Compare and contrast

Filesharing in the US: software companies are held liable for any copyright infringements committed by their users.

Guns in the US: the government is attempting to ensure that gun companies are not held liable for any crimes committed by their users.

Filesharing and guns: both used legitimately as well as by criminals. Filesharing crime: harmless. Gun crime: deadly. Priorities: fucked up. (via)

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14 thoughts on “Compare and contrast

  1. Hmm: presumably the music industry would argue that illegal filesharing is not a victimless crime – it takes money out of the pockets of shareholders & directors (just to be clear: this is not a view I have any sympathy for).
    Does anybody have any reliable figures for economic sizes of:
    Music industry
    Software industry
    Armaments industry?
    The clue to this odd situation may well be there . .

  2. Well, it isn’t just shareholders and directors – the artists also suffer from lower royalties, although there is some evidence that some file sharing actually boosts sales of music, etc…, but I doubt it nets out. Either way, it isn’t a victimless crime, but I doubt it actually kills anyone.

  3. The artists don’t get any royalties anyway: with the exception of about 50 megastars who really won’t miss the surplus cash, they live off advances which are never recouped.

  4. It may make you feel better to say that, John, but I doubt that it is true.

    First, those who are living off unrecoupable advances from the majors only got those advances because someone was willing to take a punt on them selling lots of CDs or paid downloads in the future. If the environment changes so that fewer such sales are expected, then there will be fewer advances paid.

    Second, there are plenty of artists signed to independent small labels whose royalties do represent the marginal difference between surviving as musicians or just jacking it all in. See

    for an argument to this effect.

    And have a listen to Gillian Welch’s Everything is Free while you’re pondering the subject.

  5. I used to know a chap who got royalties every six months for playing the guitar riff on "Trouble" by Shampoo. It wasn’t a whole load of money but I suspect that if he was getting them a lot of other people are too.

  6. Chris: not sure where ‘feel better’ comes into it: I haven’t downloaded any illegal music in years, and own about 700 legally acquired CDs.

    While I understand why Bloodshot are saying what they’re saying, they haven’t actually supplied any evidence that downloading costs them sales (they’re committing the popular content industry fallacy of assuming that people who download things that are free would otherwise have paid for them). Indeed, given that they’re a tiny label with limited distribution who’ll get stiffed compared to the majors in production, sales and marketing costs, I’d be amazed if a revenue maximising strategy for them wouldn’t be to sell un-DRMed MP3s on their website for cheap and accept a small increase in sales combined with a massive increase in people listening to illicit copies.

    Dan: your mate with the Shampoo royalties presumaby got a writing credit (this would make sense, given that the riff pretty much made the song. Wasn’t his name Con, Com, or something? – yes, post-Googling it was Con Fitzpatrick and he co-wrote the songs…). This is admittedly a way in which bands make money despite not getting payback on their record deals; however, the vast majority of the cash he gets will be from radio play rather than record sales.

  7. oh really? must have been a different Shampoo song because my mate wasn’t Con Fitzpatrick; he was a Turkish guy who is now chief economist somewhere earning megabucks.

  8. It’s just struck me that Tolga might have been pulling my leg but I have certainly believed this to be the case for ten years.

  9. Well he only had to keep it up for quite a short period because we lost touch about nine years ago but I’ve certainly believed it all that time.

  10. On the other hand, one is a crime against (intellectual) property – the other a crime against the person. Guess which gets taken more seriously . . .

  11. You forgot to add:

    Filesharing victims: rich companies
    Gun crime victims: poor people

    Now as you see priorities are perfectly justified.

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