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Poll #672529 Intellectual property - the industry and the customers

Organizations such as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and International Federation of Phonogram and Videogram Producers (IFPI):

Exist to mediate between the recording industry and its customers, benefitting both
Primarily protect the rights of musicians, actors, and film and music studio crews
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

Legislation initiated by the RIAA, MPAA, and IFPI, such as the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) and European Union Copyright Directive (EUCD):

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

I live in:

The United States of America
A European Union country



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 13th, 2006 10:30 pm (UTC)
We slung IPS to the tune of 19 boxen into RIAA outposts. Jokes about OC-192 transferring DVD's more quickly than they could be thrown aside, they have more random jank traffic thrown at them than anything I've seen before or since. It mandated a new use case: "establish QoS and peer integrity in the face of constant, multifaceted DDoS, and ensure more nefarious issues aren't lost in scrollblinding haze." Beyond that, ohhhhhhh it made me feel dirty.

Prehistoric music industry
Three feet in la brea tar
Extinction never felt so good - nofx, "dinosaurs will die"
Feb. 14th, 2006 06:54 am (UTC)
OC-192 aka Gigabit Ethernet
Well, that's the first time I've heard the term OC-192 - I've always just known it as gigabit Ethernet.

Yes, I saw that - bqggz posted it here.

Feb. 14th, 2006 08:08 am (UTC)
Re: OC-192 aka Gigabit Ethernet
Ahh, GigE and OC-192 aren't quite at all the same. OC-192, at 9953.28 Mb/s, is comparable to the 10-GigE (plain ol' GigE is so 2003) beginning to see deployment in terms of channel capacity, but enjoys less per-frame overhead. OC-192 is SONET, and thus 192 * (OC-1 == 51.84 Mb/s), whereas 10-GigE is Metcalfe's DIX all grown up and thus 1000 * 10 Mb/s.

Regardless, 10-GigE is used in LAN party backplanes, SQL sweatshops and trucker discos. OC-192's what hooks you into the sweet sweet main "40G" veins of the future.
Feb. 14th, 2006 02:47 am (UTC)
..based on the current poll results, I tend to disagree with a lot of people :)
I'll have to come back and look again & write more later though, as I don't have much time now.

(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 14th, 2006 03:58 pm (UTC)
Obviously Canadians are full of phear and lack leetness. Soon Canada will become a degenerate nation controlled by the pop-music mafia; the bootlegers will pwn the prime minister!
Feb. 14th, 2006 04:59 pm (UTC)
I know
My point was that the DMCA and EUCD do not pertain in Canada (among many other nations).

To my knowledge, there is not even a direct analogue in place yet, is there?

Feb. 14th, 2006 04:00 pm (UTC)
Bill, I don't like your first question at all. Financially speaking, anti-piracy laws don't do much at *all.* So, while those organizations may exist because of the greed etc. etc. etc., they mostly just make a lot of annoying noise.
Feb. 14th, 2006 04:57 pm (UTC)
Anti-piracy laws: they wouldn't be doing it if it weren't worth while
You're not SUPPOSED to like it, fllo!
I didn't say it was effective - that's an independent issue. I asked "whom is it intended to serve?"

Actually, though, I think you are wrong about the impact. The "lots of noise and very little punch" is clearly intended to intimidate small-time users of illegal filesharing software, and so it doesn't have to be effective to have a significant impact on revenue, worth at least the salaries of the lawyers and lobbyists involved. Also, the lawyers go "down the list" in terms of a relatively simple formula:

VALUE = BENEFIT - COST = (scale of copyright violation * chance of getting the site taken down) + (collateral intimidation effect on P2P users * chance of effect) - effort required * cost of effort

So, chance of collateral effect might be minimal, but it's very widespread, and chance of getting the site taken down varies. It can be almost impossible, if they are out of jurisdiction as the BitTorrent trackers at ThePirateBay are. If they are, say, operating an illegal site as opposed to a listing or tracker, it can be almost certain. Merely "legally contestable" sites such as trackers or Fasttrack, aka Kazaa/Grokster supernodes are in a gray area and there it depends on where they are, and what other data they may have.

As you may have realized, it's all about the bottom line, i.e., how much net impact in revenue it's worth. Some things, such as suing little girls and old grandmothers, have no direct impact (even apparently negative "gross impact"), but like attack ads, they actually generate some advertising benefit.

Think about it: public awareness that you're a greedy multinational conglomerate who stops at nothing in your quest for moolah, not even steamrollering the poor, weak, or helpless, is really not a big stain on your reputation if that's what you really are. Whereas if Sally Soccermom, suburbanite, gets her son to take down his w4r3z site, you gain a few thousand to tens of thousands in direct savings per incidence. You might be laughing to yourself, "those teenagers don't pay for that music anyway, and if they couldn't get it via P2P, they'd get itby ripping their friends' CDs or even dubbing them". Sure, for the most part. But for every couple of "destitute" teenagers who copies music or movies illegally, there is a working adult who does it too, and now that they don't have to dial a WWIV BBS to get to them, they do.

So, is it worth it? Short answer: they wouldn't be doing it if it really weren't.

Feb. 14th, 2006 07:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Anti-piracy laws: they wouldn't be doing it if it weren't worth while
Bill, once again, I disagree. :)

I don't know anyone who has been scared out of pirating by some kind of activist group. We mock and hate them; we do not phear them. You said they wouldn't be doing it if it weren't worth it. The would. They are zealous crackpots with a slim grip on reality. It is *not* working, and they are clinging to the failing legal strands of the previous century. (You should see the letters we get in our boxes at the music store about how "making photocopies devalues the printed product." No, fools. This is simple supply and demand. Making photocopies is an *alternative supply* that is less costly, but also of less quality. The *act* of copying does not devalue a product; your product is literally less valuable because the world has changed. Publishers are upset because this is the first time in history they've not been a monopoly on information distribution. They're angst-filled hand-wringing is pathetic. Banning the competitor is always the first reaction of self-interested industries when faced with drastic change. Get a grip, morons. If people want the quality of the printed product, they will pay for it. If people want the reduced cost of photocopies, they will make them. If you want to attract the "reduced cost" people, you will have to offer products that are in some way less costly or more convenient than photocopies. For example, some places are now offering downloadable sheet music that you print off yourself, for a reduced cost. I'd much rather do that than make photocopies. It is a question of economy, not one of emotional morality, the way the media and the big companies want to pitch it. "Piracy is stealing! Stealing is wrong! You are bad! Evil! I'm losing money." GAH!)

What you're saying might apply to the old days when client / server was the only way to go - I.e., the big corporations could fight piracy buy shutting down distribution centers.

With P2P sharing software, there is no longer such a distinct line between "distributors" and "users." You don't go to warez-sites any more. You go on IRC or use a BitTorrent tracker. That's why all the recent emphasis on "yes, this means YOU, mr. Private Use Pirate" in news and license agreenments and so on.

The culprit here is an industry that sees piracy and goes "AIEEE!!!1!eleventyone! They got our stuff without PAYING! BURN THEM!" (Note: Publishing companies do this to libraries, too, for the exact same reasons.)

The people who actually count - i.e., the people writing the games and performing the music (of which I am one, recall), we DO NOT CARE. By and large we engage in piracy ourselves. We like it. We think that it is reasonable normal behavior that should be expected and not sanctioned. I personally have pirated my own CDs. If I buy a CD or a movie or download something from iTunes, I should have a legal right to do whatever I want with it. Copy it, put it on CDs, give it to friends, put it on the internet, whatever.

The industry is basking in its own self interest, waving fingers and screaming "you can't do that!" They will never win, because they are on the wrong side. We *can* do it, and we should *be able* to do it. If they want to make money, that is their problem. It is not our responsibility to support them. It is their job to make give us incentive to buy from them, rather than from choosing the free alternative (which should be legal, but is not).

The answer is *progression,* not *prevention.* iTunes can beat the market. Anti-piracy laws are insulting.

P.S., Note that I am talking mostly about fair use by end-users here. I do *not* think that pirated material should be resold. I.e., the bootleg / counterfeiting industry is a different issue from the issue of whether or not I can give something away for free that I have purchased or been given.
Feb. 14th, 2006 11:28 pm (UTC)
"Is it right?" vs. "Does it work?" (and for whom?) - part 1 of 2
See, I think we're saying the same things.

Laws against illegal copying underscore the obsolescence of the old system of intellectual property ownership, whereby:

  • 1. The distribution rights are licensed, that is, purchased or leased, by publishers who act as information brokers.

  • 2. These brokers sell and market the content, the ancillary merchandise, even the image and names of the content producers. Ownership of the content becomes transferrable as copyrights; ownership of certain representative images, names, even slogans, as trademarks.

  • 3. The content is exorbitantly priced, ostensibly to account for illegal copying, which is itself a specious argument, because most end users of the content (those who listen to music) would be willing to pay the drastically lowered prices for direct end-to-end marketed music.

  • 4. Those in opposition to the end-to-end sales are primarily those brokers and agents of the brokers who stand to lose their share of profits from the and music publishing industry and film industry: producers, people involved in "pure" sales and marketing, advertising, legal services, etc.

  • 5. This mechanism incentivizes those who are least responsible for the production of the content itself, i.e., those who are not musicians and actors, studio and film crew, lyricists and songwriters and scriptwriters. Thus its decline and potential dissolution threatens them the most, because their loss of income is more drastic than than of people who can still go and produce content.

I think that we can agree on the above points, yes?

Now the question becomes not whether producers and publishers should own the content but who actually does.

Here's where I am put in the ironic and anomalous position of "legal ethics apologist". This is ironic, because I have shared files (very, very extensively in my day, when I was in my early teens, younger than you were when we first met) and I still do link to individual copies of songs so my friends can listen to them.

An example of this is my linking to my "theme song" a few weeks ago. Now, I can rationalize this just as kaladhwen has, by saying that it actually promotes sales of Alabama's Ultimate Hits collection. In fact, I have tried to promote them by often citing their songs as my "current music", and I have not shared out their whole album (nor other songs besides the one, in fact). But I have no way of know if anyone actually bought their album as a result, and if n people downloaded the song and didn't delete it after listening to it, that's royalties on $0.99 * n in MP3.com or iTunes or Neo-Undead Napster sales that doesn't go to Alabama and its publishers. (We'll assume that, even though I don't have a rebroadcast license, that the loss of "internet radio" royalty revenue is negligible.) So, if Alabama and its publishers thought it was worth while to sue me and others for this act of copyright infringement, they could. Would it be unsporting of them, considering that I actually bought their album, recommend it to others, and do not advocate going to P2P to get it? Sure. But they could do it. In fact, they could call me a thief and a liar besides. Brainding me a thief would be unfair and unreasonable for them to do, too, but technically, they could. Calling me a liar would be wrong, but I'd have no way to stop them.

Feb. 14th, 2006 11:30 pm (UTC)
"Is it right?" vs. "Does it work?" (and for whom?) - part 2 of 2
My point is that we should not be arguing about what is legal, but rather agreeing on what should be legal. Case in point: I think most everyone who responded to this poll would agree that the music publishing industry is obsolete. Not only does it overpromote and overhype weak content from famous producers (and here I mean actors and writers and musicians, not necessarily music and film producers), but it also embodies an abuse of capitalism: in the most cynical interpretation, it leeches profits from the middlemen and deprives the "real talent" of their rightful earnings. And here's the rub: you and I might both be willing to pay the pennies-on-the-dollar for a good recording directly to the artists. I personally flirted with paying Yahoo $5 a month for Yahoo! Music streaming audio/video access, until I noticed that due to different licensing arrangements, certain songs keep going away or coming back (and of course, YM doesn't let you actually download your own permanent copy). But whether we believe that the studio, the "name" (BMG, Sony Columbia, Warner Brothers, Dreamworks SKG, Disney, New Line) behind it, or even the crew that it supports is worth the additional revenue - we don't get a say in the matter.

And that's what I'm saying: maybe we should. Rather than actually paying nothing to them and arguing that the alternative supply is justifiable (an ethically untenable position, IMHO) or "here to stay" (irrefutably true), why don't we talk about how to steer the industry towards that alternative supply? There is a diffeence between saying to a publisher: "here is illegal copying; it's not going to go away, but the underlying mechanism shows you another way to reach your audience and still make money, only in a way that is more palatable and fair to both sides of your clientele, content producers and content consumers" and saying "I just cut you out because you are the middleman; hah, sucks to be you".

In short:

  • Yes, filesharing is here to stay.

  • Yes, it is better for the recording and film industries to change than to collapse.

  • Yes, unlicensed reproduction of software, audiovisual media (music, film, and even TV) is illegal.

  • No, not all who copy illegally are thieves.

  • No, the law does not equate to ethics.

  • Yes, equating the law to ethics points to a certain retardation of spirit.

  • No, that does not justify the equally untenable anarchic view of depriving the actual content producer of deserved revenue.

So, it comes down to the basic questions:

  • 1. Is the value of a work what society is willing to pay for it?

  • 2. How do we determine what society is willing to pay for something?

  • 3. Should we nationalize or privatize that work?

  • 4. Should we eliminate all government funding?

  • 5. Should companies be kept from gaining unlimited bargaining powers and exercising with maximum efficiency?

  • 6. If so, how can and should competitors and customers be protected from monopolistic practices?

More concretely: Should we eliminate federal subsidies for creative work (or useful software that isn't sold directly to consumers, for that matter)? Does making software and content "open" mean that it receives fair value? The pure Marxist postulate that has been reformulated by Richard M. Stallman is that it would; I don't entirely agree. It might be closer to fair market value, but hell yes, certain deserving artists would starve or go unnoticed - otherwise, whence American Idol? ;-)

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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