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People understand copyrights, they just don’t like being screwed

Dear Reader,

No, this is not a SOPA rant, but it is related.

Recently, I attended a round table discussion on SOPA hosted by my Congressman, Rep. Jim Cooper. While the discussion was heated at time, I felt that overall it was a good meeting. I didn’t actually expect anything to get resolved, and I wasn’t disappointing. I did however, get to meet some new people here in Nashville that I hope will become friends.

One person I met, I will not say who, had something very interesting to say as we were shaking hands at the end. They said:

The problem is, we have a generation that doesn’t understand right from wrong.

I disagreed and said so by quoting my friend Jacques Woodcock from a previous event where he sagely said:

It’s not that people don’t understand that copying music is wrong, it’s that they don’t care. They don’t respect your copyrights.

(ok, I’m paraphrasing Jacques quote since I’m working from memory on it. Jacques, feel free to correct m if I got it wrong.)

It’s not that people are looking to steal stuff. If the material is made easily available and reasonably priced most people will buy it instead of trying to download it from somewhere. Most people want to do the right thing, but when they can’t, they are willing to violate the rights of a copyright holder, especially when they feel they are being treated unfairly.

Here is a specific case to prove my point. in 1995, Disney released “The Goofy Movie”. It was meh but my kids loved it. In addition to buying a VHS copy when they were available, we bought the CD sound track…which was equally meh. There was however, 1 song on the sound track I-2-I that was catchy. I really liked it, it got my toes to tapping. (Seriously, if you know me, don’t act surprised. I like Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez too. My kids are threatening to disown me.) :)

Fast forward 10+ years, the CD has long been lost. I don’t want to buy it again, just to get that one song so I do what everyone does, I go out to iTunes (and also Amazon) to find the song. Guess what, you can buy most the other songs individually for $.99 but I-2-I (mislabeled “121”) can’t be bought individually. So while all the other songs are reasonably prices, this one is effectively $10.

I don’t mind respecting copyrights but I seriously dislike being ripped off.

NOTE: I am not admitting to finding an alternate source for a song I have already paid for and legally own a license to, I’m just using this as an example.

1/2 of the equation for killing most copyright violations out there is reasonably priced. $10 for 1 song is not reasonably priced. Attention big media, I am happy to honor your rights as long as you don’t abuse me. You don’t seem to have learned that lesson yet. People like Louis CK have proven that if you get it right, you’ll have to rent a truck just to carry all your money to the bank. (You guys in big media have got to seriously hate him for poking large holes in all of your arguments!) :)

Keep getting it wrong and I’ll remind you of this post in a year cuz you’ll still be bitchin’ about how copyright violations are gonna kill you. They aren’t killing you, your own stupidity is.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

5 thoughts on “People understand copyrights, they just don’t like being screwed

  1. Cal, here’s what I don’t understand about this: When did we as a society decide that, just because we wanted something, we were entitled to have it? And does this apply to everything, or just things that fall into the category of “Things That Are Easy To Find On The Internet”? It is frustrating to not be able to buy things we are willing to pay for. I would have paid for Spotify 10 years ago if it had been around, and I know you would have too. But when companies don’t make their stuff available for us to buy, does that mean we can take it without their permission? Whether it’s easy to do so or not? I would think this applies even when they bundle it with a bunch of crap we don’t want, like 9 bad songs. I am patiently waiting for the day the cable companies let me buy channels ala carte, even if it is more expensive, so I don’t have to wade through 700 channels of garbage to get to Criminal Minds. But until that happens, I’ll pay for my cable the way they make me. Because my other choice is to not have cable. It’s a sucky choice, granted. But we seem to tolerate it from many other sectors – we just refuse to from the music industry (and increasingly, the film industry too). Why?

  2. I totally and completely agree. A great example is Valve software, the makers of Half-Life, Team Fortress, dozens of other games, and the company behind Steam. If you’re not familiar with Steam, its like an iTunes for video games, where you can buy games online and Steam manages everything for you. Its a very useful service, and very successful.

    Gabe Newell, one of the founders, was asked this question about video games:

    “Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a sensitive issue. Many games have been the subject of boycotts due to a draconian use of DRM. The most extreme DRM forces players to be online, and to stay online, if they wish to play the game. What are your views on DRM?”

    Here is his response:

    “In general, we think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem. For example, if a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the US release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate’s service is more valuable. Most DRM solutions diminish the value of the product by either directly restricting a customers use or by creating uncertainty.

    “Our goal is to create greater service value than pirates, and this has been successful enough for us that piracy is basically a non-issue for our company. For example, prior to entering the Russian market, we were told that Russia was a waste of time because everyone would pirate our products. Russia is now about to become our largest market in Europe.”


    Now this is Russia, a country infamously known for people pirating. Russia has now surpassed the UK, Germany, France, or any other European country in sales. This isn’t some small company either, but a company estimated to having over 70% of all digital sales of computer games. They have over 40 million users. So they know exactly what they are talking about.

    I’m hoping more and more companies see the light, and take a realistic approach to piracy. I don’t agree with people who pirate things they’ve never paid for. People deserve to get paid for their work. But when they devalue their own products with restrictions against honest customers, they can’t be surprised.

  3. There are clearly two perspectives here. One is the consumer’s perspective and the other is the IP holder’s. This usually isn’t the artist that produced the piece. So, for me, there isn’t really an argument of Artists being caught in the crossfire here. Given revelations that most artists don’t get the money they deserve from the industry. You can disagree with that point but first read this:

    In the battle between the IP holders and the rest of the World (which includes consumers and pirates) there seems to be a notion that tight control, DRM and draconian laws will improve the margin the IP holders can make. Name three other industries that act the same way. Ok, name one! The collective failure of the industry to let people explore the possibilities and to enjoy the fruits of this digital age goes against reason. People don’t think it is wrong, when they have paid for something to be able to use it – yet DRM makes that extremely limited. When they limit how they sell something as old and frankly unpopular as I-2-I or don’t make it available for sale at all then they drive people to look at bittorrent as an option.

    I think my favorite model of sale, distribution and management of digital media has got to be Steam ( which has a login that identifies you that allows you access to your content anywhere. It’s the deal of the century. They make money. The artists make money. Your investment is protected. There is no incentive to steal. The prices are kept low because lets face it not having to manufacture and ship anything other than organized electrons is how it should be.

    I agree with what Justin Carmony wrote. In quote Gabe Newell’s thoughts on Piracy vs. Service he hits the nail on the head. People know right from wrong and they want to do the right thing but they also recognize they have liberties and will do whatever they need to to keep them.

    I don’t understand SOPA. It hasn’t been sold well. I know generally from our history that whatever the name of the legislation is, it tends to do exactly the opposite. I feel that SOPA will CAUSE piracy. The guys who wrote it have never used Steam. They don’t in many cases even own laptops. They concieve of these things in the dark, getting information from very limited and biased sources. It just isn’t the best way to make policy.

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