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Piracy Music

RMS Responds To NPR File-Sharer's Blog 634

New submitter UtucXul points out that Richard Stallman has penned a lengthy response to NPR intern Emily White for her post on the organization's site about how she failed to pay for a significant amount of recorded music, acquiring it instead through Kazaa, friends, and CDs owned by the radio station at which she was employed. (We previously discussed musician David Lowery's response; quite different from RMS's, as you might expect.) Stallman wrote, "Copying and sharing recordings was not a mistake, let alone wrong, because sharing is good. It's good to share musical recordings with friends and family; it's good for a radio station to share recordings with the staff, and it's good when strangers share through peer-to-peer networks. The wrong is in the repressive laws that try to block or punish sharing. Sharing ought to be legalized; in the mean time, please do not act ashamed of having shared — that would validate those repressive laws that claim that it is wrong. You did make a mistake when you chose Kazaa as the method of sharing. Kazaa mistreated you (and all its users) by requiring you to run a non-free program on your computer. ... However, that was in the past. It's more important to consider what you're doing now, which includes other mistakes. You're not alone — many others make them too, and that adds up to a big problem for society. The root mistake is treating a marketing buzzword, 'the cloud,' as if it meant something concrete. That term refers to so many things (different ways of using the Internet) that it really has no meaning at all. Marketing uses that term to lead people's attention away from the important questions about any given use of the network, such as, 'What companies would I depend on if I did this, and how? What trouble could they cause me, if they wanted to shaft me, or simply thought that a change in policies would gain them more money?'"
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RMS Responds To NPR File-Sharer's Blog

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  • Le sigh. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 14, 2012 @05:09PM (#40650981)

    When asked about how musicians and others can earn a living when their products are treated as having no value, he reminded her that everybody eats free at the foot cafe.

    I don't even know what that means.

  • by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @05:14PM (#40651009)

    Does that mean that if it's okay for other people to ignore proprietary copyright, then people can also freely ignore the GPL and make and distribute derivative works of GPL products without source code?

    No, that's not what he said. Don't worry, others have deliberately misconstrued what he has said on the topic in the past. Also, he's talking about music which doesn't have the "proprietary" vs. "free" distinction (the only way to have proprietary music is to never, ever share it.)

    I don't believe that Stallman said anything about the copyrights themselves. His point was, again, about the implied (false) moral weight behind declaring "sharing" as being wrong (something opposite to what we're taught as children.) He then proceeds to point out fairly common failings of the music industry as a whole and the laws surrounding copyright, and basically makes the point that there are systematic flaws in the way we compensate artists and that the status quo basically feeds the machine that tries to shove crap like SOPA/PIPA down our throats.

  • He must be joking... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by HarrySquatter ( 1698416 ) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @05:16PM (#40651033)

    You did make a mistake when you chose Kazaa as the method of sharing. Kazaa mistreated you (and all its users) by requiring you to run a non-free program on your computer. ...

    Hahaha, what? And people wonder why most people think RMS is a loon when he writes shit like this? Yes, Kazaa "mistreated her" by her voluntarily deciding to download, install and use the program without any coercion from the makers of the program. One can only hope she won't be scarred for life from that heinous act.

  • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @05:19PM (#40651049)

    I agree with Stallman that 110 year copyrights are repressive. But so too is complete abolishment of copyrights. People like to get paid for their creations, and put food on the table. A reasonable compromise would be 10 or 20 years... just long enough to cover the audio engineer/artist/musicians' labor on the song. But short enough that it becomes part of society's shared culture.

    BTW ever notice that no Roman or Greek music has survived til today? We have all their other literature but not their songs. Perhaps because there was no monetary incentive for musicians to share their work.

  • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) * <richardprice@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Saturday July 14, 2012 @05:25PM (#40651081)

    In the absence of copyright, and thus the absence of a GPL with any teeth, how would you force me to hand over source code when you get a binary?

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @05:27PM (#40651105)

    Correct, it's perfectly ok to ripoff GPL code, so long as your workflow is 100% free software. If you plan on pasting it into visual studio, that's a no-no.

    Well, given that RMS has just stated that "it's good when strangers share through peer-to-peer networks", which almost certainly violates the copyright and licensing terms on the music and movies being shared - I don't think your statement is correct.

    So my takeaway from today is it's obviously okay to take GPL software and use it however I want, regardless of whether or not my use violates the terms defined within the GPL. RMS doesn't feel other licenses need to be honored, so there's no compelling reason to follow the terms of his licenses. So lets start using it in our commercial devices, modify it however we want and not bother releasing the source.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 14, 2012 @05:33PM (#40651149)

    What sort of parallel world did I enter?

    One where you haven't been paying any attention?

    RMS has strongly opposed copyright for a long time, and wants to abolish it and substitute the legal requirement for anyone to provide source to any software they distribute. (In effect, tyrannically imposing a "free" license on everything.) He invented "copyleft" (and its GPL embodiment) as a temporary measure, turning copyright against its rent-seeking purpose, until such time as he can achieve his goals legislatively.

    However, it's not at all clear whether he'd be okay with simply invalidating copyright (making everything public domain, aka actual freedom, but permitting binary distribution of closed- and open-source alike), or if he prefers to keep copyright+GPL until he can bring about his "utopian" laws.

    Does that mean that if it's okay for other people to ignore proprietary copyright, then people can also freely ignore the GPL and make and distribute derivative works of GPL products without source code?

    New here? This is RMS's (and a good chunk of /.ers') mindset:

    Sharing is moral, thus he doesn't mind, whether or not you break the law to do so.
    Distributing software and NOT distributing source is immoral, thus he does mind, whether or not you break the law to do so.

    He's a zealot; morality (in his definition -- if you disagree, you're wrong and/or evil!) matters, law doesn't. He only cares about law inasmuch as it can be useful club to beat people with.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 14, 2012 @05:34PM (#40651155)

    Feel free to read this answer [fsf.org] from rms to Pirate Party proposal.

  • by Exrio ( 2646817 ) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @05:34PM (#40651157)

    If people want to get paid for their creations, then why do they bloody insist on giving it away for free on a $10 CD or $2 of Internet bandwidth?

    Musicians just don't seem to be able to understand that they're not CD manufacturers, and they're not Internet Service Providers, they can't charge for CDs, and they can't charge for Internet copying. What they can charge for is only their music... which they're stupidly giving away. People is already being generous when they buy plastic or bandwidth from them (being able to buy it from cheaper stores) just so they get their cut and try to recover their creation costs, but that's the wrong way to go about it.

    Artist, does it cost you $60,000 to make your work (include your own salary)?... Pro-tip: Sell it for $60,000, not for $0.99. If your work is really worth that, people will pay the cost. Set up a kickstarter and watch it happen. If your work isn't worth what it costs, then there's no market for you. Tough. But please stop all this lunacy, we need it to stop freaking yesterday.

    -Sincerely, an audio engineer who understands what is wrong with the businesss

  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt.nerdflat@com> on Saturday July 14, 2012 @05:37PM (#40651181) Journal
    What you say you're taking away from this is pretty much what I'm seeing here as well... and to be quite frank, it confuses the hell out of me. I see no way to interpret what RMS has said here other than to presume that he advocates the abolition of copyright. But under copyright abolition, there would be absolutely nothing to force people to release source code of derivative works just because the author wanted it... which kind of goes against where I formerly understood RMS's primary stance to be in.
  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt.nerdflat@com> on Saturday July 14, 2012 @05:53PM (#40651283) Journal

    Copyright is, first, last, and *ALWAYS*, about control, not monetization. Where the creator of a work is simply wanting to retain some measure of exclusivity on who may copy the work.

    Before the printing press was invented, copying was error prone and hard enough that the difficulty magnitude of doing this tended to create its own checks and balances, preventing unauthorized copying from spreading out of control. After copying became much cheaper and easier to do, however, some incentive that authors could still enjoy a limited amount of the exclusivity of control they had over their works was offered in the form of a legal social contract: copyright, wherein the general public would basically agree to not copy the work, and so the author would have incentive to publish the work in the first place, without any self-censoring, and thereby provide the public with cultural enrichment.

    Owing to the effects of the legally recognized exclusivity of control on who may copy a given work creates a type of monopoly, which affects the supply-demand curve, and in a capitalistic society, this effect happens to be monetizable, but that is not the actual underlying purpose of copyright - it is to encourage authors to publish so that society and the general public can benefit. If the public does not respect the copyright, then the artist's confidence in that system to protect their interests is shaken, and they can or will resort to other means to protect them, such as reducing the amount that they publish, or restricting the types of content that they publish so that only certain people can easily acquire it. DRM, which is being used by an ever increasing number of publishers, is exactly one such response to their shaking confidence in copyright to protect their interests, and is just one form of the self censorship that copyright itself was originally created to discourage.

  • by raftpeople ( 844215 ) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @06:20PM (#40651461)
    The term "giving away" implies a situation where one party is deprived of something so another person can have it. This is not an accurate representation of Stallman's views, nor is is an accurate description of copyright infringement. When a copy is made and provided to another party, both parties now have the item in question.

    Wrong. The term giving away means whatever our society decides it means. There are clearly multiple scenarios in which the term can be used and trying to shoehorn a definition into just one or the other doesn't make sense. In the same way people discuss abortion and want a bright line between life and non-life...the world is more complex and there are lots of things that can't be neatly divided.

    In the case of "giving away" copyrighted material...when people use that term pretty much everyone understands that it means we have an artificial system called copyright created for economic reasons and the "giving away" violated the rules of that system.

    Trying to argue "but it's not theft" or "it's not the same as real property" misses the point...we all know that but we don't want to use a 17 word sentence to refer to the situation at hand.
  • by murpup ( 576529 ) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @07:15PM (#40651873)

    Bad example. Actually, as the owner of the dog, I have been potentially deprived of something - the market for that dog's sperm. There may only be a handful of people in this world who would be interested in buying the dog's sperm for breeding purposes. Since you have gone and sold it to one of those people, my ability to make money off of that sperm when I return from vacation has been irreparably harmed.

    Incidentally, I do fall on the side of supporting file sharing, as long as a person does not try to resell a person's music/software/etc for monetary gain.

  • by spage ( 73271 ) <spage AT skierpage DOT com> on Saturday July 14, 2012 @07:24PM (#40651923)

    Emily White violated the copyrights on the music she acquired ("I've swapped hundreds of mix CDs with friends. My senior prom date took my iPod home once and returned it to me with 15 gigs of Big Star, The Velvet Underground and Yo La Tengo"). You'd think RMS would be against that, since the GPL expresses (admirable IMO) restrictions on what you can do with it under those same copyright laws. His arguments why Emily "did nothing wrong" are mostly the lame tired shit piracy apologists have trotted out for decades now

    After all, how can we support musicians? Buying recordings from record companies won't do it. For nearly all records, the musicians get none of that money; the record companies keep it. See this article [informatio...utiful.net] and this article [techdirt.com].

    Untrue. Artist royalties are often ~20% of the sales price; this chart [informatio...utiful.net] says $.09 for an iTunes download, and artists self-releasing through CD Baby keep 75%. The meme that artists don't get money seems to be a deliberate misunderstanding of the money record companies advance against royalties so artists can make a quality record (The Trichordist explains this well). Regardless of the percentage it is not the consumer's right or job to decide if that's a reasonable or obscene deal from the record company and online store. FFS, if you don't like a song enough to pay $0.99 for an unprotected DRM-free legal copy of it so the artist gets some money in exchange for your enjoyment of her creative endeavor:

    1. Skip it and enjoy the zillions of free songs out there — under CC share licenses, out-of-copyright, in the public domain, live performances from trade-friendly artists on Internet Archive [archive.org], etc.! As RMS knows from software, there are great free alternatives to restricted paid works, so go support those!

    2. If you whine "Waahhh, this song I want ought to be free like all those others" so you pirate it anyway, your parents raised you badly.

    RMS goes on

    Practically speaking, the only effective and ethical way you could support musicians was through concerts.

    Not true. Paying for the copyrighted recordings you want and love works great and delivers money to artists so they can make more! It's insulting to suggest artists should instead try to collect money for something completely different — "touring and T-shirts&quot. (No Sgt. Pepper for you, John Paul George and Ringo are going deaf on another tour that only their teenybopper fans attend.) The idea that artists should not charge for a quality studio recording has been immensely damaging to "the Progress of Science and useful Arts" in the area of recorded music, it's a big reason why today's songs are made on laptops instead of with crack session musicians. And as RMS later acknowledges, touring doesn't even work for those bands that do perform live, because they can't afford to travel to all their fans, then on any night only a fraction of fans in an area make it to the show.

    RMS is on better ground with the first of his two ways to support artists

    Put a tax on Internet connectivity, and divide the money among artists.

    Great idea, let's hope it happens. But his second is a fantasy:

    Give each player device a button to send 50 cents anonymously to the artists.

    It's been tried, the Fairtunes service [wired.com] during Napster's golden era. I ponied up money for a song I shared, but in several y

  • by raftpeople ( 844215 ) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @07:36PM (#40651979)
    Why isn't it "theft". The word "theft" is just a shorthand for a variety of different situations, and ALL of them (including physical property) are based on artificial rules that we made up. Taking someone's chair isn't inherently wrong anymore than illegally taking a copy of copyrighted material - both are defined as problems due to the rules society created. Saying that one is theft and one isn't theft is not a meaningful distinction - they are both illegal activities because we said so and if everyone calls both "theft" what does arguing about that term actually gain?
  • by GrumpySteen ( 1250194 ) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:03PM (#40652133)

    Arguing that software has rights is even more delusional than Romney's believe that corporations are people,

    I think that depends on what you consider to be "rights" and where you believe the rights lie. We routinely declare objects to be historical or natural landmarks and that designation includes protection from vandalism, destruction, exploitation and so forth. The object has effectively been given a right to continued existence. Is it delusional of us to have done that?

    The majority of the US also believes that books shouldn't be banned or burned. Not only that, but we generally believe they should be available for free to those who seek them out (which is why we have libraries). Books have effectively been given not only the right to exist, but the right to be read. Is that delusional?

    I'm not sure just what rights RMS thinks software should have because I hate his writing style and can never finish reading any of his diatribes, but it's not entirely out of the question to say that an object effectively has some rights. I would probably disagree with RMS about what those rights are, but I wouldn't say that arguing that software has rights is delusional.

  • Re:Mad, but not bad. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by marcello_dl ( 667940 ) on Sunday July 15, 2012 @06:33AM (#40654535) Homepage Journal

    > where rational thought breaks down into fantasy

    Let's make examples. I'm interested.
    When RMS tells Linus "Bitkeeper is a bad idea", he turns out right.
    When RMS talks about windows as a virus/spyware, he turns out right, you let your PC be owned in the friggin' TOS.
    When he dreams up a world of free software, which was the frigging NORM in the real world of early computers, the dream gets real, albeit for a very limited set of hardware.

    RMS is an idealist? of course. But the effects of his position is, practically, useful to return control in the hand of the user. And that is pragmatically good for the user in the long run.

    If you want to hear pure unadulterated fantasy, listen to CEOs and politicians. Elop and his "nokia is betting all on winphones", anyone?

    And I say all this while deeply disagreeing on him on this issue.

    A guy wants to give his intellectual creation only to those who pay? LET HIM, DO NOT COPY THOSE DAMN FILES. YOU ARE NOT STEALING BUT YOU ARE NOT RESPECTING THE OWNER'S WISH.


    Now, THIS is ideal justice. Not RMS's and especially not MAFIAA's.

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!