Sunday, February 22, 2009

A contemplation on the use of the term "piracy" [Piracy #101]

The RIAA/MPAA cartel have been fond of using the term "piracy" as a synonym for "copyright infringement".

This is pure propaganda intended to distort and confuse the public.

Historically, the term "piracy" was used by copyright lawyers to describe a sub-species of copyright infringement: the large scale reproduction of exact copies for commercial purposes.

As you know, not a one of the 40,000 or so cases brought by the RIAA against individuals involved "piracy".

In the modern 21st century, we have actual piracy going on in certain parts of the world, where people's lives are threatened for money and they are held captive unless a ransom is paid.

Does the behavior of those real life pirates sound like that of the defendants in the RIAA cases, or more like that of the plaintiffs?

Just a thought.


Keywords: lawyer digital copyright law online internet law legal download upload peer to peer p2p file sharing filesharing music movies indie independent label freeculture creative commons pop/rock artists riaa independent mp3 cd favorite songs intellectual property portable music player


derivative said...

I think they started using the term "pirate" a few years back when "bootlegger" didn't work any more (people started realizing that Seagram's actually got their start by REAL bootlegging).

Now we just have to likewise prove that some of the current big 4's ancestors got their start via piracy, and they will settle on some other, equally objectionable term for people who download music.

Since I don't personally download music, I'm not the right guy to come up with the catchy counter-phrase.

Perhaps one of your other readers can come up with a term which is plausibly loaded in the opposite direction, for "people who don't necessarily think the RIAA deserves money every single time a music file is shared."

raybeckerman said...

I don't have to come up with a word. There is a word for what they are suing for. It's "copyright infringement".

KRGuidry said...

I'm sure it's been written about many times before and afterwards but I like how Tarleton Gillespie discusses this in chapter 4 ("A heroic tale of devlish piracy and glorious progress, by Jack Valenti") in "Wired Shut." It's a good read if you haven't already thumbed through it.

Anonymous said...

"Certain parts of the world"???

Like Canal Street and countless corners in Midtown Manhattan?

The USA - at the instigation of the RIAA and MPAA - is beating up on other countries and 40,000 of its own citizens when it can't get its own house in order.

Mark Hollis said...


OK, it's not September 19th.

I would say that the terms used by the RIAA are definitely stifling art. On my blog, I'm linking to yours with my comment about an artist who would like to produce a DVD of her work but has this understanding that recording artists will demand millions for licensing fees!

Instead, it's the RIAA demanding millions in punitive damages from people who have not done anything wrong that is creating that impression.

Anonymous said...

The RIAA uses the term "piracy" incorrectly, but the usage of the term "extortion" seems spot on for what the RIAA does.

The RIAA will disappear eventually, whether they do so quietly and in a dignified manner, or in a drawn-out legal bloodbath, is ultimately up to them.