October 19, 2006

Oh, really, now...

by Chris Randall

I just made the mistake of reading this. My first thought was "hey, why don't you sit down while the grown folks talk?" The problems with his argument are the typical shit, I suppose, from people that have little or no understanding of copyright law. But since I'm fairly certain he reads this site, allow me to rebut:

1. Apple doesn't charge different rates in different countries because they feel like it. Each nationality has different statuatory royalty rates for both mechanical and artist royalties, and the recording industry groups in each nationality negotiate a standard rate with Apple that is largely based upon those rates.

2. This: "Allofmp3.com has already proven that people will pay for unprotected downloads, as long as they're easy to obtain and affordable." This is, in fact, the same thing that has been proven by the guys that sell knockoff Movados out of briefcases in NYC. I hate to put it in these terms, but if you buy music from allofMP3.com, you are literally supporting the coke habit of some Russian mobster's mistress, and nothing more. allofMP3.com is a criminal enterprise, run by the mafia. Speaking as someone who is well represented on that site, I'd like to say the following: I have no problems with someone getting my music from Limewire. In fact, I encourage it. However, I have a _HUGE_ problem with some Russian gangster paying for his blue light special with my hard work.

3. "The third critical advantage of Allofmp3.com is that they are truly international." Actually, they're not international at all. They are, in fact, not even national. Unless you'd say that a chop shop is international because they take apart Mercedes _and_ Cadillacs. AllofMP3.com is a criminal enterprise, and as such, isn't beholden to any standards whatsoever, except those set by the criminals themselves.

In short, stick to vintage video games, a subject with which you have at least a passing understanding.

EDIT: James has put up a mea culpa of sorts, stating that his intention wasn't to hold up a crime syndicate as a model of modern business procedure. Fair enough. However, I think that it's worth mentioning something about one specific point he makes: technically speaking, when you purchase a CD, the only thing you own is the plastic, not the music on it. It's a common misunderstanding, and basically pointless to rebut, but it's like any EULA: caveat emptor.



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Oct.19.2006 @ 8:27 PM
Chris Randall
Regarding point 4, I fail to see how there is any lesson to be learned, other than that yes, consumers will buy things of lower quality or questionable morality, or both, simply because of price, given the opportunity. (The fact that Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in this country gives proof; I don't need some Russian mobster to tell me that.)

If I may ask a simple question, how many of your albums are sold on AllofMP3.com? Personally, there are 4 of mine, plus 4 more soundtracks that contain my material on them. Those albums have been available there since the site's conception; I've tried to sue them twice, and my lawyer has sent every imaginable takedown notice, from "please don't sell this stuff because it actually _does_ hurt me" to "listen, cocksuckers..." at all times running in to brick walls simply because the company operates on a government-owned ISP.

I think the reason you and I have such different viewpoints on this matter is the fact that you're not being taken advantage of, while I am.



Oct.19.2006 @ 8:45 PM
Let me assure you I too am being taken advantage of, "luckily" for me tho' not on AllOfMP3.com(I'm not as famous as you), but on several p2p services.

Chris, you and I DONT have differing viewpoints. We both want AllOfMP3 stopped. You've attempted to use lawyers, and its no surprise this isnt working. I'm attempting to address alternative methods of how we might do this.

Please please please go read the article I pointed to. It explains what's broken and suggest some ways forward. Interestingly it suggests AGAINST an allofmp3-like lowest common price point.

Here's something to think about:

Do you think "most people" are thieves?

I dont. But still they are stealing your and my music (allofmp3 usage would be stealing in this moral context), why then are decent upright morally OK people doing this?

The article explains why.


Oct.20.2006 @ 1:24 AM

I'm well aware of the elephant sized loopholes in early US copyright law, thank you. Japan had much the same loopholes until quite recently. Also the bubblegeneration.com link has nothing new except the mistakes the author made and this is not the place to explain his falacies of logic and flawed understanding of market economics. The author is in fact as we used to say in Texas, "full of shit".


Oct.20.2006 @ 1:41 AM
Hey... james from retrothing.com here.

I think AllofMP3.com are a bunch of thugs, too. We both agree that they're able to charge magically low prices by ripping CDs and selling the content illegally.

Second, record companies could dramatically lower the price of downloads if they set up their own distribution system. There's no reak need to pay a middleman. My example on Retrothing.com (lowering prices to 69 cents) made it perfectly clear that I understand the need to pay stat mechanical and publishing rates.

Third, the current approach of locking down digital downloads with proprietary DRM systems sucks. I don't want to spend thousands of dollars to install streaming audio components in my stereo rack to replace a $100 CD player.

Now let's take a look at the points you raise in your post.

1. "Each nationality has different statuatory royalty rates for both mechanical and artist royalties, and the recording industry groups in each nationality negotiate a standard rate with Apple that is largely based upon those rates."

I agree. But it beggers the mind to believe that artist royalties vary by 60 cents per song. Consider that a song costs 99 cents in the USA, 99 Canadian cents in Canada, and 99 euro cents in Europe. Those prices were chosen by a marketing team because they look "good" from a psychological perspective, not because of mechanical royalties and publishing costs.

2. I don't support purchasing music from AllofMP3.com. I thought that I stated that in my post on retrothing.com, but I didn't. The fact that I likened them to a "dodgy buffet restaurant" should have been a clue. All I was trying to communicate is the fact that there would probably be a LEGITIMATE market (at reasonable prices and with appropriate royalties) for electronic music files that give me the freedom to use appropriately under fair-use copyright terms.

3. Oh, for Christ's sake. I agree that they're criminals. But it makes sense to have a single website to purchase music from BMG or Sony. They might find it necessary to charge different prices for different markets because royalty rates differ between countries, but I suspect they could simply settle on the highest common denominator. Unlike the famed "Big Mac Indicator," the cost to manufacture and distribute digital music does vary depending on labor costs, property costs, and supply costs in different countries.

4. Yes, I understand fully that purchasing a CD merely gives me ownership of a shiny piece of plastic, and that the copyright owner has granted me license to listen to the data it holds. But the fact that the data is stored on my disc gives me certain abilities (such as being able to listen to it on *any* compatible system, trade it in at a used CD store or give to a friend) that have been taken away as part of the move to DRM. I understand WHY it has occurred, but that doesn't mean that I accept it as the status-quo.


Oct.20.2006 @ 9:07 AM
Sort of unrelated to the whole mp3 sales debate, but-

"Our record label hasn't turned anything that could remotely be considered a profit in its entire 8 year existence; most of our income comes when we sell a song to Microsoft or Sony or any of the other companies we normally deal with. We then use that money to press CDs."

So Chris, would you consider you company a successful venture then?


Oct.20.2006 @ 11:14 AM
this brings up something else i was curious about. How do deals with other download services work such as with emusic.com? they're considerably cheaper than itunes.

Oct.20.2006 @ 12:46 PM
D' MacKinnon
Someone posted on digg recently ranting about how wonderful allofmp3 is. I tried to argue about how the artists don't get paid and it's not really a legitimate business but the main arguments against me were "Can you prove that?" "The idea that the Russian mob is involved is just hearsay" "people don't get paid on iTunes anyway!" "artists get screwed no matter what so who cares" etc.

It amazes me how little people understand how royalties work.


Oct.20.2006 @ 4:43 PM
legality != morality and if you *really* think it does then you've got borderline personality disorder or you're just really stupid. Either way you're a lost cause.

Oct.20.2006 @ 5:22 PM
D' MacKinnon
"legality != morality"

How does that apply to this? AllofMp3.com's methods are not legal outside of Russia.


Oct.20.2006 @ 7:02 PM
Chris Randall
And Godwin's Law rears its ugly head here. Need I point out that in Nazi Germany, it was legal to put people in ovens? (If there's any less annoying way of stifling that conversation, it hasn't occurred to me.)

In any case, the point is taken. The service isn't exactly _legal_ in Russia. The thing is that it isn't strictly _illegal_. Whether there's a distinction to be made is open to argument.

But I think we've all had our say here. I apologize to James for misunderstanding his original post. And one can't argue with their pricing model. The Digg posts referenced above go a long ways towards making the argument that the recording industry should have spent more time educating consumers on what they're buying and less time making them feel like criminals.

And to answer noisegeek, absolutely I do. No question of it. The business is still in business, everyone gets their royalty checks, and it operates in the black. We'd like to be able to buy more ads and give the artists (including myself) massive tour support, but taking that out of the picture, our label does a fuck of a lot better than most, and without sueing our customers. (Positron is not, nor will it ever be, a member of the RIAA.)



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