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P2P Bits 300

yohaas writes "Two Op-Ed stories today in the NY Times address music sharing. In one Kembrew McLeod says that the lawsuits aren't working and gives some alternate suggestions. In the other Harvard Law professor William Fisher says that the industry is going about the situation in the wrong way, concluding that 'the record industry's response to file sharing--trying to block the technology altogether--would generate the worst of all possible results'. Neither article is comprehensive, but they are good read nonetheless." Reader Brill Pappin points out that Canadians aren't afraid of the music industry. And reader The Importance of Being Earnest writes "The INDUCE Act, which would make it a crime to 'induce' copyright infringement, such as by inventing things like the Betamax, has finally been officially introduced. The bill has been renamed the Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act [PDF]. In addition to the name change, there has been another slight modication: 'counsel' is no longer part of the proposed statute. Here is a line-by-line refutation of Hatch's introduction [PDF] to the Act. EFF has shown how broad the Act is by writing a mock lawsuit [PDF] suing Apple (for making the iPod), C|Net (for reviewing the iPod), and Toshiba (for supplying hard drives for iPods). Previous Slashdot coverage here."
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P2P Bits

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:21PM (#9530596)
    "The INDUCE Act, which would make it a crime to 'induce' copyright infringement, such as by inventing things like the Betamax, has finally been officially introduced. The bill has been renamed the Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act"...isn't a loophole for this simply making a multi-funtion method for *whatever* where one of the funtions happens to circumvent or break copyright protections?
  • Other perspectives (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:23PM (#9530625)
    I think it is important to read Jerry Pournelle's perspective [] as well, however. As a person who has earned his living from selling written works for more than 30 years, he brings a different viewpoint to the discussion, and asks some good questions of the more radical end of the anti-DRM group.


  • by southpolesammy ( 150094 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:24PM (#9530653) Journal
    Not a law yet, just a bill. And given Sen. Hatch's track record, I wouldn't worry too much about it becoming law.
  • by CashCarSTAR ( 548853 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:27PM (#9530680)
    Both assume that somehow the RIAA should play nice with alternative distribution/promotion methods, and somehow that they are trying to do that, just going about it the wrong way.

    Frankly, that's foolish.

    The RIAA has absolutly nothing to gain by releasing the promotional controls they have over the industry. Why? Because it completly removes all their power. P2P/Webcasting make the threat of the next big thing coming up outside their reach very possible...and possibly very likly.

    The fight over P2P and webcasting is not intended to raise money in the short term, it's intended to monopolize the promotional channels to ensure their long-term relevence.
  • by Mr. Neutron ( 3115 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:28PM (#9530702) Homepage Journal
    Let's say the EFF's worst nightmare scenario occurs, and legislation eventually gets passed making all sorts of things, from DRM-free hard drives to writing simple Internet clients, to "unprotected" ADCs in every possible consumer device, illegal. Eventually the people are going to realize that we've stumbled into Regulations Hell, and the people will demand a repeal of all of these stupid laws. "Load a program, go to jail" laws will not be popular, and when ordinary people start getting busted for doing utterly benign things, there will be a backlash.

    The simple fact of the matter is that the existance of the Internet has made unlimited digital sharing a reality. The genie's out, people love getting free stuff, and nothing short of a police state is going to stop it. The content providers are either going to have to find a business model to take advantage of this, or learn to live with it. It's that simple.
  • by GuyverDH ( 232921 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:34PM (#9530773)
    Lawsuit brought against audio / video equipment manufacturers and the studios that bought them that allowed the music / movies to be recorded in the first place. Then the equipment manufacturers and companies that used them that created the CDs, cassettes, DVDs, and VHS tapes of the movies that allow people to see them and possibly record them. Then we go onto the chain stores who purchase the equipment to play them and the media that contains the information that can be copied. all of this before we ever hit the first end-user law-suit.
  • 0.001% (Score:3, Interesting)

    by artlu ( 265391 ) < minus bsd> on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:42PM (#9530875) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone know the cumulative total of all the RIAA lawsuits? These are just being instantiated in order to scare the general populus into thinking they get sued. Sure, go download music as much as you want but if you share it you get sued. It is definitely a one way street.

    What I don't understand is that I can have an archive of music on a network and someone can "break in" and steal that music from me and then I can get sued by the RIAA. Where is the logic in that!


    GroupShares Inc. [] - A Free and Interactive Stock Market Community
  • Re:Canada not afraid (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 56 ( 527333 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:42PM (#9530878)
    I go to the University of Toronto, and a girl from my college, Vic, got her internet connection suspended after a round of threats from, if I remember correctly, Paramount. I guess it could have just been scare tactics, but you wouldn't think the university would be willing to set a precident like that if they didn't feel like they had a reason to back down.

    The Vic newspaper said she was using Kazaa, which doesn't make much sense as we have our own UToronto-wide file-sharing network using DC++ that goes at like 7mpbs and has a huge selection...

    The article you cite is dated March 31, so maybe the instance I'm referencing took place prior to that date.

  • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:42PM (#9530881) Homepage
    Well, there's a fairly simple solution to that.

    Expand the issue to not being merely file sharing (which is an issue of reproduction and distribution) but expand it to the entire scope of copyright (so that this scheme would also apply to creating derivatives, and some public distributions and performances and such), and then instead of paying a monthly fee, don't pay at all. But rather than make this available altogether, which would merely be the abolishment of copyright, instead only permit natural persons to be shielded by this, provided they are acting noncommercially.

    Then things become pretty simple: ordinary people don't pay artists at all, unless either a) they want to (because they feel charitable, or can't find an alternative source for the works) or b) they're using it commercially. Businesses would of course have to pay regardless of whether or not they're using the work commercially.

    How that money is allocated would be just as it is now: up to the various parties involved to hash out.
  • Funny timing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by I8TheWorm ( 645702 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:43PM (#9530889) Journal
    I just got off the phone in a lengthy conversation with a friend who is a widely recorded songwriter. You can imagine the arguement between a programmer and a songwriter regarding the issue or piracy. He brought up some interesting points (and I like to think I did too)...

    • Songwriters feel the RIAA is going about it all wrong. The RIAA is funded by labels, so of course that's the drum they'll beat the strongest. The NSIA [] believes the RIAA's PR is attricious, and will (already does) hurt the performing industry. Nobody cares that record labels with a bad business model (read, spend too much money on production and marketing per cd) are either not making as much money or losing some. The NSIA (and others) have and continue to pressure the RIAA to change it's tactics.
    • Songwriters are in a different situation than programmers. I can charge whatever I like for my time or my programs. Songwriters are beholden to federal law (in the US) regarding what they can charge which is $0.085 per song per album cut, and $0.015 per song per radio play. Songwriters cannot charge a salary and forego any rights to what they write legally.
    • Songwriters love the idea of iTunes and other paid services. Part of reason is their pay per download is likely to go up from their pay per cut. The only downside is the copyright law has to be amended (again) to allow this, and until that happens, iTunes etc.. will have to put the artist money in escrow.
    • The media hasn't been any help in that corporations going after the little guy are front page news (ala the McDonald's coffee burn woman), while details that emerge later (also ala the McDonald's coffee burn woman) make small print in the back pages. The little girl that was sued by the RIAA got seven messages from them telling her to stop sharing files.

    • The RIAA is just another group funded by large corporations to pursue their interests, rather than the interests of individuals, and I could care less if they disappeared tomorrow. I know this, though: Sharing songs with no revenue going to the people that created them is financially harmful to the songwriters. Music isn't something that a person can't live without, and listening to radio is free.

      Here's something else I know. If labels like RCA didn't spend $250,000 recording a CD (that could be done for easily 1/10 that cost) they'd have less to cry about in the profit news.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:46PM (#9530918)
    Political bribery need to be criminalized and a strict system set up to ensure that no bribery happens under the table. Even if that system involves something drastic like: having the state control all of the politician's money or monitoring them around the clock.

    Just as the USA has a separation between church and state there needs to be a separation of industry and state.

    back on topic: making it illegal to invent things is a very innovative way to stifle innovation.
  • by I8TheWorm ( 645702 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:51PM (#9530963) Journal
    Have you seen the MPAA commercials? They're showing pictures of the production crew, editors, etc... and that downloading movies affects these people and their families. Quite the opposite PR campaign that the RIAA is using which is "stop downloading or these large corporate executives will have to buy a smaller yacht."

    I wonder if the MPAA campaign is appealing to the public any better?
  • by vDave420 ( 649776 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:51PM (#9530970)
    The basic instinct of anyone or anything - pig or human (or as the RIAA seems to consider P2P users pigs) - is to go the opposite of the way you're being directed.

    RIAA bashing will get you your +5, despite being factually inaccurate.

    I like bashing RIAA as much as the next /.er, and working at a p2p company, I have good reason.

    However, the truth of the situation is that despite having reservations over being told what to do, most people merely accept instructions from authority [] without questioning them.

    I would say that desipte RIAA attmpeting to shut down my business, that they are, in fact, going about the situation in "the right way(tm)", where "right" in this context means "likely to achieve the majority of self interest goals", if for no other reason than because most people don't question "authoritative answers" to issues they encounter.

    I fairly recently had a discussion with a friend of mine, who fairly clearly demonstrated this principle. She had heard on the "FOX news" that downloading mp3s would cause you to go to jail. When I asked about this, seeking more details from her (remember, I make p2p software, so am interested in average people's thoughts on the subject) she actively avoided putting any thought into the subject, and instead rapidly retreated to the comfort of TV-delivered answers, as stated in passing moments across the "news" about it being illegal or being responsible for "starving artists" or "child porn".

    To me, it just reinforced my oppinion that the average person (and this friend is truly an average American) would rather just accept the "Authoritative answer from TV" to nearly any problem or situation encountered.

    What a long post to disagree with your off-the-cuff statement, eh?


  • Re:Canada not afraid (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ubergrendle ( 531719 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:52PM (#9530975) Journal
    I'm not so sure that its legal, just that the CIRA has not come up with a viable copyright infringement legal case that works within our justice system...yet. Once they have a framework, I fully expect numerous lawsuits in a similar vein to the RIAA.

    We're in the midst of federal elections here. Unfortunately its the standard issue of compromised choices. I can vote for the Conservatives, who although state they are hands-off for business subsidies and want to eliminate CANCON, they also would override the canadian consititution in issues of gay rights, want to privatise healthcare, and have heavy backing by funadmentalist christian groups from the rural western provinces.

    Alternatively, I can vote for the Liberals who have been plagued with spending scandals, are firm supporters of CANCON, and wish to strengthen copyrights rules. Unfortunately they're the more progressive party in terms of personal rights and freedoms and have a less aggressive tax-cut strategy.

    The New Democratic Party would raise taxes both on the recording industry and on the CDs... no one would buy them anymore, and the recording companies would go bankrupt. ;)
  • by sixteenraisins ( 67316 ) <> on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:52PM (#9530987) Homepage
    Even more frightening (and this may be slightly OT) is that if this bill passes and becomes law, it could (will?) open the door for similar legislation reaching to other types of technology as well.

    Think about it - if they outlaw a certain piece of technology solely because it could be used to circumvent copyright (the iPod is a good example), then how long will it be before some capitol hill schmuck decides to author a law making other devices illegal? After all, a rifle could be used to shoot someone, a car could be used to race illegally, and a toaster could be used to electrocute someone in the bathtub.

    I'm not necessarily saying that this would certainly happen; only that a bill like this would open the door for it. You just watch.
  • Re:Ironic... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by I8TheWorm ( 645702 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:54PM (#9531000) Journal
    Go to The RIAA's site [] where they make no bones at all about the fact that they represent the labels. They make an aside that they sort of represent artists, but only because they fight for freedom of speech so the labels can sell more CD's.

    Notice, also, that they're a .com, rather than a .org ;)
  • by Psymunn ( 778581 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:55PM (#9531016)
    Man, there's this great ad campaign in Vancouver, BC where a kid gets caught stealing a candy bar and just tells his dad 'but you steal satellite singals.' It's brought to you by the concerned statelite people of north america or something.
    Man, i love those 'Concerened X's of Y.' Who are these people. Are they a a group of house wives (or husbands) who get together and say 'our society is falling to pieces, we must raise money to publish adds that will make satelite-single-stealers/internet-pirates/movie-bo otleggers feel bad about themselves?!? I just wish the cable companies or record companies would flat out admit it's them who are frowning apon what you are doing
    At the end of teh day, I'm goign to give up UT because 'killing people online is still killing.'
    And remember children: 'When you download MP3s, you Download Communism!!!'
  • by axis-techno-geek ( 70545 ) <> on Friday June 25, 2004 @03:00PM (#9531072) Homepage
    Just because home copying is legal in Canada, ie. you borrow my disc and make a copy that is legal under the Canadian Copyright Act. Making a copy and giving it to somebody is illegal.

    We are all presumed guilty anyway, as we are charged a tax on blank CD's for money to go to the "poor starving" artists. SOCAN has collected the money, but last I had heard none (or very little) had ever made it to the artists as it was mainly used to pay for the administration of collecting the fee.

  • Re:Warning - (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stripe ( 680068 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @03:09PM (#9531176)
    This bill is so obvious that I wonder what they are trying to hide. ie Send this one up as a ballon to get shot down while they sneak some other laws thru underneath the "noise" generated by this bill.
  • by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <> on Friday June 25, 2004 @03:24PM (#9531382) Homepage
    Hell, if this crap passes, I say we sue Apple, C|Net and all these 'enablers', so that when we lose the suits, the law will be more or less invalidated by the courts.
  • by Jennifer E. Elaan ( 463827 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @03:24PM (#9531385) Homepage
    Actually, no, they're not a lot more effective.

    See, I don't have a television. The only place I have seen one of these ads was in a cinema.

    The result of me having to listen to propaganda like that without the benefit of "mute" or "fast forward" buttons, while trying to "do the right thing" and actually *spending* $20 or so on admission to a movie on a non-discounted night, left a distinctly unpleasant taste in my mouth.

    If it weren't such a cool movie (LoTR 3), I would have been decidedly dempted to leave, get my money back, and hit bittorrent.

    The MPAA, though, is in very little danger from downloads. It will take a bite out of DVD sales, but the box office can never be replaced. I don't know many people with 8-point surround sound and 15-foot high screens, and those few who do aren't usually worried about the cost of a DVD.

  • Maybe introduce a mandatory cap on campaign treasuries. If the treasury goes over the cap then the monies go to the State.

    If bribery is found to have occured, then federal prison sentences should be imposed on both the elected official and the Company's officers.
  • Re:Warning - (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zangdesign ( 462534 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @06:30PM (#9533080) Journal
    I'm seriously debating the idea of suing the entire membership of RIAA, if the bill passes, under the same rules that drug-crime victims are allowed to sue drug dealers.

    Basically, sue them for contributory negligence by supplying the music in the first place.
  • by dslbrian ( 318993 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @06:32PM (#9533086)

    Not a law yet, just a bill. And given Sen. Hatch's track record, I wouldn't worry too much about it becoming law.

    Still, given the number of people in Utah who own iPods and CD burners, it makes one wonder why they keep re-electing that clown. Apparently they haven't connected the dots between their diminishing rights and their senator...

  • Re:Funny timing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by steve buttgereit ( 644315 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:27PM (#9534776) Homepage
    Actually, the labels want to keep you in the haze of "I've made it" long after the dotted line is signed.

    Ultimately, as long as the perks keep flowing (and yes the band pays, but usually doesn't notice), the band will produce good work, not question the deal as time goes by because they're living the high life, and they keep the carefree/rebel image that is demanded by popular music.

    Once the sales have stopped (and the royalties), so do the advances and everything else. But until they decide not to release or the sales stop, they want to foster the rockstar lifestyle in their acts: it's in the label's benefit.

    Even large once established acts are like this. I know a guy that was a guitarist for a big name, 80s band (one album went platinum more than several times over). After a time in the spotlight and enjoying the rock'n'roll way, let's just say I've got a nicely surfaced kitchen table right now because the guy's got to make a living one way or another. The royalties? Mechanical Syncronization rights and publishing? HA! That's all for the label.

    This is why I got out of music as a profession. There were better ways to make money and I can write the music I want and not be beholden to anyone.


Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato