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Old 10-13-2009, 09:28 AM   #1
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Piracy is hurting the _____ industry

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/n...-own-words.ars

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The anxious rhetoric around new technology is really quite shocking in its vehemence, from claims that the player piano will destroy musical taste and the "national throat" to concerns that the VCR is like the "Boston strangler" to claims that only Hollywood's premier content could make the DTV transition a success. Most of it turned out to be absurd hyperbole, but it's interesting to see just how consistent the words and the fears remain across more than a century of innovation and a host of very different devices.

So here they are, in their own words—the copyright holders who demanded restrictions on player pianos, photocopiers, VCRs, home taping, DAT, MP3 players, Napster, the DVR, digital radio, and digital TV.
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Old 10-13-2009, 09:34 AM   #2
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This is always a touchy subject. When it comes right down to it, piracy hurts that artist or developer. Sure, they are not going to go hungry but it cuts into the profits that he/she would otherwise be making.

Just like with all things, the industry will survive, people will still make money, and all will be almost right with the world...
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Old 10-13-2009, 09:40 AM   #3
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"The great irony of these debates is that most new devices become popular only because buyers really want them, which means they open whole new markets that can then be monetized by rightsholders."

This, for me, is the crux of the article, and of the whole DRM/ebook piracy/death of pbook crisis - consumers WANT to buy the devices and WANT to buy the ebooks - they WANT to spend money. Book publishers are blindly following in the footsteps of the fools in this article and curtailing their own markets. Can anyone imagine the sales figures if Amazon supported ALL digital formats and provided downloaded copies to ANY device in ANY format? They could even keep some form of DRM on these copies - just offer all formats to anyone with a credit card.
Buy a new device? Simple, just get a new copy from Amazon. Not rocket science!
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Old 10-13-2009, 10:43 AM   #4
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Piracy can hurt the creators, but, it isn't always as much as people claim. Most seem to think that every pirated copy is a lost sale. A friend of mine is a huge fan of most of the Superhero movies. He saw the Dark Knight 6 times in theatres, and then after it was no longer being shown, he pirated a copy so he could watch it more until he got his preordered copy of it on bluray. Did he pirate? Yes. Did they lose a sale? No. Most people I know pirate every now and again, but usually it spurs them to buy more. If they like it, they buy it. The ones that don't end up buying, are the type that wouldn't buy even if they couldn't pirate (such as the one, who lost his net connection for nearly a year after getting it disconnected for pirating. He never bought anything then, dispite being unable to download anything else).

Most people, you give them an easy to use system, that gives them quality content, and they'll time and time again use that over pirating. Why do you think iTunes is as big as it is?
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Old 10-13-2009, 01:03 PM   #5
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Most people, you give them an easy to use system, that gives them quality content, and they'll time and time again use that over pirating. Why do you think iTunes is as big as it is?
In my opinion this is the essence of the entire problem contentholders have currently. Consider the following: what is the effect of DRM?

Now, one would say it stops piracy. This means they honestly believe that, by protecting every copy ever released, no illegal copy will be available for download. Of course they are wrong - there is not a single piece of music, not a single movie, TV serie, videogame or book I could not download from various locations. Anyone with half a brain can find just about anything available legally, illegally. Does it stop piracy then? No, it does not.

Consider an brutally honest person, objecting to piracy in all its forms. Say this person wants to buy the UK version of harry potter at Amazon.com - oops! No can do sir, that version you cannot buy. Why not, pray tell? Well my good sir, we forbid the purchasing of the UK version in the US. What is this person left to do but to obtain an illegal copy?

Consider that very same brutally honest person. He purchases a book with DRM from a lesser known retailer. Several years thereafter that reseller goes bankrupt, and our honest person has forgotten about the book on his old eReader. Years go by, and our person decides to buy a new eReader, and opts to read his old classic again. But 'lo and behold! He cannot copy his old, legally purchased classic, and the store which initially sold it to him has long since closed its servers. Far fetched? Ask anyone how succesfull they were in transferring newspaper archives from their old Kindle to their Kindle2, or how well music bought at Walmart is playable these days.

And again, our honest person can do absolutely nothing. He has no book, despite paying for it, so ends up once again downloading an copy - and at this precise moment he becomes a pirate himself since in several countries now downloading is becomming illegal, even if you do own a copy yourself!

Piracy is not hurting the industry, anti-piracy efforts are. Without DRM, without the need to restrict sales to regions and without a central, uniform marketplace for content people are being forced to download illegal copies. Indeed iTunes is one of the very few stores that offer a very wide selection of content for reasonable prices, to my knowledge without too many restrictions on what can be purchased and where that content can be used. And poor Apple is having to fight hard to keep that right, since several publishers providing music to iTunes are already demanding more money, higher margins and more access restrictions.
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Old 10-13-2009, 01:06 PM   #6
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I think that copyright holders may have been unintentionally crying wolf in the past. That being said, I think the current debate about how illegal downloading is damaging the rights of copyright holders is a legitimate one. All the previous technologies were limited, if not in the fidelity of the copy, then certainly in the ability to share. Most people simply were not going to go through the time and effort to make 50 or 100 copies of a TV show they taped.

We are now in a world where flawless copies can be made and shared with extremely little effort on behalf of the file sharer. Yes, there is still a lot of poor pirated copies out there, but increasingly, the copies, particularly for music and books, are high quality copies. Ultimately, these copies will threaten to remove an important incentive for the production and distribution of creative works. Not that we can stop it; we ultimately need to find a new way to compensate artists for their work -- especially when that work becomes popular.

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Old 10-13-2009, 01:13 PM   #7
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So... they were wrong all the other times, but this time they're right?

Phew... I was worried they were going to be wrong again!

---

More seriously, Bill, while you make good points, I cannot see piracy as hurting the literary world or the music world or the art world, et cetera, given how art and literature thrived (and probably yielded greater quality, if vastly lesser quantity) prior to the base commercialization of both.

The companies raking in all the money therefrom are hurting, sure, but I see no chance of the people outputting creative works disappearing off the face of the earth as long as there are people, no matter how unprofitable it may become. And, unlike some, I am not convinced those people automatically deserve freedom from (sometimes) mind-numbing daily toil (i.e.: a day job) that too much of the rest of humanity has to contend with.

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Old 10-13-2009, 02:27 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by bill_mchale View Post
I think that copyright holders may have been unintentionally crying wolf in the past.
I think it was completely intentional.

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That being said, I think the current debate about how illegal downloading is damaging the rights of copyright holders is a legitimate one.
The debate itself may be legitimate, but many of the things being said in defense of that position are absolute nonsense.
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Old 10-13-2009, 02:45 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ahi View Post
So... they were wrong all the other times, but this time they're right?

Phew... I was worried they were going to be wrong again!

---

More seriously, Bill, while you make good points, I cannot see piracy as hurting the literary world or the music world or the art world, et cetera, given how art and literature thrived (and probably yielded greater quality, if vastly lesser quantity) prior to the base commercialization of both.
Most art that we remember has been done for profit for quite a long time. Obviously it is hard to be sure when it started exactly, but the Stain Glass and sculptures in the Cathedrals of Europe was not done without paying craftsmen. Likewise, the great painters and sculptors of the Italian Renaissance did not work unless they did so on commission. Shakespeare did not write for fun either.

Further, I am not at all sure that we have sacrificed quality in return for quantity. Yes, we are bombarded today with many low quality creative works, but I suspect the same was true in Shakespeare's day... the difference is we don't remember the low quality works of 300 years ago. Would the 19th century have allowed Mark Twain or Charles Dickens to thrive without any form of copyright (While it is true that his copyrights were not recognized in the United States, it was the recognition of them in England that allowed Dickens to get his start as an author)? Likewise, it seems unlikely that Hemingway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald and many of the other literary lights of the 20th century would have been possible in a world where they could not have supported themselves on their writing.

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The companies raking in all the money therefrom are hurting, sure, but I see no chance of the people outputting creative works disappearing off the face of the earth as long as there are people, no matter how unprofitable it may become. And, unlike some, I am not convinced those people automatically deserve freedom from (sometimes) mind-numbing daily toil (i.e.: a day job) that too much of the rest of humanity has to contend with.

- Ahi
Yes there will probably continue to be people who will make creative works. But will the quality remain as high? After all, how many people will have the opportunity to spend months or years working on a novel to get it just right if there is no chance to profit from it? Having professional artists allows them to spend time honing their craft that the amateur hardly ever has.

Also, lets not forget that copyright protects many of us who do have "day jobs". While most software engineers may not own the copyright for the software they create, it is because they essentially sell the work they do to the company that employs them. If companies can't profit off the work that their software engineers perform, there may not be jobs for those engineers (Yes there is the free software movement, but those work because the companies can sell support for the software -- not every application can work under that model).

Finally of course, that freedom from "day jobs" that you are referring to is because the author is successful at what they do. People want to read their books, listen to their music, watch their videos etc. If a person worked hard to create something, and people want to use it, why shouldn't the creator be allowed to profit from it?

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Old 10-13-2009, 02:49 PM   #10
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I think it was completely intentional.
Why do you think it was intentional? I think that most of the examples given did in fact make copyright holders fear that they were going to loose a significant source of income to copying. In some cases they did.

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The debate itself may be legitimate, but many of the things being said in defense of that position are absolute nonsense.
Just as there are many nonsense positions being taken by those who support ignoring copyright.

Mind you, I am not arguing for DRM here. I am pointing out that the current paradigm could well be threatened by file sharing copyrighted material.

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Old 10-13-2009, 02:58 PM   #11
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I think today's commercialization of art is rather different from that of hundreds of years ago, Bill. Working for an employer or a patron who is desirous of artefacts (or literature) of great beauty (of whatever sort) is different from massive multinational conglomerates wishing for whatever of whatever qualities that sells the most copies.

And while I do not dispute that the past would have had its mediocre artists, the vastly larger underclass (who was mostly illiterate and uninterested in folly like art, when there was real work to be done) was a rather natural limiting factor.

As for the future, I would welcome a return to the employer/patronage model. Assuming those employers/patrons were wealthy human beings, not corporations. Those not able to gain a patron may indeed never have sufficient time to invest for real greatness--but why is that a problem?

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I am pointing out that the current paradigm could well be threatened by file sharing copyrighted material.
I don't see it... but, as I stated, I feel we have little (but our chains) to lose!

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Old 10-13-2009, 03:17 PM   #12
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I think today's commercialization of art is rather different from that of hundreds of years ago, Bill. Working for an employer or a patron who is desirous of artefacts (or literature) of great beauty (of whatever sort) is different from massive multinational conglomerates wishing for whatever of whatever qualities that sells the most copies.

And while I do not dispute that the past would have had its mediocre artists, the vastly larger underclass (who was mostly illiterate and uninterested in folly like art, when there was real work to be done) was a rather natural limiting factor.

As for the future, I would welcome a return to the employer/patronage model. Assuming those employers/patrons were wealthy human beings, not corporations. Those not able to gain a patron may indeed never have sufficient time to invest for real greatness--but why is that a problem?



I don't see it... but, as I stated, I feel we have little (but our chains) to lose!

- Ahi
Well, I personally would very much not like to see the current system over turned by a return to the patronage model of art. While it was responsible for some great art, one could also be sure that it was responsible for art that represented the interests of the elite in society.

I am not saying the current system is perfect (certainly the current terms of copyright are way too long), but it does serve the purpose of producing popular works of literature and music as well as Television and Movies. The fact that you disdain the corporations' interest in whatever sells the most copies suggests that you also believe that the public at large has poor tastes (after all, they are the ones buying, reading, watching and listening).

Actually, I am always amazed at how many books get published every year that are not intended for mass consumption.

I notice that you have completely ignored the fact that the current system has been responsible for some truly great art. To answer your question: What do we have to loose? The next Hemingway, or the next Beatles.

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Old 10-13-2009, 03:19 PM   #13
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You are going to like this one

Cory Doctorow gave nice speech a few years ago, but I can't find it now.
He talked about sheet music publishers that were attacking record companies as pirates. A few years later record publishers accused radio producers that they were pirates ...
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Old 10-13-2009, 03:25 PM   #14
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I notice that you have completely ignored the fact that the current system has been responsible for some truly great art. To answer your question: What do we have to loose? The next Hemingway, or the next Beatles.

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Because I'm 100% fine with that.

The world is already full of great art/literature unknown outside the artist's/author's own ethnocultural sphere. A few (or a few hundred) fewer or more potentially brilliant artists getting overlooked is, in my eyes, no significant change from the status quo.

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Old 10-13-2009, 03:35 PM   #15
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You are going to like this one

Cory Doctorow gave nice speech a few years ago, but I can't find it now.
He talked about sheet music publishers that were attacking record companies as pirates. A few years later record publishers accused radio producers that they were pirates ...
It should be noted that in each of the cases you list, ultimately, a system was developed to compensate the original artists for the work that was used. If you record a piece of music under copyright, you better be willing to pay the author of it. If you play a band's music... etc.

Ultimately, the question here is, how are artists getting compensated by those who are downloading copies of their work for free?

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