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Music Piracy

David Lowery On the Ethics of Music Piracy 713

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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  • Re:Bad summary (Score:4, Informative)

    by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:49PM (#40373753)

    Here is a longer summary for those too lazy to read TFA.

    An NPR intern named Emily White did a piece where she mentioned that she has downloaded over 11,000 songs, but has only ever paid for about 15 CDs. She justifies this with the same rationale that many slashdotters use: the labels are just ripping off the artists and the artists don't get the money anyway, and artists have always made more money touring than through sales, so they such just tour and not worry about sales.

    A musician named David Lowery has responded to her. As to her first point (the the labels are just ripping off the artists), he says that despite a few well-known abuses, in the "vast majority" of cases that is false. As to her second point, he says that touring is generally a money-losing operation, and that only the very top acts make any money at all touring.

    The "companies" he is complaining about are not the labels, they are The Pirate Bay and MegaUpload.

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

    by gorzek ( 647352 ) < minus math_god> on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:11PM (#40374109) Homepage Journal

    This is incorrect. The NET (No Electronic Theft) Act, signed by President Clinton, criminalized copyright infringement even when there is no profit motive on the part of the infringer.

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

    by icebike ( 68054 ) * on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:22PM (#40374313)

    Why is it people who quote the constitution never bother quoting the whole sentence:

    To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

    That some artists sign stupid contracts while young and inexperienced is not germane to the issue at hand. Stop throwing that out there like it matters.

  • 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.

    > 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! []
    "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."


    "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."


    "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," ...


    "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.
    * 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: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.

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