In Which RIAA Flacks Try to Convince You That Downloading Is Theft This Is Worse Than An Outright Joke It Is The Rule of Sycophants Over The Possibility of Freedom

On Progress & Sanctimonious Douchebags

by Alex Carnevale

Whenever you dig in the meat of a comments section on the Oink file sharing network shutdown, you inevitably get to the prick portion:

You Stole.

There’s been a lot of handwringing since Oink got shut down from people who were like, “Way to go, federal authorities!” As if the free distribution of art were an evil that had to be stopped in the world!

You have to be a particularly sick kind of person to feel sympathy for record companies. They’ve spent years pricing consumers out of buying their products. They’ve moved slower than snails when it comes to new technologies. They’ve refused to update an outdated economic model, and they’ve openly used anti-competitive practices to price gouge exactly the people who can least afford it.

If they were selling tobacco, would you still feel that warmly towards them?

“Police Sweater Blood Vow” — The Fiery Furnaces (mp3)

You have a truly bright guy like Dave making the case against the RIAA, and some of the people smearing him are actually music bloggers! Including people at Idolator, another site which openly shares music!

This pathetic adherence to federal law is sad on many levels. To think that people who seek to freely distribute music are somehow evil villains, you would have to ignore the following facts:

1) No matter what the music industry or its bizarrely loyal flacks do, music will keep getting shared freely between those who can afford it and those who can’t.

2) Once we concede fact no. 1, we have to keep it in mind as we process our second point. The “illegal” downloading and sharing of music turns listeners onto new artists and actually makes them more likely to buy an album than they normally would. Illegal methods of distribution aren’t going away. The sooner corporations realize this, the more likely consumers will be to opt for their product.

3) Only a delusional moron would say that the person who chooses ‘free’ over ‘pay’ is making an evil decision, or is stealing something. Choosing what’s best for you in the context of the market is what capitalism is all about! Paying for something you can get for free is practically a communist precept.

The funniest thing about all this is that some of the people defending the RIAA, one of the most godawful waste of time organizations ever to exist on this earth, are themselves music bloggers! This dude runs one of my favorite blogs! This is so sad! Has he any idea of how much music I have “stolen” from his site?

As a friend of mine wrote to me about the Rawkblog post (once again, way to go Dave Greenwald, you’re a hero to millions),

I’m just catching up on this rawkblog vs fluxblog debate, and I hate Perpetua so much right now. Nobody but his mother would know his name right now if not for the “stolen” music he used to create his “fame” and now he’s using that “fame” to spill his bullshit. What an assclown.

I mean, he has a sweet blog, it’s too bad he’s going on about this.

“The Mix Is So Bizarre” — The Eternals (mp3)

“Strange Ways” — Madvillain (mp3)

“It’s Amiable” — Benzos (mp3)

As Matt posted on his site:

We are NOT entitled to getting everything we want for free because it’s “information” available for the taking if you happen to have a computer with a good connection and free time.

Um, Matt, that’s like looking at a waterfall and being like, “that water has NO RIGHT to fall like that.” It’s gonna happen whether you participate or not, and YOU DO.

Danish and I were wondering why this whole attitude of Matt’s upsets us so much. He opined via gchat:

hypocrisy makes me angry, anti progress makes me angry

statism makes me angry

and this incorporates all of that

Very true.

What scares me the most about all this is the loss of a revolutionary feeling. Why are all these people, most of them young people, on the side of the government? Do you know what the government does? Are you familiar with the 60s?

Before civil rights, were these the same people who were like, “Well it’s the law, so let’s go lynch some peeps.” (Note: yes, lynching was the law in the South. It was the law.)

I mean, seriously, do you have any ability to think for yourselves?

Let’s not start yelling at me. I don’t even use Limewire anymore. The only downloading I do is from my favorite site, The Hype Machine. I’ve spent about $300 on iTunes this year alone. I’ve never been a member of Oink, though it sounds awesome.

picking up masterpieces off the street

I don’t want to get off on a rant on intellectual property law, but it was a really great idea–the art belongs to its creator and he has all these rights, it’s absolutely wonderful, way to go capitalism. (I love capitalism, it’s like my favorite thing since anarchy.)

Unfortunately, we no longer live in the Middle Ages. Works of art can be modified easily and it quickly becomes questionable who exactly the creator was. Moreover, the likelihood of how things are going to change in this new time is that organizations are going to sell packages of content, not individual products.

In other words, the illegal marketplace for music is going to change the legal marketplace for music for the better. Eventually (once these companies learn that more effective distribution methods will solve their cash flow problems) there will be no illegal marketplace, but that doesn’t allow us to ignore how important it is in bringing about change that will improve the lives of everyone.

If you can’t move beyond You Stole! I just feel sorry for you. How small your life must be. How little your mind must be capable of. Your children will know how hypocritical and pathetic you are, because they are huge fans of This Recording. Sorry about that. We already won the war, you just didn’t know it.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

MORE RIDICULOUSNESS FOR THE DISCERNING READER

Then you have this absurdly silly post at Idolator, which blames music blogs for hyping bands. There is a wicked case of “I can’t think for myself” going around here.

If this stuff is true about the Jena 6, I have to strongly revisit some of my opinions about this case.

Anti-noose legislation!

The most serious reason not to be a Republican. Or a Democrat, for that matter.

Scanning students’ fingers? Has it really come to this?

For more of this crap, that’s why Reason exists.

TO COME ON THIS RECORDING

Larry David and Laurie David fan fiction. That’s right, our trusty intern Barclay Memphis will take us there.

32 thoughts on “In Which RIAA Flacks Try to Convince You That Downloading Is Theft This Is Worse Than An Outright Joke It Is The Rule of Sycophants Over The Possibility of Freedom

  1. To “jawai”

    I care, because it’s not stealing. Who was it stolen from? Is someone out there missing a song from their hard drive? If so, you should be prosecuted.

  2. I don’t think we can take, “The ‘illegal’ downloading and sharing of music turns listeners onto new artists and actually makes them more likely to buy an album than they normally would,” for granted. Are there statistics/studies available that support the claim?
    And “Only a delusional moron would say that the person who chooses ‘free’ over ‘pay’ is making an evil decision, or is stealing something,” is simplifying things a bit, don’t you think? With In Rainbows, of course, you’re right, but the artist made the decision to give consumers the choice. A great many artists don’t get to make that decision. Their songs are up for free download regardless of their wishes. So with that scenario, it seems that the company that is best at protecting the content (the company that creates the strictest, most effective DRM) works.
    I see both sides of course, but I think it needs to be the artist’s decision about what can and can’t be done with their piece of music.

  3. two things:

    1. Let me know when people start recognizing the difference between indie labels and “the recording industry” with it’s big evil slow-moving, price gouging trolls. Seriously, stfu.

    2. There’s a HUGE difference between a blog like Fluxblog posting a couple of songs and writing about it and creating a little bit of awareness for an artist and a bunch of ass-clowns passing around entire albums at super high quality 2-3 months before they are even available for purchase. Once again, just stfu.

  4. LOL at the Idolator people not realizing the lynching thing was a _joke_. This is what happens when “professional bloggers” start taking themselves too seriously.

  5. To paraphrase and update Walter Benjamin, and analyze Darin Ranahan:
    The cult of vinyl has the aura of real that an mp3 does not. There are those followers for whom the sound, the value of this real is more important. The music will be bought on vinyl for its aura. The music will be ripped off the internet for its reproducibility, as mechanical reproduction is detourned and the digital replaces the mechanical.

  6. Only a delusional moron would say that the person who chooses ‘free’ over ‘pay’ is making an evil decision, or is stealing something.

    I will remember this the next time I see an artist selling his paintings on the street. I will take a couple just to see if I like them, as that will make me more likely to go back and buy some more of his work.

    I agree with some of the things you say in your piece, particularly the part about exposure to music will make it more likely that people will buy it. However, it is not a guarantee. That also doesn’t change the fact that you are distributing copies of someone else’s work, which takes on a whole other magnitude of importance when you start talking about distributing entire albums rather than isolated songs.

    No one’s thinking about the record labels here; people are thinking about the artists, who are already having a hard-enough time thanks to the aforementioned labels that it seems counter-intutive that you could consider yourself one of their “fans” and act in such a blatantly self-serving manner without acknowledging the detrimental effect on the artists’ bottom lines.

    Change in the industry is going to have to be driven by the people producing the product. That is not the consumers (who will always try to push for the lowest possible price) or the record labels (who will always try to push for the highest possible price and justify their existence as a necessary middle-man). The artists need to figure out how they can make money off of electronic distribution of their work; if they can’t, there will be a lot less music to go around in the future.

  7. “In other words, the illegal marketplace for music is going to change the legal marketplace for music for the better”

    Yeah, cause that’s what has been happening so far. Please, your logic is so unethical and twisted it’s a disservice to your, er, ANY readers.

    Perhaps I’ll scrape your blog any call it my own… you obviously wouldn’t mind as copyright laws mean so little to you.

  8. To: daziz

    It is stealing. Your comment shows a lack of understanding towards copyright law and intellectual rights.

    If you make photocopies of a book and distribute it to your friends, nobody will necessarily see a book “missing,” but work is indeed being stolen when its reproduced and distributed with no financial compensation for its creator. Same as downloading illegal music. The value is not in the physical book (or CD), its the information (words, music, etc.) that is of value. So when someone takes that and distributes…it is stealing. Its the law and not at all gray – very black and white.

  9. Um, dude, no one is arguing that this is not the law. We’re arguing whether it should be.

    Judging from your post on the matter, you barely read mine. Heard of tongue-in-cheek?

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that people who support the RIAA have no sense of humor.

  10. First of all, if your point was to be taken sarcastically, maybe refrain from starting a sentence with: “What scares me the most…”

    As for the arguing whether this is stealing,..where is the point being made? It is stealing. No way around it. Breaking the law isn’t going to make it go away? If you believe pot should be legal, no amount of pot smoking will change that. And when you get pinched for pot smoking, a defense of “pot should be legal!” ain’t going to do any good. Ignorance and disregard of the law is neither a proper defense nor a conduit for change.

    I think you are trying to say that downloading is a victim-less crime, because nothing is technically “missing.” Clearly this isn’t true from the ever falling sales numbers from the music industry. However, to look at this from a physical product perspective and not the intellectual rights perspective is completely missing the point.

    How about if I started a new blog and just copied everything you wrote and passed it as my own? Nothing is “missing,” I can justify it by saying I’m spreading your thoughts to new people. Its not a financial benefit or loss, but I’m sure you wouldn’t like it.

    Finally, calling out OiNK’s defenders and the entitlement bullshit that is rampaging the Internets is not the same as supporting the RIAA. Curb your ad hominem responses if you want to be taken seriously as a writer/commentator.

  11. I don’t care what the law says. Laws say I have to pay taxes to fund wars. Laws say poor people who smoke crack should go to jail for longer periods than rich people who do coke. I don’t care about laws. The fact that something is a law does not give it moral authority. We are discussing things abstractly here at TR, not whether you are going to get fined or go to jail for downloading music because that’s beside the point.

    “Clearly this isn’t true from the ever falling sales numbers from the music industry.”

    Since when is it the consumer’s job to uphold an industry? I don’t care about industry, if they cared about themselves they’d adapt to the times. Record companies don’t care about artists, they care about perpetuating their useless companies. I want a way to listen to all the music I want in a quick and easy manner. If someone is going to offer that to me for free, you’re telling me I should opt for outdated and stupid technology out of love for industry? That’s retarded.

    Copy this blog all you want! Spread my fucking thoughts. Suppose I write a poem, and you read it and memorize it. By memorizing it, you have in effect created a “software” duplicate of the poem to be stored in your brain. But clearly I can claim no rights over that copy so long as you remain a free and autonomous individual. That copy in your head is yours and no one else’s.

    But now suppose you proceed to transcribe my poem, to make a “hard copy” of the information stored in your brain. The materials you use — pen and ink — are your own property. The information template which you used — that is, the stored memory of the poem — is also your own property. So how can the hard copy you produce from these materials be anything but yours to publish, sell, adapt, or otherwise treat as you please? The moral case against patents is even clearer. A patent is, in effect, a claim of ownership over a law of nature. What if Newton had claimed to own calculus, or the law of gravity? Would we have to pay a fee to his estate every time we used one of the principles he discovered? What a world that would be.

    http://libertariannation.org/a/f31l1.html

  12. thanks LARS

    the text you are reading right now on this site? it’s FREE. does that mean you are stealing it? NOPE. there are some things in this world for which the appropriate fee is nothing. would I rather be getting paid every time somebody clicks here? sure. but the world is actually not fair at all, and belive it or not I’d rather you look at my artistic output for free than not look at all.

  13. You ask: “Since when is it the consumer’s job to uphold an industry?” And say: “I don’t care about industry, if they cared about themselves they’d adapt to the times.”

    It’s not, and I’m not saying it is, but why do you think it’s your job to change an industry? Understand that not caring about the music industry includes not caring about the artists that it includes. Nobody is forcing artists to sign anything with labels, keep this in mind.

    We all know the demon tales of the record biz, and I certainly subscribe to the school of thought believing a thorough shakeup is what they need. That said, I don’t believe one second that illegal downloading is helping out matters at all in terms of accelerating that shakeup.

    You say: I want a way to listen to all the music I want in a quick and easy manner. If someone is going to offer that to me for free, you’re telling me I should opt for outdated and stupid technology out of love for industry? That’s retarded.

    Not as retarded as admitting thievery is acceptable because you don’t like something. I want 10 Ferraris, and the quickest and easiest way to get them is for me to steal them, that doesn’t mean I will. If someone is going to offer me 10 stolen Ferraris for free I wouldn’t take it either. Not cause I love the Ferrari company or the outdated and stupid gasoline powered internal combustion engine, or the motor car industry at large, BUT BECAUSE STEALING IS WRONG.

    You say: The fact that something is a law does not give it moral authority.

    Agreed, not saying that it does. But it does give AUTHORITY – whether you like it or not. Moral authority is about being able to judge right from wrong. Like stealing and honesty. Though this might be lost on someone who proudly states “I don’t care what the law says.”
    You say: A patent is, in effect, a claim of ownership over a law of nature.

    Patent – [definition]

    A grant made by a government that confers upon the creator of an invention the sole right to make, use, and sell that invention for a set period of time.

    In other words: Inventions are not = law of nature.

    — — —

    We probably agree on more than you think. However, your arguements are silly and if you really start thinking about it, you probably disagree with them too. Quick note if you ever decide to argue with someone and not come off like a total jackass: look up ‘ad hominem’ and never practice it again.

  14. “Not as retarded as admitting thievery is acceptable because you don’t like something. I want 10 Ferraris, and the quickest and easiest way to get them is for me to steal them, that doesn’t mean I will. If someone is going to offer me 10 stolen Ferraris for free I wouldn’t take it either. Not cause I love the Ferrari company or the outdated and stupid gasoline powered internal combustion engine, or the motor car industry at large, BUT BECAUSE STEALING IS WRONG.”

    UGH. Dude, stealing is wrong because it deprives someone of what is rightfully theirs, not because it’s a law. When you steal a Ferrari you take that away from someone else. When I download a song that I would not have bought if I had to pay for it, I am taking absolutely nothing away from anyone.

    As for “attacking an opponent’s character rather than answering his argument,” which is the definition of ad hominem, I don’t know when I brought your character into this as I don’t know who you are.

  15. Stealing is taking what is not yours without permission. Simple as that. Stealing a Ferrari that I wouldn’t have bought anyway doesn’t excuse. Don’t you get it? It doesn’t matter the motive, or whether there is an infinite amount of something…you just are not supposed to steal. If changing the definition makes you sleep better at night, than great for you.

    I’ve copied and burned plenty of shit for free, difference is I’m not claiming its not stealing.

    You are bad with definitions aren’t you?

    Next time try definition #1 when you run over to dictionary.com:
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ad%20hominem

    1-appealing to one’s prejudices, emotions, or special interests rather than to one’s intellect or reason.

  16. Yes you fucking jackass, the problem lies with defining “what is not yours,” it’s not as cut and dry as you try to make it. Does every iteration of an artist’s work belong to him? When I listen to a song that my friend is playing, I am listening to it without paying for it, have I stolen something? The musician who writes a song does not own the 1s and 0s on my computer nor does he own my thoughts. How long should this reach extend and who should enforce it? Should government agents have the right to monitor my computer to make sure everything is paid and accounted for?

    “I’ve copied and burned plenty of shit for free, difference is I’m not claiming its not stealing.”

    LOL. So you still do it even though it’s so obviously stealing and wrong. You have no problem with being a hypocrite. You don’t care about right and wrong, you just want the world to know that you hate yourself for being unable to stop yourself from such a clear cut case of stealing. You then post your stolen goods online for others to steal so that you can make money off of the ads on your site. I get it. You’re a douchebag, please stop writing.

  17. There is a nontrivial difference between “this behavior is not wrong” and “this behavior is wrong but I’m going to do it anyway”. It’s the unrelenting lack of self-awareness that people are reacting to moreso than the act itself.

  18. There is a nontrivial difference between “this behavior is not wrong” and “this behavior is wrong but I’m going to do it anyway”. It’s the unrelenting lack of self-awareness that people are reacting to moreso than the act itself.

    That is absolutely pathetic. “We don’t care if you lynch black people, everyone lynches black people, we just want you to feel a little bit bad about it like we do when we lynch black people. It’s not the lynching of the black people that gets me riled up, it’s that you won’t feel a little bit bad about it like I do!”

  19. You’ve already made it clear that you don’t care about laws, you don’t consider this stealing because there is neither a victim, or something missing.

    Complete lack of self-awareness with the idiotic defenses.

    Complete lack of perspective with the ridiculous analogies.

    I hope you take your posturing for revolution to more worthwhile causes than paying nothing for music.

  20. Until you stop profiting off of “stolen” mp3s on your site you’ll forgive me for not exactly taking you seriously. The guy selling ads on his mp3 blog while railing against the evils of downloading mp3s is trying to tell me about “self awareness.”

  21. yes yes…the riches from blogging! Excuse me while I take a dip in my giant vault of gold coins.

    downloading mp3s (of whom a good portion are authorized through push by bands/labels, or found legally hosted on their own sites) vs. libraries of full albums for free. Like a trickle from a leaky faucet vs. Niagara Falls. No nuanced there whatsoever!

    Whatever…this has nothing to do with me. If my site goes away – if all mp3 blogs go away – the sense of entitlement from people like you who think music is worth zero dollars remains. As would the incredible amount of excuses made by people who have no idea of what it takes to be an artist. And that is where the issue lies.

    I’ve crossed my own defined line of foolishness when I decided to engage with people who think their shit don’t stink. Same reason I stopped trying to convince the remaining 30% of the population who still think war in Iraq was a good idea. Chalk it up to the fact that no matter what, some people walk around blindly with their head comfortably nested in their own ass. I’m done. Good day sir.

  22. Oh the pain of the mp3 blogging artist! It’s not stealing that’s wrong, it’s the quantity of what is stolen? It’s okay to make money off of stolen goods, it’s just not okay to make a lot of money off of stolen goods? Talk about moral clarity. And you’re against the Iraq war? You brave, brave soul. People, this man is sharing mp3s, fighting blog comment battles, and opposing the war in Iraq all while knowing what it means to be an artist and yet you still don’t care! There is no justice in this world.

  23. YAY! Well said! I’ve been ranting about this for 10 years now, meanwhile the market is snailing along and the RIAA is still stuck in 1950s payola cr-p. A waste of time and money organization indeed. (Including the time and money it wastes in our court system.) I would add only one thing: Supporting the big labels is not supporting the artists, who get less than 5 percent of each song. If the singer is also the songwriter, it’s closer to 7 or 8 percent. Big labels will be gone in a matter of years if not months. FCC consolidation conspiracies may make them cannibalize themselves in this land of Clear Channel one-song radio. Downside: The web is the ONLY place to really find decent music now (unless you can afford satellite), so we’ve got to watch the FCC like hawks because they would love to get their dirty mitts on the web. The only advantage of the labels is front money that is only made up if the artist goes on tour on the label’s terms. (CDs DO NOT PAY the artist much of anything unless they’re blockbusters.) Indie artists and labels are finding creative ways to market music (including the beloved “single” or a la carte format, ideal for promotional downloads, and of course iTunes, soon to be DRM-free, thanks to eMusic, Amazon and other DRM-free services) that will continue to drive this too-slow and much-needed transformation. It will render the evil RIAA meaningless while rejuving the industry, it’s just a slow process. (Hip-hop and contemp folk are, strangely enough, the two genres leading this paradigm shift.) I have a feeling that that blogs that really support artists and indie labels (like this one) can do a lot to help the transformation. Blogs that support the claptrap from RIAA are NOT helping. Anything that enables corporate lobbying is antithetical to the free market and to democracy. The artists lose, and we pay through the nose for concerts.

  24. That Fiery Furnaces song is actually called “Police Sweater Blood Vow.”

    I never used OiNK and couldn’t make it past the song mislabeling to read anything else in this post.

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