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Piracy Media The Courts Your Rights Online

How Litigation Only Spurred On P2P File Sharing 140

Posted by timothy
from the perverse-incentives dept.
littlekorea writes "The growth in peer-to-peer file sharing surged in response to efforts by the content industry to litigate over the past decade, according to a new study by a researcher at Melbourne's Monash University. Dr Rebecca Giblin explains why 'physical world' assumptions don't apply to the online world."
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How Litigation Only Spurred On P2P File Sharing

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  • by Aguazul (620868) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @07:22AM (#38033848) Homepage
    Correlation does not exclude causation either.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 12, 2011 @07:23AM (#38033852)

    Since when does someone take it upon theirselves to demand royalties from people that trade movies by lending their discs over Sneakernet?

    Shut these bums down. They don't make a living or contribute to the quality of life to others around them other than to exact fines and fees with the same precision as the Zetas and IRS.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 12, 2011 @07:29AM (#38033864)

    I learned that this existed and that you could pirate stuff from all the controversy the RIAA and MPAA have done. If they never got sue happy and had absolute no morals, I probably wouldn't even know you could do this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 12, 2011 @07:36AM (#38033886)

    In fact, the only thing observable in the world is correlation. Causation exists only in models and that model could be supported by observed correlation.

  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <> on Saturday November 12, 2011 @07:51AM (#38033940)

    Because people lending (which is different to whats going on here) over "sneakernet" doesn't equate to tens of thousands of people having their own copy in only a few hours.

    And the content industry certainly does go after those persons mass producing unlicensed copies.

  • Re:All in a bucket (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rudy_wayne (414635) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @07:59AM (#38033966)

    And at the heart of it, the article offers no causative argument that litigation spurred on file sharing. At best it observes that file sharing increased in the era after litigation but it falls down entirely in showing any causation rather than correlation.

    I had never heard of Napster or P2P filesharing and had no idea that it existed until I read about Napster getting sued. I want to thank the RIAA for letting me know about this wonderful resource. I'm sure that there are many millions of people who share my similar experience.

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @08:07AM (#38033982)

    Doesn't anyone take economics anymore?
    Every product has a price that is based on supply and demand.
    Digital media once created has a verry high supply ability. Thus it's cost is lowered. Digital content providers are charging more then what supply and demand curve intercection states. And legal controls that are trying to maintain this off balance. So... Blackmarkets are naturally formed to provide goods at their actual costs.

    This is the same thing with drugs, unpasturized milk, under the counter workers...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 12, 2011 @08:10AM (#38033996)

    You'd be suprised how oblivious the average user is, to what can be found on the Internet.

  • Re:All in a bucket (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geoskd (321194) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @08:16AM (#38034026)

    The article reads like an undergraduate who wants to write a shit-kicking thesis and is really oooh excited about things but has entirely failed to do anything more than throw a few disjointed ideas in a bucket. It is peppered with lines that sound good but don't stand up to a couple of seconds examination: " So once the Napster litigation made P2P programmers aware of the rules about knowledge and control, they simply coded Napster's successors to eliminate them." I mean WHAT? Programmers coded out rules of "knowledge and control"???? No, the rules of law on knowledge and control exist independently in jurisprudence. How do you "code out" something that's entirely outwith software? Nonsense.

    I understood perfectly what the author was writing about in reference to knowledge and control.

    Specifically, in regards to knowledge: The authors of Kazaa and Napster had the means, as a consequence of the design of their systems, to know what was being transmitted, by whom, and to whom it was going. This constituted knowledge of their customers actions. Most modern P2P software has no central server and no communications between the users of the software and the authors of the software. In short, the authors have no idea who is using their software, where they got it from, or what they are using it for. More importantly: they have no practical way of knowing.

    Control is even easier to understand in this context. Napster and Kazaa relied on a central server to provide the service. These services had the ability to control what was being listed, or transmitted using their software. By virtue of their licensing, they had the ability to control who even used it. P2P eliminated almost all central control by way of servers, and the open source licensing ensured that anyone could use the software regardless of their intent. This means that even if the makers of xyz P2P software wanted to halt its use entirely, they would be legally (and logistically) incapable of doing so. They no longer have any practical control over their software, its users, or how they use it.

    And at the heart of it, the article offers no causative argument that litigation spurred on file sharing. At best it observes that file sharing increased in the era after litigation but it falls down entirely in showing any causation rather than correlation. There are other daft arguments about the Supreme Court making laws: it doesn't, de Tocqueville et al were rather insistent it couldn't; rather its interpretation of law clarifies the law already in place, which show the author is floundering on the subject matter.

    The article made a fairly persuasive argument about the likely underlying reasons for growth of online piracy *in spite* of the massive legal efforts of the **AA organizations. The articles unstated assumption is, that when faced with and defeated by such a large scale legal assault, the pervasiveness of piracy should have decreased. instead, as we know it increased. The article then provides a very persuasive explanation for the reasons why this legal assault failed. In the past many other similar assaults on piracy have succeeded. You don't see a whole lot of counterfeit goods in this country because of the reasons listed in the article. Online piracy is rampant however.


    Better than your response which was weak and trollish.


  • by siddesu (698447) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @08:28AM (#38034054)
    Actually, the article does not limit its reasoning to showing correlation, it explains very well how the costly penalties and open source development changed the incentives in the P2P world and moved it from a centralized to decentralized one. Unlike your snarky comment, it was a rather insightful commentary on the economics of the phenomenon.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 12, 2011 @09:14AM (#38034162)

    Because people lending (which is different to whats going on here) over "sneakernet" doesn't equate to tens of thousands of people having their own copy in only a few hours.

    And the content industry certainly does go after those persons mass producing unlicensed copies.

    Who are these anti-social jerks who have the power to spread knowledge, information and culture to all intellectually starving people on earth, but choose not to wield that power to make the world a better place by sharing with their fellow humans over the Internet, but instead use the sneaky Sneakernet to share with an elite of a select few? They are obviously enemies of decent humans everywhere and should have their discs confiscated and put to better use!

  • Juror #13 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harvey the nerd (582806) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @09:24AM (#38034194)
    The real pirates and usurpers are the labels and -IAAs, just ask some of the real creators about their royalty checks from the labels. Copyright has become sheer extra-constitutional thuggery with ex post facto changes, favoritism, public subsidy, harassment, subversion and essentially unlimited terms. F-'em.
  • What do they want? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 12, 2011 @09:36AM (#38034232)

    It hepls to think about who wants what:

    - music makers ultimately want to do music; they derive pleasure from doing that; it's their very nature to do so and to want to do it;
    - listeners just dig music; it is somewhat surprising people can appreciate music without being able to compose it, but somehow it happens; they'll get angry at what interposes itself between them and what they want -- just like any child...
    - music distributors couldn't care less about music -- they want profits, by any means they can get it (alas, there's a problem with vicious capitalism, but let's save it for another occasion); for them, creating scarcity is a way to boost profits; they also have this naïve idea that masses can be contained; it's a clear joining of evil intent with ignorance about how society works plus overestimation of their own power to control things.

    Misunderstanding one's own power, btw, is behind several disasters we met along the way in mankind's history, but let's save this, too.

    In the end, composers will resort to free music and donations, precisely as a way to get rid of distributors -- because these latter have been so obnoxious. As everyone can see in commerce, getting rid of middlemen is a nobrainer, which means distributors might consider what to do after they lose their jobs -- or, alternatively, desperately try to survive... the first measure being, of course, changing their attitude 180 degrees by:

    1. being really helpful to both composers and listeners;
    2. it follows, but let's say it: don't steal from both parties!
    3. stopping the bullying tactics -- that's suicide;
    4. having a nice agenda, being clear about it and sticking to it;
    5. disappear from the news: achieve the status of being accepted and keep a low profile.

    Actually, now that I think about it, this could work also for proprietary software companies and for Linux distros.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 12, 2011 @11:18AM (#38034660)

    not only that-- the most downloaded films, tv shows, etc have the highest media sales. And what about the study done by Neil Gaiman, Cory Doctorow, and the guy who wrote the book The Alchemist, who released their stories online for free and have seen higher sales because of it (easier to track when it is a translated version from another language).

  • by Strange Ranger (454494) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @11:19AM (#38034664)

    This is it. The whole article is -maybe- good reading for lawmakers and prosecutors who want to have better hindsight specifically regarding P2P laws. But it doesn't get at the heart of why P2P exploded. To understand that, just look at marijuana growth and potency over the last 30 years. It's a plant, so it takes longer to "program", but the stuff available now is orders of magnitude more powerful than the "dirt weed" available in the 70s and 80s. Law enforcement went after fields, and weight, and volume, so growers made ever increasingly potent strains. Powerful strains that grow fast and explode with buds when they reach a foot tall. Now they can make the same amount of THC in a basement in a couple months that before took a field and a year. This same phenomenon exists with prostitution, porn, gambling, horse power limits on outboard motors, large volume toilets "from Canada", etc etc.
    All you can do is alter the supply chain.
    Instead of FINALLY learning this basic tenet of human civilization that has been presenting itself for literally millenia, this time we're going to blame the internet.
      Wonder what we'll be blaming in 3027?

  • by qualityassurancedept (2469696) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @12:14PM (#38035010) Journal
    On a lot of DVDs there is a clear warning before any of the content actually plays that says it is illegal to copy to DVD even for home use... and then it says all that stuff about Felonies and the FBI and Interpol. Here is I think an apt point about all of this: in Russia and China they pirate DVDs by the truckload and then just redistribute the movies without paying any royalties at all. It is a common practice. But the lawyers in America who make money on these kinds of cases can't do anything about Russians or Chinese pirates. Its like if a city wants to increase revenue by putting up speed traps all over town to catch speeding drivers. Its not that the people who get tickets are the only speeders but rather that the police target their enforcement in places that maximize their revenue. The movie industry will have a lot easier time wrenching money out of the hands of American who share DVDs than they will trying to get Chinese or Russian DVD bootlegging businesses to pay anything at all.
  • by Kjella (173770) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @01:34PM (#38035488) Homepage

    In fact, the only thing observable in the world is correlation. Causation exists only in models and that model could be supported by observed correlation.

    Uh, no. If I punch you in the nose and you start to nosebleed, nobody's going to question the causality of that. Sometimes it's hard to say because X leads to Y and Y leads to X or because there's some underlying factor Z leading to both X and Y, but there's usually some way to separate the effects. That said network effects are often very vital in understanding why an inferior solution is picked, a small edge in starting conditions can send the marketing spinning in another direction.

  • Re:RTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @02:30PM (#38035860)

    It seems to me you've made the opposite point to the one you wanted to. Maybe we should stop using the law to try to fix problems on the internet. The consequences to freedom and innovation have been raised time after time, but even on top of that, it seems apparent that the laws actually make the problem worse.

    I mean look at botnets. We impose severe criminal penalties for breaking into computers. What happens? It deters all the script kiddies and the hobbyists from poking into systems in relatively innocuous ways that make apparent to the operator that they've been compromised and prompt them to clean the systems and patch the vulnerabilities. Net result: A decrease in petty crime in exchange for a stark increase in the number of vulnerable systems on the internet that are subsequently infected by stealth malware written by offshore criminal syndicates. We trade a decrease in the number of pranksters who open your CD tray remotely for an increase in identity theft, fraud and the distribution of child pornography.

    It isn't at all obvious that that is an improvement over caveat emptor. There are known measures that people can take to prevent malware infection. Install patches, don't run shady binaries, etc. Script kiddies are like an inoculation -- it prompts the immune system to take defensive measures. And it may sting a bit but better that than to have the first sign of infection be $30,000 missing from your bank account.

  • by DaleSwanson (910098) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @05:33PM (#38036960)

    You'd be suprised how oblivious the average user is, to what can be found on the Internet.

    About 2 years ago, I was taking a low level math class and, one day while in the library, someone from the class came up to me and asked if I could help with some of the homework he was stuck on. It became clear that his problem was he forgot how to deal with fractions, eg, he couldn't add two fractions with different denominators.

    I told him he should brush up on his fraction rules. A good idea would be just to google 'fraction review' and read through a few of those, then something like 'fraction review problems' and do a bunch of practice problems. His response was: (slightly amazed) "they have that on the internet?"

    Given how often I used the internet as a reference for anything and everything this legitimately boggled my mind.

  • I disagree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wanzeo (1800058) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @05:38PM (#38036996)

    False. File-sharing started because there was no legal alternative. If something like iTunes had existed in the early days, people (including me), would have used it. When iTunes finally did come along, it had a nasty DRM. If it had been open, more people (including me), would have used it.

    Recently, I have been seeing more and more artists offering their music on their website without DRM and without a label. This makes me so happy, I usually buy their entire discography (if I like the music of course). It is trivial to offer music on a website, and I imagine artists have realized that people are much more willing to pay for something when they know their money isn't going to a record company.

    As for the litigation, that is just the noisy death throes of a once powerful industry, angry about becoming obsolete. It has had zero effect on my behavior (and I read Slashdot), and certainly hasn't affected most people's reasons for file-sharing.

The use of money is all the advantage there is to having money. -- B. Franklin