Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Globally, Almost Four Out of Ten Music Consumers Are Pirates (torrentfreak.com)
202 points by okket 67 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 347 comments



I'm another non-streamer and I get most of my music from Bandcamp. The appeal to me is a lot of smaller labels and artists are on a more level playing field, I know more money goes to the artists, and the merch selection is great.

I'm of an era that I remember CD albums would cost 15-20GBP sometimes, and I'm still very album-oriented in my listening. My 'thing' these days is buying digital copies of releases I like, and buying a vinyl copy of releases I really like, so I have a memento. The shipping costs can be steep, especially trans-Atlantic, but the tangible collection of records in a flight case is the closest thing to a safe of valuables that I own.

Buy the vinyl, and typically there's an included copy of the digital version (either a code in the sleeve or a gratis copy in Bandcamp's case), so I can then download the FLAC and make whatever format I want from there. Total price typically ends up being more expensive than one of those 15-20GBP CDs from a bygone era, but I've got a digital copy I can play over and over, and a physical copy as a keepsake.

I've found a lot of new music from Bandcamp. Their articles are high quality, and have directed me toward all kinds of music I wouldn't usually listen to.

(Disclaimer: active customer of Bandcamp, not connected in any financial or professional sense, no other affiliation…though I do think about applying to work with them from time to time.)

Edit: I use the same username here as I do on Bandcamp if anyone wants to snoop on my collection and/or wantlist, or be internet friends etc.


Bandcamp in my mind is just about the only company in this space I want to buy things from (including Spotify, Youtube Red, Amazon Music, whatever else). It:

- supports the artists (and lots of them, not just the biggest ones)

- gives me instant, irrefutable ownership of the music I've bought

- gives great download format choice

If an artist is on bandcamp, it is a no-brainer for me to throw them their minimum + 1/2 dollars and buy an album. I can't say everyone thinks this way, but the feeling that I'm supporting the artists is felt more directly than on any other platform, and it feels good. To me, it's worth the price increase from free (to a point).

If I could buy all my music on bandcamp I would. The only thing better than bandcamp would be a distributed/federated network of direct-from-band merch and album stores with (somehow) good discovery features written in a way that made it easy for bands to set up payment distribution (ex. stripe integration, shipping fulfillment integration, etc) -- but bandcamp is close enough.


Bandcamp is my preferred way of buying music these days. The only advantage of physival media is the record cover. But I am really pissed if I can't download the album or if I am just able to download a shitty MP3 of the music I've bought.

So Bandcamp works great for me. It offers all the options I want (FLAC) and I like that a band can set the price to 0$ so you can download it from Bandcamp for free but you can give them money if you want to. Awesome experience all around. And with the music I like most of the bands are on Bandcamp.


What do you find so shitty about MP3, are you morally opposed to it's origin/licensing?

Quality wise for listening you aren't going to tell the difference between a -v0 MP3 and FLAC even if you think otherwise. For anyone that wants to claim otherwise, unless you've had someone setup an A/B test with a significant amount of cases you're falling victim to placebo.

I say this as a professional audio engineer, who long ago would always seek out FLAC. Now, unless I need to edit or re-encode a file the MP3 is just as good, far from shitty.


As another professional audio engineer, I've done it, and to do it I tuned in on 'personality' aspects of the sound, knowing that the rough frequency response would be pretty much taken care of.

The degradation is much like what you'd get running the mix through a generic digital EQ imposing some subtle but high-order filters, or going through the mix buss of an unexceptional DAW that's doing a lot of bit-shuffling to get to the output, perhaps with some unnecessary gain changes.

These are shitty if you have seriously good monitoring and care about ambience and soundstage depth and subtle emotional cues or shades of texture. Sooo… not exactly 'OMG, super obvious on earbuds through iTunes with the aural exciters on'. That stuff will wreck the sound MUCH worse than -v0 mp3, no argument there.

If you're working on gear where you'd be able to tell the difference, and you have experience with listening for the specific objectionable qualities of lossy audio, then you can hear the lossy audio even at its best.

Otherwise, the cure for bad sounding mp3s is to do 'em 320K and call it a day. Throwing more bits at it does definitely help. It's not hard to get mp3 over the threshold where other parts of the playback system harm the sound worse.


Even if you can tell, the question is, why fixate on it? As you say, the changes are far more subtle than getting a cheap set up. Most people do not live or commute in anechoic chambers. For myself, I'm happy to 128k opus or -v1 lame it, which arguably may still be overkill


When you go from SD to HD video it's hard to go back. Same again when you go to 4K. Same again when you start eating higher quality foods. Same again when you start driving nicer cars.

I'm sure there's a technical name for it, but for a significant number of people, once you get used to the higher quality it's harder and harder to go back down a level.


I would counter that once someone goes from a common, well engineered brand to a less common, expensive, and equally well engineered brand, they'd have a hard time going back. You only need to look at clothing brands to see this everywhere. Not all differences are functional in the way that you have drawn the comparison.


I disagree. It's all about adaptation. Sure, if you step down to SD from HD, it will be hard. But if you are forced to watch SD always, you will eventually adapt to it again.


And why would I ever want to do that? Sounds pointless when I don't have to.


Some people got this thing called sensory overexcitability, it makes sensory things be more intense and detailed for them, and it probably makes some of them really appreciate the extra quality in FLAC.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overexcitability

Not many people got sensory overexcitability so a/b testing with random selection might not show those peoples opinions.

Its like saying most of humanity can't read JavaScript code so JavaScript is a completely shit programming language that are only used by stupid uninformed mindless coders who don't understand real programming, and that they are too lacking in intellectual ability to realize that and move over to a real programming language.

And also some music just does not work in low quality, it just turns into noise.


A rare condition probably shouldn't be compared to something which can be learnt and practiced. Given how people can form strong opinions derived from what other people say, I would wager that most audiophiles do not fall into this category. Citing an exception doesn't invalidate the common case.

While it may be the case that the direct parent of my post may have this, they still pointed out the differences were minor compared to pretty much every other technical factor at play in the digital to ear pipeline.


I remember having a copy of "busdriver imaginary places", where he does a lot of fast rapping, once I got the CD it was suddenly much easier to understand him.

Not sure if they were 320k though.


"Placebo" describes the audio scene people pretty well in my experience.

I did that MP3/FLAC A/B/X test back in my audio engineer days after catching a ton of condescending comments due to my listening of 'terrible sounding' MP3s.

Either my ears are garbage, or the difference is so subtle that even with solid headphones in a dead quiet room, the absolute best you could hope to be able to detect is that one is "different." getting all the way to "shitty" sounds near impossible to me.

Also, to my surprise, if you burned someone a cd from an MP3 source, but told the person it was Flac, it'd still "sound really smooth". Hm.


I was of the same opinion - but I've recently noticed (because youtube-dl, I think, automatically downloads music at a fairly high quality) that I enjoy some music substantially more when it's not compressed to hell. Classical music especially seems much juicier with a high quality recording.


What do you mean by compressed? Classical music is usually cited with regards to "compression" in the context of dynamic range compression, not data compression.


Similar experience. I did the blind tests as well, and surprisingly often chose 320 kbps mp3s that I thought were FLACs because they sounded "crisper" (I mostly listen to electronic club tunes). I did and also witnessed other DJs play out tracks I know for sure were 192kbps mp3s on huge sound systems (sadly no other version ever exported), the place went 100% wild because it's all about the music in the end...that said, would be great to ditch mp3s for OPUS in streaming and have catalogues in FLAC/AIFF.

Edit: a LOT if not most of new music at this point contains samples ripped from Youtube. Something to consider also.


> "Placebo" describes the audio scene people pretty well in my experience.

Agreed. See also: relative cable quality (for electric instrumentalists).


Cable quality can make a difference for instruments with passive pickups, especially with long cable runs. A guitar pickup can have >10Kohm output impedance, so it doesn't take much cable capacitance to get audible high frequency loss. You can solve this problem with a buffer amplifier close to the instrument, but that's one more device that can break or run out of battery charge.


It's not just passive pickups, it's all analog signals. Analog signals can degrade quite a lot of a run of shitty cable.


My library is all FLACs. You can sometimes definitely tell the difference on high-enough fidelity gear, not so much in the sound itself, but being able to hear production flaws more, often you can't, but the point is, I don't care if I can tell the difference. If I am paying the same amount, I want the same quality as I'd get on a CD, if MP3s were cheaper, it'll be a different story.


I wonder if another reason to prefer FLAC to MP3 is if you ever want to convert the MP3s to another lossy format (perhaps multiple times), is there a loss of quality associated with converting one lossy format to another multiple times?

It's nice to have a lossless format because you can always get lossy from it, but you can't do the opposite.


That's more or less my argument. At least by my own standards, local storage space is really cheap, and the argument that I'd get 100,000 songs instead of 20,000 songs in the same amount of space just isn't that compelling.

Arguments about sound quality are in my experience largely doomed to failure; they usually end up devolving into meta-arguments about testing methodologies. (And invariably mocking audiophiles about $2000 USB cables or whatever, an argument I've grown really, really weary of seeing despite agreeing such things are profoundly silly.)


This is exactly my point of view also. I have 1,100+ CDs all of which are ripped to WAV[1]. In my car I have a duplicate copy of the collection converted to MP3s, as that's what my car audio system will read. When I used a portable music player, that was also MP3. However if I get a new car or a new music player, that prefers ogg, or some other codec, I can go back to my source library of WAVs and create a whole new set of lossy tracks in that new codec.

As far as people saying 320k MP3s vs Uncompressed WAV or FLACs sound no different, then they simply are not using good enough audio equipment. Throw into the mix the Hi-bitrate audio files that are becoming quite common (and you really can tell the difference between standard CD audio and hi-bitrate) and MP3s start to look completely unsuitable for long term music storage.

Also... don't get me started on the rubbish quality of streaming and DAB radio.

---

[1] I started with WAV 10+ years ago, and kinda stuck with it - storage is cheap; I feel no need to change formats just yet.


Sorry if this triggered somthing in you, but I really meant "shitty MP3s".

I don't have got anything against MP3s in general, but back when I was buying MP3s (Amazon or Downloads when you are buying a record) sometimes I got 256kbps MP3s or even worse. I think one time I even got a 192kbps MP3. And that's my problem.

When I am buying music digitally I would like to have a very very good (or even perfect) digital copy of the music - not something that saves download bandwith and space on the hard drive(for me these days are over).

I am fine with 320kpbs MP3s - but if I pay for it I prefer FLAC.


I try to always find the highest quality version of the media I'm consuming because I enjoy archiving it. If I'm going to keep an archived copy and storage is so cheap, why not opt for the best possibly quality?

I'd agree that for most music I can't tell the difference. But there are some tracks where the difference is noticeable, even if it's minor. I've tested myself thoroughly by running automated ABX tests.


Reminds me of one of my favorite articles about HDMI cables where they had a bunch of supposed audiophiles try to tell the difference between a $2,000 cable and one made from a bent coat hanger. Surprise surprise, they couldn't.

Back when I ripped CDs, I encoded my MP3s with variable bitrate with the quality set to high. They average around 192 kbps. I was never able to tell the difference between the CD and the MP3 at that rate.


A good coat hanger is actually a damn fine wire for speaker cable. Most of what you want there is ability to handle big current spikes. I made 'audiophile style' cables using simple house cable solid-core, wrapped in opposite directions around a polystyrene tube core, so the conductors keep crossing at right angles (the point of that shenanigan).

Works fantastic. Sounds a lil' better than zip-cord, and of course at these levels it's a game of countless 'lil better' choices wherever possible.

I guess you could pay $2000 to have the conductors made out of silver and yak hair, but the 'heavier conductors and cable geometry' parts don't require any of that.



> The only advantage of physival media is the record cover.

I would add that for long-term archiving purposes, vinyl has many advantages over digital formats. I'll admit this is probably not a concern for most people, but once I own something on vinyl it feels much more like I own a permanent copy of the music.


How is vinyl more durable as far as physical media goes than a CD (digital format)? Vinyl can easily warp when improperly stored, degrades every time it is played, and even a small scratch result in audible imperfections. A CD at least can be scratched heavily and still be identical to the original thanks to forward error correction by Reed-Solomon codes.


All good points. Personally, for daily listening I am using online digital streaming options almost exclusively now. My vinyl gets pulled out maybe once a year, and I am very aware that overuse can degrade them physically.

As for cd's, I am no expert on this by any means, but I wonder how prevalent disc rot will become as some discs age to 30, 40, 50+ years old in the near future:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disc_rot

As far as I know vinyl doesn't have a comparable risk of degradation while sitting at rest in climate controlled storage. But I agree that the downsides are major concerns.


I would say from a technical point of view vinyl is one of the worst for archiving purposes. It degrades every time you play it, it can warp, playing it back is error prone...

The advantage of vinyl is in your last sentence: "once I own something on vinyl it feels much more like I own a permanent copy of the music".

That's totally fine for me if you feel this way, but I don't. I feel better with multiple digital copies of the music on multiple places.


> though I do think about applying to work with them from time to time.

It’s evident that they are a small team. They need some work. For example I accidentally bought all work from an artist AND and individual album in the same checkout and I couldn’t undo it. So I double purchased an album. Support never responded.


I've release most of my music on bandcamp and it really is great. It's low barrier of entry, the tools they have are pretty good, and they've given me more visibility than I've gotten on any other platform.

Most of my listening comes from streaming and buying records but bandcamp has a special place in my heart. Especially since they still haven't gotten greedy and started inserting ads everywhere. (maybe they're mining our data? I dunno).


One of my favorite features of Bandcamp is how you're allowed to listen for free and after a certain number of listens to a track you're prompted to purchase the music, since you've obviously been enjoying it.


Interesting. My band mates and I decided not to turn on that feature. It seemed like it would be rather annoying.


Great advice and also don’t sleep on wfmu.org for music discovery and all around refreshingly non-corporate experience


What setup do you use for listening to vinyl? I've been thinking about purchasing the AT LP120


I used to have a couple of Technics SL-1210, but sold those after I stopped DJ'ing about a decade ago. Stanton ST150 is my preferred choice these days.

http://www.stantondj.com/stanton-turntables/st150.html


Nice one, Pete. Signed up, following you, and I've already found gold.


...and yet music industry revenues are on the up again.

If you can't get something legally - because you actually can't, or because you can't afford it, it's a 'victimless crime' and you desperately want it - you'll pirate it. But I think most people are happy to pay for the convenience of everything. £10 a month for Spotify is a no brainer for me. The problem happens when (label?) greed sinks in again and the streaming services fragment with 'exclusives' on each. At that point, people end up picking one to spend their cash on, and they'll pirate or stream a shitty version on YouTube the songs they can't get on their streaming service.

You want to get more people to pay? Licence everything to everything - then the only people that will pirate are the ones that would never pay anyway. And I bet they're a smaller subset than four in ten.


Fragmentation is what causing the rise in movie and tv piracy, if I was to guess. For years piracy have been declining in Denmark, this past year is the first time is started to rise again. The same year where Netflix as been losing a ton of content.

Fragmentation is a huge problem, and I don’t understand it. Why do you care about managing your own streaming platform. Just licens everything at a price you believe to be fair and let the platforms fight to provide the best experience. As a music, TV or movie studio you’re the only one that sure to make money.


"Fragmentation is a huge problem, and I don’t understand it. Why do you care about managing your own streaming platform. Just licens everything at a price you believe to be fair and let the platforms fight to provide the best experience. As a music, TV or movie studio you’re the only one that sure to make money."

This would be amazing. Imagine picking your streaming service based on who has the best app / recommendations / social baked in (or whatever you were looking for). But from a friend that works in TV sales - the platforms fight and pay for the exclusives. If it's going to everyone - pass. That money helps film the new stuff. I guess music has an advantage in the respect that it doesn't really work like that - and it's much cheaper to record an album. That's why it's so frustrating when music services fragment.


Have music services really fragmented yet? I seem to remember some larger artists trying that, but I don't recall it being successful.

It's pretty rare that I can find something on Spotify that isn't on Google yet (or vice versa), and even then they usually catch up to each other eventually.


It's common for me to find stuff not on spotify, but I'm into some really niche stuff from the 90's and 00's that just didn't have a big following. I'm also into less mainstream stuff and do get good value out of Spotify, and most small/independent content creators are also putting their stuff on Spotify themselves these days, which means the situation shouldn't happen again.


Sounds like a "prisoner's dilemma" situation.


Simple, there's some really screwy economics.

Distribution of content is a "near-zero" cost relative to content production. However, the value of content distribution value is much higher than content. Furthermore, the value of the distribution of the content rises exponentially based on the collective set of content.

It's basically designed as a winner-take-all environment, so you have a bunch of digital fiefdoms. Or as put by Jim Barksdale on How to Make Money: "you either bundle or unbundle".


The thing about fiefdoms is that it increases the amount of territory that's close to a border (by making lots of borders), and crime flourishes around borders.

I pay for Hulu, HBO Now, and Amazon Prime. I suspect a year or two from now the same (or more) money will get me less content, as even more is segregated into separate streaming platforms. I think I'll end up just trading accounts with people, so they can use mine, and I can use their Disney, Showtime and Youtube TV or something. I'll get more content for the same price. But once I've done that, why not share three ways, and each person can pay for two services instead of three, and I'll get more content than now at less cost?

We've finally gotten to a place where people are happy to pay to stream because content is actually available and it's much more convenient, and the rights holders are so greedy they are going to force people back into the mindset that stealing is okay (but this time it's stealing services, not digital content).


> Why do you care about managing your own streaming platform.

because voluntarily giving up control over your content to a monopole means you loose leverage. If 90% of all video content is on netflix, they can set the terms, not you. "we're paying half of that or we dont host it".

> Just licens everything at a price you believe to be fair

They most likely do. But if noone else is willing to pay enough, its only going to be on their own platform.


I disagree completely. Exclusive content is not to protect against netflix becoming a monopoly. it is for the studio to try to be the monopoly!

if your content has a price in the open, streaming platforms can then compete on price/quality to end user. instead, today, they compete 100% on exclusives.


I don't understand what you're disagreeing with.

> streaming platforms can then compete

It seems fragmentation is part of your premise rather than something you're disagreeing about.

The post your replied to explained why there's fragmentation: one winner takes it all if you let it.


Music and movies are not substitute goods. Ignoring piracy, if you have an exclusive on some content, the fans of that content will come to you instead of choosing some other work to consume.


Movies yeah, but music is totally a substitute good to me. If you aren't on Spotify, I'll listen to something else...


Not that long ago, the consensus was that it was the opposite that was causing piracy: bundling.

They are the two sides of the same coin, which is that people don't want to pay what the content providers want to charge. Fragmentation wouldn't be a problem if each service was 99 cents a month, and bundling wouldn't be a problem if one big service that had everything charged $10 a month. Netflix showed that the latter is true - people generally don't complain about having to pay for all the content they don't care about on Netflix because they feel that what they do watch is worth at least $10/month.


I'm not a fan of fragmentation, but you have this reversed. Fragmentation exists because it allows content producers / owners to get every possible benefit out of that content before it is generally available. This happens with books (hardcover vs. paperback), medicines (years before generics are available), video game platforms etc.

The producers are merging with content providers precisely because it allows for this maximization of revenue. It's no accident. Apple ruined it by taking 30% of most digital activity on the planet - that's where the money is at scale and you won't see a reversal until those margins start to approach zero.

If a content producer wants the most amount of profit for a known good, say a famous band, (meaning they don't need to give it away to get discovered) then you'll make sure to fragment your customers and make the people that want it most "pay" the most. It makes all kinds of sense as a producer, and it happens in every industry.

Piracy is consumers saying "this is BS" and stealing the content so they don't have to pay more - because they feel entitled to do so. Sure, "let everything be free" is a wonderful goal culturally and for consumers but the model won't win out for things in extremely high demand.


Yup, we've gone from paying $120/month for an all-in-one cable package, to paying $39/month for a handful of channels, $10/month for this one online streaming service, $15 for the other one, $30 for another set of channels, and eventually we get to the point where we're paying around the same (if not more) than the all-in-one package, but we now have to manage multiple platforms, and we most likely have less content than we had before. Fuck all that noise.


You basically have a major label monopoly over music for most people. The power of the labels has increased with streaming. Streaming favors a tiny collection of already famous artists. What is utterly broken is the system that gave us the insanely great talents like Zappa and Hendrix. Hip hop music has transformed into professional social media trolling. Even artists like Moby are downsizing and selling off their hardware.

You have a tiny set of artists like Kanye who effectively own the industry and for the indies its like a $5 a year side income but they spend most of their spare time on it out of pure passion.


Taking advantage of something someone created on terms different than what they’re willing to offer it to you is not a “victimless crime.” (Just like jumping the turnstile in the subway is not a victimless crime even if there are free seats, or sneaking into a sports stadium.) At the margin it lowers the price everyone is willing to pay for the item.

As to music industry revenues--they're basically flat over the last 20 years: https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=9McmTl.... Which is crazy, because the number of new consumers that can afford their product is through the roof.

People treat piracy as a victimless crime because the marginal cost of each item is zero. Imagine extending similar logic to a handbag. If you steal an LV purse you can’t afford, how do you measure damages? The $1,000 marginal cost to physically replicate the purse, or the $10,000 retail price? That basic logic doesn’t change as the marginal cost goes to zero.

The moral rationalizations don't really hold water. It's not like the music industry is out there lobbying to prevent competing content. Their whole business model is creating content that's so desirable that they are non-fungible--people won't settle for a slightly different clone. Advances in digital technology have made it so the cost to create content is lower than ever. But people don't want just any superhero movie, want to see Wonder Woman or the Avengers: Infinity War.


The music labels who decide the terms of sale didn't create the music. They're rent seeking corporations who seek to increase their profits in any way possible and bribe politicians to create artificial barriers through which they can create toll gates.

And their control is expanding. Older works that should (by historical precedent) be part of the commons remain copyrighted because of endless extensions. Practices that were once legal and common become illegal (like copying tapes vs copying CDs) or technically difficult (like recording music off the radio vs recording music off the Internet).

Fighting back and "lowering the price everyone is willing to pay" doesn't sound like a bad thing to me.


> The music labels who decide the terms of sale didn't create the music. They're rent seeking corporations who seek to increase their profits in any way possible and bribe politicians to create artificial barriers through which they can create toll gates.

This is a self-serving rationalization that is not universally true. There are plenty of labels that are artist-owned, or are very friendly to artists. These tend to be small or mid-sized labels, and have been the most hurt by piracy. Ani Difranco has spoken about the impact of piracy on her Righteous Babe Records. Fat Mike of Fat Wreck Chords has spoken about the impact of piracy on independent and growing bands.

Meanwhile the biggest labels (the ones you're complaining about) have done just fine under piracy because they've never hesitated to sign acts desperate for the big time to crappy 360 deals that give the label a cut of every single revenue stream.

Looking at "the music industry" as a whole obscures the truth, which is that the shape of the music industry has changed--the middle has been hollowed out.

What we have now is a system in which it's easier than ever to get discovered, but if you want to actually make money, you're more dependent than ever on a huge company to permit that to happen--whether it's a big label, commercial sync deals, Ticketmaster, YouTube, etc.


I don't pirate music or movies so it's not "a self-serving rationalization".

It's an argument that copyright law serves the interests of a few at the expense of the many.

And I think you've missed the point about smaller bands and labels. They struggle whether they sign with a big label or go independent because only superstars and big corporations make big money from music. Many fans know this and are generous to support their favorite smaller bands.


The legitimate way to lower prices in a market is to create a competing product and sell it for less money, not interfere with a creator's rights to sell their product on their terms. The music industry isn't "brib[ing] politicians" to "create artificial barriers" to people creating competing content. Indeed, it's easier than ever to compete with the record labels. Sites like YouTube offer vast opportunities for creating and distributing indie content. The only reason the record labels make any money at all is that they make content people want more than the indie content they could get elsewhere for cheaper.


Copyright is itself an artificial barrier, as is copy protection and laws like the DMCA that make copy protection a legal as well as technical barrier.

I respect your right to your opinion that poor people should be prevented from hearing or seeing something entertaining because a corporation wants more money (it's rarely the creator who makes these decisions), but that's not the only legitimate opinion.

Copyright isn't a law handed down by God; it's a fairly new legal creation on the scale of human history and its constant expansion is a major factor behind increasing inequality in the world.


> Copyright is itself an artificial barrier, as is copy protection and laws like the DMCA that make copy protection a legal as well as technical barrier.

Yes, copyright is an artificial barrier, but a barrier to what? It's not a barrier to fair competition. It's a barrier to circumventing a creators right to bargain about the price of her creation.

Copyright itself isn't "handed down by God," but the idea that people should own the fruits of their own labor is an old one. That's all copyright is.


Copyright wasn't created to protect the fruits of the creators labor, though.

The origin of copyright was providing monopoly rights to the Stationers Guild in Britain to control printing of works under the Licensing of the Press Act 1662. So a right vested in the printers who wanted to be able to sell for much higher prices than the duplication itself justified, not the authors.

Of course this would also allow them to pay more to authors, because they would be able to amortise it over more copies, but the guild had a monopoly on printing, so it was not in any of their interests to substantially increase the proportion paid to authors - the main benefit of this monopoly was to themselves.

When parliament refused to renew it after protests because of the censorship it authorised, the Stationers Guild kept trying to push for it to be reintroduced, and first then started pushing the "authors rights" angle, leading to the Statue of Anne (Copyright Act 1710), which was the first "modern" copyright act in that it vested rights in authors.

But the idea of restricting the ability to copy to favour the creators of a work was something the printers first started pushing for their own interest because their abuse of the copyrights previously granted to them directly made it unpalatable to re-authorise those rights.


And extending the copyright on works whose creators are long dead doesn't do anything for the creators.

If copyright law wasn't serving the interests of Disney, Sony, and other big corporations, they'd be pressuring politicians to change it, rather than expand it to other countries.


The market is NOT a new invention. Copyright exists to regulate the market.


The notion that ideas are products to be sold on the market instead of free thoughts to be shared is a new invention.

In fact, most of the world still doesn't believe it, which is why the US has to fight so hard to expand copyright and patent protection in other nations.


>The legitimate way

What determines legitimate? There is, of course, the law. But the law has numerous limits and abilities to be exploited. To some extent, the law of the past was violated by the RIAA and others, and so nothing they do could be considered legitimate. And on a very different line of reasoning, the law can be considered only a tax and thus it is legitimate to pay the tax once enforced.

>The music industry isn't "brib[ing] politicians" to "create artificial barriers" to people creating competing content.

They don't lobby for laws that do things such as lead to YouTube creating copyright systems they can then exploit to take out competitors? Using government to capture the EM spectrum so that indies cannot compete on it? No, they aren't being simplistic tropes that bribe the government to outlaw all competition directly, but I would suggest to not use that as one's only measurement.


Plenty of selling music today is written, performed and completely produced by the musician.


Your arguments are flawed.

> (Just like jumping the turnstile in the subway is not a victimless crime even if there are free seats, or sneaking into a sports stadium.)

It's not at all like jumping a turnstile or sneaking into a stadium.

There are real costs associated with servicing an in-person customer on a train or stadium. From additional security, to garbage, to air conditioning. All those might seem small but it is an additional expense on the operator of those services.

Downloading music without paying doesn't cost the music industry a dime.

I'm not saying using IP without paying is acceptable but your comparison doesn't take a proper look at the issue.

Further...

> As to music industry revenues--they're basically flat over the last 20 years: https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=9McmTl.... Which is crazy, because the number of new consumers that can afford their product is through the roof.

The number of consumers is higher but so is the competition for entertainment. Netflix, YouTube, etc. are more likely taking revenue than someone downloading a song without paying.


> There are real costs associated with servicing an in-person customer on a train or stadium. From additional security, to garbage, to air conditioning. All those might seem small but it is an additional expense on the operator of those services.

The marginal cost of a stow-away on a subway train or in a sports stadium is very nearly zero. Even if it isn't, there is no magical moral transition that happens as the marginal cost goes from $10 to $1 to $0.01 to $0. The reason sneaking into a sports stadium is wrong is not because it deprives the stadium owner of the $0.01 marginal cost of an additional person being present. It's because it deprives them of the opportunity to sell a ticket for $100.


> Even if it isn't, there is no magical moral transition that happens as the marginal cost goes from $10 to $1 to $0.01 to $0.

But there sort of is. Everywhere else when a company is caught selling something for big multiples of the marginal costs, people are outraged. Think of e.g. costs of SMS in the past (which were essentially free for the providers), or how people react to ticket scalping. Even drugs, where the initial costs are high, don't get a free pass here. In most areas of the market, you have competition that ensures margins are reasonable, and outside those areas, people selling way over what they need to recoup the costs are generally considered assholes.

> The reason sneaking into a sports stadium is wrong is not because it deprives the stadium owner of the $0.01 marginal cost of an additional person being present. It's because it deprives them of the opportunity to sell a ticket for $100.

On the other hand, if a stadium was already making money hand over fist on the game, recouping their costs with a wide margin, being too bitter about a couple of people sneaking in would be considered soulless, whereas turning a blind eye would be considered noble. This is a more complex and context-dependent topic; things do not boil down to "opportunity to sell". Hell, in this particular case I'd expect most people's intuitions would be related to general property rights (not paying $100 is trespassing).


> Everywhere else when a company is caught selling something for big multiples of the marginal costs, people are outraged.

No they're not; people in the U.S. buy a heck of a lot of bottled water, despite the fact that potable water is available basically anywhere for free.

And try this: shoplift a bottle of water from a 7-11 and when the cops come, tell them that water is free anyway, and the 7-11 has a big multiple markup, so it's not really a crime. See how that goes.


> No they're not; people in the U.S. buy a heck of a lot of bottled water, despite the fact that potable water is available basically anywhere for free.

That may be the case today, but companies selling bottled water have huge marketing budgets and exploit people's lack of trust in public institutions.

> And try this: shoplift a bottle of water from a 7-11 and when the cops come, tell them that water is free anyway, and the 7-11 has a big multiple markup, so it's not really a crime. See how that goes.

I wouldn't shoplift a bottle just as I wouldn't shoplift a music CD. I wouldn't even go to the shop in the first place, as I can get both drinking water and the songs I want from near-free sources, and with better quality.


> The reason sneaking into a sports stadium is wrong is not because it deprives the stadium owner of the $0.01 marginal cost of an additional person being present. It's because it deprives them of the opportunity to sell a ticket for $100.

The argument is that pirates wouldn't have bought the song, so it's not depriving the artist of any revenue. The pirate either doesn't have the song or they pirate it. Buying it is not one of their options.

The stadium owner would never see the $100 because the person couldn't afford to purchase the ticket. So, it's not lost revenue to them. However, if someone sneaks in, now you're costing the owner money.

That's why I'm saying the in-person analogy doesn't fit.


In your argument, where does live streaming stand?


Imagine a sports stadium that is completely empty except for two teams playing the best game they ever had. And then getting paid $0 and their bosses are ready to pack it in and cancel everything. Now imaging a giant second stadium build out of wood that eclipses the industry built one that goes 45 stories taller than the first one. This one is packed with people that simply helped build that larger stadium surrounding the original and overlooks that game being played.

So.. just downvoting and not even a single comment how this doesn't apply? To me, that's simply people that want to continue the party without having to explain themselves.


> At the margin [piracy] lowers the price everyone is willing to pay for the item.

Does it though? Someone jumping the turnstile in the subway doesn't make me think "man, my ticket is too expensive really".

Instead, it makes me think "that person can't afford a ticket, but the additional operating cost of the subway for a rare unpaying passenger is basically nothing, and a free trip probably means a lot to someone poor, so letting them get away with that has basically added value to the world for free".

I believe most people are honest and want to play by the book. Large-scale cheating indicates an underlying problem, like poverty or general shittiness of the only available options.


In my life I've only ever seen one person who looked like they couldn't afford to buy a ticket to pass through the exit door. All the youth I've seen jumping the turnstiles were people who clearly could. In many cases it's the same with the music, I know several people that just flat out refuse to pay for any music or films.


That is just you. I have seen enough people who, after having taken a train ride where nobody ended up checking their tickets, complain that they wasted money on a ticket. I have also seen enough people who don’t take rules seriously because “everyone else is violating them too”.


Comparison with physical goods is always flawed. When your marginal cost is exactly zero, then there isn't even a concept of replacement. There exists an infinite supply of the good, therefore price should be near-zero. Copyright infringement cannot reduce your supply.

If humanity could invent a magical machine that makes a direct atom-for-atom replica of any physical good at zero cost, using zero raw materials, I would expect the market price of those physical goods to drop to zero or near-zero. This is an economic rationalization, not a moral one.


Just because a single instance of the good has a near zero price, it doesn't mean the creation of the initial product cost nothing. Even though everyone in the universe could potentially consume a copy, the item still needs to be able to at least recoup its cost with the consumers that are actually going to consume it.


The ideal scenario would be a pricing structure where the early adopters and initial consumers would pay a higher price until the development costs were recouped (plus a profit margin), and after the development costs were accounted for, the price would shift to whatever the profit margin was calculated to be per product.

The cost-based pricing is inherently flawed as supply/demand typically governs prices, however digital media tends to stick to whatever tradition dictates, e.g. $60 for a game or $0.99 per song. It is hard to gauge sunk costs for performance art past what it costs to run the studio for X amount of time + whatever salary artists get paid.


>> The cost-based pricing is inherently flawed as supply/demand typically governs prices, however digital media tends to stick to whatever tradition dictates, e.g. $60 for a game or $0.99 per song. It is hard to gauge sunk costs for performance art past what it costs to run the studio for X amount of time + whatever salary artists get paid.

That's true. I find myself coming down on the side of "the creator should set the price" rather than the consumer. Digital media is weird in that it's very easy to duplicate the creators work, but as the "supply" is potentially infinite, I'd like the system to be a price/demand ratio, where the cost of the item determines whether the product is consumed, instead of the consumer circumventing the creator to consume the product without remuneration.


That's how it works for most people. If the cost of an item is too high, most people don't buy it. With digital media the effects of "theft" are largely overstated because pirates wouldn't buy the game if they had to pay for it. With traditional goods theft results in a cost to the creator due to physical materials costing money to produce, however digital goods have no such cost and thus the creator loses very little to pirates in practice.


That is how it works for games on Steam, for instance. Almost all games go down in price over time, some more than others.


I disagree in some scenarios. If someone has no market access or cannot afford an album or song, then the record label is not losing any money because the sale wouldn't have happened. More importantly, because the cost to copy a file is virtually $0.00, the record label does not lose any money in maintenance costs (unlike a subway or sports stadium), or in replacement costs (like a purse).

"It lowers the price everyone is willing to pay for the item". Not really. This is happening because the supply of music continues to grow each year. I can't find the article, but a (I believe) French economist predicted this would happen decades ago (1980s?)


> "It lowers the price everyone is willing to pay for the item". Not really.

To some extent it does, simply because of "why should I pay ${exorbitant amount of money} if I can torrent it for free?" consideration. Which is, IMO, a fair consideration, as we're talking about goods that are infinitely reproducible for $0.00 marginal cost. The availability of piracy does cause problems for "legitimate" distributors, but this doesn't automatically imply torrents are bad and labels have the moral high ground.

The core of the problem stems from the goods being infinitely reproducible for $0.00 marginal cost. Such goods inherently don't work with the scarcity-based business models invented for physical items. Media companies are doing the world great harm by trying to brute-force this impedance mismatch by legislation and technology.


>That basic logic doesn’t change as the marginal cost goes to zero.

Actually, I think it does change precisely when it reaches zero. It's only because of the marketing language of the industry that we are enticed to believe that something that can be copied billions and trillions of times at no cost is some kind of valuable finite artifact.


Yes, I totally understand. Hence why I put 'victimless crime' in inverted commas. The perception around stealing music is not the same as stealing the handbag, or a loaf of bread - that's the point.


It's hard to fathom a moral system that thinks you have a greater obligation to a monopolistic company and a multimillionaire singer than any random poor guy. According to your attitude, someone is a bad person if they don't pay for the latest Avengers film, but I doubt you would condemn someone who doesn't give to charity with the same vehemence.


I'm not sure I get your point about theft. When I had some tools stolen earlier this year the cost of the damage was the replacement cost of the tools, not the price on the sticker. The (legal) replacement cost of a stolen song is about $0, which would seem to make this a victimless crime again.


I have a Spotify subscription and regularly buy albums, but what's wrong with pirating the music of musicians that are long dead? It's not like the owners of the copyright "deserve" the money in any more than a legal sense.


First of all, the statistic you used is outdated.

https://www.billboard.com/files/media/01-GMR-graph-billboard...

You may not be aware, but on digital, they charge less for an album than LP and compact disc. So given the decline in sales of physical media, and the rise in streaming, (which they get paid next-to-nothing for, I might add,) along with the overall increase of non-streamed digital sales, they've absolutely gotten millions of new consumers. It's just cheaper now, because physical media has huge markups.

> People treat piracy as a victimless crime because the marginal cost of each item is zero. Imagine extending similar logic to a handbag. If you steal an LV purse you can’t afford, how do you measure damages? The $1,000 marginal cost to physically replicate the purse, or the $10,000 retail price? That basic logic doesn’t change as the marginal cost goes to zero.

It absolutely does; they aren't taking it from the publisher of the music, or an outlet for music, they're having it shared with them from the second-hand market. This allows no loss on the part of the publisher (and more importantly artist), no inefficiency in having to restock an item, and doesn't involve the publisher in any way.

It's not stealing, it's copying. If you steal something on physical media, you'll be making them lose something, and they'll have to replace it. If you copy something on digital media, they don't have to spend man-hours replacing something.

> The moral rationalizations don't really hold water. It's not like the music industry is out there lobbying to prevent competing content. Their whole business model is creating content that's so desirable that they are non-fungible--people won't settle for a slightly different clone. Advances in digital technology have made it so the cost to create content is lower than ever. But people don't want just any superhero movie, want to see Wonder Woman or the Avengers: Infinity War.

There aren't live shows in the case of movies, and at those live shows the actors wouldn't be receiving the largest amount of currency for acting in them.

In the case of music?

The venue is far more generous with the split than the label is.

With music piracy, it has a very strong chance of increasing an artist's revenue from live sales, which is better for them than purchases of albums, anyway.

Also, it's worth noting that the EU ran a study on the effects of digital piracy just a few years ago; and their results were...

https://gizmodo.com/the-eu-suppressed-a-300-page-study-that-...

...that in the case of games, piracy improved sales, in the case of movies, piracy decreased sales, and in the case of everything else, piracy had no effect on sales at all.

*

And I'm saying this as a person who buys LP and digital all the time.


>> People treat piracy as a victimless crime because the marginal cost of each item is zero. Imagine extending similar logic to a handbag. If you steal an LV purse you can’t afford, how do you measure damages? The $1,000 marginal cost to physically replicate the purse, or the $10,000 retail price? That basic logic doesn’t change as the marginal cost goes to zero.

> It absolutely does...

I mostly agree with your comment, but you gave up to easily on this part. The basic logic is exactly the same—but the correct assessment of the damage in this scenario is the $1,000 marginal cost to replace the stolen purse, not the artificially inflated $10,000 retail price.

Of course, there is another, more important, difference in play besides marginal cost: the copyright holder is already "whole". Their ability to use their property has not been impacted in the slightest by the existence of additional copies. The concept of "damages" in such a scenario is completely artificial.


Taking advantage of something someone created on terms different than what they’re willing to offer it to you is not a “victimless crime.” (Just like jumping the turnstile in the subway is not a victimless crime even if there are free seats, or sneaking into a sports stadium.) At the margin it lowers the price everyone is willing to pay for yhe item.

Let me offer the opposing perspective.

Why should a business use the State to enforce a broken scarce physical property model at odds with how information honestly disseminates (impedance mismatch or category error) just so they can prop up their own business models? If their business models can’t be profitable without enforcing draconian and perhaps misapplied rules, then their business model should not be viable and we should rely on eg open source collaboration or hobbyists. Perhaps businesses SHOULDN’T have a “right” to create really complex movies music and software if it means causing far more others harm downstream.

Humans make up systems to enforce this or that “right”, which is nothing but a guarantee from some organization (eg a state) that they will fight to coerce someone to honor some agreement, even if you didn’t make one explicitly.

I never made an agreement to NOT listen to someone’s song. With a turnstile, I can be physically prevented from entering the premises until I agree to an agreement. The turnstile can be made “unjumpable” - and many are. If I didn’t explicitly agree to anything then maybe I can jump the turnstile, in a libertarian world where we have to explicitly agree to something.

Anyway, now let’s assume we are not in an ancap utopia. So people form organizations and they figure out what system of coersion works and what doesn’t.

The system of private property requires force to enforce, just as much as other “government” things. So it may be justified for personal protection and chattel property, but as you move further away from that, it may be less justified and have less payoff. Should a person be able to own an idea, or 50000 acres of land if others can put it to good use?

And how did they come to own it? “Homesteading” the land or idea? John Locke who coined the idea also said a man shouldn’t own more land than he can cultivate himself or arrange an organization to do efficiently, or society is wasting land. And also you may have massive rent seeking and sharecropping. Like how we had now with A&R departments and actual artists before Spotify. Or — sorry fellow entrepreneurs — how Facebook Google and others exploit their infrastructure monopoly and lock-in to have access to all your data and exercise control because there are no open-source alternatives.

Is this really the best system? Is it the most moral? You appeal to morality of the individual in the system but you must first consider the benefits and legitimacy of the system itself.


> Why should a business use the State to enforce a broken scarce physical property model at odds with how information honestly disseminates (impedance mismatch or category error) just so they can prop up their own business models? If their business models can’t be profitable without enforcing draconian and perhaps misapplied rules, then their business model should not be viable and we should rely on eg open source collaboration or hobbyists. Perhaps businesses SHOULDN’T have a “right” to create really complex movies music and software if it means causing far more others harm downstream.

There is zero harm to others downstream, because the only thing those people are being deprived of is a product that wouldn't exist at all without the "evil" content creators. You're not being deprived of anything when you can't download Avengers: Infinity Wars for free. You're just prevented from having your cake and eating it too. (I.e. consuming a product that was created in express reliance on the copyright system, without paying for it.) Which is the reason we allow companies to enforce this artificial scarcity--it allows creation of a product that people want more than the alternatives.

It's precisely because this scarcity is artificial that it's moral. If people wanted to consume content from "open source collaboration or hobbyists" then they would do it. Nothing is stopping them. But people don't want the hobbyist project, they want the $200 million Hollywood blockbuster. And if that's the case, people have no right to demand access to that content on terms different from what the creator is willing to agree to.


Not necessarily agree with grandparent.

>There is zero harm to others downstream

Draconian IP laws and content filters and DCMA abuse and cost of complying is harm. DRM software itself already has been proved to be a security problem even when handled by the biggest of tech corps.

These costs are externalized for copyright holders. These costs are real because those things already do happen to people. Unlike these existing costs, opportunities lost are only hypothetical. Saying that we should abolish IP is ridiculous but so is claiming that current laws and industry is reasonable in their reach for media control.

We should also consider the fact that someone not being familiar with a piece of art and not creating art being unable to use other work is harm. Though these costs are on par with hypothetically lost profits and hypothetically lost creators in their ephemerality.

>a product that was created in express reliance on the copyright system

This system severely overreaching and limiting freedom of people without showing a connection between implemented laws and technologies and the ability to produce. It may rely on some parts of system but not the other. It's up to copyright lobby to demonstrate if it does at all.

>It's precisely because this scarcity is artificial that it's moral.

So is price collusion and human torture. If drm and music are to grow on trees it wouldn't change a thing about the moral aspect of the thing. We're free to decide on the morality of copyright enforcement without looking at its nature.


> You're not being deprived of anything when you can't download Avengers: Infinity Wars for free.

That seems quite silly. Obviously you're being deprived of watching Avengers: Infinity War.


Oh please. Are people not deprived of drug research that people around the world would do on the long tail if Big Pharma didn’t chill their activities? Is it good for the world that innovation is restricted by force to US Big Pharma?

“But if we didn’t have government, who would build the roads???”

“But if we didn’t have copyright, who would write all the software and encyclopedias?!? Oh wait...”

If you make a moral argument about a pirate in the system, prepare to get an opposing moral argument about the system itself.

How many people could have been cured of Malaria if we allowed open source drug research to flourish? In every OTHER science department eg physics people publish their ideas freely.

But how is that possible without patents???


Just need to change drug regulations. Make solid frameworks for doctors/patients to evaluate risks of untested or partially tested drugs, and let them make their own decisions.


> the only thing those people are being deprived of is a product that wouldn't exist at all

They are deprived of interacting with the front lines of modern culture.

I think people have no right to view a film that has hidden in a box since creation. Once a film enters popular culture, I think the argument that the creator should continue to hold complete dictatorial control over it is questionable.


The saddest part being that the film industry is even further behind. Some contents are still totally unreachable by any legal offer outside their home country.


> stream a shitty version on YouTube

Is that considered piracy? YouTube quality is fine for most people (i.e. they either don't care, or don't have gear that's good enough to really hear the difference).


Not piracy, but the revenue the studios get out of Youtube would seem way less than what they'd get out of a paid platform, so they're still loosing out compared to just licensing the content to all paid platforms.


Exactly. I have a spotify subscription and I do buy some albums from bandcamp where I do know that a good portion of the money goes to the artist and not to some useless blood-sucking middle-man. With movies... tell me, where can I buy/stream a movie from the 90s or so that won't cost me 50$ for 2h of fun? With albums I rip them to my computer immediately and just store the CD( or buy digital). Can't do that with movies or shows.


> License everything to everything

Nothing more annoying than false supply limitations on content by service, exclusives, country, various availability windows.

This is the digital age, we have little time for entertainment and need our content on demand. I should be able pay and get what I want to listen to or watch without a false supply constraint to create manipulated demand.

I get why the content owners do it this way, content is king, it is just majorly annoying.

When movies are available on content services I end up not being into the movie at that time, then when I want to watch it the movie is only for purchase. So even with 4 streaming services I end up buying on iTunes or other.

For music, Spotify is doing a pretty good job of having almost everything, but still there are albums that you have to go buy or get.

The friction is so much less when pirating, just go get what you want, I'd pay for a service I could just get anything anytime with no restrictions, so I end up buying lots of movies especially.

Usability and access still favors pirating in many cases which isn't wise for the content industry.


>...and yet music industry revenues are on the up again.

I keep seeing this mentioned, but seriously, it was only in 2015 the revenues bottomed out and started to rise again. And it is not anywhere close to its peak in the 90s in real terms, and less so in terms of % spending.

Globally, China's music industry make less than $100M a year. That second largest economy in the world, and its Music revenue is less than half of Thailand.

The industry has changed, and in the west Musicians made much more money in their live performance, K-Pops have all their songs on youtube for free. Chinese Pop stars get much more from advertisement deals and other media. Japanese still loves CDs. A lot of people have grown up to consume music which is totally free.


https://cdn.mbw.44bytes.net/files/2018/04/Screen-Shot-2018-0...

Revenue didn't bottom out. CD revenue is still on the decline, and digital revenue is still on the decline.

Ever since the age of the first recording, music has worked on a freemium model. Music was free to listen to via the radio (and ad-supported), which acted as an advertisement and upsell for physical (and later digital) media sales.

With the decline of radio and physical media, as well as the democratization of distribution (less hits, revenue spread more evenly), the music industry has been searching for a replacement business model that works.

It looks like they've found it in streaming services.


Reminds 2013 David Bowie's "The Next Day" was released... I could not get it anywhere legally in the country I was/lived.

I spent more than 4(!) hours trying to find it... the effort ended past 3am; needless to say how.


Amen.

They are really an old-school industry that needs to die,and be replaced with independent musicians that release songs on YouTube.


If that happens, YouTube will start squeezing the independent musicians and things will be as bad or worse than before


No, it will not.

YT doesn't squeeze video creators, so he will not squeeze musicians.

Even if YT did, they would be free to move to another platform.


Be interested to see what proportion of those who do this can't afford it or can't get it.


> If you can't get something legally

"Can't" is a pretty strong word.

If something isn't available for streaming, it is very likely to be available on DVD or Blu-Ray. Even if the media are region-coded, region-free players may be perfectly legal in your jurisdiction.


I am not surprised, considering that pirating songs is still the most hassle free way to listen to music, especially down here in India. Spotify isn't available due to label issues and local streaming services don't have a good selection of non-bollywood music. Now that physical media cannot be used anywhere in laptops or mobiles and youtube cannot be minimized on mobiles, the best and easy way to get music, especially western music is to pirate mp3 files and share it on usb sticks and sd cards.


In Africa I saw these devices that were dedicated sd card file transfer devices. You plugged in two sd cards in and it had a Norton Commander-esque interface on the top for transferring files between the two. It was weird seeing such a device that wasn't a general purpose computer.

Do you guys have devices like that in India?



AFAICT, that's a block level duplicator. The ones I'm talking about let you copy individual files. So everyone has their own SD card, and you turn to your buddy and say "damn that's a banging tune", so you guys head down to the village tech store and the guy there lets you copy the mp3 from your buddy's card to yours using his fixed purpose file copier.


> ...and local streaming services don't have a good selection of non-bollywood music

By non-Bollywood, do you mean music in other Indian languages or popular English music? Amazon Prime and Apple Music seem to have something in other languages, though nobody seems to have everything (without ads and a bad experience). Amazon Prime (with video, music and books) is Rs.999 a year, while Apple Music is Rs.120 a month.

For those not familiar with India, there are 22 official languages (you can see them on the currency notes) and about a 1000 dialects. Popular music is still mostly from movies, and the country produces more than a 1000 movies a year across different languages.


Very unusable though with stupid DRM downloads or forced streaming. Both preclude backups or reuse on multiple devices. At the very least, complicate it immensely.

Compared to that, Bandcamp is heaven. A tiny one though I'm happy to pay for.


Yeah, the DRM and the various limits (even if they look big, they're still limits...on a paid service) imposed on offline storage and the inability to move content across devices are huge bummers.


> By non-Bollywood, do you mean music in other Indian languages or popular English music?

Western music mostly. I took a gaana.com subscription to find that its rock/metal music catalogue had big holes in it. And as you said even for bollywood music the experience is not that good.


Just out of curiosity;

Why is it not possible to buy mp3s? Amazon, play store, iTunes etc. all use no DRM to my knowledge? Or is it just a question of price?


(Not Indian, but we get the same thing in Europe)

Because movie studios, music labels etc. sell exclusive distribution rights to local music cartels, and many of these deals are historical and hard to get out of, e.g. maybe they were 20-30 year contracts made in the mid-90s when nobody was serious about this "Internet" thing.

Which is why Netflix has such a fragmented offering per-country, and why e.g. you might be able to technically buy some song on a CD in India, but it's not available anywhere online, or in the likes of Spotify.


I am frustrated by this all the time but for Japanese contents in US. Japanese broadcast (TV Japan) in the US can have segment censored or even cut entirely. (gets worse when Olympics is on, but that's another story with another reasons.)

It got a lot better, particularly for anime, because companies were losing money without legal (and timely) distribution, but there's still big hole in music contents.

I guess music from Japan is niche compared to anime. (And worse with something obscure I tend to listen, e.g. anime related music)

Some small subset of musicians and labels are nice enough to put the entire thing on YouTube, but I wish there were an avenue to listen to them just as easy as Spotify, and with decent coverage.


For Tunisia, it is not possible to buy anything online because the currency is not internationally convertible.


That's really sad, and I understand how frustrating that can be. It used to be next to impossible to do the same in India, but things have changed a lot in the last two decades. We still have a lot of control on the currency.


I can't answer for the parent, but I'll make an assumption with an analogy.

You're on a long walk, absolutely starving and there's a strong possibility you won't get to eat for a while. A guy by the road is selling apples - with the small amount of cash you have on you, you could afford 4 or 5, enough to fill you up. Across the road there's an empty looking house set far back from the road, with an apple tree right in the yard at the front. Hundreds of apples have fallen on the ground - it's no biggie to lean over the fence and grab a handful of apples. No one is in the house, the guy selling apples isn't watching, what do you do?

Of course, you _are_ starving, and you do have some money, which you'd be prepared to spend on food. Now assume that next to the apple seller is a small cafe - the menu is vast and you can eat as much as you want of pretty much any kind of food. You pay once and if you stop in on the way back you can eat again. Now what do you do?


"Why is it not possible to buy mp3s? Amazon, play store, iTunes etc. all use no DRM to my knowledge? Or is it just a question of price?"

I was going to ask the same thing - specifically about Amazon, which sells non-DRM, standard mp3s - but it occurs to me this might only be in the United States.

What does mp3 purchasing from Amazon look like from other countries ? Just a vastly different catalog ? The same catalog but with DRM files ?


> What does mp3 purchasing from Amazon look like from other countries ? Just a vastly different catalog ? The same catalog but with DRM files ?

For Finland and most other countries, it is not possible to purchase digital music (or movies/shows, for that matter) from Amazon.

If I try to purchase an MP3 from the US site (amazon.com), I get "We were unable to process your order with the current payment information. Please click 'Continue' to select a default payment method and 1-Click address."

Clicking "Continue" just gets me back to the item page, so even the error messaging is broken. OTOH Amazon Video has a proper error message about needing a US payment method.

Amazon does offer the Amazon Music Unlimited subscription service here, though, and I believe it has a catalog comparable to other services (but I'm not a user).


>What does mp3 purchasing from Amazon look like from other countries ?

Speaking from a UK perspective, everything I've purchased from Amazon UK has been provided as DRM-free MP3. Amazon UK (and possibly elsewhere) has an AutoRip feature where CD purchases are also added as gratis downloads. This extends to prior purchases, too – I was a bit wary about downloading some items since they were bought as gifts for people via their wishlist…and yet since I was the purchaser, I was the presumed licence holder…but didn't have the CD in my possession. The same goes for CDs that I'd bought, listened to and subsequently sold, which presumably transfers the licence to the new holder of the CD…and yet I can still download the album via Amazon Music. Tricky.


Tried buying some mp3's on Amazon a couple of years ago. It wouldn't let me because my credit card wasn't an American one.

I'm guessing this has to do with labels and their distribution rights.


Sometimes it's useful to expand the definition of "pirates."


It's less a question of price and more that of convenience. In India most services don't have the full catalog due to old licensing issues. There is fragmentation. Which does not matter when you pirate stuff.


Thanks. I just assumed amazon, google and itunes would over the same digital catalog around the globe. I have myself mostly bought music from smaller artists via bandcamp or their personal sites, but mostly saw their albums also on these big platforms, so it didn't even occur to me their offerings could differ by country. (strictly talking about music, when looking at movies etc., even central Europe where I am located has severely limited options in comparison to the US. But then, other than music comes with mostly draconian DRM anyway.)


I download albums not available on Spotify on 7digital, which is legal and DRM-free (and expensive). Although it's only available in Europe.


It is, but not licensed for India.

“Piracy” includes grey market media.


Google Play Music is there in India with their full catalog, but Google seems not to be pushing it much, and their player software is very bare bones, cannot do volume equalization in a play list for eg.


Google Play Music does let you download the album you purchased, at least. Then you can play it in whatever music player you like.


Aren't streaming services dedicated to the Indian market gaining traction? Saavn used to be big and these days there is Gaana as well


I’ve found Apple music to have a really decent catalog in India


That's way down from when 10/10 music consumers were pirates, just trading songs with each other around campfires and town squares without deep thought paid to credit.

Seriously, exclusive rights to music creation and reproduction are a pretty new thing; I think humanity will survive this "recent" trend.


You're sentiment is more charitable than mine.

If anybody ever tries to control some other person's activity in this way, and it happens to be my music that's at issue, that will certainly not be an appropriate position to take vis a vis my creation. (Not that my music is really worth anything to anyone, except maybe my song at DjangoCon 2012 :-) ).

I just don't understand how these ideas have even become so pervasive. The idea that I can own a song (or any data) to the exclusion of preventing someone from copying bytes from one drive to another... it's just so strange.


People don't really care and just repeat the narrative. "Musician has to eat, too, right?" Most conservative people around me don't really care about IP right. Heck, they don't even understand them at all! I've seen them repeatedly pirating images from Google or copying their music using ripping tools while still advocating for copyright.


I sometimes think about the fact that in the Feeding Of The Multitude, Jesus made and gave out numerous free copies of bread and fish without any thought for the bakers or fishmongers.


Also patents. People are all for patents because they believe that one day they'll have a brilliant idea and make money this way. Well, patents are[0] how you deprive society of being able to use that idea when the time is ripe for it to be used.

--

[0] - with the possible exception of pharmaceuticals.


This is backward, the point of a patent is that it guarantees the invention will become public knowledge. The exclusivity period is compensation for that.

There is no law forcing a person or company to file for a patent. They are free to keep their trade secrets a secret forever, if they want.


This may be backwards, but it's how regular people see it, from what I've observed. They dream of patenting something and then licensing/selling it to companies. It's easier than making use of the invention by themselves.

As for guaranteeing the invention will be public knowledge, these days it's just bait-and-switch.


Using an invention to create a product is a way (maybe the most popular way) of making the invention public knowledge.

The dream of licensing is not a perversion of the patent system, it's part of the point: to get inventions out of people's heads and secret workshops, and into forms that benefit the public at large.


Why are pharmaceuticals an exception? What makes them different?


Not the OP, but the vast majority of the up front cost is in development. Reproduction is relatively cheap, so who's going to pour money into R&D if your formula is just going to be immediately copied and sold at a fraction of the price?


But isn't that the purpose of all patents? To promote innovation by protecting the output of up-front R&D spending from just being immediately copied by competitors?


Yes, on paper. The problem is in current practice. In most fields, patent system extends too much protection for the patent owners, allowing them to block an idea from being used by others for far longer than it's needed to recoup development costs and earn a solid profit on top of it.

Also, you forgot about the other part of the purpose of patents - to allow the public to benefit from the innovation, by making it public domain after patent protection expires. Increasingly, patents don't hold that end of the bargain, by being deliberately written in such a vague form as to be useless as a blueprint.

Back to the topic of pharma - this is the only case I know where I feel that cost/benefit of patents favors keeping them. Everywhere else, I feel things would be better if we abolished them, or at least severely reduced their duration.


Absurdly high costs of drug research (and then absurdly high costs of getting successful ones approved). We're talking about billions of dollars of investment for something that, once developed, can be copied for pennies by cheap chemical plants. I accept that there needs to be a way for "big pharma" to recoup the development costs, or else they won't even bother with drug research. It seems to me that cost/benefit of patents make them justified in this case. But not in most other industries, not with the patent lengths of today (and lack of any details that would let people reproduce the invention after patent expiration).


That same argument can be used for other inventions. Why is pharma an exception just because you added "absurdly high" to it? It is possible to fund pharma research through the government just like how much of current pharma research and plenty of other types of research are funded. And the good thing about being fully government funded for pharma research is that you get the sell the resulting medicine for very cheap.


> Why is pharma an exception just because you added "absurdly high" to it?

Yes, precisely that. If you see the problem of patents as a cost/benefit analysis and not black-and-white issue, it's not surprising that the system may be socially useful in some sectors, but not for others.

As for alternative systems of funding drug research, this is a separate topic. I'd all for abolishing pharmaceutical patents if a different effective method of funding would be available.

EDIT and lest you think I'm a fan of big pharma business, I'm not. I abhor the trickery they pull with marketing to doctors, or flipping an inert fragment of a molecule and patenting it again. But I'm inclined to cut them some slack as the society needs new drugs.


Maybe the solution is to just make patents more expensive to obtain. That way companies won't bother patenting trivial "inventions", while products that require lots of resources to develop would be worth the extra cost.


This would disadvantage individual inventors though, who would be less likely to afford the application than a company.

My current and somewhat layman opinion is that we need to take a serious look at the duration of patent protection. For instance in software, a patent longer than 2-3 years is IMO absurd, and just serves to enrich the patent owner while retarding the progress of technology. Similar calculation could be made for other industries, based on typical time-to-market and rate of progress. The application process should IMO be also more strict, to a) not let through so many patents on obvious things, and b) ensure that patent description actually allows to reproduce the invention. Lastly, we need to find a way to stop companies from stockpiling patents as if they were nuclear weapons.

And speaking of that, I wish regulators could also take a look at the duration of copyright protection, and curb the practice of extending it in perpetuity.


> Seriously, exclusive rights to music creation and reproduction are a pretty new thing; I think humanity will survive this "recent" trend.

I mean, by that standard, the entire legal system, not to mention having state police departments vs random mob justice, are also pretty new things. Do you think that we can do away with those too cause they're new?

Do you give any credence to the idea that part of the reason the last few hundred years have been incredibly productive for humanity (both in terms of general economic welfare, but also art), is partly because of things like the patent/IP system? I'd be happy to know why not, if not.


Legal systems are basically as old as, depending on how you slice it, writing. If you mean a specific US-centric model of a legal system, it dates back about a thousand years or so.

Copyright dates back to about the invention of the printing press, so about 600 years old. Common law has a good 400 years on that (and law itself, a couple thousand years on common law). Copyright is a baby by comparison. And given that it was functionally co-birthed with the printing press (since before that time, every copy was a blessing---a work of hand-crafted art someone had bothered to invest substantive human toil into because they thought a thing deserved to be recorded in more than one place), I don't think I have the tools to divide the benefits to society of copyright law from the benefits to society of mass, cheap reproduction of writeable concepts. It may have helped. It probably helped more in some spaces than in others. But by-and-large, it provided a system for a person to go live the "life of the mind" and exchange art for money instead of something else, and it's unclear to me that copyright did more than, say, the patronage system to that end.

... all of which is divorceable from the concept of, God help us, exclusive rights to perform a work, which is the weird space music lives in. Because we don't even charge by the written copy there; we often charge (to the best of the ability of the copyright holder) for every instance of "reading" the record and re-broadcasting it into someone's ears.

Yes, I think one can build a case that the cost of upkeep, overhead, tracking, and maintenance to move money around in that system offsets the benefit to society. I think it's incumbent upon the rent-holders and copyright owners to explain how, absent their Byzantine system of moving money around, our public spaces would be silent and dead, devoid of creative works.

The history of humanity and our simple desire to sing makes that strike me as profoundly unlikely.


> But by-and-large, it provided a system for a person to go live the "life of the mind" and exchange art for money instead of something else, and it's unclear to me that copyright did more than, say, the patronage system to that end. There are problems with the patronage system. For example, almost all the people who could live the "life of the mind" were either the privileged few, or the people who appealed the to the privileged. While this certainly is one way to fund works, and I'm a huge fan of Patreon, as well as a Patron of many people, it's also going to only hit a subset of the kind of art we care about, and a very specific subset too (things that interest rich first-worlders that are economically better to target.)

> I think it's incumbent upon the rent-holders and copyright owners to explain how, absent their Byzantine system of moving money around, our public spaces would be silent and dead, devoid of creative works.

The history of humanity and our simple desire to sing makes that strike me as profoundly unlikely.

I don't think anyone seriously makes that claim (or at least, I don't). I think my claims were:

1. On a practical level, this is economics 101 - if we up the reward for creative works, we'll get more creative works.

2. On a moral level, as long as we are in this capitalistic system, I think that one person creating value should have the same reward as another person creating value, and just because one happens to be easily copied and one doesn't, shouldn't make a difference. I can't find a moral reason to say to someone that, should they choose to become an author instead of building furniture, and should they happen to create works that please millions, they shouldn't get rewarded for that.

You make it seem like the rent-holders and copyright owners have never explained why they want the system - but these things have been discussed since the dawn of the IP system. For one thing, have you talked to authors/musicians/etc and asked their views?

I particularly remember reading a British parliament member talking a lot about this issue, including the problems with patronage and the problem with pirating - in the 1800s!


The musicians I've talked to find the current system really inconvenient and spend a lot more time arguing with the payment collection organizations then they would like to.


I like owning my media. The idea that I can pay Amazon/Apple/Google for a piece of media and they can subsequently yank it out of my library down the line because they lost their license to distribute it does not sit well with me. I imagine it doesn't sit well with alot of people, either.

Until the dominant form of distribution allows people to OWN their music, I believe that piracy will persist.


Why do you feel a strong desire for ownership?

I enjoy going to art museums and experiencing visual art, but I never experienced the inclination to purchase any of it. Music to me is a lot like that.


> Why do you feel a strong desire for ownership?

Because I don't trust the owners of the content to not destroy[1] or permanently alter[2] it in some way.

Mass distribution is necessary for preservation.

[1] 1937 Fox vault fire. 1965 MGM vault fire. BBC TV programs 1967-1978.

[2] The OCN of all three original Star Wars films.


Original Camera Negatives(OCN) - Google made that immensely difficult to look up due to it thinking it actually knew what I desired to search for.


But if you really liked a particular piece of art, you'd expect to be able to find a high-quality photo somewhere to put as a desktop wallpaper. Also, if you enjoyed a particular piece of art, you might be worried it gets taken down from exhibition and become no longer accessible to you. This could make you consider purchasing a reproduction, or finding that photo.


Because I want to listen to any song in a library that fits my current mood.

If I can't play a very particular song at a particular time because of DRM - that's a big negative.


Music for most people is something to consume, not something to see once and maybe neither again. If you "own" the music, in the sense that you have the "physical" control whether you have access to it, then you can be sure to consum it whenever you want.


It's the difference between data and a physical item. I don't expect to own every physical item I view but I do expect limitless access to my data, especially if I've paid for it.


I don't draw such a strong lines between physical and virtual items.

Even in the case where you buy a song, you don't have limitless rights to it. It would be illegal, for example, to buy a CD and use a song from that CD in a television commercial. You don't own the song, you are purchasing the right to replay the song in some situations. DRM purchases and streaming services are remarkably similar deals.


As is often brought up on the internet, it's the distinction between basic freedom and freedom from consequences. When you buy a CD, you have the basic freedom to put it in any CD player, rip it, back it up, re-encode it, share it with your friends, or put it on your MP3 player. There would still be consequences if you were to use it in a TV commercial. With DRM you do not even have any basic freedoms.


I'm not talking about what's legal I'm talking about what's imo ethical. I should be able to copy my movies etc to whatever device I want and legal action should be taken only against me if I used it in a commercial way.


I share the desire to permanently own media. Amazon have been selling music as DRM-free mp3 files since 2008, though, so that option is already available from a legal, mainstream online shop.


I'm glad that Amazon sells DRM-free MP3s (although I imagine they only did it to remain competitive with iTunes). They don't do it with their eBooks, however. Any time I buy an ebook through them, the first thing I do is download it to my PC and strip the DRM via Calibre so that I have a DRM-free version should Amazon ever decide to yank the original again.


But in practice though it is quite expensive to build up a personal library of music, whereas services like googles provide you with a vast catalog (Googles, I find is quite comprehensive, I haven't checked other services) at a small fixed cost. Its like buying a book and renting it out of a library, for some books it may make sense to buy, where as for very many others it is better to rent.


I am of a strong opinion that piracy is about access rather than stealing.

Piracy for the most part is used by 2 types of people :

1. Those who would never have bought the product because of lack of income to do so.

2. Those who find the product to hard to access.

Steam is an excellent example of dealing with both. Steam sales and location specific prices solve problem 1. Everything one platform everywhere in the world solves 2.


Thanks to Steam I haven't bothered to pirate a PC game in nearly a decade. Thanks to Google Play, Spotify, and Bandcamp, the same can be said for music.

Only TV and film really holds out. I just can't get my favorite shows in any sensible fashion, and so much just isn't even available to me. Netflix where I live at times feels like a waste of money save for a few favorite originals.

TV especially is just awful, a lot of my favorite shows simply can't be had for any price, because of arbitrary exclusivity deals, time delays, bad organization, and region locking nonsense. Even if I cared for any of the local content here in my country, it's all spread out over multiple streaming sites, and quite a lot isn't available or has random availability.


Steam is in a great position since games aren't geographically as limited as music and video. This is why my Netflix sucks and someone elses doesn't, but my Steam selection is as good as any other.


People bring Steam up as a counterpoint all the time but fail to mention the differences between pirating a game and pirating a movie or music.

Playing a cracked game is less likely to work and more effort than playing a pirated mp3, which is a large part of the reason that Steam cut down so heavily on pirated games.


Just thinking out loud here, but, how long until Steam starts offering a Music service?

Maybe not for big labels/artists, but if they did something like Greenlight for indie bands... I could see it working... Maybe.

Or am I way off here?


I'd just as soon use Bandcamp honestly. Steam's attempts at media sales have been awful. Videos are broken and often won't play, music is usually just a handful of MP3s buried deep in the Steam folders.


Good point.

It never even occurred to me that they would sell music so no wonder they are bad a it, at least for now.


They have a player, and sell soundtracks. It's not very good right now though.


Somehow I don't like the "rental model" for songs and books that one may enjoy multiple times in one's life (compared to movies that are usually more ephemeral, and there may not be many that one would want to watch multiple times). So "owning" — the rights to copy and play the music anywhere, anytime and on any device — seems like a better choice than supporting streaming services where you can't really say if you'd be able to listen to your favorite song tomorrow.


I feel similar for music I actually care about. That said, I'm coming from a place where I already had a large collection of music ripped from CDs I bought (plus from the early days of Napster mostly to replace music I had on vinyl). And TBH I mostly don't care that much about new music.

I still buy some music even though I subscribe to Apple Music.

But if I were coming from a place where I was starting out and owned no music, I might think differently.


Yup. Getting a Spotify account and then Netflix account made me forget the desire to pirate. Fast forward a couple years, my favourite songs and movies disappearing from those services made me seriously reconsider the value proposition, compared to visiting a well known Bay of buccaneers.


I absolutely used to pirate all my music. Then Spotify came along.

Pandora first, but I can't remember if I had completely stopped using mp3 at that point. I maybe had an iPod full of music I didn't pay for. Can't really remember the timelines here.

Either way, just like with movie and TV, I'll happily pay for streaming if the selection is there.


“Your typical architecture astronaut will take a fact like “Napster is a peer-to-peer service for downloading music” and ignore everything but the architecture, thinking it’s interesting because it’s peer to peer, completely missing the point that it’s interesting because you can type the name of a song and listen to it right away.

...

“Talk about missing the point. If Napster wasn’t peer-to-peer but it did let you type the name of a song and then listen to it, it would have been just as popular.”

—Joel Spolsky, “Don’t Let Architecture Astronauts Scare You,” 2001

https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2001/04/21/dont-let-architect...

———

In the last 17 years, that quote keeps popping up because the companies that focus on letting you type the name of a song and listen to it right away have made money, while those that introduce friction to support some label’s business model? Not so much.

But they keep complaining about “piracy.” 90% of piracy is eliminating friction.

This past weekend, I bought the new Doctor Who on iTunes. I paid because Apple gave me a lot of ways to type the name of the show and watch it right away. Same reason I’ve spent thousands on music with them.

It’s not about the price, it’s about the convenience.


It is also about price though. I'd "rent" a lot more movies online if the price were the same as when I rented them on DVD, like fifty cents per day. However it costs like four Euros to stream a movie from Prime Video.


Where were you renting DVDs for 50 cents a day? That seems really cheap.


There are places in the US where you can still rent DVDs for a dollar a day. Streaming _rental_ prices feel too high.


In Berlin. I think the most expensive rental was one Euro per day, before all those shops closed down.


I though prime video costs like 12 dollars a year, that's what they charge in India.


There is catalog that you can stream for free with a Prime subscription, but there is a larger catalog of movies that you can stream for an additional fee. In Germany Amazon Prime costs eight Euros a month, so unless you watch a lot of movies it's not worth it for the movies alone. The free-with-prime catalog is also not really all that good imho.


> Either way, just like with movie and TV, I'll happily pay for streaming if the selection is there.

Which is why I don't. No King Crimson, no cool small alternative bands, and no good way to find out of the bands you like are on spotify before getting a subscription. Furthermore: the service pays fuck all to artists. I may as well use the money to go to their concerts and buy merch directly from the artists.


There is a semi-decent selection on Spotify. I pay for the subscription and then also go to Bandcamp to buy obscure artists. I don't buy big label stuff anymore.


> I'll happily pay for streaming if the selection is there.

This. A million times.


I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say part of the problem is that streaming services are not available in all countries and if they are the price is not adjusted for the income level in that country.

For instance Spotify is not available in many countries including Ukraine and India. The latter having a population of 1.3 billion people. GPM and Apple Music are better in that regard but nevertheless.


As a "sane" person from a civilized country, I don't have an online payment account. I couldn't transmit my money to spotify even if I wanted to.

That being said, I also like owning my music. As files. On my own devices. Running "fair trade" operating systems that let me do that.


>I couldn't transmit my money to spotify even if I wanted to.

You surely could. Go to a store and buy a Spotify gift card with cash.


In some places, you can buy Google Play Store credit in shops. Perhaps you could pay with cash too (my preference). I suppose that could help if such an option exists around where you live.


I don't see what's "fair trade" about enjoying the fruits of others' labour for free.


Indeed—but the labour we're talking about here, the kind regulated by copyright, is the distribution of the files; and it's the labels and artists who are employing the force of the State to enjoy the fruits of that labour performed by others for free, having given up on charging a fair rate once and up front for the actual labour of producing the content in favor of a more lucrative, albeit less moral, business model.

If you create something that can be copied endlessly at near-zero cost, and you don't want others enjoying it "for free", then you need to charge an appropriate price for the initial publication. You have every right to keep it to yourself, and to charge whatever price you deem fair in exchange for the service of revealing it to others, but once you've done that it's rightfully out of your hands.


Interesting writeup. Another aspect to the same thing is why I should pay for knowledge? It wants to be free, this way I don't need to commit self-torture wrt educational funding. I seriously doubt I could have paid for the expertise that made and is making my career much beyond food and rent at the time when I decided to base it on FLOSS...


You can pay for files. Just noone offers it.


wat, like no credit/debit card of any kind?


Not very common in e.g. many parts of Europe.


Which European country doesn't have debit cards?


Note I didn't claim debit cards don't exist here, just that they are not very common, especially for online payments.

I personally live in Germany, in the middle of my live, with kids and a big household etc. and have never used a credit card, nor have I undergone a single situation where I needed one.


Probably none, but to be blunt, not everyone is willing to put their heads into such a noose. Anything banking involves a tradeoff of some sorts, eg. whether I'd like to have my data with or out of the next Equifax-like leak...

Seriously, give me a reason to trust these things, because I rather manage with what I have instead, and so far with little trouble. With what I'd call the upside of me consuming as little as possible from the international money mobsters. I do need some hardware once in a while, and the options there really could be better.


As an example, Steam has different prices per country and even new released games get a price cut.

For example this game I picked at random goes from $19 in USA to as low as $6 in Argentina: https://steamdb.info/app/440900/


GPM costs around $1.2 per month in India, which is a reduced rate compared with the USA, and which I think features the same catalog available in the USA.


I for one, love to get drunk on rum and pillage coastvillages Arrrr gimme them shiny discs ye landscruffy or we will keelhaul ye arrrr

In all seriousness, i like to own my music and i love bandcamp. I'm pretty poor so yeah a large part of my collection is stolen from the shores of india. But just like books, when i have some extra money i will buy from artists who i love listening too. If i was rich i would buy everything, but i am not and i still want to listen too music.


Right now I'm spending a week at Taizé, a retreat centre in France. There's access to Internet only from 9:30 am - 8 pm, for 15 minutes at a time, then a forced 10 minute break (unless I change MAC address).

I don't have a bank account here, so I can't pay for a 2 year subscription for 4G. I also don't have a job. I'm grateful for my offline music collection keeping me alive right now. Music is especially important when times are tough, and it's in those difficult times that money and subscription-level stability are hard to find.


Prepaid SIM card?


Streaming services are nice, but I haven't yet found one that contains the complete discography that is available through torrents and other means. What's worse, what's available changes often so songs that are available now may not be available next week. In other words, streaming services provide a service, but they are far from replacing other means. If a service popped up that provided streaming of all the music I wanted to listen to 100% of the time, then it might be worth paying for. Another use case is mixing songs which usually requires local copies. Basically, all streaming services are deficient in some way so it shouldn't be any surprise that piracy continues.


I find it impossible to pay any RIAA affiliated artist or label for music after the battles we had in the late 90s/early 00s. I pirate some music, but basically listen to audiobooks (which I happily pay for; I probably spend $1k/yr on Audible) instead of music 95% of the time. I basically view it as supporting terrorism, even though all of the individual execs from back then are gone by now.


i'd be wary of anything the IFPI, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry present as fact.

Similar organisations were until recently engaged in shakedowns of small businesses for even playing the radio. Even after this was ruled illegal in Europe we used to still get a letter every year demanding we pay up for the benefits music was bringing our business.


Personally, I pirate unless I can buy the music directly from the artist and download it in a lossless, DRM free format, using only open source software (or websites like Bandcamp). Maybe about 10% of my collection is paid for.


Good job supporting artists!

I bet they really care about about the software license for the source code for the store you buy their music from...

Maybe try just enjoying music for musics sake and not thinking about where it comes from to much, you might enjoy it!


Maybe the artists should care. The music industry is pretty consumer-hostile these days. Could you imagine if, twenty years ago, it was commonplace to sell CD or vinyl records that only worked on a specific brand of stereo. These days it's commonplace to release albums exclusively on iTunes, which requires a specific brand of operating system (Microsoft or Apple,) and a specific brand of software to purchase and download the music.

I get that this isn't directly the artist's fault and I understand that a lot of people don't care about this kind of freedom, but I certainly wouldn't blame someone for wanting to opt-out, even if that means they don't support artists that require the use of proprietary software to buy their music.


Do you apply this logic to any other media? Do you buy all your films directly from directors in open source stores in oggs vorbis format? I mean watching YouTube videos would clearly not meet your requirements, neither would watching Netflix...

I think it is unfair to the artists as you are using something that is entirely out of their control to justify not supporting them.


I'm probably not as stringent about buying "direct from the artist" as the GP, but yeah, I do follow my own set of standards in regards to other media.

> I mean watching YouTube videos would clearly not meet your requirements

Actually, it does. Most YouTube videos don't have DRM, and they can be viewed with free software (web browsers are free software, also youtube-dl is free software.)

> neither would watching Netflix...

Yeah, Netflix certainly doesn't, but I have no problems with buying Blu-ray. Blu-ray has DRM, but it's easily removed, so it's equivalent to not having DRM for practical purposes. (Again, I don't know if I'm as stringent as the GP in this case.)

> I think it is unfair to the artists as you are using something that is entirely out of their control to justify not supporting them.

They certainly do have control over which record contracts they sign and which television studios and networks they work for. If they want to make a quick buck at the expense of the consumer by making an exclusivity deal with Apple Music or Netflix, I'm probably not going to buy what they're selling.


what does the open source thing has to do with artists being able to earn a living or not?


Open source software and protocols, as opposed to proprietary players and formats. The latter is pretty much soft DRM.


It's about establishing a mutually respectful relationship between the artist and consumer.


I think you unconditionally dictating all the terms is not respectful of the artist.


These are simple terms that serve to preserve the music. It serves the interests of a third party, not the musician or consumer, if these terms are not met.


I think it serves the artist if you buy the music, however you buy it, and it doesn’t serve the artist if you pirate it.

Apply your logic to any other purchase and it falls on it feet. Do you only buy food direct from farmers? Clothes from factories? Do you only use supermarkets that use open source payment kiosks?


For what it's worth, even Richard Stallman condones the use of proprietary software on a device you don't control, like an ATM or a supermarket payment kiosk. This is not the same thing as being forced to run proprietary software on your personal computer.


I think you should talk to the artists before pirating their music and see what they think. Just deciding for yourself when it's OK has nothing to do with respect.


I think you and I just see it differently.


Market fragmentation causes some of this. I pay for a couple of streaming services, but occasionally rip an mp3 from YouTube for things I can't find. If there was a "pay and download mp3" button on YouTube, I'd probably pay.


According to numbers in the article, a minimum of 24% of music consumers pay for streaming services and also pirate music.


I would do that too.


There are two things in this world that I have no problem with anyone in need stealing - food and music. I will politely look away. When I was a kid I pirated music, as well as music production software. I grew up pretty poor and I wouldn't have had those things otherwise (the only reason we had a computer was because of oil dividends given to all Alaskan residents once per year). I don't feel like anyone really lost out because of me downloading those things when I was young. But I know that the music industry eventually gained a lifetime subscriber (currently Apple Music, for many years now - family plan), and don't even get me started on the money I drop on software synthesizers. The good fortune that drizzled on me as a kid came back to those people as a raging storm. Advertisers know exactly what they need to show me when they want more of my money (those sweet, shiny synths), and I'm not even mad at them. They're almost like books now, where I don't even need to use them, I just like having them and knowing they're mine. That being said, as a long time amateur electronic musician, I'd love for people to pirate my music. As it stands I can't seem to even pay them to take it (with music that is).


Stealing is the wrong word for digital music. Copying. It's just copying. And, in most cases, it's at an immeasurable cost to anyone. To use the terms "pirating" and "stealing" not only make it seem much worse than it actually is, it waters down the mental image of legitimate use of those words, making the actual acts seem less serious. "Copycats" would be a fairer term.


Stealing is the right word. You can spin it any way you like, but taking something that's for sale, without paying for it, is the definition of stealing.

To further my point: not every artist is a mega-millionaire. There are countless small bands/artists where every sale counts towards them actually earning a living off of music.


> Stealing is the right word. You can spin it any way you like, but taking something that's for sale, without paying for it, is the definition of stealing.

it's hardly as clear cut as you are making it. if I have an apple and you take it, I no longer have the apple. if I have five apples and you take one, I have four left. it's hard to imagine you taking something from me that I will still possess afterwards in the same quantity. I would argue that the sense in which most people use "take" does not include copying.

to further my point: the law in the US, a bastion of copyright enforcement, clearly recognizes the difference between theft (a criminal offense) and copyright infringement (a civil offense). you can't go to jail for piracy.


I understand your point. But, I don't think that just because something like a digital album lacks the physical properties of an apple, it's not a product worth revenue.

Presumably infinite quantities of a something like an album shouldn't suggest that it's worthless. Resources have been invested into it's creation. Artists should be able to recoup some of their investment with album sales.

If it's okay to "copy" music, than the same argument can be made for every other digital product. Games, films, and essentially all software.


to be clear, my point is that it isn't "stealing". i'm not necessarily saying it isn't wrong.

when i was teenager / college student i never thought piracy was wrong, mainly because of the "well i wouldn't have paid for it anyway" argument. now that i'm a software dev, i have plenty of money for music and movies and i realize that my own livelihood depends on IP protection. i can't justify it so easily anymore.


What if I take something that's not for sale? Per your definition that's not stealing.


Insofar as it involves "somebody using something in a manner not explicitly permitted by the owner, but in a way that also does not prevent the owner from also using it," I've always thought the unauthorized use of copyrighted material was closer to trespassing than to stealing. Like trespassing, the legal definition of piracy (in the context of intellectual property) covers a wide range of activities, from the benign to the outrageous.


How do you know the definition of stealing?


Money is imaginary too - taking a piece of paper isn't really stealing? This whole pedantic argument has been used to rationalize stiffing artists for their work for decades, and its tiresome.


Copying a piece of paper isn't stealing.

Edit: Actually, now that I think about it, you might have to steal it to make the copy. Your analogy is useless for this argument. Money might be an abstract concept but bills and coins aren't imaginary. Try an analogy with digital currency then maybe there be something to talk about, but I'm guessing anything you can come up with will actually be talking about "hacking" or "fraud", not "stealing".


"Stealing" implies that the previous owner loses ownership, both in common English and legally speaking.

Why bending the meaning of words?


Your argument would have more power if music weren't freely available on the radio. And if someone else paid for the music and played it, I can listen to it for "free" as well.

Musicians are stiffed by the record labels, not by the fans. The fans are the ones that keep them rich, keep them popular, buy their shirts and go to their $200/seat concerts. At worst, their records are loss-leaders for an even more lucrative business.


> Your argument would have more power if music weren't freely available on the radio.

It used to be common practice for governments to tax owners of radios (and TV sets later on). So music certainly hasn't always been freely available on the radio.

That being said, if you're sending EM waves through my property, why the hell shouldn't I be allowed tp copy them?

More

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: