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The $8 Billion iPod - New TED Talk Highlights Absurdity of 'Copyright Maths'

Posted by: , 17:09 AEDT, Sat March 17, 2012

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The music industry's copyright losses calculations now mean that your typical iPod Classic can now store $8 billion worth of pirated music, says the founder of Rhapsody in a TED speech that questions the notion of "Copyright Maths"
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The music industry's own copyright losses calculation means that your typical iPod Classic can carry as much as $8 billion worth of copyrighted music, according to Rhapsody founder Rob Reid.

Reid made the claim during this TED speech, as he highlighted the absurdity of "Copyright Math", the calculations used by the music and movie industries when calculating losses due to copyright infringement.

The $8 billion figures comes the amount of music a typical iPod Classic can store, multiplied by the figure the music industry has sought to extract from pirating college students and single mothers, $150,000 per song (the highest figure available for statutory damages claims).

Reid says that big, and misleading numbers are being used to justify the unjustifiable, laws such as SOPA, PIPA and ACTA. Further highlighting the absurdity of "economic losses", the $58 billion annual figure being claimed by the MPAA for losses related to content "theft", Reid says this amount is equivalent to the US losing its entire corn, fruit, wheat, cotton, tobacco, rice and sorghum ("whatever sorghum is", quipped Reid) crops.

Reid also savaged the industry's claims of 373,000 job losses, which accompanied the $58 billion claim made by the MPAA. Demonstrating that in 1998, the total number of jobs in the music and movie industries combined was only 315,000 jobs, leading to the conclusion that these industries must now have "negative employment".

Going back to the iPod argument, the $8 billion worth of songs per iPod Classic then equates to "about 75,000 jobs", Reid concluded.

Reid, who is also co-founder of, is expanding his brief to that of a Sci-Fi novelist, with his new book Year Zero. The fictional (at least we hope it is) novel centers around space alien who, since 1977 ("Year Zero" for them), has been illegally listening and downloading music created and broadcast into space by Earthlings, hence committing the "biggest copyright violation since the Big Bang". The aliens take on the services of an entertainment lawyer to clean up this misunderstanding, as copyright fines, if received, will mean the whole universe is now bankrupt. The book will be released in July of this year.

You can view Rob Reid's whole, hilarious, speech below:


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