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Will the New RIAA Tactic Boost P2P File Sharing? 309

Posted by Soulskill
from the fighting-a-losing-battle dept.
newtley writes "The RIAA's claim that it'll stop suing people may have serious consequences... for the RIAA. When it dropped its attack on seven University of Michigan students, Recording Industry vs. The People wondered if the move was linked to three investigations, with MediaSentry as the target, before Michigan's Department of Labor and Economic Growth. Now, 'LSA sophomore Erin Breisacher said she stopped downloading music illegally after hearing about the possibility of receiving a lawsuit, but now that the RIAA has stopped pursuing lawsuits she "might start downloading again,"' says the Michigan Daily, going on to quote LSA senior Chad Nihranz as saying, 'I figure, if there aren't as many lawsuits they will come out with more software to allow students to download more.'" What about some of the other potential tactics we've discussed recently, such as the UK's proposed £20 per year film and music tax or the $5 monthly fee suggested in the US? Is there anything the RIAA can do to reduce illegal file-sharing without generating massive amounts of bad publicity?
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Will the New RIAA Tactic Boost P2P File Sharing?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 01, 2009 @11:32AM (#26684861)

    But if I get taxed £20, i'll be sure to download at least £200 worth of media.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Klaus_1250 (987230)

      Then it is a win-win situation for everyone. The music and movie get their money and your get ten times the "value".

      • by Spatial (1235392) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @01:15PM (#26685707)
        Except the people who weren't illegally downloading anyway. We get shafted and both of the other groups of assholes get something for nothing.

        Pass.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ogdenk (712300)

          Honestly, I don't know one single person who doesn't have an illegitimate copy of something.

          An unlicensed Windows install on an old piece of crap Pentium II in the closet. An old bootleg cassette from a friend. A bad VHS copy of a movie. Everyone has pirated something at some point.

          Don't try to sound so righteous. You've done it and you know it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by falconwolf (725481)

            Honestly, I don't know one single person who doesn't have an illegitimate copy of something.

            Try to find a movie or music that was not embedded in a webpage on my computer. I have several cds and tapes I legally bought or was given as a gift that I have not listened to in years. If I were to play music, I'd rather be the one playing it myself, I have a flute I want to learn to play, or I'd play a vinyl record on a turntable or on a reel-to-reel tape deck [wikipedia.org]. On the other hand I have hundred of DVDs and tapes

      • £200 worth of downloads are NOT as valuable as $200 worth of CDs. At least not for me. If RIAA does start applying a 20 pound or 40 dollar monthly tax, then I will become a revolutionary (term used loosely) and compensate myself for the money stolen from my wallet:

        - Buy $400 worth of CDs from a RIAA-affiliated seller.
        - Receive them.
        - Claim that none of them work and return an empty envelope to the company.
        - File a chargeback with my VISA card
        - ???
        - Profit. (Recover the $400 tax RIAA stole from m

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by janrinok (846318)

          If RIAA does start applying a 20 pound or 40 dollar monthly tax

          The summary quite clearly states that it is a 20 pound a year tax that is being considered. Other posters are still absolutely right however, that those who are not currently downloading music or films (and I reckon that it is still the vast majority of internet users) will be paying to subsidise the activities of those who want to continue their illegal activities. Oh, come on, filesharers may think it is their right to copy whatever they want to, but it is still illegal. The copyright is still held by

    • This.

      I've thought for a while that if the RIAA &/| MPAA pursue a "download tax" on media, they must also give up their rights to puruse copyright violations: they've already collected for the violations, to do otherwise would constitute double jeopardy.
      • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @03:36PM (#26686743)

        Check Google for blank media tax. [google.com]

        Hasn't stopped them from pursuing copyright violations so far.

        You must remember these people are completely desperate. Their business model is dead. And it's a model that gave them millions for *nothing*. Sit behind a desk and collect royalties. Who wouldn't want that to continue? And if you happen to have the morals of a shark, why not try something like this? Double dipping would hardly be the least of their sins.

        • by stephanruby (542433) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @08:56PM (#26688925)

          This is basically turning into just another useless TV Licence entitlement. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, the TV Licence idea started out in many European countries as a way to support their first national television/radio broadcasting network.

          What happened over time however is that as the technology improved and became cheaper, the original 100% marketshare that the original organization enjoyed -- dwindled down to 2 or 3% of their respective market. And yet, that original subsidy -- that original TV Licence, which only increased over time and which can go as high as $200 per year in some countries, is *still* only used to subsidize that 2 or 3% of the current content producers (and some would argue, that even that estimate is too high).

          Basically, this is also what's going to happen with that blank media tax. Right now, it's going to the RIAA. Some would argue that independents are not going to receive a penny of that (and I would sort of agree with that), but saying this is actually completely missing the point. Five to twenty years from now, some of us are going to become parents/grandparents, we'll be using those blank medias for music (may be), but we'll also be using those blank media disks for recording thousands of hours of baby videos, closed-circuit security footage of our home, and other miscellaneous home videos. And any amount of professionally produced content will actually be dwarfed by the sheer amount of user-generated personal crap that we'll be recording on those. At least, that's the trend I'm starting to see developing right now. So if we keep on subsidizing the RIAA with proceeds from blank media sales (or any other type of storage medium), we're creating an entitlement monster that we'll probably never be able to get rid of.

    • Would you have bought that media without the tax being introduced?

      If not then they are still up on the deal, it only counts as a loss if you would have bought it without the tax in place.

      They could be up still further if as a result of exposure to their media, you actually buy something you wouldn't have bought otherwise.

      would you agree the best media you have, you bought it?

    • Re:short answer? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SpinningCycle (1191577) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @11:39AM (#26684911)

      I predict the following strategy:

      1) Stop suing.
      2) Collect data on the rise of file-sharing to justify their lawsuits.
      3) Start suing
      4) ???
      5) Profit.

      Well, I'm not sure about #5.

  • by RootWind (993172) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @11:35AM (#26684875)
    How about producing music people actually want to buy?
    • by larry bagina (561269) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @11:37AM (#26684891) Journal
      because people are illegally downloading music they don't like?
      • by b4dc0d3r (1268512) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @12:03PM (#26685111)

        I sure as hell do. But not intentionally. I hear something on the radio, google the lyrics, figure out who wrote it, go to Amazon and figure out what's on the CD. Torrent or other p2p and grab the album, listen to it, and say "glad I didn't pay money for THAT" and delete it.

        If there were a way to return crappy music I'd feel better about paying for it, but they assume if you open the package all you did was copy it and try to get it for free. If they want to assume I'm a pirate I have to play their game, and it ends up hurting them.

        Typical artist contract has fees included with the assumption that albums will get damaged or otherwise unsaleable in transit. They have to turn this around and realize that digital copies will have the same fate - losses due to a marginal amount of piracy.

        They paid for airtime in order to get higher billboard rankings - I save them the money and play it for myself, no cost. They think I'm a pirate if i listen before buying so I do. And in the end, I'm really doing my ISP a disservice by downloading so much crap I have a roughly 85% chance of having no interest in.

        • >>>there were a way to return crappy music I'd feel better about paying for it

          Precisely. Even the food industry says "return the unused portion for a refund" on their packages. They guarantee satisfaction of their products. Why can't CD and DVD manufacturers do the same?

          Prior to advent of Peer-2-Peer, I wasted a LOT of money on cassettes and CDs that were junk, and I still feel cheated because I was disallowed from returning them. "This Jonas Brothers album my niece gave me is trash." "Too bad

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cp.tar (871488)

        because people are illegally downloading music they don't like?

        No. They are downloading music they do not like enough to pay for it.

        Maybe they find the cost prohibitive. Maybe they download stuff they only listen to once or twice.
        My girlfriend has enough MP3s to last her a whole month of non-stop playing, if not more. I'm not all that sure she's ever listened to it all.

        It is easy to hoard stuff, especially in digital format, since it does not occupy additional physical space.

        Besides, as argued in Baen Library, it's just free marketing. If the cost is reasonable, peopl

        • The MAFIAA come off as greedy bastards, and fairness is an instinct in all great apes.

          It's amazing. I'm reading past articles in Slashdot, and we were already talking about RIAA and MPAA since 8 years ago.

          From an article on Sep 11, 2001 [slashdot.org]:

          I felt a mix of emotions: disappointed that I wouldn't have the chance to testify and lock horns with the MPAA and other industry lobbyists, and guilty for having such self-centered thoughts during this crisis.

          The earliest article I've personally found is the article MPAA vs. 2600 [slashdot.org] dated May 2001.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Hal_Porter (817932)

            So the MAFIAA got going in May 2001. By September there were USPTO hearings planned and lots of people were getting ready to testify against them.

            And then 9/11 happened?

      • by mikael (484)

        Why Pay 10 or 20 pounds for CD with 20 tracks when you could watch the music video for far less (cable TV music channels, video-on-demand) and not being burdened with the DVD's and CD's taking up space. This is one side effect of
        having a transient population such students and workers moving homes every semester or year - people don't want to be burdened with physical objects that they have to move around with them.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm sure if Putin and Dell get together they could figure out a great way to sell music in any format the customers want and at a reasonable price!

  • They are just saying they wont sue anyone so that people will be open about it and then sue like 100,000people at once.
    • by Kjella (173770)

      What good would that do? Three good reasons why it won't happen:

      1. Manpower, they have to hire a huge staff to do a once-off stunt. Yes, sending out the form letters can be done by one guy but there's more to it than that.
      2. Courts, they will be pissed because suddenly they get a big case load. Might get them bitching about how the RIAA cases are clogging serious crime.
      3. Aftermath, sure they can catch some but they'll piss off millions by such backstabbing tactics, and as we've read the pirates are their c

      • I didn't say it was smart. 1. shortsighted 2. annoying 3. more annoying .... Sounds like RIAA to me...
  • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @11:39AM (#26684907) Journal

    An annual fee of £20 is significantly less than I spend on music/DVDs as it stands, so it sounds like a pretty good deal.

    I must assume that's not their intent, and that they just want to use this top up their revenues to what they think they 'should' be, but if they're going to charge me on the assumption that I'm illegally downloading copyrighted materials, the least I can do is illegally download some copyrighted materials, right?

    • by realmolo (574068) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @11:45AM (#26684971)

      No, it's a NIGHTMARE.

      Why should the music industry get a "yearly fee" from everyone with an internet connection? What if you never download music?

      Never mind that if the music industry actually managed to make this happen, they could essentially STOP making music. Why would they bother? They'd be making billions of dollars a year on the *fees*!

      A tax (because that's what it is) to keep an industry that produces entertainment/luxury products in business? Fuck that. It's total insanity, and if it ever does happen, the end of the world is near. Seriously.

      • by BobReturns (1424847) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @11:54AM (#26685025)
        Not to mention that only the big labels get a slice of a pie - essentially stifling competition.
      • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @12:04PM (#26685121) Journal

        I was half joking, but you seem to have missed my point: everything you say is right, from a point of morality of fairness it's a horrible dragnet law that would indiscriminately punish plenty of innocent people on the assumption that they might have done something wrong. Of course it's insane.

        The (presumably unintended) consequence, however, is that they are making the tacit statement that the monetary value of copyright infringement is £20/household/year. They're admitting that they're unable to stop infringement and thus accepting the money in lieu of the cessation of 'piracy'. Since they (in this hypothetical situation) will choose to charge me £20/year for my downloaded media, I will in turn accept this offer (as I am being forced by law to do) and choose to download for free all the media that I would otherwise have spent money on, and encourage anyone I can get to listen to do the same.

        Incidentally, if every household [statistics.gov.uk] in the UK did pay this fee it would come to about £433,000,000. That's less than half of the music industry's current revenue [timesonline.co.uk], and the proposed UK tax includes films too.

        Just because an idea is unfair and ridiculous doesn't mean that (in this case) we can't make it work to our advantage!

        • by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @01:06PM (#26685627)
          Of course it's insane.

          The present UK government is insane, so that wont stop them.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          Just because an idea is unfair and ridiculous doesn't mean that (in this case) we can't make it work to our advantage!

          Of course, that's the introduction price. And as normal revenues dwindle the tax will be hiked to whatever the RIAA thinks they should have been earning. As there's less and less real data to go by on what people really would have bought at retail prices, what you get are bullshit free quantity * retail price figures. Eventually you end up with the government setting an arbitrary number for how much a private industry should earn. Money that's being taken straight out of your wallet whether you'd want them

        • by realmolo (574068)

          "Incidentally, if every household [statistics.gov.uk] in the UK did pay this fee it would come to about £433,000,000. That's less than half of the music industry's current revenue [timesonline.co.uk], and the proposed UK tax includes films too."

          Yeah, but that's £433,000,000 for *providing NO product or service*. They simply get a check.

          I think they would be pretty happy with that.

          • by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Sunday February 01, 2009 @03:17PM (#26686585) Homepage

            Is the content itself without value? If so, you are correct in saying there is "NO product". I think about some of my favorite TV shows -- like Firefly -- I think I read it cost $1,000,000 per episode to make. Yeah it got canceled, but with a way to make money, the show would not have been made. Compare the satisfaction of watching a great sci-fi with a slideshow of cat pictures on youtube. The first takes real money to make, and won't be made without a way to recoup those expenses. The second costs virtually nothing, but gets boring after mere minutes.

            It's a real issue for media producers -- how to make something better than cat slideshows when people won't pay for the media.

      • by jimicus (737525) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @01:30PM (#26685845)

        Never mind that if the music industry actually managed to make this happen, they could essentially STOP making music

        There are some that say this has already happened.

        • by Gazzonyx (982402)

          Never mind that if the music industry actually managed to make this happen, they could essentially STOP making music

          There are some that say this has already happened.

          ... and everyone else just thinks it, I assume.

      • And what if you never download music?

        Chances are you would start, after all your paying for it. you might buy more music after being exposed to more

        Imagine the music sites that might exist free to share a love of music, would you spend less time on slashdot if you could freely explore the worlds music without being threatened?

    • by Takichi (1053302) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @11:57AM (#26685061)
      Perhaps music should be paid for with taxes. Have musicians submit proposals to a grant fund, or help fund record labels that are deemed worthy. I'm thinking something similar to the way universities and scientific research is handled. I'm just throwing this out there, what do you think?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by icebraining (1313345)

        And who decides which music is should receive funds, and which shouldn't? Music, unlike science, is highly subjective, and there are no wrong or useless projects.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Entropius (188861)

        This happens, actually, at universities.

        I, a student, volunteer to sing in a choir. A professor gets paid in part because he conducts this choir, and part of his job is to put on good concerts -- if he doesn't, he gets fired.

        These concerts are free to the public, are recorded and broadcast, and provide high-quality music at a low cost.

        The system works pretty well if you like the sort of music that universities consider of academic interest: classical, jazz, ethnic, electronic, and so on. If you're after met

    • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@b ... h u d s o n .com> on Sunday February 01, 2009 @12:07PM (#26685151) Journal

      I don't download any music - haven't in years. Quite simply,

      1. there's nothing I want to download
      2. I don't have the time anyway

      Now, from the blurb:

      Is there anything the RIAA can do to reduce illegal file-sharing

      ... I think an "all britney, all the time" format would do it.

  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @11:40AM (#26684925)
    [quote]Is there anything the RIAA can do to reduce illegal file-sharing without generating massive amounts of bad publicity?[/quote] Make a system that is as easy as thepiratebay and has as much stuff. Now it is convenience that is killing them. The Free part doesn't hurt, but it also doesn't help as much as the fact that the legal options are as painful as a root canal.
    • by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Sunday February 01, 2009 @12:07PM (#26685147) Homepage
      I use both iTunes and Emusic. Neither are painful.
      • by alvinrod (889928) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @12:40PM (#26685361)

        Until recently, most music in iTunes was DRM-encumbered, which more than likely turned a good number of people off from the service, especially if you didn't own an iPod. I'm not sure whether or not iTunes works in Linux either, but the Windows version may be working through Wine. That's probably enough to turn most /. readers away.

        eMusic doesn't have the problems that iTunes has/had, but I don't think it has anywhere near the selection that's available on iTunes, at least if you like more mainstream types of music.

        Of course people have the option of going to the Amazon music store. MP3 downloads that will work on any player and no DRM. I've never used the service so I can't speak to how easy it is to use, but a quick check of the website suggests that the price tends to be a bit more reasonable than iTunes (there's a list of 'popular' songs that are selling for $.79) which is kind of nice.

        Why people are still 'pirating' / 'stealing' music is beyond me. I suppose I don't mind it if people want to try before they buy, but both songs and albums are cheaper than they've been in over a decade. Maybe a good chunk of piracy is people who're just trying something out. The numbers only reflect downloads, not how many people downloaded it and then either deleted it or went on to purchase a legitimate copy.

        I suppose the best way to prevent the piracy that the RIAA likes to complain about is to create a music store where music is sold at a reasonable price without DRM in a high quality format that works for almost everyone. They can completely remove the try before you buy folks from the equation by offering a DRM-encumbered version of the album that you can download free of charge and listen to as many times as you like for a limited number of days. If you like the album you can purchase it and the DRM disappears forever.

        The only people who'll still bother with torrent sites are for the most part those people who never intended to purchase the music anyway. They can be left alone or litigated to hell for all I care.

        Of course this makes entirely too much sense and the odds that we'll see it before the dinosaurs running the RIAA are completely incapable of thinking in modern terms. They're trying to hold on to a business model that doesn't make sense in today's world and are completely destroying their business while doing it.

        If they wanted to remain in business and remain profitable they would open up a worldwide store similar to the one I outlined above. No more waiting for an album to be released months later in another part of the world and no more having to resort to downloading an album simply because it's not available in your country. Why this hasn't been done already is completely beyond me.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by houstonbofh (602064)

        I use both iTunes and Emusic. Neither are painful.

        My car stereo plays mp3s. But not acc... I can convert, kinda, in this big bloated app that trys to install a browser if I don't watch for it. (In Windows)

        Non apple music players... Nuff said.

        I do run linux...

        But the best one is I like older music. I can find all the obscure 90s techno on TPB, and not much on iTunes. I can get it in a big chunk, and it will work in ALL my players. It will never expire.

        Notice how none of these advantages mention price...

        But it is getting better. If you use a

        • by anagama (611277)
          Emusic has a wider selection of electronic music than iTunes. The files are MP3s. No DRM. Less than 50 cents a song -- I think it can be as cheap as a quarter. They've had a linux download client for a long time -- I remember using it on Red Hat 9.
      • by Urza9814 (883915)

        Never used Emusic, but the DRM and file format issue on iTunes kills it for me. I want mp3s or oggs that I can actually play. Not some weird file format that none of my devices can use.

        Oh, and the whole not working on Linux thing doesn't help either.

    • by cliffski (65094)

      The #1 big stumbling block and roadblock in a site that sells content is the financial transaction itself. You can streamline the fuck out of our order process and sales pages, but thanks to scumbag fraudsters there is always going to be a lot of https secure certificate verifying password visa-check bullshit required to take someones money.

      The fact that joe bloggs has to go grab his credit card from the enxt room and get out of the sofa is the major reason that pirating content is more convenient than buyi

  • by whoever57 (658626) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @11:42AM (#26684941) Journal
    I believe the ultimate goal for the RIAA is to get a fee from every customer of an ISP. Money for doing nothing. The distribution of these fees will be such that independent artists get a token sum, while the RIAA gets money for nothing. That's what all the litigation is for -- to get this fee system established.
    • Money for doing nothing

      "money for nothing,
        and the checks are free"

      (apologies for changing the lyrics but it applies, here).

    • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @11:50AM (#26684999)
      The distribution of these fees will be such that independent artists get a token sum, while the RIAA gets money for nothing.

      I disagree with this. Most independent artists aren't affiliated with RIAA-represented labels. That's a lot of what makes them "independent". If the RIAA is doing the collecting, why would they pay out to labels that don't want to work with them?
      • by Kjella (173770)

        If the RIAA is doing the collecting, why would they pay out to labels that don't want to work with them?

        Because they'll pretend to represent all artists, and they can't do that without paying out a token sum to others. Note that it pretty much lies in the definition of "token" that it will be a minimal amount.

        • Actually, they'll use the token fees that they pay out to their own artists to browbeat indie labels into joining up and sucking at the RIAA teat.

          It's more about control than it is about money, and this system would bring a lot of the indie labels in line.

  • by macx666 (194150) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @11:42AM (#26684943) Homepage

    I know this sounds like the start of a bad joke, but this seems to be a fairly simple principle. When the USSR made it nearly impossible to get normal goods that the public wanted, an underground sprang up to fill the need. This is simple supply and demand economics. To generalize, making things overly expensive and tied to one internet connected device is only going to encourage a larger underground market.

    People, on the whole, want to do the right thing, but you should not deprive them of their right to do whatever they want with things they have legally bought, or they will circumvent it. Humans adapt, learn, and defeat stupid things like copy protection and vendor-lock in all the time. If they really want to decrease piracy, then they should stop price gouging, stop overly restrictive DRM, allow better "try before you buy" methods, and truly embrace college communities via viral marketing techniques rather than call them criminals.

    But hey, you already knew this. At this point, we're just beating a dead horse with this argument.

  • by otter42 (190544) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @11:50AM (#26684989) Homepage Journal

    No, I firmly believe there isn't. They chose the wrong strategy, and got caught out in the cold. They lead lives that are so different from ours, they've become convinced by their own arguments, just like the Wall Street bankers and their bonuses. The RIAA really doesn't have much of a choice but to throw in the towel and start off in a different direction. Of course, they won't, and I'll be one of those cheering their burial.

    They've made it this far because a large part of their argument comes from the idea that file-sharing is globally illegal. This type of file sharing has to be made firmly, clearly, and once-and-for-all clearly legal. Somewhere, we have to ask ourselves what value do recorded music, video, and programs have? If we're not happy with the free-market answer, we have to find it in ourselves to come up with a solution that modifies the free-market such that we support these activities. Simply declaring the free-market illegal is not a valid strategy. It hasn't ever worked in the past-- witness alcohol, drugs, etc...-- and it's not working now.

    Now, I for one think that the arts are far more worthy than the sciences. As an engineer, I was offered a salary 5 times what a friend was making, even though I was going to do numerical analysis of toilet paper (no shit, pun intended) and she was working 80 hour days with children's theater. If the fact that we live in a society that values toilet paper more than theater offends you, then you need to make the decisions in your life that reflect this.

    Science is an awesome hobby, and it's what I do for a living, but somewhere we're seriously out of whack when business is worth more than life. The RIAA mentality shows this, and there's really nothing they can do except fight until they've carved out a sufficiently well protected niche that they can survive in some minimal fashion. To take an analogy from Go, they're trying desperately to make two eyes, even though the game is practically over.

    • by yotto (590067) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @12:47PM (#26685441) Homepage

      If the fact that we live in a society that values toilet paper more than theater offends you, then you need to make the decisions in your life that reflect this.

      Um, I consider myself a pretty artsy person, but I value toilet paper pretty highly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Just Some Guy (3352)

      If the fact that we live in a society that values toilet paper more than theater offends you, then you need to make the decisions in your life that reflect this.

      Most engineers understand the concept of "supply and demand". Basically, there are more people capable and willing to do children's theater than business analysis. How would you "correct" this?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by shentino (1139071)

      The problem is human nature.

      People love to cheat, steal, and murder. It's only because of police that it doesn't happen rampantly, but in cyberspace where you can get away with it, it is very common. When the cat is away, the mice will play.

      The RIAA is fighting against a buch of asshole pirates that really don't give a damn about copyright (never will either). The problem is that the RIAA is mistargeting innocent bystanders and bringing down a flood of wrath from the people who actually WOULD have scrupl

  • My two cents (Score:5, Interesting)

    by schmidt349 (690948) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @11:50AM (#26684991)

    Is there anything the RIAA can do to stop copyright infringement without looking like a bunch of asses? Sure, but they've now in a deep hole dug on the unsustainable premise that they could either sue all infringers out of existence or at least enough of them to cow everyone else into staying off P2P. Turns out that wasn't working either.

    Here are my proposals for ways they can get turned around:

    1. Do their damnedest to promote all the usable online services. iTunes, Amazon, the whole smash. No DRM anywhere, though I think people won't mind fingerprinting. Do a mix of buy-to-own and subscription services; there are separate markets for each. Sell audio with lossless encoding (Apple Lossless and FLAC if that works in the non-Apple ecosystem). Raffle off concert tickets for buyers on the download services. Try to reach everyone -- Windows, Mac, Linux.

    2. Do a "legal" P2P service that traffics purely in 128kbps MP3s of popular songs with lead-in or lead-out ads. "Weezer's Red Album -- now available from your online music store." That kind of thing.

    3. Let Web radio live. I'm sure there's a reasonable profit stream there that everyone can tap into if nobody strangles the golden goose, so to speak. It also drives sales -- when I was a kid the only music I actually bought was stuff I'd already heard on the radio. Get people to actually use the "radio" function in iTunes and web browsers and whatnot. Music radio on 3G phones. The possibilities are endless here.

    4. Instead of chasing homemade music videos off YouTube, get people to pay a "licensing fee" of say $5 and then let them be. There are also cross-licensing deals for advertising dollars to be had with the video services.

    5. ENOUGH WITH THE MEDIA TAXES. If I pay a "tax" on recording media or my iPod's hard drive or whatever I will download everything I can for free. I'm going to assume I'm already "paid up" because guess what, I am. Besides, if we pay a media tax the music industry should be quasi-nationalized.

    6. (the one they'll never accept) Deal with the fact that music is now a more distributed phenomenon and that the massive profit margins the record companies saw on audio cassettes and CDs just can't exist anymore. Make what profit you can instead of getting sucked down the toilet with the rest of the economy.

    I will bet good money, though, that the RIAA won't do any one of these things over the next five years-- instead they'll just chase the phantom of infringement that they'll never be able to stop, music sales will go completely down the drain, and the world music industry will restructure around the online services being labels themselves. Cut your song in a recording studio then upload it to Amazon and iTunes. They take 35%, you take the rest. Hell, the RIAA should be very very scared of this happening, and I expect they are, but they're going to make it happen and maybe that's a good thing for all us music buyers.

    • by Shikaku (1129753)

      1. Do their damnedest to promote all the usable online services. iTunes, Amazon, the whole smash. No DRM anywhere, though I think people won't mind fingerprinting. Do a mix of buy-to-own and subscription services; there are separate markets for each. Sell audio with lossless encoding (Apple Lossless and FLAC if that works in the non-Apple ecosystem). Raffle off concert tickets for buyers on the download services. Try to reach everyone -- Windows, Mac, Linux.

      I agree, but let's simplify this. You can right click the download button and get a format in whatever you want, be it FLAC, Apple Lossless, the default AAC, etc.

      2. Do a "legal" P2P service that traffics purely in 128kbps MP3s of popular songs with lead-in or lead-out ads. "Weezer's Red Album -- now available from your online music store." That kind of thing.

      3. Let Web radio live. I'm sure there's a reasonable profit stream there that everyone can tap into if nobody strangles the golden goose, so to speak. It also drives sales -- when I was a kid the only music I actually bought was stuff I'd already heard on the radio. Get people to actually use the "radio" function in iTunes and web browsers and whatnot. Music radio on 3G phones. The possibilities are endless here.

      These can be very similar. The difference is a push vs pull system. Web Radio can be used to introduce people to new songs, to push, and the free p2p client can be used to pull, find details, and find the album. The legal p2p client AND the web radio needs to be easy to PURCHASE songs from. They are both free, but the system to get the songs w

  • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @11:53AM (#26685013)

    "Is there anything the RIAA can do to reduce illegal file-sharing without generating massive amounts of bad publicity?"

    Well, LOTS of things.
    1. Stop treating their clients as criminals, (see earlier /. article on big downloaders also being the biggest purchasers.
    2. Make more of their catalog available, faster, and more easily, to more paid download services.
    2. Skip the DRM crap, (which will save money, too)
    3. Divert the cash currently wasted on criminal clowns like MediaSentry and Sony rootkits to efforts to educate the public on how to download music safely, legally & cheaply.
    4. Ink deals with content creators that take into account all revenue streams, (including concerts, the real money-spiners for many artists these days), with a fair share for all and which takes into consideration the investment made by production organisations in developing new talent.
    5. Make it easy for people to buy/access, and archive/backup 'premium/HiRes/lossless' content (see 'DRM' above).
    6. Promote standards for inteeoperability between various media storage and playback devices. Would I pay for to have my vast mp3 collection automagically tagged and sorted, with the ability to stream/upload to any device I own, and maybe grab the video if I want? Well, yes!

    Now I'm going to stop dreaming, and go back to helping my teenage daughter convert a YouTube pop video for use on her iPod.

    • by cliffski (65094)

      Although you make some great points, I'm not sure why people get so annoyed that the RIAA "treat their customers like criminals"

      Every retail store I've ever shopped in does exactly the same thing.

      When I find something I want, even if I have the exact change, I have to queue up for someone to remove the security tag from it. All the time, they watch me on CCTV and security guards man the exits to prevent me doing a runner.

      This happens worldwide, all the time. Stores treat their customers like criminals becau

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rlp (11898)

      Great list, I'd only add one item. Stop trying to bankrupt internet radio. Use at as a medium for promoting new music. Commercial radio is real good at promoting the twenty or so 'hits' that they play over and over and over. Internet radio could be good for promoting everything else. That is if the music industry wasn't intent on killing it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 01, 2009 @11:54AM (#26685019)

    STOP BUYING AND/OR DOWNLOADING COMMERCIAL MUSIC.

    Just stop. Seriously. Boycott any and all bands that go through publishers that have any affiliation whatsoever with these criminals. And yes, regardless of what you think, the RIAA ARE indeed criminals. I'm not talking "criminals" as in America's law, I'm talking "criminals" as in moral and ethical laws. Think "LAWFUL EVIL" for all you D&D fans out there. The only difference between you and them are dollar signs. That goes for the MPAA too.

    If we could all go one, maybe two years without buying any music or movies (and I'm sure that's possible...it's called self-restraint) that have ties to these asswipes, they WILL go away because they won't have those pretty little dollar signs any more. Now is the BEST time to do this because of the economy. They're more vulnerable than ever.

  • by Ngwenya (147097) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @11:55AM (#26685033)

    As I posted [slashdot.org] in the £20 tax thread, I can't find any evidence that such a proposal even exists.

    The UK government did propose, in the interim Digital Britain report, to explore the willingness of rightsholder organisations (eg, the equivalents of the RIAA and MPAA) to fund a Rights Agency [which is stupid idea, but still...] but there never was a "broadband tax" proposal.

    I think that the Times article was simply wrong (did you see it quote anything or anyone? Thought not). However, if anyone can find some counter evidence, then I'd like to read it.

    I hold no candle for the Labour government - bash away, but when you bash at a non-existent straw man, then you undermine all your legitimate arguments against the real world shit that the bastards try to pull (ID cards, Internet use database, DNA records, etc.)

    --Ng

  • by Lord Kano (13027)

    Lower prices.

    It's simple economics. Lower prices will result in higher marginal utility and more people will buy instead of download.

    Look at it this way. If all of the millions of songs that people are downloading for free were to go away, not every one of those people would go out and buy the music. If the prices were reduced to, say, (allofmp3.com levels) then many people who wouldn't otherwise buy the songs would.

    LK

    • by cliffski (65094)

      that doesnt mean they make more money. The point at which revenue is maximised varies for every product. At that price, there are ALWAYS people who get a great deal and think the price is too low, and people who think the opposite.
      If albums were $0.01, there would be people saying they cost too much.

      Companies constantly test price experiments. I'd wager the current cost of a CD is the exact price which maximises revenue. Thats the objective,not maximising sales numbers.

  • Maybe instead of all the trouble of finding the owner of an IP address, they will wait for filesharers to get lazy and confess. Now that Erin's full name is known with an admission of guilt, the case should be easy.

    The only thing missing is the list of songs shared, so who is the copyright owner? I wonder if suspicion of downloading one of my songs is enough even without proof.

    Can we start discovery?

  • When anyone can easily and cheaply transmit books, movies, music, software, papers, pictures and any other digitized piece of information, the medium that they use becomes not like a marketplace, but like a public library.

    In a library, the killer app (what you are paying your tax dollars for) is storing, organizing and retrieving the information in the library. The primary cost is not the acquisition of the data in the first place, but rather the overhead.

    Now, how does one make money producing informa
  • But of course! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @12:07PM (#26685149)

    How to increase sales and decrease downloads? Easy.

    1. Make stuff I want to buy.
    Granted, that does not reduce P2P useage, because I don't download either what I don't want, and I tend to think many think likewise. Make good music/movies that I want to see/hear and I'll buy them!

    2. Get rid of DRM and other nuisances
    I still do not buy a good movie if I have to fear the installation of a rootkit, or that it doesn't work in my PC at all (which happens to be my media machine, why'd I buy a dedicated DVD player?). I do not buy the movie if it forces me to sit through ads for movies I neither want nor care for. This is, if anything, the main reason for people to go to P2P instead of buying movies (besides the monetary reason). I don't mind the 20ish bucks for a good movie, but I do mind the hassle I have to worry about.

    3. Give additional benefits
    Downloaded content can only carry the content itself. Give people something besides the things they get on their disc. Artbooks can have a value of their own, and they can't be reproduced easily. Start hyping the "collectible value" of CDs, maybe design the covers of CDs from an artist so that they all together form nice pictures that would look cool on the collector's CD rack. But for that, you might have to return to artists that crank out more than one or two CDs before you dump them, I know. Another idea would be some sort of "limited edition" versions of CDs, create batches of about 10.000 with different artwork. Some people might buy the same CDs over and over because they gotta have them all. People are hunter and gatherers at heart, exploit that!

    4. Create other media and offer discounts
    Movies beg for a making of and maybe a published script. Add coupons for this and other media you want to sell that offer discounts on those additional things. People will consider it a bargain and buy them, too.

  • by Lord Byron II (671689) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @12:09PM (#26685161)

    I stopped buying CDs when they started producing more and more CDs that were actually "music discs" and not CDs. I found that I could no longer rip them as easily and eventually just gave up. I like having my music in ogg, which no music store has, so I gave up on the idea of downloading legally. And I don't want to be the target of a lawsuit, so I refuse to download illegally. As a result, my music collection is getting kind of stale and the music industry is missing out on the 20-30 CDs a year I used to buy.

    It seems that every step they take to reduce piracy just makes it that more unlikely that I'll buy legitimately from them. They make CDs rip-proof and I won't buy CDs. They make online music stores use DRM and I won't buy MP3s (or more technically WMAs or AACs).

    I can't speak for every individual obviously, but if they were to just totally stop all of their anti-piracy initiatives, I'd be buying $300-$400 more music each year. There is definitely a cost to trying to stop piracy.

  • Considering that most people would quite guiltlessly keep any extra change that a cashier might give them without saying anything, or will generally drive as fast as they can without regard for the actual speed limit, but rather as fast as they _feel_ they could get away with and not get arrested or kill anyone (never mind the fact that the number one cause of traffic-related deaths involves excessive speed), I don't even think that education about why copyright infringement might actually be any sort of et
  • by uffe_nordholm (1187961) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @12:14PM (#26685187)
    I think the 'fees' and 'taxes' on broadband connections may very well work, but they depend very much on the details.

    There has been a suggestion of the same thing being applied here in Sweden, with a strange twist: by paying the fee, you would be allowed to download everything your heart could desire. BUT (and it's a big but) it would still be illegal for you to _upload_ things! The net effect would be that you would be paying for the content the creators put on internet, not for anything else! Marvelous business plan...

    If the 'fee'/'tax' allowed uploads as well, it could work. Until the porn industry starts claiming it's fair share of the money. I find it hard to believe there is no porn distributed illegally on internet, so the porn industry should have it's fair share. Yet, I would like to see the politician or high executive from an ISP supporting the porn industry's claim....
  • by nanuuq2 (1339665) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @12:15PM (#26685199)
    I know of people who trade USB keys. They fill them with their favourite songs, and either hand them around, or mail them. I know of people who have exchanged external Hard Drives. Think 500 GB external hard drives full of movies and songs. People will adapt. The RIAA will fall just like the IRA.
  • A bigger effect on the number of users downloading has been the emergence of imeem [imeem.com] and Myspace Music [myspace.com] which both provide instant on demand access to almost everything ever released. imeem isn't nearly as well known as myspace, but because it allows users to upload their favorite tunes to share it has a larger selection (imeem was founded by a load of ex-napster 1.0 engineers). So between them they've essentially removed a huge number of people who would go to P2P to just find one or two songs. There are a l
  • Tax? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BCW2 (168187) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @12:28PM (#26685283) Journal
    Sounds to me like a way to get the Govt to collect money for an industry. In spite of how things appear with what the Thundering Herd of Dumbass in Washington is doing, it is not the Govt's job to ensure profits for any business or industry.

    I have one thing to say about how good a Govt run business in the U. S. can be: AMTRAK! (money sewer on rails)
  • The old RIAA tactics didn't thwart downloading one iota, so it's hard to believe them 'dropping the lawsuits' will have much, if any, impact on the scenario.

    The fact is The record companies that the RIAA represents, put out pretty crappy generic music. It's formulaic, and meant to sell - not be innovative or good.

    The 'Indie' record industry has taken the place of most big record labels, by providing music that is more in line with what the artist wants to produce. The music is better, more creative, differe

  • This seems to completely ignore software developers. Does the music industry get it because they were more childish?

    If the Music industry gets a slice of a tax pie simply because people -may- be illegally copying their crap, then so should the porn industry, the games industry, the software industry, the movie studios, the indy music and film developers, authors, scientists, university professors, webmasters, graphic designers,photographers, font calligraphers, etc....

    • then so should the porn industry

      Yeah, a ú20 UK tax for downloading porn! That should buy a few votes!

      Never mind the children, think of the Lords ...

  • Because in order to buy that argument, you have to assume that the prior tactics were REDUCING the amount of piracy before the strategy changed. You would also have to assume that a significant percentage of the pirated songs would have been purchased -- a dubious assumption at best.

    If the lawsuits were working, the RIAA would pick up the pace or at least maintain the status quo. Given the RIAA's legendary learning deficiencies, there must be a preponderance of evidence to prove the ineffectiveness of th

  • The 20 pound proposed tax in the UK was not a media tax designed to compensate the *AA or similar. It was to find an organization designed to file P2P lawsuits. It wasn't instead of the lawsuits, it was to encourage/fund them.
  • Is there anything the RIAA can do to reduce illegal file-sharing without generating massive amounts of bad publicity?

    Well, they could build an altar on the front steps of the Lincoln Memorial and sacrifice their lawyers on it. I bet thousands of people would be willing to give up illegal file sharing for a while as the price for attending such a ceremony.

    Quite a few would give it up for good if they could participate directly.

  • by Xelios (822510) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @01:49PM (#26685989)
    Why do all of the suggestions here assume the world still needs the RIAA, or record labels for that matter? Record labels exist to distribute and advertise music, both of which can now be done online without them. Just get rid of them.
  • The RIAA doesn't have to do anything. What the music industry giants need to do is change their business model so that it suits the current trends. You can not stop copyright infringement, period. Those that want to will find ways to do it.

    These guys have been extremely slow to adapt. Quicker adoption of an emerging market should be the key here. Brick and Mortar stores are too expensive. Business models that screw over your artists is not necessarily something that 10% to 15% of the people out there want t

  • Is there anything the RIAA can do to reduce illegal file-sharing without generating massive amounts of bad publicity?

    No. They are fscked.

    But their best bet is to:
    1) Accept the fact that they will have a choice between vastly lower profit margins and no profit margins and
    2) Make an attempt to implement some kind of micro royalty system, where upon you purchasing a song, it costs you ... say five cents. That lower price should increase consumption, probably somewhere around the point where it will about equal revenues for the 99 cent stuff on iTunes (because right now people still do not want to pay 99 cents). Th

  • No.

    Any attempt to restrict what we do and how we do it, will be received with massive backlash.
  • Just in time, as if they really clamped down on file sharing people really would have stopped sharing en mass. mafRIAA cartel leaders would have watched their profits falling and found it harder to push and promote new music. The industry would retract ... the recession would get blamed.

    Because piracy is the only thing supporting the industries profits amidst a global economic downturn.
  • For the return of Oink.
  • by Eth1csGrad1ent (1175557) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @05:55PM (#26687779)

    I was watching an Australian late night music show (Rage - ABC) the other night and they had an interesting clip of a spokesman from the MAFIAA lamenting about the deluge of pirated music, while standing in front of supposedly 100s and 100s of copies, that was hitting the country from Asia and that, unless things changed, the music industry would be DEAD in a couple of years.

    He then went on to wax lyrical about the quality of the copies and getting no value for money etc etc.

    The laughable thing about this is that the clip was from the mid 1970'S and he was holding cassette tapes !!

    Over 30 years ago, the music industry was facing the same death and mayhem from pirated music that they face today, and yet, they didn't die. Didn't go broke. Didn't get pirated out of existence. In fact - most of them thrived!

    I'm not saying they don't have a legitimate issue, but for decades now, they've seriously overstated the threat.

  • by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Sunday February 01, 2009 @09:46PM (#26689345)

    Is there anything the RIAA can do to reduce illegal file-sharing without generating massive amounts of bad publicity?

    Anything the RIAA can do? No. They're one-trick ponies: "OBEY, or we will destroy you!" By definition, they have been trying to generate bad publicity, because if they don't there is no upside, no deterrence, no reduction in widespread copyright infringement. Not that they've been particularly successful anyway.

    Now that doesn't mean that nothing can be done. The studios can do a lot, if they're willing to accept that they can't ever return to the halcyon days of total distribution control. There's still plenty of money to be made, but they'll have to drop their past century of sleazy business practices, and start competing on the merits of their products.

    I don't hold out much hope of that happening, but hey, even pigs have been known to fly now and then.

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