Week 11

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This topic contains 20 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Toni 3 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #526

    John Jones
    Keymaster

    All,

    The student who was originally scheduled to be the DL is no longer part of the course. (Thanks to @Heather for drawing my attention to this.) Below is the prompt I would like you to respond to for this week. Because of the delay, I will push the deadline for adding your two responses back to Monday 4/1 3/31 at 9 a.m.

    I’m sure that we all have experienced some changes in how we consume and share media as a result of the increase in digital technologies. I’m curious about what you all think about the relationship between these changes and the law.

    As Abeleson et al. explain, the law has not kept up with the ways that digital technologies have affected our consumption of media. Behavior that was relatively normal before digital music—making mix tapes, recording music off of the radio or a friend’s albums, sharing this music with others—has become subject to severe civil and criminal penalties. On the one hand, we could argue that sharing an MP3 on Napster or some other site is just like sharing a song copied off of the radio on a cassette tape. However, the ability of the digital file to reach thousands (or millions) of people and affect corporate bottom lines is something quite different from pre-digital music sharing. To top it all off, this type of sharing now affects not just music, but everything: TV, movies, books.

    It is reasonable to assume that we all think that there should be some room for sharing the things we like with others without facing fines or jail, and we also want to the people who create the things we enjoy to profit from their work.

    So: how do we find a balance between the two? Does the situation described in B2B represent the best balance? How about the situation now, with the wide availability digital marketplaces like Itunes and Amazon (that greatly restrict how we can share)? Is there a better way to strike this balance?

    • This topic was modified 3 years, 4 months ago by  John Jones.
  • #527

    Heather Harlow
    Participant

    On this debate, I find myself siding with the people who are creating the content for movies, books and TV. These individuals invest a great deal of time and money to create these works, either for our entertainment or enlightenment. To redistribute this content freely, without the artist’s permission, is stealing.

    There is a huge difference between sharing a book or movie in the digital age, versus pre-digital sharing. If I lent my friend a novel in 1990, there was still only one copy of the novel. We couldn’t both comfortably read it at the same time. If I give all ten of my friends digital copies of a novel, there are now 11 novels in existence. And only for one out of the elven has the artist has been compensated for.

    I think the balance is found in our mindset. And we need to change our mindset in relation to digital content. Whether content is made up of bits or paper or plastic, it is still contains content of value. Duplicating it freely without the permission of the creator, whether with a printing press or CTRL+C and CTRL+V, is stealing.

    We tend to think that we own and control objects that we do not and cannot. I don’t really own the grass and dirt and air outside my door. On paper, I am responsible for, and have a financial investment in, the mathematically-defined area that contains the grass and dirt and air outside my door

    There are already services that allow us to legally share playlists and music with friends. Spotify is one example. There are also legal ways to borrow digital books, such as the public library. Some digital content providers already allow you to lend a digital book to a friend for a time. And I hope this trend continues.

    It’s really in the artists’ best interest to allow users to share their content on a limited basis. But granting that permission, and the extent of that permission, should be up to the artist. The mindset that we can do whatever we want with digital content, simply because it is possible and easy, needs to change. We need to place a higher value on the contribution of the content creators.

    • #543

      aaronlp
      Participant

      I do absolutely agree with you that attaining the artists work without paying for it is stealing. You also bring up some other good points. It really is changing a mindset that we have had for a long time. Stealing is stealing, but the way they try to recoup their losses is outrageous. There has to be a better way.

  • #528

    Kelli
    Participant

    Professor Jones:

    Both sides have valid points in this argument. As this week’s reading points out, it comes down to an issue of ownership. Once a consumer has made a purchase, he most likely believes the purchased item has become his property. However, the artist and publishers believe the arrangement is more like a lease, with restrictions on use and ultimate ownership retained by them. Pre-Internet, the consumer had more freedom because of poor or nonexistent technology for mass duplication. Post-Internet, however, anyone with the know-how can create the technology and anyone with a computer can start uploading/downloading within minutes. Once in the stream of commerce, it is a completely different matter.

    It seems the artists, recording companies, publishers, and lawmakers have overreacted, with excessive fines, criminal charges, and high-level restrictions, such as DRM. It sounds like the tide is turning though, starting in 2007 with Apple’s DRM-free music initiative and Warner Music’s about-face regarding DRM-free music. As Warner Music’s CEO basically states, if you can’t beat them, join them (p. 223-224).

    While I think a good balance can be found, with today’s technology and the open nature of the Internet, I do not know if consumers will ever have the level of freedom they desire with copyrighted material because of the large sum of money that is at stake, unless the various industries continue to move in the right direction. Personally, if I listen to music online, it is through Pandora or XM Radio Online, so I am not sure what even exists today for file sharing other than Creative Commons.

    • #534

      I think you’ve hit on a very important point, Kelli. Websites like Pandora and XM Radio allow listeners to choose their content much like going to a sharing service and gathering that one song you can’t get out of your head. It also allows users to share songs with one another. It seems to be a great middle ground.

    • #541

      aaronlp
      Participant

      I

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 4 months ago by  aaronlp.
  • #529

    Jon Miltenberger
    Participant

    I’m with Abelson et al on this one.

    First of all, I really appreciate that our textbook has a clear stance on this. It gives us the facts, but the authors also aren’t afraid to offer their own opinions, which I find really refreshing, whether or not I agree with them. This happened to be a chapter in which I agreed with what they had to say.

    I think the current system of fines is draconian and problematic, stifling creativity and innovation. One person being fined almost a thousand dollars for distributing a single song is not an acceptable fine, and I would not be shocked if it were eventually found to be an excessive punishment, and curtailed as such.

    I think that the level of bullying that corporations can accomplish just because of their size is entirely inappropriate and wrong, and largely because of that I have zero sympathy for some amount of lost dollars those corporations are experiencing. It’s at the point where it doesn’t matter if a corporation is actually right or wrong, it only matters if they’re up against an equally strong corporation, or a private citizen. The legal system is complex enough and the lawyers of groups like the RIAA and the MPAA are strong enough that they can tie up an individual in the courts for years, accumulating legal fines and hassles that one person with a job and a life just can’t afford to be stuck in, especially when they can settle and pay a smaller amount.

    As our book has shown us, too, the recording industry is not concerned about the honesty and justice of these cases–they happily bulldoze over private citizens en masse in an effort to try and intimidate others by making an example of the ones they do get, whether or not their cases are actually true.
    That kind of bullying attitude, in my opinion, loses the recording industry the right to claim morality on their side. They cite stealing and thievery as their motivation, trying to invoke notions of justice, and then turn around and send lawsuits against families that don’t own computers, refusing to drop those lawsuits because it would encourage others to resist them.

    I, for one, am glad that innovation and P2P trafficking is continuing to evolve, and I hope the big business industries keep having a difficult time in keeping up with it.

    As far as where the future is, I think great examples can be seen in the form of Hulu, Netflix, and Pandora. Those are examples that show that the majority of people are not averse to paying a reasonable fee in exchange for the convenience of instantaneous viewing or listening. The roadblock is not the cost, at least not to most people, but the convenience. A person could go out to Walmart and pick up a disc in a trip that might take thirty minutes, or they could download a torrent in what might take thirty seconds. If a legal method of downloading is convenient and widespread (like Amazon’s digital mp3 store), then the torrent just got that much less appealing.

    • #536

      Heather Harlow
      Participant

      @John Miltenberger

      Even though I think that we need to change our mindset in regard to how we think of ownership, I agree that RIAA and the MPAA overreacted. Or rather, they reacted poorly. They took an overly-aggressive stance that didn’t solve the problem, or even curb the problem. I agree with you that what many people wanted was accessibility and convenience, not necessarily a freebie.

      Instead of trying to stop the inevitable, they should have been looking for ways to adjust to technology. I remember friends using Napster to find new artists. From there, they searched for and bought the full album. Imagine if the music industry had joined with Napster instead of fighting it.

  • #530

    Jon Miltenberger
    Participant

    On a semi-unrelated note:
    Today’s xkcd is actually really relevant to our course.
    http://xkcd.com/1348/
    It makes the point with a joke, but I think it’s really easy to fall into the nostalgia trap and remember other days through a rose-colored lens. It might seem like a reasonable proposition that technology is to blame for killing a lot of our human interaction, but I’m not sold on it. I think that our interactions have been largely of the same consistency, and have just changed over time, not so much been killed.

  • #532

    Kelli
    Participant

    Heather:

    I agree with you regarding the balance and our mindset. Just because copying and sharing nowadays is much easier, it doesn’t make it right. While I think the various industries may come around because adding more and more regulations and anti-theft measures only makes it worse for them, as well as consumers, we need to do what’s right, too. I’ve never heard of Spotify, and after looking it up, it looks like a Pandora but with file-sharing capabilities. As more services like these are created, perhaps a balance will be found between flexibility for consumers and payment for artists.

  • #533

    There really should be a balance, but it is a very difficult one to find. Before becoming a mother, I was a touring musician. For independent acts like myself, sharing is everything you want! You want good old fashioned word of mouth advertising. Independent artists are now forced to accept the fact that they might as well just give away their music. The money is not longer in being able to sell records or discs or downloads,. The money is in touring and merchandising. However, platforms like Amazon and iTunes have helped independent artists to make their music more widely available and to make money from them again.

    It is a bit of a double edged sword. I feel less sorry for a corporate entertainer than I do for the independent artist. The 70 cents per song that an artist, any artist, makes will not pay the bills. In the case of the independent artist, every show is usually an out of pocket production. For the corporate artist, concerts are minefield of ticket sales and merchandising opportunities. In their case, song sales do not matter quite as much to a corporate pocket as they do to an independent artist.

    However, I do think stealing is stealing. Songs are, sometimes, people’s livelihoods. While it would be ideal for every song ever heard to be purchased and paid for, it is not reality. While I am for some sort of penalty, I do think the RIAA is being a bit excessive. Our book states “The rationale for statutory damages is to ensure that the penalty is sufficient to deter infringement even when actual damages to the copyright holder are small.” I do understand the sentiment, but if an artist has lost 70 cents, it seems a bit over the top to fine someone upwards of $9,000!

    Technology is advancing and hopefully, it will come up with a viable solution soon.

  • #535

    Toni
    Participant

    This is an issue that I struggle with for a few different reasons. Primarily because of my involvement with my local music scene. My husband was in a band when I first met him and they got to play with a lot of bigger bands that I’m fond of. I often feel the desire to buy an album, thinking I’m supporting the artists, but from what we’ve been told by some bigger musicians, that isn’t necessarily the case. From where I stand, it doesn’t seem that individuals are helping their favorite bands or protecting that bands art by purchasing an album legally, it seems as if that individual is doing nothing more than lining the pockets of some faceless individual with the record company. So while my moral judgement keeps me from feeling comfortable downloading illegal content, I don’t feel this way due to loyalty to the artists.

    I think that Jon makes an excellent point about paid services which allow access to a libraries of music and movies. These services are excellent and I believe they could allow a balance, if not for cell phone data restrictions. I know that some providers allow unlimited data, but Verizon certainly doesn’t. These sort of phone plans restrict the feasibility of paid services and their ability to limit illegal file sharing.

    • #537

      Jon Miltenberger
      Participant

      I’ve heard similar statements, that the money doesn’t necessarily go where the consumer wants it to go. I don’t have anything to back that up with though, just hearsay and rumor.

      Speaking about smaller local shows, at least, though, I know I’ve bought discs from groups after their show before, and it feels very different from buying a disc at Walmart or Target or somesuch. Probably because with those smaller shows, where the albums are being sold out of a box by someone with the band, I would suspect that there’s not some faceless record executive taking all the money like you describe, Toni. But I absolutely agree with you, buying an album for a bigger group feels like it’s not going to do much to actually show support for the group.

      On the subject of cellphone data restrictions, I like this problem much more because it’s a concrete and solvable problem. The question of copyright is an ethical and legal question, which can be pretty nebulous. Cell data restrictions are a technological problem, which can be much cleaner to solve. It could be only a matter of time before there’s an affordable mobile service that appropriately uses a buy-in to be legal.

    • #539

      Tim Algeo
      Participant

      One of the great things about the digital age is that it allows many artists to bypass tradition distribution and take their product directly to their customers. This ensures that they will see the most profit from their product and it also gives them a lot more creational control.

  • #538

    Tim Algeo
    Participant

    I tend to agree with the opinion that if you download a song (or provide a copy to be downloaded) it is the same as walking into a store and stealing the physical album. People can try to justify it with whatever explanation that they want to give, but it is what it is. You are stealing someone’s product. I am perfectly fine with Itunes and Amazon’s music downloads. I have no problem paying $.99 for a song that I like. It actually saves me money by not having to purchase the entire album. I remember the days of cassette singles and CD singles. I was a big fan of those simply because most albums contain a lot of garbage and only 2 or 3 good songs.
    The only true “balance” is to do what is right. Don’t steal someone’s work. They deserve to be paid for what they have produced.

  • #540

    aaronlp
    Participant

    I have been really torn on making up my mind on this subject. Do I believe that attaining an artists work through whatever means without paying for it is stealing? Absolutely. Do I think it is ridiculous how the RIAA is going after people with lawsuits claiming millions in damages with little to know evidence and falsely accusing others? Yes. I don’t think you can go after the people providing the material in these situations unless they are making a profit on distributing the material. I think that they should solely go after the people stealing the artists work. However I think they should take reasonable attempts to recover their damages. If I stole ten albums from various artist, make me pay for the content I stole, and also face criminal charges for the monetary amount according to the law. This seems like a more reasonable idea to me.

    I like where we’re at with digital content right now. I am from the age of mix tapes and CD’s, and I spend a lot less on music than I did before, and I attain my music legally. I also listen to much more music with iTunes radio, Pandora and other forms of streaming music. I can realistically listen to anything I want at any time with streaming music for free with the exception of a few commercials. That is definitely a price I am willing to pay. I think that is the way the future will go .

  • #544

    jfletch5
    Participant

    I definitely think that finding a balance is key to this debate. Despite that, however, it is hard to tell how. I agree and like to think that musicians or creators of multimedia works deserve the money for their hard work. However, it seems a bit over dramatic to restrict sharing and listening to such degrees where downloading a few songs can get someone a multi-digit fine. I agree with @jon miltenburger that newer methods of sharing and listening/watching like Pandora/Spotify and Netflix help to resolve this issue. However, these conflicts are still very present and there needs to be work on both sides of the discussion to improve this. We can’t really go anywhere with just secondary corporations like Pandora and Netflix doing the bulwark. Instead, I think a lot needs to be done on the side of the company. Like @Toni said, when you really buy a cd or album, the money isn’t necessarily going to the artist. So, I think what needs to be done is to have less of a monopoly on sharing and listening. Stricking a balance would be a lot easier. That would require a lot more work on restrictive sites like Amazon and Itunes that put a limited amount of engagement on their customers.

  • #545

    jfletch5
    Participant

    I think it is interesting that we live in a time that these two things are so juxtaposed to each other. What I mean by that is that we have restrictive websites like Amazon and Itunes as well as sites like that facilitate the illegal downloading of materials. As @jon mentioned in his post and I alluded to in mine, there has been a search for common ground with Pandora and Netflix. However, in this environment, there is still extreme competition between restrictive sites and supposedly “underground” sites. I think one of the really interesting things that has happened is this market for underground sharing that a lot of people engage in. It creates a new culture and way of listening/sharing music or movies, but certainly runs its risks. I guess it is just one of many of the side effects of this imbalance.

  • #547

    akirk9
    Participant

    @Toni,

    I freely admit that I have gotten music online for free, but most of the songs I’ve done this with (via a YouTube to mp3 converter) have been songs unavailable for purchase anywhere. For example, I’ve converted YouTube videos of my favorite artists performing covers of songs and/or collaborations with other artists, and those recordings aren’t available for purchase. I don’t feel guilty when I get these particular recordings for free because I’m not taking money out of anyone’s pockets. I do feel guilty when I do this with recordings that are available for purchase, though. I think it’s wrong, but it hasn’t stopped me from doing it occasionally.

    For my favorite bands, I actually prefer buying their CDs as opposed to purchasing their albums digitally via such stores as iTunes. I do this because like to have a copy of the music I can hold in my hands (as well as the album art itself) and because I feel as though I’m supporting the musicians in a more meaningful way. However, what you said has me doubting that I’m actually supporting them. I wonder how much money of their album sales isn’t taken by faceless recording companies?

  • #548

    akirk9
    Participant

    John,

    I don’t think that wide availability digital marketplaces like iTunes and Amazon provide the balance that is needed here because illegally downloading music, TV shows, movies, books, etc. is just so easy. It doesn’t take a career criminal to do it, either; even the most white-bread, straight-laced people take full advantage of the ease it takes to save money on their favorite album/show/movie/book. If downloading all of these things were difficult, then a balance could be reached, but I don’t know how this would be accomplished technologically. I don’t think illegal downloading should be punished severely; in this case, threat of punishment is not enough of a deterrent and the potential for excessive punishment is too great. Because of the sheer number of people who commit this crime daily, the odds of being caught in the act are low. Thus, the reward is well worth the minimal risk. I hate to be pessimistic here, but I don’t think a balance can be effectively reached at this time.

  • #549

    Toni
    Participant

    akirk9,

    I too wanted to find out what percentage of the profits a band makes on album sales, so I did a bit of searching. The article I’m posting the url for goes through and explains the way that profits are split up. The article is split up into several pages and covers a plethora of information.

    Another thing you mentioned is that you like to have the cd, and so do my husband and I. Our cd collection is somewhat excessive. However, I think a overwhelming issue, within the United States at least, is the demand for immediate gratification. I think this aspect of our culture is what has lead Amazon to offer a free album download with a physical cd purchase. I don’t know if this is included for all albums, but I’ve purchases several CDs from them and immediately downloaded the album while I waited for the physical CD to arrive. I think this not only provides that immediate gratification, but it allows access to a wider range of genres. We personally listen to metal primarily and struggle to find newly released albums in our area. Amazon certainly gets our money in that situation.

    Toni

    http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/recording-contract.htm

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