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Before Solving a Problem, Make Sure You've Got the Right Problem

I was pleased to see the measured tone of the White House response to the citizen petition about #SOPA and #PIPA!/response/combating-online-piracy-while-protecting-open-and-innovative-internet

and yet I found myself profoundly disturbed by something that seems to me to go to the root of the problem in Washington: the failure to correctly diagnose the problem we are trying to solve, but instead to accept, seemingly uncritically, the claims of various interest groups. The offending paragraph is as follows:

"Let us be clear—online piracy is a real problem that harms the American economy, and threatens jobs for significant numbers of middle class workers and hurts some of our nation's most creative and innovative companies and entrepreneurs. It harms everyone from struggling artists to production crews, and from startup social media companies to large movie studios. While we are strongly committed to the vigorous enforcement of intellectual property rights, existing tools are not strong enough to root out the worst online pirates beyond our borders."

In the entire discussion, I've seen no discussion of credible evidence of this economic harm. There's no question in my mind that piracy exists, that people around the world are enjoying creative content without paying for it, and even that some criminals are profiting by redistributing it. But is there actual economic harm?

In my experience at O'Reilly, the losses due to piracy are far outweighed by the benefits of the free flow of information, which makes the world richer, and develops new markets for legitimate content. Most of the people who are downloading unauthorized copies of O'Reilly books would never have paid us for them anyway; meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of others are buying content from us, many of them in countries that we were never able to do business with when our products were not available in digital form.

History shows us, again and again, that frontiers are lawless places, but that as they get richer and more settled, they join in the rule of law. American publishing, now the largest publishing industry in the world, began with piracy. (I have a post coming on that subject on Monday.)

Congress (and the White House) need to spend time thinking hard about how best to grow our economy - and that means being careful not to close off the frontier, or to harm those trying to settle it, in order to protect those who want to remain safe at home. British publishers could have come to America in the 19th century; they chose not to, and as a result, we grew our own indigenous publishing industry, which relied at first, in no small part, on pirating British and European works.

If the goal is really to support jobs and the American economy, internet "protectionism" is not the way to do it.

It is said (though I've not found the source) that Einstein once remarked that if given 60 minutes to save the world, he would spend 55 of them defining the problem. And defining the problem means collecting and studying real evidence, not the overblown claims of an industry that has fought the introduction of every new technology that has turned out, in the end, to grow their business rather than threaten it.

P.S. If Congress and the White House really want to fight pirates who are hurting the economy, they should be working to rein in patent trolls. There, the evidence of economic harm is clear, in multi-billion dollar transfers of wealth from companies building real products to those who have learned how to work the patent system while producing no value for consumers.

P. P.S. See also my previous piece on the subject of doing an independent investigation of the facts rather than just listening to the appeals of lobbyists,
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so says the man who publishes books on the topics and tools of the pirates.... even pirates had to pay for beer in their bars...

and yes software/"process" patents... not copyright are the real problems in IP law today.
One thing I've noticed about #SOPA and #PIPA is that awareness seems contained to those at or above a certain level of internet use. I'm willing to submit that it may be my specific social circles, but it seems to me that most of the individuals who know enough about the bills to have opinions are those most connected to social media in some form (Twitter, G+, Reddit, and Tumblr all generating a lot of noise). That makes sense, given the nature of the legislation, but a huge percentage of casual users appears to largely be missing what's going on.
+Tim O'Reilly -- Great post. Amen on the patent trolls point as well as the idea that we're accepting the idea that piracy is the terrible harm that would need a SOPA-like solution. It seems like the first rule in legislation, like medicine, should be "First, do no harm."

I wish I shared your appreciation for the White House's "measured" response. The White House plainly sees the issue as requiring a legislative solution of some kind. They do hold out the possibility, it seems, that a private group might be enough. (I assume they mean something similar to what was done recently by the credit card industry to address security.) But to the government, a government solution is almost always the answer. That just means that if SOPA and PIPA fail, SOPA-lite and/or PIPA Part II ("PIPA Fights Back!") will show up. And if the administration sees a legislative solution as necessary, eventually one of them will pass.
Tim, criminals profiting from it by getting people to pay for it, directly (cheap bootleg copies) is actual harm since here people are paying (albeit not the prices the major players demand). But money does change hands.
Not that I disagree with the gist of your post, just wanted to emphasize this point.
As a content creator, I don't particularly care if I get pirated...because there is always that nice little bit of hope that the pirate will buy the NEXT thing, or tell all their friends and some of them will buy it.

It would cause me more economic harm to lose valuable marketing tools because of online censorship...and I already told my representative that in so many words.
Tim, you are correct. However, one cant' expect the executive office of the US to release a statement that undermines copyright law, nothing positive can come out of that. The executive is supposed to enforce the laws, qualifying piracy as irrelevant is almost as saying that copyright is irrelevant. Doing so would really hurt the administration politically, and embolden proponents of this law.

However, I agree with you, and it's amazing that the head of an organization that provides such wonderful books as yours is so honest about it. But I think these statements, well it's ok for us to say they should go farther but we also have to be realistic about this.
Thank you. I haven't paid much attention to the details of this controversial legislation. Your framing of the problem and the issues with the proposed solution was very helpful. 
+Tim O'Reilly Thanks for posting this. You speaking out against SOPA is incredibly important. As a Canadian I can't do much about this but hope to spread awareness that my American friends and colleagues will write their Congressmen and other representatives and see that this will ruin the internet and the free flow of information and potentially limit creative freedom.
This is a very good and thoughtful post. What troubles me about discussions of piracy is that there is so much bold assertion, but little underlying evidence. This is true on both sides of the argument. It's silly for publishers or other media companies to count up unauthorized copies and then conclude that every one of them constitutes a lost sale. It's also not known whether some unauthorized usage serves to promote the sale of copies and if it does, what is the optimal level of unauthorized usage for that purpose. What is certain, at least in my experience, is that working with DRM copies is a pain in the neck. Now, what is the economic cost of annoying paying customers? And even putting the economic considerations aside, should people have the right to behave in ways that are not in their own (legitimate) economic interests? I don't mean to be ironic, but I do wonder about the right to be stupid.
The White House is definitely saying that if we don't want legislation, we...meaning the internet as a whole...should not promote piracy. The thing is that the legislative/stick approach against's making MORE people pirate. I know many people who routinely buy a video game and then pirate a second copy to actually use because the DRM is too annoying to deal with.
I think the quote you had in mind wasn't Einstein, but Lincoln: "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."
And this is so fast more people said stuff. Eep.

I agree that unauthorized copies <> lost sales. Many people make unauthorized copies because they can't afford to buy anything at that time (mostly broke college students). At least some of these people will make the conversion to legitimate customers when they do have the money. If they don't, it's often because they don't like your stuff, and that's no loss either.
Right. I already have the authority to say to somebody 'Take that off your web site right now'. That's more than enough.
Seriously the holding companies withhold content from widespread/reasonably priced platforms or set limitations on it RedBox/Netflix are two clear examples

Having a multiple option purchase model would allow them to actually sell their stuff to people. A subscription model, a subscription subsidized by ads, a rent as you use and a standard free offerings covered for by ads. That would make sense for a lot of people just look at how much people pay for Cable/Movie channels? A $10 a month non binding on demand no limitations platform would get massive subscriptions. The problem is media companies looking to settle for absurd amounts on material people aren't looking to purchase anyway.

I had hoped that with YouTube, Movie/Shows and GTV, Google would be able to crack the market and make sensible program standard but it has received some of the biggest backlash by being blocked from content. Hopefully this changes in the future and both content and internet become more open and free from media and providers that seek power over it.
Because SOPA would kill all social media sites, +David Haddad - they can't pre-vet every single post to make sure it doesn't violate somebody's copyright :P. They're not stupid...honestly, I think that's part of what they want.

I do think quite a few of the SOPA supporters want to destroy small content creators too.
I recently heard a person give credit to the internet in regards to his popularity, basically saying it was a viral thing(you know much of it was "piracy") What drew my attention was his describing picking out a convertable Rolls-royce, but upset he tossed $25k into a cd which didn't have expected sales due to possible piracy...Really? Classic example of "tradeoff"
One of the reasons there is "Piracy" is because some Internet Service Providers and Telcos are so greedy, charging 10 x what they really need to. This high expense causes their customers to feel entitled to all the freebies they can get along the way. My Internet bill is around $100 a month and my service/speed is woeful. Also some clips I do download are of CD's or records I have already brought but which have got damaged, been stolen, mislaid etc. Like real Estate agents (Realtors) the greed of the telcos and ISP's is what is doing the damage - that is the real Piracy - part of the 1 %!!!
I always love hearing your views, Tim. Very succinct, very poignant. I think it really comes down to capitalism - the entertainment industry as a whole has rejected changing and innovating to reflect consumer demand and market trends. They would rather distribute using antequated methods (hello albums) or create content that isn't original (hello sequels and remakes). They're threatened by people who aren't in their pocket making good quality content and distributing it using new technology. So hey! Let's make a law! :\
Well we voted those people into office. Thus it is up to us to vote them out. If they vote for any legislation you don't like, vote them out of office. There are more of us then there are of them. And as long as you use paper ballads it is harder for them count the votes wrong.
However, now that I'm thinking about it, electronic votes can be hacked. Hmmmm ... Vote for legislation that takes away freedom and the hackers of the world could unite and do something real constructive. Oh
+Tim O'Reilly I am increasingly impressed of the parallels in SOPA/PIPA and RWA (HR3699). In both cases, it is obvious that piracy is not the real problem but a symptom and that both proposed laws are protecting the wrong people!

Content distributing industries that were successful in separating most of the profits away from the original producers are fighting hard to keep their monopolistic, collusive methods of profit generation alive. The internet is thousands of times more efficient as a content delivery system than any previous one and, as you have proven over the last 2 decades, those who embrace the network effect can build fantastic companies. while helping disseminating human knowledge widely and cheaply.

For background on RWA and why it's impact could be devastating see Open knowledge saves lives. Oppose H.R. 3699!

Jan 18 SOPA Blackout day ( should be expanded to include RWA and become SOPA/RWA Blackout day.
I am a member of the public, and I am not inclined to make nice distinctions. They have broken copyright. It is time to end it and let the dust settle before finding a way to compensate the authors who actually create rather than the bloodthirsty businesses which prey upon all.

"I will only say this, that if the measure before us should pass, and should produce one-tenth part of the evil which it is calculated to produce, and which I fully expect it to produce, there will soon be a remedy, though of a very objectionable kind. Just as the absurd acts which prohibited the sale of game were virtually repealed by the poacher, just as many absurd revenue acts have been virtually repealed by the smuggler, so will this law be virtually repealed by piratical booksellers. At present the holder of copyright has the public feeling on his side. Those who invade copyright are regarded as knaves who take the bread out of the mouths of deserving men. Everybody is well pleased to see them restrained by the law, and compelled to refund their ill-gotten gains. No tradesman of good repute will have anything to do with such disgraceful transactions. Pass this law: and that feeling is at an end. Men very different from the present race of piratical booksellers will soon infringe this intolerable monopoly. Great masses of capital will be constantly employed in the violation of the law. Every art will be employed to evade legal pursuit; and the whole nation will be in the plot. On which side indeed should the public sympathy be when the question is whether some book as popular as Robinson Crusoe, or the Pilgrim's Progress, shall be in every cottage, or whether it shall be confined to the libraries of the rich for the advantage of the great-grandson of a bookseller who, a hundred years before, drove a hard bargain for the copyright with the author when in great distress? Remember too that, when once it ceases to be considered as wrong and discreditable to invade literary property, no person can say where the invasion will stop. The public seldom makes nice distinctions. The wholesome copyright which now exists will share in the disgrace and danger of the new copyright which you are about to create. And you will find that, in attempting to impose unreasonable restraints on the reprinting of the works of the dead, you have, to a great extent, annulled those restraints which now prevent men from pillaging and defrauding the living."
I'd like to point out strongly that this notion that filesharing, copying and unauthorized downloads is piracy is false. Piracy is theft for the purpose of profit. When people download or access content they didn't pay for the chance that they'd ever pay for it is almost none. Therefore the claim that the content's publisher lost something is entirely false.

I am not saying that this may not have some impact on such industries but it's more likely that the impact is a result of the vast number of choices and wider access to content from more sources. People don't go to the theatre not because they can download it's because they have a 60" LCD panel in their living room or they spend 3 hours a night on Facebook or WoW.
+gayle noble Many of us do not have the choice of paper ballots. And I would not promote election rigging. Just saying.

+Chris Skinner They don't want to accept that at this point they are/should be a utility not a source of entertainment. However, $100 a month is ridiculous unless it's a package deal with phone and cable?

+Lauchlin MacGregor Nothing wrong with sequels and remakes, although I agree there have been a few too many of them lately.

+Jay Gilmore It's all piracy in their minds. Personally, I think the small chance that person WILL pay for it or for more from the same artist/creator is worth the risk. Heck, right now, my sales are lousy...I'd love for something to go viral via piracy because some people WILL buy it ;).
Excellent Post.. The MPAA is under the illusion that if there was no piracy they would make x amount of dollars.

Here is the thing they need to understand.

- Some people will simply not buy anything. They want it for free.
- Some people will buy some stuff and pirate other stuff not deemed worthy of buying.
- Some people understand buying stuff helps the people who makes the stuff, to make more stuff.

The Music industry put up the same stupid fight for so long and it took Steve Jobs to convince them otherwise.

People want stuff that are affordable and easy to obtain simple as that.

I live in Canada and it frustrates me to no end, when I try to watch a music video on YouTube, or Buy something legitemately only to get see an error message that tells me this content is not available in my country. Canada borders the United States, yet because of these archaic business models, we are considered foreign.

So what choices do I have in those cases? Not much other than finding alternative and creative ways of finding the content, in which case means I got them for Free instead of paying for it and that's not good for them.

Bunch of old coots afraid of new technology and change hanging on to stupid business models that will not work in the 21st century.
And again, some people can't afford to buy it, not because they want it for free, but because they, you know, need to buy food.

And you are absolutely right. The problem is, and I say this from the viewpoint of a rights holder and content creator, that copyright laws are still national and regional. In order to be available everywhere, world rights have to be licensed. Some of us have accepted that in this world, national/regional rights are obsolete. Big Media still wants to make more money by licensing things multiple times.

I try to make sure all of my work is legitimately available to anyone who speaks English, but it's not always that easy. On the other hand, if somebody couldn't buy a piece on Amazon and contacted me, I would make arrangements for them. It's not that hard to ask somebody to send you X dollars by Paypal and you'll email them the file...
+James Wester I totally agree that the risk is that we'll just get SOPA-lite, when the real answer is that we're better off doing nothing legislatively. That was my point about diagnosing the problem, and why I couldn't resist putting in a closing remark about patent trolls. There, I could see the benefit of legislation to amend the patent system to require, once again, the production of at least a working model, and for business-method patents, that would require evidence that the patent holder had put the invention to work in an actual business.
+Gilles Frydman I'm glad you brought RWA into the discussion. You're exactly right that "those who embrace the network effect can build fantastic companies. while helping disseminating human knowledge widely and cheaply."
+Jennifer R. Povey, I agree with you, its better to get it out there no matter how it happens. I dont care if my stuff is 'pirated' because I believe the user will come back for more and I have no faith in the publishing houses or music industry. The majority people who do download stuff for free either would never have tried it in the first place,or cant afford it at the time.

Most people I know who have downloaded content off the web, buy more CDs, DVDs, etc from the stores than the poeple who dont. There are studies done by these big corps that say as much, as in in these posts on TechDirt.

Another point is that this so called 'piracy' has been going on for long before home computers. When I was younger, I used to get mixed tapes and videos from friends and family. I would then go out and buy the music from a store. Does that make me a pirate? No, it doesnt mean anything other than I like music and if I can try it before I buy it, i am more likely to buy it.
+Tim O'Reilly Do you think this SOPA-Lite was the plan from the start? Like when someone wants to sell a car... they will advertise it at a higher price and during negotiations sell it lower, making the buyer think they got a good deal in the mean time, the seller is the one laughing.
Here is some food for thought. If SOPA and PIPA existed, we probably wouldn't have YouTube. YouTube was in jeporady for a long time and they had to implement quite a few safeguards into it so things like Audio Contact would be automatically detected and links to iTunes provided.
It's kind of a misdirected fear at this point. It's just a proxy for raging against digital distribution in general, since digital distribution obsoletes their core business model. It isn't the pirates that are going to kill them, it's content creators realizing that they can skip the middleman and go to Steam, Amazon, and the iTunes store (or, say, Bandcamp) directly.

They can't fight that. All they can do is go after the unauthorized stuff. So they get more and more hysterical about the unauthorized stuff, in the hope that maybe they'll find some way to be relevant.
+Tim O'Reilly - I admire your position, and strong opposition to both bills. I also believe, if some one wants to pirate your content, you should be proud of what you have. Also, for my understanding we can find 4 type of people in this World:
1. who will pay for content, because they believe everything in this world cost money, and we should pay for it.
2. People who would like to reward content creator with money for the effort this person done, even this people able to get it for free.
3. People who don't have enough financial means to perform financial transaction.
4. People who will never pay for content, because they are opposing from the personal/political or other point of view.
Here the good news, people from 4th category is slim minority, and normal folks call them assholes. Go after category 2 or 3 is pointless, because 2 will survive without pirated content, and 3 will never reach due to financial inequality of this world. We also can not dismiss advertisement power of pirated content, for example if person been trained to use pirated MS Word, this person after will go to corporation will continue to use MS Word (paid for by corporation), if this person will be pushed to use Open Office, income of MS will plum.
Except that they can - by using SOPA/PIPA to attack user-generated content. Amazon, for example, does not pre-vet everything posted to Kindle Direct.

SOPA would force them to do so (which no doubt is the key to why they oppose it). This would PROBABLY force Amazon to significantly slow down publishing time (which is currently measured in hours) and possibly force them to charge an up front fee to content creators in order to fund this 'service'.

Smashwords already does a fair bit of vetting, but right now, the pre-vetting occurs before the book goes to distribution - it's still available through Smashwords during the vetting period. They would have to stop doing that.

Make no mistake, SOPA is NOT JUST ABOUT PIRACY. It is about Big Media wanting to make sure they can control all content creators.
what alarmed me was the ridiculous assertion that they could legislate internet behavior in foreign countries.... I read it and thought to myself - the authors simply do not understand what they are dealing with....
+Tim O'Reilly, I agree with you so wholeheartedly--I started crying again upon rereading your post. Yesterday a friend of mine was put in prison for file sharing--she was put in early, in fact, for speaking out publicly in disagreement with her sentence. She received 22 months in federal prison--more time than many a convicted rapist, for comparison, for something that is not shown to cause any harm and which I personally believe ends up providing a net benefit to us all. But regardless of piracy's legality or illegality or benefit or harm, I am sickened that this 30-year-old intelligent, dynamic, enterprising young woman has been sent away to lose almost 2 years of her life buoying the growth of our flourishing prison industry when it is no place for her or anyone guilty of this "crime." Her name is Hana Beshara, and her site was brought down by ICE's Operation in Our Sites initiative:
+Tim O'Reilly As Upton Sinclair pointed out, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." Substitute "power" for "salary" and you begin to see how unlikely it is that our electeds will come around on this. To accept the facts would be to be to themselves off from the source of their power: campaign contributions.

What next, +Larry Rosenthal, blaming hardware stores for supplying burglary tools?
+Tiffany Carter Wow. What a horrible story. Here's something for the White House to do! How about a presidential pardon?
Stands up and applauds
"In my experience at O'Reilly, the losses due to piracy are far outweighed by the benefits of the free flow of information..."

I "know someone who" pirated a few of your house's books, found the one that "he" liked most (Javascript: The Good Parts -- excellent text and beautifully built book), went to the store and bought the paperback version.
A perfect example the "Great Wall" of China - the perceived protection leads to a downfall of knowledge and innovation....
Who knows what objectives do short-term-profit people have today?
Very good response, kind of conciliatory but circumventing the concrete answer if The President will veto or not any legislation that is contradictory or not in line with this pseudo-policy statement.
If only the policy-makers would give the same attention to malware.... But I guess anti-malware lobbyists aren't funded with royalties...
Highly appreciate the ecosystem of this discussion here, the post that you (+Tim O'Reilly ) put up and the body of responses that followed.

I often have a hard time to reconcile myself with the idea of "piracy" bit with the online piracy (indeed any "knowledge" base). If I rob X from you and both you and I have X anyway, is that robbing? True that if I download an online text from your site without paying you, you lose an opportunity income from me (that was your due anyway), but you do not "lose" the material at all (unlike someone walking into a store and stealing an item from the store, the store owner loses an opportunity income and the "stuff"). I steal from you, then spread the word, and people come back to you to pick up more of the stuff from you makes sense for good business. I think SOPA debate allows us an opportunity to redefine the marketplace of knowledge and information and challenge our conventions about what is stealing/theft/piracy as a new era of interconnected world dawns on us.
+Tim O'Reilly +Gilles Frydman It's so horrific and heartbreaking and wrong. I've done little else today but obsess and cry and read and post everywhere, then think about Hana there in the detention center three weeks before she was even to go in, because she was herself, because she rallied her community around her for comfort after her sentencing and spoke her mind, how she must feel, how her parents must feel, how scared she must be, how terrifying these things they want to legislate are for every single one of us.

I had just posted your post in a comment on NinjaVideo's Facebook page before I commented again above, saying that we should write up a petition for the site to have her freed immediately together with the other admins who are to follow her--and it's not just Ninja, there are several other sites they have done this to with real people behind them, most of them quite young and no more roguish than me, whose lives are being ruined in the name of... inexistent profit? Quashing our civil liberties? Stripping our young people of their idealism? I don't even.

Gilles, I can't read through her letter to the judge once without sobbing. She... she's a good girl. Good to the core. Loyal too--when she pled she even had a non-standard non-snitch clause put in, regardless of how it would affect her sentencing: “The Defendant will not cooperate with the investigation of any co-defendant or other unindicted individuals involved in NinjaVideo.” She was so proud of that and being true.

She'd made a website that had 6 million views per month (6 million!), and so much of the activity was in the forums, her baby, which were producing non-pirated content, like a magazine and original artwork and interviews with underground artists and musicians that she was actively discovering and promoting. Did you read the American Prospect article?

Will you help disseminate the petition when we write it? I have to believe it's not too late for her.
+Tim O'Reilly Claims should be backed by facts. I would add that once there are vetted facts, the next step would be to determine the net impact of proposed draconian SOPA / Protect IP as compared to the net impact of not doing or doing something else. Merely the existance of some facts that show some negative impact on business, were any presented, would not be sufficient to justify SOPA / Protect IP.

However, I believe that in general the Whitehouse essentially is saying what they can at this point that we're not going to ignore the weighting of the overall good of below that of rushing to every demand of proponents. Also responding to create and support an open public forum actually helps citizens and activist interests make an argument that can support the Whitehouse in pushing back on SOPA/ProtectIP - that is a political necessity and a good thing.
The first few O'Reilly books I red, was pirated. But later I bought them, and bought bunch other O'Reilly books - around 20 different titles. You can allways find money for good product.

But what Hollywood do - they make hundreds shitty movies and think that people will pay money for that. And piracy is bad for them not because those people enjoy those movies for free, but because they can check every movie before paying. And later them pay only for good movies.

And what they do with SOPA - it is the same thing: they try to sell bullshit for people who don't know what they buy.
+Tim O'Reilly Great post. Really puts a lot of the issues into perspective.
Sale of digital stuff should be based on free low-quality versions, paid-for versions of superior quality, and education of people about the advantages of better quality.

Those who have enough culture to appreciate better typography and illustrations will have enough tact to purchase a copy to support quality makers.

(Also, 'pay as much as you want' in music.)
"So, rather than just look at how legislation can be stopped, ask yourself: Where do we go from here? Don’t limit your opinion to what’s the wrong thing to do, ask yourself what’s right."
The right thing to do is just leave the Internet alone free and open, if there is something that can't be controlled on meatspace such as the sales of counterfeit stuff, illegal copies of cds, dvds, books, drugs, child pornography, and so on, it is very silly to assume that by "legislation" you will be able to do so, much less tampering with the underlying infrastructure of the Internet such as DNS.
One question: What would have been of Beatles, Pink Floyd & Metallica without pirate bootlegs!? They would have never ever got famous in the first place. The world would have lost incredible talents! :-O
Uhh... no ...Yes they would have...there were no Beatles bootlegs in the USA in 1963 or Pink Floyd bootlegs before they were famous. Maybe there is a justification for free music, but this isn't it, pal!
Really!? Well... then please explain to me how I first heard The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Metallica because some friend lent me pirated tapes of their work?
If it were not for those pirated copies, I'd stay musically ignorant and I would never have bought a lot of their originals, some years later.
And even nowadays... would have I bought originals from Bal-Sagoth, Emillie Autumn & Arch Enemy as I did...!?
No... I wouldn't, because I only knew them through pirated mp3 torrents. Without piracy, these 3 bands (and more) wouldn't have earn a cent from me, because I would be ignorant about their existence...
Pirate bootlegs were the only way in the Soviet Union to get anything from the West. Now, those who "pirated" (secretly copied tapes) Beatles, don't mind buying the full official Collectors' Gold Edition Anthology.

The problem is that Bieber is not Beatles. These new manufactured "stars" are risky investments that should produce a return as quickly as possible, before people get tired of them.

+Ricardo Vasconcelos Silva 'Pink Floyd' preferred to lose money, but make better shows. 'Radiohead' used to subsidize their own tickets with their own money, to make it affordable for their fans.

'Metallica' sued Napster.
Everyone does piracy in one form or another it may not be right but it's done. I don't like or want the government to change or do anything to the internet!
My point is there are good people in the industry, and there are greedy bastards.
Everyone in the day used cassette tapes to pirate music
Hey Tim. I've 'pirated' your books. And yip - you're right - I never would have paid you for those..... But the ones I've used have meant money going your way..... Next, people will say that I can't page through them in the book stores..... If I couldn't do that.... I'd never buy any of them....
I've been wondering, I hear people in these SOPA and PIPA discussions mention how people paying for pirated content has direct economic harm but I have never once come across these types of sites online. Not once do I remember even bypassing such a site. Do they have any evidence of this? I'm not saying this hasn't ever happened but from my own experience, it sounds like an edge case being blown out of proportion. Can anyone direct me to something that proves there's even minor validity to these claims?
The size of the industries affected by copyright piracy, even if you accepted 100% of their estimates as absolutely accurate, are miniscule compared to value of all the associated industries that would be harmed by these rules. That doesn't mean piracy should be ignored. But the economic cost is a tiny sliver of a tiny sliver, and the industries rely on outdated distribution and scarcity models (even with digital streaming and downloads) that they want governments to preserve.
Since when do Keynesians use logic and information to promote their ideas?
I'm not sure you can equate what you observe with your company selling tech books to geeks and what companies that are selling popular music, movies, and books are experiencing. I'm not trying to defend SOPA - it's clearly way over the top. But I don't know that you can extrapolate from the impact of piracy on "Linux in a Nutshell" to the impact on "The Hangover" or the latest Lady Gaga album.
The Swiss government officially declared in December 2011 that filesharing does not harm the entertainment industry - and the Swiss know a thing or two about money ;-)


Money quote: "The government report further concludes that even in the current situation where piracy is rampant, the entertainment industries are not necessarily losing money. To reach this conclusion, the researchers extrapolated the findings of a study conducted by the Dutch government last year, since the countries are considered to be similar in many aspects.

The report states that around a third of Swiss citizens over 15 years old download pirated music, movies and games from the Internet. However, these people don’t spend less money as a result because the budgets they reserve for entertainment are fairly constant. This means that downloading is mostly complementary.
The other side of piracy, based on the Dutch study, is that downloaders are reported to be more frequent visitors to concerts, and game downloaders actually bought more games than those who didn’t. And in the music industry, lesser-know bands profit most from the sampling effect of file-sharing."
All they want is the control to shut down
any site that they no longer want out on the internet and
this will give them the right to shut down any site they want
no questions asked by anyone......I am not wrong on this !
The REAL problem here is the systemic plague of money in politics. Until we address that in a meaningful way, we will only see more and more legislation tailored to benefit the highest bidders. SOPA is merely a symptom of this larger issue.

With regards to SOPA and similar legislation, don't blame pirates, blame the lack of alternatives. This disease can be treated without killing the patient. The best way to compete with "free" is with quality and convenience. I would gladly purchase all of my movies from iTunes if the quality was on par with the files on BitTorrent. Piracy is terribly inconvenient, especially in the case of movies which can take weeks to download depending on the circumstances, to say nothing of the legal risk involved. DRM is also a big F-you to the consumer. Instead of coming up with attractive and convenient alternatives to piracy, the content owners would rather strong arm us into overpaying for inferior products.
+James Wester perfect, first do no harm — a mantra I'd like to see adopted by all legislators
+Lars Ivar Igesund The gist of the article you pointed to, if I've got it right, is that there was a huge bubble in music industry sales during the 1990s, driven largely by the reissuance of 90 years of back-catalog from the entire history of the recording industry, and people re-buying music that they'd formerly had on LPs. This enormous bubble couldn't last forever, and in fact, the level to which music sales have returned are comparable to sales before this abnormal bubble. As the article says (a bit fractured, via Google Translate, "The industry had briefly brought out everything they had invested earlier in the century, and was therefore an abnormal spike in sales. Finally, the warehouse empty and the audience bored. Then the revenue back to the point it was before CD-rush."

That makes plenty of sense to me. And as the article notes, there were many articles in music industry publications predicting the end of the bubble long before file sharing or online music took hold.
+Bob Wall I hear you. Technical books may not be the same as popular movies. But have been told by librarians that my books are among those most often stolen from libraries (an analogous act), so my company's experience may indeed be representative. I'm happy to share data and have people study it (and have indeed commissioned studies on piracy.) But the music and movie industries make outlandish claims without evidence.
+Luis Roca O'Reilly is far from the only publisher to have seen that ebook publishing in DRM free formats as a win for all - Baen books has too and it isn't just books. Musicians such as Janis Ian have found that putting up free versions of someor all of their back catalog leads to increased sales. To go back to Baen (and O'R), one key difference with both compared to the major publishers is that they have always charged less for the electrons. This - and the lack of DRM - means that the pirates mostly don't bother cracking their books and that when you search for their titles with the word ebook the firts place you find on google is the main publisher site with the books in an easy to purchase fashion.

I wrote a post 4 or 5 years back called "Harper Collins are clueless morons" and as far as I can tell it is still mostly accurate, despite the kindle, ipad etc.

Baen author Dave Freer likens authors (and other creative types) to sharecroppers in servitude to their publishers. The creator gets a royalty of maybe 10% of the sale price. While the publisher doesn't get the remaining 90% as profit, they and the retail chain don't (between them) have a cost structure that takes up 75-80% of the sale price so the author / musician / artist is the person who benefits least from his work in financial terms and yet is the key person without which the rest would be out of a job. There's something wrong here and it isn't copyright.
+Reinhard Gloggengiesser That's exactly what I've been a firm believer of for about a decade. I'll bring up a few examples concerning games.

If I hadn't played a pirate copy of Red Alert 2 when I was younger, there's not a chance I'd ever have bought Command and Conquer 3 later, perhaps I wouldn't ever have been exposed to the series at all. If I hadn't played NES and SNES games in emulators on my PC, i wouldn't have bought the four Metroid games I now own. If my friend hadn't given me a pirate copy of Magicka, I probably wouldn't have discovered it, fallen in love with it, bought it and convinced at least one other friend to buy it.

That's six game purchases, at the very least, that wouldn't have happened without piracy. As has been stated before, many people who pirate stuff probably wouldn't have bought it anyway. Which means piracy has created a net six game purchases from me and my friends. That's only the few cases I cared to bring up, and I'm not by a long shot the only one with this kind of experiences.
+Luis Roca "Working out of New York City we have seen several waves of layoffs in the media and creative industries over the last decade — yes, due to changes in strategies and piracy." Maybe correlation - but not necessarily causation ... just sayin'. If +Tim O'Reilly can't "Attack ... unsubstantiated hyperbolized arguments with ... unsubstantiated hyperbolized arguments" then neither can you.
Over 470,000 people have circled you and I only just found you? I need to get out more lol.
+Lars Ivar Igesund thanks for the article. Very interesting. I had thought it was also an issue of economics - 2000 saw a pretty sudden decrease in expendable income. When your available funds are limited, the price of media quickly moves from impulse buy to considered purchase. But this article shows an even more compelling issue fundamental to music as industry and cultural phenomena.

+Tim O'Reilly thanks for the article. I'd like to toss out something in the spirit of the discussion. Right now, I could begin the process of downloading an illicit digital library of over 75 O'Reilly tittles; I just checked for sake of the article. I don't have any inclination to do so for a number of reasons. The most piratical is that the majority of those tittles I have no interest in. The ones that I do are covered in the several dozen O'Reilly animal books currently sitting on shelves (physical and virtual). I've never felt cheated buying either physical or digital product from O'Reilly Media and so I see that relationship continuing in to the future. It's interesting that O'Reilly can do well servicing a customer base who would be most capable of acquiring illicit copies.
Great context Tim. Thanks. I appreciate the way you focus in on the real issues.
The problem isn't so much that we need stronger infringement laws, but that "fair use" laws need to be updated to fit the evolving world of the Internet. Fair use is like free advertising for a company or product. Say I stream a movie online; in the description I state what the movie is, who the publisher is, date of release, etc. In my streaming channel, a bunch of people really dig the movie, and become fans. They go out and buy the movie, merch, etc (as I have done on many occasions). Since this movie was somewhat not well known, these people probably never would have known about the movie, director, etc. How much did the studio pay me to promote it? $0. How much did they make from me promoting it? Probably more than $0! It's a net gain!
Will you ever run for office, Tim? We could use some leaders who don't, you know, have their heads up their asses. You and Lawrence Lessig would make for a pretty nice ticket.
Tim, I sent your post to Senator Dianne Feinstein. I attributed it to you, although I'm sure you're a proponent of Creative Commons. Don't worry: It's for a good cause. You eloquently wrote down exactly how I feel; wish I had a way with words as you do. Keep up the fight.
+Nick Taylor +Reinhard Gloggengiesser Thanks for the pointer to the Swiss government study. That's the kind of independent research our government ought to be doing, instead of relying on self-serving research provided by industry lobbyists. If anyone from Congress or the White House is reading, here's the pointer again to articles about the study: and, and here is the study itself (in Suisse-Deutsch)
All these new "copyright protection" laws just protect mega-corp monopolies. Problem with monopolies is you have all your eggs in one basket. If a CEO is fiscal irresponsible or just embezzles all the money than what. But even at that. No individual monopoly can even begin to hire as many employees as a market full of competition.
Individuals who pirate usually do it because they can't afford or can't obtain the materials through normal channels. There are books, music, movies, art and games that are banned in many tyrant controlled nations. Still another group is the people who want to try the products before they commit hard earned cash. For years now the industry has been pulling marketing tricks with shoddy goods making them look good. A lot of people have lost confidence and have resorted to pirating just to truly test the real product not just what the manufacture wants you to see. Movies where the only good parts are what is shown in the trailers. Games that are a hour long of game play. Music where all but maybe 2 tracks are crappy filler songs. Books with the best writing in the entire book is the back cover summary description. Many things that should be investigated by FTC. How Microsoft can sue Google (a company that firmly believes in the materials they share outside the company they share to the public) over a anti-trust because of a theory that they are padding their results. But on the flip side Microsoft can sell Windows 7 Starter (a reduced option version that is considerably cheaper that just does the basics of what a lot of home users want.) to big OEM's but there is no venue for the small business builders to purchase and use the cheaper version for their clients. They are basically forcing the consumer to buy features they don't want. Where is the FTC on that?
It's more than obvious who the government is truly concerned about and represents.
One last thing... how do they expect to uphold these laws? When no one respects these laws and no one is willing to turn in their neighbor because the law and the punishment are ridiculous... This is why the founders of this nation tried to make the #1 law enforcement We The People...because we are the only ones that can abide and protect the laws. Law enforcement was just to relieve some of the burden of this duty so we can have less interruptions in our day to help be more productive. Many of these laws, particularly all the victim-less crimes have no respect or support from the mass majority of the people. If my neighbor is a good guy and smokes a little weed and has the occasional prostitute over. I'm not going to rat him out. He is a nice guy and the punishment would ruin his entire life. It's human nature to protect each other from harm. And most of these moral based laws are starting to get harmful.
"In the entire discussion, I've seen no discussion of credible evidence of this economic harm. There's no question in my mind that piracy exists, that people around the world are enjoying creative content without paying for it, and even that some criminals are profiting by redistributing it. But is there actual economic harm?"

Exactly, where is the evidence?

Germany is not just beating us Solar and Job growth. Looks like they are way ahead of us on this too: German Pirate Party hit double digits in the polls for the national elections: With one in ten Germans embracing the ideas of the young party, the Pirates are on course to gain serious influence in one of the world’s major political arenas
+Patrick L Thanks. I've been extremely disappointed in both Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer for their support of PIPA.
+Rob Lifford I think of it from time to time, but at least so far have always decided that I can do more good in the private sector.
+Paul Hosking I completely agree. And it's not dissimilar, for example, to my voracious science fiction habit when I was a kid. I'd read everything I could find at the library, then go to used bookstores, and as I found authors I really loved, I'd buy their books new. There was absolutely no way I could afford to buy every book I wanted to read. But as an avid reader, I spent far more on books than if I'd not had the opportunity to read so widely for free.
+Luis Roca While this post merely contains anecdotes, we commissioned and partnered on a 2 1/2 year study of ebook piracy carried out by +Brian O'Leary. There's an interview with him here:

I'd love to see your data on the decline in performing artists. It doesn't match my experience. In fact, I'd venture that there are as many artists making a living on YouTube (the Gregory Brothers come to mind as one example) as made a living in the heyday of record companies, which notoriously screwed most of their artists. Music has always been a chancy profession, as has creative writing. For every creator who breaks through, there are a thousand who scrape by, or do it as a sideline. Nothing new there.
Here, here on the screwing of the artists.
+Dale Schultz I agree with you. That's what bothered me the most about the post. "While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response..." US legislation will not prevent foreign websites from distributing. I also don't believe that it is any governments responsibility to fight this battle.

There are many industries and individuals that need help with protecting their digital content and what they need is a way to do it. Going to the top of the internet food chain would be a better plan of action. Getting ICANN and IANA and the 5 RIRs to write and enforce acceptable use policies would force international compliance at the ISP/NOC level.
Thank you Mr O'Reilly for your excellent posts on the topics of SOPA and PIPA. I think most people here agree that piracy is largely an overly hyped problem propagated by an aging industry that is reticent to change its crumbling business model.

But all this talk will do little to convince politicians that are more concerned with lobbyist propaganda rather than public opinion. So I ask what is our next step? We all agree this is a problem and that Washington is only listening to one side of the story, so how do we proceed to get our point across in a convincing manner that shows that piracy is not the problem but a symptom of a broken business model that the distributors wish to hide?
Thank you for this insightful post Mr. O'Reilly! Our nation needs more voices like yours.
Basic point is that the figures are either completely bogus or mostly bogus.

Many of the figures are completely bogus because, as the Government Accountability Office has said, there's no source for the figures. A substantial minority appear to be have been made up out of whole cloth.

Other figures aren't wholly bogus, but are mostly bogus, because they use crazy multipliers. A $10 DVD somehow becomes worth $19 to the economy because of the people along the supply chain that contributed to it. That's silly. A $10 DVD is worth $10. That's it. And considering that the money not spent on legitimate copies of works are usually spent on something else, the actual multiplier for damage done to the economy itself probably less than one. (Possibly FAR less than one.)
Aint it strange that big buisness are making record profets and paying CEO'c big bucks but the goverment is going broke and asking the the people to pay for it all. Semes like we work to keep giving big corperations our money while the govement is working to support proffets for these companys
Thanks Tim - excellent writing. Its sad that in this day and age - what was said in 1998 still holds true today for the US Government - they are about 3 years behind in security, technology, and policy. Oddly parallel to that, is the continuing trend of major content producers failing to embrace new groundbreaking technology that would give them added revenue. Personally - the best O'Reilly book I ever purchased, was Unix Power Tools (1st ed). I would have never pirated that - when its that good - you want to pay and have to have the real thing.
+Morgan Sarges Glad you liked that book. It's my favorite of all the books I conceived and (partly wrote.)
Another good piece skewering the bad math proposed by Hollywood to justify SOPA:
How Copyright Industries Con Congress via @CatoInstitute
Thanks Tim! I agree with you, in fact there was a study done recently (though sorry, I don't have the link) that said something to the effect that most major studio heads were in fact getting BIGGER salaries than last year. In fact I think the real problem is less that middle-class jobs are being lost to piracy but that they are being lost to shows/movies being filmed or effects, etc. are being produced outside the country and so the real problem to my mind is massive conglomerations controlling all the means of production and sending the work wherever it's cheapest to produce it, rather than having any stake in a community or allowing artists access to broad distribution (which the internet does nicely without the need for any big corporation, and thus is a threat to their monopolistic model).
The problem is that congress is dominated by lawyers. Don't take this the wrong way. Lawyers are trained to argue either side in a case and win. It does not matter which side. That is great in the legal system but in congress, arguing for the sake of it does not solve problems. We need more scientists in there who are trained to look for hard evidence and facts. Without facts we have this sort of thing happening. I don't claim to have a solution because people like to vote for lawyers because they are trained to be persuasive.
Scientists TOO observe but don't SEE.....Then they postulate THEORY that they try to persuade you...IS FACT.
How in the world does piracy hurts economy? Especially middle class?!?!? The only people it would hurt is Holywood, Warners and pacs like them...
+Tim O'Reilly is right that this cannot be legislated away. It is a market-driven problem that will only be solved once the industry accepts defeat in the legal/legislative realm. The problem is driven by an industry structure, process, & pricing that is not in line with the current media distribution opportunities available.

The industry will have to morph to use the internet and the easy distribution it allows. The layers of bureaucracy and restrictive distribution contracts are just not defensible.

Edit Note: the industry are not the content creators, but the corporate "content owners" who control distribution and profit off the content creators. Never forget that when a big music label says "piracy is hurting the artists" what they really mean is "we take our money first, so now there is less for the artist. But don't ask us to take the loss, we have margins to maintain."
The issue has been framed in economic terms, with claims and counter claims that online piracy either benefits or harms. I believe that piracy is theft, and ultimately harms every single human being. SOPA is an attempt to wield another corporate weapon in the war on theft. As an example, China is the largest purchaser of computer hardware, and the eighth largest buyer of computer software. Microsoft has lost billions in revenue, yet may have benefited by the massive and utterly open theft, since it's operating systems are now the de facto standard in China. However, this all fails to address the true problem, the collapse of personal and public morality. The fact that this has not been mentioned is one of the more glaring signs of a society in ethical freefall.
+Robert Little wrote:
> the collapse of personal and public morality.

Many people have given a lot of thought to this issue... not everyone comes to the conclusion that this is theft. What is illegal is not necessarily immoral just as what is legal is not necessarily moral.
Craig wrote, in part, "Other figures aren't wholly bogus, but are mostly bogus, because they use crazy multipliers. A $10 DVD somehow becomes worth $19 to the economy because of the people along the supply chain that contributed to it. That's silly. A $10 DVD is worth $10. That's it. And considering that the money not spent on legitimate copies of works are usually spent on something else, the actual multiplier for damage done to the economy itself probably less than one. (Possibly FAR less than one.)"

To the creator of content, a $10 DVD is (usually) worth less than $10; the thing is, without that distribution chain you've maligned, the creator would have to stand on a street corner or freeway onramp. A supply chain adds value by increasing the potential customer base. Thus MS Windows 7 has access to 7 billion people rather than 7. Granted, six billion want to steal it, but still...
ummmm...does anyone really care?

"Most of the people who are downloading unauthorized copies of O'Reilly books would never have paid us for them anyway; meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of others are buying content from us"

Exactly. I have no qualms about admitting to pirating several O'Reilly books back when I first became interested in programming. At the time, I had no interest in paying for them. Thanks to the excellent content and open policy, I've since purchased several, and I will continue to do so. Much like Notch's attitude towards illegal downloads of Minecraft, your policy of openness towards "piracy" has led me to spend infinitely more on your products than I would have otherwise.
"Most of the people who are downloading unauthorized copies of O'Reilly books would never have paid us for them anyway" Wow great! Now I can download O'Reilly ebook from 4shared, cuz I live in a 3rd world country. ..... just kidding :-)
There is the case where people start by downloading unauthorized copies of books (when they are students a few bucks are a lot) and after they become professionals they actually buy a lot of them.

This is not money lost by piracy, actually is money gained thanks to piracy.
Well said +Tim O'Reilly It is pretty obvious that supporters, Self-Interest Politicians and Government wants to control the flow of REAL information to the awakening public. They control the MSM and what's left is the Internet. Lies, here, there and everywhere...echoed around the world. The Whole World is Watching. Good thing is the People are awake now.
Excellent post.
I believe that a lot of the piracy going on has its roots in a try-before-you-buy mentality, and that it actually benefits the industries.
+Robert Little, the supply chain does add value—to the extent that it isn't obsoleted by Internet distribution—but the value added is ultimately captured in the final price of the product.

(Barring positive externalities, but the issue here is the negative externalities of a decimated public domain and anti-innovation policies. The only positive externality is an increase in available artistic works, and that looks less and less relevant in a world where there is more content produced in a month than a single person could consume in a dozen lifetimes..)
By the way, legally piracy isn't theft. That was settled in Dowling vs. United States (1986). Both are illegal, yes, but they aren't legally interchangable any more than, say, dumping toxic waste vs. assault with a deadly weapon.
Excellent words. One big thing, which includes me, is that you have got business from me (3 books in the last couple of months) simply because I liked what you have produced previously on other books that I may or may not have obtained via other sources. You would never have got that custom if I hadn't read those other books.
I might be blonde....but is there a typo in this? hmmmmm, 41st? America sleeping for 44th.
A month ago, after many doubts, I finally bought a Kindle. The reason that I finally decided to buy it is that I can buy DRM-free O'Reilly books. Now, after reading this post and Mr. O'Reilly's interview, I'm really glad that I did it.

The first book that I bought in Kindle store was one of O'Really, and it was fine for me to pay for it, even as I knew that I could get it for free. I expect to buy more O'Really books, because of their quality and because they do not treat me as a criminal. By the way, I'm from Spain, a country where the IP lobby pays for fake studies to persuade the US government to put our country in piracy black lists. And after that, they expect us to buy their products. Morons.
If you wish you hold the most sand in your hand, a fist is the least useful shape. Instead, an open palm will hold the most sand, even if some of the sand falls out.
"""Most of the people who are downloading unauthorized copies of O'Reilly books would never have paid us for them anyway;"""

Well, here you are. The rest that would have paid you are lost money.

Let's say N persons want some product (a book, movie, record, software whatever).

Let's also say that, if piracy was not an option at all:

Nb is the subset of those N that would have bought it for the asking price.

Nf is the subset of those N that would only get it if it was free.

Well, people in the Nb group (= lost profits) pirate too. All the time.

It boggles the mind why someone would not admit to that.

I know tons of people that used to buy CDs and DVDs, and now just download of off torrents. I know I do too sometimes, whereas in the old days I would have just forked and bought the CD.

People have gone from, like, 30 CDs a year, to 200 torrent albums a year.

Would they have bought 200 albums in the old days? No, but they would have bought 30. Those 30 are lost profits to someone.

Same for books, especially guide books and such.
+"Faraday Defcon" """Any by the way, anyone I know who has downloaded an O'Reilly book (and not paid for it) has bought the hardcopy, because they WANT it in a book format"""

Why must know very different people. Also, since ebook readers are now getting as convenient and easy to read as the "book format", are we to assume your friends would not buy those books anymore (since the "they WANT it in book format" thing is now obsolete)?
+Dale Schultz +Tina Martinez that assertion is not ridiculous at all. Just 15 days ago, newly elected spanish government passed a SOPA-like law (known as "Ley Sinde"), allegedly because of the US government influence and threats. This law has been, and still is, largely contested by lots of spaniards in the Internet and even in the streets (it is one of the seeds of the huge demonstrations on May 2011). And, as I said above, these pressures from the US government are based, at least partially, in fake studies paid by the spanish powerful IP lobby.

Our version of SOPA (Ley Sinde), gives the government the power to shut websites down and even filter DNS without the intervention of a court, what is seen as an attack to both the free speech and the separation of powers. It's ironic that the US government has imposed us a SOPA like law, before probably dismissing their own law.
I love how the "We the People" image seems as if it is a comment coming out of the +1 tool.
+Luis Roca, the only real stat I could see from the SPINYC campaign was that the number of visits to "rogue sites" has increased. But the only source for those figures is "Markmonitor", which is a company that specializes in "brand protection", and there doesn't seem to be any information on what a "rogue website" is, how they arrive at these numbers.

Worse still, the numbers do the same thing that caused the Government Accountability Office to flag a lot of existing "research" as illegitimate: it combined sites offering counterfeit versions of physical goods and pirate sites. Those aren't the same thing; if you're complaining about data piracy, you should only be looking at the latter group, not the former.
+Luis Roca, As for the OECD report, that's only an executive summary, so there's almost no sourcing, but it also makes the mistake of lumping together counterfeiting and data piracy. Many of the harms they mention—like the health effects of counterfeit medications and the like—have nothing to do with data piracy at all.

Others are a lot more difficult to measure, as has been made clear. You don't know whether the people who pirated a work ended up buying more works from other creators, more works from the same creator later, or other goods in the economy. One study, and one later than the OECD one, said that pirates are actually ten times more likely to buy music than others:

Another, commissioned by Canada's Department of Industry, said much the same thing:, though it concluded that it's probably a wash, and that while pirates are more likely to buy, piracy doesn't really affect sales much one way or the other.

You can't just focus on the people who listen to your music for free. You have to think about all the people who aren't listening to your music at all. The ones who don't even know you exist. You have to ask yourself which one is the REAL problem.
+Luis Roca your comment suggests to me that there are not creative professionals against SOPA. That is obviously not so. SOPA does not protect creative professionals, not even cultural industry, but IP industry. IP industry does not make profit with contents creation, but with keeping control of this creation and enforcing IP protection. Because of this, historically, this IP industry has been, and will always be, against progress.

I think that if someone wants to protect creative professionals, he may support IP, but not the current IP industry.
To add to the chorus, I found this report on file sharing's impact on the music industry.

It seems plausible that the content industry's problems is in part a mix of larger trends in the environment, and self-inflicted wounds by the industry in the pursuit of near term profiles, rather than anything to do with piracy.

"We find that file sharing has no statistically significant effect on purchases of the average album in our sample. ... While a full explanation for the recent decline in record
sales are beyond the scope of this analysis, several plausible candidates exist. These
alternative factors include poor macroeconomic conditions, a reduction in the number of
album releases, growing competition from other forms of entertainment such as video
games and DVDs (video game graphics have improved and the price of DVD players or
movies have sharply fallen), a reduction in music variety stemming from the large
consolidation in radio along with the rise of independent promoter fees to gain airplay,
and possibly a consumer backlash against record industry tactics."
The way I see it, as long as there is not a drastic fall in the amount of film, books and music produced, there is no problem in society for the lawmakers to try and fix.
+michael delaney WTF are you talking about? Scientific theory has nothing to do with this discussion.

But BTW, in science the word "theory" doesn't mean what you are implying it does. Scientists reserve the word "theory" for verifiable principles. It is only in coloquial language that "theory" implies a "guess." For example, the "theory" of evolution is a SCIENTIFIC theory--a verifiable principle. The "theory" of "Intelligent Design" is a theory in the coloquial sense, because there is no scientifically verifiable data behind it--it's a guess. So yes, scientists try to persuade you that scientific theories are facts--because they ARE.

Now take your idiocy elsewhere.
+Nickos Venturas But this is all shot in the foot by the fact that statistically, the more music a person pirates, the more money s/he has been shown to spend on music. Even the 30 albums aren't losses. People may not buy CDs anymore, but they do buy music. Even pirates.
this is a very good read. i have a lot of respect and agreement for what is written here, particularly with regards to "the new frontier" and being from a very developed Asian country - Singapore. Not so true a mere two to three decades ago. Piracy here back then was rampant as was our progress. These days, it's not - but we've grown precisely as how O'Reilly writes about a society maturing. I even wrote a short opinion piece of this back in 2004. Outdated and full of grammatical errors, but still true to my core beliefs.
"Most of the people who are downloading unauthorized copies of O'Reilly books would never have paid us for them anyway"

This is absolutely true and so often forgotten in these discussions. Energy is merely wasted in going after such people.
It is fascinating how America sees itself as a "free country" yet it gives so much of it's basic human rights to large corporations... In EU this would NEVER go (except maybe UK but they are "special")...
+Marcin Ciszewicz +José Antonio Martín Prieto

"I cannot understand why any government would propose a regulation that is so wildly unpopular within the society. A law like this would be widely contested, ignored, and broken at the very first opportunity - in fact, laws work only because people believe in their worth, and find them compatible with their own viewpoints. Basic legal sociology tells us, that laws diverging from the intuitive sense of right and wrong within the society are not followed - instead, their existence contributes to the decay of the entire legal system, causing members of the society to abandon their previous respect for law, as well as to the loss of government's legitimacy within the society."

I live in Barcelona, and upon passage of the Ley Sinde (Spain's new SOPA law that the US bullied in a manual of disobedience immediately appeared:

Here's my translation of what that page says for those who don't speak Spanish:

"This manual aims to demonstrate the root ineffectiveness of the Ley Sinde from a practical standpoint. It provides users and webmasters with the most useful methods for circumventing the barriers of government censorship. The so-called Ley Sinde has sparked opposition from various citizen collectives as much for the way it was promoted, bypassing the will of the people; as for the fact that it fails to meet the objectives it claims to pursue, the supposed protection of creators; as for the external pressures of the industries that have compelled its passage in the end. The opposition to the new legislation has been so emphatic and widespread that we can unreservedly state that this law is neither representative of the general will nor directed to the common good. […] has created this manual so that the first website to be closed will become the most popular of the blogosphere—so that its content, far from disappearing, floods the Internet. For while they create censorship commissions, we "rip," subtitle, translate and share. It is a natural act that grows from our collective actions.
"Because culture wants to be free and will be.""
Late last year the IIPA (International Intellectual Property Alliance) released the first report since the 2008/09 recession on the effects the copyright sector has on the U.S. economy but omits any mention of loss of income due to piracy. Something it has done it the past, in 2008 the estimated loss due to piracy was $2bln per year.

In the report the US income from software revenues is about $100bln and music & movies $20bln from foreign sales. After expenditure SOPA would need to raise about $2bln to make it viable. Just as the software industry has protected their ideas, the music and movie industry need to reinvent itself. Would you be prepared to make laws to force the music and movie industry to think differently about their distribution mechanism ?

Do you think that the tax payer should pay for protecting the music and movies industry if they do not come up with ideas to protect themselves? And if yes, how much funds should the police get ?
Alas, a voice of reason! Our government likes to frame the problem in a way that makes them look like heroes for solving it, especially in an election year. Heck, they often create the problem and then try to fix it. That's not what we need. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Tim.
Well, Pjay, Its true that Darwinian Theory and evolutionary theory have lasted a long time. The Theory that the world is flat didn't last that long. The Theory that the sun revolves around earth didn' make it either.
We consider "time" to be fact but it is JUST a human invention.
Sharing is good, can we quit calling it "piracy"? I've read that commercial copyright violation has been called piracy for a long time, often by people who believe in censorship. We are used to that but it's not at all like murder on the high seas. Much of what gets called piracy today is trivial stuff we all took for granted not long ago, like making a copy of an article to share with a friend or making a mixed tape of songs even, shiver me timbers, making a VCR copy of a movie. People who are passionate about these things often create libraries to enjoy with their friends. That kind of sharing enriches all of us and should be encouraged.
Those of you that are concerned, I hope we'll see you at the NY Tech Emergency Meetup on Wednesday outside the offices of New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand
This is not far from saying that the IP laws itself are dysfunctional/obsolete and should be ignored.
IP laws are dysfunctional, they are obsolete, and they should be ignored in every case but the most obvious of intellectual property. Certainly nothing which could be classified as little more than issues of aesthetics. Even then, technology especially should be protected for months, not years. If Apple hasn't gotten it's money back on its "innovation" in the first 48 to 64 months after release, they aren't going to.
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