Suing individual file traders. Right, wrong, or both?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by KnightWriter, Jul 3, 2002.

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  1. 1stAD Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 5
    Generally a person can't copy an entire book and distribute it cheaply to thousands of other people.
  2. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    I'm just referring to the basic principle of it.
  3. gwaernardel Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2001
    star 4
    This thread is kind of turning into an anti-napster/pro-napster thread it seems.
    My view on suing individual file traders is this:
    I think it's just a scare tactic for right now. And if they did find a way to pull it off, it would be very difficult to pinpoint exactly who it is that's trading files. But even if this does happen, I don't understand what they would be suing for. Say you have a thousand MP3's. 250 of those are pirated off CD's made by some record company that's suing you. Are they going to sue you for the cost of every one of those CD's? Do they actually have a number in mind as far as sales lost that they're going to try to pin on you? Or could you actually get jail time for intellectual property theft? Until the specifics are worked out on this, I'll reserve judgement on whether it's right or wrong.
    Also, I've noticed most people that have lots of MP3's also have lots of programs, movies, etc. Would it be legal to tip off the movie studios and game companies to this information? Could they then sue you?
  4. Saint_of_Killers Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 5
    I don't give a damn that some record exec doesn't quite make 50 million this year. Big deal, he ain't starving.


    "Do you know how hard it would be to find the Mummer Dance on CD? Or the Princess Mononoke soundtrack?"

    Have you seen the Mummer's Dance video of Princess Mononoke?

  5. Darth Fierce Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 6, 2000
    star 4
    "I'm curious as to what you see as the difference between sharing books and sharing files."

    I guess I'll just put it this way: If you have possession of something that was not paid for, it was stolen. But at the same time, if you download some rare old song that is impossible to find anywhere on CD, I'm not going to wish a plague falls upon you and your family. If you download the latest Britney Spears hit because you don't want to pay $17 for her CD, I say you're a thief. So, I guess somewhere between those two things I do draw a line.

    Perhaps that makes me morally ambiguous. :(
  6. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    So basically, if you're reading a loaned book (or books) and/or have possession of many loaned books, they are all technically stolen?
  7. Saint_of_Killers Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 5
    "If you download the latest Britney Spears hit because you don't want to pay $17 for her CD, I say you're a thief."

    I'd just say you have bad taste in music ;)
  8. 1stAD Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 5
    No, loaning a book out is hardly illegal. Photocopying the complete text is, however. Photocopying the text and distributing it to thousands of other people is even worse.

    Downloading music isn't akin to "borrowing" a book, because you're receiving a reasonably high quality facsimile of the original song. Mass reproduction of copyrighted work is illegal unless it is done with the expressed consent of it's owner (the copyright, that is).
  9. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    So what about the bands/artists that have said, "go for it. We don't mind."

    Is it then okay?
  10. 1stAD Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 5
    Ideally that would be okay. However, the unfortunate situation today is that many artists do not even own their own masters and don't actually own their own music.
  11. gwaernardel Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2001
    star 4
    This brings up another question. If a certain artist has no problem with file trading, would a record label have the right to sue individuals for trading said artist's music?
    I personally sort of hope something like this happens, so people can see that in most cases it's not the artists that are being screwed over here. It's the record labels.
    Also, has anyone else noticed that the artists that are so angry about file trading are also the same ten artists that get played on the corporate radio stations over and over?
  12. Saint_of_Killers Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 5
    "many artists do not even own their own masters and don't actually own their own music."

    And that's wrong, I don't care what the law says, it's wrong. I don't follow the law anyway, I follow my own morals. My morals just happen to coincide with the law most of the time.
  13. alent1234 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2002
    star 1
    Tracking p2p users is fairly trivial. They just track you by IP address. Since most ISP's keep track of people's MAC addresses on their broadband modems tracking a user isn't very hard. It will be a little harder if the user is on a NAT private IP range, but not very much so.

    As far as artists owning their music, it was their choice to sign it away. An artist has a choice to spend their own money on studio time, marketing, manufacture, distribution etc. It's usually easier to sign your music away to the record company and have them take care of these things.
  14. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    If they don't sign it away, the chances of getting themselves known and paid for in some way (not very good at all, but better than nothing) drop dramatically. It was the same way with America's old monopolies. Their way or the highway. I'd love to see some high-profile bands like U2 drop the RIAA entirely. They are the ones who can afford to not deal with them.
  15. alent1234 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2002
    star 1
    Some people say that musicians should drop their labels and go out on their own. Does anyone actually realize what that means? Hypothesize this. You have Band A and Band B. Both play rock and roll.

    Band A writes 10 songs and decides to make a CD. First they have to cough up the dough for the studio time. I think the prices are a few hundred $$$ and hour. After thousands of dollars spent they get the master copy of their new album. Next they have to find a factory to make the album. After more thousands of $$$ spent designing and printing the cover art they print 100,000 copies of their new album from a factory. Now they have 100,000 CD's stacked up at home. They find a distributor who buys the album to distribute it to stores. They sell the 100,000 CD's at $6.00 each. The distributor sells the CD's to the stores and after costs and retail mark up the album is sold for $15 each.

    Band B meanwhile sings with a label. The label has deals with studios, factories and distributors for everything. All band B has to worry about is writing the songs. In exchange they give all rights for their music to the label in exchange for a royalty and the right to play the music in public on concert tours.

    If you look at the economics band b has the advantage. They don't need hundreds of thousands of $$$ in cash to record their first album. And they can concentrate on the music with someone else takng care of the details. This scenario doesn't take into account marketing costs, money for radio play, video production costs and costs for lawyers and accountants. Being a musician means being a busness person jsut as much as being a musician.
  16. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    Just that the labels get around 80%-90% of the profit from CD sales. Not quite a fair deal.
  17. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    alent1234: You really don't know how record deals work... otherwise you wouldn't be saying this.

    The fact is... It cost me next to nothing to record, mix and master a professional quality CD of my own, do my own artwork, etc. and get it put up on the net for international exposure. Granted, I'm not making a fortune off it, but I'm also not in debt.

    What you don't realize, perhaps because you didn't read my post on record deals and the mechanics of them... is that over 85 percent of the recording artists signed to major labels alone (BMG, Warner Bros., etc.)... these folks you think are getting rich off international promotion, distribution and marketing exposure... do not sell enough albums to break even on the recording advances loaned to them by the record label.

    That's right... the record companies loan the money to them, as independent contractors. No health benefits, no steady paycheck, no nothing... just a recording advance and a contract to produce X number of masters.

    Ok, so what happens next? Well, first of all... most major labels (the ones you think are shelling out the big bucks...) option their artists for several albums. That means the artist has the obligation to record that number of masters, but the record label has no obligation to release even one of them commercially. Until the artist records all that material, they are bound to the contract... regardless of whether or not a single album is ever marketed. However, even under contract they have to submit a demo for each album's worth of material.. which gets reviewed by A&R, artist & repetoire, executives for the final say. Any demo that is rejected partly or wholly by the record label doesn't count towards the number of albums they have to record towards their contracted total. Furthermore, if they record 10 songs, let's say, and 5 of them are rejected, or need to go back to the drawing board, they do not get another advance for that album... they have to work with whatever's left over.

    This is precisely what happened to Prince... who has recorded somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 albums worth of material, but Warner Bros. stuck him to a contract he couldn't seem to get out of or make money from... and he could not, thanks to another contractual provision called right of first refusal shop any of those songs he recorded to other labels...The record company owns the masters.

    Now, let's say our artist in question didn't sell enough copies of his first album to break even on album one's recording advance... Then he gets an advance for album #2... well, guess what, the debt isn't forgiven on album one... it's just added, i.e. "pooled", to the cumulative total of advances to recoup. So, now the second album has to recoup the cost of both the first and second advance... and so on.

    So, the more albums an artist records, the more they owe, and they do not collect a single cent of royalties (commissions) from an album until they have paid off their debt.

    So, if I had a choice between being an independent artist and selling maybe 50 albums where I keep every dime after expenses, and being a major label artist and having a 9 in 10 chance of ending up filing bankruptcy... Which do you think I would pick?

    We don't need the middleman... they don't provide job security, health benefits, a guaranteed paycheck, or anything else worth risking lack of creative control and potential bankruptcy. They generally don't provide tour support, and thanks to clever contract writing, all perfectly legal and binding, any idiot with big dreams and no lawyer is bound to get screwed and end up broke for several years.

    If you ever wonder why there are so many one-hit wonders, it's not because they didn't have additional material on the shelf... it's because record companies keep moving forward, and use the vast majority of bands as tax writeoffs... only about 1 percent of the artist roster for even a major label actually pays the bills... and they put all their attention and focus on those sure bets who have
  18. BYOB_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 7, 2000
    star 5
    I feel that ownership of art is a fallacy, and the RIAA can kiss my grits.
  19. Saint_of_Killers Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 5
  20. tenorjedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 2000
    star 5
    Wow, I didn't know that siding with the law makes you a record label wannabe. And all this time I thought people were just being cheap but apparantly this is a high idealistic crusade to even out the wealth and not breaking the law because they're cheap and it's convenient. My whole world is now shattered. I leave to pick up the pieces of my life.


    But you know one has to wonder why people are bothering with the music if they think it's crap. Why a lower quality lessens a persons right to a work. Also what authority and right anyone has to say that after X amount of $$$'s anyone can rightfully say that a person no longer deserves to be paid for their work. Maybe they thought that if people believe they have all of the money they need then people won't listen to their music, and those that don't share that opinion will be the ones to buy it. Maybe they work for their fans and not their detractors? Maybe since it is their work, their words, their voice, their skills that it's their choice on how they go about distributing their work.

    Maybe some people can find a way to justify anything. Maybe someone can justify breaking into my car to steal my stereo because he needs that bag of weed. Maybe someone can justify slamming a plane into a crowded building. Hmmm Things are pulling together again. The sun is shining once more, birds are singing. Everythings going to be okay!

    (the following poorly written sarcastic remark has been copywrited by tenorjedi INC and may not be redistributed without the expressed typed consent of tenorjedi)

    Okay folks the law is clear. I addressed the hows and whys much earlier. I am also a firm believer in intellectual property rights. As a musician, composer (classical mainly) and also as someone who doesn't produce a tangible product in his job I can sympathize with someone who's being jadded out of their fair share. If the musican is getting a raw deal in terms of % of sales, that's not our place to correct it, because giving them nothing doesn't help out the muscian. It was their choice, no one forced them to sign that contract, and get a fast track to stardom. I'm no fool about how the industry works and how corrupt it is. But the record label does spend it's share of money and Best Buy doesn't sell the CD's at cost. There's several places down the line that do take a hit for those that use P2P software to avoid paying for their music altogether, and that hurts everyone indirectly.

    I shouldn't have to lecture people in economics and stocks. If you're really courious read up or take an intro class before you say it doesn't hurt anyone. If you've read up on it you'd know better. Everything, is tied in on some level in a global economy. Recessions are a sign of a healthy economy and slumps in some industries are common with new technology advances (see worldcom vs cell phone long distance usage) but you can avoid economic hardship through illegal activity (see illegal cable hookups). Actually cables a good one. You're not costing them anything, but they (the shareholders and employees) rely on the usage of their service in mass numbers to offset their high overhead. If too many people use it illegally the company has to cut corners, pay goes down, employees lose their jobs, shareholders don't get as much money in dividens or the price goes down, and people spend less. They're providing you with a service. The shows may be crap but if it is, then why are you using their service? Another good tie in with cable and the record companies is that the cable companies in the past few years have also been cracking down on illegal users. Are they wrong for doing so?

    You want to know where the record companies end and I begin? The record companies end at profit. That's their job, that's why they're there. I begin at where the law makes sense, and where it effects all of us on some level. When people make up petty and weak justifications to break the law because it's inconvienient to them. When people set themselves up as the ultimate moral authority wh
  21. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    But you know one has to wonder why people are bothering with the music if they think it's crap.

    This just struck me initially. The answer to that, to me, is the fact that most people (i.e. the mainstream) go with what they know (regardless of what it has to do with) best. They'll just keep listening to the same things over the years, not really changing. That's not true for everyone, but I'd say it's true for the majority.
  22. tenorjedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 2000
    star 5
    Well yeah but what I'm saying is that people are trying to justify it being okay because they have the opinion that the work is devoid of merit so it is not worth protection of the law. What I'm saying is that anyone can say that about any piece of music, so therefore the arguments moot. If it's crap don't concern yourself with it.
  23. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    It's not that it's not worth protection or anything like that. I'm not a judge of that. Just that people will continue to buy into the RIAA's system because that's all they've known.
  24. tenorjedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 2000
    star 5
    The problem is the music industry didn't invent pop culture, they just cashed in on it.
  25. alent1234 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2002
    star 1
    Everyone is saying RIAA is so useless, then how did the record companies arise? Before records people could only play their music at shows. With the invention of the phonograph it became possible to play your music in your house.

    My guess is that the record companies arose as middle people to help artists manufacture and distribute their music. Later they caught on to the idea of taking control of the music rights and letting the artist make money off the tour.

    Movie theaters work in a similar fachion. The studio takes most of the box office gross and the theaters make money on the concession stand.
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