Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Lock 'em all up: So, the RIAA is getting down to brass tacks and moving on with the lawsuits. First, they identify large-scale "sharers". Next, the RIAA lawyers subpoena the internet providers based on user information they find, to get the name and address of the "sharer". Third, the lawsuit. Now, the RIAA is kind enough to offer you amnesty in return for you coming forward voluntarily and certifying that you have destroyed all protected songs and won't do it again. This of course doesn't help you much when one of the other record companies then sue you (having now thrust yourself into the spotlight), so my legal advice would be to stay in your foxhole.

Now that the lawsuits have begun, the press has started searching for angles. Here's the first: a 12-year old schoolgirl is a defendant. She's shocked, shocked she says, at this lawsuit. See, she and her family didn't even download the songs to keep them, just to listen to them once. "There's a lot of music there, but we just listen to it and let it go," said her mother. Riiiiight. What's funny is the righteous indignation: "It's not like we were doing anything illegal," said [the mother]. "This is a 12 year-old girl, for crying out loud." That's what they called a non-sequitur. It's also logically flawed. Leave aside the fact that it is in fact illegal. The mother was doing it with her. They may have named the 12 year-old, and maybe that can be viewed as a bit much, but the mother knew she was doing it the whole time, and most likely encouraged it.

Now, I've known some people who've "file-shared". And let's just say that while those people enjoyed sharing music with their peers, they also recognized that there was no real justification for doing it (i.e. the record companies make too much money; it's not really stealing). The mother above thought because she payed Kazaa a monthly fee, she was somehow buying license to the music. Well, that's interesting, and maybe Kazaa is guilty of implying that, but in the end, whether it's a 12 year-old or a dedicated hacker in his basement, they're all doing the same thing; namely stealing intellectual property.

Having said that, I do think that the recording industry needs to change and adapt to the times and technology. Charging $18.00 for a CD that cost $.69 to manufacture is overkill. Sure, you're allowed to recover marketing, sales and other costs through mark-up, but if they could sell cassettes for $9-11 a pop, those cassettes being probably more expensive to manufacture, something has to give. iTUNEs is the first step (having recently sold its 10 millionth song). Let's hope there's a veritable march to progress in the near term.

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