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Don't Stop File-Sharing, Says Former Pink Floyd Manager 243

Posted by timothy
from the leave-those-kids-alone dept.
Barence writes "The former manager of Pink Floyd has labelled attempts to clamp down on music file-sharing as a 'waste of time.' 'Not only are they a waste of time, they make the law offensive. They are comparable to prohibition in the US in the 1920s,' said Peter Jenner, who's now the emeritus president of the International Music Managers' Forum. 'It's absurd to expect ordinary members of the public to think about what they're allowed to do [with CDs, digital downloads, etc]... and then ask themselves whether it's legal or not.' The comments come as Britain's biggest ISP, BT, said it was confident that Britain's Digital Economy Act — which could result in file-sharers losing their internet connection — would be overturned in the courts, because it doesn't comply with European laws on privacy."
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Don't Stop File-Sharing, Says Former Pink Floyd Manager

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  • Re:Prohibition? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @04:28PM (#32905934) Homepage Journal

    Filesharing may be free as in beer, but it does not deliver you free beer.

    Neither did speakeasies [virginia.edu]; you had to pay for the beer, and Al Capone and his ilk got the money for your beer. And comparing file sharing to alcohol prohibition is a dubious analogy at best (is slashdot's "badanalogyguy" really Peter Jenner?). It only holds in that both were laws that the public vehemently disagreed with and disregarded. Alcohol prohibition is more like drug prohibition -- it spawned violent gangs that were funded by the illicit substances, and the laws themselves caused more problems than they could possibly have solved, and many of the problems attributed to alcohol then and illegal drugs now are caused by the laws themselves, rather than the substances.

    But I have to agree with Jenner, and add that piracy and the phantom "lost sales" aren't the real reason the RIAA is against file sharing. It's because the RIAA labels have radio, and the indies have P2P. P2P does in fact cost the RIAA labels sales; when you hear an indie song you like and buy the CD, that's money you don't have to buy RIAA music. The RIAA's war against "piracy" is a war against their competetion.

    If there was no such thing as radio, the RIAA would certainly welcome P2P and "pirates".

  • by cdrguru (88047) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @04:31PM (#32905968) Homepage

    If music, movies, software and books are freely distributed they pretty much have zero value. There will be some very talented folks that are also independently wealthy (or have gotten rich from when their music had value) that can afford to work for nothing. The rest of the world is going to do something that pays the rent and the grocery bill.

    This will certainly leave the field open to whomever wants to distribute their stuff because they know thiers has value. Most of this will be like Darwin Reedy [youtube.com] that can't imagine the world being without her talent.

    Fine, if that is where we really want to go.

    Probably the biggest single problem is that we have nearly 100 years of highly-compensated, highly-valued works that without copyright protection and enforcement will be grabbed up by the mega-distribution companies. Sure, you want a complete collection of Henry Fonda's movies - $5. The problem is that it cost the distribution company $0 to do this and the only ones making any money from it are the likes of Walmart and Sony. They can afford to out-distribute anyone else on the planet - no matter how many hits your warez/torrent site gets.

    Another side effect here is that without copyright protection and enforcement anything that is passed around for free will also get grabbed up by the mega-distributors if is any good. So they get to make money off the artists anyway. Still. Without any hope of compensation. Quite possibly without any attribution unless it helps sales.

    No matter how hard you try, you aren't going to get rid of the distribution companies. They will "make" (as in manufacture) pop stars out of whole cloth as needed just to drive sales. They will have the tools (promotion and distribution) to do this. Sure, you can get rid of the RIAA, Warner Brothers, and EMI. But they will simply be replaced by Walmart, Sony and Amazon. With less favorable terms for the artists and less favorable terms for the purchasors.

  • Re:Prohibition? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @04:49PM (#32906236) Homepage

    ...the phantom "lost sales" aren't the real reason the RIAA is against file sharing. It's because the RIAA labels have radio, and the indies have P2P.

    I think it's important to understand that the whole thing is largely about controlling distribution channels. Once upon a time, record companies made money by manufacturing and selling actual records. The big companies secured their business by controlling the distribution channels for music. They made deals with record stores about which albums would be shelved and which albums would be prominently featured in their stores. They made deals with radio stations about which songs would be played. That's how they made their money, and that's how they kept competition at bay.

    Now, they aren't in the business of manufacturing records anymore. CDs are pretty much done. All they have left is the distribution. If they had been smart and technologically savvy, they would have taken control of online distribution quickly and maintained control of the distribution channels. But they weren't smart and technologically savvy. They still aren't.

    The people working for these companies flatter themselves that their business is about being cool and making music. The reality is that they've been soulless marketing companies for years, and now they're turning into providers of technical services. Large portions of these companies should be run by IT people, and they should be providing high-quality Internet distribution services.

  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @04:52PM (#32906286) Homepage

    In fairness, I don't think they're being inconsistent. The band has decided that, when they sell their music, they only want to sell whole albums. That doesn't tell you what they want to do about the people who aren't buying their albums.

  • Re:Prohibition? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by B1oodAnge1 (1485419) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @04:57PM (#32906366)

    It's very simple.

    Someone who has $30 to spend on music will spend $30 on music no matter how many albums they do or don't download, those downloads do not represent lost sales.

    On the other hand, if our hypothetical person decides to support an indy band (that they found through file-sharing), then that $15 that is spent on a non RIAA artist represents a definite lost sale.

  • by 2obvious4u (871996) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @05:04PM (#32906480)
    Peter Jenner has one thing right: the general public doesn't understand why they can have a song on their ipod and why they can't just copy the file to their friends ipod. What is wrong about that? The only thing wrong is that someone said it was illegal.

    Now if that same person has a band t-shirt they would then have to give up their band t-shirt to give it to their friend. That is where there is value that can be controlled by distributors. The artists will not starve, they will make their money on merchandising and live performances. They need to give up on making money on bits. They should be using bits to advertise their merchandise and live events - things that can be monetized.

    Now lets say that Apple uses a song from a band without their permission to promote their products? That is a valid use of copyright law, the business is profiting off of the endorsement of the artist without the artists permission. A consumer spreading the works of the artists does nothing but improve the popularity of the artist, a business associating themselves with an artist has the potential to tarnish the artists reputation hence the need for them to be able to sue that company. Imagine if BP used Bono's music in their cleanup ads for the oil spill, then it puts Bono in a bad light.

    The problem with stopping file sharing is how it limits communication. If you are speaking about a piece of music, a movie, a book, or news article is that we now have the ability to perfectly convey what part we are talking about. We just link to it. It is a great way to enhance communication and should be encouraged. If IP law is changed it needs to allow for this type of communication. Viral spreading of information should be encouraged, even if torrent sights like bit torrent are condemned (one is organic spreading of information, another is centralized distribution for monetary gain). Basically if you are making money off of someone else they are owed compensation, if however you are just spreading information all you are doing is advertising for them for free.

    For something like an OS, or Office software, the software could be free and all income from the software could come from training and support. Yeah the company won't become a 250 billion dollar giant like microsoft or apple, but do we really need to be aggregating funds into a few companies. I don't think those companies would be in bad shape if they were just a 5-10 billion dollar company. That is 240 billion that could be going into making actual goods. It could be used to build housing, hiring employees, buying cars, etc. Hell everyone could donate all that extra money to the space program and we could build a public hotel on the moon. It is just a horrible waist of funds to drop $300 on a piece of software that 6 billion people use (I'm thinking windows on the majority of consumer desktops - they make enough funds off of businesses that it should be free to consumers). Yes I know I've been smoking the Utopian cool aid, but at no point in history has humanity been able to give something to every person on the planet. We can't do it with food, clothing, shelter, but we can do it with digital information. Yes there is money to be made on it, but it shouldn't be criminal to share information and it definitely isn't immoral.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @05:54PM (#32907112)

    "They are comparable to prohibition in the US in the 1920s."
    How? A ban on liquor is equated to a making music copying illegal?

    Both are utterly futile, and unenforceable. People will always seek to get pissed (or stoned, etc.), and people will always copy music, if the technology allows. And the tech most definitely does nowadays.

    hey! look what you get when you cut and paste from TFA. A little rider on the bottom...

    NoScript deals with a lot of annoyances on the web like that. And stops 3rd party marketing companies snooping on what you are doing, just so they can make their ads (for crap you probably don't need) more persuasive.

    From a quick look at things, it looks like the tracking and rider thing is done by intellitext. I think they are the web spammers that make basically what are fake links in articles. Anyway, blocking everything from tynt.com in your adblocker will probably also nail that crap.

    You do use an adblocker, don't you?

  • by RobVB (1566105) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @06:14PM (#32907340)

    Going off-topic here, but seriously, "dealt with them"?

    Yes, they did something, but they hardly solved the problem. Piracy in Somalia is still a booming business with massive return on investment, and the payments to individual pirates are ridiculously high compared to Somali average wages. This means there are a lot of interested investors [boingboing.net], and there's a near endless supply of expendable people to send on the actual missions.

    Trying to solve this situation with military presence in the area (by means of military ships) simply isn't feasible, because of the size of the area. If you secure the Gulf of Aden, which, by the way, is one of the busiest shipping routes in the world, pirates will simply travel further east into the Indian Ocean, as they have on previous occasions. For example, this story [reuters.com] is about a ship hijacked 700 nautical miles from the Somali coast. That's a two to three days' journey for a pirate mothership traveling around 12 knots.

    The only way we can solve the situation in the seas around Somalia is by solving the situation in Somalia itself. Somalia needs a stable government with an active police force and/or army to do something about the criminals that are ruling the country today.

  • Re:Prohibition? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PCM2 (4486) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @06:20PM (#32907400) Homepage

    Does John Q. Public really care all that much about file sharing? It doesn't seem to hold much sway (in either direction) outside of the geek/teenager/record-label-executive world.

    I don't know what kind of people you hang around with, but I don't know anyone under the age of 35 who doesn't know about BitTorrent, or at the very least some other means of downloading non-free music for free. Years ago I had a 35-year-old single mom from Detroit tell me she hasn't bought any music in a long time, because she just downloads it. My musician friends are some of the most avid consumers of music I've ever met, and since they can't afford to buy every CD they want to hear, they generally get everything they want to hear from torrents before buying some of it. (And yes, they would also like people to buy their own CDs, but they all accept the way the modern music world is.) Other friends spend whole weekends at home watching entire seasons of HBO TV shows, because they download them one torrent at a time. If you don't hear much about the "file sharing controversy," I'd say it's because that ship has long since sailed.

  • by Andorin (1624303) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @02:41AM (#32910262)

    Personally, I don't see any problem with the existing music business model.

    Fundamentally it's based on artificial scarcity of something that can be endlessly copied for virtually no cost. You do not see a problem with this?

    If you make a decision to try to make a living from your music then as far as I'm concerned it's a case of getting a good lawyer & negotiating your record company contract.

    So let's see. Joe Startup Artist is supposed to try to negotiate with Big Music Corporation, which has dozens of new artists just like him lined up outside the door for the chance to throw themselves at the very contract he's trying to negotiate. Big Music Corporation has every reason to tell Joe Startup Artist to piss off if he doesn't like the abusive terms of the contract. Considering that a lawyer good enough to solve this problem would likely cost more than Joe Startup Artist makes in six months at Wal-Mart, how exactly do you suggest that he gain some leverage against Big Music Corporation?

    After that, if you still feel you're being screwed by the record companies, then maybe you're not good enough to be making money from your music - so go train to do something else.

    Dude, if I were a musician, I'd be extremely pissed at you for saying that. You're saying that the only people who are good enough to make money from their music are those that manage to wrestle it from their predatory record label. Never mind the fact that that particular attribute cannot be used to judge music quality.

    Thirdly, people that justify music piracy are too stupid to realise that the music is there to be had in the first place because enough honest people like me go out and buy it the first place. Therefore, people like me subsidise their music habits and if we all chose to pirate music, then none of it would be made and they'd have nothing to download. Which is where the whole piracy argument falls flat on its face.

    Bull fucking shit [jamendo.com]. You're asserting that without copyright protection everyone would just download music and therefore no music would ever be made. Bull, fucking, shit.

    The bottom line is that when I buy the CD, the musician *may* be getting something whereas when you pirate the music, the musician is *definitely* getting nothing for their work.

    When you buy the CD, the vast majority of what you pay goes towards the record labels and lets them fund continued multi-thousand-dollar lawsuits against casual music sharers, as well as continued lobbying of governments for harsher copyright law and more invasive enforcement. Kind of cuts away your moral high ground.

  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday July 15, 2010 @12:53PM (#32915364) Homepage

    I'm not sure you're actually responding to my post, but I'll respond anyway.

    Personally, I don't see any problem with the existing music business model... Firstly, I don't consider musician royalties to be any of my business as a music fan... Secondly, as a music fan, I only care about the end product..

    So you don't see a problem with the music business model because you (a) don't care; and (b) don't think it's any of your business. That makes sense. I wouldn't really see a problem with someone stealing your car because I don't care and it's none of my business.

    If you make a decision to try to make a living from your music then as far as I'm concerned it's a case of getting a good lawyer & negotiating your record company contract. After that, if you still feel you're being screwed by the record companies, then maybe you're not good enough to be making money from your music - so go train to do something else.

    Yes, because 18 year old musicians are all really savvy businessmen. And that's the point, right? I mean, if they're not, then why the hell would I listen to their music?

    my buying a music CD has not helped maintain poverty in the Third World or damaged too many trees

    No, I doubt it does anything like that directly, but it is a big economic waste. Think of all the energy and materials that go into making a CD. Now think about all the energy that goes into shipping them around the world. Now think about all the resources that go into building record stores. All that stuff can be replaced with a few datacenters and the computer that's already sitting on your desk. Much more efficient.

    Thirdly, people that justify music piracy are too stupid to realise that the music is there to be had in the first place because enough honest people like me go out and buy it the first place.

    I... don't think that's quite true. It's at least an oversimplification. But whatever.

    Capitalism works when market forces determine the price of something,

    "Market forces" are at work in free markets. The music industry is not a free market. Copyright is an artificial monopoly, meaning no one else can compete.

    not when the market creates a reason to keep the price of music high because the honest people have to constantly subsidise the dishonest people by what they pay.

    They don't need a reason to keep the prices high. It's not like they keep albums at $10 on iTunes because that's the magic number that allows them to cover their costs. You aren't subsidizing pirates. If everyone stopped pirating, prices would not go down.

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