Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Music Media Government The Courts News

Suing Your Customers: Winning Business Strategy? 395

Posted by michael
from the history-lesson dept.
Cobarde Anonimo writes "The Knowledge at Wharton has an interesting text about the RIAA strategy of suing its customers. As Wharton legal studies professor G. Richard Shell writes below, this same tactic was tried 100 years ago against Henry Ford. It didn't work then, and it won't work today."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Suing Your Customers: Winning Business Strategy?

Comments Filter:
  • A study?!? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by L-s-L69 (700599) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @11:33AM (#7172700)
    They needed a study to tell them sueing your customers is a bad idea!? Wow, you piss them off, they dont come back. Basic rule of selling things must be dont piss the customer off.

    Glad I got that off my chest.

    • Re:A study?!? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Rick.C (626083)
      They needed a study to tell them sueing your customers is a bad idea!?

      That's modern science at work, my friend - it may be as obvious as the nose on your face, but it ain't official until you pay for a "study".

    • But they don't see it as sueing customers - they see it as sueing thiefs.

      In *their* opinion if yer downloading/sharing music then you are a dirty thief. They would equate it with not sueing a shoplifter coz he might come into your store some day and buy something...

      • Except there are over 60 million people who use file-sharing. The RIAA is basically pissing off 60 million people in the United States, which is roughly a 1/5 of the population. (I'd imagine that's about 90% of the PC user population.) This doesn't fair well for a democracy that doesn't respect the unjust laws that the RIAA is trying to enforce.
      • But they don't see it as sueing customers - they see it as sueing thiefs.

        Ah, but you are making the all-to-common error of forgetting that to date the RIAA is only sueing uploaders. The massive filesharers may very well have legally purchased a large portion of their collection. Remember, every mp3 on Kazaa came from a purchased CD in the first place.

        It is ironic that the music "theives," those who only download music they don't own and don't share, are currently under no threat.

    • Sure, except, that's not the basic rule when you're a monopoly.
  • by SirSlud (67381) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @11:35AM (#7172732) Homepage
    The lawyer profession is still alive and well, isn't it? ;)
    • That's because they sue *other* lawyer's customers.
    • The lawyer profession is still alive and well, isn't it? ;)
      Well... sort of. Once the lawyers that work for RIAA have stopped working for them, they'll probably find it harder to get work. Would you want to employ a lawyer that sued a 12 year-old [siliconvalley.com] for downloading music?
      • by palutke (58340) * on Thursday October 09, 2003 @12:10PM (#7173233)
        Would you want to employ a lawyer that sued a 12 year-old for downloading music?

        Absolutely.

        If I'm in a situation where I have no choice but to retain counsel, I sure as hell want an attorney who is going to win on my behalf, not fight fair. Once a matter ends up in the courts, the gloves are off.
        • by Jerf (17166) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @01:36PM (#7174325) Journal
          You know, we all blame the lawyers but it's this:
          If I'm in a situation where I have no choice but to retain counsel, I sure as hell want an attorney who is going to win on my behalf, not fight fair. Once a matter ends up in the courts, the gloves are off.
          that's the real problem.

          If this attitude wasn't pervasive ("win at all costs!"), we wouldn't have scummy lawyers. The scummy lawyers are just providing the services we want.

          There are some things more important then "winning". In fact, there's a lot of things more important then winning.
      • Of course I would. Which would you rather have, a lawyer who sued who you told her to sue, or a lawyer who used her own judgement on who was worth sueing. You want a lawyer who follows orders. In fact, I'd rather have a lawyer who won a case against a 12-year-old than one who lost it because that's probably a damn good lawyer.

  • One big difference (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tebriel (192168) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @11:35AM (#7172734)
    The judge wasn't constrained by laws such as the DMCA and other nonsense that favors business over innovation. The same scenario today would probably have swung against Ford, despite public support.
    • by Col. Klink (retired) (11632) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @11:57AM (#7173077)
      Did you RTFA? The association DID have patent law on their side.

      However, the whoile point of article was that suing the entire population will not win you any favors in Congress. Already there are rumblings about turning back some of the DMCA as a direct result of the outrage of RIAA's subpoena-a-thon. If the RIAA makes themselves less popular than telemarketers, no amount of money will be able to keep laws like the DMCA on the books.

      Not that we should be telling them this. I see the RIAA's actions the best chance we have to get the DMCA rolled back and I would encourage them to sue more 12 year old girls.
      • Yes, I read the article. The patent applied to a specific type of combustion engine, not the one Ford was using.

        Thank you, please drive through.
        • From the article

          It was called the Selden Patent and it gave its owners the exclusive right to sell a very basic invention: self-propelled vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. Many people in the car business thought this patent was an outrage...

          So no it wasn't a patent on a specific type of engine. The patent was granted on engine driven vehicles in general. It took eight years and an appeal before the court ruling restricted the scope of the patent to one specific engine.

    • by po8 (187055)

      Other big differences:

      • People rallied to Ford's side against the bullies. Editorials weighed in against the industry's heavy-handed lawsuits.

        Today, people rally around what the TV tells them to rally around. And all the TV stations and newspapers are owned by the same people who own the music companies. If the automakers had owned all the newspapers, the outcome might have been very different.

      • For Ford, it was either exit the industry or fight the Selden Patent in court. The litigation lasted from

  • by nizo (81281) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @11:35AM (#7172752) Homepage Journal
    ....about the RIAA strategy of suing its customers....

    I think this is more commonly known as an "exit strategy" in the business world.

  • by chia_monkey (593501) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @11:35AM (#7172753) Journal
    They best thing about the RIAA's strategy is that their heavy-handed tactics have brought them to the mainstream press and now has A LOT of people pissed at them. Before, it was just rumbling amongst the geeks and a few other industry players. But suing 12-year olds, suing thousands of people, going after anyone and everyone with reckless abandon, has forced even the most average news-reading Joe to go "man...what a bunch of sleezeballs". Had the RIAA kept this an underground fight and sued more discriminately, they may have succeeded in their scare campaign. Luckily they didn't and now that it's in the mainstream press maybe something will be done to halt their actions.
    • They have pissed people off but they have also educated ma and pa kettle. Too many times parents are ignorant of what the law is and how it applies to the internet world.
    • I have to agree 100%. For years the tech community grumbled to all their friends about the evils of the RIAA. Now the RIAA shot themself in their foot and the outcome is becoming more clear. No politician or people of power will stand with a company whose business model is so bad, so out of touch, that they sue their own customers as a business strategy.

      What is their long term goal? Sue people for the next 20 years to always keep our online downloading in line? Its quite obvious they will either offer a
  • Obvious? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by indros13 (531405) * on Thursday October 09, 2003 @11:36AM (#7172762) Homepage Journal
    Yes. But the professor's quote of Henry Ford sums up why the RIAA is pursuing this strategy anyway:
    lawsuits against new technologies provide "opportunities for little minds ... to usurp the gains of genuine inventors ... and under the smug protest of righteousness, work a hold-up game in the most approved fashion."

  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @11:37AM (#7172771)
    By purchasing our products, you agree to be bound by the terms of this licensing agreement:

    1. Upon clearance of your check by the bank, we will sue you.

    2. You agree to settle out of court for whatever amount we ask.

    3. Failure to follow the terms of this agreement are grounds for lawsuit.

  • Profit lust... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xenoweeno (246136) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @11:37AM (#7172772)
    ...drives corporations and conglomerates to do morally repugnant things like suing its customers in order to achieve the all-important goal of preventing revenues from dropping from previous years'.

    On the other hand, its also the same thing that drives corporations and conglomerates to be penny wise and pound foolish. Dirty money from suing children is a source of income that is necessarily limited. It will end. The individuals in the RIAA aren't stupid: they know it will end, too.

    However, the RIAA, the entity itself, will charge ahead anyway.
  • Think again... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by johnwyles (704259)
    It didn't work then, and it won't work today.

    Think again, this is scaring everyone around me into going out and buying CD's or purchasing rights to the music (mp3's) online. I think it is worthwhile for the RIAA to bring on these lawsuits. I only think they were too late in the game that it may not have near the effect it would have had had it been a few years back and with slightly different tactics.
  • Music monopoly (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Izago909 (637084)
    I'm no psychic, but I think I might understand the "logic" behind the suits. Since the RIAA dominates the popular music market, they probably think it's safe to sue some people without losing too many customers. I mean, where else is little Cindy going to go for that latest Brittney Spears record? It's just a shame that more people don't know, or don't care, about small labels and independent artists. I guess some just find it hard to beleive that there are people out there who love making music more than t
    • I mean, where else is little Cindy going to go for that latest Brittney Spears record?

      It's telling that the only people that the RIAA truly and successfully locks into their business model are 12-year-olds, yet they will even sue them, too.

      As an adult, I have come to fully appreciate the value of going without if it means sticking it to someone, if only for the sake of negotiation. Most 12-year-olds haven't learned this, yet, hence N'Sync and Britney Spears. Yes, these bands are products sold to a demo
    • I mean, where else is little Cindy going to go for that latest Brittney Spears record?

      You know, you just made me think of an interesting scenario. Imagine if artists couldn't or wouldn't be tied to a particular label by exclusive contract anymore. Brittany Spears could then release a couple of albums on different labels. Little Cindy would have more choice and so would the artist.

      I know that it's a weird idea and probably has a million holes that can be punched through it, but it's still interesting to t

      • If that happened, there would be fierce competition as each label tries to make THEIR BS album better that the other labels. Fancier cover, more inserts, bonus tracks. And there would probably be a price war, as well.
        In conclusion, it will NEVER happen for the the reasons above. It may benifit the consumers, and quite possible the artist (More sales) but NOT the label who currently has the exclusive contract. Their contract, their choice on whether or not to anull it. They have no reason to, and many
      • I know that it's a weird idea

        Only if you're utterly and completely unfamiliar with such obscure industries as, oh, I don't know, BOOK PUBLISHING springs instantly to mind, for one.

        and probably has a million holes that can be punched through it,

        Only if you could come up with some substantive production and/or marketing discontinuity of process between the artistic product known as "music" and other artistic products, for one example the "books" referred to above.

        What said substantive difference might
  • ...nothing that wasn't discussed at length here :)
  • by gr8_phk (621180) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @11:39AM (#7172808)
    From the article: "But having a strong legal claim on the merits is only one factor in legal strategy success. Indeed, this factor is often the least important one from a business point of view." Does this explain SCO?
  • ...is that the first part of the introduction to the article is exactly the same as the first paragraph of the article itself. I wish I had that editor's job; must beat workin'.
  • by ansak (80421) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @11:40AM (#7172825) Homepage Journal
    Is it bad karma to mention SCO? Can't resist: the whole time I was reading that article I thought "...and SCO vs. IBM ...and SCO vs. IBM ...and SCO vs. IBM." The parallels are obvious.
    • Exactly what I thought. The last paragraph perfectly sums up SCO:

      As Henry Ford once summed it up, lawsuits against new technologies provide "opportunities for little minds ... to usurp the gains of genuine inventors ... and under the smug protest of righteousness, work a hold-up game in the most approved fashion."

      HH
      --
  • by Dynamoo (527749) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @11:41AM (#7172826) Homepage
    Reminds me of the infamous Bob Novak of Pets Warehouse who decided to sue some unhappy customers who moaned about his company in a forum for the tune of $15,000,000.

    A Slashdot favorite, you can read about it here [slashdot.org], here [slashdot.org], here [slashdot.org] and a synopsis here [petsforum.com] and another one here [dynamoo.com].

    Basically, suing the customers backfired horribly and Mr Novak ended up being countersued and lost. A cautionary tale!

  • > No legal rule is strong enough to overcome a radical technical innovation.
    This one sentense sums up the the fate of the RIAA crusade. Digitalization of property is a reality and has made their business model outdated. No litigation can stop the wave of changes occuring also. People would never stop sharing things they possess, ever. RIAA can either adapt themselves to this (like news paper industry) or get perished (like whip manufacturers). I wish RIAA understand what Victor Heugo had said long back ,
    • Failure to evolve (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ronmon (95471)
      Being born in 1957, I watched the industry switch from vinyl (45's, 33's and 78's), to reel-to-reel, to eight-tracks (argghh), to cassettes, and now CD's and DVD's. They resisted every one of these changes to varying degrees. But they all happened anyway. 'Why?', you ask. Well, I would say that sound quality, durability and portability got better and even though the price remained relatively stable, you were getting more bang-per-buck.

      So I think that the point of the article is that times and technologies
  • Regardless of agreement or disagreement with the RIAA in general or this particular lawsuit strategy, "suing your customers" is a silly way to put it. If I walked into Wal-Mart and stole a case of Coke, they would not worry about whether or not it was a good idea to "put one of our customers in jail". They would be stopping their loss and taking legal action against an offender. If I happened to be a past or future customer, that's a separate issue.

    RP
    • Regardless of agreement or disagreement with the RIAA in general or this particular lawsuit strategy, "suing your customers" is a silly way to put it. If I walked into Wal-Mart and stole a case of Coke, they would not worry about whether or not it was a good idea to "put one of our customers in jail".

      You're missing the point. It would be more like WalMart getting the right to search your house for stolen cases of Coke (without obtaining a judge's approval first), and suing you if you can't prove that you

    • Sigh (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)
      Why do people have such a problem understanding the difference between copyright infringement and theft? They are NOT the same thing. With theft, you actually deprive someone of something they have, and its associated value. In your example you deprive Walmart of its case of Coke, and the money they spent to get it. With copyright infringement, you deprive the owner of nothing, since you simply make your own copy.

      Here's the other thing: Most people that download songs, also buy CDs. Often the more they dow
  • SCO (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jeffrey Baker (6191) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @11:45AM (#7172892)
    This actually sounds much closer to the SCO situation. Form a cabal around some questionable patent (and other intellectual property) claims, then sue everybody who tries to enter the market. Describes the USA's dysfunctional software industry perfectly.
    • by pmz (462998)
      ...the USA's dysfunctional software industry perfectly.

      The software industry is going through the growing pains that all industries go through. Right now, we are just getting past the "Model T" phase (e.g., UNIX is the worst OS on the planet, except for all other OSes). Perhaps, in another century or so, we will finally have the Toyota Camry of software, easy, functional, and reliable. Until then, we will have to keep our own mechanics (IT staff) around to fix every breakdown as it occurs.
  • Missing link (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nanojath (265940) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @11:46AM (#7172897) Homepage Journal
    The comparisons are interesting. Now if only there was someone out there truly analogous to Henry Ford - coming out with a true alternative commodity. Kazaa and its ilk are merely repackaging someone else's property, intellectual though it may be - the point of the Ford case is he won based on the reality that the patent was BS. The copyrights the music industry owns are not BS. They're solid. The DMCA may fall but it will still be illegal to dupe and share stuff with someone else's copyright on it.


    Still, the ill-will the industry is generating (and the resources it is expending on being the bigger bully) do expand the opportunity of independent publishers to band together and take the high road. Let's hope we get some Ford-scale contenders in the mix soon.

    • Now if only there was someone out there truly analogous to Henry Ford - coming out with a true alternative commodity.

      The alternative commodity is the packaging and delivery of the music, not the music itself.

    • Kazaa and its ilk are merely repackaging someone else's property, intellectual though it may be - the point of the Ford case is he won based on the reality that the patent was BS. The copyrights the music industry owns are not BS.

      Your central assertion is invalid. Any form of intellectual property may, or may not be, BS. It is inherently a societal judgment call, a matter of interpretation. You may have a useful distinction if you point out that a copyright to a recording of a musical performance is a broa

    • "Kazaa and its ilk are merely repackaging someone else's property, intellectual though it may be.." What do you call what the RIAA does? They just take what artists make, repackage it, and sell it at a huge profit. You don't call being able to fire up an app and hear ny song you want within 10 minutes an innovation? P2P has demonstrated that it's possible to get anything to anyone instantaneously....which stands in stark contrast with the media industry, which stands around with its thumb up its ass for
    • If it were only an intellectual property issue. I could take my collection of albums, walk into a music store, hand over the old-media copies of the music and buy a new-media copy discounted by the "license" cost of the content.

      Yeah, that'll happen...

      But it's not an intellectual property issue. I've got 1 CD (Queen's "A night at the Opera" - showing my age) that I've bought 4 times - 8-track for the car, album for the house, cassette for the car, and now CD. And if I put an MP3 of it on my home deskt
      • by nanojath (265940) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @02:10PM (#7174668) Homepage Journal
        I'm not advocating theft, but it's awful hard to feel any sympathy for the RIAA's position.


        Well, not to split hairs but you wouldn't be advocating theft anyway. Unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material is not theft, it's copyright violation and has to do with the perceived dilution of value of an activity the rights-holder has exclusive license to do.


        And I have NO sympathy for the RIAA's position or more specifically that of the businesses they represent. What I do have is a belief that the basic architecture of copyright is going to stick around. It will be illegal to distribute unauthorized copies of copyrighted works. And this fundamental flaw will continue to interfere with anyone trying to make a go of alternative distribution of THEIR product. Dance our way or go to hell. Do it your own way, get sued.


        But what you point out is that as the conventional industry is REDUCING the value of their product (don't use it this way, don't use it that way, oh look now it breaks your computer, sure you can have a compressed file but only this bundled Windows Media version! What you're an online store and you want to stream our product so potential buyers can browse the catalog? Heavens no, what if they capture it off the sound card, it'll be like they've got a cassette tape made off the radio, horror! You're welcome to start an internet radio station to stream our product - here's all your paperwork and here's your fat bill for royalties, and no you may not serve on demand and no you may not say what will be playing next! Thank you for sharing our music with thousands of potential customers. You're sued.) In this atmosphere, independents can RAISE the value of their product simply by doing NOTHING - just producing regular old CDs and not suing anyone - or even doing NEXT TO NOTHING - releasing under a license that specifically sanctions certain types of redistribution, like open source licenses do. That's a pretty cool opportunity the indies have and I'd like to see it used more and more, is all I'm saying.

  • F ree
    O ur
    R ecording
    D ownloads!

    (lame, I know.. but what the heck)

  • Because in every discussion about rights that I can remember on Slashdot, at least one person has said "What if the motor car had been patented?"

    Well, I guess that's no longer a rhetorical question. And we also know the answer: "not much, as long as just one person is prepared to fight it out rather than cave in."

    • Except that the litigation required to overturn the patent took 8 years... or 1/2 of the length of the patent. In that time, the motor car companies made large amounts of money on their ill-gotten gains, and the endless march towards suburban sprawl was pushed back another 10 years.

      In short, a real patent lasts 20 years, a fake patent lasts 10. This is "not much?"

      • >In short, a real patent lasts 20 years, a fake patent lasts 10. This is "not much?"

        But during that period Ford was making and selling cars, and undercutting the cartel. If he had been enjoined not to, that would have been a different story.

        And that pretty much sums up my feelings about bad intellectual property rights. Fight them if you have to, but the best strategy is simply to ignore them. See also SCO and their frantic antics.

  • #1. Be a true geek, only non-geeks get sued.
    #2. Have an obscene amount of music. I dont think they will sue you for 15k per song when you have 10,000+ songs.
    #3. Dont live in the US. They only sue americans.
    #4. If you cant do #3, at least use a proxy.
    #5. Optional: use something like bit torrent to download albums instead of using kazaa.

    Simple, easy, I know I will never be sued, I follow all 5!
  • Medium-to-large businesses do not generally create or invent business strategies, what they do is to take existing strategies, and refine them slowly and carefully. The biggest reason for doing something is that "it worked before".

    (Quite different from the motivation for small teams "damn, that's a great idea!")

    So, a business that succeeds once, then twice, in a changing market, is pretty much doomed: they have gone through their innovative phase and now rely on Methodic Inertia to keep going.

    The RIAA (
  • In case you haven't noticed the RIAA is NOT suing customers. The targets of RIAA lawsuits are people who trying to get music WITHOUT PAYING FOR IT. The whole point of the lawsuits is that no matter how many people the RIAA pisses off, scaring people away from filesharing networks means a hell of a lot more record sales in the long run. No matter how many people try to justify Napster and its kin as great promotional vehicles, they aren't- they just allow people to search for and downloading music they alrea
    • Point taken, but what amazes me about the RIAA is that they automatically assume that if people can't get music via free downloads from the Internet, they'll automatically start buying CDs again from a store.

      "Oh, man. It's too dangerous to download music, guess I'll just go back to dropping $18.95 a CD full of crap and that one song I like."

      Hate to break it to you, RIAA, but that's NOT how it works. Sue music downloaders (whether customers or not) and what's my reaction? I'm not buying your shit...
  • by fain0v (257098) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @11:53AM (#7173007)
    If someone offered litigation insurance, I think I would gladly pay. Join a P2P network for a small fee, and have that money go for insurance. If the RIAA decides to sue individuals en mass, this money would be used to fight them. I would rather flush my money down the toilet than give it to the RIAA.
  • , they are redundant at this point.

    Sure, they may lose/ piss off customers but they really don't have an alternative business model.

    Their business is to distribute music; and guess what, that can be done for dirt cheap by anyone now. It is to be expected that RIAA will fight to the bitter end.

    I only hope that more artists realize this as well...

    Tor
  • by gvc (167165) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @12:03PM (#7173153)
    Even with broadband, it is time-consuming to download a CD image. Not everybody wants song-at-a-time poor quality mp3s. Some want high quality, good packaging, and easy storage and cataloguing.

    For these uses, CDs provide a high-quality high-bandwidth solution (recall the old saying that there's no higher bandwidth than a station wagon full of tapes). But at $20, CDs are not a cost-effective solution. At 1/10 the price it certainly would be. Perhaps even at 1/5 the price.

    I, for one, would fill my bookcases with music CDs at that price. You can bet I'd have a 'complete works' of every artist that I love. But at $20 I can count on zero hands the number of CDs I've purchased in the last year.

    I believe that book publishers have set their price-points more in line with the value of the medium. Some people still photocopy entire books, but enough find that the convenience and quality of a bound book is worth the purchase price.

    Could distribution companies make money at a few bucks a CD? I don't see why not.
    • But at $20, CDs are not a cost-effective solution. At 1/10 the price it certainly would be. Perhaps even at 1/5 the price.

      I, for one, would fill my bookcases with music CDs at that price. You can bet I'd have a 'complete works' of every artist that I love. But at $20 I can count on zero hands the number of CDs I've purchased in the last year.


      Ahh yes, but those "in control" don't think this is actually the case. I guess they're not willing to drop the prices - even temporarily - to see what effect this h
    • Odd that you mention books...most of my favorite novels cost less than $20 to own, yet I don't think I bought a book for a college class that was under $20. I know demand dictates the cost of the supply, but I still think it's assanine that college books cost as much as they do. Since they do have a 'captive' audience, though, they can charge what they like, similar to the RIAA. The college texts are obviously a more necessary buy, but it's a similar situation.
  • Actually, this article, to me, seems better related to the SCO/Linux battle than the RIAA/downloader battle.
  • Someone who steals a product is not quite a customer.

    This is like saying that it's silly to prosecute a robber who walked into a jewelry store during business hours and bought a new battery for his watch while he got a good look at the floor plan.
  • And this is something we didn't already know?
  • This is so far off base, that it does not really deserve reading. After reading this, I was mystified. The two issues have nothing to do with each other.

    1. The auto barrons tried to prevent Ford from making cheap cars.
    2. Ford sued, and won, allowing them (him) to make cars.

    Now if ford had been stealing the other manufacturers cars, and then selling them in his showrooms, that would be more like what is happening today.

    1. People are downloading music.
    2. The RIAA is trying to stop this.

    So, lets compare
    • Now if ford had been stealing the other manufacturers cars, and then selling them in his showrooms, that would be more like what is happening today

      No, not really. No one's downloading songs and reselling the tunes. At least, not that I've heard of.

      What would be more applicable is if Ford was stealing the cars and sharing them (or exact copies of them) with total strangers.
    • Funny how you make an incorrect comparsion of file sharing to stealing then say "please no comments on stealing vs infringing"

      Is that because you know your analogy is tragically flawed? Opinioned idiots, indeed.

      Were you inclinced to think about what you were reading, you would have noticed that the comparison was between changes in public opinion before and after the conglomerate in each case's horribly distasteful litigation. In the Ford case, no one gave a shit until the "car"-tel started suing his cu
  • Are oversestimating the importance of this topic to the non tech public. Talk to non geeks and most really don't give a shit either way. They'll steal it if they can, if they can't big deal, they'll just go back to buying em.
    • I think that's a little different now that they started suing children and old women. Hell, even my mom now thinks they're a bunch of evil bastards and she doesn't know shit about shit.

      Hence the Ford analogy of how no one cared about his legal troubles until his opponents sued his customers.

  • The way to respond to the demise of the commercial CD is not to sue Internet-users. It is to figure out new ways to make money on music.

    I can't remember where, but I read about a theory among economists that says the business entrenched in a technology is rarely able to embrace the new technology which will eventually unseat them. They have too much invested in the old technology and the risk in using the new techology is too high to warrant a radical change in the way they do business. However, the "up
  • Will suing customers hurt the RIAA? It certainly didn't work well for those who sued Henry Ford's customers, but this is a different situation.

    The recording industry has done an excellent job of separating the public perception of the industry from the product. There is a classic stereotype of the big evil record label, always trying to force the innovative artist to compromise their vision and sell out. The artist, on the other hand, is viewed as the struggling genius fighting capitalism to bring musi

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @12:47PM (#7173754) Homepage
    Lousy scholarship. That Wharton professor should be canned for incompetence. He hasn't done his homework.

    The National Cash Register Company, under John Patterson, sued customers who bought competing cash registers, and forced most of the competing manufacturers out of business. NCR became the largest cash register company and maintained that position for most of a century. This was contemporary with Ford's litigation with the Association of Licensed Vehicle Manufacturers, around 1900. Details can be found in biographies of Patterson or of T.J. Watson, the founder of IBM and once Patterson's top salesman.

    Patent lawsuits are hard enough to win that sueing customers is not particularly productive, so this is rare. Copyright lawsuits are much easier to win, especially after the DMCA, so sueing customers is a workable strategy.

  • The majority of people here don't want the RIAA suing anyone. The RIAA wants to protect it's property.

    So what's the solution?

    What do people want? To have the RIAA just not do anything? That's not going to happen.

    We know the RIAA would be just happy to keep prices where they were for CDs. People aren't going to put up with that, and want lower prices.

    Lowering prices to $10 a CD isn't going to work because there are always going to be people that trade music for free, and never pay for it.

    Does the pr
  • Bad analogy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekee (591277) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @04:03PM (#7175500)
    Someone who provides a thousands songs for download is not a customer, it's a competitor. The RIAA rightly recognizes that the only way to compete against someone who gives their own product away for free is to sue them, since it is illegal. This is nothing like the Ford case, in which, competitors sued Ford's customers for buying Ford's cars instead of theirs. If Ford stole the competitors cars and gave htem away, and then Ford got sued, then the analogy would be better. If SCO starts suing Linux users, that would be analogous to the Ford case.

It is better to give than to lend, and it costs about the same.

Working...