AIG – Keeping it Surreal

So in a fun little twist, AIG, after recieving its fourth bailout and posting a record loss quarter (and by a factor of about TEN) has decided to sue the US Government for having to pay taxes.

No, seriously.

Now, what makes this truly priceless is the comment section at Ace about this. Because without the humor provided by my fellow AoS Morons, I’d feel like reason:

I’d type something snarky and sarcastic, but right now I can’t see too well, on account of the BLOOD SHOOTING OUT OF MY EYES.

or Dang:

I can understand this. Every time my mother (83 years old) gives me a birthday present, I beat the s–t out of her. You know, to keep her in line. She keeps giving me presents. That’s where the whole “making sense” thing breaks down for me.

and then of course DrewM brings the absurdity to a whole new level:

AIG is suing us!

Technically, it’s suing itself. The US government owns and 80% or so stake in that money pit.

What a f–king world.

They’re coming to take me away, ha-ha, ho-ho, he-he, to the funny farm, where life is beautiful all the time…

The internet is killing music sales (by increasing them)

Music sales went up another 10.5% in 2008, largely due to over one billion (yeah, with a “B”) digital song sales. There were 428 million full album sales as well, but as the online market explodes (32% increase from last year) physical CD sales drop accordingly (down 14%). This is not surprising to anyone who can look at this rationally. If you have a potential market of 100 people and they can only buy in one format, then the people who will buy will all buy that format. So let’s say you sold 60 CD’s to those people. The next year you release a second album, and allow the new one to be purchased online as well. This time, 66 albums are sold, 40 hard copies and 26 digital.

Are sales down? No. You sold six more albums, and increased your sales over the last album’s by 10 percent. You should be happy about that, not complaining that you sold twenty less CD’s. In fact, if anything, you would be happier, because you have eliminated the cost of creating those CD’s from the process, which gives you a higher net profit from an album sale (and/or allows you to lower the price, thus potentially attracting more customers).

So when you hear the big labels, the RIAA, and the anti-digital music loons claiming that piracy and online music distribution in general is killing music sales and hurting artists, remember that this screwed-up logic is what they’re using. Also remember that countless artists have spoken out against the harmful (and ineffective) tactics used by the RIAA to “combat piracy,” culminating in the creation of a copyright czar cabinet post under the new Obama adminstration, some artists going to far as to drop their labels entirely and finding great success in doing so. Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead both had incredible and well-documented success with their independent online album releases, and many other bands have dropped their larger labels to found independent labels for artists seeking to leave the stifling, anti-consumer attitude propagated by the RIAA.

In addition to the obvious benefits of online music sales over traditional music sales, what has traditionally been described as “piracy” by lawyers and the media is often one of the artist’s best tools to spread his music around and reach ears he would otherwise be unable to. The classic success story here is Jonathan Coulton, who came out of nowhere and distributed his music via his website (with the option to pay, but not forcing you to) and now makes more money off his music than he ever did as a software engineer. I’ll leave you with a 2001 statement from David Draiman, lead singer of Disturbed, that kind of sums up why even the typical examples of piracy given by the RIAA and its ilk are not quite what they seem:

[I’m] Very positive about the internet, Napster. I think it’s a tremendous tool for reaching many more people than we ever could without it. When you release music you want it to be heard by people. Artists really want to have their music heard. They want to have their creation heard by people. Nothing is going to do that better than Napster. I can’t tell you how many kids have come up to me and said, ‘I downloaded a couple of tunes off Napster and I went out and bought the album.’ Or they say, ‘I want to come see you play.’ I don’t really make money off of record sales anyway.

And again in 2003, on the series of lawsuits brought against file sharers:

This is not rocket science. Instead of spending all this money litigating against kids who are the people they’re trying to sell things to in the first place, they have to learn how to effectively use the Internet. For the artists, my ass… I didn’t ask them to protect me, and I don’t want their protection.

The internet as a method for music distribution is (still) exploding. It’s time to jump on the train, not hold on to the boarding station for dear life.

And now for something more lighthearted

In a case of the courthouse funnies, this may be the best summary of a civil case I’ve ever heard:

In Libel Suit Against Simon & Schuster, Man Insists He Is Not A Douchebag

LAS VEGAS (CN) – A man claims Simon & Schuster defamed him in the book “Hot Chicks with Douchebags.” Michael Minelli says two pages of the book are dedicated to him illustrated with a photo, but the douchebag label is “false as it pertains to plaintiff.”

The site is also home to this gem:

The following is from a U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling called E.S.S. Entertainment 2000, Inc. v. Rock Star Videos, Inc. in which lawyers for the owner of a strip club claimed that the makers of the Grand Theft Auto video game infringed their trademark:

“ESS also argues that, because players are free to ignore the storyline and spend as much time as they want at the Pig Pen, the Pig Pen can be considered a significant part of the Game, leading to confusion.”

Imagine the kind of person who would buy, install, and begin playing a computer game and then just hang out in the game’s strip club.

Yes, a man without a life who doesn’t have a virtual life either.

Now imagine that person on the witness stand.

This is the kind of concept that makes reading appellate opinions so much fun.