html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Segues and everything.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Segues and everything.

I have the little iPod, without the screen. My favorite is when I hand it to friends and tell them to fill it for me. I hear all sorts of great stuff that way, although without the privilege of knowing the musicians or the song name. It turns out my friends are, like, hip, so I know the cool songs when they later become popular (only to sing along with, not their names, so I don’t realize I can play when people do obscure band one-upmanship). I’m also realizing that my roommate Ali and my old friend Teddy have the same tastes. I wouldn’t have called it, deceived by the fact that they are nothing alike. But this is excellent news!

Teddy informed me on my last visit that now that I have a laptop, I owe him “media”. When I asked him what “media” meant, he told me it meant a jewel case with cover art, liner notes and a playlist on the back. He warned me that the thin strips for the edges take some time to get perfect. Inside the jewel case, I should send him, um, a list of songs for him to legally buy and burn onto his own CD as a back-up copy. I am closing in on his “media”. This weekend my friend took the picture that’ll be on the front. Ali’s new mix on my iPod has some stuff I’ve never heard that I think he’ll like. I’m starting to get a sense of songs that should lead into each other; after that comes assembling those blocks. My old playlists were well received, but it has been years since I’ve been able to make them. I’m excited to be back at it.

36 Comments:

Blogger Jacqueline Passey said...

Ah. So you're a thief, then.

9:24 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

You mean the iPod? I don't know. I don't transfer the music people put on my iPod to my computer, although I've been told there are ways. And I very often go buy the CD when I hear something I like. But I do borrow other people's music for a couple months of listening. Since I can't use those songs any other way or keep them after I put something else on my iPod, it isn't much of an ownership.

That might qualify me for being a thief, but I don't lose sleep over it.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's definitely a violation of the copyright. Why would transferring it to your computer matter? You've copied it from someone else. Whether you ever listen to it or not doesn't even matter.

How many different ways can you use a book? I don't follow your logic here.

Clearly what you're doing is stealing. That said, I just don't care. But, you shouldn't try to justify it, at least admit to yourself that you're stealing.

Justin

12:53 AM  
Anonymous Thelonious_Nick said...

"Ah. So you're a thief, then."...
..."I very often go buy the CD when I hear something I like."

In one exchange, we have the actual, highly short-term view of the record companies versus the enlightened long-term view that they should, but don't, hold.

Record companies remind me of the cranky old guy who yells when kids walk on his lawn. Sure, it's his property, but nobody helps him shovel his walk in the winter because they all hate him.

6:59 AM  
Blogger bryn said...

and she's buying cds based on music she's heard and recommending to others so they are getting more revenue. Strictly speaking any playing of music that is able to be heard by other people than the person who bought the music is stealing. Family members should be required to purchase multiple copies of any music listened to at dinner.

7:24 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

It may be stealing, and I'm still happy to do it if it is. But I'm not sure that it is. It is supported by the iPod hardware and software, which could prevent that. They prevent downloading from iPods, because they don't want iPods to be tools for transferring music. But they allow one-way uploads, to be overwritten when you put on new music, which makes me think that it may be an allowable use.

I don't know that, so I'm willing to hear that I am a worse person than I thought I was.

7:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, it's definitely stealing.

And, I still don't understand the rest of you who try to justify it.

"Strictly speaking any playing of music that is able to be heard by other people than the person who bought the music is stealing."

I don't think that's true Bryn. I believe you're allowed to share copyrighted works privately, but not publicly.

And, anyway, we're not talking about having several people listen to a CD, we're talking about making copies of a CD.

Justin

10:53 AM  
Anonymous justus said...

It's not stealing and you're not a thief. You can say it is quibbling, but to say otherwise is to ignore the actual legal language and the law is nothing if not quibbles.

If it were stealing the police would arrest you, the DA would prosecute you, and you would have a jury of your peers judge you.

It is not stealing which is why none of those things happen to people who pirate music.

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Justus:
here and
here

It is stealing. It's just not enforced as strictly, but you certainly can be arrested, and sent to jail for copyright violations.

So, this is just more lame justification for what is clearly bad behavior.

Justin

12:56 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Justin:

I think Justus was being sarcastic.

I'm already blight for not mowing my law and a scofflaw for wearing headphones when I ride my bike. I'll take this one on too.

1:09 PM  
Blogger Noel said...

I've also just received an iPod shuffle. I'm suddenly listening to all sorts of crap that has been lying around on my hard disk It's fun, though sometimes I miss knowing what it is I'm listening to.

Justin, you're correct, but do you really think people should never copy music? In my experience (and I read a paper a few years ago that showed similar results) when I'm exposed to more good music I'm inclined to buy much more. last.fm and my iPod have got me buying music for the first time in a few years. (When I was surrounded by people with similar musical tastes I purchased more music, but the people I presently hang out with have very different tastes.)

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, I said I don't care. Copy it all you want, steal as much as you want. Just don't justify it. It's a lame argument, "Well me stealing music is actually GOOD for the music industry!" It's not for you to decide what is and isn't in the best interests of other people. They hold the copyright, they get to decide how its used.

So, all I'm saying is, steal all you want, but at least be honest about it. Admit that you're stealing, and accept that there is no justification.

Justin

1:36 PM  
Anonymous ed said...

Since you are hung up on technicalities Justin:

Neither Megan nor I technically broke copyright laws when music from my computer was downloaded on to the iPod of which we speak.

Significantly fewer than 1000 songs were put on it. So even at the itunes price of $0.99 per song, it does not meet the criteria of $1000 retail value quoted in the link you posted.

But I know you don't care.

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The $1000 retail value was just if you wanted jail time. And, then we'd have to ask, how often is she doing this? How many other things has she violated the copyright on? Etc etc....

And, none of what I said was a technicality. It's all just the plain truth, copying songs is stealing.

And, again, I think you're missing the point. I don't care if you want to steal music, or software. I don't care if she rides her bike with headphones, or uses her car without a seatbelt, or anything else really. Just don't justify it. The justifications are always lame.

The truth in all of this is, you want something, but you don't want to pay for it. That's it. You're not taking some moral high road. You're not being altruistic, helping out the record industry. You're not making a political point. You're screwing someone else for your own personal gain, that's it.

So, steal all you want, just don't lie to me, and don't lie to yourself, be honest about it.

I'm not saying I don't do this myself. I've certainly pirated software in the past. Not so much anymore. And, honestly, I don't download music, I buy all of my CDs. But that's laziness, not virtue. It's easier for me to go buy a CD than it is for me to deal with finding it online, downloading it, then buring it to a CD.

This is definitely one of my pet peeves. People justifying ridiculous behavior when they know for a fact what they're doing is wrong.

So, just to be really clear here. I don't care that any of you are stealing. The part that bothers me is the justifying it. The, "It's not really stealing." or, "It's actually GOOD for the record company." or, "They deserve it." Or any other lame excuse, other than, "I know how to steal this, and I'd rather not pay, so fuck em."

Justin

12:13 AM  
Blogger Noel said...

Justin, there is a reasonable discussion to be had on how to maximise both record companies' revenues and consumer enjoyment of music. The record companies realise they have to provide some free-to-the-consumer access to music (radio, MTV) to lower the risk in purchasing music. However for some people these channels are inadequate (they don't play much avant-garde stuff, for example). File download is another alternative channel, as is Internet radio (viva last.fm!) I agreed with you that illegal downloads violate copyright, but that's not the point.

3:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It certainly was the point. Downloading someone else's music onto your mp3 player is almost definitely illegal.

And, again, my point is, that should be the end of the discussion. None of this nonsense of having a discussion about helping out the record industry by stealing music, or any other such. Stealing music is a wholly selfish act. Don't try to paint it in other terms.

I just can't understand people's need to justify this behavior. You all go on and on avoiding the obvious truth. Everyone does this kind of crazy justifying when they're stealing digital material.

Why not just accept that this is theft? The only reason I can think that people are so defensive about this particular type of theft is how easily and anonymously they can get away with it.


Justin

11:11 AM  
Anonymous justus said...

No, I wasn't being sarcastic. It isn't stealing, as Justin's own links make clear. It is copyright violation. Just like manslaughter and negligent homicide aren't murder. They are different things in the eyes of the law. We don't call someone a rapist if they stole a car and we shouldn't say someone stole when they violated copyright.

I haven't said a single thing about justifying these copyright violations, so I don't know why Justin thinks I have.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Justus:
My bad. I'm sorry for misinterpreting your words.

Caution to all:
These are your friends here. I've mostly liked the tone so far, so thanks for keeping it civil. Justin, you might check in with the crew to see how they're reacting to your rather absolute stance. (It isn't bothering me, but I can't speak for everyone.)

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fine, Justus, maybe it's not technically theft. It's still certainly illegal. And the original point you made,
"If it were stealing the police would arrest you, the DA would prosecute you, and you would have a jury of your peers judge you." Is what I was responding to. People do get arrested, prosecuted, and jailed for copyright violations.

In fact, anytime you put a movie in your DVD player it tells you what the penalties for illegally copying a movie are.

And, maybe you're not justifying, though to me it still sounds like you were, others are.

"Since I can't use those songs any other way or keep them after I put something else on my iPod, it isn't much of an ownership."

"In one exchange, we have the actual, highly short-term view of the record companies versus the enlightened long-term view that they should, but don't, hold."

"and she's buying cds based on music she's heard and recommending to others so they are getting more revenue."

"In my experience (and I read a paper a few years ago that showed similar results) when I'm exposed to more good music I'm inclined to buy much more."

"Justin, there is a reasonable discussion to be had on how to maximise both record companies' revenues and consumer enjoyment of music."


And, actually, I think Megan's already got it right.

"That might qualify me for being a thief, but I don't lose sleep over it."

Anyway, I don't think people are going to get my point, so whatever.

Justin

1:08 PM  
Blogger Noel said...

Two points:

It is reasonable to discuss ethics. Just as people opposed legal slavery 200 years ago, we might oppose legal DRM today, or make other arguments with respect to copyright infringement.

It is reasonable to discuss alternative models that might find a better balance between serving the needs of the content creators and the content consumers.

That's all I'm interested in.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Hey Justin. I think they understand your point, but they don't agree with it. You may think they don't agree with it 'cause they don't want to think of themselves as music thieves, but it is really up to each of us to identify our own motives.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think they do.

Anyone who is being honest with himself has to know that this kind of music sharing is illegal, and immoral.

It's clearly illegal, that's fact, unless someone can show otherwise.

As far as immoral, you're taking something you should have paid for, for free, against the wishes of the owner, for no reason other than personal gain. You all know it's immoral, you just don't care. Any arguments to the contrary are dishonest.

Seriously, do any of you really, honestly believe that there's nothing morally wrong with taking someone else's work, that they distribute to earn a living, against their will, then distribute it yourself for free? Is that really a moral stance any of you want to defend? That you have a right to other people's work?

Anyway, I stand by my original point. Don't try to justify bad behavior. Accept what you're doing for what it is, and don't lie to yourself.

Justin

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Justin, if the songs in question were purchased off of the iTunes Music Store, putting copies onto someone else's iPod is well within the license granted upon purchase. You can put those songs onto as many iPods as you like, the DRM allows that. Even if you copied iTMS purchased songs off of the iPod, you could not play them without authorization.

As for your rights if the songs were not purchased off iTMS... Well, the DMCA completely changed the fair use of digital media. Were that a cassette that you were putting the music on for a friend, you'd be fine, but since it's digital, you can't share even in a one-way to the iPod way.

I didn't really understand the breadth of the DMCA. I had figured that digitally recorded video from broadcast would be in the same realm as VCR tapes. Nope, even if the recordings are lossy due to compression and transmission, if they're digital, they're different.

What Megan did may well have been illegal. The congress and other bodies pass a lot of laws. I think that the judgement that it's immoral is not yours (or mine for that matter) to make.

Cheers,
Tim.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Careful Justin, you're getting afield of the affirmative kindness to your co-commenters.

You are very clear about how you see this, but reasonable people can have different opinions about the values behind sharing music. Some of those reasonable people don't like being told they aren't being honest with themselves. They are the authorities on whether they're being honest with themselves.

2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not entirely sure that's true Tim. Apple's FairPlay DRM will ALLOW you to copy a song onto multiple IPods, that doesn't mean it's legal. I don't know what license agreement Apple has with the music companies, but ultimately it is the music companies that hold the copyrights, not Apple.

You can also burn the music to as many CDs as you want, but giving those CDs away is almost certainly illegal.

"but reasonable people can have different opinions about the values behind sharing music."

Their values and feelings are meaningless in this. What they're sharing isn't theirs to share. Nothing they believe, feel, or think changes that.

In your top post right now, you talk about critical thought, and the people in Santa Cruz who choose to abandon critical thought for feelings. Isn't that exactly what you're doing here?

What are the facts? Copyright violation is clearly illegal. Giving away, or acquiring music that you don't hold the copyright on is clearly a copyright violation. Taking someone's work at their expense, against their will simply because you don't want to pay $0.99 is clearly unethical.

Maybe you could argue the last point, but I still doubt that anyone could honestly argue that they have a right to free access to someone else's work.

So, if anyone really honestly believes that musicians and record companies owe you free music, I'd like to hear that argument.

Justin

4:10 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

How did we get our usual positions reversed?

I'm saying that people get to say for themselves what their motives are; you're saying you can make a better assessment than they can (based on plain facts) of why they're willing to argue over (or participate in) copyright violation.

I guess I stop applying critical thought when I get into other people's motives. I take people at their word when they tell me their motives, 'cause they're the world authority on what they're feeling.

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's simple, I trust my own judgement above all else. So, in matters of politics I favor a system where I'm free to choose for myself. I'm sure I know what's best for me.

When it comes to trusting other people, I don't. If what I'm told is in direct contrast to my experience, or what I'm seeing, I go with what I think, not what I'm told.

I think people tend to be horribly bad about lying to themselves. It's really amazing the things people can justify in their own minds so they can go on acting in whatever fashion they prefer.

One of my favorite songs starts "Truth, covered in security." In my experience, it's true.

Justin

10:09 PM  
Blogger Noel said...

Justin, I know you're fighting the battle on many fronts, so I'll keep this on-point.

You say:

Anyone who is being honest with himself has to know that this kind of music sharing is illegal, and immoral.

As far as immoral, you're taking something you should have paid for, for free, against the wishes of the owner, for no reason other than personal gain. You all know it's immoral, you just don't care. Any arguments to the contrary are dishonest.

No arguments here about legality. Definite arguments about morality. Can you not accept that there might be an alternative model that allows some copying but makes everyone involved (creator, distributor, consumer) better off, using whatever metric you like for 'better off'?

To make it concrete, let us assume the most moral solution is the solution that maximises happiness, and furthermore, let us define the happiness of the creator and distributor to be directly proportional to their income, and the happiness of consumer is directly proportional to the amount of music they listen to. If the research results I alluded to above are correct (people who copy more music buy more music) then it seems allowing copying uniformly increases happiness over the current setup.

You can easily argue that my utilitarian model above is flawed. I don't particularly agree with utilitarianism and I'm not trying to argue in favour it. The point I'm trying to make is: 1) it is possible to conceive of alternative models for the distribution of digital music and 2) it is possible that these models are more morally correct and therefore 3) it is legitimate to discuss and even to enact alternative models. Of course defining 'morally correct' is a tricky -- philosophers have been banging on about it for centuries -- but my argument is not dependent on a definition of 'morally correct' (it is parameterically polymorphic over the definition, if you will).

2:30 AM  
Anonymous Ennis said...

1. M - While I don't agree with Justin here, I don't think his rhetoric is unreasonable. It is confrontational and direct, but he's not personalizing any of it. He's objecting to certain moral positions as untenable, but doing so in a general way.

How is that any different from saying, for example, that people who are against abortion show a lack of respect for the right of the pregnant woman? Is that sort of statement beyond the line of affirmative kindness? Or is it a legitimate political statement?

2. Justin - Property rights, especially intellectual property rights are subject to competing norms. If you go back through our country's history, for most of it, our leaders have defended IP violation based on its social benefits. Even now drug companies don't have absolute rights to the drugs they own, under law they can be subject to compulsory licensing. [Even physical property ownership was less absolute back then, with certain rights of passage granted, etc.]

Copyright owners don't have rights in perpetuity, for example, they have rights that are defined by common understanding.

In Australia it is illegal to videotape a TV program to watch it later, in the US the Supreme Court ruled it's time shifting and therefore legal. They never said that the content provider gets to decide everything.

I think that's why there is resistence to your immorality claim.

3. M - with regards to what people really think, I'm in a third camp. I don't usually trust self reports, for one thing people lie to themselves all the time, their stated beliefs map very poorly to their actions which is why economists look for revealed preferences. Furthermore, they have incentives to lie to you as well. That said, I don't believe myself to be as infallible as Justin sees himself in these matters.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Marcus said...

Transferring digital music is definitely not stealing, no matter how and when you do it. Stealing has a definition in the English language, and that definition involves taking an object from someone else, who then no longer has it. Here, nothing is taken from anyone else, since all original owners of the music *still have it* after Megan downloads it. Hence, the music has not been stolen, and no one is a thief.

Now, it is possible that Megan did not make a payment required under U.S. copyright laws when she transferred some music from one storage medium to another. That is not stealing, but a violation of a particular, highly technical set of laws and rules that have been put into place to protect the financial interests of the music industry.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Justin said...

Noel:
I stand by my original statement. For it to be morally acceptable for you to copy music against the wishes of the copyright holder you have to believe that you have a right to their work. You have to believe that you're entitled to free music at their expense.

That's the position I think you'd have to defend. But you're not. The argument you did make was, "It's really ok, because I think it's in their best interest." Of course, you wouldn't accept that same argument if applied to you. "I'm going to steal your car, because the engine is too powerful, and it's dangerous, so it's really in your best interest, and your life is certainly worth more than the value of the car."

As far as the utilitarian model, of course it's flawed. The music industry is clearly very unhappy with the illegal downloading and sharing. And, profit isn't always a motive. I'd be very unhappy if someone took my work and claimed it as theirs. I'd be very unhappy if someone stole software I developed and distributed it all over the internet for free without my permission. Authors and journalists seem pretty upset when they're plagarized. etc etc etc...

ennis:
I don't think I'm infallible at all. But, since we already agree that people lie to each other, and lie to themselves I have no one but myself to trust to sort it out.

Marcus:
"That is not stealing, but a violation of a particular, highly technical set of laws and rules that have been put into place to protect the financial interests of the music industry."

And, this is getting closer to what I mean as a dishonest argument. Copyright laws protect more than just the music industry. Software companies, authors, journalists, movie studios, etc.... You might argue that some of it is a bit too strict. But, again, to say that copyrights as a whole are wrong means you have to believe that you have a right to free access to other people's work.

And, keep in mind, the DMCA was passed in response to rampant downloading, and pirating, as I recall anyway.

Justin

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Ennis said...

Justin, you're in the wrong country. The US was founded, in part, on the idea that intellectual property should be used for the common good rather than remain the sole possession of the creator. It's actually in the constitution, since it was a break from the European way of doing things. There was even a discussion of putting something along these lines in the bill of rights!

As a limited concession they thought that authors and discoverers should have control over their ideas or writings for a delimited time period, so as to provide them with an incentive, but they're pretty clear that abstract property, which is non-rivalrous, has a very different position in the law from physical property, which is rivalrous.

Here's just one summary on the web:
http://rack1.ul.cs.cmu.edu/jefferson/
Yes, they're mainly discussing patent protection, however at that point books were pretty freely copied, and in any case the constitution does not consider copyright and patent separately.

So some of what you're saying is unamerican, culturally.

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ummmm, it would seem that what I'm saying fits pretty nicely into the, you own your intellectual property for some set limited time.

Copyrights, and patents do both expire. But, before they do, the holder has the rights.

And, reading that website, it seems to say that Madison wanted there to be NO time limit. I'm not sure how you decide to take Jefferson's side, then call any other position unamerican, especially considering where the law actually stands, and has stood in the past for quite some time.

Justin

12:58 PM  
Blogger Noel said...

Justin, copyright is about balancing the rights of the creators and the public. Consider books, as they are less contentious than music. Most everyone agrees they have a right to quote from a book, or to derive a work from a book, and even to copy parts of it. It's known as fair use, and I don't think anyone disputes it.

You say:

For it to be morally acceptable for you to copy music against the wishes of the copyright holder you have to believe that you have a right to their work. You have to believe that you're entitled to free music at their expense.

This suggests that you think consumers have no rights other than those granted to them by copyright holders. This contradicts fair use. The question is really to ask what system (model) has the best balance between copyright holder's and the public's rights. I think a reasonable argument can be made that the present system for music favours copyright holders too much, at the expense of both of the music creators and the listener (consider DMCA, DRM, excessive length of copyright, prohibition on sampling). That's the argument I'm making. I don't think listeners should have unlimited rights to copy music, but I think they should have more rights than they presently do.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone questions your right to quote from a song, or to make a parody of a song, or to sample from a song to use in some kind of mix. All those things are regularly done without incident.

I don't think anyone questions the illegality of copying a book, then distributing it freely on the street, which is a more accurate analogy.

Is it right for me to take someone else's song, then put it in a work that I make public without the copyright holder's consent? Your position would require you to argue yes here.

Would it be right for me to take a book, and turn it into a movie without any compensation to the author? My guess is, if you were the author you'd certainly want compensation for you work.

This is a large part of the problem, for some reason people distinguish music from everything else. Does anyone think freely distributing books and movies is acceptable? Plagiarizing other people's work?

The ONLY reason anyone thinks it's ok to copy music is because of how easy it is. The problem with that logic is more and more things will get easy to copy. It's very possible now to download movies with your broadband connection at home. Books aren't large files, but they're harder to come by.

Justin

2:03 PM  
Blogger Marcus said...

"The ONLY reason anyone thinks it's ok to copy music is because of how easy it is. The problem with that logic is more and more things will get easy to copy."

Ease of copying is an *economically relevant argument*. The easier it is to copy something, the higher the social cost created by blanket prohibitions on doing it. Granted that preventing people from copying helps to maintain long-term incentives for creative investments...but there are many other ways and mechanisms by which such incentives can be maintained.

2:26 AM  

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