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BlueStateMan On June - 18 - 2011

There is a great deal of consternation regarding the fact that a Senate Committee just passed the ‘Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act’.

If signed into law (which is likely), COICA would allow the Department of Justice to file a civil lawsuit against the domain owners. If the courts then decide that a site is indeed promoting copyright infringement, the DOJ can order the domain registrar to take the domain offline. The bill is not limited to domestics offenders, but also allows the DOJ to target foreign domain owners.

The targets of the bill could possibly include many BitTorrent sites. Last week both theMPAA and RIAA submitted their wishlists of “rogue websites” that should be taken care of, and these included The Pirate Bay, isoHunt, Demonoid and other popular torrent sites.

They are going after the DISTRIBUTORS… the “PUSHERS” who make a fortune in this enterprise… it does NOT mean that some stormtroopers are going to crash into anyones den and haul them away for illegal downloads.

They’re not after the “USERS”… even as it seems as if several generations have grown to believe that the oeuvre of others is somehow an entitlement… that they have some possessory claim to the material simply because they covet it and it is easily acquired.

I know that many of us who use the internet on both sides of the political spectrum are upset at this prospect.

I am NOT one of them.

Sorry…. but if one downloads music or movies without paying for them, they are depriving the ARTISTS who worked hard on them of the royalties that they deserve and have earned as a result of their efforts.. the time and expense they incurred in their schooling and their training… the years of struggle, practice and experience and they are being STOLEN from.

Can one walk into a theater or a concert without paying and expect NOT to be kicked out or prosecuted?

Can one saunter into a restaurant, eat a meal, and expect to walk out without paying?

Can one stroll into a bookstore and walk out with a stack of books tucked under your overcoat?

Of course not… and all decent, honest people would never think of doing such a thing… yet to do it “online” somehow seems permissible.

Taking the fruits of OTHER PEOPLES LABOR without paying is THIEVERY… and all the contorted postulations one can conjure to justify it (like it restricts internet ‘freedom’, blah, blah, blah) is just so much bullshit and self-deception.

And in case they think that they’re just “sticking it to the man”.. that the creative people aren’t being effected… reliable data from the International Chamber Of Commerce and US government, by using well established models it is estimated that in the US alone, illegal downloading and copying of music, movies, software and video games costs the U.S. economy $58 BILLION DOLLARS ANNUALLY in total output, COSTS AMERICAN WORKERS 373,375 JOBS and $16.3 BILLION DOLLARS IN EARNINGS, and costs federal, state, and local governments $2.6 BILLION IN TAX REVENUE that could be used for SOCIAL SERVICES like HEALTHCARE, EDUCATION and other ESSENTIAL PUBLIC SERVICES.

This is the TRUE impact of their actions… not a “victimless crime”.. not a poke in the eye to the “record industry”.. but MUSICIANS, ARRANGERS, COMPOSERS, SINGERS, SONGWRITERS, DIRECTORS, ACTORS, WRITERS, EDITORS, SOUND DESIGNERS… again, the 373,
375 JOBS lost ANNUALLY just here in the States.

REAL people… most of whom are WORKING / MIDDLE CLASS.

It’s just, plain WRONG.

29 Responses so far.

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  1. BlueStateMan says:

    The agreement with the artists is that the USE of their creations are compensated.. not through the record companies, but through independent entities such as ASCAP and BMI, who monitor sales as well as how many times their material might have been broadcast over the radio, television, and even the net (iTunes, for example).

    This country was practially built on the common man’s inventions, creations, etc…. and the PROTECTIONS of those inventions and writings…

    It is precisely the protection of the common persons inventions that these new laws need to be put into place.. and catering to the interests of those who enable the theft of those creations is counterproductive.

    I’m perfectly willing to admit that there are two sides to the coin…. while even major corporations might be entitled to some compensation (as in cases wherein an artist makes a deal and relinquishes part of the proceeds to (whomever) fine… but the ARTIST is the one to decide).. but they cause a problem for everyone by their greed.

    Because of their greed, people have a hard time seeing the cases I am talking about, the writer whose intellectual property is being stolen.. the musician who’s material is being copied and redistributed… NOT just to a few “friends” (which is fine), but to MILLIONS of people over the net.

    Many people have a hard time as seeing this as theft in part because of the monopolizing of intellectual property by the big guys.. so they just think, “oh this is not stealing these people have all kinds of money”.

    It not only obscures the TRUTH, but the MORALITY as well.

    • ADONAI says:

      These aren’t inventions. There are no patents here. Many artists have no problem what so ever with file sharing. Only record companies.

      Until the day actual musicians and film makers come out in unison to decry the “theft” of their “property”, I won’t lose a bit of sleep over the loss of a fraction of their revenue.

      But this argument is meaningless anyways. And I totally get your side. It just doesn’t matter. There is NOTHING anyone can do about it. Musicians are gonna have to go back to the old days of relying on touring, filmmakers will have to actually make good movies people would pay to see.

      But it will all balance out too and you’ll hear the complaining go down. The “doom” of artists has been sounded before. You think this is the only time the MPAA and RIAA have cried foul over a loss of some of their profit? No.

      They went crazy over the cassette tape and the VCR as well. Same thing too. We’ll lose money, pirating will cripple our industry, blah blah blah. Turns out the tech made them more money than they ever would have made without it. This will pass as well. It’s following the same pattern. Creation, adoption, fear, panic, aggression, then hopefully acceptance.

      • BlueStateMan says:

        They are “creations”.. same thing. The copyright is the “patent” and, through many organizations, these people are indeed “coming out in unison to decry the “theft” of their “property”.

        This is serious, my dear friend… and, even as it is against the odds to “do anything about it” we still must try.

        Why>

        Because, simply, it is the right thing to do.

        • ADONAI says:

          yep. They thought it was serious with every other medium too. But it’s not.

          And, again, it doesn’t matter. There is nothing they can do about it. File sharing will only become more prominent not less.

          You wanna give the government a front door entrance to regulate the internet? I sure as Hell don’t. Support them all you want. But, believe me, they don’t give a shit about you or the artists.

    • SallyT says:

      BlueStateMan, there looks like there are many areas to this and everybody won’t be happy no matter what. Like I said earlier, I don’t know much at all about this but because of your article, I now know a lot more.
      Thank you for writing it and bringing it to my attention. And, causing me to do a little more towards my education.

  2. Khirad says:

    I feel pretty guiltless if I’ve already bought it and a song skips or something years later, or I lost it, or a friend didn’t give back a borrowed CD (that’s the stealing!), you get the picture. I do feel “entitled” I guess. I already paid for it, and I hope some of that got to the artist. On the other hand, the business admits that they make a good amount of money from people buying replacement copies. So they’re prolly not cool with that.

    Also, I feel okay about it if it’s out of print, rare, bootleg in the first place, etc and I can’t find it any other way.

    Anyway, those are some of my thoughts on BitTorrent ethics (besides the obvious one of always keep your share rate above 2.0!).

    Edit:
    But another argument against torrenting is also quality. The encoding of MP3s (and several other audio codecs) are compressed generally at 128 kbit and lose a lot of the quality of original CD -- except for those that encode their torrents with FLAC and such. Of course, that’s why iTunes is also getting away with murder. Those songs are lossy compressed and should be sold not at around $10 but half that for fidelity issues alone.

    My iPod (and it’s getting kinda old now) can handle 256 and 320 bit rates (although I only usually import CDs into my iPod at these rates if I really, really think the band’s sound is worth it and the loss would be noticeable to me--most ears can’t hear those layers, unless you’re an audiophile or musician). And likewise with a downloaded song, I can compress it myself later. Let me download at a higher rate, or price it accordingly for what it is. Inferior.

  3. Abbyrose86 says:

    OH…another comment on this subject, intellectual property rights are
    NOT, contrary to common mythology, the property of those who actually CREATE the work…NO, sad to say, they are the property of those who FILE for the legal RIGHTS to the work in question…LEGALLY that is not necessarily the same entity.

    Thus, an artist or another person, CAN create a GREAT idea, BUT another entity can LEGALLY lay CLAIM to that idea…IF they are the ones who PAID the artist or individual for that idea…and THEY, the one who commissioned the IDEA ( and thus paid for it), can LEGALLY FILE FOR OWNERSHIP of the idea….so, with that being said….truly is the ARTIST or creator of any IDEA or concept REALLY the one being f-ed when others USE their idea??? NO…legally the one who FILED the paperwork for ownership of the IDEA is the one who loses money IF the IDEA is used outside their ability to sell.

    THINK about THIS really carefully….:)

    • SallyT says:

      In some research, I have found out the following:

      Unlike other forms of intellectual property, music royalties have a strong linkage to individuals – composers (score), songwriters (lyrics) and writers of musical plays – in that they can own the exclusive copyright to created music and can license it for performance independent of corporates. Recording companies and the performing artists that create a “sound recording” of the music enjoy a separate set of copyrights and royalties from the sale of recordings and from their digital transmission (depending on national laws).

      A musical composition obtains protection in copyright law immediate to its reduction to tangible form – a score on paper or a taping; but it is not protected from infringed use unless registered with the copyright authority. No person or entity, other than the copyright owner, can use or employ the music for gain without obtaining a license from the composer/songwriter.

      Inherently, as copyright, it confers on its owner, a distinctive “bundle” of five exclusive rights:
      (a) to make copies of the songs through print or recordings (b) to distribute them to the public for profit (c) to the “public performance right”; live or through a recording (d) to create a derivative work to include elements of the original music; and (e) to “display” it (not very relevant in context).
      Where the score and the lyric of a composition are contributions of different persons, each of them is an equal owner of such rights.

      These exclusivities have led to the evolution of distinct commercial terminology used in the music industry.

      They take four forms:
      (1) royalties from “print rights” (2) mechanical royalties from the recording of composed music on CDs and tape (3) performance royalties from the performance of the compositions/songs on stage or television through artists and bands, and (4) synch (for synchronization) royalties from using or adapting the musical score in the movies, television advertisements, etc. and
      With the advent of the internet, an additional set of royalties has come into play: the digital rights from simulcasting, webcasting, streaming, downloading, and online “on-demand service”.

    • Khirad says:

      Like say when MJ owned some Beatles songs. I’d say to that: torrent away!

      I also hope that bands like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails who have toyed with it are successful:

      Cut out the middle man of the label! Eff them! What need is there for them any more once you reach that level?

      And then I know that ALL the money is making it to the artist I like.

    • Buddy McCue says:

      Abby -- I’m glad you mentioned this. The fact that intellectual property rights are bought and sold like any other commodity certainly should be part of the moral equation.

      It’s kind of strange that in our society, the artists who produce art, the laborers who produce goods, and the service workers who provide service are not respected more than the people who manage that wealth.

      Those who do not produce anything (but do move money around) are considered the productive ones by our society today. That seems a little backward to me.

      The ability to manage money is even seen by some as the ultimate measure of intelligence. I’ve often heard people say, “So-and-so MUST be smarter than me; So-and-so has more money.” Supporters of Sarah Palin on the HP will sometimes defend her intelligence by saying “Well, she’s smarter than you liberals; see how much money she’s made?”

      Mozart was lousy at handling money, and he was buried in a pauper’s grave. I suppose that by today’s standards he was an idiot.

      • Very well said Buddy. My favorite artist, Van Gogh, only sold one painting in his lifetime. For 400 francs. Now, Starry Night alone is worth over 56 million dollars. Van Gogh would have never survived as long as he did, without constant help from his brother Theo.

      • whatsthatsound says:

        Buddy, Donald Trump begins the book that made him an international superstar, “The Art of The Deal”, with a story that almost surely isn’t true. He says he knows a famous artist, says they are “friends”, and that this artist had become so famous that anything he produces will sell for tens of thousands of dollars at least. He shows off to Trump by slapping some paint on a canvas for about ten minutes and then proudly proclaims, “There! I just made twenty five thousand bucks!” (Some “artist”, huh?) Trump then goes on to say that his own “art” is the art of deal-making, and he maintains it is as valuable and creative as any other form of art, such as painting and composing.

        In this world, the fact of being rich can do so many things for one. One can assumed to be smarter than others, better than others, and one need never worry again about the availability of willing sexual partners. Beyond that, one can even call oneself an “artist”, and make up bullshit stories to illustrate that. Bah!

      • Abbyrose86 says:

        Thanks Buddy and I agree, our system is half assed backward!

        The people who actually create anything should be those one’s rewarded for their efforts, not those who simply use their money to buy and sell everything…

        It’s so messed up!

  4. Abbyrose86 says:

    Further to my comment, I suggest people research the plight of the Goo Goo Dolls…for those who aren’t fans of them, they are a local band…from Buffalo..YEAH…who made good! (Locally we are so proud of their success but they got screwed royally by the ‘biz’and they actually MADE a stink about it…as a matter of fact, they paid off their ‘debt’ to their ‘master’s in the biz’ and took over their own profitability) It’s a great story…

    OH and btw…I knew the guys back in the day when they couldn’t scrape together money to buy chef boy ardee or a pack of smokes…and I said to them…and I quote..’you are from Buffalo…you are crazy if you think you will make it big’…OK I officially say it…I WAS WRONG…VERY wrong….I owe them an apology. :) I’m a pessimist sometimes. :)

    http://books.google.com/books?id=DRQEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA116&lpg=PA116&dq=the+goo+goo+dolls+legal++battle&source=bl&ots=TTNAD38Zyr&sig=bV2zG_4yqmaqsZvNCxAAmBE4PfQ&hl=en&ei=YKL9TfW2LsLTgAfGzu3dCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CFEQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=the%20goo%20goo%20dolls%20legal%20%20battle&f=false

  5. Abbyrose86 says:

    OK,….my 2 cents….In a perfect world, the ARTISTS who actually CREATE and perform, SHOULD be the ones who reap the rewards of their endeavors…however, in our current economic state, THAT is not necessarily how it works.

    Sadly, too many artists are not business savvy and get rooked by those who have the business sense to realize the VALUE of their work, and as such those who are ‘business savvy’ are able to take advantage of the artistic types, for their own advantage…hence why, I’m not as ready to get on the band wagon and get angry about this…

    As I see it, it’s not the artists who are being f-ed by file sharing and such, as a matter of fact…I see see such things as an ADVANTAGE to the artists themselves…no,it’s the money men, and business people BEHIND the artists who get screwed in such a situation.

    IF the artists were smart, they would self market using the WEB and all it’s abilities (think how it was in the age of RADIO and early years of TV) and USE those sites to promote themselves and THEN LEARN how to use the online medium for THEIR own advantage and too sell out their concerts, movies etc and to sell their music and art separately from the ‘BIz”, thus not enriching the promoter and others involved…take away the businessman’s (middleman) advantage in the medium and sell direct to the consumer..but that’s just my 2 cents.

  6. choicelady says:

    I know absolutely nothing about this issue, but I DO know about having one’s work appropriated. I’ve written three really good books that have ALL been ripped off without either a dime in compensation OR even credit.

    In October this year an international historic preservation conference is going on based in huge part on work I and another person did over a period of 15 years, and neither of us was asked even to be involved in the conference. It did not mean money had we been included, but it DID mean credit. Our photographs, texts, and ideas from those books and several exhibits we had once done are the underpinning of the conference, but where are WE? Nowhere to be seen. Our names will not even be included in the credits even though we have been asked to provide clarification on the photo captions, etc. It’s pure plagarism, and if we want to be present to comment on the tours, exhibits, and papers that are entirely OUR work be purveyed by unknown others -- we will have to PAY upwards of $250 to $450 to be there.

    I don’t know how artists today are paid, but a lot of stuff on YouTube hails from the days when it wasn’t much. That rip off was multiplied many times over if you were Black. I happen to know one of the original Platters who told me that he and the other members got bupkis for their performances and NOTHING in ‘residuals’, the lifeblood of most performers who are NOT Anjelina Jolie. The folks at the top of the A List do fine -- it’s the little people, especially performers of color, who get very little for their work and nothing for the millions of times their work is played.

    So I tend to be in BSM’s corner on this. Intellectual product is no different from a pair of well-crafted shoes. No, you should not have to pay $12 for a “shitty movie” (why WOULD you anyway?) but something? Seems only fair. Yes -- I have ‘faves’ on YouTube’s play list. I have no idea how to compensate the many wonderful performers whose talent gives me so much pleasure, but if I had to pay $1, I would. Gladly.

    Ripping people off for what they’ve done in art, literature, etc., is just not right. People work hard to create that product, and we should compensate them. The “middlemen” who profit by taking that they did not produce are doing harm, and it really should be stopped.

    • Khirad says:

      Okay, on the YouTube thing and all the idiotic labels that crackdown on content (WMG and others are horrible)…

      Hello, it’s like one song usually. Maybe three. Rarely someone uploads a whole album, but with time limit, all separate vids. I’m careful to say they hold the copyright, and I even put a link to the site where you can buy the album. When I do it, it is for relatively obscure bands who I think should get more exposure. But for even bigger established ones, it’s like MTV. Why do you make music videos in the first place, or release singles?

      So someone buys the album, dummies.

      YouTube, SAME CONCEPT!

      Now, some of them got hip to that and tried posting their own while removing other users’ content, after working out a deal with YouTube for ad revenue or something.

      Others, however, stubbornly refuse to join the 21st century altogether. And that will be their doom, and karma, the troglodyte assholes. When I see a label that’s that cluelessly dickish and petty, it makes me want to steal from them, quite frankly.

    • SallyT says:

      Choice, I am there with you on not knowing a lot on this subject but I do know that many people depend on those residual to live. And, you only have to look at the credits at the end of the movie to know that it takes a lot of people to get it to you on the screen. (most are union workers) Yes, and many have been ripped off by producers and agents. Some got taken at the very beginning like the sax player on Baker Street. Rafferty’s paid him with a $20+ check that bounced. If they use a song in a movie, TV, or radio they have to pay residuals. I don’t know if any of you watch Big Brother but they yell at those in the house not to sing because they don’t want to have to pay. Yes, I like getting on YouTube and I like that there isn’t a charge. But, they get paid by advertisers for having others work available. They know how many times a song is played. I really don’t know how the money breaks down. My comment is, I guess, that someone is making money and I do think some should go to the artist. However, this could lead to more and big business would use it to get more and more and control of products on the net. (Like personal videos you put on YouTube of your kid singing a song. You’re not making money, so should you pay a riduals to the artist because your kid thought he was Mick Jagger? But, the source it is on gets money from advertisers just the same.) So, I’ll end with this last comment: If Comcast fits into it at any point, they get enough from me already!!

  7. jkkFL says:

    Ditto what ADONAI and KQ said!

  8. ADONAI says:

    Oh man, where to begin.

    You’re defending the RIAA?! Really?!

    You think this is just about torrent sites? No. That’s just their in card. Next is Youtube, DailyMotion, and any other public file sharing site.

    Do you know how record contracts work? The artists don’t work on a salary or an hourly wage. Regardless, they are WELL compensated. And then you want me to feel sorry for a record company? Sorry. I guess they’ll just have to put emeralds around their Olympic sized swimming pool instead of rubies. Jesus Christ! I can’t believe you’re defending these soul sucking vultures!

    You know who doesn’t hate torrents? The dozens of bands who signed REAL RECORD CONTRACTS after distributing their music online. I’m sure they’d see this a different way.

    And the MPAA can kiss the fattest part of my ass. $12 to watch your shitty movie? No thanks. I can see some bullshit and self deception going on here but I don’t think it’s from the side you think it’s from. Hey, I illegally downloaded Kung Fu Panda 2 the pther day. Angelina Jolie must be devastated. No, wait. She still got paid, the movie made a fortune, and no one cares but some greedy fucks on top. Well, I guess that is cause to legislate the internet. Insanely rich people possibly being only slightly less rich.

    But the MPAA and the RIAA are fighting a losing battle anyways. The closer we move to “the cloud” the less control they will have over their “creative properties”. Digital file sharing will only become more prominent, not less. And only complete government control will provide anywhere near the security they may want. So that’s something to look forward to, right?

    And the ICC? A conglomerate of super rich businessmen who only care about the most profit they can possibly accumulate?! And THEY WANT TO CALL ME A THIEF!? FUCK THEM!

    Internet is the best thing to ever happen to poor people. You think these people are trying to protect you? To help the economy or that they’re worried about their artists? Wake up dude. You’re fighting a battle that doesn’t need you. For people who fucking hate you.

    But, hey, we all do what we have to do I guess.

    • Khirad says:

      Also, how much do big bands make on touring compared to CD and MP3 sales? I don’t have the percentage, but I thought that was a good chunk of it.

      For indie labels I’m of course more adamant about supporting those artists, especially that they produce their own stuff.

      In any case, I remember how we used to do it in the old days. Yes, I’m old enough to remember. With cassette tape decks and VCRs.

    • KQuark says:

      Just another point. The costs have gone down dramatically for the RIAA since the I-Pod revolution they no longer have the cost of producing and distributing an actual physical product. So like you I don’t cry for them and no ones jobs are lost. In fact more jobs were lost when they stopped selling as many physical products. Those loses are pure profit.

    • KQuark says:

      I’m kinda in between. The only thing I have gotten in the past were mostly pieces of media I could find nowhere else like Anime and foreign shows. I even tried to buy British TV series twice and because of country codes they don’t play on my DVD player.

      As for music I convert YouTube videos to MP3 so I figure that is in the public domain.

      The fact is I spend more on cable, subscriptions and stuff than I ever did buying movies or music so they are getting money from me anyway.

      • Khirad says:

        You know what I used to do? Rip internet radio from Germany. That was awesome until they blocked it. It also required too much editing of tracks.


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