Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Comments on Copyright and File-Sharing

Article found here.

Here are my counterpoints.

  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.

    Proving that there is money in distribution of music without directly charging for it. Besides, who could look at an ad-covered site and think that they're not making at least some money?

  2., 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.

    This is not an argument against file-sharing or in favour of copyright holders, this is simply stating what the current law is. Everyone knows that downloading most music without paying for it is illegal.

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

    Okay, so why shouldn't music be downloaded? Criminal gangs and terrorist groups would be making money on counterfeit CDs regardless of the law and taking away peoples' ability to freely download the music illegally online will only encourage them to buy the counterfeit CDs (as they are still cheaper than the originals). Once again, this is actually an argument for making file-sharing legal.

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

    Good. So why can't I find MC Frontalot on any bittorrent site?

  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.

    ... Which lets those "underground" artists take the small amount of time necessary to learn how to record and distribute their own music, put it up freely or cheaply online and make more money on donations than they ever would from royalties off of label-sponsored music.
    Record companies are obsolete. The services they provide which are not obsolete (recording studios, distribution, networking and training) can all be acquired more cheaply and more easily by individual providers none of whom will ask you to sign over your ownership of your music.
    Even without illegal file-sharing, large record companies serve no purpose anymore.

  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.

    ISP advertising cannot be an argument against file-sharing, but this does serve as a reason to look more closely at your ISP's business practices. Just remember that nobody, even an ISP, can stop an intelligent person from sending and receiving whatever they want without blocking all of their activity and access.

  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.

    Should jobs be created artificially? If the jobs are not necessary why should they exist at all?
    I would also like to point out that if you jump back in time a few hundred years and replace the word "copyright" with the word "slavery", the argument retains all the potency it has at present.
    No, I am not attempting to equate copyright with slavery, there is obviously no comparison. What I am attempting to do by making the previous point is to say that the argument as given has no weight at all.

  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.

    First, let me say that I agree that piracy is not caused by poverty. I believe that part of piracy is caused by overcharging on the part of the distributor. Copyright on an artistic work is a legally enforced monopoly on that particular work, thus squelching all competition and removing the capitalist incentive for the copyright holder to provide prices which are in any way reasonable.
    Of course, a total lack of copyright means that people need not pay for artistic works at all, thus removing all benefit from such creativity (the capitalist argues). I am not going to take the route of arguing that creative works benefit society as a whole even if nobody profits from it (although I do believe there is merit in such an argument). Instead, I will say simply that distribution and replication of artistic works remain profitable industries without copyright and regain the competition they lack under copyright law. Additionally, people generally like to reward people who reward them so if art were no longer looked on as a business venture, many artists would be able to make a living on donations from people who enjoyed their work. Given a reasonable reliable attribution database, donation-supported artwork could become the norm and could even become somewhat profitable in its own time.

    Additionally, I would like to point out that the study mentioned deals with people who "bought pirate products", not those who obtained them for free, thus once again removing its relevance to the file-sharing side of this debate.

  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.

    I would like to make one correction here:
    Most people know it is illegal to file-share copyright infringing material...
    Immoral and illegal are not always identical. I am quite aware that unlicensed distribution of copyrighted material is illegal, but I do not consider it to be in any way immoral.

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

    True, popular music is illegally shared most frequently. The distinction here is that if you are buying all the music you listen to, you run out of money before you get all the popular music you want and therefore have nothing left to spend on new music. With illegal file-sharing you can easily find all the popular music as well as thousands of relatively unpopular artists each being shared by a small number of people. This gives you more selection of non-popular music than you are likely to get elsewhere and leaves money available to buy something you can't find illegally shared.

In case you can't tell, I am in favour of the complete abolishment of copyright law. Please keep that bias in mind when considering my arguments, but also don't let it prevent you from that consideration.