Because Illegal Downloading Is Like Ripping an Artist’s Eyeballs Out…

This is an actual anti-piracy ad campaign run by Universal Music Group in 2007.

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The extreme ‘ripping the eyeballs out’ concept was hatched by F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi to combat illegal downloading in Brazil, and released in mid-2007 according to ad-specific sources (notice the Portuguese-language newspaper in the third shot).

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31 Responses

  1. Rikki

    no you dont get it…….people download and steal your music because you know its McMusic cheap throw away disposable repetitious pap….. show some talent creativity some guts, and people who are your fans will gladly pay to see you live and your music….but you have to be serious about it.

    • Dan

      No you steal content because you’re an utter cunt. It has nothing to do with price, availability, format or any other of the 1000 excuses that thieves use. Even if everything on the planet was available to stream for free thieves would steal it – oh wait a minute it is and yes you guys still do

      • Me

        What? People like to share ideas and culture with each other? When did that start? Horrendous!

        I get it that *you* do things in your life that you feel ashamed about, so you find it offensive when others don’t feel ashamed. It’s like if you’re a gay evangelical Christian. You have lust for others of the same sex, but you feel ashamed about it. So when others tell you it’s actually okay and not unethical, you think these are just people who don’t want to admit their shame. You can’t believe that maybe your ideas are wrong and the behavior might actually be perfectly healthy and ethical.

        Sharing ideas and culture is a *positive* thing. It’s about *sharing* which is a positive impulse. The people who want to lock ideas down are the ones who are unethical. And it doesn’t matter how much you *think* I’m saying this because I want to justify illegal behavior, you are literally wrong: I’m saying this because I believe it after thinking about the ideas deeply. I used to be a total copyright apologist like you. It took a lot of time and thinking and learning about copyright history before I understood the truth: the war on sharing is nonsense, copyright should be abolished. Learn more at — lots of good resources there.

      • Internet Pirate

        The Entertainment industry is the biggest CROOKS of all!! The “Live Show” should be the only thing they charge for cause that is where they do the job! CDs and DVDs are nothing more than business cards that should be given out for the promotion of the product being a live show at MSG. I see no difference from my line of work Carpentry when I do a live show like build you a house or a studio or office to live or work in and when I finish I get paid! I dont get paid when you use the door or open a window , I get paid only for my “Live Show”. The same should be for movies and Bands. How do the movie stars of General Hospital get paid??? The advertising ???
        Thats how the funding should be done. I dont approve of people getting paid for recorded CDs and DVDs while they sit around!!! I pay alot of money to see “Live Shows” and they are making millions!!

      • Internet Pirate

        Its not stealing!!! Its Promoting!! I download music through filesharing Like if I went over my friends house and use a cassette to record some music and took it home to listen and if I like it I go buy tickets for Hundreds of American dollars to have seats on the Floor to see the “Live Show”
        What the Entertainment Industry is doing is Illegal, charging for a recording, I should be charging for this printing I am posting right now!!!

    • The ODB

      maybe yes, maybe no. Still ain’t right to steal. Should we go steal shitty McDonalds food. ha

      • Realist

        That’s nice, but Silicon Valley has bought off all the politicians, and they won’t be protecting your legal rights any time soon.


  2. TomVal

    Well, sometimes are available ONLY illegal downloads, since legal ones aren’t available despite my willingness to pay for it. And I’m talking about lossless downloads, lossy files are just a preview for my info, I consider only lossless files worth buying. And many times downloads are available only in certain regions, and I often fall to a “wrong side”. If demand is not met, some people will try to find alternate, “illegal” ways to get what they want.

    • Rikki

      if you think about it we were paying full price for a 20% compressed version, mp3’s should have been priced at 19 cents not 99 cents

  3. Anonymous

    “Because Illegal Downloading Is Like Ripping an Artist’s Eyeballs Out”

    No, it’s like stealing your car, your house and your money — and getting away with it.

  4. Anonymous Too

    No, it’s like making a copy of your car, your house and your money — and still leaving you with the original, to continue to sell copies of, to other people, who are willing to pay for it.

    I’m no advocate of piracy but seriously, the comparisons to taking a singular, irreplaceable object just have to stop. It doesn’t get us anywhere to pretend that piracy is exactly the same ordinary stealing of physical goods.

    • Anonymous Three

      Anonymous Too – You Are A Thief. Period.

      You’re making the assumption that what’s being stolen is the work itself. But what’s actually being stolen is the money. Your see an artist makes available their creative work in exchange for payment and expects payment.

      The moment you created that copy, you created an obligation to pay the artist; and obligation on which you subsequently reneged. Put differently, in making that copy, you released your legal and moral claim to a very specific portion of your wealth (say, $0.99). Only, instead of transferring the cash to its true and proper owner, you decided to keep it.

      So now you’re walking around with someone else’s money in your pocket. If this were like a credit card debt – one you intended to pay at then end of the month when the bill came due – it would be one thing. But let’s be honest, you have no intention of paying that bill, do you? You’re just going to keep what, strictly speaking, is no longer yours. Moreover, you’re going to do this against the will of the person to whom it truly belongs.

      Again, we’re not talking about stealing music here, we’re talking about stealing money. And you’re right in one sense; copying per se is not theft. But failing to pay the very specific debt minted with each and every copy most certainly is. And that, my friend, is theft.

      • Me

        If I go around emailing your dumb self-righteous post to others to laugh at, will that steal money from you? Because it’s copyright infringement. But, of course, I wasn’t going to pay you anyway, so…

        Hmm, experience something without paying per copy? I guess I’m stealing each time I go to the public library and check out a book… I wonder what it would be like if the library were simply more efficient… Oh, it’d be the internet! I guess we should destroy the public library system and the internet. Can’t have sharing of ideas if it possibly threatens a business model.

  5. Anonymous Fore


    How do you know Anonymous Too is a thief? You guys know each other?

    From what the rest of what you wrote, you don’t know muchy, at all.

    Anonymous Too was making the correct point that what’s being “stolen” is merely a copy.. It’s DEFINITELY NOT money that is actually being stolen. You are 100% incorrect.

    I’ve seen thousands and thousands of torrent downloads, and not ONE of them contained any actual money, whatsoever. They are simply copies of things. Not actual money.

    When someone creates a copy, they may also have an obligation to pay the artist, unless there is some other arrangement or circumstance, like the artist is giving it away, it is an educational or library use or fair use.

    All of your nonsense about “in making that copy, you released your legal and moral claim to a very specific portion of your wealth (say, $0.99).” Is just that, nonsense. No one says that the de-facto price of a copy of a recording is “a very specific portion of your wealth (say, $0.99).” That’s just the dumb price that Apple put on it’s own iTunes AAC files, that most people tend to associate with a compressed digital file of a single song, in most instances, now.

    Nothing legal, moral or very specific about that, at all.

    And the assertion that, after making a copy, one is walking around with someone else’s money, is totally ludicrous. After making a copy, one is walking around with….

    ….wait for it…

    …a COPY.

    NOT someone else’s money.

    These tired and tortured analogies of copyright piracy to conventional theft are just SOOOOOOOOO stupid.

    Say what it is, not what it isn’t:

    It’s “copyright infringement.”

    Not “stealing,” or “rape,” or “murder” – or anything else that you want to make some philosophically impossible and laughably illogical comparison to.

    It’s not “like” a credit card debt – or ANYTHING else. It is, quite simply, “copyright infringement.” It is unique and entirely unlike things like credit card fraud, car theft, burglary, etc.

    Copyright infringement denies the owner of the copyright their exclusive right to make copies.

    That’s it.

    It has nothing to do with some specific monetary value that YOU say YOU would apply to the copy.

    Consider this: I am a copyright owner. I choose to GIVE copies of my recordings to several people I know, completely free of charge. No money at all.

    Still, if one of those 50 people – or anyone else – makes a copy of my recording, that is STILL infringes on my copyright. Get it? It is STILL copyright infringement, even though I have explicitly chosen NOT to place a price on any of the copies I have made, thus far – and may continue giving subsequent copies away at no charge.

    Copyright infringement has nothing to do with the “value” of the copy. It has to do with the infringement of the exclusive right to make copies, REGARDLESS of the “value” of those copies.

    And that, my friend, is why when morons like you try to make hysterical, logically unsupportable arguments that copyright infringement is just like ordinary theft of physical property, no one buys it.

    • Anonymous

      So… you’re saying you’re a pirate douche? Go die in a fire.

      • Name2

        But put up a torrent of your collection first!!!! Waste not, want not.

    • Anonymous Too

      Actually, what he said is that you don’t know anything about copyright or copyright infringement, and you should probably STFU.

      Pretty clear.

    • Troglite

      I am posting this in the hopes that it allows other people to see the distortions and omissions in your assertion that “copyright infringement” isn’t theft.

      First, you’re missing a really important word. When you infringe on an artists copyright, you are making an UNLICENSED copy of their work. The fact that the holder of this file… and anyone they may share it with has not purchased a license for the work is what creates a “loss” for the owner of that work. They are reaping the benefits of that artist’s work without compensating them by purchasing a valid license.

      From a security perspective, you seem to be asserting that “because I have access, I must be authorized to use the artist’s work”. That’s hogwash. Authentication and Authorization are related concepts, but they’re also fundamentally different categories of concern within any secure system (physical or digital).

      Artists can choose NOT to copyright their work. But, that should be the artist’s exclusive choice. Ignoring copyright law effectively robs the artist of this right.

      Artists can choose to discount the cost of a license for their work. But, again the seller should set the price. The buyer’s perception that the cost is too high does not empower them to set their own price or simply refuse to pay for a license altogether. If you did this in a physical store by switching the price tag with a cheaper product, it would be considered shoplifting.

      The artists’s motives to control the use of their work is clear. They incurred an expense in creating and distributing work, they want to re-coupe those costs and make a reasonable profit. This does not infringe on the rights of the consumer. They are free to choose to purchase a license for the work or not.

      When a consumer asserts that they can freely access and copy anything, I think the motive needs to be questioned or examined more carefully. Clearly, they want to be able to experience and experiment with a wide variety of creative works (songs, movies, books, etc). But, fulfilling that desire does in fact harm the artists who created that work. It infringes on their rights and reduces the value of the licenses they sell.

      Now let’s be fair. Not all theft is created equal. There’s a world of difference between shoplifting a candy bar, stealing a car, and embezzling $100 million dollars. There’s also a world of difference between someone creating a backup copy of a song they already purchased, sharing a copy of that song with 3 of their closest friends, and posting that song on a torrent site or YouTube. From a law enforcement perspective, only the last two examples are worthwhile because they represent commercial attempts to monetize those stolen works on a global scale.

      In the past, I have seen others assert that these “licenses” are artificial legal constructs that are outdated and serve no public good. Its a convenient, but shallow justification for continuing to steal. If one is prepared to make that assertion, they should also be prepared to explain how international boundaries are just “arbitrary lines someone else drew on a map” yet the consequences for crossing them can be severe. Furthermore, they should explain how the public good is served by removing the revenue streams that have sustained artists for decades. How will large creative projects be funded if there is no revenue to be made from consumption of those works? How do consumers benefit when the quality of artistic works is reduced because there is no longer any justification for the needed financial investments?

      • Anonymous Fore

        Troglite, you get virtually everything I’ve said wrong. You seem to be so hell-bent on getting your own distorted view out there, that you just want to dress it up as some “response” to what I have(n’t) said.

        First, I DIDN’T assert that “copyright infringement” isn’t a form of theft. What I said was, that it is a unique infraction, that may be qualified as a unique type theft, but the point is to try to analogize it to ordinary theft of physical property, like stealing a car or groceries or the like, is absurd.

        Your focus on the word “unlicensed” is bizarre and ends up meaning absolutely nothing. You are still asserting that the unlicensed copy = uncompensated ownership. What is the point you’re trying to make, there?

        I never came anywhere CLOSE to asserting that “because I have access, I must be authorized to use the artist’s work.” Can you show me ANYWHERE where I came even remotely close to sating such a ridiculous thing?

        Your assertion that: “an artist’s motives to control the use of their work is clear, since they incurred an expense in creating and distributing work, they want to re-coup those costs and make a reasonable profit” is baseless. While creation and distribution in exchange for monetary compensation is certainly the most popular case, and largely what we are talking about when we talk about copyright infringement, it is by no means absolute. I create copyrighted works all the time, with absolutely no “clear motive” to obtain compensation or recoupment of my costs. So do many other creators.

        Pretty much the only thing you got right, and that was even remotely repsonsive to what I had posted, is the following:

        “Now let’s be fair. Not all theft is created equal. There’s a world of difference between shoplifting a candy bar, stealing a car, and embezzling $100 million dollars. There’s also a world of difference between someone creating a backup copy of a song they already purchased, sharing a copy of that song with 3 of their closest friends, and posting that song on a torrent site or YouTube.”

        Your analogy of copyright to international borders is also bizarre and shows just how littel your’ve thouyght about or understand these issues. Of course international boundaries are just “arbitrary lines someone else drew on a map.” And and the reasons the consequences for crossing them can be severe is because….

        … those arbitrary lines are enforced by the people with the power to have created them. Nations spend money policing their borders. Often imperfectly, but they do so, nonetheless. Copyright owners can spend money policing their works, as well. Problem?

        Finally, your argument that “large creative projects need to be funded” is similarly self-serving and without basis. For thousands of years, arguably the greatest creative works ever developed were created without any system of distribution and payment for copies. The world’s greatest musical works, paintings sculptures and many, many great books were developed entirely outside of a copyright system. They were developed individually or within a pure patronage system. Indeed, there is a good argument that the modern system of copyright and payment for the distribution of copies of creative works has helped to focus the arts on remuneration, more than true creativity.

        • Troglite

          Thanks for the response. I’ve intentionally avoided personal attacks or insults regarding your intelligence. I’d appreciate the same consideration.

          I do have a personal agenda, so let’s get that on the table. I come to this site to keep track of issues impacting the ability for musicians to sustain themselves based on their creative works and to share my knowledge with other musicians so they can better understand the rapidly changing marketplace in a manner that encourages constructive action.

          It would appear that there is a very real possibility that we have experienced a misunderstanding.

          I may not have appreciated the intended meaning behind the term “conventional” when you wrote:
          “These tired and tortured analogies of copyright piracy to conventional theft are just SOOOOOOOOO stupid.”

          I read that as “copyright infringement is not theft”. Perhaps there are simply too many anonymous postings in this thread. 🙂

          I may have also made an inaccurate assumption about your overall intent. If I avoid assuming that you are defending the actions of people who attempt to profit from copyright infringement, I must confess that I am left scratching my head wondering what actions or perspectives you hope to evoke.

          I think you make a valid, but exceedingly narrow legal observation that any “financial loss” resulting from copyright infringement is indirect and difficult to quantify. From my perspective, this is a difference without meaning. But, let me explain why so you can either correct or confirm my understanding of what you wrote.

          First, let’s clean-up our definition of copyright infringement. You wrote:
          “Copyright infringement denies the owner of the copyright their exclusive right to make copies. That’s it.”

          If you add the ability to distribute, display or perform the copyrighted work, then I can agree with this definition.

          How do creators make money to help sustain themselves from their artistic works? They distribute, display, or perform their work, right? In the case of a musician, this could mean performing the work at a concert, playing the song on a radio station, or playing their song on someone’s iPod, etc, etc etc. So, although it may be indirect and inexact, the loss of these exclusive rights does have a very real impact on a musician’s ability to monetize their work.

          Although there are other details that could be discussed, I believe a good portion of them result from this potential misunderstanding and/or assumed intent. So, I will wrap-up this response by sharing two final points.

          First, analogies to the “physical” world can be helpful when explaining new concepts because it creates a bridge between the new concept and a familiar experience. I think that is why “theft” is often used to help explain concepts like piracy. Its not a perfect analogy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t helpful within the right context.

          Second, the period in time that you described in a rather romanticized manner (when many of the “world’s greatest artistic” works were created) also provides a wealth of examples where the individuals who created these masterpieces lived and died in poverty. To your point, poverty won’t stop an intrinsically motivated artist. But, I choose to believe that we can do better as a society.

    • Anonymous Five

      It may be, however there is no way making copies interferes with the copyright holders ability to enforce their copyright claim, unless we were actually going around and reselling the copies to others.

  6. ActualBrazilian

    I tthink those never run in Brazil. I mean, I’m old enough to remember campaign against tape recording and I’ve never seen those ads before. The fact that they’re in english should be kind of a pointer (it might have been done for client validation reasons. Doubt it, though) .
    It’s probably just a concept, based on those horrible/gory/badly phoshopped anti-smoking campaign images.

  7. FarePlay

    Tough crowd in Paul’s barrio. Maybe it was all the body parts wrapped in newspaper that started the feeding frenzy.

    I thought, obviously incorrectly, we had gotten beyond all this pseudo revolutionary talk about the merits of eating someones else’s lunch without paying.

  8. Name2

    So write a rock opera about the piracy of the damned and get it out of your system, already. I think Rick Wakeman is still alive.

    • FarePlay

      Rather tell to it to the songwriter who used to be able to pay rent from his songwriting. Tell him to get over it, instead of get a job at Walmart, cuz I ain’t paying.

  9. Name? Yes, I have one of those...

    I wonder how many of the people here complaining about filesharing pay royalties whenever they sing “happy birthday”. That’s still copyrighted, after all.

    And what about those of you who lend media (e.g. books, DVDs) to other people. They consumed it, they didn’t pay for it, yet that’s okay?

    But filesharing is suddenly over some invisible fucking line?

    I’m sorry, I don’t agree with that. Just because the medium of transmission has changed (e.g. torrent client), I don’t see how that’s any different.

    • FarePlay

      It isn’t about file sharing, it is about content storage and reposting of that same content endlessly. I love the story of the three guys on a road trip and a Steppenwolf song comes on and there’s a skip in the chorus and all three guys laugh, because they all downloaded the same copy, with the exact same skip, years apart.

      So don’t get righteous about the validity of “file sharing” when it’s really file heisting for profit.

  10. Wilson

    Ummm…. Did Universal really just graphically threaten to kill or dismember me for downloading music?
    Seems a little hate-crimey if you ask me, what with Kopimi faithfuls being an already persecuted group.
    (Yes I know it wasn’t meant to be taken that way, but I thought I’d put a fresh spin on this tired first-world problem.)

  11. Gorgongzola

    The biggest pirates are the music corporations, they do not pay the artists what they should, people who download stuff for free are not in anyway causing harm to the artists.

    Has anyone noticed the thousand of rock stars, pop singers, film stars and the like all queuing up at soup kitchens and sleeping on the streets?