Digital Music

PiracyPayback.org – The Cure For P2P Remorse

image from static.arstechnica.comFeeling guilty about all that file sharing that you did last night?  Pop on over to PiracyPayback.org and make a donation to lesson your guilt.  There's no mechanism for compensating individual artists, but every quarter checks are sent to various copyright collection organizations for music, film and gaming.

"giving music away…lacks imagination and is a cop out"

Free music, the sites creators  say, is not the answer. "While we agree that the nature of the music industry needs to change, giving music away for no robust reason lacks imagination and is a cop out – capitulation in face of the not insurmountable threat of music piracy."

In response to the argument that giving away music leads to income from live ticket sales and other sources:

"This angle is flawed as giving away music for free suggests there is no utility in the recorded product apart from promoting the live show. Anyone who listens to music for pleasure with no intention of seeing the live show effectively becomes a free-loader and compromises the market dynamics required for this to work.

The reality is that the music-listening but non-show-going user segment is likely to be significant for a range of reasons such as:

(a)    I’m a fan of the artist but not a fan of the artist’s fans so the chances of spending an evening with them is slim
(b)    I’m a fan of the artist but work/home commitments mean I can’t make the gig
(c)    I’m a fan of the artist but they don’t tour where I live (or don’t tour at all)
(d)    I’m a fan of the artist but know they suck in concert

Any music listener who can identify with these statements would have their listening pleasure funded by the concert-going public if labels were to give away music. This could readily lead to a downward spiral as concert prices ramp up to make up the loss – ultimately reducing the demand for tickets and destroying the now singular revenue stream for the entire industry."

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9 Comments

  1. Haha. Is this a joke?
    Does anyone feel guilty about illegal fire-sharing anymore? I’ve never been emotionally attached to the way I’ve accessed content, so whatever guilt this idiotic organization is trying to mine is rendered ineffective. I would imagine im not the only one.
    These guys equate music to fucking without a rubber- you’d scrape together the co-pay at the clinic the next day to get tested, or pony up for the morning after pill- why shouldn’t you CYA for all that illicit file sharing you did last night?
    You’ve been naughty in the past, we know- but pay us some cash, and all is forgiven.
    This is backwards, anti-progress, guilt-mongering. I’m surprised indulged these idiots with a write-up.

  2. Very Catholic approach, I like it. I share James B’s suspicion that this might be a joke.
    None of the money even goes to artists and they admit that up front? I mean…that is priceless.

  3. Give it away, give it away, give it away!! Today’s youth expects to hear about new music free, and buy what they really like. Check our communityrecords.org, it’s a New Orleans ska label who give away lots of burned CDs and sell lots of downloads and finished CDs. The bands tour the region, and pay for salaries and healthcare. The model works and they give it away and they sell it!!

  4. The whole guilt angle is kinda stupid, especially since it’s not going to individual artists (who the downloader is more likely to have sympathy for). All this news lately is making me think the PROs and copyright collectors are at least as bad as the major labels.
    But I think there’s a glimmer of something useful in there. I was thinking of trying a “try-before-you-buy” system. Give away the music for an email address, and then send a single (non-guilt inducing) email a month or two later, something like “Hey, hope you like our music. If you want to chip in so we can keep making it, it’d be greatly appreciated. If not, no worries. Either way, we’d love to have you opt in to our email list to hear about shows, new music…” etc

  5. These people have a number of very valid points, except one: why should anyone give them money?
    This is the first I’m hearing of this initiative and my cynical sense tells me that little if any of this money is going to work its way back to the artist – seriously, what is the legal entitlement (I know of no contractual item that would cover this) or – for that matter – how is the money to be split? If anything, this is likely to be black-box, unattributable income for collection societies.
    Nay-saying aside, the angle of their pitch is valid: giving away recordings isn’t likely to be a viable long-term strategy: it’s like producing expensive adverts and then spending more money on advertising these adverts (if they aren’t to be doomed to go down the bottomless drain of the Intertubes). In that sense, Neil’s proposed artist e-mails say pretty much all that needs to be said (that is, unless you pay us, we’ll be hard-pressed to make more music).

  6. James B,
    I think if you were to interview repeat crime offenders they would tell you two things: !. That their sense of guilt diminished with each subsequent illegal act. 2. That they nonetheless never lost sight of the fact that what they were doing is illegal.
    Your arguments are typical of the smoke and mirror approach practiced by all too many, in trying to draw attention away from what has proved to be a devastating practice globally. Yes, the industry and artists have to adapt and no, this evolution will not ultimately be achieved by making people feel as though they are criminals. However, if all you can do is act condescending towards those at least trying to to the right thing (even if it is flawed) without offering up anything constructive, then at least acknowledge openly what you already know: The music is someone’s creative product and it has value, emotional and, if successfully marketed, financial value. No one has the right to acquire it without compensating the creator unless and only if the creator wishes to give it away. This is a moral and ethical imperative that is applied in every endeavor by well intended people. In the end I believe most of us come to this conclusion. Peace.

  7. The whole idea behind the term “copyright” has become obsolete. It made sense in a time when only a few were financially and technologically able to make recordings and copies. Controlling the digital copying and distribution of material is becoming utopic, so deal with this and forget about ridiculous regulations and lawsuits. Let’s welcome the age of free sharing. Record labels don’t rule music anymore.
    The royalty concept is also absurd. Paying a songwriter for every time their song is played or copied is based on the same idea that would make me pay for every time I see or step in a building, which is the result of a creative effort by an architect. Art’s quality to be openly shared is intrinsic, and pretending to thoroughly control music consumption is a waste of time and money (and a bit fascist, I may say.)
    Released music is social property. In fact, songwriters are creators, not music owners. Record labels are plastic disc sellers and media paraphernalia makers, not music owners. Songs actually belong to listeners.
    Artists do deserve to be credited for their work, though, and they need to be compensated for the process they go through to create and for the costs that need to be covered in order to have their work recorded. Everything else should be optional, that is, the exclusive right to copy, distribute and perform. Limitations to art sharing is against cultural heritage.
    Should guilt also be felt by those artists who give their recordings (not their music) away? Something must be clear. Evolution in technology, music entrepeneurship, business models and consumer behavior should be a big challenge for record labels, not for artists and music itself.

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