Feds to audiophiles: You're all pirates now

Feds to audiophiles: You're all pirates now!
Last week, Congress passed a bill aimed at increasing penalties and for sharing mp3s. Meanwhile, outraged audiophiles argue the interpretation of this vague 69-page bill.
mp3 and audiophile don't belong in the same sentence, do they?
Thank you Nancy and Harry
It is obvious to me that greed is destroying the music industry. When I was a young man many years ago me and my friends exchanged albums all the time. Now sharing music is a crime punishable by excessive fines and more.
I do not want to take money out of the artist pocket but I think sharing mp3's helps spread the artist word and creates the buzz that musicians need to get their product out there.
Is it just me or was life was much simpler in the seventies.
I second Dcstep's opinion.Let the feds go after mp3 listeners and maybe eventually push them into high-end audio.
Be a pirate! So what?
Criminals are humans too.
The corporate executives at Enron, the traders who made millions off Californias staged brownouts, Hey, they all are STILL RICH AS HELL!!
Do you Speed when driving? even a teeny tiny bit? CRIMINAL!!
What we have done is dilute the word until we are ALL CRIMINALS ,no matter what. YOU TOO!! Did you park a few minutes over at that parking meter and NOT pay? CRIMINAL!!!
Remember when we all used to sit around making mixed cassettes off albums and even early in the days of CD? Never once had the feds busting down the door to my college dorm room.

The only difference now is that the recording industry can't seem to sell more than a few thousand legitimate copies of any single album. They're getting desperate and reactionary and they're looking for you and me.
I agree with Dcstep. mp3 is not an audiophile medium
i have 10k+ pieces of music software and other than 15-20 CDR demo compliations (i'd pay for those too if i knew where to send the money) i've purchased every one.

it's real simple......if you don't pay for the music you use you are a thief (excepting, of course, that music artists offer for free downloads). it matters not what culture says or the law specifies.....you have taken something that is not yours.

you were Pirates already.

my son did copy 1000 or so of my cd's onto a hard drive for my wife to use....we have converted some to MP3's for my wife's i-Pod Nano.
At what level of audio bandwidth would this not be an issue? If the files sounded like old 78s on a amplifierless Victrola would that be allowed free of copyright? If this were popular with a portion of the population they would regulate that too simply because the industry is revenue driven and if there is a well of cash to be found, well by golly, they own that too, right?

That's why artists like Radiohead are trying something different and daring, because they can step outside the box. And you know what? A sizeable portion of those fans will buy the CD and or vinyl releases when they come out.

The sad reality is that our Orwellian society and administration has fostered an impression, no, drilled, fear into us and ignored the fact that some level of free sharing actually promotes business.

They worried about 1/4 inch tape, that didn't wreck the industry. They worried about cassette, that didn't wreck the industry. They worried about DAT, that didn't wreck the industry, they worry about mp3. CD sales down? The quality of the music on many releases these days sucks.

The industry is too full of itself to take a hard look at product quality. The real artists out there are ignored. We all know this, and many of us here on the 'gon have the means to bypass the crap and get the good stuff because we can afford it.

If only the industry cared about the quality of the music it produces, the customer base wouldn't have to be scarmbling for diamonds in the rough. And as we all know there is a lot of roughage out there these days. I don't blame young people who want good music cheaply. Hell when I was young and poor I did too.

This fear thing is going to destroy us if we let it. It is pervasive and ugly and I am going to make sure my votes go to those legislators who are fearless and act rationally and not like scared little brats.

Well, at least I can dream...
hey, even the "PRESIDENT" has a criminal record, as do many members of the congress and senate...

my favorite quote, from edward abbey: "the more corrupt a society, the more numerous its laws"...

let 'em try to enforce this one! it's just another in the long line of chump-change laws and rules that we can't possibly obey, therefore we ARE all criminals in one respect or another! remember freedom?
With the music industry, as well as in any industry, there are market forces and external forces such as the law. In this case, it looks like record executives are lobbying for more help from the external forces because they haven't figured out how to make money off of the market that is forming with the growing filesharing community.

I don't have numbers to back me up on this, but I think people are listening to music a lot more now that it's so accessible. You can carry music on an iPod, a PDA, cellphones, certain kinds of sunglasses, basically anywhere you can fit some solid-state memory. Rather than listening to the dull roar of a subway, people are filling their ears with music. CD sales may be down, but Music as a force is way up. And instead of tapping into that force to make money, the labels are trying to shape the law to herd all the cats back into the "hard copy" market where they feel they can make money.

And yes, it IS the music execs and a sparse population of artists that are shaping the laws, because if congressmen and congresswomen ran on the platform of limiting MP3 sharing, how many votes do you think that would garner...besides Mikelavigne's...(just kidding, Mike!)

iTunes has figured out how to sell music online, make money, and make money for the artists, and they even offer some DRM-free content as well. Another site, eMusic, goes a step further and sells all of their music DRM-free in MP3 format. They add value to their proposition by offering good reviews and recommendations for their users. The business model is there and it's maturing, and if the content can be made available legally with value added to it by the particular business model of the provider, then finally music businesses would want to create as many "file users" as possible.

These laws are designed to scare people into doing business as the music execs see most fit, which limits our options as consumers. Illegal file sharing will continue until the distributors shape up a system which better fits the needs of the consumer. The music execs have engaged in a battle with the very people who keep them in business, the consumers of music, even at a time when that number of people is growing.

If you want to support artists then download files, test out all sorts of new music, and go to their concerts as often as you can. If the concert is good, buy a t-shirt and a bumper sticker. Believe me, the band makes a hell of a lot better profit margin from their ticket and merchandise sales than from their CD sales.

This is pretty simple if you put yourself in the shoes of the artist. Piracy doesn't hurt the major artists as much, since they have always made the majority of their money on concert revenues. However, to the small artist that produces, records and distributes his/her own music - piracy takes money directly from their pocket. Let's say an artist is doing the coffee house circuit and he hopes to sell maybe 20,000 copies of a self produced CD. Some guy buys a copy and distributes it to 100 of his buddies as an mp3. That's money right out of that artists pocket.
But on the other hand, the guy who distributed those mp3's just gave free buzz to 100 people, which is a very good thing! Especially if you consider NEW business models. The music industry is moving AWAY from CD sales, which is very very clear. And when I say "the music industry," I'm not just talking about the business of execs and board members, I'm talking about everyone who wants to sell music.

Here is a business model scenario I just made up: I'm a band, and I have a really good CD that gets ripped and distributed to all kinds of people who love it. They are enjoying my music for free, but the fact is they are enjoying my music. I get in touch with some companies that might want to advertise through the band, and I set up a site where I will distribute my music in every kind of format imaginable at a very high bitrate, with a click-through advertisement before getting to the download page. Nothing too obtrusive, just a recommendation from the artist. The music consumer sees it as free music, the advertiser gets all kinds of traffic and impressions, and the artist gets paid.

Throw in some more value-add like an "online meet and greet" with the artist in a chatroom, a free sticker or something, whatever, and you'll drive people in like crazy. I'm not saying this is how everyone should do it, or that this plan has no flaws, but I literally made that up as I was typing. If I can do that, then who knows what kind of cool business models are waiting to make money off of your art!

The point is this: SELLING CDS IS NOT THE ONLY WAY TO MAKE MONEY FROM MUSIC. It is how the labels are familiar with making money off of music, but that power is rapidly shifting and it's scaring the hell out of them.
Cruz, 100 buddies!!! I don't even KNOW 100 people let alone have 100 buddies. I would venture to guess neither do you or the majority of people reading this thread.
Dusty, those same 100 people will now pay to see this artist live in concert thanks to the exposure file-sharing has brought them.
It is wrong to punish people for sharing music without the intent to profit from it.
Dreadhead, I think Cruz may have misused the term "buddy," but he's right on that if you put a ripped album in a shared folder on a P2P network it would be likely that at least 100 people would find their way to it. And if the band is lucky, then even more than that!
The level of moral aptitude I always find in arguments over file-sharing, etc. is astonishingly low - usually on the part of the Gen X and Y'ers who just feel entitled to free stuff.

If the Artist says "This material is copyrighted" - that means copying it to give away is STEALING. Simple. Case closed. IT'S NOT UP TO YOU to decide what business model might work better for the artist. IT'S UP TO THE ARTIST!
There's no law that anyone HAS to copyright their material. The law exists so that they can, if they want to. If you see "Copyright" --- that means the artist made a decision and is telling you, "I created this, and I don't want you giving it away."

You are simply ripping people off, and if you had any cajones you would stand up and say, "I rip these artists off because it's fun and because I can." I would at least respect the honesty of that.

The entire premise of that MSNBC article posted above shows the same type of utter ignorance of the issues. Lending a Record to someone is not the same as making a copy and giving it to them. Lending someone an physical lp is not a against the law.

And the fact that the Radiohead experiment flopped does, IMO, expose the high level of hypocrisy among the bottomfeeder, "music should be free because I say so" crowd.

Dreadhead, you're right, I don't have 100 buddies. But I have 10, and those ten have ten, and so on and so forth. I guess I just don't get the concept of expecting a music artist to give me their work product for free. Opalchip has summed it up and I'll leave it at that.
And yes, it IS the music execs and a sparse population of artists that are shaping the laws, because if congressmen and congresswomen ran on the platform of limiting MP3 sharing, how many votes do you think that would garner...besides Mikelavigne's...(just kidding, Mike!)

laws should protect property rights. while i should be free to copy and use copyrighted data within my household; it should not be my right to copy and share it with someone outside my household without compensation to the data creator. i should be able to give or sell that singular copy of that data to someone if i do not retain any use for myself.

i am all for rewarding the artist and the support system of that artist.....as opposed to doing what might be popular. the modern concept of mob rule is despicable......regardless of the level of technology.
"The modern concept of mob rule is despicable"
Daffy Duck 1965
Sorry for the tone of my previous post, but I was in a hurry at work and didn't have time to edit myself. But the content is correct - and it really does astonish me that so many people don't get it. Copyright laws are not a music industry invention. They are basic personal property protections.

If you can "steal" music that was created and sold to you under the explicit understanding that it is only for your personal listening use, then why can't I steal your Ipod?

I believe it would be a better "Business Model" for you to hand over your Ipod and be happy about it. Just think, if I take your Ipod, then I might tell 100 friends what great music is on it. And they, seeing what great taste you have, might all come to you, begging to pay you to load their Ipods up with downloaded music. So if I steal your Ipod, it might actually be a great career move for you.

Look, we have all stolen (and lied in some form or another) - it's just standard human weakness.

What irks me though - and what really makes for a dangerous trend on a societal level - is when people try to base/justify their weaknesses on moral grounds. I occasionally copy CD's to give to friends, but I don't pretend that it's right. It's just convenient and a nice gesture (for the friend) - and it's petty larceny. I usually point out that if they like the CD, it would be a good thing to support the artist and buy another, since they got this for free. But that doesn't make it morally correct. It's wrong, smalltime wrong, but wrong.
Opal notes:
I usually point out that if they like the CD, it would be a good thing to support the artist and buy another
Quite so. Nevertheless, I have a sneaky feeling that convenience & waste of money are the two most important "self-justifications" of copying.

Out of the price of a cd, say $10, normally ~$1-1,5 go to the artist. More goes, to VAT or sales tax, for example. The (huge) balance to the record company... (Not to bash record companies, but they get the lion's share of benefits & risk, btw)
I'm 100% with Opalchip. Theft is theft.
Copyright was "invented" to protect creative peoples efforts from being stolen. Remember too that things were always stolen to make money. People are stealing songs off the 'net today for only 1 reason----to make money--the money they keep in their pocket by not paying for the music. If this blatant theft and erosion of the value of creativity continues there will be a digital rights management system that will only allow a song to be played 'once' since people want to buy the cheapest thing they can. When are the young going to learn? Nothing is free and that's exactly what it's worth. Everything of value has a price-you either pay the price or you are a thief-it's a very simple true concept. Any other talk about it is--worth what you pay for it.
Whats an MP3 ?
Some really good posts in this thread!

These threads always seem to go down the same path - discussing the ethics, the laws, and the impact of file sharing. And while I agree that there is often a lot of "convenient" logic people use to justify their actions, I don't think that's the interesting part of the discussion.

The interesting part to me is the rapidly changing business model, and the way the music industry is responding to it, as Dusty discusses so well above. The whole tact of "my consumers are my enemy" is just so lazy - the business model of selling hard-copy CDs has just not evolved in 25 years, and as it erodes (for many, many reasons, piracy being just one of them) the reaction from the music industry just seems laughable. It's like they show up to work every day and go, "dang it, this file sharing thing hasn't gone away yet!"

The business model is changing, and fast, and the music industry can't be bothered to change. The industry wants to throw out all of these claims of lost revenue, but they have no way of knowing, and always want to attribute all lost revenue to piracy. We can argue ethics, and they can pursue lawsuits, for the rest of our collective lives and it isn't going to change the dynamics of what is happening.
I have never made the justification for stealing. The only case where I suggest downloading music at all is to find artists you like so that you can go to their concerts. And I fully support doing that. Believe me, I'm not going to shell out $16 for a CD of a band I've never heard and hope I like it. But if I catch wind of an interesting band and download some of their songs and enjoy it, I'll gladly pay $30 to go to a concert.

Also, here's something we should all keep in mind: "legal" does not equate to "moral." Granted, our laws are designed to reflect our cultural morals, but I think those terms are used in a little too close proximity sometimes, especially when the subject is still being debated about how our current laws relate to our new technologies. The reason it's debated is that copyright law related to the distribution of information is wholly different than property law.

Opalchip suggests that stealing an iPod is akin to stealing music. He's right that under current law they are both considered stealing in a broad sense, but the difference is that in one case you are taking something that the victim will no longer be able to use, and in the other case you are using something where credit should be given, but withholding that credit. I agree that both are wrong, but let's not say that apples are the same as oranges.

The whole point of my posts above is that the music industry is putting up picket fences to block a tsunami when it should be building boats. When people started making mixed tapes, they were sure that was going to kill the music industry. Then CDs came around, and people stopped buying tapes. Then people started burning CDs, so they crippled our computers with DRM software. Now the music has been boiled down to the data, and that's the new medium. They can either learn to deal with it by creating new business models, or they can spend their time making the moral case for new laws that don't fit the new times while Apple's iTunes continues holding 80% of the online music sales.

My point is not a moral one. I'm saying that the strategy of using the law to keep your market share is a fatally flawed one, and should be abandoned.

An artist composes a piece of music as a form of expression. Hence the moniker "artist". It is not a product to be purchased or sold. In fact I will go one step further in stating that it CAN'T be bought or sold. Once a melody is captured by an artist and that person adds lyrics then shares that melody with others it is no longer theirs. The composer still retains the "Rights" to his or hers song but it now belongs to all of us. To sing in the shower or on our drive to work. To the teenager with his beloved guitar, you can no more own a song then you can own the scent of a rose. It would be like drawing a circle in the air with your finger and stating that " I now own this piece of air". It can't be done. Writing a song is a labor of love. Like making a baby. From it's inception you nurture it, love it and give birth to it. Once your baby is born you no longer own it. It now becomes an entity all of its very own. Contrary to what many of you believe, real music is a talent not a manufactured product. An artist uses music as a form of expression and if their lucky some people may find it worth collecting, saving and sharing. Isn't that what art is all about?
I think Dreadhead shows us that there are not just two sides of the fence. Because I definitely don't agree with anything stated above. Artists should be able to make a good living off of their talent and hard work. The trick is to find a way to do it within the current trends and capabilities of technology.
burn a copy of a cd for a friend. 10 songs $350,000 fine and up to 5+ years In jail . What's the penalty for rape or possession of cocaine ?
dreadhead....whatever you're smoking, send us some.
Hoist the Flag and fire a round at Metallica. I think they started this us versus fan thing. :)
Aaargh matey! And I be drink'n rum while I be do'n it, burn'n CDs on a dead mans chest! Hang me from the yard arm!!!
Jaybo my friend, I know I hit the nail on the head when you chime in. The thought process in my previous post dates back to my days as a Deadhead. A band that actually encouraged taping and sharing their shows. They understood that once the note was played live it was a like a baby bird leaving the nest for the first time. They knew then what we all should know by now. Music belongs to the people. Without the fans their is no music. It is a two way street, the band needs the fans and the fans need the band. I'm not against the artist getting paid but to think music can be controlled is a very naive assumption. I thought that was obvious. When a tree falls in the woods it DOES NOT make sound. A sound needs ears to hear it.
just remember guys, even 'the dead' have a legal staff who constantly patrol trademark and copyright infringement. when the band tells you its ok to record 1. they're not playing other writer's songs('they' pay out for those), and 2. if you 'sell' copies of a dead show, you can still get busted......china's black market for pirating music, film, and books, is nearly as large as the legitimate marketplace. there is a somewhat infamous story where Graham Parker played a gig in hong kong, and stayed a few days to 'sightsee'. he went into a main st music store to find a pirated live cd(beautifully packaged)within 48 hours of that gig (of that performance). to this day, part of the retail of blank tape goes to a royalty pool to help offset copying.......whether they be big or small, support your favorite artists..most musicians struggle financially, but thankfully those artists are still compelled to make music..speaking for myself, i'm compelled to buy it..dreadhead and all, have a happy holiday season..be cool
Theft at Christmas even to give a gift to a poor person== is still theft. Euck
Exactly, Psacanli. Robin Hood be damned.
i would not relate stealing music to Robin Hood (there is no higher moral ground to stand on)......i would relate it to Hitler looting the Art of Europe during the Occupation. just like these present day thieves; Hitler stole because he could.

you could make a case that some then owners of the Art were corrupt or bad folks.....but that does not justify Hitler's actions.

just because technology has made data theft easy does not justify it. Hitler had it easy too.
Rewind a few decades. What is the view on Big Music "out positioning", to put it politely, countless musicians who later realized they didn't have the rights to the music they created, and then watched others get rich off of those rights? And continue to get rich off those rights today. I saw Chuck Berry in the airport the other day, heading off to Europe for a 20-gig tour - I should have thought to ask him his opinion.

I don't disagree that it's against the law to pirate music. I just don't think it's as big a story as the media wants to make it out to be, and I don't particularly feel sorry for the "victims" even if I don't choose to pirate "because I can".

Big Music has used their legal muscle for decades for their own profit. Unfortunately, they did not engage with technical visionaries, or they never would have produced their product in a format that propogates the way a CD does. They're falling back on the one strategy they've used forever, but even their lawyers can't get the genie back in the bottle. As Dusty says, it's a bull-headed and, ultimately, bad strategy. I don't have to condone rampant pirating to chastise the music industry for their backwardness.
i was able to download hundreds of songs on napster before the big change. i found artists i had never heard and bought many cd's as a result.the win win in this is clear to me, however it appears some have very strong opinions against. the reinvention of the "45" single in digital downloads, at .99 is what is killing album sales, along with a lack of exposure on radio of new music beyond formatted stations that do not meet my tastes. satellite radio meets that need, but the various factors involved limit it's acceptance.

the idea that you can use cassettes in the same fashion was fought back when, and fair use prevailed. the idea that i cannot manipulate my paid for cd to use on computer and ipod is short sighted, as the other poster noted , music is becoming even more listened to as a result of accessibility willl ultimately benefit all artists, as will self production and internet makting make the riaa and big music a fading and faliling business, in the end i am happy to buy a dc when i can find an excellent recoding of a good performance.
no one gets it, until their personal property gets stolen. suddenly stealing is wrong.
Well said Jaybo,
I also found artists whose recordings I liked-from the "radio" -which paid artist for every play of their 'musical creation'
As a result I now own over 15000 lps, mostly rock, but thousands of classical & hundreds of jazz, and over 5000 rock single 45's---all of them "paid for".
To possibly think you doing an artist a favor(indicated in your email) by
1. downloading his art-without paying him for it, and then
2. distributing his art-again without you, or anyone else paying for it
is, I feel misguided for the following reason, among others.
Simply consider,
If people were downloading-for free- so they could go out and buy the album- then the record companies would be overwhelmed by demand, and artists would be making money from album sales.
Record(cd)sales would have started going through the roof with sales records being set with the advent of the internet.
The opposite of what has happened.
People download for instant or long term pleasure--as long as it's free.
I believe artists will come up with a way to allow download of songs very cheaply over the net,
in a compressed format,
with formidable copy protection making sharing impossible,
and 1 or few plays only.
If you like it you will have to buy it,in one or more formats or quality levels.
Let's put it this way. I don't work for free(unless it's for charity) and I don't know 'anyone' who does.
As far as "new-and-improved" DRM goes for downloads...I wouldn't count on that. As soon as a new rights management is released it starts getting cracked by an entire community of people who are just as smart as the guys who created it, which is why nothing has stuck so far. There has been some interesting talk about using digital watermarks to at least trace the digital path that an illegally downloaded song takes and identify it on someone's computer, but that only improves the Label's ability to prosecute, which I don't think has been too much of a problem so far.

The debate about the morality of listening to a sound you haven't paid for might be interesting, but that's not the problem that needs to be solved. The information has been freed from the medium, and there's no cramming it back in, no matter how much you might hate it!

Well Dusty, I'm not sure we're on the same wavelength.
I don't think listening is the problem; it's the illegal downloading and sharing-which bypasses the creator of the art-that's the problem.
The fundamental issue is no different now than it was in the past;something "must" be done to protect personal property and identify thieves-that's why livestock is branded and we put locks on our doors.
Your point is interesting though. If the information has or continues to be "freed" from the medium--then artists will have to demand and enforce a change to the medium ; or; the artists will have to demand & enforce changes by which the medium is accessed. This will happen.
The world is a "pay as you play" place, I think that is something everyone out of their teens should be well aware of; we pay for movies,restaurents,gas,tune ups,"electricity",use of rec facilities,museums--why should music be different?
The only reason music is subject to such blatant theft is that society hasn't yet adapted to this new abuse of technology. Robbing a bank used to be easy as well; now we are robbing artists. Electrical theft has become rampant so new technology is developing quickly to counteract it.
I hope the same for our musical artists.
"the morality of listening to a sound...."
"The information as been freed from the medium..."
Dusty, wise words from a man who appears to get it.
Music is after all just a sound and once that sound is freed from the composer it belongs to all of us and at the same time, none of us. It's a fairly easy concept to grasp.
Pascalini, as to the artists demanding and enforcing the way the medium is accessed, the problem is that the medium is now 1's and 0's, and the access point is almost anything electronic. After a sound (with sound being inherently analog) is converted to a digital form, it can be forwarded, copied, and pasted just like a line of text. All the information you see or hear from a computer is essentially the same stuff.

Look at it this way: you can build some little sand castles near the shoreline, and then build a nice big robust sand castle next to those ones, with a nice big sand wall and moat surrounding it. The little sand castles will wash away soonest, and the big one will take a little longer because it has all the extra stuff, but it will all wash away because it's all sand! That's what we're dealing with in the digital world as well. Everything is 1's and 0's, including the security and rights management software that protects the song which is also encoded in 1's and 0's.

With the information being freed from the medium, the only way to control the access of the music would be to control access to computers (or in my analogy above, the access to the beach.)

The point is this: Pandora's box has been opened. If you're familiar with that Greek myth you'll know that there was no way to get the evil back into the box, but there was hope contained in the box as well. The digital demon has escaped, but if the Labels could just recognize that this has also released an opportunity for amazing profits that can also make their consumers happy and their artists rich, then we would all be happier listeners!

Amazing what Ganja does to the thinking process....
If I ride my bike to the corner grocery store, put the kickstand down, go inside to buy an ice cream pop and talk to the shopkeeper for a bit -

The Bicycle has been Freed from it's Rider!


Someone may take my liberated bike, but I'm sure next time they'll come into the store and buy a bike from me since they liked the last one so much - I should probably buy lots of bikes and leave them outside stores - I'll be rich!!!.
Opalchip -

You're making the same argument again that you made earlier about stealing an iPod. I've already addressed that above. There is a BIG difference, legally, physically, (possibly not morally, that's the debate here), between taking something that someone will no longer be able to use once you have taken it (such as a bike, iPod, or any physical object you may choose), and enjoying something for free when you should be crediting the creator of whatever you're enjoying.

Music is an idea, not an object. If you want a stronger argument, and you're tied to the idea of a physical object, then you could talk about the patent for a bike. If someone obtained the plans for the design of a bike and then photocopied it and posted it on the internet, then you would be closer to the argument at hand.

If you want to make the point that stealing is morally wrong no matter what form it is in, then you'll need to find a way to say that without blurring the line between property law and copyright law. They are separate things. You feel that they are both wrong, and that's your opinion, but they ARE separate things.

Hi - I understand that there's a difference between an Ipod/Bike and what you hear at a live concert. The point I'm making is that theft is not justifiable by some potential benefit that the thief, in his mind, perceives might accrue to the victim.

A Digital File is a "thing". It may be covered under copyright law, but it is a physical thing that someone went to a lot of trouble to create. It doesn't dissipate into thin air like live music - it's can be sitting on a CD or a hard drive. We don't buy them - we license them, complete with the terms that stipulate you cannot copy and distribute the file.

One point you're missing is that the owner of the file (the artist) will now NOT be able to sell that file to whomever you give it to (or to you). You have removed that listener's potential purchase forever, when you had agreed (as the original buyer) not to do that. It's cut and dried to me.
A Digital File is a "thing".

Incorrect. A digital file is not a "thing." That would be like saying that an idea is a physical object. The file is an organization of 1's and 0's that your computer can interpret as a sound. A digital file is no more a "thing" than a song is a thing.

One point you're missing is that the owner of the file (the artist) will now NOT be able to sell that file to whomever you give it to (or to you).

Nope. It is incorrect to say that the artist cannot sell that file to me if I already have it free illegally. Even if I had downloaded the file illegally, I could still go to iTunes and download it legally if I felt so inclined. It's true that someone may not feel so inclined, but it's false to say that they can't.

The points above are exactly the reason we have copyright law in the first place.

Dusty, really, what are 1s and 0's if they're not things?
Are you suggesting they are "nothing". This is getting deep.
Perhaps some Philosophists might have some input here.
Hi - I don't have time to debate too much more about this, as my wife keeps asking me, "What are you doing there...?" In brief, the legal understanding of these issues here is very lacking.

1. "The organization of 1's and 0's that your computer can interpret as a sound" IS a thing. I can locate it on your hard drive. The fact that it can be copied and transmitted electronically doesn't change that.

Selected quotes from Duke's Law and Technology Review concerning exactly this subject:

¶ 3 Section 101 of the 1976 Copyright Act defines a phonorecord as a "[M]aterial object in which sounds are fixed and from which the sounds can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device."

¶ 12 Fixation may seem like a hurdle considering an Mp3 file is composed of ones and zeros, but this hurdle is quickly crossed. Unlike a shower rendition of a song that is captured only by my ears, a digital file is actually a series of positively- and negatively-charged ions trapped in a magnetic source, be it a floppy diskette or a hard disk drive. ****The file is thus fixed in a material object****, as it will exist for as long as the storage medium exists (absent accidental erasure by another magnetic source).

The standard of an MP3 or other digital file as a physical object has been well argued and is totally accepted under current law. There are even more explicit definitions here:


2. A "reasonable third party" or "reasonable bystander" viewing the fact that someone was given the music file for free would not expect the artist to be likely to then consummate a sale to that person. The fact that some future hypothetical transaction is not physically impossible is irrelevant, legally or morally.

Again, I don't claim to never copy stuff myself - but I think it's imporatnat to be honest with yourself about the issues involved. It is clearly a form of theft. The injury to the artist may be extremely small in each instance, but theft it is.

Now if you may excuse me, I have some CD's to burn tonight....