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Why Web Pirates Can't Be Touched 402

gwoodrow writes "Forbes has a brief article about, essentially, the ultimate futility of fighting online pirates. From the article: 'As the world's largest repository of BitTorrent files, ThePirateBay.org helps millions of users around the world share copyrighted movies, music and other files — without paying for them ... That's illegal, of course — at least it is in the U.S. But when Time Warner's (nyse: TWX — news — people ) Warner Bros. studio accused them of breaking U.S. copyright law in 2005, the pirates gleefully reminded the movie company that they didn't live in America, but rather in the land of vikings, reindeer, Aurora Borealis and cute blond girls.' The article also touches on the many YouTube clones and AllofMP3.com."
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Why Web Pirates Can't Be Touched

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2007 @02:57PM (#19166815)

    "Printer friendly" version [forbes.com].

    It's also much more eyeball-friendly.

  • by VagaStorm ( 691999 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:06PM (#19167005) Homepage
    You are correct when you say the article is flawed, but not because all will get in line with us copyright laws, but because us sits that dos the same thing are not stopped. As a mater of fact, one of your largest internet companies, Google, basically provides much of the same functionality if you choose to search for only torrent files.....
  • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:15PM (#19167203) Journal
    For example:

    The music-selling site AllofMP3.com uses a simpler business model: Base your company in Russia, steal music from American labels and sell it cheaply. AllofMP3 allows users to download full albums for as little as $1
    The whole point of, and the reason the RIAA has not been able to shut it down, is that it is not stealing -- in any sense of the word. Firstly, the owner is not deprived of the work and secondly, AllofMP3 apparently operates within the legal framework of Russia -- in other words, it has a license to run its business model that way. The use of the word stealing is inflammatory.
  • No they don't. (Score:5, Informative)

    by pavon ( 30274 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:23PM (#19167327)
    Did you RTFA or just the summary? From the article:

    But there are more practical reasons that sites like Alluc.org get away with what they're doing. One is that there are simply too many of them to keep track of. Media companies' lawyers rarely have time to police so many obscure sites, and even when they do, users can always upload the infringing files again. So the flow of copyrighted streaming video continues.
    These particular companies are centered in the US and Forbes stills argues that they will never be able to stomp them out entirely.
  • by rmckeethen ( 130580 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:28PM (#19167451)

    Interestingly, the estimated GDP of the entire Russian Federation in 2006 was $1.727 trillion using the purchasing parity power scale; nominal GDP is even less at $979 billion in 2006 [1] [wikipedia.org]. Somehow, even if they win, I don't think the RIAA is going to be collecting on that bill anytime soon.

  • by authority69 ( 747949 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:29PM (#19167471)

    (note to those who refer to the USA as America. America is not a country)
    Quit being a dumbass. Unless you're also wanting to say that China, Sweden, Germany, Zimbabwe, and Brazil aren't countries either.

    America = United States of America
    China = People's Republic of China
    Sweden = Kingdom of Sweden
    Germany = Federal Republic of Germany
    Zimbabwe = Republic of Zimbabwe
    Brazil = Federative Republic of Brazil

    Do we need to start using every country's official title so your dumb ass can understand us? Get a clue. And just in case you were confused, the common usage of "Americans" refers to citizens of the United States of America, not the entire population of North and South America.
  • by analogheretic ( 968969 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:29PM (#19167473)
    A fair part of it would be, no doubt about it, but one of the big costs of a war is getting all that stuff that soldiers need to the war zone. A modern army has a long tail and almost all of that stuff is both heavy and consumable. Add to that the fact that you have to replace equipment at a faster rate (especially in desert environments with fine dust-like sand like Iraq and Saudi Arabia), you're going through a lot more ammo than you would in a peacetime training environment and the fact that you're having to pay your soldiers hazardous duty pay and a lot of little costs really start to add up. Especially if you're granting no-bid contracts to your buddies.
  • by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:06PM (#19168267) Homepage
    However it's not actually stealing. It's copyright infringement.

    No. It's not. In Russia, the law allows allofmp3.com to operate by making use of a compulsory licensing scheme, not unlike what the copyright board wants to foist upon internet radio (though, in that case, the costs are absolutely outrageous, and intended to shut operators down). So, allofmp3.com pays some fee to the Russian copyright whozits, and thus they are allowed to operate legally. Calling this "stealing" or "copyright infringement" is plain and simply wrong, and author of the article is clearly showing their bias by reporting it as such.
  • Re:Please everyone: (Score:2, Informative)

    by pimp0r ( 1030222 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:13PM (#19168407)
    I think it is rather that you don't understand. Companies do care if their revenue drops for any reason because their business is there to generate revenue. It's usually at that point that those who can blame copyright-infringement do, rather than face the real issues (poor product/high price/punishing your customers) that plague their revenue stream.

    And nobody is -taking- the cd you refer to. By your logic I should have to pay to listen to a friend's music in their home...

    Also, throwing insults at those who disagree with you doesn't magically transform your viewpoints into facts.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:36PM (#19168801)
    Sony BMG is not based in Germany, although they do have offices there (as well as in many other countries). Their headquarters are located in New York City. However, BMG used to be part/is part of a German publishing company called Bertelsmann.

    More info is available [wikipedia.org]

  • by rpervinking ( 1090995 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:48PM (#19169053)
    Copyright infringement is not theft. Theft is a violation of criminal law. Copyright infringement is a violation of civil law. Thieves can be arrested; copyright infringers can only be sued. The Forbes article calls it theft and stealing in imitation of the *AA propaganda, but endless repetition of this erroneous use doesn't make it correct.
  • Fucking inaccurate (Score:2, Informative)

    by Travelsonic ( 870859 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:10PM (#19169541) Journal

    world share copyrighted movies, music and other files -- without paying for them ... That's illegal, of course

    Last I ckecked, payment, or lack therefore was irrelivant in copyright infringement, and permission or lack therefore to share a copyrighted work was the big stickler in what is/isn't coopyright infringement. Either things have changed stupidly, or people are being bulshitted.

  • by maxume ( 22995 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:13PM (#19169609)
    Your comment would be more interesting if it were true. Western economies have huge information components to them, but they are also incredibly productive in terms or real goods. Germany is the largest exporter of real goods, and the US and China export about the same amount of real goods:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/evandavis/ 2007/04/the_state_of_trade.html [bbc.co.uk]

    (Much of the reason for this is that politically stable countries with excellent infrastructure are good places to build $500 million factories.)
  • by fmobus ( 831767 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @05:19PM (#19169729)

    Being Brazilian, I would say this holds for Spanish-speaking countries in Central/South America: they mostly refer to someone from USA as estadunidense (something like "unitedstatesian"), and to the country itself as Estados Unidos (they don't say "America")

    For us, Portuguese-speaking Brazilians, someone from USA is americano (but some communists-wannabes insist on estadunidense) and the country is Estados Unidos.

    For the same reasons posted elsewhere in this thread, I prefer "american" over "unitedstatesian". Usually there will be enough context to tell USA from the American Continent, e.g. "Americans wages war against Iraq": we ALL know we're talking USA govt here. Another similar example is United Arab Emirates. "Unitedarabs"? "Emiratians"? "Emirarabs"? I'd stick with "Arabs", even thou it would conflict with other Arab nations.

    Language's choices of words sometimes depends more on "soundness" than accurate semantics. That's why we say "South-Korean" instead of "Korean-republicans" and "North-Korean" instead of "Korean-democratic-republicans". I'd also guess there's a good bit confusion regarding demonyms for French Guyana and Guyana, but I lack precise information.

  • by zenyu ( 248067 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:55PM (#19171569)
    Ah, but it is not AllofMP3.com depriving you of your royalties. Those royalties are sitting in an escrow account in Moscow collecting dust because the RIAA doesn't want to accept the cash. Accepting the cash would mean they would need to dispurse them to you with a very small cut for themselves. They want more of the money to go to them and not to you.

    Just because your record label doesn't want to pay you the royalties AllofMP3 has collected on your behalf that doesn't mean they don't give you 'jack shit' for your music, it just means you are either too dumb to collect the check or more likely you hired a RIAA member to act as your agent and they are not collecting the money for their own reasons. It is also quite likely that you aren't talking about your music at all, but a recording whose copyright you sold to an RIAA member, in which case you have a contract dispute with them, not a dispute with AllofMP3.com

    But all this aside, AllofMP3 is a good lesson in why we can't continue selling copies of music. What they are doing is selling music at prices that make sense in their economy, actually they are a bit pricey for Russia. What they are doing is practicing arbitrage. Arbitrage is the what drives the global economy and trying to stop it is a fools errand (see DVD region codes and various other failed schemes attempted in the last 500 years).

    So what to do? Well we can differentiate the product line, sell cheap and expensive versions of the same thing, Tide comes in bags in third world countries and bottles in first world countries. It's the same stuff, but if our local Stop-n-shop started selling Tide in bags you would expect to pay less. This can only account for a 25-30% markup in the rich countries, and the income differential is more like 1000%, so to maximize your income you price for the rich countries and sales in the rest of the world go to a very tiny market segment. BTW This is basically how textbooks work today, they are printed only in paperback in some countries and only in hardback in other countries. But with things as easily and cheaply copied as music we won't be able to keep it out of poor childrens hands like we do textbooks (Try to convince someone living on a $2 a day that they are an evil pirate and should pay $25 for each CD, the $0.25 they do pay is a major outlay.) At my local deli all the detergent bottles have Spanish directions and the batteries are from Israel (Duracells, shipped from here to the Middle East and back).

    We can try to attach a social stigma to buying things cheap, "Oh, you have the J.C. Penny Madonna? I have the Gucci Madonna!" This only goes so far.

    We can sell everything close to 3rd world price, say $0.50. I don't imagine this would be popular with most copyright holders.

    We can move to a donation model. I've considered this myself and from what I can gather from the stats you can expect to get about 10% buy in if you can hold their attention. Your market expands maybe 4x, and you can't increase the donation amount much above current sale price, so your take falls to about 50% of current take. Plus there is the business risk of trying this out, what if everyone just listens to your particular album a couple times and then toss it, they may not give you a donation. And there is a fairness issue, I don't mind people paying less because they have less, but I do mind the millionare moocher.

    We can move to a survey based royalty system. You could keep payments to artists about the same as they are now and increasing each year as the music "buying" world gets bigger. In this system each government would pay the artist on a local scale based on the number of people listening to the artists music in that country. This would have to be paid out of taxes, perhaps CD-ROM and internet connection taxes, perhaps just the general fund. This would be the fairest system to artists and consumers alike, but would be opposed because of the 'taxes are evil' growd and because in this scheme the artist gets the royalty and pays it to the label
  • Re:Please everyone: (Score:5, Informative)

    by Knara ( 9377 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:55PM (#19171571)

    Of course I am! Spending money doesn't guarantee success (see Mission Earth for a good example) But name a blockbuster movie that DIDN'T involve a billion-dollar budget.

    Give me a definition of a blockbuster. Is Clerks a Blockbuster? It's made well over 1000% of its production cost (~20K to make, financed on credit cards, grossed boxoffice of around $2 million and that doesn't even come close to its total profit to date from home video and merchandising). I can't even name a movie that had a billion dollar budget in adjusted dollars.

    Sure can. China has over a BILLION people. China also has crap for Intellectual Property law. Are you going to tell me that despite having 5 TIMES the population of the United States, that a decent movie idea hasn't come out of there? And, perhaps you could tell me where the epicenter of the large, booming Chinese movie industry is?

    Wow, talk about missing the mark with your example. First off, the Chinese movie industry is pretty extensive considering that a huge percentage of their population is essentially living in third world conditions. Secondly, the means of distribution are severely limited in terms of venues due to little things like censorship review boards. Third off, China has been through several social upheavals in the last 100 years that have turned their society upside down, not to mention having had many art forms (at the least) suppressed. Piracy is waaayyyy down on the lists of factors that keep China from making "Armageddon".

    Where's the Chinese version of the Matrix? Their movie industry is weak and pathetic.

    Aside from the fact that a ton of the conventions used in the Matrix came from chinese and japanese cinema, it seems that you equate "expensive and pretty" with "good". China has lots of good movies, they're just not massively expensive to make. Furthermore, the Matrix really didn't break new ground in terms of movie making aside from Bullet Time. In terms of plot and cinematic ideas, the basis goes back to 19th century philosophy, if not further (i.e. Plato's Cave). Not to mention that the Wachowski brothers deliberately based the visual look on Ghost in the Shell (making the conceptual designer watch the GitS movie and say 'we want it to look like that' - literally).

    No, but later in this post you imply that very strongly when you write: Anyone can make anything, but they are not and should not be entitled to make money from it. What part of my "straw man" argument is not well supported by a statement like this?

    I said they are not entitled to make it. Entitlement means that simply by making something, they *entitled* to make money off it. If I make a little doodle and put it on a website, no one is obligated to pay me anything for it. I can *try* to make money off it, but I probably won't. That is the difference. I didn't say everything should be free, I said no one should be entitled to profit.

    Pay close attention: Copying copyrighted materials in an infringing way reduces the likelyhood of a purchase of that material. In an indirect way, such activities take away the profit potential of said created material. I know it's a very difficult concept for you to understand, and that's why words like "idiot" come to mind. Sorry you're taking it personally. Feel free to call me a "shill" or something if it makes you feel better.

    You seem to be a person who has a hard time controlling their temper. Unfortunate.

    Your reasoning is questionable. By that same thought process, I can argue that competition is theft, since they take away the potential profits of a creator. I'm pretty sure that Microsoft would like this to be true in, say, the realm of IIS vs Apache.

    Because they created it. It's theirs. We want to encourage more to be created so we all have something to enjoy. I like good quality software, (like Linux, OpenOffice, KDE) good quality books (Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Niven, et

  • by chrismcb ( 983081 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @07:42PM (#19172187) Homepage
    For the most part it is. Its called the Berne Convention (first ratified in 1886) with something like 95% of the countries in the world a signer of the convention. Including Sweden, and Russia.
  • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @08:49PM (#19172921) Homepage
    Things which are not physical objects cannot be properties

    No, that's untrue. Intangible properties are common.

    For example, if you own a share of stock in a company, that share is intangible, and represents a fraction of the company (many of the assets of which are also intangible), but it's certainly property. Another kind of intangible property would be a debt. For example, if you deposit $1 with your bank, the bank now owes you a debt of $1. That debt can be transferred to someone else without having to withdraw the dollar.

    The test for whether or not something is property has three parts, and is as follows: 1) The thing must be capable of being used or enjoyed in some manner by the owner; 2) The owner must be able to lend the possession of the thing to another whilst still retaining his ownership of it, and must be able to force it to be returned, and; 3) The owner must be able to dispose of the property by selling it, giving it away, destroying the thing, etc.

    A parcel of land satisfies all three tests. So does a brick. So does a share of stock, or a debt.

    In the copyright debate, there are three distinct things that we often talk about: creative works, copies, and copyrights.

    A creative work is like a story, or music, or a movie. It is the intangible thing that is what the author created. While there might be only one instance of it, it is possible for a single work to simultaneously exist in multiple instances, often millions. For example, there are many books in which 'Macbeth' is printed, but there's only one story involved, and they all just contain an instance of it.

    A copy is a tangible object in which a work is fixed. For a story, it might be a book, e.g. a paperback or a hardcover. For a movie, it might be a reel of film or a DVD. For a song, it might be a page of sheet music, or a CD. A copy of a work isn't the same as the work itself; destroy one copy of Macbeth and that copy itself might be gone, but the story still exists.

    And a copyright is an artificial legal right which pertains to creative works and copies thereof. It is not the same as either a work or a copy; many works and many copies exist without copyrights related to either. When a work passes into the public domain, the copyright dissolves, but the work and its copies are unscathed.

    A creative work isn't property (it fails the second test and usually fails the third). A copy is certainly property. A copyright is arguably property, but could perhaps be construed in a different fashion.
  • by Macadamizer ( 194404 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:11PM (#19173661)
    For the most part it is. Its called the Berne Convention (first ratified in 1886) with something like 95% of the countries in the world a signer of the convention. Including Sweden, and Russia.

    Just to be fair, though, the Berne Convention isn't about making the rest of the world abide by U.S. rules -- in fact, the U.S. didn't sign on until 1989, and had to change a bunch of rules in the U.S. to match up with the rules the rest of the world was using. For example, the U.S. had to get rid of copyright registration as a prerequisite for copyright protections, and had to get rid of copyright notices, to join up with Berne.

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