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March 1, 2005

Let's make downloading more attractive

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

The Reg blurbs the rumor that the Cartel are trying to get digital music download services to raise prices. Other possibilities include variable pricing for tracks so that popular items can be charged at higher rates.

File this under "don't you people ever learn ANYTHING?" How many people are driven to download because they don't want to pay $18 for a CD that has one or two tracks they want. Raise the price enough and legitimate services will start to look less appealing compared with free. Remember, kids, downloading itself isn't illegal, it's the sharing that people get busted for. I can download to my heart's content without violating a single law or risking becoming part of the Cartel's jihad. But it's a pain. A hassle. Spending a buck is easier most of the time. Make it a few bucks and maybe I'll reconsider.

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Markets and Monopolies


1. Jack Phelps on March 1, 2005 6:30 PM writes...

Uh, what? No, downloading copyrighted works you don't own the license for IS illegal, or at least punishable in a US civil court. The point you ought to be making is that nobody has been sued for doing so. This is most probably for the combination of reasons that A) the money involved is piddly in comparison to distributing copyrighted works and B) anybody who gets an infringement notice regarding their downloads can run out to their local used records store and buy copies to bring with them to court and nobody'll be the wiser.

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2. James on March 1, 2005 7:44 PM writes...

"Remember, kids, downloading itself isn't illegal...." This is terrible, terrible legal advice. You may want this to be the law, but it simply isn't.

Here's what the Ninth Circuit said in Napster:

The record supports the district court’s determination that “as much as eighty-seven percent of the files available on Napster may be copyrighted and more than seventy percent may be owned or administered by plaintiffs.” Napster, 114 F. Supp. 2d at 911.
The district court further determined that plaintiffs’ exclusive rights under § 106 were violated: “here the evidence establishes that a majority of Napster users use the service to download and upload copyrighted music. . . . And by doing that, it constitutes–the uses constitute direct infringement of plaintiffs' musical compositions, recordings.” A&M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc., Nos. 99-5183, 00-0074, 2000 WL 1009483, at *1 (N.D. Cal. July 26, 2000) (transcript of proceedings). The district court also noted that “it is pretty much acknowledged . . . by Napster that this is infringement.” Id. We agree that plaintiffs have shown that Napster users infringe at least two of the copyright holders’ exclusive rights: the rights of reproduction, § 106(1); and distribution, § 106(3). Napster users who upload file names to the search index for others to copy violate plaintiffs’ distribution rights. Napster users who download files containing copyrighted music violate plaintiffs’ reproduction rights.

I am unaware of any court that has disagreed.

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3. Neo on March 1, 2005 11:05 PM writes...

The shocking thing isn't their continued stupidity. Their collective IQ has long since been estimated by all and sundry.

The shocking thing is that this cartel, right when it really needs its image of legitimacy as untarnished as possible, was actually blithely discussing blatant price-fixing right in the open for all to hear.

I wonder where the DOJ is right now? I think they might be interested. Although they'll probably just take a bribe and drop the case after putting on a big show of still caring about the Sherman Act, just as they seem to've with Microsoft recently. :P

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4. drwex on March 2, 2005 8:24 AM writes...

Good point about the price-fixing issue. Perhaps they figure that with Spitzer off running for elected office they don't have anything to fear. As for the "downloading is (not) illegal" the pointer from James is a good one and I plan to put up an entry on this later today.

Thank you all for helping inform this discussion.

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