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CMU Professor's Rebuttal Against RIAA Propaganda 542

Posted by timothy
from the down-to-earth dept.
jsc writes "On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published an article by Cary Sherman, president of the RIAA, stating that university students are hijacking Internet2 to pirate copyrighted works, and schools who don't actively combat file-sharing are teaching their students bad values like "acceptance of theft". The Post-Gazette didn't let Sherman get away with it, though... Today they published a letter to the paper from Roger Dannenberg, a professor of Computer Science and Music at Carnegie Mellon University, reminding everyone how past/present behavior of the RIAA and its members is an even worse model of values..."
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CMU Professor's Rebuttal Against RIAA Propaganda

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  • Robin Hood (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fembots (753724) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @06:59PM (#12426986) Homepage
    Is he saying stealing from thieves (or unethical businesses) is not so bad?
    • Re:Robin Hood (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:03PM (#12427025)
      No, he's saying people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:06PM (#12427060)
        "No, he's saying people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."

        People who live in rubber houses shouldn't either.
      • Re:Robin Hood (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @08:55PM (#12427968)
        parent: good summary, short and sweet.

        two things: moral high ground (riaa/mpaa are good guys; your college students are being bad, please stop them) and also the fact that colleged (and the legal system) should NOT be used to help protect one business' outdated sales model.

        confusing morality with their profit stream IS the problem. please help to separate the two.

        its fine to complain that your business is losing money. the buggywhip companies went thru that - and so will you, riaa/mpaa. could I suggest getting a NEW business model? laying off some of your staff? changing your price and distribution models?

        its quite another thing to act all high and holy try to convince us that you are standing for Truth and The American Way. you're not. you're simply a business like all the rest - a business that is in dire need of a major revision.

        if you want to complain about lost profits, STOP BRIBING CONGRESS AND LAWMAKERS! there, that'll save you more money than yelling at pimple-faced teenagers.
        • by Illserve (56215)
          if you want to complain about lost profits, STOP BRIBING CONGRESS AND LAWMAKERS! there, that'll save you more money than yelling at pimple-faced teenagers

          Actually bribing congressmen is cheaaaap. They're having a firesale on laws, everything must go!

          Last time I read the reports of cash contributions to senators I was alarmed at how little money it took to buy yourself a DMCA. I think it's in the neighborhood of several million clams.

        • Re:Robin Hood (Score:3, Insightful)

          by stlhawkeye (868951)
          two things: moral high ground (riaa/mpaa are good guys; your college students are being bad, please stop them) and also the fact that colleged (and the legal system) should NOT be used to help protect one business' outdated sales model.

          Just because they are a bunch of stubborn idiots doesn't mean that their request is unreasonable. If students were using the university's photocopier to reproduce entire text books (let's pretend the use of the copier is provided free of charge by the school) and were buyi

      • And Cary Sherman telling people to respect artists is like Jack The Ripper telling people to respect prostitutes.
    • Re:Robin Hood (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cdrguru (88047) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:04PM (#12427038) Homepage
      Absolutely. The internet "sharing" of anything that can be "shared" means nobody with anything digital is going to be able to derive any money from it. This is the target that many claim is where they want things to go.

      I don't think they have thought about where this ends up. I don't think the end of the road is certain, but I'll bet it means curtailed development of entertainment in digital form.

      • Re: Robin Hood (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Alwin Henseler (640539) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @08:29PM (#12427763) Homepage
        I don't think the end of the road is certain, but I'll bet it means curtailed development of entertainment in digital form.

        Sure, the end of the road is pretty certain, and goes something like this:

        • If content is digital, it can be copied easily.
        • If it can be copied, it will be copied.
        • If people want a copy, they can get a copy (and not pay, if they don't feel like it).
        • The content producer can make money by selling physical media (with the content), licensing, online sales, whatever. If it's made cheaper, more media/licenses will be bought, but less profit per sale. If more expensive, more profit per sale, but smaller numbers sold. Optimum somewhere in between.
        • DRM (+ lawyers) ultimately change nothing of the above, only serve to push the numbers a bit in one direction or another. Oh yeah, and
        • DRM and lawyers add an additional cost for everybody.

        So musicians will continue to make music, people will keep listening to whatever they like (and spend money on that, when they feel like it), some industry folks will keep trying to squeeze money from all this, DRM will continue to be broken, and some lawyers will receive fat paychecks. The most succesful businesses will be those that adapt to new circumstances.

        And "stealing" only applies to physical items, not when dealing with all-digital content. Use "copyright infringment", "illegal copying" or "unauthorized distribution" instead. You don't 'own' an image, you may own some rights to decide who is allowed to copy that image, and under what conditions. These rights may vary from country to country, and aren't absolute either (see: fair use).

        Oh and BTW: "illegal" is not the same as "wrong".

        • Re: Robin Hood (Score:5, Insightful)

          by NixLuver (693391) <stwhiteNO@SPAMkcheretic.com> on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @08:59PM (#12428003) Homepage Journal

          Hear, Hear!

          The current music industry is a buggywhip plant asking the federal courts to pass laws making it illegal for Ford to sell Mustangs without buggywhips.

          The traditional cost of media is largely distribution costs (if you believe the RIAA). The cost of distribution in electronic format is largely and essentially nil (I know the cost of bandwidth; but I could distribute 4000 copies of a 3 MB song per month for $16.95, or 4 tenths of a cent per copy). The largest costs associated with doing business in the digital format is covering all of the agreements with the traditional distribution services so that they can keep making and selling buggywhips regardless of their objective usefulness and value. As you say, the company that will out is the one that adjusts to the market and provides 1) a simple, pain-free process of acquisition, and 2) a cost that is low enough that copyright infringement is more trouble than it's worth. Who is going to go through the trouble of ripping and distributing songs that can be downloaded for, say, 25 cents?

          • Re: Robin Hood (Score:3, Informative)

            by 3terrabyte (693824)
            The traditional cost of media is largely distribution costs (if you believe the RIAA).

            Wrong. The RIAA does not say most of their cost comes from distribution. Their cost comes from "investing" in all their artists, of which only 1 in 10 are profitable.

            However, don't mistake my personaly beliefs as theirs.

      • Re:Robin Hood (Score:3, Insightful)

        by evoltap (863300)
        "This is the target that many claim is where they want things to go."

        Totally. As a musician and a music appreciater, I would like to see things progress towards more sharing. If music was cheaper, (say 7 cents a song) and the service was comprehensive and easier than "illegal" sharing, I think it would be plenty of revenue to support the artists and the staff required to run the download/distribution system.
        Of course this would require major legislation with some sort of sunset, gov-subsidized industry shu
    • Re:Robin Hood (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tim5309 (880616) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:05PM (#12427048)
      I agree that this does seem like the standard "to steal from a thief is no crime" fallacy"
      If you'll stop your members from stealing from my friends, and then study some history, maybe I can help you.
      The professor's arguments are valid in that the recording industry has commited sins of its own against creativity, but to say that stealing music over I2 is therefore ok simply does not follow.
      • Re:Robin Hood (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Catamaran (106796) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:16PM (#12427163)
        I agree that this does seem like the standard "to steal from a thief is no crime" fallacy"

        You can call it a fallacy, and from a legal pov you are right, but I think the vast majority would consider it a lesser crime than stealing from a non-thief.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          "You can call it a fallacy, and from a legal pov you are right, but I think the vast majority would consider it a lesser crime than stealing from a non-thief."

          It however makes for an excellent slippery slope.
          • Well, considering that the US allows the legal murdering of murderers (a.k.a capital punishment), one has to ask how much more slippery the slope can get...
        • Re:Robin Hood (Score:3, Insightful)

          by badfish99 (826052)
          Ah, but it's not stealing, is it. The thief has still got all the music, even after you've taken it.

          This is the first time in history that we've ever had any valuable goods that could be duplicated for free like this. That's why people are still trying to get their heads round the issues involved.

      • Re:Robin Hood (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MrBigInThePants (624986) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:20PM (#12427204)
        What you say is true, however the RIAA are pretending to take the moral high ground here. Most of their arguments center on protecting artist's rights and being able to foster creativity.

        While the theft is certainly illegal, and nobody I have read about says it is, the RIAA's position is exceptionally disingenuous for the reasons mentioned.
        They argue that law and government should protect them with MORE (very important point) legislation and they have got much of it already. (DMCA) They argue that they should be able to breech people's privacy, destroy whole internet technologies and dictate to the electronics industry what they can and cannot produce.

        They argue this because they pretend to defend the artist rights and musical freedom as they have always done. This is obviously wrong.

        The question is not nearly as simple as you have made it out to be. It is not a question of "enforcement of current law", but far more insidious.

        Having said all that, a great comment on mp3 theft:
        "Stealing music is like taking candy from a...large, fat rich person."
        • Re:Robin Hood (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ashmedai (869288) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:49PM (#12427448)
          Bingo. It's not that stealing is okay if it's from a thief. It's that it's really stupid for a morally bankrupt group to complain about every individual incidence of copyright infringement when they can't even prove the act deprived them of a potential sale they say they deserve on the basis of junk science and fabricated statistics. It's that the amount of lies and slander they propigate in attempt to sway public opinion in favor of their greed-motivated witch hunt is just plain horrific. And then there's the issue of the Orwellian legislation they push through with the help of the government that we're supposed to be able to trust to protect us from such things, as if Homeland Security wasn't edging towards a police state already on its own.
          • Or to sum it up... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Laebshade (643478)
            Pot, meet kettle.
        • Re:Robin Hood (Score:5, Insightful)

          by BCW2 (168187) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @08:25PM (#12427736) Journal
          Just remind the Congresscritters that the RIAA has said some of the exact same things before. I have heard some quotes by the RIAA taken word for word from their testimony before Congress on another technology that was going to starve all artists and kill the industry. They were talking about cassette tape recorders in the early seventies!

          Really hurt them, huh!

          Same crap, different century.
      • Re:Robin Hood (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DecayCell (778710) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:22PM (#12427227)
        No, he's merely saying that until the RIAA starts sticking to its standards, they're not going to get any help from him on his campus.
        Fair enough, I believe.
        • Re:Robin Hood (Score:5, Informative)

          by SnowZero (92219) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @08:43PM (#12427866)
          Mod parent up!

          Prof. Dannenburg never said stealing was ok, he simply said he's not going to help a group that refuses to do what it claims is its mission (help artists). The RIAA isn't only saying stealing is wrong, they are saying that colleges MUST help them, for the sake of all the poor artists. The professor is responding that "If you don't help artists why should I help you?".

          P.S. Carnegie Mellon is already not very P2P-friendly: Computing services warns you in several places that if you violate copyright you could get in trouble with the law. There are people on campus paid (presumably by a certain industry group) to rat out other students on the network. It looks like they have all the tools they need, so why should I help them? It's not my job to police artificially low speeding limits or badly placed stop signs.
    • Re:Robin Hood (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No, he is saying that the RIAA, a group corporations convicted of multiple federal crimes, is not the best source of lectures on ethics.

      Lead by example, not threats.
    • Re:Robin Hood (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:24PM (#12427254)
      He is saying:

      1) Traditionally, RIAA has stifled innovation by using dubious means, and they have always been scared of new technology, and have tried to prevent onset of technology using monopolistic and legal measures
      2) RIAA isn't the right guardian for the right of musicians. One ought to see it more as a consortium of big-label music companies, and nothing more.
    • Re:Robin Hood (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kizzbizz (870017) * <kizzer@NOSpAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @08:00PM (#12427538)
      Is he saying stealing from thieves (or unethical businesses) is not so bad?

      Not quite. He is merely saying that if the RIAA want's to enlist the aid of colleges to combat piracy (Which is CLEARLY the intent of the RIAA's original letter), they need to clean up their act first.

      Speficially, the Professors closing coment may sound like he is trying to argue that stealing from the "bad guy" is acceptable, this is a false assumption. He is merely stating that if they want HIS help, they should start holding up their end of the bargin when it comes to the recording artists, nothing more.

    • Re:Robin Hood (Score:5, Informative)

      by Xyrus (755017) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @08:40PM (#12427847) Journal
      I would just like to remind people that this is COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT, not THEFT.

      Big difference.

      ~X~
    • Re:Robin Hood (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lahvak (69490) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @09:40PM (#12428242) Homepage Journal
      It doesn't make it legal, but it does make it accepted by public. There is whole bunch of laws like this. Driving too fast is illegal, yet everybody does it, and nobody cares. Smoking pot is illegal, but lot of people do it, and nobody cares. In some places, jaywalking is illegal, but nobody cares.

      Yes, it may be illegal to "steal" from RIAA, but who cares? People are fed up with RIAA, and when they claim that p2p networks will drive them out of business, most people will just say "good riddance!"
    • Is he saying stealing from thieves (or unethical businesses) is not so bad?

      Robin Hood stole from the government, not from thieves.

      ....

      Er... nevermind!

  • Bah (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    63% of all rebuttals are made up on the spot. 52% of all people know that.
    • Re:Bah (Score:3, Funny)

      by F13 (9091)
      Aw, people can come up with statistics to prove anything. Fourfty percent of all people know that.
  • by gardyloo (512791) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:00PM (#12427001)
    "I'm rubber, you're glue."
  • YAIA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pdbogen (596723) <<su.unrec> <ta> <todhsals-negobdp>> on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:03PM (#12427024) Homepage
    (Yet Another Internet Argument)
    While I am quite pleased to see authority figures (even if they are just university professors) standing up to the RIAA, I must admit that Prof. Dannenberg actually did rather little to counter Sherman's arguments; while his points are good and valid, they do, unfortunately, follow one of the cardinal rules of internet arguing: Never argue the opponents points, only point out his weaknesses.
    • Re:YAIA (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:05PM (#12427045)
      Shut up, Hitler.
    • Re:YAIA (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Aaron England (681534) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:45PM (#12427408)
      Never argue the opponents points, only point out his weaknesses.
      You mean, kind of like what you just did with Prof. Dannenberg's argument?
  • Lacking Content (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mathonwy (160184) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:06PM (#12427056)
    I hate the MPAA/RIAA as much as anyone, but I wish this letter had had more meat in it. In particular, the final point ("I know people who haven't gotten their checks from you guys, so nyah") is a pretty weak...

    The first part is ok, I just wish there were more of it. It's not like the recording industry's history doesn't have enough hypocricy to fill several articles. That would have made a better impression. "Extending musical copyrights for centuries is absurd, and clearly just a money grab" is a much better argument (imho) than "You steal from us, so it's ok if we steal back".
    • Re:Lacking Content (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dun Malg (230075) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @08:08PM (#12427608) Homepage
      I hate the MPAA/RIAA as much as anyone, but I wish this letter had had more meat in it. ...The first part is ok, I just wish there were more of it. It's not like the recording industry's history doesn't have enough hypocricy to fill several articles.

      You have unrealistic expectations from that type of forum. The problem is, he wasn't writing an article, it was a letter to the editor. Letters that are article length either don't get published or get edited down to two or three short paragraphs. He did the best one could expect within those limitations.

      • Re:Lacking Content (Score:4, Informative)

        by renehollan (138013) <rhollan@ c l e a r w i re.net> on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @10:38PM (#12428586) Homepage Journal
        The problem is, he wasn't writing an article, it was a letter to the editor.

        Indeed.

        I used to write many letters to the editor of the Financial Post (a right-wing national financial paper in Canada - I usually argued the libertarian position). I had a good record of getting them published.

        Once I got a call from their letters to the editor deportment, saying, basically, "We like your letter. But, it's too long. Can you shorten it? In the next 5 minutes?"

        I responded, "Just use the first and last paragraph. It'll stand on those". Silence for a few seconds, then, "Geez, thanks! That works!!" and "clik" as the line went dead.

        The point is I wrote my letter to be edited. Most papers reserve that right, to edit for brevity, typos, and grammer. The desk editor was doing me a curtesy by asking, though the cut he was wanting to make was significant (about 70% of the content, most of which was backing my opening assertion).

        So, yeah, letters to the editor are often statements of opinion, with little to back them up. The ones that have their substance back up often do get published in favour of those that don't, even though the supporting arguments are omitted in the final version. That this one had several of those arguments published says something of the importance the editor(s) gave it.

  • Wow! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ta bu shi da yu (687699) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:10PM (#12427096) Homepage
    Mr. Sherman, you say that stealing "is not OK," and yet I have musician friends who cannot get RIAA members to pay them the royalties they are due. While you are asking universities to address your problems, please don't forget that you too can be a "powerful leader in curbing theft of copyright materials on campus." If you'll stop your members from stealing from my friends, and then study some history, maybe I can help you.

    I'd love to find out who RIAA members are stealing from. That would really stop them from spouting off that the RIAA "protects" artists by allowing them to make a living!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @08:19PM (#12427694)
      I know a fellow who did a whole bunch of recording for Dorian Recordings, an audiophile label.

      He never received any royalties. At first he just figured his recordings weren't selling (that's what they told him--how should he know any different--they do all the bookkeeping and tracking of sales!). Later he found out his recordings were indeed selling like hotcakes and he should have been receiving substantial royalty payments every quarter.

      Despite repeated promises from Dorian to get the situation resolved "real soon now", he never did receive a nickel, and it turns out that (according to him) just not paying royalties at all was essentially Dorian's policy. While all their big name recording artists (in the classical music world) were wondering where their royalty checks were, the company principals were busy building & buying million dollar homes in various exotic locations around the world . . .

      According to my friend, this sort of treatment is more or less the norm in the recording industry. They give you sales records that you strongly suspect are doctored or just plain wrong (but how do you prove it?), pay you royalties 1/10 or 1/4 what you have good reason to believe you should be getting (again, how do you prove it?), pay you occasionally instead of quarterly (per the contracdt), or just "forget" to pay you altogether until you pester them repeatedly, then pay some small amount to keep you quiet.

      He says that as near as he can tell, Dorian really didn't know how much they owed people. But of course there is a BIG reward to them for being so incompetent . . . if they were organized and competent they would have to fork over the royalties. But with "gosh, we're so disorganized around here!" and a stupid grin, it all works out for the best . . . for them.

      See Dorian's web site [dorian.com] and some articles about their bankruptcy: 1 [playbillarts.com] 2 [stereophile.com] 3 [gramophone.co.uk].

      Incidentally, the same friend says that music royalties are indeed his largest single source of income. But--royalties from sheet music, music books, and music-related books, NOT recordings.

  • by danalien (545655) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:11PM (#12427115) Homepage


    ...hearing 'Big thieves' (RIAA's members, the 'music maffia' - 'we' all know how the operate...) cry over (from their POV) a bunch of smaller-thevies 'stealing' from them....

    *HMpf*


    danalien - former filesharer, stopped 'stealing' garbage ...

  • by kfg (145172) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:12PM (#12427117)
    I'm curious, is the RIAA aware that the universities are engaged in adult education?

    KFG
  • News? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dynedain (141758)
    Wow, a 10 sentence letter to the editor...thats breaking news and a clear-cut victory for the anti-**AA crowd.
  • by MacDork (560499) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:12PM (#12427122) Journal
    I got my brain on hype.
    Tonight'll be your night.
    I got this long-assed knife,
    and your neck looks just right.
    My adrenaline's pumpin'.
    I got my stereo bumpin'.
    I'm 'bout to kill me somethin'
    A pig stopped me for nuthin'!


    Cop killer, better you than me.
    Cop killer, f**k police brutality!
    Cop killer, I know your mama's grievin'
    (f**k her)
    Cop killer, but tonight we get even.

    Yeah, it's those damned colleges that are corrupting the moral values of America's youth while the RIAA [magnetbox.com] stands for all that is just and good.

  • by Bananatree3 (872975) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:14PM (#12427144)

    It makes sense, at least to me, that the RIAA's all-stakes vendetta against file sharers is taking things too far. While I do think that artists should have the ability to make a living off of their music, it does not at all justify the sheer amount of all out attack that the RIAA has been taking agaisnt File-sharers.

    The RIAA's tactis have not done nearly as much I think to stop illegal file-sharing as LEGAL music downloads like Apple's iTunes and others have been doing. The scare tactics employeed by the RIAA only scares off some of the less-diehard file swappers, and does not deter the majority of the sharers out there. While it may seem like the number of file sharers has decreased, the majority of those that have stopped have probably moved to legal forms of getting music downloads. If the RIAA, instead of spending millions on lawyers fees to sue, spend that money on promoting legal music downloading, I have a feeling the impact would be greater

    • If they saved all the money they're spending on going after file swappers and instead lowered cd prices I guaruntee you would see an increase in buying cds
      • by Soko (17987) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:41PM (#12427388) Homepage
        I've always believed that the RIAA is more interested in control than sales.

        The Internet is a distribution channel that they will never (hopefully) fully control. If they can't control their means of distribution, they can't provide stable financial data - which tends to conflict with what share holders want in a company.

        Internet distribution can make the RIAA totally irrelevant. With the right hardware [macroundup.com] and new applications [apple.com], almost anyone can make, record and distribute quality music. The RIAA is fighting for it's very existance, IMHO.

        Soko
        • by stealth.c (724419) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @01:03AM (#12429259)
          Precisely.

          The Internet makes them irrelevant. If the RIAA ceased to exist tomorrow, the knobs that run the radio stations, VH1, etc. would be confused for about a week, then realize the replacement already exists.

          More people need to realize this. Maybe somehow, someone like Napster, Apple or Microsoft can get the typical mainstream distribution channels (radio, TV) to not think of the RIAA labels as their sole source. When that happens, well, we can watch what a free market will do. The thing the RIAA labels offer to budding artists is andvertisement and connections. If web-based distribution companies find a way to offer this too, in essence becoming labels themselves, then the RIAA is sunk.
        • > almost anyone can make, record and distribute quality music

          A slight correction. They can make music with high quality sound. High quality music requires talent that most people do not have, or choose not to learn.
  • Not impressed. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:14PM (#12427148)
    While I'm sure that the points he raises are valid, overall I'd say that was a really weak letter, and not something that deserves front page on Slashdot. Who are these "friends" exactly? How about some more modern examples of RIAA bullsh*t? The examples he gives are so far in the past that they are hardly relevent now. He needs a more developed argument and much more supporting evidence.

    -d
  • Unreadable (Score:3, Funny)

    by alan_dershowitz (586542) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:19PM (#12427201)
    Did anyone else find this rebuttal just rambling and boring? He didn't do a lot of rebutting, just yammering all over the map about things only tangentially related to the topic.
    • by FriedTurkey (761642) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:40PM (#12427379)
      Did anyone else find this rebuttal just rambling and boring? He didn't do a lot of rebutting, just yammering all over the map about things only tangentially related to the topic.

      Hello...he is a college professor. Did you go to college? College professors never actually say anything useful.

      I am not reading the rebuttal. I just picked up a syllabus and I will show up for the exams.

      • Re:Unreadable (Score:4, Insightful)

        by michaelhood (667393) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @02:40AM (#12429613)
        Hello...he is a college professor. Did you go to college? College professors never actually say anything useful.

        I choose not to argue that..
        But then, why is it exactly you've chosen to attend a college where you realize you will gain nothing from your professor's teaching? Aren't you just supporting a system that (per your opinion) allows you to pay a lot of money to hear professors to say nothing useful?
        • Re:Unreadable (Score:3, Insightful)

          by aziraphale (96251)
          Actually, I believe it's paying a lot of money to acquire a piece of paper that tells other people that you've listened to professors saying nothing useful...

          There's a subtle but important difference.
  • Uphill Battle (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DumbSwede (521261) <slashdotbin@hotmail.com> on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:20PM (#12427208) Homepage Journal
    Here is my take on why the MPAA and RIAA will fail in trying to realize all of their draconian measures. We are headed into a sea of entertainment choices, and while the MPAA and the RIAA would like to make sailing these seas a cash cow with DMCA, it seems unlikely that will succeed. The RIAA is screaming about shrinking revenues and blames piracy. Piracy is a partial answer to why RIAA revenues are not increasing at projected rates. Actually shrinking (yet) is debatable depending on whose numbers you use. But here is a better list of reasons the RIAA is no longer getting what it thinks are its just dues:

    1. People have been use to getting free music for decades -- ever since the birth of radio.
    2. People used to feel the money paid on records was mostly in the physical process of making records and distributing them, but now they see with 10 cent CDROMS and 1/10 of a cent per Meg of disk space that playback mediums are now virtually free.
    3. A lot of people feel recorded music is all advertising. Why would you listen to an artist if you hadn't already heard the artist and why would you pay for something you've already heard?
    4. In the past people bought records they heard on the radio only because they didn't have a convenient way to record just the songs they wanted and to index, label, store, and retrieve them.
    5. In the past people didn't feel like chumps for plunking down $10 for and album and $15 for a CD, because there weren't millions of others are getting this stuff for free. Let me make the point clearer - even if the RIAA scares someone into not downloading music from the net, the willingness to pay full price will also be diminished because the tantalizing free stuff lies just a wire away.
    6. Some portion of the potential audience feels that musicians are over compensated, immoral, prima donnas that can't actually perform outside a recording studio without 100 retakes and then special post processing to improve their marginally capable voices.
    7. Some people prefer live music and think money paid for a live show is the only real compensation music artists should expect.
    8. Music artists and the RIAA are seen as hypocrites hawking anti-establishment messages and then looking for special rights, powers, and protection from the establishment to maintain their empire.
    9. Ever since the death of the 45-rpm single, people have felt coerced into buying all of the songs on a CD or album when all they wanted was a song or two.
    10. When people buy something they like to feel they actually own it and can do what ever they want with it. You can buy or subscribe to music singles again these days, but not without some flavor of DMCA. Some more draconian than others.
    So ironically it is not that some huge percentage of the population is listening to bootleg music, though they probably would if the RIAA weren't fighting this loosing rear guard action, but that the cheapness of distributing music has been uncovered and become known because bootleggers exist. That Genie is not going back in the bottle -- maybe they should change their business models instead.
    • Re:Uphill Battle (Score:4, Insightful)

      by largenumber (870199) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:48PM (#12427440)
      11. In a digital medium, music is just one big number, extremely easy to reproduce, exactly as it is, because it is a number. Before digital mediums this was not possible.

      12. You cannot own a fact, not in the intellectual property sense or the physical sense of the word. You cannot own a number because it is a fact.

      The intellectual property proponents are in what I like to call a fortified losing position. At one point they had a business model that was based on distribution and storage and now that model no longer works because distribution and storage have become far too easy and cheap. The whole IP discussion is ancillary to their current and future financial crisis. If they don't change their business model or manage to invade every aspect of your personal life in the name of IP (which has less to do with IP and more to do with monitoring and controlling you in ways most find offensive at best), then they will not maintain their entertainment cartel.
    • by mblase (200735) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:54PM (#12427489)
      Music artists and the RIAA are seen as hypocrites hawking anti-establishment messages and then looking for special rights, powers, and protection from the establishment to maintain their empire.

      I never realized how fundamental this is to the RIAA's "problems" of the day. On one hand, they actively record, promote and profit from gangsta rap which doesn't just talk about killing policemen and living the "bling-bling" life, it's practically propaganda for it.

      And then they expect us to listen when they tell us not to steal copies of music? That's like Merimac Caverns at midnight calling the kettle black.
  • by gremlins (588904) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:21PM (#12427218)
    Just wait till everyone is using i2p [i2p.net]. Then the RIAA can't really do anything about it.

    On that note I agree with the assertion this letter raises that the RIAA and similar groups are only intrested in the law when it suits them. When it doesn't they either disregard it or spend tons of money to buy our congressmen so they can have it changed.
  • Trying to treat things that can be coppied freely like property that can't is simply bullshit morality, and I think by now everybody knows it, but too many people are scared to just plain say it. Maybe they don't want to hurt peoples feelings, maybe they just don't want the social stigma of the brow beaters saying "you hate artists", maybe they're just holding out hope for a "compromise" so everybody can just get along, I don't know?

  • USENET (Score:5, Informative)

    by HD Webdev (247266) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:28PM (#12427287) Homepage Journal
    I still don't know why people like P2P applications so much. They are begging to get busted due to them waving a 'looky here at my copyrighted files' flag publicly.

    USENET is still superior: Anonymous uploading of files can be done. Downloads are usually extremely fast & won't be noticed by the RIAA or whoever else is interested. And, reviews ("virus!", "bad sample rate", "wrong file", "goatse.cx warning", etc..) of uploaded files are there to be looked at before choosing to download them.

    P2P, bah. There are plenty of USENET front-ends that make finding files much easier and faster to get.
    • P2P, bah. There are plenty of USENET front-ends that make finding files much easier and faster to get.

      25 million reasons why... Comcast HSD subscribers. Also millions more: People who don't want to deal w/USEnet (I'm one of them).

      I have never had a positive experience getting anything from USEnet other than alt.sex.stories and from what limited reading I did of it in the past month it sucks worse than ever.

      USEnet for files is awful even with programs to do it for you. P2P is fast, getting faster, an
      • Re:USENET (Score:5, Informative)

        by HD Webdev (247266) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @08:11PM (#12427630) Homepage Journal
        Also millions more: People who don't want to deal w/USEnet (I'm one of them).

        EXACTLY!

        That's one of the major reasons why the quality/quantity of good files is better on USENET.

        People who won't bother to learn how to use USENET or download an application to do it for them get filtered out. Serious traders spend an hour or so learning how to use USENET and often keep quality sets of files on-hand so that they can post 'FILEFOO (requesting: FILEBAR)' and be assured that they will get the exact file they want in return.

        OTOH, P2P is full of tons of crap that people don't even realize they are sharing because they can't be bothered to RTFM. Example: Search for NOTEPAD.EXE and then browse the users and you'll see that often you're looking at their WINDOWS directory.
    • Re:USENET (Score:4, Interesting)

      by yuriismaster (776296) <tubaswimmer @ g m a i l . c om> on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:45PM (#12427417) Homepage
      There are plenty of USENET front-ends that make finding files much easier and faster to get.

      I wholeheartedly agree. Although I'm kindof limited by what hasn't expired yet, its a reliable source of high-quality and fully tagged mp3's.

      For the interested:Are the two that I use. They work really well, although NewsLeecher is 15-day shareware.
  • The point is? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Erwos (553607) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:29PM (#12427293)
    "reminding everyone how past/present behavior of the RIAA and its members is an even worse model of values..."

    Two wrongs don't make a right.

    -Erwos
    • Re:The point is? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Quixote (154172) * on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:56PM (#12427506) Homepage Journal
      True. But his argument is more along the lines of "Physician, heal thyself".

      If you walk into a police station with outstanding warrants against you, complaining of a mugging, the cops are going to catch you first before they go after the mugger.

      How many times have we read about pot growers who call in cops to complain of a burglary? And guess what? The cops catch them first.

      If the RIAA is complaining of a crime, they must make sure that they themselves are innocent of such.

  • by Simonetta (207550) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:50PM (#12427455)
    The RIAA companies stole the public domain. They bribed the politicians to pass laws that indefinitely extend the copyright period on all published materials since the first third of the 20th century.
    Under the legal principal that creates the authority of copyright protection, artistic materials must become part of the public domain after a set period of time. Bribing politicians to continously extend this period on materials that have reached the limit of their copyright is stealing from the public. It's like agreeing to pay a certain amount for an item only to find that the seller has doubled the price on the day that last payment is due... extending the number of payments that you have to make for another fifty years into the future.

    And they haven't done this just once; they have done it repeatedly. Which establishes a pattern of confirmed criminal behavior in a court of law. And confirmed criminals don't get to decide what the laws are going to be for everyone else.

    No civilized people or government should stand for this.

    When we copy and freely distribute, we are reclaiming what has been stolen from us already. Reclaiming it from the people who have committed the biggest crime in artistic history; the theft of the public domain.

    It must be pointed out over and over again:
    The RIAA has no legal, moral, or ethical authority to call anyone criminals.

    Plain and simple in any culture, at any time.
  • by Senor_Programmer (876714) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @08:05PM (#12427571)
    10cent bit of plastic for $15 and when it degrades to uselessness and you grab a copy off the net try to put your ass in jail.

    To paraphrase NWA, 'Fuck the RIAA'

    Su Senor Programmer
  • by cution (881211) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @08:07PM (#12427589)
    Sharing copyrighted music isn't theft; it's copyright infringement.
  • theft / infringement (Score:3, Interesting)

    by potpie (706881) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @09:06PM (#12428045) Journal
    About the use of these terms:

    The RIAA uses the word "theft" for its immoral stigma (something "infringement" lacks), while at the same time making cases against people for "infringement" because of the economic benefits to gain from winning such a case. I'f I were sued by the RIAA for "infringement," I'd call them out on it, point to articles where they call it "theft," and demand it be treated thus.
  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @09:06PM (#12428047)
    So my coworker tells me of his kid at college, that the university has a internet2 connection. He tells stories of pulling down whole movies in 10minutes.

    My BS to this is... these are public universities funded with my TAX DOLLARS. While I was in school, you could get suspended and possibly expelled for abusing the computing systems (downloading pr0n, running a MUDD).

    I'm sorry but how does downloading Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy on DVD constitute the correct use of a universities network let alone internet2?

    So if you look at what the internet2 is supposed to be http://www.internet2.edu/about/ [internet2.edu] you'll see such reasons for the internet2 as:
    * Create a leading edge network capability for the national research community
    * Enable revolutionary Internet applications
    * Ensure the rapid transfer of new network services and applications to the broader Internet community.

    Where does "Trade Maroon5 CDs" fit under this? Sounds like they (the universities and the leadership of the internet2 group) should be cracking down on these guys.

    -
  • by SKPhoton (683703) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @09:40PM (#12428244) Homepage
    I'm at one of the schools with people being sued for sharing music on Internet2 and I know 2 of the people personally.

    What is the RIAA doing on that network in the first place? It's meant for university networks only. Copyright issues aside, they're not allowed on that network in the first place.
  • Courtney Love... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AyeRoxor! (471669) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @10:04PM (#12428386) Journal
    Surprised this hasn't already been posted:

    Courtney Love Does the Math [google.com]

    Fantastic article about how RIAA appears to the Artistry

    (Link to GCache to avoid slashdotting)
    • Re:Courtney Love... (Score:3, Informative)

      by puke76 (775195)
      Wish I had some mod points.

      When you look at the legal line on a CD, it says copyright 1976 Atlantic Records or copyright 1996 RCA Records. When you look at a book, though, it'll say something like copyright 1999 Susan Faludi, or David Foster Wallace. Authors own their books and license them to publishers. When the contract runs out, writers gets their books back. But record companies own our copyrights forever.

      The system's set up so almost nobody gets paid.

      Steve Albini's The Problem with Music [negativland.com] is

  • More about this.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by zorander (85178) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @10:50PM (#12428648) Homepage Journal
    Dannenberg, while an idealogue, is a pretty smart guy. I just completed the course he mentioned in the letter, and while the discussion he inspires among students can be biased on the borderline of predatory, he's remarkably adept at inspiring this sort of discussion without leaving the realm of fact. Though I appreciate that, I don't generally appreciate the blood-frenzy that seems to envelop the more extreme liberals in the class whenever he brings these sorts of topics up.

    He has a tendency to stick some slides into the middle of his lecture that typically draw attention to some (invariably) republican inconsistency. He'd then encourage a five to ten minute discussion on the topic which spiralled progressively from merely anti-republican to borderline socialist, then finish his lecture on digital signal processing or whatever.

    The point he misses is that government intervention has also helped us to get into this mess. The RIAA and MPAA and their stranglehold on media were, in large part, caused by legislation that supported that control (most recently, the DMCA). I don't think we can trust the same government which brought this to be to do something about it. It's just not in the cards.

    I typically support a minimal government intervention in business, since congress is pretty much owned by business--the companies' buddies in congress will not allow a law to do any thing that hurts the bottom line for them. This pretty much guarantees that any changed to the DMCA will have a minimum positive effect for the consumer alongside a massive media impact. The spiral of lies continues.

    Perhaps the government should be as separate from the concerns of business as it is the church (W aside). After all, though the government has massive powers to help business, business strives to enslave as much as the sad mixture of the Roman Catholic church and the Roman givernment ever did. While the United States can and should make a healthy environment for business, and help protect the United States economy from foreign interests (just as we'd protect a church here from a rival religious faction overseas who intended to harm them), it shouldn't be used by big business to enslave the people. By drawing a line in the sand that grows both ways, the representation of the people can only increase, and most of us would agree that this is a good thing.
  • by ph4s3 (634087) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @12:07AM (#12429029)
    ... And through consistent education programs, they can continually remind users of the value of copyrighted works...
    Is it just me, or is the death cry of a middleman always a "reminder" of how important they are to the process of uniting sellers (creators) and buyers (us)? It strikes me as interesting that one must be reminded of the value of something through "education programs," when, if those products had actual value, the buyer would know it inherently.

    You know what pisses me off? That I *do* find value in music and enjoy it very much and yet I can't get a non-protected err, non-"enhanced", CD from a particular artist that will play in my damned car's CD player ('99 honda accord, stock system so it is definitely not unique). Here I am, willing to part with $15 for a physical disc with liner notes, cover art, lyrics, and some minor biographical info and I'm not able to find one that I can actually use in the one place I want to use it. I don't have anything against iTunes, but if I buy an album, I want the physical object for my library. It seems like the musicians' fans ARE the market and the RIAA has missed the boat by focusing on illegal activity instead of what the market actually is. Which goes to my point. What happens when an entire industry has lost sight of the market? They try to remind the public of their supposed value and then someone or something arises to serve the real needs of the new market to the detriment of the previous (most likely) monopoly.

    R.I.P. Recording Industry Ass. of America

Business is a good game -- lots of competition and minimum of rules. You keep score with money. -- Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari

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