New Arguments Against P2P: The Phony Moral Debate

“Its Illegal.”

That’s the phrase the Recording Industry have been chanting nonstop for the past 5 years. It has been the mantra of the big labels and studios ever since Napster winked into existence.

But a subtle shift is already underway. As we await the Supreme Court’s decision in the Grokster case, the industry — or in this case, its apologists — is positioning itself for a defeat on the merits. They want and need a fall back position, in the event the Supreme Court decides not to overturn the well settled law — "substantial non infringing use" — of Sony BetaMax case.

If the Betamax decision is not overturned, than on the law, the case is over: Articles such as this one — File-sharing case worries Indie artists — incontrovertibly demonstrate the inescapable conclusion that not only are there substantial non infringing uses for P2P, but they are from direct business competitors to the Big Labels. If P2P is quashed, it would have the effect of limiting competition to the majors from the small, underfunded, scrappy independents.

And that’s even before we get to the issue of stifling technological innovation.

Indeed, knowledgeable observers have long since figured out that P2P is not about copyright at all. Instead, its about disintermediation — getting the Labels out of the middle, removing them from between the artist and the listener.

Of course the labels are horrified about P2P — it makes them irrelevant. Who the hell wants to be replaced by a collaborative filter?

But even if the industry wins the Grokster case, the result will be a pyrrhic victory, largely unenforceable against the free roaming decentralized software the Recording Industry inadvertently birthed when they litigated the centralized Napster to death. In fact, just this past week, the WSJ Op-Ed page acknowledged that stopping swapping is all but impossible:

Allofmp3, which resides in . . . Russia, and was described to me by one knowledgeable user as "more or less legal." Even if the anti-Grokster forces can next afford to spend 10 years to win (and enforce) MGM v. Putin et al. in the Hague, there will always be another wave of digitized aliens hacking through the copyright walls. There has to be a better way.”

So a new approach has been hatched: Apologists for the industry are replacing the catchphrase “Its illegal” with a new mantra.

Are you ready to hear what it is? (Hold onto your seat):

“Its morally wrong.”

Allow that to sink in a moment. One of the most corrupt, decadent, morally bankrupt industries the planet has ever seen is now making the argument that people should not use P2P — due to the ethical considerations:

“It may seem quaintly old school to suggest that people should stop downloading culture without paying simply because it’s the right thing to do. But that may be the best option available.”  –Daniel Henninger, WSJ

I find that approach utterly fascinating, more than a little infuriating, and outright hilarious — all at once. The Recording Industry must be hellbent on getting into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most hypocritical, disingenuous, cynical, and intellectually dishonest arguments in the history of mankind.

You want to play that way? OK, I’m game. Let’s go along. If the industry wants to have a discussion on morality, lets have a closer look at this black kettle, the house of glass they want to throw stones from. Let’s examine how the industry arrived at where it is today — but according to their wishes, from an ethical standpoint.

Remember, we are not arguing about what is legal, but rather what is RIGHT or WRONG:


Price Fixing: Wrong (and Illegal):

Lets start our discussion with the Free Markets. Our capitalist
system relies on competition to set prices on goods and services. But
what happens when the distributors of these very same goods get
together and illegally fix prices?

That conspiracy does substantial
damage to both consumers of these useful and creative arts, as well as
their creators. When a group of plutocrats thwarts the
capitalist system, everyone but them loses. Consumers have less access
to these works, as the Labels illegally maintained prices higher than
the market place would have borne. These oligopolists extract monopoly profits, while the bands sell that many less units. And the creators of these works, who
derive the lion’s share of their income from publishing their music and playing to audiences, gets
that much less exposure, recognition and money.

Its just wrong.

Amazingly, even after they got caught, the recording industry cheated on their price fixing
settlement. Part of the
resolution included donations of CDs to libraries. In direct
contradiction to the spirit of the agreement, the labels used the
opportunity to dump tons of junk CDs — old, unpopular, and many
repeats of the same CDs — onto libraries. 

It was only after a group
of Librarians contacted the State Attorney Generals involved in the
case — along with some uncomfortable press coverage — that the
industry was embarrassed into doing the right thing.


UPDATE  April 21, 2005  10:55pm

Lest you think I am leaving out the MPAA — Here’s a charming example of THEIR respect for the law:



Two NYPD veterans are being investigated by Internal Affairs for allegedly accepting payoffs from the motion-picture industry to arrest vendors of pirated DVDs, law-enforcement sources told The Post.

One officer, a sergeant on the force since 1992, has been transferred from the Staten Island Task Force to the 122nd Precinct pending the internal investigation. The other, a cop for five years, still works on the task force.

As members of the unit, the officers, ages 36 and 32, would arrest the sellers of illegal DVDs and confiscate their stock. Often they would act on tips from investigators with the Motion Picture Association of America, many of whom are former cops, sources said.

There is nothing improper about that practice. But on at least four occasions in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island, the task force officers arrested the vendors, confiscated the illegal movies and then allegedly received gratuities of several hundred dollars from the MPAA itself or its investigators, the source said. The MPAA strongly denied that the payoffs came from the trade organization.

Note that the MPAA does not deny a payment was made — just that they didn’t make (an agent on their behalf, perhaps?)


Jamie Schram
NY Post, April 21, 2005

Copyright Extension: Wrong (but Legal):

The framers of the constitution wanted to strike a balance between
encouraging artists and inventors to create works, yet allowing the
populace to benefit from these works. The balance is a monopoly “for
limited Times to Authors and Inventors”

The Recording Industries have trampled the concept of limited, via a
corrupt land grab. They bought a series of copyright extensions, after
greasing Congress with millions of dollars. Intellectual property which
should have fallen into the public domain for the use and enjoyment of
U.S. citizens instead remains property not of their creators, but of
large corporations who had little if any hand in their creation.

The term of copyright now extends 75 years beyond the date of the author’s death. This created a huge windfall for the companies who purchased these
assets from their creators. Of course, this buy in was done when
copyright was much shorter.

The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998  (a/k/a "The Mickey Mouse Protection Act")
resulted in a huge taking of public assets by private entities and a
purchase under false pretenses from the songwriters. Its enabled by
bribery, and in direct opposition to the explicit wording of the US Constitution.

And, its all perfectly legal.

But that doesn’t matter, since today’s discussion is not about the
legalities, but rather, about what’s right and wrong. The massive
copyright extension amounts to true piracy, theft on the high seas from
the public and the very works creators at issue here.

Wrong, but legal..


Radio Consolidation: Wrong (but Legal and Dumb):

The Nation’s airwaves are a limited and precious commodity, one that
is supposed to be administered by the FCC and Congress on behalf of the

Instead, thanks to some well greased Congressmen, yet another act of
Piracy took place: The 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act. It radically
changed the ownership limitations of the public airwaves, allowing
another massive land grab. Companies such as Clear Channel
Communications — who helped pay for the legislation — consolidated
the radio industry.

Pre 1996 Act, local stations served their communities with local
DJs, Program Managers, and Music Directors. Afterwards came McRadio.
Instead of a vibrant competitive broadcast industry, with 1000s of
different stations running all manners of programming, we now get music
pumped across the country from some sterile fluorescent lit bunker
somewhere in Texas.

Playlists shrunk dramatically, focus groups ruled the air, and the
amount of content on the radio — the actual number of different songs
— fell off a cliff.

That’s just wrong. The quality of what’s available for free over the
public airwaves has dropped precipitously. Another wrong foisted on
music fans.

The irony is that this land grab ended up doing major damage to both
the Music Industry as well as Broadcast Radio itself. Listeners
abandoned Radio in droves, flocking instead to iPods, Satellite Radio
and the Internet. Singers and Songwriters were also hurt by this. You
can’t buy what you never hear, and most people used to hear new music
on the radio. No longer. Worse, Bands cannot sell tickets to a tour if
no one has ever heard of them, SongWriters do not get publishing
royalties if no one else is covering or performing their songs.

So who’s really hurting the Artists? Why its the Radio industry, and
by virtue of their mute compliance, the Recording Industry.

From Payola to NoPlay-ola, in a few short years.  That’s also wrong.

Refusing Digital Distribution: Wrong (but Legal and Very Dumb):

Winstoin Churchill once said "If you destroy a free market, you create a black market."
In the 1990s, the marketplace was clamoring for a way to obtain content
digitally. A well managed industry would have responded to this market
demand by offering its consumers a fast, secure, legal — and
profitable — way to do this. Digital distribution should have been a
profit center, a new market for musicians to use to disperse their
work, build relationships with their fans, and help sell concert

Instead, the industry acceded to the demands of their brick and
mortar retailers. They ignored the marketplace, and crated an enormous
void. Nature may hate a vacuum, but not nearly as much as the
marketplace does. Napster wasn’t inevitable, but rather sprung into the
void created by the Recording Industry. More irony: Tower Records
recently filed for bankruptcy.
The industry has misrun their
business for decades, and now they are suffering the consequences of
their poor judgement and bad behavior. Blaming P2P for their woes
ignores the reality that this is a merely hell of their own devisement.
And that’s before we get to other bad behavior of the recording
industry:  Cheating their artists, foisting oppressive contracts onto
young musicians, using Enron like accounting to avoid paying them. But
you get the idea.

The Blackmarket for music — brought to you by the recording
industry. I expect a few years from now, B-School students will be
reading studies of this enormous and unprecedented management screw

Unclean Hands

Apologists for the recording industry cannot in good faith argue
that everyone but themselves needs to “do the right thing.” They have
shown a propensity for doing the wrong thing — both legal and illegal
— time and again.

I’m all for moral behavior. However, I have no patience for an
ethics lectures from a corrupt and incompetent ring of real pirates.

Can Justice Scalia Solve the Riddles Of the Internet?
Daniel Henninger (
WSJ Op/ED, April 1, 2005; Page A10,,SB111232125427395146,00.html

File-sharing case worries Indie artists
Alex Veiga
Associated Press, 3/25/2005 8:44 AM sharing_x.htm?csp=36

A Brief History of the Patent Law of the United States

A History of the United States Patent Office
Jason O. Watson, creator of
April 17, 2001

Copyright extension law at issue in suit
Courtney Macavinta
CNET, January 12, 1999, 2:10 PM PST

A  History of Copyright in the United States

What is Copyright?

File-sharing case worries Indie artists

File-sharing case worries Indie artists

File-sharing case worries Indie artists

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. dark1p commented on Apr 4

    Give ’em hell, man. Big business is generally full of crap and the recording industry is fuller than many. Your posts on this subject are fascinating and help crystallize my own thoughts on the matter, which have tended to be vague and instinctive up to now and not as articulate. You rock.

  2. fatbear commented on Apr 5

    Barry – excellent, excellent post – not much more to be said

    but we’re both wrong about term – just checked –

    for people, it’s now life plus 70 –

    work-for-hire is 95 years (!!!) from publication or 120 years (!!!!!) from creation, whichever is shorter

  3. Peatey commented on Apr 5

    Always interesting to read a lawyer’s take. I wouldn’t quite make the connection between music and price-fixing, since most of the volume is music as luxury good than commodity good. I’d think that demand for the top albums are inelastic.

  4. Cody Willard commented on Apr 5

    Barry, you make some great points. Regarding RIAA and their stupid, hypocritical move of trying to shut down P2P, I wrote similar rantings here:

    and here:

    My argument always has been that P2P networks are legal (and morally right), but individuals who steal (or as often rationalized: “use without authorization”) content are wrong and performing illegal acts.

    The only other comment I have is that if you’re going to use capitalism and the constitution as the basis for your moral and legal arguments, I’m not sure how you arrive at the conclusion that Price Fixing is either immoral or illegal.

    Rock on, my brother. I love our debates.

  5. Tech Policy commented on Apr 5

    The Phony Moral Debate

    Barry Ritholtz is not happy with the music industry. This is not news to me as I read his blog regularly, but today he is really upset about theit may be legal, but it is not moral argument made against the use of P2P . Apologists for the recording ind…

  6. Barry Ritholtz commented on Apr 5

    Regardless of whether a good is a luxury or a necessity, it is still a violation of anti-trust law to fix prices (or even to conspire to fix prices).

    Capitalism is based on allowing the free market to set prices. Anything that interferes with the markets is by definition anti-capitalism

    I say, let the free market determine prices . . .

  7. Patrick Ross commented on Apr 5

    You never addressed the Dan Henninger quote that downloading culture without paying is immoral, a quote you find infuriating. Instead, you point out immorality in the recording industry, even though Henninger isn’t part of that industry. Yes or no — is downloading culture without paying for it wrong?

  8. Jock Gill commented on Apr 5


    Great post. A few random comments from a political perspective:

    It may also be useful to consider that the imperative to deliver 15% compounded annual growth in corporate profits is, in fact, a fierce reality distortion field. It requires an intense focus on consumption, entertainment and celebrity in order to keep its Ponzi-like bubble inflated. The goal of the money party in DC, and its varius allies, is to keep the bubble inflated. Their tool of choice: Command and control from the industrial center.

    The future is, of course, being built before our very eyes, but it is not where the old school thinks it is. It is, surprise, on the edges of the flat world network. Approaches locked into the old command and control from the center mode, the hub and spoke model, will be trumped by edge-based organizations. You can bet on it.

    What the “values” voters are saying is that there is more to life than consumption, entertainment and celebrity in the name of 15% profit growth for the few — the RIAA to the contrary not withstanding. And they are right. However, they are wrong to reject science. It is the only way to get back to a “garden” based on the values of permaculture, not the profit motives of the pharmacultural multi-national corporations who seek to patent life itself.

    The secret is to move more power to the edges; increase our own dimensionality by becoming more than simple 1D, flat, consumers; reject the hub and spoke organizational principal; etc.

    Friedman got part of it and I hope I have extended the ideas in my comments on Globalization 4.0. I also discuss some of these ideas in my C2C concept paper [both on]

    Barry, keep up the good work.

  9. Karmakin commented on Apr 5

    Patrick:As a moralist (I’m researching a book on modern morality right now. One chapter is going to be on the morality of P2P), let me respond for Barry. (Although another chapter is going to be about the immorality of the modern investment markets, but I digress)

    It depends on what you do with it. If you just download the music, and keep it and listen to it everyday, and never really reward the producer, then that’s morally wrong. It is.

    However, just downloading stuff, seeing if you like it. Then either archiving it, or deleting it if you don’t like it, and if you do like it either buying the CD, buying a T-shirt, or seeing them live. Some way to reward the artist.

    There’s massive non-immoral use of P2P. Be it format shifting, music exploration or the trading of unreleased/OOP stuff (which in my mind is a completly ethical thing to do, floating the 2nd hand market is not an worthwhile argument). Some of it is illegal. Some of it is legal. A whole lot of it is gray area.

    Of what Barry mentions, the P2P revolution has little do with price fixing, a bit to do with what people REALLY want out of digital distribution (they want the community aspects of P2P software. Surfing file lists is the killer app for heavy P2P users, and that’s something that the digital labels just are not providing…then put the pain of DRM on top of that), and a whole lot with the consolidation in the radio industry. P2P is a replacement for not CD retailers, although the format is going out of style, but for the terrestial radio industry. Sat. Radio works because of the presence of 100+ channels, all unique in sound, style and content. The Clear Channel-dominated market doesn’t work because everything sounds the same.

    So Barry got it exactly right. P2P is all about cutting the labels out of the promotion game. Plain and simple. And that’s what the labels are fighting against. They want the ability to ensure that it’s THEIR artists that get the playtime and make the money and get the hits. The danger of the next big thing going independant is just too great for them to let sit around.

    One more thing. Let me add a fourth major immoral step.

    Killing non-profit webradio. That showed their true colors right there.

  10. David Bennett commented on Apr 5


    Here is another side of the moral argument. The media companies want to impose technology which among other things will hinder creators from distributing their own work. It’s already happening:

    While not a lwayer I would say that since it combines with first amendment issues, this is a far more grievious violation of property rights, then the “problem” it’s supposed to solve. One should note that the effort is designed to hinder the flow of all information not just artistic or commercial, this includes the personal and the business related. The result would be a crippling of US technology at a time when we face increasingly serious competition often from countries modernizing more rapidly than we do.

    Philosophically this effort is typical of many sought by poweful elements in the Republican party. The attitude of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld is feudal, believing (or at least claiming) that wealth protected by social structures is “free enterprise.” Note how Bush gained his wealth from having a city build him and his partners a ball park while providing them with the surrounding neighborhood seized by eminent domain, Rumsfeld and Cheney succeeded in the “private sector” because of government contacts.

    This overall view is not concerned about the productive capacity of the nation, flux and uncertainty are good for workers, not owners. And the owners most valued are not those involved in the competitive stress of capitalism, but those who have found a protected niche.

  11. Patrick Ross commented on Apr 5

    Karmakin: Thank you for your thoughtful post. From the perspective of morality, there’s not much to argue with there. I also have no interest in defending the music industry here, I don’t claim they have any moral high ground. I do wonder, however, just how many P2P users are merely sampling music, and then making a purchase of some sort when they like a song. In any economic model, where morality is absent, no consumer would do such a thing because it goes against their self-interest.

    I enjoy Napster To Go because I can sample songs (the entire song, not just snippets like iTunes) and I can download them to my PC or portable player (I have a Zen Micro). I could go and buy a CD of some of the new artists I’ve discovered, but why would I when I already have their songs? The difference between me and a P2P user keeping the songs is that Napster pays the artist for my use of their music.

    I’m all for licensed P2P; it’s a tremendous distribution model. I can understand why some in the music business wouldn’t want to work with existing software providers, who profit off of infringement. But I welcome new, legitimate P2P sites. I’d also like to see artists who view P2P as a way to go directly to consumers without working with a label to have a “clean” place to do it, that isn’t cluttered with infringing files.

    As to compensating an artist with T-shirt sales or concert tickets, I don’t see how that works for artists such as authors whose works can also be digitized and downloaded. (Cheap printing and text displays are coming, and it wouldn’t be moral to create a distinction between the output of an author and a musician.) Beyond that, though, when I hear this argument I think of one of my favorite artists, Susan Tedeschi. Heard of her? Probably haven’t, that’s why she doesn’t sell T-shirts. She also has a 2-year-old child, and while I’ve heard her twice in concert (she’s great) I can understand why she’d want to cut back on touring or stop altogether. Does that mean she shouldn’t be able to support her kid? Her husband, Derek Trucks, also is a musician. Should we send him on the road year-round to support Susan and their child? I would assume that if Susan could no longer be compensated for her recordings she would stop recording, and that would truly be a loss.

  12. Karmakin commented on Apr 5

    Patrick:You’d be surprised actually. This is just anecdotal, of course, but people in my core group tend to spend as much on music as they did before P2P, if not more. Why would they if they had it? Individuals, I find tend to have a sense of morality and justice about them. If they enjoy something, they feel no qualms about rewarding the maker. Does it make economic sense? No. It doesn’t. But it’s not economists in the world, it’s real flesh and blood people.

    The problem with all the online services up to this date, is that they lose the sense of community that made Napster really thrive upon. Like it or not, that’s important. The service that recreates the community feel is the one that will really take off, especially among youth. I’m not sure how old you are, but among my generation, things that bring in the sense of community really thrive. Which is really the whole thing behind the rise of the original Napster. Free music? You could get that anywhere. But it was the sense of community that made it soar.

    And about the third thing, I think that what matters is that the artist is rewarded. When I meantioned concerts and t-shirts, I just meant that..well..if it was just even a Paypal account. You know?

  13. Dean Sutherland commented on Apr 5

    Patrick Ross wrote (in part):
    …I don’t see how that works for artists such as authors whose works can also be digitized and downloaded. (Cheap printing and text displays are coming, and it wouldn’t be moral to create a distinction between the output of an author and a musician.)

    Patrick (and others):

    Go visit the Baen Free Library from the good folks at Baen Books — — to see exactly how that works for authors. They’ve found that they increase paper sales by giving away entire novels electronically. They also have a program which makes the entire output of the publisher available as eBooks for very reasonable prices. The publisher and the authors make money on it, too. As much, if not more, than if you bought the dead-tree-ware version of the book in a bookstore.

  14. Patrick Ross commented on Apr 5

    Thank you to Karmakin and Dean for your feedback. I checked out the Baen Books site and it looks pretty cool. If an author and a publisher want to try a giveaway I say more power to them. That’s why I also champion Creative Commons, because it gives the artist the choice of how their content can be used, and often it’s with little or no restrictions.

    My only hope would be that creators aren’t forced to give things away. My mother has published about 80 novels — — and maybe she’s old-fashioned, but she likes being published in print by Pocket Books and getting her advances and royalty statements. I don’t think she would be willing to try a giveaway model. She shouldn’t have to, but others should be encouraged if they so choose.

  15. Karmakin commented on Apr 5

    Patrick:It all comes down to good faith really.

    It always has. P2P is nothing new. The concept of sharing, it just makes a bigger community. That’s all. Your mother, for example, probably has been realisticly hurt more by people passing around copies of the book….completly legal. But how ethical is it? Two people have enjoyed it for the price of one. Then if it goes out to more people, and so on.

    Or think of the entire concept of a library. Now, I can understand for reference/non-fiction stuff. But a good portion of a library is for entertainment purposes. I’m not bashing it. I think it’s great. But in reality it’s no different than P2P/sharing/whatever.

    The question is, what’s the best level of control that’s the best for the entire culture? Namely, that will still reward producers to produce, but at the same time ensure a healthy culture.

    Nobody would say (ok, some people would, but not many) that libraries are a bad thing. It really does all come down to good faith (and a smidge of convience built in). BTW, I don’t actually use P2P myself. I’m just not that interested into music. Every once in a while I’ll go looking for live shows that I want, but other than that. Nothing. I do have text rips of books…that I own and can read in a portable format. Other than that…

    I just like the idea that the culture can get away from the culture guardians (in this case, the RIAA)

  16. Ken J. commented on Apr 5

    I have to say a word on behalf of Big Music on the subject of the recent price fixing cases. The Minimum Advertised Price policy was an attempt to prop up specialty chain music retail (think Tower Records or Sam Goody) and small independents (think the college CD store you loved, if you’re over 30). Those retailers were getting hammered by the big box stores, who were selling too many discs as loss leaders. Loss leaders are great for the big box stores who can lure shoppers in with cheap CD prices and then sell appliances or computer stuff; but a CD store which has to make profits on CD sales can’t compete against a barrage of loss leaders.

    Big Music was rewarded for its attempt to protect its most loyal retailers–and the ones who have played the largest role in breaking new artists–with charges at both the state and federal level; I assume that no further projects like this will be attempted, and independent & “specialty” music retailers in the brick-n-mortar world will continue to wink out. (This week’s announced loss: Mad’s Records in Ardmore, PA. Sigh.) So remember: it’s the policy of the government that Best Buy is going to be the best brick-n-mortar CD retail available, for all but a handful of people. I don’t think the effort to prevent this was wrong.

  17. LilBambi commented on Apr 6

    Great article. I even left it as a cliff hanger on my blog so folks would want to come over here to read the rest of this great piece.

    You have some very relevant links below the article, and even in responses here in the comment section.

    I hope it will mean something to those who would have a say because it sure means an awful lot to the ‘public’ and it really doesn’t matter whether you are into filesharing or not. I don’t make use of it but there was a time when I did try it out and loved it. Back in Napster days before the spyware, malware, and seeding of the P2P networks with other things including trojans and worse.

    P2P is one of the most fantastic innovations in a very long time and to see it demonized and intentially destroyed is definitely infuriating. It can be used to help the music and movie industry, if they would only stop seeing dollar signs and loss of control concerns in everything. They are a service. And we are their customers. They should start acting like it. IMHO.

  18. Edgar Allen commented on Apr 8

    To Ken J: Preventing the rapid bankruptsy of businesses which refuse to change what they offer for purchase is anti-freemarket, and should be punished as illegal. If Tower had sold custom printed posters and customer selected collections of songs on personalized CDs they would be growing today. But their managers couuld not let go of the sinking format they were used to.

    To Everybody: The Sherman Antitrust Law(US) includes “regrating” as one of its specifically forbidden practices. Regrating, as I understand it, is refusing to sell in consumer desired quantities to force more to be bought than can be reasonably used.

    It was originally perishable commodities like rapidly spoiling foods which were sold in lots too large to be consumed before they spoiled.

    CDs are a modern regrating because the ten unwanted songs are bundled to the two you actually want at a price very few would pay for two songs, six to ten dollars each.

    That makes the closing down of singles sales and refusing to sell individual tracks via the Internet continuing antitrust violations which should be added to your list of illegal and immoral acts.

  19. Barry Ritholtz commented on Apr 8

    Hey Edgar

    Cody Willard makes a similar point on Real Money

    “The television model is full of double-bundling. Cable and satellite companies bundle channels, and the networks bundle shows on those channels. You pay for hundreds of channels that you never watch (including the dozens of channels you never even flip through).

    Wouldn’t it make more sense for you to pay only for the channels you watch? Or, more to the point, wouldn’t it make more sense for you to pay only for the specific shows that you watch?

    Welcome to the 21st century. The two-way nature of the Internet as a distribution network allows consumers to “pull” down specific content on demand rather than have it “pushed” or broadcast to them. With that, content providers and the old distribution networks for that content have lost control. It’s now in the hands of the consumers.

    The same can be said for music content. You used to have to buy 10 or more lousy songs to get that one single you liked because it was bundled with those bad songs on an album. Now, consumers, if they bother to pay at all rather than just stealing the music off P2P networks, buy one song at a time from sites like iTunes. Paying 99 cents per desired track rather than $15 per album — as a consumer, I like that.

    I’ve written before about the problems that the end of bundling will create for the content owners, as average selling prices per unit will come down. But I’m not sure the long-term trend of the death of bundling will end up as a negative. Rather, a happier customer, a customer who has to pay only for what he uses, is likely to spend more money and do so more happily than a customer who is forced to pay up for excess, unwanted goods.”

  20. Reverend Joe commented on Apr 8


    You must realize the problem with your statement:

    “If you just download the music, and keep it and listen to it everyday, and never really reward the producer, then that’s morally wrong. It is.”

    For I can make an equivalent statement about morality:

    “If you just buy a CD, and keep it and listen to it everyday, thereby making the publisher rich and never really rewarding the producer, then that’s morally wrong. It is.”

    97% of big-time, RIAA-record-deal signed artists will never net a penny from the CDs you buy that they produced. To make matters worse, by buying the CD, you are no longer just abstaining from this “immoral” system by withdrawing your support from it, and finding an alternate means by which you might actually *promote* the music of that producer, (ie, by making it available free of charge to others on the Darknet, in order to make the producer more popular and thereby increase his / her chances of being able to make a living playing his / her music, which is how nearly ALL artists actually make all the money they make from their art), you are now explicitly supporting a systematic “theft” of compensation from the producers of the music, thereby making you, no longer an innocent bystander to this moral atrocity, but, rather, an active (and, therefore, more directly “immoral”) conspirator in the deprivation of the creator of his / her rightful due.

    Logically, then, by your own reasoning, you are advocating the end of recorded music — ie, you can only be sure you’re not being “immoral” if you pay the artist directly to play his / her music in front of you (ie, at a concert.)

    (To say nothing of the nearly-as-ludicrous-sounding fact that, following this “logic” to its conclusion, you’re arguing that ANYTHING which infringes copyright without direct payments to the producer that has now been ruled legal, like VCRs, copy machines, and Silly Putty are “immoral”, and therefore should be banished from use by right-thinking peoples everywhere … DESPITE the fact that allowing these “immoral”, no-compensation uses almost always end up as sheer profit-machines for the producers.)

    If you’re going to argue, “as a moralist”, that your particular version of morality should apply to anyone else (which seems like a waste of your time to me — you’ll just find that most people think, coincidentally enough, that they should apply their own moral code to their own lives, instead of yours, similarly to the way I imagine you feel about their moral codes being applied in your life — but, hey, it’s your time to waste), you should be aware issues of morality nearly always involve alternatives; that which you’re holding up as “moral” should be, in the least, not LESS MORAL, by your own standards, than that which you’re accusing of being “immoral”.

  21. George Ziemann commented on Apr 9

    “Of course the labels are horrified about P2P — it makes them irrelevant. Who the hell wants to be replaced by a collaborative filter?”

    The RIAA is even exponentially more stupid than that. They are proactively asking to be ELIMINATED by a collaborative filter. What do they keep telling Kazaa and Grokster?

    “Filter us out.”

    We’re on the verge of figuring out how to do exactly that.

    They think they’re suffering now. Wait till they get what they wished for.

  22. TJ’s Weblog commented on Apr 10

    Carnival of the Capitalists – Edition 04-10-05

    Welcome to the latest edition of the ‘Carnival of the Capitalists/! I hope you enjoy the following hand selected TOP 20 entries below. They represent 20 great and original blog pieces from all over the blogosphere. I actually think that…

  23. TJ’s Weblog commented on Apr 10

    Carnival of the Capitalists – Edition 04-10-05

    Welcome to the latest edition of the ‘Carnival of the Capitalists/! I hope you enjoy the following hand selected TOP 20 entries below. They represent 20 great and original blog pieces from all over the blogosphere. I actually think that…

  24. TJ’s Weblog commented on Apr 10

    Carnival of the Capitalists – Edition 04-10-05

    Welcome to the latest edition of the ‘Carnival of the Capitalists/! I hope you enjoy the following hand selected TOP 20 entries below. They represent 20 great and original blog pieces from all over the blogosphere. I actually think that…

  25. TJ’s Weblog commented on Apr 10

    Carnival of the Capitalists – Edition 04-10-05

    Welcome to the latest edition of the ‘Carnival of the Capitalists’ I hope you enjoy the following hand selected TOP 20 entries below. They represent 20 great and original blog pieces from all over the blogosphere. I actually think that…

  26. TJ’s Weblog commented on Apr 10

    Carnival of the Capitalists – Edition 04-10-05

    Welcome to the latest edition of the ‘Carnival of the Capitalists’ I hope you enjoy the following hand selected TOP 20 entries below. They represent 20 great and original blog pieces from all over the blogosphere. I actually think that…

  27. TJ’s Weblog commented on Apr 10

    Carnival of the Capitalists – Edition 04-10-05

    Welcome to the latest edition of the ‘Carnival of the Capitalists’ I hope you enjoy the following hand selected TOP 20 entries below. They represent 20 great and original blog pieces from all over the blogosphere. I actually think that…

  28. TJ’s Weblog commented on Apr 11

    Carnival of the Capitalists – Edition 04-10-05

    Welcome to the latest edition of the ‘Carnival of the Capitalists’ I hope you enjoy the following hand selected TOP 20 entries below. They represent 20 great and original blog pieces from all over the blogosphere. I actually think that…

  29. wayne storrs commented on May 26

    well i dont under stand this hole thing other then an artist should be paid how they do that is up to them if its signing with a big lable or do it them selfs .no one should be able to download music or any thing with out permsion .or paying for it .thats the hole reason .for copy write .its your do with it what you pay for the copy rights .so if you want a song or music you pay for it .if know one can under stand that then .where less then a free counrty

  30. koo commented on Jun 9

    yeah its true that the music industrie is full of cold hearted money grabbing bastards but without it there would’nt be a powerfull enough resourse to get music from one place to the rest of the world, sure the web is world wide but there isnt even half the publicity on the internet that you get from labels resources that where there before napster and without those resourses provided it would be virtually impossible for indie bands to get there music across. If you ask me the internet only means bad news for the music industrie (but i agree that major labels have no wright to call music downloaders morally wrong considering the shallow selfish acts they’ve been getting up to for the past fiftie years).

  31. Ossworks commented on Nov 23

    Warner Music Payola Scandal
    Tuesday, November 22, 2005
    By Roger Friedman

    Warner Music Group has agreed to pay a $5 million fine after an investigation by New York State Attorney General Elliott Spitzer’s office found that the company has been involved in complicated payola schemes.,2933,176348,00.html

  32. Mandy Rottler commented on Feb 6

    I am currently writing an argumentative essay on P2P and whether or not I think downloading music should be legal. I love being able to download a song without having to pay for the entire cd when there are only 1 or 2 good songs on the whole cd anyway, but i also pay for concert tickets and merchandise from my favorite artists. There are certain songs i download just to have with no reward for the artist (except for the fact that their music is being spread), which many would consider immoral. I wrote in my essay that 83% of teenagers said it was morally acceptable to download music from the Internet for free, in a Gallup Poll. My teacher asked me if it meant that teenagers were morally corrupt. This website has been very helpful to me but im having trouble convincing my teacher!! Maybe im having a little trouble getting my facts straight……….help me please

  33. Bruce commented on May 9

    Your entire article is a fallacy of ad hominem, you attacked the author, the record indusrty, and not the question, is it morally wrong to download music for free. If you intended to write an article about how the record indusrty is full of hypocrites well we already knew the answer to that question.

    The wonders of the interent, giving anyone the ability to make a fool out of themself.

  34. Barry Ritholtz commented on May 9

    Thank you Bruce, for responding to a two year old commentary — and entirely misunderstanding the point of the discussion to boot!

    You are correct — the internet does give anyone the ability to make a fool out of themselves . . .

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