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What is your opinion of the International Federation of Phonogram and Videogram Producers (IFPI), Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)?
What do you think of the copyright legislation they have sponsored, particularly the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) and European Union Copyright Directive (EUCD)?

(Please specify what country you live and work in, for informal polling purposes.)

Why I ask: personal rips, script kiddies, and takedown demands

I ask because I got a takedown demand last spring for a directory of MP3 rips from my own CD collection that I used to keep on ringil (my Linux Apache web server, currently a NetBSD system) for my own convenience - I could pull it down to my office PCs or newly-installed home systems at will. There was a big archive called Ripped.zip, too, which had more of these. All of these were in an httpd directory that was world-readable.

As is often the case with web directories, the page got autocrawled by web bots that we of the TEUNCedain like to call "guungols" or "gyngyl" (cf. "Google" + "ungol", "yngyl"). Even though I've never submitted a directory to any listing, the guungols get them out of my embedded URLs and sometimes just random crawling (Ripped.zip symlinked from a directory that I'd never even used in an LJ or GJ post before). This generates a lot of traffic. once, c. 2001, script kiddies got to one of these directories and started pulling down huge files. See here for the tale of the day in July, 2004 when O. Sharp's LOTR movie got Slashdotted. I chmod'ed the whole directory, as I've now done with all my MP3 directories.

My personal opinion

For the record, I believe that recording artists, like and others, deserve to be compensated for their work (especially taiji_jian, sui_degeneris, and yodge, who often regale us with their fiddlings and wibblings at no charge). I am both an open-content advocate and a free-market capitalist, so while I agree with some of the principles in Richard M. Stallman's GNU Manifesto, I do not espouse all of the socialist principles therein. I think content should be "free as in speech, but not necessarily free as in beer".

That said, I do think that many of our intellectual property (IP) laws, standards and practices - including copyright - are quickly becoming obsolete. I personally believe that the notion of copyright and the philosophy of IP ownership, as is currently accepted by many nations, has a very limited lifespan remaining to it.

File sharing alone has not directly increased creativity; it has only changed the economic structure of music and video publishing. It has not yet had a truly lasting impact on law, only through stopgap, "loophole-closing" legislation such as the DMCA. It has not affected law enforcement, either, save to accelerate a preexisting trend towards decentralization of knowledge and distributed computing. It has affected public thinking about copyrights, and the public perception of laws and law enforcement.

It is neither illegal file sharing (like many who reserve the term "piracy" to the activities of murderers and robbers on the high seas, Captain Jack Sparrow, and adherents of the Flying Spaghetti Monster) nor open content that will alone overturn the conventions of copyright. I also don't think that shifts in social mores that some might term "erosion" will do it. Rather, the emergence of tools for sharing, integrating, and propagating knowledge will accelerate, via technological singularities, and through application to production and propagation of creative work, will effect social change.

That's a rather vacuous prediction in the abstract, so here is a concrete example. Consider the ways in which rapid propagation of news has been enabled by the internet and by the advent of residential broadband. In particular, consider how streaming video, a convergence of personal computing and search (MSN Start and the Google desktop), and the reemergence of thin clients and the "network computer" have combined to make access to news more convenient and manageable than ever before. The average person is better-informed than his or her ancestors, but not any more diligent, educated, or productive without the tools. In fact, technologies serve to make us lazier even as they make us smarter: information extraction (IE), content-based indexing of media, and portal automation are examples of this. But already we see that assistive technology, particularly in search and natural language technology (from automatic speech recognition to machine translation), has a synergistic effect with other technology-based enhancements to knowledge such as portals and knowledge-based expert systems. The individual's ability to process and manipulate information is at the heart of modern applied computing; hence the emphasis on privacy, security, usability and personalization in CS research. I think that automation, still increasing but not yet at its local peak for our century, is going to catalyze the creative use of assistive technology. This will push the present "do it yourself at home" culture of weblogging and multimedia authoring into the realm of more social computing, making human factors, social networks and collaboration even more important.

What does this all have to do with copyrights and IP? I'll go on record as saying that Robert Frost got it pretty much right on: "something there is that doesn't love a wall".

A little levity

Whew! After talking about serious issues for a while, I always feel the need for a little intellectual refreshment.

Apropos of which, here is "RIAA" (to the tune of "YMCA" by the Village People). I was going to do just this filk ("DMCA" being too obvious), but it turns out that both have been done already. "DMCA" is not nearly as original (and doesn't scan well).

Also, here are legal threats against ThePirateBay.org and its maintainer's ironic responses. Go go Sverige!



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 12th, 2006 06:51 pm (UTC)
Ya wanna poll- make a poll!
Define the issues for us!
We are too lazy to write the essay that is the tangled web of our opinions on the subject of copyright in the digital age. Give us multiple-choice options.
Feb. 12th, 2006 08:16 pm (UTC)
Multiple-choice: OK, I'll bite...
... give me some choices, though.

The organizations:

  • Exist to mediate between the recording industry and its customers, benefitting both

  • Primarily protect the rights of musicians, actors, and film and music studio crew

  • Serve the business interests of artists, workers, recording companies, and their shareholders

  • Support the wealthy movie and music stars, and their producers, more than the common worker in the music and film industry

  • Exist only to feed the greed of music and film companies

The legislation:

  • Helps uphold sound moral principles regarding material ownership

  • Is necessary as a deterrent to keep file sharing from degenerating into lawlessness through weak law enforcement

  • Protects the wealthiest film, television, and recording artists, and their producers and publishers, more than legitimate but less commercially-successful artists

  • Is a sign of obsolete thinking about intellectual property

  • Exists only to feed the greed of music and film companies

What have I missed?
Being an expert in this area, especially compared to me, you're better qualified to suggest editing changes and addenda.
Also, you can see how I can posit a spectrum of responses, but without any clear-cut mutual exclusivity among them. "All of the above" or "I and II but not III" could very well be true.

Check boxes, then?

Feb. 12th, 2006 08:26 pm (UTC)

I am a child of this generation too, so let me answer with some information I extracted somewhere, namely the lyrics of the unforgettable NoFX song "Dinosaurs Will Die".

Sit back, watch it crumble
See the drowning, watch the fall
I feel just terrible about it
That’s sarcasm, let it burn
I’m gonna make at toast when it falls apart
I’m gonna raise my glass above my heart
Then someone shouts: That's what they get!
For all the years of hit and run
For all the piss broke bands on VH one
Where did all their money go?
Don’t we all know!
Parasitic music industry as it destroys itself
We’ll show them how it’s supposed to be

Music written from devotion
Not ambition, not for fame
Zero people are exploited
There are no tricks up our sleeve
Were gonna fight against the mass appeal
Were gonna kill the seven record deal
Make records that have more then one good song
The dinosaurs will slowly die
And I do believe no one will cry
I’m just f*cking glad I’m gonna be
There to watch the fall
Prehistoric music industry three feet in la brea tar
Extinction never felt so good

If you think anyone will feel badly
You are sadly mistaken
The time has come for evolution
F*ck collusion, kill the Five
What ever happened to the handshake
Whatever happened to deals no one would break
What happened to integrity
It’s still there it always was
For playing music just because
A million reasons why
All dinosaurs will die
All dinosaurs will die
All dinosaurs will die!
Feb. 12th, 2006 08:39 pm (UTC)
Lazy-ass bastards! Kids today!
You're all a bunch of lazy, thieving no-accounts!
Taking what isn't yours without permission is just stealing the intellectual property of others...

Ha! Just kidding.

Shall I make it a multiple-choice poll for you, too?
Perhaps for you, I would need to do like Anakata of ThePirateBay did with the lawyers for The White Stripes and Apple and offer a selection of objects with which the music industry can violate itself. ;-)

Feb. 12th, 2006 09:56 pm (UTC)
Organisations such as MPAA and RIAA (as well as APRA in Australia) might claim to be protecting artists rights, but this I feel is disingenuous. Corporatism is (has) made music less about artists and more about bottom line. Perhaps it's *always* been this way since forever ...

The only reasons those organisations give a damn about artists is because of how they help the bottom line of Sony, BMG et al. And what these organisations are doing is protecting a nice little oligopoly that allows them to obtain monopoly-style rents (to use an economic term). New technology threatens the monoply -- suppress the new technology. Moreover, these organisations would dearly love to charge you on a pay per listen and a pay per media type basis.

DMCA will assist that.

I dunno ... rambling now.

(Deleted comment)
Feb. 13th, 2006 01:39 am (UTC)
Monopoly pricing at work again ...
Feb. 13th, 2006 01:51 am (UTC)
Recording industry is greedy. (not even necessarily the artists, you always hear about the managers or recording labels who are taking too much of the artist's share, and even then, we pay singers and actors and "famous people" WAAAAYYYYY too much!) --> CD prices are high, $16-$17 for a CD when an actual blank CD costs about 50 freakin' cents. --> People realize this and share more music online.

Recording industry is greedy. --> Says people can't share music because it violates... *RIAA stumbles* err, something or other ... and shuts down Napster. --> People like to rebel and so more file sharing and p2p programs emerge to fill the gap and take the place of Napster. --> Now we have sites where you can download a song for a buck or two, satisfying both the recording labels and the people who only want a few songs from an album.

CD prices are still too high. People still like to rebel against high prices. And so we're not much further along than we were before.

I don't generally propagate song sharing. If I'm sharing just a song or two, I don't feel bad about it. In fact, sharing music between friends often leads to me liking more artists and wanting to go out and buy those albums (so in a way, it's good for the music industry). I'm a sucker for them because I like the "official" CDs (and dvds) with the pretty cover art and the pretty track listing and the lyrics.

(A sidenote, TV is different from movies, for me - I don't mind dl'ing them from BT because I could just as easily tape them off TV and keep them forever and ever. Which is how I ended up with like 70 Star Trek tapes. I just forget to program the VCR. :-\)

I REALLY don't support illegal movie downloads. First of all, the quality usually sucks (except on BT, and even then it takes 1) so much time to download and 2) so much space on my HD). Wait a few months, or longer, and the dvd prices usually go down. Wait a couple years and they really go down. Too many people are into instant gratification and want DVDs NOW and they want CDs NOW (only for most people to watch the dvd a couple times or listen to a cd a few times and then put it on the shelf not to think of it again for months...), and while I do think celebrities make too much, and as overpriced as media entertainment may be, obtaining things without paying for them, that we should have paid for, isn't the answer either.

As someone who loves music and has been involved with it for my entire life, I know if I released a CD I would be upset if people began distributing it on the internet. When I was in high school, our band instructor talked to us about this and told us not to cheat other musicians. It kind of stuck with me.

And it's just not just the celebrities who work on songs or movies and who might make a profit from the sales. What about the audio board and sound booth technicians in recording studios? What about the "lowly" gaffers and lighting technicians, the cinematographers, the art designers? The people who make the costumes and props? What about the minimum wage production assistant people and the graphic designers and the people who get put at the very end of the credits that no one ever sticks around to watch?

Being someone who is interested in films and who hopes to get into film and tv, and knowing that in a film you're watching five years down the road that it may be *me* in one of those lowly spots stuck down at the bottom of the credits, makes me think twice about even downloading movies illegally. What is SO hard about going to Blockbuster or Hollywood video and paying a few bucks to rent the movie? Again -- instant gratification. People can't wait to get their hands on things, NOW, whether they can afford them or not, whether it's ethically right or not.

*steps off soapbox*

Oh, Bana, and I'm in no way saying you're wrong for uploading your files -- it was your personal collection that you'd paid for. And I'm not condemning anyone or judging anyone. It's just my take on it. :)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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