Music Industry to Google: What is Unlawful Activity?

According to Politico’s Morning Tech blog, The RIAA, SoundExchange, BMI, The Recording Academy and nine other music groups have sent a letter to Eric Schmidt (Google’s CEO) asking for more clarification on what it considers "lawful and unlawful activity on the Web." The question relates to Google and Verizon’s proposals to the government on Net Neutrality which was released last week.

In a letter sent to Google yesterday, the groups asked for a more in-depth definition of activity, especially as it relates to "content rights." Here’s an excerpt:

"As you well know, music is a powerful driver of broadband adoption and related applications," the letter says. "So, too, the Internet has become a crucial part of the music discovery process and a central platform for commerce…Our ability to invest in and create the next generation of music is grounded on crafting Internet policies and procedures that respect intellectual property."

The groups say that a "strong distinction between legal and illegal online activity is crucial to protecting content rights" and that it believes that "it is vital that any Internet policy initiative permit and encourage ISPs and other intermediaries to take measures to deter unlawful activity such as copyright infringement and child pornography."


You can read the whole thing here. It is interesting – but not surprising – that the music industry puts copyright infringement on the same level as child pornography.

Source: Morning Tech

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  1. 0
    Neeneko says:

    That argument does not make much sense for searcing for music since the music itself is not illegal.

    Now, the argument could be make for kiddy porn.. since it is the only case I can think of where images of a crime being commited are themselves a crime, where as images of, say, drugs murdering cop killing rape etc are not illegal.

    Ah, but judges have that wonderful ‘complelling interest’ exemption that allows them to cancel out any part of the consitution they feel like.

  2. 0
    Chris Kimberley says:

    Overcast, maybe I’m missing something here, but searching for/listening to/downloading music and the contents of music in general have nothing to do with one another.  You’re comparing apples to aardvarks.  So no, it’s not the exact same thing.

    If you want to make that argument you need to compare the filesharing service (or search engine or whatever) to gun manufacturers.  They provide the means to do something illegal (pirate whatever or shoot someone).  But they’re not at fault for what you do with their product.


    Chris Kimberley

  3. 0
    Overcast says:

    I think it’s time for the music industry to ANSWER THIS SAME QUESTION.

    If it’s so illegal to search for music on google..


    What about songs dealing with: Drugs, Murder, Cop Killing, Rape, Drive-Bys, etc.

    Isn’t is the EXACT SAME THING?

    Google, the internet, digital music are as responsible for copyright infringment as the music industry is responsible for crimes that happen due to influence from their songs.

  4. 0
    Neeneko says:

    I am not even convinced that piracy is actually a ‘problem’.  I agree that it occurs, but the ‘problem’ part always feels a bit manufactured to me.  Legal history is full of people trying to get new powers based on blowing something minor up into a huge issue.

  5. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Well, Radiohead decided to do that with thier own content.  I was about to say ‘and no one is saying they should not be able to do that’ but then I recalled that the RIAA, SoundExchange, and other groups are actually against that too….

  6. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Well, beyond the deliberate association, having an example helps get around the argument that they are asking for unique and unprecedented capabilities that does not apply to any other content or speech.

  7. 0
    Chaplain99 says:

    Yeah, but Radiohead also tours, has merchandise, and sells other albums.  They are a group that can AFFORD to do something like sell their album for nothing.  

    "HEY! LISTEN!"

  8. 0
    hellfire7885 says:

    That’s a broad brush, especially to groups like Radihead who began releasign their music for free and allowed people to more or less donate,

  9. 0
    Chaplain99 says:

    Don’t take this the wrong way, but who says artists don’t blame the record companies?  Today, there are a great deal more indie record labels than there were decades ago, in no small part due to the inefficiencies of major labels like EMI and Time Warner.  The thing is, not EVERY act the four major labels (and their subsidiaries) pick up are big-name acts; not every record is a multi-million-dollar investment.  The amount of money lost – that 90% "failure" rate – isn’t necessarily a gaping-wound-turned-deathblow to the industry, it’s merely a statistic.  The artists that DO recoup their costs do so TREMENDOUSLY, supporting the record company as a whole.  Also, record companies make deals with ticket sellers, venues, other multimedia groups, and record studios to increase revenue from other sources, so it’s not like they’re banking on RIAA lawsuits to foot the bill every time.

    But I’m sure you didn’t think that to begin with.  ^^

    To artists – more accurately, to artists like myself – the act of piracy is more of a breach of an unspoken honor code: you (not you personally!) basically said my countless hours in the studio and days spent on field recordings weren’t worth paying for, but you (still impersonal you!) still want the final product anyway.  That’s not fair and frankly, it’s insulting.

    "HEY! LISTEN!"

  10. 0
    Rodrigo Ybáñez García says:

    Again, I’m not saying copyright infringement is as bad as child pornography, but it’s still wrong.

    Still, there have to be levels of wrong. It´s like saying that shoplifting and murdering are on the same level and need to be prosecuted the same way.

    CP should be above of copyright, but of course, copyright gets priority because it´s their money that they are not receiving what is in stake here. CP is just a colateral in this equation.

    ———————————————————— My DeviantArt Page (aka DeviantCensorship):

  11. 0
    Neeneko says:

    They might have to list them together, since there are not that many examples of banned material.  In fact, child porn (or obsenity in general) is the only one I can think of.

  12. 0
    omikron48 says:

    "Add to that the fact that something around 90% of the albums a record company puts out fail to recoup their total costs (much less make a profit), and you’ve got a pretty terrible business model"

    That’s like saying, "If you shoot yourself in the foot and it gets infected, it’s the infection’s fault things are so bad and not the fact that you have a gaping wound."

    When you have to recoup revenue from other sources to cover your loses in another, you have to stop and rethink what you’re doing wrong. IMO, artists should blame the record company first, THEN the pirates.

  13. 0
    Thad says:

    "I didn’t read it as the RIAA putting child pornography and copyright infringement on the same level."

    Of course they are; they mention the two things in the same sentence, back-to-back.

    "They were merely listing things that are deemed illegal."

    It’s not a list.  It’s exactly two things.  One of which happens to be possibly the single most vile crime there is, and the other of which happens to be their own personal object of derision.

    It’s an extremely common, and extremely lazy, rhetorical tactic, and in fact it’s been used in pretty much every debate over Internet censorship ever: we’re trying to fight child pornography; therefore anyone who disagrees with us must be pro-child pornography.

  14. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Well is it so hard to follow those basic rules? And file share,ect is not necessarily illegal at the end of the day its up to the court to decide but many TOS put in a cvaey that basically says no questionable IP/CP on rights grounds . So at the need of the day there is nothing much that can be done other than sue whoever is violating your copy rights,or hire them to work for you.. and get the hits/advertisements/money that all that content ect is getting.

    I have a dream, break the chains of copy right oppression!

  15. 0
    Rodrigo Ybáñez García says:

    I think the same. Piracy is a problem, but corporations and politicians tend to make the problem bigger that it really is. How is piracy a problem when sales are keep rising with the pass of the years?

    Downsales are caused mainly when the product is simple bad or unpopular or when economy is just not on its better moment, so people can´t afford entertainment as much as they want.

    Justin Beiber will not die (artistically) by piracy. His career will be put to an end by his own fans who won´t care for him anymore, or because Disney just pulled out another idiot on his place.


    ———————————————————— My DeviantArt Page (aka DeviantCensorship):

  16. 0
    prh99 says:

    Wow, there really is no depths to which these scum won’t sink. I wish piracy really was destroying them(greed middlemen) and not just a lie they tell politicians to get more protectionist policies in the face of progress.

  17. 0
    Chaplain99 says:

    Whoa there.  I don’t mean to make light of child pornography as an issue when I say this, but I didn’t read it as the RIAA putting child pornography and copyright infringement on the same level.  They were merely listing things that are deemed illegal.

    I don’t think I need to do this, but I will anyway: copyright infringement in the music industry is downright crippling.  I’m not sure of the *exact* statistics, but I know that most of us artists make very little off of record sales, both online and offline.  Add to that the fact that something around 90% of the albums a record company puts out fail to recoup their total costs (much less make a profit), and you’ve got a pretty terrible business model where the artist almost ALWAYS loses regardless of how hard they work or who they know in the A&R department.

    Now add piracy to the mix.

    Not only are artists NOT making anything, but the RECORD COMPANIES aren’t making anything either!  This robs artists of any financial incentive for putting out records and it removes the financial backing of a record company.

    Again, I’m not saying copyright infringement is as bad as child pornography, but it’s still wrong.

    -steps off his soapbox-

    "HEY! LISTEN!"

  18. 0
    Kajex says:

    To be fair, child porn and other sick stuff on torrent sites and P2P programs are pretty sizable problems.

    But that’s not what this is about.

    Bringing it up at all is a retarded attempt to create a tenuous connection between the two in an effort to be taken seriously. It’s like the government telling you that smoking pot causes terrorism- using guilt and scaremongering in a way that they feel "could" deter people from it, while ultimately doing jack shit as a solution, and providing an unreasonable basis for making a law against it without addressing the issue that’s really bothering them.

  19. 0
    DorkmasterFlek says:

    Really guys?  You putting downloading music and movies on Bittorrent on the same level as child pornography?  Really?  See, shit like that is why the general public doesn’t take you seriously.  It’s just laughible on its face.

  20. 0
    axiomatic says:

    Now that corporations can contribute as much as they want to a politician the corporations pretty much ARE the law setters.

    I am just as appaled as you are.

  21. 0
    Shahab says:

    Why the hell are these companies acting like THEY are the ones who get to set law in this country? Why are the house and senate ok with this usurption, even going so far as to tell the FCC to stay the hell out of it while their corporate paymasters tell us all what the law will be. It makes me sick.

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