Pollara Changes Its Tune On Music Downloading

Several years ago, Pollara was the lead polling company for CRIA and it regularly produced reports consistent with its client's view of the world.  In fact, longtime readers may recall that it in March 2006, I posted on a Pollara study that contradicted CRIA's claims.  Then Pollara President Duncan McKie (now President of the Canadian Independent Record Production Association) posted a response calling me impertinent and presumptuous, concluding "all the data that we have collected on this topic over the past 3 years point to a strong negative relationship between downloading and music purchases."

What a difference a few years (and a change in client) makes.  CRIA and Pollara parted ways soon afterward and current Pollara Executive Vice-President Robert Hutton offers a decidedly different take on the issue.  In this comment on Zeropaid, Hutton notes that relying on 2006 research is "dubious at best."  Of course, it is 2006 Pollara data that served as the basis for the Conference Board of Canada's press release on file sharing last year.  He then continues:

There is a significant body of market research from around the time downloading became a significant issue suggesting not only that downloaders were perfectly willing to pay, but also that dowloading to some extent promoted actual purchase of the tangible product. Again, all along, it was choice and service that drove downloading – not really being able to get tunes for free.

That the industry then chose to fight with it’s customers rather than address their needs merely exacerbated the problem. Perhaps they didn’t know any better, and in their desperation to hang on to that CPG model of selling music, they took the wrong route. Fighting with one’s customers has never been a successful strategy, in my experience.

What all this has to do with your topic of copyright laws, I admit, I’m not sure. Certainly, illegal downloading of copyright material is wrong. Certainly, not all those doing so are criminals in any logical sense of the word. The industry is very much to blame here, because they ignored their customers needs knowing full well that a technological revolution was at hand that would enable their customers to satisfy their needs, with or without them.

There are a number of other factors that come into the decline of the music industry that I won’t go into in depth here – lack of iconic artists, the decline in the importance of music to the Playstation generation, the product itself declining in technical quality, the commoditization of radio and prevalence of safe, computer generated playlists, the abandonment of and by the retail channel and others.

But what it all comes down to is an industry that ignored it’s customers and then started to fight with them, trying to hold on to a model that customers were saying no longer met their needs.


  1. Why should this be a surprise?
    Many polls are driven by the expectations of the people who pay for it. It is waaaay to easy to phrase the questions in a poll to generate a desired response to the money question; the questions, and the order that they are asked in, cause the respondent to answer in a desired manner so as not to appear to be hypocritical (my university psych classes come flashing back as I write this, arrrg).

    If an organization such as the CRIA were to sponsor a poll, or study, of course they have a preferred result; it is in the interest of the pollster to get the result that the client wants; this means they are more likely to get repeat business from that sponsor. This occurs not just in polling; ISO-9000 certification at one time took a hit because of multiple, competing assessors in an area, since the company being assessed hired them. If the assessed company was not passed, they wouldn’t hire that assessor the next time around.

    A sponsor would only publish a poll or study result that agreed with what they want; to do otherwise would undermine their position. The pollster or research organization, from what I have seen, generally doesn’t have the right to publish results on their own; that belongs to the sponsor (i.e. the organization that commissioned, and paid for, the work).

  2. Laurel L. Russwurm says:

    The emperor has no clothes!
    The surprise is that the Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Recording Industry Association Robert Hutton actually understands the problem.

    He gets it.

    He understands what a bad business practice it is to attack your customers.

    Even better, that he would say publicly:

    “Certainly, illegal downloading of copyright material is wrong. Certainly, not all those doing so are criminals in any logical sense of the word.”

    Ergo,” illegal downloading of copyright material” DOES NOT make you a criminal.

    This is a huge chink in the “downlaoading is theft” doublespeak campaign.


  3. @Laurel L. Russwurm
    I think you misread the posting. From the posting: “current Pollara Executive Vice-President Robert Hutton”…

  4. Laurel L. Russwurm says:

    @Anon-K You’re right, mea culpa.

    The curse of optimism strikes again. *sigh*

  5. Robert Hutton says:

    “Current Executive Vice-President”
    As the “current Executive Vice-President” of Pollara, I feel a few clarifications here are warranted.

    First, I suppose we have here another case of spinning the way a side wishes to spin. Such is the lot of market research firms, who produce data on public opinion for clients – as Anon-K rightly implies, research firms do not publish client studies – the clients do, and hence, often interpretation is not under the researcher’s control.

    As far as Anon-K’s comments regarding phrasing questions to produce a desired result, we would hope that no reputable research firm would do so. However, at the same time, the limitations of any survey with respect to a complex, multi-faceted issue such as downloading and copyright law must be pointed out – it is highly doubtful that any single survey can completely uncover the totality of opinion surrounding a complex issue. Let’s face it – it’s just not possible for a single survey to ask, in a short time available to ask respondents, all the questions needed to fully understand a multi-dimensional issue. That does not in any way imply that a single survey is wrong or biased – it simply recognizes that a single survey may not be enough in all cases. I’m not referring here to any specific survey – I’m talking in general about surveys and their limits.

    Here. with respect, Mr. Geist is also engaging in a bit of spin to support his “side” – Pollara has in no way “changed it’s tune on music downloading” – that is wrong. Pollara has no tune to change – it collects data on public opinion. If there has been an impression given otherwise in the past, that is unfortunate.

    I merely posted on Zeropaid to correct some impressions left in a blog post there.

    It only makes sense that using 3 year old data to advocate a position has to be taken with some caution, particularly in a matter and industry so quickly shifting. I doubt that any data General Motors collected on consumer behaviors and intentions in 2006 would have been of much use in 2009, but the researcher can’t help it if someone cares to do so.

    As to the comment “what a difference a few years (and a change in client) makes” – I take exception to both the implication and the statement itself – the implication that because Pollara hasn’t worked with CRIA since 2006 that this makes any difference. As I said in my Zeropaid post, I have no idea if CRIA is doing any research currently or has done since 2006.

    The implication that Pollara changes it’s tune because it hasn’t worked with CRIA in the past few years is unfortunate. My post on Zeropaid simply pointed out what should be apparent to any informed marketing professional looking at the music industry – downloading, and technology overall, are enablers – not ends unto themselves. They have allowed music consumers to express and enable unmet needs. It seems to me that this is the fundamental issue ignored in this discussion, all around.

    As far as my comment on Zeropaid as to downloading being wrong, again, it doesn’t take any research or legal expertise to appreciate that illegally downloading copyrighted creative works is not right. But perhaps I was not clear in my subsequent comment that not all those doing such downloading are criminals in any logical sense of the word. What I was trying to say here is – in my mind, criminality usually involves some measure of intent, and again, here there is a body of research data suggesting that certainly many of those doing illegal downloading are not necessarily aware of the illegality, or may be simply naive as to it’s effects and consequences. Here, connecting the dots with my comments as to the music industry trying to hang on to and force the outmoded CPG model on it’s customers and fighting with their customers, there is a suggestion that perhaps some market research aimed at uncovering how the industry can best communicate with customers and meet their needs might have been (and still may be) a better approach. Again, from a pure marketing perspective, drawing on both our experience in consumer market research and a bit of common sense, fighting with customers to not meet their needs is not ultimately a successful model.

    If there is anything that being in the online world as marketers and market researchers has taught us, it is that a collaborative approach with customers is usually the best approach, and this is really all my Zeropaid post was trying to convey.

  6. “we would hope that no reputable research firm would do so”

    I’m not sure what you mean by reputable, but I’m sure there are research firms that cater to their customers, and these would be the ones to use if you are trying to prove a point rather than trying to gather information. I have noticed slanted questions on many a survey, and I don’t even agree to take many of them.

  7. @crade Bell Canada uses those types for all polls.If a poll is not in thier favour they change the questions to suit thier needs.And of course the crtc takes Bell’s polls to be the truth

  8. Vincent Clement says:

    “There are a number of other factors that come into the decline of the music industry ”

    Mr. Hutton means the “decline of the recording industry”. The music industry is doing just fine.

  9. Plot thickens
    Was the Conference Board of Canada involved in this? 😉

  10. “If there is anything that being in the online world as marketers and market researchers has taught us, it is that a collaborative approach with customers is usually the best approach, and this is really all my Zeropaid post was trying to convey.”

    Understandable, but right now you have a massive problem with the relationship with the consumer that needs repairing, and groups such as Sookman and the CRIA who have publically come out in support of a graduated response to consumers actions are actually propelling the negative aspects of this fight even further into the abyss.

    Being a marketing professional myself, and looking at the utter discontent displayed by those in the music industry who are supposed to be marketing talent in the digital realm, is appalling. There is no sense in your conclusions on this complex issue that you even know how to market talent to the consumer effectively, or even understand the market and culture you are now faced with. That evident!

    Yes, Industry was wrong to go to war with consumers (which is a very, very small part out of the deal), but it will be those that discover through market research how to effectively promote, that will propel this industry forward using P2P, social networking, etc as a promotional tool. Due to the utter ignorance displayed especially by marketers such as yourself in this industry, the only thing that will move us forward from this war, is market share, not laws, not government. It’s a race to the top Mr. Hutton, and from the sounds of it, you have a long way to go.

    Maybe thinking P2P and file sharing as an opportunity, rather than criminal, and rather thinking or excusing consumers intent with legal ignorance (your consumers know it’s wrong to download the industry has been drilling this in the skulls of consumers for 10 years but aren’t listening for a reason you squid), you should be thinking market reallocation and how to reach those in this realm and the tremendous amount of marketing and ad potential and opportunities that arise that’s not being taking advantage of.

    Get used to the term “Creative Destruction” Mr. Hutton. Because if you don’t acknowledge this is what has happened, which you do not in either of your responses, you won’t be an effective marketer in industry for much longer. Those that have actually been sucessful promoters and marketers in the new digital marketplace will be coming after your clientele this year. I promise you! Times up, and time to move forward!

  11. Mr, Hutton one last thing:

    Area’s in Industry have become obsolete, not just the business model of physical sales, but the entire promotional aspect to ensure return on investment needs to be re-written and correspond to what’s happening on the ground because you guys have chosen to look the other way for so long. While I see some hint of that in your responses, I do have to apologize for the tone my response above.

    I’m extremely frustrated at the unjust so many have faced due to those who used to be resilient in adapting marketing and promotional activities in this industry traditionally, to be so stupid enough to miss the mark completely over this past decade, that many have suffered due to the actions of the professionals in this industry (Both artistic and consumer being pitted against one another) and who it’s being blamed on. Terms used to describe the consumer in the marketplace as illegal, pirates, thieves are starting to become very discriminatory towards the marketplace you are faced with and will have to sell to! The fact you are using those terms still suggest you still don’t quite get it yet.

    Good luck!

  12. Captain Hook says:

    Break the law, it is only right. Arrrrrrrr
    Robert Hutton saiz:

    As far as my comment on Zeropaid as to downloading being wrong, again, it doesn’t take any research or legal expertise to appreciate that illegally downloading copyrighted creative works is not right.


    Arrrr, I take a wee bit of exception to that remark, and I think it takes a tad more intellectual forethought before one can come up with such a broad claim as this. This remark implies there is a direct correlation between legality and morality which most people and all pirates know is not the case.

    If copyright law gave rights holders absolute control of their work with no exceptions for fair use what-so-ever, with no resale rights for consumers, and the control was perpetual in time and wide enough in breadth so as to include even “inspired” works as derivatives, then I think many would consider it perfectly acceptable to break the law, because many (most?) would consider the law to be WRONG.

    Most people believe some degree of copyright to be a good thing for society. Even all but the roughest and toughest of pirates (Like the ones off the coast of Somalia perhaps). Now consider how much control has been handed over to rights holders over the last few centuries. Terms expanded from 14 years to life plus 70 or even 90 years in some places. Breadth has increased as well. All without a penny of compensation to society. Arrrrrrr, who are the real pirates here anyway????

    Where we stand now is somewhere in the middle, between copyright being so narrow that exceptionally few people would take exception to the limits it applies to them, to copyright being so wide that many/most think it is wrong. The copyright holding barons are trying to take us even further in that direction, and many of us feel it is our duty to break copyright law at every turn to demonstrate how little respect it has or deserves. Arrrrrrr, a revolution is afoot me maties. Hoist the sails and man the Torrent Trackers, it’s going to be a rough ride.

  13. Most are unaware, and there are those who are AWARE and WILLING to destroy corporations
    “What I was trying to say here is – in my mind, criminality usually involves some measure of intent, and again, here there is a body of research data suggesting that certainly many of those doing illegal downloading are not necessarily aware of the illegality, or may be simply naive as to it’s effects and consequences. ”

    Those who are unaware are now joined by those who are informed consumers.

    Smart consumers get informed about crippled hardware and deliberately don’t buy corporate product. They also pass word to their friends so that they don’t put their money in pockets of the copy protection mafia. Why buy a BluRay player that will refuse to play your media at the will of the entertainment cartels? Get HD movies from friends who got them from peer-to-peer networks. And even among those “free” movies I would not watch any single movie produced by Hollywood, 99% of them sucks (IMHO).

    And there are few of those who are having fun in destroying corporations, by tarnishing their already dirty reputation everywhere they can. It is a slow, but sure process, and it is definitely fun! Just look at blog postings everywhere, including this site.

  14. The insistence that “illegal downloading” is indeed “illegal” is precisely the reason why music sales are in decline. With the awful quality of radio here, there is no channel to sample music any more. We don’t know what kind of music is out there or how they sound like. Of course we don’t buy.

    Put in some DRM and we don’t even know if we make the leap of faith and buy something whether it will play. It is a miracle there has been *any* sales.

  15. @ambrose
    “The insistence that “illegal downloading” is indeed “illegal” is precisely the reason why music sales are in decline.”

    I completely agree with that. Legalize and monetize it! Build the copyright into the networks, rather keeping it to an obsolete product and business model that is no longer a relevant force within industry and will never be again, regardless of law or government action. It’s a different place out there now, with unqualified people in positions they shouldn’t be in with respect to digital imaging and marketing. Those in these positions should have both tech and media education. There’s a huge knowledge and age gap in a lot of these big media corps. The old guys need to start thinking about retirement.

  16. @Robert Hutton
    First of all, thank you for posting here and on Zeropaid. Your opinions and observations are welcome, even if many do not agree with them.

    I agree with your sentiment that the industry has to carry as much, if not more, “blame” for the sorry state we find ourselves in right now. Ignoring customer needs and behaviour is never a good tactic. Actively treating those customers as criminals turns those customers into enemies. And the word continues to spread with every court case, every bit of lobbying for stronger copyright law, every copyright infringement notice sent to ISPs. They turn potential customers into new enemies every single day.

    I find Anon-K’s observation, and your acknowledgement, that market research companies often cannot control the way the statics are assembled and the “conclusions” that are reached enlightening. The sad fact is that the names of such companies (your’s included) are often attached to the reports generated, and they have to take the heat for the conclusions presented. Customer and public anger will be directed at you as much as the organisation that commissioned and wrote the final “report”. It would be nice to see a real analysis done, without any preconceptions or bias, and without any “spin” in the final report. Open questions, open data, transparent methodology. Probably tough to do with an issue that has become as polarized as this one.

    The digital age is here. The clock cannot be turned back. Digital distribution of copyrighted works is easy, and very inexpensive. It has highlighted the difference between content and distribution media. License vs product. The digital society doesn’t much care about media, they want content. They want it convenient, immediate, and on a global scale. They want to move it between different devices with impunity. Not just today’s devices, but tomorrow’s popular devices and obscure devices being dreamed up in some garage right now. Technology neutral content. No locks, no restrictions. If the industry doesn’t provide it, they will find it somehow.

    That’s the market that needs to be addressed. In the absence of any legitimate channels, these “customers” created or found their own. Instead of fulfilling that market need, the industry has elected to antagonise these customers. Making more enemies, some that feel so strongly they won’t use legitimate channels even if such eventually become available.

    The extreme polarization around this issue is saddening. It is turning average citizens into “pirates”, with daily regularity. It’s heading for a showdown, a showdown that the content industry cannot “win” in the long term. Not in technology, not in society, and -in the long run- not in government policy.

  17. strunk&white says:

    downtrodden consumers revolt!

    Please clarify when you get the chance — “some that feel so strongly they won’t use legitimate channels even if such eventually become available.”

    And when they don’t use legitimate channels, will that be right or wrong?

    A simple “right” or “wrong” preferred. “It depends” is not really an answer the downtrodden artist can stomach.

    And to be accurate, creating or finding a channel that does not involve compensation for product has nothing to do with a “market.” Markets are about mutually agreed-upon exchange. Taking is not the market alternative to buying. Not-buying is.

  18. Captain Hook says:

    Aye, Revolt I say!
    Aye Mr White, now answer me this. If the government grants another party permission to come in and rape and pillage your land, (Say as the Zimbabwe government did with white farms), then afterwards the scoundrels who took your land offer to sell you the food it now produces in a legitimate market, would you be overly willing to buy from the vermin? Nay I say, I expect you might want to steal all you could and disrupt their lives as much as you could.

    In this case the land is public domain works, and fair use rights, and the thieving vermin are the media companies who are trying to destroy both.

    As you say sir, “Markets are about mutually agreed-upon exchange.” when big media owns the market and everything in it, then there is no “mutually agreed-upon exchange” only a monopoly. An ill gotten monopoly at that, and some of us will do all we can to disrupt these scoundrels who steal and sell us back our own culture. Arrrrrrrr.

  19. @strunk&white
    Consumers have already been revolting. I think that comes out clear in Mr. Hutton’s recent findings.

  20. Captain Hook says:

    Aye, Jason K. I expect Mr. White already knows that though. Arrrrr, what he was asking for was for the oldguy to make a judgement on whether this was right or not.

    Us pirates are obviously already there in terms of justifying this behaviour. The oldguy, and I expect many other, are at the tipping point between disgruntled compliance and revolution. Arrrr, I expect I’ll soon have no trouble gett’n me more recruits fors me crew. Arrrrrrr.

  21. Dr. Strangelove says:

    Excellent posting by Geist, and very interesting to see Mr. Hutton’s thoughtful responses. One thing is clear, there is a cultural stuggle over the meaning of property and the morality of piracy. I love quoting media theorist Mark Poster to my students, who declares that “all citizens have an obligation to violate copyright law whenever they can.” They can and they do . . .

    Dr. Strangelove
    University of Ottawa
    Author of Empire of Mind: Digital Piracy and the Anti-capitalist movement (University of Toronto Press).

  22. strunk&white says:

    cover of the Rolling Stone
    dr. hook,

    I’m sorry your land was raped and pillaged. That sounds awful. You should write a song about it. Call it “Ballad of the Hyperbolic.”

    I guess my confusion is why you would intentionally conflate the public domain with copyright protected works.

    Works don’t exist as part of “our own culture” until someone creates them. My society, which I guess you are choosing to live outside of, values creation and so grants limited controls over new creations to those who create them. Most often, those creators are individual artists, designers, etc., not the big evil corporations you’ve decided to tilt against in your high-minded revolution.

    I invite you to name me an instance where an individual artist, or even a big, scary corporation is keeping you from works that are legitimately within the public domain.

    Oh, and the whole pirate persona thing. It is so working for you.

    Does anyone here actually know what copyright is?

  23. Captain Hook says:

    Unfair questions
    Arrrr, Mr, S&W thanks for the compliment on me persona. It goes so well with all me pirate regalia and all. Arrrr, and of course, me hook. I’ll have a go and see what I can compose for a song to play upon me fiddle.

    Ye, asks a loaded question when ye asks what “is keeping [me] from works that are legitimately within the public domain.” as it automatically rules out works that are not in the public domain, but would be if they hadn’t kept changing the term of copyright (i.e. the definition of public domain)

    I’ll refer ya to me first post where I mention that the term of copyright has greatly expanded from its inception. If they had kept the term where it was originally or even at 28 years which which was the Americans original maximum, then anything published before 1982 would be in the public domain now.

    It is a tad hard to calculate what works me-self and others are being denied due to these ever increasing term extensions, because now all works are not treated the same. Works from young authors and from collaborative authors get more protections then works of older individual authors due to the LIFE+50 terms we now follow, but I’d reckon we are looking at roughly 60 years worth of works spanning most of the 20th century. Now those thieving scoundrels are trying to take even more of our land by pressing our government to extend copyright again to LIFE+70. Arrrrrr, make no mistake matie, the land is being pillaged, and it is not just mine. It is yours mine and ours. Maybe you could help with the score of this ballad eh? Remember, I’m pulling for you. We’re all in this together.

  24. strunk&white says:

    a load of what, exactly?
    So, a “loaded” question is one you can’t answer?

    You can’t name an instance of you being denied access to public domain works, in other words. I thought not.

    The logic behind copyright term extensions is to allow the creator or legal rightsholder continued right to benefit from the market popularity and commercial value of intellectual property. It is not intended to keep the consumer away from culture. You have legal access to all copyrighted works in the marketplace — all you have to do is pay for it. In the digital age, it’s pretty hard to make a convincing case that copyrighted works aren’t available enough, and at 99 cents for a song, it’s pretty hard to argue price. So, what’s the issue? Who stole your land, exactly?

    I think it’s fine to question term extensions and even the existing terms — but use logic, not petty cheapskatism for a more convincing argument.

    And when you eventually get a place of your own, I’m sure the pirate act will make it a total babe-trap.

  25. Captain Hook says:

    strunk&white saiz:

    You can’t name an instance of you being denied access to public domain works, in other words. I thought not.


    Bi Jove mate. I named roughly everything that had been produced between 1922 and and 1982. You seriously only wanted one?

    I realize what the logic is behind term extensions, and for what it’s worth I agree with ya. Most every word in fact. What ye don’t say is why rightsholders should get “continued right to benefit from the market popularity and commercial value of intellectual property”? Accepting that statement at face value, one would also have to accept perpetual copyright. A concept which I’ll fight to the death. Arrrrrr

    Aye, copyright is not “intended to keep the consumer away from culture.”, but often that is the effect. Not just consumers either, but other creators as well. Here are a few terms ye might want to google. “The cat NOT in the hat”, “WKRP soundtrack”, “Eyes on the prize”, “grey album”. There are many many many more, but that might get ye started. As Howard Knopf saiz, Copyright is good, excess copyright is not. We are currently very much at the excess copyright end of the spectrum, and people are rebelling. Ye, can choose to ignore it if ye like, but it is real. Look at the Pirate Party in the EU, Arrrrrr, or even the IP policy of the Greens here. The public domain is being stolen right out from under our noses. People like you can’t even see it, but it is us pirates who will rescue it from the clutches of the suited serpents and will share the bounty will all. Yo ho ho.

    You use a curious term cheapskatism. While my words may be brightly colours in pirate regalia, do not question the sincerity of the underlying message. We are headed in the wrong direction down this IP road, and nothing but public defiance will get us to change course.

    As for the babes, har har har, I keep at least two in my captain’s quarters all the time. They can’t get enough of me. I think it’s me pirate treasure they are after if ya know what I mean.

  26. @strunk&white
    I have been down this road with you before. I don’t want to get into a morality debate with you, we obviously see things differently. I see morality as something that is viewed in situational context and tempered by human nature. There are no “absolutes”. Even the difference between what is morally “right” for an individual and morally “right” for a society in which that individual exists can be dramatically different.

    I am pointing out the situation the way I see it, not judging the moral “right” or “wrong”. Pointing out the results of actions. Human nature. Pragmatic reality if you wish.

    Markets are defined by customers, not suppliers. Yes, it is possible to “create a market” by influencing customer opinion or behaviour. Ask Robert Hutton, I’m sure he can give you lots of pointers on how to do so. The market is still defined by the customers. If technology advances or outside influences change that market, suppliers need to adapt or become irrelevant. There is no such thing as a 100% “captive market” where the supplier defines the market, not even a prison.

    Technology has given us the digital age, which has enabled the formation of a global digital society. It already exists. It is growing every day. The content industry ignored it, and it went it’s own way. Then the industry attacked it, and it responds. The responses cover the full range of human variability.

    The digital age has dramatically affected the traditional copyright “landscape”. Turned it upside down. Affecting industries and rights holders that depend on it, tilting the balance between rights holders and society in a way that leaves too much on the side of the rights holders. Rebalancing and adapting is required.

    But the digital age has also created something much bigger and much more important, a global digital society. Step back and take a look at the big picture. This whole copyright issue should be just a minor blip, but instead it is taking on a character that is shaping values, ultimately to the detriment of the content industry and rights holders. Making enemies out of a society of customers.

  27. Anonymous Coward says:

    I want to hate the pirates but Hollywood made me love them instead!

  28. Robert Hutton says:

    I follow this discussion with much interest! I have to say, I am encouraged by the overall civility in the discussion. One of the unfortunate consequences of the internet era is a significant empowerment of disrespectful behavior, indeed, there is a significant body of thinking emerging suggesting that much of the increasing polarization of society – particularly in the U.S. – is a consequence of water cooler discussion moving into social media, and enabling extreme views while pushing out the average, middle citizen from the discussion.

    Dr. Strangelove said “there is a cultural struggle over the meaning of property and the morality of piracy”, and that is an interesting comment. As a market researcher, it seems to me that very often in these matters, interested parties with competing interests make representations using surveys they commissioned themselves to support their agenda.

    Back to the earlier comments, which spurred my entry into this discussion in the first place, around surveys being ‘biased’, or used by interested parties with some spin applied to further their aims – I had a fairly random thought. I pose it as a challenge of sorts!

    Why don’t those key players taking positions on this matter commission a single survey – a comprehensive one, done right, that asks agreed upon questions placed in a fair and agreed upon context, that identifies public and customer opinions and can be used by all in a collaborative way to come to a common position – or if not a common position (which may be unrealistic), at least a common basis of public opinion fact upon which to move forward?

    At the end of the day, for both the recording industry, the copyright advocates, the governments involved, the artists and all other parties, the issue that matters the most is what customers and the public want and will accept – their values towards property rights and their views on what constitutes piracy, their feelings on how artists rights and income can be reconciled with their needs and expectations, and so on. It seems to me that is a better way than a polarized battle with conflicting ‘facts’.

  29. strunk&white says:

    Bring it on
    Alright, Mt. Hutton, I’m in on the survey. Let’s see just how far the pirate and the old fella really trust their revolution. My faith in real morality, not “situational” morality, whatever that is.

  30. strunk&white says:

    Working on an iPhone – sorry for the typos. By the way, I’ll bet I can guess the pirate’s name. Just a guess, based on my love of the show Criminal Minds and my own ability to “profile.” Dare me?

  31. Open Survey
    @Robert Hutton

    Yes, Excellent idea. I would be interested in seeing such a survey. Open questions, open results, open methodology.

    It would have to be carefully set out though, to stay neutral. Let me start by tossing out some suggestions.
    Starting from your stated proposal, I would suggest it be separated into sections.

    A section on their usage of media players (CD/DVD, mp3 players, video players, computers, media servers, etc. EG: How many times have they changed devices in the last X years?
    A section on what customers and the public want.
    A section on how and where they obtain their digital content today.
    A section on how artists and authors rights should be fairly protected.
    A section on their views on current and proposed copyright protections. IE: terms and extensions, fair dealing/usage, transfer between devices, backups, etc.

    Avoid the inaccurate term “intellectual property”, and the term “pirate”. Both terms are emotionally loaded, and I don’t think we need any more polarizing emotions around this issue.

    I don’t think pricing or payment should part of the basic survey, there are many areas where payment is not part of the copyright holder requirements for licensing. I would expect such in a marketing survey, so keep it in a separate section and ask what would be “fair” pricing for licenses on digital music, tv shows, movies, books, photos, etc. How much for a “one time license” vs how much for a lifetime, etc.

    Keep in mind such a survey should be clear that it is about content, focusing on the digital content capabilities made available in current and upcoming technology, not media it is delivered on. The media used to store or playback is changing so rapidly that anything you ask today might be invalid next month. Focus on behaviour and values relating to the content.

    And leave it open so participants can ask *their* questions as well, perhaps as something they would like to see on a “future” survey. Such questions tend to show the blind spots in any survey, and sometimes these questions can reveal more than simple “answers” ever can.


    Can you think of anything glaringly wrong in my suggestions? Have I missed anything? Or included things you would *not* want to see in an open survey?

  32. Morality – one more try

    Sigh.. Last try. Please try to appreciate the distinction between ethics, values, and morality.
    What I said was:
    “I see morality as something that is viewed in [a] situational context and tempered by human nature.”

    The previous examples I tried were perhaps too subtle for you to see. Lets try something more obvious. The morality of hitting someone that has never laid a hand on you.

    Obviously, it is morally “right” to defend yourself. If they missed when they swung that 2×4, you are still morally right to hit them.

    Defending someone else. If you come across a rape in progress in the park, hitting the rapist is morally right.
    Dialling 911 and describing the rapist in detail is also morally right. Does this mean hitting the rapist is wrong?

    If you are a man in an Arab culture, hitting a woman that speaks out of turn is “morally right”, even if your values might restrain you from doing so.

    Throwing the first punch in the boxing ring is morally neutral.

    Now a tougher one. The victim of severe psychological abuse, in a situation where they cannot reasonably distance or remove themselves from the situation. Is it morally right to strike? I don’t know, I can’t pass moral judgement until I know a LOT more, perhaps not even then.

    Situational context. Stir it up with normal human nature.

    Morality is such a slippery and relative topic, no absolutes. The key is to walk a mile in the other person’s shoes, in their “head”, before you can possibly judge “right or wrong”. Extrapolate this to society and cultures.

    I could go on all night with examples. But if this doesn’t give you pause to think, I don’t know what will.

    I learned a long time ago to be more pragmatic. Observe behaviour, determine values, and the reasons behind them. More productive, less anguish over other people’s morality. Sometimes you even learn to appreciate those values, because the reasons behind them aren’t bad, just different.

    So can you drop the innuendos about morality and focus on the real topic?

  33. strunk&white says:

    slippery indeed
    Yes, oldguy, your examples are far too subtle for me. Please make things even more explicit. I know — let’s say someone is trying to burn one hundred cute puppies to death, and you had access to a hose but did not own the water rights for the property — would it be morally wrong to turn on that hose? And isn’t that just exactly like file-sharing?

    The problem, as I see it, with the slipperiness you describe, is that you are actually applying it to the very concept of right and wrong, rather than to the situation. Is that maybe too subtle a concept for you to understand? Situations are indeed very slippery things, but if you approach them with a solid moral core you can have some confidence in your own ability to handle the inevitable skid.

    So, to complete your analogy, it is in fact always wrong to hit someone who has never laid a hand on you, and no situation can possibly make it less wrong. That’s a true working morality. Certain slippery situations — and they really do exist in the realm of the extreme, don’t they? — can make your wrong action more or less excusable and/or understandable, but they don’t make it less wrong. I invite you to feel great about hitting a rapist in order to save his victim, but please don’t mistake that for an invitation to continue to physically attack whomever you believe to be a bad person, because I don’t want to live in a vigilante society.

    Let’s stop with the analogies that so subtly paint copyright holders as 2×4 wielding rapists, and talk about what we’re actually discussing. Songs and movies are generally produced with a clear copyright protection warning attached to them. It is, in our society (even our e-volving one) clearly wrong to disregard that warning and to copy, share, distribute and otherwise use those works outside the bounds of the initial transfer agreement. That’s not a swinging 2×4, that’s our law. No-one is trying to hurt you or anyone else with that law; rather we are all trying to protect creators with it. Wait a second, I’m starting to see an analogy forming here. Wouldn’t that place the 2×4 in the hands of file-sharing teenagers and their enabling grandfathers? Hey, what am I allowed to do to them in your slippery morality?

    As to the survey, if the final version mentions neither Intellectual Property nor piracy, I’m not sure why we would bother to put out a survey. If you want to know what the average consumer wants, we don’t need a survey. Everything, as close to free as possible — that’s the answer. But if we aren’t discussing the rights of IP holders, and the problem of piracy within the context of digital consumerism, what are we talking about?

  34. Captain Hook says:

    slip on this
    strunk&white saiz:

    So, to complete your analogy, it is in fact always wrong to hit someone who has never laid a hand on you, and no situation can possibly make it less wrong.


    s&w i think most people would agree with you here. It is even wrong in the absence of laws that say it is wrong. And THAT is where your 2×4 wielding rapist differs from copyright infringement. Unlike physical assault, without laws that define copyright infringement, there is no way you could argue that copying songs and movies over the internet is universally wrong. The terms and breadth of the rights of copyright holders are arbitrarily defined by law makers who are more and more beholden to the big media companies rather than their constituents. Therefore there is a certain question of legitimacy to the reach of these laws that generally does not exist with assault and battery.

    As for the survey. The reason for leaving out the terms Intellectual Property and piracy, is that they unfairly bias any question. How about using the terms Intellectual Monopoly and Copyright infringement instead? Those are more accurate and less bias.

  35. strunk&white says:


    Have you ever stopped to read the copyright warning at the front of a DVD, or in a book, or on a CD? Are you saying those warnings do not make it clear enough to you that copying that film/book/cd and then sharing it around on the Internet thrpough a torrent site is against the law? What more definition do you need?

    A I think you may have missed the fact that oldguy does not agree with me about the wrongness of hitting someone. He has subtleties in his character you and I cannot fathom.

    Not interested to see if I can profile you, Captain? I’m willing to bet your opinions are so unique to one or two overactive commenters that I can guess your name. If you don’t want to be identified, let me guess where you live.

  36. Captain Hook says:

    Answer me this
    s&w saiz:
    Have you ever stopped to read the copyright warning at the front of a DVD, or in a book, or on a CD? Are you saying those warnings do not make it clear enough to you that copying that film/book/cd and then sharing it around on the Internet thrpough a torrent site is against the law? What more definition do you need?

    Possibly against the law, but something being against the law does not automatically make it immoral, and therefore wrong. I thought you were talking about right and wrong, not legal and illegal.

    Did you know that there are a lot of public domain movies (at least by US law) Many of them are or were also on VHS with those same copyright warnings. It is not illegal to copy them any more even though the warnings are still there. What’s changed? Oh yeah, a totally arbitrary period of time has passed. That has made something that was illegal/wrong yesterday, magically legal/right today. Kinda puts copyright at the pinnacle of moral relativism doesn’t it?

    You’re also a pretty funny guy. brandishing a threat to identify someone as if it is some kind of weapon, rather that actually addressing the issues of the debate. Is this your end game strategy for a lost argument? And what is your real name good sir?

    I will neither admit nor deny what ever identity you devise for me, as it is wholly irrelevant. I’d much rather see you address the issues though, which, referring back to your original post, I believe has to do with the intersection of legal/illegal and right/wrong.

    Oldguy and my posts have generally been trying to get you to see that right and wrong for copyright are not absolutes. So far through your attacking of our posts it looks very much like you see it in very black and white absolute terms. While I have tried to prove this is not the case with discussion of copyright terms, you have so far avoiding talking about this directly.

    So how about it. If copyright right and wrongs are so clear cut, why is it OK to copy after the copyright has expired?

    Because that is what the law says?

    Then who is to say the law is right? What is the basis of that law? If the laws are not fair, why should I (or anyone else) obey them? What about my rights to my personal real property which are by definition infringed by DRM technology? Why should my rights be secondary to media company rights?

    These are all questions that I’d really like to see your answers to.

  37. strunk&white says:

    the logic of the copyleft
    And around and ’round we go. Maybe it’s right, maybe it’s wrong, maybe it’s the law, maybe it shouldn’t be. The same old copyleft shell game. If you don’t like the way the argument is going, start questioning the terms being used. How about intellectual monopoly? How about supercalifragilistic infringement?

    Well, how about just staying within the argument and trying to convince me (or anyone) on the points at hand. I’ll bet you had a childhood of sweeping all the chess men off the board as well.

    We live in a society of laws. You don’t like the law, work to change it. That’s your right. You want to break that law instead of working to change it, you should be punished. If you get away with breaking the law because tons of people are also doing it and the man can’t catch everyone, well then all you are is lucky.

    Are you really asking me why it’s okay to copy something after the copyright term has expired? I repeat my earlier question — does anyone on this blog actually know what copyright is?

    Blah, blah, blah “what about my rights?” Can’t you see you lose all moral authority to discuss your rights when you give yourself permission to ignore everyone else’s. And I really do mean everyone else’s. Copyright is not restricted to elites and corporations, no matter how you’d like to see it positioned. Copyright is a UN-recognized human right for each and every individual on the planet. Nevertheless, if you actually feel your rights over the property you have purchased are infringed by corporate practice, I invite you to prove it, and fight within the law for your rights. Wait, I hear an excuse being formulated.

    So, you feel my offer to profile you as a threat? Interesting. Actually, I was just making the point that there seem to be so few arguments against copyright, and that they are so rapidly losing any moral authority, they must inevitably come from one of a very few sources.

    I get it. I’d be embarrassed too if I had to make my points in a clownish pirate voice.

  38. Captain Hook says:

    s&w saiz:
    If you don’t like the way the argument is going, start questioning the terms being used. How about intellectual monopoly? How about supercalifragilistic infringement?
    So strunk&white, when DID you stop beating your wife anyway? What not a fair question? Why not?

    Anyone can tell you that how the question is phrased can introduce a huge degree of bias. A fair question will not use language that shows preference for one answer over another. Your refusal to consider that these terms bias the question show that you are unwilling to even consider the premise of the issue from oldguy any my perspectives. Much like how the current law makers see it, but not the millions of people they would make into criminals of course. I am definitely getting the idea that this thread is pretty much exhausted as we appear to be very much talking past each other.

    I am very much trying to say within the argument, which is why I tried clarifying in my last post exactly what I thought the arguement was about.

    What is it you think this argument is about anyway? From your post you say that we should obey copyright law because…. well, because it is the law. Very deep. Why do you refuse to look beyond that, as to whether the law is reasonable or not?

    You say “If you get away with breaking the law because tons of people are also doing it and the man can’t catch everyone, well then all you are is lucky.” but don’t you think the fact that so many are doing it says anything at all about the reasonableness of the law that is being ignored? Do you really think that a law most citizens disagree with is one that deserves to be enforced? Even worse, when such a law bestows statutory penalties that are far out of proportion with the damage caused by the law breaker, does that not verge of persecution rather than prosecution?

    I strongly believe that if copyright were more balanced then fewer people would pirate media, and those that did would be much more likely to be ostracized by their peers. As it is, I know many people who pirate, and freely acknowledge it because people do not consider it unacceptable. Those attitude will not change until we have a reasonable change in copyright law. The changes they are contemplating now will only make it worse and ironically produce more, not fewer, pirates.

  39. strunk&black says:

    strunk&white is off the mark
    You can have your copyright… Take it for 10,000 years if you like… No one cares… Most of what the industry puts out is garbage anyways.

    I think what most of us are concerned with is moving to a DMCA style universe.


    1) I paid for a large collection of CD’s. I should have the right to transfer it to any new piece of technology I like. An artist should have no say in what I do with paid works after the fact. In fact I refuse to buy any BD-LIVE contect because of their insane DRM scheme that offers no resilience at all.

    2) I lose the right to make a backup. If I pay thousands of dollars for my media collection, I should have the right to protect that investment. Especially when the folks selling it to me try so hard to make it non-functional over time.

    I continue to purchase CD’s today. I can tell you the day that I’m forced into paying $ .99 for some crappy compressed 160kbps MP3, is the day I an artist will never see a penny from me again. The second I get my CD I rip into FLAC and copy it to my Media Server… is this illegal? The music industry would have it be so…

    This is where the industry loses what little sympathy I have for them. You sell me something and then want to continue to control what I do with it after. Sorry no deal. I want a full refund on all my CD’s the second this new law passes. I’ll stop listening to music before I spend hard earned money only to have my method of enjoyment controlled.

    The biggest issue here, is when you insist on invading my privacy by insisting on ISP’s policing or implementing filtering systems. Sorry – It will be over my dead body that I will have future generations deal with a filtered internet. Filters don’t work, and Deep Packet inspection is flawed beyond belief.

    When and if the day comes where we start to go down this road, there will be many a person fighting for their free speech. You’re seeing just the beginning of it here.

  40. strunk&white says:

    please be more clear in your terminology

    Don’t you mean “more, not fewer, infringers.” I thought you were going for bias-neutral language? And in what alternatie universe, exactly, is the word “monopoly” bias-neutral.

    I’m quite sure you can’t contruct a “fair” question on copyright — and that’s my point. For you “fair” is relative, just as “right” and “wrong” are relative for old guy. “Fair” means the way Captain Hook sees things. Sort of like how Fair Copyright for Canada means “answering the requests of consumers at the expense of existing rightsholders.” It’s been a long time since I believed there’s a prominent member of your lobby who’s interested in what’s actually fair.

    You can avoid admitting the gaping flaws in your logic by saying the string has run out on this argument. I return to the blog every once in a while just to see if anyone is advancing anything worth agreeing with, and so far it’s all the same two or three weak points endlessly forwarded as though they mean something. Do you really hope to convince legislators to change laws with those tactics?

    “Lots of people are breaking the law. That means we should break the law.” I gotta admit, it’s pretty unstoppable logic. I sure hope the assault and murder lobby picks up on that one.

    Most citizens disagree with copyright law? Prove it. Because they join a Facebook group and take free stuff when someone gives it to them in a dark room? Piffle.

  41. @strunk&white
    Morality != simply obeying the law. It’s not below it, or above it either, it’s outside of it completely.

    Please research prohibition in the US and the rest of the world. Look into the society, laws, and the “morality” of those times.

    Society changes, government changes, laws change to match. The individuals that are ahead of the curve are not necessarily morally wrong – or right.

    This is why you and I will never agree on what is morally “right or wrong”. We aren’t even talking about the same thing.

    You have to realise that modern copyright law didn’t even exist a little over 300 years ago.
    Check into the history of copyright, at one time the USA was classified as a “pirate nation”, because they did not honor copyrights issued in any country other than their own. US publishers conveniently printed those books without paying royalties. They even sold them overseas, back into the country of the author.

    The terms of copyright have been extended time and again over the last century.

    Does this mean that “morality” changed because the laws changed? Or does it mean that laws changed because morality changed? Or perhaps laws have nothing to do with morality per se?

    Government and law are simply the lubricant for a society to work smoothly. If the laws start to grind instead, it’s time to change the laws.

  42. strunk&white says:

    an historian now?
    Thanks for the various and selective history lessons, oldguy. Knowing a little bit of history is a very different thing from learning from it.

    We’re not talking about changing the laws — at least we’re not until your side backs away from the actual discussion and decides that’s what we’re talking about. We’re talking about breaking the law, and excusing those who break the law.

    I’m all about a flexible legislative history that can change with the real needs and beliefs of a society. What I can’t abide is weak-minded enabling of law-breaking for convenience and personal profit.

    Ahead of the curve on prohibition? Al Capone. He was way ahead of the curve on prohibition. Your grasp of history is as weak as your understanding of the law.

  43. Captain Hook says:

    Give it up oldguy, as far as s&w is concerned, the law is the law, and must be obeyed. How it got to be the law and whether it is a just, appropriate, or reasonably enforceable law is irrelevant to him. I’m sure 40 years ago he would have been at the front of the crowd demanding that Rosa Parks be lynched.

    It must be very comforting to have such a simplistic moral view of the world. I hope our politicians are a little more sophisticated than this, but sadly I am sceptical.

  44. strunk&white says:

    pure class
    “I’m sure 40 years ago he would have been at the front of the crowd demanding that Rosa Parks be lynched.” — Captain Hook

    Let this stand as the defining example of the rhetoric actively encouraged on this blog. Dr. Geist, are you at all concerned with how your acolytes represent your views to the world? Apparently, copyright holders and those who defend them are violent rapists and lynching racists. This might just be the classiest attack on copyright I’ve ever read.

    On the off-chance anyone here cares what actually happened in real history… Rosa Parks did not break the law in Montgomery and then run back to her parents’ basement and claim she didn’t know she wasn’t supposed to sit at the front of the bus. She broke the law with the intention of publicly paying the penalty in order to raise consciousness. She continued to pur herself in the way of arrest and prosecution with a bravery and honour few in American history have exhibited. To compare her struggle to illegal file-sharing is an insult to the American civil rights movement.

    And, oh great historians, Ms. Parks’ protest happened 54 years ago. Not 40.

    When she died at 92 in Detroit, I wrote a poem about her.

    What the hell did you do, Hook — torrent an action adventure film? Pathetic.

  45. Captain Hook says:

    So to your mind then s&w, the only people who have any business questioning the legitimacy of any laws other than the industry insiders, would be the people who have been caught in its sticky web? I’m glad I have a better understanding your idea of democracy now, and I see why you have been evading the central issue in all of this.

    The only thing oldguy an I have been trying to do is get you to admit that perhaps copyright laws as they stand now are neither appropriate nor fair in the current digital environment, and perhaps if they were fair there would be far fewer people who “break the law … and then run back to [their] parents’ basement”

    I didn’t write any poem or torrent an action adventure film, but oddly enough, a few years ago I did download the TV series “Eyes on the Prize”, a program about the civil rights movement, which for many years was unavailable to anyone at any price because of copyright issues. Another case of overly long and overly broad copyrights hindering the dissemination of knowledge, demonstrating that there are both parallels and overlap between the civil rights movement and copyright reform. 🙂

  46. Michael Geist says:

    Response to Strunk&White
    Re: “active encouragement of rhetoric”

    Let me be clear – my views are found in my postings, not in the comments that follow. I don’t encourage the rhetoric from either side. FWIW, I think this particular exchange ran its course long ago and would be quite happy if it came to end. I don’t see much value in three anonymous posters taking shots at each other.


  47. Captain Hook says:

    touché Monsieur Geist.

    Hes’ a smart lad, that Geist fellow. He’d make a worthy member of me crew. Quite right. This thread exhausted itself long ago, I’d ‘a stopped earlier meself, excepting that it’s a wee bit a fun taking jabs at that s&w fellow.

    Thank ye kindly for your hospitality sir. Perhaps in the future I’ll take me argument over to struck&whites hovel instead. He’s got more than enough space for me and me whole crew. I have tended to notice as of late, that he doesn’t get many visitors. Arrrrr.

    That all right with you whitey? I’ll even try to keep me crew from peeing on your rug. har har har. 😉

  48. strunk&white says:

    sound and fury
    Yes, hook, the master has spoken — run along now.

    I’m not sure I can completely buy your disclaimer, Dr. Geist, considering the rhetorical feud you’re continuing with Barry Sookman in your actual postings. I think your time to declare and maintain a neutral position passed years ago, and that’s sad. This debate calls out for an authoritative neutral voice, and one from a purely research-oriented perspective would be ideal. Truly sad.

    You can throw up your hands and say “hey, I don’t encourage this stuff,” but I find it baldly disingenuous to claim your postings — considering your choice of terminology (why is everyone you disagree with a “lobbyist”?) and energetic activism — do not invite and encourage the kind of rhetoric that leads directly to silly pirate voices and ill-conceived civil-rights analogies.

    Captain Hook is your baby. I think you need to own a bit of that. At the very least, can you not spend some time explaining to your posse the difference between civil disobedience and rank criminality. You are a lawyer, right?

  49. Captain Hook says:

    Whitey, your insinuation that anybody wanting fair copyright reforms is incapable of forming their own opinions is ridiculous, but sadly on par with the rest of your arguments.

    You seem to be thinking Dr. Geist should be some fair minded mediator between two quarrelling parties. I don’t think he has ever claimed to have a neutral position. He has made it quite clear before that he has some fairly strong opinions. As well he should.

    I also think Dr. Geist should take ownership of my opinion, at the same time that the Writers Guild and CRIA take ownership of yours.

    Why is everyone who disagrees with you some sort of mob driven automaton?

  50. @strunk&white
    I said: “Please research prohibition in the US and the rest of the world. Look into the society, laws, and the “morality” of those times.”

    You said: “Knowing a little bit of history is a very different thing from learning from it.”

    Laws were made, society didn’t like them and went underground (speakeasy), governments changed, laws were changed/repealed. Forget about Al Capone, do you honestly think people of the time wouldn’t have frequented a speakeasy without him? Was it morally “right, wrong, or neutral” to get out of the speakeasy when it was raided? Often they simply wandered over to a different speakeasy, was that right or wrong? How many cops looked the other way?

    Yes, I agree with your response. But not quite the way you obviously expect.

    ACTA, DMCA, the Canadian copyright consultation. The laws are about to change, because it’s obvious to everyone that society has changed. Which direction should the change in laws take? Should those laws be formed to drive more people into the speakeasy of the digital age? Or less?

    Lets turn it around, laws that make it illegal to lobby a government office or conduct secret negotiations. Make it a civil offence. We won’t jail these people or corporations, simply fine them to an extent guaranteed to turn them into paupers for the rest of their life. How many of the corporations, lobbiests, elected officials, or bureaucrats would have your “moral fortitude” to stand up, do it anyway, and take the chance? How many copyright holders?

    Maybe it’s better to leave morality out of the discussion completely. Face the fact that technology has enabled a change in individual and societal values. Develop brand new business models, and laws, to accommodate these values. But first you have to determine these values, and the reasons behind them.

    Everyone knows the digital age is here. One of the most common errors I see businesses make is they look at the technology and try to figure out how to “migrate” their current business models into the new age. That simply won’t work. You have to start with a blank slate, look at the behaviour, values and reasons. Develop a brand new business model. Your existing business is simply “source material” to be mapped into the new model. Some things that made a lot of money in the past, won’t make a cent in the new model. Some things that made very little in the past now make a lot. Some things you could never even do in the past become possible, and profitable. Nothing of the old “model” applies directly into the new. Use “convenient, immediate, and global” as part of your new business model. Make sure you throw in another value as well, “interactive”. There is more to it as well, but until you understand and appreciate these basics, the other values and reasons will be beyond you – fine tuning of the new model.

    So the challenge to industries based on copyright, and the copyright holders is this; Given a completely blank slate, can you develop a business model that works in the digital age? Maybe more than one?

  51. strunk&white says:

    not everyone
    oldguy, why do you assume I or anyone involved in cultural content creation needs your instruction on how to build a new business model? You don’t think this work is going on? Surely, it’s not moving anywhere near as fast as you’d like it to, and in many cases not as fast as the creators and producers would like it to. We probably agree more than we disagree in a straight discussion of digital business models (believe it or not).

    So what? I entered discussion on this stream to question the moral ground on which you could excuse law-breaking, and the moral ground on which Michael Geist’s pet parrot, Cap’n Hook, could go one step further and actually encourage folks to break the law ’cause “it’s only right.” I asked for a simple one word answer from you, in fact. What I got back was reams of bafflegab about how laws come to be and the best way to build business models.

    The fact remains, you can’t justify your position on illegal downloading with anything resembling a sustainable ethical position. Hooker HAS no recognizable ethical position, so he is pretty much exempt from this discussion (though that doesn’t stop him from talking, even after he’s left on orders from his leader).

    I’m still waiting for Professor Geist’s lesson on civil disobedience. The disciple is calling out for ownership, Dr. Geist. Don’t leave him howling in the wilderness.

  52. @strunk&white
    And the answer is…… 42

  53. Captain Hook says:

    jeez whitey you’re hopeless. Even leaving my comments aside along with your insults, oldguy made an absolutely bang on analogy with prohibition and you approach it like you’re wearing a ramp on your forehead.

    Well, you can preach your temperance sermon all you want. The fact is that no one is listening any more. A whole generation in fact has chosen to ignore you, and are making up their own minds regarding what is right or wrong. Their numbers are growing, and I think what bothers you the most is that there is not a darn thing you can do about it. The more you try, the more they ignore you and feel justified in their conviction to do so.

  54. strunk&white says:

    geist in the machine
    … still waiting.

  55. Robert Hutton says:

    The reality is, downloading is a manifestation of a pattern that has existed for over 50 years. In the 1950’s, record swapping clubs emerged in the U.S. where record collectors would loan and trade by mail. The RIAA went to court then to shut them down. In the 1970’s, cassettes were the object of legal attention. So the prohibition example is not really needed – there is much more recent, and directly related, precedent.

  56. Captain Hook says:

    s&w is rich. Apparently he is “still waiting”, as though he actually made some point that should be rebutted, all the while totally ignoring the very valid points made by others.

    Oldguy addressed your original argument regarding legal/illegal and moral/immoral with his very good analogy to prohibition, you made some sort of poor reference to Al Capone that olgguy quickly shot down, but otherwise you totally ignored it. You ask loaded questions and then are upset when people don’t give you a simple answer. Finally in a last ditch attempt to avoid actually debating any issues, you try to drag a third party into the conversation by making silly accusations and demands on him.

    Well, I expect Geist will keep you waiting a long time.

    Every time I’ve engaged you in debate in the past, this always seems to be your debating style. Cheap shot, dodge, redirect. Rinse, repeat. Even when you are the one that sets the topic of debate as in this thread. Somehow I keep hoping that next time you will actually debate the issue rather then simply applying this empty rhetoric. Each time I find myself sadly disappointed. Pity, as I would get much out of a real debate. But with your style of rhetoric it is very difficult to get very deeply into an issue.

  57. Captain Hook says:

    @Robert Hutton

    Ahh, finally someone who addresses the issue at hand.

    It is true that there is more recent precedent directly related to copyright, however none of the ones you mentioned had the effect of repealing (or at least lessening) restrictions created by copyright. US fair use doctrine has existed for a long time, and the few consumer rights that these events highlighted were always there, it simply took a court to verify it. Quite the opposite in fact. In the period of time you mention copyright in the US went from being a maximum of 28 (maybe 50?) years from publication with a requirement to register it, to LIFE+70 with no need to register. A lot of public domain material was lost with these changes.

    Prohibition is more relevant, because it was society’s lack of support for and frequent ignoring of the laws, that finally caused the laws to be repealed.

    While the industries, and people like s&w, are exerting tremendous pressure on law makers to reinforce copyright law, the actions of a large segment of society are strongly undermining this, and hopefully in the long run will cause trends in the evolution of copyright law to actually reverse. This very much follows the pattern of prohibition.

  58. strunk&black says:

    Ode to S&W
    S&W wrote a poem.

    I really needed a laugh this morning. I wonder if its as good as Al Gore’s poem? The world has spawned yet another great poet. Don’t worry everyone hear believes you’re an artist. Not one person here believes you’re a lawyer. Nope no one at all. With that kind of pragmatic attitude, no one at all. I mean not that a hardcore left brain pragmatist couldn’t write a poem – but would anyone want to read it?

  59. Captain Hook says:

    other examples
    Another example would be national marijuana laws, which countries including Canada and the US are feeling significant serious pressure to decriminalize. The reason is of course that there are so many recreational users and very few think it is right to make recreational use of this drug a criminal offence.

    A third example would be buying smugged cigarettes. A number of years ago as you probably recall, Canada’s tax on cigarettes was very very high. So high in fact it created a large market in contraband that the first nations around Kingston quickly filled. The police tried to enforce the law, but it was simply to difficult and as a result the government ended up reducing the taxes to eliminate this illegal market.

    So there you have it. Three examples where large numbers of people defying the law, (without martyring themselves) exerts significant pressure on the government to change the law. The same thing can happen with copyright.

  60. Captain Hook says:

    Actually, to come to s&w’s defence here. I’m pretty sure I know exactly who he is, as I am sure he knows me. We’ve butted heads several times before. s&w has written a couple well read novels, and has frequently had articles published in Canadian magazines and newspapers.

    I have total respect for his ability as a writer. It is his debating skills that leave a little to be desired.

  61. strunk&white says:

    … still waiting.

    This must be kind of humiliating for you, Hook. Here you explicitly asked Geist to take your back in this stream, and he’s left you hanging. I’m sure you’ll deny feeling the burn. Or maybe you don’t understand why you should feel burned — just as likely. It certainly couldn’t be that you and your fellows are being used to artificially pad the numbers in a call for reform, while the leader of the pack does not actually share your beliefs.

    But don’t worry — when you get busted for pot or smuggling cigs across the border, I am absolutely sure the good doctor will be there to represent you in court. Fight the good fight, my brother.

    How did oldguy “shoot down” the Al Capone problem (good verb choice, btw — are you a poet, or do you just think you know every poet in the country?)? Was it when he said “forget about Al Capone?” Wow — that’s a stumper of a rebuttal. Debating skills, you say? Still waiting.

    Here’s but one problem with this “debate.” I deal with facts… like Rosa Parks sat on the bus in 1955, not 1970. The other side, deals with what they’d like to see as facts.

    Tobacco taxes? Really? You want to defend illegal downloading with reference to tobacco taxes? This kind of selective use of the historical record is all you do, Hook. Tobacco taxes in this country have been steadlily increased since that moment in 1994, which is now generally considered a disastrous capitulation to the tobacco lobby, and absolutely not the right way to combat smuggling or look after the health and well-being of Canadian citizens. No-one can be so thick as to argue tobacco tax reduction as a rationale against copyright.

    Here’s a little something from the Encyclopaedia of Public Health:

    “By the end of the twentieth century, virtually all comprehensive tobacco control plans have included substantial increases in tobacco taxes as a fundamental component. Such plans call for increases in cigarette taxes as a means of both discouraging children from smoking and raising funds to pay for other tobacco control measures, such an antismoking education.”

    Read once in a while. Sheesh.

  62. hmmmm
    I guess when your debating skills are questioned, your comments start being “held for moderation.” Nice democratic site here.

  63. Captain Hook says:

    Cheap Shot. Dodge. Redirect.
    Ha Ha, you filled the mold quite nicely with this last post

    s&w saiz:
    This must be kind of humiliating for you, Hook. Here you explicitly asked Geist to take your back in this stream, and he’s left you hanging. I’m sure you’ll deny feeling the burn. Or maybe you don’t understand why you should feel burned — just as likely. It certainly couldn’t be that you and your fellows are being used to artificially pad the numbers in a call for reform, while the leader of the pack does not actually share your beliefs.
    Cheap Shot


    s&w saiz:
    How did oldguy “shoot down” the Al Capone problem (good verb choice, btw — are you a poet, or do you just think you know every poet in the country?)? Was it when he said “forget about Al Capone?” Wow — that’s a stumper of a rebuttal. Debating skills, you say? Still waiting.
    Dodge – it’s the part that came after “forget about Al Capone” you are conveniently not addressing.


    s&w saiz:
    Tobacco taxes? Really? You want to defend illegal downloading with reference to tobacco taxes? This kind of selective use of the historical record is all you do, Hook. Tobacco taxes in this country have been steadlily increased since that moment in 1994, which is now generally considered a disastrous capitulation to the tobacco lobby, and absolutely not the right way to combat smuggling or look after the health and well-being of Canadian citizens. No-one can be so thick as to argue tobacco tax reduction as a rationale against copyright.
    Redirect – the virtue of the reduction of tobacco tax was not the point. That is far too subjective and the subject of a completely separate debate. It was HOW the reduction came about. Here you try to change the topic rather than address it.


    As I said, you are a very difficult person to debate with, and it is mostly due to the fact that you refuse to actually engage in the debate.

  64. me2
    FYI I got the same moderation message, whitey. I expect that Geist is getting tired of us still being here so long after the part is over. I’m thinking we may need to find a new venue soon if we want to continue this discussion. We could move over to your place if you like. I know where you live. You could even frame the debate again as you like by making a blog post. Of course you’d have to tell oldguy too if you want to include him. I don’t think he knows where you live.

  65. Michael Geist says:

    Not moderating – spam filter catching these
    FWIW, I don’t moderate messages on this site. The moderation only kicks in for some messages that contain text likely to be spam. I’m not sure what about these two messages triggered the moderation, but it wasn’t me.


  66. strunk&white says:

    but, but, I was in the debating society in high school
    I get it, Hook. You are a True Believer (TM). I’ve known this for awhile. As such, you can’t possibly know that the last thing I care to do is debate you or change your mind. I just don’t care. All I care about, at this point, is maintaining a voice for a moral core in ongoing copyright reform, so the true believers don’t manage to trick anyone else with their three-card monty approach to history.

    Hang on, don’t bother with Google. Here’s the link:

    Do you see what’s happened here? You were dismissed, and you went away. I engaged Dr. Geist. He went silent, and you stepped back in to take the bullet. Read the book, man. Read a book.

    And once you’ve read the book, contemplate the fact that Geist came back down here to clear up the SPAM filter issue, and STILL did not take your back.

    Dude. Sucks to be you right now.

    Go wherever you like. I couldn’t be less interested in continuing this “debate.” I’ll just wait right here for your cavalry to arrive.

  67. Captain Hook says:


    You don’t seem to want to debate anyone, (wont or cant?) which I guess is how you’ve developed this dodge and redirect system of discourse that you apply to every one who disagrees with you. So why do you even pretend then? Just take your cheap shot and move on.

    I’m not quite sure how you expect to maintain your “voice for a moral core” when you don’t debate though. Perhaps you think the wit and sarcasm of your diatribe will be sufficiently persuasive on its own, which again puts you in the same boat as the temperance league. Look how much success they had.

    I’m also amazed at how much power you think Geist has. Many times I’ve heard you rant about Geist and his “posse”. While I am sure he has helped shape many peoples views, I am also sure that is no more than Knopf, Lessig, Paltry, and many many other as well. I can’t imagine there would be anybody on this site or on the 80K+ facebook group site, that has not given due consideration to the whole issue and formed their own opinions quite independently. Not to mention all the people that took the time to make submissions to the copyright consultations. I am guessing this is simply a mechanism you employ to help you dismiss disagreeable opinions.

    Ironically, given the knee jerk reactions he often seems to solicit from you, I’d say the one he has the most control over is….


    You should cast a hard look in the mirror before concluding who it sucks to be.

    And don’t grow roots waiting.


  68. @strunk&white
    “All I care about, at this point, is maintaining a voice for a moral core in ongoing copyright reform,”

    Can you please define exactly what you mean by this? In particular, I would like to know exactly what you mean by “moral core”. Illustrate with multiple examples for clarity.

  69. strunk&white says:

    maybe you and me were never meant to be
    okay oldguy, I’ll get right to work on that thesis you require. In the meantime, I guess I’ll keep waiting for your one-word answer to the question I asked many days ago in my very first comment in this stream.

    While I wait for that and for Geist to come to Hook’s defence, I think I’ll download something legally — hey look, WKRP in Cincinatti is available for purchase on iTunes.

    “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”

    That Mr. Carlson — he’s so comically naive about how the world really works.

  70. Is anyone talking about the true issues anymore?
    I’m not sure what you guys are going on about here. Everyone is ignoring what the true problem is here.

    Whether you’re for more copyright or less is irrelevant. I personally think artists should have rights, and we’re too quick to dismiss them. Vote with dollars and don’t buy – that doesn’t make stealing okay.

    Having said that: The problem we face today is balance in enforcement. I have not seen a single solution that manages to accomplish the following:

    1) Protect copyright holders
    2) Protect consumer privacy rights
    3) Create a fair & balanced penalty system that fits the crime being committed.

    So I’ve seen only the following:

    1) DRM systems which fail to work after a centralized server is taken down. Result: Consumer loses access to content. Copyright lobby wishes to make Decrypting illegal which makes solution unfair to the consumer.
    2) Cracking down on “downloading” and shutting down internet access ala 3-strike rule. This is just absurd. There are a million ways to take hostage of a remote PC and use it to do all kinds of illegal activities (There are over 100 million zombie computers that send illegal spam on behalf of organized criminals at work as I write this). How would you propose that you can ever pin down someone for an illegal act when you can’t know what is happening on that computer. Creating stricter laws simply will create more encryption and hiding.

    The fundamental problem here is infinite fast copies is here to stay. Create more laws, and people will become more decentralized and hide further. You won’t find them as there’s simply going to be too much data to sift through. Even if you do find the criminals you have know way of knowing with certainty where the operator of the computer was the criminal or a victim of a criminal.

    When someone finds a way to address these critical issues, I’m on board with the program.

  71. Captain Hook says:

    terms of copyright a prerequisite
    ron saiz:
    > Is anyone talking about the true issues anymore?

    I’d like too!


    ron saiz:
    > Whether you’re for more copyright or less is irrelevant.
    > …
    > The problem we face today is balance in enforcement.

    I am curious as to why you say this. When you hand someone a monopoly, you can’t very well discuss how you propose to protect that persons monopoly rights without first discussing exactly what those rights are.

    Whether we have more or less copyright is a prerequisite to discussing appropriate enforcement of those rights. Before we can have balance in enforcement, we need to be sure there is a balance in rights!

  72. strunk&white says:

    if it quacks like a parrot
    Here’s something interesting from Critiquing Copyright Canards, by Patrick Ross of the American Copyright Alliance:

    Canard #7 “Copyright is a monopoly”:

    …When we say copyright gives artists a monopoly, that comes from Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the US Constitution, where artists and inventors are given “the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

    Note, the exclusive right is not given to someone over an industry; only to the work or works they produce. And it isn’t even truly exclusive there; the full clause says that it will be allowed for “limited Terms,” and we now have a statute that outlines fair use. If I write a poem I have a monopoly over it, but I have no control over someone else entering the poetry market and competing with me head-to-head, and I have no control over the price of poems in the market.

    Those are the factors economists look at with monopolies, so in this sense the word has no meaning economically when it comes to copyrighted works. The word is merely used as a distraction by those who wish to flip the ownership relationship so that users control the use of works, not creators.

    Oh, and here’s a funny bit from WKRP — the episode featuring the band Scum of the Earth:

    “Hello you screaming twits who were dumb enough to pay money for this!”

  73. Captain Hook,

    Your argument only weakens your wanted outcome. What further rights would you like from an artist? Would you like Janet Jackson to have to wash your dishes every time you play her CD?

    We already have fair use. Are you saying Copyright shouldn’t exist? Why would any artist waste their time on any works? What exactly is it that you feel should change? Everything should be free? I’m confused.


    Wow this link is the biggest bunch of horse crap I’ve ever read. The music industry fought the MP3 player tooth and nail. I had to stop reading after that. If everyone bowed to legal pressure and fair use did not exist, neither would the MP3 player. Artists want to overreach – and the terms of license are far to vague. A perfect example of this is that I get an FBI warning on every DVD I watch. What does the FBI have to do with anything in Canada?

    As for not stiffing innovation?

    I remember Diamond Multimedia getting sued nearly out of existence when they released the product. Apple implicitly (along with many others) held off going to market until someone paid big cash fighting off the RIAA.

    If I read that article, I can’t move my DVD to my WDTV jukebox because the artist did not want me to. After all it makes a duplicate copy which I can then stream locally throughout my house. Its the only technically viable method to get an outcome I want. Being able to watch media from any room in my house without fussing around with a disc.

    This argument shows that these people have no idea how technology works. In order for a DVD to be played, and actually function the DVD player must make a duplicate copy in RAM and store it there where the processor can then render the information. If these clowns get their way, then every single DVD player would be illegal.

    Where is middle ground here? One side wants everything free, and the other wants to charge you time you even think about their works. Because its artists rights? You both sound plain crazy to me.

  75. Captain Hook says:

    Ron, why is it that when someone questions the current terms and breadth of copyright, they are immediately accused of “saying Copyright shouldn’t exist” and being some kind of a heretic?

    Actually, I take that back. When people like Sonny Bono, or groups like the EU or the US want to go the other way and lengthen the term of copyright, all i hear from industry types are loud calls of support.

    Ron, your statement regarding Janet Jackson is about as silly as the ones I have come to expect from s&w, so I wont dignify it with a response.

    FYI, we DON’T have fair use. I wish we did. We have fair dealings.

    I do not in fact want any rights FROM artists. What I want is for us to reconsider the rights we already give TO artists. Is LIFE+50 or LIFE+70 really appropriate given how much easier it is today to produce and distribute creative works? Is automatic copyright, without any need to register it, appropriate when followup artists may find this system a significant hindrance, and there are many many more follow up artists now than there ever have been in the past? Should we reconsider the limits of fair dealings/fair use? These issues need to be seriously discussed, and the current assumption from industry and government that more copyright is always better must be dropped.


    s&w, I’m glad you like WKRP so much. I loved the show when it first came out too. It was the first show in the world to have so much current music in the sound track. Recently, I even considered buying the series on DVD myself. Sadly, the version you can buy now (what you bought) has had a lot of scenes removed and parts of the soundtrack changed to generic music instead, because the original producers could not get copyright clearance for a lot of the original music. I took a pass. Fortunately, I have been able to find a few of my favourite episodes on the Internet that still have all the scenes and the original sound track. The quality isn’t as good as they tend to be ripped from someone else’s VHS, but it is all there. I tend to prefer the real thing. Don’t you?

  76. Captain Hook,

    Again you come on here and don’t state what you’d like changed. I’ll give you an example of what a solution looks like.

    You don’t like the extended length of copyright. So to make this balanced I propose the following. Give copyright owners LIFE + Unlimited. Charge intellectual property tax on an annual basis, based on its annual sales and a minimum administrative amount. The second there is a default on payment or the artist choses not to pay the fee then it becomes public domain. With public works having no taxation on them. After all the argument is that I.P. is normal property right? Well lets afford it responsibilities as well as rights.

    See that’s a solution.

  77. Captain Hook says:

    Ron saiz:
    >Again you come on here and don’t state what you’d like changed.

    There seemed little point in putting forward my opinions on this matter until, you acknowledged that it was a topic that needed to be discussed. Your previous post was quite explicit:

    > Whether you’re for more copyright or less is irrelevant.

    I presume now you agree that it is relevant?

    I admit I do like the idea of an annual IP tax. That is basically the same as having to register and renew your copyright every year. (s&w would never go for that.) In this scenario, I’d even be comfortable with a longer term of copyright than I normally would, however I’m not comfortable with the Unlimited term you suggest. These works do become a part of our culture and at some point new artists have to have the ability to take these works and reinterpret them without having to seek anybodies permission first. This may be even more important in the case of works that manage to maintain their value, and hence their copyright status, over the years.

    I strongly disagree with the property analogy. It is not property. It is a monopoly, and despite the protests of s&w, this is a very important distinction. However monopolies too come with some responsibility. 🙂

    It is the start of a solution. Find a model that most reasonable people can live with, and most of the piracy problem that is tormenting the media industries, will take care of itself.

  78. strunk&white says:

    I want a pointless repetition tax
    I swear, it’s like shining a flashlight on the wall for a cat. After a while, it’s all just a little bit sad.

    Would I prefer to deny artists their rights and instead illegally download an illegally transfered crap copy of a couple of episodes of WKRP. Let me think. No, I would not. I’d prefer to make sure that all the artists and owners involved had their rights respected and were paid, or that the legal owners came up with a creative solution and then offered the work for sale, at which point I could decide to either buy it or go without.

    So, what actually happened? Oh, the thing that I said happened.

    So far your revolution had brought you some impressive booty, hook. One or two muddy copies of a early 80s sitcom. Where do I sign onto your crew?

    Ron — may I point you back to the canard paper I refered to earlier:

    Copyright Canard #* — Copyright is not a Property Right

    “Copyrighted works are property because, like real property, the owners are in fact owners. Philosophically, you could adopt the thinking of John Locke (the primary philosophic influence of the Founding Fathers) and accept his notion that property
    results from what one does with the property, such as a farmer tilling the fields. That tilling extends ownership to land otherwise not owned. But the land already existed; a copyrighted work doesn’t exist until created by the artist, so one could argue under the Lockean definition an artist has more of a property right.

    Yes, terms and fair use are limits on intellectual property rights. But are there not limits on real property as well? I have two easements running under my back yard; one for sewer and one for drainage. I can’t do construction over those easements without the
    county’s permission. There are numerous other things I can’t do without permission, from dumping toxic waste in my back yard to constructing a 100-foot statue of Jessica Alba in the front yard.”

    All this stuff gets more fun when Hook begins to realize he’s lost and starts accusing you of not debating. And watch out for Michael Geist. He should be back to defend Hook any second now.

    Wait, is that him now? No, just a light on the wall.

    Oh, and there already is an IP tax. It’s called income tax, and all artists pay it, ’cause that’s the law.

  79. Captain Hook says:

    Please no Ducks!
    Tehe, I knew my take on WKRP would get under s&w’s skin. Keep making your cheap shots sir. It’s the best alternative to a reasoned argument you’ve got.

    s&w saiz:
    > Ron — may I point you back to the canard paper I refered to earlier:

    God, please don’t. I read that thing when Sookman first wrote about it. It’s one of the worst pieces of industry sponsored double talk crap, I’ve read in a while.

    There are a couple of problems with this property analogy thing.

    The first is that people who use it confuse the whole issue by trying to apply it to an instance of a work just as often (or more than) to the rights of reproduction which they really own. In doing this, it makes it much easier for them to then claim that they can control how you use such a work and slap DRM on it, then tell legislators that they need legal protection for the DRM, because it is what is protecting their copyrights. In fact it is trying to usurp copyright with something totally different.

    The second is that, unlike with real property, s&w will wake up one day (well not him really. He’ll be dead by then, but perhaps his children’s children, if they ever actually stop extending the term of copyright) and discover that his copyrights on his novels have magically disappeared. Literally over night. Poof. Gone. No more. Bye bye. Disappearing like this is something monopoly rights are pretty darn good at. Real property on the other hand, (with the exception of a few nuclear explosion in the last century that really did succeed in making property disappear.) does not disappear like this. There is a chasm of difference between limits on property rights such as easements and zoning regulations and waking up in the morning to discover that there is a black hole where your house use to be.

    Now the reason s&w and others in his league want us all to use the term property rights rather than monopoly rights, is because it helps them so much in their argument to perpetually extend the term of copyright. “Oh the government has to extend it again or all those poor artists will lose their property. That wouldn’t be fair.” With monopoly rights of course they’d have a much harder time gaining sympathy. Oh gee, their monopoly has expired, and now they want what? for us to extend their monopoly? Again!? and without us at least getting something in return? Pffff. No!

    If this trash is going to be given the light of day very often I may just have to write my own Copyright Canard Canard, to point out all its glaring unsightly flaws.

  80. @strunk&white
    “In the meantime, I guess I’ll keep waiting for your one-word answer to the question I asked many days ago in my very first comment in this stream.”

    It is apparent from your insistence on a single word answer to a question which I classify as complex or “loaded”, points out that you do not understand my point of view.

    But that does not preclude a meaningful dialogue, if I can learn to understand your point of view. Extend my “referential framework” to bridge the gap and allow real communication.

    It will take some effort on your part, but if you truly want a discussion with me it seems like the only way. I’m offering you an opportunity to convince me, or at least find a compromise.

  81. @Ron
    I have lamented that this issue is way too polarized far above here. I agree with you.

    Part of the problem with this thread is that the Captain and I allowed s&w to get under our skins. I still believe there is integrity behind what he is trying to say, even though his method of saying it can seem caustic, and I think he has a tendency to ignore or twist counter-points, rather than address them.

    Anyway, to get to the meat of one of your suggestions..

    “Give copyright owners LIFE + Unlimited. Charge intellectual property tax on an annual basis,based on its annual sales and a minimum administrative amount.”

    I see a few problems with this one;

    – The works are protected by copyright, but the licensing has nothing to do with remuneration.
    – Auditing (see recent CRIA activities).
    – Multiple, simultaneous copyright holders (whose life?).
    – Copyrights that are held by a corporate entity (what is life??).
    – The age when an artist creates the copyrighted work. (Maddona vs Back Street Boys, etc)

    I realize that each of these points can be addressed by modifying the details of your suggestion, and that is where I would like to see comments from both sides as to what they see as “fair” to both society and to copyright holders.
    Perhaps your suggestion will simply serve as a springboard to a quite different idea, but I think the goal should be to find an acceptable “middle ground” to this whole issue.

    Personally, I think the core of your idea has merit, and combined with an expanded set of fair dealing/usage might be something that can be made to work. The devil is in the details.

    BTW, the term “Intellectual Property” is an inaccurate term. It is simply an umbrella term often used to describe the areas covered by patents, trademark, and copyright. I got that statement straight from a lawyer. Call it “verbal shorthand”, rather than a proper description. Since we are discussing copyright here, it’s appropriate to use the correct term.

  82. strunk&white says:

    and the world moves on
    This posting has now slipped below the fold (as they used to say in the extinct newspaper business). So, just to… I mean because… oh for no reason at all since I already know what the response will be… I leave you with one final, real, history lesson.

    I asked a “right or wrong” question. I never heard back from anyone on that, except to be told my question was loaded. Loaded with what? Is pirating files you can buy elsewhere right or wrong? You must have an opinion on this. If you think it’s okay for whatever reason, say so. If you think it’s wrong, but feel a bit guilty because clearly you do it anyway… welcome to being human.

    Immediately after I asked that question, some dude who apparently values serious debate above everything else in this world compared copyright to rape and pillage, while using a cartoonish pirate voice. Dude also accused me of making cheap shots, while calling me a racist Rosa Parks lyncher.

    A little later, same pirate dude claimed Michael Geist would back him up on his points. Michael Geist, who was in the room at the time, declined to comment. Still waiting.

    My deceitful reframing of issues include the positing of organized crime and its pernicious influence into the history of prohibition in the US, a factual rebuttal of the claim that smuggling played a significant part in reducing tobacco taxation in Canada, and convincing counter-arguments to a couple of standard anti-copyright obfuscations — copyright as monopoly, copyright as not a property right.

    I am a corporate shill, a lawyer, a terrible poet, and mouthpiece for industry sponsored double talk and trash. It’s been a pleasure — and I am absolutely certain the persuasive skills on display at this blog will carry your social movement a very long way. It’s only a matter of time before those evil IP corporations have all their power stripped from them.

    Like Andy Travis, I must be moving on. That whole WKRP gambit from earlier was so brilliant and humiliating I just had to do some more research, so I went looking for where I’d read the pop-music horror story before. Strangely,, one of this movement’s vital founding fora is no longer. The URL now takes you to something selling the Molded Fleshlight Sleeve, a sex toy. The invisible hand of the IP cartels at work, doing …. you know… something with a molded fleshlight sleeve.

  83. Captain Hook says:

    Should I eat my words?
    I read back through the comments to where on earth you could have gotten the idea that I was calling for Geist to back me up.

    I finally found what you must have been referring too. Where I said: “I also think Dr. Geist should take ownership of my opinion, at the same time that the Writers Guild and CRIA take ownership of yours.”

    So as is typical with you, you take snippets of people words out of context and twist them around to try to make more cheap shots….

    Or are you saying that you really are a mindless buffoon who is a pawn of the two groups I mentioned? In which case I’ll believe you, but then I’m afraid I will have to take my statement back. Sorry.

  84. @strunk&white
    “I never heard back from anyone on that, except to be told my question was loaded. Loaded with what?”


    The above was pointed out to me. I read it and references from it, and rethought all of my “morality” interchanges with you. I consider the question, the way you phrased it, as a complex one. One which I cannot answer in a simple “yes/no” manner.
    The way I see it, you have a simple “yes/no” broad view of “morality” that doesn’t match mine. I have tried multiple times to explain this, usually by example. But if you cannot see things from my perspective, perhaps I can extend my viewpoint(s) to include yours. But first I must learn exactly what your viewpoint *is*. Hence my questions. And probably more of them as well, as I approach an understanding.