Weblog:   The Right Term is Copyright Infringement
Subject:   I've invented a matter replicator
Date:   2002-12-16 18:06:26
From:   grepsedawk
Response to: I've invented a matter replicator

I used the matter replicator analogy for two reasons. 1) I am not overly familiar with past precedents. I'm not a student of such things. 2) The essential difference between copies of digital works (software, music, movies) and physical works (books, computers, and automobiles) is that exact duplicates can be made of the former and practically no cost, but the latter requires investment of raw material, engineering skills, machinery, etc. The matter replicator puts the two on an equal footing. Thus putting a publisher like O'Reilly in the same realm as BMG or Sony.

Since you bring it up, sheet music, tape recordings, and vcrs are not the same as what is currently happening in the music space. 1) Exact duplicates cannot be made of these items. 2) They aren't necessarily cheap, a tape and a VHS tape still cost more than a blank CD or digital transfer. 3) They require equipment that can be expensive if you want to make copies in mass. 4) The global connection that allowed for a worldwide market for these items was either slow (mail order catalog) or none existant.

The fact that exact copies can be made of a song, for pratically no money, then shared with a global community, again, for no money, puts copyright infringement of music works in a different place than your examples. It is similar, but it is an order of magnitude greater.

A better example would be software copying. However, we know that warez sites are illegal, and we know that the Business Software Alliance (BSA), can get Federal Marshalls to raid your computer if it is suspected of using illegal software. I'm talking about a company that doesn't even know that a user installed their personal copy of Adobe Photoshop on a work machine to view the occasional eps file; not about a company that is making it their business to copy Windows XP and sell it to people through eBay. If this use of Adobe Photoshop is copyright infringement, how much more so the entire ripped CD of Sting's latest album available via Kazaa?

You're right, there is no evidence that music copying by consumers has harmed recording industry profits. However, your claim that their profits rose during the Napster years implies a causal relation between copyright infringement and music sales that cannot be proven.

Your final paragraph gets to the heart of what I tried say, perhaps to obliquely. What is fair use? Tim asked a dozen questions about what is fair use of a music cd. Most of them are quibbling and ignore a person's inherent gut feeling of, "Would I like what I am doing unto this other if it were done unto me." Thus my matter replicator analogy, an attempt to give Tim a chance to answer fair use in a way that could affect his business. While Tim is willing to give fair use of music a chance to get legs and develop, mature and find a market, would he be so willing to do the same if fair use meant his books were being shared freely in the very market he wanted to sell to?

Ultimately, I feel that there is a change happening. That music distribution is going to adapt to a model preferred by customers, and this model is appearing to be online distribution, possibly P2P, not just B2P. But, I know that the current form of sharing, as done by most people, is not fair use. It is copyright infringement, it is illegal, and customers should not use illegal methods to force an industry to change. That's a kind of corporate terrorism.

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