Rant: Yarr

So the IFPI posted their 10 Inconvenient Truths about file sharing.

I'm not one to generally stand in defense of the music and video swapping that goes on, it is on the dark-side of the greyscale concerning legality, but the arguments made were so ridiculously stupid I couldn't believe it. What happened to all of the valid criticisms?

Here are their 10 "Inconvenient Truths".

1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Organized criminal gangs and even terrorist groups use the sale of counterfeit CDs to raise revenue and launder money.
4. Illegal file-sharers don’t care whether the copyright-infringing work they distribute is from a major or independent label.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. P2P networks are not hotbeds for discovering new music. It is popular music that is illegally file-shared most frequently.

Pretty conclusive, right? Right guys? They tried so hard, they really did. Don't they at least get a "Good Effort" ribbon?

1. CNN has ads. Slashdot has ads. In fact, the website the article was found had ads. It's standard practice on the web these days. However much I dislike the ads, they don't cost me money and are critical to allowing such websites to function without charging anyone for the "free music".

2. AllOfMp3.com was legal until the laws changed. Additionally, the closing of said site does little to dissuade people who have never heard of it, use P2P file sharing services, or don't know where "Russia" is on a map. This only makes sense insofar as destroying a distributor "inconveniences" the people who used to go there.

3. Organized Crime gangs and Terrorists also drive cars, breathe air, and work day-jobs. Stop affirming the consequent and understand that doing evil things makes a person evil but not everything an evil person does is bad.

4. We also don't care if our Crest toothpaste is made in Taiwan or Quebec. Crest is the brand that everyone recognizes, parent companies and distributors are not noticed. You'd think the marketers would know something about that.

5. This is a point, and I'll accept that it is true. However, there are several availible counterpoints: You weren't supporting underground artists in the first place, file sharing has been a major boon for underground artists, and artists make most of their money from concerts anyways.

6. Could it possibly be that the responsible ISPs are advertising such reputable websites and services such as eMusic and iTunes? Just because it's music on the internet doesn't mean it's pirated.

7. Firstly, since when is the economy the yardstick for everything? Civil Rights and Women's Liberation didn't create jobs, didn't generate tax revenue, and the protests often directly impeded the economy. Should these movements have dispered for the sake of the almighty dollar? Anti-copyright may not be as morally important as Civil Rights or Women's Lib, but attacking it for not helping the economy is silly.

Secondly, I understand that a weakened recording industry might mean a decrease in the jobs and tax revenue from said industry. This will affect many people directly and indirectly. However, those who believe said industry is cheating them and the artists they represent will not cry upon hearing this.

8. I don't think I've ever heard someone argue that it's the homeless guy on the street or the mother just making it through each day pirating the music. Most people I know point to high schoolers and college students who simply don't have the money to spend on oodles of CDs in lieu of important items like books, food, and school supplies. So as it isn't poverty that is to blame, we must ask what the cause is.

Generally, as this is economics, we must consider supply and demand. The RIAA and similar organizations have basically positted that demand hasn't changed, but has found a seperate and illegal channel for its supply. The anti-copyright movement posits that the demand has shrunk in lieu of the crap the industry is producing and that, if anything, file sharing has been slowing that by introducing people to bands they never would have listened to before. They also posit that, if anything, copyright and DRM only hinder the process by which file sharing does this.

Whoever is right, stating that poverty isn't the cause is like stating "The answer is not 3" when the question was "Should I use 'their' or 'there' in this sentence?".

9. "Wrong" and "Illegal" are not the same thing. They may often go hand in hand, but not always. As it stands, it is illegal, and the anti-copyright movement says it shouldn't be. As "Wrong" is obviously being used in the "Illegal" sense, you're not telling people anything they already don't know.

10. Point 1: There are more methods of file sharing than P2P networks (See The Pirate Bay, torrents, irc and other methods many of which you've already mentioned).
Point 2: While "unknown" bands being shared more frequently than known ones would be solid proof of the "hotbed"s of P2P, it would not exclude "popular" bands from being shared with appreciable frequency. The question isn't whether "popular" bands are still shared more than "unknown" bands, but rather is the ratio of "popular" to "unknown" far greater in such a situation than what appears in store sales?

All in all, I don't think any of the best arguments against file sharing were brought up. The anti-copyright movement has to convince the RIAA that file sharing isn't evil; this is something that current trends within the movement hinder more than help. File sharing is illegal, and a lot of the anti-copyright movement sits around laughing at the RIAA more than they do anything to rectify the illegality of their situation. File sharing does hurt sales when people download music they would otherwise have bought and never pay. File sharing often spreads viruses and misattributes music to the wrong author.

There's a lot more that's wrong with file sharing, but ultimately very little of it was brought up in the "10 Inconvenient Truths". For stealing the name of a documentary reknowned for making it crystal clear exactly how we're screwing up our planet, this was a very poor job of damning file sharing.

1 comment:

jocelyn said...

Hear hear! ::raises imaginary glass of libations::