No, Every Person Does Not Owe The Movie & Music Industry $67 Million, But Copyright Is Still Broken

from the too-much-extrapolation dept

Two years ago, we wrote about Rob Reid's comic novel, Year Zero, in which a bunch of aliens realize they owe the Earth-music industry more than all the money in the universe due to their long-standing infringement of Earth music (and the statutory damages rate of $150,000 per infringement). Prior to the book coming out, Reid had also done a TED talk about the $8 billion iPod, noting just how much someone might owe the industry if they filled a (very old) iPod with infringing copies.

In a similar move, some folks at the Huffington Post have now estimated that every single man, woman and child on earth owes the combined music and movie industries on the order of $67 million. Each. Not cumulatively. Cumulatively, it would be $470,925,000,000,000,000,000 -- which is also 6.63 times the GDP of the entire planet.

Admittedly, there are some questionable extrapolations at play here. It's based off of a recent study, which also has some questionable assumptions. The research, by economists Joe Cox and Alan Collins, found that (like basically every other study in this space ever), that those who download tend to also spend more on content. But they also looked at the differences between people who download unauthorized music vs. those who download unauthorized movies. According to the HuffPo summary, the study apparently claims that "the average person has illegally downloaded approximately 2,900 music files and 90 movies." This same summary is given in a variety of other reports on the research too, but those numbers seem extremely questionable. They're simply way too high. If the study only involved looking at people who already admitted to unauthorized downloads, then it's more likely. But those numbers are way too high for the general population.

Separately, it's based on a survey of 6,000 people in Finland -- where the downloading habits may not be anywhere near representative of the wider population. And, surveys are notoriously unreliable about actually teasing out what people do. So those numbers are certainly suspect to start with -- and then extrapolating a group of pre-selected downloaders in Finland and arguing that is representative of the world does seem a bit crazy.

However, on the flip side, for the numbers calculation, the HuffPo reporters only used a multiplier of $22,500 per infringement, which is what Joel Tenenbaum had to pay, but which is well below the statutory maximum damages of $150,000. So, if their other calculations made sense (which they don't), the total could be even higher.

Obviously, all the numbers here are sort of junk and meaningless -- but even with the ridiculous numbers, the craziest of all still has to be the statutory damages that would make such a thing seem possible in the first place. There are so many areas where copyright law needs reform, but a massive one has to be on statutory damages. The idea that an individual downloading (or uploading) a single file for non-commercial purposes may be on the hook for anywhere from a few thousand dollars all the way up to $150,000 just makes no sense at all.

Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    The Music and Movie Industry, May 7th, 2014 @ 9:57am

    YES THEY FREAKIN' DO, THOSE DIRTY PIRATES!

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 10:05am

    So the report is just as insane and flawed as cartel math.

     

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    techflaws (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 10:06am

    Actually, the music industry owes ME for all the "you must be a pirate" levies I had to pay on storage media that I saved no copyrighted material to.

     

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    LAB (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 10:15am

    I agree that statutory damages should be adjusted. They were designed to address commercial infringement and not an individual downloader. However, I believe an up-loader is more culpable.

     

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    sorrykb (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 10:22am

    Copyright is broken?

    According to the HuffPo summary, the study apparently claims that "the average person has illegally downloaded approximately 2,900 music files and 90 movies."

    It would appear that statistics is also broken.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 10:39am

    Re:

    Copy protection lengths need to also be adjusted (reduced). They were designed to serve the interests of Hollywood and politicians that want revolving door favors and not the public. However, the politicians are more culpable.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 10:43am

    Yes, let's conflate retail price and a criminal fine. That's totally convincing.

     

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  8.  
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    Baron von Robber, May 7th, 2014 @ 10:48am

    Re:

    My sister had just given birth when suddenly, serveral ICE agents broke into the birthing room. They detained everybody and a special agent tatooed on the new born, "Property of the RIAA".

     

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  9.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 10:55am

    Re:

    Who is doing that? Retail price was never mentioned.

    Since you brought it up, though, what would the retail price of a iPod that's been filled with major label music from iTunes? 10 or 20 times the cost of the iPod hardware sound about right?

     

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    Andypandy, May 7th, 2014 @ 10:59am

    MAAFIA

    The Industry has become so crazy and copyright so ridiculous that we all owe them at least a million worth of content.

    This says a lot about how crazy the laws are and how they really need to be removed from our lives as individuals. Lets just make copyright laws for businesses they are the only ones with money to afford it these days anyways.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 11:08am

    Re:

    The only crime here is the current state of IP laws and the fact that they are bought and paid for instead of democratically created.

     

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    Michael, May 7th, 2014 @ 11:10am

    Re: Re:

    A 5th gen 64gb iPod touch is advertized as holding 14,000 songs.

    Hardware: $375
    Music (assuming $.99 iTunes songs): $13,860
    Max infringement ($150,000 per song): $2,100,000,000
    Tenenbaum infringement ($22,500 per song): $315,000,000

    I cannot imagine any order of restituion that would involve paying a hundred thousand times the original value of something lost - and any order of restitution has to actually involve a loss.

    The real strange part is that these inconceivably high fines seems to be meaningless. I wonder if insanely high fines for anything else would actually help - would we all still speed if the punishment was going to financially cripple us?

     

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    That One Guy (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 11:19am

    Re:

    Forget 'adjusted', statutory damages need to be removed altogether.

    Unless the 'harmed' party can actually show verifiable harm, then the case has no business in a court-room. The idea of 'Well we can't actually show any real damages, but it was really really serious, trust us.' is a joke looking for a punchline, and should in no way be treated as a valid legal argument.

     

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    Ninja (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 11:34am

    Actually the figures are not that high. I do think the amount of songs is a bit high, I'd scale that number back to the 400-600ish mark but only if any sharing method is included. I've downloaded well over those numbers alone just to copy on a thumb stick and give it to someone who asked but is not tech-savy enough to download by themselves. As for my own download habits you can push the number of songs to over 20 thousand. Amusingly when I want to watch a movie I end up getting a copy from some friend instead of going p2p or something unless it's some indie content (I'm more into sponsoring such content nowadays). The numbers shot to the several terabytes when you move into the anime realm though. Lately though (with the exception of anime) if it isn't on Netflix I tend to go without. Oh and then there's porn. But that's implicit, the Internet is for porn.

     

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    Ninja (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 11:36am

    Re:

    Criminal? Copyright is a criminal issue now?

    Also, they are using the MAFIAA accounting practices...

     

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    Ninja (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 11:37am

    Re: Copyright is broken?

    Or not. It may be true for the population where the sample came from.

     

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    Michael, May 7th, 2014 @ 11:51am

    Re:

    When you take into account the percentage of the population of the world without internet access, the numbers of songs and movies each person that could have participated becomes unrealistic pretty quickly.

     

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    Michael, May 7th, 2014 @ 11:56am

    Re:

    There you go. Another guy on the interwebs with a crazy sense of entitlement. Why do you think you are entitled to hang onto your hard-earned money when there are record company executives toiling tirelessly exploiting artists?

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 11:59am

    Re: MAAFIA

    A million dollars worth of content? Does that mean I have to write more than a million songs at 99 cents a pop? Or do I just have to write a single song in the style of Nickelback? I think I'll take the death penalty instead.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 11:59am

    Re: Re:

    percentage of the population of the world without internet access

    60% of world's population still won't have Internet by the end of 2014”, by Salvador Rodriguez, Baltimore Sun, May 7, 2014
    The United Nations this week released a report that says nearly 3 billion people will have access to the Internet by the end of 2014.

    That means 60% of the world's population -- about 4.2 billion -- will remain unconnected.

    The report says . . .

     

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  21.  
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    angelbar (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Re:

    Sad button please?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 12:04pm

    There are many people in many parts of the world who don't have internet access or even computers, so extrapolating from any first-worlder is ridiculous.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The World in 2014: ICT Facts and Figures
    NEW ! The World in 2014: ICT Facts and Figures features end 2014 estimates for ITU’s key telecommunication/ICT indicators. The brochure highlights the latest global ICT facts and trends and includes figures on mobile-cellular subscriptions, Internet use, trends of fixed and mobile broadband services, home ICT access, and more.

     

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  24.  
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    Lonyo, May 7th, 2014 @ 12:40pm

    There is only so much money

    http://www.nasdaq.com/article/americans-have-relatively-poor-net-wealth-cm257517

    31% of Americans have net wealth of under $10k. They can't afford to buy things if they are pirating, realistically.
    Even those between 10k-100k are basically choosing between "stuff" and a house, if they want to pay off their mortgage.

    That means over 75% of the US population is unlikely to be able to realistically afford to spend "lots" on "stuff", and therefore there is a zero sum game between all "piracy" industries (movies, games, music) for those people.

    Just because someone pirates it doesn't mean they could afford to buy it unless, potentially, they didn't buy something else. While the music industry may say they lost $1bn in sales (for example), that $1bn probably went to the games industry.

    People have a finite amount of money. Most people can't buy everything. That's not saying they SHOULD pirate what they can't afford, but they couldn't buy what they are pirating unless they didn't buy other things. Robbing Peter to pay Paul, where Paul and Peter are the MPAA and RIAA.

     

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  25.  
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    gorehound (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 12:54pm

    I take offense !!! 67 MILLION !
    Not Me....I owe them at the very least 67 Billion !
    Please change your statement.

    FUCK MAFIAA !

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 12:56pm

    Re: There is only so much money

    The copyright cartel will just proclaim "If you can't afford it, then go without" all while screaming that "omg our industry is dying because people are going without!"

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 1:13pm

    Re: Re:

    but ... but ... but ... I SUFFERED $3,000 WORTH OF PSYCHOLOGICAL DAMAGE!!!!

     

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  28.  
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    LAB (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Re:

    I must vehemently disagree and that is why the statutory damages are in place. In order to have the option of not having to calculate damages. Perfect example. A movie is produced and a copy of it is stolen. That stolen copy is taken to a business that burns dvd of the film and sells them. The stolen copy has also been uploaded to Piratesbay. All of this occurs before the movie is set to release. So how do you calculate damages of future sales? REAL money has surely been lost.

     

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  29.  
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    Michael, May 7th, 2014 @ 1:17pm

    Re: There is only so much money

    Let me start by saying that I think the MPAA claiming that a pirated song is a lost sale is crazy, I think the damages and penalties for infringement are compltely crazy, and I also think the MPAA and RIAA are doing everything wrong.

    However, your rant is not exactly helpful either. Not being able to afford to pay for something is no excuse for infringement. Some people are choosing between "stuff" and a house - I chose a house and have less stuff and your argument seems to be that people that cannot afford both should still get both. I don't understand how that makes any sense.

    You are right that there is a small group of people that can afford to save money while many others are barely making ends meet. It does not seem right to demonize the group that can afford to save some money more than the group that can barely make ends meet for the same activity.

     

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  30.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 1:28pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "REAL money has surely been lost."

    Sure, some. I'm far from convinced that it's a significant amount, though. Which brings up the obvious counterargument:

    If it's so impossible to determine actual damages, then how is it possible to determine what the statutory damages should be? It seems to me that statutory damages don't solve the problem at all -- it's just a way to apply the same made-up number to everything. What's wrong with the infringed party making up their own numbers in court instead?

     

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  31.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 1:34pm

    Re: Re: There is only so much money

    "Not being able to afford to pay for something is no excuse for infringement."

    Absolutely true, and Lonyo even the same thing in his comment, so I'm not sure why you're raising this as a counterargument to his statements.

    His point is absolutely correct. He wasn't saying that having a limited budget justifies piracy. He was saying that there may not be a deep money well to be tapped in the people who have limited budgets, and so people who pirate because they're broke won't suddenly start buying if they stop pirating.

     

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  32.  
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    Rikuo (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 1:41pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "The real strange part is that these inconceivably high fines seems to be meaningless."

    They are meaningless. Imagine if the penalty for running a stop sign in your car was 2 billion dollars. The number is so high as to be almost incomprehensible. No-one ticketed by a cop for running a stop sign would ever be able to pay, thus there is no incentive on the part of drivers to actually stop. In the real world, running a stop sign costs a reasonable amount in fines, a smaller amount that is in the sweet zone, where you know you can pay it, but that paying it is certain to hurt you financially. Thus, there is an incentive on drivers not to run stop signs.
    With copyright, the maximum statutory damages are equal to about 10 years wages for me (roughly). It's a number I will most likely never see in my bank account. Thus, it doesn't serve as a deterrent. After all, if you say to me "You could lose $150,000 if you copy that movie", well, as far as I'm concerned, I never had $150,000 and never will.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 1:52pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes but it would lead to absolutely hideous escalation as incentives get insane. Unless you're completely insane you just accept the speeding ticket and pay or dispute it. You don't murder them over it.

    Now if it condemned you to a life of poverty and massively garnished wages? Well killing cops over a speeding ticket doesn't seem so crazy anymore now does it? Morality usually takes a back-seat to survival.

    You really don't want to have desperate people, especially when they are already your foes. In wars not taking any prisoners or treating them hideously means they have little to nothing to lose by fighting to the death instead of a surrender. From spite alone even if they know that they're doomed they'll try to kill as many of your people as they can.

     

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  34.  
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    That One Guy (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    In order to have the option of not having to calculate damages.

    Why is this supposed to be a good thing, not being 'forced' to actually show harm?

    If I claimed that someone had attacked me and demanded recompense to 'pay my doctor's fees', yet couldn't, or wouldn't, show any evidence of bruises or other harm they'd laugh me out of the court, not say 'Good enough, here's your money'.

    A movie is produced and a copy of it is stolen. That stolen copy is taken to a business that burns dvd of the film and sells them.

    I've gone over this in another comment with you before, as I noted at the time, in a situation like that go after them for counterfeiting, fining them 100%-200% of the profits they made from the counterfeiting and shut down their operation.

    Do that and the 'lost' profits are returned to the rightful owners, the guilty are punished but not insanely so, and sales can return to normal.

    The stolen copy has also been uploaded to Piratesbay.

    Copyright infringement, different than counterfeiting, and which likewise should be treated differently.

    REAL money has surely been lost.

    And there's a perfect example of the problem. They're sure that they've suffered terrible harm, yet they're asking the court to trust them as to how serious the harm is. That is, trust the affected party to come up with an honest and accurate assessment of how much 'harm' they've suffered, without actually having to prove any of it.

    Time for an analogy time, taking the copyright aspect out of it, and applying that same logic, the argument that you don't have to prove harm before 'punishing' the accused, to the example.

    Say you ate at a restaurant, and finding the service and food lousy, you left a rather blunt review about your experience there online. In return, the restaurant sues you for 'lost profits', as they allege that your review will cause them a massive number of lost customers, people who might have eaten there, but now won't.

    For this crime they demand an exorbitant sum, in the range of tens of thousands of dollars, if not more.

    Not once during this do they provide any verifiable numbers as to how their profits will be affected.

    Not once during this are they able to prove a link between your post and any decrease in profits they may have experienced since.

    And not once are they even asked to by the court, because statutory damages allows them to completely ignore having to do any of that, and instead rely on the massive amount that statutory damages grants them as 'recompense'.

    That sound like a fair case to you?

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 1:57pm

    Re: Re: There is only so much money

    My point was that if you are spending on music, you aren't spending on movies. If you are spending on movies, you aren't spending on games.

    If you stop pirating games, that doesn't mean there's more money in the pot, that just means you are using your money on games, and not spending it on music or movies.

    Pirating adds to the total content consumed, but it doesn't add to the total money available to pay for said content.
    The point is not that people should pirate when they can't afford, the point is that if they stopped pirating totally and paid instead, they would still have the same pool of money to spend, so no additional money goes to games/films/music, it just gets differently spread.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 2:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    What's wrong with the infringed party making up their own numbers in court instead?

    The point of statutory damages, and why they're defended so much by those in favor of them, is that you don't have to prove damages, whereas if the infringed party was just tossing out numbers those numbers could and would be challenged, meaning they'd have to provide backing evidence for them.

    With statutory damages:

    Prosecution: The defendant is accused of downloading one CD's worth of songs. Based upon the statutory rates they have caused well over a million in damages and should be fined accordingly.

    Judge: I may not agree, but that's what the law says alright.

    Without statutory damages:

    Prosecution: The defendant is accused of downloading one CD's worth of songs. As such they have cause well over a millions dollars worth of damage to our profits and deserve to be fined accordingly.

    Judge: One million for one CD's worth of songs, songs that could collectively be purchased for under $20 at any store... Before we go on, please explain just how you calculated the damages caused.

    Prosecution: Well... uh... it sounded like a good number?

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 2:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: There is only so much money

    The purpose of IP law isn't so that those who can't pay will go without. The purpose should be so that those who can't pay can have access to more freely available content. Until this happens, until stuff starts entering the public domain so that everyone can have access to more content, I think all other points are moot.

    I can only access a small and limited amount of content because I don't have a billion dollars to pay for a larger amount of content. The purpose of copy protection laws is so that more content will be created and enter the public domain so that a larger quantity of content is available to me within my limited budget. Thanks to retroactive extensions this is not what's happening.

    Michael making this about an either or (either you access more content and give up something else or you choose something more important and access less content) misses the point. The point is that we should be able to choose more of something else and still get more content. Otherwise copy protection laws should just be abolished because it's not serving the public interest.

     

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    LAB (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 2:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I appreciate your analogy and yes we did discuss my example before. I believe what is missing from your analogy is that writing a bad review is within your rights and not against the law. Punishment for breaking the law has a number of strictly punitive aspects for said behavior. In a commercial context, a business that proceeds to violate a law should be punished so that other commercial entities will not attempt the same behavior. There are fines for violating many laws and I view the statutory damages as such. They are not always $150,000. They start at $750.

     

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    David, May 7th, 2014 @ 2:22pm

    Math failure.

    every single man, woman and child on earth owes the combined music and movie industries on the order of $67 million.

    Cumulatively, it would be [...] 6.63 times the GDP of the entire planet.

    So I am to believe that the average man, woman, or child contributes $10 million to the gross domestic product?

    I am afraid that the world is not that rich yet.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 2:27pm

    Sharing a single song isn't even infringement if anyone puts forth the correct argument to set the right precedent. One song is 3-5 minutes of an hour long album. It's a snippet. It's no different than adding a referenced quote from another source to a college term paper.

     

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    LAB (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 2:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: There is only so much money

    For those that cannot afford, is the library not an alternative that makes content available?

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 3:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: There is only so much money

    Libraries exist and serve their purpose of making more works publicly available. Copy protection do not serve their purpose of doing the same and so they should either be changed or abolished. Libraries are good. Copy protection laws are bad. Just because libraries are good doesn't mean copy protection laws are good.

    School libraries have many stories of very old dilapidated books. Those books can't be copied or digitally archived due to broken laws (since nothing ever enters the public domain anymore) and a library can only hold so many physical books. and any (legal) remaining copy of various works may cease to exist (or at least to be possessed by someone willing and able to publicly and freely release it) by the time it does enter the public domain. So future generations may lose many valuable past works.

    and this is especially true of various publications. School libraries can only afford to subscribe to so many journals and online publications as well and only professors and current students will have access to that (or someone that pays for access). No one can be a student or professor at every school or pay for access to every publication. These things aren't cheap and so the access of any one person is limited (unless you're a multi billionaire maybe). Copy protection laws aren't serving their purpose of giving us access to more content. Libraries maybe doing that but copy protection laws aren't.

    As far as printed journals some libraries have a section for those where only a librarian can handle them and they must be taken careful care of when accessed because they don't want to maintain their condition for future access. This won't be as necessary if they can enter the public domain in a reasonable period of time and be copied.

    and what about newspapers and other prints. These things should be public domain after a month so that we can archive them online and future generations can have more insight into their past.

    The fact that libraries exist and serve their purpose is a good thing but that doesn't mean that copy protection laws should exist for anything other than to serve the public interest and expand the public domain. Copy protection laws are not serving their purpose. Until they do, until works enter the public domain in a reasonable period of time so that I can have more access to more works, any point that IP defenders want to make is moot. Their cries and complaints over piracy are moot and I don't care or want to hear them. and I don't want our politicians, that are supposed to represent the public, to pay them any attention in some secretly held meeting with industry interests invited and then to later take some revolving door favor job. The point of IP laws is not to prevent someones definition of 'stealing'. It's not to make sure artists are paid. It's not to serve the alleged entitlement that IP defenders think they have. NO, it's to serve the public interest. To promote the progress of the sciences and useful arts. To expand the public domain.

    Libraries serve the public interest. Copy protection laws do not. See the difference?

     

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    That One Guy (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 3:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    First of all, and this is more a general observation, not just dealing with this particular comment thread, I'd just like to note how nice it is to be able to have an actual debate and discussion on this topic. Far too often the arguments of those defending copyright seem to devolve into 'You disagree with me, therefor you must be a pirate/thief', which gets old real fast(though on the plus side, logical fallacy 'arguments' like that are easy to dismiss and ignore).

    I and others here may disagree with you at times, but even then you're bringing a good alternate view and argument to the discussion, and making your arguments in a well presented manner, so thanks for bringing some levelheadedness to what can often be a fairly emotionally charged topic.

    That out of the way, the point of the example was one of showing how charging someone with 'lost profits', without actually being able or having to show the 'lost' profits doesn't really make sense.

    'The punishment should fit the crime' is a mainstay of justice, and but if the affected person doesn't have to show evidence that they have been harmed, it's rather difficult to have a reasonable punishment handed out in return, which is my objection to statutory damages.

    Now, I'm thinking that what we're really disagreeing about here is more the minor bits, the methods as it were to accomplish something, not the core ideas.

    Do I believe that commercial-scale infringement(doing it as a business that is, not 'you have infringing files on your site, and you have some ads also on the site, therefor that's commercial-scale infringement') and/or counterfeiting deserve punishments, at times hefty ones? Absolutely.

    A company or person guilty of something like that does indeed deserve to be punished for it, both for their own actions and to dissuade others from doing the same in the future.

    What I don't agree with is the extent those punishments can reach, with fines so far in excess of the crime being committed that they reach truly insane levels. A song goes from being worth under a dollar if purchased, to thousands if downloaded? 'Punishments' so extreme don't cause people to respect the law, they do the exact opposite, causing people to ignore and lose respect for it, being so outside of what someone would consider reasonable as to almost be laughable.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 3:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: There is only so much money

    No one is complaining about libraries not serving their purpose. We're complaining about copy protection laws not serving their purpose. See the difference?

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 3:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Punishment for breaking the law has a number of strictly punitive aspects for said behavior."

    You're conflating two things.

    Damages are explicitly not supposed to be punitive. They are supposed to allow the victim of the crime to be made financially whole. That's why you (should) have to show what the actual harm is.

    There's a separate mechanism for punishment, and that's punitive damages. There is no requirement to show harm for these (and the victim doesn't get the money).

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: There is only so much money

    "Until this happens, until stuff starts entering the public domain so that everyone can have access to more content, I think all other points are moot."

    I understand and agree with your sentiment, but I disagree with this statement. It's overly simplistic and does harm to the cause of correcting the problems with copyright today.

    You're right that the fact that things are being prevented from entering the public domain is an egregious wrong (and violates the essential copyright "deal") that must be addressed immediately, there are a few other problems with copyright that are on the same level. For example, the anticircumvention law.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 3:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    When politicians negotiate pro IP laws with industry interests in secret these are not democratically negotiated laws. Politicians that negotiate laws in secret and later take revolving door favors should be jailed and those industry interests offering these revolving door favors should be personally fined and jailed as well.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 3:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The true crime here is not infringement. The true crime here is the current state of IP laws. and until these laws are fixed to serve the public interest if you have any moral conscience whatosever your focus should not be on stopping infringement (for your cries are moot since IP laws aren't serving the public interest) it should be on fixing IP laws to serve the public interest. Once IP laws serve the public interest then you can complain about them being violated. Laws should exist to serve the public interest. If they don't then no one should cry when they are broken. People should cry that broken laws exist.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 3:49pm

    'The idea that an individual downloading (or uploading) a single file for non-commercial purposes may be on the hook for anywhere from a few thousand dollars all the way up to $150,000 just makes no sense at all.'

    particularly when the industries never get to pay out anything when they have infringed or have accused someone of infringement and lost. now if they were to be put in line, just as us ordinary mortals are, maybe they would see a little sense. as it is, especially with politicians and law makers doing whatever they can to ensure the people get hit as hard as possible and the industries get away with infringement murder, no reform is ever going to happen. i am seriously waiting for one of the studios or labels to try for the death penalty, just because someone downloaded a movie or an album for their kids!

     

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    JMT (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 3:57pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "REAL money has surely been lost."

    Quite possibly, but multiple independent studies have also shown how increased exposure of movies and music from piracy has resulted in higher sales, i.e. REAL money has surely been gained. But this is just as hard to quantify as any actual losses, so now you have two massive variables that should be considered before damages can be 'calculated'. Can you be honest enough with yourself to admit this?

     

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    JMT (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 3:59pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Also, you're dangerously close to stating that a pirated copy is a lost sale. Don't be that fool...

     

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    LAB (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 5:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Punishment for breaking the law has a number of strictly punitive aspects for said behavior."

    You're conflating two things."

    I do not believe that they are conflated because I think they are intrinsically linked. If a business infringes another's copyright they have caused damage and they have violated the law. There are not two separate awards one to make the victim whole and the other to punish. The calculation of damages is the decision of the plaintiff in that they may request actual calculated damages OR statutory damages. Yes the purpose of the damages is to make the victim whole but future sales are extremely speculative. The damages in copyright are both to make the victim whole and to punish, serving as a deterrent. If the plaintiff has not registered the copyright before infringement occurred, statutory damages are not even available, only actual. I will again point out statutory damages start at $750.

     

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  53. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 5:47pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You clowns censor every contrary opinion here. It's hilarious.

     

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    LAB (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 5:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: There is only so much money

    "No one is complaining about libraries not serving their purpose. We're complaining about copy protection laws not serving their purpose. See the difference?"

    Yes but if the argument is that the availability of content is placed out of reach to many because of cost and because of this piracy is a reflection and therefore copyright laws are not serving there purpose. Then the library would seem to make this argument invalid.

    "The fact that libraries exist and serve their purpose is a good thing but that doesn't mean that copy protection laws should exist for anything other than to serve the public interest and expand the public domain."

    Many would argue that copyright exists in part to expand the amount of works created. The conflict has always been how much/long of a monopoly should be given so that more works are created (a financial incentive does this), contrasted with placing works into the public domain to be used by all.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 6:01pm

    Re:

    "push the number of songs to over 20 thousand.... several terabytes"

    Hold on there - I haven't downloaded any so you've got my allowance and therefore I can sue you for $67 million (which the MPAA/RIAA etc can sue me for) + damages for emotional distress and restraint of trade. Hah, I knew it, I'M RICH AND I DIDN'T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING! Wow, the American Dream is really something!!

     

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    Mark Noo, May 7th, 2014 @ 6:12pm

    Didn't Kid Rock and Metallica both get huge followings by people sharing their music?

    I know this isn't exactly on point with copyright infringement but isn't sharing good for new artists. If that is the case then the people being most hurt by the infringing are people who are already rich, filthy rich.

    It is not right to steal from people just because they are rich but it also isn't right to arrest little Timmy and his family because he downloaded a Disney show.

    Isn't this one of the reasons the American Colonies overthrew their king. Because King George was a greedy pig and he walked all over his subjects in the colonies.

    These recording labels and movie studios would do well to watch who they alienate. Real artists are always going to do their think, and they are going to share it online. Maybe we don't need recording studios anymore. We probably still need movie makers but lets face it, Independent films are the only thing good happening in movies right now anyway.

    A crime is a crime, but the reaction is too extreme. It is a little like His Britannic Majesty's tax stamp. This sort of tyranny does not end well.

    Users need a forum in which they can reply to all the DMCA notices they receive. Some of these things are without merit. They say you did it so you are guilty.

     

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    LAB (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 6:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Can you be honest enough with yourself to admit this?"

    I pose the same question to you. How would you quantify a lost sale? If you were hungry and buying a pizza from a specific pizza parlor and someone gave you a one of their pizzas for free(they took it, they didn't pay for it), you'd be less likely to buy said pizza at that moment. Did the pizza parlor lose a sale? Yes, because you were planning on buying it. If you enjoyed the pizza you might come back and get one some other time but in that instant in time, the pizza parlor lost a sale because your are enjoying their product and you didn't buy it and you were planning to. Of course you could like it so much you tell all of your friends how great their pizza is an the parlor becomes popular. But the pizza parlor could say they are popular not because of you but because they have good pizza. I think there is such a thing as a lost sale. And in that regard, if the product was taken and the law was broken why should it be so difficult to calculate damages. That is why they were written into the statute.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 8:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: There is only so much money

    "Then the library would seem to make this argument invalid. "

    No it wouldn't. Libraries serve their purpose. Copy protection laws do not. Just because libraries serve their purpose doesn't negate the fact that copy protection laws do not.

    "Many would argue that copyright exists in part to expand the amount of works created."

    More works created but not publicly available (limited income, something everyone suffers from) does me no good. Works that I can't access does me no good (ie: due to limited income or discontinued/orphan works with only a limited and depleting quantity available). Once the artists have had a reasonable time to recoup their investment those works should be made public to all.

    "The conflict has always been how much/long of a monopoly should be given so that more works are created (a financial incentive does this), contrasted with placing works into the public domain to be used by all."

    Well .. the conflict has always been politicians wanting back door deals in exchange for prolonging these privileges. Lets be honest, this alleged 'conflict' about creating more incentive to make works vs placing works in the public domain is something made up by, not artists, but by the MPAA/RIAA and Disney and other middlemen lobbying for these laws behind closed doors and offering politicians favors in return. Yes, maybe that 'conflict' makes sense withing five or ten years (where most sales are made) but after 20+ years the balance is way out of proportion in favor of distributors. If you look at the history of copy protection laws they weren't created to incentivize artists. They were made to serve distributors. and if you look at the history of it's expansion (ie: length) in the U.S. striking a balance between creating incentive for more works and offering a greater public domain was never the reason these laws got expanded. They got expanded because Disney and the MPAA lobbied for those expansions. Our current laws are not in balance and they don't serve the public interest. Neither are they intended to. Until that happens I don't care about your stupid complaints about piracy. The true crime here is the current state of our laws and if you had any moral conscience this would be focusing on fixing these laws instead of focusing on defending them.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 8:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: There is only so much money

    you would be focusing on fixing these laws *

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 8:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    IP law should not be about preventing your perception of 'damage'. IP laws should be about serving the public interest. No one is entitled to a govt. monopoly.

    If a competitor comes in and sells competing pizza and you lose sales that doesn't make it wrong. You are not entitled to those sales. Likewise you are not entitled to a copy protection monopoly. You are not entitled to a 'sale' and just because you think you 'lost' a sale doesn't mean you were ever entitled to those sales to begin with.

    Regarding your argument that the law has been violated, when the laws are democratically passed then you can complain. When the laws are passed with the intent of serving the public interest then you can complain. Our current laws are passed as a result of secretive meetings and revolving door favors. This isn't democracy. Politicians that pass laws in exchange for revolving door favors are not passing those laws to serve the public interest and this is not democracy. When we have democratically passed laws then you can complain that they are being broken. Until then you can shut your mouth and get lost because I don't want to hear it.

     

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    techflaws (profile), May 7th, 2014 @ 10:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Hilarious is you jackasses claiming censorship being used while your bluushit is still readable.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 11:02pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    so you want to use the same accounting that you use when calculating your profits when it comes to tax time.

    Here is the real crime. RIAA style accounting.

    Once the first executive is sent to jail for fraud and tax evasion, for said RIAA accounting, then I may start to respect copyright.

    Once the first executive is sent to jail for perjury for a false copyright take down using the DMCA, then I may start to respect copyright.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 11:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The problem is that these is no provable harm in infringement. And that is why I have major issues with this particular infringement being punishable.

    For example, the Apple vs. Samsung case (a patent case), where Apple asked for $2.2bn for infringement, for two patents, none of which did actual provable harm. That's not restitution - that's pettiness, pure and simple.

    In addition, permitting unethical legal companies such as ACS:Law and Prenda to extort people under the guise of the law is utterly, utterly wrong, no matter which perspective you have.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2014 @ 11:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    In Australia, for downloaders liability limited to actual damages (although not for up loaders). Not a single person has been sued for downloading, for two reasons.

    Firstly, the sums involved are too small: only the rights holder has the right to sue, and only for their losses. Even if they can prove that every downloaded file is a lost sale, they would only get their share of profit from those sales. Even with having to pay court costs, a pirate would eb better off downloading, getting sued, and losing than paying retail, if the volume is large enough.

    Secondly, an IP address isn't regarded as sufficient proof to get a subpoena, and ISPs aren't required to do anything to help rights holders until they are subpoenaed. Since the ISPs mostly aren't connected to the media, they have no reason to take on any extra burden.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 12:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's not quite that simple to prove a 'lost sale'.

    If you were hungry and buying a pizza from a specific pizza parlor and someone gave you a one of their pizzas for free(they took it, they didn't pay for it), you'd be less likely to buy said pizza at that moment.

    Something to note, that as far as piracy is concerned, if someone was planning on buying something from a particular artist/creator, it's likely because they already know about them, and most of them want to give the artist in question money, so will likely take the paid option(assuming it's reasonable) over the piracy option, given the chance.

    As evidence of this, pretty much anything you can think of is already available for free if you feel like looking hard enough, so the fact that people are looking for the paid option despite this shows that they are quite willing to pay if the option(and again I must stress, it needs to be a reasonable option) is presented to them.

    Anyway, expanding on the pizza example(because who doesn't love pizza?), regarding general piracy, it's more like someone is hungry, though they don't know for what exactly. So they grab an identical copy of the pizza from parlor A, and try a slice of that. Then maybe something from parlor B, again, grabbing a copy of the pizza. Then perhaps they try a copy of some fried chicken from another store, and so on.

    It's important to note that at no point during this have any of the 'restaurants' lost any of their product, they still have after, what they had before.

    Now, could one of those restaurants have 'lost' a sale they might otherwise have made? Possibly. On the other hand, maybe the individual in question was never going to buy from any of them, maybe they are more a 'home cooking' kinda person, or perhaps they already had a favorite restaurant they already go to but were just curious, in which case there was likely never going to be a sale in the first place.

    On the other side of things, maybe that one 'lost' sale will lead to future sales that would otherwise not have happened, as the person decides that they like the 'pizza' enough, pizza that they weren't aware of before, that they will be buying it in the future.

    So I guess the point I'm trying to get across, is that proving a 'lost sale' isn't quite so easy, and if you're going to be counting 'lost' sales, you also need to count 'gained' sales as well, and see how the two balance out in the long run.

    But the pizza parlor could say they are popular not because of you but because they have good pizza.

    To which the response is, 'It doesn't matter how awesome your pizza/product is, if no one knows about it'.

    Ducking out of the pizza example into more general sales, obscurity is a greater threat to the success of an artist/creator than piracy ever will be.

    If people are pirating your work, while they may not be paying now(financially anyway, they are paying with their time, which is a currency far more valuable, considering it's impossible to replace, and taking into account all the other stuff they could be 'spending' it on), they might in the future, and in the meantime, they're likely telling other people about you, people who might pay now and later.

    If no-one knows about you though, your sales will be pretty much dead from the get-go, and will likely stay that way. Hard to buy something you don't know exists after all.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 12:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yeesh, no wonder Hollywood's been going so ballistic, and putting such pressure on your politicians over there, such sanity has got to be driving them up the freakin' wall, not to mention the worry they've got to have about it spreading elsewhere.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2014 @ 12:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So then you admit this whole thing isn't about artists but about big media conglomorate IP privileges holders. Good to know.

     

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    JMT (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 3:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I can't believe you brought pizza into this discussion. Comparing scarce goods to infinitely copyable digital files is just stupid and ignorant. Any shred of an argument you might have is completely undermined by this apples and orangoutangs comparison.

    Nobody have ever claimed there's no such thing as a lost sale, so you're pointlessly arguing against a strawman there. But the simple fact is that a pirated copy of something you had no intention of buying is not a lost sale. And a sale made directly because of a pirated copy is a gained sale. For some reason these two other possibilities are consistently absent from your thought processes despite how utterly common they are.

     

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    Seegras (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 4:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Civil code. copyright violation is supposed to be in civil law, and not criminal law.

    There is no "punishment" in civil law, there is only redress.

    Unless your mercantilists changed it, and you now can be hanged for importing finished goods from the colonies. Or somesuch.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 5:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    How would you quantify a lost sale? If you were hungry and buying a pizza from a specific pizza parlor and someone gave you a one of their pizzas for free(they took it, they didn't pay for it), you'd be less likely to buy said pizza at that moment.

    What if the deli next door to the pizza place offered you a coupon for a free sandwich instead, and you decided to do that.

    Is that a lost sale? Does the pizza parlor have a legal cause of action against the deli for causing it to lose sales?

    A "lost sale" is a marketing problem, not a legal one. It just means that someone else offered a better deal.

     

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    Seegras (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 5:09am

    Dead people don't need sustainment

    I'll be starting to respect copyright, when all those rent-seeking copyright-addons of the last 163+ years get repelled.

    Especially this "copyright last over duration of life" we've been warned about in 1841:
    http://homepages.law.asu.edu/~dkarjala/opposingcopyrightextension/commentary/MacaulaySpeeches.html

     

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    Pragmatic, May 8th, 2014 @ 5:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I pose the same question to you. How would you quantify a lost sale? If you were hungry and buying a pizza from a specific pizza parlor and someone gave you a one of their pizzas for free(they took it, they didn't pay for it),

    A taken, not paid for pizza is a stolen pizza. It has been stolen from the pizza parlor, who now have lost money on the ingredients, the cost of labor, and the potential sale.

    A free pizza given as a goodwill gesture to one person, who then shares it with friends is not stolen, whether it was intended to be shared or not. You're equating infringement with theft. It's not.

    I think there is such a thing as a lost sale.

    Lost sales occur for many reasons, not just infringement or even actual theft. The only people committing actual theft in the movie industry are the **AAs by robbing the public domain. In any case, the movie industry is making record profits. If you yourself are not, you may well have a distribution problem. That's another issue.

    And in that regard, if the product was taken
    But it wasn't. It was copied. I see you wearing a blue t-shirt with a black stripe on it, I dye my blue t-shirt with a black stripe. Even if I make a pile of these and sell them, I've not stolen from you.

    and the law was broken

    Yes, but infringement is not theft.

    why should it be so difficult to calculate damages.

    You would have to prove that my selling blue t-shirts with a black stripe on actually harms your business by depriving you of revenue. Things to take into account would include the exclusivity of your design, whether or not I'd pretended the design was your work and was pretending to represent you (that's trademark infringement and possibly fraud), and whether or not my activities are preventing you from running your business effectively. Please note, there's no copyright on fashion, so you'd lose unless I was selling them as LAB t-shirts and pretending they were yours.

    That is why they were written into the statute.

    The statute was not created to serve the public good but to benefit special interest groups including the MPAA and the RIAA.

     

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    Pragmatic, May 8th, 2014 @ 5:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: There is only so much money

    LAB, do you know that certain individuals and groups on the Far Right are trying to shut libraries down because something something gubmint?

     

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    LAB (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 7:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "I can't believe you brought pizza into this discussion. Comparing scarce goods to infinitely copyable digital files is just stupid and ignorant. Any shred of an argument you might have is completely undermined by this apples and orangoutangs comparison."

    No it really isn't and it was just an example to illustrate a lost sale. Infinitely copyable digital files have value,not in production cost but in the content of the file. You would not want that particular file if it had no worth. Is a printed poster of a Monet painting only worth the ink and the paper it is printed on? Of course not. They sell for 1000x the production cost because the value is in the image. An image or music has no value or monetary worth because it is not a scarce good? I do not agree.

    "Nobody have ever claimed there's no such thing as a lost sale."

    That is the whole point. How do you define a lost sale? How do you calculate damages if you can't quantify a lost sale.

    "But the simple fact is that a pirated copy of something you had no intention of buying is not a lost sale.

    Of course, but why is the assumption, you had no intention of buying it? The opposite argument is that you had every intention of buying it because you now have it. If you didn't want it why do you have it? And expanding that thought, if you wanted it and now have then is it a lost sale?

    "And a sale made directly because of a pirated copy is a gained sale."

    A sale because of an advertisement, because of word of mouth, because of a coupon, because of buy one get one etc...are all sales but they are of no help in calculating damages and that is the discussion. If statutory damages were abolished what factors would be used to calculate actual damages.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2014 @ 9:27am

    Re:

    My personal computer is just a physical representation of my intellectual curiosity. The acquisition of knowledge should never be considered a crime. Anytime this has happened throughout history, it has inevitably been followed by violent revolution.

     

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    JMT (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 2:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Of course, but why is the assumption, you had no intention of buying it? The opposite argument is that you had every intention of buying it because you now have it. If you didn't want it why do you have it? And expanding that thought, if you wanted it and now have then is it a lost sale?"

    Pretty obviously, anyone who pirates a copy has no intention of buying it at that time. They may change their mind later on, as lots of people download to sample before making a purchase, or (for example) buy an artist's other albums because they liked the one they didn't pay for.

    There's also the important issue of cost, which may not match up with someone's perceived value of an item of content. If I'm willing to pay $20 for something because that's what I believe it's worth to me, but you want to charge me $40, then I can only choose between paying twice what I think it's worth or getting it for free. Taking the latter option clearly doesn't mean I think it has no worth to me. If someone had 'every intention of buying it' but finds a free source instead, it's probably because they couldn't find it in the format they wanted and/or at the price that matched the value it has to them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  77.  
    icon
    BeeAitch (profile), May 9th, 2014 @ 4:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You clowns might want to read the definition of censorship.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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