Good Berman, Heel!

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Under a new bill sponsored by recording industry lapdog Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), uploading just one N'Sync track to Kazaa is a felony punishable by a $250,000 fine and up to 5 years in prison.

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  1. “Phil,” in his post above, reveals such utter ignorance about all this that I almost don’t feel like bothering to address what he wrote. But I will. Sigh.

    A public library contains licensed copies of copyrighted works. Each of those copies was authorized by the copyright holder. The library does not create new copies and distribute them; users on Kazaa do. I really hope this doesn’t need to be explained further.

    Additionally, the record labels were not found guilty of “price fixing.” They settled out of court with several state attorneys general in a suit involving MAP, or minimum advertised price. It had to do with labels withholding co-op ad dollars from retailers who undercut an agreed price. The whole MAP plan had been instituted to show sympathy with small, indie retailers who were getting demolished by the loss-leader Best Buys of the world.

    The labels never said, “Hey, Best Buy, you can’t sell this CD for whatever you want.” It just said, “If you sell this CD for under X price, we might not give you the ad dollars this time that we normally give you.”

    It was not some secretive plot schemed behind closed doors. MAP continues to thrive in plenty of industries — as diverse as women’s cosmetics — but the music industry was targeted by the government nannies for political reasons. Here’s some irony for you: A company like Universal still employs MAP policies in its DVD division, but has been legally prevented from doing so in its music division. Gotta love them government geniuses.

    (And why would any libertarian buy into the concept of “price-fixing” in the first place?)

  2. Holler, what about when you already purchased the music in question, but the media has degraded to the point of being almost or entirely useless? Shouldn’t you have the legal right to reload, not steal, that music online? I don’t think there is any limit to the length of time for which you have purchased rights to listen to a specific recording. I also don’t think you should have to ask permission to replace your defective merchandise, particularly when the replacement will cost the original seller nothing.

    I agree the argument on the price of any merchandise is not relevant to any justification for its theft any more than arguing breaking into a high end retail shop is justified if its in a poor neighborhood.

  3. The price argument is invalid. However, I think a lot of the heat in any RIAA v. p2p conversation is a result of the fact that intellectual property isn’t property. It’s LIKE property (under most countries’ laws), but it isn’t a tangible thing one can “own”–ownership of the rights to reproduce a work, create derivative works, etc. are derived of the Constitution’s directive that monopolies can be established for works “to promote the lively arts…”

    What does this mean? File duplication isn’t really stealing in the same way that property is stolen. Put another way: is there a fair-use right to my house? I own it, so you don’t have fair use rights to my residence. However, if you copied and pasted these words into a response or quoted my post, you have every right to do so. I don’t own the work, I only own reproduction and distribution rights on it–due to a government grant.

  4. I like all these intellectual property defenders who would never use the cut and paste button.

  5. At issue here is a major paradigm shift in the distribution system for a particular industry. 200 years ago, music was produced by composers, performed by musicians in orchestras in concert halls which charged by the head for admission. The potential audience was limited by the number of seats in the hall. Musicians and composers might have made decent money, but none could live like royalty on the limited proceeds that this distribution mechanism could generate.

    100 years ago, with the development of recording and reproduction of sound, mass production of recordings shattered the limited audience barrier, and allowed a single performance to be sold to a virtually unlimited audience. No doubt, concert hall owners felt slighted while artists and producers were able to ride this mass distribution system to unimaginable wealth, allowing them to live like royalty, if not better.

    Digital music has changed the system again. Whereas each analog recording was a rivalrous good, the properties of digital media mean that a copy is identical in quality to the original. Unlike a vinyl record, people can “share” the digital recording, without having to give up anything. As a non-rivalrous good, digital music through the traditional distribution and revenue system is likely to fail.

    The approach that the media has taken is to make digital media rivalrous (1 user only) through encryption technology. The online registration model has the potential to be successful for average users, but selling encrypted media and retaining the decryption code is only works in the world of make-believe where teenagers can’t crack codes.

    In the switch to digital, the media industry opened a Pandora’s box that they must be wishing that they could close.

    In time the face of the industry will probably change significantly… Likely, artists will lose the lifestyles to which they had become accustomed. Music will still be produced and consumed, but in a different manner altogether.

  6. Bitter, you are right that in a physical sense, intellectual property is not like real property.

    But that is precisely why copyright law exists. It gives intellectual property the legal characteristics of real property. Copyright law assigns tangible qualities to an intangible thing.

    Yes, I know this is a simplification, and that there are mitigating factors (such as fair use). But the essential point stands.

  7. Where does this nugget of insanity fit into the intellectual property wars?
    http://www1.scoopthis.com/411/met_uf/stc_met_uf_mtv.htm

    You may have to be careful about what your hum!

  8. That “nugget of insanity” is a joke. A parody. A satire. Not real.

    You knew that, though, right?

  9. The Law of Unintended Consequences will operate to cause some REALLY BAD STUFF and the RIAA will be the cause!

    Follow this link:

    The Anonymity Doomsday Factor
    By John C. Dvorak

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,1185025,00.asp

  10. Why does it seem that the H&R posts that draw the most response almost always seem to deal with music? And why does everyone get so upset?

    I used to live for music, standing in line at the door the day a new recording of any of my favorites was due out. Then one day in my mid-20s I happened to read some lyrics without musical accompaniment for a newspaper column I was writing, and I realized what pretentious, obnoxious shits “musicians” really were.

    Thak God I have reached the age where music is only annoying background noise, be it Metallica, Merle Haggard or Muzak.

  11. This is my first time posting to this forum so go easy on me. Or not. This discussion reminded me of an article I read in, where else, Reason magazine about this very subject. If someone has already pointed this out I apologize. I only skimmed through the postings.

    https://www.reason.com/0303/fe.dc.creation.shtml

  12. Party pooper.
    Although, I have to admit when I first saw it I did search for the band Unfaith on Kazaa.

  13. “I dissagree. Many smaller label artists are quite eager for people to download their songs, thus making them better “known”, and making people more likely to come to their shows, and buy their merchandise”

    well, sadly, there is a cap, where one gets popular enough to be downloaded but not popular enough to be marketed to a large enough segment to offset those downloads. off the top of my head, groups like autechre, aphex twin, boards of canada, etc would fall into the top of this category, but maybe slightly smaller acts on labels like schematic are largely getting killed on cd sales, even though they’re popular enough to consistently be downloaded on soulseek.

    i give away some of the stuff i do as downloads, and i’ve had offers to do remixes and collaborations because people have heard my mp3s, some of which have resulted in actual pressings, etc. yet at the same time i know the overall incentive to buy music, even at 5 – 7 dollars a pop, is down, and probably won’t change anytime soon. the economy, again, is part of this, but only part.

    personally, i could give a shit if the entire RIAA clientbase sunk into the ocean – they brought their ruin upon themselves in so many ways it’s not funny – but the other side of the rainbow has drifted over from testing things out (i.e. hearing the new orb album before it hits and deciding whether or not it’s worth 12.99) to just plain stealing.

    i feel bad for you tom j. you should have considered listening to less shitty, shallow music. or actually listened to it in the first place. 🙂

  14. The nut graf of the Dvorak column linked by Ken: (RIAA) may become indirectly responsible for our inability to stop the next terrorist attack on the US. … The association’s recent move to bust individuals, mostly students, for music trading will spark a movement toward anonymous computing unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

    What a freakin joke. If people use anonymous computing to abet terrorist attacks, then THEY are responsible. Not the RIAA. The RIAA isn’t even “responsible” for anonymous file-sharing. The people who like to infringe copyright are responsible for that.

    Someone please slay the Cult Of Technology, to which so many have apparently sacrificed their morals and their brains.

  15. How sad, yet how indicative!
    At the moment of this writing, 57 comments have been posted in this thread, and those mainly deal with the legalities rather than with the obvious fact that a member of Congress is deep in an industry’s pocket. And two threads down the page is dealing with fundamental and very important civil liberties issues and there has been one (1) solitary comment, not counting mine, which was number two.
    People get what they deserve from their government! Were it just that only those that don’t give a hoot, got what they deserve. But we ALL get it.

  16. Given your insistance of personal responsibility, Holler, what do you say of this. If Party A makes an mp3 (legally created or downloaded from a pay site) available for anyone to copy, and party B decides to go ahead and illegally make a copy, who is guilty. Party B broke the law, but is rather difficult to catch. The congressman and RIAA both feel that Party A (easier to track) should be made to pay for Party B’s infraction.

    An analogy. I pay for cable. I do not vigilantly watch to make sure no one splices the wires on the side of my house. Perhaps I even merely shrug when I notice my neighbor splicing the wires. My neighbor is stealing the cable. Am I responsible? Should I be punished?

  17. Tom J –

    You’re right. I realized a few years ago that I was spending far more time and money installing equipment to watch media (digital TV, DVDs, etc.) than I would EVER spend actually listening to that crap. 95% of TV is unwatchable, and as you said, the great majority of even “good” music is, from a lyrical standpoint, pablum, lies, and juvenile preening.

    Some of my favorite disks are Rage Against the Machine. Nobody has mastered a synthesis of metal and hip hop like they have. Yet take the music and stylings away, and what do you have? Apocalyptic stalinism, that’s what. Radiohead – they’re probably out campaigning for Dennis Kucinich right now. Blah.

    I care more about this debate over the merit of intellectual history than I do about the actual shitty music that’s constantly put out by shitty musicians and their parasitic hangers-on. Have you spent much time in LA? To echo dhex above, if the entire “city” fell into the ocean, I can’t imagine anybody giving a shit.

    I’ve watched maybe, MAYBE ten DVDs on my $3000 setup. If I could download those files from the internet with one click of the mouse button in 30 seconds, it STILL WOULDN’T BE WORTH IT.

  18. Holler Back –

    If the libertarian party is “the party of principle”, then this debate should be about principles and – yes – reason. Also the law, but don’t make the mistake of substituting law for reason and ethics.

    Under copyright law, as I understand it (I’m no lawyer (THANK GOD)), the person who copies and distributes (or facilitates distribution of) copyrighted material is responsible. However, I think there are also other laws in force that make “buyers” (recipients) of such material also culpable. Or maybe that’s just in civil, as opposed to criminal, law.

    Regardless, guys, remember this. Say ALL the laws were wiped off the books today. You’d still have to contend with CONTRACT LAW, which would still make distributORS subject to civil penalties. I see no reason why Congress shouldn’t back contracts up with penalties for trafficking in copyrighted (by whatever mechanism) materials.

  19. An argument someone (I can’t remember who) made about the seemingly guiltless way p2p “sharing” is approached by its users is that it does not result in an actual “loss” for anyone. Unlike ripping off a record store, there is no loss of inventory or physical property on anyone’s part. It’s just another copy of a file. No harm, no foul. That makes it psychologically less like stealing.

    It’s a murky argument that the downloader would have bought the CD if he could not have downloaded its songs. Maybe, maybe not.

  20. Foregone (lost) revenue is as thoroughly established in law as anything else.

  21. RIAA is the constant, the congressman is just the puppet. Sucks, but there’s a hell of a lot more where he came from. If P. Rob and his posse decided tomorrow to turn their prayer power onto Howard Berman, getting God to remind him that he’s got a wife and kids, and he changed his mind and ripped up his proposed legislation, there’d be some other dupe in his place in five minutes.

  22. Curt, the argument that sharing is OK because it’s “just another copy of a file” is not some stunning debate point made by some unique person you can’t remember. It’s a fallacious argument that’s bandied about constantly in these file-sharing discussions. Mostly by teenagers who don’t understand anything about copyright.

    I mean, of course file-sharing is not the same as taking a disc out of a store. One is shoplifting; the other is copyright infringement. They are both legally and ethically wrong. Copyright infringement is certainly NOT “no harm, no foul.” An act of unauthorized copying gets to the very heart of the reason copyright even exists.

    Good God, I can’t believe we have to field these kinds of arguments at a place like Reason.

  23. as a former employee of Columbia House Company (which sells mail-order CDs), I can tell you for sure, that the CD prices are very inflated. The production cost of the CD is LESS then of the cassette tape, the artists’ royalties are tiny. Most money goes to middlemen. That’s how CHC and BMG could afford all these “buy one get 10 free” deals – because they turn a profit even from one $16 CD purchase (for 11 CDs) They had debates on this topic within the industry back in the early 1990s – and the consensus was that as long as people agree to pay the stated price, there is no reason to lower it. So all the file sharing is the consumers’ way to get back – and, IMHO, exactly what the recording industry deserves.

  24. the consensus was that as long as people agree to pay the stated price, there is no reason to lower it.

    Golly, are you serious?

  25. Jane G –

    Christ almight. Well, I work in consulting and I get billed out at $200 an hour and I only get paid a fraction of that.

    How much do you think a box of Tide costs to make?

    How much do you think a can of Coke costs to make? You think it costs 65 cents? No. Does that mean you should bust up some vending machines?

    Christ almighty, the level of debate here is just appalling. Yes, Jane, only CDs are marked up. Thanks for that enlightening insider information. I’m shocked, shocked.

  26. Most of the dimmer comments on this board are posted by people who think there’s something miraculously unique about Brittney Spears songs, characteristics that only apply to music files.

    By that logic, we should all be able to sneak into movie theaters because the theaters haven’t “lost” anything. I should be able to make copies of MS Windows and pass them out on street corners, or photocopy books. Is plagiarism ok, then?

    Is some or other consumer product marked up? F*CK THAT, I’M STEALING IT THEN! Yeah! No way this book costs $24.95 to make! Down with Big Publishing!

    What this is, is a bunch of self-important crybabies trying (very weakly) to justify their pathological cheapness.

  27. The idea that intellectual property is a sacred and unassailable right being thrown around here fundamentally wrong. Copyright is a monopoly and thereby inherently goes against the ideals of a free market, but are viewed as needed to reward the creative process in whatever form that might take. However, copyright was never intended to be either long term in duration nor absolute in scope, two things that the entertainment industry has lobbied hard for with a great deal of sucess. This distortion of the concept of intellectual property law has lead directly to this circumstance. If music and movies were entering the public domain ten or twelve years after their release (and long after the creators had been compensated for their work) the market would be bulging with people trying to sell you crystal clear copies of Beach Boy songs and DVD quality downloads of Bambi for little or nothing and the selling points would be conveniance of delivery and use and speed of download. Creative output would increase since you couldn’t suck off the teat of a successful record or book for the rest of your life (I think I read somewhere Peter Frampton is living off royalty checks from 1976’s Frampton Comes Alive!). Instead we have 150 year long copyrights and 5 years in jail for sharing a song with no intention of profit.

  28. Ok, good. Good example.

    This comment is so ignorant it defies mocking:

    “Copyright is a monopoly and thereby inherently goes against the ideals of a free market…”

    Copyright is a monopoly. Think about that for a minute. Repeat those three words a few times in your head. Copyright is a monopoly. Copyright is a monopoly.

  29. just like the government has a monopoly on administering money and violence, so too it has a monopoly on administering property, information or otherwise. “making copies” of dollars, or in the parlance counterfeiting, is just as destructive to our way of life as “sharing” music is. the government has every right to punish file sharers with felony charges. perhaps even the secret service should investigate such matters on an executive level to enforce compliance. all you libertarians may not like government interference in such matters, but it is absolutely necessary to maintain the propertied capitalist system you all hold so dear. in protecting property the government ensures our freedom.

    information may be nonrivalrous, but it sure as hell can be made excludable. it should be and it will. the very security and integrity of america and the world depends upon it. orwell presciently foresaw the thought crime, but he did not foresee that information as a “public good” could also be used against the originators. as such, information turns into a negative externality that undermines the state necessary for capitalist production. it pollutes and reduces the scarcity value by which we assign worth and measure wealth. without this bedrock, civilization would erode into the sea. so you see, thought crime is real and must be punished, and because it is a serious offense, violators must be dealt with harshly. just like the west was won, the internet will be brought under the law, under our control. sooner or later. dead or alive.

  30. Junyo –

    Sorry for the smartass comment, but Jesus, man.

    You are conflating two different (related, but different) issues. Disney and others have purchased a squadron of know-nothing congressmen and bribed them to extend their copyrights. This is a scandal, you are right. But this is a side issue. It has nothing to do with the legitimacy, demonstrated value, and rich history of copyright.

  31. Ahh, leave it to “junyo” to lob that other fun chatroom red herring out here for us all to munch on: the length of copyright terms. It has little if anything to do with the right and wrong of file-sharing, but here we have it anyway. Inevitable.

    Arguing about the length of copyright terms is a valid discussion. That’s why the Constitution leaves it Congress to do just that. But there’s no reason for it to be inserted into a file-sharing debate, other than as a distraction from the real issue.

  32. Holler, you’re making me redundant here.

  33. Junyo,

    You hit the nail on the head. We’ve always had copyright law so it’s become enshrined in our history along with first coming of Christ. Can’t change it. Can’t criticize it. Can’t even suggest there might be altenatives or that it shouldn’t be law. Or that market forces should rule and the copyright monopolies should be abolished.

  34. Del –

    No, it’s just that all of your side’s arguments smack of special pleading, ignorance, or barking lunacy.

  35. Del,

    Sorry to be redundant, but Pat is right.

    Anyway, if you want to change copyright law, then get it changed in a civil way, through the political process. Do not try to do it by violating the rights of those who have have invested creativity and resources on the good faith that society would back them up with copyright protection.

  36. As a practical matter copyright enforcement for digital anything is, well, unenforcable. You can’t expect everybody to be good and obey the law and not download music when it’s so easy and the cops probably won’t catch you. It may be immoral to break the law but it’s not practical. When it comes to downloading music something has to give. If it’s digital it’s easy to copy and make available on the web. It’s time we change the law and make anything digital “public domain.” Let the music creators make what they can from selling music online or in stores. After that they’d better go on tour or get back into the studio and create their new money maker. It’s a little like setting arbitray speed limits to 55 and insisting that everyone REALLY drive 55. Unreasonable.

    Isn’t this discussion fun?

  37. Del –

    This is patently absurd – if it’s easy to do, it should be legal. Shooting folks is easy, too. Photocopying books is easy. Having sex with cats is presumably somewhat easy. Should those be legal too?

    YOu’re also totally ignoring the fact that, again (I’m repeating myself), IF WE WIPE COPYRIGHT OFF THE BOOKS, YOU STILL HAVE TO CONTEND WITH CONTRACT LAW, WHICH WILL SUPPLANT IT.

  38. “This is patently absurd”
    Let’s not get started on patents, copyright is confusing enuf.

  39. Pat Cameltoe:

    A monopoly is a government-enforced privilege by which one has the sole right to sell something, or to license that right to others.

    And if I wanted to hide behind a pseudonym, I could pull a better one than “Pat Cameltoe” out of my ass.

  40. Pat C

    You lost me. I said, “If it’s digital it’s easy to copy and make available on the web.” What does that have to do how easy it may be to murder people or abuse cats?

    Digital is just another word for universal. If a picture of your naked girlfriend gets on the web and you demand that it be removed…now we’re talking absurd. In a matter of seconds her lovely form will be desktop material (that’s “wallpaper” for you lost non Macintosh folks) on a thousand computers. Pandora’s Box can’t be close. The digital world is here to stay. Let’s change our laws to reflect reality. Once it’s digital it belongs to everyone even if you don’t want it that way. We can’t go back.

  41. I can’t believe that nobody’s pointed out that, no matter ethics of the situtation, this is a ham-fisted approach, and a law that can’t possibly be enforced anything like evenly.

    As I write this, my copy of Kazaa shows that there are about 800 million files available from almost four million users. If we very conservatively assume that only 50% of these are being distributed illegally, the potential fines from these violations would total over $100 trillion, and the average user would potentially spend 500 years in prison.

    Does file-trading go on because of a lack of cartoonish penalties if you’re caught? I think not.

  42. “Then one day in my mid-20s I happened to read some lyrics without musical accompaniment for a newspaper column I was writing, and I realized what pretentious, obnoxious shits “musicians” really were.”

    Yeah, the Debbie Boone years sure were tough.

  43. Any law, to be effective, must be enforceable. Copyright law is no different. In this discussion, I’ve yet to see anyone’s ideas on how copyright law should be enforced within the bounds of the constitution. Complaining about the problem without proposing a solution, isn’t much help.

  44. “More Americans are using file sharing software than voted for President Bush in 2000,” said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. “Throwing the book at music swappers makes great political theater, but jailing 60 million music fans is not good business, nor does it put a single penny into the pockets of artists.”

  45. Two comments here:

    1. Howard Berman, (D-Calif.) is clearly a misprint. It should read Howard Berman, (D-recording industry).

    2. The punishment for doing anything with an N’Sync track besides destroying it should be death by firing squad.

  46. Kevin Carson –

    Sorry, that’s not the definition of monopoly. Please play again.

    Cheers,
    Pat Cameltoe

  47. Simply because one doesn’t believe in intellectual property rights, doesn’t make one a marxist.

  48. I don’t know. There’s those well-known Marxists Lysander Spooner, Benjamin Tucker, Murray Rothbard (actually he believed in copyrights, but not patents)…. Apparently the only non-Marxists among libertarians are the Republican wannabes.

  49. Interesting game, BTW, Pat. As it stands, you don’t have to subject whatever private definition of monopoly you have to critique (assuming you have one).

  50. And we’re all left thinking “Isn’t there something harsher we can do to N’Sync fans?”

  51. http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/indus.asp?CID=N00008094&cycle=2002

    “Howard L. Berman is a top House recipient from the following industries for the 2001-2002 election cycle:
    Motion Picture production & distribution (#2)
    Recorded Music & music production (#1)
    TV production & distribution (#2)
    TV/Movies/Music (#2)”

    Apparently, you do still get what you pay for.

  52. Damn, I wanted to be the first one to N’Sync bash..

  53. That upload thing is backwards isn’t it? Users choose to download a file from another user. Nobody “uploads” anything to a second user as they would do with a BBS or other system. And if a person downloads a file off my computer, isn’t it up to them to decide if they can legally do so? If they own the songs on LP, 45, 8-track, 78, or CD, then it would be legal, right? If someone smashes in my car window and steals that which doesn’t rightfully belong to them, it’s against the law. If someone is visiting my house and grabs a CD that I borrowed from them, it’s legal.

    Hey you lawyer types…am I wrong on the already owning the song bit? If I bought a song on 8-track 20 years ago and the tape is mangled, is it fully legal to download those songs on a file sharing service with or without the RCIA’s permission?

  54. “A monopoly is a government-enforced privilege by which one has the sole right to sell something, or to license that right to others.”

    Hey, Kev, you have the sole, government-enforced right to sell your services as a frycook to McDonalds. By your definition, you have a monopoly on that. Great. So, does this mean that McDonalds should be able to make you do things for them for nothing, because you’ve got a nasty monopoly? Of course not.

    In other words, you seem to think it somehow matters that the “monopoly” on Britney Spears recordings belongs to Britney Spears and her assignees (DUH), and not to you.

    Let’s make this simple for ‘ya:

    The people who play the nice songs for you are asking that you pay them and their assignees, their record companies, for their labor. That is the condition they set for playing music for you.

    You want to make them just GIVE you their labor without you giving a ratswhatever what conditions (payment) made them want to make the music in the first place.

    You think composers, artists, musicians, etc. are your slaves, apparently, as you may demand they give you the results of their labor without payment because they want to control the conditions under which that work is distributed.

    Real free trade involves the producer being able to set the price of their products and conditions of their labor. The prospective purchaser is then able to freely decide if they want to do business or not.

    If the price they set is too high, or you don’t like the conditions they set, the answer is not to steal it, the answer is to go elsewhere or make your own. Don’t like Britney’s prices? Go make your own recording of a cat yowling and listen to that (same difference) — you have no right to someone else’s labor just because you don’t like their conditions of trade.

    You are rationalizing your nasty little tendency to steal things that don’t belong to you, and it ain’t pretty.

  55. It could be stated “making available for download,” rather that uploading (although both may be accurate). Basically, with shareware like Kazaa, you select a certain number of video and/or audio files on your computer that are available for any other user to download. Meanwhile, you can go looking through files that others have made available. I doubt you would be held responsible if some one hacked into your computer and stole files you weren’t making available.
    As for who RIAA is going after, it’s more those that are making a lot of songs available, rather than those downloading songs (and then not making them available for others. Think of it this way, if I download a song from your available files, and then don’t make it avaialable to others, the RIAA chalks up (correctly or incorrectly) one lost sale. However, your file can be downloaded by hundreds or thousands of people, and the RIAA feels it is losing that exact number of sales. So they are going after the supplier.
    As for your legal question, I’m not entirely sure, but I think this may be part of the gray that is still being sorted out. Many digital music files now have tags that identify them something for the intial customers use only, trading these files is a no-no according to RIAA, and the members of congress like Berman. It’s gotten a bit more complicated than the blank tape days.

  56. Remember when cds first came out, it was said the high cost would come down as the format was adopted and manufacturing became cheaper. That never happened, and now they have gotten us used to paying up to 14.99 for a new cd. Apparently, it’s ok to rip us off. If they don’t play by the rules, why should we have to?

  57. $14.99 for a new CD? Where are you buying from, because that’s the cheapest I’ve heard of in a while.

    Are you sure it wasn’t on sale?

    Christ, they’ve already got us to “upgrade” formats from vinyl to tape to CD to GOD ONLY KNOWS what else will be next. How many times can we buy the same damn Beatles’ songs?

  58. On a somewhat unrelated note, you can have fun with Kazaa by searching for people’s names, or place names. People who don’t know what they’re doing will let Kazaa search their hard drive for “media files” which include word documents. I’ve come up with medical documents and insurance claims by accident before. 🙂

  59. Holler:

    Real property is property is property because I can physically occupy it and take physical measures to maintain possession. If a law is needed to “give the characteristics of property” to something, that should be some indication it is not property by nature.

    YouPeopleAreStupid:

    Britney Spears was paid for her labor ONCE (if you want to call it that) when she recorded her songs (if you want to call them that). It is up to her to get the best price she can up front, not to rely on state laws preventing others from doing what they want with physical artifacts in their possession.

  60. Maybe they’re charging $14.99 because everyone is stealing their copyrighted music. Btw, it costs a lot more to produce a CD than just simple production costs. Distribution, promotion, royalties, etc. add up to about $10.50 per CD. And that was about two years ago.

    I love having all the music I want at my finger tips too, but the bottom line is something has to change if these companies are going to stay in business.

  61. Reason Marxism Society:

    Once again, when it comes to distributing copyrighted material over the internet, the normally sensible Reason groupies turn into a wild pack of unreconstructed marxists.

    Who says $14.99 is a “rip off”? By what standard? I thought all you so-called libertarians looked to the market to solve everything. Even it that’s a (slight) exaggeration, I had thought that it was a settled argument that at least PRICES could be set by the market.

    But nooooo, not here. Scott McDonald, above, has determined that $14.99 is too much, and the hallelujahs are deafening.

    Hey comrade Scott, I thought buyers and sellers determined prices. I thought the classic definition of price was “whatever somebody is willing to pay for something.” What happened? What year did you self-described libertarians decide to abandon market pricing and revert to 19th century concepts like the marxist labor theory of value.

    I think I see what’s going on here. Markets for thee, but not for me. I prefer to steal. I get it.

  62. Kevin Carson, you are terminally thick skulled. You still, STILL have not addressed the FACT that even if copyright law were erased from history, THERE WOULD STILL BE CONTRACTS ENACTED THAT WOULD FILL THE PRECISE SAME FUNCTION. Hello, McFly?

  63. Pat:

    First, calm down. Second, this is simply a case of people committing a crime that has been marginalized by proliferation. They don’t want to revert back to the former time, when they had to pay for music. They’re going to have to eventually though.

    And since when can’t people bitch about prices anyway. The market may set a price, that doesn’t mean everyone has to love it. In fact in a free market, many people will be priced out of any given product.

  64. Hey Kevin, let’s try a little Contract Law for Dummies.

    In your alternate universe, where every lawmaker in the land suddenly goes stark raving bonkers and decides to eliminate copyright. We’d be left with this scenario. Play along – it’s ok to move your lips when you read this, if you must.

    Let’s stipulate that I’m an artist. I make musical recordings of myself.

    Let’s further stipulate that you like my music and want to buy it.

    Let’s stipulate that no copyright law exists.

    Finally, let’s stipulate that you haven’t gotten around to destroying contract law (yet – “a contract’s not property, nyah nyah nyah”), so contracts are in fact enforceable.

    Here are the terms of my sale: I will sell you the rights to play my hit album “Kevin Carson in Wonderland” for your own private enjoyment, provided you never make copies of it for distribution to others or public performance. Those are my terms.

    Now, either you agree to my terms and get your hands on my music, or you don’t agree and you don’t get the music.

    Do you understand this, Kevin? Are we getting anywhere at all, here? Are your six neurons starting to understand the fact that file sharing will never, ever, ever in a million, billion years EVER become legal as long as contracts are enforced?

  65. If Britney or anyone else in the recording industry, performer or suit, doesn’t like the return on their investment, they can go down McD’s to flip burgers anytime they like. No one is forcing them to participate in that particular industry. They are nobody’s slave, to pretend that is the case is ridiculous.

    Britney and her ilk have been charging for concerts for years where they don’t even sing a note. Now folks are listening to them wail without paying a dime. What a pity. When your market starts to dry up, it sucks, but instead of crying about it, why not find (or make) a new market?

    This is all pretty much moot. There will be nearly 200,000 Wi-Fi access points worldwide by 2007. Over 70% will be free and anonymous. More than half of all college campus will be included in this. Who do you think is ‘stealing’ all this music? Who do you think will be using these access points?

    Of course, the RIAA could just go and buy up more members of congress. Judging by the comments here, more than a few think this is the best way to attain a free market. Heh.

  66. Pat,

    While I agree that the record companies can set their prices where they like, they can also use whatever medium they like for selling their product. They like the convienence and popularity of cds but they don’t want to have to deal with the down side that the cds are also a digital format and therefore much easier to copy and share. No one says the record companies can’t go back to producing vinyl, and sell their newest albums for $100 a pop. Instead of simply dealing with market forces, however, they are seeking to force legislation to control the market. No force or fraud was used against them, they were simply outsmarted by those on the cutting edge of their own technology.

  67. Patriot –

    I’m definitely construing the tone of this conversation differently than you are. First, the notion that copyright is wholly an illegitimate concept is rife on the message boards at Reason, and I find the concept indefensible.

    Second, it’s also clear that the notion that CDs cost “too much” is often used as an excuse to steal. It’s not. I see it here all the time, and I’m merely responding in kind. If this bothers you (“calm down”) then feel free to ignore me.

    Scott is merely the latest in a long string of self-described libertarians who latch onto discredited and outdated arguments to justify their trafficking in copyrighted material. Your response, btw, didn’t rebut any of my arguments.

  68. Kevin, I own a house. Does that mean I have a “monopoly” on it? No, it does not, because the term “monopoly” refers to CLASSES OF PRODUCTS, not INDIVIDUAL PRODUCTS. If you start applying the term “monopoly” not only to classes of products but, in fact, to ALL PRIVATE PROPERTY (which is precisely what you’re doing), then you’ve expanded the definition to the point of utter meaninglessness.

    I have a pencil on my desk. Do I have a monopoly on THAT pencil, Kevin? Do I have a monopoly on the shirt I’m wearing, or the ass I’m sitting on? My cat – have I monopolized my cat? Should the government “intervene” and bust up my Steve-the-Cat monopoly?

    Kevin, you seriously need to get some formal training if you’re going to expend this much effort arguing with people over this topic. I’m no Ph.D., but I do have a degree in economics and I can tell you for a fact, as certain as the earth revolves around the sun, that nobody in this field has ever referred to specific bits of property as a “monopoly” unless they’re smoking banana peels. Ok?

    If BMG gained control over the entire US music market, that would be a monopoly. Utilities are often so-called “natural monopolies” because they control, for example, all electricity production in a given locality. It makes no sense at all to say that McDonald’s has a monopoly on itself. No shit, Kevin.

  69. 15 bucks *is* a rip-off. i usually pay from 5 to 12 for cds, and maybe 8 – 15 for vinyl. not counting imports, that is. then again, i’m buying small-market products from small labels, cutting out the cost from advertising and marketing. (it’s been well-documented how badly major labels skull-fuck their artists)

    the sad side effect of a lot of this is while the majors may or may not be hurting badly from file sharing (the economy has to factor in, plus their high retail costs, etc) but people have gotten used to thinking of music as more of a free service rather than a commercial one. the downside being that smaller label artists are being killed by downloading.

  70. Sean –

    You wrote:

    “No force or fraud was used against them, they were simply outsmarted by those on the cutting edge of their own technology.”

    This is a statement of astonishing ignorance. In case you hadn’t heard, distributing copyrighted materials is illegal.

    Your flat assertions that “no fraud was used against [record companies]” is simply not true.

    It’s illustrative of your mindset that you see this as a question of “outsmarting” record companies instead of choosing to break the law. It’s also very easy to to “outsmart” a book and make photocopies of Hillary Clinton’s latest book and pass them out for free at a street corner, but that doesn’t make it ethical or legal.

  71. Hey, Kev:

    You want to take from others on your own terms and give nothing in return. You are a thief. Period.

    Nice of you to decide what conditions others can or cannot put on the conditions for payment for their labor. Sorry, recording artists, thou shalt not work on a percentage basis, but must accept only a one time payment, lest Kevin have to pay for exploiting your work for his own entertainment. Slavemaster Kevin has spoken.

    When somebody puts that copyright notice on their work they are telling you the conditions of sale.
    If you don’t like the conditions an artist sets on the release of their artwork, GO ELSEWHERE. YOU HAVE NO “RIGHT” TO THEIR MUSIC. YOU WANT TO EXPLOIT OTHERS FOR YOUR OWN GAIN/ENTERTAINMENT WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION. Why is that such a hard concept to understand? (Why? Because you would rather steal than deal honestly.)

  72. Kevin Carson seems to feel that the only property that really exist is stuff he can physically touch. Not exactly a man of ideas, obviously.

    Hey Kevin, say I take out a $1000 loan from my bank. That bank owns that debt. They can sell that debt. They can give that debt to the Sisters of Eternal Misery nunnery. But they can never, ever, ever touch the debt, because “debt” is nothing but a right to be repaid in the future. It’s not the cash itself, it’s the right to a service.

    But Kevin, you can’t hop up and down on it or smack it with a stick. Are you telling me that debt isn’t property.

    You need to grow up, dude.

  73. Pat Cameltoe,

    Interesting world you propose, but a few complications arise with differences between contract and copyright laws. CopLaw is largely federal, whereas ConLaw is mcuh more variable state to state. More than a few states require written contracts for this type of arrangement. You could have a standardized form at the record stores for each sale, but what of different agreements for different record companies? How do you sell to minors (who wouldn’t be beholden to contracts)? Internet sales?
    To be legally binding as a contract, a promise must be exchanged for adequate consideration. Adequate consideration is a benefit or detriment which a party receives which reasonably and fairly induces them to make the promise/contract. Obviously the benefit is the music, but what is the detriment? This must be negotiated or standardized by the record companies. But now the kids are signing to something that will put them in jail or cost them huge sums, just to buy an album. In person copying of CD’s would become a better option than actually buying the CD and signing your life away

    The bottom line is ConLaw, even when tied up in standard form legalese, is a lot more personal, scary, and messy than a $12.95 purchase deserves. Sales plummet. Not the rosy alternative world you propose. But it would serve as some structure, true.

  74. Mr. Cameltoe:

    First of all, the reason I didn’t rebut your arguments was that I agree with you. However, I must correct you by saying that most libertarians whole-heartedly believe in copyright laws. It’s vital to protecting your interests in a capitalist society. Be careful before you lump everyone who posts here in as a libertarian.

    The reason people are so upset about this is that they enamored with the idea of getting something they’re not paying for. It’s so simple to steal this music that people trivialize the act.

  75. Lunatic Alert! I just checked out Kevin Carson’s website. It consists mostly of a lengthy screed, but here’s a representative sample:

    “Our ultimate vision is of a society in which the economy is organized around free market exchange between producers, and production is carried out mainly by self-employed artisans and farmers, small producers’ cooperatives, worker-controlled large enterprises, and consumers’ cooperatives”

    That is, shall we say, rather a narrow set of paramaters. (Snicker.)

    Ok, Kevin, I’m done with this. Have fun with your little project.

  76. It was always my understanding that CDs were cheaper to produce than vinyl. But the cost of the CD was always higher. In a free market, shouldn’t the costs come down under those facts?

    Assume that the above is circumstantial evidence that the record companies have formed a cartel to raise prices to monopoly levels.

    Assume also that there is no proof of this cartel that would be admissible in a court of law.

    That could explain why people feel entitled to download copyrighted music for free. “They” have been ripping us off for years by charging monopolistic prices. Rather than go to the trouble of proving it in a court of law and give it all in attorney’s fees, we’ll just take it back ourselves. Self-help.

    I’m not saying it’s right, but it explains the mindset, at least.

  77. I agree that people have that mindset, but such a monopolistic system is not sustainable. The reason being that in order to maintain such a monopoly, the cartel would have to charge lower than total cost per unit prices (not higher) to create a barrier to entry.

    People should be forced to take economics classes.

  78. Pat,

    “TITLE 17 > CHAPTER 1 > Sec. 102.

    a)Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Works of authorship include the following categories:

    (1) literary works;

    (2) musical works, including any accompanying words;

    (3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music;

    (4) pantomimes and choreographic works;

    (5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;

    (6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works;

    (7) sound recordings; and

    (8) architectural works.

    (b) In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work”

    A digital file is not a “tangible medium of expression.” Along with copyright laws is a little thing called fair use. If the law was cut and dried, why would this further legislation be necessary? We are in the gray shadow of a fast moving technology, and the laws haven’t caught up. As a libertarian leaning person, I would rather see the market deal with this (Mac’s 99cent downloadable library was a good start, clever and profitable; Clear Channel selling CDs of concerts 10 min after they are over is another clever innovation) than have the record companies shoving money down the throats of congress until they shit out enough laws that I get thrown in jail for whistling a tune while walking down the street. That’s my interpretation of the current law and my opinion on the prospect of future laws. You are entitled to yours.

  79. This is a statement of astonishing ignorance. In case you hadn’t heard, distributing copyrighted materials is illegal.

    As a blanket statement, this is so monumentally stupid that I can’t believe someone said it. Perhaps you’ve heard of these newfangled places where people — an unlimited number of people, mind you — have complimentary access to copyrighted materials as the mood hits them. They can even take them home. They’re called “Public Libraries.”

    What’s more, if one owns a copyrighted item that one doesn’t use anymore, one can simply give it away to someone else.

    By the way, you are aware that the record companies were, in the not-too-distant past, found guilty of price-fixing, right?

  80. I’m With Stupid –

    Yes, it is a very interesting world I propose, isn’t it. Hmm, I wonder if anything like this has been tried before.

    I seem to remember a form that was along the lines of what my strange new world would look like. I think it fell out of a box I was opening when I bought a copy of Office 2000. It’s a little hazy, but I think is started out with something like, “By opening this package, you agree…”

    Yes, indeed, this is scary new territory, Stupid. Brave new world. I’m shaking. Are you?

  81. Pat,

    Also, photocopied material is indeed a “tangible medium of expression.” It is covered under the law, and it would be illegal. I agree here, but your analogy is flawed.

  82. The beauty of contracts, Stupid, is that entities have great latitude in creating whatever kinds of agreements they want. What you describe as “scary” and “messy” is, in fact, nothing but free human agency. That this trepidation in the face of liberty comes from a presumable libertarian speaks great volumes about your seriousness or intellectual capacity. Or maybe you’re just on the wrong board – were you looking for the World Workers Party website, perhaps?

    Ooooh, no telling what people will do if they’re actually allowed to be free to make agreements with each other. How threatening!

  83. I didn’t make that analogy.

  84. Ok all, I’m off to “monopolize” my own bed and, if I’m lucky, maybe my wife. See ya’s.

  85. Pat Cameltoe:

    The correct way to put it is that prices WOULD be set by buyers and sellers in a free market, IF WE HAD ONE. In a free market, a seller and a buyer can negotiate the sale of any item they see fit, at any price they see fit. For example, if I have a recording of a song in my possession, I can copy MY recording, and sell MY copy to anybody I choose at any price I choose, and they can make THEIR OWN decision whether to buy it.

    At present, though, if I attempt to make such a free market transaction, a bunch of armed thugs calling themselves the government step in and say, “Sorry, we’ve granted a legally-enforcable monopoly on the right to copy and sell that song. So you have to buy it at a monopoly price.”

    Patents and copyrights are not legitimate property. They are artificially created monopolies on the right to do certain things.

  86. Pathos –

    In other words, it’s a specious justification for getting stuff for free. Personally, I’m delighted to find a cd for $14.99 because usually they’re 19 bucks, which on a gut level does seem like a hell of a lot.

    There is, in fact, no proof that record companies collude. So using that theory as justification for this behavior is just self-serving (though I agree with you, that probably explains some of it).

    Patriot –

    I may be wrong, but it’s certainly my impression that a great many libertarians believe that copyright laws have no merit and, in fact, should be openly ignored on principle. I hope this is a minority opinion, but it seems to be pretty common around here.

  87. Patriot,

    Quite true, Pat (Cameltoe) did. Since we have a Patriot, Pathos, and Pat Cameltoe here, I suppose the latter should most clearly be addressed by his full name, or at least Pat C. Sorry for any confusion.

  88. Kevin Carson –

    You don’t have the foggiest idea what you’re talking about, my friend. You don’t even know what the word “monopoly” means. And I don’t feel like explaining it to you. I would suggest you look it up, however, or post under a pseudonym until you can get your argument straightened out.

  89. the downside being that smaller label artists are being killed by downloading.

    I dissagree. Many smaller label artists are quite eager for people to download their songs, thus making them better “known”, and making people more likely to come to their shows, and buy their merchandise.
    A real problem caused by the copyright legislation is that even if the artists and label are willing to have their material downloaded, the legislation is highly blanketed and covers all forms of music files, even if both parties are willing.
    This legislation will stiffle the groth of small record labels, and begining bands.

  90. lmoa!

    Sorry Sean

  91. Phil –

    I should have said “copying and distributing”. Of course I was talking about “sharing” in the true sense of the word, and I think you knew that (btw, referring to p2p as “sharing” is almost Orwellian in its duplicity). As everybody knows, copyright refers to use, not ownership. It allow relatively free use of licensed COPIES of material, and of course sharing, selling, loaning, etc. are perfectly legal because you’re sharing, selling, loaning, etc. your rights to make use of the copied material. P2P involves duplication, allowing multiple (effectively unlimited) simultaneous use of the material, destroying the copyright holder’s value and eviscerating her rights under the law.

  92. I go to Best Buy or Sounds on St. Marks Place where new release cds can be had for a reasonable price, usually around $9.99. Even Circuit City’s discount on new releases usually gets you a new cd for under 12 bucks (before sales tax). And if you want to get something from an artist’s back catalogue – go help out a mom and pop record store and by used (er, certified pre-owned?) cds. I built my Beatles collection on used cds alone.

    Is $14.99 the market price for cds? Diminishing sales would suggest otherwise. Undoubtedly, the proliferation of file sharing has damaged the record industry to some extent, but how much? Has anyone been paying attention to the crap that record companies have been putting out the last half decade or so? Who the hell wants to buy that? And as a poster above poited out, how many times can the public repurchase the entirety of the Beatles/Stones/Zeppelin/Hendrix/Floyd/Who catalogues? The boom the recording industry experienced in the 80’s and 90’s owes a fair share of its prosperity to people purchasing albums on cd which they had previously owned on vinyl. Instead of the record companies changing their business models to reflect more closely that this revenue stream has been, for the most part, exhausted, they continue to push the upteenth release of Dark Side of the Moon and wonder why no one’s buying it.

    Not to mention that movies on dvd are selling like the proverbial hot cakes. Most of the content available for purchase on dvds is available for free on file sharing networks, yet this seems not to have impacted slaes of dvds in any significant way. Why’s that? Maybe because the consumer feels that 20 bucks spent on a dvd, which provides, on average, 3-5 hours of entertainment, is a better deal that 15 bucks is for a cd, which at best gives you 80 minutes of music. The record industry has fleeced consumers and artists alike for years. If they cannot adopt their business practices to offer the consumer a product that he or she wants and to do so at a resonable price, perhaps it’s time they went the way of the dodo bird. In the meantime I’ll be spending the majority of my hard-earned entertainment dollars on dvds. They’re worth it.

  93. Someone once said that “a black market is a free market trying to get out.”The problem here, as I see it, is that people want to download music and possibly burn it onto a cd, rather than pay for the record companies to manufacture and distribute the music at inflated prices. Apple has had success offering high-quality secure downloads. The recording industry is clinging to this old model of distribution that increasingly fewer and fewer people feel like paying for: limited selection, high prices, having to buy a whole album rather than just the songs one likes, and so on. It’s inefficient in the market sense, especially for the recording industry. Why not just put their whole catalogs online and give people a legal alternative. The industry could cut their production and distribution costs by shifting these costs to the consumer, who can do it more efficiently, and at a market-driven price ( similar to cell phone minutes perhaps: 500 song-a-month plans, unlimited plans, etc). This is not an original idea, I realize, but shouldn’t the industry offer an alternative to file-sharing if they expect people to stop, given that suing and or alienating millions of current or potential customers isn’t cost-effective?

  94. Pat C,

    Here’s a little more about the copyright owner’s rights:

    “TITLE 17 > CHAPTER 1 > Sec. 106.

    Sec. 106. – Exclusive rights in copyrighted works

    Subject to sections 107 through 121, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:

    (1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;

    (2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;

    (3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;

    (4) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;

    (5) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and

    (6) in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission”

    In subsection 1, copies refers to written material, phonorecords refers to audio in a “tangible medium of expression.”

    Note the use of the term public or publicly in subsec 3-6.

  95. Nick:

    Maybe dvd sales have not been as severely impacted b/c everyone is repurchasing their vhs tapes on dvd. Also, maybe people don’t want to spend 24 hours or more (compared to 3 minutes) downloading a poor quality video.

    And btw, perhaps your taste in music differs from others about modern music. I happen to enjoy a lot of new stuff. And although I despise pop music with a passion, that stuff seems to sell pretty well, despite the piraters out there.

  96. Nick –

    Another way record companies could mitigate the seething hatred most of us (myself, and most artists, included) would be to agree to a single frigging enhanced audio standard. There’s DVD Audio, SuperCD (or whatever it’s called), and at least one other I’m aware of. Sorry, but crappy stereo sounds on a CD don’t cut it anymore. I can get 5.1 over my cable box when I watch HBO, but I can’t get 5.1 from Best Buy when I buy a Radiohead disk. What gives?

    I defend the right of artists, their agents, and record companies to defend their legal rights. But they’re pissing away whatever tiny speck of goodwill anybody ever had for them. Instead of buying off congressmen and suing file swappers, they could capitalize on the p2p phenomenon by offering very high-quality records on DVD (with video) that currently can’t be had for free on Kazaa.

    But they’re too stupid, so that’s out.

    Nonetheless, file sharing is illegal and copyright is a pillar of western civilization, period.

  97. Sean –

    That’s good information. Perhaps I’m a moron, but I’m not following your point. Can you explain?

  98. There is no merit to intellectual property rights because it gives other people control of your tangible property and it undermines the whole system of tangible property rights. If I buy a cd, why shouldn’t I be able to whatever I want with it, even if that includes uploading it to other people?

  99. Pat C,

    Copyright law isn’t being violated by filesharing. It is only violated when some one makes actual copies of a CD/tape and distributes them. Admittedly, I dubbed quite a few tapes when I was younger, not knowing it was illegal, but I’ve stopped that.

  100. Asma –

    No, you absolutely should NOT be able to do whatever you want with intellectual property. This is the problem with the extremist propeller heads populating libertarian corners – their whimsical eagerness to destroy a fundamental pillar of western civilization. I’m not normally in the habit of debating fringe, radical notions like this, but I’ll just state the obvious that this is an extreme minority opinion not shared (thankfully) by individuals in positions of responsibility. What a reckless, ignorant notion.

    Asma, you can do whatever you want with the MEDIUM, but you do not own the rights to the CONTENT.

    Even if Congress repealed ALL intellectual property laws (and there’s a better chance you’ll be elected Pope), you’d STILL have to contend with contract law, which will instantaneously fill that gap. I’d simply make you sign an agreement not to distribute my intellectual property, as a term for the purchase. Then it would be your decision whether to purchase or not. This is how software works. We’d end up at the a virtually IDENTICAL legal position, and you still would be part of the freakish intellectual and legal margins with NO legal right to copy and distribute other people’s property.

    Mises my ass.

  101. Collusion in an industry is only effective with homogenous (or highly substitutable) products. What’s good for OPEC isn’t necessarily any use to the Recording industry. Each album is a unique product. Sony Music, BMG, or Death Row Records each owns exclusive rights to the music they produce. A Snoop Dogg CD is a poor substitute for an album by the Dixie Chicks.

    Without any collusion, each label has a complete monopoly over the market for each CD they produce. The market price is determined by the demand of consumers and the production of the single supplier of that CD.

  102. Sean –

    I see what you’re saying now. Yes, copyright cannot bind third parties, so there are other laws in place to deal with them (by third parties, I mean people who traffic in protected materials but who did not actually first duplicate them).

    Nonetheless I think it’s quite unethical to profit from illegal activity, even if it weren’t illegal (and, of course, it is illegal, just not under copyright law).

  103. Russ –

    You’re correct with one small exception. It’s incorrect to refer to total control over an individual product within a market sector as a “monopoly”. Control over a sector – such as electricity, water, news, violence, music – can be monopolized, but except in a colloquial sense the term monopoly doesn’t apply to specific products.

  104. Pat C is right on the nose here.

    There is NO reason for the phrase “CD prices” to even enter an argument about file-sharing. Law and ethics don’t give a shit how you feel about CD prices. File-sharing copyrighted materials is infringement of someone else’s rights. Period.

    “CDs are overpriced,” “record labels are gouging us,” “new music sucks” — these are all “arguments” for a teen chatroom, not for a place of reasoned adult discussion.

    File-sharing programs have made copyright infringement easy. They have not made copyright infringement right. I find it remarkable, and depressing, that these kinds of attitudes have taken root among thinking adults.

  105. Pat Cameltoe,

    You’re point is taken but doesn’t cover all the points I made. Specifically, what of minors? Do the parents have to tag along for every sale? Or are they allowed free reign to copy music? Either way, given the amount of music now purchased by minors, the record companies in your ConLaw world are losing significant sales.

    As for your mention of Microsoft and their enclosed contract. Ever stop to think why they are then using copyright laws to go after pirates? Why not use this iron-clad contract? Problem is, it’s a bare bones formality, a safety net full of holes.

    Microsoft Lawyer: Your honor, the defendent was clearly under contract with Microsoft not to copy and distribute this product.

    My Lawyer: Your honor, my client signed no such contract and this “enclosed document” that the plaintiff claims wasn’t enclosed with the product. My client never saw it.

    Judge: Do you have any proof that the contract was agreed upon.

    Mic Lawyer: No

    Judge: Case dismissed.

    Go hang out in civil court sometime. An unsigned contract and $1.79 will get you a cup of coffee.

  106. Accessing Reason’s Hit and Run page and reading this comment entitles ConLawMan to everything you own, including your wife, husband, children and pets. This contract is binding, la, la, la, all rights reserved.

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