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AP Looks at Piracy, Misses the Point 406

TechDirt is reporting that the Associated Press has covered several stories recently about what a "huge threat" piracy is in other countries. This article, however, argues that they have perhaps missed out on the whole story by ignoring the other side of the coin. From the article: "the AP doesn't bother to mention how all that piracy helped created new and different business models for musicians in China that let them thrive despite the piracy (actually, in some cases, because of it). Nor does the AP bother to mention how software piracy helped boost certain aspects of the industry in China by decreasing the cost of inputs."
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AP Looks at Piracy, Misses the Point

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  • by krell ( 896769 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:03PM (#15662460) Journal
    This news item does not involve theft. I suggest doing some research into the FBI "UCR" crime reporting files, and other sources of data which distinguish the many different kinds of crimes out there. You will quickly learn that there are many other types of crimes (or possible crimes) out there which are not theft. Copyright infringement isn't t he only one.
  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:12PM (#15662542) Homepage

    Stealing is ok because it was easy for a few years in the 90s?

    Actually, it is copyright that is an entirely recent development, for it appeared only a few hundred years ago in the West. The ancient world had no concept of "intellectual property", and creators of content in Greece and Rome understood that their work would be freely copied without compensation. As far as I know, they never protested the situation, and the only objection to some copying (in Martial's epigrams) was that often the poet was not being credited, but rather others claimed to have written it. Even today in place like India, the former Soviet Union, and southeast Asia, copyright makes no sense to the local population.

    Now, just because there was no ownership of ideas for most of the history of mankind doesn't necessarily make copying just. After all, slavery and wife-beatery was also widespread until the modern era. However, the recent and geographically-limited genesis of copyright should nonetheless make one question if it is indeed a desirable institution, or merely a means of protecting the rich while limiting the rights of the many.

  • by ehrichweiss ( 706417 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:28PM (#15662682)
    Actually, according to the US Supreme Court, piracy is NOT theft.

    They clearly distinguished between copyright infringement and theft in a 1985 case, where they said, "(copyright infringement) does not easily equate with theft, conversion, or fraud... The infringer invades a statutorily defined province guaranteed to the copyright holder alone. But he does not assume physical control over copyright; nor does he wholly deprive its owner of its use."

  • by Dis*abstraction ( 967890 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:07PM (#15662968)
    Actually, it shows a command of the English language. [] Note definition 2.

    Is identity theft not theft? Theft of services?
  • by Lord_Dweomer ( 648696 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @06:31PM (#15663450) Homepage
    I wholeheartedly agree. As an ex head of distribution for a major anime fansubbing group the one thing I've learned is...treat the fans with respect and not only will they respect you back, they will spend money to show their appreciation.

    While I cannot even begin to predict what might happen if the music/movie industry treated their customers with the same respect as anime companies, I can say that at this point it honestly couldn't hurt them to try. What's the worst that could happen, customers don't hate them as much?

    Not only that but the the fansubbing world provides as parent explained, an INCREDIBLY useful marketing research tool to the content companies.

    Do you have any idea how much risk has been diminished with U.S. based anime releases because of the data they've gathered from torrent trackers serving anime?

    Its funny...I tend to watch trends on Mininova and PirateBay, and if a new series is good, the first episode will start with a few hundred seeds, and the next one will jump to about 1k or so when its freshly released. If it gets to double digit seeders/leechers, that is a series I would be willing to invest money in to bring to the states because that is how confident I am that it would do well.

  • by bobblekabobble ( 985206 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @08:42PM (#15663993)
    In the USA today article that was mentioned above, former Byrds frontman Roger McGuinn is used as an example of an artist that has made gains in his career through giving away mp3s for free. Of course, the mp3s he gives away are of his performances of old folk songs, not his new original material. Those songs are available on CDs, which he sells at his concerts. For a profit.

    The question still remains, how do less popular artists gain from the free digital music movement? If an artist sells their own self-produced recordings (CDs or MP3s, whatever) directly to the public, and these sales make up a significant part of their income, do they really gain anything by suddenly giving away their music for free?

    Lets take a New York Jazz Pianist for example. Let's call him Frank. Frank gigs constantly with four different groups all over the five bouroughs and elsewhere, and between the gigs and sales of his independently produced cds (as well as teaching/workshops) he can eek out a reasonable living. Now what if we suddenly make the whole idea of "buying music" an anachronism. Does that really help Frank?

    Obviously, huge pop stars like Beyonce or Britney would be fine, because they would get commericals and other endorsement deals, and the like. They also play sold out stadium shows, but what about independent artists who mostly play smaller venues? And if you say the public will be more likely to hear their music if its free, that just isn't really true. Tons of people had free mp3s on back in the day, and they didn't do so well.

    Also another thought. It takes money to build a recording studio. Who's gonna pay for that? There won't even be any indie record labels or indie recording studios if they don't have anything they can sell to make a profit.
  • by cyberscan ( 676092 ) * on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:28AM (#15665420) Homepage
    The U.S. Constitution made provisions for copyright (for a limited time) in order to allow society to benefit from USEFUL works. It was originally meant to give the creator of said USEFUL works a LIMITED monopoly on distribution. The idea was to make it worthwhile to the creator for producing USEFUL works by allowing him or her to recover the cost of creation and production. Much of the stuff that is released by the media cartels is not useful but rather detrimental to society. The reason why copyright infringement is so predominate is because copyright has been ABUSED.

    Another question one may want to ask is, "Can a person who releases his or her work so that is can be freely redistributed make money?" This is a question one may want to ask Linus Torvalds. Here is someone who has both money and fame for something he set up to be freely redistributed. The copyright issue is not going to be resolved by the courts or new laws. It is going to be resolved by the marketplace. If a cheap subsitute for petrol is discovered or if a cheap and simple way to increase the fuel mileage of vehicles is published, then the price of petrol will decrease drastically even if there are laws put in place to ban the way of increasing fuel efficency or petrol substitute. People tend to want to do what is right and beneficial - especially when doing so is practical. It is practical for some people to use and/or produce open source products. Many people make money doing so. It is also practical for many to use Linux. Other people find it more practical to spend lots of money in order to use Microsoft products. Microsoft products are pirated rampantly, yet Microsoft thrives on selling operating systems and office software. Open source software is also rampantly copied and shared, and companies thrive on selling open source products such as Linux.

    When I intend to use commercial software on a regular basis, I buy it even when I can copy it from somewhere else and use it for free. I bought Windows XP and use it on one (of 32 computers I own) computer. If I have to replace the motherboard on the computer and Microsoft refused to reactivate Windows, I would download a hack to reactivate Windows XP without hesitation and not feel a bit guilty for doing so. Is this considered copyright infringement? YOU BET IT IS!!! However, I bought the product and refuse to be ripped off. Would I copy the Windows XP CD and give it to another? No, I would not. However, I do not consider copying Windows 98 and redistributing it wrong (No, I haven't done so) because of the fact that 1. Microsoft no longer sells '98 or supports it and 2. Microsoft has had over seven years exclusive copyright in order to make is money back as well as a handsome profit.

    A LIMITED copyright on USEFUL works serves both producer and consumer very well, however, when the balence of power shifts entirely to the copyright owner and copyright becomes unlimited then there will be a backlash when it is feasable. This backlash is occuring in the music, software, and movie industries. Copying can be beneficial to both copyright owners as well as customers. I both download for free and purchase music, movies, and software. I do not however, buy product from members of the RIAA, BSA, or MPAA. I do not like bullies nor will I support them.

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal