing (and wrongfully so, in many cases), and you're totally and completely full of shit.

    And it's also a total lie that Google (or anyone else) has "throw[n] huge sums of money out there buying professors and ecomonists." The professors and economists who have come out against SOPA and PROTECT IP have received no money whatsoever from Google to write those opinions.

    Compare that to someone like Floyd Abrams, who wrote his "analysis" of the First Amendment concerns of this bill at the request of the RIAA and MPAA, who were (and are) his clients.

    In fact, those who are advocating SOPA and PROTECT IP have outspent their opponents by 10-13x. Yes, that means that for every $1000-1300 spent by you, your opponents have spent $100. And we're still winning the battle, because nobody likes these bills, except for your former clients, and not even all of them are on board.

    Now, I realize that you might not take me seriously, but you should. After all, I am a musician, who earnes some cash (though not a living) from music sales. If even I can see that you're totally and completely full of shit, what message does that send to all the other artists out there?

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