On the Futility of Fighting Online Pirates

From Forbes:

Their argument is rooted, ironically, in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act that U.S. lawmakers approved in 1998. The Alluc.org kids, as well as the operators of most sites that let users upload content, argue that they're not violating copyright law if they're not the ones putting it up and if they take it down at the copyright holder's request. It's the same argument Google is making in its YouTube case.

But there are more practical reasons that sites like Alluc.org get away with what they're doing. One is that there are simply too many of them to keep track of. Media companies' lawyers rarely have time to police so many obscure sites, and even when they do, users can always upload the infringing files again. So the flow of copyrighted streaming video continues.

Not every scheme to evade intellectual property laws is so subtle. The music-selling site AllofMP3.com uses a simpler business model: Base your company in Russia, steal music from American labels and sell it cheaply. AllofMP3 allows users to download full albums for as little as $1 each--10% of what they would cost on iTunes. From June to October 2006 alone, the Recording Industry Association of America says that 11 million songs were downloaded from the site. AllofMP3 claims those sales adhered strictly to Russian law, but that doesn’t satisfy the RIAA; the record labels have launched a lawsuit, asking for $150,000 for each stolen file, totaling $1.65 trillion.

Slashdot thread.

Posted on May 21, 2007 at 1:36 PM • 44 Comments

Comments

GregMay 21, 2007 2:35 PM

"but that doesn’t satisfy the RIAA; the record labels have launched a lawsuit, asking for $150,000 for each stolen file, totaling $1.65 trillion."

However since its a 100% russian company, a lawsuit in the US is about as effective as rot13 for encryption.

NixMay 21, 2007 2:45 PM

I understand that `steal' in this case is an interesting variant better described as `allofmp3 tried to give the labels money and they refused it'. (Disclaimer: I haven't looked into this myself; this comes from people I trust; some of them may well be reading this blog...)

AlanMay 21, 2007 3:07 PM

The laws are different in Russia versus the US. RIAA will have to show (in a Russian court) that AllOfMP3.com violated Russian law, in order to succeed in their case.

More likely, with the help of pressure from the US federal government, they might succeed in getting Russian law changed. That would obviously affect AllOfMP3's business model moving forward. But whatever has been sold prior to a change in Russian law is probably water under the bridge.

RIAA has not attempted to go after the customers of AllOfMP3. I doubt that the RIAA would have any case against them. When a person buys a CD from Amazon.com, they are not responsible to verify that Amazon passed along the required portion of the price to the RIAA. Why should it be different with AllOfMP3.com?

Aside from legality, I am aware of no ethical basis for copyright. Is there any religion that recognizes copyright as a moral principle? It is purely a construct of law, invented by governments, supposedly for the benefit of society. Since people who bought music from AllOfMP3.com have not violated a law, they have not done anything unethical. RIAA doesn't like it, but they are not entitled to make all the rules.

Joe DietzMay 21, 2007 3:28 PM

"Give unto Ceasar what is Caesar's" - as in follow the law of the land (this presumes that the law of the land does not also violate more fundamental precepts of religious law). This is a general ethical standard mandated by at least the new testament Christian teachings.

That said, I've always objected to the characterization of copying a copyrighted material w/o a copy right as 'theft' or 'piracy'. Theft implies that something has been taken forever and the owner can never make use of it again. The situation is MUCH more akin to trespass. In tresspass a owner is deprived of something that is rightfully theirs, but only in a temporary capacity. Trespass of course traditionally must be actively fought or it turns into a de-facto granting of rights under traditional common law.

Of course the U.S. legal system is not a common law system, but I still think trespass is a much better term than piracy.

derfMay 21, 2007 3:41 PM

Define "theft".

This is the principle problem in every discussion about copyright law today.

RIAA/MPAA apparently define theft as any purpose for which they COULD be paid but aren't. This is unreasonable, because this view attempts to trample on existing and traditional usage rights.

The "pirates", for lack of a better term, define theft as taking something physical. When you steal something, it 'robs' the original owner of the item of the use of that item. With a digital song, the original owner still has their bit-for-bit copy, so there was no "theft" in the pirates' eyes. This view basically makes any information that can be digitized have close to zero value. Software, books, music, movies, etc. are all just bits that can be copied from user to user. Except where the item has been designated as free (Linux, for example), this may also probably unreasonable. Without a world government, however, countries like China will continue to operate under this principle. Companies will need to change business models to adapt to this view or go bankrupt fighting it, since a significant portion of the world will be ignoring the other one.

The US has proven that unreasonably restrictive laws will be ignored/changed, though it may take awhile - see prohibition, for example. Will the US citizenry see this as unreasonable? Right now, it's a definite maybe. When DVRs prevent recording the latest episodes and lock out fast forward, I think we'll see a bit more action.

C GomezMay 21, 2007 3:47 PM

Governments like the US and lobbyists like the RIAA want to use things like the WTO as a hammer to force Russia, China, and others to implement Western style copyright law.

Personally, I think stealing music is disgusting and sad. Many bad people have ruined technology for the rest of us. It would be great to live in a freely digital age where I could buy albums or music of my choice and play it on any of my devices or even share within reason.

Sure, American "Fair Use" may call it illegal to make friends a Mix CD, but I really do think that's going overboard. Naysayers will ask "where do you draw the line", but let's be frank... if you are a reasonable person, you know when it's gone too far.

Then again, so many Americans are so so morally bankrupt as to simply pin anyone/any corporation besides them as "rich" that they are entitled to steal from.

vwmMay 21, 2007 4:30 PM

@Alan: "I doubt that the RIAA would have any case against them [the customers of AllOfMP3]"...

Well, that depends strongly on the country the customer lives in. In Germany for example, the labels might successfully sue for damages at least. Using the service might even constitute a misdemeanour.

A German newspaper has been convicted in first instance not to link to the service in the online-reporting. They are filing a Constitutional Complaint now [1].

The major credit card companies refuse to supply AllOfMP3 in response to the pressure form the labels. [2]


[1] http://www.heise.de/heisevsmi/ (German)
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AllOfMP3.com#Payment methods

Matthew SkalaMay 21, 2007 4:42 PM

Alan asks, "Is there any religion that recognizes copyright as a moral principle?"

I think the answer is "yes." Scientology.

PMay 21, 2007 5:19 PM

"It would be great to live in a freely digital age where I could buy albums or music of my choice and play it on any of my devices or even share within reason."

The "disgusting and sad" people stealing music (or more specifically, the elite few who crack the copy protection schemes) are the only way you'll be able to take the purchased music of your choice and play it on any of your devices. Let the big industry guys have an unbreakable grasp on content protection and distribution and they will end up locking you in with the console vendor that offers them the most money.

pointfreeMay 21, 2007 5:33 PM

the parallels between RIAA et al and organised crime are scary to say the least. Their motives, their tactics, their methods, their tenacity, their blindness to public concern - there's a very fine line between them, don't blink or you'll miss it ...

pointfreeMay 21, 2007 5:36 PM

@Matthew Skala - to scientology, is copyright a moral principle or a survival principle cloaked in the illusion of morality ? ;-)

SpiderMay 21, 2007 5:57 PM

@PointFree

Yes, I recognize the similarities. However, I've also noted a similarity between groups of online pirates and organized crime as well, and I'm not so sure they aren't actually linked in some way.

The whole thing is like a gangland war with us (the consumers) getting hit in the cross fire.

AnonymousMay 21, 2007 6:14 PM

@C Gomez: "Many bad people have ruined technology for the rest of us. It would be great to live in a freely digital age where I could buy albums or music of my choice and play it on any of my devices or even share within reason."

Yes, it sucks that the RIAA/MPAA have ruined technology and culture for the rest of us. It is too bad that they are such dinosaurs that they want to continue with their failed business model (control access to a scarce product) in the face of innovation and technology that blows their "choke-point" revenue stream out of the water. If they'd simply stop employing useless DRM, lower the cost of their product to what the market will bear, and embrace technological advances, they'd see their profits increasing.

I guess some people have to learn things the hard way.

Richard BraakmanMay 21, 2007 6:44 PM

@C Gomez: "let's be frank... if you are a reasonable person, you know when it's gone too far."

This is rarely true.

You yourself provide an example: you think that creating mix-CDs is reasonable, but there are other people, who consider themselves reasonable, who disagree.

I consider the whole concept of copy restrictions to be unreasonable. We restrict the basic utility of computers and networks -- they are primarily machines that copy data -- in order to enrich a handful of toll-collectors. The entire system of copyrights is one of government-granted monopolies and pervasive government interference in the marketplace.

We've come so far from natural human sharing and cultural exchange that we've criminalized the singing of songs that have been sung before. We have laws that regulate the use of a person's own memory, and the evidence of a person's senses. How can any of this be reasonable?

We're at a point where simply walking through town and recording what you hear and see is illegal. (If you don't believe me, try making a documentary about everyday life in a city, and see how many lawyers contact you about bits of it. That advertising jingle in the clothes store? Copyrighted. Edit it out.)

I'm in favor of abolishing the whole mess, and returning to paying artists to perform, and using the power of computers and networking to its full extent to see what happens. Let laws from the age of the printing press stay in their age.

THAT would be a "freely digital age".

averrosMay 21, 2007 11:06 PM

Of course, the while debate on "Intellectual Property" is hopelessly confused because it is neither intellectual nor property. Substitute "the government-granted transferable temporary monopoly rights" in place of "intellectual property" and evryting becomes much easier to understand.

The real property, of course, is neither government-defined, nor temporary. Propety system is a way to resolve potential conflicts over control of scarce, rivalrous resources. Information is not rivalrous or scarce - it can be shared indefinitely without any loss of information in posession of anyone. Thus the expansion of the property system to information is totally unwaranted.

Most people understand this intuitively - that's why "piracy" is so widespread - a vast majority of "pirates" wouldn't steal any physical property but share tunes and video clips all the time.

Finally, it must be noted that "intellectual property" is absolutely incompatible with property rights in physical property. Enforcing "IP" rights always amounts to violating somebody's property rights in the physical objects they rightfully own (i.e. paper, ink, computers, CD-ROMs, etc).

BillMay 21, 2007 11:25 PM

I have a contrarian view here. I fully support an artist's right to make a living, but I also agree with the Jeffersonian view of patents and copyrights for *limited* times, after which an invention or copyrighted work falls into the public domain. Today's copyright terms are in no way limited in the original sense used in the constitution.

In arguing the Eldridge case before the Supreme Court, Professor Lawrence Lessig stated that the current term of copyright granted holders 99.8% of the benefits of a perpetual copyright. Supreme Court Justice Breyer disagreed, putting the value at 99.9997 of the value of a perpetual copyright. See here for details:

http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/7/23/23214/...

My position on this is simple, and radical -- the various media companies have conspired to steal from us (legally, of course, by petitioning Congress) those portions of our culture that should, by now, be part of the public domain, and which should be free for re-use and re-creation by members of the public at large.

For an example of the stifling of creativity, look to the lawsuit filed by the estate Margaret Mitchell - author of Gone With the Wind against the author and publisher of "The Wind Done Gone". Gone With the Wind was written in 1936. Margaret Mitchell died in 1949. Her heirs and estate have done nothing since then to produce any new or derivative creative work based on the original, yet 50 years after her death, the estate was still attempting to derive income and control (or flat-out quash) any derivative, and in this case, a protected parody of the original work.

See here for details:

http://www.freedomforum.org/templates/...

You can speak of theft or piracy all you want, but be sure to place media companies in general at the top of your list of pirates.

Lawrence D'OliveiroMay 22, 2007 12:43 AM

Copyright violation is not theft. (Dowling vs United States, 1985)

MarcelMay 22, 2007 1:47 AM

@Matthew Skala - Scientology is not universally regarded as a religion. Most regard it as an abusive business company.
They have to pay taxes in many countries, that religions dont have to pay as a further indication.

-----

The comparison of copyright infringements with a trespas is indeed more substantial than naming it theft or even robbery (which would include physical violence or threat). If you ask an entrance fee, then a trespas also results in lost money (partially usually). But is it a coincidence that theft or robbery terms are always used by the RIAA despite beeing unreasonable?
And think how effective that is. Many people adopt these naming schemes despite their obvious shortcommings.

supersnailMay 22, 2007 2:09 AM

C Gomez --"Personally, I think stealing music is disgusting and sad".

In which case you should oppose the RIAA as there members are probably the worse culprits historicaly.
Current activities involve luring niave young musicians into signing contracts which pay less than 5% of the royalties after all the companies expenses have been covered ( The A & R mans swimming pool is a legitimate business expense ... ).

Historicaly abuses were worse "Duke Ellington" surrendered 60% of his earnings to his lawer on the basis that the lawer would be able to get something out of his record company and 40% of something was better than 100% of nothing. Most of the classic blues artists receved little more than a few dollars on the day they were recorded.

So the RIAA taking the moral high ground seems more than a little ironic.

BTW does anyone know how the RIAAs tax on blank tapes and CDs is actualy distributed?

StephenMay 22, 2007 2:15 AM

I think Bill has usefully re-oriented the discussion.

@Richard Breakman: "We restrict the basic utility of computers and networks -- they are primarily machines that copy data -- in order to enrich a handful of toll-collectors. The entire system of copyrights is one of government-granted monopolies and pervasive government interference in the marketplace."

I must imagine there are some "toll collectors" that subserve the function of computers that you do not object to (at least in theory), such as the power company or your ISP. Also, you must recall -- as Bill correctly does -- that copyright is granted to any individual that produces an original work. It serves to protect the economic value of the labor that served to produce art. It is unfortunate that heavy-handed assholes currently act as miscreant proxies for these individual artists, but that's no reason to strip everyone of the right to be compensated for something they have created and others may wish to purchase in some form or other.

"We've come so far from natural human sharing and cultural exchange that we've criminalized the singing of songs that have been sung before."

This is a bit of hyperbole. The legal process is civil, not criminal, and liability is incurred only when a performer does not obtain permission from the original artist. You can readily argue about the numbers (what online radio stations are forced to pay to broadcast a song, how many years original works remain "monopolized"), but this restriction is again aimed at protecting the rights of artists not to have their work instantaneously cloned and sold to without compensation.

"We're at a point where simply walking through town and recording what you hear and see is illegal. (If you don't believe me, try making a documentary about everyday life in a city, and see how many lawyers contact you about bits of it. That advertising jingle in the clothes store? Copyrighted. Edit it out.)"

I believe that current fair use permits x number of seconds of non-infringing use for recorded material that's included withing a separate presentation -- though this may be restricted to educational displays. Again, you can argue about whether the numbers or the contexts need to change, but the existing system, while certainly abused by corporations, recognizes the need for flexibility.

"I'm in favor of abolishing the whole mess, and returning to paying artists to perform, and using the power of computers and networking to its full extent to see what happens."

"Pay to perform" breaks down substantially when you start talking about books, photographs, movie scripts, or video games. If I write a novel and it's "trapped" in a copy-protected format that requires a scanner, OCR software, and several hours of "cracking" to defeat (to say nothing of the paper cuts), is that really such a loss to civilization? I'd argue no. If I release the same novel (in an open electronic format) for sale on my web site in your "freely digital age" and tomorrow I find someone else claiming to be the author selling the same e-book on 20 different sites, is that a laudable end-point? It is, if I have available some legal mechanism to compel that person to stop. It's not simply a matter of compensation; it's also a matter of attribution. Say what you like about "theft" of intellectual property. Usurping recognition that a specific person contributed something original and (hopefully) beautiful to the world is theft in my book.

gregMay 22, 2007 2:50 AM

Some good points have come up here.

The fact is that "we" do see little wrong with infriging copyright.

A another fact is that DRM will not physicaly work. Even worse, you don't need a class break in the system to have the same effects of a class break. (See HDDVD b4 the "key", they where on bittorrent..)

In all of this however I think we forget that the vast majorty of folks don't infinge on copyrights but buy there songs from a store or iTunes. I know i do simply because a 5 euro dvd is a lot easier to buy than use bittorrent. (However I usally "backup" the DVD's to avoid the rootkit style protections that are getting more popular) The "pirate data" is vastly overestimated.

I found this comment interesting:

"..try making a documentary about everyday life in a city, and see how many lawyers contact you about bits of it. That advertising jingle in the clothes store? Copyrighted. Edit it out."

We had this problem making a doco for a highschool project!

Todd KnarrMay 22, 2007 5:08 AM

One thing I'd note is that, from AllOfMP3's side, it's more like their business model is: base your company in Russia, pay the legally-mandated automatic royalty per copy to the Russian copyright-royalty agency (created per the structure the RIAA wanted in the treaties) and sell the music cheaply. It's much like the deal with the Harry Fox Agency for mechanical licenses in the US.

It looks to me like what the RIAA objects to more than anything else is that they've got to go begging to someone not beholden to them if they want the royalties. Sort of like everyone else has to do with the RIAA's ordained agents in the US. They'd rather AllOfMP3 have to pay them (or their ordained agents) directly, but that's not the way the treaties (which the RIAA had a hand in creating) were set up (mainly because the RIAA didn't want to have to deal with all it's members having to directly pay entities in other countries when dealing with songs held by foreign copyright holders).

IMO if (assuming they're paying the Russian agency as they claim to be) AllOfMP3 can be sued for piracy, then anyone depending on a mechanical license through the Harry Fox Agency should also be considered a pirate.

supersnailMay 22, 2007 5:18 AM

If anyone from AllOfMp3 is reading this why dont you replace your VISA payments with a premium rate phone line?

Just get your customers to send an SMS a russian premium rate phone and reply with a code which gives purchasing power on the web site.

Premium rate phone charges are governed by numerous international treaties and the various international telecomunications governing bodies are not going to roll over and die when threatened br the RIAA as VISA and MasterCard did.

bobMay 22, 2007 7:02 AM

"RIAA has not attempted to go after the customers of AllOfMP3. I doubt that the RIAA would have any case against them. When a person buys a CD from Amazon.com, they are not responsible to verify that Amazon passed along the required portion of the price to the RIAA. Why should it be different with AllOfMP3.com?"

Not true. If you buy improperly licensed goods you can AT MINIMUM have them taken away from you with no compensation. I once worked at a company that sold items with a stick-on logo from various large auto manufacturers (Corvette in this instance). The company which sold them to US had allowed their license to expire. GM had the FBI raid US with guns drawn and confiscate the information systems which drove the entire company because of the $0.79 plastic labels (granted, thousands of them) which we had bought in good faith.

Unwilling PirateMay 22, 2007 7:11 AM

There are three reasons I and all of my friends use allofmp3.com: D, R, and M. I've asked everybody I know who uses it if they'd use the exact same service with iTunes prices and they said "yes." It is _much_ easier to use normal mp3s in regular players than to deal with any of the competition. Even non-tech-savvy people notice this.

Clive RobinsonMay 22, 2007 7:12 AM

@Marcel

"But is it a coincidence that theft or robbery terms are always used by the RIAA despite beeing unreasonable?"

Slightly more so than the claim that it is a National Security Issue (the same as WMD etc). Which has happened in breifings to Politicians in the past by Music and Film IP Holders (not the artists).

Of more interest the likes of the RIAA assume they represent artists by right.

If people look at the reason for the existance of the RIAA etc (protect artists from Public Broadcast Organisations) they would be shocked to find out just how far they have pushed things in their own interests. All at the expense not just of the music bying public but the artists as well.

AnonymousMay 22, 2007 7:39 AM

@greg

"A another fact is that DRM will not physicaly work"

Depends what you mean, are you talking about removing / breaking the DRM system, or are you talking about recording off of the output device.

There is a real difference between the two, breaking/removing DRM gives you a perfect copy where as recording off the output device will always have imperfections so is not a perfect copy.

You also have a middle ground where you actually record the bits out of the DRM decoder. However these days you are into an awkward area of Trusted Systems at chip level etc which is one reason Microsoft etc are pushing Trusted Platform Technology (remember the Fritz chip?)

PeterMay 22, 2007 8:11 AM

The media industries (including shrink wrapped software) have been doing a rather good PR and lobbying job in recent years to convince the public that Copyright violation *is* theft. See BSA and FACT in the UK - I recall print ads that had bold headlines saying that. We now have annoying lead-ins into DVDs, cinema screening etc. with very plain messages that "Copyright violation is a crime / theft / whatever.".

Perhaps, to paraphrase, "copyright is theft" ? Copyright, as most reading this will know, was originally a social contract that gave the creators of original works a window to exploit their creations - along with other related rights such as patents etc. That's all long gone with effectively infinite exclusive rights to exploit creative works held by large monolithic and monopolising media giants.

The sad thing is that the media interests are the ones who have the direct link to their consumers limited brains and are the ones who control the message. Conflict of interest ? Yes. Anything we can realisticly do ? No.

PavelMay 22, 2007 8:33 AM

I could be wrong on this, but when I buy a DVD or a music CD, I am paying for the right to view/listen to the contents, with the original ownership remaining with the recording company. I am fine with that.

It seems, however, that the companies also want to control *how* I view/listen to the contents, and this is where I draw the line.

When the DVD of the movie 300 comes out, I'll buy it instead of downloading it, because $19.99 (or somewhere around there) is worth paying to own the right to view it any time I please. When I do place my order via Amazon.com (or some such), I am not signing a contract which states that I agree to view the movie only on officially licensed DVD players, with HDCP protected output, and an HDCP-compliant TV. This, to me, gives me the right to do what I please with the contents, as long as I do not re-distribute them. If I want to view the movie on my iAudio player, I do not feel I should pay separately for that. If I want to play the DVD on my PC cabled up to the plasma TV I have, I feel I have a right to do so, DRM be damned.

The CDs are a bit of a different issue. I've yet to encounter a CD sold in stores where I like every track. Why should I be forced to pay for what I do not like? Until iTunes and its ilk, there was a lack of choice.

Where it gets tricky and non-trivial is the same technology which is used to enable me to enjoy the contents - a right for which I paid, fair-n-square, as it were, also enables people to throw the contents around and others get to enjoy the fruits of someone's labor without paying for it.

Therein lies the quandry. Does the recording industry and, to a smaller extent, the government, punish many for the sins for the few (and make extra money which means extra taxes), or protect the rights of the many and let the few get away with things. This is not a new problem. With slight variations, a similar issue has been fought over gun ownership (do we restrict ownership for everyone because of the actions of a few or not?), and I am sure with some thought, someone could come up with even older arguments in the similar vein.

Sadly, I know of no easy solution. Perhaps spike the penalties for the actual pirates?

-----

It is worth noting that AllOfMP3.COM has a number of features that blew iTunes away -
1) Ability to download (for a higher price) the raw PCM file,
2) Ability to specify the bitrate (and the price would alter depending on quality),
3) Download the encoding in the OGG format.

I'd be willing to pay iTunes' prices for options like that. No such luck, yet.

Jared LesslMay 22, 2007 8:37 AM

--"Depends what you mean, are you talking about removing / breaking the DRM system, or are you talking about recording off of the output device."

Doesn't matter. DRM depends on being able to control the software and hardware the media is being played on. There's no such thing as a secure system that's sitting on a hacker's desk.

I think this was one of Bruce's metaphors. You'll notice that safes are never described as perfectly impenetrable; they are rated in terms of how long it will take an expert safecracker to break into it. That the safe can be broken given enough time and effort is _assumed_; the safe exists only to slow the attacker down so that other, more active security measures can come into play. Yet the RIAA boys think they can do better. They are trying to build a safe that cannot be broken into even if the safecracker has all the time in the world to work on it, all his tools at his disposal, and a large collection of friends to offer ideas and suggestions.

Satellite TV services came about as close as you could get to successful DRM, but they had _everything_ on their side. They supplied their own hardware and directly maintained the software themselves in realtime. And _still_ people were able to break it. Next to that, what chance does a DRM system have when it's running on my computer under software I have absolute control over?

The only thing DRM does is piss off their average customers with arbitrary restrictions. People with technical expertise it doesn't slow down one bit.

GregMay 22, 2007 9:03 AM

@Anonymous

Anyway...

"Depends what you mean, are you talking about removing / breaking the DRM system, or are you talking about recording off of the output device."

I mean both. Lets stick with the "imperfect" analog hole copy. I only get the quality loss *once* when i digitize it. This is not like VCR where a copy of a copy is worse. The copy is slightly worse, and if you know what you are doing, not much, perhaps no worse than what the encoding degraded the real orginal anyway. The copy of the copy is a perfect digital replica. The copy of a copy of a copy..... is also no worse than the very first copy.

Now they encrypt the digital trafic on the cabel to a HDTV. That is plain stupid. It just made everything a lot more expensive and changed nothing. Anyone with the ablity to grab the "raw" digital signal from a cable is going to be capable of getting at the raw signal (analog or otherwise) from inside the HDTV. A delta-sigma digitizer can be very accurate you really won't see any quality reduction, you can get amazing electronics nowdays from the hobby stores even.

As for trusted computing. True "trusted" computing will simply cost too much. That is tamper resitant hardware --assembled in china? I really won't be econimic. And its not like hackers don't hack hardware. examples are the mod chip comunity or the blackmarket arcades or even sat tv.

This is why they also invest money into watermarks. The folk that will go to this effort will be a miniority. But it only takes a few and then theres a DRM free copy in the wild. You don't need a class break.

But if they can find those few and use the leagal angle? thats the idea with watermarks, They can detect "liberated" content and they can identify who done it. Unfortunatly the implemetation and flowup cost a lot so they haven't even used the methods they already have avalible to them (AACS for example). Futhermore this will not work across international borders in any meaningfull way.

Bottom Line is that those of us who want it free will always be able to get it free. But most will pay anyway, unless they do something really stupid with DRM. Thats the problem now Liberated content has more value.

AlanMay 22, 2007 9:19 AM

My employer pays me for the work I do. The deal is, I come to work and complete my assignnments, and he pays me. If I want to be paid again, I have to work again.

Most musicians have the same work-for-pay arrangement. If they want to be paid again, they have to perform again.

A few elite musicians have a way to work once, and be paid repeatedly for the rest of their lives. They can do so, not because it is ethical but because they have the power (backed by copyright law) to do so.

The real benefactors of the copyright system are the companies that purchase the copyright from the artists. I wish I knew the average rate of return they earn on their investment in those copyrights. It is obviously quite lucrative, given the zeal with which they defend their rights. Again, they do so not because it is ethical, but because they can.

BillMay 22, 2007 12:17 PM

@Alan: "The real benefactors of the copyright system are the companies that purchase the copyright from the artists. I wish I knew the average rate of return they earn on their investment in those copyrights. It is obviously quite lucrative, given the zeal with which they defend their rights. Again, they do so not because it is ethical, but because they can.

Well, for an interesting behind-the-scenes look at how the record companies make money, have a look here at an article penned by Courtny Love in Salon. It's a few years old, but the numbers should still jive:

http://archive.salon.com/tech/feature/2000/06/14/...

For yet another perspective, have a look at articles written by Janice Ian concerning file sharing, the RIAA, etc.:

http://www.janisian.com/...

Interestingly, here is an article on RAIN concerning a Newsweek article written in 2002 entitled: "Labels to Net Radio: Die Now!" Which talks about how the "legal monopolies" created by copyright are intent on the complete annihilation of internet radio. As it happens, htis article, written in 2002, resonates completely with the recent decision of the copyright board to raise Internet Radio royalty rates to levels that would bankrupt all but the largest Internet "Broadcasters", leaving the monoply copyright holders free to charge whatever ludicrous fees they see fit for whatever drivel they are promoting this week.

http://www.kurthanson.com/archive/news/071102/...

I ask again -- who exactly are the pirates here?

Kevin DavidsonMay 22, 2007 4:35 PM

Alan asks, "Is there any religion that recognizes copyright as a moral principle?"

Christianity and Judaism both recognize the right of persons to enjoy the fruits of their labor. St. Paul cites Hebrew scripture, when he says: "a worker deserves his wages". This is the ethical and religious principle upon which copyright stands.

Whether record companies are either religious or ethical is left as an exercise for the reader.

BambiMay 22, 2007 11:05 PM

What I would like to know is how the Big 4 (which used to be the Big 5) Major Labels have any right to lobby using the RIAA for LAW changes (DMCA, Copyright Extentions, etc.) when 3 out of 5 are NO LONGER US companies..except for Warner?

The current breakout of the Big 4:

* Universal Music Group (France based) — 31.71%
* Sony BMG Music Entertainment, inc. (Japan/Germany based) — 25.61% (13.83% Sony, 11.78% BMG)
* Warner Music Group (USA based) — 15%
* EMI Group (UK based) — 9.55%
* independent labels — 18.13%

Far as I can tell, Warner Music Group is the ONLY US-based company.

Why is it that Universal/Vivendi, EMI Group and Sony/BMG are not going through their own country's legal system, instead of ours?

Why is it that they have any right to have the RIAA be a lobbying group for them IN THE US?

I am not a lawyer and do not pretend to be, but this somehow seems really wrong ... anyone else understand how these NON-US companies are still able to use the US Legal system to try to get information on US Citizens for any reason?!

How is the RIAA allowed to act on their behalf in the US against US Citizens?

Paul ThomasMay 23, 2007 3:57 AM

I had an interesting experience with a Sony DVD (of the channel 4 series, peep show).

I couldn't play the DVD in my computer, so I tried it in my DVD player which also didn't work, so I tried it in my PS2 and it still didn't work. So I took it back. The new copy didn't work either.

When I looked online I noticed that on the amazon page there were lots of people that couldn't play it and it was because of some strange DRM which meant it only worked in *some* DVD players.

The answer to everyone's problems that was posted up on amazon was:

Use popcorn to rip the DVD to your hard disk, this will remove the DRM and then you can burn it back to a DVD again.

So the only way to play a legally bought copy of a DVD was to create an illegal copy.

No, DRM will not work especially because people will break it in order to use the content they have paid for in the way that they think they deserve to.

gregMay 23, 2007 5:27 AM

@Kevin Davidson

Talk about selective interpretation!

It also says that if you don't work then poverty is you wage!

So this would support ONE TIME PAYMENT ONLY!

Not payment every time someone listens to a *copy* of the work, when you didn't even do the work of copying it!

I program for a living. Every piece of code i produce is covered by copyright. But I get paid only once to produce it no matter how many times my clients use it.

RonKMay 24, 2007 12:24 AM

@ greg, Kevin Davidson

My (relatively limited) understanding of the recognition of intellectual property rights in (halachic) Judaism is that they are limited to the lifetime of the artist for (most) works which would be eligible for copyright. However, as with many things thing in Judaism this is not universally accepted.

And as far as I know there is no halachic analogy to patents.

JeffDMMay 27, 2007 10:03 AM

I don't understand how performances should be an band's only means of income. Recorded music has extremely curtailed the viability of live performance, where (hypothetically) the local tavern used to have live music, now bars are a lot more likely to just play recordings.

I haven't noticed it here, but I've seen suggestions that movies should only be produced for free except for product placement ads. However, Aragorn pulling out a tall, cold Coke (tm) would ruin the work in question, and even in settings where the brand makes sense, it's distracting because of how prominently a logo is placed.

I don't understand how religion is used as a guide as to whether copyright infringement is morally wrong. Religion is not as closely coupled with morality as religion proponents have suggested. Pretty much all of those professing religion do immoral acts on occasion, a few of the so-called religious are plain immoral. Even the pure religion itself may have demands that others find abhorrent.

Anyway, I don't want copyright to be completely abandoned, I just don't want it to be used to justify draconian measures. I'm not on AllofMP3's side though, what I see is that they are stretching a provision of the law intended for radio over cable TV networks, not the sale of discrete music tracks. I'm pretty sure that the licensing also doesn't allow for oveseas sales either.

Jon SowdenMay 29, 2007 9:00 PM

@ greg:
I found this comment interesting:
"..try making a documentary about everyday life in a city, and see how many lawyers contact you about bits of it. That advertising jingle in the clothes store? Copyrighted. Edit it out."
We had this problem making a doco for a highschool project!
#############
It is also wildly inaccurate. No, wiat, it might be accurate in that that is what happens, but it is wildly inaccurate in the sense of "Heh - they can't do that! Fair use trumps copyright in those circumstances!"

http://www.boingboing.net/2006/02/03/...

http://www.boingboing.net/2004/12/30/...

http://www.boingboing.net/2005/01/17/...

DavidJune 11, 2007 1:10 PM

Never did quite understand the concept of never-ending royalties. If I do a job of work, I get paid for it once. I don`t KEEP getting paid over and over again for the same thing! Is this a touch of devil`s advocate, I ask myself?

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