An Inconvenient Truth for the IFPI

Posted on Jun 05, 2007

via Slashdot thanks to Ars Technica:

I was not very surprised to read the ten arguments the IFPI recently published against so-called, “piracy.” Their tactic is to fight and ban it where ever they find it. Despite growing consumer frustration with their tactics and subsequent lack of intellect; they can only expected to continue using the same unsuccessful methods to tackle the same problem they’ve been dealing with for almost a decade now.

However, once in a while you strike gold. This list of “inconvenient truths” is pay-dirt. It’s almost like a list of funny George Bush quotes. What is better is that they are completely serious — they actually believe what they’re saying.

Point for point, I’m here to show you why they are full of BS:

Pirate Bay, one of the flagships of the anti-copyright movement, makes thousands of euros from advertising on its site, while maintaining its anti-establishment “free music” rhetoric.

Yeah. They have ads on their site. We can see that.

The Pirate Bay isn’t an anti-capitalist movement. It is forging ahead for copyright reform. They want governments to re-examine copyright law because they, and many like-minded individuals, believe that the laws are serving corporate rather than public interests. It is well within their rights as human beings to protest their governments in their jurisdiction for such re-examination.

AllOfMP3.com, the well-known Russian web site, has not been licensed by a single IFPI member, has been disowned by right holder groups worldwide and is facing criminal proceedings in Russia.

Well, they technically were operating well within Russian law.

What the IFPI has failed to note here, is that lobbyist groups pressured the United States government to export their copyright laws into Russia so that these record industry groups could pursue Allofmp3.com — pretty cool that they can do that, eh?

Unfortunately this is a complicated issue. The Internet is a global communications medium, yet laws are geographically restricted. Does that mean corporations can influence the export of laws favourable to their interests to other countries? I certainly do not think so. Perhaps if companies operating under trade groups in Russia took action against Allofmp3.com for harming their business, it would be a different story.

Solving this issue is going to be more complex than what the IFPI would like us to think. If Russia doesn’t want anything to do with US copyright laws, they should be free to write their own laws. Why can’t record companies respect that?

Organized criminal gangs and even terrorist groups use the sale of counterfeit CDs to raise revenue and launder money.

Wow, that is a sensationalist claim. Apparently communists used counterfeit and stolen copyrighted material to start the cold war and fund nuclear weapons research. Downloading music is also linked to cancer!

This kind of claim can’t be made in the name of truth without some factual evidence to back it up. It’s simply too incredible to be considered lightly. Is the IFPI so beyond reason?

Illegal file-sharers don’t care whether the copyright-infringing work they distribute is from a major or independent label.

Of course they don’t. They’re not vested in the commercial interests of these businesses. It wouldn’t even matter if they were in a record store purchasing music. The average music fan doesn’t read the liner notes to see which label produced the album or who produced it. Usually only industry geeks or wannabes will.

However, their choice to download music rather than buying it from a store on a CD or from a download service like iTunes is a statement they are making. The record companies simply are not listening. For something so easily commoditized by the industry, it should be no wonder that people expect to get it cheap and fast.

After all, they aren’t dumb. People know that it doesn’t cost much to record music these days. They can buy a laptop that comes with the software to produce some pretty decent sounding material. They don’t care to subsidize the career of some starlet they could care less about… but people know what they like. When they get hooked on an artist, they’ll go to every show they can, buy the memorabilia, and keep in touch with the community around that artist.

The recordings aren’t nearly important as the songs themselves.

Reduced revenues for record companies mean less money available to take a risk on “underground” artists and more inclination to invest in “bankers” like American Idol stars.

The industry was in its prime before it did development deals; before it even considered an artist in terms of financial risk.

The fact that the industry refers to music with such commodity terms used in the point above is evidence of how they value it.

Think of labels like the horse-carriage makers. They were livid when the model-T was built, but still ignorant; choosing to believe the carriages were still superior. Then Ford started manufacturing the things by the hundreds and thousands. The carriage business was red in the face and livid, but all the same; the market left them behind.

ISPs often advertise music as a benefit of signing up to their service, but facilitate the illegal swapping on copyright infringing music on a grand scale.

ISP’s are carriers every bit as much as the phone companies. The Internet is a communications medium. Just as phone carriers are not responsible for what people pipe through a telephone line, ISP’s should not be responsible for what goes through their lines. From a technological perspective, it’s very close to impossible to implement anyway as the Pirate Bay has proven.

Yeah, I guess the IFPI is pretty pissed off that there is no way they can possibly take the Pirate Bay down. Due to the de-centralized nature of the Internet as a communications medium, the moment they raid a data-center hosting a Pirate Bay server; another will instantly go online and the Pirate Bay site will continue operation like nothing had happened.

ISP’s aren’t facilitating anything. Ordinary people, the music consuming public, are facilitating file-sharing.

The anti-copyright movement does not create jobs, exports, tax revenues and economic growth–it largely consists of people pontificating on a commercial world about which they know little.

It also doesn’t exploit artists and the public good for its own commercial interests.

The so-called, “anti-copyright” movement seeks to reform the copyright laws that have been wrongfully influenced by corporate interests against the public good. These laws make it illegal to create “mashup” derivative works, to share recordings, contradict fair use rights, and continually defer works from entering the public domain.. amongst a host of other issues.

This goes against innovation and the fair use rights of the consumer which has plenty of economic and social value.

Besides, if businesses in the future find ways to operate wherein copying doesn’t affect their bottom-line, we could find ourselves in an economic atmosphere where file-sharing could be legal and even encouraged. The potential of the technology to do good far outweighs the harm if businesses can adapt to the change. What will cause greater economic harm is to outlaw every new technology that changes existing paradigms about the way business operates.

Piracy is not caused by poverty. Professor Zhang of Nanjing University found the Chinese citizens who bought pirate products were mainly middle- or higher-income earners.

I have no idea why they mentioned this.

Of course it’s not caused by poverty. Only rich people can afford broad-band access.

Unless the IFPI is using “piracy” interchangeably for two completely different things. Typically, “piracy” referred to the distribution of physical copies of copyrighted material for profit (which I agree, is illegal and immoral). However, it appears that the IFPI and other groups also use “piracy” to refer to online file-sharing, which is a totally different beast.

Most people know it is wrong to file-share copyright infringing material but won’t stop till the law makes them, according to a recent study by the Australian anti-piracy group MIPI.

So they are citing their own bias. Wow.

I wonder where they got their evidence linking terrorists to “piracy.”

P2P networks are not hotbeds for discovering new music. It is popular music that is illegally file-shared most frequently.

Probably because it’s the most widely recognized which still doesn’t mean P2P networks are not useful for finding new music (they are). The networks are simply the most efficient way to share information online. They are largely used for music, but there are other legitimate uses employed as well. If the average person wasn’t so afraid of using them in new and interesting was due to the fear-mongering sensationalism employed by record industry lobby groups; we might see more and more legitimate use of the technology.

It’s clear the IFPI and other industry groups are simply making unfounded claims. They have been subverting laws meant to protect the interests of the public for their own commercial gain for years. Now they want to trounce on us for not buying into their penthouse condos and private jets?

Fact is there are swaths of musicians out there that these record labels wouldn’t even blink at. Yet they continue to make a living and doing their thing without the support of some snobby major label. Perhaps they aren’t going to have VH1 sticking cameras in their toilets and watching them sleep and they probably won’t be driving drunk and smashing up cars; but they’ll be making music and pleasing fans the world over. Their reach will only continue to grow as the Internet gains traction and the music loving population continues to grow.

The major labels are going the way of the do-do, and will continue in that direction most expediently if they continue to publish such dribble as these supposed, “truths.”