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RIAA Paid $16M+ In Legal Fees To Collect $391K

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the world's-smartest-executives dept.

The Almighty Buck 387

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In a rare outburst of subjectivity, I commenced my blog post 'Ha ha ha ha ha' when reporting that, based upon the RIAA's disclosure form for 2008, it had paid its lawyers more than $16,000,000 to recover $391,000. If they were doing it to 'send a message,' the messages have been received loud & clear: (1) the big four record labels are managed by idiots; (2) the RIAA's law firms have as much compassion for their client as they do for the lawsuit victims; (3) suing end users, or alleged end users, is a losing game. I don't know why p2pnet.net begrudges the RIAA's boss his big compensation; he did a good job... for the lawyers."

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387 comments

Slashdot moderation abuse on apple related comment (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895354)

Since posting several comments which painted apple in negative light, I have lost my M1 and M2 privileges compeletely. It's gone forever, while my Karma is still "excellent" (not that it matters, but just pointing out that it has nothing to do with bad karma). And this after reading/contributing to /. for 8 years.

I just want to check - has this happened to anybody else in regards to Apple related threads?

And I am sure this has not happened first [slashdot.org] time [slashdot.org] . The only difference is that then it was Linux, now it's Apple.

Also, my guess is that some of the admins are using up their infinite mod points to protect some of the stories more than others.

And just today, we had "Apple censoring threads" thread. +5 for the irony!

Re:Slashdot moderation abuse on apple related comm (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895408)

Slashdot is open source. If you think you're being treated unfairly I encourage you to fork the code and start your own site; if you're not willing to do that please STFU.

Re:Slashdot moderation abuse on apple related comm (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895558)

Oh.. I am just interested in knowing if there is hypocrisy on behalf of /. editors. Have stopped caring about /. and faggots like you long time back.

Good Heavens! (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895374)

This is just more evidence that Piracy is Killing Music(tm)! Pirates, apparently less busy stealing food from the mouths of starving artists' starving children than they seemed, managed to pull over 15 and a half million dollars from the RIAA's coffers...

Clearly, we must set up a cabinet-level Department of Intellectual Property so that the War on Pirates can be fought at public expense, with the same efficiency and success as the scourges of drugs and poverty....

Re:Good Heavens! (5, Insightful)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895420)

Just about everyone on slashdot pointed out that the only people who win this game are the lawyers.

Re:Good Heavens! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895564)

The justice system SUCKS!

Look at it from their standpoint - If you had something stolen (say a laptop), but the Police, and courts system saw the loss as not enough to be worth their bother.

What value does that give to the rest of your possessions: Your bike, Your flat screen TV, Your PVR, your collection of 1960's superheros comics. Can anyone at any time come nab your stuff if it isn't locked down and it would be OK? -- The law is effectively saying it is, so you better start your life of crime unless you want to be one of the worthless suckers who go and give value to make a living.

How would you feel? wouldn't you want to spend a whole bunch (of effort/time if not money) to meet some sweet justice: some well placed bit of smelly vandalism. Hell, in the past you could discourage the criminal element with a well placed mob of angry friends - now that's illegal!.

Posting anonymously out of laziness. - Can't think of an alias, and my real name is dull.

Re:Good Heavens! (3, Funny)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895838)

Are you the dude whose laptop was stolen and the police didn't care? :P Maybe report that you had (legally, purchased on iTunes) MP3s on it, and that they PIRATED your MUSIC? :P

Re:Good Heavens! (2, Insightful)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895856)

This has nothing to do with the police.. If your lap top was stolen ($1000) and you knew that the only way you could get your laptop back is to pay 40,000 would you do it, or say fuck it and go get a new laptop?

Re:Good Heavens! (4, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895608)

Does make one wonder how the artists can see their membership money being pissed away like that and think it's a positive

Re:Good Heavens! (4, Informative)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895694)

Um, I thought that the RIAA was composed of the major labels, and is in no way directly accessible and/or responsible to "the little people', namely the actual recording artists.

And it would not shock me if the labels just spread the expense of these legal fee's across the accounts of all their artists [ie, taxation without representation].

Re:Good Heavens! (4, Interesting)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895898)

Um, I thought that the RIAA was composed of the major labels, and is in no way directly accessible and/or responsible to "the little people', namely the actual recording artists.

So what do you suppose happens when there is a certain cost for the artist to deal with a major label, and the RIAA as a trade organization is making decisions that drive up costs for every major label that is a participating member?
They're "the little people" because they have no veto power, not because they don't bear the costs.

And it would not shock me if the labels just spread the expense of these legal fee's across the accounts of all their artists [ie, taxation without representation].

That's generally what happens when there is a significant increase in cost for a corporate entity: all of its clients and/or members experience an increased cost, either in terms of increased fees or in terms of fewer services for the same fee. The question is whether the increase is a legitimate cost of doing business or the direct result of mismanagement.

The bottom line is that this goes on because we (collectively) fund it.

My only problem with this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895816)

Now they can use this to justify $millions in damages (never mind the folks they sue could never pay that).

Re:Good Heavens! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895824)

Ok so I know the president of one of the big 4 personally. He's not a bad guy, he lives by the books. He's just very, how do we say... technology unsavvy. This man doesn't have an iphone, doesn't know how to work his ipod, and probably has a computer with viruses on it because he has no clue how to use it. This man has no idea how the internet can be exploited. Instead he thinks of ways he can stranglehold emerging technologies. Cell phones? "We need to set a base price of at least $9.99 just to listen!" Grooveshark? "Fuck that, we demand 85% compensation. 15% should be enough for them to run their servers." I'm serious I have heard him. If you have anything you would like to say to him, tell me now. I will be seeing him tomorrow.

Re:Good Heavens! (2, Funny)

Nikker (749551) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895930)

You have just brought trolling to an entirely new level, my hat is off to you sir.

Re:Good Heavens! (1)

crhylove (205956) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895868)

Dude, we won the war on drugs. You can totally grow plants now in California. You just need a doctor's note.

shareholder lawsuit? (5, Interesting)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895380)

Perhaps people who own shares in the RIAA's member companies should sue for misspending?

Re:shareholder lawsuit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895482)

Perhaps people who own shares in the RIAA's member companies should sue for misspending?

Yeah! New meaning fot RIAA -- R ip ' I m A nother A sshole.

Re:shareholder lawsuit? (1)

korean.ian (1264578) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895632)

And give more lawyers more money?

Q.E.D. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895388)

Thus proving what we've been saying all along:

The RIAA's worst enemy is the RIAA.

the point is not the collections (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895400)

It's to instill fear, and reduce the (speculative) lost sales.

If they sell 10 million more albums as a result of spending the 16M in fees, then it's not such a bad deal. (Mind you, I don't think that's the case)

Re:the point is not the collections (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895600)

But they won't. Instead of "losing" money to piracy, they lose mindshare because people won't buy. Its a lot worse deal for the RIAA to have 10 million people not listening to their music than to have 10 million people listening to music without buying.

If a person isn't listening to music, the RIAA has no chance of making any money, if a person is, if they like the music a lot, the RIAA will eventually get money by them buying records eventually.

Re:the point is not the collections (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895788)

they lose mindshare because people won't buy

If only we could all remember that half the population has an IQ below 100. Most people don't have much "mindshare" to go around. They don't give a flying fuck about the politics of IP ownership. They learn what buttons to push to download their stuff and that's all they care to know about technology.

They also don't have very sophisticated taste in entertainment of any sort. This is why so much of the music the RIAA "protects" is recycled, boilerplate crap. The music industry panders to the lowest common denominator. The best stuff for the discerning consumer is on the fringes, made by artists who do it for the love of it, and aren't trying to get retarded rich but would like to earn a nice living.

Seriously, think about the things that get lots of people to mob up and force change. What are they? Slavery, prohibition, the right to vote, civil rights, wars, and abortion! These are basic and big things. So do you really think there is going to be some kind of grassroots music industry boycott? I don't. It's just not that big a deal for an average person to give much of a flip about.

Re:the point is not the collections (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895814)

But the RIAA can use that to their favor, the average person has been so bombarded with Lady Gaga that everyone in the RIAA's target market can identify it, but lets say for a moment that all the free channels of Lady Gaga never existed, no radio airtime, no YouTube videos, and no free downloads. Lady Gaga would be known to only a few, it is only through flooding the world through -free- music that stars that make money for the RIAA can be born. Its just like Microsoft, had Microsoft been really aggressive at combating "piracy" chances are they wouldn't have even close to the marketshare they have today, the RIAA has done and can do the same thing if they really want profits. Flood the world with free product and it becomes a status symbol and more of a commodity that can be bought and sold giving profits to the RIAA.

Re:the point is not the collections (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895842)

What do you mean "going to be"? There is.

Re:the point is not the collections (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895620)

The RIAA is run basically run by lawyers, this smells more and more like a scam to bleed RIAA members for millions of dollars. It would be interesting to see the total amount the RIAA spends on lawyers and what are the financial and familial arrangements between RIAA running lawyers and the lawyers that have been contracted to conduct all of the RIAA legal activities.

Nowadays there are more and more examples of owners losing control of companies and organisations losing control to the executives who then run those companies and organisations not for the benefit of the owners but for the direct benefit of the executives.

The biggest sign that conspiratorial fraud involving politicians, lobbyists and regulating agencies are involved in this. Is when those executives choose to break laws via those organisations and companies to inflate their incomes, the organisations and companies ie. the owners end up paying the fines, while the executives still get to get keep their illicitly gotten bonuses and right wing mass media is fine with this (more corporate executives covering up for other corporate executives).

To be fair, (4, Insightful)

pwnies (1034518) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895422)

This is a pretty common thing legally. Corporations will often pay legal fees larger than the returns of a court case, if it means they can set precedence for the future. The other benefit is it creates fear in those who would have otherwise pirated songs.

yes... (1)

IBitOBear (410965) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895446)

The entire internet seems to be quaking in fear and ceasing and desisting all over the place.

Quite a well-spent $16M for that one case alone.

Re:yes... (4, Interesting)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895522)

Our household has been contacted a couple of times by our ISP for downloading shows through bittorrent. They said they were contacted by rightsholders. If we are "reported" again, we will lose our connection. As they are the only game in town (outside of satellite) we have stopped.

Re:yes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895526)

VPN FTW.

Re:yes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895844)

Then the VPN turns your ass in and you still get the letter saying you are infringing IP. Show me the name of a VPN that actually protects its users and allows P2P at a decent speed, and I'll consider eating my monitor.

Re:yes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895912)

How 'bout if you just eat my shorts?

Re:yes... (4, Informative)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895676)

You don't need to stop at all. Just alter you traffic. Get a hosted torrent account, which come at very reasonable prices, and just use SSL FTP, HTTPS, or SFTP to transfer the shows from your host account to your house.

Extremely Effective.

As far as the ISP is concerned, your traffic is now coming from a single IP address, a couple of connections, and is encrypted so they can't look at it.

Re:To be fair, (2, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895492)

The other benefit is it creates fear in those who would have otherwise pirated songs.

I've been regularly advertising to friends, family, and online about the size of my music and movie collection and daring them to find me and sue me. Six years now, no letters. -_- Sadface.

Re:To be fair, (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895858)

Just goes to show, nobody cares about Michael Bolton.

Re:To be fair, (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895518)

So if we want to get rid of the RIAA we simply jam up the courts with cases until they bankrupt themselves.

Re:To be fair, (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895652)

Uh, no. Since the music industry is too big to fail, the RIAA is too big to fail by extension. Laws will be thrashed out, ludicrous justifications pontificated, and the RIAA will receive bailout money.

Just stand there, point your digital finger, and laugh. Eventually enough people will ask what is so funny. Nothing more effective than subtle denigration.

Re:To be fair, (2, Interesting)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895830)

Uh, no. Since the music industry is too big to fail, the RIAA is too big to fail by extension

I find this unlikely. The RIAA does not employ as many people directly and indirectly as auto manufacturers, nor is as much money tied up with them as the banks. Since music artists have proven capable of existing outside the RIAA's structure, it cannot even be sold as necessary to the industry. Thus, they are incredibly unlikely to get bailout money.

No, the only thing they're likely to get is some laws, maybe, in their favour, and those laws aren't likely to be anything the RIAA actually likes, in the long term, since it'll probably come at the expense of their corporate structure.

Re:To be fair, (5, Insightful)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895550)

Doesn't this just emphasize the incredible injustice of the American justice system? Giant corporations get legal protection because they can afford to waste millions fighting pointless legal battles. Joe Shmoe doesn't have that luxury. Isn't this an example of a corporate entity literally buying the law in some way?

I don't know. That just really, really bothers me.

Re:To be fair, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895736)

While I agree that it's wrong, we have to face facts that as humans we are susceptible to psychology and psychology is almost always exploitable in some way no matter how you try to prevent it.

Re:To be fair, (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895744)

But the legal battles aren't pointless to the corporations. Look at that $16M as an investment. If winning that lawsuit makes it easier, faster & cheaper to win future cases, they'll make it back and then some.

Re:To be fair, (1)

crhylove (205956) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895860)

Where the hell have you been? The corporations have been acting without any legal restraint whatsoever since Andrew Jackson. LOL. Thanks for pointing out news that's over 100 years old!

Re:To be fair, (1)

GreyWolf3000 (468618) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895916)

I don't see the legal protection, they have to spend millions of dollars to maybe establish a precedent. It's not like they're buying the legal precedent; they're merely bankrolling a legal campaign to get it in front of a judge for a chance at precedent.

Re:To be fair, (5, Insightful)

Xgamer4 (970709) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895572)

That's the thing, though. As far as I'm aware, they've absolutely failed to set any kind of precedent that might even be remotely in their favor and they've completely failed in instilling any type of fear in anyone who might think about pirating music. All they've really done is cost themselves a good chunk of money while flushing any type of good reputation they had down the toilet.

Re:To be fair, (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895622)

Better still, the executives who embarked upon this vision of "success" are sitting in really nice offices somewhere, pulling down huge salaries with all kinds of perks.

Re:To be fair, (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895706)

Even better still, their failure is not interpreted as such. The failure of the RIAA has been spun into a means and justification to buy new laws through Congress to destroy all of our freedoms to protect their profits.

Re:To be fair, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895846)

But isn't there some kind of irony in using expensive lawyers to file trumped up civil suits filed against copyright infringers, who more than likely are financially strapped and have nothing of any value to lose in the first place? (Maybe they own $10,000 at most and that's on a good day.) What exactly do you win in a $16,000,000 judgement against somebody barely making mortgage payments, driving an old used car (or a newer car they don't technically own), squeaking by on utility and food expenses, and likely getting by with other expenses on credit anyways?

Maybe the best you could do after winning this case is garnish wages. (Since everything else the person has isn't quite paid for, or costs more to take into holding than what it could be sold for.) In which case the person will get behind on other expenses, and go into default on some payments. And then they'll squat on the property until the utilities get cut. Then they decide working for nothing isn't fucking worth it. At worst then, they'll get sentenced for contempt of judgment or whatever. (IANAL) And then they'll be in what is effectively equivalent of a sentence to debtor's prison paid for by taxpayer money. In which case RIAA gains nothing, one person loses some freedom for a while, and the rest of society foots the bill for pointless legal action.

In other cases, the person may be clever enough to "disappear" and take up some other identity, and get on with their lives and infringing. Leaving the legal system scratching their heads, and nobody else none the wiser. This is possible because identity fraud seems more than easy enough for people that want to immigrate into this country outside the law. (Seems the Feds rarely ever give a shit regarding this.) So there's likely a well established criminal enterprise for this purpose which is just as easy for other law breakers to access provided they make the right connections.

No matter what happens... It's an obvious net loss.

They're not suing for enough (4, Funny)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895430)

Clearly, $400,000 per downloaded song is not enough. They should raise their demands by 3992%, and everything will be OK.

Re:They're not suing for enough (1)

dlp211 (1722746) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895444)

That would be a gross reduction from the %400000 you claimed there. Currently both of the major peering cases have their damages limted to $2250, or %2250 the cost of a single song.

Re:They're not suing for enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895524)

They're losing money on each lawsuit, but hoping to make it up on volume.

Is this like a marketing cost? (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895442)

Is $16 mil chump change to these guys, or what?

How much does the typical marketing blitz for a big star cost, normally?

Re:Is this like a marketing cost? (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895574)

Thanks to the miracle of vertical integration, I can bet you it's pennies compared to what it'd cost an industry outsider to get the same amount coverage.

For example, do you think Disney pays itself to run Hannah Montana ads on its own networks? I don't. Close relationships between labels and advertisers facilitate similar situations across the board, I'm sure.

Re:Is this like a marketing cost? (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895672)

i guess it depends, hollywood accounting is basically built around one company within the corp paying another silly sums to make the movie overall appear a loss.

Re:Is this like a marketing cost? (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895714)

For example, do you think Disney pays itself to run Hannah Montana ads on its own networks? I don't.

Any second that Disney advertises Hannah Montana, they're not running an advertisement that somebody paid for. It's called "opportunity cost". It means that those Hannah-Montana ads really need to pay off at least as much as running an extra ad slot for "Bratz".

Re:Is this like a marketing cost? (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895852)

Yep. In a case like this, running ads for their own products means they didn't sell that space to someone else, so they needed to air something. It's also occasionally used to keep ad costs up at the network, since they can "restrict" ad space to drive demand up, and then release some to get more buy-in.

Pity the poor RIAA (1)

euphemistic (1850880) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895466)

Don't worry, I'm sure this is just more Hollywood Accounting for the benefit of the public. It's really a fantastic scheme, claim your income is nothing due to the nasty 'pirates' impinging on good ol' capitalist ingenuity. Also, claim the money you did have has all gone to those greedy lawyers. Everyone already hates lawyers, right? Result: A good honest company, ruined!

Not sure about that... (3, Interesting)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895468)

recover $391,000.

I think in this case that means the value of the judgments themselves. What is actually collected from the victims, and what is actually delivered to the RIAA's clients may be another matter entirely.

Either way, bwahahahahhahahahhahahahahahahahahahah!!!!!!

Timeline (1)

SpottedKuh (855161) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895496)

Thank you for the good chuckle, NewYorkCountryLawyer. I'm curious: where on the timeline of events does this 2008 disclosure form fall? Is that before or after some of the atrocious monetary awards given out by the courts? In other words, will the RIAA see greater collection in the future, based on more recent court cases setting precedent for amounts to be awarded to the RIAA?

riaaradar.com (5, Informative)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895516)

the companies that support the riaa just want money so make sure you check riaaradar.com to make sure the music you buy does not help a company that supports the riaa. While they continue to waste their money on lawyers stick it to them one lost sell at a time.

In other news (2, Interesting)

meekg (30651) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895542)

Police spends more money protecting your home than the value of merchandise in it.

Irrespective of whether music pirating is theft or not, the observation is question is irrelevant, and the "we can get away with it since it's too expensive to stop us" does not help the argument that copying music without restrictions should be legal.

Re:In other news (1)

hargrand (1301911) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895660)

That kind of well reasoned, sound argument expressed on /. is not unlike the experience you have every time you try to spit into the wind.

Losing credibility fast... (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895556)

Between the MPAA's style of Hollywood accounting and the RIAA doing things like this, their statistics are losing credibility fast. How about using that 16 million to pay those artists that have been "wronged" by those evil "pirates".

If the *AA want to really convince people that they are losing money and the "pirates" are in the wrong, they need to get their finances straight before they blame "pirates". If it costs you $16 million to collect $400K-ish, you are running at an extreme loss, chances are that "pirate" didn't cause $16 million in real damages, (or even $10 in damages...) and if the RIAA keeps shooting itself in the foot, eventually people will realize that the real thing harming artists isn't "pirates" but the record companies.

Re:Losing credibility fast... (1)

hargrand (1301911) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895638)

You're only looking at a small piece of the puzzle... it's not a simple zero sum game. Somebody either in the record companies or in the RIAA believes that even though their legal fees exceeded the awards they received, the net result is that it will result in profits exceeding the apparent loss of these legal actions. You can perhaps argue that they're guilty of the same sort of math another prominent figure has been touting [washingtonpost.com] as being a wise investment; but regardless, the RIAA is unlikely to back down unless they become convinced it becomes a broader losing strategy.

More BS expenses to stick it to the performers (1)

gwayne (306174) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895568)

I'm not surprised, but this is just another example of bullshit expenses the big media companies use to cheat bands and performers. "Oh, look...we had to pay $300M in lawyers fees. Sorry, there's no profit left for you." When all the while they are just paying themselves.

They are aiming way too high. (-1, Troll)

arthurh3535 (447288) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895590)

They are basically trying to set this way too high. It would be like car makers suing individual drivers of their cars for 1.5m for speeding as 'endangerment' of life.

Instead, they should be trying set the bar lower like a traffic ticket. Everyone knows that downloading is form of theft (of copyright materials) but a ton of people are doing it anyways.

Idiots.

Re:They are aiming way too high. (5, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895774)

Everyone knows that downloading is form of theft (of copyright materials)

No. Not everyone. Some of us know how absolutely and unarguably false and incorrect it is to claim it is remotely anything like theft. I'll just re-post my response to somebody else who was under the mistaken impression that you can "steal" intellectual property by downloading it:

Theft of intellectual property is in impossibility, by the very definitions of the words involved. The cost, or effort, of copying is also irrelevant.

When you give your money for the shiny piece of plastic, you are also granted license rights, that we The Peeps (aka Government), granted copyright holders to bestow upon others.

Only one thing happens when you "pirate" or receive a digital copy of a copyrighted work without compensating the copyright holder: Infringement . The definition, "A violation, as of a law, regulation, or agreement; a breach." does not, and never has, implied Theft which has the definition, "(Law) Criminal law the dishonest taking of property belonging to another person with the intention of depriving the owner permanently of its possession".

Now a copyright can be viewed as physical property, but that is the copyright itself. To permanently deprive somebody of their copyright means I somehow transferred those legal entitlements to myself and started receiving money and granting others license to use that work, per my newly and illicitly acquired intellectual property rights.

All of the analogies to physically stealing anything are complete and utter tripe based on fallacious logic, and deliberate misinterpretation of law. Content companies (derogatorily referred to as Big Media) would love to have the act of Infringement conflated with Theft. It serves their purpose to have the public incorrectly associate the two to accomplish fear mongering.

Of course the fact, that no college student or citizen has ever been convicted of theft of an MP3 seems to make no difference. Defendants are always sued for damages as it relates to the acts of infringement in a civil court and not a criminal court. No district attorney has ever prosecuted criminal charges against an ordinary citizen for what we consider to be piracy because it is pointless. It does not meet the definition of criminal levels of infringement which traditionally require intent to profit financially or large scale distribution. Those have been amended in recent times, but nonetheless, nobody has ever been prosecuted criminally for it, despite the fact that torrents and file sharing have involved distribution at what some consider to be large scale. Even if, IF, somebody were to be prosecuted, the crime would not be theft.

It makes very little sense, and I don't support piracy.

Once again, I hope some people are reading this and figuring it out.

Money well spent (5, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895594)

You're not looking at the expense correctly. It's not revenue they're hoping to regain. If that was the case spending $16M to gain $391k is a losing deal and any idiot could see that.

This money was spent as advertising, to spread fear about. And for what they've got for their $16M, it's been a bargain.

Back when Napster ruled the nets and music was free and nobody was getting stripped of their entire future just to listen to Madonna, the music industry was looking at a pretty dire situation. Now significantly fewer people download music. I sure as hell don't. Too rich for my blood - I won't do it. From that point of view it is a win. There are plenty of people who now will pay for music rather than risk having the RIAA's pack of rabid lunatics take an interest in your life. Me, I simply do without. I won't fund these assholes, but I won't risk the future of my family just to hear Rush's latest album either. I simply abstain.

Remember the "music industry" is nothing more than privileged middlemen. They produce nothing. They are to music what a toll booth is to travel. The whole goal is to keep the scam going. Spending $16M to keep the status quo? Totally worth it. Look at their revenue generated during the period in which they spent the $16M. Pennies on the dollar.

Re:Money well spent (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895644)

But the RIAA has a net loss on their hands. It is a lot better for someone to be getting their product for free than it is for people not to use it. If I don't hear the music, how am I supposed to buy it? Every single song I've (legally) downloaded I've heard before, usually on YouTube, Pandora, or even through illegitimate downloads. I'm not going to buy a CD based on the cover art unless I've heard it before. If the RIAA gains one sale for every 10 songs download, it is a profit when compared to gaining no sales for no songs downloaded. Without a physical good, it doesn't really cost the RIAA any more if 1 person buys a song than it does if 1,000,000 people do, and it is a net profit for the RIAA if 10,000 people buy the album and 100,000 people download it when compared to 1,000 people buying it and no one downloaded it.

Re:Money well spent (3, Insightful)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895914)

You're not looking at it the same way the RIAA is though. They don't think people will stop listening to music completely if they choke off downloads and YouTube usage, etc. No, they think that people will turn to licenced usage. OTA Radio, Satellite Radio, Bars/Nightclubs that have paid performance fees, etc. Thus, they will be getting paid for people's initial exposure to the music, and for when people purchase it.

What they fail to realize is that a lot of people are people similar to me. I don't listen to the radio for any number of various reasons, I don't go to bars/clubs, I don't pay attention to music in malls. The only exposure I have is by word of mouth, which I then go track down online so that I can find out myself, rather than hoping to get lucky through licenced exposure, where I can't often control what plays.

So, while you and I know that illicit downloads can help drive sales, they, instead, look at it as a chance to get paid twice.

Re:Money well spent (1)

GreatDrok (684119) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895778)

The funny thing is that their strong arm tactics work on the one hand because they discourage downloading - I certainly don't pirate music as a result. However, I don't tend to buy music these days either and I used to buy a lot. While they've reduced piracy they've also done untold damage to their revenue stream. Not good business.

Re:Money well spent (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895920)

This money was spent as advertising, to spread fear about. And for what they've got for their $16M, it's been a bargain.

I don't know about that. You have a family and something to lose. Evil College Students are not generally that forward thinking. At least according to all the movies about the hilarious and sexy hi-jinks that are just happening all the time on college campuses.

What the RIAA really bought was a huge backlash against them and the unending hatred from the rest of of us.

the music industry was looking at a pretty dire situation.

The past 10 years, and their future does not seem to be filled with rainbows and kittens from where I am sitting.

Now significantly fewer people download music. I sure as hell don't. Too rich for my blood - I won't do it

Absolutely Incorrect. HUGE numbers of people download music in HUGE quantities. Some companies got smart and figured out that if they made it cheaper and more reasonable, and easier and safer than illicit downloading, that people would choose to do so. They were totally correct.

I don't have a family, but I am still practical. $15 bucks a month gets me a Zune account where I don't have to deal with Apple's shitty software (god iTunes sucks) and I get my fill on-demand and can purchase DRM-free MP3's when I want to at a reasonable price. Path of least resistance and I took it.

Better than having to torrent and find music with a condom on all the damn time.

What you may have meant was that there is allegedly a decrease in piracy. I am not even sure about that one either. Teenagers and college students can't always afford the same paths that adults can choose, and don't always exercise the same level of judgment and restraint either. Not to mention swapping whole gigabytes of music now is really cheap and teenagers have the time, and the environment, to be doing so. Sneakernet type file sharing is probably going to be on the rise with literally hundreds of gigabytes of storage being small, portable, and cheap. Without DRM, and government mandated control over all processes, I doubt they can ever get accurate numbers. Not that the quest for accuracy and honesty has interested the RIAA before....

Me, I simply do without. I won't fund these assholes, but I won't risk the future of my family just to hear Rush's latest album either. I simply abstain.

That does not sound like a win-win situation to me. Not at all, no sir. That sounds like the RIAA fucked themselves proper and that you might have spent a couple hundred dollars had they not been such douchebags. They LOST revenue because of how you FELT about their ACTIONS.

I don't think we can classify that as a plus on the scoreboard.

Remember the "music industry" is nothing more than privileged middlemen. They produce nothing. They are to music what a toll booth is to travel. The whole goal is to keep the scam going. Spending $16M to keep the status quo? Totally worth it. Look at their revenue generated during the period in which they spent the $16M. Pennies on the dollar.

The $16 million may be pennies on the dollar compared to the total revenue, but depending on where you source the information revenue is down by at least %50 in the last 10 years since they battled with Napster.

I don't think they are pretending either. Sure, they are full of shit about the Piracy numbers, but total revenue is down. Although I think that has more to do with not being forced to buy music an album at a time.

Re:Money well spent (1)

GreyWolf3000 (468618) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895924)

Also, if they're successful (God help us if they are), future lawsuits will be cut and dry.. and hence cheap. This is probably viewed as an initial investment or non-recurring expense for the RIAA.

AC (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895606)

Money recovered: $391,000
Lawyer cost: $16,000,000
Legal precedence, chilling effect, and erosion of justice & civil rights: priceless!

I think the "message" they are hoping to send... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895684)

... is that if you pirate, eventually, you are liable to get caught and will have to pay for it.

But I wonder if the message they are actually sending is if you're going to pirate, just be sneaky enough about it that they won't catch you doing it.

They'll write it all off as expenses (1)

angus77 (1520151) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895686)

Yeah, the recording/movie industry's accounting practices have been on /. a lot lately.

This is how they avoid paying the awarded damages to the artists they're supposedly fighting for---they write the $16,000,000 off as expenses!

Money VERY well spent (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895702)

I wish they'd spend more, frankly. I hate people who steal, and that's exactly what illegal downloading is. Good for you RIAA, go after these sleezebags more.

Slahdot sympathesizers are pathetic. Get out of your Mom's basement and get a job so you can buy music, legally.

Re:Money VERY well spent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895796)

I bet you love it when people shove thick cocks in your mouth, dontcha?

They're not after damages (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895738)

Meh. It costs your loan shark money to track you down and whack you when you run. But he does it, because it keeps the other people in line.

Re:They're not after damages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895832)

Meh. It costs your loan shark money to track you down and whack you when you run. But he does it, because it keeps the other people in line.

actually your completely wrong about that man. they are after the damages. don't you people see, the RIAA was formed by the LAWYERS that sue people and bill the RIAA, it is all one big circular fund fed by the labels and their own private fortunes. the lables pay to be part of the RIAA protection, the RIAA sues people for them, billing the LABELS and thusly the ARTISTS for their time. THEN, RIAA wins some cases, but dosn't get the millions they are after or scare because no one really gives a flying FU**! RIAA collect money from the labels AND the courts, and then the RIAA pays the LAWERS who work for the RIAA or rather are the RIAA.

they put it all together to make more money.

Wonderful Result ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895792)

... we can engineer more of this! :-)

Yes! (2, Interesting)

crhylove (205956) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895820)

On a related note, am I the only one who won't buy Sony products due to their inability to work without layers and layers of draconian DRM? These corporations are so obsessed with jousting windmills that they are throwing millions of dollars away and losing millions of dollars of sales.

The MPAA/RIAA and all their constituents WILL go out of business eventually. They are clearly outdated, outmoded, and irrelevant in the internet age. Watching them choke to death on their own stupidity is both amusing and kind of fascinating.

If Sony is Japanese, does that make them ninjas? If so, THE PIRATES WIN!!!!

Link Whore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895836)

"In a rare outburst of link whoring, I posted a link to my own blog on slashdot..."

Which means the US taxpayer paid a shedload too (2, Insightful)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895850)

If one party of the disputes paid $16M we can safely assume the other side has spent a fair amount. We can also safely assume that the US legal system, that is the US taxpayer, has spent a significant amount dealing with this: court time, judges, legal assistance, administrative support, jurors etc. This is court time and money not spent dealing with other matters, some of which you might consider of far more value.

Hopefully with the recent reductions in damages awards the financial incentive to chase the rats-n-mice of copyright infringement will go away and the public costs will follow.

Bullshit. (5, Insightful)

Lythrdskynrd (1823332) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895870)

This week alone we've read about how Movies always end up in the red (even Harry Potter lost money) http://entertainment.slashdot.org/story/10/07/09/1621218/Hollywood-Accounting-mdash-How-Harry-Potter-Loses-Money [slashdot.org]

and this one about how labels avoid paying musicians hasn't even fallen off the front page yet: http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/07/13/1737224/RIAA-Accounting-mdash-How-Labels-Avoid-Paying-Musicians [slashdot.org]

There's no way the legal expenses cost $16M in *REAL* money. RIAA uses internal lawyers. In fact, RIAA is just lawyers. They're paying themselves and once again, screwing the artists.

I mean seriously, to the "editor" who posted this (kdawson) would it kill you to put an ounce of fucking critical thinking into it before you post?

I'm sorry... I know this must come off as a "troll" ... maybe I'm reading too much slashdot or something.

Its amusing the slashtards are worried about this (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32895884)

Islam has its dick planted firmly in the ass of Europe and they're making their moves on the USA and Canada and this is what you have to worry about?

For a site that likes to demonize religion you're certainly missing the boat on the biggest threat to civil rights, science and logic that there is today.

When you're bowing to Allah 5 times a day or risk death the RIAA will be the least of your concerns.

Can somebody dup this (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 3 years ago | (#32895908)

to how the (music|film) industry use their contacts to screw the people who actually make something interesting by insuring slow-cousin-ted gets some money. I know 'slow-cousin-ted' managed to become a lawyer, rather than a "film wrapper" in this round, but same applies.

I always wondered how some insane serial killer/... could wake up in the morning, and not think "wow, maybe I overdid it last night". I feel that way when two beers in I decide to get honest. Look at the RIA* case - what sort of monster wakes up and decides to start this every day? ...in the end, the bleeding hearts and artists....

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