Print 16 comment(s) - last by SilthDraeth.. on Oct 23 at 9:31 AM

Testimony from Jammie Thomas' case discredit the litany of figures quoted over the years

In continuing with the theme of insights gleaned from Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas, I bring you yet another wonderful little tidbit to drop from the mouth of Sony’s Head of Litigation, Jennifer Pariser: Sony – and likely the RIAA – doesn’t really know just how much money they’ve lost due to piracy.
In the same block of testimony where the Pariser disclosed that the RIAA’s lawsuit campaign is costing “millions” more than it earns, Thomas’ counsel pounced on the fact that the record industry was only seeking the punitive damages available in the Copyright Act. “What are your actual damages?” he asked.
Here we go. “We haven't stopped to calculate the amount of damages we've suffered due to downloading,” replied Pariser, who then added that, “that's not what's at issue here.” (Judge Michael Davis, who was overseeing the case, quickly remanded her to stay on topic.)
This statement runs counter to the numerous claims that the RIAA has made over the years regarding piracy and the industry’s actual suffering. One of the more recent claims, found under the “students doing reports” FAQ section of the RIAA’s web site, cites a conservative estimate of $300 million worth of losses. Another study, released by the Institute for Policy Innovation, quoted worldwide losses due to piracy at $12.5 billion USD and over 71,000 jobs.
Pariser could have easily cited either of those numbers as part of her explanation of ‘actual damages’ – unless, of course, the facts regarding that those figures are less than certain. Remember, she’s under oath here.
Over the years, there’s been a long tradition in debunking the dollar amounts that the RIAA has cited as money lost due to so-called piracy. People find all sorts of interesting explanations: lost CD sales are actually converted to music purchases at iTunes, lost CD sales are due to a decreased demand and rising prices, that piracy actually helps to promote the purchases of music, and so on and so forth. While I’m not going to argue that piracy doesn’t have some kind of effect, it does seem that if the industry wants to convince more government officials of its plight, at least it could get its figures straight.
When and if the music industry releases some honest-to-God figured that aren’t skewed, the big question then becomes one of trust: can we believe those numbers? Will we, the people, ever believe a word to come out of their mouths?

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By Tom Milhauz on 10/22/2007 2:17:09 AM , Rating: 2
if they woun't say estimates in court, it seems those numbers are just to make everyone sad about the poor industry

I think most people pirate what they wouldn't buy anyway, so I never actually believed those numbers...

By Proteusza on 10/22/2007 6:33:01 AM , Rating: 5
Just remember, its okay to lie in the name of money.

Just not in court.

The record companies are very good at perpetuating lies about the evils of piracy, such as that it is theft (would they rather I steal actual CDs?), and that it hurts the artist (seeing as how the publisher keeps so much of the money, I fail to see why).

the record companies began raising prices long before piracy even became popular. They tried to sell a new Tom Petty album for $2 more than it was worth, and Tom Petty and his band boycotted the album's release until the price was drop. this was in the 80's I believe, long before MP3 was even around, or computers were powerful enough to decode them in real time.

So we are led to believe that piracy results in higher prices, when the reverse is true.

By maverick85wd on 10/22/2007 6:57:37 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, the record label keeps such a large portion of each CD sold it's outrageous. My dad told me this same issue was a huge debate back in the day when recordable cassette tapes first came around. The record labels, miraculously, still managed to turn a profit. Recordable CDs and download sites/applications have been around for over a decade now and still the record labels make money. I prefer to pay for music than download it because I want the highest quality possible... in cases where I wouldn't purchase the CD anyways, usually because it only has one or two songs that I even want, I download them.

I personally don't see what the big deal is; I buy roughly two CDs a month, which means I spend around 300 dollars a year on music and I know I'm not alone. I would buy more if the cost wasn't so high, I think the label makes too much money as it is.

By mdogs444 on 10/22/2007 7:37:35 AM , Rating: 3
I personally don't see what the big deal is; I buy roughly two CDs a month, which means I spend around 300 dollars a year on music and I know I'm not alone. I would buy more if the cost wasn't so high, I think the label makes too much money as it is.

I'm in the same boat that i buy around 2-3 cd's per month. But I do not see how it is up to any of us to tell a company how much money they are allowed to make, that just seems silly. For me, its basically if you dont find something worth the price, then dont buy it.

By Tom Milhauz on 10/22/2007 8:48:17 AM , Rating: 2
I remember a couple of years ago in the Czech republic, a CD cost like $20 and the average income was about $300 a month. They wondered why people aren't buying...

By SilthDraeth on 10/23/2007 9:31:01 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly. Lets say figuratively, thats $10 a day, (of course you do not work all 30 days), I can't afford 2 days pay on a CD. I do not make a lot for a stateside job in Southern California, but that would be the equivalent of me spending $300 on a CD.

By mjcutri on 10/22/2007 6:13:07 PM , Rating: 2
i don't download music anymore (and haven't for years), but i actually buy less cd's now because of the RIAA stuff than I did back in college when i actually did download mp3's. I definitely believe that CD's sales are dropping because they are cracking down on online sharing. when i was "pirating" music (before it was called that), i actually listened to a lot more music that i would not have heard otherwise and ended up buying a lot of artist's CDs because of it. Now i just listen to the music I already have and maybe buy 5 cd's a year.

i'm definitely buying radiohead's new cd though.

By Proteusza on 10/23/2007 5:31:54 AM , Rating: 2
you see, thats the kind of thing the record company doesnt want to hear.

I wonder if the record companies believe their own lies - that piracy is the reason for their struggles. I kind of think they do, because they pursue that agenda so doggedly, despite how much it has cost them in lawsuits, anti piracy measures, lawsuits resulting from anti piracy measures (remember Sony's rootkit?).

Hopefully they will go bankrupt soon. then we wont need to worry about them. Small labels and internet music publishing will fill the gap. There will always be a market for music. but I think consumers are sick of paying inflated prices for substandard music. I'm sick of another aspect of the music industry - how they tell you what to listen to.

By FS on 10/21/2007 6:15:36 PM , Rating: 2
I am wondering if anyone actually believed those numbers by the RIAA.

RE: ummm
By mdogs444 on 10/21/2007 6:38:13 PM , Rating: 2
Its more than likely people against piracy probably do believe them, while those "pro-piracy" are going to fight any numbers ever released.

I think the bigger problem is that people already have their opinions of the cases, as well as the motivation of the RIAA, to even try to find the truth of the numbers.

I, for one, do not care for the RIAA, but I do not condone piracy or any users who commit copyright infringement. But given the number of multimillionaires due to the recording industry, Id have to believe those numbers until proven otherwise.

RE: ummm
By darkpaw on 10/21/2007 10:23:51 PM , Rating: 2
I'm definitely anti-piracy, but those damage numbers from industry groups for both software and media are total bunk. I think pirates suck, but companies counting every pirated copy as a lost sale is about as BS you can get.

The piracy damage numbers are 100% pure bull.

RE: ummm
By Nik00117 on 10/23/2007 4:07:12 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, there is so much stuff out there I would like to have, but don't have cause its not worth it.

I'd take a new 7 series BMW, wouldn't pay for it though
I'd take a beer atm, don't wanna pay for it atm
I'd like a new house, don't wanna pay for it though

I would like all 3 of those things, but if I couldn't get them for free I wouldn't get them because its not worth it to me. Same with 99% of music.

RE: ummm
By borowki on 10/22/2007 8:00:15 PM , Rating: 2
Many people support the RIAA's actions because their own lifelihood dependent on enforcement of intellectual property laws. They want an end to the culture of piracy, not fair compensation for the recording industry. So the numbers are basically irrelevant.

Piracy might not hurt the music industry as much as they claim, but others will not be so fortunate. I personally work in education. Electronic books are still in infancy, so file sharing is yet a large problem. But eventually they'll be the dominant medium. How could the author of a college textbook make money if people could just download it for free? You can't go out and give live performance. You can't put advertisements in your book. And will piracy of textbooks lead to more sales? Would cash-strapped college students elect to pay $50 because they're big fans of your work? I don't think so.

RE: ummm
By Darkskypoet on 10/22/2007 10:11:01 PM , Rating: 2
Ahhh... your logic works to an extent... but breaks down. Textbooks are priced so tragically high because of low print runs. It's damn expensive to produce a few thousand books vs producing the same in electronic format.

In reality, the advent of electronic media, and piracy will force a new paradigm in all sorts of media. Music and movies are simply the first to get hit in a sense. More then likely, texts will be rolled into course fees, and the publisher will simply sell it to schools.

Now, not in the traditional sense of sell, but figure the course fees rise by x dollars (x < then paper text equivalent). Learning media becomes cheaper, and academia protects itself through the internalization of 'book' purchasing.

And honestly, if this electronic copy gets out to the public for free, the knowledge spread will be good for human kind. Added to that the texts, without the degree are worthless to the market anyway.

Win Win. Greater spread of knowledge, cheaper textbooks, and a protected system of distribution, as Academia will protect itself.

Apply this method to public schools, but with a much larger student base, the texts will still be cheaper for schools to buy then present, and on top of the publisher can manage same profit. Governments tend to purchase most books for elementary, and secondary school anyway.

Do we cry now or later for book printers losing their cut??

RE: ummm
By Screwballl on 10/22/2007 1:20:27 PM , Rating: 2
Can you believe the numbers about how much in taxes is actually needed in any given government??? RIAA may as well be a government entity as many lies and crap they pull.

Statistics w/o skews
By CollegeTechGuy on 10/22/2007 3:38:28 PM , Rating: 2
I think the best thing to be done is the Gov. to pick and research company and have the RIAA pay that company to do its research for them. Otherwise the RIAA is just going to put up whatever numbers they want.

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