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Cuban Says RIAA Damages Should be $5 Per Month 693

Posted by timothy
from the simplistic-but-cute-and-vice-versa dept.
Thomas Hawk writes "Mark Cuban is arguing over at Blog Maverick that with the introduction of Yahoo!'s new $5 per month music service that this needs to become the new de facto 'damages' that the RIAA ought to be able to claim when suing kids. After all, when the kids could have paid for the music via Yahoo! for $5 a month it makes it hard to say the music loss is worth more than that. 'The RIAA can no longer claim that students who are downloading music are costing them thousands of dollars each. They cant claim much of anything actually. In essence, Yahoo just turned possession of a controlled music substance into a misdemeanor. Payable by a $5 per month fine.'"
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Cuban Says RIAA Damages Should be $5 Per Month

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  • by DustMagnet (453493) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:31PM (#12558802) Journal
    The RIAA doesn't sue downloaders. They sue people who upload music. Yes I know, some programs upload what you download by default, but that change what they sue people for. You can't get the right to upload music for $5 a month. Even if you could, the RIAA can always sue for statutory damages, which are a lot higher than $5 a month even for downloading.
    • by lukewarmfusion (726141) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:35PM (#12558856) Homepage Journal
      That's generally just because of the technology. First, it's possible to make a fair use defense based on your ownership of the CD or DVD. Second, uploading appears to be a bigger violation simply because you could be uploading to hundreds of people.

      It cracks me up that you can get a small fine or few days in jail for shoplifting a CD, but downloading that same album online (with inferior quality!) can net you years of prison time and hundreds of thousands in fines!
      • by Anonymous Coward
        It cracks me up that you can get a small fine or few days in jail for shoplifting a CD, but downloading that same album online (with inferior quality!) can net you years of prison time and hundreds of thousands in fines!

        Are you deaf? You can't get jail time or thousands in fines for downloading.

        • by sleeper0 (319432)
          As far as shoplifting punishment goes it brings up a good argument versus the article... As far as the law is concerned if you get caught shoplifting you cant just say fine here I'll pay the price of the item and go off on your merry way. If that was the case it would make the most sense to just shoplift everything and only pay when you get caught. The article goes even further really implying you should be able to say "well sure the store i stole it at charges $20 for this item but i saw it on sale some
      • by JVert (578547) <corganbilly.hotmail@com> on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:45PM (#12559004) Journal
        Your may rob from the rich but i'll have your soul if you even think of giving to the poor!
      • by squiggleslash (241428) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:48PM (#12559042) Homepage Journal
        Well, it can, but it generally will not. I think more people (and days) have spent time in jail for shoplifting than for P2P-style piracy.

        Generally though, you said it: the issue is one of damage. From the point of view of the recording industry, someone who distributes (directly and indirectly) one of their albums to millions (remember, I said directly and indirectly) of anonymous strangers is far, far, more damaging than someone who removes one copy of a CD from circulation without paying for it. From their point of view, the latter constitutes the removal of 2c of plastic from sale plus $5-10 (or so) in lost revenue (after retail margins etc.) The other constitutes, potentially, tens of thousands to millions of dollars in lost revenues through lost sales.

        Which would you be more concerned about if you're heavily investing large quantities of money into funding the creation, recording, and promotion of music?

        • Which would you be more concerned about if you're heavily investing large quantities of money into funding the creation, recording, and promotion of music?

          ...and monopolizing all avenues of distribution, making sure that any artist who wants to have their music heard must go through one of the record labels.
          • ...and monopolizing all avenues of distribution, making sure that any artist who wants to have their music heard must go through one of the record labels.

            This doesn't happen. If I want to use the distribution channels controlled by the RIAA then I have to sign a contract with them and agree to the terms of it.

            But if I am a music producer and wish to distribute my music however I want, I can do that. It's mine. I created it. I am the copyright holder in this case and I have the exclusive rights to

            • by maraist (68387) * <michael DOT mara ... DOT n0spam DOT > on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:28PM (#12559532) Homepage
              I think it's a little bit of both of you being right. I agree with you that you can take an independent path; the parent is technically incorrect since the RIAA or whatever doesn't have a monopoly.. But that's like saying MS didn't have a monopoly in the late 90's.. Yes there was DR DOS and Linux and SCO UNIX, and OS/2. But they were like 1% of the market.

              Likewise, I'm sure the indi venue is an insignificant portion of the audience market but I have no numbers to back me up.

              The music radio is mostly clear-channel. I'm sure Satalite radio is clear-channel controlled. MTV is certainly biased towards the establishment. The only large distribution you have left are sound-tracks of big-end movies. With the possible exception of indi-films that at least get a lot of spot-light, if not popularity.

              The industry has calculated methods of maximizing profit; tuning various demographics to particular sounds and focusing on particular artists of the month to build sensationalism which causes people to flock to the fad-of-the-month and thus increase revenue. To facilitate this brainwashing, they need LOTS of airtime for their target projects, and this leaves no room for anything else.. With the consolidation of media outlets, the drive to "advertise" a particular label means even less airtime for variety.

              So there IS an establishment that is trying to squash unsigned material, albeit indirectly through the reduction of avenues of distribution.

              As a disclaimer, I have no association with the musical profession.
              • by stlhawkeye (868951) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:46PM (#12559751) Homepage Journal
                I think it's a little bit of both of you being right. I agree with you that you can take an independent path; the parent is technically incorrect since the RIAA or whatever doesn't have a monopoly.. But that's like saying MS didn't have a monopoly in the late 90's.. Yes there was DR DOS and Linux and SCO UNIX, and OS/2. But they were like 1% of the market.

                I'm not arguing for or against a monopoly by the RIAA. I am arguing that this group of businesses does not automatically own all music created, and so "any artist" that wants to distribute his music in his own manner is free to do so.

                Likewise, I'm sure the indi venue is an insignificant portion of the audience market but I have no numbers to back me up.

                I have no idea either, but the indy market share isn't relevent to my point.

                The music radio is mostly clear-channel. I'm sure Satalite radio is clear-channel controlled. MTV is certainly biased towards the establishment.

                They have to be, they can only play the establishment's music by buying a license from a broadcast rights manage group like ASCAP, and if they're dickheads about the RIAA's behavior, they'll find their license expense crawling up. MTV is as much a slave to the content cartels as FM radio.

                The only large distribution you have left are sound-tracks of big-end movies. With the possible exception of indi-films that at least get a lot of spot-light, if not popularity.

                If you want large-scale distribution then your choices are limited. If you want millions and millions of people to hear your music then you are at the mercy of distribution channels that can potentially reach millions and millions of people. The internet is my personal favorite.

                The industry has calculated methods of maximizing profit;

                Any prudent business should, yes.

                tuning various demographics to particular sounds and focusing on particular artists of the month to build sensationalism which causes people to flock to the fad-of-the-month and thus increase revenue. To facilitate this brainwashing, they need LOTS of airtime for their target projects, and this leaves no room for anything else.. With the consolidation of media outlets, the drive to "advertise" a particular label means even less airtime for variety.

                In other words, they saturate the masses with cookie-cooker schlock and the masses eat it up. This has been happening for as long as there has been art and isn't a phenomenon unique to big business. Note: I am not exonerating big business for any wrong-doing. I hate big corporations as much as the next day.

                So there IS an establishment that is trying to squash unsigned material, albeit indirectly through the reduction of avenues of distribution.

                I don't think they're actively trying to squash unsigned material, because they could buy out almost anybody they wanted. If your material was so good that they were potentially losing millions in sales off your stuff, they'd have come up (in most cases) with enough money to turn the pupils of even the most principled artist into dollar signs. Everybody has high standards about how money should trade hands when they aren't the ones earning it.

                I don't think the attempt to destroy the P2P networks is based on squelching unsigned talent either. They really do believe that they're losing money off of it. They're idiots, of course, because assuming P2P is the root of the problem, will banning it solve the problem? No. Will copy protection and DRM solve it? No.

                As a disclaimer, I have no association with the musical profession.

                Nor do I. I think you missed part of my point. I was countering this idea that if I want to hand out my music to anybod who wants to hear it, I can't because of the RIAA. This just isn't true. They don't own all music in the world.

                I don't agree with them, their tactics, their close relationship to our congressional representatives, their at

          • by shark72 (702619) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:30PM (#12559552)

            "...and monopolizing all avenues of distribution, making sure that any artist who wants to have their music heard must go through one of the record labels."

            Of which there are thousands, or perhaps tens of thousands. Some are big and huge and are members of the RIAA. Some are small and independent yet still belong to the RIAA. Some are small and independent and cool and don't belong to the RIAA. Some, like Magnatune [magnatune.com], are virtual. Some, like CDBaby [cdbaby.com], specialize in getting your stuff onto the legit download sites even if you're not signed to a traditional label. There's a ton of non-RIAA and unsigned music on the Apple iTunes Music Store.

            It's your music... do what you want. If you want to get the potential of mammoth exposure and sales, in exchange for a loss of control and a much smaller portion of the selling price of your music, sign a recording contract with a big label. If you want a little more control and a bigger share of the profits, but with less of a budget, go with one of the cool indie labels. If you just want a little assistance but want to do most of the promotion yourself, try Magnatune or CD Baby. If you don't think the service that any of them provide is worth it, and you're lucky enough to have the means to record, produce, and promote your work yourself, then more power to you.

            The fact is that in the record industry, just as in the software industry or a thousand other industries, nobody's going to give you a million bucks to do with as you please in creating and promoting your work, without wanting something back. Is this unfair? You bet. Can it make it tough? Of course. But this is not a "monopoly."

        • "Which would you be more concerned about if you're heavily investing large quantities of money into funding the creation, recording, and promotion of music?"

          Not arguing anything, but I thought it might be good to point out here that the artist pays for all the recording and promotional costs. Artists usually receive no payment after a recording is made from the recordings' sale until, in the labels' opinion, it's costs have been repaid. There's a very good piece on how things work between labels and artis
      • It cracks me up that you can get a small fine or few days in jail for shoplifting a CD, but downloading that same album online (with inferior quality!) can net you years of prison time and hundreds of thousands in fines!

        That's because they are two different violations. Stealing a CD is misdemeanor theft. Uploading a CD to thousands of people is felony copyright infringement.

      • by AviLazar (741826) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @05:10PM (#12560015) Journal
        First, it's possible to make a fair use defense based on your ownership of the CD or DVD.

        "Your honor, yes I know I allowed 5000 people to download music from my computer...but I own the original CD" holds up CD "so it falls under the fair use law."

        Then the kids defense attorney rises "Your honor, as you can see, we would like to plead mental insanity. This kid is a fucking moron."
    • by Bradee-oh! (459922) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:42PM (#12558967)
      Yes, the RIAA targets uploaders. But how do you differentiate uploaders from downloaders on a P2P network where you become an uploader (of specific chunks) the moment you start downloading? And when you finish downloading the file, most people leave it shared by default and you are now an uploader?

      I understand that BitTorrent is a little different because there is an original seeder but after enough time it turns into a big P2P network just like Emule... errr.... Edonkey.

      I know they target those who are the "big" uploaders, who share thousands of songs. But I'd wager that their standards for "big uploaders" are getting looser and looser and if the continue to see success with their current strategy, before long their standards will point to the "average joe P2P user." What happens then?
  • by Blymie (231220) * on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:32PM (#12558805)
    Wow.

    This guy is about as bright as a 5 watt bulb.

    It is like he does not even understand the reason that the RIAA is able to sue for thousands. The premise in court is (right or wrong) that the Music Industry is losing thousands per filesharer, for a specific reason. That is, each song available for download is being downloaded by thousands of people, and each of those downloads costs the RIAA membership the sale of a CD. Thousands of downloads * CD sale = mucho cash.

    Again, this is the premise that would be followed in court.

    Changing the price of a music from $CD_PRICE to $DOWNLOAD_YAHOO_PRICE simply means that someone making files available, would be liable for $DOWNLOAD_YAHOO_PRICE now. In other words, $num_of_users_downloading * $DOWNLOAD_YAHOO_PRICE.

    How is this ruining the RIAA in court? It only reduces the amount of damages per COUNT of people downloading.. that's all....

    Put another way, the RIAA is not suing because you did not buy music. It is not suing the people that downloaded music. It is suing the people that _shared_ music, and setting the price accordingly.

    Again, right or wrong, that's what happening. It's almost like this guy thinks people are being sued for downloading. They aren't. If they were, the RIAA could only sue for what they had lost in revenue, and that would be the cost of the songs the sued downloaded.

    No, they sue from a much bigger angle. They sue with the claim that file sharers have cost them thousands of CD sales...
    • Not quite.

      I think Mark Cuban knows his way around digital media law[s] pretty well.
    • by bobcat7677 (561727) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:47PM (#12559023) Homepage
      Just want to clarify... you mean a 5 watt INCANDESANT light bulb right? ...Because a 5 watt incandesant bulb would be pretty dim while 5 watt fluorescent bulb would actually be considerably brighter in comparison. And then there are 5 watt LED bulbs...

      This is slashdot after all. Please be specific about the technologies you refer to. :D
    • by Bamafan77 (565893) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:04PM (#12559236)
      Well, Cuban specifically only refers to what he calls "possession of a controlled music substance" , which presumably is different from dealing a controlled music substance. In the former, he's right. And since the former is the only thing he refers, I guess you could just say that he's right.

      There's going to be some people who interpret the content of the blog the same as you and come to your conclusion. There will be others who intrepret the blog the same as you, and come to the opposite conclusion. But in the end, you both will be basing your opinions on bad data. He's effectively repositioned the argument right under your noses, and you and many other highly rated posters are all a-buzz...over nothing.

      Politicians use subtle tactics like these to confuse us poor proles all the time. I can see how the guy became a billionaire now. What's a cynic to do in a world like this? :)

      • Cuban is no idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:53PM (#12559824) Homepage Journal
        He's effectively repositioned the argument right under your noses..."

        Cuban is no idiot. He knows that the way to change things is to control the structure of the argument. The music industry has managed to paint their struggle for continued control as a fight between them and "evil music thieves," and now Cuban is reframing the argument so it revolves around the music industry's pricing policies.

        Anyone who forms their opinion about music filesharing's effect on the music industry and on creativity solely on the basis of Cuban's comments is a bit dim. But that doesn't diminish the worth of what he's doing by shifting the argument. He's using the broad reach of his blog to re-think the big picture.

    • Mostly Cuban is pointing out the hypocracy of the RIAA negotiating bargain-basement deals with juggernauts like Yahoo while still trying to claim that illicit downloading is costing them millions.

      The value of the product is key to the RIAA's requests for thousands of dollars in damages. The RIAA claims a value of CD cover price per song when in fact the Yahoo deal puts that value closer to $5 per month. Wal-Mart isn't likely to win $75,000 off me if I shoplift a T-shirt. Why should the RIAA be able to ask
  • by k96822 (838564) * on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:32PM (#12558807) Journal
    That is like saying the most a person can be fined for stealing a shirt from WalMart is the price of the shirt.
    • by benjamindees (441808) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:37PM (#12558890) Homepage
      Actually the logic is completely correct. But you're confusing "fines", which are the result of criminal prosecution, with "damages", which are the result of civil suit.

      Damages are usually limited to "actual" losses, which is exactly "the price of the shirt". Fines can be much more, but they're exacted by government, not industry cabals (see Blockbuster).
      • There's compensatory damages, and punitive damages.

        Punitive damages can be significantly more than actual losses. That's deliberate.
      • by nasor (690345) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:19PM (#12559416)
        Not at all. "Punitive damages" are quite common in civil suits. Punitive damages are fines that exceed the actual damage done to the victim, with the intent being to punish the offender and deter them (and others) from committing similar offenses in the future.

        Say I own a company that sells dangerous products. They injure some of their users, so I have to pay $X/year in damages due to lawsuits. Now, if it would cost me more than $X/year to fix my product, it would be in my best interests to just continue injuring people and then paying them in court rather than making my product safe. Courts often award punitive damages in such situations, as an incentive for the defendant to stop doing whatever it is that they're getting sued for. The same logic applies here; if you only had to pay the actual cost of an illegally-downloaded song, there would be no incentive to ever legally purchase a song; at worst, I'll get caught and have to pay the price that I would have paid in a store anyway.
    • 'That doesnt compute' isnt a fair attack. He is trying to argue that a current norm(RIAA suing downloaders for lots of $$$) isnt fair and you merely site a somewhat parallel norm. This does nothing for the RIAA v Downloaders argument, all it does is highlight that there is another similar situation outside of the argument of this one.

      You cite your example as if it is the de facto standard that everyone agrees someone that steals a t-shirt deserves to be punished more-over the price of the shirt, while
    • by WebCowboy (196209) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:10PM (#12559316)
      If RIAA ran Walmart it wouldn't have shoplifters prosecuted for theft, it would launch ridiculous civil suits against them.

      If you stole a shirt from RIAA's Walmart, it would sue you $14.95 in loss/damages plus $1.5 million for pain, suffering, legal costs, etc.

      I agree that Cuban's logic is flawed, but I might amend the argument. RIAA has tried to sue for silly amounts, somewhere along the lines of $2500 per song. I believe that the defendant could argue that since there is a legal $5/month service from Yahoo that a more resonable assessment would be $5 * number of months known to offend * a reasonable estimate of the number of people who got songs from your PC in a given month. It is that last factor that is different from Cuban's argument--unfortunately what a reasonable estimate is debatable.

      So instead of these dumb multi-million lawsuits against teenage girls and grandparents that do nothing but make bad PR and settlemsnt at a small fraction of the original amount you'd do something like this:

      $5 * 6 months * 500 USERS (not songs) uploaded to in a given month is...$15000. I'd bet that in most cases it is much less than 500 unique users who get all or part of a file from your machine when logged into P2P. In any case $15K is mcuh less ridiculous than millions but still enough to remind the offenders that it is wrong.

      BTW, comapring copyright infringement to shoplifting isn't really accurate either because despite what RIAA says, violating copyright is NOT THEFT. When you steal a shirt you are denying the victim the use of said shirt. When you download music the artist (or more likely the publisher) still owns the rights and paying customers can still hear the music. Just to make it clear...

      DOWNLOADING MUSIC IS *NEVER* STEALING...

      HOWEVER...it IS violationg copyright... AND VIOLATING COPYRIGHT IS ALSO WRONG.

      The problem is that RIAA et al want to prosecute people for copyright infringement much more harshly than deserved--more than what some people get for things like theft, assault and rape. A reality check is required for people all around.
  • by 187807 (883881) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:32PM (#12558809)
    After reading the title I was wondering why the RIAA would care what someone in Cuba thinks.
  • Cubans (Score:5, Funny)

    by iBran (763687) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:32PM (#12558813)
    Who do those Cuban people think they are, telling American companies what to do!?
    • Re:Cubans (Score:5, Funny)

      by travellingmonk (884671) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:42PM (#12558966)
      Who do those Cuban people think they are, telling American companies what to do!?

      I had an image of Castro standing there with a cigar in one hand, iPod in the other, telling everyone that music was the property of the people and so everyone should be able to download songs for free...

      • Re:Cubans (Score:4, Funny)

        by AvantLegion (595806) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @05:08PM (#12559985) Journal
        >> I had an image of Castro standing there with a cigar in one hand, iPod in the other, telling everyone that music was the property of the people and so everyone should be able to download songs for free...

        I was having the exact same image, except he falls down on stage afterwards...

  • RIAA (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This makes perfect sense. Why should they be able to sue for more than the "damages" would even have been?
    • Re:RIAA (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:38PM (#12558901) Homepage Journal
      It's called "punative" damages. That money is intended to deter people from the act of theft. (Similar to the fines charged to speeders.) If punative fines didn't exist, then someone might figure that they would only have to pay for stuff that they were caught stealing.
      • Re:RIAA (Score:5, Informative)

        by stlhawkeye (868951) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:06PM (#12559268) Homepage Journal
        It's called "punative" damages. That money is intended to deter people from the act of theft. (Similar to the fines charged to speeders.) If punative fines didn't exist, then someone might figure that they would only have to pay for stuff that they were caught stealing.

        No, that is not what punitive damages are for. They are not a deterrant, they are specifically intended as an additional punishment for notably egregious, willful, or wanton violation of the law.

  • Well, sort of. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SocialEngineer (673690) <invertedpanda@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:33PM (#12558836) Homepage
    The main people the RIAA are going after are the SHARERS - the people who have hundreds, dare I saw thousands of songs in their shared folder, and are on a high-speed connection. 5 dollars per month per each individual person who downloaded from that one person is probably a little more what the RIAA would be after, if they had to affix something like that to the cost.
  • Point, Cuban.

    Though I think, legally, that violations before this would still be valued the same as they were (although iTunes prices could be the check for that at a buck a song or thousands of dollars of damages instead of hundreds of thousands...) (Though I could be wrong about that.)
  • So, if the kid gets sued when he's 18, then lives to be 80, that's 62 years * 12 mo/yr * $5 = $3720.

    This seems comparable to their current settlement amount.
  • Two things (Score:3, Insightful)

    by merlin_jim (302773) <James.McCracken@ ... .com minus punct> on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:35PM (#12558865)
    1. You have to take into account everyone that could have gotten the file from someone when talking about lost revenue

    2. The purpose of the fine is a) to recoup lost revenues and b) to discourage people from breaking the law

    While the value of 2a might have gone down, that doesn't really affect 2b.
  • by Egorn (82375) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:36PM (#12558872) Homepage
    The RIAA couldn't manage a Dairy Queen.
  • If the taking first and only paying when forced to do so is allowed to be equally cheap with paying first, then there would be no incentive to pay first whatsoever. Such a low-balling of the damages is no less silly than the high-balling that RIAA does.
  • So this brings up the question, who's not willing to pay 5$ a month for music and will insist on downloading it still?
    • by Anita Coney (648748) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:47PM (#12559022) Homepage
      I don't know if you realize, but that 5 dollars per month has to be paid EVERY month. Once you stop paying, the collection is worthless. On the other hand, with P2P songs you get to keep them forever.

      Second, they will not play on iPods, only certain Microsoft backed "Play for Sure" devices.

      Third, free is still cheaper than $3000, assuming you're 20 and live another 50 years.

      Fourth, P2P files are unencumbered with any DRM. Thus, you're getting more value for NO money.
    • I'm not. Yahoo! music won't play (as far as I can tell) on my Archos Jukebox. It won't play in any of three existing Flash-based MP3 players. So, there's several hundred dollars worth of electronics I'd need to replace to use Yahoo! music. And, I have no guarantees whatsoever that I'll be able to play the music I purchase 5 years from now. Technological obsolescence happens; I've seen it too many times. It's in a proprietary, poorly-supported format. If the market decides to switch to a new format, t
  • Bad Math (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kmo (203708)
    If you follow Cuban's argument through, the RIAA could easily claim that it is due $5 per month from you and everyone who got a copy of a song from you illegally . Which puts the damages back where the RIAA wants them.
  • by It doesn't come easy (695416) * on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:39PM (#12558921) Journal
    Personally, I buy all of my music from a Russian company [allofmp3.com] myself...
    • by xiando (770382) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:47PM (#12559027) Homepage Journal
      Actually, buying music from allofmp3 may equal stealing, depending on what country you are in. The fact that you are paying a Russian company money does not make it legal to download the songs from countries ruled by plutocracies (like the USA). If the download service you are using does not have the proper right to sell citizens of your country the music then you might as well be downloading it from any common peer to peer service.
    • I look at allmp3.com the same way I look at companies whom can't come to terms with the unions, and go to arbitration.....And then the employees are awarded more than they had originally asked for.

      If the company would have relented up front, it would have been considered a compromise by both parties.

      If the RIAA would have got their act together early on; offering reasonable prices and services in the digital age....then maybe they could have kept the geanie in the bottle.

      Since they did not -- anything no
  • by KalvinB (205500) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:39PM (#12558922) Homepage
    Since Yahoo charges $5 per month per user, the RIAA would by the writer's logic, sue for the same. So if Joe Shmoe uploads a large amount of songs and 1000 people download at least one of them within a month, Mr Shmoe owes $5000 to the RIAA.

    Of course the RIAA could also look to Apple and say they're worth $1 per song per user. In which case Mr Shmoe would owe $1 * 1000 * number of songs downloaded.

    This assumes that the uploader tracks the number of users and downloads and can verify the information to the satisfaction of the courts. This is why the RIAA and MPAA sue for generally large piles of cash. It's a very rare pirate that tracks their user base as well as Apple and Yahoo and every other legitimate music downloading business. The pirate is then at the mercy of the courts to decide how much they owe if they don't just settle with the RIAA.

  • After all, when the kids could have paid for the music via Yahoo! for $5 a month it makes it hard to say the music loss is worth more than that.
    In several types of suits, one can generally sue for triple damages. So it would be $15/month!

    ... even though the logic IS pretty dodgy. The analogy made by another about stealing a T-shirt from Wal-Mart is pretty apt. If you get caught, the penalty is likely to be a lot more than $6.99.

  • by PMuse (320639) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:41PM (#12558943)
    [Insert here a long, tired speech about the differences between copyright infringement and theft.] Nevertheless, all penalties for stealing something are far in excess of the value of the goods. Otherwise, every shopper would walk out of every grocery store without paying every time. Why pay first when you can safely wait until after the seller complains?
  • I thought subscription based services like Rhapsody and Yahoo were just streaming. If you want to acutally download the song and listen to it from somewhere else than your internet-connected computer, you had to pay an additional fee ($.79/song in Yahoo's case) I mean, if I could actually DOWNLOAD an unlimited amount of music and listen to it on all my PCs, on an mp3 player, and burn it to CD to listen in a car, for $5/month or even $20/month I'd jump at the chance. But I'm not going to pay $5/month for the privelege of listening to music and the ability to pay more to buy it.
  • Yahoo is not selling DRM-free tracks. It says nothing about the value of ripped music that Yahoo is renting crippled music for $5.
  • I agree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ZosX (517789) <zosxavius@gmTWAINail.com minus author> on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:45PM (#12558995) Homepage
    There should be caps on this sort of thing anyways. Remember the kid who made a search engine for his University and when the RIAA found out that people were using it to search other people's shares for MP3s they sued the kid for $10,000 which he paid out of pocket from his college fund. Fortunately for him he has since recovered his money thanks to an internet fund raising drive, but $10,000 is an awful lot to sue for when someone has not caused you any sort of monetary damages directly. I could only imagine the world of hurt the poor kid would be in if he didn't have the funds to just simply settle.

    This is chilling precedent. What's to stop the RIAA from one day hacking into my machines and finding some MP3s (actually, they will find a LOT) and deciding that I am distributing them or that I do not legally own all of them? Can I afford to pay some schmuck lawyer to help me defend myself against this tirade? I can't, as I am unemployed currently. Could I afford a $10,000 "fine"? Probably not. People put other people's lives at risk with drunk driving, but when they are caught, they face only a $3,000 fine here in good ole Pennsyltucky. Aparantly putting the lives of people in danger is only worth $3000 to the state, while saying that stealing some music from a corporation that owes a multitude of its artists money and does its best not to pay is ludicrous is worth $10,000 is totally ludicrous.

    The government doesn't need to get involved in this sham either. Hasn't anyone read the news? Record sales have been up. I guess the piss poor economy has had a lot more to do with sales driving down than some college kids who wouldn't have bought the freaking album new anyways.

    For the record, 90% of the albums I've ever bought were from the used bin. It would be safe to say that I never supported the artists in the first place. KRS-One has this great line about how "if you downloaded the album, come to the show." I'm sure he makes a lot more from ticket sales at shows than he does from his albums. Maybe more people need to get out and see shows and maybe more shows need to start costing less than $50 a seat!

    Is Dave Matthews really worth $100 to go see with your girlfriend? (assuming one has one here)
  • Neat... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geoffspear (692508) * on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:55PM (#12559129) Homepage
    Can I set up a new cable network that broadcasts all of the Maverick's games if I pay them the cost of a season ticket? Sounds fair to me.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:55PM (#12559135)
    No one knows if the RIAA really has a case...

    ...until they win a judgement in court that stands up under appeal.

    Until then it's all threats and scares.

  • by treerex (743007) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:57PM (#12559168) Homepage

    The argument doesn't hold up.

    These pay-per-month services are rentals: you stop paying and you no longer have access to the music (though I suppose its only a matter of time, if it hasn't happened already, before someone cracks the DRM in these rental services). With iTMS you own the track you've paid US$0.99 for. It's yours.

    People forget this, or don't think about it. Hilary Rosen's recent drivel [huffingtonpost.com] makes the same mistake when she complains about iTMS lockin while saying how great Rhapsody or Napster or Yahoo! or whatever is. Of course, you're locked into those too. Anyway.

  • by Skraut (545247) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:07PM (#12559274) Journal
    The Yahoo service is $5 a month for unlimited songs, but the second you stop paying you loose access to the songs.

    Can someone get caught with millions of songs, delete them, and just pay a 1 month ($5) Fine? or does a 15 year old get caught with 1 song have to pay $5 for the rest of his life ($4,200 assuming a 85 year life span)?

  • No Lawsuits Yet (Score:5, Informative)

    by johnos (109351) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:09PM (#12559305)
    AFAIK, the RIAA has yet to actually obtain a judgement in any end-user lawsuit. That they can successfully sue at all is far from clear at this point. Indeed, with the exception of the Napster suit, the RIAA has yet to prevail in a single hearing, much less a trial. So far, people have settled, or the suit has yet to reach trial. To date, the RIAA is batting .000 in court on end-user lawsuits.

    Cuban may well be right about the proper amount for damages, but that assumes judgement. At the start, anyone can sue anybody for any sum. For example, SCO's multi-billion dollar suit against IBM. I think we can all agree SCO won't get billions. Likewise, the RIAA would probably get less than they are asking IF they won at trial, and IF a judge agreed to impose damages. Both of those eventualities are speculative at this point.
  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:17PM (#12559389) Homepage
    It's pretty obvious that the music industry wants subscription services to succeed because they'd LOVE to have us buy the same music over and over again.

    But I'm making a prediction that those services will fail. They all use the same DRM backed by Microsoft. (AKA, Play for Sure) One day someone will find a way to bypass the DRM and free all those songs. Suddenly, those hundreds of thousand of songs you've downloaded will be yours permanently.

    Of course, they'll "fix" the problem but it'll happen again and again. Eventually the music industry will tire of being screwed and they'll make you buy the music outright. At least I hope so.
  • by Enrique1218 (603187) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:35PM (#12559623) Journal
    I am not defending the RIAA or their actions. I do believe people have the right to make off their ideas and thus, I respect copyright. I believe the technology grew too fast and majority of consumers haven't related to the ethical problem yet. Thus, I believe the proper response should be education first then punitive action. However, with punitive action, $5 for every month of infraction is too low. With P2P and torrent, the downloader becomes the uploader. With desktops and always-on broadband, these programs could run for days at a time. Take a one person with 600 pirated songs, he has $600 worth of music. If a hundred people download just %10 of his collection, he just distribute illegally $6000 worth of songs. I would guess this could happen in just a few days. Imagine, how many songs he distributes in the course of a year. Thus, $5/month is too low and would be ineffective if punitive action is being used.
  • by Esion Modnar (632431) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:55PM (#12559861)
    What a phrase! Better watch out, you don't want to get pulled over and be found to be in possession of a "controlled music substance."

    This is just one row over from "controlled literary substance" and one column up from "thought crime." Though, that last CMS I tried left my ears all numb and tingly. That was some good shit! (Another CMS wasn't much good for listening, but it killed all the mice in my house.)

  • by werdna (39029) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @05:06PM (#12559960) Journal
    The argument is ok so far as it goes, but it doesn't go very far at all.

    Regrdless whether the plaintiff suffers any damages at all, and regardless whether the defendant obtains any unjust enrichment from the infringing content, a plaintiff may still elect to obtain statutory damages. The jury gets to determine the amount of statutory damages, but that determination can be no less than $750 PER WORK INFRINGED.

    This exceeds $5 per month.
  • I disagree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AviLazar (741826) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @05:08PM (#12559986) Journal
    While I dislike the RIAA/MPAA just like the next /.'er, I wholly disagree with this story writers pricing assessment. Part of being sued and penalized for doing something bad is paying a penalty fee. For example: If a company wronged you and you were injured. You do not just sue them for your medical bills (boy does the health insurance industry wish this was the case) - you sue them for more money above and beyond.

    So while we hate the stupid prices, and the DRM's - I at least cannot say it is morally right to give the music I bought to strangers on the internet (or to download them).... As such when they sue - yes they can sue for more. I do not know how much is more valid - but $5/month is not an acceptable price.

    Though the RIAA/MPAA is suing uploaders, not downloaders.
  • by TheNucleon (865817) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @05:15PM (#12560064)

    Once audio, video or print is turned into little ones and zeroes, it becomes impossible to control. You can wrap those ones and zeroes with some DRM pixie dust, but there's always some smarty-pants who can un-DRM them again. There are those still in denial about this, like the RIAA and MPAA executives, but history has proven this out in the last decade or so. Increasingly draconian laws have a short-term effect, but only postpone the inevitable shift to a different model.

    Personally, when I get music or video, there are people I want to see paid for my privilege of enjoying the work. The writers, composers, musical artists and actors are at the top of the list, and also the professionals who capture and refine the work. Without them, there wouldn't be content to enjoy, so I want them to be paid. They need to be able to make a living.

    Currently, though, a HUGE percentage of the money lines the pockets of people who have little part in the creative process. I don't care to pay them. They are not doing me any good. In fact, they often do me harm, screening thoughtful or poignant content out of the mix because it will somehow make them less money.

    So, two problems - (1) we can't effectively control content in exchange for license fees in the digital world, and (2) we want to pay the right people and jettison the baggage. I propose that to solve these problems, a new economics of entertainment content must emerge.

    Better, more informed and creative brains than my own need to noodle on this, and we need to quit wasting time arguing about the current, doomed paradigm of entertainment commerce. Of course, thoughts like these will threaten the barons of the entertainment industry - they are slow to move, and have no vested interest in seeing things change. But the status quo can't last forever, and is already on it's last legs.

  • blah blah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by XO (250276) <blade DOT eric AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @08:09PM (#12561747) Homepage Journal
    Of course, this is only true if Yahoo has everything the RIAA has copyright for. Which is not the case, I'm sure.

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