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Music Piracy

David Lowery On the Ethics of Music Piracy 713

Posted by Soulskill
from the let's-argue-about-the-semantics-of-the-word-theft dept.
New submitter Mystakaphoros writes "Musician David Lowery (of Cracker fame) takes NPR intern Emily White to task for her stance on paying for (or failing to pay for) music. Quoting: 'By allowing the artist to treat his/her work as actual property, the artist can decide how to monetize his or her work. This system has worked very well for fans and artists. Now we are being asked to undo this not because we think this is a bad or unfair way to compensate artists but simply because it is technologically possible for corporations or individuals to exploit artists work without their permission on a massive scale and globally. We are being asked to continue to let these companies violate the law without being punished or prosecuted. We are being asked to change our morality and principals to match what I think are immoral and unethical business models.'"
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David Lowery On the Ethics of Music Piracy

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  • for artists? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dmbasso (1052166) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:26PM (#40373337)

    This system has worked very well for fans and artists.

    No, it's been superb for the middleman, the famous MAFIAA.

    • Re:for artists? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gl4ss (559668) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:30PM (#40373389) Homepage Journal

      well, that's where artists want to end up on their old days. of course very few of them can become MAFIAA execs.

      and well.. being asked to conform to technical realities? OMG CALL OBAMA!!!!!!!

      wtf do they want, bend the rules of physics so that it would be expensive to copy bits?

      • Re:for artists? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:29PM (#40374459)

        I think you're arguing this from the wrong point of view. There are many valid arguements on this side of the issue, but "it's easy to do so it shouldn't be wrong" is not one of them.

        • Re:for artists? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by geminidomino (614729) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:38PM (#40374635) Journal

          There are many valid arguements on this side of the issue, but "it's easy to do so it shouldn't be wrong" is not one of them.

          That's not the argument. The argument is "What the fuck does scarcity economics have to do with digital distribution?"

          • by jp10558 (748604)

            Also, in a society that considers government to represent and be "of and for the people", perhaps if some large enough percentage do something or see nothing wrong with other people doing something - it de-facto isn't wrong, and ought to be legal?

            • Re:for artists? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @04:03PM (#40375055)

              Also, in a society that considers government to represent and be "of and for the people", perhaps if some large enough percentage do something or see nothing wrong with other people doing something - it de-facto isn't wrong, and ought to be legal?

              Because that arguement legalized slavery.

              Some things are just -wrong- even if enough selfish people want to do it.

              Note, I'm not equating filesharing with slavery (because I know that the downmodders have their finger on the button). I'm saying that the arguement you're using to promote filesharing is a very weak one, and you need to latch on to the better ones if you hope to make your point.

              • Re:for artists? (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Grishnakh (216268) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @04:25PM (#40375465)

                Ok, and how exactly do you know that filesharing is "wrong"? Slavery is a bit of a red herring, because no one asked the slaves what their opinion on the issue was. Files aren't people, so they don't get a vote; slaves are people, so even though they didn't get a vote back then, they should have.

                Things are "wrong" because the majority of people think they're "wrong". Then they make a law to restrict it, so they can restrict the activities of other people, with the goal being to create social harmony and keep the majority of people happy. Stealing cars is illegal, because in a society where cars are necessary for transportation, it would be a giant hardship to find your $30k car missing when you need to go to work in the morning, and now you need another one and don't have another $30k lying around to buy it; most people agree this this is a problem, so they agree to ban the theft of cars. In practice, car theft is a small problem, very few people do it, and if you were to put the issue up for a vote, very few people would actually vote to legalize it, because they don't want their car stolen either.

                Now of course, if you're a religious conservative, you'll probably try to say that morality is absolute, but that's mostly bunk. There's nothing in the 10 Commandments about file sharing, though there is something in there about theft, but then again, that can equally apply to slaves, so that's really quite useless since it doesn't specify exactly what can and can't be considered "property". If you went back to those days and tried to tell people that ideas were property, they'd think you were nuts. So unless you can get God himself to come down and settle the issue for us, then we're stuck with popular morality whether you like it or not.

                We tried banning alcohol here in the US about 100 years ago. It was a complete disaster. That's a good illustration of what happens when you try to ban something that most citizens want to do, and are going to do despite any laws to the contrary. Ergo, laws must be made based on popular whims: if most people don't want it to be illegal, then it shouldn't be. Otherwise, what you have is not a democracy at all, but a totalitarian police state (it'll be a despotism to keep something illegal that people want to do, and it'll have to turn into a police state to keep fighting the will of the people).

                • Re:for artists? (Score:4, Insightful)

                  by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @04:46PM (#40375809)

                  as I pointed out before, you cant' make something legal just because lots of people want to do it, because people do what's best for themselves in the short term, not what's best for themselves in the long term or society in general. It's the tragedy of the commons.

                  you can, and certainly should, reconsider if something should be legal in the face of overwhelming popular support of it being legal. you can reconsider if the benefit in keeping it illegal is disportionate to the harm in legalizing it.

                  That doesn't mean that the answer to the mob should always be "yes, do whatever you want". Sometimes the best answer is "no".

                  We elect our leaders not just to represent our voices, but to -govern- us. I think we can all agree that they generally do a piss-poor job of this, but I'm talking about the theoretical here.

                  and to answer your question, I -don't- know whether file sharing of music should be illegal. Nor do I know it whether it should be legal. What I know is that it's a complex debate and we do ourselves a disservice by pretending otherwise. That is why I told GP to champion better arguements for his point.

                  • Re:for artists? (Score:5, Insightful)

                    by Grishnakh (216268) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @05:05PM (#40376193)

                    If you don't do what the mob wants, they'll replace you or overthrow you, eventually.

                    Yes, the mob makes bad decisions, because popular whims change quickly. The job of a good leader is to look out for peoples' long-term interest. Over a longer term, the mob will forget the things you did that were unpopular, if they've changed their minds about it. But if they haven't, then you need to change yours if you want to remain the leader.

                    This is the whole reason the Founders originally wrote the Constitution so that Senators were elected by State legislatures, and not by the people directly; it provided a much longer feedback loop, if you will. Eventually, people could change the Senators (by electing different legislators), but it took a lot of time, so the Senate didn't feel the need to answer to the immediate whims of the people the way the House of Representatives did (who are popularly elected every two years).

                    So, if something's illegal, and people are still widely disobeying the law 20+ years later, then it really shouldn't be illegal. In a properly functioning democracy, it wouldn't be, because eventually the people would elect new politicians who promise to overturn the unpopular law. The problem we have now is that our government isn't functioning properly at all, since it's a fascist government and doesn't represent the people at all.

                  • Re:for artists? (Score:5, Insightful)

                    by next_ghost (1868792) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @05:13PM (#40376355)

                    as I pointed out before, you cant' make something legal just because lots of people want to do it, because people do what's best for themselves in the short term, not what's best for themselves in the long term or society in general. It's the tragedy of the commons.

                    you can, and certainly should, reconsider if something should be legal in the face of overwhelming popular support of it being legal. you can reconsider if the benefit in keeping it illegal is disportionate to the harm in legalizing it.

                    You're turning the issue of legality upside down. Things should only be illegal when they cause serious harm to the entire society AND making them illegal won't cause even worse problems. So what's the harm from unauthorized file sharing? Well, in the worst case, some people may not get a return on their investment. Big deal, like that doesn't happen to millions of people in other professions every day. And what's worse, it happens to lots of artists anyway, regardless of copyright.

                    and to answer your question, I -don't- know whether file sharing of music should be illegal.

                    If you don't know a very good reason why something should be illegal, then you already know one very good reason why it shouldn't.

              • I'm saying that the arguement you're using to promote filesharing is a very weak one, and you need to latch on to the better ones if you hope to make your point.

                Okay, how about this:

                Morally speaking, information belongs to the Public Domain. This is self-evident by the fact that an idea has no value until it is shared. The US Constitution recognizes this, and allows creators to obtain what is essentially a loan from the Public Domain for the sole and express purpose of "Promoting the Progress of Science and

          • Re:for artists? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:58PM (#40374973)

            A. I don't think that's what GP was saying,
            and
            B... risking the ire of the single-minded legion of modders in this thread:

            why the fuck does digital distribution need to run on scarcity economics? It's not scarce, so it's not valuable? Why, just because it's trivial to copy music digitally, is digital music now considered to have little-to-no value?

            If you're asking why -artifical scarcity- needs to be implimented in this scenario, I would guess that you already know the answer to that, but just for the sake of arguement, it is because of the tragedy of the commons. None of us wants to pay for music when it is freely available. I know I don't. But all of us not paying for music has long term devastating impact on the production of music as it currently exists.

            And of course all attempts at artifical scarcity are failing... and not necessarily because they're wrong.

            The music industry will change. That's a given. It's probably unavoidable at this point. The question that the author of TFA is posing isn't a "what can I do to legislate people away from doing what they're doing" but "how can I properly explain to people what they, not the RIAA, are doing to the music and musicians they say they love". He is pointing out that changing the way that music is created and that society treats artists is the tyranny of the majority. We are forcing these changes not because it's "the right thing to do" but simply because it's in our own intrest, and we vastly outnumber them.

            • Re:for artists? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by HornWumpus (783565) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @04:04PM (#40375083)

              But all of us not paying for music has long term devastating impact on the production of music as it currently exists.

              We can only hope. A world without Beebers is a dream.

              Why do musicians think the last 80 years is the norm? The world is returning to the norm. They will get paid by audiences for live performances. Instead of a very few getting paid mega bucks, many will make a living. Sucks to be a 'studio band' (e.g. Guns and Roses) that can't play live.

            • Re:for artists? (Score:4, Informative)

              by Grishnakh (216268) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @04:29PM (#40375511)

              None of us wants to pay for music when it is freely available. I know I don't. But all of us not paying for music has long term devastating impact on the production of music as it currently exists.

              Bullshit. Every time one of my favorite bands comes to town, I plunk down well over $100 for tickets to go listen to them. Judging by all the people at the concerts I attend, plus all the T-shirts I see sold at them, there's a LOT of money being made by people "paying for music" (or really, a musical experience).

              This whole idea of selling recorded music is very new, and really rather silly. We're just going back to the way it was before, where musicians had to tour and perform live if they wanted to make any money; it's been like that for millennia.

            • by Znork (31774)

              Paying for music does not require artificial scarcity; there are many methods by which creators could be compensated that do not require control over duplication. And frankly I doubt even wiping out monetary compensation from the music industry would affect it negatively, considering the vast majority of music, with or without functioning copyright, gets produced without any reasonable expectation of significant compensation at all.

              Fundamentally there is no ethical wrong with copying; copying is what humans

        • Re:for artists? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by next_ghost (1868792) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @04:59PM (#40376087)

          I think you're arguing this from the wrong point of view. There are many valid arguements on this side of the issue, but "it's easy to do so it shouldn't be wrong" is not one of them.

          I think that the only argument that's really needed is this: "No matter how hard you try to legislate water to flow uphill, it just won't happen."

          That said, TFA is utter BS. I support my country's Pirate Party. I did a lot of work a few years ago in open translation of Free Culture into Czech. And I say screw the corporations. My only concern is about culture. If you can make a living from your art, well, that's nice, good for you. But I won't give a damn if you can't. Content doesn't become culture by someone making money from it. The entertainment industry is not our culture no matter how much they try to make it look that way. They just happen to be the biggest contributor to our culture at the moment.

          Content becomes culture when it's being shared. Think about it: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Frankenstein, Dune, Star Wars, Star Trek, Moby Dick, Disney cartoons etc., all of that is part of our culture. Why? Because people know what those stories are all about. But there's also a bajillion obscure books and movies that are not part of our culture because nobody has ever heard of them. That's why locking down content is wrong. I don't care why you're trying to lock down content, whether it's for money, political ends or whatever, it's wrong because it harms culture. If the lockdown is successful, then what's important part of our culture now may be lost forever just some 10, 20 years from now. I don't mind paying for content but at the same time I won't jump through burning hoops just for the privilege of paying somebody. The author has the right to get a fair share of profit from whoever makes money using his content and not to publish the content in the first place if he chooses so. But nobody has the right to lock down published content. Not the author, not anybody else.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Grayhand (2610049)
        Everyone makes the same silly ones and zeroes argument and they ignore the real issue. Producing the music and advertizing it costs money. Yes digital distribution is dirt cheap but even it isn't free. There's hosting and bandwidth considerations. Also everyone makes the argument every time that artists should only charge for live performances. A little reality check. Small venues don't pay for the music. Yes you make lots of money when you play 10,000 seat houses but the ones that handle a few hundred don'
        • Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Weaselmancer (533834) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @04:37PM (#40375659)

          Producing the music and advertizing it costs money.

          The main reason why producing and advertising costs so much is because the people who write the checks and the people who cash the checks are the same people. Here, read this. [negativland.com]

          What do you think would happen if you had a manager and you told him, "Hey, we think these advertising costs are a bit much. I'd like to hit a few ad agencies on my own for quotes and see if I can find a better bargain." Do you think that would be met with, "Okay and jolly good! Let's try to save some money!" I'm betting not.

          The real issue here is the middlemen. They've had a fantastic time of it so far, haven't they? They lock down bands with contracts as the barrier of entry into a closed system. It's closed because they have lobbied for it to be closed. That's why it's closed. Then they set the rules for who gets paid and how much. Then they write checks to themselves in whatever amount pleases them. Then they have the audacity to claim they are "protecting the artists". Then finally in a move of unmitigated gall they complain about the ethical implications of people who try to avoid their protection racket!

          I'd love to pay the artists, but currently there isn't a legal way to do so without paying these parasites in the middle. And I think you'll find this to be a fairly popular idea. But the current system is so broken you can't sing Happy Birthday in public. Or how SoundExchange can collect royalties on songs they don't own. Even one you make up and stream yourself - they want royalties for that, and they are legally entitled to them.

          It's like telling someone saying how important it is to obey the law. And then realizing Emperor Palpatane is running things. Makes the ethics a little fuzzy.

    • Re:for artists? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:36PM (#40373505) Homepage Journal

      What I took exception to was "'By allowing the artist to treat his/her work as actual property, the artist can decide how to monetize his or her work".

      But your work is NOT your property, at least not according to the US Constitution (haven't rtfa so I don't know if it applies to this fellow). I never heard the term "intellectual property" until they passed the Bono Act (which should have never been passed; copyright was already too long).

      Plus, under US copyright law, phonoecords are "works for hire", meaning the label holds the copyright. The artist doesn't hold the copyright unless he's self-published.

      Yours is good, too -- it has neither worked for the fans, nor the artists. But you are correct, it has indeed worked for the MAFIAA.

      • by hhawk (26580)

        yes.. copyright law IMHO and IANAL only protects against commercial sales of copy written materials. It maybe less than ethical (or not) to make copies, but it isn't illegal. DMCA of course makes it illegal to circumvent some copyright protection schemes; those schemes are illegal in my own mind..

    • No, it's been superb for the middleman, the famous MAFIAA.

      Two wrongs still don't make a right. I'm very much in favor of a lot of the reforms that you might propose to limit the power of the record companies and many of their abusive relationships with artists. That is entirely orthogonal to my views on the ethics of copyright (and I'm a mushy moderate on those anyway).

      If you want this claim to make sense, you'd have to show that not only is our copyright system empowering greedy middlemen that add nothing

      • Re:for artists? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dmbasso (1052166) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:21PM (#40374301)

        I didn't say anything about greed, or about the middleman being useless, or about piracy being right. I made just two claims, which stand on their own:
        1 - no, the system is not good for the artists (e.g. http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/07/13/1737224/riaa-accounting-how-labels-avoid-paying-musicians [slashdot.org])
        2 - the system is excellent for the MAFIAA, to the point a major effort was needed to avoid legislation being passed that would corrupt the system even more.

      • Re:for artists? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Belial6 (794905) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:24PM (#40374353)
        I would be much more in favor of copyright if the 'artists' didn't build their work on other people's 'Intellectual Property'. Of course, If we want to call it property, then lets just tax it as real property. Let the 'owner' declare the properties worth. If they declare that a single copy is worth 10 million dollars, fine. They can pay taxes on that 10 million dollars. If they declare it to be worth $1, then that is how much they can sue for when it gets copied.

        If they are required to pay taxes on the 'property' every year, you will see a lot more of it make it to the public domain.
        • Seriously, don't be absurd. Different types of property are taxed differently. For example, I own a car. I paid tax when I purchased the car. I also pay a licensing cost (a type of tax, in that it goes to the governement for the purpose of supporting public services) to legally operate the car. However, I certianly don't pay tax on it every year. I also own a number of books, which were subject to sales tax when I bought them but nothing else (and certianly no ongoing tax).

          On the flip side, you have the various producers of copyrightable works ("artists" for brevity). To an artist, their (intellectual) property is their source of income. That is, of course, taxed (on a continuous basis... assuming they are selling anything from it). Nothing special about that. In the case of the modern publishing industry, artists receive royalties for the copies of their property that the artists have allowed a publisher to create and sell. Those royalties are taxed as income. Often, there's also a contract (occasionally, there's a contract but no royalties) where the artist is paid a lump sum up front. Those payments are also taxed as income.

          Your argument is completely empty. A warehouse doesn't pay tax on everything it contains on an annual basis. A farm doesn't pay an annual tax on its livestock, despite those unequivocally being the property of farm. Why in the world should artists pay an annual tax on their intellectual property? Forget empty; your argument is ludicrous...

          • by ThosLives (686517) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @04:35PM (#40375633) Journal

            A warehouse doesn't pay tax on everything it contains on an annual basis.

            In the United States they do. In the US, companies will often destroy goods (and equipment) by scrapping because it's cheaper to destroy them than pay tax on the inventory. This is also why companies will periodically hold inventory-clearing sales with items at stupendously reduced prices.

            I don't know about farms and livestock though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Josuah (26407)

      The point is that the owner of copyright should be free to dictate the terms under which others can access that content. There's no ethical or moral argument that really holds water to contradict that. If the copyright owner is charging too much or inconvenient, you can surely argue it is too expensive or not a good value but you cannot argue any of those reasons makes you exempt from the owner's terms. This is the view our society has agreed upon and in reality we all like that view because each of us want

      • Re:for artists? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:10PM (#40374083) Homepage

        The "owner" can only exert control so long as something is entirely within their possession. After it leaves that state, there is no good moral or ethical argument for placing the rights of the "artiste" above everyone elses.

        You're basically arguing that everyone elses rights should be subservient to the those of the creative classes and that's simply contradictory to the notion of equality under the law.

        A creative work cannot really be owned because it can't really be contained. It does not exist in a single time and place once it is released into the wild.

        Once it is "out there", controlling it becomes a matter of restricting the liberties of others.

        Trampling the First Sale Doctrine is a great example of copyright run amok. So's Harlan Ellison.

        • by Bob-taro (996889)

          You're basically arguing that everyone elses rights should be subservient to the those of the creative classes and that's simply contradictory to the notion of equality under the law.

          Anyone can create and copyright their creation. Where's the inequality?

      • Re:for artists? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:10PM (#40374099)

        "The point is that the owner of copyright should be free to dictate the terms under which others can access that content. "

        But of course, that's the way it already works.

        If you mean they should be free to enforce the terms any way they want, however, then I must take the opposite stand.

      • Re:for artists? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:19PM (#40374259)

        >>>The only moral exception to this is for survival.

        The other moral exception is the 100+ year copyright. Before the invention of copyright culture was a shared commodity. Artists created and the people enjoyed. Copyright was invented as a way for the artist to recoup his labor with money, but nobody should be paid 100 years after they create something (or after they are dead).

        10 years should be enough for the artist to earn money from sales to repay his labor. Anything beyond that? He should make new music, statues, books, whatever instead of sitting on his laurels. The rest of us don't get to collect money for work performed 20, 30, 100 years earlier.

        • Re:for artists? (Score:5, Informative)

          by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @04:24PM (#40375441)

          > Before the invention of copyright culture was a shared commodity.
          Correct.

          > Copyright was invented as a way for the artist to recoup his labor with money,

          Um, NO, it was invented for publishers to maintain control by _preventing_ other publishers from making a profit!

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_copyright_law [wikipedia.org]
          "The history of copyright law starts with early privileges and monopolies granted to printers of books. The British Statute of Anne 1710, full title "An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or purchasers of such Copies, during the Times therein mentioned", was the first copyright statute. Initially copyright law only applied to the copying of books."

          and

          "Pope Alexander VI issued a bull in 1501 against the unlicensed printing of books and in 1559 the Index Expurgatorius, or List of Prohibited Books, was issued for the first time."

          and

          "The first copyright privilege in England bears date 1518 and was issued to Richard Pynson, King's Printer, the successor to William Caxton. The privilege gives a monopoly for the term of two years. The date is 15 years later than that of the first privilege issued in France. Early copyright privileges were called "monopolies," ...

          and

          "In England the printers, known as stationers, formed a collective organisation, known as the Stationers' Company. In the 16th century the Stationers' Company was given the power to require all lawfully printed books to be entered into its register. Only members of the Stationers' Company could enter books into the register. This meant that the Stationers' Company achieved a dominant position over publishing in 17th century England"

          - - -

          With the history lesson out of the way, here is my commentary:

          What most people seem to forget is that Copyright is a compromise between two diametrically opposed idealogies. That is, All ideas, discoveries, inventions, expressions, or representations:

          * should be FREELY available and shared amongst the public for the greater good of EVERYONE.
          versus
          * should ONLY be available for those that are willing to pay ONE for it

          Said another way, copyright is a balance between "needs of the many vs the greed of the one" with TIME used a means to control the balance between the shift of individual profit to society gaining the benefits.

          Keep in mind, anytime you take any ideology to an extreme, it is never beneficial.

          'The printing press changed the artificial "ownership" of ideas by disseminating knowledge (which provides control which is ultimately power -- the power to control your own destiny.) Certain people / organizations would duplicate books off a "master copy /original" and sell them. Since anyone could copy and sell, this would cut into your sales as a publisher. As a result Publishers saw that this competition would threaten their profits so they banded together to petition the government to grant them an exclusive license so that only they could reproduce books. That is, ONLY they had the "right" to "copy", NOT the author !

          Copyright has _always_ been about control, and greed.

          The foundation of civilization is built upon SHARING ideas. What value does "art" have if the artist has no one to appreciate it?? What do you think "Culture" is? A sharing of perspectives, values, morals, art, science. It is not unreasonable for a creator to want compensation for the time and effort he used to create their work; but to _demand_ that kind of respect from everyone shows a total lack of understanding what culture is. Since now-a-days text, video, audio, can all be represented digitally and copied without the original artist "losing" anything (except _potential_ future profits) it is MUCH harder to gauge what the true "cost" is when society enjoys

    • Re:for artists? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:24PM (#40374369) Journal

      Bimbo Newton Crosby. Know how much Cheap Trick gets from iTunes for their back catalog? That would be ZERO, the middlemen take every cent. Or how about the fact that Meatloaf had to file for bankruptcy TWICE because using Hollywood Accounting [wikipedia.org] the record company claimed that Bat Out Of Hell I, which has the record for longest time on the top 200 BTW, and this before the age of piracy, made NO MONEY and therefor he didn't deserve shit for one of the biggest selling albums in history.

      As someone who makes music and hopes to actually make a living from it I have to say FUCK THE MAFIAA as the current system is so damned rigged for the middlemen it is about like trying to win 3 card monty, its a total scam. living a hop, skip, and a jump from two major music centers I've held the actual contracts in my hand, got to see what actually happens. i've seen artists that sell more than half a million copies of an album they 1.-recorded on their own time with their own money and 2.-promoted themselves with no help from the record co get handed a BILL for $50,000 for the "privilege" of giving them a half a million in sales! I've seen bands have to break up and never work together because the "standard deals" for new artists are so damned skewed that unless they sell Britney numbers right out the gate they LOSE MONEY and they LOSE THEIR SONGS whether they sell Britney numbers or not!

      So Cracker, who last i heard was working as a producer and thus being a middleman himself, can frankly kiss my ass. The system DOES NOT WORK for anybody but the leeches, PERIOD. As a final note, know what Metallica gets for all their MAFIAA ass kissing? 89c an album. That's it. they practically blew the record execs and the greedy fucks won't even give them a whole dollar. Fuck the MAFIAA and the quicker they DIAF the better, it'll be a better world without them

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:31PM (#40373425)

    Look: the world changed, and we now have computers and the Internet. They are the single greatest boon to productivity, creativity, knowledge and freedom in the past hundred years. The Internet relies, fundamentally, on its ability to make exact copies of data, nearly instantly, and nearly for free.

    We have a choice between strong intellectual property protection and a functioning Internet. We cannot have both, as they are in direct conflict with each other.

    Anybody making arguments for the ethics or piracy, or the benefits of intellectual property, is yelling at clouds. It doesn't matter if piracy is unethical. It doesn't matter if it hurts artists. It doesn't matter if it hurts the economy. The Internet is much more important.

    • by bws111 (1216812) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:52PM (#40373807)

      Please explain how the internet stops working if people stop pirating. I am not seeing the connection.

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:33PM (#40373435)
    interesting there is never any push back on that even though it screws artists a lot more than anything else.
  • In a world... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mw13068 (834804) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:35PM (#40373467)
    Long, long ago, before there was equipment to record sound, musicians made money by playing live music for people.
    • by wjousts (1529427)
      Then the gramophone came along and the bottom fell out of that market. As TFA states, very few artists make any money from touring and live performances.
      • Re:In a world... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mw13068 (834804) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:53PM (#40373823)
        All these arguments are predicated on the false assumption that because someone calls themselves and artist, that they should then be able to make a solid livelihood from it. And even further, if someone gets some level of fame, that they are somehow entitled to maintain that. The world doesn't work that way. I play guitar in a band, and I have a lot of fun. Sometimes I get paid a little cash. Most of my income comes from an unrelated career that I also built for myself.
  • here we go again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hype7 (239530) <`ua.ude.una' `ta' `0115923u'> on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:35PM (#40373481) Journal

    the quintessential disrupted producer, complaining about how the world is not conforming to the way they want it to be, or worse yet, the way the world "should" be.

    I'm sure the exact same essay was written somewhere upon the development of the phonograph. "but how will we get paid if they can play back our music a thousand times once it has been recorded?" probably the same argument, too, by playhouse actors when recording movies came along.

    the artists/actors might not like it, but the development of technology drives down the price, massively opens the market up, and, if they're smart, allows them to make more money [therichest.org] than their predecessors could ever have dreamed of.

    writing letters complaining about how people are not paying enough to you is just so 1842 [bbc.co.uk].

  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:36PM (#40373491) Journal

    it is up to us individually to examine the consequences of our actions. It is not up to governments or corporations to make us choose to behave ethically. We have to do that ourselves.

    It seems to me that this is the core of copyright abolitionism. As long as file sharing is illegal, we are expecting the government to enforce ethical behavior. The right thing to do is to pay for the things you value willingly. If you don't, they can and should go away.

    The rest of the article, including blaming file sharing for musician suicides (as if musicians didn't commit suicide before) is pants on head retarded. The author isn't even aware that he's agreed with the basic assumption of copyright abolitionism.

  • She has 11,000 songs on her iPod. If she had bought them, they'd have cost $10,890. Probably more than the car she drives (if she even has one).

    Sorry my Sicilian friend, but that's just not going to happen.

  • by rastoboy29 (807168) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:42PM (#40373625) Homepage
    What do musicians know about morality or ethics or, in particular, technology, that the rest of us don't?

    I'm sorry, but most music and other art is crap, and I don't see why they should get special treatment from the internet.

    I'm not hostile, just trying to make a point.
  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:47PM (#40373695)

    Er, they changed the law. What they do is legal. If you think legality should follow morality, you should probably move to another country not run by the Ferrengi.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nhojovadle.> on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:48PM (#40373731) Journal
    The post has some merit however I take issue with some of the evidence offered up

    Per capita spending on music is 47% lower than it was in 1973!!

    The number of professional musicians has fallen 25% since 2000.

    Of the 75,000 albums released in 2010 only 2,000 sold more than 5,000 copies. Only 1,000 sold more than 10,000 copies. Without going into details, 10,000 albums is about the point where independent artists begin to go into the black on professional album production, marketing and promotion.

    It is my opinion that the introduction of the "Top 40" and other lists of hot songs has recently lead to people who only want to hear the same hook over and over on the radio. Radio stations comply, the labels control what radio stations play and then that's what people buy. I listen to Radio K/MPR's The Current streaming online and I will tell you that the diversity of what's on those stations far outweighs any popular radio station I have access to. It seems more logical to me that the RIAA and bigger labels have done this to themselves and contributed to the decline of musicians. I have been in four bands in my life and aside from close friends that came to shows, nobody cared. No radio station wanted to play our songs (some said they legally could not play our songs) and people just wanted to hear The Killers or Radiohead or Britney Spears or whatever the hell the entire world is listening to these two weeks.

    I spend plenty of money on music but it's definitely not to artists that belong to organizations that design their promotional and middleman fees off of a few major acts while absolutely dicking and ignoring everyone else. I pay my money directly to bands like Cloud Cult, to labels that are not members of the RIAA, to kickstarter projects of unsigned bands and use distribution channels like Bandcamp to pay for MP3s that come in any quality or format I want as many times as I want (although after kickstarting a project I now own twenty vinyl records of a punk bluegrass band that I frankly do not know with what to do). That's what stimulates diversity and number of musicians, I'm no longer even a hobby musician and I tried very hard to give my music away. We didn't make great music but there's just no place for it when everyone is trained to listen to the same damn shit on the radio. Have you considered the possibility that if record labels moved money around to starting acts, there would be more musicians? Instead the CEO of Universal Music Group has a new Bentley.

    Enjoy your slow death, I'm taking my disposable income elsewhere.

  • The Moral Amount... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by chad.koehler (859648) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:53PM (#40373817)
    In this article David Lowery attempts to get readers on his side of the fence by discussing what would have needed to be paid to "ethically and legally" support the artists, specifically for the 11,000 songs that Emily White has in her collection.  His stated value for those songs, $2,139.50.

    That is approximately $0.20 per song.  I think everyone would agree that is a fair price.  Unfortunately, there is nowhere that you can actually purchase music at anywhere near that price.

    David Lowery suggests that $2,139.50 is fair, and yet then attempts to direct Emily to iTunes, where that collection would likely cost exactly $10,890, assuming an average cost of $0.99.
  • by ffflala (793437) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:02PM (#40373965)
    I'd like Lowery to go back in time and explain his you-must-pay-to-hear approach to one young, incredibly poor Jimi Hendrix. That guy started out playing a broom for fuck's sake; his first guitar had one goddamn string. Where would we all be now if Jimi's access to music should have been limited to the amount he could pay?

    Lowery's approach would be accurate, if he were talking about selling appliances, or even band merchandise. Without further addressing the multiple mistaken premises (replace every instance of "the vast majority" with "a tiny minority", for starters), the main area he fails is his equivocation of music with a physical product.

    We've become used to this model. It has driven pop music culture for close to a century; it's given us the "music star" celebrity model that we've become comfortable with. This approach has progressed naturally, and now we've reached the current point of American Idol-voted celebrity products.

    What he overlooks is the natural power of music. Music, when at its best, can give courage to the otherwise cowardly, joy to those in pain, even trigger mystical experiences in the otherwise mundane. It can cement memories and bring people closer together.

    The problem is when you slap a price tag and marketing on something that serves as a vehicle for these transformative experiences, a few nasty things happen. For one thing, you inevitably see a homogenization of music as salespersons try to maximize profit. Music is reduced to the lowest common denominator to maximize mass appeal, just like fast food. Services exist that compare proposed compositions to past hits in terms of melodic, harmonic, rhythmic structure -- you have people just rewriting variations on the same old tune. Quality is subjective though, and there's no real basis to say one song is better than another -- all that matters is the experience of the listener.

    But the most insidious part of slapping price tags on transformative experiences is that you keep poor people from experiencing them. Can't afford to pay up? Tough shit son, you don't get to experience an essential aspect of your culture. Too poor? Sorry, this joy is reserved for those who can afford it.

    I'm sure Lowery means well, but people like him are one reason why I'm a librarian. There must be a way for people to access vital, possibly transformative parts of our culture regardless of ability to pay. For the time being it seems like taxing society to provide public access to repositories of music, art, and literature, while not perfect, is the best workaround.
  • Most people simply either do not perceive who is affected by piracy, or else they simply do not care. There is no ethical quandry because they are indifferent enough about the consequences that it is a non-issue.

    What piracy affects is the overall usefulness of copyright as a means to secure some of a creator's interest, while at the same time allowing the general public to appreciate that creator's work. Piracy reduces the confidence that creators place in copyright to protect their works, and they resort to other means, such as trying to restrict the circumstances under which their content can be used, or possibly even resorting to self-censorship, and not widely publishing at all.

    In the end, I perceive that continued piracy takes something away from future generations that is a fundamental freedom that we have all been enjoying for centuries... which is freedom we all have to read and listen to what we want, and under the conditions that we all want. Some believe that abolition of copyright entirely would accomplish the same thing, but in the end, such an approach is little more than an anarchists approach, and in the long run, I believe would be more destructive to the intent of quality content availability than it would be ensuring that the public still had such access to it.

  • he is just a troll (Score:5, Insightful)

    by melikamp (631205) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:34PM (#40374565) Homepage Journal
    He is just another troll. He ignores basic facts, like the one that no jurisdiction treats copyrightable material as property. He says that the system worked really well for artists, even though from its very inception in the Statute of Anne, copyright was used by printers to rob artists, and the practice continues to this day. When he complains about corporations taking his profit, it is an ultimate strawman, since no reasonable copyright reformer calls for a free-for-all commercialization. Instead, we want reasonable terms of several years and acceptance of non-commercial sharing as a basic right guaranteed to us by the UN charter in the free expression article. Sure, there are some abolitionists out there, but arguing with them is just as productive as arguing with people who want to abolish civilization. Go back under the bridge, pal. If you are defending MAFIAA shaking down single moms, you are not an artist but a gangster.
  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:36PM (#40374597)

    The summary quote is about people rationalizing pirating content because "corporate America is evil." And, here they are posting rants with that exact sentiment. If two wrongs make a right, then stream on!

  • by Pfhorrest (545131) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:37PM (#40374611) Homepage Journal

    Now we are being asked to undo this not because we think this is a bad or unfair way to compensate artists but simply because it is technologically possible for corporations or individuals to exploit artists work without their permission on a massive scale and globally.

    No, previously people bought music on physical media, or before that paid to see live performances, because that was the only way you could get music without doing something really unethical like physically depriving someone of something (stealing their record/tape/disc) or something even worse (like kidnapping a musician and forcing them to play at gunpoint).

    Now, it is technologically possible to listen to music for free without doing anything unethical like stealing or kidnapping. A musician can willingly make a recording of their music, and willingly sell copies of that recording, and I can willingly trade some money for one of those copies, and then I can willingly make an identical copy of it on equipment that I willingly traded someone else money for, and then willingly give that identical copy to a friend, and... wow, now my friend has free music, and nobody had to do anything coercive at all. No violence, no threats, just normal sales and gifts, with some fancy technology in the middle enabling the gifts.

    Logically, the place where musicians have an ethical right to stop that completely ethical process is not recording their music, or not selling copies of that recording. That's their choice to make, if they like. Sure, that will mean fewer professional musicians producing music, and that those former musicians will have to go and do something else for a living. Other people will continue making music either because they can somehow find a market for it, or just for the love of it. I think the free software community is ample evidence that people will develop and practice skills that they enjoy for free just for the love of the art, not to mention all the people playing music for the sake of music across all of human history. The music will not die.

    Nobody is forcing musicians to give away music for free; they are free to stop playing music any time, if they find there is not a market for their goods, and marketability is the only reason they play. What they may not do is use the coercive force law to artificially create a market for their goods.

  • by harvey the nerd (582806) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:39PM (#40374643)
    Lowery confuses the need for compensation with rationalizing some truly evil thuggery.

    Let's say (survivors of) Adolf Hitler, under his Reich orders, wanted a royalty for slave laborers' work on European train tracks seventy years later. Sure they deserved to be paid, but paying Adolf et al only rewards the evil part, we know what happened to the slaves. I would be would be willing to help former slaves, but Adolf not so much. In fact I probably am angry with those that do.
  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:47PM (#40374773)
    I admit to being shocked to read what Lowery wrote about how advances work. Maybe on the small labels he presumably recorded on it worked that way, but none of the major labels work that way in general. Advances were used specifically to keep musicians in servitude to the recording company by running up debts that they could rarely pay. You can read about the practice here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recoupment [wikipedia.org]
    I don't remember his name but one US Senator called the recording industry something like buying a house and having the bank continue to own it after you paid off the mortgage.
  • by terminalhype (971547) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:54PM (#40374911)
    Comic author Rob Reid unveils Copyright Math (TM), a remarkable new field of study based on actual numbers from entertainment industry lawyers and lobbyists. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZadCj8O1-0 [youtube.com]

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