If they are doing it, so can we? – RIAA v File sharers (again)

Or/ Do it our way or not at all?

With the Digital Economy Bill causing debate whenever its mentioned, piracy/file sharing/copyright infringement (whatever you want to call it) is always at the top of the list.   Over on Torrentfreak, they are reporting that the RIAA has released a statement regarding piracy and the Haiti appeal (in relation to the charity album released).  The RIAA are alleged to be saying that the fund will receive less money due to the file-sharing of the song and this I would probably say is true.  The RIAA to date have allegedly sued 17,587 people in relation to file sharing and I think if there is a world record to be set, the RIAA have just set it.

Of course on the other side of the fence, there is the pro file sharing argument, which whilst I cannot ever condone, I am desperately looking for a proper justification from just one file sharer as to why to why it’s apparently ok to engage in this activity, regardless of it affects a charity or not.

In respect of the Haiti fund, Torrentfreak may be providing an answer:

..they say that those illegally downloading “We Are The World” are undermining fund raising. However, they leave out the fact that the music industry itself profits big from such charity singles.

So there you go readers, its ok to take away from the fund because (and I quote) “the music industry itself profits big from such charity singles”

I think Torrentfreak have completely missed the point.  Ok, lets say the music industry does take a massive chunk of the profits, let me ask Torrentfreak, is it ok for the remainder to be drained by filesharering?  Surely any donations to the cause are worthy and in respect of marketing and co-ordination of this fund-raising project, the music industry would have to be involved to get the project off the ground and out to the general public.

I would suggest to anyone who believes the music industry shouldn’t profit (and maybe if that’s the case a few examples of this profit) from the fund-raising, simply donate directly.

As I have mentioned before the anti/pro file sharing argument is equally as stubborn on both sides.  To coin a phrase “The unstoppable force meeting the immovable object” I think is very applicable when the RIAA uses emotive words like:

The posting highlights a truly ugly side of P2P piracy – the undermining of humanitarian fundraising efforts via online theft of the “Hope for Haiti Now” compilation.

Source: RIAA Blog

Now really, is that required? Any reasonable person would know that piracy would take away funds from the project, afterall if I downloaded for free instead of buying, then my money (no matter what percentage) would be taken from the fund.  It’s not rocket science after all.  The RIAA in my view makes no friends by trying to use emotive words like “theft”, “undermining”, “humanitarian” and it was very similar to the claims made by FACT in the UK when they claimed piracy was linked to benefit fraud.  The question I asked at the time was, if someone is selling copied movies at a market then that is not “legitimate employment” (and an offence) therefore if that person is claiming benefits, it’s hardly benefit fraud as they are not in gainful employment in regards to legitimacy.

Moving on from the silliness of FACT and back to the RIAA.

We hope that fans will think twice about where they buy their music, but especially charity albums.

I’m sorry RIAA, until you (and the file sharers) come to an agreement of sorts, then you will continue taking people to court and the file sharers will continue to share.  neither of you will budge.   Conversely I would say to the file sharers, think up a better justification for what you are doing, since the arguments Ive seen to date are at best weak and worst just plain vulgar (as is often a case when someone can’t argue).

So whats the answer?  Who knows?  I’ve made suggestions in the past as to how the DEB should be implemented, which (if you didn’t see it originally) can be read here.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

14 Comments Add yours

    1. I think that you’ll find the arguments made by Mike quite interesting.

      1. openbytes says:

        More stats and tables…however the point was IF the music industry was making money from the project, then even IF “only a small percentage of people downloaded” then its still taking money away from the charity and the filesharer who supports sharing unauthorised material is hardly in a position to point the finger at anyone else.

        I fully support filesharing when you have the permission of the owner of the material. That type of filesharing though is in the minority compared to the massive amount of material thats shared without permission.

      2. Actually no, that isn’t the point. If Microsoft had have been behind this press release, would you have believed it?

        No, of course you wouldn’t. The RIAA is the Microsoft equivalent in the Music Industry. You cannot believe anything they say, unless there is independent proof for their assertions.

  1. Guenter says:

    Your analogy “The unstoppable force meeting the immovable object” is spot on. It seems like the only thing we continue to get from this battle is more angry people. I recently read an article title “Is the RIAA to blame for reinforcing music piracy” which identifies the lack of positive reinforcement for downloading music, on either side. AS a music lover it has been a struggle for me, I feel lost in this debate searching for a viable solution. The article I mentioned does offer up a intriguing solution to this problem- a platform called Webceleb which they claim to be the “next generation music store.” The model is quite unique and if you are interested in this topic I highly suggest you check the article out…

    http://www.musicthinktank.com/mtt-open/is-the-riaa-to-blame-for-reinforcing-music-piracy.html

    1. openbytes says:

      Thanks for that, I will check it out.

      Regards
      Goblin.

  2. openbytes says:

    Quote “Actually no, that isn’t the point. If Microsoft had have been behind this press release, would you have believed it?

    No, of course you wouldn’t. The RIAA is the Microsoft equivalent in the Music Industry. You cannot believe anything they say, unless there is independent proof for their assertions.”

    That was the point. Of course its in the RIAA’s interests to keep things as they are, of course the RIAA would like to see file-sharing knocked on the head. People I think are capable of knowing whats “right” and “wrong” within the context of copyright law.

    The point of the article was to say:

    “If the music industry is benefiting from a charity project AND some users are downloading the same material for free, who are they to say that it’s ok what they are doing and not what the RIAA is doing”

    The copyright infringement argument is often argued by those who breach it when we talk about products such as Harry Potter or COD, what they are not so keen to mention is the indi coders/artists WHO DO NOT WANT their material spread, but find it spread anyway. Its for these people why the “free data” type arguments that some provide don’t hold up.

    and anyway who is deciding that a company/industry has made “enough” money already? and what about me? I don’t believe in sharing copyrighted material without permission, but because of others I have to suffer DRM and other techniques designed to try and clamp down on those that do.

    If a company wants to release something for share then great, if it doesn’t then thats fine too, since when has it become an end users remit to take that decision away from the owners?

    The piracy argument often cites the “helping artists” ….I’d say, let them fight their own battles and if you really wanted to help simply boycott the products altogether, if what Mad Hatter says is correct then sharing of material leads to more sales at concerts and of merchandise, so the industry bigwigs people seek to attack are profiting again. If people want to make a stance, isn’t it more sense not to buy the products, not to download/share the material and not to buy the merchandise and go to concerts?

    1. The copyright infringement argument is often argued by those who breach it when we talk about products such as Harry Potter or COD, what they are not so keen to mention is the indi coders/artists WHO DO NOT WANT their material spread, but find it spread anyway. Its for these people why the “free data” type arguments that some provide don’t hold up.

      Curiously the Indie artists I know who don’t want their material spread, generally make less money than those who do. Tom Smith for example is making a reasonable living out of music, and you can download all of his stuff from his website. If they don’t want to share, that’s their choice, but it’s costing them money. Check out Management Secrets of the Greatful Dead, or MPAA: The Grateful Dead’s Success Was An Abomination Against Nature, or Author Paulo Coelho’s profitable Net obsession. Free is great advertising.

      and anyway who is deciding that a company/industry has made “enough” money already? and what about me? I don’t believe in sharing copyrighted material without permission, but because of others I have to suffer DRM and other techniques designed to try and clamp down on those that do.

      The company in question of course. If they add DRM to their product, I won’t buy it. By adding DRM they’ve made a decision that they don’t want me as a customer.

      If a company wants to release something for share then great, if it doesn’t then thats fine too, since when has it become an end users remit to take that decision away from the owners?

      It’s always been the end users choice. If the end user doesn’t like the product, they don’t have to buy it. A good example would be Microsoft’s ‘Play for Sure’ music stores, which didn’t sell hardly anything, while Apple sold an enormous amount of music using it’s less restrictive ‘Fairplay’ DMR. Eventually everyone dropped DRM on music, because the consumer wasn’t interested in being fucked over.

      The piracy argument often cites the “helping artists” ….I’d say, let them fight their own battles and if you really wanted to help simply boycott the products altogether, if what Mad Hatter says is correct then sharing of material leads to more sales at concerts and of merchandise, so the industry bigwigs people seek to attack are profiting again. If people want to make a stance, isn’t it more sense not to buy the products, not to download/share the material and not to buy the merchandise and go to concerts?

      Actually no, the industry bigwigs don’t make any money out of concert tickets, only out of Compact Discs. The artists make money out of concerts, but almost no money out of Compact Disc sales. Most major label artists make almost nothing out of CD sales. Most. The really big acts like U2, The Who, The Rolling Stones, etc. can make money selling CDs. But for the average artist, the reason to sign with a label is so that more people will see their CDs, and hopefully come to their concerts.

      This is why the RIAA companies are terrified of digital music, because the artists don’t need them any more. Instead you can sign up with ITunes to help distribute your music directly, and once people find you on ITunes, you can sell to them directly from your own website. Tee Shirts, Concert tickets, specialty CDs and DVDs that you produce yourself will bring in a lot more money than signing onto a label.

      1. openbytes says:

        Quote “Curiously the Indie artists I know who don’t want their material spread, generally make less money than those who do”

        But then even if that is true, surely they should be the ones who decide if material is spread, not some file-sharer doing it under the claim of “supporting freedom/artists”?

        Quote ” If they don’t want to share, that’s their choice,”

        And thats the point isn’t it? With filesharing of unauthorised material it does not care if the artist wants it shared or not. Theres no freedom there for the artist is there?

        Quote”Actually no, the industry bigwigs don’t make any money out of concert tickets, only out of Compact Discs”

        But if thats right then surely the sales of CD’s at concerts do go towards them? and if the CD’s were not available to mainstream audiences through purchase, how would they attract great numbers to the concerts in the first place?

        Quote “This is why the RIAA companies are terrified of digital music, because the artists don’t need them any more”

        That might be true, but my articles have never been about the intentions of the RIAA and more the principle of file-sharing without concent of the IP owner.

  3. twitter says:

    Do not confuse sharing with stealing, even in a case like this. People who share files do not take money intended for Haiti and by your admission, they might be donating directly if so inspired by the music they hear. The music will do no good at all if it is not shared in some way. Copy is never theft. Taking one and making two is always an act of creation even if some third party does not profit from it. Me sharing with you is not commercial publication and it should not be governed by copyright law.

    Do suspect the RIAA of theft at every chance. The RIAA does take money intended for Haiti and may be taking more than people purchasing the music believe. The recording industry is infamous for fraud against musicians, customers and everyone else they deal with. This does not justify file sharing, basic moral and practical arguments like those above do.

  4. openbytes says:

    Quote “Do not confuse sharing with stealing”

    I never have, please first read my posts where I actually quote the definition of the Theft Act and say it is wholly inappropriate in respect of data.

    Secondly, I think its a given that the filesharing of discussion here is that which you do not have permission to share. As I said before the mere act of filesharing is not a problem.

    Quote ” they might be donating directly if so inspired by the music they hear”

    Yep, they might, then again they might not.

    Quote “Copy is never theft”

    Again see above the posts Ive written before on the theft act.

    Quote “The RIAA does take money intended for Haiti and may be taking more than people purchasing the music believe. ”

    I won’t dispute that, however IF there are people downloading it for free, firstly how do we really know if they are going on to donate and who are they to point the finger at the RIAA? That was the point.

    Quote “The recording industry is infamous for fraud against musicians”

    Yes, I often hear that then wonder why there are as many artists who don’t support filesharing as those that do.

    Quote “This does not justify file sharing, basic moral and practical arguments like those above do.”

    Really? so in an “honorable” act file sharers without permission are in the right? Its this type of argument which makes the pro-sharing just as stubborn as the RIAA…”Do it our way or not at all”

    Nobody seems to want to give an answer to my example above of a Bedroom coder who sees his work get distributed on p2p without his permission and without reward. File sharing copyrighted material without permission is easy to talk about when mentioning titles like Avatar et al….What about the “little person”?

    And who is anyone to decide what morals are? I saw a distinct lack of morals with the pro-sharers who subjected Indiana Gregg to a vulgar series of messages, I see a distinct lack of morals when instead of debating I receive obscene email as a result of my opinions on piracy, filesharing et al.

    As I said before (which nobody seems to want to challenge) law is not something we can cherry pick the bits we like and ignore those that don’t. If everyone did that the whole system would merely fall appart.

    1. twitter says:

      You still seem to feel that sharing without permission is somehow wrong. It is my position that it is wrong for anyone to have the power to stop people from sharing. It is a form of censorship and cultural control that should be rejected.

      I agree with you that the law is not something to cherry pick, it is something that must be founded on moral principle. I have a call to action on this subject that explains my position. There’s nothing really original there but it’s easier to point than to write it all again.

      “its a given that the filesharing of discussion here is that which you do not have permission to share.” Who has the power to deny permission? File sharing between individuals is an act of free speech. This is the inherent tension between the government imposed monopoly of copyright and free speech. There is no real middle ground in principles. People will be able to sing “happy birthday” in public or they will be hounded by copyright police. If it is right for someone to own those words and that tune, they own it as the copyright maximalist say they do.

      I do not pity your bedroom coder any more. Our freedom to share is more important than someone else’s ability to make money by imposing on that freedom. Coders can and do make money without imposing the obnoxious limitations on their users required to make a non free software business work. They work for hire, on contract and use their skills to make things work the same way all other professionals do.

      It is no wonder that you hear from so many artists that say things against file sharing. In the first place, publishers who benefit from copyright own most of the networks that inform you as well as decide who will be the big star. For each supposedly successful artist you hear from in this way, there are thousands that will never be published. In the second place, recording studios demand the right to put any opinion into the mouths of their stars, and launch lawsuits on their behalf. When the “artist formerly known as Prince,” who obviously had issues with record lables, says something against file sharing, you have to wonder how much of it he believes and how much is what he has to say to make his contract. Even if he does believe in copyright, he’s just one in thousands.

  5. openbytes says:

    SORRY FOR THE LATE REPLY, MY BROADBAND SERVICE HAS BEEN DOWN FOR THE LAST COUPLE OF DAYS.

    Quote “You still seem to feel that sharing without permission is somehow wrong. It is my position that it is wrong for anyone to have the power to stop people from sharing. It is a form of censorship and cultural control that should be rejected.”

    Still? Yes of course and Ive seen no compelling reason as to why my view should change.

    Since I don’t engage in unauthorised file sharing I look at it like this:

    I support FOSS because its better for me than proprietary solutions, however if I made a piece of software or wrote a track, I would like to think that I have the choice to either release it in which ever way I want. If thats closed source, then fine. Wheres my “freedom” as an artist to choose who and how recieves my data/work?

    I certainly don’t see the same liberal view of data taken when comes to personal details.

    Quote “Who has the power to deny permission?”

    Well as I say above, the person who owns the material. Just like you should have a right to choose how and who recieves your work, so should everyone else.

    Quote “This is the inherent tension between the government imposed monopoly of copyright and free speech.”

    Really? From my observations the “pressure” has come from the industry and infact if the DEB and it three strikes policy came into effect I think it might negate some of the costly court cases and demanding letters that some users have found themselves on the end of.

    Since there is no remit in CRIMINAL law for the type of downloading here, I’d suggest the government has this rather low on its list of priorities and maybe considers drugs use/asb/robbery/burglary as more important.

    Quote “It is no wonder that you hear from so many artists that say things against file sharing. In the first place, publishers who benefit from copyright own most of the networks that inform you as well as decide who will be the big star.”

    But its the filesharers that claim its the labels who are “evil” and their protest via file sharing is some honorable gesture to help the artists.

    Quote ” there are thousands that will never be published”

    and in todays world of FOSS, the internet and how low cost the hardware is, anyone can release their own material to a potential audience of millions in what ever way they wish. I spoke to one such person in BN IRC chat who was intending on doing exactly that.

    Quote ” Our freedom to share is more important than someone else’s ability to make money by imposing on that freedom.”

    And what of the freedom of the creator to chose how he/she releases it? Doesn’t sound much freedom for them. Whether closed source is right or wrong, you cannot claim freedom on one hand and deny it to the developers on the other.

    Quote “Coders can and do make money without imposing the obnoxious limitations on their users required to make a non free software business work. ”

    Yes, and some don’t. Where would David Brayben be without closed source? Frontier? One example that doesn’t prove that closed source is “right” but does show that diversity does exist and it is not up to you or me to dictate (or force) a dev to release work in a certain way if they don’t want to.

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