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Orson Scott Card on mp3 File Sharing 544

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Orson Scott Card on mp3 File Sharing

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  • About time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by XeresRazor ( 142207 ) <shinohara@gmaPLA ... minus physicist> on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:02PM (#6979995) Homepage
    We need more legitimate copyright dependent artists (let's not argue artistic ability on this one) to hop onboard the bandwagon if anything's ever going to be changed about the copyright system. Good for Card.
    • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Illbay ( 700081 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @07:14PM (#6980644) Journal
      I've finally figured it out. It's rather simple, isn't it?

      We don't NEED publishers, record labels and their various executives anymore, do we? Self-publishing and self-recording is now simple and cheap to do. Digital downloading and print-on-demand have made it a snap.

      So when you have the critical mass of artists realize this, and refuse to play the game any more, this whole problem is going to go away.

      The CD isn't needed any longer, and print-on-demand publishers seem to do fine without requiring a large piece of the action.

      The only people left crying in their Smirnoffs will be the industry crooks represented by RIAA et al.

      • Re:About time (Score:3, Informative)

        by SirSlud ( 67381 )
        Simply untrue. Current economics dictate that if I want to become popular, I'll need people around me supporting .. even online. If I pour my life into music, I need a webmaster, promoter .. distrobutors do fill a need that musicians have; the problem is that they shouldnt have as much control over the market as distributors currently do.

        This is a common see-saw power cycle in the history of copyright law and the publication of artistic works.

        The point isn't that I need somebody to market for me. The poin
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:04PM (#6980006)
    Now that we've got the opinion of a semi-famous author of the written word on the sharing of music files, that should pretty much close the discussion right there.

    Now if we could only get Gary Coleman's take on this whole SCO thing...
    • by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:12PM (#6980089)
      While I can see your point, it's a lot more helpful than you'd think. ANY famous person is helpful to the cause, whether they're in the music industry or not.

      Imagine if the cast of Friends spoke out against the RIAA - how many previously-uninformed people do you think would look into it more and take a stand?

      -- Dr. Eldarion --
      • by buffer-overflowed ( 588867 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:17PM (#6980143) Journal
        Moot. It's already getting wide coverage, hell my Grandfather knows about it and thinks it's ridiculous. Them suing a 12-year old girl really, really didn't help matters for them.

        The RIAA is informing people quite well with their lawsuits, they're forcing it into the public eye. Mr. Card is pushing a few people towards the Anti-RIAA camp, but that's all... he's not going to generate enough noise to trump what the RIAA is doing.
      • It may well be that it does make a difference, but it shouldn't. What if Card sided with the other side, would people still be valuing his opinion then?

        Famous peoples' opinions on subjects for which they did not game their fame are just as relevant as the everyman in the street. And that is to say, not bloody much.

    • by garyrich ( 30652 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @08:02PM (#6981008) Homepage Journal
      Yes, yes. +5 funny maybe, but at least -2 not insiteful. He's "a semi-famous author of the written word" but if you have read any amount of his work you would probably agree that he's also deeply interested in ethics. Ethics and ethical behaviour are at the core of most of his writing. I don't always agree with his opinions, but he thnks about these things clearly and usually not unduly influenced by his Mormon worldview. The postulates he start with are not mine, but he reason well from them.

      Point being, I'll grant him some expertise in this area. He's thought about these issues long and hard. I doubt that Mr. Coleman has thought long and hard on any subject of more depth than why Todd got all the punany and he didn't.
  • is just a bit insulting, isn't it? I thought the essay was very articulate and well-written, if short on details about how you can be friendly to filetraders and turn a profit with intellectual property (maybe part 2?)
  • e-books (Score:4, Funny)

    by kirkb ( 158552 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:05PM (#6980022) Homepage
    So would he mind if I pirated his e-books, then?
    • Re:e-books (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vondo ( 303621 ) * on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:12PM (#6980099)
      See his final arguments.

      Maybe you pirate one of his e-books and you like it enough to buy the print version for the "feel."

      Maybe you don't buy that one in print, but buy others either in paper or electronically because you like his writing.

      Or maybe you decide he sucks as an author and never read anything of his again.

      In any of these cases, what has he lost? Nothing. You weren't going to plop down $7 for his paperback anyhow.

      The only way he loses is if you decide he is a great author, so you pirate all his books.

      • Re:e-books (Score:5, Insightful)

        by isorox ( 205688 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:24PM (#6980209) Homepage Journal
        The only way he loses is if you decide he is a great author, so you pirate all his books.

        Even then he doesnt, technically, lose, he just doesnt gain, it's as if you never read his first book to find out how good he was.
        • Re:e-books (Score:5, Insightful)

          by _avs_007 ( 459738 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @07:20PM (#6980707)
          Yeah isn't it funny how all of the "great" Disney movies were nothing more than remakes of old stories, legends, etc that are in the public domain, and yet they are fighting tooth and nail to prevent their own works from ever going into the public domain?

          But thats a whole nother' thread...

          Anyways, I'm sure one could easily argue that sometimes people benafit from pirating. I'm sure if college kids didn't rampantly pirate MS Office and Windows, Microsoft wouldn't have the market share that it currently does, and these same kids wouldn't be "locked" into Office and other such software as adults.

          Heck, in college I had a cracked version of Warcraft II that I played all the time. I loved that game so much what did I do later on? I bought StarCraft and WarCraft III.

      • Re:e-books (Score:4, Insightful)

        by RickHunter ( 103108 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:43PM (#6980357)

        And its worth pointing out that, in that last case, you're the type of person that would've pirated all his books anyway. If he hadn't had official eBooks, you or someone like you would've scanned and OCR'd them. So he loses nothing by providing them and actually gains a lot.

      • Re:e-books (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Jardine ( 398197 )
        The only way he loses is if you decide he is a great author, so you pirate all his books.

        Shit, I just bought all the Ender books. Are you telling me I could have avoided paying money and just got copies of them? Damn.

        Oh wait, I can't stand reading e-books. Never mind.
    • Re:e-books (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sheetrock ( 152993 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:14PM (#6980110) Homepage Journal
      I think his point is that we wouldn't need to put you in concrete storage for several years and fine you six figures if you downloaded Ender's Game. He'd still like you to pay for the book, but doesn't necessarily feel his great-grandchildren need to receive tiny royalty payments from his effort (well, in addition to the publishing houses continuing to reap profits for nearly a century.)

      Refreshing attitude. If copyright was reformed to be meaningful in today's environment, where a reasonable profit can be realized in a much shorter time than when copyrights were first introduced due to the capability and speed of worldwide marketing/distribution, eliminating P2P of copywritten works may be a worthwhile trade for the people currently using it for piracy.

    • by Soulfader ( 527299 ) <`sig' `at' `sigspace.net'> on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:25PM (#6980218) Journal
      I don't know about OSC, but a lot of other sci-fi authors have clued in to the fact that exposure sells books.

      The Baen Free Library [baen.com] offers a ton of books from sci-fi/fantasy publisher Baen Books for free in a variety of electronic formats. Baen has also been offering CD-ROMs in some of their hardcovers which contain more books not available on their website. The most recent of David Weber's Honor Harrington series, for example, contains the entire series in electronic format. Best of all, you can copy them and distribute them however you like--you just can't sell them.

      Try searching for "honorverse disk" at Google and see what you get. Many people (myself included) put the CDs up on their web server for convenience.

      It's hideously effective, incidentally. I've bought about 25 Baen paperbacks in the last two years, and several hardbacks--one of them just for the CD, though I rather enjoyed the book, too, as it turned out.

      • by swillden ( 191260 ) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @07:38PM (#6980843) Homepage Journal

        The Baen Free Library offers a ton of books from sci-fi/fantasy publisher Baen Books for free in a variety of electronic formats

        The philosophy behind the Free Library is also very interesting. Check out Eric Flint's essay on the home page of the Free Library. I especially like his conclusion:

        The reason I'm not worried about the future is because of another simple truth. One which is even simpler, in fact -- and yet seems to get constantly overlooked in the ruckus over online piracy and what (if anything) to do about it. To wit:

        Nobody has yet come up with any technology -- nor is it on the horizon -- which could possibly replace authors as the
        producers of fiction. Nor has anyone suggested that there is any likelihood of the market for that product drying up.

        The only issue, therefore, is simply the means by which authors get paid for their work.

        That's a different kettle of fish entirely from a "threat" to the livelihood of authors. Some writers out there, imitating Chicken Little, seem to think they are on the verge of suffering the fate of buggy whip makers. But that analogy is ridiculous. Buggy whip makers went out of business because someone else invented something which eliminated the demand for buggy whips -- not because Henry Ford figured out a way to steal the payroll of the buggy whip factory.

        Is anyone eliminating the
        demand for fiction? Nope.

        Has anyone invented a gadget which can
        write fiction? Nope.

        All that is happening, as the technological conditions under which commercial fiction writing takes place continue to change, is that everyone is wrestling with the impact that might have on the way in which writers get paid. That's it. So why all the panic? Especially, why the hysterical calls for draconian regulation of new technology -- which, leaving aside the damage to society itself, is far more likely to hurt writers than to help them?

        The future can't be foretold. But, whatever happens, so long as writers are essential to the process of producing fiction -- along with editors, publishers, proofreaders (if you think a computer can proofread, you're nuts) and all the other people whose work is needed for it -- they will get paid. Because they have, as a class if not as individuals, a monopoly on the product. Far easier to figure out new ways of generating income -- as we hope to do with the Baen Free Library ? than to tie ourselves and society as a whole into knots. Which are likely to be Gordian Knots, to boot.

        This is from a guy who makes his living writing fiction.

        It's hideously effective, incidentally. I've bought about 25 Baen paperbacks in the last two years, and several hardbacks--one of them just for the CD, though I rather enjoyed the book, too, as it turned out.

        Just a suggestion: do not under any circumstances buy an e-Book or other device that makes reading electronic books more convenient and nicer than paper books. If you make that first mistake, do NOT make the second mistake of looking into the Baen webscription program... <shudder>... I've spent *way* too much money on books since I did that. A half-dozen books for $15 -- it's just too much of a bargain to refuse... but there are four YEARS of such monthly bargains to buy...

      • It's true, reading books online sucks.

        I've bought books that are downloadable for free from the Gutenburg Project because I can read them in bed and are easier on my eyes. A paperback costs 6 bucks. A e-book reader costs at least 50 bucks. Which would you leave on the floor in front of the toilet?

        Authors need not be paranoid about publishing online. It will let lil' kids with $1.00 / week allowances read them online without a trip to the library, and someone that has never read one of the author's boo

  • by nenya ( 557317 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:08PM (#6980049) Homepage
    Card's essay might be useful for someone who hasn't been paying attention to the discussion for the past five years, but other than that it's really nothing new. Others [shirky.com] have said more and said it better. Still, it's nice to see a content creator saying these things.
  • by Dr Reducto ( 665121 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:09PM (#6980060) Journal
    He said:
    Tune in next week for part 2
    I bet next week is going to be an even more scathing commentary.
  • Grateful Dead (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nucal ( 561664 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:10PM (#6980073)
    "They're protecting an archaic industry," said the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir. "They should turn their attention to new models."

    The Dead always got it - they made far more money touring than by selling records. Letting fans record concerts and swap tapes created a lot of good will and good publicity.

    • Re:Grateful Dead (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jonbrewer ( 11894 ) * on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:18PM (#6980149) Homepage
      "The Dead always got it - they made far more money touring than by selling records."

      Maybe what they "got" was that jamming in front of a great crowd was far better than making a lot of money...
    • Re:Grateful Dead (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ziest ( 143204 )
      The Dead always got it - they made far more money touring than by selling records. Letting fans record concerts and swap tapes created a lot of good will and good publicity.

      Phish also gets it. They have always let fans tape and trade their shows. In Feburary of this year that launched a website (livephish.com [livephish.com]) where you can buy and download a soundboard recording, in MP3 or in FLAC, of the entire concert for $9.95 (MP3) or $12.95 (FLAC). The recordings are posted within 2 or 3 days after the concert. The
  • by xhabbo ( 613487 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:11PM (#6980077)
    This was a well written and timely article by one of my favorite authors. But I winced at one particular sentance:

    "If you got together with a few of your neighbors and each of you bought different CDs and then lent them to each other, that wouldn't even violate copyright."

    Is this true? Certainly it can't be if the only distinction of violating the copyright is geographical distance. Can give anyone give any answers?
    • by __aagmrb7289 ( 652113 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:15PM (#6980130) Journal
      This is true. Read the rest - it is the fact that you keep a copy of the music while others also have a copy that violates the copyright. That's why it is "copy" right. Anyway, handing the CD over means you don't have it, right?
    • The distinction comes down to whether you're keeping a copy of it when you lend it out. Right of first sale has pretty much established that you can resell the media (with the content on it). What you can't do is copy the content for yourself then resell the media or conversely, keep the media but give away the content.

      If you want the book analogy, you can't photocopy the book then lend it to your friend (lending is just a temporary case of selling for free), allowing you both to read it simultaneously.
    • Certainly it can't be if the only distinction of violating the copyright is geographical distance

      The only distinction between what he described and internet file sharing isn't only geographical distance. Two main differences immediately spring to mind:

      1) Digital file sharing can't even begin until the song or book or whatever is copied. What Card described (lending a CD to someone you know) doesn't necessarily include anyone copying the song. Just because you assume that each borrower would copy the CD
    • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:53PM (#6980445) Homepage
      CDs are a terrible example. I'll get into why in a minute. For now, let's use books.

      Yes, if you got together with others and each bought different books and lent them to one another, you would not violate copyright laws. Let's look at precisely why this is so.

      17 USC 106 states in short that only the copyright holder may distribute copies of his copyrighted work. This explicitly includes lending.

      17 USC 501 tells us that to violate any of the exclusive rights of the copyright holder, such as those in 106 is to infringe.

      Fortunately, you're saved by 17 USC 109, which carves out an exception to the broad 106 right to distribute, and permits people who lawfully acquire a copy of a work to resell, or lend it out as they see fit. Because 106 as modified by 109 no longer makes this activity exclusive to the copyright holder, it's not an infringement under 501.

      So you can lend books. You can lend any copyrighted matter. At least, as long as it falls under 109!

      Unfortunately, two special interest groups had strong enough lobbies to get exempted from 109. The music industry, and the software industry. The exemptions can be found in 109(b)(1)(A). (the general first sale provision itself is 109(a))

      There is NO FIRST SALE RIGHT FOR SOUND RECORDINGS OR COMPUTER SOFTWARE insofar as 1) this only pertains to rental, lease or lending -- you can still sell this stuff used if you lawfully acquired it, 2) this only pertains to sound recordings, or computer software that is not embodied in hardware, or that is not intended for use on a limited purpose computer for game playing (i.e. console games), 3) there are some exceptions for libraries with regards to this, but most of us are not a real library.

      So you actually would be infringing copyrights to lend a CD to a friend, provided that a court construes "lending" in the statute to be the same kind of lending, which on the face of it, seems to be inescapable.

      Fortunately, if it's just between friends, you're unlikely to get _caught_, and if you're not caught, do you really care if it's illegal?

      Now, you could further claim that lending it to a friend is a fair use, under 17 USC 107, but that requires an analysis of the SPECIFIC FACTS under the fair use test, a form of which is given in the section. Note that ALL PURPORTED FAIR USES MUST BE ANALYZED, NO EXCEPTIONS. The examples given in 107 aren't broad exceptions, they're examples of the kinds of uses Congress _imagined_ would probably suffice. News reporting has been held unfair before, for example, so don't take anything for granted.

      So this is nonprofit (good), with non-factual works (bad), distributing the entire work (bad), with the effect on the market of making a sale less likely to the person who borrowed it since he can just borrow it (and perhaps make an unactionable infringement per 17 USC 1008 IF HE COMPLIES WITH THE STATUTE FULLY AS DEFINED IN 17 USC 1001 which no one ever reads) and not have to pay to enjoy it. OTOH it's rather de minimis since the lending circle is quite small, presumably.

      I think it would be fair, but it's actually a borderline case given how the test works.

      That's why the example using CDs is not very good.

      On the whole, it pays to look through the copyright statute (17 USC) rather than listen to what a lot of the /. crowd has to say.
  • by herko_cl ( 533936 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:12PM (#6980093)

    Having actually RTFA, I think his take on the problem is quite good. It's not like we haven't read this on Slashdot a thousand times before, but the real deal is that it's a known, mainstream author that's publishing this kind of thing.

    "In other words, the people complaining about all the internet "thieves" are, by any reasonable measure, rapacious profiteers who have been parasitically sucking the blood out of copyrights on other people's work. And I say this with the best will in the world. In fact, these companies have expenses. There are salaries to pay. Some of the salaries are earned. ".

    I like the way he puts it <grin>

  • by yajacuk ( 303678 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:13PM (#6980103) Homepage
    What I find interesting about this whole issue with mp3's and the RIAA is that for years now, the RIAA and it's affiliates have contributed to the destruction of the morals in the US. By selling music that teach nothing more then violence, indiscriminate sex, and foul language. Now they come after their very consumers and ask them about their morals, amazing.
    When they were talking about child porn being found on Kazza, I wondered if they ever bothered to look at the Britney Spears video clips they were putting out.
  • Wow... (Score:5, Funny)

    by JoeLinux ( 20366 ) <joelinux@NOSPaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:14PM (#6980113) Homepage
    Suddenly I'm filled with all sorts of chocolately goodness...recording artists coming out and saying that maybe suing your customers might not be the best idea to get customer loyalty.
  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:14PM (#6980117) Homepage Journal
    Maybe I should write it into a song...

    But the fact remains that as the old hat of the record industry is, it subsidizes the failures with profits from teh successes where the internet in file swapping can be used to help a new band establish their worth to machinery of the record industry that is still actually useful to the promotion of a band or artist.

    This is no good for the artists.

    time to remove the fat and greed of the middle man non-artist...
  • by Xenius ( 626318 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:17PM (#6980146) Homepage
    ...also a reasonably intelligent guy, unlike the Record execs.

    "The record companies swear that it's making a serious inroad on sales, and they can prove it. How? By showing that their sales are way down in the past few years."

    First off, anyone whose taken any intro psych class knows that the RIAA's data is bull. Hell, even those who haven't know it. All they are showing is correlational data. Whoopdie doo, cd sales are down while "piracy" is up. Watch me publish correlational data that shows quality of music is down and sales of cds are down. They haven't proven jack.

    "It couldn't possibly be because (a) most of us have already replaced all our old vinyl and cassettes, so all that windfall money is no longer flowing in, or (b) because the record companies have made some really lousy decisions as they tried to guess what we consumers would want to buy."

    Because Mr Card is publishing an article that will probably be viewed by many, he had to censor himself. What b) really means is that big record companies are trying to force-feed crap to the masses. How many boy-bands do we really need? How many no-talent implant laden morons do we really need singing "I'm not that innocent"?
    • More Obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phriedom ( 561200 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:54PM (#6980454)
      I think the real reasons can be derived straight from the RIAAs own numbers:
      and perhaps less importantly, but still a factor, 3) They stopped selling CD singles.

      Music has always been crappy, so I don't think that is the big reason. Supply and demand and availability of substitutes are the fundimental forces of a marketplace.

      But guess what happens when you choke supply? Someone else fills it, and independant label music sales are UP, perhaps more than RIAA sales are down, which would actually be a net gain in music sales.
      • Re:More Obvious (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MuParadigm ( 687680 )

        And corallary:

        2A) They raised prices for technology when tech. prices are going down. Which makes CD's *too* *damn* *expensive*. Especially when you can get a DVD, hours of entertainment, with loads of extras, for only marginally more money. For your entertainment buck, you get a lot more on a multi-hour DVD than a one hour CD.

    • by DennisZeMenace ( 131127 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @08:01PM (#6980987) Homepage
      "It couldn't possibly be because (a) most of us have already replaced all our old vinyl and cassettes, so all that windfall money is no longer flowing in, or (b) because the record companies have made some really lousy decisions as they tried to guess what we consumers would want to buy."

      I think one greatly underestimated reason for the loss of CD sales is the advent of ClearChannel. I personally call ClearChannel the "cancer of music".

      Many of us "perceive" that the overall quality of available music is down. I sincerely doubt that musicians around the world have suddently lost their creativity. But the fact that music (as in culture) is controlled vertically by a handful of monopolies is what is creating this perception. And ClearChannel is one of the main culprit: their near-monopoly over radio stations means there's a greater chance you'll keep hearing the same stuff over and over again. Same things with concerts. All major venus are literally locked down and controlled by ClearChannel which "pushes" artists to them. In theory venues are free to choose their performers, in partice they often have to yield to external pressure. All this leads to lack of diversity and global music homogenization.

      And really, the essence of music is diversity.

  • by burgburgburg ( 574866 ) <splisken06@nOspAm.email.com> on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:19PM (#6980157)
    make no money off of their recordings with labels (and never did, even pre-P2P). The record companies pay an "advance", then charge the artist for studio time, promotion, pressing, advertising, creation of videos, transportation, lawyers fees, etc. And of course, the artist has to pay back the advance. Recording is usually a debt trap.

    The majority of those that make a profit at all do so from performances and direct sales to fans of merchandise. The more people they can get to the concerts, the better off they are. This is why artists make videos and lobby to get them in rotation. This is why they try to influence radio stations to add them to rotations. This is why they give away promotional copies to influential people (DJs, trendsetters, etc.) and to large crowds at events (at record stores, etc.) This is why they lobby (and pay) to have songs included in the soundtracks of video games. They believe that more people hearing their music will mean more people willing to pay to see them perform.

  • by The Lynxpro ( 657990 ) <lynxpro@GINSBERGgmail.com minus poet> on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:21PM (#6980181)
    What I found funny about Mr. Card's article was the following truism:

    Here's a clue: Movie studios have, for decades, used "creative accounting" to make it so that even hit movies never manage to break even, thus depriving the creative people of their "percentage of profits."

    Hollywood uses "creative accounting" to diminish revenue sharing with their creative talent in order to actually maximize their profits. Warner Bros. took a lot of flack over how they claimed "Batman" never was profitable, yet for some reason, they made a sequel. Or for example, Paramount claiming "Coming to America" never made a profit either when sued. Yet on the other hand, you have companies such as Enron and Worldcom who use "creative accounting" to inflate their profits. Wow, isn't that ironic?

    I guess the moral of the story is, when you overstate profits, investors lose confidence and your company goes bankrupt; run a Hollywood movie studio, claim you never make a profit, and you stay in business forever.

    • by JayBlalock ( 635935 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:44PM (#6980367)
      I guess the moral of the story is, when you overstate profits, investors lose confidence and your company goes bankrupt; run a Hollywood movie studio, claim you never make a profit, and you stay in business forever.

      Oh, they post end-of-the-year profits, alright. And plenty of them. What they DO try to do, whenever possible, is bury profits on a film-by-film basis.

      Like, say a studio has two sci-fi movies coming out in one year, and they're cross-marketing them in some way. So Movie A comes out first, does well enough in the box office, and nets $10 million in profits. They turn turn around, sink that $10 million into the ad budget of Movie B, and claim NO profits on Movie A. (instead, they have $10 million in unused advertising budget which can be put in the "wins" column at the end of the year - but it's not attached to Movie A any more)

      This is a simplified example, but not overmuch. They pull that trick ALL THE TIME. Remember Stan Lee suing Sony over Spiderman? They did exactly that on him - sank all the movie profits into the merchandising budget (if memory serves) and counted the whole thing as one big mass from which he got absolutely nothing.

  • by theboy24 ( 687962 ) <theboy24@@@aol...com> on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:22PM (#6980189)
    One thing that has troubled me with this whole fiasco is that in nearly all mainstream press and discusion there has been no question of the "lost sales" statistics. I do realise that many of the multi-nats in the RIAA own a lot of the press but you would think that after awhile someone, at least me, would want the RIAA to prove that, someone was actually going to spend money on the song/cd that was downloaded. It doesnt really make it right but if people are downloading becasue they're not going to pay, then the RIAA doesn't have a real claim to have lost anything.
  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:22PM (#6980190)
    If I fix someone's car I don't expect to derive continuing income from it. More to the point, I certainly don't expect that my descendents should derive an income from it. I rather expect that they should have to fix someone else's car to earn money.

    If I do wish my descendents to have an easy life why don't I just invest my earnings to create a trust fund for them?

    I have no problem with authors making a decent income for their work, but I also have no problem with them having to continue to produce works to maintain themselves and their heirs.

    Just like everyone else.

    50 years has always seemed both a fair and ample copyright duration to me, protecting both the rights of the author and the public.

  • Hey, he's talking (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TLouden ( 677335 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:23PM (#6980202)
    about kids like me and my friends. And would you believe it, he's right. I never buy CDs. My friends buy some of them that they like. Many of my friends have the CD and an 'ilegal' mp3 version. Why? Because an mp3 player is still $50+ and doesn't, at that price, hold much music. So they have a CD version of everyting for school and travle and then an mp3 version for when they use the computer and want to listen to all their favorite songs. Well now, that doesn't hurt the recording companies now does it? What apperently hurts the company is when they download the music they didn't buy. But guess what happens when the do that. They either delete it if they don't like it or get the CD. So now how is this bad?
  • by computerlady ( 707043 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:34PM (#6980291) Journal

    "The focus of the industry needs to shift from Soundscan numbers to downloads," said Draiman. "It's the way of the future. You can smell it coming. Stop fighting it, because you can't."

    Yes, yes, yes. And the focus of the industry also needs to shift from labels to artists. Artists are finally, albeit slowly, shrugging off that "plantation mentality" that had them convinced they couldn't make it without the big labels. End result is more, not less, music.

  • by kaan ( 88626 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:45PM (#6980379)
    Overall, this is a fairly well written piece. For those who have not yet RTFA, I'd say it's worth your time.

    One thing that was not mentioned here, and something that I've been wondering about, is the impact on new CD sales (both real and perceived) that's due to the huge popularity of purchasing used CDs from music stores. Clearly, a record company can only make money if the consumer purchases a new CD. But if I spend my $15-20 on a CD, then sell it to FooBar Music Shop for $6, then you come along and pick it up for $10, we've got a CD purchase that has been diverted from a brand new product to a second-hand one. I only know a handful of folks who really grab music from file sharing networks, but I know a zillion people who have spent a lot of money on a nearly-new CD for $8.

    I'm pretty sure that the RIAA has been ignoring any discussion of this trend because there's nothing they can do about it, and therefore they can't drum up support against it. But I suspect this behavior of buying used CDs is responsible for much more of the "slump in CD sales" than we know.

    Anyone have any numbers, info, or insights on this?
  • by downix ( 84795 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:51PM (#6980426) Homepage
    The artists, the authors, the guys that do the work. The record companies deserve to make a buck, but it's become nothing but a scam, a giant pyramid scheme. You "opt in" and you can't get out, if you're a recording artist or a writer.

    I think what the record companies fear the most is not the P2P swappers, but that some unknown, unsigned band will step up, and thanks to P2P swapping, outsell EVERYTHING the record companies produce, thereby rendering them worthless. In the P2P environment we have today, it is not only possible, it is inevitable.
  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:55PM (#6980464) Homepage
    It's more than just file swapping music under copyright, it's also the Internet as an enabler for independent groups to make money without the support of big labels.

    You can set up a pretty decent home recording studio these days for a couple grand. A really nice one for maybe five or six thou. Okay, maybe not a true professional studio but damn close enough for all but a highly trained ear. That's within the range of people willing to scrimp and save for it. You can get a master CD copied with jewel cases and inserts for around a dollar each in lots of 1,000.

    If you have friends with DVX1000 or VX2000 and a carload of gear you can add music videos to go with the songs. Okay, not as good as film but still nice looking on a computer monitor or big screen TV if it's shot right. Vertical integration at a price point that's affordable.

    I think it's that more than file trading that's the real worry. Those that are persistent, post a really good web site, offer a few songs for download have a chance at making money...and keeping most of it. Without ever setting foot in a major label. I think music has the potential to shift to a ground up industry faster than film.

    Two challenges with that: One is air play. As long as Clear Channel is in bed with the big labels on the payola merry go round you're not going to hear many unsigned bands on the air. Hence the fight against Internet radio. The other challenge is the signal to noise ratio. Weeding out the bad music and letting the really talented float above the fray.

    Still, those are solvable. I bet a handful of people with the time, talent and a few grand in gear could get together today and build themselves a new star.

  • by sig ( 9968 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @07:01PM (#6980516) Homepage
    I find Card's description of the old copyright system troubling. He says that the old system was bad because it only granted a monopoly for 52 years before the the work fell into the public domain and whines that he or his descendants might not die before that happened. This is ridiculous. The section of the Constitution (Article I, Section 8) that gives congress permission to create copyright law says that the purpose is to encourage "progress in science and the useful arts." Nowhere does is say anything about providing a welfare system for authors who get lazy and squander their earnings and their nidhoggic progeny.

    If your dad was a plumber, would you expect that a leaky pipe he fixed 50 years ago would buy you a new house today? Why should copyright holders and their descendants be any different. If authors plan on maintaining a lifestyle after they get older, they should get a 401k like everyone else.

    The framers decided that 14 years, extensible to 28 was long enough to encourage authors to keep science and the arts progressing, while still keeping the public domain well stocked with good material so that other authors could do their bit to advance science and the useful arts. The system enacted by Congress in 1978, and more recently with the Sonny Bono Copyright term extension act is so unbalanced that not only is it unconstitutional, its stagnating the intellectual development of our society.
  • by gregmac ( 629064 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @07:05PM (#6980555) Homepage
    Think of the backlash if the RIAA is 'successful' in their current endavours to end illegal copying and filesharing. Here I define 'successful' as having such a strong effect in stopping people from downloading music, that sales of CD burners go down (no one is copying and/or burning their own CD's), sales of MP3 players go down (no one wants to even rip CD's to mp3 for fear of being sued). (and yeah, I know that won't happen because there's many legitimate uses, but bear with me for a second).

    Now, suddenly, the $500billion electronics industry that makes CD burners and MP3 players is going to be seeing declining sales. And the $50 billion record industry sales went up a couple billion. Which industry do you think has more power?

    The whole situation is pretty strange. Consider that Sony Electronics makes something like $40 billion a year. And Sony Entertainment makes around $4 billion. Sony Entertainment is a record company, and part of the RIAA. Sony Electronics makes CD burners, MP3 players, Car CD players that can play MP3's, Computers, and various other electronics used in these 'illegal' copying pratices. Do you think AOL-TW makes more money from their record company division, or their ISP division (that allows people to download using p2p)?

    Maybe someone can shed some light on who's making these decisions in the RIAA and why these companies are allowing it to do what it's doing.

  • by jbn-o ( 555068 ) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @07:33PM (#6980795) Homepage

    From the article:

    Until 1978, copyright only lasted 52 years in the U.S. -- and then only if you remembered to renew it. There were other technical lapses that could result in the inadvertent loss of copyright -- it wasn't really user-friendly.

    Sure it was, once you realize that copyright was never meant to grant a copyright holder perpetual income. Copyright was meant to be an incentive to publish, part of a bargain with the public. So a limited term of copyright (which we don't have today thanks to retroactive term extension) that expires well within someone's lifetime (which we also don't have today) were both good things. Mark Twain fought this and we (as a society) are better off for his not having gotten his wish in his lifetime. If the term of copyright was then what it is now, we wouldn't have as many of his works to share (we might not have any, they might all be tightly controlled by his estate like Mitchell or Gershwin's estate handles their works). You don't spur society to publish more work by granting them everlasting power to deem how the work can be disseminated and built upon.

    I think it's reasonable to say far more works would have been lost to time because nobody could legally preserve them by copying them (a time-honored means of saving knowledge for future readers). The Public Domain Enhancement Act [eldred.cc] (H.R. 2601 [loc.gov]) attempts to restore a more reasonable effective term of copyright without violating on the Bern treaty. I encourage everyone to contact their congresspeople to co-sponsor this act.

    Once you recognize that nobody makes ideas in a vacuum and we all base everything we think and do on the work of others, you get to a point where you begin to question the underlying assumptions of copyright and anyone who pitches copyright as property (a prejudicial term [gnu.org], at the least). I wonder about a far shorter term of copyright and whether society would benefit from not allowing certain expressions to not have copyright power at all (such as non-free software which remains non-free even after it would enter the public domain because the source code for the program is never revealed).

  • by DavidBrown ( 177261 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @08:12PM (#6981088) Journal
    It's a risk. If the artists try to unionize, the labels will likely dump many artists and replace them with emerging groups hungry for a record contract. But, if the major artists get together and form a strong economic block, they could carry the rest of the artists along with them. Such a union could establish by force a just, time-limited, standard recording contract that respects the rights of the artist.

    Or, with enough money, they can make their own labels. As I understand it, this is how United Artists started. Back in the day, Hollywood was ruled by the studio system, in which actors were more or less owned by their studios in the same manner that recording artists are owned by labels today. United Artists, the Screen Actors Guild, and other groups helped break the studio system, and now actors are guaranteed compensation at a minimum rate under standard SAG contracts, and are also allowed to take their talent anywhere they want. There is no particular reason why recording artists cannot do this, especially when it's much less expensive to record an album than it is to produce a motion picture.

  • Unimpressed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @10:13PM (#6982001) Homepage
    Card should stick to fiction. I wasn't impressed by his argument, and the number of errors in it don't speak well to his fundemental understanding of the issue.

    Copyright is a temporary monopoly granted by the government -- it creates the legal fiction that a piece of writing or composing (or, as technologies were created, a recorded performance) is property and can only be sold by those who have been licensed to do so by the copyright holder.

    This is untrue in several respects.

    Firstly, there is no legal fiction that works are property, nor is there any legal fact that works are property. Creative works are not property. The copy in which a work is embodied certainly may be, but copies are distinguishable from the works they incorporate. Copies are not pieces of writing, or composing, or performances; those are works. Copies would be books, sheet music, or CDs embodying the works.

    Furthermore, Card ignores 17 USC 109 (and a few related provisions) by making the erroneous claim that resale is limited to authorized persons. If he's ever set foot in a used bookstore, he'd know that his statement is simply incorrect.

    And of course, he's ignorant of the history of protection afforded to sound recordings -- they were ineligible for copyrights until the early 1970's, long, long after the technology for recording performances had arisen. Edison cylinders are positively 19th century, for christ's sake!

    In exchange for the private monopoly of copyright, when it expires the work is then free for anyone to perform or print or record.

    Mm... this is an odd way to phrase this. I don't often see the copyright quid pro quo expressed from the author's point of view, and it seems rather lacking.

    If we assumed that there was nothing more to it than this, there would be no copyrights; why would the public grant a copyright preventing them from freely making and enjoying copies so as to enjoy the public domain later, when by not granting copyrights they could enjoy the public domain now?

    The missing element is progress. The reason copyrights are granted is so that we promote the _end_ of progress of knowledge generally by the _means_ of encouraging authors to create works which are of limited help towards the aim of progress during the copyright term, but are of maximal help towards that aim once the term expires.

    We musn't grant these things because we feel like it or to help out authors or something. That would be really dumb for several reasons.

    Until 1978, copyright only lasted 52 years in the U.S. -- and then only if you remembered to renew it.

    56 years. A term of 28 years that could be renewed by the copyright holder in the last year (if he remembered -- if it was worth it to him, which it often was NOT) for another 28 years.

    The term before that was 42 years (28+14), and before that was 28 years (14+14).

    There were other technical lapses that could result in the inadvertent loss of copyright -- it wasn't really user-friendly.

    User-friendliness is not a requirement of copyright law. To a degree it might be useful -- if copyrights are so difficult to acquire that they are not an incentive to authors, that's a problem. OTOH, if they are an incentive to authors, they needn't go so far as to fawn over authors.

    Inadvertent losses of copyright are good. They ensure that works are not protected by law, yet are so worthless that their copyright holders don't care to maintain them. Such works should be in the public domain; the author doesn't seem to care, but there is still a deterring effect on the public that should be remedied. If action were required for this to occur, it would never be forthcoming; lazy copyright holders would hold onto their copyrights on the off chance that they'd be worth something later, and because it would cost money to get rid of them, but it's free to sit on them.

    Similarly, if authors can't afford it, it implies that the work is a commercial f
    • Re:Unimpressed (Score:3, Informative)

      by anticypher ( 48312 )
      A work is ONLY a work for hire if it is created by an employee in the scope of his employment, or under certain circumstances which rarely apply. ... Card -- being only an author AFAIK -- probably only would've encountered this if he were comissioned to create a part of a collective work (e.g. a sf anthology) and signed an agreement to that effect. Just writing something, unless he's an honest to god employee...

      You are missing his point, since its clear you have never dealt with book publishers in the la
  • by StringBlade ( 557322 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2003 @08:22AM (#6984571) Journal
    "For the artists, my ass," said [David] Draiman [of Disturbed]. "I didn't ask them to protect me, and I don't want their protection." [said about the RIAA]

    Bracketed text mine.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.