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100 Years of Copyright Hysteria 280

Posted by kdawson
from the frothy-mouths dept.
Nate Anderson pens a fine historical retrospective for Ars Technica: a look at 100 years of Big Content's fearmongering, in their own words. There was John Philip Sousa in 1906 warning that recording technology would destroy the US pastime of gathering around the piano to sing music ("What of the national throat? Will it not weaken? What of the national chest? Will it not shrink?"). There was the photocopier after World War II. There was the VCR in the 1970s, which a movie lobbyist predicted would result in tidal waves, avalanches, and bleeding and hemorrhaging by the music business. He compared the VCR to the Boston Strangler — in this scenario the US public was a woman home alone. Then home taping of music, digital audio tape, MP3 players, and Napster, each of which was predicted to lay waste to entire industries; and so on up to date with DVRs, HD radio, and HDTV. Anderson concludes with a quote from copyright expert William Patry in his book Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars: "I cannot think of a single significant innovation in either the creation or distribution of works of authorship that owes its origins to the copyright industries."
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100 Years of Copyright Hysteria

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  • by crovira (10242) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @08:16AM (#29730433) Homepage

    The RIAA (and later the MPAA,) have fought EVERY single innovation that even looks like it might possibly impinge on their clients' business turf, right up until it becomes overwhelmingly clear that they're actually preventing their client's from making more money than if they kept their head in the sand.

    If it was up to the **AAs, we would be copying sheet music for our spinets with sharpened quill pens.

    They are a creation dating from before the invention of democracy and all they have ever done is behave like it.

    • by ledow (319597) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @08:20AM (#29730463) Homepage

      Sheet music is possibly the most *highly* guarded copyright work that I've ever had to deal with. It's unbelievable, the licensing behind it.

      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @08:37AM (#29730585) Journal

        Good thing we have sheetmusictorrent.

        Actually it looks like John Philip Sousa's prediction was correct. We Don't sit-around home pianos in our parlors listening to somebody music, but I don't cry about it anymore than I cry that the horsewhip or candlestick makers no longer exist. Some forms of technology are obsolete and have been replaced by better forms, like direct recordings from far-off places.

        • by Enter the Shoggoth (1362079) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @09:00AM (#29730747)

          Good thing we have sheetmusictorrent.

          Actually it looks like John Philip Sousa's prediction was correct. We Don't sit-around home pianos in our parlors listening to somebody music, but I don't cry about it anymore than I cry that the horsewhip or candlestick makers no longer exist. Some forms of technology are obsolete and have been replaced by better forms, like direct recordings from far-off places.

          Actually I do lament that fact that our culture has become one of passive engagement with music, and for the matter sport. Obviously this doesn't apply to everyone but by-and-large most people listen to music rather that create music, most people watch sport rather that play sport. But I don't think that the various content industries share this sentiment, quite the opposite in fact as the entire content ownership and distribution system relies on the commoditisation of culture

          • by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @09:36AM (#29731055) Homepage

            Performing is not "creating music". All of the "creation" is
            being done by the guy that wrote the original bit of sheet
            music. So we are not that much more passive than we already
            were. We're just no longer in the practice of making our own
            mediocre performances at home based off of works that are
            sufficiently dumbed down.

            • So? (Score:2, Interesting)

              by Mathinker (909784)

              > Performing is not "creating music".

              Good, so if I would illegally copy music, I only am infringing on the rights of the songwriter, and so only need to pay ASCAP/BMI. Interesting philosophical take on copyright in music, but not connected with the legal reality of our times.

              > We're just no longer in the practice of making our own mediocre performances
              > at home based off of works that are sufficiently dumbed down.

              And for the same reason, I should tell my children not to bother to attempt to do any

            • by Enter the Shoggoth (1362079) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @09:55AM (#29731255)

              Performing is not "creating music". All of the "creation" is
              being done by the guy that wrote the original bit of sheet
              music. So we are not that much more passive than we already
              were. We're just no longer in the practice of making our own
              mediocre performances at home based off of works that are
              sufficiently dumbed down.

              OK. Perhaps I should have said performed rather than create (although don't underestimate the ability of people to improvise when they are encouraged to engage with music from an early age)

              However your comments about mediocrity are exactly what I'm getting at, not all of us is Mozart or Beckham but music and sport are both things that everyone should be encouraged to enjoy. By setting up both activities as something that should only be actively pursued by those with elite levels of talent you are pandering to the moneyed interests within our society that aim to steal culture from us and then charge us to passively engage in it.

              Note that I am not saying we should not also encourage those with elite levels of talent but I believe that there is a healthy balance from which we've long strayed

            • by Xiterion (809456) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @10:27AM (#29731585)
              While it's true that simply performing is nowhere near the same as writing the music in the first place, there is quite a bit of expression to be had in simply playing a piece of music. I think there's something to be said for the accomplishment of learning your favorite song well enough to play it.
              • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @10:42AM (#29731777) Journal

                If you get a bunch of people together to jam, record everything, then sit around drinking beer and listening to the recording, laughing at the bad parts and gathering up the cool parts so you can polish them into something tight next time, that's just as creative as sitting around writing sheet music alone in a quiet room, if not more so.

                Most of my favorite recorded songs have my voice and my harmonica in them. Every time I listen to them, I think of good times and old friends.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by rlk (1089)

                Performing and composing are different, but one's not "less" or "more" than the other.

                Aside from the fact that a lot of forms of music are improvisational, which is a form of creating something new, performing itself requires skill and (in most cases) collaboration with others and is expressive, from the choice of music to the tempo, shaping of the phrases, and indeed individual notes.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              Spoken like a person who has never performed music. Every musician worth his salt creates a new and original interpretation of the composer's music. Even the amateurs gathered around the parlor piano were doing something creative within the framework of the composition.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Bat Country (829565)

              Performance and creation were always tied together whenever people got together to perform music. Families would invent new verses for songs, making games out of it.

              This tradition was alive in the Boy Scouts when I was a kid. Constant exposure to music is the same as constant exposure to a language - you're going to pick it up and begin to express yourself in it whether you're trying to or not. Having strong roots in performance of other people's music can only encourage creating your own. It won't neces

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Ihmhi (1206036)

            To quote Col. Potter, "Horse hockey!"

            Nowadays, instruments are cheap and ubiquitous. With a midi board and GarageBand, you can come up with almost anything you can imagine.

            I, for one, am terrible with transcribing music. Like my father I'm the "play by ear" type - I need to hear it to play it. So when I come up with a tune, I put it all together in GarageBand with the simple midi instruments. Once I feel I've got it to the right basic sound, timing, etc. then I get on real instruments and record it.

            As for p

        • by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @09:02AM (#29730761)

          Good thing we have sheetmusictorrent.

          Actually it looks like John Philip Sousa's prediction was correct. We Don't sit-around home pianos in our parlors listening to somebody music

          No we do it in Karaoke bars.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Acer500 (846698)

            Good thing we have sheetmusictorrent.

            Actually it looks like John Philip Sousa's prediction was correct. We Don't sit-around home pianos in our parlors listening to somebody music

            No we do it in Karaoke bars.

            And Guitar Hero and the like.

            Not to mention that, in addition to those that these games inspired to pick up an instrument, it's always been popular (at least over here) to learn guitar or an instrument.. (which more often than not, lies forgotten shortly after said studies are finished or interrupted, until a new generation picks it up).

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          It is enjoyable to listen to the music I like the most, but it is totally passive and selfish. Singing in a group, or beside the woman I loved at the piano, is by far the more cherished experience. If I had to choose, I'd choose the latter. It makes memories, while the former does not.

        • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @09:16AM (#29730875)
          But what shall become of my beloved ice man when this new "refrigeration" catches on? What of him!?!?!?
        • by Java Pimp (98454) <java_pimp@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @10:45AM (#29731831) Homepage

          I find it interesting that gathering around the piano to sing music was used as an argument against recording technology, yet today they would consider it public performance and demand royalties. (At least that's the direction things seem to be heading.)

      • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @08:40AM (#29730603)

        Sheet music is possibly the most *highly* guarded copyright work that I've ever had to deal with. It's unbelievable, the licensing behind it.

        Ya, but that may be due to the fact that it's so easily reproducible. You can actually copy it with pencil and paper. I remember that days of "unlicensed" fake books. Sure they were a violation of copyright, you couldn't be considered a "real" musician without a few.

      • The price reflects that. However, my most treasured music is on paper.

    • The RIAA use of stand-over tactics, mostly sanctioned by courts that failed the little man, is an innovation. . . . . . . They will be swept away in time and few will mourn their passing.
    • by im just cannonfodder (1089055) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @08:30AM (#29730539) Homepage

      lets not for get who is actually behind the MPAA - RIAA, these are the companies that need to be targeted and boycotted into changing their ways, purchase only 2nd hand media and do not purchase anything branded sony, why allow the fecktards to dictate Orwellian hardware DRM designed to take away rights not to stop piracy anymore.

      Name and shame the companies as all the **AA trade group name is for is to protect the corporate globalists from bad press.


      RIAA, CRIA, SOUNDEXCHANGE, BPI, IFPI, Ect:

      # Sony BMG Music Entertainment
      # Warner Music Group
      # Universal Music Group
      # EMI


      MPAA, MPA, FACT, AFACT, Ect:

      # Sony Pictures
      # Warner Bros. (Time Warner)
      # Universal Studios (NBC Universal)
      # The Walt Disney Company
      # 20th Century Fox (News Corporation)
      # Paramount Pictures Viacom--(DreamWorks owners since February 2006)


      ============


      If Sony payola (google it) wasn't bad enough to destroy indie competition you have this:

      Is it justified to steal from thieves? READ ON.


      RIAA Claims Ownership of All Artist Royalties For Internet Radio
      http://slashdot.org/articles/07/04/29/0335224.shtml [slashdot.org]

      "With the furor over the impending rate hike for Internet radio stations, wouldn't a good solution be for streaming internet stations to simply not play RIAA-affiliated labels' music and focus on independent artists? Sounds good, except that the RIAA's affiliate organization SoundExchange claims it has the right to collect royalties for any artist, no matter if they have signed with an RIAA label or not. 'SoundExchange (the RIAA) considers any digital performance of a song as falling under their compulsory license. If any artist records a song, SoundExchange has the right to collect royalties for its performance on Internet radio. Artists can offer to download their music for free, but they cannot offer their songs to Internet radio for free ... So how it works is that SoundExchange collects money through compulsory royalties from Webcasters and holds onto the money. If a label or artist wants their share of the money, they must become a member of SoundExchange and pay a fee to collect their royalties.'"

      http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/4/24/14132 [dailykos.com]
      • Not that the PS3 is a panacea of free-open media access, but it has done more for the easy enjoyment of videos from the home (DLNA) server than any other piece of "mainstream" hardware I have ever encountered.
    • by noundi (1044080) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @08:44AM (#29730633)

      The RIAA (and later the MPAA,) have fought EVERY single innovation that even looks like it might possibly impinge on their clients' business turf, right up until it becomes overwhelmingly clear that they're actually preventing their client's from making more money than if they kept their head in the sand.

      If it was up to the **AAs, we would be copying sheet music for our spinets with sharpened quill pens.

      They are a creation dating from before the invention of democracy and all they have ever done is behave like it.

      It's easy to persuade people into harming themselves, just play on their ignorance and pride, tell them that it "harms the economy" [slashdot.org] and they'll run miles for you.
       
      About harming the economy. Whose economy? Mine or yours? (not you crovira, I'm referring to RIAA, MPAA etc.) Because from my perspective it seems to be a good deal. And if you're telling me that music or movies or even culture will stop to exist, I have a feeling you're just full of fucking shit and I'm willing to bet you any sum you want on the opposite. Now nobody in the industry would ever dare to make that bet since they know that they are just -- that's right -- full of shit.

    • by JediTrainer (314273) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @09:45AM (#29731139)
      The RIAA (and later the MPAA,) have fought EVERY single innovation that even looks like it might possibly impinge on their clients' business turf

      Hate to break it to you, but I think this sort of thing is way more common than just being limited to these industries. Big business and/or unions have fought innovation that they see as being counter to their interests all the time. Case in point, the Postal Codes in Canada [wikipedia.org] - OMG all the mail sorters will be out of work!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Java Pimp (98454)

      If it was up to the **AAs, we would be copying sheet music for our spinets with sharpened quill pens.

      No... We wouldn't...

      Quill pens would be deemed illegal as a circumvention device under the DMCA.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @08:22AM (#29730475)
    As technology improves, we are eventually going to forget about copyrights; the laws might remain on the books, and big corporations will be busy suing each other over copyrights, but the average citizen will no longer be affected by them. We are almost there already; high school and college students download music and movies without a thought to copyrights, and share the files with their friends. Once they grow up, copyrights will have virtually no meaning for the average person in society.
    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @08:30AM (#29730531) Journal

      Here's what Thomas Jefferson (found of the democratic party) and James Madison (author of the Constitution) said about it:

      "Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the progress of society. It would be curious then, if an idea, the fugitive fermentation of an individual brain, could, of natural right, be claimed in exclusive and stable property. If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it.

      "Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property."

      Madison -

      "But grants of this sort can be justified in very peculiar cases only, if at all; the danger being very great that the good resulting from the operation of the monopoly, will be overbalanced by the evil effect of the precedent; and it being not impossible that the monopoly itself, in its original operation, may produce more evil than good." Sounds like Mr. Madison was talking about RIAA.

      • Your signature needs citations.
        • I already provided citations yesterday. As my profs were fond of saying, "It's not my fault you weren't here." Just google Harvard and "5000 downloads one lost sale" for study number one.

      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @09:14AM (#29730861) Journal

        And their Copyright Act of 1790 said the following:

        - for the encouragement of learning
        - limited term of 14 years with 14 year extension if the *original* author was still alive
        - libraries, colleges, and private individuals were not subject to the copyright (i.e. fair use)
        - was only for expensive works like books, not incidentals like maps or charts

        This is the kind of copyright law we should have today, not the perpetual copyright that lasts ~100 years (five generations). When the original laborer who created the work dies, then the copyright should die as well. As Jefferson said "the Earth is for the living not the dead," and laws exist to serve the current generation not previous generations.

        • by Nadaka (224565)

          The copyright term should be fixed. Otherwise, considering the moral quality of most music and film producers, belligerent artists who fail to cooperate might find themselves knocked off and the big companies could then publish their works under the public domain.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          - was only for expensive works like books, not incidentals like maps or charts

          The production of a quality map or chart has a higher cost than the production of a work of fiction. Either copyright should apply equally to all works, or it should apply to none, for basing it on the cost of creation of the work is impossible to do fairly. Otherwise, I agree wholeheartedly with what you have said. Copyright as we know it today is a leech sucking creativity out of entertainment, and replacing it with profit.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            >>>The production of a quality map or chart has a higher cost than the production of a work of fiction

            Yes TODAY it's more expensive, but that wasn't the case in 1790 when this law was passed. Running off a map lithograph on your printing press was trivial compared to the labor required to typeface an entire book, letter-by-letter. Copyright was later extended to maps/charts/sheetmusic in the 1890s.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by selven (1556643)

          I agree with short copyright but making it based on the life of the author is a bad idea. First of all, and this is the most obvious drawback, it encourages murder. Secondly, it's not well suited to handle works made by multiple people (a subset of this being a corporation).

      • that's pretty much the conceptualization of cyberspace, versus "meatspace", the real world, where if you own a car, and someone takes it, you've been deprived of a car: genuine stealing, as opposed to "stealing" digital content, which isn't stealing at all

        we talk about how you can effortlessly copy a file and move it anywhere in any quantity at no difference in cost, and you would think this instantaneous sharing of digital content is some newfangled philosophical challenge brought about by the latest techn

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          you would think this instantaneous sharing of digital content is some newfangled philosophical challenge brought about by the latest technological innovation..... and here's this guy from [almost 250] years ago... pretty much nailing the issue on the head. Man those founding fathers were smart

          QFT (quoted for truth). The internet is just a new method of spreading ideas. Before the internet, it was radiowaves, and before radiowaves it was books, and before books it was stone tablets. The technology has changed but not the underlying foundational principle. Ideas are infinitely reproducible and can be spread to many, without depriving the original owner of his creation.

          i guess al gore has to step aside: thomas jefferson conceptualized the internet! ;-P

          +1 Funny.

    • by langelgjm (860756) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @08:35AM (#29730579) Journal

      As Elizabeth Cady Stanton said, "To make laws that man cannot, and will not obey, serves to bring all law into contempt."

      I think copyright, and IP law in general has a legitimate and defensible purpose. That said, IP policy is essentially made without any regard to facts (you could argue that about a lot of policy, but in IP it's particularly bad). The fact that one can violate copyright law so easily, without intending it, and the fact that so much stuff of so little value is copyrighted, as well as really old stuff, breeds contempt of copyright law altogether.

      The legitimacy of copyright law might be salvaged by cutting down the length of terms drastically, or otherwise changing the policy so that it is actually sensible. Barring that, though, as long as some written works from 1924 are still copyrighted, can you really blame people for thinking the whole thing is ridiculous?

    • by mrsquid0 (1335303)

      You are probably right, but as long as the laws remain on the books some of these people are going to get the occasional very nasty surprise when they find out, the hard way, that copyright really does exist and really does affect them. Five years ago I naïvely thought that there would be a huge backlash against the RIAA lawsuits, and that would force a revision of the laws involved. It never happened, and now I am not convinced that it will ever happen.

  • Sousa was right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LaminatorX (410794) <sabotage AT praecantator DOT com> on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @08:23AM (#29730477) Homepage

    Recording technology and radio obliterated small-scale performances and local music. They still exist, obviously, but have nowhere near the cultural prominence or respect that they once did.

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @08:41AM (#29730609) Journal

      Recording technology and radio obliterated small-scale performances and local music. They still exist, obviously, but have nowhere near the cultural prominence or respect that they once did.

      Yeah, after reading the Sousa piece it was shockingly levelheaded and highly rational. He even admits he's an alarmist and that he has a biased view because of his personal stake in this. The last paragraph included in the Ars image is downright prophetic:

      It cannot be denied that the owners and inventors have shown wonderful aggressiveness and ingenuity in developing and exploiting these remarkable devices. Their mechanism has been steadily and marvelously improved, and they have come into very extensive use. And it must be admitted that where families lack time or inclination to acquire musical technic, and to hear public performances, the best of these machines supply a certain amount of satisfaction and pleasure.

      He almost sounds like a cautious promoter or early adopter himself! Unsurprisingly the Ars article only gives us the first sheet of a lengthy opinion that can be found here [phonozoic.net]. Good reading to realize that these debated issues today are nothing new.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Thaelon (250687)

      Recording technology and radio obliterated small-scale performances and local music.

      You don't get out much, do you?

      Where I live there is live music available somewhere in the town every single day of the week. In fact, I went to a music festival Sunday that was going on all weekend long. I believe it was called Rocktoberfest [charlestoncitypaper.com] and had 98 local bands?

      What you're seeing is natural competition for people's time that every source of entertainment from naval gazing to youtube, to video games, to movie theaters.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LaminatorX (410794)

        I do get out (and play out) just fine, thank you. :) There's music being played and heard, certainly. Just the same, when was the last time you were walking down the street and saw a family sitting on their front porch playing and singing together?

  • and he was right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gbjbaanb (229885) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @08:24AM (#29730485)

    There was John Philip Sousa in 1906 warning that recording technology would destroy the US pastime of gathering around the piano to sing music

    you got to admit it, the guy predicted that correctly!

    The others referenced in the summary, not so good. The music industry didn't implode after cassette tapes appeared, there's no reason to think the movie industry will implode now bittorrent's appeared either.

    • by T Murphy (1054674) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @08:32AM (#29730555) Journal
      There was John Philip Sousa in 1906 warning that recording technology would destroy the US pastime of gathering around the piano to sing music
      ...and replace it with drunken karioke nights.
    • Consider the number of pianos then and now.

      Then add in the number of guitars, bass buitars, synth's, horns, every kind of drum; we have more musicians alive now than have lived before, PERIOD.

      • by tverbeek (457094)

        we have more musicians alive now than have lived before, PERIOD.

        I call bullshit. OK, the world population has literally quadrupled since then, so that might make you right in spite of yourself. But 100 years ago, lots of people who didn't even own a piano still learned how to play one. Plus there were all the people who played fiddle or harmonica or acoustic guitar, or played in the kind of band that Sousa wrote music for (a large enough market that sheet music was big business). Also, someone who playe

      • Might or might not be true...

        However, music is no less a part of our lives since the recording industry started up. It might be more so even if the recording industry made music a more specialized profession.

      • Consider the number of pianos then and now.

        Then add in the number of guitars, bass buitars, synth's, horns, every kind of drum; we have more musicians alive now than have lived before, PERIOD.

        I think you are making a mistake in this analysis. There are probably more musicians alive now then ever before. There are also more men, women, Chinese men, English women, etc. But unlike commonality of men (still about 1 to 1 w.r.t. women), the commonality of musicians playing live in small venues has decreased. And you know that the practice of gathering around the piano (or its modern equivalent, the "buitar") to sing with family or friends has receded. Do you do it at your house? If you do, I bet

      • His comment was not about the number of musicians. It was about the culture surrounding music. When I was an undergrad, there were only a handful of parties with live entertainment; even when friends of mine who were musicians went to parties, they almost never played an instrument or sang anything. There was still music at the parties -- but it was recorded, and identical versions of the same songs could be heard over and over again at party after party.

        In particular, small gatherings among friends t
  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @08:28AM (#29730523) Homepage

    "I cannot think of a single significant innovation in either the creation or distribution of works of authorship that owes its origins to the copyright industries."

    DRM!

    Oh, wait...

    • I can't think of any significant innovations, but I can think of benefits. Copyright industries have helped thousands of artists support themselves exclusively on their art, and distributed their works worldwide. They've nurtured the concept of a "star", and helped millions of others aspire to become an artist themselves. Not that it was ever uncool before (as far as I know), but now, with the number of hopefuls and wannabes, we're simply spoiled for choice.

    • "I cannot think of a single significant innovation in either the creation or distribution of works of authorship that owes its origins to the copyright industries."

      DRM!

      Oh, wait...

      I guess it did provide some jobs to develop, e.g., HDCP. I'd be hanging my head in shame if it were me, though. ("My children were starving, their clothes threadbare") And its various ancestors, like error tracks, serial port dongles, little slide-rule-like spinny code-wheel things. I guess the spinny-wheel was pretty cool compared to the rest of the examples.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @08:31AM (#29730549) Homepage

    Is that they run their businesses like they're not subject to all the norms of business. They don't budget properly, do cost or quality control well, don't cater to niche markets well, don't treat their customers very well and often don't even know really what their customers will probably want.

    If they would start doing some quality and cost control, treat their customers well and provide them the content whenever and wherever they want it (for a modest fee), the public's attitude toward piracy would be markedly different.

  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @08:42AM (#29730617) Homepage Journal

    I just placed an order for the "Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars" book. I am looking forward to reading it.

    I think that we've discussed it before, but there has also been 100 years of systematic indoctrination about copyright in our schools. In grad school I listened to an outside speaker come in and say that the institution of copyright was created to make sure that companies make money. She believed that, too, as that is what "common knowledge" now says copyright is.

    The hysteria is very, very deep. Now when you try to explain the Constitutional reasoning behind copyright you only get blank stares and laughs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Unfortunately, common knowledge is not always correct, particularly when there's some uncommon prerequisite knowledge involved (e.g. slightly more advanced economics). Sometimes, you simply have to swallow information you don't understand. For example, I don't let the fact that I don't really know how a internal combustion engine works stop me from driving to uni.

  • "Singing will no longer be a fine accomplishment; vocal exercises so important a factor in the curriculum of physical culture will be out of vogue. Then what of the national throat? Will it not weaken?"

    Have you heard the "quality" of "singers" we've (over-)produced in the last 10 years??? Pick an episode, any episode, of Saturday Night Live from the last 10 years. NO ONE sounds live the way they sound on recording. I know what you're thinking: Beyonce. Fine. You're right. Pick another one. Can you?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Bob Dylan sounds just as crappy live as recorded!

    • I don't know about SNL, but Chris Cornell sounds pretty similar live and on recording. David Draimen from Disturbed does, too. I've seen live footage of The Black Eyed Peas, and they seem to do pretty well.

  • What's being ignored (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @08:49AM (#29730665)

    Most of those things did significantly change entertainment. Even things like VHS tapes had a major impact on revenues. The studios managed to adapt but the independents took a hit. Now that things started to get better cheap equipment flooded the market with cheap crappy films so they took their hardest hit yet. All of those innovations put together haven't impacted the industries like the internet. With near unlimited bandwidth and an army of people able to crack most any security measures the dam has quite literally broke. People complain about how expensive things are but if you factor in inflation album prices are flat whiles sales numbers drop. Music was overpriced for years but inflation did finally catch up. Movie ticket prices were around $3 in the 70s but you could also buy a nice car for $5,000. A Corvette may have set you back 7K or 8K. The point is some things have gone up far more than entertainment. A bounced check would have run you a $1 back in the 70s where as now it's $35 to $45. A hospital room was around $150, just for the room, now it's $1,500 or more. In many ways entertainment is a bargain. Greed isn't the factor everyone claims it's changing attitudes of consumers. They want more stuff and their incomes have been flat for a decade or more. If you take an iPod you want everyone accepts that as stealing but if you download a movie or song you want hey it's just 1s and 0s. No harm no foul. It's this perception that has changed. Unfortunately content takes money to produce just like iPods so it will affect what's out there. You can have government funding but that means higher taxes and the government decides what you see and listen to. There's the free market but that's what most are rebelling against. Take away the money and you are left with what fans make in their garages. I keep hearing fans can do it better but virtually everything I've seen is poorly written, silly acting and poor production values. Digital effects have improved some of them but a lot of those are pros doing it in their spare time and often with access to studio equipment. If it takes 50K or 100K in equipment how many films will get made when people are doing them in their spare time with a normal day job? As people want more and more expensive toys with their incomes stagnant they will keep cutting corners to buy the toys and the easiest corner they see to cut is downloading rather than buying content. Unfortunately that new iPod may not be as bright and shiny if there's no content to load on it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      >>I keep hearing fans can do it better but virtually everything I've seen is poorly written, silly acting and poor production values. Portal, the game and the independent movie.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by dascandy (869781)

      Theft: Removing something that wasn't in your posession, in order to have the advantages for yourself and accepting that you are depriving somebody else from their advantages.
      Embezzlement: Removing something that was in your posession but not yours, in order to have the advantages for yourself and accepting that you are depriving somebody else from their advantages.
      Copying (music, video, software etc.): Making a copy of something, in order to have the advantages yourself, without depriving anybody else from

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @08:59AM (#29730727) Homepage

    I know this comment (http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1402013&cid=29730503) was an angry troll, but he voices the fear of the copyright industry perfectly just the same.

    Copyright is a secondary aspect of art. It is the performance and the original art that people want to see. I can get a copy of a Van Gough at WalMart for $9.99, but the original is priceless. I can download Jethro Tull's entire music collection off the internet for free and I would still pay more than $100 a ticket to go to a concert lasting between 1 and 2 hours. Some movies I will want to see at the theater, others on DVD, others on TV and still others not at all.

    The point I'm trying to get at is this -- people who will pay, will pay and it doesn't matter how much or how little protection there is. Should there be some? Yeah -- because there are people out there who will try to make a business out of copying things for sale and that's not fair either. (I speak of REAL pirates... the bootleggers who sell copies as though they were real) But these copyright industrialists have taken things too far. Their industry is based on the creative works of others and have indeed resulted in the suppression and ruination of creative works.

    And people will ALWAYS want to create music and perform the arts whether there is much if any money in it at all. It is a natural drive in we humans. These practices weren't initially driven as a for-profit activity. They did it as a form of self expression and as a means of entertaining those around them. It is the greedy copyright industrialists who are trying to bottle up the hearts and souls of the creative and expressive to make money. What's worse is that the greed is a disease that people quite often catch for themselves turning creatives into greedy creatives.

    I liken the difference to people who become doctors and nurses. Some do it because they feel they have a need to help people. Some do it because a lot of people in the medical industry live in really big houses and own a lot of things. Unfortunately, it's a lot more difficult to tell the difference between the real doctors and nurses and the ones who are just in it for the money, but I dare you to make an argument for going to a doctor who is in it for the money instead of the one who is in it for the good of humanity.

    The only business that is ever threatened by improved technologies are those that need to be left behind. This article puts it out nicely and shows how long this game has been going on. DAT was an excellent technology and really would have been nice but the copyright industrialists pretty much ruined it. HDMI is a nice interface for media playback devices, but it too is a bit buggered in the name of the "money for nothing" industrialists. The average joe on the streets may never fully appreciate the damage and harm caused by the copyright industrialists, but stories like these are important when trying to show it to them and showing how incredibly bad the copyright industrialists are.

    The copyright industrialists don't even KNOW they are bad. The greedy don't even know they are greedy. They simply want what they want and will do a great deal to get it. The difference is that they are willing to harm others to get what they want while the average joe is willing to work for his pay. I think when you boil it down to the question of whether or not someone is willing to harm others for profit, that is probably the best way to determine if someone is "bad" or not. (There are tow truck drivers who will respond in an emergency to assist. There are tow truck drivers who are set up to tow the vehicles and hold vehicles for usurious ransom. The difference is pretty clear.)

    • by Shrike82 (1471633)
      Thankyou. Someone who feels the same way I do but is able to express themselves without poor analogies or stretched metaphors. I really believe that if the music and film industries devoted as much time and money to innovating the digital distribution market as they do to lobbying various governments and devloping restrictive DRM formats that are easily cracked, they'd have come up with a workable business model by now that meant more profits for them and better content and delivery for us. Pipe dream.....
  • This really isn't something that only exists in communications. If there were a huge market for hygienic corn cobs, you'd have heard that toilet paper caused rectal tumors or that improper squatting stunted the growth of children. This is just the way of business. When someone gets close to your bread and butter you squeal.

  • Do we have anything as good as Beethoven symphonies yet?

    What about even approximating Wagner, or Bruckner?

    As we become able to produce more and more quantity, it seems quality declines.

    Something to ponder.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Brian Feldman (350)

      Can you even name a few contemporary orchestral composers? If not, I suggest that you have no ability to speak toward their relative "quality."

  • Don't forge player pianos, subject of one of the earliest copyright suits over technology [digital-law-online.info].

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