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316  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: Megaupload seized / shut down on: February 09, 2012, 06:33:46 PM
I think "dishonest" is the wrong word. Precisely because there are so many mitigating factors, regression analysis seems to me to be the only legit way to isolate the variables here.

Regardless I think it becomes more and more difficult to hold the viewpoint that "piracy doesn't affect sales". I doubt very strongly it is the ONLY reason sales are down, but I am finding it increasingly difficult to believe it plays NO factor.
317  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: Megaupload seized / shut down on: February 09, 2012, 01:59:32 PM
Funny timing this - was sent a really excellent NY Times op ed piece that also contains a link to a University of Texas study on piracy effects. This isn't the be all, end all of such research but the evidence is certainly not pretty for the pro-piracy side.

The NYT piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/opinion/sunday/perpetual-war-digital-pirates-and-creators.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

The research paper: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1932518&download=yes

The author of the paper is a professor of economics at the University of Texas and has done a number of research papers on this topic over the years. Again, not the be all end all, but the case is pretty compelling.
318  The Rest / General Discussions / Thanks Eric! on: February 08, 2012, 02:35:54 PM

As you guys may have seen, our illustrious Editor in Chief of many years has officially stepped aside today. I just wanted to personally thank Eric for all the years I enjoyed as a reader and the time I've enjoyed so far as an Editor. We've got a fantastic new EiC with John stepping in and there are definitely great times to come, but anyone who has enjoyed the site for these past several years should be appreciative of Eric's efforts.

Thanks for everything Eric!
319  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Kingdoms of Amalur on: February 02, 2012, 12:22:58 AM
If you have a moral objection to the way this game is being offered, then don't buy it. Talk with your dollars. I have no problem with that.

But I expect the same respect for anybody who chooses to buy it.
320  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Kingdoms of Amalur on: January 31, 2012, 08:33:23 PM
If you "just won't believe it" you've effectively killed any point in continuing to try to appeal to reason.
321  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Kingdoms of Amalur on: January 31, 2012, 02:55:49 PM
Money talks. If enough people don't buy it, it won't happen again.

I for one will be buying it.
322  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Kingdoms of Amalur on: January 30, 2012, 12:32:38 PM

That's a slippery slope argument, and it's the same as saying legalizing gay marriage will some day lead to the legalization of human-animal marriage.

That's an absolutely terrible analogy. One has nothing to do with the other.

.... which is the definition of a slippery slope argument, yes.
323  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: Megaupload seized / shut down on: January 24, 2012, 04:59:46 PM
People have sent me some really interesting links on the whole debate, I thought I'd share a couple with you guys.

Here is one from a small time horror publisher whose work got pirated. He typically makes 35k a year as a small time publisher: http://www.briankeene.com/?p=10258

Here is also a very short article with lots of good links having to do with Jonathan Coulton's stance on the issue - you can firmly put him on the side of the Neil Gaiman camp: http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2012/01/just_because_jonathan_coultons.php

What I've heard here really speaks to the fact that I think the biggest thing needed is independent research on the true effects of piracy on these industries. All we seem to be able to debate are various anecdotes, and that's no way to have a rational discussion.

I also wanted to say this whole thread really made me appreciate how rational the RPGFan community CAN be. This is a hot button issue that usually leads to a lot of name calling, but I think for the most part people handled it with a real interest in sharing ideas and opinions. So thanks. :-)
324  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: Megaupload seized / shut down on: January 23, 2012, 04:10:22 PM
Not to be anal, but if you want to call it what it is, the term is pirating. The term has a rather different meaning than stealing.
Stealing implies robbing something leaving none to who had it, while pirating means creating a perfect duplicate.

If we're going to argue connotation, we're probably going to go in circles, but I see the distinction you're making.

If we're going with dictionary definition, software/music/tv/whatever piracy is stealing. But again I see your point and it is a fair one.

If nothing else, my biggest point in all this continues to be that if you're going to do this, you have to be honest about it and admit you are taking something that is being made available at a cost for nothing. It may be a cost you are not willing to pay or that you disagree with due to a number of philosophical or business issues, but you're still taking something available for a price without paying that price. That is what I mean by stealing.
325  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: Megaupload seized / shut down on: January 23, 2012, 03:24:02 PM
I think you're doing it right. The people at the tops of these industries are dinosaurs who need to make access to their content easier. Otherwise, it's just going to get stolen. I have a Hulu+ account and a Netflix account. If I can't find what I'm looking for, I'm going the free way.

I don't agree - even if you believe it should be available free, if it actually isn't, you're stealing it. Folks have made some legitimate and sound philosophical stances here on WHY things should work differently in these industries, but until they do the free way is stealing. Again, we may eventually find out with more evidence and research that in fact nobody is actually getting hurt, but let's call it what it is.
326  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: Megaupload seized / shut down on: January 23, 2012, 12:59:32 PM
This is how the record industry works (if you want, I will dig up my essay for the sources):

If you're signed to a major label, this is what your financial situation looks like. The average advance is $125,000. This is to cover the expenses of recording and touring. Promoting a single nationally costs $1,000,000 on average. This is all money you have to pay back. Until the record company recoups these expenses, you do not make any money from your albums, your concerts, or your merchandise. Virtually all contracts for a new act require that you sign your stage name and any music you will record over to the record company.

I don't have the sources on hand (they're in an essay I wrote on my laptop), but the break even point for this is 250,000 copies. Some estimates put this number as high as 500,000 copies. 95% of artists fail to achieve this level of sales, and will sell anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 copies of their album. The most common scenario is that the record company releases them from their contract, but retain the rights to their music. This means you are not allowed to perform the songs you wrote under the name everybody recognizes. As a bonus, you owe the record company whatever you fell short of paying back, $10,000 on average.

So let's talk about the 5% who do make it. Think people like Madonna, Eminem, or Michale Jackson. How much do you think they get from a single CD sale? If you guessed .15 on average, you would be correct. Remember back when a CD was the most common way to listen to music? Remember how much we payed for them? $18 fucking dollars. Now, most people who buy music are doing so with an online site for .99 a track (keep in mind though, 85% of all downloads are illegal). The artists are making fractions of a penny from these sites. What's worse, because music is still promoted the same way it has been since the 1920s (see: a single on the radio), people are now are forgoing the album experience for the songs they recognize, netting the artist even less money.

The independent music industry fares much better. There are no advances here, typically. Both the artist and the company assume the risk. They split the costs of recording (much cheaper, anywhere from five to ten thousand), but the artist needs to support their own tour. Advertising is usually done by word of mouth, and records are sold at barely above cost. College radio plays (or played) a pretty big role in getting them exposure. That's the trick here, really. Without any sort of apparatus to broadcast your name nationally, getting your name out there is the hard part.

However, it happens. A band like Sebadoh was able to sell 10,000 copies of one of their albums in the early 90s without the advertising power of Sony or whomever. And they made more money than people who sold 200,000 copies of their album.

With the internet, it happens far more easily. There are two important technological developments in the last ten years. First, the cost of recording has come down significantly. I can make a demo on my iPad with Garage band ($5 app) for example. The second is social media. People are recording and listening to music at a rate that has never been possible. The internet is basically functioning the way word of mouth used to, except it's gone national.

Regardless of the size of the label you're signed to, the majority of the money you will make comes from touring. How do you get people to show up for your shows? Getting your music out there. The primary difference between the two is that being signed to a major label has an incredible amount of overhead, which is why album sales matter more here. However, for independent acts, which comprise the majority or artists out there, their overhead is low enough that piracy does not lose them all that much money, which is why they're usually happy to give it away for free if that translates into a bigger audience.

In short, piracy, at least in regards to the music industry, is an invented problem. The big players are upset because their predatory business practices are becoming less and less profitable as fewer musicians need to rely on them to provide a support structure. The best thing that could possibly happen is for Sony and the other big three record companies to implode so the model of the independent artists can become the dominant paradigm.

Note: if you need clarification on something, just ask. This is long and I typed it in a hurry.

Really useful stuff - thanks for posting. And yeah, it's clearly a bleak situation for most artists with a major labor.

And again, I don't think we're in disagreement on the "tough shit" argument for labels losing money. However I still think that if you want to give something away for free that has to be your choice. Otherwise it is stealing.

That's a real short reply to a post that deserves better, but frankly I agree with the rest of it. I think that internet distribution or distributing music for free is not only a viable strategy, but probably one that will eventually be (if it already isn't) more profitable. But I still maintain that the choice to give something away is the right of property holder. If independent acts want to give their stuff away for free and are making good money that way as you claim here, then that is awesome. But that's still THEIR decision to do that.
327  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: Megaupload seized / shut down on: January 23, 2012, 12:54:22 PM
Yeager, I don't defend Megaupload for that, the whole point of contention about this debate is the government being tremendous asshats.

Oh yeah - totally didn't think you did. Sorry if it came off that way. I think we're in total agreement on the Fed's execution here.
328  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: Megaupload seized / shut down on: January 23, 2012, 12:46:27 PM
One thing I find most interesting about the Megaupload case is on the one hand, we hate that publishers, who don't actually create the work being consumed, end up getting most of the money from artists. But then on the other hand you have sites like Megaupload that ALSO make crazy amounts of money off of those same artists but get no compensation whatsoever. The part where it is not okay for publishers to gyp artists by giving them only a tiny fraction of the revenue generated by their work but it IS okay for pirates to make money off of those same artists without even TOKEN compensation... it just makes absolutely no sense to me.
329  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: Megaupload seized / shut down on: January 23, 2012, 12:16:46 PM
Yeah, very shady.
330  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: Megaupload seized / shut down on: January 23, 2012, 12:00:10 PM
Great points on all counts. I agree across the board. As much as I don't care what happens to Kim Dotcom and others at Megaupload, it is damn near impossible to defend the way it has been executed and the timing of course is particularly suspicious.

I also think that the loaf of bread analogy is clearly imperfect, especially given the physical nature of a loaf of bread (hence why I went with a loaf that was going to end up in the garbage regardless - but yeah, imperfect). I also totally agree that the whole "lost sale" theory as presented by publishers is nothing but fallacy.

Again, the only point I'm making here is simply that as much as I don't think publishers have proven their argument that they are being victimized by piracy, I remain equally unconvinced that taking something for free that is not being offered for free has no consequences whatsoever. Perhaps it doesn't. It may be that I will be completely proven wrong at some point, and it sounds like there are some folks right here at RPGFan that think I am wrong about it. But just as I believe it is on the publishers to prove they are actually losing money, I believe it is also on the pirate community to prove nobody is being victimized before engaging in it. That's just my personal opinion.

There is clearly money to be made in piracy - that much we can agree on, correct? Why if there is no intrinsic actual value to what is being pirated? The publisher argument doesn't add up to me even for a second, but neither does the piracy argument.
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