By Rob Beschizza at 1:36 pm Thu, Apr 15, 2010
What if an artist doesn’t want to tour or play live to make a living? Look at the Beatles, or R.E.M. that made some great music without touring at all.
I’m not saying any artist has a right to make a living by only releasing music, but he/she should get compensated by everyone that enjoys the fruit of his/her efforts.
“What if an artist doesn’t want to tour or play live to make a living? Look at the Beatles, or R.E.M. that made some great music without touring at all.”
A small point in a big argument: actually, no. I know the Beatles toured hugely, worldwide, for years before they pretty much invented music videos so they didn’t have to bother going on TV live anymore and stopped hassling with touring as well. They had already built a fan base (to say the least). Today, a band who didn’t want to tour could do the same by……yes, releasing audio and video virally online. In other words, the situation is actually better now for bands who don’t want to tour, because they have a viable substitute method for building a fan base. Some bands already make this work extremely well, so it can be done.
Let me play the Berendor’s Advocate for a moment.
I like the free exchange of ideas as much as anyone including not only words but plans for DIY, code and other such. Ideas are often voluntarily “donated” and hopefully, as with open source, if you take you’ll give something back if you take.
If, however, someone (or group of someones) spent a good deal of time and money developing skills and inventing and manufacturing, say, a car (which might also put a good number of people to work) and people could put the car in a replicator and make new cars for free, why would anyone want to go into the car biz?
It seems unfair to the musician or writer that, just because it is easy to copy their work, they lose their income while the car (or bicycle) people don’t.
It seems to me the creator should have the choice to give their work away or not and I thought that’s what Copyright protection was for. In fact Creative Commons opens up the idea that you can fine tune what you will give away and to whom.
I’m not sure I completely buy what amounts to the “free advertising” argument; that you can live off the T shirts and coffee mugs. Sounds like a bit of rationalizing to me. On the other hand, I know that if I can tell first if I like someone’s music I’m more likely to pay to download a whole album. Again, it seems it ought to be the creator’s decision to give something away, not the person who want’s it for free (no matter what the creator says).
The conversation is only interesting because it shows that we haven’t even agreed on what terms we should use to describe this new reality where any piece of data can be duplicated and distributed by pressing a button.
How can we regulate this sort of thing with laws when we haven’t even found a way to discuss it?
I bought an LP of U2’s Unforgetable Fire in 1984. I played that album so much that I wore it out. Soon, I got my drivers license and decided to buy the same album on tape so I could listen to it in my new (read “used”) Caprice Classic station wagon. Unfortunatley, tapes were a crap format an the tape warped, sound ruined.. Eventually in college I was able to save up enough money for a CD player. Yay! The Unforgetable Fire on CD for just $17!!! Scraaaatch! No more CD. iPod. iTunes. Mp3. In the naaaaame of loooove! But wait Hard Drive crash!
Now I’m sure that the physical medium cost the studio some money to produce but I’m willing to bet that the majority of my hard earned cash went toward the intellectual property right to own those songs. So, why is it okay for music companies to not provide me a method whereby I may gain access to the intellectual property that I paid for and it’s wrong that I “illegally” downloaded some FLAC files of an album that I’ve paid for over four times.
Artists need to take the reins. Provide ME with a method to pay YOU regardless of where I download your music from. I *will* pay you. From there feel free to distribute portions of those monies to whomever you choose.
With digital technology the record companies had the opportunity to set the paradigm for a cheap, convenient, fair, profitable market place. They chose to shit the bed.
>However, if it has to be a choice between not paying and not driving, and not paying and still getting to drive, how can anyone tell me the latter choice is unethical?
I hear you babe. (tbh, I loved that album too).
Man, what a can of worms this video opened up.
1. Musicians will produce music whether or not they are paid for every copy of it. Just try and stop them from making music!
2. Depriving someone of income opportunity is not stealing. If it were, then everyone who didn’t become filthy rich would have basis for suing everyone in the world who didn’t buy their stupid product or idea.
3. I wish that it were possible to get rich being a very good musician; unfortunately, the high-paying jobs are in the mercenary business (TV jingles, etc.) not in the self-expression business.
4. We can all hate on the record companies with impunity because they are (a) middlemen, (b) obsolete, (c) greedy bastards. They are not the musicians’ friend, they are the musicians’ leech.
The rest is semantics.
We can all hate on the record companies with impunity because they are (a) middlemen, (b) obsolete, (c) greedy bastards. They are not the musicians’ friend, they are the musicians’ leech.
I can agree with (a) because yes, labels are essentially middlemen between the artist and consumer. In the old business model there were also distributors and retailers. So the number of middlemen are shrinking as distributors and retailers dry up. But I’d argue that labels are also necessary because I haven’t met too many artists that are terribly business-savvy or have the time to do their own marketing.
As far as being (b) obsolete, I just don’t see it. The idea of a label is not problematic and in fact is quite useful to the artist. I’m going to venture a guess that (like many people who love to argue about this) you don’t have a lot of time or money invested in the music business. Certainly there are some bad players out there and I seriously hope when you deride “record companies” as (c) greedy bastards, you’re talking about the majors. Most independent labels are good faith players and have a vested interest in their artists and treat them well.
I have several artists on my roster I consider “friends.”
Yes, I was replying to the majors. They are businessmen rather than creative types, as far as I an tell. The indies are pretty decent for the most part.
My music background is at the intersection of music and electronics – I run a bar jukebox stocked with 45s and I know a lot of very good musicians who have day jobs because get zero income from the records they make.
But I do electronics for a living, because it’s one of the few ways a person can be paid good money to be creative.
“But I’d argue that labels are also necessary because I haven’t met too many artists that are terribly business-savvy or have the time to do their own marketing.”
Yep, but it doesn’t have to be the same old business model, where labels gouge artists for every penny, in ridiculously one-sided contracts. I’m sure you agree.
^ That wasn’t supposed to be snarky. I really am sure you agree. But independent labels are not what people tend to complain about. They are the new wave, and the fruits of the freedoms we now have, thanks to evolving technology. My hopes lie with you.
I assure you, I’d be thrilled to death to break even on just one release. We pay our artists up front. We pay for the studio (or record it ourselves) and pay promotion & marketing companies and place ads. Lots of indie labels do the same. It’s easy to villainize the “record labels” as greedy twats, and in some cases, it’s entirely appropriate.
I’m a smart guy, my partner in the label is a smart guy and we’ve racked our brains looking for ways to change the business model. We haven’t found that yet, but we do treat our artists with respect. We also believe that if you want to enjoy the music, you should pay for it so we can keep making more. As it stands, we have one record due out next month and two more in post-production. The way things are going, there’s a real good chance they’ll be our last releases.
I empathize completely. I spent a good ten years being an independent, self-published artist. I’m not sure we ever broke even either. I’m being genuine when I say independent labels are where my hopes for the future lie. I really don’t think anyone has much vitriol for indies (beyond specifics), and you taking any part of the hatred upon yourself is probaly misguided at best, and martyrish at worst.
“The way things are going, there’s a real good chance they’ll be our last releases.”
If you have any indication that you’re losing revenue via p2p, like if your shit is running wild over the networks, I’d say throw some fucking shows!
The kids are alright. :)
OK, another thought experiment:
What if Comcast decided to republish all of BoingBoing on a site that they deliver el-pronto-mucho and collect ad revenue from while they simultaneously slow the real BoingBoing down to a mere crawl (or block it entirely) because they’re Comcast and they can do whatever they want now that the ideologues on the US Circuit Court said they could.
You coo wi dat?
Again, the commercial element (plus the physical detriment to BB’s own service) makes the argument an entirely different one.
A better argument would be, what if people on this board encouraged the readers to use AdBlockers, to deprive BB of the revenue they receive from showing their blog to the world..
What exactly is the physical detriment to BB’s service in this instance?
Did you follow the comment I was replying to, or just wade in blazing?
“What if Comcast decided to republish all of BoingBoing on a site that they deliver el-pronto-mucho and collect ad revenue from while they simultaneously slow the real BoingBoing down to a mere crawl (or block it entirely) because they’re Comcast..“
I’m not trying to “blaze” anyone or anything, just trying to understand how far your adherence to copying is not theft goes when it’s about your content.
And apologies, I thought it was a response to comment #24. the lack of threading makes it harder to follow discussions for a newbie like me.
Then it would be not a problem with copying, but rather the problem with blocking the site. Filtering, censoring internet is a despicable crime.
It’s obvious that the pendulum has swung too far in favor of imaginary property owners.
Back in the 18th Century the Queen would give copy rights to chartered companies with a duration of 99 years. That was considered excessive at the time by many, just as it is considered excessive today.
This kind of thing always reminds me of a quote from William Saroyan – “there’s more important things in life than making sure you’re not being cheated”
Really, does everyone have to squeeze the last penny out of every damn thing?
I’m a writer and I give away my books online, for free, because I like it when people read them (pigeonweather, wordpress) and when people want a copy in paperback, they can buy one from lulu, print on demand.
As for making money, that’s why I have a job.
I don’t think there’s any way I can respond to your comment in the fashion it deserves without sounding like I’m giving you shit. But the response should be made, and if you feel I’m giving you shit, then so be it. Maybe I am but don’t want to admit it to myself.
You call yourself a writer. I would agree with that call if we were going to say that all it takes to make one a writer is to perform the act of writing.
The fact that you make your writings available to the world at large – at no charge – is laudable. And the fact that you make it possible for people to purchase your work (in book form) at a self-publishing site is pretty cool, too.
But writers – real writers – get paid for writing. Writing is their job. And the reason they get paid for it – the reason they are able to do it as their job – is that they are GOOD at it.
And that’s the difference. It’s not that you’ll necessarily get paid for writing just because you’re good at it. It’s that you’ll never get paid for it if you’re not.
Writing is one of those skills that has a very visible bar. If a writer is unable to properly craft a sentence, it is immediately apparent to most everyone who reads their work. Writing is a difficult skill to fake. Attempts to do so are quite transparent.
Â£0.79 minimum for a 1 TRACK in Itunes!!! Why so expensive? Its not like they’re selling it in a special packet that looks nice, its a DOWNLOAD!!!!
Now think about sharing music, getting the music off someone else because you don’t know the artist or you don’t think it is worth 79p a track. In turn if you like an artist you will support them.
SHARING MAKES NO DIFFERENCE TO SALES!!!!
PEOPLE CANNOT AFFORD TO BUY ALL THE MUSIC THEY WANT!!
Business men and artists, record companies and everyone else who have issued this are selfish. The do not see that copying is something people do and if you stop it people aren’t just gonna go and buy music instead, they will start to cheat you even more by selling to other people for a cheaper price who cannot afford tracks of Itunes. If copying stops, so does the sales, we will have free music from other sources as we think you’re RIPPING US OFF!
Hey, that’s wonderful! Can you do a video with just as good animation and just as catchy a song for me on how copying credit cards, land deeds, Medical School diplomas, and security passes for access to biological warfare labs also won’t deprive the holders of the originals of anything?
“Oh, but that’s different!” you might say. “That’s identity theft! Nobody’s hurt if someone copies a novel, a song or a movie. Nothing is taken away from the maker of the original.”
It wouldn’t be identity theft when I spend five years writing a novel and when I try to pay my health insurance for my Type-II diabetes I find that there’s no money in my checking account because someone pirated my book for free download as a torrent and why pay for something you can get for free?
It wouldn’t be identity theft when the movie I spent half a million bucks of my family’s money making — which cost me my house in California when it didn’t sell to a distributor — also ends up as a free torrent download — and I can’t make another movie because I didn’t make back the money from the first one?
Is that not depriving me of anything by copying for free what I spent my blood, sweat, toil, and tears making is about?
J. Neil Schulman
>Really, does everyone have to squeeze the last penny out of every damn thing?
that’s an interesting question. of course, there’s no ‘have to’ about it, but assuming it involves no extra effort, and the pennies just kept on adding up at a reasonable rate, a few hundred dollars a day for example, then why not?
This animation is ridiculously absurd. The reason the sharing works in the video is because they’re both sharing back and forth with each other.
In the real world, you’d have one of them (Adam) working to make duplicatable stuff (music, movies, software, etc), and the second one (Bob) would be making non-duplicatable stuff (food, bikes, housing, etc). They’d start out singing about how great sharing is. Then, Bob would start copying the work created by the Adam. Adam would then want to take some of the food or bikes or housing from the Bob, but that’s not allowed – that’s stealing. Then, Bob would again copy the work of the Adam, who’s getting more and more depressed and frantic. See, Bob is allowed to copy all the work of the Adam, but Adam can’t benefit by doing the same thing because the Bob doesn’t make duplicatable stuff. Adam wants to eat, and doesn’t understand why Bob gets all the benefits and none of the costs. Adam starts to get angry, but Bob doesn’t care. Bob tells him that “sharing is good”! Adam says that Bob can copy his stuff, but only if he gives him some food and maybe a bike, so that they can both benefit from their own work. Bob shakes his head. “Stupid, Adam, copying is good! Don’t try to introduce artificial scarcity to infinite goods!” At this point, punches Bob for being stupid and selfish even though he talks about “sharing” all the time, then Adam quits making copyable stuff and starts farming.
Yes, there might be alternate ways for creators to earn money, but let’s address the actual argument in the video – which is: irregardless of alternate methods of income, copying stuff (and not having to pay anybody) is good.
(Comment on post, irregardless of “irregardless”): Yay
Movies/Music/Books/Games isn’t the only issue with copyright. No one seems to be talking about science.
Copyright was created to “to promote the progress of science and useful arts.” Instead it is stifling it. We have the potential for so many breakthroughs, and because x company holds a patent on this vague concept, others can’t touch it to further THEIR research. Because y company holds a patent on the OMGYOUAREGOINGTODIE gene, only they can decide where you can be tested for it.
The video unfortunately also shows the downside of copying; you end up with a world stuffed with identical cheap Mickey Mouse knockoffs and an annoying song.
Long ago in a galaxy far, far away there was this band. It was called the Grateful Dead. They loved for people to bring tape recorders to their concerts. They knew that their music would be distributed to a lot of other people. This was totally free marketing for them. They had one caveat. Do not sell these tapes or we will not just prosecute you we will persecute you. That being said it is a great distrubution network. Most of the people that get a copy of someone’s work would not have even known of the artist without the “pirated” copy. It is a guten thingen…
“If I copy a friend’s CD of the new Harlan T. Bobo album, it deprives Harlan of the opportunity to sell me a copy of it. I.e., his livelihood is threatened.”
Nonsense. I have gone on to buy plenty of books, movies and cds that I originally enjoyed through copying/sharing.
“If you wanted a new album for free, you had to go into the record store and steal it. How is this any different?”
Pre-internet, if you wanted a new album for free you taped it off your friend. Just like you do now. I see your point about there being fewer physical seeds today than there were, but there’s also a lot more ways for the artist to avoid production/middle-man costs. The tech advances work both ways.
“I’ve thought about it for ages and there’s not a way where all parites– the label, the consumer, the artist, the distributor, the retailer– come out happy.”
Obligatory buggy-whip clichÃ©. Car manufacturers are doing fine.
Car manufacturers are doing fine.
They are? Last I checked 2 of the Big 3 owed billions to the federal gubmint and Toyota was about to get hit with a nice class action lawsuit and just announced they were halting production on a Lexus SUV because they tend to point their wheels skyward. GM had to get get rid of Saab and Volvo and they couldn’t find a buyer for Hummer, so it’s gone. Hundreds of dealerships across the country were forced to close. I bet you a wooden nickel Chrysler doesn’t make it 5 years.
Also, I don’t see that it’s a relevant comparison because there’s not the pesky issue of people copying cars at home for thousands of others to download over their wifi connections.
Really? You didn’t understand the buggy-whip clichÃ© in relation to “I’ve thought about it for ages and there’s not a way where all parites– the label, the consumer, the artist, the distributor, the retailer– come out happy.”
Times and technology change, old shit gets let behind. The ones who adapt survive.
Compared to buggy-whip makers? Any trouble had by auto makers is either the general economy, or their own lack of adatation. Some manufacturers weren’t up to adapting to lighter more economical cars, and some were and are have less trouble. The ones who adapt survive.
Oh, I see. I didn’t get it. And I’m a bit worked up over the issue. I apologize.
I’ve read a number of your posts on this topic and first I want to say that you seem to be an enthusiastic music lover trying to help out local musicians.
But it might also be that your business model doesn’t work. It happens sometimes- whole industries rise and fall. Consider video rentals and record stores. Bottom line- if YOU don’t know a way to make money for musicians without massive government intervention- what value are you adding to the proposition? Passion and intentions sadly aren’t all it takes for a business to succeed- and business models that worked yesterday might not work today. It might be that independent labels don’t have the same value proposition that they once had (although god knows the best indie labels always seemed to fail- even before mp3s).
I’m not sure what the future of music would look like if the US told the RIAA just to fucking deal with it (like we did when they were upset about player pianos)- but I suspect it would look something like musicians recording their own cheap tracks on home software, and submitting it to a pandora-like service, where they paid to be reviewed and integrated, then took a commission from any sales. I suspect that the consumer would still spend money on music (although not necessarily on all the music they listened to, and probably not the same percentage of their disposable income as they spent in the 70s).
Business is brutal. Most companies fail. Music is especially brutal- records lost money even before mp3s. I am not accusing you of this- but I bet that there are a lot of bands and record labels failing due to perfectly normal reasons that tell themselves that it is due to filesharing because that is an easier pill to swallow.
I have no problem with copying and piracy. In the end it’s not even a problem for the artists. A quick look at the music industry i.e shows that it is still a few pimps who will suck everything out from the creators.
Also I am certain that file sharing is being beneficial to artists who would have never made it without it, and there are a significant amount of them who enjoyed the free promotion.
At the end of the day when I like a music, I mean really, I always buy it. Well almost. The only two showstoppers being that the CD in a very unsexy medium, and also the fact that good quality audio equipment has now become far too expensive.
Denying the existence of intellectual property is absurd and counter productive. Copyright should be logical and fair, not abolished completely.
It’s neither absurd nor counter-productive. Copyright is something we invented for a reason, and, while it wasn’t a bad reason back then, that reason is long gone, and we’re left holding an empty shell of something that isn’t even an inalienable right, but merely a man-made concept. Perhaps abolishing it must take form in a multi-stepped process for it to not destroy our current economy, but the end goal should be the abolition of copyright, even if it takes some time to get there.
Fighting for something that never really existed is what’s absurd to me.
Interesting that the lead character looks an awful lot like Mickey Mouse, yet the movie doesn’t mention anything about using somebody else’s trademark.
So, you folks complaining about unauthorised copying never watch YouTube, right?
how is buying a CD second-hand and paying an unrelated third party for it, any different to copying (or downloading) it and still not paying the artist?
Doctrine of First Sale. If anyone is interested, google it.
Intellectual Property laws have been in the books for some time. Copyright laws and patents protect the inventors, artists, and creators of the properties because it is fair for the creators to have some control and ownership over the economic value generated in the sale, distribution, and consumption of a song, movie, book, or design. Actions depriving an artist of revenue generated by their work may not be technically stealing but it is just as morally wrong. People who own a CD or DVD are only given a *license* to that work – which means they have purchased a limited use right to that work. That’s why you can’t broadcast you movie to the public even if done without charging money – you haven’t purchased the license to broadcast it.
It’s all part of laws that have existed for a long time – let’s just follow it or change it rather than break it.
The purpose of intellectual property law, in the US at least, is not to protect some supposed moral right of a creator to control the distribution of his works. It is, to quote the constitution, “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts”, that is, merely to create an incentive to create. There’s no ethical element to it; that’s why copyright terms were at first limited to 14 years maximum.l
Unauthorized-internet-distribution is a thorny law/business/policy issue, but the claim that IP laws exist for moral reasons is a false reading of the history.
There’s a moral dimension to every policy because they are fundamental to protect a certain quality of life over another. If our morality was to uphold a centralized state, all property rights, including intellectual property, would be transferred to the state. But that’s not the American way. We give the inventor, artist, entrepreneur the reward and control over their commercial endeavors instead. It promotes our way of life – which is a kind of moral code in itself because we see the freedom and independence within it to be superior over other forms. So yeah there is a morality behind IP law.
Bullshit argument this song makes. How does that bicycle get copied?
Let’s re-phrase this discussion into what it really should be:
1. Copyright was designed to provide limited protection to works, to encourage works to be created and profitable.
2. It also had an end date; where things entered the public domain.
3. This end date has changed dramatically over the last century.
4. The balance of power between creator and consumer has also swung dramatically in favor of the creator
5. P2P technologies changed the balance of power back to the consumer in a major way too.
So, right now either side is miles away from the other; the paradigm has shifted multiple times and we’re still using some of the old terminology to describe it all.
This is about as wrong as the use of leeches in medicine, imo, and we need to change the terms of the debate to match reality.
My suggestions towards this:
1. Copyright infringement against a large media company who is not the creator of a work is henceforth called Sticking it to the Man.
2. Copyright infringement against a small content creator of a type which deprives them of an ability to thrive (ie: violating GPL software agreements) is now called Bad Taste.
3. Copyright infringement against a small creator because you are an insane fan who loves them and wants to have their children is now called Normal.
4. Politics and lobbying to change copyright taking place in a non transparent manner involving a lawyer (RIAA suing consumers) or lobbyist (ACTA) is now called Being a bunch of Scumbags.
Imagine how this clarifies everything:
“I was sticking it to the man the other day, and they turned into a bunch of scumbags; and dragged me through court.” (Aww, poor you).
“I was completely exercising Bad Taste and swiped another guy’s iphone app then made profit! He asked me to stop, so I turned into a bunch of scumbags and filed a patent!!!!”
“I don’t want to seem like anything but Normal, but I really think you should listen to this guy’s music. He’s got a myspace page too. FRIEND HIM FRIEND HIM NOW.”
arkizzle: “I have gone on to buy plenty of books, movies and cds that I originally enjoyed through copying/sharing.”
Have you ever gotten anything you liked through filesharing that you did not later go out and purchase? Or even anything you didn’t particularly like, but still own?
I’ve heard this argument many, many times, and I simply do not see how copying someone’s creative output is legitimized by the fact that the person copying it has the purely voluntary option to go pay for it later, if they like it and if they feel like it.
“Have you A ever gotten anything you liked through filesharing that you did not later go out and purchase? Or B even anything you didn’t particularly like, but still own?”
A have you ever bought a book or dvd second hand? The artist didn’t see a penny. Or B listened to a friend’s CD and decided not to buy a copy yourself?
Can you explain the difference in those scenarios, and me downloading something and either going on to buy it, or not bothering and never listening to it again?
The video comes off as just snide and vacant and hurts the cause of copyright reform. When you give out copies, you’re taking food out of a lot of people’s mouths. This gimme attitude is just as fucked up coming from places like this as it does the vacant white trash picketing today because they don’t want to pay their taxes and recognize black people as equals. Touring is incredibly wasteful and harsh on the environment, so stop being a cheap stuck up hippie and pay a fair price for something if you like it.
(no comment on your post)
“Copyright laws and patents protect the inventors, artists, and creators of the properties because it is fair for the creators to have some control and ownership over the economic value generated in the sale, distribution, and consumption of a song, movie, book, or design.”
This isn’t exactly true. Copyright laws were created to encourage innovation. That is, the common trend showed commercial republication of works that didn’t compensate the original authors/etc as stiffling the creation of new and original works.
Back when the printing press was new, it was common for a publisher to just take a book and reprint it without the author’s permission and without compensating them, and essentially put the author out of business. So copyright laws were setup to prevent this, so people would continue to innovate.
That said, despite all this copying going around, there seems to be NO shortage of new music, photography, paintings, films, etc.
You are aware there are still busts for copying and heavy fines? Cease and desist orders that shut down production and distribution venues, seizures of copies and assets, arrests. This does some part to make the legal market continue to function – and so it is still profitable for people to invest the time and money to create the content.
Of course, if you are talking about large scale music and film, they also get cash for tie-ins, etc. Painters… not so much. Painters do tend to keep painting if they can afford paint, but the quantity and quality of paintings (not to mention the quantity and quality of life of painters) tends to be greater if they are better able to make a living at it.
The other fallout of the attitude of things like this video is that it just makes it easier for the board at Disney to justify to themselves buying another 25 years of copyright extension from Congress, not that they need a lot of pushing in the first place.
Speaking of wich…
Would ist be ok to copy concert tickets?
I mean, it’s obviously not stealing…..
Protecting creators’ rights is just as important as protecting property holders’ rights. The problem isn’t that copyright exists and has no purpose any more. If we adhered to what copyright was originally intended to do, there would be no problem today. Copyright was designed to protect a human creator for his lifetime and his children’s. It isn’t like that any more. Today, corporations hold copyrights, and since corporations are eternal, they want their protection to be eternal. Copyright would make total sense today if it went back to protecting individuals for their normal human lifespans.
If there is no protection for creators, they won’t be able to control or profit from their own work. It would be much more reasonable to…
1) Limit the term of copyright to a fair fixed term
2) Provide a mechanism for putting orphan works back in circulation
3) Ensure that individual creators’ rights are preserved
4) Make the penalties for inadvertent infringement more reasonable
5) Make fair use laws for critical commentary and educational use more open and free
Most people have no clue how copyright really works or what it was intended to do. Even if you ask a lawyer, you’ve got a 50-50 chance that you’re talking to someone who knows what he’s talking about. Copyright law has become self contradictory and unnecessarily confusing. It’s turned around from what it was intended to do, and is certainly in need of reform. But it does still have a purpose in modern society.
“Copyright was designed to protect a human creator for his lifetime and his children’s.”
Sorry, that’s just not true. It was originally only 14 years long, just enough to allow a creator enough time and space to develop their idea without having to worry that some yokel could see what they were doing and crank out a half-assed copy of it faster, stealing their thunder and reaping the benefits of their labor. You could apply for a 14 year extension, but no more- it then became public domain. That law pretty much falls under the idea that we, the public, are the true owners of all ideas- 14 years is a trifle, not even the “lifetime” of the creator himself. That’s a pretty clear signal that we don’t really own our ideas, nor do we deserve to live off one idea for the rest of our lives- forget about our kids benefiting from our one idea from long ago.
Like you said, most people have no clue what copyright was intended to do.
I still don’t understand how copying something someone is selling is fine, especially if they derive their income from selling what I am copying. This idea seems rather disingenuous.
Coming in at #115 with a comment that completely ignores the entire thread is disingenuous. And by disingenuous, I mean trollish.
“To be clear, would you or any party on behalf of boingboing make any attempt to stop me?”
Well, I can’t answer for the Boingers. Sorry. And I have no interest in stopping you doing anything except being rude or being a spammer*.
*and this stuff.
Copying is not theft. Letting the copy get separated from the original, which is what this jingle seems to be supporting, can be a copyright violation and thus _can_ be theft.
I’m a firm believer in the right to make backups. I’m also a firm believer that I have no right to either publish your work without your permission until the copyright period has lapsed. Intellectual property *is* a valid and useful concept.
Are copyright periods now unreasonably long? Sure. Are copyrights being enforced in places where they really shouldn’t be? Sure. But trying to dismiss the whole question is a disservice to both sides of the debate.
Despite certain industry propaganda, copying is NOT necessarily the same as copyright violation which is NOT the same as piracy, which is NOT the same as theft.
MadMolecule calls equating any of the four a straw-man argument, but it isn’t. It’s only a straw-man argument if no one in the discussion is actually claiming it to be true, but the four things are constantly being conflated by the music and movie industries and by some in this thread. That false equivalency is detrimental to any reasoned discussion of the issue.
The moral issues are separate and more complex; the false equivalency is used to completely avoid the complexity of the issue. The loss of an “opportunity” or whether the artist gets paid is not relevant to either the distinction of terms or the moral issue; we can’t use that as an indicator of anything. I may listen to a song on the radio, check the album out from a library, borrow a friend’s CD, I might not like the album (and therefore not buy it), I might buy a used copy, or the publisher might write their contract with the artist in such a way that the artist doesn’t end up seeing any profit from their work. The artist gets no money from my listening to their songs, all these cases are perfectly legal, and only the last is morally suspect (and sadly, pretty close to the norm). None of these are examples of copying, copyright violation, piracy or theft.
Music is about emotional connection. We share music files because it is an extension of what music is already about – spreading a feeling. Nobody wants to harm the artists whose music they distribute. Its impossible to dislike someone and like their music enough to share it. People share music files because they *like* the artists and want to spread their emotional message far and wide. People uploading torrents are not acting out of malice. They are music lovers. So I cant help thinking that music sharing is essentially a good thing.
So how do musicians make a living? By using the same new technology that people use to spread around the music to make money the way musicians always have. Ask for it. Every artist that has digital recordings should have a website with a payment gateway of some sort set up. Encourage fans to use it, not to ‘pay’ for a product, but simply to support the artist whos music they enjoy and make more of it happen.
Musicians have been successfully using this business model for millenia – before music was made into a salable commodity. Put out the hat, play good music, make the connection, and people will naturally respond. Sharing music just allows more people to hear and support it. The net may have destroyed record business, but it has vastly increased the number of people that can hear you play and drop money in your hat.
I agree that this video attempts to clarify and ends up muddying.
I think the point is copying != stealing. It might be a crime, but if it is, then it is a different crime than theft- the damages are different, and so should be the punishment.
There are a complicated series of discussions to be had around what is and isn’t right for digital/intellectual property, and it will be a lot easier if we stop comparing easily reproducable strings of binary data with physical objects.
Can we do better than histrionics?
Not true, unless you are talking about the Statue of Anne (which had no “term”, and addressed printers rather than authors) and doesn’t appy to the US.
Early US copryright (pre 1790) was 5-7 years depending on the act you are referring to. After that it was 14 years, plus 14 renewal. Then in 1954 UCC made it the life-of-the-author.
In 1976 it was increased to either 75 years, or life+50years, which is probably the first time you could consider “and his children” to apply in terms of inheritance. In 1998 Sonny Bono made it 95/120 years, or life + 70.
“And his children” is a late comer.
Now I want a cartoon dance video explaining the origins of this concept called “property”. If property rights are absolute, then it doesn’t matter if taking something still leaves you with one, your property rights have still been violated.
If there are any limits to property rights, they need to be defined in a useful way.
This whole conversation puzzles me.
Of course (unauthorized) copying isn’t theft.
And jaywalking isn’t speeding.
And littering isn’t kidnapping.
Even the authors of this video believe in copyright – after all, they have a Creative Commons license at the end, so, clearly, they believe they have the right to control – to dictate, via restrictive licensing terms – who gets to make copies of their work, and under what conditions.
If you copy their video in compliance with the license terms, that’s ‘sharing’ and ‘fun.’
If you copy it without complying with the license terms, that’s both illegal and morally reprehensible, and they can sue you for it.
Now, personally, I understand rights holders wanting to hammer home the message that “unauthorized copying is illegal and morally reprehensible.”
And in a world where millions of Internet dunderheads seem to think that “it’s not theft” means “it’s totally okay”, I can understand resorting to oversimplifications like “unauthorized copying is stealing.”
They’re trying to make it clear to the ethically and intellectually challenged that it’s both illegal and wrong, in terms they’ll understand.
And frankly, I think you can make a case that, since “the right to copy” – the exclusive right to decide who’s allowed to make copies, under what circumstances (the “copy right”) – belongs to the work’s creator, that unauthorized copying is a form of theft.
Not theft of a physical object, but theft of a legal right.
You’re stealing the creator’s right to decide who gets to make copies of their work.
Whether they want money for a copy, or they want to restrict the way copies are used (a la Creative Commons), or they want to sell their right to make copies to some third party – a record company or a publisher or broadcaster – or even if they just want to give the right away for free – it’s still their right. It belongs to them.
The exclusive right to copy beings to the creator, not to you.
And if you take something that belongs to someone else without permission – i.e., the exclusive right to copy – and thereby deprive them of it – is that really “not theft”?
Or is that just another dubious rationalization?
sorry, GlenBank – i appreciate the thought effort gone into your post, but i’m afraid i think you’ve come up with something which doesn’t entirely add up for me.
rights, including the right to copy, the right to the pursuit of happiness etc have no essential being, though they are useful constructs. they cannot be stolen. even if you’re being put to death, you still have the right to life (it’s just not worth much unless you live under an authority which recognises it.)
creators may or may not have an exclusive right to copy – that’s a separate issue. nevertheless, if an individual acts against that right, it wouldn’t be appropriate to suggest that it was stolen. for it to be theft of a right it seems to me that not only would they need to (impossibly) deprive you of your right but also to obtain that right for themselves.
now, if someone not only made a copy but somehow illicitly obtained the exclusive right to copy, preventing the original rights holder from doing so, then perhaps there’s a case for theft, but i think perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that the authority to copy had been usurped rather than stolen.
separately, it has been suggested that the theft lies in the privation of the opportunity to earn money (think that was post 19 or so). again, it would seem that to thieve something requires not only depriving an owner of something, but also obtaining that thing for onself, so the use of the copy as an opportunity to make money would need to be present. but furthermore, it doesn’t necessarily follow that everyone gets to earn money in the way they want to. i want to make money by growing spuds and brewing beer, but i have to do something else instead because other brewers and potato sellers keep depriving me of the opportunity to make money that way. but i can’t complain cos i do it too – i phoned a plumber to fix my toilet and he quoted me a fortune, so i looked the job up in a diy book and just did it myself for free, depriving him of the opportunity to earn a living. but not theft. not even illegal, nor immoral.
hope i haven’t gone off on too much of a tangent, and hope i’m still making sense – it’s got kinda late…
now, if someone not only made a copy but somehow illicitly obtained the exclusive right to copy, preventing the original rights holder from doing so, then perhaps there’s a case for theft
When you copy without authorization, you are depriving the rights holder of the exclusive right to copy.
When works go out of copyright, that doesn’t prevent the prior owner of the rights from further copying – it just makes the right to copy non-exclusive.
You’re appropriating the right to copy, and, in so doing, denying the rights holder their exclusive ownership of that right.
Yeah, maybe “usurp” would be a better word, but the PR campaigns are aimed at people who haven’t the foggiest idea what “usurp” means, let alone any ethical concept of whether or not “usurpation” is an okay thing for a morally upright person to do.
Lengthy arguments about whether it’s really theft or not miss the point entirely.
My point is simply that unauthorized copying involves taking something that doesn’t belong to you, and, in the process, depriving someone else of something that does belong to them.
That really should be close enough to “theft” to trigger the “Thou Shalt Not Steal” part of most people’s moral programming.
The “copying isn’t theft” video completely ignores the question of whether anyone is being hurt. It implies there’s no harm in copying – “If I copy yours, you still have one!”.
And all the dunderheads go, “See, it’s *completely* different! You still have your copy! No harm done!”
No one was suggesting that your copying hurts the person whose copy you copy – and the fact that you didn’t hurt them is entirely irrelevant to the issue of copyright.
“When you copy without authorization, you are depriving the rights holder of the exclusive right to copy.”
Actually, you are just ignoring their right, not depriving them of it. The latter would be much worse.
No, you are in fact depriving them of it, in addition to ignoring it.
The instant X makes a copy, X has, by definition, deprived Y of Y’s *exclusive* right to copy.
In before the intense, polarized debate!
You know, the issue of music piracy has kinda been solved in my mind. I read reviews and look on music blogs, and if something turns up that interests me I visit the artist’s home page or myspace and listen to some of their music. If I like it a lot, I pay for the whole album.
A large part of it relies on the music industry tolerating a small amount of copying via mp3 blogs, which do more good than harm. And, apart from that Blogspot incident a couple months back, they seem to have done this.
So – a SMALL amount of copying is good.
“I think you are forgetting that the argument is whether or not copying music and movies is a crime, not what exactly the word “steal” means. If we all agreed that stealing only applied to physical items, it would not really change the argument.”
Actually it does. Copyright infringement is a civil issue. Not a criminal one.
Sorry, but copying is not stealing. Doesn’t make it right, but it’s not stealing.
If I steal a cd from a store, the store cannot sell the physical item that they paid good money for and they make a material loss as a result.
If I download an album, or make a copy of a friends cd then somebody, somewhere has merely been denied the OPPORTUNITY of a sale.
Now suppose that U2 release a new album. Their potential market covers a wide spectrum of consumers from the guaranteed sales to the certain no-sales. The middle ground are the copiers and I think they fall into 5 camps:
1) people that don’t really like U2 but get caught in the hype, download the album, find that they don’t like it and don’t buy it. NO LOST SALES HERE.
2) people that don’t really like U2 but get caught in the hype, download the album and find that they do like it. Maybe they don’t buy this album, but they are now more likely to buy other stuff by U2. POSSIBLE FUTURE SALES.
3) people that like U2, download the album, but aren’t impressed and don’t buy it. POTENTIAL SALE IS LOST BUT AVOIDS BUYERS REMORSE.
4) people that like U2, download the album and keep on playing it, but don’t pay up. POTENTIAL SALE IS LOST.
5) people that like U2, try the album and then decide to buy it. GUARANTEED SALE.
I think it is useful to remember that U2 became the success that they are by building up a huge base of fans and persuading them all to buy 2 or 3 albums rather than exploiting the hard-core followers.
Yes. This is the part that people ignore. Good quality content (ugly word) costs MONEY and EXPERTISE to produce.
Film is a good example, the most endlessly collaborative production process there is. You think The Godfather came to you straight out of Francis Ford Coppola’s tortured artistic soul? No – there was a guy who did the lighting. And another one did the costumes. And someone else did the editing. And someone else wrote the music. Etc.
These people need paying up front for their services. So without the evil exploitative SYSTEM run by the MAN to invest in the Godfather, it wouldn’t exist. They have a right to make their money back at some point, no?
“They’ve been taking my music and bootlegging my shows for ages. I know all the sites that have my bootlegs and all my MP3s. Actually, I don’t give a flying fuck. I like the internet and I like the community.” (David Bowie)
And I own all his albums (apart from the Tin Machine era) including 3 CD’s and 2 vinyls of Ziggy at least.
Does anyone see any problem with downloading albums or books that you bought in the past, but perhaps lost, were destroyed, stolen, or worn out? I mean, after all, we are buying the content when we buy music or other media, not the medium by which it is delivered. The evidence is in the clear price difference between blank and prerecorded media.
I feel entitled to be able to download a copy of Dark Side of the Moon if I own it on vinyl but want to listen to it on my mp3 player.
“Like I said earlier, artists aren’t going away because they have value to us and we recognize that value so we’re not about to let them go away. There’s no need for anyone to impose anything to get that to happen- it’s going to happen naturally because that’s what we value as human beings, period.”
Right – if there were no laws people all over the world would treat one another with respect, honor one another’s bodily integrity, property etc., just like they do now. Oops, wait, they don’t, even with laws.
But just maybe it would be better without laws – if people were TRULY free there would be no more theft, abuse, rape, slavery, poisoning of water, etc.
I’m sorry, you are arguing on pie-in-the-sky level.
The Music Industry & Online Piracy by the Numbers (Infographic)
A worldwide business of over 60 billion dollars per year, the music industry claims to be a huge victim of online piracy. What do the numbers actually say? Find out on our new infographic.
Copying is not stealing, copying is murder!
You are depriving those poor record company exec from their livelihood, so they might DIE!!
The makers of this video aren’t doing any favours for people who want to just COPY media, shift formats, whatever. When they equate that with SHARING (distribution), they just make a case against simple “copying” for their own use.
I am not arguing that there is a way to make copyright laws fully enforceable – I do not support the idea that copyright holders with money should be allowed to monitor or access everyone’s data.
But I do support the idea that a copyright holder should have some recourse when unlicensed copies surface in public (posted online, offered for resale, etc).
Sometimes the copyright holders are “the man”, sometimes they are small-time artists. Sometimes the ones doing the copying are “the man” – I know many artists whose work is lifted and printed on tshirts, posters and other items then sold in chain stores.
I agree that this is unfair, but I don’t think the answer lies in more rules- I think the problem is that the system is biased, and that the rules we have, not just the copyright rules but our entire system of commerce, lean favorably towards the big companies and unfavorably towards the individual, so that it’s easy for Sony to sue me for downloading music, but it’s really difficult for me to sue Sony for using my stuff without permission. It’s easy for Starbucks to sue me for parodying them, but it’s really difficult for me to sue Starbucks for (whatever.) And so on.
And I do think that the root problem here, and in most things, is that the laws are philosophically unsound. We’re trying to add structure and rules to something that inherently doesn’t exist- so the rules we add have an expiration date because, as society morphs, the rules become useless or damaging. But if we recognize from the outset how things really are, which in this case translates to “you can’t actually own anything, no matter how hard you try” then we stop wasting our time and energy barking up this wrong tree, and we can focus on finding a way to make it so that artists and creative people ARE supported, not by law, but by social design.
The irony is that we’re there already- the internet has provided us a way to do exactly that, with micropayments, etc. There’s no reason why someone can’t earn a partial or full living off their ideas if they’re good ideas, without the need for that extremely fat middle man or a cop policing the virtual world. If we just accept that we don’t own things, we stop trying to find away to protect our precious ideas, and simply offer them out to the public. Those who value them will give us money, those who don’t, won’t. When all you’re asking for is a quarter, I bet a lot of people will be happy to give you a quarter. And a ton of quarters equals a livable wage.
So I say let’s get on with it already, and stop arguing copyright, which is a dead horse.
arkizzle: A have you ever bought a book or dvd second hand? The artist didn’t see a penny. Or B listened to a friend’s CD and decided not to buy a copy yourself?
Can you explain the difference in those scenarios, and me downloading something and either going on to buy it, or not bothering and never listening to it again?
I find it hard to believe you are asking this with a straight face, but in case you are genuinely asking, Yes, there are several obvious and immediate differences:
1) Those scenarios don’t involve copying. (This is about copyright, you may recall.)
2) Those scenarios are LEGAL.
I’ve answered your question although you declined to answer mine. I will ask it again:
You said: “I have gone on to buy plenty of books, movies and cds that I originally enjoyed through copying/sharing.”
And I responded: “Have you ever gotten anything you liked through filesharing that you did not later go out and purchase? Or even anything you didn’t particularly like, but still own?”
The fact that you avoided answering the first time seems to suggest what the answer is, but I don’t want to assume.
I wonder if you are asking with a straight face too..
Yes, it is technically about copying, but really the issue is whether you enjoy a product of someone else’s time without paying for the priviledge.
I didn’t answer your questions outright because I thought you were intelligent enough to parse the equivalency of my counter questions, and see that the net result is the same.
Beyond the physical bits, how is buying a CD second-hand (that could just as easily have remained in the owner’s collection, unlistened, encouraging me to buy a new copy) and paying an unrelated third party for it, any different to copying (or downloading) it and still not paying the artist?
In both scenarios, I’m enjoying the music and the artist isn’t getting paid. In the downloading/copying scenario however, I’m at least encouraged to go on to buy my own copy because the allure of having the real version, with graphics and booklets is there. Also with copying/downloading, no one else is making money off the transaction. Not so with the second hand market.
Similarly, beyond the physical bits, how is downloading/listening/rejecting any different than borrowing/listening/rejecting?
I hear it either way, reject it either way, no one gets paid because I don’t want it.
You seem to assume that as soon as one person buys something and digitizes it, no more copies get sold to people with internet access. Or at least that digital copies are equivalent to packaged physical ones. The evidence just doesn’t bear these ideas out. Studies have show that people who download a lot of content also buy the most content.
To answer to your specific questions, yes, of course there have been things that I’ve downloaded and not gone on to purchase, whether I liked them or not. In exactly the same way as you almost certainly have taped an album from a friend, or taped a show off the tv, or watched a clip on YouTube and not gone on to purchase them.
There is almost no possible scenario, likely to have occurred, in which you have not casually infringed copyright multiple times, unless you have been living in a significantly different environment than the one I presume you now inhabit.
A note to all you people who think that musicians can survive off concerts and tee shirt sales: I’ve a friend who was on Matador in the 90s, had reasonable success, a few very good years, a publishing deal, etc. He’s on the road at this moment, hoping to break even on this tour, and is seriously considering giving up music all together. I don’t think all the blame can be laid at Napster’s (et al) door but I think that’s certainly a factor.
I have a sweet proposition for anyone who agrees with this video. Send me a twenty dollar bill, I’ll send you back ten copies.
If a manufacture a bicyle and sell it to you and you then allow someone else to ride it, should I get paid for the bicycle again OR do you have the right to do whatever you want to with the bicycle after you buy it from me?
Just a thought for discussion.
I still don’t understand how copying something someone is selling is fine, especially if they derive their income from selling what I am copying. This idea seems rather disingenuous.
so what is the solution?
the internet has made everything global – i love japanese music and anime – i don’t dl but i survive on youtube uploads – now if i can have a place where i can buy them for a dollar a song, i will gladly give them my cash!
i spent $1000 – of my meagre allowance – no job yet – last year on buying manga, books, cds – but i can’t get the things i like because i’m not in japan – in singapore actually.
if ACTA is actually helping artists, instead of stealing away the public’s right to the internet, and brings less stricter copyrights and no drm, I’ll buy. i’ll stop spending on clothes, books and fast food and redirect my money into music instead of depending on youtube playlists..
bring spotify, last.fm and hulu global – make it cheap and legal and you will earn revenue and reduce piracy – most people don’t want to steal or freeload – but living isn’t cheap. and big greedy corporations will never stop wanting more.
ON AN INTERESTING NOTE
why are they selling handsets and giving away music for free in china? so the rest of the world must pay for DRM laden music?
Copying is now virtually costless: the ones selling “official” copies are over-charging, and seeking to keep the price closer to where it was at the dawn of electric recording/copy technology.
Their stuff ( the content of books films audio)is much much cheaper physically to re-produce than it has ever been before. And the stuff does not even need to be permanently reproduced: a single instance my be viewed by millions and millions over a network, using locally-cached copies which are discarded after viewing, a la the internet.
So the price of this material should collapse, no?
Why not carve the copyright guys a piece from ISP revenues?
My feeling is that some of the public figures (mistakenly) that part of their ISP fee is actually going to the content providers, like cable TV fees do.
Here in Canada we use a blank-media levy. Why not something similar for creators on the Net? Too complex?
But our systems are getting heavy-duty enough to handle it, right?
Or they will in time.
It was originally only 14 years long (snip). You could apply for a 14 year extension, but no more- it then became public domain.
28 years plus an average age of a creator was pretty close to life expectancy back then.
But actually, the 1909 copyright act provided for a 28 year initial term and an additional 28 year renewal period which provided copyright protection to the life of a creator plus time for his children to become adults. Seems fair to me.
I’m not arguing that things should be free because I’m cheap and lazy. I’m arguing that things can’t be owned, simply because that’s actually the way it is.
You wouldn’t feel that way if someone stole your iPhone on the subway!
Actually, I lost a lot more than an iphone when a young kid grabbed my bag and jumped off a train in India- money, passport, expensive film equipment… and, after the initial shock that comes with the feeling of being violated, I actually did feel that way. It ended up making the trip that much better, in the end, because I felt like there was nothing left to lose, and every moment’s experience from then on was much more appreciated. I’m not advocating theft- after all, even if we don’t really own anything, there’s still something very negative about having our trust in humans broken when we least expect it- but if we accept that copying information is not only legal and acceptable but valuable and healthy, there is no trust being broken as there is when someone breaks into your home and takes something.
In other words, your iphone example actually has nothing to do with what we’re discussing, but it actually does bring up a side point, that if we approach things with that perspective that nothing in this world is actually ours, life gets a whole lot nicer, instantly.
Hmm…boring animation with annoying music and a disingenuous message. For all those mods who have stated that they don’t mind people copying BoingBoing, etc.: How would that change if BoingBoing was subscription based, and the writers depended on the income for their livelihood? Would you be singing the praises of the copiers then? There was also a writer above who stated that he wrote and put his work online for free, but he was quick to point out that he had a job. For some people, art is their job. If you are copying their work from another source rather than paying them for a legal copy, then you are, in spirit, stealing from them. You can rationalize it all you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that you are depriving them of income.
Quibbling about semantics is not the best foundation for a compelling argument. It’s like smearing a guy with blood and then dropping him in a shark tank, and then arguing that it’s not murder because the sharks are the ones who killed him. Yeah, it’s not murder. Guy’s still dead, though.
I have copied some music in the past – probably quite a lot, actually. I try to buy the actual CD if I like the album or song. But I’m far from perfect. I don’t, however, try to soothe my conscience by pretending that it’s right. If you’re going to copy, then just copy! But please don’t start singing your own praises. That’s just pathetic.
How would that change if BoingBoing was subscription based, and the writers depended on the income for their livelihood?
You seem to be confusing hypothetical scenarios with real-world scenarios. BB has a working business model. You’re trying to make your point by saying, “But what if….” There is no “what if”.
If you get on the train without buying a ticket, it’s arguable that you haven’t cost the train company anything, but if nobody buys a ticket the trains can’t run.
As Mr. Dylan said, “To live outside the law, you must be honest.”
I always support (financially) struggling artists I find via downloads. I’ve got several of Cory’s books on my shelf that I wouldn’t have bought had I not downloaded and read Little Brother first.
I try to support major artists when I can, but I am a poor grad student and The Rolling Stones are not poor. (Concerts, a more serious revenue stream than album sales, are a given for me.)
I NEVER decided not to buy something because “I can just download it.” The music and the films that I have here, via unauthorized p2p downloads, are artworks that I would simply be without otherwise. I would not (could not) have bought them.
To say that this is wrong is somewhat akin to saying that giving medicine to the poor is wrong. Because they didn’t (couldn’t) pay for it, they simply shouldn’t have it. (Actually someone would have to pay for the medicine. My copies did not cost anybody anything.)
No one was made less by my copying. I was simply made more.
(scifijazz…I do sympathize. to pirate a small label into bankruptcy is fully heinous. good luck.)
Copying isn’t theft.
Property is theft.
Property is freedom.
– same guy
Great thread, so many great arguments on both sides, but for me its pretty simple. If illegal copies = lost sales, then it is a form of theft. But the equation does not hold true, and its not just the sales figures that demonstrate this. If I had no opportunity to copy music, it does NOT mean I would buy the music that I copy now. I just don’t have the money to buy lots of albums, and most albums are at least half to two-thirds “filler” wrapped around a few hits, as far as I’m concerned. I just would not get to hear the music, unless by chance it comes to on the radio.
How is that scenario preferable to the present, where I get to hear the artists, get to promote their work to my friends, and have the opportunity to get interested in a group that I might see in a concert, and, moreover, album sales keep rising anyway?
I will now point out that Amanda Palmer has been giving away copies of her cds and telling her fans to download them off torrents for quite sometime.
( her suggestion for a christmas gift was to copy her amanda palmer cd and decorate the cd before giving to someone) she manages to not only make a living as having a fierce fan base that attends her every show and keeps sending her money on paypal, she has effectively mastered her fanbase through sheer charisma.
I rather give money to see a show of hers than to see anything metallica related, and she actually puts on shows for free at times, even on webcam.
you need to work the connection with your fans, thats how people like her, Neil gaiman, Terry pratchet, actually make money, they are just very likeable people that act as if who reads them/listens to them, MATTER.
I’m a huge Nina Paley fan, but this video presents the worst sort of–dare I say–Sarah Pailn-esque logical fallacy. Doesn’t anyone take Logic 101 anymore?
No one actually thinks copying *equals* theft. Obviously the original remains, unstolen. The term “theft” is a useful shorthand, however, since not everyone has a degree in economics or has been to law school.
In fact, in the case of copying, it’s not so much “theft” as a reduction in scarcity (resulting in a corresponding decrease in value of the original), or, depending on the circumstances, a quantum meruit/unjust enrichment-type issue (where one person is unjustly enriched to the detriment of another).
For example, say I’m an architect, and I get paid for designing and generating blueprints for homes. You hire me to design an expansion for your house. I work on your plans for three weeks, but before I have a chance to present the plans to you, my young associate makes a digital copy of the plans (and all the other plans I’ve ever drawn), sets up his own office, contacts you (and my other clients), and offers you top-notch home expansion plans at a discounted rate. You accept, you pay my former associate for the work I did, and I’m screwed.
All my associate did was make copies. He didn’t technically “steal” anything from me–he left me all my originals, in pristine condition. But almost no one would call my associate’s methods proper or ethical. My associate was unjustly enriched, to my detriment. We call it “theft” as shorthand, because from my perspective the result is effectively the same–money lands in my associate’s pocket that should have otherwise landed in mine.
Of course, if my associate makes copies of my plans just to study them (as in Doctorow’s Star Wars example a few days ago), that’s somewhat of a different story. The problem arises when the copyist goes after the same profit market the originator is in.
But again, the point of the video is absurd. No one actually thinks making a copy equals physical theft. Surely this is common sense, right? The BB venue has become so knee-jerk averse to any measure smacking of property right protection, common sense is being overlooked.
You can not charge a man for apples if he lives in the orchard. Whether or not the orchard’s owner, or the person who planted the tree, or the law that protects them both consider it stealing – that man’s eating free apples.
When a law is no longer enforceable, it will cease to be law. Think: I own my home. Possession is nine tenths of the law, so I own the stuff in my home. If you wish to breathe while in my home, I shall charge you.
Copying isn’t ‘stealing’.
However, the creator of a work does own the copyRIGHT in a work (unless they’ve had to assign those rights to someone, i.e. sell it off to EVILGLOBOCORP LLC in order to buy some gruel to feed their kids).
When someone copies a work, it goes without saying they are not stealing that work. Nor are they stealing the rights to that work. However, it is clear, as the law stands currently, that they are INFRINGING on the rights of the copyright owner.
A somewhat analogous situation is if you owned a massive open air parking station. You fence it off. You charge people $5 a day to park there. There’s a hole in the fence in the northwest corner. People sneak in. Park their cars there. The car park is so big that you don’t even notice anyone there ’til someone from the media lets you know. Then you get all upset and throw a tantrum. You might even eat your hat, you’re so angry. But you’re so angry you can’t remember if you did or didn’t.
It all ends up ugly. You call the cops. They tase a few people. Arrest some more. Then they quietly release everyone.
The people parking there aren’t stealing the car park, or your rights in the car park. However, what they are doing is infringing on your rights to control access and charge a fee to access the car park. Sure, its not stealing, but it is a form of trespassing. After all, copyright is a form of property: intellectual property.
Its not a perfect comparison. That’s why its an analogy.
It’s clear that many artists can and do benefit from ‘unauthorised copying’ of their material. I’ve dragged many people to concerts to artists they didn’t know about by burning a couple of their songs onto a cd, or emailing them. That’s several concert tickets that would have otherwise gone unsold.
However, to make a video which simply states that ‘Copying is not theft’ and to suggest that this somehow cuts through the complex economic and moral issues relating to copyright is simplistic, disingenous and in my mind, doesn’t really advance the cause for a more open marketplace for ideas with more innovative and liberal copyright laws.
If anything, the video suffers from the same reductionist simplification adopted by the record industry, movie studios, and now increasingly it seems, governments.
As a disclaimer, I’m writing this from an Australian perspective, however the issues are truly international.
As I went walking I saw a sign there: And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.” But on the other side it didn’t say nothing
Now i finally understand why china is into copying.
well, i kind of see it as – china acknowledges it has a endemic piracy problem so it wants to make atleast some of the money back via selling tangible goods like a phone and an essential service such as a phone line.
as simplistic as this may sound – if you sell a t-shirt and gave an album free with it for $20, will people buy more albums?
Using the bicycle theme: I spend my time and money on R&D for a new bike. Then someone comes along grabs my data, copies my specs and spreads my work around. Yes, I still have my original work but nothing for the time and money. Then an established up and running bicycle manufacturer uses one of those copies of my design/data and churns out mass produced actual bicycles from my brain, toil, and money. What am I left with?
What am I left with?
You can go on the bike design public speaking circuit and sell t-shirts…
The thread came from a cartoon saying that copying isn’t stealing. What I’m saying is pretty much on-topic. It’s not that wishy-washy, as much as you might want to paint it as such. We have two issues here- the legal issue, and the philosophical issue. Realistically, you can’t OWN anything, therefore there should be no laws made to the contrary. Philosophically (as in, the principles we use to live our lives with,) we should support anything that is good, healthy, and beneficial… and not support the opposite. Support, as in, by our own free choice, not by law. When we talk about copyright, we’re talking about laws, so I say no, I’m against that. When we talk about what we ought to be doing as individuals, we’re talking philosophy, so I say, yes, let’s support artists. It’s not that nebulous of an argument.
The best “protection” you can give a creator is simply a society full of active participants who serve as their own police. If someone is peddling a cheap ripoff of a better thing, I’m not going to buy the cheap ripoff. If others prefer the cheap ripoff, the solution isn’t to throw them in jail, the solution is to create a system where doing so is discouraged, either because the original isn’t so expensive that you’d want to rip it off, for example. Really, what I’m saying is that we need to start with the assumption that we’re going to make NO money off our art, that there’s no reason why any of us SHOULD be compensated, and move up from there. If you’re lucky enough to get enough people who want to give you money, great. If you’re not, then welcome to everyone else’s reality. Make your art on your spare time because you want to, not because you think it’s a way of earning a living.
If you want to spend your time trying to come up with the magic formula for protecting copywritten material, good luck. It’s only going to get more complicated as technology gets more sophisticated and destroys notions like the one you mentioned originally. I think it’s a waste of time and a fool’s errand, but if you can come up with a legal system that really works, more power to you.
So, you’re saying it’s an issue of semantics? Come on.
Yes, it’s about semantics, about the meaning of words. If we get meanings wrong, the rest will be wrong also, because we’ll be confused about what we are saying.
In everyday life, it’s perhaps not so important; every now and then, though, words can be vital.
.. and if I create my own original music and choose to put it on a CD to sell, in order to live off my talent – and one person buys it and makes copies available for free, so no-one else buys it and consequently I don’t make any money. It may not be theft in the strict sense but can someone explain how it’s still right?
I have some questions for you, dreamfish –
1) If you were not selling but giving away the CDs, would you feel the same way?
2) As a musician, do you want more fans or don’t you?
3) If CDs were not there, how would you increase your fan base?
This is exactly how I feel. Copying is not a natural thing people used to do before all this technology. Just because something is digital doesn’t mean it’s not worth it’s value in the physical sense and therefore it shouldn’t be thought of as just a bunch of 1’s and 0’s. However, that notion is much less potent to the copier than the copyright victim.
Copying IS a natural thing though. Every story we tell is a collaborations of copies of other stories. Everything that exists are copies with a couple unique twists. COPYING is probably one of the most NATURAL things we do. No book, no song, no movie, no game is completely unique. We copy the things we like from several different sourced, and so it becomes our own. A mashup artist is no different than any other artist, he’s just directly using his influences digitally and being honest about it.
It’s also in our nature to share ideas, and things we like. That is how ART progresses, that is how SCIENCE progresses. Like I said in my previous comment, science is stifling because of our NEW FOUND phobia of sharing. We wouldn’t have ANYTHING we have today if scientists didn’t build on what other scientists built on, who built off someone else, who built off someone else.
Also, I do believe that artists should be compensated for what they do, IF they deserve it. I think piracy only hurts bands who release 3rd rate music with 1 decent song on the whole album, and no one wants to buy the album if they’ve actually heard the music. The bands who I have found to have an ENTIRE album of good music, I buy in a heartbeat, and buy for my friends, and pay to see concerts.
There are sooooo many studies (excluding ones done specifically by the riaa) that show that music piracy is NOT harmful. The band doesn’t lose money, the riaa doesn’t lose money, but the if riaa claims it’s theft and sues, they make more money.
In fact piracy is often helpful to bands, especially small bands. People will download a few songs to see if they like it, and if so they then go out and buy the album. It helps people spend their money wisely.
Furthermore, due to the home recording act, downloading is not illegal. File sharing is a gray area, but downloading is fine.
…and if you create your own original music and put it on a CD, and someone gives this to all their friends who all love it, and they will then give you money for your music, buy the CD, concert tickets, t-shirts or just PayPal you something as a way of recompense and because they enjoyed your music so much, all the while they keep telling their friends about you and putting your songs on party mixes and stuff, is that so bad?
It would be nice if it worked that way, but it just doesn’t. We’ve now had a decade (arguably an entire generation) who have come up believing it’s perfectly fine to download a record and not pay for it. In fact, they expect it.
The business model is broken. And, yes, the record companies are partially to blame. But the bottom line is before the Interwebs, no one believed they were entitled to a new release instantly and for free. If you wanted a new album for free, you had to go into the record store and steal it. How is this any different?
I’ve engaged in a lot of mental masturbation over the subject. The game goes something like this: I’m the Prez. of Captiol Records in 1996 and the Ghost of Record Industry Future pays me a visit and lays out excatly what has transpired in the past 15 years with the advent of the Internet, CD burners, Napster, p2p and bit torrents etc. What do I do to make sure the business doesn’t go belly up? I’ve thought about it for ages and there’s not a way where all parites– the label, the consumer, the artist, the distributor, the retailer– come out happy.
We’re still finding the balance an it will take years. But honestly, you can defend it by saying people might hear it at parties or buy a t-shirt and isn’t that cool? But it doesn’t change the FACT that if you download an album without paying for it, you are stealing.
Because in that case the album–the physical object–was gone. Even though the store had bought it from the label for resale purposes, it was no longer available for sale. Maybe that’s the difference. Both cases–copying and shoplifting–are, in essence, stealing. But shoplifting is stealing from the store. Copying is stealing from the record label.
You may not make any money, but it’s still not stealing. There is a broken business model out there that does not apply to the digital domain in the 21st C.
I don’t have all the answers, but as an Artist, who has had my photos used for commercial purposes (by large corporations who see Flickr as their personal Free Clipart website) the toothpaste is out of the tube, and the whole thing has to be rethought. I now watermark my images, which helps, but music is obviously a different animal.
Well, one justification is that copying may be a better model for the music industry.
CD sales rose significantly during Napster’s heyday, suggesting that as playlists and music got passed around, interest rose in previously less-known artists, and those artists ended up selling more CDs than they would have had had the music not been copied.
But since they didn’t sell as many CDs as had been copied, the theft was said to cause a loss of income. In reality though, many artists sold more in a world where copying was easy.
This may not hold in all cases, but sales figures were definitely up during that era.
I run an independent label. The difference between making copies now vs. 20 years ago is very simple.
When I was in high school and bought an Echo & the Bunnymen album, I’d record it on a tape for myself so I could play it in the car and I might make a copy for a friend, maybe two. Now that everything is digital, making a “copy” and putting it on a p2p network means you can have potentially hundreds of thousands of “copies” go around the world from one original source.
I can’t really argue against burning a copy of a CD for a friend. That’s OK. But the argument that copies should be free is leotarded. Someone had to pay to have that made and if you want a “copy” badly enough, you should pay for it. Anyone who doesn’t see how this is stealing from the artist and label who paid to make it happen is an idiot.
And just how the hell does one make a copy of a bike? I’d like to copy this sweet Lotus Elise I saw yesterday. If only I could download it for free.
I’m seeing a lot of moral argument here. A number of shoulds, many oughts, plenty of deserves and the occasional opinion stated as emphasized FACT. Lots of Appeal to Authority and Appeal to Emotion.
And that’s all fine. Artists should get paid for their work. They may even deserve compensation seventy years after they’re dead. If you’re going to enjoy something they created, you ought to pay for it. Also, I think I deserve a free beer every day, and the tax rate ought to be zero, and whiskey should flow from rocks like clear, mountain streams.
I hate moral arguments. They only lead to circular debates or echo chambers, depending on whether both parties already agree with each other.
What I’m not seeing, and I hope you industry types can help me out here, are hard numbers. Exactly what effect does piracy have on album sales? All the effect that I can see, from small studies and the state of the industry, is that piracy is at worst a minor bother and at best a solid benefit. Despite all their hue and cry, the record industry as a whole is alive and well.
I think of myself as a reasonable guy. It’s entirely possible that piracy is, actually, a net harm for the generation of creative work, both in terms of revenue and ubiquity of mindshare. But the numbers don’t say that from where I’m sitting. So show me where I’m wrong. That’s all you gotta do. Show me, in numbers so hard they’d make a statistician blush, the impact of consumer piracy on making a living recording music.
Otherwise you’re just blowing smoke.
For most independent labels, the greater risk is in their work not being known to a large number of people, not that hundreds of thousands of people will “steal” the music.
If your content is so great that so many people will want to download it for free, you really don’t have to worry about downloaders hampering your profits.
People, people, it’s really not that complicated.
1) Copying isn’t stealing. That much is clear.
2) The arguments for copyright are based on the idea that people that put time and effort into something should be compensated financially for their efforts. This is the premise on which ALL pro-copyright arguments rest on.
3) This argument is a fallacy. There is no logical reason why anyone should be compensated for anything they do. Why anyone thinks they SHOULD be able to make a living as an artist of any kind is beyond me. I draw comics, make music, shoot films, and I would LOVE to devote my time to doing exclusively just that. But guess what- what I want doesn’t have anything to do with reality. It boils down simply to supply and demand; if enough people value what I create, they will support my work so that I can create more. If they don’t, then they won’t, and I’ll have to get a job somewhere to pay the bills. It’s that simple. Thanks to current technology, this is the only “business model” we need. I’m an artist, send me some money and I’ll keep doing what I do. Stop sending me money and I’ll go away, or at least, my output will decrease. End of story. Bottom line, there’s a certain # of people who will keep giving me money, a certain number of people who might once in a while do it, and a certain # of people who don’t give a shit if I go away.
Asking the cops to go around policing shit for you is just a waste of time and resources, not to mention morally indefensible. How long is it going to take us to figure this out and move on?
The comment that artists don’t deserve to be compensated for their work is walking away from the problem.
People make things. Some people make actual objects: cars, loaves of bread, paintings and so on. Some people make things that exist in the mind: novels, songs, the value of an investment. Sure the physical object surrounding those things also exists, but it’s secondary to the intellectual nature of the thing in question.
No one doubts that I should get paid if I make a loaf of bread and offer it for sale. So why doubt that I should get paid because I make something that exists mostly in the mind?
“There is no logical reason why anyone should be compensated for anything they do.” If this were true then we would have no basis for an economic system of any type.
People are compensated when their goods or services are seen to be of value. That you can’t make enough money from your creations to support yourself in a style you’d accept isn’t the fault of the idea of compensation. Somebody values what you do in some other venue enough to compensate you for that, or you wouldn’t have the time and materials to make the stuff you already do make. And if your stuff gets spread everywhere for free before you can try to sell it, you have been deprived of that opportunity.
Indeed, the internet as a method of connecting producers and consumers is a wonderful tool. Plenty of folks are making more money than they thought they could selling their arts on line through places like eatsy and ebay. Not to mention the boingboing market.
But just hoping that folks will pay out of the goodness of their hearts is naive.
What you’re saying doesn’t describe the word “should” in a legal sense. In other words, people pay for products because they WANT them, because they value them, not because there is anyone telling them they SHOULD do so. With a physical item, you can say “i will only give this to you if you give me xxxxx” and you say yes or no, depending on your assessment of the deal. If you tell me it cost you $1 to make it, so you need at least $1.50 to compensate for your time, but I can find the same item for $.50, is it illegal for me to pay $.50? Is it immoral? You’re clearly not getting compensated if I pay less than cost, yet it’s perfectly legal and acceptable for me to do so in our economic system. “Should” doesn’t enter into it. Same with music, or any form of an idea that people try to attach price tags to. “Should” just has nothing to do with it- either you pay, or you don’t pay for it as the consumer. In other times, other methods were used to keep artists from starving- governments, kings, courts funded the artist because it was worth it to them to do so. Or a rich patron funded the artist because they found it worthwhile (prestige, whatever) to be their benefactor. In our time, that responsibility came on the public, as consumers, because that was the system we functioned under. Hey, guess what, now that system is dead. “Should” didn’t exist 500 years ago, it doesn’t exist today, it never will exist because it doesn’t make any sense.
I’m not saying people will pay out of the goodness of their hearts. People will pay- for the simple, obvious reason that if they don’t pay, they won’t get the music, film, literature, etc. that they want. Because, even in this day and age, we still do find value in that stuff. How much they have to pay will reflect exactly what is required to keep the art coming. Some artists fund their art by working day jobs, some rely solely on the sales of their stuff, others on the merchandising of stuff related to the art itself- whatever works is how you do it. There is no “should”. The day art becomes irrelevant is the day it really will, and SHOULD, go away.
Judging from the current state of human affairs, that’s not going to happen for a long, long time.
Ah. I didn’t realize you were speaking leagle-eze.
If you don’t believe there is any reason you should>/i> get paid for what you produce, be it a good or a service, why do you go to work? Is an employer not required to compensate you for your labor?
I’m not saying that if one person make something and sells it for less than you want to then there is anything forbidding that. But if you make something and they take it and sell it for less, then it’s a form of theft, even if you still have the “original” of of what was taken. Because the chance to sell it is no longer yours. It works in the reverse too- look at ticket scalpers, who re-sell an item, valued for its scarcity, for more than its originator sold it. In that case, however, the originator got the price asked and was free to ask for more. They can complain but they failed to use a first response and raise the price they wanted for the product.
“Same with music, or any form of an idea that people try to attach price tags to. “Should” just has nothing to do with it- either you pay, or you don’t pay for it as the consumer. ”
If people are supposed to pay for the stuff they want, because they want it-how does that make taking the stuff without paying for it ok? Because they can?
I doubt that anyone is saying there is an obligation to pay for things you don’t want.
I’m not sure I’m understanding your comment. An employer pays me for my labor because they think it’s worth the money they give me. I pay a musician for his album because I think it’s worth the money he’s asking for- OR, I don’t pay it because I think it’s too expensive. I never pay full price for cd’s because I think that’s way too much for an album- but I pay for all my music- if a friend gives me a copy and I like it, I find the album used and get it. If artists sold their albums for less (which they could do if they sold them directly themselves, bypassing record companies) I would buy more albums new, rather than used from secondhand stores, where none of the revenue is going to them. Where’s the “should” in any of this? Buying used cd’s is legal, yet the artist isn’t compensated for the purchase. Buying cd’s from the BMG Music Service or Columbia House is legal, yet the musicians don’t get a dime from that stuff. Introducing a band to hundreds of people through Napster is illegal, yet the band gets a wider exposure which generates more shows, cd’s, etc. We create laws to encourage or discourage X Y and Z but inevitably, the laws are limited and often counter-productive.
Taking stuff without paying for it is okay because the notion that you can own an idea is a fallacy; you can’t “own” a song any more than you can “own” the air, regardless of what the law says. It’s okay to copy media, or any idea, for the simple reason that all ideas are property of everyone, period. Now, if it’s beneficial to compensate people for putting time and energy into those ideas, then go ahead and compensate them, like I do with many artists. But there’s no “should” there’s simply a “I do this because it makes sense for me to do this.”
Here’s an entire comic essay on the subject:
you can’t “own” a song any more than you can “own” the air
By coincidence, I’m listening to some people on the radio talking about a film about Chess Records, and how Muddy Waters sued because he was never paid for songs they used. The judge ruled against him, saying that he was basically trying to lay claim to some rhythms, and nobody could own a rhythm. So your argument is identical to the reasoning used to screw Muddy Waters.
Yeah, but the problem isn’t that the argument is incorrect- the problem is that it’s hypocritical to argue this in one instance and then argue against it in another. Muddy Waters didn’t get screwed because he actually DOES own rhythm, he got screwed because he’s in a system that is hypocritically biased towards those with deeper pockets, so he’s stuck having to play the game by their rules which they conveniently alter when it’s to their advantage to do so. Record companies don’t own rhythm either, but try arguing that in court against SONY and their lawyers.
People being greedy and injust hardly disproves a basic philosophical fact.
“Taking stuff without paying for it is okay because the notion that you can own an idea is a fallacy; you can’t “own” a song any more than you can “own” the air, regardless of what the law says. It’s okay to copy media, or any idea, for the simple reason that all ideas are property of everyone, period. Now, if it’s beneficial to compensate people for putting time and energy into those ideas, then go ahead and compensate them, like I do with many artists. But there’s no “should” there’s simply a “I do this because it makes sense for me to do this.”
Wow. Another deep thinking dude who has just happened upon a brilliant philosophy that justifies “gimme”. It’s a beautiful world, you can just sit back and be rained upon by the bounty of things that occur naturally, for free. Isn’t it great that some people have chosen to create things you can enjoy and use? That was nice of them. Don’t let it harsh your mellow when they say it’s a little more complicated than that. You really don’t owe them anything. If it exists, it exists and is yours for the taking, right? Too bad for the people who brought it into existence. Whatev. Their bad. And life-saving medicines can totally be equated with access to entertainment.
A recorded song, a book and even an electronic article are not simply “ideas” grabbed out of the air. If you want to hum a song someone else wrote, you are free to do that. If you sit and listen to a song played on a radio or a friend’s sound system, have a blast. Yes, those sounds are actually just in the air. If you want to memorize a book, no one’s going to try to get into your brain to grab it back.
A RECORDING of a song, however, is a thing – as soon as you record those things in the air, you have a recording, which is a THING. Bytes are things, and they require other things to store, read, transmit and copy them. A book is a thing. An electronic article is a thing. You can sit and think so hard that you poop your pants, but without some pieces of technology in your hands you are not going to be able to produce a recorded song, a book or an electronic article.
The fact that copying is easy to do (once you buy, rent, borrow or steal the technology that makes it possible) doesn’t make it right. The fact that copying is easy to do has led many people to devalue the content of what they are copying. The fact that copying is easy to do has even, apparently, led many people to think that the things they are copying are no longer things, but just “ideas”.
And even with your pooped pants, you may not even be able to come up with any “ideas” that could lead to a good song, a good book or a good article. As much as you want to argue “that all ideas are property of everyone, period” – ideas are not all alike and ready to be picked out of the air. They require people, and often very particular people, in particular circumstances, and varying amounts of education, training and/or experience, effort and time.
The only reason “everyone” knows about many ideas is because the very specific people who had them decided to open their mouths, pick up a pen, turn on a recorder, or type on a keyboard. You may think an idea sounds obvious once you’ve heard it, but that doesn’t mean that you could have thought of it on your own – it doesn’t mean that anyone else would have thought of it if the original thinker had not shared it. I promise you – even pressing your forehead against Einstein’s head for years would not have resulted in the idea of relativity gracing your brainwaves if he never chose to share it.
And the idea wouldn’t even have occurred to him if he hadn’t spent years researching and learning. Good ideas aren’t really just “in the air”. Great ideas (you know, the ones you feel may be “worth” the money, if you feel like…) are even more rare. And they often require focus and the mingling and discarding of many earlier ideas in order to reach them. Work (and time, talent, education/training, particular mental skills, etc.)
That’s why we tend to notice people who come up with good ideas. That’s why we see value in education and training – because it seems to help increase the quality and quantity of ideas by increasing the quality and quantity of thinking.
Keep arguing that things that exist in forms that can be easily copied are actually just “ideas”. Keep arguing that it is some kind of bummer tyranny to expect payment for anything that isn’t a physical object. Keep arguing that the only way people should be able to expect to make money is to create tangible objects or work for someone else. If you REALLY want to get thoughtful about all this, think about where that would lead. People can copy all the files they want, but if no one can afford to spend their time creating good content, the content truly will be valueless.
(No, no one can argue that there are really any “should’s” on a cosmic level, deep thinking dude. But bring it down a few notches. People are talking about “should’s” in terms of how we can encourage and reward the fostering of good ideas for the benefit of all. )
I have thought a lot about this, actually, and what you’re saying doesn’t hold weight.
First of all, your argument is limited to today’s technology. Let’s fast forward to a time when we don’t have to carry around little electronic boxes that go “beep” and can literally archive EVERYTHING we see and hear in our own minds. Right now, you have no problem with me humming a tune that I heard. Great. Are you going to have a problem when I can literally replay the exact song you recorded in my head, second by second? What are you going to do about it? Try to charge me every time I think of that song? You can have your ipods and things that hold 1’s and 0’s but someday those won’t even be necessary and your argument will be moot.
I’m not arguing that things should be free because I’m cheap and lazy. I’m arguing that things can’t be owned, simply because that’s actually the way it is. Right now, the argument for “should” lies in legality- we’re saying “should” as in “we should make laws that prevent X Y and Z from happening”. The minute we want to stop talking legal and criminal matters and just talk about what people oughtta do, no guns pointed to their head FORCING them to do it, okay, then we can talk about “should” in that context.
In that context, of course we should support each other for the things we do that are worthwhile- not just in art, but in anything. I never said otherwise. I spend most of my non-cost-of-living-money on arts of all kinds. I’m a tireless promoter of great things I discover, I lend and give books, to friends, etc. Why? Because I believe I should do that. But that’s my own choice, not a law, that motivates me to do so.
Right now, we’re unfortunately stuck talking legality, and in that dumb arena, no one should be forced to pay for anything. It’s really not that cosmic. Like I said earlier, artists aren’t going away because they have value to us and we recognize that value so we’re not about to let them go away. There’s no need for anyone to impose anything to get that to happen- it’s going to happen naturally because that’s what we value as human beings, period.
Seriously, you’ve thought a lot about this and your response is that we might have better technology in the future that will be smaller than current technology – and that makes it, somehow, not technology and therefore renders my point moot?
Sorry, I guess my saying that you couldn’t produce a recording or file without a piece of technology “in your hands” is what made you think that a quick imaginary trip to the future would tumble the argument. Right. How’s this: a recording or file cannot be produced without the use of some kind of technology. Period. Having an idea, without aid of a rock, stick, quill pen, ballpoint, keyboard, or any other form of technology that has EVER existed or WILL EVER exist, forever and ever, does not create a recording, a file, a book.
Even simpler and more basic: a recording, a file and a book are not ideas.
A book is not an idea. That much we agree on. And..? What’s your argument- that because paper and glue exists, therefore writers own the ideas expressed on those pages? And when the paper goes away, and it’s literally as simple as “you think something, you beam it to me, now I’m thinking the same thing” that you should still be compensated for that? What about me typing these words right now? How is this different than a book? If I were to collect this discussion and print it, assuming someone would want to buy it, is it mine to sell? I’m not really understanding your argument. I get that you think there is value in people’s ideas- so do I. I just don’t think it should be a legal issue, and you seem to, I think, I’m not sure anymore. What’s your point about technology? That because we use it to get ideas across, therefore… artists own their work? There’s a disconnect here, or something isn’t clear.
Oh, there is definitely a disconnect. Earlier you were equating media WITH ideas in order to support your point. (“Taking stuff without paying for it is okay because the notion that you can own an idea is a fallacy; you can’t “own” a song any more than you can “own” the air, regardless of what the law says. It’s okay to copy media, or any idea, for the simple reason that all ideas are property of everyone, period.”)
Now you are saying you do not think they are the same thing.
And laws don’t exist, or nothing exists, or something. And lets get on with people offering their own items for sale directly, no middle men, and no recourse if someone else offers their items for free. Or for whatever some people feel like paying.
And you don’t want people talking about copyright… in a thread about copying and theft.
OK, anyway, back on the ground again, there is a concept of legal ownership. If you want to argue against that entirely, then argue against that entirely, I guess. But within the context of a world in which there is such thing as legal ownership, some level of protection for people whose creations can now be easily/cheaply copied makes sense.
And laws don’t exist, or nothing exists, or something.
Exactly. Now you’re getting it. The details aren’t important. What’s important is that you realize and acknowledge that you are wrong and I am right!
“And laws don’t exist, or nothing exists, or something.”
Exactly. Now you’re getting it. The details aren’t important. What’s important is that you realize and acknowledge that you are wrong and I am right!
“And laws don’t exist, or nothing exists, or something.”
Exactly. Now you’re getting it. The details aren’t important. What’s important is that you realize and acknowledge that you are wrong and I am right!
Cause every derailing, irrelevant or nonequivalent argument must be coddled or else points about actual duplication/copying are moot.
So let’s see… the topic of actual copying/duplications cannot be discussed unless and until proper hand holding is done to explain why baking bread and buying a used copy of a CD are not equivalent to ripping a duplicate of a digital file.
Discussion about copyright in the context of this reality (where the concept of ownership is old and huge and very much legally entrenched) cannot be had because ownership is a faulty concept and we should discuss how things could/would/should function in a utopian version of society without laws.
Oh, and also don’t talk about copyright because artists can just do art, music, etc. as a hobby and make their living some other way (a living presumably made possible by laws regarding, why yes, ownership and rights to compensation).
Cause artists should be the first to make the leap and lead society to utopia by forgetting about getting compensated for their work… wait, haven’t we sort of been doing that all along?
I do actually agree that the concept of ownership is faulty – especially with regards to things humans have had absolutely no part in creating. However, it is the basis of much of how things work, I don’t think it’s going away this week, and so it is worth discussing how laws can be more equitably applied.
If we agree that it is a bad/imperfect concept, but still a foundational legal concept in our society, are we allowed to move along to talking about the actual practicalities of how people can be compensated for creations that are currently easily copied (not baked)?
Cause every derailing, irrelevant or nonequivalent argument must be coddled or else points about actual duplication/copying are moot.
Were you under the impression that there are some sort of Rules Of Engagement in effect here?
Nope. Not those rules.
No one doubts that I should get paid if I make a loaf of bread and offer it for sale. So why doubt that I should get paid because I make something that exists mostly in the mind?
Because I don’t (and shouldn’t have to) pay you if I bake the same loaf of bread in my own oven.
” No one doubts that I should get paid if I make a loaf of bread and offer it for sale. So why doubt that I should get paid because I make something that exists mostly in the mind?
Because I don’t (and shouldn’t have to) pay you if I bake the same loaf of bread in my own oven.”
But the loaf of bread you bake in your oven is NOT the exact same loaf. You used different flour, you paid for the energy used to heat the oven, you paid for the kitchen the oven is in……
An an idea I have for a creative work is even harder to replicate-twenty people with the same recipe will make pretty much the same loaf of bread, if they’re equally skilled as bakers. Twenty writers with a similar idea will write twenty very different books. Twenty bakers all told to make the tastiest loaf they can will make twenty very different loaves. Why do you imagine there are so many places to buy and eat food?
thanks das memsen! that’s basically what i think (i think), but you’ve expressed it better than i could!
@Jasonsrobot @eviladrian Also… Hiring yourself out as a design expert, teaching others how to make bikes, repair workshops, making one off collectors editions with a massive mark up in price…
With music, much more money is being garnered from live music than in the era before the internet. It seems that it is just returning to the same situation before music distribution got industrialised.
Being a musician I think about this sort of thing a lot, I think that the music industry will have to take on more responsibility for tour organisation and promotion for their artists, and see that (and merchandise) as the primary revenue streams.
This thing is completely overgeneralized and ignores the fact that intellectual property is an integral part of how our economy works. How about I set up another website called boingboing.com, have a bot copy your code in real time, and collect all the ad revenue from that? Fair?
How about I set up another website called boingboing.com, have a bot copy your code in real time, and collect all the ad revenue from that? Fair?
Very many websites republish BB material, in some cases our whole feed. We’re not that fussed about it.
“How about I set up another website called boingboing.com, have a bot copy your code in real time, and collect all the ad revenue from that? Fair?”
Adding the commercial element changes the argument completely.
Is it cool if I “copy” the artwork on these boingboing t-shirts, http://www.boingboing.net/2009/05/14/boing-boing-t-shirts.html print them up on nice t-shirts of my own and make them available to anyone so long as I don’t make a profit? You’d still have your t-shirts and could continue to sell them for $25/each, so there’s no theft according to this video. I shouldn’t expect a call from your lawyers in this instance, right?
I don’t have one lawyer, let alone a plurality of them.
Nice sidestep of the question. To be clear, would you or any party on behalf of boingboing make any attempt to stop me? If so, what’s the argument?
Haha, another one?
First, for those attacking the video directly, remember that it is meant as an opposite of the copyright industry’s silly propaganda where they compare copying to stealing purses, cars, babiez, etc. The debate raised is still valid however.
@humanresource “If illegal copies = lost sales, then it is a form of theft”
Even though you do not agree that the equation is true in this case, the implication is false. The spirit of laws is not to protect profit. That profit was lessened would not imply theft. There are plenty of ways I can cause someone to lose sales. If I create a superior product to that of my competitor, this will cause him lost sales.
“That profit was lessened would not imply theft. There are plenty of ways I can cause someone to lose sales. ”
You are right, although I do want to see people compensated for effort put in – and not just the artist, but everyone who has actually helped get the art to me (they are often wildly overcompensated in our system, but even middlemen can play a vital role – like what Stax Records did for soul and funk).
I said “a form of theft” because it certainly is not the classical kind of theft, but it also denies compensation to people improving my life in some way. If I were wealthier, I’d pay more often, for this reason (and downloading has its own drawbacks, but that’s a different story).
However, if it has to be a choice between not paying and not hearing, and not paying and still getting to hear, how can anyone tell me the latter choice is unethical?
“The spirit of laws is not to protect profit.”
What country do you live in? Here in the United States, our entire legal system revolves around protecting profit.
Killing copiers is not murder: now with very satisfying audio!
Oh, how I love Nina Paley.
I love Nina’s work too.
The old model of non-talented businessmen making money from music is ending. They controlled so much of the industry that they even told artists what to play and how to play it. All in the name of profits. This copyright enforcement push is simply those same businessmen desperately scrambling to save a bit of the action they never really deserved in the first place. The openness and ease of access the internet and digital recording technology have engendered are now making it easy for artists to circumvent all the old BS and hit the markets they want to. All on their own. Lack of record sales means nothing; it never really has. The studios made all the money off the albums, not the musicians. What is important now is to get your music on Youtube or other venues so that people will pay to see you in a meatspace venue. Why do you think the Rolling Stones charge so much for tickets? Because they can and they never made much off album sales anyway. That was the way it was set up.
No… it is not theft. People who say it is are either misguided or trying to shape the debate using inflammatory ;language. HOWEVER… It IS most likely breach of contract.
I create a CD and sell it under a contract that says you buy the CD and promise not to make copies for other people. You enter into that contract and then breach it. I should be able to go after you for damages. Now, those you received the extra copies never had a contract with me so I can’t go after them for anything… until a government makes law that criminalizes copyright violations in the form of possessing unauthorized copies. EACH of these issues must be judged and society must decide what they do to benefit and harm the collective whole. Lumping them together is counter productive.
1) Copying is NOT theft and no serious person is claiming it is. (Recording companies are NOT serious persons.) The video is a pointless straw-man effort.
2) It most likely IS a breach of contract. A private matter between two “citizens” and no criminal component. Anything wrong with offering your music under such a contract? Not as long as the consumer knowingly enters into the contract to the contract.
3) Many jurisdictions have criminalized various issue relating to copyright. (EG: Possession of an unauthorized copy.)_ Should they? if not, how can the copyright holder protect their livelihood/property?
@scifijazznik: “Anyone who doesn’t see how this is stealing from the artist and label who paid to make it happen is an idiot.”.
The problem is that it isn’t *stealing* – that’s the taking of a physical object that one doesn’t own. Can you point at the copy that you had in your possession earlier, that you no longer have in your possession now? No – you still got all the copies you had before. So nobody “stole” a copy from you.
Now, I’ll be the first to grant you that making a free copy is in many cases failing to compensate the artist and the label. But that’s subtly different from stealing, and conflating the two makes rational discussion difficult.
You have heard of a little thing called “intellectual property,” right?
Just because my physical property is gone doesn’t take away from the fact that I paid the artists, paid for the manufacturing, paid for the licensing and distribution and now you have and are enjoying a “copy” that you didn’t pay for. If you want to argue that bits are not property because it’s digital and I can’t see it, then I’m afraid you’re being kind of thick about it.
I think you are forgetting that the argument is whether or not copying music and movies is a crime, not what exactly the word “steal” means. If we all agreed that stealing only applied to physical items, it would not really change the argument. Whether we classify copying music as theft does not affect whether it is fair the artists, so isn’t it more pertinent to stick to the topic of “is it right?” versus “Is it stealing?”
“The problem is that it isn’t *stealing* – that’s the taking of a physical object that one doesn’t own. Can you point at the copy that you had in your possession earlier, that you no longer have in your possession now? No – you still got all the copies you had before. So nobody “stole” a copy from you.”
This argument also allows people to screw artists out of making money through the only thing they have left – concerts. How is sneaking into a concert “copying,” and thusly legal and just fine? How is sneaking movie? A convention? A hotel, resort or theme park? An airplane or bus? Just because you are not physically appropriating something it doesn’t mean theft didn’t occur.
I’m all for the argument that artists often benefit from having their music disseminated “illegally” – the exposure usually does lead to not only increased record sales, but concert attendance. But that free dissemination needs to happen at the artist’s volition.
Is this video supposed to be persuasive? It’s a bit of pure propaganda nonsense, and I don’t believe for a moment that the people who created it actually have such a myopic understanding of the real issue.
The video argues that copying is not theft because after a thing’s been copied, the original person still owns it, unlike if it had been stolen. That way EVERYBODY GETS A BICYCLE! YAY!
They’re totally misrepresenting the issue. It’s obvious to anyone with half a brain that copying an album doesn’t deprive the creator of the physical album itself; that’s a straw-man visible a mile away. If I copy a friend’s CD of the new Harlan T. Bobo album, it deprives Harlan of the opportunity to sell me a copy of it. I.e., his livelihood is threatened.
I really can’t understand how anyone fails to understand this. Frankly, all of the “copying isn’t theft” arguments I’ve heard seem to boil down to, “Well, copying is really easy, and therefore I have a moral right to do it.”
@madmolecule: “it deprives Harlan of the opportunity to sell me a copy of it. I.e., his livelihood is threatened.”
Agreed. However, calling it *stealing* is misleading. If you were a carpenter, and I did something that prevented you from making $750 from fixing a kitchen counter for somebody, would you call that stealing? No. You’d call it “restraint of trade” or something like that.
“They’re totally misrepresenting the issue.”
So is calling it “stealing”.
I didn’t call it “stealing,” valdis. I said it deprives the artist of an opportunity.
Agreed. However, calling it *stealing* is misleading.
So, you’re saying it’s an issue of semantics? Come on.
Here let me correct that for you
“It possibly deprives Harlan of the opportunity to sell me a copy of it. It also exposes me to Harlan’s work, potentially turning me into a lifelong fan of Harlan, willing to spend money on Harlan’s product for many many years”
Metallica’s Lars Ulrich once said in an interview that Metallica would have never made it as a band if it wasn’t for fans making bootleg copies of their music and using that to expose their music to new people who would not have heard it otherwise.
I am not saying copying is inherently good, but neither is it inherently wrong. Bottom line : Technology has changed the world. It is time for certain industries to evolve their business models appropriately or die.
@delt664: “Here let me correct that for you[…].”
Your “corrected” version of my post (an Internet rhetorical device I find patronizing and irritating in the extreme) is disingenuous. “Possibly” and “potentially” don’t exactly inspire confidence; it strikes me a bit like using “My approach doesn’t rule out the possibility that everything might turn out fine!” as a rallying cry.
Also, I don’t think quoting Lars Ulrich is putting yourself firmly in the “copying is OK” camp.
As was pointed out upthread, in the early days of Metallica copying and filesharing were limited in scope by the nature of the medium; music was shared on cassette tapes, and a third- or fourth-generation copy was nigh-unlistenable. Many people, myself included, used to get a taped copy of an album from a friend, listen to it, and then go buy the album so we could hear it in higher quality. Obviously, that’s not the case today, and it’s created a bizarre (to me) sense of entitlement among people whom I would typically expect to be more conscientious of artists’ rights and interests.
Your original anecdote took a scenario with many possible outcomes, and presented only the outcome that best supported your argument. This is a rhetorical device that I not only find irritating, but downright dishonest when done knowingly and intentionally. My objective was to point out that there could be alternative outcomes.
Bringing up Lars Ulrich wasn’t intended to place myself in any camp, but rather to illustrate that there are two sides to the coin, no matter who you are.
And yes, the technology is different. Thats the point.
Bottom line : Technology has changed the world. It is time for certain industries to evolve their business models appropriately or die.
And this is pretty much the crux of the argument. Even as a label owner, I’m a firm believer that the majors were complete idiots and missed a huge opportunity to monetize when they saw the success of Napster way back a hundred years ago. Instead of grokking that the future was in front of their noses, they buried their noses in the sand and stuck with CDs for far too long as Napster gained popularity and enough time went by for people to get used to the idea of “wow, hey, I can get my music for free on the computer.”
The genie got out of the bottle, they were way to slow to react and they’re just now starting to catch up to where they should have been 10 years ago. And since the technology is changing so fast and the music business is so slow to change, they’ll have to evolve exponentially faster just to get to 2010 by 2015.
Stealing? Pah, small fry. When someone downloads one of MY albums it’s MURDER. How about that!?
I might be inclined to agree that the RIAA etc aren’t *reasonable* persons -and I’d add the legislatures to that list- but serious? I would say they definitely are, as what they say and do carry heavy consequences for the rest of us.
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