Archive for September, 2007

Stop lying

September 14, 2007 1 comment

Prince has sued YouTube and the Pirate Bay for copyright infringement. This is yet another example of how the U.S. Congress is forcing artists and copyright owners to do the Justice Department’s job for them and take on the biggest company in the world in court to get respect for their rights.

“Most content owners understand that we respect copyrights, we work every day to help them manage their content, and we are developing state-of-the-art tools to let them do that even better,” said YouTube chief counsel Zahavah Levine.”


This, of course, is the fallacy of equivocation as she left out the bit about how the copyrights got into YouTube’s grubby little paws in the first place. YouTube could filter, won’t filter. It would be very easy for YouTube to do what iTunes does–don’t use music (or any other copyrighted work) for which they don’t have a license.

And don’t forget that the leader of the Pirate Bay (a/k/a “co-defendant”) was recently honored with a speaking engagement (and honorarium?) at the Leland Stanford Junior Google Law School by Lester Lawrence Lessig III’s Fair Use Project (recipient of a significant grant from Google). These are the facts and they are undisputed.

But the biggest company in the world doesn’t have to bother with licensing from these little companies and most decidely from these even littler artists, you see. They can just take it, for in the words of Lester Lawrence Lessig III, “We’re bigger than them”. Which is why they’re down there with the Pirate Bay in the estimation of artists like Prince.

But Google, like Enron, is a public company and with public companies there are different spanks for different ranks. As I often say, Ken Lay must be looking down (or up) and shaking his head as it would appear that his biggest crime is that he just stole from the wrong people. The SEC clearly has zero interest in protecting artists from unbridled power. But why would they? God forbid that anyone in our government should think of massive copyright theft as a law enforcement problem.

Corynne McSherry of the Electronic Frontier Foundation summed it up recently: “Seattle and San Francisco don’t want to be told what to do by Hollywood.” Ah yes, as long as the big dogs are stealing from those funny Hollywood people, they can get away with it. As a songwriter friend of mine wrote “Americans are freedom loving people, and nothing says ‘freedom’ like getting away with it.” Well what about Minneapolis? Austin? Atlanta? Boston? Paris? London? Bangalore? Can they dare to tell Seattle and San Francisco what to do with their artists works?

You see, the thing about the Googles is that they want to get their hands on our work and they could pay for it, but they won’t pay for it. These people define the “can buy, won’t buy” crowd.

They don’t want us to own houses, they don’t want us to earn royalties and they don’t want us to marry their daughters. We’ve seen this movie before.

No dogs or actors (or musicians) allowed.

The Man 2.0.

I asked Dr. Eric Twit of Goggle what he thought about the Prince lawsuit. “Of course he’s suing them. He wouldn’t take getting stiffed by a mafia club owner, why should he take getting stiffed by this mob?” As usual, penetrating insights from Dr. Twit.

On reflection, I would imagine that Google actually does allow dogs into their center for the study of the arrested development complex a/k/a the “Googleplex” like most groovy Internet companies. It’s just the actors and musicians who have to stay out. And songwriters? Forget about it.

(I can’t help but notice that the name “Google” is nowhere to be seen in these responses to the many lawsuits against YouTube. No more chestbeating from the two Gulfstream family members?)

Greetings from the invisible hand…Comcast Cuts Service to Bandwidth Hogs

September 10, 2007 1 comment
Those of you who read this blog may recall my post called “Fix it or we’ll Fix It For You” (a version of which I posted on the Digital Music News “Insider’s Blog“) in which I suggested that the easiest way to create impediments to illegal downloading was to cut off users who were using more bandwidth than they could justify legitimately. The Washington Post carried an article this week confirming that Comcast was doing just that. I had to rub my eyes and read that piece a couple times to be sure, but yes–that’s exactly what Comcast is doing. “Comcast Cuts Internet Service to Bandwidth Hogs” says it all.

Some of you may also recall a post I made on Kings of A&R entitled “Why You Hate Net Neutrality if you Love Copyright” for which I was taken to task by that well known music industry genius, the dynamic and oh, so very soulful, Tim Lee (with apologies to Captain Koons). The piece is also discussed on the Progress & Freedom Foundation’s IP Central blog.

The point in both those pieces is essentially the same: In order to discourage illegal downloading we must employ a variety of tools that can leverage the beneficial effects of the Invisible Hand. In my view, the one economic move that could make using the Internet unpleasant for illegal downloaders is to make it v-e-r-y s-l-o-w. And we know how well mall rats in the lab deal with things that are v-e-r-y s-l-o-w, the dopamine withdrawal due to lack of instantaneous gratification alone might result in an increase in the crime rate.

If you don’t like v-e-r-y s-l-o-w you’re much more likely to be willing to pay for metered Internet service so that you can steal at the old blindingly fast rates. In a metered service environment, our little friends Corky and Muffy might not be able to download quite so much the first time Mummy got a metered Internet bill and they actually had to pay for their free riding. GROUNDED FOR LIFE!! Kind of like the 140,000 people who lost their jobs in the music industry over the last few years.

I can just hear the cries of the EFFluviati now–cutting off users won’t stop downloading, they’ll just go to to more “progressive” ISPs, darknets and hard drive trading, yadda yadda yadda freaking yadda. Charging more for bandwidth won’t stop downloading! No one said it would “stop” illegal downloading. I’m saying, and now it appears that Comcast is also saying, I may not be able to make people understand that what they do is at best immoral and at worst criminal, but ISPs are able to say we don’t want your business if you steal, or if you fit the stealing profile. If you have legitimate business that take up bandwidth to an undue extent, then come forward and discuss it.

The Comcast cutoff is the predicate to metered pricing, and metered pricing is the beginning of the end for massive downloading. Sure, there will be some ISPs who keep their pricing constant, but they are going to be gifted with a bunch of massive downloaders. We’ll see how long those prices stay constant.
Also–if a handful of ISPs become havens for massive downloaders, what implications for inducement claims or civil RICO claims against those ISPs? Or–dare I even think it–the government might actually take some law enforcement action?
And one other thing–this would be the same ISPs who supposedly want to engage on the “voluntary collective licensing scheme” propounded by the EFFluviati? Cutting people off for downloading doesn’t exactly sound like a ringing endorsement of that idea.
And of course–if anyone does start paying for metered Internet service so that Muffy and Corky can continue their “can buy, won’t buy” obstinacy, I have a very good idea where that metered money should be going.
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