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Will This Genie Ever Go Back In The Bottle? 278 was bloodied Friday. As of this writing, the online music service is trying to negotiate a settlement with RIAA. A U.S. District Court ruled Friday that the site's storage service violated copyright law. But the music-user rebellion sparked by this landmark technology is by no means over. The manner in which music is disseminated has been changed for good, whether record labels acknowledge it or not (and over the weekend, a few executives actually did). Without a settlement, the recording industry is in danger of blowing a historic opportunity to protect artists, make money, and capitalize on, rather than shun, the information distribution tools of the future. P.S. Who are the pirates? A record exec e-mails me this a.m. that it cost about 50 cents to make a CD, for which consumers pay $16.95. (Read more).

For several years now, the distribution of free music online has been evolving into a bitter, costly and signficant test of whether new information technologies will change the nature and meaning of copyright, or alter the ways in which culture and ideas have been owned, marketed and distributed. The Net has made possible, for better or worse, the free acquision of music and other kinds of intellectual and creative products.

MP3 technology -- a format which jumped from obscurity to ubiquity in 1999 -- has turned out to be revolutionary. Millions of people whose access to music was previously limited to radio and CDs suddenly had instant and free access to much of the music recorded in modern times. MP3 sparked a cultural and economic revolution that is just beginning to be understood.

An entire generation has grown up seeing the acquisition of music as a right. This generation has a voracious appetite for music, something that should please the makers of it. Industry executives and many artists, of course, see the way they satisfy that appetite as nothing more than a pervasive form of thievery.

A number of artists have bitterly complained that the downloading of music on sites like is simply piracy. They have criticized writers like me (with justification) for not highlighting artists' rights as well as those of music lovers. Friday's ruling by a federal judge against MP3 was the clearest and most powerful blow yet struck against the by-now deeply ingrained tradition, especially among younger music lovers, of acquiring vast music libraries for free. could face stunning penalties.

At issue is something complicated and important, something not taken into account, or even acknowledged, by the Federal court ruling. There is hardly anyone reading this who hasn't acquired some form of free intellectual property on the Net, from music to text to software. Artists definitely have a right to be paid for their work, but branding a whole generation of music fans thieves seems simplistic, even self-destructive.

The question now becomes political and cultural, as well as legal and technological. Judge Rakoff issued a startlingly brief order Friday holding "liable for copyright infringement." The suit, brought by RIAA (The Recording Industry Association of America), a consortium of the world's largest record labels, seeks to shut down But over the weekend, some music industry officials, including Paul Vidich, an executive vice president for Time Warner, said RIAA wasn't trying to put out of business as much as force it to change.

The court found that had violated copyright law by creating an online database -- -- of 80,000 major label records. The ruling doesn't affect the use of MP3 compression technology (not owned by to make copies of music via the Net.

It follows a growing number of lawsuits -- some by recording artists like Metallica and Dr Dre -- against Napster. RIAA also has a suit pending against Napster in federal court. shares dropped sharply in late Nasdaq trading Friday afternoon.

As strong a victory for the music industry as Judge Rakoff's ruling sounded, it seemed both short-sighted and far from clear cut. MP3 has altered the music industry for good. Shutting down MP3 and Napster would hardly mark the end of the battle.

"The shame here," a dissident, savvy music industry executive said in a phone interview over the weekend, "is that the record labels could have embraced MP3 and Napster, rather than going to war against them. What they don't grasp is that while piracy issues have a lot of validity, Napster constituted a rebellion against monopolistic music industry practices and greed, as well as a copyright problem. Instead of reforming, and grasping a real chance to change, the industry simply used the most heavy-handed method in dealing with these issues. Those of us who know the Net know this ruling will last for about a week. Piracy issues aside, the industry has a full-blown rebellion on their hands. These kids are never going back to the old way of buying music. We need a new system that responds to them and really does protect artists."

There were hopeful signs over the weekend. Danny Goldberg, one of the industry's most enlightened execs, and chief executive of Artemis Records, an independent label that releases CD's and runs Internet radio and music subscription services, said of music-sharing: "It seems counterintuitive, but an increase in free downloads coincided with an increase in paid sales. Particularly among the young audience, the people who are most wired, the evidence is that it's bonding a new generation to music." Goldberg's comments suggest that at least some leaders in the music industry grasp that new transmission technologies could be good both for the music industry and for artists.

History suggests that once new technologies like MP3 and Napster exist, they will be used and replicated. Many music industry executives believe the recording artists would make more money, not less, if they embraced digital music-distribution technologies. When the record labels went after MP3, the industry triggered the Napster rebellion. Napster software, spreading wildly on the Web, allows MP3 users to share files. If suits against Napster are successful, why wouldn't yet another technology crop up? In fact, it already has, in the bumper crop of programs both client and server which basically treat the Internet as a searchable and vast remote filesystem.

Pretending otherwise doesn't protect the rights of artists, it simply sets them up to get ripped off forever, and needlessly politicizes the tradition of free music among younger consumers. Selling music more innovatively just might permit artists to get paid and let consumers keep their new-found ability to acquire more music for less money.

Brian Ploskina of quoted Gene Hoffman, chief executive of, an online MP3 store and showcase as likening the free music legal battles to prohibition, doomed efforts to restrict the sale of liquor. "In the 20's," he said, people made a lot of bathtub gin, but they don't do that today because they can buy it for $20." His well-taken point is that music-downloaders would probably pay for music too, if the prices were more affordable.

It was an apt analogy. The music industry and the Temperance movement both thought they could legislate the social tastes and desires of millions of Americans. Whether they have merits to their arguments or not, history says their task is impossible. Recent legal actions make it likely that key distribution points for both MP3 and Napster -- particularly universities and other institutions that till recently have allowed music distribution software on their servers -- will be shut down. Others will obviously emerge. The legal actions won't stop the proliferation of music-transmission software, or the epidemic resentment and anger at the way the greedy record labels operate. The music industry is in the odd position of winning one court ruling after another while alienating an entire generation of customers.

For years now, millions of music lovers have been acquiring diverse kinds of music for nothing, making music more popular than ever. In l999, the record industry posted an 8 percent growth in revenue -- from $13.7 billion in l998 to $14.6 billion in l999 -- while the number of audio and video units sold rose from l.12 billion to 1.16 billion, according to RIAA statistics. Many executives believe those numbers would have been higher if the record industry were using MP3 for sales and promotion. Hundreds of music-sharing sites exist all over the Net and Web besides MP3 and Napster, including ones which take advantage of instant-messaging systems and privately-built and run Web sites.

Do recording executives really believe that music fans will suddenly give up on acquiring diverse and numerous forms of music for free and go back to buying a handful of expensive CDs a few times a month? That wouldn't protect artist's rights or those of music lovers. This digital genie isn't going back into the bottle. Successful negotiatioins between and the music would be the sanest step yet in the music wars, and a healthy precedent for other businesses who sell intellectual property as well as artists.

Note from timothy: Thanks to twiin and other readers who sent word of Metallica's upcoming online chat tomorrow (2nd May 2000) as part of an ArtistDirect promotion, where you can tell them what you think directly. I quote: "Hold nothing back: this is Metallica, after all. They can take it."

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Will This Genie Ever Go Back In The Bottle?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Who really pays $16.95 for a brand new CD? Where I live, there are number of different places that sell a new CD for as low as $11.99 or $12.99 (if you are paying by cash). Even on you can get them cheaper (granted you have to pay shipping.)

    I know that its still a lot more than 50 cents -- I just could never understand why that price gets quoted so much; the only place I see that price is in the malls (where they charge $60 for a game you can get at Best Buy for $45.)

    Still, There is a lot more that goes into getting a CD into a consumer's hands than the 50 cents that goes into "producing" it. There is the distribution/shipping costs to actually get them to the record stores; advertising to get the consumer's attention as well as promotions, videos, etc...and in the end you have the profits that go to the artist and the record company. So what if they get a cut of the action -- why does it make them "greedy"? If you don't like the way they do business (if you are artist) go start your own damn record company; in fact, that is what more and more artists are doing these days.

    I think that the consumer is really not that important to understanding how the equation will change. The consumers basically look for the best deal they can get on the music that they want. period. The real evolution is in the hands of the artist.

    There is so much more technology than mp3s changing the playing field. Consider that with small budget, an artist could buy a computer with a soundcard like the soundblaster live (with RCA and digital inputs), some mixing software (like Sound Foundry's product lineup), and a CD burner. There you have the start of your own home studio with digital quality production -- for the price of a couple days of studio time.

    My roommate made a demo CD for himself in a professional studio and I burn copies for him. I also came up with a cool graphic label to put on the cds. Now he has his own cd to give out or sell and it only costs: 40 cents for the CD, $1 for the label (glossy) + $0 for my donated labor = 1.40 /cd. I could also mp3 his stuff and put it online if I wanted. There are a lot of ways to distribute for the artist that didn't exist 10 years ago.

    I don't think it is fair to characterize the music industry as being greedy -- they offer a service, it has a cost, they get a cut -- love 'em or leave 'em. Today at least, the artist has more reason to leave 'em.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Cars are expensive, but it doesn't make stealing them legal.

    But you don't get what the digital information is all about. If I play along with your analogy, once one car were manufactured, there could be 10 billion copies of the car with no cost. So what would be the cost of the car?

    The laws and ideas about actually existing material objects simply don't extend well to pure information.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Dude.. The RIAA isn't trying to just stop the distribution of mp3's, it's trying to stop the mp3 format, period. was set up so that you could have access to your entire CD collection from anywhere in the world -- granted, the system was a little insecure (not much they could do about that, only thing more secure would be to have everyone who bought a CD to send in a photocopy of their recepit as proof-of-purchase, imagine the headaches involved with that), but the RIAA just opened up the doors for the squelching of mp3's in general.

    Some of us have thousands of mp3s that we ripped from OUR OWN CD's. I carry 2 CD's with me to work, it makes it much easier than to carry 20 CD's -- each CD has around 10-11 full albums on it. If the RIAA had their way, I would be unable to do this at all. Remember all the litigations over VHS? Over Casette tapes? Right now, there's no law that's protecting people if they want to make an mp3 from music they own. That's why got burned.

    Besides, in argument over mp3's being in circulation -- not all of us has the money to go buy EVERY album in existence if only there is one song on any given album they enjoy. With high prices (There's no way in hell I'm going to pay the $18/CD that any of the twec stores charge these days) that have been *constant* for the past 4-5 years, not everyone can go out and afford 50,000 cd's. Maybe you can, and if you can, you're lucky. For most of us, we'll try the music first.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    OK why are in you the tech industry, or do what you do for a living? Would you do it for 1/10 of what you get paid now?

    Maybe you would , but you know what? I could not manage to support my family if I was only making 1/10 of what I make now (of course if I had no family probably I would :).

    I hate it when people are saying fuck the artists, they should just work harder and make their money from concerts and tshirt sales, while
    giving they songs away for free or a buck a pop on the internet. Chances are they cannot do this themselves and still take the time out to be artists.

    Think of all the techies who love what they did and started and manage their own businesses. Go talk to them. How many of them actually have the time to still do the programming and "fun" stuff they love and what attracted them to this industry? Almost none. How did they get their initial capitial? How many of them went bust?
    Do you wanna become a management type?
    Why should an Artist have to do so to be succesful?

    Now try to figure out how these artists are going to start from nothing. How are the going to get the massive influx of cash needed to set up servers and hire techies to deliver their music, how are they going to set up concerts, put together touring infrastructure. They are not lucky enought to have the "venture capitalists" like the tech industry. Most importantly how the hell are they going to have time to write good music if they are spending all their time with accounting, managing, arranging, booking, etc... Damn straight that they will probably be too tired to even write or compose anything.

    Unless some third party fronts the cash for an initial pressing (or server setup etc...)and promotion of a group it is extremely unlikey that they will ever go anywhere.

    Really folks its the artists your screwing more then anybody else when you possess MP3's you don't own.

    cheers. X
  • by Anonymous Coward
    OK, I'm really sick of this. Yes MP3's enable "theft", actually unauthorized copying, so what. So do Xerox machines. So do personal computers. Digital is pretty much infinately reproducable, there is nothing you can do about it. As far as the against the law stuff goes, have you exceeded the speed limit lately? Speeding is illegal. It is also very easy to build vehicles that make exceeding the speed limit impossible, has it happened? No. Will it happen? Yeah right. Does excessive speed contribute to deaths? Yes. Does copying mp3's kill? Maim? Hurt? Inconvenience? Appearantly its a bigger crime. The money grubbing megacorps continue to try to control their customers. (Ever notice they never use that word? We're consumers to them.) Here's the simple fact: If you want to maintain control of your "intellectual property", in a age where digital reproduction is so easy and widespread, don't broadcast it in any form, CD's etc included. Once its out there its out. Intellectual property. Please. How many science fiction writers have had their concepts and visions made real? Maybe they should sue and stop the bloody world.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    And I went through this whole post without bashing Katz.

    Don't worry. We all have our off days. Try again, I'm sure you can do better :-}
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Okay, I see your point. But suppose the car project cost 8 million dollars. Then you make copies of it and manage to sell 10 million copies for 4 dollars each. You win 32 million dollars which you can put into your pocket. (minus taxes naturally)

    I was trying to establish the point that with digital information the cost is often one-shot. The money is needed to create the information. After the information exists, it costs next to nothing to have a zillion identical copies of it.

    However this isn't suitable for cars, or any such "material" object. It applies well to immaterial stuff such as music, since music can be coded into digital form.

    I would like to see such a law, that when you bring out an immaterial product, it would be under "thou shalt not copy" laws for four (4) years, after which it would be placed into public domain. The idea behind this is to give the company who created it a chance to get their investment back (and a profit too), but also take into account the fact that you really can't control the propagation of digital information. If you can read (ie. access) digital information, you can make an exact duplicate. I think such an approach would be more reasonable than the current system. Of course it's nice to just sit back and watch the money flow in from the works of a poet who has been dead for 40 years or something. I think it's plain wrong.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    According to the letter of the law was breaking the law, and everyone on slashdot is jumping to their defence because the law is rather unfair. But lets put things in perspective by looking at [] the people who offered online music storage a loooonnnngg time before was born in a hail of controversy. basically offers the same online storage of mp3 (and other formats) as, they launched their site with the PR pitch of "Your Music, Anytime, Anywhere" - doesn't that remind you of anything?? The PR pitch used by was "Anywhere, Anytime". I Imagine if myplay had patented the 'online music locker' concept and had sued you'd all have lined up alongside in response..... are hardly known for innovation - a 5 billion dollar domain name looking for a business plan.

    Myplay lets you use your own, mp3s, and it has a loot more features (public playlists). It does mean you need to upload, but that's the price you pay for abiding by the law. If I were myplay I'd be looking at how to do the beam-it system legally - which probably means a lot of deals with a lot of record companies. But those same companies are suing - I'd i9magine a legitimate version of Beam-It Would make their case against even stronger...

    It seems to me that by bringing all these mp3.s together in one place myplay is doing a certain amount to 'control' this culture in the name of the record companies, I'd guess that they pay some sort of RIAA licensing so that the artists are in fact making money. mp3 as a format doesn't have controls, so all those controlsh ave to lie in the services.

    So - give some respect to the real innovators here.......

  • Would you prefer not paying for culture, hence driving all culture works to the fringes of unemployed people working through government grants and donations?

    I know quite a few professional musicians and not one of them makes enough money to support themselves - even though one of them made it to #1 in the indy charts in Brisbane recently. They all have at least one other non musical job. So they are already effectively in the position you describe. How is MP3 sharing going to make this worse?

    Turning culture into a business has been very successful.

    Rubbish. How do you measure "success"? In terms of the amount of money a vanishingly small number of individuals and corporations have made? Profit is not and can never be the same as culture (unless you want a culture that views money above all else, but surely most people would value love, security and happiness above money... right?). It seems to me that all the commercialisation of "culture" has done is made it more and more difficult to listen and see anything that is even slightly outside the tastes of Main Street USA. There must be a million great unsigned bands in the world but we won't get to hear any of them because if a record company releases too many tracks at once it's profits will be diluted. How the hell is that "successful"??


  • Obviously, the 'genie' can never be put back into the bottle, no matter what the RIAA decides to attack this week. The MPAA had better take notice, because this will happen to them as prices for bandwidth and storage decreases.

    I'd like to turn this around on you: got started on the premise that they would bring unknown acts to the forefront of the Internet-using audience. I've found some really good local music via However, can any artist currently claim they got their Big Break from them? Probably not.

    Did they deserve to get smacked by the RIAA? Absolutely. But that topic has been bashed to death, given recent events.

    So, if you don't like the RIAA stance on this, don't support them by buying albums protected by them! Go to, look up the local listings, and get at some really good, local music, and support them. They list a very wide variety of music, although the 'barrier of entry' can be too low.. [ Note: Bloops and bleeps from your Casio keyboard does *not* necessarily make you an "artist".. :^) ]

  • If not, their lawyers need to read this :)

    Who am I?
    Why am here?
    Where is the chocolate?
  • studio recording time is very expensive. production and mixing add more expense, as does promotion of the album. and perhaps the artist even spent a lot of time writing the songs (could time possibly be worth something?)

    Not really. Many big records were made on a shoestring budget in the past 20 years, for example REM's first several records. Recording gear is lots more affordable. You're expounding on the labor theory of value. Because I have put alot into something, it is intrinsically more valuable. Not really. It is worth what people are willing to pay for it. That's the market theory of value. As for the cost of a CD. I've been in a few bands that have made CDs. 1000 CD's for ~ $5 a CD was the going rate. In one band, the drummer had a nice studio. In another we went to a local studio. SO the studio time varied from 0 to $800. If we had made more CDs, the cost per CD went down. If you're talking about a serious record, they'll be boxing CDs for $3 each, including studio time. So they mark them up to $17 and wonder why things like Napster evolve.
  • by Eccles ( 932 )
    the main issue here is theft...

    For the RIAA, yes. For me, I just want to listen to my legally purchased music collection without having to bring $1,000+ worth of CDs to my office. Unfortunately making life easier for me makes making money harder for the RIAA, and thus our goals are in conflict.

    too many people, katz included, are viewing music as a commodity. and yes, that's the way it's been fed to people, but at the same time, there's a reason why artists create albums. well-crafted songs are one thing, but an album represents a hour-ish long attempt to create a coherent/cohesive mood and statement.

    Oh, hogwash. If this was the main issue, then the money side of things wouldn't matter. But really, most of them are more interested in living in mansions, driving expensive cars, and boinking supermodels. Can't blame 'em for that...
  • I reckon that there's something wrong with an industry that would use a term denoting rapists and murderers ("pirates") in order to describe someone who simply copies some electrical signals. Pirates kill people, MP3 users copy music.

    Anyway, since when should we be forced to pay for our culture?! This makes me so angry. Record companies promote music which (like it or not) becomes integrated into our everyday lives, but it's not legal to own a copy of that music unless you give a whole bunch of people a whole pile of money - we don't even get to own our own culture. It'll probably soon be illegal to sit around a campfire singing spice girls songs (actually, if it was just spice girls songs that it was illegal to sing, I probably wouldn't mind so much ;-).

    Worst of all, personal copying of music is not the only avenue of income for these greedy companies and individuals who would persecute people for downloading files. Record companies and artists make money from the clubs, pubs, on-hold music, WAY overpriced concerts, and TV and radio stations that play their music in public for a profit. We the consumer get it from both ends - we buy our drinks and listen to the advertisments so we can hear the music in public with our friends, and then we have to pay again if we want to hear it at home in our own time. How does that work??

    Sharing of MP3s means that less well known bands might actually get a chance to do a gig for 5000 people at $20 a pop. $100K is not bad for a night's work. Probably more money than most indy bands ever see from CD sales, anyway.


  • I wasn't going to say anything as I'm in these threads too much :) but you're missing a very major point here.

    People are not going to be _coerced_ into paying something they originally got as free.

    I personally have had three different CDs sold on [] for $5.99 when every single track is available for free. If asked I would provide even the cover art graphics to someone who wanted to make their own copy of my CD for free but couldn't or wouldn't pay. I already make it as convenient as possible to download every single track. My guess is that at least three people (each, interestingly, choosing a different album) independently decided that they would be willing to pay $5.99 to for the convenience of having an audio CD made for them with a nice cover and all, and because I get half of the $5.99. I assume all of these people did originally get this as free- in fact I know it, because even if they didn't _take_ it, they got the music free because I made a point of giving it to them.

    It seems that my experience flatly contradicts your concept, and this makes me happy and speaks well for the ability of an artist to earn money off free artwork through access to global distribution over the Internet. It's not much money but it's more than you'd credit, and I could do better still by working to produce greater music (or more commercial, accessible music): I know an artist (Bassic) who earns over $5000 a month on from downloads and CD sales, and one important reason for this is simply that his music is more simple and accessible than mine. He loves Mike Oldfield, I love Mothers Of Invention- who do _you_ think is going to sell more CDs? ;) but I am happy about this because I _can_ produce the music _I_ like. Nobody is forcing me to make it like his in order to sell more of it. That's the beauty of being-paid-for-free-music, nobody can bitch if I'm not TRYING HARD enough to BE COMMERCIAL. I heartily endorse it to other artists who want creative freedom.

    (And yes I also still endorse going and downloading my music and buying my CDs- by now the CDs of free music sold have been anima, Extended Play, and Hard Vacuum. So _every_ _completed_ _CD_ I've done has found at least one person who liked it enough to support it with their creditcard- I get a huge kick out of that, because I never expected that _all_ of it would see CD buys. Big appreciation to whoever's doing it, and I'm still making more and still making a point of giving it to you first and foremost)

  • This is already being done at It's possible to set up an album with a bunch of fully downloadable songs and one that is just on the album and can only be streamed (pause for haxx0rs to ROFL, back to our discussion) or if I understand it correctly, not even streamed, just on the album.

    Mind you, I don't do this or support it so I can't tell you whether it works :) it is just not the way I choose to do business as a musician, but it _is_ out there. It's sort of like a shareware/crippleware concept. It seems to suggest that you have to coerce people in order to sell anything, which my experience tends to contradict.

  • by Danse ( 1026 )

    "Face it, the system is broken. If you're not a record exec or one of the top "artists" selling "15 billion singles a second", then you're getting screwed, plain and simple. Guess which ones are doing the screwing.

  • there's a reason why artists create albums.

    Yes, because it's the basic unit of record company contracts. An artist signs a contract agreeing to create a certain number of albums, not a certain number of songs.

    well-crafted songs are one thing, but an album represents a hour-ish long attempt to create a coherent/cohesive mood and statement.

    Sometimes, but rarely in my experience. Most of the time an album sounds just like the collection of all songs written since the last album was released. And all too often there's the phenomena of an artist putting out an album, not because the creative juices are flowing, but because of being obliged to do so by their contract.

    Keep in mind that thanks to radio and MTV, people are used to thinking of songs as the basic unit of music, not the album. One of the strengths of MP3 is the ease with which it lets a person create a personal jukebox, freeing them from the tyranny of having to listen to the songs album by album, always in the same order.

  • the main issue here is theft...

    False, it's about control, but please.. continue.

    there's a reason why artists create albums

    Yes, I think it may be related to why they're called "artists".

    ppl create a situation that debases all artists, bringing (insert your favorite band here) down to the level of a sisqo or christina aguilera.

    False, again. The Grateful Dead didn't go out of business because people bootlegged their concerts. The Offspring (a MN band) isn't losing money because I loaned my CD out to a friend. There's a concept of "fair use" for non-commercial purposes that you need to be brought up to speed on. In some cases, it is (and/or should be) perfectly OK to listen to music without buying it. Shocking, huh? Second - yes, it's bad and wrong and evil for me to leech mp3's. Is it such a big deal though that we need draconian legislation like the DMCA to combat it? Isn't there something in the constitution about "cruel and unusual punishment"? Our justice system is supposed to mete(sp?) out punishment based on the severity of the crime. Why should people be liable for "billions" of dollars in "damages" and be sent to jail for years for this?

  • ...the movement of college kids to other music-sharing sites this weekend was amazing..

  • You're fighting the wrong fight here. Everybody involved is saying artists should be paid for their work. The question is what's the best way. Read the comments of the music industry execs in the column. Some are actually acknowledging that they will make more money and artists will be better protected if they use the Net to sell music differently, rather than cling so stubbornly to the current mode.s

  • ...column above..he acknowledges that free music has increased sales and revenues, thus helped artists..It's an interesting take.

  • ...maybe I was online too late, but my version doesn't have a "was" in it..

  • ..Since the Net changes the dynamics of music publishing, this is a great much should artists be paid for digital music downloads?

  • It says twice -- in the intro and column -- that this ruling was about my, not

    but is the party held liable, since it owns

  • I'm at a loss as to what my about-face is. I feel exactly the way I felt last week. I just want to acknowledge that I haven't been as clear about artist's rights as I have about users. But I think RIAA is way off base with these suits, as would be clear if you read the whole column. But I'm responding to the many artists writing me saying they feel I haven't been as clear on the one as I have been on the other. If that's an about face, I'm happy to make it.
    Using terms like "steal" and "piracy" are the problem. An eight year old who goes online and learns to love all kinds of music..jazz, rock, rap..isn't a thief. he or she is using technology to acquire culture in an amazing way. No way these kids should be cut off from doing that.

  • Even the recording industry is acknowledging that simplistic notions of theft and property, good and evil don't work here. The fact is we need a new system of distributing culture that accomplishes a number of things:

    l. Protects the rights of people who have grown up with access to free forms of culture, via new technologies.

    2. Protects the rights of artists to be compensated in ways (new ways probably) for their work.

    3. Allows the free market system to function rationally and profitably.

    3. Busts up the music industry cartel and monopoly over music, the biggest outside of Columbia.

  • This is critical point of view..And it needs to be heard more often, IMHO. I can sympathisize with the feeling that artists need protection, but some of the portrays of the record companies as victims are nothing short of creepy. These new technologies have permitted lots of artist to get their music out. Sure, they will ultimately need to get paid, but this very articulate post is another reminder that the issue isn't as black and white as thieves vs. white hats.
  • Although this may fall on some deaf ears here at Slashdot, it's hard to argue that making something free is the best long-term antidote to monopolistic practices by industry leaders. If anything, doing so is at best a short-term, last-ditch solution when all else fails.

    I don't disagree that MP3 and Napster may represent revolutionary new ways of distributing music, but that's almost a separate issue from that of making the music free. As an earlier poster pointed out, the music artists have to make money somehow. Mr. Katz' implies that the record industries growth figures have something to do with the advent of Web-based music distribution, but this is probably only an insignificant part of the picture. The growth is more likely due to the state of the economy and the much more pervasive ad campaigns launched on behalf of the artists by their record labels.

    Just remember: Linux won't have been the biggest contributor if and when MS is broken up. MP3 and Napster certainly don't spell the end of the music industry as we know it.

  • As far as I can tell, the legal issue in this case is not that people are pirating the music, since they are required to own the CD before listening to the music on Rather, the issue is that illegally copied some 80,000 CDs, which I suppose is a violation of DMCA. (Someone please correct me if I'm completely wrong.)

    So, as I see it, the phenomenon demonstrated by is that people are willing to purchase CDs, but want additional functionality, ie. the ability to listen from anywhere, or have the music in a more robust format. The recording industry could take away from this that if they sold music in a format that people prefer, with capabilities that people want, then people will buy it. And a CD (or web-accessible CD) won't be require much more effort to copy than is currently needed to rip a whole CD.

    Bottom line: we'll pay for music if it fits our our modern music-listening needs.

  • I will never feel sorry for a record company as long as CD's cost more than cassette tapes do. IIRC, casettes cost at least 50% more to produce than CD's do, yet cost 40% less. Can someone explain that logic to me? My best guess is that since the CD's are higher quality, then the consumer will pay for it anyhow, but I'd like to hear the question put to the RIAA, and find out what their official response is.

    Along the same lines, I suspect that DVD's don't cost much more to produce than VHS tapes do, other than the cost of creating the extra content and getting someone to "program" the menus, etc. on the disc, but I could be wrong...

    That said, at least 75% of the MP3's on my computer are ripped from my own CD's. I would never have bought the CD's for most of the ones that aren't, as I tend to buy CD's that contain 50+ minutes of GOOD music, as opposed to 2 good songs and a whole lotta crap. MP3 doesn't really work for me if I want to listen to my Glory Soundtrack [] or to my Simon and Garfunkel CD [], as those CD's are meant really to be played all the way through. I defy anyone to say the same thing about Mariah Carey's latest CD [].


  • All around the world there seems to go a hunt against "musical pirates". If RIAA and other organisations manage to get their ropes tight then we are all in big danger. 95% of us hear music regularly. It's in our human nature to listen to melodic sounds. It differs from culture to culture what kind of music we may like to listen. However this last century gave a huge predominance to anglo-saxon music. It's everywhere. Turn any radio in most places on heart (except on certain paria states). 25-80% of it is coming from America or England. And most national music carries now deep roots on such kind of music. I don't wanna discuss here if this is good or bad. This is a question with a lot of sharp sides.

    However imagine that RIAA and alikes manage to make their side dominant in our world... Imagine that you have to pay for every song, every lyric, for every shirt, cup, mug, pen with names such as Mettalica or BeachBoys. You don like it? Then what will you do? Stop listening to music? Stop to do something your own nature demands as a form of distress, confort or meditation? So hope that birds will not be forced to have their voices licensed by RIAA. Because it is probable that you may not listen to anything else.

    It is a monopoly much more subtle than Microsoft. You may refuse to accept Microsoft rules of the game. Well maybe you will not be able to use a computer but, generally, this doesn't affect your life in fundamental aspects (you won't die of this). But not listening to music???? A thing that a common ancester between me and you did already in his times?

    Yes you may choose to listen to music not-RIAA or even anti-RIAA. But, considering the way RIAA plays its hypocrisy in the table, you'll have to choose some underground cave to listen to it. You'll have to download music from warez or non-US sites that may still survive the grasp. So you become a paria, an outculture, a punck, a freak, someone that refuses the culture 90% of people live in. By happily paying their fee to live in society... The minimum? $15-20 for the late hit CD from their lovely group. If you want to be a social being, apart of paying taxes and buying goods, you'll have to pay, each month, your right to listen your lovely sounds. Consequently you'll have the right to communicate, to rest, to love or to concentrate...
  • Jon,

    In your comment, you forgot one very important aspect of this entire debate: the cost of buying a Compact Disc.

    Right now, the average cost of a CD is somewhere between US$13 to US$17 if you buy it at a record store; it's even MORE expensive in places like Japan, where album CD's cost 3000 yen, around US$28.50 at current exchange rates. That's pretty expensive for most everyone, and frankly, people are tired of paying these high prices.

    If the RIAA were to decree that the record companies lower their prices for album CD's, I think much of the piracy problem will disappear VERY quickly. If CD's were priced at US$7.99 to US$8.99, the artists will make it up in more volume sales. After all, CD manufacturing technology has advanced enough that stamping costs is measured in a few cents PER CD!
  • The reason that artists create albums is because that's the basic unit that music is sold in.

    Before CDs displaced records, an artist had the option of selling 45 rpm singles, with two songs. Hence the "singles charts."

    Since the demise of the 45, an artist no longer has the option of releasing singles. In order to join the party, to get your one or two songs into the record store, you have to crank out an hour of filler so that you can release a CD. Granted there are some musicians who use the CD format to "create a coherent/cohesive mood and statement", but there are plenty of albums that are one or two good songs, plus a whole lot of filler.

    Another effect of the music distribution monopoly.
  • It'll probably soon be illegal to sit around a campfire singing spice girls songs (actually, if it was just spice girls songs that it was illegal to sing, I probably wouldn't mind so much ;-).

    It already is. ASCAP went after the Girl Scouts, a well known organization of copyright terrorists, for unauthorized campfire performances.

  • Will this internet that we know exist forever? As the net slowly changes, I see a tug of war occuring in everything online. It appears that the "share" way of thinking is in constant struggle with the "control" way of thinking. Each little upgrade to an internet application seems to show a tug to one side or the other.

    So what am I getting at? Well, every person who connects helps to contribute to either way things will eventually work. And lately, I think the number of people who don't realize this are outnumbering those who do realize this. The balance of power is shifting to a more controlled environment where a minority may rule.

    It sucks.

    Bad Mojo []
  • Granted, insofar as "beaming" (the process where it supposedly verifies that you have the CD or atleast all the data) the CDs goes, bandwidth concerns are nominal. On the other end, usage and downloading, though bandwidth clearly affects the worth of the method relative to the worth of alternative methods of piracy (e.g., ripping and encoding at home) and/or purchasing. As far as I've seen, doesn't actually offer to let you download the tracks, however it would be all too trivial hack a client to save those streams to a file. If you're on 28.8, you can't listen to "your" high quality mp3s in real time (on my cable modem, I actually find I can get music faster than many CD players can ever seek the next track...and certainly where the user must search for the CD). Likewise, if you're on 28.8, "beaming" and downloading (with the hack) a CD in mp3, may be slower than ripping and encoding the CD on your own system (obviously contingent on your CDROM, processor speed, and realized network bandwidth). That being said, this does not mean it is useless as a piracy tool for modem users. First, if there are technical vulnerabilities in's protocol (which I'm quite sure there are actually), the user can gain access to a very large collection of mp3s archived in an excellent fashion, far more CDs than he could ever hope to put his paws on in person, or even over the napster, and other similar methods). Second, if my* is vulnerable, the user may find it preferable to just setup his machine to download an infinite number of mp3s while he is not there (even though it is slower than his actually burning it by hand while he is attending to it) (e.g., while he sleeps, is at classes, work, etc.)

    As for broadband, atleast on my connection, with the CDs I have access to (not necessarily own!), it is a joy to use all-around; it is far far easier and faster than ripping and encoding by hand. Combined with an exploit against this database, broadband users could pirate from at, say, 100x the efficiency of other means.

  • Odds are, if you check the back of those classical music CDs you'll find they were performed by a Slavic or Other Eastern European orchestra--that is, an orchestra in a poor country where money is scarce and they'll play for what Western orchestras would consider to be peanuts. Hence, lower costs, and more room for profit.

    Further, if you check these CDs, you will more than likely find them not to be put out by any major record label (though there are always exceptions), and hence, they're sold at "generic goods" prices instead of "name brand" prices, and there's no co-op advertising restriction on these CDs (especially since they aren't the sort to be advertised anyway). Which means the stores could well be selling them at below wholesale just as a loss leader to get people into their stores.

    What's more, if you look for the "famous name" performers of classical music, like Pavarotti, etc., you'll usually find their prices to be more in line with normal CD prices than the discount classicals.

    I'm not debating that record labels may be monopolistic in regard to their signing policies. But...consider that Metallica owns all their own music--not the label. Do they sell their CDs at substantially lower prices than all the other acts?

  • 3. Busts up the music industry cartel and monopoly over music, the biggest outside of Columbia.
    Actually, Jon, Columbia Records is a part of the music industry cartel.

    Or did you perhaps mean Colombia , the small South American country that is the source of so many drug problems?

  • Yeah, the local library is a great source of CDs... rip to my hard drive and keep forever after.

    (It's also a great source of e-books and e-texts, via EBSCOhost, that I can download to my Visor and read, or my hard drive and keep, without having to pay a penny because my local tax dollar support it.)

    Y''s really a good thing that libraries are grandfathered into existence. If they wanted to invent libraries today, you just know all the copyright issues would sink them. And that's kind of sad, really.

  • The company name is, and that's who's in court and who will pay any penalties and make any deals. JonKatz has his facts in perfect order. is just the name of a service they provide.

    Watching people jump at any opportunity to criticize JonKatz is about as entertaining (and compelling) as watching Republicans criticize Clinton, or Democrats criticize George W...
  • It all comes down to incentives. Sure, the artists may not have a "right" to be paid...but a starving artist isn't going to make much music...
    Lots (perhaps most) artists have "day jobs" that pay the rent and food, and don't make enough from their art (even with copyright and all that) to afford being able to create art full-time.

    If every artist had to have a day job, how much worse a place would the world be? Even if some artists should receive financial rewards for their work, is the copyright system the best practical way to allocate those rewards?
    "But, Mulder, the new millennium doesn't begin until January 2001."

  • > As a DJ at a college radio station,

    As a tangential note, I'll mention that radio, like MP3, is a technology that the music industry has had a devil of a time coming to grips with. Free music for the masses; all they have to do is bear with the commercials. Outrageous!

    So sometimes the record industry wants to pay the stations to play their songs. (Reasonable enough, considering that nothing sell records like having them on the air. Too bad the scheme is now illegal and universally despised under the name "payola". At least with payola there is no pretense that the music industry was about anything but marketing.)

    Other times, the music industry wants the radio stations to pay them for the privilege of broadcasting free music to the masses.

    Admittedly, digital copying adds a significant new twist to the old conundrum, but it's refreshing to know that the basic problem and basic conflict of interests is nothing new. And that the economy didn't collapse after the introduction of radio.

  • (1) The record industry (RIAA's membership) will take a profit hit as a result of internet distribution of MP3s ("IDM"). The hit may be small or it may be large.

    Rationale: The fact that IDM creates a new alternative distribution channel does not guarantee increased profits. The parallel with the movie industry/VCRs is ultimately not a good one.

    (2) Individual artists may or may not take a profit hit (and may even see a profit boost) as a result of IDM, although it is likely that many of the largest names (Metallica, Madonna, etc.) will take a hit.

    Rationale: Low- to medium-profile artists will benefit from IDM because they benefit from any publicity. High-profile artists do not benefit appreciably from publicity and will lose unit sales. A few high-profile artists who make their profits other than through unit sales (e.g., by touring) will see profit increases.

    (3) There is no reason to suppose that IDM will have a seriously negative effect on the range and quality of recorded popular music available to the average listener, and it may even have a positive effect.

    Rationale: Follows from (1) and (2) above. Most recording artists' incentives are not signifcantly affected by the profit hit that high-profile artists may suffer, and it is possible that the potential for inexpensive distribution will encourage lower-profile artists to do more and better work.

    # # #

    Are these right?

  • They've already managed to extend the length of copyright to an unreasonable amount of time, now they're trying to remove the limits on the monopoly they have. This is wrong and should be stopped.

    They are currently trying to take away any hope an artist might EVER have of controlling their own work. []

    It's the first link on their homepage, they're proud of it. Any of you artists out there who really need an ass-reaming, come on over []

    BTW, they lobbied pretty hard for this. [] That's your $.02 from every album purchase, hard at work keeping music scarce.
  • This is what I can't figure out about this whole case:

    MP3.COM copies 80,000 songs to the MP3 format. This is Fair Use (they own the CDs - provided they didn't throw them away after they copied them). MP3.COM is allowed to make a copy under the HRA.

    Now, they make these copies available to the public. If this was a free-for-all, anyone-can-download-a-song system, then they would be in violation. But no, they set up a system, as best as they can, to have the user, who wants to get a copy (or stream the song) to listen to, to provide their CD, which they purchased, which has the song on it. That individual can now get the MP3 of the song they wanted from MP3.COM.

    In essence, MP3.COM is providing a CD ripping service, in which you have to prove you own the CD (hey, not everyone has the time or space to rip CD tracks). Granted, their system wasn't perfect, but it was a good effort - probably the only workable effort with current technology.

    True, they allowed multiple people to listen/download the same tracks at one time - but these people owned the CD - they could have, if they had the time, ripped the track(s) themselves, legally under the HRA and Fair Use.

    Somehow, what this ruling is saying, seems to be that if a user owns a CD, but gets the ripped MP3 track from someone else, that track - even if ripped from an identical CD - is not the same track, and is illegal. This is wrong - bits are bits are bits (of course, then you get some shmoe saying, well the conversion was lossy and not the same, see these random bits of noise here - etc, if you catch my meaning).

    MP3.COM wasn't allowing a free for all - the service they offered was a good one, for those people without the time, space, or skill to rip their own CD's...
  • Have you looked at a top 40 chart lately? How many of thouse bands are any good vs how many of them are made by members of RIAA? How many more times are we going to be forced to listen to beach boy's untalented offspring if we listen to the radio? Has Madona's kid been signed yet? When is the single going to hit? Some record exec in Oz is building the next spice girls. You can even pre-order their new album -- no thanks, I will listen to them first and then decide if I like the music. I can make decision like that on my own and I don't need someone else help.

    I put up mp3's [] of local bands and so far I've had some mixed attitudes from the bands. Some love people all over the world downloading their songs while others are very protective of their music and others would like to sell their CD's but are not in a position to do so. How do you sell a AU$15 cd to someone 1/2 a world away. E-commerce is helping that but by the time the CD gets there its cost has doubled and there is a fair amount of loss. I've got mp3s from 4 groups and a few thousand downloads of most tracks and the bands do get positve feedback. Within a day of putting on the second bands work, they got their first international order. Another band got a gig overseas in part becuase of the MP3s. None of these bands will hit the US top 40 but they play good stuff and you can listen to it now and if you like it you can try to find some arrangement to get a CD. Its like buying a CD after a gig out of the band van except the nets now in between.

  • "My MP3" was [a] a very slippery concept even if you support the grassroots MP3 music revolution, and [b] grotesquely open to abuse, as its creators must have known and as immediate experience proved.

    Remember how it worked: you put your CD into the slot, it read the TOC, computed a unique ID (a la CDDB), then connected to the central server which decided "This bloke appears to have a copy of SUPERNATURAL"... and from that point on, if you could validate yourself to My MP3 as the same user from anywhere in the world, it would STREAM that album to you, from a previously purchased and encoded copy on its central servers.

    The album you originally inserted was not encoded, or ever referenced again. If it was a CD-R copy, My MP3 neither knew nor cared. If it had been handed to you by the chap at the next desk, and if after "registering" it you handed it onward down the line for the same purpose, so that everybody on an office floor registered SUPERNATURAL from one legit disc, My MP3 neither knew nor cared. Any album that anybody you knew had an original or copy of, and that you could borrow for 60 seconds, you now "owned" as far as My MP3 was concerned.

    Buying one copy of every album in Christendom, encoding them all onto mass servers, then streaming them on demand for free to everyone in the world who satisfied some pathetically loosey-goosey "validation" scheme dreamed up by the streamer, is precisely the sort of violation that copyrights are asserted to prevent. My MP3 was a dead duck as soon as it reached a judge, and a lot of us knew it.

    Anyway, it was all a sideshow to the real MP3 revolution, and if it damages as a player in that revolution (no pun intended), it's their own darn fault, and someone else will take up the slack.
  • People like to obsess over what things are called.

    That's because you can influence people's opinion by what words you use. Many words have very precise definitions and connotations. The traditional news media is really bad about this. For example, and "Freedom Fighter" is the exact same thing as an "Armed Extremist", except the "Freedom Fighter" is government approved, and the "Armed Extremist" is someone on the other side, or no side that has been properly labeled.

    So what things are called is important. But only because of the preconcieved notions of their meanings. Which is how language changes.
  • Interesting, but if I scanned in the entire text of Hellmouth and Geeks and put it on Wrapster for everyone to download, you or your publisher may be a little miffed. However, I would have you own best interests at heart :)

    The debate kind of reminds me of those about legalization of drugs. We can't stop it, kids are going to do it anyway, why not just make it legal?

  • But ease of copying doesn't mean that an item was cheap to produce.

    You have to pay the people to design and create the product. There are costs. The ease of stealing something doesn't justify theft (although it may make insurance more costly)

  • I thought that was very well put. My opinion (if you want something a little more developed, run a search on my last couple of posts) is that the record companies' days are numbered. Music has been around much longer than contracts, and it won't be long before the contracts die, so people will quit going into it for the illusory goal of "making it big" and artists will once again be supported for being good. I think if you are good enough at what you do, then society should allow you to do it full time. You don't have a right to make a lot of money doing it, or be rich, but that SHOULDN'T be why you do it to begin with. Money is there to enable you to do what you love full time, without having to worry about food. Work shouldn't be there to make money.
    SO....hopefully we will see things go that way again, where artists are paid for their performances and donations from the (rightfully) adoring fans...until then, it might get bloody, but we will fight it out.

  • t would be great if artists made music free or cheaply available via download. But, as it stands, they don't and I believe that whoever creates the music (or software) has the right to set the license associated with it. If someone says, "Distribute my music however you like." Great. Fine. If I like it I will. If someone decides that I have to buy a CD, if I like the music, I will. No matter how much you talk about revolutions, Napster is still all about distributing illegal music (by and large). Most people I know don't have illusions about being internet revolutionaires. They know they are breaking the law, they just say they are too cheap to by the CDs

    As long as people are allowed to distribute music some will distribute music that they do not have permission to distribute. This is in effect stealing as you've pointed out. It's wrong for people do this against the artists' wishes. They should stop but we both know that they won't.

    So the record companies either learn to deal with the new environment--by the way they've had record sales this past year--or they find a way to stop people from being able to distribute music for free. If they could stop people from distributing music for free, which is impossible technology-wise, they'd have the added benefit of less competition.

    Killing Napster means killing a distribution channel for artists that can't have or don't want a record company to do it for them. That's definately the greater evil. It's not the only option the record companies have. They should try something more creative like:

    Buy and download our cd quality music and get a free album on vinyl.

    Sell something more than a cheap jewelbox and a piece of plastic and aluminum. Free distribution of music may hurt the record companies, but stopping free distribution hurts the music and the people that love it. How can it not hurt the record companies to have competition in a market they've pretty much controlled for years. Even if I had any pity for the record labels I still wouldn't be able to just allow them to interfere with free distribution channels.

  • In the end it isn't about theft at all. It is about the Recording Industry having control over both artists and consumers. They don't like the fact that they are losing their ability to make artists play what they [The Recording Industry] want, nor do they like the fact that they are losing their ability to make people listen to what they [The Recording Industry] want. Such as setup in the past has enabled them to rake in the cash.

    They didn't see the MP3 phenomenon and the internet as a viable business venture for them a few years back. If they had, I'm sure they would have thought up a good way to take advantage of it. Instead, they are now resorting to lawsuits to try to stop this new way of doing things from interfering with their business.

    Unfortunately for them, it is too late for them to stop the widespread use of MP3s, however what they are doing in court may set the stage for a final victory by the movie industry, who is currently trying to stop people from being able to view movies in the content they demand.

    And I went through this whole post without bashing Katz. ^_^

  • Great Points!

    However, you don't need a broadband connection to the internet to gain access to all of your friends CD's. The amount of data transfered to to verify each CD is extremely small, so any connection would work.
  • I have downloaded several MP3s that I did not own the rights to. I have also listened to songs on the radio that I did not own the rights to. When I was 13, one of my favorite passtimes was recording the radio, and then making a compilation of my favorite songs. Apparently, this is all considered immoral by the record industry. (shame on me).

    However, I think it's also important to note that of the MP3s that I have downloaded, more often than not I've rushed out to buy the CD after hearing a few of the songs. In every case, it's been an obscure band that I hadn't heard of, or had no interest in until listening to the music. Long story short: If I hadn't downloaded the MP3, I wouldn't have purchased the CD.

    So, IMHO, not only are the Record Companies screwing themselves over (their choice), they are also screwing their artists over (hey, I didn't even know who the Old 97s [] were! but I'm glad I found them!), and they're turning away potential fans.

    So for the record companies to worry over someone hearing their music, what's your problem?!? If anything, the record companies themselves should provide MP3 sites as a promotional service!

    Webmaster, City of Saint Paul
  • Yeah, but Heinlein was a visionary and idealist like Stallman.

    We all know in Real Life the unwritten precepts of law that include

    The fat cats exude the lard that greases the squeaky wheels.

    There's no doubt the genie is out of the bottle as far as costless digital copies.

    One solution I can suggest comes out the 17th century. That is, assume that once a copy is made of an original score that the cost will rapidly spiral down to zero. Given that's the case, let musicians, visual artists, movie producers, provide a command performance at their pleasure to the highest bidder or group of bidders at an accumulated auction site.

    This is more like the model that supported music originally, like nobility of Vienna supporting Mozart (not implying that Mozart got the money he deserved). Then, once the initial price is overcome, anyone possessing a copy may provide it to others at whatever cost (free, for example) they want to charge.

    In this model, the renumeration for already-released works rapidly dwindles to nothing, so artists past their prime will suffer. But, artists that are prolific and in demand should be able to release a 10 second snippet and be able to hold the rest of the song hostage until they get as much as they deem needed, whatever that amount happens to be.

    Want the next release of a new Metallica song?

    Click on "I promise to contribute $1 for its production", along with 10000 other metalheads.

    Then, if Metallica gets enough subscribers/patrons, they can release the song. Or not.
  • Part of the problem is that we've all been socialized to accept that intellectual property belongs to one individual or organization. Even the founding fathers of the United States only promoted copyrights to give more of an incentive for people to create origanal works.

    Before copyrights all information was free. People got paid for the work that they did not the ideas that they came up with. A musician was paid for a performance. A playwrite for writing a play. These people didn't own these ideas they made their money off of the use of commonly held ideas. Copyrights and patents in my opinion only slow inovation. A company that had to create something new to stay on top instead of hiding behind their patents would create many more products. Cost would also be lower.

    What if we completely eliminated patents and copyrights. Society as we know it would not collapse. Musicians would be paid by radio and websites wich would make their money from advertisements. Writers would create a work and people would buy it. Lets admit that for books we all like to have the feel of a book in our hands and no one could copy whole books more cheaply then publishers could mass produce them. Publishers would be forced to sell books, cds, and videos at prices low enough that pirating wouldn't make any sence.

    I for one do not believe that just because someone came up with an idea first that it should be theirs forever. If the patent system and copyright system in this country were sane I wouldn't have a problem. But, no song writer, movie maker, or book writer deserves to exlusivly own copyrighted works to the detriment of the society for more years then they'll be alive.
    I don't expect to see any more important copyrights expire in my lifetime.

    What changed my views was when I was showing my nephew the books on project guetenburg and he asked how it could possibly be legal for people to place whole texts on the internet. I mean who should be able to keep anyone from viewing classics like Poe, Verne, or Doyle. Yet he could not understand how any book could be free. That bothered me.

    I realise what we are talking about at the moment are mp3s. Anyone can hear the same music for free on the radio. Does that keep people from buying the cds? You can copy songs from the radio and with good enough equipment and a good signal get very close to cd quality. Does that keep people from buying cds? I like to see what I'm buying before I pay for it. With a book I can sit at the bookstore and read it *before* I buy it. Hell I can check it out from the library and read the whole thing. Does that keep me from owning the book? No, I own several hundreds of books. If I want to buy a pair of shoes I get to try them on first. I can test drive a car before I buy it. Why is it wrong to want to download and listen to these songs before I buy them. Software, music and movies are the only things you *have* to buy on faith why is that?

    Go ahead and read back the propoganda that our society has filled your head with. Ideas are free. Deal with it.

    Information wants to be free.

    Man I used to think that was a korny line but the more I see information being shut away and reserved for the people that can afford it the more I believe that information not only wants to be free it must be free.
  • I forget the licensing fee for happy birthday is, but it exists.

    It is indeed copyrighted, and whenever it is sung at official/public functions, the copyright owners are paid for the use of their song.

  • Isn't that what objective journalism is?

    If Jon Katz was a reporter and this was a news site I would expect this from him but since the format of his article was more editorial than reporting I expeced it to actually contain a meaningful opinion or some insight and not merely be a restating of the news in long form.

  • Simple: Being a musician is a profession. It is no different in this respect than administrators, lawyers, or cops. They're jobs, they expected to get paid.

    And although raising kids is a substantially different venture, parents still get some amount of money back from the government in most countries, sometimes even moreso to stay at home fulltime to raise the kids. Pretty close to the same idea.
  • ...industry cartel and monopoly over music, the biggest outside of Columbia.

    I wasn't aware that there was a Colombian music cartel. Where can I find it? Colombian um, 'institutions' provide for many of my needs in a very satisfactory way right now - maybe I could get one more taken care of.

    Seriously though...
    . Protects the rights of people who have grown up with access to free forms of culture, via new technologies.

    Are you nuts? You bring this up again and again: that people who have grown up with something have some kind of inexplicable 'right' to it. Examine this concept. Why?
    If I grow up with a $1,000,000 trust fund, do I necessarily have a 'right' to it? If it's the torn and twisted hands of sweatshop children that contributed to it? Would it be better if I'd taken those profits personally? I'm using this analogy because so much of this discussion seems to center on how rich the record companies are, and how they just want to preserve the status quo. Your argument for preserving the culture these kids ostensibly grow up with is the same argument.

    The "right" that you're talking about here is in no way a right. It's a comfort level, it's a societal trend (maybe), it's a convenience. It is not a right. Preserving the mp3 sharing 'culture', no matter how much I approve of it and/or take part in it, is not a right. I don't have rights to someone else's property. Period.

    In other words, what I do is wrong - but I choose that wrong. If you took the opportunity to acquire mp3's of copyrighted material away from me, I'd be disappointed for many reasons. But I would not have been wronged.

    Please cease and desist with the inflammatory language - it will not help your arguments among thinking people inclined to agree with you, and it certainly won't convince hard-line record execs (or the people at Pinkerton, or anyone else with an accountant) that maybe some of your points are credible. I tend to agree with where you're going, but your methods are uninformed. You preach to the choir far too much.

  • In the world where the Internet is replacing all other means of communication and data transfer how is RIAA to survive if they are blinded by their own greed? The artist (Dr. Dree and Metalica excepted) should take the initiative and invest into technologies that will allow them to get paid for their forms of art. If it was possible for a musician to get paid for a specific song directly from the consumer, what would be the point of RIAA and record companies?

    Artists should help create the market targetted at the Internet users and they should embrace electronic form of distribution. If you are the consumer, to you this means paying for specific forms of art (songs, video, paintings) you like without having to pay for overpriced CD's and for other crap on those CD's you don't need. So did go against copyright? You bet they did, they copied music without permission and without actually buying it. Did the judge make the right decision, you bet he did, if he did otherwise he would be going against copyright. Is RIAA right for placing their charges? You bet they are, they will lose their monopoly on music distribution. HOWEVER. It is the artists themselves who should take their music to or Napster or other companies and artists should invest into electronic forms of distribution, they should go around RIAA and CD distributors and then the artists will win because the consumers will win.
  • Simple explanation: It was will have been changed.
  • The record companies have no interest in protecting the artist. The only interest they have is protecting themselves.

    MP3's do only one thing that scares them: removes the middle man. THEY are the middle man. They're providing a tangible object.. A CD in a jewel case with a nice label. It is the artist who is providing the intellectual property. Without the need for the CD with the shiney wrapper, there is no more record company, and now it's just between the artist and the listener. That's what they're afraid of. They are loosing that control.

    They've already proven their disinterest in the artists' benefits. Look at the suit against Chuck D, an artist. He puts his songs on his website for free download. Embracing the MP3 technology, knowing that the more people who can listen to his music, the more people will buy. Guess what? He's sued by his own label. They are out only for their own paychecks. The RIAA is full of crap when they claim to be protecting the artist.

    Think about it: What thing does a signed or unsigned artist want more than anything else in the whole wide world? Airplay. There have been movies with plots where bands go to all lengths to get their music on the radio. They want the fame and they want the chance to sell their music. If it goes unhead, no one will buy it.

    That's why you see an increase of music sales corresponding to the MP3 era. At the risk of incriminating myself, I have a vast collection of MP3s, and when I find an artist I really like, I go buy their CD. In some cases, I've bought all their CDs. My favorite artists I discovered online. Artists with labels, but that they rarely play on the radio (at least around here.) I've been happy with all the CDs I've bought based on MP3 listening, versus the large number of CDs I hate that I bought based off of listening to the radio. It helps, doesn't hurt, the industry, that I'm happy with the music I buy.

    Of course, this doesn't help popular radio artists that really do suck, but it helps the bands that are really good, that the PEOPLE like...

    As I've been saying for the past 3 years, music is currently in an unnatural position. Up until the 60's/70's, "the people's" music was ALWAYS free and unrestricted. (By the people's music, I mean music the common person listens to, the short-format popular music, which, 500 years ago were bar tunes and folk dances, in the 30's, jazz, now pop/country/rock, etc.) Humans who have usually had very little control over the rest of their lives had control over one thing: their music. Serfs, peasants, even slaves, had their music. It's something no one could take from them or dictate to them. They could choose what they liked and discard and mock what they did not like.

    Now that people have all this freedom in their lives, music is not free. By free, I don't mean free from cost. I mean free to migrate, free to choose. The songs we hear are force-fed to us on the radio. We are told who is popular, and who is not. We can't so much as hum a tune without being sued by the label, and god-forbid we should actually use the lyrics in any way.

    This is what's causing the revolution. We want our music back. It's always been ours, and now we want it back again. We're tired of Backstreet Boys and Britany Spears and we just want to hear honesty again. We want to be able to choose that honesty as we see fit, as individuals and as a society. For me it's not so much the fact that I don't have to pay for the music as it is that I can choose my own music -- as I want it, when I want it -- without getting ripped off.

    And I'd much rather see a worthy artist get my $16.95 than to see the record co get $14 of it and the artist getting two bucks.
  • As somebody who used to be in the music business (as another underpaid artist) I totally agree. The people getting rich from the music business are the record labels and whoever owns the publishing rights to the music (usually the same entity).

    Artists, especially new ones, don't make squat from their albums. They have to pay the record company for distribution, studio time, manufacturing, the CEO's coke habit, etc. Most of them would love to see as much as $0.50 per unit sold. Most of the time, it's much lower than that.

    That's why the whole Metallica/Dr. Dre thing is so strange. (That is if you ignore the whole sellout/corporate bitch thing) For the first time, it's possible for an artist to record and widely distribute music WITHOUT having to sell his/her soul to a record company. It's just that nobody has made it big that way yet. Just will happen.

    I really don't see what the difference is between "unsanctioned" MP3 distribution and trading bootlegs of live shows. Certainly, nobody can argue that the Grateful Dead, Phish, or anybody else who allows taping and bootlegging has suffered from this. The real threat isn't to the artists, it's to the record companies who are discovering that the value in their "value added" service to the poor artists is rapidly disappearing. It's disintermediation all over again. (And you thought you'd heard the last of that meme...)

    Just like everything else in the new economy, the record companies will either adapt or die. It's going to take a little longer than it should because they have tons of lawyers to feed, but it will happen. The physical medium (CD's, flash-memory albums, or holographic storage) will always be here, but it won't be the primary revenue stream. It will be on the same level as sheet music is today.

    PS: In case somebody from Metallica reads this...I don't like you since you sold out, but I'm going to download and upload every one of your songs as much as possible just because you're being dicks.

    I've got your sig right here.
  • ..once one car were manufactured, there could be 10 billion copies of the car with no cost.

    That rationale is the reason people pirate sotware and music. Copying something digitally doesn't cost anything and I wouldn't have bought the music anyway - right? Well the reality is that it does cost something to the artist. All the people here who complained about Katz and Slashdot copying their articles for the book - hey, what's the problem? It's just a digital copy and those don't cost anything.

    Cost is more than a direct monetary thing. It is indirect money, but it is also control and ownership.

  • by HiQ ( 159108 )
    I cannot understand this intellectual property crap when it comes to music.

    I make something, you buy something; that has been the basis for economics since thousands of years.
    The fact that music (and software) is easy to copy doesn't change a thing - it is theft!
    You think that just because it's not a solid object, it's suddenly "intellectual property"??

    Please think again!
    How to make a sig
    without having an idea

  • I'm sure slashdot does this. Take a story, such as this one, and post it normally. What do you get? A bunch of people going, "RIAA bad, good" A few dissenters, but generally most people are going to toe The Party Line(TM). Which is why most stories on Linux, open source, MP3's, etc. are a bit one sided.

    Now have Jon Katz tell the same story. Presto! Instant dissent. A large wave of slashdotters appears from the ether to pick apart every detail of the story. And you have some real debate on the issues.

    I like the Katz stories for this reason alone. Jon, when are you going to write a story that condemns Microsoft? Now, that would be interesting.

  • When will the argument be turned from whether or not distributing mp3s are legal to whether or not posessing mp3s are legal?

    What is there to argue? Distributing/Posessing MP3's are no different than doing the same with Software. Whether or not it is legal depends on whether or not it is yours to distribute or posess.

    The RIAA is quickly making posession illegal -- even if I own the CD, I'm not allowed to have the mp3's from that CD.

    I'm pretty sure that this is not the case. If you own a CD legally, then you are allowed to make copies of that CD for your own personal use.

    That is not what has done though. They have made copies of CDs that they have purchased for the use of their customers, and are profiting from it. What's more, they cannot ever be sure that the people they are distributing those copies to do own an original copy legally. If you want an mp3 of a CD you legally posess, go make it yourself. It's not as if it will cost you to do it, and it may even be faster than d/ling it from the internet.

    There should not be any debate here. If it was the IP of a /.er that was being distributed by some other company, they would be raising hell too. Disagree? Go read "Postscript:Who owns the Hellmouth Posts?" [].


    "I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday."

  • Jon Katz is pretentious. He is no more than an average writer - he isn't an expert witness on anything. He presents his shallow opinion as fact.

    Now, for the music industry:
    If artists aren't able to make the money by selling their music, they will turn to in-song/in-movie advertising. It has already happened in some places.

    In Pakistan and India, where there are very few laws to protect artists from pirating, the movie companies have found a different way to make money.

    They make their money (as everyone must) by selling advertising that dances across the screen. Imagine your favorite scene from SW/ST/Matrix with a dancing cigarette pack imaged over the screen.

    If artists intellectual/musical property isn't protected in a way that allows them to make money by selling it, then expect to start hearing songs about how great Pepsi tastes and how much the artist loves his Dodge truck.

  • This lengthly article brings up many valid points.
    The music industry cannot police the entire internet, and, as with the lyrics website, would have problems with some other countries like Russia.
    Also, besides large MP3 providers like, or the Napster service, there will always be groups of interstate friends in which only one person will need to pay for the music for everyone to benefit.
    I agree with the article's claim that the best way for the industry to maximize its profits would be to lower its prices. 10 songs should not cost $20, or even $10.

    How much money to the artists deserve for some music? Oh, darn, the rappers made less than a zillion dollars this year. I guess they won't be buying all the useless, expensive cars and jewelry that inspire their songs about how many cars and pieces of jewelry they own bling bling.

    Instant Crisis

  • I just don't see how this can be theft. I could see if there were a bunch of guys passing out flyers that there's gonna be a Metallica show, and when you get there, it's some other guys claiming to be Metallica. But that's not the issue. Say I get an MP3 from a friend that's a band I've never heard of before. I think if I like what I hear, I may just go see them when they come to my area. If looked at correctly, this is a form of free publicity. When I think of music, I don't think of money, I think of expressing your feelings and having a good time. That's what the problem is here. Everyone's lost touch of what music really means.
  • by pb ( 1020 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @06:10AM (#1100026)
    once more people realize just how evil the RIAA is, and see mp3 as a viable alternative, maybe their sales will go down, and they will be forced to compete, or offer a more fair, legal alternative.

    I hope. In any case, I haven't bought CDs in a while. I've gotten a couple as presents, and I got The Matrix on a gift certificate. I was thinking of joining one of those music clubs ("11 Free CDs For $1" or whatnot), but they don't have much in the way of 11 decent CDs. :)

    So what are you going to do, RIAA? Sell CDs at cost + royalties? Heck, give the artist a buck or two, I'll pay for that.

    What does the current model look like?

    + royalties
    + 3 cents for the artist
    + legal bills
    + media kickbacks
    + mafia kickbacks
    + money lost from drug seizures
    + legal bills from fighting the war on mp3's

    I mean, really, *explain* where that $15-20 goes and I'll be impressed. That's a lot of money to account for. A book costs $5, and that's paper, wood pulp. The author gets money, the publisher gets money, the cover artist gets money, the book gets printed on a press that is already paid for. So where's the extra $10-15 that goes into the cost of the CD? Hmmm?

    Or how about singles? They make money off of those, right? And they're about half the price of the CD. With nothing to make them cheaper. Implying that CDs could be half their current cost and *still* be very profitable.
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • by Danse ( 1026 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @08:41AM (#1100027)

    It's just reaffirming copyright laws in protection of the artist, which is what copyright is all about.

    Copyright is not "all about" the protection of the artist. That's what the RIAA would like us to believe, but you shouldn't buy that line. Copyright exists in order to increase the number of artistic and/or literary works that people have free access to (i.e. works existing in the public domain). The goal is to provide an incentive, namely a limited, temporary monopoly, for artists to produce new works. After the monopoly period is up, those works are added to the public domain, and can be freely accessed, distributed, and built upon by anyone. THAT is what copyright is all about. Don't let the music or movie industries convince you otherwise. They've already managed to extend the length of copyright to an unreasonable amount of time, now they're trying to remove the limits on the monopoly they have. This is wrong and should be stopped.

  • by Danse ( 1026 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @01:35PM (#1100028)

    Well, I hadn't read the RIAA website before. Some very interesting stuff there. I was reading through the artists' comments and ran into this gem:

    "I think the fact that Napster is stealing recorded music is something that we have to stop. It's taking money out of my kid's mouth. That's the way I look at it. It's wrong. It's inherently wrong. It's stealing." -- Art Alexakis, Everclear

    This guy feeds his kid money?

    Anyway, it's become clear from the comments by the artists, apparently solicited by the RIAA given the dates on most of them, that the artists only seem to know what the RIAA has told them. They're trying to make it into a black and white, cut and dry situation, which it isn't. They apparently didn't tell the artists that despite the rise of MP3s, the record industry profits are still increasing significantly ever year. They also didn't give explain basic business concepts like what you should expect when you overprice your products. Nor have they actually been able to establish that they are actually being harmed by Napster. I've explained what I think is going on in other posts under this story, so I won't rehash it here. Go to my user info page to read my other posts if you wish.

  • by Hrunting ( 2191 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @05:56AM (#1100029) Homepage
    Yeah, but Jon, your articles isn't about It's about how the loss the has dealt a 'crushing blow' to MP3 and Napster and the open-source movement, and it's bullshit on all three accounts. The judge didn't say that MP3 is illegal and the RIAA doesn't think that MP3 inherently is evil. In fact, several record companies and bands that operate under the RIAA already release music in MP3 format. The lawsuit was about who has the right to distribute music, mainly whether it's the artists (and their agents, the record companies) or someone else. copied 80,000 CDs so that anyone could listen to them at any time. Granted, they checked to see if the person actually owned the CD, but the fact of the matter is that the company did the copying and distributing, not the owner. There are plenty of sites out there that are alive and kicking that do the same sort of thing that does, except that they require to record and upload their own MP3s. This isn't a crushing blow to MP3, Jon. The judge just said that you can't copy music and then distribute it.

    And this is something that I have to say to you every time you write something. If someone were to take a copy of your book, duplicate it verbatim on to the Web, and let people read and download it for free, you and your publisher would sue the bastard to make sure that s/h/it didn't do it. The same holds true for music, whether it be in MP3 or some other format.

    So yes, Jon, do some more research next time, and quit blowing what are really sound legal decisions out of proportion and saying that it's the end of the movement as we know it, people's heads are up their asses, blah dee blah blah. MP3 is not a revolution. This case is not a trendsetter or major MP3 precedent. It's just reaffirming copyright laws in protection of the artist, which is what copyright is all about.
  • by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @05:57AM (#1100030)
    The problem is that RIAA was afraid of digital music when it first gained popularity. They had the opportunity to take the bull by the horns, grab control of the industry, and made even more money.

    Unfortunately, they didn't do that. They scoffed at MP3, and the result was only too predictable. They left it to the pirates, so the pirates jumped on it.

    Music piracy is hardly a new thing. It's been around for decades. Prople were taping records, radio, and later CD's long before MP3 arrived on the scene, amd moreover people still do this (probably as much as if not more than MP3; the format does take a small amount of technological savvy after all). RIAA acts as though stopping MP3 will stop piracy for good; it won't. Other means will arise, and unless RIAA works within these new systems they'll lose big time.

    For one, RIAA shouldn't be so averse to selling MP3's. There's no need to worry about SDMI and all that; while piracy will still exist, of course, there's lots of money to be made. Need I remind the music industry Bill Gates and Larry Ellison both sell software, and together they are worth more than the entire music industry? So clearly piracy may be a problem, but it's not a real barrier to making a whole planeload of cash.

    Piracy is a problem, of course. But it's never going to go away; you simply cannot eradicate it. The best you can hope for is to minimize it. Sell MP3's over the Web for a dollar apiece (this being roughly proportional to the retail cost of a CD, which is higher than the price the industry itself gets for every disc). You'd be surprised how many fans will pay a buck apiece for music, particularly in places where you can't use Napster. The first company to actually try this (assuming they can get a decent-sized fanbase) will prove the model's validity.

    It's a different way of doing things, yes. And of course it's scary; moving away from a model that was known to be lucrative in the past but is now losing out to technology is always a risk. But technology is evolving, and unless the music industry is ready to face that and work within it, they're going to be left behind.
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @05:10AM (#1100031)
    No, the genie is out. The genie was out long before the mp3 craze began. It started with consumerism - that people in this country are taught from a young age to satisfy all their material wants. The net effect of this is that they will do so at the lowest possible cost - people are kindof like electricity in this respect- they take the path of least resistance.

    In short, the RIAA shot itself in the foot - with the high cost of CDs and the even higher cost of going to a concert/show, people weren't left with much alternative. Prepackaging songs they didn't like with songs they did like and not allowing previews pretty much put the finishing touches on their coffin.

    So common people like their free stuff, and who cares about the law? (insert long idealogical rant here)

    The other component of this is that geeks enjoy their online freedom - whether information "wants to be free" or not, geeks are out there making sure it gets shared to as wide of an audience as possible. Part of this is that geeks operate on a kind of gift culture - you get more popular when you give away more, and partly because many (most?) come from a recent history where geeks were ejected from society and scorned in schools and communities. This is a kind of self-conscious revenge - a little bit of "damn the man!" .. ideologies aside there is a definite ego rush in standing up to authority. Now, I know I'm going to get flamed for the above statement - I'm not saying that everyone is like this, so keep that in mind, ok?

    The last point I want to make is that the internet was designed specifically to share information. It was something of an accident and convergence of technologies that made it so you could share virtually everything - images, movies, pictures, text, it's all going into a huge funnel of digitalization making it even easier to share. The internet was designed to share information. The internet was designed to share information. From the hardware to the protocols to the software to the users, end-to-end it was designed to share information. What shall we do to put the genie in the bottle? Well, dismantling the internet and locking up all the geeks would be the only feasible way to do it. Good luck, guys.. there's a helluva lot more of us than you.

  • by JonKatz ( 7654 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @05:34AM (#1100032) Homepage

    No, as a person who makes (or almost makes) a living off of being paid for published work, I am not saying it's okay to pirate music. I am saying what you are saying and what Danny Goldberg, who is quoted in the column is has been good for music, generated enormous sales and potentially, can be great for artists. It doesnt' protect artists to protect that music can't be downloaded and shared. They will just get ripped off forever. What would really protect artists..and believe me, I am for a new way of distributing music that offers it more cheaply and with more choice.
    Nobody should be forced into open source, of course, but I don't see most of this kids as thieves. new technologies have given them access to unimaginable amounts of music, and they are using and loving it. If the record industry would get off its its own execs are urging (see above) then artists could be protected, they could make money, and people wouldnt lose this amazing new access to cheap and plentiful culture. I am not advocating music piracy, just trying to see this music revolution in a different context than: you're a thief, not I'm not!
  • I believe in intellectual property. If an artist makes music, the artist should be free to declare whatever terms on its use he wants. As it stands right now, the current legal interpretation of copyright law defines most of your rights in regards to their music. In other words, we must assume the artist is selling his work under a set of terms and conditions, which is generally known as copyright law. If you violate these terms, the artist may or may not be incentivized to continue creating work as he was before.

    The artists can (and do) transfer their rights to the label. While it may seem "unfair" and "unnecessary" for the labels to shut down services like, the service does, in fact, violate the labels' rights, and can consequently erode value of the artists' rights. If the labels' rights were entirely intact (and consequently the artists'), they might be enabled to sell a second digtal denies them this right. Similarly, the growth of through the violation of the labels' rights, could marginalize the market position (not necessarily monopoly) of the labels. The artists could potentially use this as a bargaining chip, but strips them of this. Likewise, due to technological flaws, may, in fact, make piracy and far far more trivial, and the denial of the labels' right to control the distribution may negatively impact their profits. For example, I can borrow CDs from all my friends, hundreds of them, and gain access to all of the mp3's of those CDs in an hour or two with a cheap computer on broadband--No other technology enables this to be done so quickly and efficiently (e.g., nominal ripping (reading) time, no encoding, no storage space, etc.), not tape, not VCR, etc. I realize you, Katz, are no technological wonderkid, but I also have real doubts about the security of the services insofar as internet piracy (as opposed to CD distribution amongst friends) goes, so it does not entirely follow that just because beam-it,'s client software, is challenged by the server to produce samples of the CD, that the user actually has the CD in their drive at the moment, or even an equivelent sized chunk of data.

    The bottom line is that you should assume the artist is releasing his work under the current understanding of copyright law, and all that it implies. Unless the artist grants you that right to do otherwise, you are simply not entitled to do whatever you wish, no matter how just you may feel your reasoning to be. Any violation of the copyright law has concievable consequences, thus we generally don't leave it up to the individual to decide. If we, as a society, choose that it would be better to weaken copyrights across the board such that a single purchase in any format entitles you to get the work in any other format, and that it is ok for 3rd parties to provide that alternative medium service at a profit, that is acceptable. Until such time, however, we should respect the law.
  • by Robotech_Master ( 14247 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @08:36AM (#1100034) Homepage Journal
    The problem with the column isn't so much that he leaves the "My" off of as that Jon generalizes from the My case to the Napster lawsuits and Gnutella/Freenet/other file-sharing system controversy. Now, while Jon could have gotten away with going from the specific to the general insofar as talking about how controversial the mp3 format is, it's considered bad form to go from the specific to the only vaguely tangentially-related other specific--you'll end up confusing the issue. In fact, almost every print journalism source in which I've read about the My decision has gone to great pains to stick in a paragraph noting that this case was entirely unrelated to the Napster/Gnutella controversy. Jon Katz, on the other hand, joined them at the hip. That's shoddy journalism.

    Leaving aside the dead horse of "It's piracy!" "No, it's not! Information wants to be free!" "Tell me that when they start pirating your books." which has been so ably flogged elsewhere in this discussion, let's look at the issue of another straw man Jon's set up and whacked on a little in the article, which I haven't seen addressed as much.

    So CDs only cost fifty cents to make and are sold at $15. So what? Despite the implication here that the record labels are uniquely evil for overcharging so, this is hardly a one-of-a-kind case. I would wager that many or even most of the things we pay $10 to $20 for are knocked off at, at most, $2 to $3 of actual manufacturing cost. Take a class in basic Economics, Jon. Better yet, take two, one each of Macro and Micro. I'm sure a college in your area offers them as night courses.

    As someone who has had them, and had a surprising number of misconceptions cleared up by them...Jon, that $14.50 is not pure profit--at least, not for the record companies. There's the $5 markup by the record store middleman, the fixed setup costs not represented in the 50 cents figure, the factory overhead...and, yes, the profit. Companies do have to make a profit, you know. That's how they stay in business, satisfy their shareholders, and continue to produce the products that we want.

    Despite what many of the "free as in beer" crowd would have you believe, profit is not an evil or bad thing. You're making a profit yourself when you get your paycheck--getting paid at least as much as and probably more than you think your labor is worth--or else you'd go work somewhere else where you were.

  • Artists definitely have a right to be paid for their work....
    Lots of people seem to be throwing around this claim without bothering to defend it. Why do artists have a right to collect revenue from their creations?

    The fact that an artist put a lot of effort into creation does not, in and of itself, establish a right to be paid. A simple counterexample: Parents put a great deal of effort and expense into raising children, but nobody suggests that this effort entitles them to make a financial profit on the venture.
    "But, Mulder, the new millennium doesn't begin until January 2001."

  • by BlackHawk ( 15529 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @05:22AM (#1100036) Journal
    Less than a week ago, we were reading your diatribe about Metallica's lawsuit, and the implication that the suit was an attack on free speech rights. You railed against the RIAA for pursuing in courts, and painted the mass-transit of copyrighted material across the Internet as a rebellion against Big Corporations and their stranglehold on the music industry. Amazing what a difference a well-thought court decision makes, yes?

    For the record, I can't stand what RIAA has become: a cudgel used by non-human immortal entities (read that: corporations) who exist solely for the purpose of maximizing profits for their few shareholders at whatever cost. In my opinion, the recording industry has suffered at RIAA's hands, becoming linked with the heartless materialism at the core of big business. And the industry's insistance on holding back the use of digital channels to move entertainment to the people (both RIAA and MPAA are guilty here) will most assuredly backfire.

    Frankly, the time has never been better for a company to spring up who will sponsor digital recording of smaller acts in exchange for the rights to give away one (1) song from each act on the Internet. Skip the pressing of CD's and the add campaigns. That same company should purchase and give away Rio players to radio stations to give their acts air time.

    But that idea does not give people the right to steal, and that is what most of those who are complaining about the lawsuits, and RIAA's actions, are doing. This is not a revolution; it is plundering. Those who are suing have every right to do so; indeed they have a responsibility, if they're going to protect their copyright.

    Mr. Katz, you strike me as someone who was always in "rebel" mode. I went to school with plenty of them, and I've worked with some. They always had an axe to grind against "the establishment". Often, they were right. But they were just as often wrong, and I believe you're wrong on this one. You shouldn't be glorifying theft as "revolution".

    Incidentally, as a network admin, I also point out that the universities who've banned Napster are doing so for several reasons, one of which is due to the unprecedented load of network traffic the music-traders (or thieves, if you will) are generating. And I fully agree with their decision.

  • by angelo ( 21182 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @05:26AM (#1100037) Homepage
    It is interesting that should mention the net as a possible saviour. It is interesting because on the net, you can just rip files yourself and send them at a lower cost to others than they can. They have to Scheme on all kins of fancy encryptions, where you can just borrow and post a cd on usenet. If two copies of the latest ICP CD are out there, one legit, encrypted one, and a basement-ripped copy from j0e hax0r, people will pick j0e's version, and never ever consider PAYING for the download, which is likely to fail anyway.

    I see this in a lot of "e-commerce" models. They tout their method is like "X" in the real world, but on the net, and they don't think through to the logical (if not pessimistic) conclusion that nobody needs "X" on the web.

    I can copy my CDs for others, given: a) I have the time to do so (it's automated) and b) I own the means of production (2 cd drives, one being a burner, and a burnable silver CD) plus one original. Bam! Kick it up a notch with instant piracy! No net required. No download times. With the net out of the loop, even sending encrypted/tagged mp3s becomes pointless. Unfuck seemed to do the trick on Mickeysoft files, as DeCSS can do it to DVDs. The net is, as usual, a transport medium, and not a saviour.
  • by delmoi ( 26744 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @09:19PM (#1100038) Homepage
    Its not stealing, its half stealing. I get something for free, but you are deprived of nothing, other then the possibility of making money by selling it.

    Taking things from others is wrong; getting something for free is not. New technology allows us to do one without the other.

    If I pirate software that I would never have purchased, I deprive no one of anything. Distributing NT in china doesn't loose MS any money, because the people can't afford it anyway.
  • by spankenstein ( 35130 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @05:51AM (#1100039) Homepage

    As a musician that uses [] I feel like I need to say something here. This has let people hear us that would have otherwise never even heard of us. I don't see it as losing money or a waste of our time or resources. The people that listen to us are probably more likely to go to a show when we play close to them, which makes them more likely to by stickers, or shirts or cd's.

    I don't see what all these huge bands are whinig about either. Sure there are going to be people that don't buy theur albums. Those people would be just as happy with a cassette or mini disc, either way it's a moral issue rather than a money issue. Almost everyone I know has an old cassette of some metallica album.

    And for the money... I know that a indie band can record and produce cd's for 1 - 3 dollars per disc. At shows these are usually sold for 8 - 10 dollars. That's some helacious profit. I mean at worst that's 70%. I know that these major labels are getting a better deal on CD's. The manager at a music store that Ionce worked at told me that it was about 97 cents a CD for a major label. And the honestly want us to pay 15 - 20 dollars and NOT see if we really like the album first?

  • by jeremy f ( 48588 ) <> on Monday May 01, 2000 @05:38AM (#1100040) Homepage
    When will the argument be turned from whether or not distributing mp3s are legal to whether or not posessing mp3s are legal? The RIAA is quickly making posession illegal -- even if I own the CD, I'm not allowed to have the mp3's from that CD. That's what struck me the most about the ruling of If it's proven that just posessing an mp3 is illegal, no matter the source or means, then the RIAA has already won -- they've proven that mp3's are equivalent to thievery.

    The only way for a middle ground is to have a ruling that posessing mp3s from albums you own is legal, the same way that having a backup casette is legal, or having a backup set of disks from early software is legal (this is no longer embraced in the software industry, but was a standard in the early days of software being distributed on 3.5" disks.) Giving away music may be a crime, and wanting a profit (banner ftp sites, donation sites, etc) for distributing music is most certainly a crime, but we need to first establish that we are entitled to have mp3s for cd's we posess.
  • by DanaL ( 66515 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @05:13AM (#1100041)
    I think things like Open Source, Free Software and the GPL are wonderful notions, but only if they are voluntary.

    Jon, you seem to be saying that it is alright to pirate music, basicly because music is expensive and we geeks are supposed to believe that Information Wants To Be Free (tm). Cars are expensive, but it doesn't make stealing them legal.

    It would be great if artists made music free or cheaply available via download. But, as it stands, they don't and I believe that whoever creates the music (or software) has the right to set the license associated with it. If someone says, "Distribute my music however you like." Great. Fine. If I like it I will. If someone decides that I have to buy a CD, if I like the music, I will. No matter how much you talk about revolutions, Napster is still all about distributing illegal music (by and large). Most people I know don't have illusions about being internet revolutionaires. They know they are breaking the law, they just say they are too cheap to by the CDs.

    You can't force Open Source on people who don't want it. It would be like someone decompiling, say, Unreal Tournament, declaring it GPLed and posting it on a webpage.

    As a side note, I think it would be interesting to convince one of the Napster friendly artists to release a GPLed song, with a license that stated that anyone who sampled it have to make the new song GPLed as well :)

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @08:12AM (#1100042) Homepage Journal
    I don't usually read Katz but my headline grabber picks him up and I couldn't resist the headline.

    Despite the current illegality of most MP3 trading, the trade is so huge for two main reasons: 1) Given the fact that making a digital copy of a song is essentially "free," many people question the fact that a CD with 10 or so songs on it will run you $16. 2) People want the distribution format and the current legal channels are not providing it. MP3s encoded files are very convienent even if all you're doing is burning your CDs to your hard drive so you can queue up 16 hours of music without shuffling CDs. Never mind that the very act of encoding the MP3s is usually illegal by way of violating the Frauhauf institute's patents on the format.

    Patent violations aside, the only way to shut the RIAA and their minions up is to not trade their music. Instead, trade garage bands (Many of whom suck MUCH less than Metallica) and independent bands who have explicitly released their songs for free trade. Encourage the LEGAL distribution of music that is legal to distribute. If you have a garage band, offer all songs in MP3 (or some non-encumbered -- they're starting to show up) format, even if you distribute only a few of them freely. If your music is good, we'll pay a fair price for the legal songs, and you'll end up making more money than you would have affiliating with the RIAA anyway. If your music isn't so good, you'll still get more exposure than you would have with the RIAA.

  • by ( 142825 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @05:33AM (#1100043) Homepage
    Once the genie is out of the bottle, it's not easy to put back in the bottle.

    But, the web is not a bottle. There is a big difference. A genie does not mirror itself all over the world.

    With CPHack and DeCSS genies, once the genie got out, it got out and replicated itself to make sure that even if it was forced back into the bottle, there is still thousands of the same genie that is still out of the bottle.

  • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @05:24AM (#1100044) Homepage Journal
    A lot of people who are posting the "theft are theft" comments are missing the real point of the article - not that downloading MP3s of copyrighted songs is indeed theft by current laws, but rather that sueing anything that distributes them won't help.

    There are other ways for people to share MP3s, Napster and now Gnutella are just easier methods than others. Things like HTTP servers and FTP servers can be easily used, and illegal digital items have been traded on IRC for ages. The alt.binary newsgroups are another good source for illegal material.

    The real point is that there is no easy way to stop the spread of MP3s. The music industry instead needs to change it's outlook on how it distributes music. Sueing the current sources of illegal MP3 distribution into the ground won't stop new sources from popping up.

    Yes, downloading MP3s of copyrighted songs is theft. Most people understand that. Some argue it shouldn't be. But it's not the issue here, the issue is the fact that the music industry needs to change it's way of doing buisness, and that since the MP3 "genie" has been released, there is no real effective way to put it back in it's bottle.

  • by Danse ( 1026 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @10:43AM (#1100045)

    Why is it that Jon Katz not only refuses to mention artist's rights except for this one line but also refuses to accept the fact that people who misappropriate copyrighted material without rewarding the copyright owners is stealing.

    Actually, he mentions artists rights in at least one other, and probably two depending on your interpretation. The funny thing is that you quote both of these lines later in your post. Now, as for your statement here, I don't entirely agree. People "misappropriate copyrighted material" because the current system of distribution doesn't work. This isn't the fault of the people downloading MP3s, it's the fault of the music industry. People are realizing just how much music is out there, and they want access to it. Up 'til now, they knew what the top 40 was and beyond that, they had very little opportunity to hear anything else. CDs cost too damn much to buy on a whim. If you haven't been able to listen to the music first, you can easily end up with a $16.99 coaster (or maybe sell it to a used cd store for $3). What makes things even worse is that most radio stations play the exact same crap. They're all owned by the same people. Now people can listen to all sorts of music that they wouldn't want to buy because they hadn't heard it yet. They can hear more tracks from a band rather than making their purchase decision based on the one song they heard on the radio. I've downloaded a bunch of mp3s, but it hasn't cost the music industry a dime. If I liked the group, I bought the cd. If I didn't like them, I ditched the mp3s. Who got screwed? The main problem is that the RIAA is used to being the one that does the screwing. Now they won't be able to do that. Signing an artist up for a 5 album contract, spreading the good songs out across those 5 albums and filling the rest of the space with crappy filler songs isn't going to work anymore. Sorry if I don't shed a tear for them.

    It isn't like if I started printing copies of his books and gave them away he would respond with "Hey, that's OK information want's to be free,anyway"

    You're probably right about this. Until it happens we can't really know. Jon, care to enlighten us? What do you think about this claim? It strikes me as being similar to Jeff Bezos' claim that the patent system is screwed up, but that he has to play by the current rules in order to survive. Katz wants to make a living from his writing, so he needs a way to do that, even though copyright is becoming even more perverted than the patent system. Personally, I'd like to see Katz put his money where his mouth is and propose a solution and show that it can work by using that solution for his own work.

    Of course not, and that is exactly why they are trying to shut down Napster.

    His point here was that shutting down Napster and the others won't help. There's too many options out there and there are more cropping up all the time. He's saying they WON'T go back to the old system, and the RIAA can't make them go back. That's why suing is not the answer.

    Why wouldn't it? Currently the rights of artists to decide who distributes their copyrighted material is being abused regularly by Napster users. Secondly, it would also protect the right of artists to be paid for their work.

    This is true, but you also ignore the fact that the RIAA is doing the artists they represent a major disservice by overpricing their products. It's been shown time and time again that the more overpriced a product is, the more theft you will see. If the RIAA wasn't so busy gouging its customers, and if the system wasn't so broken, we wouldn't have this situation to begin with. They could fix it, but they won't do that. Why? Greed.

    You may say that that still doesn't make it right, and maybe you have a point. That won't improve the situation though. The music industry's own greed is setting itself up for a fall. It's not the artists. They don't have much alternative right now. They sign over the ownership of their music in order to make a living. They could do much better, and so could their fans. We just need to get the RIAA out of the way. If they sold their albums for a reasonable price, more people would buy them, and if the RIAA wasn't sucking up the vast majority of the profits, the artist would get a much bigger cut of the sales, and wouldn't have to sell as many albums to make a good living. On top of that, more artists would be able to make money because people could buy more music. So rather than just those who get the most promotion by the industry making money from their work, many more would be able to profit from their music.

    PS: Why does he keep calling MP3? How out of it can he possible be?

    Katz needs an editor... or a better editor if he already has one.

  • by furiousgeorge ( 30912 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @05:19AM (#1100046)
    Now normally I just read a JK column and shake my head, but:

    >>Friday's ruling by a federal judge against MP3
    >>was the clearest and most powerful blow yet
    >>struck against the by-now deeply ingrained
    >>tradition, especially among younger music
    >>lovers, of acquiring vast music libraries for
    >>free. is certain to face stunning

    John - please. The suit was about, not about the main business of And it ISN'T about getting music for free. It's about control. lets you listen to music that YOU HAVE BOUGHT in a more convenient way. It is nothing like napster, or cutemx, or gnutella or

    I'm sure it took you a fair amount of time to write this column. Could you *please* spend just a bit more time up front checking the facts first??
  • by imac.usr ( 58845 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @05:12AM (#1100047) Homepage
    MP3 technology -- a format which jumped from obscurity to ubiquity in 1999 -- was has turned out to be revolutionary.

    "was has"? Sounds like Katz has been reading Dr. Dan Streetmentioner's guide to time-travel grammar....

    Then again, if anybody could be said to be channeling the spirit of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation, it has to be Katz. :-]

  • by Lonesmurf ( 88531 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @06:00AM (#1100048) Homepage album represents a hour-ish long attempt to create a coherent/cohesive mood and statement..

    While I personally believe that music should be free (or for that matter, all art should be free; hence my personal unwillingness to sell my art) and available to all, I do understand that as an artist, you must devote all your time and energy towards the art and cannot split it with working a fulltime job. I do this now and let me tell you, my art suffers. A lot.


    The vast majority of the shit that comes out of the recording industry today is vile and base. It does not succeed by it's own merits, it succeeds by the merits of the corporation's large and well-funded marketing machine.

    No longer is music made for music's sake. (I realise that this is a naive view, but bear with me here, I'm a makin' a point.) It is made with the singular purpose of selling as many possible records within a very short amount of time.

    I absolutly refuse to support that kind of nonsense any longer. When the day comes that music is pushed by the people that make it and those same people make the large percent of the profit, is the same day that I will stop taking any music that I still bother listening to and start BUYING IT. (I'm not gonna start with the inflated price of CD's..)

    How many here believe that 50 years from now, people will listen to britney spears and the spice girls and think, "Wow. That stuff had soul!"

    Go back thirty to fifty years. Louis Armstrong.. eternally cool. You know?

    I went to a club last night and it was open mike night. There were musicians and beatniks galore. I may be making a generalization here, but the people there weren't in it for the money; they got beer, bagels and applause if they were lucky -- beer and bagels if they weren't.

    That's the way music should be.


    I realise that this was a completely incoherant post. My ability to make any sense seems to have taken an airplane from New York to New York.. the long way.
    My apologies. I know that my point was in there some where.

    Rami James
    Pixel Pusher
    ALST R&D Center, IL
  • by jms ( 11418 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @06:29AM (#1100049)
    Every time I read about the RIAA or the MPAA flailing against internet media distribution, it reminds me of a quote from the 1939 Robert Heinlein story, "Life-line".

    In Life-line, an inventor has built a machine that can accurately determine the day a person will die. He is sued by the entire life insurance industry, who want to put him out of business because they are being bankrupted by his accurate predictions.

    In rejecting the claims of the insurance company lawyer, the judge says:

    Before we leave this matter I wish to comment on the theory implied by [the insurance trust lawyer], when you claimed damage to your client. There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped or turned back, for their private benefit. That is all.

    Same today as it was 61 years ago.
  • by furiousgeorge ( 30912 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @06:02AM (#1100050)
    Sorry John - but that doesn't get you off the hook.

    The whole thrust of the piece is about downloading music for free.... metaphors about prohibition, etc etc. doesn't let you download music for free. Hence my annoyance. If i didn't know better I'd assume it DID because that is the slant of the whole report. It's like all those DeCSS stories that claimed that it was a tool 'that let you copy DVD's'. Anyone who did a second of reserach knew that wasn't the case, but those that are being EDUCATED by the column about the topic are being misled (whether deliberate or not is another debate). Sorry, but that's shoddy journalism in my book.

    You seem to have some respect for the 'geek factor' and the techno-prowess of those that read this site. Look how fast the this comment was moderated up. Seems the opinion isn't just mine.

    Realize what your target audience is here . A lot of those that will read your columns on ./ will know substantially more on the subject than u (that isn't necessarily a bad thing. A journalist can't be an expert in every topic that they report). But get your facts straight and don't try to mix topics in an imprecise or confusing way. The general public would be much more forgiving - but it won't happen here.

    I'd be impressed if you (or somebody else) wrote a well thought out piece on the reality behind the whole fiasco. Similar to what the NYTimes recently did with DeCSS.
  • by Carnage4Life ( 106069 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @05:36AM (#1100051) Homepage Journal
    Wow, I have never read a more content free article in my life. Jon Katz's entire article contained no opinions nor offered any insights but simply summarizes news that has already been on Slashdot or is easily available from glancing at the headlines provided by the any portal or news site. I hardly ever respond or read Jon Katz's articles but delight in reading the responses he evokes but I recently decided to actually read his articles and have now discovered why he is so badly tolerated by slashdotters. I have responded to the only parts of the article that are actually original content as opposed to regurgitating of readily available news.

    Artists definitely have a right to be paid for their work, but branding a whole generation of music fans thieves seems simplistic, even self-destructive
    Why is it that Jon Katz not only refuses to mention artist's rights except for this one line but also refuses to accept the fact that people who misappropriate copyrighted material without rewarding the copyright owners is stealing. It isn't like if I started printing copies of his books and gave them away he would respond with "Hey, that's OK information want's to be free,anyway"

    Do recording executives really believe that music fans will suddenly give up on acquiring diverse and numerous forms of music for free and go back to buying a handful of expensive CDs a few times a month?
    Of course not, and that is exactly why they are trying to shut down Napster.

    That wouldn't protect artist's rights or those of music lovers.
    Why wouldn't it? Currently the rights of artists to decide who distributes their copyrighted material is being abused regularly by Napster users. Secondly, it would also protect the right of artists to be paid for their work.

    This digital genie isn't going back into the bottle.
    Agreed, but before the Record labels will embrace the digital revolution they will try their best to make sure they are not going to be robbed blind before investing in or creating an online business model.

    Successful negotiatioins between and the music would be the sanest step yet in the music wars, and a healthy precedent for other businesses who sell intellectual property as well as artists.
    This completely true. If record labels can make deals with MTV and radio stations I don't see why similar deals could not have been made with From the exchange [] between CEO and the RIAA representative when all this started it seems the RIAA just wanted to be unreasonable from the start. This leads me to believe that they are interested in creating such a service themselves if not now then later on in the future and that is why they decided against even considering's offers to license the music.

    PS: Why does he keep calling MP3? How out of it can he possible be?

  • by YU Nicks NE Way ( 129084 ) on Monday May 01, 2000 @06:52AM (#1100052)
    You know, even a month ago, I'd a have disagreed with Jon violently about this. But now, a month later, I've had my eyes opened. I'd never really experienced the joy and convenience that free and ready access to music outside my collection brought.

    But then I found a source of free and easy-to-obtain music, so that I can stand in my kitchen and listen to stuff I wouldn't ever buy without testing it first. I found some of Robert Palmer's solo stuff -- really good -- and an a capella group called _The Blenders_ -- musically better than The Bobs, but not as intellectually challenging. I got a bunch of old Elvis Costello CD's, with their bonus tracks; by God, I'm updating my vinyl.

    And I'm confident that the RIAA won't be coming after me. They'll never find me, and even if they did, they wouldn't dare bother me.

    BECAUSE I BORROWED THESE CD'S FROM MY LOCAL LIBRARY. What a lot of this debate misses is one key fact: there are ways of getting the good parts of MP3 and Napster without breaking the law. That's why the music industry wants you to be tied to a physical object, and that is why they're right. I have to return these CD's, but I'll buy some of them. And I won't be able to keep the ones I don't buy. And that's a perfectly reasonable compromise: I can listen to stuff that I don't own, without taking the artist's and the companies legitimate right to make money.

    Now why is that so hard, Jon? Why is it so hard to distinguish between "borrowing" and "stealing", and why is it so hard to understand that there are middle grounds between the purely anarchistic attitude of /. and the purely corporate attitude of the straw-man that you would propose the music idustry to be...and that there are already solutions in place, on the ground, that provide that?

Remember to say hello to your bank teller.