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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 CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:56PM (#15662396) Homepage
    Since the AP believes its own business model is based on copyright, and gives bloggers who repost their articles a hard time, is it any surprise that they would defend copyright?
  • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardprice@gm a i l . com> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:56PM (#15662397)
    reporting on how well glaziers, builders, carpenters and building merchants also did in New Orleans after Katrina?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:56PM (#15662402)
    That stealing is ok because it was easy for a few years in the 90s?
  • by Schraegstrichpunkt ( 931443 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:00PM (#15662434) Homepage
    Misappropriating and/or "stealing" things that don't belong to you, or just flat out breaking the law (in some jurisdictions), is okay if in someone else's estimation it's actually "helping" them?

    I love how there's always someone who will bring useless arguments like, "it's against the law", into a discussion about what the law should be.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:04PM (#15662476)
    I love how there's always someone who will bring useless arguments like, "it's against the law", into a discussion about what the law should be.

    and how 'what the law *should be*' is a justification for breaking 'what the law *curently is*'
  • by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:06PM (#15662486)
    But why is the anti-copyright argument always the one touted here?

    considering the stance you take on your post.. I believe you have the answer already.

    You seem to believe that these people should be allowed to control and regulate every other sector of the economy.. that they are some superclass of nobles who have a "right" to revenue. The question should not be weather the 99.999999% of the human population on this planet are not being prosecuted for piracy, it should be why 0.000001% of the population are entitled to hold back innovation with the likes of the DMCA and to pillage the rest of the population with monopoly rents.

    Have you ever considered that since economics isn't a zero-sum game, that there are millions of people who have indirectly benefited economically from the industries that have sprung up around, support, and are supported by, music, television, books, and movies?

    and do you understand that whole huge swaths of the tech sector have been brought to a standstill for the sake of industries which are hundreds of times smaller and are undeserving of corporate welfare at the expense of hundreds of billions if not trillions in economic growth which would be occuring otherwise?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:09PM (#15662520)
    I burglarize houses. Hey, it keeps the cops employed. And the door repairmen. And the insurance adjuster. The list goes on...
  • kinda obvious (Score:2, Insightful)

    by WhitePanther5000 ( 766529 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:14PM (#15662565)
    Goes back to the old saying, "one person's pain is another person's gain" Of course piracy has benefits, but usually it only benefits the people pirating.
  • by hardwarehacker ( 748474 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:15PM (#15662573)
    You have a good point, but let's take it one step further. In a developed country, such as the US, capital (software in this case)is relatively inexpensive and labor is relatively expensive (ie why we have H1B visas).
    Now in the case of a developing nation, such as China, labor is relatively inexpensive and capital is relatively expensive. Numerous microeconomic models have different ways of combining capital and labor which yields output. The important thing here is that "cost" of captial goods are often the limiting factor for a developing nation. Piracy does lower this cost allowing developing nations to deliver capital intense (techy) goods at a lower per-unit cost. So one could make the arguement that by people in developed countries (such as the US) they are in effect allowing developing nations to produce good at an artifically lower price. However I don't see how lowering the price of music/videos much effect on a developed nation ...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:16PM (#15662581)
    Let's look at the simple black and white of the matter. Piracy is theft. Whether you agree with it or not, it's theft.

    Assuming you mean unathorised copying of copyrighted works then no, it's not theft. It is, however, illegal in most jurisdictions relevant to anyone here.

    So, according to the OP, theft is good.

    For Christ's sake. Anybody can do better than that at elementary logic. EVEN if we were to concede that copyright infringement is theft and EVEN if the previous poster had said "copyright infringement is good" that would at most lead to the conclusion that the previous poster believes that SOME theft is good. Which, of course, any reasoning person believes in any event.

    If the subject under discussion was the morality of theft then the interesting question is more along the lines of "when is theft justified", not whether it ever can be.
  • by honkycat ( 249849 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:23PM (#15662639) Homepage Journal
    You raise some very interesting points.

    The thing that I think makes this such a difficult problem is that, it would seem, the music/movie/entertainment industry as it is and has been since the middle of last century (ie, since the advent of practical mechanical/electronic publication of music/movies/etc) is built on a model that fundamentally requires that high-quality duplication be expensive. That is no longer true. As a result, one of two things will happen. Either the system will be changed so that it IS once again expensive to duplicate these products, or the production system will change to be compatible with free or near-free copying.

    The legal wrangling that's been going on is all essentially trying to make duplication expensive. It's not technically expensive any more, so the powers that be are adding legal and social costs (through laws or public villification of offenders). They're also trying to make it technically expensive through artificial means (copy protecting hardware, e.g.).

    In my opinion, this is destined to fail. I don't believe you can achieve the level of enforcement necessary to rub out piracy (arrrrr) or the technical sophistication to outwit all the world's engineers who want to make a high-quality copy of a file they possess. The cat is out of the bag, technologically, and it ain't going back in.

    It's a scary prospect, both for the entertainment producers and for the end users. No one knows what a market compatible with near-free duplication costs will support. It's never been done before. The producers stand to lose a lot, since they can't predict where to go to protect their interests in this unknown environment. The end users also stand to lose since it is quite possible that the number of artists who can be supported will fall drastically. Of course, it could end up being better for everyone in the long run. But it's really pretty close to impossible to predict.

    Anyway, just some thoughts. I don't have any prescriptive answers for how to deal with this phase change. The best I can do is urge copyright reform to help society face up to the fact that free and easy copying is going to be the way of the future and hope that we can responsibly manage the transition.

    Oh, and screw the **AA. :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:27PM (#15662670)
    I followed a few links from that Google search but failed to find a single one that pointed to a definition in the US code that included copyright infringement as theft. If there is a link there then please post it. Otherwise stop calling a spade a theft.
  • by NickFortune ( 613926 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:32PM (#15662708) Homepage Journal
    Piracy is theft. Whether you agree with it or not, it's theft.

    Agreed. In fact it's worse than that. Piracy is armed robbery with violence. On the high seas, to boot.

    However, copyright violation (which is what we seem to be discussing here) remains copyright violation. And that's also "whether you agree with it or not"

    So, according to the OP, theft is good.

    Well, if it turns out that TFA really is discussing the violent seizure of goods at sea, then I'd have to conceed you were right. Otherwise, the main point I took was that there remains considerable room for debate as to the actual vs perceived benefits of current copyright legislation.

    That's certainly a new one for me.

    Splendid! There's nothing like exposure to new ideas to widen ones horizons. Don't you think?

  • by ObligatoryUserName ( 126027 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:34PM (#15662729) Journal
    Tim Wu just had an article [] on Slate last week about how China is trying to grow their own film industry.

    One of the interesting points: China has to orient (no pun intended) their films to an American audience because rampant piracy in China means that there isn't enough of a local market to support Chinese films.

    I've heard the same thing from Chinese video game makers, they have to make games that will sell in places where copyright is to some degree respected because they would starve trying to live off the money they can make in their home market.

    If everyone pirated everything we would have no Lord of the Rings movies, no video games like Halo or Grand Theft Auto -- we'd still have small indy films and subscription games like WoW, but piracy only works now because it's a group of parasites feeding off media that the rest of us pay for.

  • by dkarma ( 985926 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:34PM (#15662733)
    When I spend 60 dollars on a shitty game for my wife (Sims2) then the first disk gets messed to the point of not being able to install the game what do you do? I tried emailing EA (bahahahahaha) No response. If it weren't for a copy of the game on the internet that I downloaded I would be screwed out of my money because of a few scratches and crappy software support. I for one am glad that this and all media is out there for people to use for legitimate reasons. As an amateur musician, I also support file sharing as a way of getting out new or hard to find music. The people who bitch about pirating are multi millionaires. *snif* *snif* OOhhh you took .3 dollars out of my 300 million dollar paycheck....please. If I pirate an album and the artist bitches I'll mail them a check for 25 cents because that's what they get if I buy their album. The company who releases it can suck me. 15-20$ for a cd that cost you 10 cents to burn?!!?! Yeah I'm crying for your losses. In addition CD sales aren't dropping because of piracy they're dropping because your music is crap. Also, selling songs online nets them more per track than selling cds and they don't even have any overhead for printing the media in the first place. In short RIAA = GREEDY SCAMMERS Viva La Pirat
  • by catdevnull ( 531283 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:36PM (#15662749)
    Missed the point? You've got to be kidding me.

    Do the math: AP provides stories to publishers. Publishers are owned by large companies who publish stuff--like books, music, movies.

    Did you REALLY expect them to bite the hand that feeds them?
    Why would they publish a story that favors piracy helping people when they could push the agenda their way to protect the interests of the corporations pirates are hurting?

    Look--piracy is stealing no matter what kind of spit shine you put on it. Are the BSA, MPAA, and RIAA going a bit over the top about it? Yes. Does that somehow make piracy right? No. It's still stealing. Just because the AP isn't picking up on what some techblog mentioned on slashdot doesn't make them morons. I think we glorify our own technical punditry beyond the tempest in the teapot that it really is.

    It's never about what is the "best"--it's always about what's more popular. That's where the money is. Windows and VHS are testments to that. It's all about margins and paying off the share holders.

    The REAL story is going to be which of the publishers (movie studios and record labels included) survive the learning curve of the new business model--the computer as an entertainment hub. The whole MP3 thing blew up not because of piracy but because it was EASY and CHEAP. That's what consumers want--easy and a fair price. The content providers are catching on--hence all the TV-a-la-carte on the iTMS.

    Is it the best? Probably not. But is it lucrative? Hell, yeah. You don't have to be Warren Buffet to figure that out.

    It's all about the Benjamins, baby.
  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:45PM (#15662809) Homepage
    1) Real piracy is wrong, no matter what. There are NO 'positive effects', anymore than more allowing pick-pocketing has the positive effect of giving pick-pockets a job.

    2) There ARE real other sides to this issue. For example shmucks calling things "piracy" when they are just fair-use. Or vile corporations pricing things WAY WAY too much, then ripping off the artist by paying them a fraction of the profits, then saying that "piracy" is killing their business. Or those same corporations, understanding that modern technology will destroy their buiness model, do everything they can to sabotage the new technology then complaining when people turn to piracy, not to steal the media, but instead just to put get it in a fair/reasonable format for their MP3 player that the )(*@#$ labels did not want them to.

  • by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:46PM (#15662823) Homepage
    Two words: Civil disobedience [].
  • by Morosoph ( 693565 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:47PM (#15662834) Homepage Journal
    It's the difference between breach of trust and denial of goods.

    I'm not just talking technically here, but as I can't be bothered to rehash the arguments right now, I'll link to to a post of mine [] in an old JE.

    Please also note that I'm not saying that breach of trust is a good thing: society is built on trust. I am only saying that piracy and theft are not the same thing,
  • by Quirk ( 36086 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:50PM (#15662855) Homepage Journal
    Let's not forget the historical roots of piracy. Sir Francis Drake [], as well as being the first Captain to circumnavigate the world and an able Vice Admiral was also a privateer [] or a pirate by any other name. I think we will be said to have reached level one civilization when we have a world government and world courts. As an aside I think only when we have reached such a level of civilization will we be able to manage the Solar System.

    Contrary to the above our current state pushes innovation and geopolitical invention. While the status quo states of the developed world push IP as a last ditch form of imperialism, developing nations and "pirates" derive new venues by running outside the highways of the status quo.

    When these last issues are put to bed with one power group climbing into bed with others then the innovation that comes from the hurly burly of piracy will leave us with a status quo installed and fortified by international law. It may be that what is now seen as piracy is the last invigorated period of innovation we will see.

    just my loose change

  • Futurama (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MasterC ( 70492 ) <cmlburnett@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:04PM (#15662944) Homepage
    Ok, I guess I'm a bad geek or something. I just never watched Futurama. Perhaps because I can't stand ads so I rarely watch TV to begin with.

    That said, I didn't watch Futurama until I downloaded some episodes quite some time since the first run was cancelled. Then I downloaded the entire series and watched them. Now I own all four volumes on DVD and am looking forward to the next run.

    Maybe this example is the exception and not the rule, but the fact of the matter is that my "piracy" or "illegal download" led to Fox getting some cash out of my pocket for the DVD. Cash that they would not have gotten otherwise. At the end of the day, I don't care what the AP says or does not say: piracy has caused me to spend more money than I would have without it. I'm tired of crappy entertainment or lack of creative writing talent ([sarcasm]I can't *WAIT* for the remake of the revenge of the nerds[/sarcasm]). I want to use it and then decide if it's worth my money: if not I move on; if so I buy it.

    If I can't do that then I'll abandon/boycott/ignore the whole damn thing until I can. It's like being in the matrix and taking the red pill: once you snap out of the mindless, lemming-like world of the MPAA/RIAA/whatever-there-is-for-TV-networks-AA you take note of how crappy it was being Thomas A. Anderson [].

    And I'll watch nothing but TV ads & infomercials before I get suckered into the "you don't really own X any more and you have to pay $1.99 ever time you want to watch it." Sorry, but fuck that. Keep your damn blue pill.
  • Fuck off (Score:1, Insightful)

    by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:07PM (#15662960)
    I put "stealing" in quotes in my post for a reason. Christ, the way you fuckers insist it be called "copyright infringement" or "nonauthorized duplication" stinks of PC in the vein of "undocumented migrants" and "differently abled" to high heavens.

    I fully understand the deprivation argument, thanks. And you ARE depriving them of something: the ability to sell and control their product, their creation, as they see fit. You act is if just because something can be copied nearly effortlessly, it should be, and indeed, MUST be, for the good of all humanity.
  • by rucs_hack ( 784150 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:10PM (#15662987)
    1: Unreasonable patents caused early film makers to head out west to california, to this little place called hollywood, where they created an industry which makes billions from their product.

    2: Video recorders cause hollywood to become worried because people can 'illegally' copy stuff, and they try to kill it, but it leads them into a prosperity never before seen, eventually spuring research into the dvd.

    3: Filesharing causes media companies to become paranoid about loss of profit, then spurs the creation of online media delivery, again vastly increasing the potential profits of said media companies.

    I wonder what the next thing is that they'll fight till it suddenly turns into a money maker?
  • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:21PM (#15663046) Journal
    You really cheapen the concept of civil disobedience if you start using it to obtain crappy music for free.
  • by Moofie ( 22272 ) <`lee' `at' `'> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:25PM (#15663077) Homepage
    Tell that to Dr. King.

    The only value of a legal system is when it preserves and protects the freedoms and the interests of The People. The law does not exist for its own sake.

    "Law and Order" for its own sake is not a virtue. It's tyranny.
  • by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:27PM (#15663087)

    "Actually, it is copyright that is an entirely recent development, for it appeared only a few hundred years ago in the West."

    I believe you're referring to the Statute of Anne and the Licensing Act of 1662. It is no coincidence that these came about at around the same time as the printing press.

    "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."

    Because, of course, copying was a slow, tedious process, and most people were illiterate anyway. It was a non-issue.

    Other examples of laws changing to keep up with the times:

    • Rules for storing and handling perishible foods weren't necessary in the past, because most people grew or raised their own food, and refrigeration and preservation technology simply didn't exist on the scale they do now. Today, we need those laws.
    • In the 19th century, the equivalents of our modern vehicle codes dealt only with how to behave with your horse and your carriage. As cars appeared on the scene and their technology improved, the vehicle code got bigger and bigger.
    • Pirating software and music and giving it away without accepting cash payment was, generally speaking, legal in the past because it simply wasn't feasible to make massive quantities of software or music and give them away for free. As with the subject of copying printed works in the days before the printing press, it was a non-issue. With the advent of the Internet and mechanisms like FTP, this suddenly changed, so the Clinton Administration closed this loophole.

    "Our ancestors didn't need copyright laws, so we don't either" is a good rallying cry for P2P enthusiasts, but it breaks down on inspection. Those same P2P enthusiasts are likely very grateful for the new laws that protect them in the countless other parts of life where technology has continuously improved. While we may still wish that copyright law had remained in its pre-printing press (or even pre-broadband) form, we understand why it has not.

    "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."

    Copyright law protects us all. You have the right to say how your work is copied whether you make $10 a year, a million bucks a year, or even give it away for free. Lots of other laws help rich and poor alike.

  • Re:F*** off (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dunstan ( 97493 ) <dvavasour@ie[ ]rg ['e.o' in gap]> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:43PM (#15663211) Homepage
    A suitable shorthand term for copyright infringement would be useful, but "theft", "stealing" and "piracy" are all terms which already have meanings of their own: to use them for another purpose causes confusion, so I'll stick with "illegal copying". Only six syllables, and succinctly describes the exact nature of the offence being committed - making a copy of something where someone else has used the law to explicitly make such an act illegal.

  • by MustardMan ( 52102 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:45PM (#15663217)
    Funny, I didn't see the grandparent arguing that it was OK. I saw him arguing the idiotic use of the word "piracy", and even more, arguing the idiotic statement that copyright infringement is "theft". Whether it's OK or not to a given person depends on that specific person's set of values - it sure as fuck isn't the same thing as theft, though, which just about anyone can agree is a bad thing.
  • by Evil Shabazz ( 937088 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:45PM (#15663222)
    "If your answer is "no, they don't need all these ungodly rich Britney Spears types" etc., and should be able to sell it for just the costs of bandwidth, who the hell are YOU to decide that?"

    Sir, I'll tell you "who the hell" I am to decide that:

    I am the consumer.

    I don't care what product you make or how wonderful it is or how rich you want to be. If I, the consumer, don't want to pay your price for it then you have two choices:

    1. Sell it for less.
    2. Don't sell it.

    Conversely, I have a choice as a consumer, too. I have to decide if your price is worth it to me. If so, I buy it. If not, I don't.

    Why do people pirate music? Because they aren't willing to pay the price asked and they don't fear repercussion of violating the laws requiring them to purchase the music.

    Case in point: Why do you think iTunes is doing so well? Because it's incredibly easy to buy just the music you want and a price that feels more fair. Your average album on iTunes goes for about $10, vs the $15 to $20 you'd pay for a physical CD.
  • by Spankophile ( 78098 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:45PM (#15663224) Homepage
    People who keep trying to equate copyright infringement with theft ought to be ignored.

    Unfortunately, they have lots of money, and lots of influence, so we have to be careful.

    What's wrong with using a little humour to illustrate his point?
  • by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:46PM (#15663232)

    "IMHO, an artist should be concerned with one thing: the spreading of his art."

    Not food, clothing, shelter, feeding their family?

    I see on your xanga that you are married. Would your wife be happy if you told her that you would no longer try to earn money for what you do? I also see that you just bought a new Mac -- great! Did you buy that with money you earned by working?

    "Art used to be thought of as a means of promoting thought and creativity but gradually began to be thought of as a means of profit and popularity."

    Art has been made for profit since the history of currency. Shakespeare, Mozart, and countless other grand masters were in it for the money. Sure, they liked what they did, but they were in it for the money -- just as you might have chosen a career in programming or IT because you enjoy it, but you're doing it for the money.

    "Are artists going to make as much money? Probably not. Should that be their focus? I don't think so."

    Well, I think that people in [INSERT ANDREW NAGY'S PROFESSION HERE] are too money-focused, and paying people like Andrew should be voluntary. Will Andrew make as much money? Probably not. But we'll get [THE OUTPUT OF ANDREW NAGY'S PROFESSION] for free, or at least cheaper.

    I also see from your xanga that you are a religous man. Please re-read Luke 6:31, Luke 10:27 and Matthew 7:12 and consider how you can reconcile your attitude toward artists with the teachings of Jesus.

  • by BCW2 ( 168187 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:49PM (#15663239) Journal
    Expecting a piracy story to give "all" the facts from both sides is foolish. The companies crying about piracy are the same ones advertising in that newspaper. = Lets play with public opinion!

    It's kind of like expecting a congresscritter to have a clue about anything in the tech world. Their campaigns are financed by the same companies advertising in the newspaper. = Let's get the laws written the way we want!

    Same story, different day - no news here move along....
  • by Gerzel ( 240421 ) <brollyferret@gm a i> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @06:00PM (#15663295) Journal
    I think the arguements here are really just distiguishing between the word theft when used in standard speech (which organizations like the RIAA often work to change the meaning of to include "piracy" --which also didn't originally have anything to do with copyright infringment either) and "theft" in legal terms.

    The RIAA wants people to think that copyright infringment is the same as theft, and previosly the word "piracy" has been coined to go with creative matirial to mean copyright infrngment. This allows them to use more moral leverage against those who infringe. Most people would think little wrong of someone walking through a lawn that is clearly posted "Don't walk on the grass." but would think they are doing wrong if they were to walk through an area marked "No Tresspassing on the lawn." However legally, if such an issue were to be pushed, walking on grass where you were not allowed to walk on is tresspassing.
  • First, copyright infringement isn't theft. Courts know the difference and so do lawyers. Historically, the US is in no position to make the complaints some of the trade groups are making such as the classic complaint that only surfaces when our ox is gored, but not when we do the goring. The US copyright system has its roots in what is being called "piracy" here (without much critical examination of that language, I might add). The US copyright system didn't initially recognize foreign exclusive rights, so American book publishers were free to domestically commercially reprint Dickens' serials without paying Dickens, for example. Dickens didn't like that, but plenty of other people did.

    Also, some of the distortion in the argument proposed by the MPA, RIAA, and big book publishers focuses on the plight of the artist when it is actually these organizations that have no problem screwing these same artists in situations where illicit copying and distribution haven't entered the picture.

    Some forms of media we cherish were initally percieved as wrong: Radio, which you mention, was initially dismissed as "piracy". So too was cable TV, recorded performances of various kinds (analog video tape, analog audio tape, digital audio tape, digital video recorders), and sheet music.

    One thing seems clear to me through the years: the organized businesses apparently don't know their business well enough to be taken seriously when they claim the sky is falling on their business model, and it's not clear to me that the businesses are properly interpreting the intent of copyright.
  • by malkavian ( 9512 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @06:09PM (#15663342)
    Actually, I've made a few complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (over here in the UK).
    Adverts are allowed to be 'economical' with the truth, but they're not allowed to outright lie. Otherwise, it comes under 'false advertising', and the involved companies can get spanked quite hard.
    The whole 'Piracy is theft' slogan, put large on the screen is a bare faced lie.
    At the moment, I'd hazard a guess that not a lot of people complain about this, but, given a wider base of complainers, perhaps the ASA will wake up and tell the entertainment industry that it's a bad thing to put on the screens.

    Incidentally, there's another ad going round in the cinemas here, about not getting 'pre release' pirate movies..
    I could disagree with them on the quality issue, but they keep stating the rest of it is all about the experience of going to the show on the big screen, and I'm 100% behind them on that. I wish, if they had to do the whole brainwashing/indoctrination thing, that they'd actually pick a rational reason, not the knee jerk "Black is white because we say so. Disbelieve us and we'll beat you with a stick." approach.

  • by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @06:13PM (#15663356)

    "Wrong, copying was quite efficient since there was a large class of slaves and copying of books was just as big an industry as today. And literacy in the ancient world was higher than people today often think."

    Thank you for the clarification. I am always glad to learn something new. What was the literacy rate in ancient Greece? Were slaves also part of the target market for books? When you say that the book publishing industry was just as big back then, how big was it? I assume you don't mean in units or currency, but in books consumed per capita?

    "No, firms which sell copyrighted content often make creators sign away their rights. Copyright doesn't work for the little guy, he either sells away his rights or he doesn't get published at all."

    I'm a "little guy," at least in the sense that you're using, and I've had no problem whatsoever publishing my web site and filling it with content which I've copyrighted. I've done pretty well, too. In the music and print publishing industries there are plenty of outlets for people who want to start small and/or retain all rights to their works. There's plenty of opportunity for little guys to get their work out there, and use copyright as they see fit.

    The ice cream retailing industry can also be tough for the little guy. It's dominated by big companies like Ben and Jerry's and Baskin Robbins. It can be quite hard for somebody who wants to start an independent ice cream shop -- they simply don't have the marketing or ad budget of the big guys, they'll likely pay more for materials, and they need to build brand awareness and sales from zero. The same goes for lots of other industries. This is a feature of the competitive retail market, and not limited to the IP industries.

  • not just in China (Score:4, Insightful)

    by m874t232 ( 973431 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @06:18PM (#15663384)
    Microsoft wouldn't be as big and powerful as it is today without software piracy. Even today, the fact that a lot of copies of Windows and Office are pirated is what makes Microsoft software so ubiquitous; if everybody actually paid the price Microsoft is asking, many people would likely switch to genuinely free alternatives.

    And I don't think this point is lost on Microsoft either; they could have easily piracy-proofed their systems long ago, for example, by making hardware dongles part of their PC spec. But Microsoft probably doesn't want to do that; in addition to the benefits that piracy-provided differential pricing gives them, this way, the company also has power they would otherwise not have: power to raid companies and force violators to do their bidding.
  • by Fulcrum of Evil ( 560260 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @06:38PM (#15663491)

    Too many sources have too much of a one-faced approach to the story

    No, the problem is that they have the same one faced approach.

  • by DamnStupidElf ( 649844 ) <> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @07:00PM (#15663577)
    Here's the problem: the new "business model" they talk about is that free music sometimes promotes something else (concerts, merchandise, or something new entirely). Ok, great. What if it's my music, and I don't want you to have it for free, regardless of how else it might "help" me? What if I've voluntarily signed on with a record label because I think that it's in my best interests (and no, I haven't been "brainwashed"), and that record label has a trade group that represents it, and what if the laws of my country support the protections of my creations?

    If you don't want anyone to have your music for free, don't play it. Someone could (gasp) overhear it through the walls! The whole point is that a lot of people want to change the laws of many countries to have broader exemptions for fair use. What's wrong with that? You don't want to create? Fine. We probably don't need any more self absorbed artists writing angst songs.

    And for those in the "copyright is bad on works that can be effortlessly copied in the digital realm", consider that "art for art's sake" isn't the end-all be-all argument, either. Have you ever considered that since economics isn't a zero-sum game, that there are millions of people who have indirectly benefited economically from the industries that have sprung up around, support, and are supported by, music, television, books, and movies?

    Could those millions of people have better jobs? Almost certainly. Being a low paid record or book store clerk isn't exactly glamorous. That's where the majority of people are employed, doing low wage jobs for media cartels. The only ones who profit are the media companies and the few artists who are arbitrarily selected to succeed. I imagine there were millions of buggy drivers and stablehands before the automobile, and I bet they were glad to be done smelling horse shit all day.

    I'm not saying the trade groups aren't out for control, and maybe even aren't greedy baby-eating bastards. But this isn't binary opposition: it's not RIAA-like "thuggery", or no ownership rights at all. Where's the middle ground? And no, I'm not saying copyright should be perpetual and infinite, either. But can we ignore A.A. Milne's shit that's 75 years old for a minute as an arguing point, and talk about what's really at issue, which is brand new, current, and popular music and movies?

    A lot of people wouldn't have a problem with copyright if it was back to 20 years like it was supposed to be. It's basically worthless to have 95 year copyright with digital copies of media, since digital copies are supposed to be perfect forever... There's actually an alternative to copyright that would let everyone be as free as they want to be. Just have the buyers of "popular media" sign an NDA and contract to not redistribute the media they're getting. It could be just like a EULA, except actually signed by both parties. That fixes all the silly little copyright problems all at once: Rabid consumers with more cash than intelligence can get all the pop they can stomach, the media companies can get all the money they want, and everyone else can build the second Library of Alexandria without worrying about stupid interfering laws. There's really no equivalent situation in the entire world; almost all human knowledge is contained in some form on the Internet. It's only a simple step to include the rest of it if copyright laws can be fixed to allow libraries to digitize all their works. In fact, copyright law become absurd if libraries can simply loan out their digital works. Libraries would only need 10 or 20 copies of everything on earth, and everyone in the world could share those copies, especially if the library chops each work into individual pages and loans each of those out...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @07:01PM (#15663584)

    Misappropriating and/or "stealing"

    Look, you know full well that "stealing" isn't the right word to use. You even quoted it. You had the word right the first time, "misappropriating". So why did you continue to use the word despite knowing it was incorrect? To wind people up? There's a word for that. It's "trolling". Quit it.

    What if it's my music, and I don't want you to have it for free, regardless of how else it might "help" me?

    Then continue to base your business model around a fairytale that bits are scarce, and prop that business model up by suing the people who disagree. The law's on your side, for now.

    The Russian mob taking things

    Copying things.

    under the guise of a very weak argument that they can do it under radio license rules

    What makes it a weak argument? That you don't like it? If it was illegal, Russia wouldn't be passing a new law to make it illegal.

    Has it ever occurred to anyone that the the content owners might need to sell the content for 2 or 5 or 10 times more than does to actually support the industry?

    No. They don't need to. they might want to, but they don't need to. Technology has made huge advances over the past few decades. You can record what used to be considered professional at home for next to nothing these days. Production costs are essentially zero.

    If your answer is "no, they don't need all these ungodly rich Britney Spears types" etc., and should be able to sell it for just the costs of bandwidth, who the hell are YOU to decide that?

    A member of the society that made a deal with content producers to keep stuff out of the public domain temporarily. Copyright law is not an inalienable right, it's a privilege granted by everybody to subsidise new works. Making people millionaires is not copyright's goal. In fact, it's counterproductive to copyright's goal because if you are a millionaire, there's no need for you to work for your next paycheck. If people are making millions, then it's a sign that the copyright balance has swung too far in favour of the content producers.

    Who am I to decide that? One of the people who is letting you have copyright. You don't have any intrinsic right to it, it's the result of a deal we've made. And if copyright holders continue to piss off the people who made the deal with them, then the deal's off.

    But why is the anti-copyright argument always the one touted here?

    As techies, people who read Slashdot are more aware than most that there's no real need for copies to be scarce, it's totally artificial. Furthermore, the high degree of contact with Free Software shows us that copyright isn't as necessary to create new works as the media moguls claim.

    Have you ever considered that since economics isn't a zero-sum game, that there are millions of people who have indirectly benefited economically from the industries that have sprung up around, support, and are supported by, music, television, books, and movies?

    It makes no sense to make an industry grow simply by artificially increasing the demand for it. It doesn't mean anything of value is produced, it just means that the industry is making work for nothing. How many worthless round bits of plastic are manufactured because of copyright? Take away copyright and let people download freely, and there'll be less demand for round bits of plastic all right. But the plastic brings value to nobody! It's completely worthless! That's not economical, that's subsidisation. We're paying the CD fabs for working hard to produce something we don't need!

    Where's the middle ground?

    Get rid of the idea that copyright is property by abolishing things like the DMCA and banning things like DRM.

    Open up the market by regulating how promotion works. For example, ban radio stations and TV channels from de

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @07:09PM (#15663625) Homepage Journal
    Isn't the point of civil disobedience to get caught, therefore putting your issue in the public eye?

    If we're talking about copyright infringement, use of marijuana, or a host of other crimes, then simply having such huge numbers known to be involved puts the issue in the public eye. Being public about it isn't a necessary component to accomplish this goal.

    It's often defined in different ways, and if you ask google to define it (for example) the top two definitions differ widely, mostly in that one of them specifies open/public demonstration, and the other doesn't.

    Mind you, I haven't read Thoreau's essay/book on the subject. Perhaps it is time for a new word for non-overt civil disobedience; or perhaps it would be best to specify "open civil disobedience" for non-covert... who knows. I'm open to suggestions. Regardless, the name "civil disobedience" doesn't really specify overt or covert.

  • by modecx ( 130548 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @07:44PM (#15663777)
    Hah! You say civil disobediance is a spit on the face of Democracy? I say Democracy cannot exist without civil disobediance. I say the two are forever juxtaposed. Civil disobediance is the breast from which Democracy suckles. Apathy and capitulation are the sustenances of tyranny.
  • by Jaime2 ( 824950 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @07:50PM (#15663796)
    The general population usually has a good moral compass. Throughout history, if a large number of people were breaking the law, it meant that either the laws were bad or there was an oppressive government in place.
    The fact that regular people in the US can justify some form of copyright infringement means that the system is broken. The classic example is prohibition. Prohibition was created to get the country on the "right track" my "well meaning people", but all it really did was make criminals out of regular people and make organized crime a big business.
    Apparently, most of the world and much of the US feels the same way today about copyright. There is going to be a lot of proverbial breaking open beer kegs on the 6 o'clock news and a lot of public raids. Then, in 20 years, after causing a rediculous amount of pain and altering the economic lanscape of the world forever, most of the governments of the world are going to say "Oops, My bad" and enact reasonable copyright protections.
    I would really like to avoid those 20 years and get on with fixing the laws today.
  • by slippyblade ( 962288 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @08:42PM (#15663994) Homepage
    **Fortunately, Microsoft's new DRM implementations in Vista will blank one's monitor when using pirated media and help police such abuse.**

    That is until the new DRM in Vista makes a or decides it doesn't like your home movie and blanks your monitor. Or even better, decides that your legit backup copy isn't legal and won't play it.

    Or hell, simply decides that it's time to send a complete list of all your viewing history to it's makers/partners in order to provide you with "specials, discounts and promotionals targetted to your demographic"
  • by iamwahoo2 ( 594922 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @09:11PM (#15664127)
    "moral relativism". Nice catch phrase, but I am not sure you understand what this means (It's quite comical). This would mean that I am okay with copying someone else's work, but not okay with someone else copying mine. Disagreeing about the definition and morality of "copyright infringement" is not moral relativism. It is just a different in opinion. It is perfectly acceptable to believe that copyright infringement is not morally wrong while theft is wrong. The beliefs do not conflict with each other.
  • Metalica (Score:3, Insightful)

    by klang ( 27062 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @02:10AM (#15665231)
    The history of Metalica includes a lot of live concerts and a lot of bootleg recordings of those bootleg concerts. Theese recordings were the basis and reason for Metalica's success.

    Of course, a band that sucks balls, would not have success. (One can argue the point about Metalica, but a lot of people seemed to like them at some point in time)

    Will the world be a worse place, if the industrialized crop of music couldn't be sold, whatever the cause?
  • by rohan972 ( 880586 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:22AM (#15665402)
    That would only be moral relativism if you view copyright infringment as theft. Many of us don't, and have reasons why we think so.

    A couple of examples of the difference between copyright law and property law:
    1. copyrights expire, property ownership does not expire.

    2. Copywritten material may be copied by private citizens for fair use. Property has no fair use exclusion that allows you to take it.

    There are also natural differences (since you gave the example of a car):
    If I make a copy of a song, the copyright holder does not loose anything they had. With or without permission, the act of copying does not remove the property. If I take a car (with or without permission) the owner no longer has the car.

    None of this proves that copying copyrighted material is either right or wrong, just pointing out that it is inherently different to property theft.

    There is also the fact that property ownership has been generally recognised by most societies throughout history. It could be regarded as self-evident. Even when people set up communities that don't acknowledge personal property rights, there is generally a tendency to re-establish property rights eventually (USSR, China, various hippy communes whose ex-members are now capitalists etc.) Property rights could be considered self-evident. Copyrights, however, are purely the result of legislation. That doesn't mean that copyright isn't good, even necessary, just that it is a different catergory of rights to property rights.

    You don't have to agree, but we are not being logically inconsistent, and it isn't moral relativism.

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant