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Piracy More Serious Than Bank Robbery? 501

Posted by kdawson
from the copyright-trumps-all dept.
An anonymous reader writes sends us to Ars Technica for a dissertation on how detached and manipulative the discussion about copyright is becoming. "NBC/Universal general counsel Rick Cotton suggests that society wastes entirely too much money policing crimes like burglary, fraud, and bank-robbing, when it should be doing something about piracy instead. 'Our law enforcement resources are seriously misaligned,' Cotton said. 'If you add up all the various kinds of property crimes in this country, everything from theft, to fraud, to burglary, bank-robbing, all of it, it costs the country $16 billion a year. But intellectual property crime runs to hundreds of billions [of dollars] a year.'" Ars points out how completely specious that "hundreds of billions" is.
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Piracy More Serious Than Bank Robbery?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:14AM (#19539973)
    You wouldn't steal a car would you?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:22AM (#19540023)
      I would if I could download one!
      • by pingoart (1014343) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @11:49AM (#19541313)
        Maybe in Second life...
      • by klutchmaster427 (1103291) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @12:39PM (#19541659)
        lol me too! maybe we'll be there soon :P Anyway, that '100's of billions of dollars' comment annoys me because intellectual property theft is more like 'i could've made an extra 10k on the top of the 2 million i already made!' Where as bank robbery and break-ins are actual physical property being taken/damaged. Something someone's already paid for. I can understand why musicians and software developers etc. get so upset over piracy, but anyone who thinks that law enforcement should spend more time and money fighting piracy rather than bank robberies and other crimes where people get hurt and even die needs to wake up and take another look at reality.
        • by Original Replica (908688) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @02:13PM (#19542425) Journal
          Anyway, that '100's of billions of dollars' comment annoys me because ...
          "The total annual gross revenues of the music industry today are estimated at $11 billion."http://www.eff.org/share/collective_lic_w p.php [eff.org]

          So the music industry is just bullshitting to be talking about loses that are an order of magnitude higher than the total industry gross. While if you want to talk about Hundreds of Billions being stolen we should talk about things like insurance fraud, corporate embezzelment, and public corruption.

          "White-collar crimes cost the United States more than $300 billion annually according to the FBI."http://www.karisable.com/crwc.htm [karisable.com]
        • by meatspray (59961) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @02:24PM (#19542517) Homepage
          Mr. Cotton's BIO

          http://nbcuni.com/About_NBC_Universal/Executive_Bi os/cotton_rick.shtml [nbcuni.com]

          Exceedingly wealthy people in these kinds of positions are often detached from reality. The guy probably hasn't pumped his own gas in 10 years (if ever, no that's not a shot against you New Jersey-ians).

          He probably sees bank robbery as a victimless crime, that's what insurance is for right? No people in the bank get traumatized, no one had to pay for that missing money, besides everyone out there has more money than they know what to do with, right? Why can't he afford that 12th Porches? Poor guy.

          In all actuality, he's simply missing perspective. We all are. I can't tell you how hard it is to live in the projects, I don't live there. It's easy to look down on people who you aren't familiar with. Perhaps, it's easy for me to look down on a millionaire jackass making these comments because I just don't understand him.

          If he got mugged and beat half senseless he'd probably have a different view of things.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:24AM (#19540037)
      I wouldn't steal software, music or videos either. I make my own copies.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Antony-Kyre (807195)
        If you had the technology, would you clone/build a popular car without paying for the intellectual rights to do so?
        • by Oktober Sunset (838224) <sdpage103@yahoo. ... k minus language> on Sunday June 17, 2007 @12:15PM (#19541475)
          It's always mentioned as a hypothetical situation, however, there is the situation of the Lotus 7 (now the Caterham Super 7, after caterham bought the rights) and it's many clones. The Lotus 7 was available as a kit car and many people copied the designs and made replicas out of cheaper parts, for example, the infamous Locost as detailed in the book "Build your own sports car for as little as £250" by Ron Champion (ISBN 1-85960-636-9), which details how to make a replica of a lotus 7 out of the parts of a mk 1 or 2 ford escort.

          Of course, you have to still buy the parts, and you have to put it together, but if you copy a film, you have to buy a CD-R to put it on, and you have to download and burn it. Although you can't really make a Locost for £250, it will still cost you a fraction of the price it cost's to buy a Super 7 from Caterham or one of it's licensees. Obviously the resulting Locost will not be as fine as a real Super 7, but neither is a Divx CD-R scribbled on with a marker pen as fine as a nice shiny DVD in a fancy box.

          Fact is, if I go and built a Locost, I have certainly ripped of the designs including the copyrightable bodywork designs of the Lotus designers, which are rightfully owned by Caterham, and have supposedly denied caterham income in the same way that I would have suposedly denied income to film studios if I pirate a movie.

          So, maybe we should change it from, 'would you steal a car?' to 'Would you build a Locost?'

          • What? Why is this modded up? Building a kit car based on another isn't like copying a CD-R... the correct analogy would me making your own knockoff movie.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Bacon Bits (926911)
            There's a problem with you logic. Namely, instructions and recipes are, under the Berne convention, not subject to copyright.

            This is one of the reasons Wizards of the Coast developed the Open Gaming License. What the system reference documents actually do is precisely identify uncopyrightable material. The license is simply a covenant not to try and sue, a case which they would have a huge difficulty in winning.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              That's why I mentioned the bodywork designs which are the main element being copied, as the engineering in the clone and the genuine Super 7 are different, and it is the unique appearance of the Super 7 which is what people wish to copy. Car bodywork and design features such as grilles and headlights are copyrightable and can be infringed upon. For example Rolls Royce enforces copyright on it's famous grille design and would sue copiers, the only source of Rolls Royce grilles for custom vehicles is from s
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by MrNemesis (587188)
            Heh. I'd love to see a "You wouldn't build your own house, would you?" anti-piracy campaign. Damned self-builders, stealing potential revenue from Proper Approved Offical Builders.

            As another poster pointed out, what's missing here is perspective or, as someone more tactless like myself might say, some semblance of reality. People who equte "potential" revenue to "real revenue" are worrying. People who think "copying" is the same as "stealing" must suffer from some kind of sociological disorder. I think any
    • by eebra82 (907996) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:39AM (#19540139) Homepage
      Lots of people steal Cars. Just ask Pixar.
    • by nurb432 (527695) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:41AM (#19540145) Homepage Journal
      No, but i might take a digital ( or film, im the ludite around here ) picture of your car for *personal* use. You still have your unaltered car afterwards and are free to do whatever you had originally intended to do with it. Its value has not been effected.

      Copying a bunch of bits that i wasnt going to purchase is no different. The owner has not had his product reduced in value and he still has possession of it to sell to a buying customer ( which im not, nor was i ever going to be ).

      People that twist the facts around and inflate the numbers in order to invade/reduce my privacy disgust me. ( though for the record, i dont agree with 'for-profit' or 'purchase avoidance' piracy.. )
      • by cliffski (65094) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @09:02AM (#19540243) Homepage
        I believe this to be wrong on two points.
        Firstly define 'wasn't going to purchase' for me. If I know absolutely 100% that I can not get a piece of software / movie / game for free, I am pretty sure I am much more likely to admit to myself and others that I want it, and will purchase it, than if I have a big demon sat on my shoulder whispering "don't be a mug, you can warez it!".

        Most films have trailers, software has demo's (as do games), if you see the demo and wish to enjoy the product for longer, then its pretty hard to argue that you will be getting entertainment or use from it no?
        People can NEVER be honest about saying "I wouldn't have bought it" once they have the full thing for free. Our brains are great at backwards-justification. We can easily find all sorts of ways to make what we have done seem justified, we may well even delude ourselves. But that doesn't mean it's true. It's like telling yourself you would have resigned anyway if you get fired, or that she was a pain in the neck anyway when someone dumps you. Anything to make you feel like the good guy.

        I spoke to a guy who does DRM for an online game publisher. Once, they rewrote their algorithm which instantly rendered all existing cracks for the games useless. Sales jumped by 40% that month. Why? surely none of those who cracked the stuff would have bought it anyway?

        Secondly, your comparison is not accurate. A car is made for a single user, and priced accordingly. A movie, game or application is made with some estimation of sales, based upon the market size and product quality. Nobody makes Photoshop or Lightwave and expects to sell one copy. If you are in the target market, and get use from the product, yet you take it for free, then of course you are affecting the producer of the product. The fact that nothing physical was moved from a to b makes no difference.

        People will make all kinds of rationalisation to justify taking other peoples work for free. The problem is, their philosophy never scales up to the whole of society. Why the fuck should I pay to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean film, it was made anyway, and I probably wouldn't have paid for it right? so what's the harm?
        Until everyone thinks that way, in which case the whole business model collapses. That's the problem with people who leech, it works out fine for them (in the short run) but they fuck things up for everyone else.
        • by Sunburnt (890890) * on Sunday June 17, 2007 @09:13AM (#19540309)

          Why the fuck should I pay to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean film

          An excellent question in itself.

          Until everyone thinks that way, in which case the whole business model collapses.

          Gee, I thought the whole point of a free market was to let businesses succeed/fail based on their ability to deliver a product that people are willing to pay for. There are obviously enough people still paying to see shitty movies that the industry that produces them is being sustained. When there aren't, then I guess it shows that not enough people gave enough of a fuck about that industry's products.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by rucs_hack (784150)
            Gee, I thought the whole point of a free market was to let businesses succeed/fail based on their ability to deliver a product that people are willing to pay for. There are obviously enough people still paying to see shitty movies that the industry that produces them is being sustained. When there aren't, then I guess it shows that not enough people gave enough of a fuck about that industry's products.

            And your point is? Given that the guy you were replying too was talking about piracy, how does your point r
            • by Znork (31774) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @10:47AM (#19540845)
              "If there was no way for piracy to take place, people would buy more movies."

              And if you were only allowed to buy telephones from AT&T, more people would pay more for AT&T phones. If you were only allowed to breathe metered air from Standard Air Corp, people would be spending a whole lot more for air.

              The question is wether paying more for AT&T phones and metered air benefits the economy and market at a whole. Or if a free market could produce better phones cheaper without the monopoly. And if air could maybe be provided to everyone without a high overhead if you dont have hundreds of thousands of people employed to account for everyones breathing...

              Yes, denying AT&T a monopoly on phones, and not creating an air monopoly means those companies (or potential companies) will be employing fewer people and they'd 'lose' a lucruative source of income. Allowing them the monopoly, however, means that the ones paying for it will be unable to pay for some other service, costing jobs in _other_ sectors instead. Implementing tranfer systems as monopoly rights is no different from other forms of taxation; it shifts money from one sector to another. The question is wether it's the most efficient way to accompish the purpose and produce the desired good. And frankly, anyone who's read a public filing for any company involved in the IP industries would say no.

              The failure of monopolies to produce competetive products cannot be used as a justification for maintaining or strengthening monopoly enforcement.
              • by rucs_hack (784150) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @11:08AM (#19541015)
                you are mostly correct, but you seem to miss my point. You don't for instance, justify the stealing of phones or phone lines as a means to beat AT&T,
                Instead you advocate the ability of others to offer competing services. This is absolutelly valid, and is what I was getting at.

                That I have no problem with, its justifying piracy as a means to protest a monopoly which causes me problems.

                After all holywood was formed by stealing patented technology and moving to california to escape opressive laws..

                Oh wait, shit, um...
              • by Sancho (17056) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @12:37PM (#19541645) Homepage
                It just doesn't work. It never, ever, ever works to try to create an analogy by comparing real, tangible products with products which you can make perfect digital copies of. Ever.

                You've failed spectacularly, however.

                And if you were only allowed to buy telephones from AT&T, more people would pay more for AT&T phones. If you were only allowed to breathe metered air from Standard Air Corp, people would be spending a whole lot more for air.
                This is true. However what you're talking about now is competition for similar (but different) products. Your post suggests that the creation and distribution of movies is somehow a monopoly. It's not--in fact, I've known people who wrote, filmed, and gave away movies. No one came knocking on their door claiming that they were doing something illegal.

                Copyright law exists to create an incentive for people to make a living by creating art. Everyone human in America is allowed to do this. What they aren't allowed to do is take art created by someone else and distribute copies of it. This is because copyright exists so that, should I choose to do so, I can work hard to create my own art, and then sell copies of it. The US doesn't give me a guaranteet hat I'll make money--but they give me a guarantee that no one is allowed to make money from my art.

                The failure of monopolies to produce competetive products cannot be used as a justification for maintaining or strengthening monopoly enforcement.
                And this really says it all. You can create a competing product right now. Go! Do it! Just don't use someone else's product in your own.

                With so-called 'intellectual property', the product is separate from the medium on which it is delivered.
                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  Copyright law exists to create an incentive for people to make a living by creating art.

                  No it doesn't. It exists to encourage more art creation by allowing a limited monopoly on distribution. The current terms of the monopoly are arguably too long, as much shorter terms would be as effective, and extending the rights retroactively makes no sense except as a cash grab.

                  Go! Do it! Just don't use someone else's product in your own.

                  Herein lies the problem. Art is highly derivative, and companies like dis

                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    by Sancho (17056)

                    The current terms of the monopoly are arguably too long, as much shorter terms would be as effective, and extending the rights retroactively makes no sense except as a cash grab.

                    I pretty much agree with this. I think the original terms are just fine. I think that copyrightable works have been linked a little too much with physical property (which is inheritable.) I'd be pretty ok with copyright extending to 10 years past the death of the author, mostly to reduce the chances that someone will kill to get something put into the public domain. Alternatively, a flat period of time, regardless of the author's death, would be acceptable to me, too.

                    Herein lies the problem. Art is highly derivative, and companies like disney source a lot of their material from the public domain. Not allowing their works to ever fall into the public domain is at best hypocritical.

                    A major corporation is hypocritica

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by cliffski (65094)
                what is this monopoly obsession about? There is no monopoly in the world of movies, music, software or games. Any dork can write software or games in his bedroom, I know, I did it, and yet people pirate my stuff, whilst whining about teh evil monopolies. How much sense does that make?
                How is a discussion of monopolies even vaguely relevant to a debate on piracy? Show me the monopoly.
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Hatta (162192)
                  For any given work only one entity, the copyright holder, is allowed to distribute it. How is that not a monopoly?
            • by Sunburnt (890890) * on Sunday June 17, 2007 @11:25AM (#19541169)

              And your point is? Given that the guy you were replying too was talking about piracy, how does your point relate?

              OK, I'll try to go a little slower this time around.

              If people don't want to see a thing because its shit, it stands to reason it is also less likely to be pirated, because of being shit.

              No, because you left the verb "to pay" out of that sentence's first clause, and demand for entertainment products is highly elastic. People have the ability to be entertained by shitty products (I certainly do), but it doesn't mean they view them as worthy of money, or that their absence would leave a gap in a person's entertainment that they'd be willing to pay to fill with those products.

              'failure to deliver a product that people are willing to pay for' is nonsense as a justification for piracy. If there was no way for piracy to take place, people would buy more movies.

              This is the same flawed logic put forth by the "Nader cost Gore the 2000 election" types. It is predicated on the mistaken assumption that, in the absence of some options, most people will select other options that they find undesirable just for the sake of selecting something. While this is true for products with a rather inelastic demand - food, for example - it is certainly not true for entertainment. This logical error also stems from equivocating demand for the product with demand for the content. Demand for luxury goods is not just a function of content, but of price, and the fact that someone pursues a free product does not logically imply that they would pursue the same product with a higher price. The market for free downloaded movies is not the same set of people who comprise the market for movie tickets and DVD's - there is crossover when looking at movies as a whole, but movies aren't purchased as a whole, but individually. For any one movie, these are different groups of consumers.

              The fact that movie studios are making record profits from blockbuster movies indicates that they still have a large market of consumers willing to pay for their product - not just the audiovisual content of the product, but the associated theater experience or nice packaging. People aren't buying less DVD's, they're just seeing more movies that would have normally slipped under their radar when price is a consideration. In my experience, downloading movies enables consumers to make informed choices before laying down cash for a legitimate DVD. It doesn't lead to them buying less DVD's; it just greatly increases the likelihood that they will be pleased with their purchases.

              Piracy cannot be used as justification for piracy, that's just silly.
              As silly as conflating piracy (selling a substitute for a product, or stealing that product for resale) with the creation of an uncapitalized market for a product that did not previously exist, based on the confusion of "product" and "content?" Not really.
        • by nurb432 (527695)
          Profit = monetary, dont toss in 'entertainoment' just to justify you position. Im talking *real* profit here. either you sell the 'goods' or you make a business off the use of the goods. Either of those is wrong. "entertainment" "Education" etc, dont count.

          Non customer = no, i can honestly and accurate say that that i would not buy the product. If it wasnt available via free, then i wouldnt have it. If i was going to buy it, i do, regardless of being available free. "free" doesnt play into my purchase pl
        • by Admiral Ag (829695) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @09:43AM (#19540475)
          "People will make all kinds of rationalisation to justify taking other peoples work for free."

          That's true, but they may in some cases be correct. In this case, technology is in the process of rendering barriers to the free flow of information obsolete. DRM and all other forms of copy protection are just feeble attempts to stop it. The power is now in the hands of the users. You can complain all you like about it, but that is a fact. All the lawmaking in the world won't be able to stop people either, and nor will technology.

          Rationalisations either way are futile in cases like this. People can come up with rationalisations as to why masturbation should be prevented, but it's idle talk, since people will continue to do it because there is no efficient way of stopping them.

          In any case, there is no a priori reason why content should not be provided free to end users, as long as some method of promoting its creation is in place. Lots of things in our society are provided by means of non market mechanisms. Scholarly research is the obvious one. Health care (in most modern societies) is another. There's no reason why entertainers who supply music cannot be paid from general taxation based on the measured popularity of their products. The technology exists to make such a scheme workable. Additionally, there are obvious benefits in having such content available for free to the end user.

          Apart from the Libertarians, who seem to object to taxation even when it demonstrably makes life easier, there's not much to complain about in such a proposal. Sometimes new technology makes new markets possible, sometimes it renders old ones impossible. That's just life in the modern world.

          "The problem is, their philosophy never scales up to the whole of society. Why the fuck should I pay to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean film, it was made anyway, and I probably wouldn't have paid for it right? so what's the harm?"

          If you already paid for it through general taxation, why would you care? Why not agitate for a workable solution, instead of acting like King Canute? There's very little you can do about piracy by appealing to the pirates or by trying to use the law against them. Might as well take a stand on firm ground instead.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ghyd (981064)
          "I spoke to a guy who does DRM for an online game publisher. Once, they rewrote their algorithm which instantly rendered all existing cracks for the games useless. Sales jumped by 40% that month. Why? surely none of those who cracked the stuff would have bought it anyway?"

          I downloaded for free an album that I didn't had. Gave it to a friend. One week later, said friend told me a coworker of hers bought the album after hearing it in her car.

          I downloaded a game for free, a mainstream game from an editor which
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MMMDI (815272)
          I spoke to a guy who does DRM for an online game publisher. Once, they rewrote their algorithm which instantly rendered all existing cracks for the games useless. Sales jumped by 40% that month. Why? surely none of those who cracked the stuff would have bought it anyway?

          I get where you're coming from on that, but cracks also sell more than a couple of items as well. There are far too many programs out there that are crippled until you purchase them, and of course, you can't really find out if they do wh
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by nattt (568106)
          Because media of all kinds is often given away free. You turn on the radio - free music, all day long. You don't pay a penny for this, but all this copyrighted music flows into your brain for free. Yes, someone, somewhere is paying a smidgen for this so you can listen to it, but you don't. So you turn on free over the air TV and see, what, a movie. You watch it for free.

          Basically, people are used to consuming media for free.

          People only have so much income, and these numbers for "piracy" add up to such an am
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by pitdingo (649676)
          You fail to consider what i see as the main driver of piracy....price. Why does a Beatles CD cost $17? The Beatles recorded back in the 60's. The Beatles toured in the 60's. Why is the price so high? So the record labels can promote the next no talent boy band? So the no talent, leech, executives can stay in coke and hookers?

          AllofMp3.com had/has the best online music site bar none. You could get just about any format you want, any bit rate you want, etc... And it was priced to encourge you to buy mor
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by sabernet (751826)
          How about this:

          I like some movies. I have plenty of DVDs(hovering around the 40 mark). But, to be honest, I also have plenty of xvid files as well.

          I saw each and every one of the Pirates movies in theatres. Why? Because I like giant screens, immersive surround sound and enjoying a night out with friends. Enough, at least, to pay 10$ for. Many people obviously felt the same way by looking at the line up.

          The point I'm making is that the experience has to be worth paying for. The medium is neither import
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Alchemar (720449)
          Your argument doesn't hold water. The parent says that HE would not have bought it. You have founded your entire argument on the jump from one person to all people that violate copyright are makeing the same argument. And have tried to discredit the original argument by proving that one perosn bought material after illegal copies no longer worked. Some people just don't have a problem with stealing anything that is not bolted down. I don't think that these people would even entertain a thought about we
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Colin Smith (2679)

        People that twist the facts around and inflate the numbers in order to invade/reduce my privacy disgust me.

        Oh, it's worse than that. They are twisting the facts and inflating the numbers in order to manipulate the government to create laws which will be enforced by criminal courts, by the police and the implicit threat of force which all that carries.

        They've re-phrased piracy from a civil, rights infringement problem which would require them to prosecute themselves and bear the costs, to a criminal issue with costs carried by the taxpayer. It's one of the dangers of government, when it has infinite cash to spen

        • by nurb432 (527695)
          "manipulate the government to create laws"

          That is what i was getting at with the 'reduce' part of my rights.
    • by Rakshasa Taisab (244699) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:43AM (#19540149) Homepage
      I'm too hardcore for mere GTA and homicide. If it doesn't involve the latest Top 10 hit song, then I'm not going to bother touching it.
    • by cshark (673578)
      I would love to see the color of the sky on his planet. I know it wasn't specifically mentioned, but if piracy is in the hundreds of billions, then it's not law enforcement that's being mismanaged, it's his accounting department. Does he want to spend less time on fraud so he can keep spewing out numbers like this, I wonder?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jessta (666101)
      indeed not.
      But the US Supreme Court has ruled that ilegally copying digital media isn't stealing.
  • Imaginary crime (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:16AM (#19539981)
    Intangible products lead to imaginary crime and virtual losses. Why would anyone expect to get real police men for that?
    • Re:Imaginary crime (Score:5, Interesting)

      by FraterNLST (922749) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:58AM (#19540229) Homepage
      Insightful? That mod wasn't posted by a software engineer i'm sure.

      As a proud member of the development corp, I do really feel insulted to hear the sum of my creative energies, and the sweat and blood of my work referred to as an imaginary product. That said, I understand what you're trying to say. The real problem the MPAA and RIAA have is trying to apply traditional economic theory (based on scarce-resource distribution and pricing) to an unlimited resource (something that once created, can be replicated ad-infinitum.

      Why they want to do this is obvious, it's a licence to print money. Unfortunately for them, under these traditional economic theories it is the scarcity of a resource that makes it valuable (gold, platinum, wood) and an unlimited resource has very little, or no, monetary value.

      Thus DRM, which is fundamentally an attempt to impose scarcity on an unlimited resource, thus creating artificial value. It doesn't work, because the methods are inefficient and if content has intrinsic worth itself, DRM reduces it by making it difficult to use.

      I'm not sure how we're going to get around this particular problem and it is concerning for all of us involved in creating the content. There needs to be money in creation in order for us to get paid to do it, but the traditional methods of commercial software/music/films may not be the most efficient.

      Perhaps we need to explore commoditization of software, or perhaps a return to the patron model enjoyed by artists of the last several centuries. Hard to say.
      • Re:Imaginary crime (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Alzheimers (467217) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @10:07AM (#19540619)
        Perhaps we need to explore commoditization of software, or perhaps a return to the patron model enjoyed by artists of the last several centuries. Hard to say.

        As a consumer of some custom made applications, I'd have to say this is the direction the market is going. Rather than paying a low price for off the shelf software that doesn't do what we want, we pay developers tens (or hundreds) of times what a boxed software would cost in order to make exactly what we need. In exchange for the exorbitant cost, we get direct input on features and design, and the developers know exactly who is using their software and what it's doing.

        Am I saying this is the best for all circumstances? No, for commodities like web browsers and image viewers, this sort of mass-appeal software should be inexpensive or free -- I think Apple has done a great job developing a full suite of *quality* inexpensive (and free) generic tools for their platforms. But for more powerful apps that require years of development and research, the patron model is still the most ideal situtation for both the users and the developers.
      • by belg4mit (152620)
        but you sure as fuck can't read: 'intangible' ne 'imaginary'
  • by gorehog (534288) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:18AM (#19539995)

    If you add up all the various kinds of property crimes in this country, everything from theft, to fraud, to burglary, bank-robbing, all of it, it costs the country $16 billion a year. But intellectual property crime runs to hundreds of billions [of dollars] a year.
    The basic misconception by the executive in question is that we judge the severity of crime by it's monetary value. Is he seriously suggesting that we should not try to solve rape cases just because there's no profit in it? Oh...and FP?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Eudial (590661)

      The basic misconception by the executive in question is that we judge the severity of crime by it's monetary value. Is he seriously suggesting that we should not try to solve rape cases just because there's no profit in it? Oh...and FP?


      But think about the loss in revenue for the hookers, if men just go rape random women when they want to get laid! That's lots and lots of money!
  • WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:18AM (#19539997) Journal
    What the hell is this guy on?

    I pirate an album and Britney Spears loses 2 dollars. A girl gets violently raped and her entire life is damaged and she may never recover. Which of these two things are more important?
    • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Odiumjunkie (926074) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:24AM (#19540033) Journal
      > I pirate an album and Britney Spears loses 2 dollars. A girl gets violently raped and her entire life is damaged and she may never
      > recover. Which of these two things are more important?

      If I pirate a Britney Spears album, my entire life is damaged and I may never recover.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:21AM (#19540013)
    Don't try to convince a big American corporate guy that his quarterly bonus is less important than the life of the average American. They are completely out for themselves. This is a perfect example of why we can't trust corporations to do the right thing in this country. They are led by greedy, self-serving a-holes like this guy.
    • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:29AM (#19540083) Homepage
      I have to agree with this AC. I have found myself appalled when people actively voice notions like business interests should be afforded more protection than individual or civil interests. These people TRULY think this way. It's not just another attempt at manipulation of the system or any such thing. These people have the mental malfunction in their brains and they truly believe it's correct.

      This should lend a little light over what lobbyists and various government officials and legislators might be thinking and where the root of the problem may actually lie.
      • The man would have some point if he argued that laws widely ignored are a bigger problem than laws mostly followed - remember those theories about turn-stile jumping, broken-windows, etc. But the problem here is not that the government isn't doing enough to prop up a busted business model, but that the law does not enjoy much support. And the monetary argument is backwards, like you say. If the government were to consider at all the economic impact in choosing which laws to enforce, you could argue they sho
    • by Odiumjunkie (926074) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:29AM (#19540089) Journal
      > This is a perfect example of why we can't trust corporations to do the right thing in this country.

      The reason that corporations cannot be trusted to "do the right thing" is because they have been legally constructed in such a way as to prevent any shareholder or employee of that corporation let moral judgements interfere with the profit motive.

      If the CEO of a large company decides not to campaign for more police time to be spent on protecting intellectual property because he believes to do so would be "immoral", not only can he be fired, shareholders in the corporation can in fact bring legal action against him for not acting in the best interests of the corporation.

      Basically, it's not just that amoral soulless assholes are attracted to executive positions in large corporations, it's also that you cannot serve in an executive position at a large corporation without being an amoral soulless asshole.
      • by Endo13 (1000782) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @10:50AM (#19540863)
        I've tried looking at it from that perspective. I've even brought that up in a discussion or two. But then I take a look at the size of the salaries every last one of those jackasses pays himself, and I realize it's all just a bunch of BS. So they have to do everything they possibly can to make their company profitable? So then why don't I see them keeping their own wages at something fair and decent, like 100K to 200K a year. Most of these guys make in the millions of dollars every year - that means they're depriving their company of millions of dollars of profit every year. Surely that's not in the best interests of the corporation.
      • by xigxag (167441) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @12:24PM (#19541541)
        This is an example of a "slashmeme" that constantly gets repeated but simply isn't true. There is no law that says businesses must amorally maximize immediate profits at the expense of all other considerations -- it's simply one of Milton Friedman's positions elevated to the level of libertarian gospel [colorado.edu]. Managers have extremely broad leeway under the "business judgment rule [wikipedia.org]" to do what they consider to be best for the shareholders, and their decision may cut into profits. That's why they can vote themselves hundred million dollar salaries and not get locked away. That's why "poison pill" type provisions are legal, even though they put corporate independence over immediate shareholder profits. Can shareholders sue corporate heads for not being sufficiently amoral? Sure, anybody can be sued by anybody for any reason at any time in the United States of America, but that doesn't mean the suit will typically prevail.

        Bottom line is there's nothing illegal about CEOs having ethical standards, and to claim that they have no choice in the matter is letting them off the hook far too easily.
  • by eightball01 (646950) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:24AM (#19540035)
    I don't doubt his claim of hundreds of billions. In fact, there's probably a hundred billion per month. That being said, I don't remember taking any mp3s or the odd copy of photoshop at gunpoint. Just because the owner of respective rights may be out of money doesn't mean they would get that money if the medium wasn't free. These people don't seem to remember that odd quirk about piracy. You get what you want to take at your leisure. You're not pressured by your bottom line. You're not pressured to think if it is a good purchase. You get it because you want it, and only because you want it. I've got many mp3s that I wouldn't be caught dead buying the album (or even the iTunes track) for purely because I don't think it is even worth the .99 per track. I didn't get that copy of photoshop because I thought it was an industry standard image manipulation software. I got it because it cost me an hour in download time. The exact same could be said if the company receives $100 or $500 in profit on that piece of software. There are different rules to piracy than those which piracy is measured.
  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:24AM (#19540041)
    There are many, many problems here. First of all, this guy seems to think that monetary damage is the only form of damage possible, but there are plenty of worthless trinkets that have meaning to people. Second of all, I have always thought that the idea that file sharing is costing record companies money is a bit dubious, since during the height of Kazaa, they were posting record breaking profits. The problem is that economists like to think that anything that WOULD have been a sale but wasn't is actually a loss -- but that is stupid in a world where you are selling data that can be copied instantly. It is especially stupid when the overwhelming majority of downloaders wouldn't have purchased the album anyway -- usually because they couldn't have possibly afforded to (consider the cost of buying 20GB of music).
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @09:16AM (#19540319) Journal
      Even economists don't think like that. Most economists recognise that the average person has a (roughly) fixed amount of money that they will spend on entertainment. All piracy does is alter how this is spent. It's not even been shown which way piracy alters this. If you pirate music there are two possible outcomes:
      1. You will feel that you can get music for free, and spend more money on other things, or
      2. You will be exposed to more music, and spend more money on music.
      For some people it's the former, for others it's the latter. I've seen studies that show that both are the majority. To me, this says all statements of the form 'piracy cost us $x' should be taken with a pinch of salt.

      The recording industry has lost several sales to me in the last month, even though I don't pirate music. I listen to Radio Paradise (which won't exist much longer, if the recording industry lobbyists have their way). A few times recently I've heard songs I like, and gone to iTunes with the intention of buying the album. Since it wasn't available without DRM, I've decided not to. If it had been, then that's a £7.99 impulse purchase they could have had. Did I pirate the music afterwards? No. I just chose not to spend any money on music this month. Instead, I went to see a play performed outside locally, bought a load of books, and rented a load of DVDs.

  • by The One and Only (691315) <[ten.hclewlihp] [ta] [lihp]> on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:24AM (#19540043) Homepage
    Is there any use of posting this article, kdawson? You already know the exact discussion that's going to happen. It's the same discussion that happens twice a day every other time we discuss piracy.
  • by pieterh (196118) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:24AM (#19540045) Homepage
    Actually the figure is probably much too low, if one considers the abuse of patents as "intellectual property crime".

    Some examples:

    * The way patent offices globally have turned the patent system into a pyramid scheme for their friends, printing coupons that are not backed by any state bank and yet are used as collateral to secure huge credits.
    * The shakedown of numerous small businesses and large customers for "patent violations" based on legal instruments created by a mafia-style clique of lawyers.
    * The wide use of patent "licensing deals" to create cartels that would be illegal and criminal under normal competition law.
    * The use of patent "licenses" to tax the use of technology by the public, even though very often the public subsidised the original research.
    * The use of "intellectual property laws" (designed and paid for by content industries) to prevent content falling into the public domain.
    * The use of said laws to create artificial barriers to free trade, so prices can be raised in specific geographic areas.
    * The use of the global patent system to keep the costs of medicines artificially high (even at the cost of millions of deaths)
    * The use of the global patent system to prevent free competition in many markets.
    * The use of the global patent system to stop alternative energy technologies being developed.
    * The use of patents to create conflict and litigation than enriches lawyers and specialists.

    And on and on and on... the cost of "intellectual property crime" surely runs into the trillions...

    Of course we're supposed to think that when corporations abuse the law, it's a different thing than when individuals do it. Corporations can buy laws, individuals usually can't.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ogemaniac (841129)
      * The way patent offices globally have turned the patent system into a pyramid scheme for their friends, printing coupons that are not backed by any state bank and yet are used as collateral to secure huge credits.

      I am willing to wager that even if there were no safeguards against it, 99% of patents would be reviewed by people who had no knowledge of or connection to the persons or organizations applying for the patent. In reality, though, patent reviewers would excuse themselves from any such conflict
      • by pieterh (196118) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @09:15AM (#19540315) Homepage
        "People being enriched is a good thing... Of course, the patent system has an administrative cost, but it is well worth the price."

        That is excellent. Can I quote you? Even though you argue well (it's your job, maybe), the patent system is absolutely not about enrichment, nor about solving the (strawman) "free-rider" problem. It is only about exchanging a limited monopoly in return for documentation on new techniques that would otherwise be kept secret. Show me a single example of a "free-rider" problem in the software sector, please. Just one case where government intervention in the form of software patents is justified. Pretty please.

        Today's patent system - whatever the merits of the patent per-se as a social bargain - fails completely to deliver value for money for society, it serves only people who can play the system, and punishes the rest. Nowhere is this more clear than in the software sector. However elsewhere it's also failed.

        Explain to me why agriculture - based on free exchange of knowledge - has managed to prevent famine since the 1950's (famine still being caused by natural disaster, politics, and war), while pharmaceutics, entirely based on your vaunted monopoly, has left hundreds of millions cursed by malaria, dengue fever, and other diseases.

        The excesses of the modern patent system will go down in history as a monstrosity. You can defend those excesses - and many people do - on the basis of "well, it makes money for me", just as people have defended a hundred other evils.

  • by WgT2 (591074)

    ...general counsel Rick Cotton...

    Ah, no wonder: a lawyer said it.

    It's time for tort reform in this country; too many money-grubbing pigs are using a broken system to do things like channeling for the unborn [marginalrevolution.com] to make cases in front of apparently easily manipulated people. All to the end of fattening their bank accounts.

  • by eebra82 (907996) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:35AM (#19540107) Homepage
    Seriously though, this debate is getting tiresome and at the end of the day, I feel no more enlightment on the subject.

    These people fail to see how stupid it is to scare the public with billion dollar figures. I frankly don't give a crap if company x lose a y dollars per year. My point is that if a company is struck by heavy use of piracy, then their business module is entirely misplaced. It could be too expensive, too difficult to purchase, only a tiny useful function out of many less useful ones, and many other factors that contribute to such outcome.

    Take a music CD for example. It's expensive, impractical to purchase, often DRM:ed and includes maybe two, three or four songs that you like. This is why iTunes and other comparable services are slowly taking over that "lost" segment that chose piracy over unthoughtful music labels.

    I don't believe that we are criminals by nature and I doubt that most of us prefer to "steal" rather than purchasing, but the companies have to find solutions very soon and adapt before piracy becomes a habit and not just an escape.

    Last but not least, I am yet to see an anti-piracy statement that admits to the positive effects of pirating. After all, that's how many artists, movies and software developers gain a lot of attention. Do you think Photoshop would be widespread in Europe if there was no alternative to that idiotic $1,500 price tag? At least people pirate Photoshop instead of turning to the cheaper alternatives. And when have you heard Adobe admit to this?
  • by Aphrika (756248) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:43AM (#19540147)
    Start robbing banks, then you wouldn't need to copy CDs and movies, you could just buy them.

    First thing you'd do when entering the bank would be to shout "are any of you copyright lawyers?", then proceed to shoot any of them in the legs. They'd soon start to realise that having the police deal with bank robberies is a far better idea than having them go and arrest college kids for downloading Metallica...

    What a bunch of unethical twats...
  • Cost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ginger Unicorn (952287) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:50AM (#19540179)
    Cost "the country" hundreds of billions. hmm. dont you mean the entertainment industry? way to conflate you interests with the public good. and way to vastly exagerate your own interests too.
  • In fact, I have a lot of them on my property. I assign an arbitary $10^99 value to each of those molecules. But look! Every day passers by breathe in some of those molecules. Therefor, I conclude that the police focus on investigating these unimaginable crimes!
  • by hack slash (1064002) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:57AM (#19540221)
    Sorry what was that? I was just busy making a backup of my DVD of The Big Lebowski I bought last week so I could remove the "piracy is a crime" intro to the film. It's so annoying having to wait through 2 minutes of "don't copy this or else!!!!" crap, I want to drop the DVD in and watch the film straight away.
  • by therufus (677843) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @09:13AM (#19540311)
    Let's go back in time 100 years. It's 1897. Music of that time was different, granted. So was the technology to record and distribute it, but artists were paid for performing music. An artist became famous because they were good. If they were really good, people would help them out and let them record for a modest fee, but the sales would get the artist a majority of proceeds.

    Eventually, music became something influential on a corporate level. Zoom forward to 1957, 50 years ago from today. Artists began trying to market themselves to "record companies" in stead of their audience. The record companies would fund up and coming artists, who were usually established acts already. The elusive "record contract" would be still geared to pay the artist a good sum of money, but the cut for the record companies was getting bigger. This is where it began to snowball.

    Lets move to more recent times. Now we have record companies finding talentless bimbos and tryhard boybands to front this multi-billion dollar industry. Not only that, the record companies are taking most of the proceeds and the artist is forced to tour/mime in order to make the kind of cash that would have been available to them 50 years ago. Good artists who may not be the 'in' thing at the moment (as in, not pop/emo/rap) struggle to get a recording contract. Even when they eventually do, it's on the record companies terms. Desperate to get noticed, most new artists will sign anything just to become famous.

    So now record companies are making ridiculous amounts of money off the consumer and kicking the artist to the kerb when they are no longer the 'in' thing. This is bad for music, and bad for the consumer.

    So when I torrent the latest album from the artist I like, does that make me a criminal? Even if I go to their concerts, buy merchandise and do all I can to get them money knowing that the record companies don't get as much of a cut from touring? I think, if anything, I'm doing the right thing. It's a very Robin Hood mentality, but stealing from the record companies and giving to the musicians is the way I believe in.

    I think if everyone else did what I do, music would be in a better place.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by westlake (615356)
      Let's go back in time 100 years. It's 1897.

      Columbia Records has been in business since 1888.

      The Victor Talking Machine Company - "His Master's Voice" - was incorporated in 1901 and was aggressively recruiting artists for exclusive contracts from Day 1. It was - even then - using "loss leaders" to build sales.

      Artists became successful on records because they recorded well. The technology has always shaped the industry.

      Caruso had a splendid voice for acoustic recording and sold to enormous audiences who k

  • If the money/manpower now going after preventing, and prosecuting occurences of violent crime, were diverted to piracy, how much would violent crime increase?

    And how loud, for how long, do you think the populace will scream to get their law enforcement back on crimes that actually harm them and their property?
  • It's a bogus argument.

    First, the money lost in the type of piracy mentioned has subjective dollar figures attached to it. If I steal a song it doesn't mean that no one in the world will purchase the album that it came on. Very difficult to be accurate.

    But the real issue when prioritizing crimes is what is the affect upon the human beings who is victimized?

    Theft is apparent and easy to measure. Piracy against a Mega_Corp is vague at best. I don't think there is any real damage done to the people who w

  • by AusIV (950840) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @09:24AM (#19540371)
    As I said on the Ars Technica discussion board the day this came out, I want to be on the content creators side and support the people who entertain me, but crap like this makes it nearly impossible. I'm not a pirate, and I don't like the mentality "it costs nothing to reproduce, so I shouldn't have to pay anything for it," but I can't side with the content producers who suggest it would better to let banks be robbed than let people pirate movies.


    I particularly have a hard time defending the content producers when the pirates provide a better product - ignoring price. If I want a particular song, the music industry will sell me a CD with that song along with several others I don't want, or I can buy a fairly low quality digital copy, probably with DRM in a format I don't like. Pirates offer a variety of formats and quality levels, and you can play their versions on anything you want.

    Movies aren't much different. You can buy a DVD, which can only be played legally in authorized devices, or you can download a heavily DRMed copy that - unless you have a media center PC - you're stuck playing on your computer monitor. Pirates offer a variety of quality levels, you can burn them to DVD's if you have the proper software, and play them on anything capable of playing them.

    Like I said, I'm not a pirate. I have an older taste in music, so I get most of my CD's used for a couple of bucks. I rent movies and go to the theater on occasion. If the content industry starts offering the same quality of product the pirates offer, but they can't compete in price, then they will have my sympathy. But so long as the content industry refuses to match the pirates' level of quality, and keeping making specious claims like the ones in this article, they get no sympathy from me.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 17, 2007 @09:29AM (#19540405)
    Their intellectual property is vastly overvalued. Hell, let me slap some arbitrary value on the environment. Then I can make claims that crimes against the environment are in the TRILLIONS! Wow, that makes intellectual property violations look like peanuts! I guess we know where we'd better be putting our law enforcement.

    Dear Mass Media Giants,

    You effectively control our political apparatus through effective lobbying. Please leave our LAW ENFORCEMENT alone.

    Sincerely,

    The rest of us
  • by Chas (5144) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @09:38AM (#19540451) Homepage Journal
    I'd love to see real facts and figures on this that don't involve:

    Counting legitimate backups as lost revenue.
    Counting personal format, time and place shifting as lost revenue.
    Counting damaged copies legitimately returned to the store as lost revenue.
    Counting viewing by a family of X number of people as lost revenue of X-1 times the price of the media of lost revenue.
    Counting ANY AND ALL activities that do NOT involve paying a fee for every single solitary time the content is viewed as lost revenue.
    Counting THINKING about any activity other than paying a fee for every single solitary time the content is viewed as lost revenue.
    Counting stuff they don't even own as lost revenue.

    But then again. These are the media conglomerates. They've been lying to us all our lives. Why should they change now?
  • by Andreaskem (999089) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @10:26AM (#19540725)
    We're all supposed to live in a democratic civilization. Almost every western civilization was built on democratic principles. Germany, the UK and yes, even the USA.

    I'm quite sure that more than 50% of the population of every western country does not consider copyright infringement a crime. Considering who has already "illegaly" burned a CD or used P2P, the percentage is probably quite a bit higher. In a proper democracy, it should therefore not be a crime. That's the way a democracy is supposed to work, isn't it?

    "democracy", n.: A political system governed by the people or their representatives
  • Not so funny. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by k1e0x (1040314) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @10:33AM (#19540773) Homepage
    This is amusing watching how business believe theft of IP as a loss in sales. There is a dangerous aspect to this however and that is how government is willing to enforce their failed business model on us. The market no longer wants to walk into a record store or a theater to buy their media products and currently to do so legally, there are few good options to this. One of the bad options given to us by the industry is to "rent" a copy of the movie or music, that we may use a limited number of time on a limited number of devices in a limited way.

    Eventually I believe that they will have the ability to check to see what you own and government will allow them to do this..

    In 1765 King George III created The Stamp Act. By his degree all documents, papers, books, letters, posters, newspapers, and even playing cards, had to carry a tax stamp. In order to make sure if your papers were taxed.. British officers could write themselves their own search warrant and come into your house to check. As you can see there was a great outcry from this abuse of powers and this would absolutely be illegal by all of todays standards... or would it..

    Can the government digitally search your papers and effects to see if you payed the proper "tax" ? Things seem to be going in this direction.
  • by Flying pig (925874) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @10:41AM (#19540811)
    We should absolutely clamp down on everything related to IP theft. And it will work.

    We can do it very effectively.

    • First, ban all trading on eBay and Craigslist etc. That will immediately have an impact on pirated goods.
    • Secondly, employ large numbers of suitably skilled IT people to find and deal with all servers which allow file sharing. Shut them down regardless of the consequences. If your website is on one of those servers, well, guilt by association was good enough for Sen. McCarthy.
    • Third, punish student file sharers appropriately. Put a large police force (let's call it the KGB for short) in all universities, public places, high schools etc. Send convicted criminals to - well, somewhere unpleasant. I'm sure the Russians would lease the Kuril islands, or even parts of Siberia.
    • Fourth, only allow CDs and DVDs to be sold by shops with a permanent KGB presence.
    • Fifth, ban all computers capable of storing user-transferred content to everybody except corporations with a turnover in excess of $1 billion per year.
    • In fact, to be on the safe side, mandate a return to magnetic drum technology and dishwasher size storage. That will get rid of all those iPods and similar piracy devices.
    This will work because, before long, the annual turnover of the presently constituted recording industry will fall so dramatically that losses from piracy will be completely insignificant.
  • by Bert64 (520050) <bert&slashdot,firenzee,com> on Sunday June 17, 2007 @11:01AM (#19540921) Homepage
    The police exist to protect the people, not business...
    They should concentrate on crimes that affect the people, and put crimes that only affect the profit margins of business on the back burner, especially when, in the case of copyright infringement, there are no direct losses. Who's to say how many of the pirate copies would have resulted in actual sales anyway?
    A business can afford to lose a few thousand dollars of sales, but the average guy on the street cant afford to lose his $200 TV. Similarly, violent crime can result in people being killed or injured, copyright infringement doesnt.
    The job of the police is to protect and serve (the people), the primary goal should be to protect the people from crime that directly harms them.
    If anything, the police should be spending far less time dealing with copyright infringement cases, and more time catching pedophiles and the like. If big business doesnt like it, then they can donate large sums of money to the police so that they have sufficient resources to deal with serious crimes, and then some resources left over to help corporations keep their profits high.
  • mathonomics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dzimas (547818) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @11:12AM (#19541057)

    "intellectual property crime runs to hundreds of billions [of dollars] a year."

    A couple of observations:

    1. If people were actually forced to buy the 'intellectual property' that they currently copy illegally, I suspect that the vast majority would not or could not. Therefore, there would be no economic or social benefit to preventing illegal media and software distribution. In fact, you could argue that it would do social harm by limiting access to music and films. On the other hand, not preventing armed robberies would have very real and nasty social and economic consequences.

    2. If, indeed, intellectual property theft is that high, one could probably make an argument that it is actually helping the world economy. If people/companies actually had to pay out a few hundred billion dollars more to buy legal copies, it would result in a few hundred million dollars less for silly things like capital investment and salaries.

    3. I suspect that the bulk of that "hundreds of billions" would be going to a few very large companies that are already making extremely high profits. Making a monopoly stronger through punitive legislation is probably not in the public best interest.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DamnStupidElf (649844)
      2. If, indeed, intellectual property theft is that high, one could probably make an argument that it is actually helping the world economy. If people/companies actually had to pay out a few hundred billion dollars more to buy legal copies, it would result in a few hundred million dollars less for silly things like capital investment and salaries.

      This is by far the most important argument against the MAFIAA's claims of the economy losing billions of dollars to piracy. The economy is not losing billions of
  • Well then... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheGreatHegemon (956058) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @04:11PM (#19543485)
    I claim that the sketch I just drew on this napkin is worth 10000000000000000000 dollars. If someone stole it, police everywhere should dedicate more time on finding it - it's worth more than all other criminal acts in the world! The police would laugh - the value I place on something has no baring on its *real* worth. Same with these supposed numbers for music piracy...
  • by drDugan (219551) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @06:19PM (#19544595) Homepage
    The whole idea of property, even for the physical things, is just a convention.

    We all (soft or) agree that there is a mapping between things and people and we call that mapping property.

    Nothing says that this "mapping" is real or tangible or even agreed to by everyone. Mostly, it exists originally from physical threats used to hold onto a thing - "grab this and I attack you" that has evolved with human society into a more civilized understanding that we can "hold onto" certain things. This is extended by our laws and the creation of widely accepted money. Some religious extremists argue divine right or natural order to support property, but that is rare.

    The further extension of the convention of property to ideas is done through laws alone. This extension is NOT agreed to by everyone the way it is done now. It is tenuous at best, ridiculous at worst. At this point I flatly reject all arguments about enforcing current laws until copyright is fixed to balance the social good with the private rights. The situation is so far out of balance now, it is completely obvious why people pirate: copyright is effectively infinite.

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