How much does bootlegging really cost?

The members of a writing list with which I’m involved are engaged in a very interesting debate about the dangers and evils of bootleg copies and illegal downloads. While most members take the stance you’d expect of people who produce unique intellectual property, that all copying, however benign, is evil and shouldn’t be tolerated, a few are questioning whether that’s really true.
In particular, when the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Software Publishers Association talk about the billions lost to piracy and illegal copies, their argument is based on a false premise: that every single person who bootlegs or pirates would otherwise have purchased the original.
I just don’t think that’s true. In fact, I think that the vast majority of people who have pirate or bootleg copies of music, movies, software or books would never have spent a dime on the product if that was the only option.


Realize as I write this that I have visited peer to peer (P2P) network repositories and found free-to-download PDFs of books I’ve written, so I’m not a stranger to the production and artistic side of this equation either. But really, given the predominant demographic of p2p users and given the substantially greater convenience of a print book (and that most of my books are about $20 or less anyway), being in the p2p space doesn’t bother me too much.
First off, obviously, I don’t believe that the denizens of the p2p world would be buying my book at the bookstore if they couldn’t get a free download, but there’s also a visibility issue too: of the dozens and dozens of Unix books available, for example, I’ve more than once found my Teach Yourself Unix in 24 Hours the only ebook or only tech ebook out of thousands of files. At that point, it’s almost just a savvy marketing strategy: anyone who reads through more than 20-30 pages of my book will realize that for not much more than the cost of printing it out and having 350+ loose pages, they could just go and buy the actual book at Amazon.
In the motion picture segment, however, the situation’s different. Or is it? Productions now routinely cost over $100 million by the time they’re in the theater, but let me ask you this: how many times have you seen a great trailer just to find the film really stunk? Most Hollywood production companies are still following the same tired star formula that MGM and United Artists pioneered well before we were even born. Good actors, good directors and good production companies can still produce bombs, and a cast of unknowns can create magic on a big screen. But the previews sure don’t help you know which is which, do they?
So how are we supposed to choose between good and bad movies? I’ll bet that a lot of people in the p2p space use “cams” (recordings made with camcorders smuggled into the theater – which, yes, is illegal) as a way to preview a movie. It helps avoid wasting $9-$30 or more for a real loser of a movie, and to identify those great movies that really must be seen on a big screen.
When the MPAA complains about the millions lost to bootleggers, I can’t help thinking that if there were more good movies being produced, there’d be more revenue coming in. But then again, last I read, Hollywood was doing pretty well up until the string of summer flops arrived in the theater.
In any case, I can’t help thinking that the reports of billions lost by the recording, movie, software and even publishing industry are, as Samuel Clemens might have said, “greatly exaggerated”.
What do you think?

24 comments on “How much does bootlegging really cost?

  1. It’s nice to hear that logic finally stated by someone other than me. I never bought into the “billions lost” argument, as not every illegal copy is a lost sale. To be sure, some are. But if I were to download a copy of, say, Madonna’s latest hit (whatever it is, I don’t know and I don’t have any downloads of hers), that doesn’t mean that I would have purchased it otherwise…

  2. This all sounds very true. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever downloaded a song, album, book, or movie that I would have otherwise paid for if I couldn’t find it for free online. In fact, like you pointed out, I’ve actually purchased CDs and books after downloading them. Downloading music has turned me onto a whole list of artist who’s CDs I would have never bought in a store, but that I bought after discovering them online.
    – Sean

  3. I think the recording and movie industries are victim to their bloated salaries more than anything else. But they can’t blame themselves.

  4. Thank you. You have voiced every opnion of p2p I have ever had. I sadly had to stop using p2p after the Hulk, which I am glad I downloaded. Horrible movie which looked good in preview.

  5. There is also a deeper point and that is where these organisations have been most successful. They have convinced the public that copying information is theft. They have introduced fundamental ideas that are inconsistent with common sense that has prevailed for hundreds of years.
    For example, no one would think that giving someone a recipe or street directions was theft but ultimately, they are taking money away from recipe book and map publishers and yet media is in a different (almost magical) category.

  6. Wow, thank you for being one of the reasonable people. I used to be a hardcore software downloader, but it had nothing to do with being too cheap to buy the software. At 15, it was a bit difficult to stomach the thousands of dollars I would have to spend to get the right tools: Macromedia Studio, 3ds Max, Photoshop, etc. I simply wanted to experience these creative outlets personally. I never used any for monetary gain, but there was no chance that I could con my parents into buying a $500+ piece of software.
    And on the subject of music, I would normally only use p2p to download music when my friends would dig up new bands, and I wanted to see if their cd was worth it. I also used p2p to download singles, because it’s not worth paying for a whole cd when you only like 1 song. Then iTunes came around, and I use that religiously now.
    Anyways, thanks for the insightful article. We need more people like you in the anti -AA camp. If you want some quotable support from someone who was on the inside for years, I’d be glad to help.

  7. I don’t understand what is wrong with the Men and Women who spend millions of Man hours hunting down mainly children in their quest to trawl back what they think is their losses.
    I’ll be blunt, I used to use p2p to download the kind of music/song which you could not get in the shops, I hunted for weeks looking for, Tie a Yellow Ribbon by Dawn, only place I could find it was on the p2p.
    I digress slightly, I saw miles of songs, so I downloaded maybe 20, then got a bit bored and as many other users we then buy the full album, of which I went to amazon.co.uk and purchased 7 albums on cd.
    I don’t share files on p2p, nor do I download stuff I don’t have a copyright to.
    I look mainly for eh hum (excuse me) for Lesbian porn sniplets, oddities, like clips from film trailers, I even like to type in random things, like .doc .txt .pdf and see what idiots out there are sharing every file on their pc and then send a message to them.
    I don’t believe that these organisations have lost a brass farthing in revenue as in the U.K. cinema audiences are growing, not falling, I am sure it’s the same in the U.S.A. and Canada.
    Just stick between .9% and 1.9% on v.a.t. and that can cover what they think they have lost.
    99.9% of people download the odd song, movie, usually 70% go buy it or watch it at the cinema.

  8. I work for an anti-piracy corporation, I am *paid* to stop people from pirating, and I still agree with this assessment. My belief is that most of the time a good product is lacking in the entertainment industry, which leads to a hyperbolic cynicism amongst people who have burned too many times by one-hit wonders and shitty movies full of formulaic nonsense that is all too familiar. My start in the teeming underbelly of piracy was simply to preview things I was interested in. Yes, I could go down to Tower or whatever local music store was in the area and preview CD’s there. But they would be the CD’s that the labels have been paying to get into stores, the ones with the huge marketing bankroll behind them. So what if I want to hear something off the radar? Tell Tower to switch discs in the listening station? The reality is that if I were to go into there, I could easily listen to an entire CD right there in the store and then decide for myself if it was something I wanted to buy. But for the vast majority of the music I was and am into, I would never see those artists represented in a listening station anywhere. That’s what lead me to Gnutella, Napster, DirectConnect, IRC, Usenet, BitTorrent… not pure greed and an unwillingness to buy things. I had the money, but I didn’t have a lot of it. And when it comes down to “choose one of these 3-4 CD’s to buy,” you really don’t want to blindly pick one and hope it’s the good CD. Movies, same thing. Although I have always found it easier to pay for one movie and then theater-hop to see more. I saw 7 movies in one day once. Best $9 I ever spent on a film. ­čÖé But the heart of the piracy issue really lies in Fair Use as well as the end user’s intention. Copy protection, unique keys, USB dongles (in the case of ProTools, etc.) – these are all designed to “protect” the intellectual property of someone who has presumably worked hard to create it. However what they really do with this copy protection is alienate the customer. We are made to feel like criminals when legally purchasing something. You can’t use your shiny new ProTools until you plug in a dongle and register the program. “Prove to us that you bought this and MAYBE we’ll let you use it.” That’s the message it sends. I recently bought the new 30 Seconds To Mars CD. It came with this copy protection on it that only allows you to listen to it in the included player, a Flash-based player that gobbles up more system resources than iTunes, Windows Media Player, VLC or any other solution. It also will only allow you to export songs via WMA DRM-encoded files. So when I paid for the CD with the intention of going home, importing it into iTunes and transferring it to my iPod, I was cheated. I was under the impression that I could USE the CD in the same manner that I use every other CD I buy, and I can’t. Not without some sort of workaround. The funny thing is, this copy protection doesn’t work on a Mac, only with Windows because it is a Windows executable that stops you from accessing the CD normally. So all I have to do is use a Mac to rip the CD and then I’m done. The copy protection doesn’t even work. So why bother having it on there if it’s that easy to get around? They want to stop it from being pirated on the internet, yet someone with a Mac can easily rip the CD and put it online. Pointless. If you are a Windows user, the only way you can do what I want – import to iTunes and then sync to the iPod – is to either (a) download it online or (b) find someone with a Mac to rip it for you and then either send it to you over the network (or email) or copy it to a thumb drive or burn a CD to copy back to your Windows machine. If you do either (a) or (b), you are TAKING PART IN PIRATING THE CD YOU LEGALLY PURCHASED. Only so you can use it fairly in the way that you use every other CD you purchase. So the RIAA/MPAA/SPA/BSA/etc. are really only creating frustrated customers who are turning MORE to piracy as a means of revolt. Why buy the new 30 Seconds To Mars CD if you can’t even use it? Why not just download it? I don’t listen to CD’s anymore, ever. I buy it, take it home, listen to it once on the computer to make sure it plays OK, rip it to iTunes, put it on the iPod. Then the CD gets put into my collection and stored away in case I need it later. I can’t easily do that with the new 30 Seconds To Mars album, so why pay money for the disc at all? And I certainly don’t want to settle for the inferior 128kbps rip that is on iTunes, I can hear all sorts of flaws at 128, that’s why I only rip my CD’s at 192 or above. Give me a workable solution for these problems – other than piracy – and you will be able to solve the piracy issue once and for all.

  9. > But the previews sure don’t help you know which is which, do they?
    I disagree. Actually these days, more often than not, the previews DO help you know which movies are good and bad. Sure there are a few diamonds in the ruff that you might misjudge by a bad trailer. Many times, good word of mouth can help a film, even with a terrible trailer.
    Lately though, the makers of movie trailers really have it down to a science. Most trailers are absolutely horrible! Guess what? Most of the movies are too!

  10. I have two minor contributions to the debate: one is Open Source Software–I use it as much as possible (i.e. I’m a Linux nut). That was I can still respect the copyright holder’s IP, don’t have to bootleg, and still get good software.
    The other contribution is more to the point: Fansubbing Anime. The Anime market in the US is growing massively, and that’s largely thanks to the availability of fansubs (which do technically infringe copyrights). Without fansubs, people in the US would have had a difficult time seeing any Anime at all before it became popular here, and the market would never have existed. Now, thanks to this (illegal) exposure, entertainment companies can charge their loyal fanbase as much as US$26 for three episodes. Thank you, in your massive corporate generosity, the powers that be.

  11. This was pointed out by the Grateful Dead moons ago. They encouraged bootleggers and refused to listen to accountants and legal “gurus”, had great success, made tons of money, and will play sold out gigs till the day the last of them is planted in the ground. They always concentrated on putting out the best music they could; fans not only collected every show but every album, every t-shirt, decal, bumper sticker, frisbee… you name it. If you approach your fans as if they were golden instead of a bunch of crooks… I get really tired of wasting time while FBI warnings are displayed on my screen addressing me as if I was a pre-convicted criminal who merely hadn’t been caught yet. I resent it to the point where I don’t give a rats *** if people steal their crap or not. I don’t bother making cheesy copies. Like everybody else, I rent what I think is a waste of the big screen and buy those very few I value enough to watch more than once. For music I listen to a good online radio station not affiliated with ClearChannel.

  12. This view on things is indeed a part of the whole picture. But lets not forget that both the RIA and MPAA count the comercialisim, political pay offs, salary (head of RIAA co. gets millions per year) and other costs per year as a “loss” so that they can inflate the figures on paper. They are using vast ammounts of tax payers dollars as well. All of them are giant bastards that need to burn in hell, and get back to reality that we want good media, not recycled bullshit over and over again. I am not paying one damn penny to something that sucks, so I for sure preview everything before I go see it in the theatres with the great experience that it provides through the large screen and sound quality. And thats the same for cd’s I can hear the loss in mp3’s and I prefer the clarity of an original cd. So if I like the album I buy it. But not the same crap over and over again!
    American in general has become stagnant for development because there is no incentive for corporations to actually be creative anymore. Until we can force them to be that way, the rest of the world will shortly surpass us in every way.

  13. I have lived and worked in Asia for several years. I Know that the numbers of pirated CDs are high. I can also tell you that when the locally produced CDs and movies dropped to $2 their sales jumped and the pirated movied dropped. Why do you think that is???
    I can tell you that many people here are buying Computers for $300, so why whould they want to go and spend $800 for software? especially when they only use a limited number of the functions anyway. And I mean a very limited set of functions are being used by your average users here.
    Even DVDs we have 3 prices $25 for imported, $7 for local and $2.40 for pirate. What would you choose. exactly the same as the arguments by this articles author, the pirate to preview, the local version if you like the movie, and the import if you realy love the movie. The pirated movie costs less than going to a theater here too, the locally produced movie equals 2 people going to the movie here also, and I can watch at my conviance.

  14. I agree and have been providing this same point of view for years now. I also note to anyone that cites piracy as a supposedly overwhelming factor in the downturn of CD sales that there are a lot of factors that have and continue to contribute to poor CD sales. Among them, I think, is the prevalence of CD writers and the fact that consumers worth their salt wouldn’t want to buy a $20 CD with 10 songs when they have a good idea of how much it cost to produce. Prior to CD writers being popular, it wasn’t usually the case for the average buyer to realize how little record companies are giving for a hard earned 20. As well, the increasing amount of Fair Use circumvention (otherwise known as DRM) is probably a factor. I don’t know of many people that would like to have most of any product they buy disabled and still have to pay extreme prices for it.

  15. I believe that people will buy things they really care about. I download movies frequestnly, but I always end up buying the ones i really like on DVD.
    If people download and don’t buy, they wouldn’t have bought it anyway.
    I think piracy is actually helpful on some level. I have discovered many things because the internet made it available to me. Things that are not generally available in my country, that i later had to hunt down overseas to own.
    If the various publishing industries wish to end piracy, they just need to recognize the internet as a valid distribution medium, and the fact that information storage is not worth as much as it used to be. Make all content available at a trivial price, and watch people not bother with piracy anymore. If you want to charge more money, offer well-made hardcopies that really seems worth it. I can make a standard CD with printed disc, inlays and cover for less money than a pack of cigarettes. We are not in the 60’s anymore. The recorded media is not that special. You can’t really copy-protect content. The traditional products have lost the value they once had.
    You can still sell them, but for less money. The industries need to think of new ways of adding value to their products instead of clinging to the past.

  16. And in today’s news from Australia:
    In a ruling hailed as a resounding victory by the recording industry, a court Monday said that popular file-swapping network Kazaa breaches copyright in Australia and gave its owners two months to stamp out further piracy by its millions of users.
    “The court has ruled the current Kazaa system illegal. If they want to continue, they are going to have to stop the trade in illegal music on that system,” record industry spokesman Michael Speck said. “It’s a great day for artists. It’s a great day for anyone who wants to make a living from music.”

  17. As you indicated, on September 5, 2005, Judge Wilcox of the Federal Court of Australia ruled against Kazaa, its holding company, and several individuals (including the CEO of the holding company).
    As a lawyer myself, I wanted to read the court’s opinion. It is very lengthy. I have excerpted the significant portions. A link to the court’s decision can be found at http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/federal_ct/2005/1242.html – Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd versus Sharman License Holdings Ltd.
    The Court’s extensive (over 100 pages long) opinion was very well written. The court engaged in extensive fact-finding in support of its conclusions of law. The Court found that the holding company and several individuals authorized infringement of music copyrights by Kazaa users. The Court found the Defendants (called Respondents by the Court) “… entered into a common design to carry out, procure or direct” that authorization.
    The Court found “… evidence of positive acts by Sharman that would have had the effect of encouraging copyright infringement. These acts included:
    (i) “… website promotion of Kazaa as a file-sharing facility …”
    (ii) “… exhortations to users to use this facility and share their files …”
    (iii) “… promotion of the ´┐ŻJoin the Revolution´┐Ż movement, which is based on file-sharing, especially of music, and which scorns the attitude of record and movie companies in relation to their copyright works … Especially to a young audience, the ´┐ŻJoin the Revolution´┐Ż website material would have conveyed the idea that it was ´┐Żcool´┐Ż to defy the record companies and their stuffy reliance on their copyrights.”
    And, most importantly, Kazaa’s operators “… knew the files shared by Kazaa users were largely copyright works.”
    The court did reject attempts by the music copyrights holders to use claims involving Australia’s Trade Practices Act, Fair Trading Act, and conspiracy. The Court granted a “provisional” injunction, stayed for two months, to give the Kazaa system a chance to be modified: “… continuation of the Kazaa Internet file-sharing system will not be regarded as a contravention of the general injunctive order if the system is first modified, in a manner agreed by the applicants or approved by the Court, to ensure keyword filtering or gold file flood filtering.”
    The Court’s opinion reinforces two important notions. 1) Parties will frequently shoot themselves in the evidentiary foot; and 2) sometimes bad cases make good law.
    In this case, the Court noted numerous problems with credibility of the defendant operators of the Kazaa service.
    There was considerable evidentiary debate over whether Kazaa used a central server. The Court noted that Defendant Morle, a Director of Technology at LEF Interactive Party, Ltd., one of the operators of Kazaa:
    “On the other hand, Mr Morle (who should know) insisted there was no Kazaa central server. In some respects, I was not favourably impressed with Mr Morle. He tended to prevaricate and spar with counsel. He claimed total ignorance about matters of which he must have had some knowledge, such as Sharman´┐Żs financial and administrative affairs. If he is to be believed, he had an astonishing lack of curiosity about the source and authenticity of the dynamic user figures that continuously appear on the Kazaa website. Yet I hesitate to conclude Mr Morle told a deliberate lie ´┐Ż it would have had to be that ´┐Ż about such a fundamental matter as the non-existence of a central server. This was an important matter directly within his area of responsibility.”
    The Court suspected but did not conclude Kazaa used a central server.
    Evidence revealed that Kazaa representatives told a United States Senate committee that Kazaa had the “most comprehensive” adult filtering and monitored the service to prevent child pornography. But Morle said “… he did not know how Sharman could prevent the Kazaa system being used for this purpose.”
    Kazaa used filtering to distinguish between “blue” files which displayed revenue-generating advertisements and “gold” or premium files which did not display ads. Morle testified that he had extensively considered whether Kazaa should filter files for copyrighted material. Strangely, noted the Court, no such dialog with other operators of Kazaa appeared in Morle’s email.
    The Court noted that “The documents tendered in evidence demonstrate that Mr Morle extensively used email to communicate with his colleagues, including Ms Hemming, even on subjects of minor importance. I find it difficult to believe he would not have used email to communicate any significant views on a matter as important as the introduction of blue file filters.”
    According to the Court, it was more likely that Morle never seriously considered filtering for copyrighted files: “… Moreover, although Mr Morle posed as financially unaware, he is neither stupid nor commercially inexperienced. It would have been obvious to him that it was not in Sharman´┐Żs interest to impede sharing of blue files. The focus groups showed the primary purpose of most Kazaa users was to obtain free access to music files. Free access was available only from the blue files. A filter that impeded, or significantly curtailed, blue file sharing of popular music would have seriously diminished Kazaa´┐Żs appeal to users and, therefore, the number of people using it at any particular time. That would have adversely affected Kazaa´┐Żs appeal to advertisers.”
    Kazaa’s User Guide did nothing to discourage the sharing of copyrighted files. According to a professor testifying on behalf of one of the copyright owners: “‘Users are encouraged to share files. There is some kind of rewards mentioned for people to share files. In the case of music files, there is nothing in the interface that suggests that users need to be careful of copyright violations. There are disclaimers at the bottom of the Web page with the user´┐Żs guide, but not in a way that will make users take notice, or think about the copyright issue. In general, I had the impression that the warnings about being careful to observe copyright were buried in the guide. Given the publicity surrounding the Napster case, no developer should be unaware that copyright for a file-sharing application that facilitates sharing of music files is a key requirement to be handled properly.'”
    Kazaa’s operators failed to present any evidence that keyword filtering for copyrighted files would have caused “false positives.” While the Court accepted “… that a keyword filter would yield some false positives, blocking the sharing of some non-copyright material, there is no evidence that suggests this would be a frequent occurrence. The impression I have gained from the evidence is that the predominant use of the blue files is the sharing of popular music. Such material may be expected to be overwhelmingly subject to copyright. If that impression is incorrect, the respondents have themselves to blame. They could have put before me evidence as to users´┐Ż searches. Users´┐Ż searches are routinely monitored by TopSearch, in order to enable Altnet to offer gold files thought appropriate to the particular user´┐Żs apparent area of interest.”
    Finally, the Court concluded keyword filtering should have been utilized: “There are obvious difficulties about a system of keyword filtering. However, I am not persuaded it would have been beyond the ability of Sharman [Kazaa] to overcome those difficulties. I accept any keyword filter will not be totally effective. I also accept it may sometimes produce false positives. However, the fact that a protection is imperfect is not a sufficient objection to its adoption. Even an imperfect filter would go far to protect copyright owners, provided they were prepared to go to the trouble of providing and updating a list of keywords (titles, performers etc).”
    The Court significantly concluded that Kazaa could have incorporated the filtering process into its pre-existing use of “gold file” filtering: “The beauty of the gold file flood filter proposal, as I understand it, is that it does not depend on an existing user deciding to ´┐Żupgrade´┐Ż to a new version of Kazaa. In effect, all items on the list of copyright works provided by copyright owners become gold file items. The metadata and file hash data of those items is transmitted by TopSearch to users´┐Ż computers so that any search by a user for such an item will yield a ´┐Żgold file´┐Ż response which consists, not of the work itself, but a ´┐Żdon´┐Żt infringe copyright´┐Ż or ´┐Żdon´┐Żt share´┐Ż notice. The implementation of such a system is a matter totally within the power of the respondents. As counsel for the applicants accept, it may not prove to be 100% effective, but it would significantly reduce Kazaa file-sharing copyright infringement. It seems also to have the advantage of avoiding ´┐Żfalse positives´┐Ż that would trespass on other peoples´┐Ż rights.”
    Kazaa could find no help in the posted warnings on its websites to not infringe copyright: “I have no reason to believe any significant number of Kazaa users, apparently mainly teenagers and young adults, has any knowledge about, or interest in, copyright law or its application to file-sharing. Nor have I any reason to believe that any significant proportion of users would care whether or not they were infringing copyright. The ´┐ŻJoin the Revolution´┐Ż material displayed on the Kazaa website and the ´┐ŻKazaa Revolution´┐Ż T-shirt indicates the Sharman respondents perceive they might not. While I agree with the applicants that the existing warnings do not adequately convey to users what constitutes breach of copyright, I am not persuaded it would make much difference if they did.”
    Kazaa ignored reports that users were ignoring its posted warnings against copyright infringement: “It is true, as the respondents emphasised, that Sharman´┐Żs promotional statements were made against the background that each page of the Kazaa website, contained a notice, albeit in small print, that Sharman does not ´┐Żcondone activities and actions that breach the rights of copyright owners´┐Ż. It is also true that users were told about the relevant EULA and made to click a box whereby they agreed to be bound by the EULA. It is difficult to believe those directing the affairs of Sharman, or any of the other respondents, ever thought these measures would be effective to prevent, or even substantially to curtail, copyright file-sharing. It would have been obvious to them that, were those measures to prove effective, they would greatly reduce Kazaa´┐Żs attractiveness to users and, therefore, its advertising revenue potential. However, if any of those people did have such a view, it could not have survived receipt of the Syzygy report. That report showed the notices and EULA had had no effect on the behaviour of the focus group participants. As the participants were selected on the basis that they were representative of Kazaa users as a whole, or at least of young Kazaa users, those directing the affairs of Sharman (and Altnet) could not have done otherwise than appreciate that, notwithstanding what was on the website, copyright infringement was rife. Despite this, Sharman took no steps to include a filtering mechanism in its software, even in software intended to be provided to new users. There is no credible evidence that filtering was ever discussed. Sharman did not withdraw the ´┐ŻJoin the Revolution´┐Ż material from its website. Rather, it included that material in the later version 3.0.”
    Bad cases make good law.
    This case is consistent with the United States Supreme Court decision in Grokster. In both cases the defendant file-sharing services knowingly encouraged and facilitated wholesale copyright infringement. By now, this should be crystal clear that such behavior will not stand. Rather than view this as a significant defeat for the file-sharing “revolution” why not see it instead as a welcome buoy marking the channels of acceptable behavior? The challenge is to come up with a business model that encourages the efficiency of the file-sharing transmission with protection for legitimate copyrights. And this lesson better be learned before the copyright owners (including the Motion PIcture Association of America) wake up and are reminded of the availability of federal and state Civil RICO (Racketeering) claims – the atom bomb of lawsuits – which can be used against even individual copyright infringers.

  18. I totally agree with every single thing that you said in this article. I personally believe that if a record company want’s to increase sales, and decrease piracy they will start selling all cd’s for $5.00 U.S. no matter who the cd is by or how many songs it has $5.00 U.S. per disc though so in the instance that it’s a double disc album it would be $10.00 U.S. and so on. $5.00 is the most reasonable price I can think of. Exactly half of that five dollars should go directly to the artist, and the other half to line the pockets of the bullshit artists…a.k.a. the record companys. See what all corporations don’t seem to realise is that the lower you make your prices on things the more people are going to buy them. The more people that buy them the more money you are going to make in the long run by attracting people who normally can’t afford to by a new cd. For instance I’m a 24 year old full time college student, who also works full time, and has a newborn son. I spend most of my check before I even recieve it leaving me with a very limited amount of money for little things and luxurys like cigarettes and pop…and the occasional beer. The point is that if cd’s were only five dollars I would buy a new cd or maybe even two every single week. But at an average price of $18.00 Canadian (I’m here for school). I simply cannot afford to buy any…nor do I see a viable reason for it. The fact of the matter is that the people that deserve any money are the artists themselves. But they in most cases don’t even see any of the money for cd’s sold at all…around 1% of every cd sale is used to pay employee’s salarys (producers and what not) or at least that is what I was told.

  19. For me, there are two reasons to use a P2P-Network: There are tons of songs out there, which I’ll never find in a record store – either, they’re too old or the band isn’t big enough to make it to my small country. So if I want these Songs I haven’t but a choice to download them ´┐Żillegally´┐Ż.
    Then iTunes came up – great, I thought – finally, I can legally download the music I’m looking for. Surprise, surprise! In the ITMS of my country, I can’t purchase ANY Song of the Dave Matthews Band (just as an example), although their latest album is being promoted on the american ITMS-Store… DUH! F*** it – I’ll download it then. If you resist to SELL it to me, don’t be surprised, when I find other ways to get it.
    And the movies: I recently saw a Movie on TV, which I really, really liked. I wanted to purchase it online… The DVD is actually available – but it has country code 1 – DUH (again). I can’t play it on my DVD-Player, as it isn’t a code-free player… So (again) I downloaded it – which isn’t really good, because the quality of the ´┐Żpirated´┐Ż movie is pretty bad…
    So – I’d really be willing to BUY stuff, but if the industry refuses to sell it (at least in my country), the don’t really give me a choice, do they? As long as the industry doesn’t realize, that borders are antique and the Web doesn’t have any, they will have problems with piracy… What they do is telling me: hey, we got great products, but we don’t like the country you’re living in, so we won’t sell it to you… this is plain stooopid!

  20. I see everyones point of view in this discussion. Please allow me to add mine. I’m a music producer and I can tell you first hand that pirated CDs DEFINATELY affect my mechanical royalties. Those pirated CDs are sold on the street or downloaded and can not be tracked or more importantly credited. I loose money. Period. If I make a Record, there is a price for it up front and a price that is negotiated per unit scanned and sold. Why should I have to be robbed of my back end money? I’m not paid like the record labels. That’s litterally taking food from my family. And I’m still early in the game. Far from rich. I NEED every cent. I was just like you until I broke into the industry.
    People are actually loosing thier jobs over this. Yes, I would agree that the amount of money they claim to loose is inflated, but the revenue is significantly affected. When that happens, they “trim the fat”, people loose jobs. And in this economy, that’s bad news. People can’t pay thier bills, loose thier house etc. It’s a domino effect. Ive been just as guilty as you in the past, but please don’t think that this practice is harmles, because it’s not.
    Imagine if the company you work for could find a way to get your job done on the internet for free and you open your check on friday and it’s 60% less than what it should be? That’s how pirating affects the little people in the industry like me. Peace

  21. People buy what they love..there are concerts they will NEVER miss~! Fans buy everything of their fave bands and movie.. simple. I run a web page for over a decade.I credit whom ever I have taken a pic from to share of the movie star.People search for old stuff.. old movies the star has done..how? well through my web page for example. When the movie people did not make a web page or he was not ready to have one..the fans did it for him~!! like me~! I am like a bootlegger..I am not wealthy for doing this.. People have shared music for decades because they love that artist.they will go see that artist~! Led Zeppelin were the most bootlegged in their time. I have been trying to find out if any of the bootlegging back then made money because Led Zep did not sue anyone for “live” performances..only if stolen from their homes from example. (happen to Jimmy Page) One of the bootlegs at least was released by the band because it was good.. I think the band approached the company and asked for it.. This is how I see it with my old bootleg album.. no-one could by- pass the artist’s sales when they are good.. meaning the artist is good~!!because everyone wants the real thing~!!..of course i was in nappies when someone out there saw Led Zep and said to themselves..”look there is this band and I am going to get rich now even though I don’t like the band I will just start selling bootlegs..and you know what happened? the bootleggers would not buy it or sell it when they saw the person was out to Make money~!! They loved the band and cared (before computers; before tapes)so here I am today.. was also accused of being a criminal just for buying it at aged 15 (thought it was something special as the guy told me it was taped under the stage..had no idea about business back then)I now sit here trying to figure all this out..and everything everyone said is great as I have been in the music lifestyle for over 20 years and music lover since my teens and I hate to say this..but if something is shit it is shit and if it is good people will buy it no matter what;We have seen from people searching the world for it~!TO KEEP IT ~! to collect it~! The focus should be on Create and Distribute as a real musician will just write another song and another again; even if one is a bit stolen by another musician because they are doing music because they love it inthe first place; not because they are trying to pay off a home with it..they get their guitars put on their coffins when they die because they played this instrument or the damn flute.. whatever~! they don’t scream their heads off like the industry does because the industry needs to change and move with the times.How they are going to do that is a test for their creativity as I sure found the movie industry behind about ten years ago I was ahead of them~!!!Tried talking to some people and sent them articles on the web and nothing happened..but I did see young idiots working for a large company who were busy getting drunk and kissing in a hallway while i had important stuff to give my movie star in a package and he never received it..so I battled on my own and realized these people were not even professionals or caring people. Lucky Ozzy Osbourne to have Sharon..for example. Old bands never knew how much money they ever made.. for example Black Sabbath..will never know. Why are Bay City Rollers broke now when they sold so many millions and the internet did not exist???The people did not rip off the Bay City Rollers! I want to know and learn and I don’t like the smell of management~! I have supported all artists all my life..anyone that is trying. Elvis had the Colonel and he took 50%. I read the book and now I understand why Elvis did not get rid of him for so long because maybe he was “safe” with him. Some are doing research and so far it seems more people buy if we share? Anyway I am new to all this and would like it if there was proof that people who are “looking and sharing” don’t buy the product.. I am finding that hard to believe and sorry to the people who think they are robbed of their homes because of it. At least I tunes has come along.

  22. It seems to me that copyright infringement is the 21st century’s excuse for poor creativity on the part of artists or producers. To those people I say this: you should be grateful that I spent the time downloading and listening your garbage and paying for it by taxing my download allowance, even if I did delete it afterwards. Now go write a song that someone actually wants to hear and you might see some sales.

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