I usually refrain from directly quoting web sites but in this case Tycho of Penny Arcade fame expresses his feelings in a much more eloquent way than I could possibly hope to. The comments are directed toward an article (here) which describes the Deputy Attorney General’s opinions about file sharing and what was discussed at a congressional subcommittee meeting. Now I will quote. Pay attention kids, this is how to write effectively.
I won’t afflict you with the entire litany because I don’t think that’s why people read the things I write, to be exposed to surreal political views which are completely unmoored from reality. I would, however, draw your attention to the following article, which details a congressional hearing on the links between terrorism and, um… peer-to-peer file sharing.
John G. Malcolm, deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice, did say there seems to be some connection between illegal copying and organized crime, in that many of the groups profiting from illegal copies are highly organized and can have international distribution networks. Organized crime often supports terrorism, he suggested.
“These groups will not hesitate to threaten or injure those who tend to interfere with their operations,” Malcolm said.
Statements of this kind gnaw at the sensible mind, they chew on it and try to eat it. I won’t even gauge the clumsiness with which these two incongruous concepts are lashed together. If you want to see triple-x, explicit evidence of corporations with their hands up your government’s ass, working the their jaws like some malevolent Howdy Doody with chilling ramifications for personal liberty, well, there you go. Peer-to-peer file sharing and Terror? Terror? Do they not have dictionaries there? There’s another T word you cocks might like, too – give it a try: it’s called “Tenuous.” The only people terrorized by peer-to-peer file sharing are vastly potent multinational businesses, gripped by the realization that they sell carriages in a world of bullet trains.
Now I have to add a few comments of my own. These require reading of the article because I’m going to be quoting (again).
“Organized crime, in my mind, includes well organized groups of people trying to control the cash flow of a given commodity or within a given region”
Ok… so that makes the RIAA and the MPAA “organized crime” as well? I would think so. They been price fixing Cd’s since 1985 and started out price fixing DVDs just a few years ago. The actual production cost of a CD is $1.50. Even with 100% profit going to the record label and 200% going to the artist, that still means that the CD should be under $10. Are they? Nope. You have the balls to suggest that cutting into your 1500% profit is horrific? Go fuck yourselves.
“If more American parents understood the connection between the pirating of intellectual property and organized crime, I think then there’d be a much more effective public relations response in our own country to better appreciate the disastrous ramifications.”
Or, how about, if more American parents found out what you were really doing they’d shut you down. The only reason you see file-sharing as a problem is because the number of people who “get it” are eventually going to outnumber the people who have no clue. Generation X parents are fully aware of price fixing, they lived through the 80’s. So did I. If CD’s still cost $20 when I have a kid and they want to download them instead of buying them I’m going to praise the kid for being sensible with his money.
People ask me all the time if I think stealing is wrong. I say “yes”. Then they try to give me some long involved argument about how file sharing is stealing and that if I think stealing is wrong I’m being hypocritical. Then I asked them how much they paid for their CD or their software. Then I ask how much they think it cost to produce. When I tell most people about the insane level of profit the recording industry is making off each CD usually they get more mad than anything else. Perhaps that’s just because I go to art school and these kids are more liberal minded. Yes, I think stealing is wrong. I wouldn’t walk into a store and steal something and here’s why. Because that is stealing, not from the company that produced that CD, but from the store you’re stealing it from. Retail works by a company or store BUYING a large number of (we’ll keep using our metaphor) CD’s from the record company. They in turn, mark it up a little and resell it to make their profit. If you steal from them you’re denying the store its profit, not the record label. They already made their money. I say that it IS wrong to steal, it’s wrong to steal 1500% profit when you don’t have to. The record stores have little to no control over the price of their CD’s. The get them for $15 and resell them for $18. When the record company makes then for $1 and resells them for $15, thats highway robbery. “But that’s just good business practices” someone might say. So is my downloading the CD instead of buying it. I’m not going to support an industry that does that to consumers. They want to sell me a CD? Then they can lower the price to less than $10. I want a brand new, top of the charts, Grammy Award winning CD for $7.99. That’s what I want. It’s never going to happen. Until that day comes I’m going to download my music. If you still think that makes me hypocritical, so be it.
“Representative John Carter, (R-Texas), suggested that college students would stop downloading if some were prosecuted and received sentences of 33 months or longer, like the defendants in the DOJ’s Operation Buccaneer. “I think it’d be a good idea to go out and actually bust a couple of these college kids,” Carter said. “If you want to see college kids duck and run, you let them read the papers and somebody’s got a 33-month sentence in the federal penitentiary for downloading copyrighted materials.”
Hi, I’m an asshole. What would posses someone to make a blatantly bias statement like that. We’re college students, we’re supposed to be subversive. We write ‘zines and politically charged school news papers. We go to rallies and demonstrations. We’re the ones chanting “peace not bombs” at the moment. The sick and sad part is that you did this during Viet Nam. If you didn’t then you’re kids did. We’re college students. We feel (whether we’re right or not) that we’re smarter than you. We fell that your system isn’t working and that these laws are just dogmatic bullshit that you think will be good for business. Of course we’re going to subvert the system. Of course we’re going to download music. You dumb fuck. Here’s a quote you can take to the bank: If you want to see asshole congressmen duck and run, let a few thousand college students protest outside his office for a few weeks. Fucko.
*steps off his soap box for the day*
Sorry, if you don’t agree with any of that, it’s fine, but when I see an article written so obviously with opinions from only one side it kind of pisses me off. Then to have two figures from our government basically call all college students terrorists and thieves makes me madder than hell.
Alright. I’m off to listen to my downloaded, terrorist supporting music. Later.
oh, and if you want to read more about what you’re govenment is actually doing, this is a gold mine
I know that you are a reasonable and just fellow so when I thought your numbers for the costs of CDs were a little out of line I did a little research. You may want to read this http://www.outsideshore.com/cadenza/cd_costs.htm – it refers to jazz more than pop music, but the basis of the logic is the same. You may also be pleased to know that BMG lost $400 Million last year – not exactly obsene profits!
Have fun with your visitor!
I read that link and it makes complete sense… however, I’ve seen articles that express the opposite opinion. I had two different stories in mind but one of them has been taken offline so all I have left is this one, which is more of an opinion than factual based. I just don’t know any more. I know that $16 is way off but I don’t think $1.50 is really realistic. I’d be fine with a $10 CD personally. Anyway, here’s that link.
The other one did exist, Chip’s backing me up on that one. It’s a shame it was taken down.
That’s a good article too – much more rational than the “a CD only costs 35c so why are you asking $15” type. Personally, I don’t think $15 to $20 is all that extortionate – 20 years ago we were paying $10 to $12 for a vinyl LP that had no where near the quality, was susceptible to damage, and if you played it often enough, it wore out! Don’t forget that the recording industry, like most businesses, must continually upgrade and improve their equipment. Recording equipment used 10 years ago is now obsolete and must be replaced.
I will re-pose the question I posed to you once before – when you are a sucessful photographer, and you take a magnificent photograph, will you sell it for the cost of your time and materials plus a 10% markup, or will the cost be inflated to reflect the “artistic input”? (An original Ansell Adams sells for much more than the cost of the print.) Then, if you inflate the price to what you consider appropriate, but a copying system exists that allows a 95% accurate reproduction to be made, would you be pissed off if that appeared on the internet (without your permission) for people to freely download. The copy being good enough quality that the sales of your original print drop off by 20%?
There has to be protection for intellectual property. That is why we have patents, trade marks, and copywright laws. Those laws will eventually protect your work product, and maybe your livelyhood.
P.S. – I hope you don’t have to wait as long as Ansell Adams for your fame. Posthumous fame is highly overrated!