Who Needs SOPA? Four Ways to Look at the Megaupload Bust

In an internationally coordinated strike yesterday, the Department of Justice killed Megaupload, a file-sharing site that the DOJ says accounts for four percent of all Internet traffic and an even more significant amount of the web's IP piracy. Seven employees are charged in the DOJ's indictment, and Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom (ne Schlitz) along with three other employees were arrested in New Zealand. Here are some takeaways from the fall of Megaupload.

1.) The bust undermines the need for the Stop Online Piracy and Protect IP Acts, a case Sam Biddle makes at Gizmodo:

Let's also think about the timing of this bust. It's a pretty spectacular coincidence that the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property was able to destroy a copyright villain without any help from SOPA or PIPA the day after the internet's giant SOPA protest. Do you hear that, lawmakers? The law, as it stands right now was able to kill Megaupload.com, no draconian censorship powers required. The power you have now—with due process—is achieving the things you say you want to do. Your IP is protected. Online piracy was stopped, except for the dozens of Megaupload rivals like HulkShare and MediaFire. And I wouldn't be surprised if they're next.

2.) While the RIAA (and MPAA) may be losing the PR battle over SOPA and PIPA, the indictment suggests they've got a good charm offensive going within the DOJ. Nate Anderson writes at Ars Technica that certain charges in the Megaupload indictment sound like favors to the recording industry:

It's full of strange non-sequiturs, such as the charge that "on or about November 10, 2011, a member of the Mega Conspiracy made a transfer of $185,000 to further an advertising campaign for Megaupload.com involved a musical recording and a video." So?

The money probably paid for a video that infuriated the RIAA by including major artists who support Megaupload. Megaupload later filed claims in US courts, trying to save the video, which it says was entirely legal, from takedown requests. (The RIAA has long said the site operators "thumb their noses at international laws, all while pocketing significant advertising revenues from trafficking in free, unlicensed copyrighted materials.")

3.) This could be the first indictment of many for file-sharing sites, including the legitimate ones. Ernesto at TorrentFreak points out that Megaupload did not provide a search function for users. For me to find a file, someone first had to post the link in a searchable third party space (forum, blog), or send it to me directly. This is how the majority of file-sharing sites work, including the legit ones. Yet the DOJ claims that Megaupload did this to “conceal the scope of its infringement” (and has internal emails to back up its claim). Who else can they make this claim about?

4.) Law-abiding Megaupload users got screwed, as Ian Paul notes at PC World:

Megaupload users are crying foul after their personal files, not necessarily copyright-infringing material, stored with the file-sharing service was seized on Thursday along with a trove of illegally distributed copyrighted works.

Some of those users took to Twitter complaining about the loss of their files, as first reported by TorrentFreak. "I had files up there...gone forever..and they were personal recordings! No copyright infringement!" said Twitter user J. Amir. Another user complained that her work files were now gone, and others used more colorful language to describe their predicament.

A better strategy is to use services from trusted and well-known companies without any obvious connections to piracy, such as Google Docs, Microsoft's SkyDrive, and Box. Dropbox is also a great choice since it installs a folder on your hard drive with all your content, so if Dropbox were to ever go down you're less likely to lose files.

Keep in mind that when you use these services you also make it easier for the government, and possibly hackers, to peer into your files without your knowledge -- but that's a discussion for another day.

Bottom line: if your cloud service offers file storage on the front end and shows pirated video out the back, don't be surprised if your files vanish one day.

This is why users should start thinking now about what to do when the DOJ comes knocking at the door of their current file-sharing service. Lifehacker has some suggestions.

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  • sarcasmic||

    SOPAPILLA!

  • Doc Merlin||

    They should have moved to Sweden, where they would get some political cover.

  • ||

    PirateBay moved it's servers offshore and the owners were successfully indicted in Sweden.

  • ||

    The case is as much a racketeering/conspiracy/money laundering/tax evasion indictment as it is copyright infringement. The copyright aspects are just one small part of a case with things that would be crimes even if they were selling milk or adopting out puppies. I think it's seriously important to understand this before taking an activist position either way.

  • Robin and the Hoods||

    We can't handle complex concepts.
    In the future, please dumb down your commentary.
    Thank you.

  • rather||

    onetime I had chicken pox and I saved all my scabs in a Sucrets tin but then I ate them.

  • Big Fan||

    That is fucking hilarious!

  • ||

    This one time, I read your comment and proceeded to have feelings of displeasure.

  • Rev. Blue Moon||

    Oh good. We can have yet-another slapfight by the Ignorati over issues they don't understand.

  • Robin and the Hoods||

    That's what makes this place so Special!

  • db||

    If they can do this to megaupload, what (in theory) would stop them from taking down cloud services? Technically a shared cloud does the same thing as sharing links to megaupload files.

  • rts||

    According to my statist friends the slipper slope does not exist.

  • rts||

    +y

  • ||

    I suppose they would argue that, unlike the cloud services, MU knew about the copyright infringing materials on their servers, indeed their business was based on it. Those internal emails might come in handy for proving that.

  • db||

    OK, but that seems like a big assumption: that cloud services somehow have no idea of the content of saved files.

  • anon||

    File encryption, etc. Do you really think they employ someone to check every file uploaded, ever?

  • db||

    Um, no...Are you contending that Megaupload did?

  • anon||

    OK, but that seems like a big assumption: that cloud services somehow have no idea of the content of saved files.

    You seemed to imply that cloud services know exactly what content they have. I contend they frequently have -no- idea.

  • db||

    Well, I agree with you there. My point was, in any of these types of operations, it is unlikely that the operator knows what content his clients are storing. Given that, what makes Megaupload different from any of the cloud services?

  • anon||

    The fact that MU paid people to upload certain content, allegedly. I don't consider what MU did a crime, but I can definitely see how copyright holders would contend otherwise.

    I'm not advocating the premise of a copyright, just arguing the point here.

  • db||

    The payment wrinkle is something I had not heard of. That could be pretty damning under current law, if proven.

  • ||

    I don't think file encryption and pleading ignorance about user content is going to matter now..

  • Colonel_Angus||

    What happened to web sites not being held liable for user generated content?

  • ||

    Eric Holder happened, that's what. Congressional authority? What congressional authority, bitch?

  • Captain Renault||

    I'm shocked, shocked! to find that illegal file-sharing is going on in here!

  • ||

    Read and understand the indictment. The case is being hyped in the media as a copyright case (which it is, in part) but the most significant charges are racketeering, money laundering, and conspiracy to do things with their money that would be crimes even without the copyright infringement.

  • ||

    Cue the thieves.

  • anonymous||

    anonymous is getting angry!

    [stamps foot, wets pants]

  • ||

    Megaupload users are crying foul after their personal files, not necessarily copyright-infringing material, stored with the file-sharing service was seized on Thursday along with a trove of illegally distributed copyrighted works.

    Always back up your data...particularly if you're storing it on a flerking file sharing service that is associated with illegal activities.

    You probably shouldn't lend your decorative axe to a known axe murderer, either.

  • El Commentariosa||

    How many of these pirated movies were made with stolen funds? I'm talking about tax breaks and subsidies.

  • ||

    So? We don't advocate burning down houses that were financed by the FHA.

  • "Psychopath" according to CNN||

    You, maybe.

  • ¢||

    Bottom line: if your cloud service offers file storage on the front end and shows pirated video out the back, don't be surprised if your files vanish one day.

    Unless it's Google. They're tight bros with the feds, so they're allowed to do that.

  • ||

    I don't think the Google execs stand accused of racketeering and corrupt financial practices, do you? I wish more people would read the actual indictment, instead of taking an activist position based on their assumptions, which are at best incomplete. There are more serious charges than just the copyright infringement.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    The copyright related charges are the main ones we are taking issue with here. Also, we're not too enthusiastic about the money and tax regulatory bullcrap.

  • Pain Felt||

    Megaupload users are crying foul after their personal files, not necessarily copyright-infringing material, stored with the file-sharing service was seized on Thursday along with a trove of illegally distributed copyrighted works

    Almost makes you wish you chose better friends, doesn't it?
    Anyway, I'm sure you brilliant people kept copies of your files. Didn't you?
    Besides, it's not like you own that "data." Right?
    "Personal" files? Such an old-fashioned concept in the digital age!

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    I love me some Dropbox, but you can share stolen content from it just as well as from anything else. Its reputation isn't going to save it if the DOJ has decided illegal content=confiscated servers.

  • tarran||

    Yes, but if they shut down dropbox, you don't lose your data: it mirrors local file trees.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    True, but it would still be a huge disruption. Re-uploading the data and syncing it to everyone's computers could take days, and all my mobile app syncing would be broken indefinitely.

    Likely as not, if I had to switch to a different service, Dropbox would lose my for good. It's not fair or necessary for them to have to deal with that risk.

  • Pain Felt||

    A Secret Band of Robbers

    Cool! You guys are like, what, modern-day Robin Hoods? How romantic! But I must quibble: "share stolen content"? If you're only "sharing" it, then it isn't really "stolen," is it? Besides, the concept of "stealing" presupposes the concept of property, and if the concept of property is bogus, then so is the concept of stealing! Ask Friar Tuck. He knows.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    I almost begin to suspect that you are making comments without paying full attention. Is that possible?

  • ||

    Just remember: trolls are all your fault. If we were all polite and all Marquess of Queensberry rules, then trolls would never, ever come here and Hit'n'Run would be a bastion of enlightened and delicate debate.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Naturally, no one is saying that we have to be more polite around here. That doesn't mean it needs to be a sewer, either.

    Furthermore, trolls respond to attention, and we are not in short supply of people who are willing to give it to them.

  • ||

    no one is saying that we have to be more polite around here

    You sure about that?

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Poor choice of words. I would like it if things were cleaned up a little bit (recognizing, of course, that the vast majority of awful threads are attributable to trolls, both erudite and non), but I am not saying that fun has to be checked at the door.

    Modus omnibus in rebus, soror, optimum est habitu;
    Nimia omnia nimium exhibent negotium hominibus ex se

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    Rudeness isn't a good in itself. I don't like pointless rudeness much more than I like pointless anything else.

  • ||

    Politeness is fine at first, but when it becomes apparent--something that should happen at lightning speed with all the example here--that it is just here to spew invective, politeness is just a chump move.

    Ignoring is the way, of course. But it seems so hard for so many people.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    I somehow got a false negative on my Godesky sensors. I think I had a short in the secondary copypasta capture array.

  • Robin and the Hoods||

    There should be a Pledge or something. For the drones to sign. Troll problem disappears.

    Unless the site retains its anarchic structure...

    Oops.

  • ||

    Read the indictment. It doesn't actually accuse them of theft. So your speculation about "stolen" stuff is incorrect. They stand accused of far more significant crimes than copyright infringement. It's just that the copyright infringement is the only one that lay people think they understand. There are other crimes in the indictment that are far more serious, and that don't require the copyright element to begin with.

  • ||

    Shut the fuck up with your "including legitimate ones" bullshit.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'll bet Megaupload failed to contribute any money to either the Republican or Democrat Parties.

  • ||

    SOPA and HADOPI = SS

    WELCOME TO WEB 3.0.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Let me take the opportunity to point out that discovery laws are also gay. They are a violation of speech rights, by requiring one to retain media that they do not want.

  • anon||

    This is just political revenge on the internets because of SOPA failure.

  • ||

    I thought "retaliation" normally involved inflicting harm on the party that harmed you. How does this harm Wikipedia?

  • Colonel_Angus||

    It is intimidation. Similar to the suggestion of regulation if "voluntary" action is not taken. Wikipedia is not the internet.

  • Captain Renault||

    "anon" isn't very bright.

  • anon||

    Wikipedia is not the entirety of the internets, contrary to Jimbo Wales' opinion.

  • ||

    Most of the internet had absolutely nothing to do with SOPA hitting a snag, so action against them can hardly be called "revenge".

  • DOJ||

    Hey Wiki, nice site you've got there. Be a shame if someone were to find it linking to a file containing a link to a server containing emails containing attachments containing files containing links to sites running on servers containing both stolen and legitimate data.

  • ||

    Which would be a pretty big leap from what they did in this story.

  • tarran||

    This is just political revenge on the internets because of SOPA failure.

    That's right, it took less than 24 hours to coordinate a multinational police action with simultaneous seizures and arrests.

    One way to separate children from adults: for children, it's all about them...

  • anon||

    You don't find the timing a bit conspicuous?

    I initially stated this a bit tongue in cheek, but seriously. Why initiate the raid -now-? Why not do it when you could capture all of the alleged perpetrators instead of when it appears politically convenient?

  • Barack Obama||

    If congress won't act, I will.

  • ||

    A universe without coincidences would be the greatest coincidence of all.

  • anon||

    A universe without coincidences would be the greatest coincidence of all.

    Rarely is anything merely a coincidence.

  • ||

    "You don't find the timing a bit conspicuous?"

    You mean the time between notifying the "Mega Conspiracy" of the thirty-nine full length feature films on their server in Virginia, and the Mega Conspiracy's agreement to remove them? Or do you mean the time between that agreement and the discovery the following year that they had not complied with their own agreement? Or do you mean the time between 2011 and 2012 when the actual arrests began? I'm not sure what you find "conspicuous", but I am willing to make any bet you can cover that you have neither read nor understood the actual indictment, and have based your opinions on assumptions and blog posts made by others who also haven't read the indictment nor understand the charges.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    I did not read the indictment. Thirty-nine motion pictures? Whopping.

  • tarran||

    Because it took them n weeks to organize it, and we are now n weeks from the DOJ deciding to go after them?

    Seriously, the notion that they are getting 'revenge' for the killing of SOPA is specious. It's DaveW levels of conspiracy theory mongering.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Can't we split the baby here? It is possible that the raid had been planned for weeks AND they decided to execute the raid for a political statement.

    Is that really so hard?

  • tarran||

    If they wanted to make a political statement, they would have made the arrests before the protest, not after. People knew the date that protests were scheduled for a long time.

  • SFC B||

    Actually, if I had to guess it was someone's brain child that this raid would go off sometime after SOPA's anticipated passing. That way they could go "Look at the awesome law enforcement we were able to do now that we have these expanded powers!"

  • ||

    Read the indictment. This investigation has been going on for over a year; the operators of MU knew they were being investigated, and they made specific agreements to remove specific items from specific servers, which they blatantly failed to do. They also did things with money that are illegal under the laws of several countries, which would still be major crimes even without the copyright infringement angle.

  • Robin and the Hoods||

    Jeez, James, you make our paranoid conspiracy theories seem, well, crazy!

  • anon||

    I'm just saying it projects an image that Obama will "get things done" in face of a "do nothing congress." I don't think that's too far fetched.

  • ||

    At least 75% of the American public, and even higher percentage of actual voters since they skew older, will be totally unaware of this event.

    If BO is hanging his campaign on this action, he's even more foolish than I thought.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    I don't think Obama would have taken much interest in this specific bust for his campaign. If it is a political statement kind of thing going on, it is more directly a power match among parties that are involved in the issue.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Coordination for the internet "blackout" began well in advance. Everyone knew what date it would be. The federal investigation could have been in progress for months or years with the agencies spending a lot of time sitting on their ass. The "blackout" very well could have provided motivation to get the final warrants and indictments shit in order.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    This is what I was thinking exactly.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    I also don't think the "Before, during, or after" timing to make a political statement is highly important. People are viewing it as a political statement, after all.

  • ||

    Just because you can conceive of a course of events fitting your conspiracy theory does not make it true, or even plausible for that matter. But Occam forgives you.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    How is Occam's appropriate here, Tulpa? I think you're using an epistemological term inappropriately.

  • ||

    "This bust was timed to follow the SOPA protest"

    vs

    "This bust's timing was independent of the SOPA protest"

    Both fit the data equally well, but the first one has a lot of iffy requirements to happen.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Both fit the data equally well, but the first one has a lot of iffy requirements to happen.

    What is wrong with the hypothesis put forward by Colonel_Angus:

    The federal investigation could have been in progress for months or years with the agencies spending a lot of time sitting on their ass. The "blackout" very well could have provided motivation to get the final warrants and indictments shit in order
  • Colonel_Angus||

    I didn't conceive of a course of events. We did know about the protests in advance. And major international and corporate busts do take a long time. I only proposed a simple suggestion about the timing that I would not at all be surprised if it turned out to be true, because I am familiar with how "The Man" behaves. You should be, too. Think about "Fast and Furious". And you enjoy being a wiener.

  • ||

    THANK YOU UNIVERSAL, VIRGIN AND EMI.
    IN THE STORY WE ARE WHEN THE BRANDS FROM THE NATION OF BRANDS (US) KILL THE NATION OF BRANDS.
    NEXT CHAPTER : LET'S TOTALLY ERASE US CITIZENS FREEDOM.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    THANK YOU UNIVERSAL, VIRGIN AND EMI.

    I forget - who is the Senator from EMI again? Is Universal the head of the DOJ? My civics are admittedly weak.

  • Captain Renault||

    +11

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    say what?

  • tarran||

    I think he's saying that the RIAA and the MPAA are behaving counterproductively by failing to adjust to the new digital age.

    It's a weirder dialect than the Millenium Falcon's dialect, so I am not sure.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    These are the last dying gasps of a broken business model. Record labels are no longer a viable business. Movie distribution won't be far behind. Book publishing in the long term looks bad as well.

    Record labels in particular, made money by exploiting their position as gateways to the market. I only have sympathy for the original artists, none for the middlemen.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Record labels in particular, made money by exploiting their position as gateways to the market. I only have sympathy for the original artists, none for the middlemen.

    If you think labels are just "middlemen", you know nothing about the industry. They manufacture celebrity, and frankly, if you think it's that easy, you should start your own label and see how far you get.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    I didn't mean that to be as spiteful as it sounds. Sorry.

  • Captain Renault||

    No, it was good!
    +12

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Manufacturing celebrity in the age of Youtube and reality TV is not the same as it was when David Geffen held the keys to stardom. The business environment has changed just like it has for retail.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Yes, but that still does not make the labels mere "middlemen". As a matter of fact, your example undercuts your own argument: how many people have "rocketed" to stardom from YouTube (and sustained it in a profit-making manner) and how many just upload rambling nonsensical monologues and screenshots of Minecraft? Somebody has to sort through that raft of content.

    Saying labels are middlemen is like saying you don't need an education because of Google and Wikipedia.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    So maybe I'm discounting what they do, it doesn't matter anyway. The point is that they maintained their stranglehold on the market by tightly controlling distribution. Distribution has been commoditized now, there is no going back. Their efforts to roll back the changes are just jeopardizing our freedoms. Are we going to allow the government to poke its nose everywhere on behalf of these companies? How long is long enough for copyrights?

  • ||

    Uh, isn't one of the functions of middlemen to promote your product?

    how many people have "rocketed" to stardom from YouTube (and sustained it in a profit-making manner) and how many just upload rambling nonsensical monologues and screenshots of Minecraft?

    Record company approval is no guarantee of "sustainable" stardom either.

  • sarcasmic||

    Manufacturing pop crap like Katy Perry is extremely pricy.
    Listening to the radio this morning a report said the producers alone charge a hundred grand per track.
    Not that I listen to that crap by choice, but the point is that making a superstar ain't cheap and isn't likely to happen on Youtube.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Not that I listen to that crap by choice

    I bet you don't own a television either.

  • sarcasmic||

    ?

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Making a blanket statement like all pop music is "crap" means you are either: a) old or b) an insufferable hipster.

  • sarcasmic||

    Making a statement like that means you're either: a) presenting a false dichotomy or b) presenting a false dichotomy.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    It could also indicate that sarcasmic owns a radio.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    derp POP MUSIC AMERICAN IDOL durr derp.

    Did you run out of clove cigarettes today?

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    A more erudite reply:

    Tastes develop in people at different speeds. Deriding someone's taste shows that you are a crass boor, not some fun and interesting person - when you look down your nose and talk over people, it shouldn't come as a shock that people won't like you.

    Maybe you want to go into full misanthropy mode and say "I don't care if people hate me!" Hey, congrats...you're unpopular. Good for you...I guess?

  • sarcasmic||

    You're going to take it as a personal insult that I don't like the kind of music you like?
    That's pretty lame.
    I'm sure if I listed off the music I like you'd probably think it's crap, and I wouldn't care in the least.
    Grow up.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    You're going to take it as a personal insult that I don't like the kind of music you like?
    That's pretty lame.
    I'm sure if I listed off the music I like you'd probably think it's crap, and I wouldn't care in the least.

    No, actually, I know it is not a personal insult. It cannot be, because you haven't a clue what I listen to.

    What I do know is that if you can find nothing, and I mean nothing, redeemable in a given genre of music or art generally, you're either a cranky misanthrope or a hipster douche, especially when you do it to "pop" music. Go display your peacock feathers of nonconformism in Williamsburg or something - we're all stocked up here.

    "There is a level of cowardice lower than that of the conformist: the fashionable non-conformist."
    Ayn Rand

  • sarcasmic||

    What I do know is that if you can find nothing, and I mean nothing, redeemable in a given genre of music or art generally

    And you know I find nothing, why?
    After I defend the amount of work and effort that goes into the product you're telling me I find noting redeemable about it?
    I can appreciate something and not like it.
    Or maybe not since it doesn't fit neatly into your either/or.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Manufacturing pop crap like Katy Perry is extremely pricy.

    You can appreciate "crap"? Thanks for the lesson in doubletalk. You are really going to look me (metaphorically) in the face and say "Oh, I just called it crap because I don't like listening to it! I can appreciate this terrible bullshit I hate, though!"

    Yeah, OK.

  • sarcasmic||

    I can appreciate this terrible bullshit I hate, though!

    Yep. Just as I can't stand Coors or Miller, but as a homebrewer I can appreciate the skill that goes into balancing the subtle flavors and producing a consistent product.
    But you won't catch me drinking it.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    ust as I can't stand Coors or Miller, but as a homebrewer

    Color me shocked you are a homebrewer. I mean, no really, thank god we don't have stereotypes or anything...

  • sarcasmic||

    Color me shocked you are a homebrewer. I mean, no really, thank god we don't have stereotypes or anything...

    Nice. Switching gears from the false dichotomy to the ad hominem.
    You sure do like those fallacies, don't you?

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Nice. Switching gears from the false dichotomy to the ad hominem.
    You sure do like those fallacies, don't you?

    Isn't attacking someone's taste, bu definition, an ad hominem?

    Hey, next time, just keep your trite, retreaded 'more like 'c'rap amirite' and 'Bud Light = Horsepiss' douchey comments to yourself, and I won't mock your homebrewing and general demeanor.

  • sarcasmic||

    Hey, next time, just keep your trite, retreaded 'more like 'c'rap amirite' and 'Bud Light = Horsepiss' douchey comments to yourself

    Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

    Touchy!

    You're whining like a bitchy liberal douche (redundant I know) who feels that offending people should be against the law.

    There are many things I think are crap. Pop music, country music, Southern Comfort, Bud Light, canned peas... and I don't give a rat's ass if you or anyone else are offended by that.

    So go home and cry to mommy you whiny little bitch.

    and I won't mock your homebrewing and general demeanor.

    I'll let you know when I give a shit.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    There are many things I think are crap. Pop music, country music, Southern Comfort, Bud Light, canned peas... and I don't give a rat's ass if you or anyone else are offended by that.

    Oh my - a nerve got touched here, but it wasn't mine.

    Perhaps you can cry into your Tripe-Hopped Super IPA that you can only find in five stores and wonder why your superiority is only obvious to yourself.

  • sarcasmic||

    Perhaps you can cry into your Tripe-Hopped Super IPA that you can only find in five stores and wonder why your superiority is only obvious to yourself.

    Wrong again. I never got that whole "let's see how bitter we can make our ale" craze.

    I do like a hoppy ale, but most if not all of the commercial stuff has way more body than I like. It's too sweet, but needs to be to balance out the overdose of hops.
    So I make mine much lighter in body, and because it's less sweet I get away with much less hops.
    In short, I brew my own because I like mine better than theirs (theirs is crap).

    As far as lager goes, my favorite is Pilsner Urquel.
    I've got three test batches going in the basement right now trying to clone it or get as close as I can.

  • sarcasmic||

    Tastes develop in people at different speeds.

    Some, like yours, develop very slowly.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Some, like yours, develop very slowly.

    "Nuh UH, your taste is bad...poophead"

    Thanks for the mature rejoinder, suh!

  • sarcasmic||

    Thanks for the mature rejoinder, suh!

    Just following your lead.

  • ||

    Making a blanket statement like all pop music is "crap" means you are either: a) old or b) an insufferable hipster.

    And if sarcasmic had made a statement like that, your comment would be relevant.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    And if sarcasmic had made a statement like that, your comment would be relevant.

    And hey, turns out that his 10 minutes of trying to defend the position he allegedly didn't take reveals...that he actually did take that position. Or do people regularly die on hills they hadn't occupied?

  • sarcasmic||

    turns out that his 10 minutes of trying to defend the position he allegedly didn't take

    You mistake my pointing out the error of your argument for defending my position.

  • ||

    RBM, are did you take a double dose of contrarian supplements today? Coming from me that's saying something.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    RBM, are did you take a double dose of contrarian supplements today? Coming from me that's saying something.

    I crushed them up and put them in my Four Loko.

  • sarcasmic||

    I crushed them up and put them in my Four Loko.

    Only chicks and fags drink Four Loko.

    So which are you? A chick or a fag?

  • ||

    You forgot pirates.

  • sarcasmic||

    No I didn't. Don't butt-pirates fall under the realm of fags?

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Do you mean like a certain kind of pirate?

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Only chicks and fags drink Four Loko.

    Ooh, homophobia and misogyny are also very attractive qualities.

  • sarcasmic||

    You didn't answer the question.

    Making a blanket statement like all pop music is "crap" Drinking Four Loco means you are either: a) old a chick or b) an insufferable hipster a fag.

    So which is it? Chick or fag?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    So what how much it costs? Whether somebody recorded something in their garage or in a million dollar studio is irrelevant.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Whether somebody recorded something in their garage or in a million dollar studio is irrelevant.

    This is like saying that whether somebody shot a movie with one camera in their basement or had a 60 million dollar budget is "irrelevant". Seriously, kudos to you for trying to be egalitarian, but some of us appreciate professionals who do their jobs well, thanks.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    It's not being egalitarian. If I pay too much for a piece of land, the land isn't worth more just because I did so. The market determines the value.

  • ||

    Copyright law would not be enforceable in the US if it did not pass Equal Protection muster. So yes, with regard to rights reserved under copyright there is not difference. There is a difference of scale when it comes to seeking damages for infringement, but that's up to a plaintiff to persuade "reasonable people."

  • sarcasmic||

    A garage recording will never sound like something that cost a million dollars unless a million dollars was spent on it.
    Pop sounds like pop because you've got some very well paid people, who are paid well for a reason, using some very expensive equipment.
    It's a product, like cheap American swill.
    Budweiser simply cannot be brewed by a homebrewer. It just can't.
    And pop music cannot be made in a garage.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I've been in an Anheuser brewery. All you need is a horse and a funnel.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    I've been in an Anheuser brewery. All you need is a horse and a funnel.

    Well, you've already shown you at least have the back half of the horse...

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Well, you've already shown you at least have the back half of the horse...

    Methinks you're taking this quite personally.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Because your joke is so old that I saw it dancing the Charleston? Hardly.

  • Iconoclast||

    We interrupt this program to bring you this Special Bulletin:

    Rev. Blue Moon has handed sarcasmic his ass on a platter!

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled thread.

  • ||

    Okay, so how about a purpose build digital studio, with good walls, good floors, good monitoring and a good control room? Take something between "a garage" and Sterling Sound's studios, and say you have $30-50K to get there. Now your production quality has every chance of reaching the state of the art, and this is the situation for MANY independent artists. You don't need millions, but you might do well with tens of thousands. You might even do better, since doing it yourself means it's done by someone who *actually cares*.

  • sarcasmic||

    Yes a garage could be transformed into a studio, but then it would cease to be a garage, wouldn't it?

    I believe Nevermind was recorded for something like forty grand, while Katy Perry's last release cost closer to four million.

    Of course Perry sounds it too. It is engineered to an extreme, which is why I can't stand pop.

  • anon||

    And yet Rebecca Black can be a superstar with a $10 webcam.

  • Suggestion||

    Jesus, are you really that dumb? Try doing a little research before you make a fool of yourself. Here, I'll help you along. From the Wiki, everyone's favorite plagiarist site:

    "Black's mother, Georgina Kelly, paid Ark Music $4,000 for a song and accompanying video"

    $10 webcam...$4000 professional video...same thing in your world.

  • sarcasmic||

    The label takes on the risk of renting the studio, hiring the producers, and often giving an advance to the artist, before a single song is sold or heard on the radio.
    If they take on a bad risk they can eat millions of dollars.

  • Reason Rabble||

    Irrelevant! They are evil! Destroy them!

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    You're assuming that I want to destroy the labels. I don't personally care what happens to them one way or the other. What I don't want is a perversion of the legal and political system in order to maintain a broken business model.

  • sarcasmic||

    Crony capitalism, man!

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Its a broken business model and it keeps repeating itself, making an annoying sound the whole time.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Yes. Calling labels "middlemen" is the same as assuming that the movie studios are all that stand between us and movies. Studios, like music labels, practically make the content. Actors/musicians, except for the truly talented, are exchangeable.

  • Surly Chef||

    Generally speaking the top 1% of artists cover the costs of all other artist on a label, in a large part because it can't be accurately predicted who's going to be a superstar and who's going to be a flash in the pan or a nobody.

    Not that any of that has anything actually to do with SOPA or PIPA.

  • sarcasmic||

    Not that any of that has anything actually to do with SOPA or PIPA PILLA.

    ftfy

  • .||

    What are you talking about? It doesn't work that way for most people. Commonly, the relationship begins with the contract, through which you obtain an advance. Using that, you hire a studio, engineer, do the tracking, do the mastering, etc. Hopefully, you have something left, with which you design and order merch, and try to set up and finance a tour. Your liability for repayment of the advance is subject to the terms of the contract, so it depends how young and star-struck you were when you signed, and whether 30 grand seemed a sum too large for you to conceive of spending. As you likely found out over the course of things, though, it's not very much, and you're now on the hook for the bill; hopefully you've got something you can collateralize.

    The scenario you describe above surely is a real one, but only if you're already a known quantity.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    The label takes on the risk of renting the studio, hiring the producers, and often giving an advance to the artist...

    Actually, the money used up front to rent a studio, producer's fees, advances, video production budget, etc. are charged to the artist. The label always pays itself back first. If there is anything leftover, the artist starts to get paid. I used to work in music video production. I have heard talent management screaming at their artists to pull their shit together because they were paying guys to just sit around. I.e. the longer it takes JaRule to get on set, and get the shot done, the more money that comes out of his pocket.

  • ||

    Poor flerking record labels! Maybe they should look for a less hazardous line of work and let us see how much we miss them. Prediction: not much.

  • sarcasmic||

    Wikipedia better start contributing to the political parties if they don't already, or they'll find themselves talking to nice men in armor carrying fully automatic weapons.

  • anon||

    I'm sure most editors already contribute to the communist party.

  • ||

    How are you sure of this? How do you know? Are you a communist? Have they donated to you?

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    They like stuff to be free, so they're reds. QED

  • Zeb||

    Whatever one thinks about IP, I think that people should stop equating copyright infringement with stealing. It's not the same thing. It is similar, and if you are a strong proponent of IP, then it is nearly as bad, but it really is not the same thing. When you steal from someone, you deprive them of something. When you violate a copyright, you might be depriving someone of income, but then again you might not be. In any case, they still have their IP.

    I'm not trying to make an argument for or against IP here. I just think that using the word "stealing" when talking about IP muddies up the discussion.

  • ||

    The word infringement is appropriate. If the use of the work infringes on actual rights, of course. The rights are diminished in some way, but they're rarely damaged to the extent that "theft" is even remotely appropriate.

  • ||

    When you violate a copyright, you might be depriving someone of income, but then again you might not be.

    That's not different from physical stealing; it's also possible that the physical object you steal wasn't being used by the owner anyway. The fact that my neighbor leaves his lawnmower out in the snow, which will destroy it come spring, does not justify my taking it from him.

  • Sparky||

    Let me propose a hypothetical just in the interest of getting a better understanding of people's positions here.

    Say I'm an author and I write a book. I then decide to sell that book for $10 per copy. You come along and buy one copy of my book for $10. When you get home, you make digital copies and give it away to five of your friends. Do I have the right to take you to civil court and sue you for the $50 in lost sales I would have made if you hadn't given away five copies? This is assuming your friends would have bought a copy if you hadn't handed them a free one.

    Now, I still have books and other people can still buy them so technically I didn't lose any property. But, theoretically, I did lose $50 in sales. Do I have a case?

  • Sparky||

    Looks like Zeb beat me to the gist of it.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    According to the RIAA, you're owed that plus statutory damages ranging from $750 to $150,000 per copy.

  • Sparky||

    I'll agree that the RIAA and MPAA go overboard on every fucking thing and are protectionist to the extreme. Also, SOPA and PIPA are unnecessary, ham-fisted government attempts to fix a slight only they see.

    My curiosity is strictly from the point of the originator of the material.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I don't have an answer. While I recognize the right to have copyrights and IP, I'm so disgusted with the RIAA, MPAA, software patents, etc... my first inclination is to tell them to go to hell.

  • ||

    I think someone who takes your book and destroys your opportunity to make money on it by posting free copies online has most definitely taken something of value from you.

    Were you guaranteed a profit on your book? No. But that doesn't mean that taking the opportunity to make a profit from you isn't taking something from you.

    Consider: you are an Apple shareholder who, like every single frikkin' shareholder out there, "owns" only a digital entry at a brokerage rather than physical shares.

    Somebody figures out how to create their own digital Apple shares, and does so. You still have "your" shares, but they are now worth much less.

    Do you have a claim? Have you been wronged? All that was "taken" from you was the "opportunity" to profit from your shares, which you still own, after all.

  • ||

    We acknowledge this in some circumstances already. For instance, at barber shops, you could easily sit down in the chair and let the barber cut your hair, then leave without paying. This is generally considered theft, even though the barber lost no physical objects and still has the ability to cut hair.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    You're still using the barber's time. That doesn't apply for digital copies.

    We acknowledge legitimate and illegitimate claims of property, and they're usually based on what can be efficiently defended. The barber can fence his time and resources to ensure he doesn't give out free haircuts, but the street performer can't. "This here shotgun says these 40 acres is mine" is valid for real property claims, but "I claim this continent in the name of Spain" isn't.

    The recurring principle is that you can't shift large costs of enforcement onto third parties.

  • -||

    You're still using the barber's time. That doesn't apply for digital copies.

    Yeah, the concepts of "property" and "rights" have changed because fashions and technology have changed. Men are different now, with different rights. Musicians today haven't the same rights as musicians in the 60s, because today listeners use iPods instead of cassettes.

  • ||

    This is assuming your friends would have bought a copy if you hadn't handed them a free one.

    This is taken into account in calculating damages. Damages probably won't be $50 but they won't be $0 either.

    Plus, since this behavior usually isn't caught, there will be punitive damages as well to discourage copying in the future.

  • ||

    You don't have the case you laid out, but you have better options for statutory damages. The idea of "value of lost sales" isn't really protected by copyright law except as an indicator of the reasonableness of damages.

    Copyright law is a poor weapon for trying to stop distribution. On the other hand, copyright law is excellent at defending a content creator from an infringer who claims their work as the infringer's own, and then seeks action against the true creator. That's cold comfort for people who really would like copyright law to be aimed at protecting a revenue stream, but it's really not. It's meant to reserve and protect *rights*, not *property.* Understanding this fundamental concept is key to understanding copyright law.

  • AUDIOMIND||

    You ASSUME you lost $50 in sales. There's no proof that those five copies given away would have ever been purchased. That's the logic the Mafiaa uses to justify its insane settlements.

  • Sparky||

    I would think it wouldn't be hard to prove in court either. I sold one copy and now six people have it. I could argue that if the other five people truly didn't want it they would have turned down the offer of having it for free.

  • ||

    I can't get worked up about this. In decrying SOPAPILLA, everyone had a "to be fair" or "to be sure" ot "let's be clear" statement to the effect of "pirating is a problem" followed by some type of assertion that current laws were effective. This was done within the current legal and regulatory framework and was aimed at an organization that, barring new information, had violated the law based on evidence acquired by law enforcement agencies.

    I'm not a big fan of LEOs, but if someone steals my shit and the cops bust them, I'm not going to criticize the cops for it, even though I spend a lot of time criticizing cops in general.

  • Bingo||

    Jesus fucking christ, copyright infringement is not the same as stealing. Your are regurgitating years of government- and industry-sponsored propaganda with this statement.

  • ||

    Whatever, copyright infringement is still against the law, whether it's stealing or not.

  • Bingo||

    Ah, love this argument: "the law's the law and you have to follow the law therefore government action is good, just, and necessary and people who break the law are lawbreakers and therefore deserving of all punishments, trials be damned".

  • ||

    Holy Slippery Slope, Bingo. Bit of a stretch there. I think copyright infringement should be against the law. I think lots of other things that are against the law should be perfectly legal. Anarchy and big government are not just two points, but two points along a continuum.

  • ||

    And walking across the corner of someone's property is not the same as building a cabin on someone else's property, but we consider both to be trespassing.

  • Bingo||

    Are you really dumb enough to make this equivalency?

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Both legally and morally, these things are not necessarily considered trespassing.

  • ||

    Bingo and Colonel - Are you arguing that copyright infringement should not be illegal? Or just that people should be cautious with their rhetoric? I understand the argument that it should not be illegal. I just personally believe it should be. Disagreeing with you on this doesn't make me stupid or evil any more than your disagreeing with me makes you stupid or evil.

    I don't presume to speak for tulpa, but "Down with SOPA! Copyright infringement should be illegal but is already sufficiently enforced" seems a reasonable position to hold.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Tulpa needs to be cautious about how he chooses to be a wiener.

    I have some interest in being able to legally protect things that I create- mainly my reputation and credit related my own work, but due to the nature of the issue these days I give little to none of a damn if everyone ends up taking a hike and the government and entitled pricks have no choice but to fuck off.

  • tarran||

    A line from Robert Heinlein's short story Lifeline seems appropos here:

    There has grown in the minds of certain groups in this country the idea that just because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with guaranteeing such a profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is supported by neither statute or common law. Neither corporations or individuals have the right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.
  • sarcasmic||

    Or, to paraphrase Reagan - If it moves, tax it; if it keeps moving, regulate it; if it stops moving, subsidize it.

  • db||

    I'm a big Heinlein fan, but I'm pretty sure he didn't leave instructions for his estate to put all his works in the public domain following his and Virginia's deaths.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    What happened to web sites not being held liable for user generated content?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    My other question to the recording and film industry is: What is the result they want? The genie is out of the bottle. Do they want to stop digital distribution altogether? Are they going to go back to retailing CD's in brick and mortar shops? It's obvious they are losing so much money that they can't pay for conventional means to fight copyright infringement (lawyers, courts, etc.). So their creative solution was to use the power of the state to create a draconian law? Even if the law was enacted, how would that increase the revenues to film and music industries? People simply do not want to pay for their product, and frankly there is not a whole hell of alot the industry can do about it. They keep pounding on this one issue, while completely neglecting to figure out how to actually make money with the greatest communication device ever invented: the internet! Shit, even the honey badger guy figured out how to make money from the internet. And he's just an amateur.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    They want a guaranteed role in the market where basically they cannot lose, and they want the government to give it to them.

  • sarcasmic||

    If doing so means taking on more power for themselves, then the government will be more than willing to oblige.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Yep

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    They want a guaranteed role in the market where basically they cannot lose...

    I get that they want a guaranteed role in the market. However, I think Youtube pretty much proves that the market is changing. I think the industry is furiously clawing at scraps, here. The old way is simply dying, and the industry is too myopic to see it. They would be better off expending the effort to create a brand new, digitally based, market system that created new revenue streams. Again, the honey badger guy figured out how to make money on the internet. I'm sure all the MBA's in the industry can figure it out, too.

  • Bingo||

    The problem is that the industry has the power and influence to create laws that will have a detrimental effect on freedom in this country before they die. And those laws will never, ever go away.

  • ||

    The old way is simply dying, and the industry is too myopic to see it.

    Or they realize that the advantages they had in the old model don't correspond to advantages in the new model. Decades-long camera market dominator Kodak tried to get into the digital camera market early, but it quickly became clear that they weren't any better than their competitors in this new market.

    Or, the people who worked on carburetors, even if willing to start working on fuel injectors, didn't have the skills necessary to do so successfully.

  • Russ 2000||

    They want a guaranteed role in the market where basically they cannot lose, and they want the government to give it to them.

    Then they should become banks.

  • 0x90||

    Basically, yeah. Bureaucracy moves like an tortoise, physically and mentally. Remember, it basically took Google to teach the big software houses that there were alternative ways of approaching the market, and they were still literally infants when compared with Hollywood. In the end, the law, whatever it is, really won't matter too much; take the most extreme possibility: the network is completely torn down. The thing is, we're already too far down the road for even that to work. You would put up a high-powered wifi, and sell bandwidth to people in your neighborhood; they would connect to one another through other mini-ISPs like yours. These networks would eventually blanket metropolitan areas with cell, satellite, and cable connecting those. It would take some development to build a decentralized replacement for DNS, but it would happen. That's just a thought experiment, and pretty far fetched given that the web does exist, but given the demand, something along those lines could probably take shape pretty rapidly if necessary.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    You know, I am opposed to Internet censorship in all forms. That said, copyright and IP law in general, given the fact that reasonable people can disagree, is about at the bottom of my list. It makes me cranky that everyone gets off the couch once the retards at Anonymous and Facebook tell them to, but the Drug War and the trillion-dollars-a-quarter carry on with nary a peep from the Shallow Set.

  • anon||

    I go back and forth on copyright. On the one hand I understand how it encourages innovation, on the other I can see how it's simply a legalized form of monopoly. I honestly haven't thought enough about the issue because, like you, I worry about more important shit that's driving our country into a hole.

  • ||

    Draconian copyright laws could end with an unintended consequence of giving incredible power to the individual content creator.

  • ||

    The fact that WKRP in Cincinnati will never be released on DVD, at least with original soundtrack, is evidence that some of this may already be occurring. Sad.

  • Sheesh||

    That old saw again? There are lots of shows on TV, old and new, that use copyrighted songs.

  • Sheesh||

    Anyway, you have no inherent right to view old episodes of WKRP, and the owner(s) of the show's syndication and duplication rights have no legal or ethical obligation to provide it to you. You can't demand that somebody provide you with entertainment.

  • ||

    I'm pretty sure the owners of the copyright to the show itself would love to sell DVDs. It's third parties that are making things difficult.

  • ||

    I'm not claiming anybody has any legal obligation to do anything. Jesus, what's with the amount of libertarian paranoia in this thread? The owners of the content (the show) would put it out if the licensing of the music wasn't so expensive. I liked the show. Why hate?

  • ||

    In most cases I wouldn't care, but do note that Scientology, for instance, would not exist without copyright laws. Copyright can be abused to conceal information rather than profit from its spread.

  • killazontherun||

    Doesn't the FBI realize that the only reason there hasn't been a massive uprising against the government is only the result of the populace being distracted by the wealth of media found on the internet to give enough of a shit to pull off a revolution?

    How do they want to be burned at the stake? Medium rare or extra crispy?

  • Invisible Finger||

    This is why users should start thinking now about what to do when the DOJ comes knocking at the door of their current file-sharing service.

    This is the #1 reason why I would never use any cloud file service. There is no reason to trust Apple from ratting you out - nor the suddenly "internet taxation is great" Amazon.

  • AUDIOMIND||

    How were folks arrested in New Zealand for copyright crimes that supposedly took place in America? How does that work?

  • ||

    The US has jurisdiction over commerce crossing its borders. If an American hacked into a Kiwi's computer, they would be extradited to NZ.

  • AUDIOMIND||

    It doesn't have jurisdiction over people.

  • Sucker||

    I am so going to click your link!

  • ||

    So now you people who parked files on the raided site know how those who parked silver at the raided Liberty Dollar's mint feel. The law is an ass, we all can agree, but it sure can kick hard, so it is always best to keep its kicking legs pointed in the right direction. Sadly, we have allowed the government to keep turning the ass until its kicking legs were pointed directly at US.

    There should be a clear, straightforward, quick and easy way for anyone to get their property back after government seizure raids. It may be that certain things must be retained as evidence in a forthcoming prosecution. But not so for many other -- most! -- seized items, and innocent third-parties who own them should be able to get them back.

  • ||

    That's sad...since it's all BS...SOPA/PIPA were junk + MU arrest was unfair + I don't think swizz he has any legal connections to MU...imo it was all fabbed up to get other celebrity endorsements.

    p.s. looks like someone is pissed - FBI vs ANONYMOUS video:
    http://www.peeje.com/anonymous.....egion-211/

  • Free_Enterprise||

    YEAH!! Throw those internet terrorists in GITMO and drone attack their homeland!

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