BERIGAN

Download Uproar: Recording industry says illegal to transfer music

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Download Uproar: Record Industry Goes After Personal Use

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Despite more than 20,000 lawsuits filed against music fans in the years since they started finding free tunes online rather than buying CDs from record companies, the recording industry has utterly failed to halt the decline of the record album or the rise of digital music sharing.

Still, hardly a month goes by without a news release from the industry's lobby, the Recording Industry Association of America, touting a new wave of letters to college students and others demanding a settlement payment and threatening a legal battle.

Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

The industry's lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings.

"I couldn't believe it when I read that," says Ray Beckerman, a New York lawyer who represents six clients who have been sued by the RIAA. "The basic principle in the law is that you have to distribute actual physical copies to be guilty of violating copyright. But recently, the industry has been going around saying that even a personal copy on your computer is a violation."

RIAA's hard-line position seems clear. Its Web site says: "If you make unauthorized copies of copyrighted music recordings, you're stealing. You're breaking the law and you could be held legally liable for thousands of dollars in damages."

They're not kidding. In October, after a trial in Minnesota -- the first time the industry has made its case before a federal jury -- Jammie Thomas was ordered to pay $220,000 to the big record companies. That's $9,250 for each of 24 songs she was accused of sharing online.

Whether customers may copy their CDs onto their computers -- an act at the very heart of the digital revolution -- has a murky legal foundation, the RIAA argues. The industry's own Web site says that making a personal copy of a CD that you bought legitimately may not be a legal right, but it "won't usually raise concerns," as long as you don't give away the music or lend it to anyone.

Of course, that's exactly what millions of people do every day. In a Los Angeles Times poll, 69 percent of teenagers surveyed said they thought it was legal to copy a CD they own and give it to a friend. The RIAA cites a study that found that more than half of current college students download music and movies illegally.

The Howell case was not the first time the industry has argued that making a personal copy from a legally purchased CD is illegal. At the Thomas trial in Minnesota, Sony BMG's chief of litigation, Jennifer Pariser, testified that "when an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." Copying a song you bought is "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy,' " she said.

But lawyers for consumers point to a series of court rulings over the last few decades that found no violation of copyright law in the use of VCRs and other devices to time-shift TV programs; that is, to make personal copies for the purpose of making portable a legally obtained recording.

As technologies evolve, old media companies tend not to be the source of the innovation that allows them to survive. Even so, new technologies don't usually kill off old media: That's the good news for the recording industry, as for the TV, movie, newspaper and magazine businesses. But for those old media to survive, they must adapt, finding new business models and new, compelling content to offer.

The RIAA's legal crusade against its customers is a classic example of an old media company clinging to a business model that has collapsed. Four years of a failed strategy has only "created a whole market of people who specifically look to buy independent goods so as not to deal with the big record companies," Beckerman says. "Every problem they're trying to solve is worse now than when they started."

The industry "will continue to bring lawsuits" against those who "ignore years of warnings," RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy said in a statement. "It's not our first choice, but it's a necessary part of the equation. There are consequences for breaking the law." And, perhaps, for firing up your computer.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte...7122800693.html

Edited by BERIGAN

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and your point is..............

I have found the majority of my catalog online for free download. I'm sure the rest is up there somewhere. Why should I spend thousands of dollars to create "entertainment" for folks when some assholes seek kudos for giving this work away? The RIAA looks heavy handed but what do you expect folks like me to do? I am in the midst of spending about $50,000 to issue/reissue a bunch of music in the next year. At this point I don't believe I will get all of my investment back, don't look for sympathy but hope some folks will think as they download this stuff for free.

FUCK!

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Always a greedy industry group with warped priorities, the RIAA becomes more ludicrous with every dumb lawsuit and new assertion its lawyers make. I hope they keep this up until they are abolished for destroying the recording industry. They have done well, so far. Instead of finding a way to work with the evolving technology so that it can benefit the artists and encourage creativity, these suited idiots have only the bottom line in mind. These are the same people who wanted to sue radio stations for playing their records on the air, thinking that the practice would kill record sales. Of course, they ended up illegally paying disc jockeys to air their product. Myopic, money-grubbing tin-eared fools, they are.

You have a point, Chuck, but don't you agree that the RIAA has the wrong approach? We all know that CDs have been way overpriced for years and that consumers are forced to purchase a lot of track that they don't want or already have. The getting-something-for-nothing crowd will always be there, but the industry and its police have given them incentives. Fuck the industry, it is the creative force that suffers most, IMHO.

Edited by Christiern

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Download Uproar: Record Industry Goes After Personal Use

Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

The industry's lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings.

"I couldn't believe it when I read that," says Ray Beckerman, a New York lawyer who represents six clients who have been sued by the RIAA. "The basic principle in the law is that you have to distribute actual physical copies to be guilty of violating copyright. But recently, the industry has been going around saying that even a personal copy on your computer is a violation."

RIAA's hard-line position seems clear. Its Web site says: "If you make unauthorized copies of copyrighted music recordings, you're stealing. You're breaking the law and you could be held legally liable for thousands of dollars in damages."

Chuck they are not talking about downloading things for free, they're telling you that you are not allowed to do what you want with the Cd that you have bought.

If i paid 25 $ for a freakin' cd, i sure should be allowed allow to do whatever the hell i want with it. If they don't want us to own music they just have to stop selling it.

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Very good post, Chris.

Instead of focusing and how to explore and exploit new technologies to deliver a better and less expensive product, the industry has chosen to punish it's potential customers.

The only future for the recording industry as a whole has is to deliver a product that people will want to pay for because it's better than pirated product in both quality and the content packaged, and then deliver it in a simple but dynamic way. If the majors wanted to really lead the industry they have the resourses to do so, but they are run by bottom liners who don't have either the artistic creativity or scientific willpower to do so.

You know, they're morons.

And they treat their customer like morons.

Linn Records is one company that at least offers their recording in SACD, Hi Res Files, Studio Quality files, compressed MP3's etc. for all of their releases. That's just one way to deliver quality and variety to the customer via downloads. If you take this concept a bit futher, you could also include video files, PDF materials, dynamic links etc. in a bundel for one low cost.

That's just a starting point.

Edited by marcello

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Not the whole truth. The suit is not about legal copying. I suggest more research. This is about the 4th time this same (partial) story has been circulated.

Edit to say the RIAA are heavy handed fools but the problem is real and I really resent the presentation of only part of the story.

Edited by Chuck Nessa

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I fucked up. In an earlier thread I said "I quit". Sorry.

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I can understand Chuck's pain but you can never solve this problem with lawsuits. With niche market music like ours, people will pay for not only quality but for authenticity because they know that it has value.

Give the people a high quality product for a fair price and they won't pirate.

Not most of them.

Edited by marcello

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Not most of them.

Enough to make us stop. Believe me.

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Why do people think that recorded music is overpriced? Really you have to sell huge volumes to really make any money and there are lots of people to be paid (and no, not just musicians). There seems to be an idea around that everyone should work for nothing so that John Doe can realise the customer's dream of getting his CD for $10 (actually since you can often get a CD for $10 I've lost track really of what overpriced actually means). Folks from the States need to come over here to the UK to find out what high priced CDs are really like. And guess what - CD collecting is optional.

Isn't the complaint about prices (i.e. about paying people for their work if you buy the things they produce) really just a dressed up version of saying that 'since I can steal it I will never pay more than $0'?

Edited by David Ayers

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Isn't the complaint about prices (i.e. about paying people for their work if you buy the things they produce) really just a dressed up version of saying that 'since I can steal it I will never pay more than $0'?

I find this to be the case many times. I've had fruitless arguments with (younger) people who seem to think that it is their "right" to download any music they want, because it belongs to "everybody". Trying to convince them that the artists should get paid is a waste of time. And I'm fully convinced that Marcello is right. Downloading will not go away; the business will have to try other ways of getting something out of people's apparent need for more music.

Intellectual property law is used as a justification for going after individual file sharers, and personally I can't see why music should be treated differently than books, paintings etc., areas where the idea of the law is still somehow widely accepted. But if the original idea was that the rightsholder should get proper compensation - rather than total control of distribution - there may perhaps be another way to write the law. Right now, the law is not working properly anymore.

Folks from the States need to come over here to the UK to find out what high priced CDs are really like.

As I've posted before, full price CDs are well over $30 in the stores here.

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If this were upheld and some at least partially enforced, it would not help independent CD producers, or any CD producers at all. It would be a boom for Apple, iTunes, and other major download businesses. Since MP3s have now taken over as the preferred medium for musical listening, people who currently buy CDs would switch to downloads, as opposed to buying CDs that they couldn't turn into MP3s even for their own use.

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Why do people think that recorded music is overpriced? Really you have to sell huge volumes to really make any money and there are lots of people to be paid (and no, not just musicians).

I don't think most people realize how many people need to be paid. As is the case with many goods and services, people often think only in the simplest terms, e.g. "Madonna is getting $18 for each of her CDs that gets sold" or "The doctor charged me $175 for a 15 minute visit--no wonder doctors are so rich." People have no idea how much money it takes to record, press, distribute and promote an album, and how little of a CD's retail price actually goes back to the artist. They have no idea how much in overhead and malpractice insurance a doctor might have to cover before he turns a profit.

I think there's also a very common misconception about musicians in the U.S. (I can't speak for other countries, but it might also be the case elsewhere), which is that a musician, famous or not, equals a rich musician. I think a lot of people would change their tune on illegal downloading if they realized just how much money most people in the music industry aren't making.

Having participated on this and a couple other boards over the last five years or so has been very eye-opening for me, and I've appreciated people like Chuck and Jim Alfredson sharing their experiences in the industry. I still don't know exactly how much it takes to put out a new CD or a reissue, but I know that it's expensive, a labor of love, and often a money-losing proposition. I wish that more people had this knowledge, because again, I think it would help to change their tune on illegal downloading.

Knowing what I know now, I've changed my tune on illegal downloading--I was one of those people who used Napster back in its heyday and downloaded tons of stuff for free. I've gone back and purchased legitimate copies of everything I illegally downloaded, and I try very hard to get as close to the artist or label as possible when purchasing music now, in hopes that the artist will see a little more money. I know too well that (especially with a less popular genre like jazz) if we want more music, we've got to show the labels that people want it by buying it.

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Those who defend the high cost of CDs need to do a bit of research into the cost of manufacture, which has dropped dramatically since the industry established it early prices. As for the "how many people need to be paid" argument raised by some here, be advised that this number has not increased since the LP days. Also, bear in mind that so many of the releases we have seen in recent years have been of material that has already paid for itself--often, many times over. In the record business, the years have a way of automatically increasing the profit margin. And those "bonus" tracks and alternates? Well, in most cases, the artist was never paid for them to begin with--so there we actually have theft on the part of the record company. The overwhelming number of musicians, including leaders, were paid scale (the leader's fee was 2 x scale), which was not a lot of money. The fee was measured in sessions or minutes, the former being 3 (or was it 4?) hours of studio activity, the latter being 15 minutes of acceptable material--whichever came first. Most albums (jazz, at least) comprised 2 sessions but very few did not exceed 30 minutes of playing time, so there is another instance of artists being sort-changed, albeit usually with their knowledge. Remember, too, that very few artists receive royalties, and that includes leaders.*

So, when you buy a reissue, the actual cost to the record company is in no way commensurate with the price you are charged. Bootleg companies like Proper can offer CDs at lower prices, because they not only rob the artist, they also rob the original record company and--as we have seen--even scrupulous reissuers. Uptown's great Mingus set (in which Chuck was deeply involved) is a case in point--a European rip-off label did its thing.

So, defenders of what--in my mind--is indefensible, please do your homework and get back to us with your findings.

* I write in the past tense, because I stopped producing sessions many years ago and have not kept up with changes in Musicians Union rules and fees. I hope the latter, at least, has risen considerably.

Edited by Christiern

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Chris, what do you think would be a fair price for the average CD, jazz or otherwise?

I don't think anyone here would defend the high cost of CDs by major pop artists, such as Madonna (the example I gave--a real one), where consumers are clearly being gouged...but paying $10-15 for most CDs does not strike me as particularly outrageous. And, if the release is by a small label or of audiophile quality (MFSL, for example), paying more than $10-15 also seems perfectly reasonable.

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Chris - you don't mention retailers, distributors, advertisers, editors, engineers, agents, and all of their overheads - premises, support staff and so on. As you know, the musicians are one element in this, and making a recording is only part of their business (unlike the rest of the industry).

I have to say, too, that I find a Blue Note reissue at (often) $10 or even a Mosaic at (horrors) $17 per disc to be a petty reasonable proposition.

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Chris - you don't mention retailers, distributors, advertisers, editors, engineers, agents, and all of their overheads - premises, support staff and so on. As you know, the musicians are one element in this, and making a recording is only part of their business (unlike the rest of the industry).

To reiterate, all these costs also applied in the days of LPs. Also, the internet has generally changed (lowered) the price of advertising and distribution. As for the rest of the industry, we could go on and on about like-minded club owners and concert producers, I believe.

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Well, I've stated my opinions on this before. Part of me really relates to what Chuck posted. The other part of me realizes that the floodgates are open and there's not much we, as artists or producers, can do. I think I posted on the board how the new Root Doctor CD was available for free download on a file sharing forum only a few weeks after we got our first pressing run (and what really burns me about that is that it had to be put up by a DJ, since nobody else had the CD yet).

As of now, the only thing I can do is look at the CD as a business card. If it helps get us more gigs and gets people to come to those gigs, then that's all I can hope for. I really don't expect to break even anymore.

Of course, that doesn't help people like Chuck.

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It's a shame that most record buyers have so little knowledge about the cost and work involved to get a CD out, or don't seem to give a damn about it. I have talked to people at dance courses about that - with no effect. They even sold bootleg copies of the CDs they used for the courses at one of the dance schools. I was close to giving a hint to GEMA about it.

Most people think only as far as their own purse.

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It's a shame that most record buyers have so little knowledge about the cost and work involved to get a CD out, or don't seem to give a damn about it.

In all fairness, the price-fixing scandal didn't do much to help.

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Folks from the States need to come over here to the UK to find out what high priced CDs are really like.

Huh? I spend a fair amount of time in London and have noticed no difference between the typical dollar cost of CDs between here (NYC) and there.

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Download Uproar: Record Industry Goes After Personal Use

Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

The industry's lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings.

"I couldn't believe it when I read that," says Ray Beckerman, a New York lawyer who represents six clients who have been sued by the RIAA. "The basic principle in the law is that you have to distribute actual physical copies to be guilty of violating copyright. But recently, the industry has been going around saying that even a personal copy on your computer is a violation."

RIAA's hard-line position seems clear. Its Web site says: "If you make unauthorized copies of copyrighted music recordings, you're stealing. You're breaking the law and you could be held legally liable for thousands of dollars in damages."

Chuck they are not talking about downloading things for free, they're telling you that you are not allowed to do what you want with the Cd that you have bought.

If i paid 25 $ for a freakin' cd, i sure should be allowed allow to do whatever the hell i want with it. If they don't want us to own music they just have to stop selling it.

Somewhere else on the web (sorry I cana't remember where) I read that-- as is often the case-- this story from the mainstream media is inaccurate. The person is being sued for file sharing after she ripped the cds not for the ripping itself.

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It's a shame that most record buyers have so little knowledge about the cost and work involved to get a CD out, or don't seem to give a damn about it...

In fairness, the cost of the sessions can vary greatly, depending on the number of musicians, number of hours, etc. The manufacturing aspect is the cheapest part of the process. Curiously, most CDs have list prices in the same range, despite the range of costs involved. A record that someone records at home is obviously much cheaper to produce, although the list price will typically be the same.

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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It's called widening the profit margin at the consumer's expense--and each time they do that, the artist gets screwed.

Of course, I'm not talking about small independent labels like Organissimo.

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