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Op-Ed Mon Aug 17 2009

Seven Crimes to Consider Before Music Piracy

Hey there Chicagoans. Go ahead and pause all your Kazaa, Limewire, and BitTorrent downloads for a second. I want the page to load quickly as this is something you're going to want to read.

If you haven't heard yet, it's "illegal" to download music online without "paying" for it. It's hard to believe, but being a fan isn't accepted as legal payment anymore. They call it "piracy," and the consequences for it can be very, very dire. Therefore, I've compiled a list of other crimes that I suggest you look into before you decide to download "Sweet Child of Mine" or "Poker Face."

First, let's look at the fines in the only two music piracy trials that have taken place to date. The first is the case of Jammie Thomas, a single mother of four from Minnesota. She downloaded 24 songs off of Kazaa. A jury of her peers decided that she owed the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) almost $2 million for her crimes, a ruling which the Obama Administration recently told a federal judge was constitutionally sound. The second is the case of Joel Tenenbaum, a young grad student at Boston University. He downloaded 30 songs and was slapped with a fine of $675,000. If the verdicts stand both will file for bankruptcy.

I know. Yikes. I was hoping to commit a crime today, but $2 million? Damn. Don't worry, my villainous friends. They may have foiled our evil plans to put Metallica out on the street, but there are plenty of other crimes you can commit here in Illinois that won't get you a punishment even vaguely that severe. Here is a list of 7 ideas to get you started, but first we should make a few rules. Some of these "crimes" have imprisonment as part of their sentence. That being said, I'm going to equate one year of prison with a $50,233 salary which is the median household income as of 2007. I.e. you would have made $50,233 each year you're in prison were you not becoming intimately acquainted with Wade, your cell mate.

That, of course, doesn't factor in the cost of "freedom." I tried to get into contact with Toby Keith to figure out how much freedom is worth in American dollars, but he was busy writing songs about how terrorists can kiss his ass or something.

One final thing to keep in mind here: Obama promised hope and change, and he certainly brought it in the case of piracy and the RIAA. In between stints of walking on water and saving us from ourselves, Barack has appointed five RIAA lawyers to positions in the "justice" department, in addition to upholding the federal limit of $150,000 per instance of piracy.

Here are the sources I'm using for crimes and their penalties:
The Illinois Criminal Code

Charts of Crimes and Penalties:
First one
Second one

Seven Crimes to Consider Before Music Piracy

1. Steal Music? No! Steal a child, preferably from a recording artist.
That's right, the fine for regular old, Class 4 Felony child abduction is $25,000. It can also include one to three years in prison. So, if you get spanked as hard as possible after ganking a silly named celebrity child, you'll be down $175,699.

2. Steal the actual CD.
Damn, that new Black Eyed Peas song is infectious, am I right? That chorus is so genius; "boom boom boom," who thinks of that? I want to steal it. So instead of Kazaa, I'm going to swipe it from Best Buy. Retail theft of less that $150 (which is like, what, 10 CD's?) is a Class A misdemeanor. The penalty? Up to one year in jail and/or a fine of $2,500. At most you'd be down about $52,500. Definitely manageable. If it exceeds $150 though, you're in for a Class 3 felony. That bad boy will result in two to five years in prison and/or a $25,000 fine, so you're risking approximately $275,000. Beats $2 million though, huh?

3. Rob Bryan Adams.
There's Bryan Adams next door, tooling around on his new John Deere riding lawn mower. That would definitely make mowing the lawn easier huh? Fun, even. Can't afford one, can you? No problem! Punch him in the face and take it! That's a Class 2 felony. The penalties come to a meager $376,631, which is a full $298,369 less than even the weakest RIAA judgment.

4. Set Lars Ulrich's house on fire.
Being a pyro sounds fun. You get to see lots of pretty flames, hear fun explosions, and watch things get destroyed. Plus, doesn't Metallica have a song about setting shit on fire? They probably do, it's Metallica. What could go wrong? Not as much as if you decided to pirate music. Arson is another Class 2 felony. ($376,631)

5. Stalk Reba McEntire.
Hang out in her front yard, take pictures of her driving and shopping, send her weirdo letters - you name it, stalking is awesome! And what's the penalty? It's just a Class 4 felony! Phew! Just about $175,000 and you're done.

6. Learn from Michael Vick: Start a Dog Fighting Empire
Dogs are pretty cool, huh? You know what's cooler than a dog? Dogs killing each other! That will get you a paltry $50,000 fine and one to three years in the pen. What does that amount to? A max of about $200,000! Not too big of a deal when viewed against the dire backdrop of music piracy, huh? Suck it PETA!

7. Murder Someone, Second-Degree style.
Basically all "Second Degree" means is that you were provoked in such a way that it would cause you to have an "intense passion," i.e. you downloaded a few songs and then you were fined an amount that has more numbers than most of us will ever see in our bank accounts. When that happens, if you sort of go Incredible Hulk and shiv somebody in the kidney, you may be found guilty of Second Degree murder instead of first. Second Degree murder is only a Class 1 felony, rather than a Class X, which stands for X-treme. Class X is like the Mountain Dew of crimes. Anyway, a Class 1 felony can result in a fine of $25,000 and/or 4-15 years in prison. So, according to our numbers, you could POTENTIALLY only lose roughly $225,932. If you have a real bastard of a jury though - kind of like Jammie Thomas did - then you might get the full 15 years, which would amount to $778,495. So that's worse than Mr. Tenenbaum, but still not even close to Ms. Thomas.

There you have it, my Chicagoan criminal friends. Stick with this list of crimes, and you'll be able to satiate your devilish desires and still come out hurting less than a music pirate.

GB store

Timothy Morin / August 20, 2009 10:22 AM

Awesome post... I'd like to see the makeup of this "jury of peers". Also, I want a Mountain Dew now.

Bradatlarge / August 20, 2009 2:40 PM

Excellent! I'd like to kick Lars in the junk, while I start his house on fire.

These verdicts are ridiculous.

wheatus / August 20, 2009 7:14 PM

This is all so very unsettling....As a former major label artist I am embarrassed and ashamed. The music we have made since getting out of our various "deals" (publishing and recording) is available for free or donation, only at our site...The future of music is middle class. Unfortunately, attempts to fine music fans back into consumer submission will continue for sometime before these baby boomer fiends finally give up the ghost.

I do hate them. They eat their young.


Adam / August 21, 2009 7:44 AM

Being a fan was NEVER acceptable payment. This assertion is beyond ridiculous.

John / August 21, 2009 9:49 AM

The fines given to these two people were absolutely horrendous. But so is this article. If someone were to just buy the music, they'd end up paying less overall anyway.

Paul / August 21, 2009 3:49 PM

The way to solve this problem is simply to stop listening to major label recording artists. There is PLENTY of material out there on the web that is free and is BETTER than what is being offered by the oligarchs.

Andy Keil / August 22, 2009 1:27 AM

Thanks for a chuckle. Good read.

Scott Shmudson / August 22, 2009 5:34 PM

This article excludes the fact that nobody except those two people (out of how many bajillion?) have been arrested for this "piracy" wives tale. I'd like to keep writing, but my download's almost finished and I want to check out this advance copy of a The Hangover DVDrip that I just downloaded.

Sam / August 22, 2009 10:26 PM

Scott Shmudson - I don't know about arrests per se, but several thousand people have settled out of court with the RIAA, usually at a cost of several thousand dollars per song. What I am pretty sure about, though, is that most of the people were charged not because they downloaded the music but because they continued sharing it with others - most of them college students letting their computers serve as hubs.

Mark / August 22, 2009 11:19 PM

I don't disagree that the awards against the music downloaders were excessive, but you are comparing two different things here: the RIAA won a civil lawsuit, and there were no "fines" but rather damage awards that were awarded by a jury and intended to approximate the damages to the plaintiffs (plus punitive and other damages). Everything else you write about is a fine levied by the government under a criminal statute. If any of these crimes is committed against a person, the victim could sue for civil damages, which could be a lot larger than the awards against the music downloaders.

Josh / August 23, 2009 10:21 PM

You got ripped off. 2300+ Diggs to a cheap spam blog ripoff of this article:

foresmac / August 24, 2009 10:26 AM

FYI, freedom costs a buck-oh-five.

Jeremiah / August 24, 2009 12:28 PM

Like the old crank who keeps telling newbie's "Always backup, and store the copies away from the computer", I know better than to repeat myself to The Wise Wizards of The Interwebs (because nobody's going to listen until after the ashes are at their own feet). But, since it's the same algebra, with different inputs: The article mentions the (old, old, ... old) Truth - the cases, and their results, are constitutionally sound (meaning valid - logical - one follows from another), and constitutions are only remade by fire and blood. Whether you're a Loyal American (and support this perfectly fair, honest, and logical result), or a Terrorist (everybody else), you got what you wanted (and had every reason to expect).

Wheee / August 24, 2009 12:41 PM

Pretty much what Paul said, although that's just one (external) layer of onion.

Reality Check / August 24, 2009 12:53 PM

To the commenters who say this article is ridiculous, consider the author is using entertainment to make a point. The point is the legal system needs to put piracy in perspective relative to the rest of the wrong-doings that go on in the world.

We can debate civil or criminal (it's actually both as there are fines for piracy of several thousands of dollars per copy), we also need to look at actual damages.

First, as one author mentioned, it's 1.05 per song to buy it. So how is it that same song represents over $8,000 in damages?

Also, each song is represented as a lost sale. For a college student who pays for every song, maybe there is a few hundred in his collection? maybe 1,000?

An pirate downloader might have 10,000 or 30,000 in his collection. The RIAA claims all 30,000 songs represent lost revenue; however, It's ridiculous to believe he'd buy all 30,000 songs if we didn't or couldn't pirate them.

I've read studies that suggest piraters also purchase. OK, they are not spending as much, but they are often spending what everyone else is. They are finding ways to get extra for their money (at no additional cost to the record industry), rather than forgo what they can't afford.

I'm not saying that's right, but the RIAA's claim that every one of those songs is lost revenue is simply not reality.

I've also read several studies that found wide-spread pirating of songs, actually helps increase legitimate sales.

Yes, these studies indicate the record industry actually makes more money on songs that go viral via pirating.

So let's keep things in perspective. I don't see record industry officials scrounging for their next meal, or sweating their next car bill, and the legal system has FAR more serious issues to worry about than helping the record industry continue to maintain its monopoly.

Oh, and the actions of the Obama administration relative to these rulings - I only ask how THAT aids in redistribution of wealth?
Don't get me wrong, I'm against government redistributing wealth, and I didn't vote for Obama - but this is another example of contradicting actions on his part, and it smells of pandering to this special interest group. Wasn't he against that?

James / August 24, 2009 3:11 PM

Guess what's even cheaper????
Buying the damn music in the first place...
Or can you not afford the .99c?

Anti-Psychiatry / August 24, 2009 3:22 PM


The cheapest thing to do is to learn the music by heart, to memorize it, then "play" it in your head.

No need to pay anything as they cannot prove you have that music in your head or are illegally "playing" it in your head.

I do that all the time.

When I hear a cool music on the radio, I memorize it and then I "play" it in my head.

anti-psychiatry / August 24, 2009 3:25 PM

3. Rob Bryan Adams.

"Punch him in the face and take it! "

LOL ! I'd punch Bryan Adams in the face just for the fun of it without stealing anything.

I hate his queer music, LOL !

Uriel / August 24, 2009 3:26 PM

Sometimes when I read articles like this, it seems just for a moment that all the crazy conspiracy theorists are right--The corporations control everything! Time to take out the tin-foil hats.

mew / August 24, 2009 7:40 PM

Pssht. Why should we feel sorry for thieves? Jammie didn't swipe bread to feed her starving family. Are we so inclined towards lawlessness that we're renaming criminal convictions as intolerance and victims as criminals? If any of the fines issued in the ten years since Napster debuted had been a sufficient deterrent perhaps we wouldn't have to continue hearing about lawsuits like these every few months. What this article does illustrate is how unjustly small the punishments are for all the other crimes mentioned. I'd like to study the relationship between so-called tolerance, crime rates and economic decline.

Chase / August 24, 2009 7:50 PM

Uriel- It's not that the "corporations control everything." The simple fact is, the RIAA and the major record labels are trying to cling to an outdated and irrelevant business model. No one buys CDs anymore, and selling songs online will only woo a few consumers from the free alternative of downloading the same songs off LimeWire, BitTorrent, etc. Not to mention the artists who give away free downloads.

There are plenty of other ways to get music fans to part with their money. Concerts. Merchandise. Endorsements. The problem is that the record labels don't make money from those sources, the artists do.

The RIAA and the record labels are concerned because in many ways they are now unnecessary middlemen between the musician and the consumer. Their industry will someday soon all but cease to exist and we'll all be better off.

Sha / August 24, 2009 9:23 PM

Mew wrote, "Pssht. Why should we feel sorry for thieves? Jammie didn't swipe bread to feed her starving family. Are we so inclined towards lawlessness that we're renaming criminal convictions as intolerance and victims as criminals?"

She didn't swipe anything; she copied something. Copyright infringement isn't criminal either; it's civil. Look, I just copied part of your post, but your original post is still there, so I didn't deprive it of anything either.

Vernon Walter / August 24, 2009 9:35 PM

Not a bad twist on the humor in this, though yeah, missed the civil versus criminal angle pretty much altogether. Doesn't change the notion of the intent vs. crime vs. punishment (excessive?)...

As for the mention by Reality Check that "...but the RIAA's claim that every one of those songs is lost revenue is simply not reality" is something I've contemplated as well. This as a frequent customer of used CD shops and Half Priced Books (love the $1.98 - $3.98 racks - lots of surprises). For about 2 months, I went on a buying binge every Saturday, usually about 10 discs for what, about $30?

I'm not even sure some of the stuff is on iTunes. It sure isn't in the quality that I'd get from a real CD. But I would never, ever, ever buy these new. At $10+ a pop, I could do with out. If I was the type who wanted to take a stand, would I become a hub for people to grab and go too? I think we know the answer to that.

Also, props to Wheatus for the "The future of music is middle class" comment - I believe this 100%. On a small budget, it's now possible to make passable recordings...especially with what iTunes has done to standardize mediocre 128kbs quality. It still takes good fortune and hard work to be a self-funded recording artist, but at least it's more workable than ever. I'd venture to say that there's a decent amount of "I used to be in your shoes and copy tapes from friends and share mp3s" sympathy from new / modern thinking artists, and they're helping change the model. Slowly, but hey, gotta start somewhere.

Jackson Peebles / August 24, 2009 11:58 PM

I might be incorrect, but all of the alternatives you named were criminal penalties. The RIAA lawsuits are all civil to the best of my knowledge.

cinderkeys / August 25, 2009 3:22 AM

Thanks for injecting a little perspective into this debate. I've linked to this post on my site.

It's not that you can't make a decent argument against music piracy. As somebody said, it's not like Jammie Thomas needed those songs to feed her family. But when you can slap people with a $2 million fine for illegal downloading, that's no longer in the realm of punitive damages. That's a business model.

ThE_ED / August 25, 2009 3:54 AM

A jury of peers in a peer 2 peer filesharing case... Is that ever truly objective?

Nick Thomas / August 25, 2009 8:59 AM

You're a funny guy! Keep up the good work.

Psychiatry Is A Crime Against Humanity / August 25, 2009 10:29 AM

What if I memorize a song and then "play" it in my head ?

Do I need to pay duties to the RIAA ?

Lizard Wizard / August 28, 2009 11:39 AM

The point isn't to paint music piracy as an innocent act, the point is to put the punishment in perspective with crimes I would consider inarguably more heinous.

1776jedi / August 29, 2009 12:17 AM

Hundreds of thousands of dollars, awarded for stealling like two CD's? that's outrageous. What the RIAA is doing is trying to scare everyone away from down loading. Why don't they just burn people at the stake or crucify them. Or better yet the RIAA can hire ten thousand goons and dress them in black suits to go knock on doors. "I hear Metallica, ve haven't been downloading music have ve? Show me your computer! Macht snell!"

Websnacker / August 31, 2009 5:19 AM

Great Post. Proves that the Law is truly an Ass.

SolitaryOne / August 31, 2009 10:37 PM

first off, the copyright laws in general are out of date, they were not designed for the digital age that we are in.

second of all, the RIAA saying that every song downloaded constitutes a loss of business is complete bull anyways.

if this where true, then please explain how a artist like Trent Reznor (front man for nine inch nails) and anti-RIAA advocate can release albums for FREE on his website for download, and release the album a few weeks later to stores and still turn a profit? ill tell you why. he has somthing called talent, and his fan base wants to support him.

if someone downloads a album from a artist they like, and it turns out to be a good album, 9 times out of 10, they will buy it. its that simple.

as for the prices of CD's they are rediculous, people say "the prices of cd's are so high because of music piracy" thats total bullshit, the prices are so high because alot of these bands, and especally the record lables want to gouge the pockets of consumers at every turn. CD's are NOT the only source of revenue that bands have, nor should it be considered their soul source of income. they still have apparel (which sells alot) and live concerts, which brings them a HUGE amount of money.

the RIAA is nothing but a bunch of corperate big wigs looking to fatten their pocket books. fuck them, and all these "artists" who have no talent at all, so they blame piracy for their lack of income.

adong / September 1, 2009 3:26 PM

What i'd like to know is this: If the RIAA sues somebody for loss of profits because of illegal downloading, does the RIAA then have to fork over money to the recording artist? Or do they keep it all for themselves?

It seems to me that the RIAA wants people to illegally download music. For example, there exists on CDs a thing called 'index points'. Utilizing Index Points, you could make it very difficult for people to rip music onto their computer; Index points exists between tracks on the CD.

Perhaps I'm mistaken, but I don't really see record companies doing anything to actually prevent illegal downloading .. you know, besides suing people.

orzy / September 1, 2009 3:55 PM

what if i learn to sing and play someone else's song on guitar, and perform it for my friend. Should that only be a fine of $5,000?

Thrash / September 3, 2009 11:37 AM

Based on the cost, I'd owe about $789M..

Savage / September 3, 2009 2:40 PM

Think its a funny article even if its an "incorrect" comparison (dont live in the states so dont have any insight to your laws ;)) anyways, i cant stop thinking.
How much did the record companies actually profit from that 2 million dollar fine? i mean they cant really have lost 2 million dollars because some random mom downloaded 24 songs? as someone mentioned, this isnt crime and punishment, this is a business model.

Anonymous / September 3, 2009 8:09 PM

Oh, you poor poor Americans. Us Canadians don't have to worry about "piracy", because under Canadian law we cannot be convicted for downloading files off of P2P networks. Its good to live in a free country, where the Government doesn't try to crush freedom of the Internet+Media age. This article is crap, and you need to get off your high horse Mr.McCarthy. Maybe if the recording industry didn't put out nothing but utter, recycled garbage beats, shallow lyrics and selfish, ignorant music artists, then there may be less piracy. But the RIAA has its head shoved so far up its ass, it can't smell anything other then shit anymore.

But to you Americans, try reading up on proxies. Save's you any potential trouble, cause the Recording Industry Nazi's can't track you (Well, as easily. They could track you, but it would cost them enough time and money that they wouldn't bother)

Keep on rocking, my fellow pirates!

Meade / September 5, 2009 10:19 PM

Do bands doing cover songs,have to pay to play those songs now?Do copyrights expire?I mean if I downloaded a song from say,the 70' it the same as downloading Poker Face today?

Gogudumitru / September 8, 2009 3:38 PM

just a bunch of bullshit, go to hell!!!

rolf lundgren / September 12, 2009 2:35 PM

this is retarded

Jerry McBride / September 19, 2009 3:09 PM

Illegal to download? You sure of that. The only people getting in trouble, are those that share(upload) copyrighted tunes... There's a BIG diffrence.

Mike / September 30, 2009 10:54 PM

fredom costs a buck o five

ROB / October 1, 2009 1:00 AM

Blah blah blah,oops i'm off to watch Star Trek and when i finish that i think i might watch "Pandorum" first then by tonight i will also have "never get busted again downloaded to!.FUCK THE maffia!

Lyn / October 22, 2009 10:22 PM

Well... A the Graverobber said in the movie "Repo, The Genetic Opera."
'For Every Market, A submarket grows'

Yuriy Mizyuk / January 20, 2010 5:52 AM

Excellent article!
To save $50,233/per year we need just overcome our music addiction.
Yuriy Mizyuk

John / January 20, 2010 12:29 PM

1. Who in the hell uses Kaaza or Limewire anymore? that right there shows me that you know about as much about the topic as you do about nuclear physics. Step out of 2001 and get with the new decade. Thanks

2. Maybe if the recording industry and the RIAA wasn't so opressive with legal downloadable content, more people would opt for it. Not only is it EASIER to get music illegally, it's more convenient. Why settle paying 99c for a song on iTunes that you can only play on THAT computer or on your SINGLE iPhone when you can download from anywhere and play from anywhere. DRM has tarnished and ruined music and other media.

3. The cost of the physical CD is absurd, not to mention the cost of the computer file which is the MP3. I would be ok paying 3-5 bucks for a CD, because that's how much it's really worth (15-20 dollars! Are you kidding me?!). Software isn't like making car where you have physical parts that cost money and labor. It takes absolutely ZERO, ZERO!, dollars to make 10 copies of a Poker Face MP3 or 10,000,000 copies of Poker Face MP3. Who is stealing from whom here?

4. Costs of the MP3 aside, I think most bands can agree that this isn't 1990 anymore...times have changed. Money isn't being made like it used to be on the actual music. Rather, merchandising is where the money is made, as well as touring.

5. In of itself, downloading music is NOT ILLEGAL. There are plenty of free open source software programs out there, freely distributable, free to use, copy, and modify, and download. Similarly, there are plenty of bands out there distributing their music for free to get their name out there among the countless others. It is NOT ILLEGAL to download these!

6. I think the simplest retort to this lame article is the practicality of setting fire to Lar Ulrich's house, or kidnapping someones daughter. Related to #2, downloading is easy, fast, and anyone with a brain can do it undetectable. Feel free to commit a class 1 felony...I'll be at home enjoying my music.

dirty bastage / January 20, 2010 12:33 PM

I gotta say music is too expensive. We are in a recession; dollar menu burger = $1, CD that costs 12 cents to be pressed = $18, songs from that CD that take no money to be pressed (12 songs on a CD) $12.

I'd rather have 12 dolar menu items (3 items a meal) which is 4 meals.

Also I cook so it works out cheaper. I can eat all my meals for 2-3 days for the cost of downloading a dozen songs. Fuck that; I like not starving

Demonantis / January 21, 2010 6:55 PM

@Sam Yes he is comparing apples and oranges. It is a civil case and the damages should be within reason to the damages afforded by the RIAA. Since the song costs $1 then saying that $2 million is justified it would be ~80 000% difference between actual damages and what she has to pay. I don't think I could sell a product other then music that could have that high of a damages cost. I realize that it might be slightly punitive, but after the first $100 000 who could justify them needing to learn more as a lesson, but the States was always funny about that. Hell if I killed someone with my product the cost would come out to like $195,9467.00 [Wikipedia:Value of life] and I would probably have insurance for it anyways.

Robin Thomas / January 24, 2010 9:41 AM

I believe the Metallica song you're looking for is "Fight Fire With Fire", which is about setting fire on fire. Epic song :D

stained / January 29, 2010 1:19 AM

Lol BS. download all the free music you want people.. Making a copy of something is not stealing ...Taking the original away for good is stealing.. I repeat, making a copy of something is not stealing.. Stay free

Samuel Johnson / February 4, 2010 1:34 PM

I know a lot of us have already made this point, but it cannot be reiterated enough: There is a difference between civil damages and criminal fines.
Second, Demonantis, citing a Wikipedia article that calculates the "value of life" hardly constitutes legal precedent.
Third, I think it's important to remember that the price of any product is not determined by the cost it makes to make the product, but by scarcity the demand. Music is expensive because (ostensibly) good musicians are rare and music is in high demand. By the exact same argument, we could argue that all food should cost the few cents it takes to produce and package, or that a car should cost as much as the steel needed to make it.
Finally, while I'm inclined to agree that the music industry's damages are exorbitant, that doesn't make piracy acceptable. If the recording industry couldn't make money by selling music, then it wouldn't make music. And then, where would our low-quality, unaesthetic hip-hop come from? Nowhere, that's where. Piracy, left unchecked, will eventually lead to the collapse of the music industry, and possibly (though not certainly) the collapse of music production on a large scale.
Worse yet, piracy shifts the burden of paying for that music from the dishonest consumer to the honest consumer. The real victim here is not the admittedly corrupt Industry, nor is it the pirates. Rather it is the innocents who want to get their music through legitimate means and must pay extra.

Mason / February 8, 2010 1:19 AM

Let's quit bullshitting ourselves here. The people who make the music charge money and we take the music with out paying. Even if the letter of the law doesn't say that downloading is a crime; it is still wrong and we all know that. We do it, because we can get away with it. Now I pirate all kinds of music, I haven't paid for music in about 15 years. Now the connection speeds are better and I pirate movies all the time. It is wrong, I know it. Just like the rest of you. Don't try and blow sunshine up each other's asses and act like piracy is some kind of right, or even a noble enterprise. Download your music and shut the hell up.

iain / February 14, 2010 12:12 PM

An extremely entertaining article.

Dogs can get too expensive so I was thinking of starting a music industry deathmatch league made up of out-of-work music professionals desperate for cash.

The survivors of a posh recording studio could make more money from one night of fighting than they will ever see from $.99 song downloads, or fines levelled against pirates.

It's a victimless crime.

David / February 19, 2010 12:42 PM

The worst part about the music industry's stance on pirating is that they claim they are protecting the artists, when the truth is that artists make most of their money from performances. It is the publishing companies who make all the money from selling records, and who have taken this ridiculous "anti-piracy" stance. The fact is that they are forcing people to pay for a service that we can provide for ourselves. We don't need them to cut and publish millions of cd's, we can download the songs and burn them ourselves. If the record companies were really concerned for the artist, as they claim, they would use the internet and free downloading to promote the artists and let the money come from people paying to see the artist perform live. For the record, no one had to pay Beethoven a fee when they wanted to play his music, back in the day. If you had a piano you could play his music all you wanted, for free. Now, there is a huge industry that has become reliant on the profits from selling records, and even though the technology has changed and we no longer need an industry to mass produce these records, they are refusing to give up the source of their massive, inflated revenue.


Sue / February 19, 2010 12:49 PM

David is right. It doesn't make sense for us to keep having to pay for cd's when the music is available online without any cost to the recording studio that produced it.

I mean, if the artist is good, people will always go to the concert, right? Even if Elton John didn't sell a single album again, he could still make lots of money doing concerts and going on tour. Why should we pay money so that some producers can make millions for doing almost nothing.

Madeleine / February 21, 2010 4:00 PM

Seriously, what is wrong with paying for music you actually enjoy? Not all of the money you pay for music goes to the producers. Not only are you paying the artist, you're also paying the salary of the old woman sweeping the studio floor. And, when it's all said and done, many artists wouldn't be anywhere near as successful as they are without record companies. I'm not saying that the music industry is perfectly fair, but wouldn't it be nice if people stopped trying to justify stealing to themselves?

Alstroemeria / March 20, 2010 11:06 AM


What is wrong with paying for music is that we're being unfairly extorted. Why should I have to shell out $18 for music I don't even know if I'll like? And for legally downloadable music, $1.05 for 1 song that I can't put on my multiple computers, can't share with a friend (which could potentially get them interested in purchasing the music if they like it!), and so on. It's oppression. Personally, I find that downloading is an act of protest more than it is getting something for free. Maybe if they didn't want to drain my wallet so fucking bad, I'd be a little more inclined to buy [insert crappy artist here]'s album, even before listening to it 'illegally' and finding out that I hate it, and I wasted money on it.

Sargonarhes / March 23, 2010 12:09 PM

Not a problem for me, I have all the music I can listen to for a lifetime now. The music industry isn't making anything I want to listen to any more any ways. So they can go broke just like the movie industry. All they make is crap that I don't want to see or hear.

Let them rot.

Phil E. Drifter / April 20, 2010 12:15 PM

#2: "Retail theft of less that $150" Less THAN $150.

Proofreading is your friend.

I don't steal music because everything produced by the RIAA has sucked for 10 years anyway. Already have full collections of Led Zep, Floyd, and GUNS N' FUCKIN' ROSES FTW!

Phil E. Drifter / April 20, 2010 12:22 PM

Sue / February 19, 2010 12:49 PM: "It doesn't make sense for us to keep having to pay for cd's when the music is available online without any cost to the recording studio that produced it."

When you buy music online, say, from the iTMS at 99¢, 2/3rds of it go to the recording agency, Apple only makes 33¢ from each (99¢) song sold. They've recently implemented a 3-tiered system now, where current hits cost $1.29, some cost 99¢ and I guess bargain basement garbage (not the actual Garbage, their music is good ;) is 79¢.

x / April 20, 2010 12:58 PM

There is actually a very reasonable process for pursuing music pirates. The people who are fined these outrageous amounts of money have ignored 3 warnings, and refused to settle out of court for a much more reasonable fine averaging $4000. Learn your facts.

Bryan / April 20, 2010 2:00 PM

To all those people who say that the music industry is extorting or oppressing you in some way, wake up. It's your decision whether or not you buy an album. No one is forcing you. You have no right to the music. The music belongs to the record company, like it or not. It's just like any intellectual property. Just because you can download it, doesn't give you the right to. The ability to break the law doesn't make it ok.

Now, I agree, music as of the last decade or so has been largely a crap sandwich with extra crap sauce, and it's hard to justify shelling out hard earned money just hoping that it won't suck, but that's life. It's also what makes things like iTunes nice. Instead of forking over $15 for a whole album, you can just pay for the songs you want. There are also plenty of avenues to hear music before you buy it. For example, most music stores have the little kiosks that let you listen to samples from almost any album in their selection.

Also, from what I understand, these people didn't get fined for downloading music but for sharing it (distributing it). And if you think a prison sentence is a lighter penalty than a fine, you probably haven't spent much time behind bars. One night in county was enough for me to be convinced otherwise.

Just my 2 cents worth.

Michael / April 20, 2010 6:00 PM

You could just pay for the music and not be total douche bags...

Jake / April 21, 2010 10:00 AM

perhaps you may wish to include in the 'price' of a year in prison, the value of your anal virginity, the salary that you would have made for the rest of your life had you been able to get a job after prison being a convicted felon, the cost of treating the post traumatic stress disorder from getting beat up and raped, and the extra years added to your term for 'fighting' when you got beat up and raped.

Joe / April 22, 2010 12:49 PM

LoL @ this post.

Shaunyboy / April 23, 2010 12:43 PM

"Oh, you poor poor Americans. Us Canadians don't have to worry about "piracy", because under Canadian law we cannot be convicted for downloading files off of P2P networks. Its good to live in a free country, where the Government doesn't try to crush freedom of the Internet+Media age. This article is crap, and you need to get off your high horse Mr.McCarthy. Maybe if the recording industry didn't put out nothing but utter, recycled garbage beats, shallow lyrics and selfish, ignorant music artists, then there may be less piracy. But the RIAA has its head shoved so far up its ass, it can't smell anything other then shit anymore."

Do you know anything ABOUT McCarthyism? How is the author a McCarthyist in any way? He's not calling "commie" on people. He's not blacklisting anyone OTHER than the RIAA. You, sir, are an idiot making claims based solely on a distaste for our country. I do agree that our government needs to lighten up on the "freedom of the Internet+Media age," but it seems that, if you could comprehend the article, so does the author you are insulting. I repeat, you are an idiot. Learn to actually read and analyze an article before calling it crap and falsely accusing the author of McCarthyism.

kg / April 23, 2010 4:39 PM

mew, you are an idiot.

Jenni / April 24, 2010 1:00 AM

I went from panic and the immediate removal of my downloading software, to anger, relief, confusion, and amusement.
Awesome sauce, thanks all.

Comsci / April 25, 2010 12:59 AM

I'm not familiar with any of the proceedings of the cases, but as someone with experience in computer forensics the plaintiff must prove within reasonable doubt that you are in fact the one who downloaded or shared the music.

In short, unless they can prove that your computer was the one sending those packets on port xxxx from behind your wireless router (that just happens to not be secured) and that you in fact knowingly shared that music from your PC, they have little ground to stand on. On top of that they must also prove that you were the one operating the computer or that no other person could have been operating it.

Think of it this way. Say I leave my car unlocked, and in the night someone steals it, runs over their ex, a bystander gets the license plate number, and the thief parks my car back in my driveway.

The RIAA would have me in jail with maximum penalties in the first hour of court. However, a "regular" court proceeding would have to show that I was the operator of my car and that I knowingly ran over the person. But with this little thing called forensics they can show an unknown person has operated my car within the past few days. It sounds like the RIAA doesn't have to do any of that.

Or the convicted above know only "I can get free music online? Wow, I should plug directly in with my firewall off for faster speeds. That should do it."

Sadly I imagine almost all of the arrested/convicted in these cases are like that.

Nicholas / April 25, 2010 4:56 AM

FYI, the $2 million dollar verdict on the Jamie Thomas case was reduced by the judge to $54,000 and the plaintiffs offered to settle for $25,000 a few days later. Still is a lot more than it should be.

Skymt / July 16, 2010 4:47 PM

Or you could just go for all the free music that is out there.

The labels are screwing the artists anyway, so lets boycott the fools who sign with them, and support those who release their works under a CC-license, by listening to them, telling our friends about them, and visiting their concerts!

A good place to start could be ...

Michael / March 12, 2011 6:29 AM

There are plenty of other ways to get music fans to part with their money. Concerts. Merchandise. Endorsements. The problem is that the record labels don't make money from those sources, the artists do.

Jeff / April 5, 2011 12:10 AM

@Jeff Silver We must also take note that the internet has made it possible for sensations like Justin Bieber to make it big without leaving their homes, thanks to youtube and old artists gain new young fans thanks to Facebook.

SteveBuresci / April 5, 2011 3:29 PM

"To all those people who say that the music industry is extorting or oppressing you in some way, wake up. It's your decision whether or not you buy an album. No one is forcing you. You have no right to the music. The music belongs to the record company, like it or not. It's just like any intellectual property. Just because you can download it, doesn't give you the right to. The ability to break the gotomeeting law doesn't make it ok."


amy / April 17, 2011 4:43 PM

You know what everyone forgets? Websites like Pandora radio or 8tracks. These are all FREE mediums to listen to music and never have to pay anything. I haven't bought music in years and intend never to do so again if i can, its just not worth it to pay .99-$20 dollars for a song/album that might get lost, stolen out of my car, damaged, or deleted off my computer accidentally if the hard drive dies. Its just not worth it. I support music and i support the artist which is why i learn their music, listen to it as often as i can, and if i can afford it i go to concerts. I'm pretty sure that's a bigger compliment than buying a CD and listening to it once. Especially since they get hardly and money in their pocket from that sale.

Philip / May 12, 2011 4:45 AM

@Andy. Can you show a link to that page that confirms downloading songs on the web actually helps increase legitimate sales.

Trent / July 8, 2011 9:19 PM

@SHAUNYBOY The man who wrote this article is named Conor McCarthy. Maybe you should read more carefully next time.

Jake Burke / August 24, 2011 4:17 AM

@physician assistant, I totally agree somehow they should also earn from doing concerts.

Jolly Good / November 14, 2011 10:58 AM

Sites like Spotify are great for listeners but a crime against artists, they pay indies peanuts per song stream.

Free Tim / November 16, 2011 7:32 AM

Thats it, im going out to burn down Lars Ulrich's house right now

eid messages / July 19, 2012 4:12 AM

I tried to get into contact with Toby Keith to figure out how much freedom is worth in American dollars, but he was busy writing songs about how terrorists can kiss his ass or something.

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