Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Okay... first off, I do think file-sharing is wrong. It's no different than stealing a CD from a store. However... I think the RIAA have their heads totally up their asses over the issue. Slashdot reports that they're going after college students, who are using internet2.
"Hundreds of students at 18 universities nation-wide have had lawsuits filed against them by the RIAA for filesharing over Internet2." The official RIAA Press Release and commentary at MSNBC is also available. From the article: "i2Hub has been seen as a safe haven, and what we wanted to do was puncture that misconception," said Cary Sherman, president of the RIAA. "This has been a subversion of the research purposes for which Internet2 was developed."
Perhaps, but... it makes me wonder whether the RIAA is going after college kids because they know these poor saps don't have the money to fight back.

I have a big problem with the whole file-sharing flap. First off, the reason CD sales are down is not because of file sharing. It's because the major record labels have been churning out crap for a while now, and charging way too much for it. Ever wonder why new DVDs cost the same or less than new CDs? That makes no sense, because you get a lot more value on a DVD -- a couple of hours of movie, extra features, etc. On a major label CD, in contrast, you get maybe fifteen songs, not more than an hour of music and, usually, one or two (if you're lucky) of those songs are worth listening to. The rest is just filler.

Is it any wonder that some poor college kid is just going to want to put those one or two good songs on the ol' iPod for cheap instead of paying $20 for a CD they're going to rip and burn a small piece of, and then turn into a coaster? The music industry's business plan is all wrong -- and the RIAA should be embracing downloading, turning it into the profitable industry that saves them. Look at what television has done with DVDs. Less-successful series are becoming more likely to survive on the air because of the huge secondary market in DVDs. Family Guy, for example, was cancelled three years ago -- but the DVDs for those seasons sold so well that Fox has brought it back, and is committed to 35 episodes, ratings be damned.

Imagine that. A network actually saying "ratings be damned." They know they're going to make their money back -- and, prior to the DVDs, interest in the series was maintained via bootleg recordings of the episodes.

Rather than prosecuting their base, the college market, the RIAA should be embracing them as well. These are the people who buy your shit, guys. These are the arbiters of trends, the folk who make or break your artists. You somehow manage to track royalties for airplay of these same tunes -- and I've never heard of the RIAA going after people who record songs off the radio for their own personal use. Why can't you set up a system to sell them to downloaders for reasonable prices -- a buck a song or so? That's the win-win strategy. But the RIAAholes seem determined that everybody loses. Shut down downloading, and you'll just wind up with pissed off college students splitting the cost of a new CD 20 ways, then burning 50 copies. And don't think fancy anti-copy systems will work for long. Pissed off college kids can be very motivated, and quite a few of them major in things that give them the knowledge and the tools to defeat the latest content lock.

Anyway... it's just another case of a richer than god industry bitching and whining when their own market plan falls flat on its ass, then trying to blame everyone else. It's the little guys who get screwed -- the fans and the artists. And don't think the RIAA is trying to protect the artists. They could give two warm shits about the artists. They just care about their money. Their profit. As if they aren't making enough already...

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