The Battle Over Music Piracy

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					The Battle Over Music Piracy
By Lev Grossman & other writers, compiled from Time.com, 2007-2010



When Amazon.com announced its plan to open a digital music store to sell
MP3s, you had to really work to get excited about it. And Amazon's
selling MP3s? It's a digital music store. What else would it sell?


But Amazon's move was actually a strategic move in the great secret war of the $60 billion music
industry, the fight over Digital Rights Management, usually known by the spine-tinglingly thrilling
abbreviation DRM. What's DRM? An invisible layer of software that bodyguards a computer file and
limits what you can and can't do with it. Buy a song from Apple's iTunes Media Store, for example,
and you can copy the file to five computers but no more. That's because the song comes with Apple's
DRM software, FairPlay, baked in, and FairPlay has its own ideas about what is and isn't fair. Most
people don't even notice DRM--who puts their music on five different computers anyway?--but there's
something annoyingly unfair about FairPlay even in the abstract. You paid for the music. Who is
Apple to tell you where you can and can't use it?


Nobody will admit to actually liking DRM. Consumers feel retailers are treating them like potential
copyright criminals. Retailers say they use DRM only because the Record Label companies make
them. The companies blame us, the customers, for being such filthy music pirates. And around we go.
Even on iTunes, one Record Label company, EMI, agreed to sell DRM-free music, with higher audio
quality. But it'll cost ya: DRM-free tracks will go for $1.29 vs. the standard 99¢.


But all this does bring into stark relief a basic question that haunts the music industry: Can consumers
be trusted to control their own music without pirating the record labels and the artists they produce
right into the ground? The answer is yes. People have been buying and selling music for years without
DRM, in a form you may have heard of called the compact disc. CDs have never had DRM attached.
Off the record, most executives--on the technology side at least--will tell you that DRM is a dinosaur
that's waiting for the asteroid to hit. It's just a matter of when the music industry will stop assuming its
customers are all criminals.
To be clear: most of us really are criminals. Almost everybody owns a little stolen music. But a little
piracy can be a good thing. The legitimate market feeds off the black market. Music executives just
need to figure out how to live with that. (And count themselves lucky. When it comes to movies,
consumers actually do act like hardened criminals. The real pirate war is being fought in Hollywood.)


                      The Battles:        Though thousands of others have been settled out of court over
                      the past few years, only two cases have be tried in court.


Following the first actual jury trial in the Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) anti-
piracy legal campaign, Jammie Thomas-Rasset was found liable for illegally downloading and
distributing 24 copyrighted songs last June and was ordered by a federal jury to pay $220,000 for 24
songs she downloaded and shared online -- that's $9,250 per song. The judge recently lowered that
amount to $54,000, calling it a "significant and harsh" award but one that was no longer as "monstrous
and shocking" as the original award had been. At the same time, even the lowered amount of $54,000
is likely to be as unaffordable for Thomas-Rasset as the original fine had been.


The reduction in damages in the music piracy case in Minnesota has evoked cautious optimism from
Boston University student Joel Tenenbaum, found liable last July of illegally downloading and
distributing 30 copyrighted songs, and is facing a $675,000 fine in a similar case. Tenenbaum was
ordered to pay $22,500 per song by a federal jury in Boston. The RIAA, which sued Tenenbaum on
behalf of four music companies, claimed to have found more than 800 illegally downloaded songs in a
shared folder on Tenenbaum's computer. Even if the award was reduced by 10 times to just over
$67,000, it would still be a "bankrupting judgment," Tenenbaum said. Such a fine would be "a far cry"
from the 99 cents it would have cost to legally download each song, he said. The "arbitrary" size of the
jury award stems from the fact that the copyright law it was based on was meant to be applied to
commercial copyright infringers not individuals.


The RIAA itself meanwhile has argued that damages should be
based not on the price of legally purchasing the songs, but on the
potential lost sales resulting from the illegal online distribution of
copyrighted songs.
Over Seas:        Internet piracy is costing England alone almost $300 million a year, according to
technology analysis group Jupiter Research. Little wonder that European capitals are racing to win
more powers to take on the worst pirates. So far, though, they don't seem to be getting too far.
***
The French government [has tried] to crack down on illegal Internet downloads of music and movies.
The draft law, currently being debated in the parliament, would create a new Internet surveillance
system to combat online piracy — one that critics call a Big Brother–like attempt to police people's
Web activity. The bill seeks to enlist Internet service providers (ISPs), entertainment-industry
organizations and French legal authorities in an effort to identify and dissuade illegal downloading of
copyrighted music and video. A monitoring agency would send Web users who illegally download
media a cease and desist notice. Should two warnings go unheeded, ISPs would be forced to cut Web
access for one to 12 months — and add the user's name to a blacklist of pirates, where it would stay for
the duration of the ban.
***
In January, Ireland’s ISP Eirecom struck a deal with record companies under which it would ban
clients who were found to be illegally downloading music. England is also contemplating forcing ISPs
to disconnect customers tied to online piracy as part of its broadband policies by 2012. A lot is at
stake. Studies estimate that nearly 95% of music downloaded around the globe in 2008 — 40 billion
files — was illegal.
---------------------------------------------------QUESTIONS--------------------------------------------------------
1. What is Digital Rights Management (DRM)?




2. What does the RIAA stand for? _______________________________________________________
3. How much money was Jammie Thomas-Rasset told to pay for each illegal song? _______________
4. Why is the $67,000 fine in the Joel Tenenbaum case still a “far cry” from the cost of legally
downloading the actual songs for only 99 cents?




5. How much is internet piracy costing England each year? ______________________
6. What percentage of downloaded music around the world (in 2008) was illegal? ________________
Music Piracy

SURVEY: Record important titles, subtitles, bold-faced words, captions, etc.
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QUESTION: Write out at least 3 "Who, What, When, Where, Why, or How" questions based on your
survey.
1.) __________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________
2.) __________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________
3.) __________________________________________________________________________________________
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READ: As you read, look for and write down answers to the questions from above.
1.) __________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________
2.) __________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________
3.) __________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________
RECITE: Complete the FREEWRITE: "Should the government be allowed to use your internet service
providers to find people who pirate music & movies? Why or why not?"

You might want to think about the following in your response:
1.) Are there rights to privacy that the government would be invading?
2.) Should people who DO NOT pirate music or movies be under government surveillance?
3.) Is not paying the 99 cent cost per download worth the potential fine for illegal downloads?
4.) Should online music & movies be excluded from the copyright laws? Why or why not? How does
this hurt the recording companies, movie companies, or the artists themselves?

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posted:9/21/2012
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