Recent notes on the RIAA in the news

One proposal that has been suggested as a resolution to the problem of the big music labels losing money to unauthorized music downloading has been adding a fee to all users’ Internet service provider bills, say, $5/month. This would allow users to download all they want from any source (though I suppose iTunes and other vendors would require their fees, too). What a wonderful idea this is. I’m sure my mother, who has never downloaded a song in her life and wouldn’t know where to look, would be perfectly happy paying this fee. It amounts to a taxpayer-supported industry bail-out to my way of thinking. I always like sending my money to companies that get in trouble due to mistakes they make. I could use some money—where can I get some of this action? Oh, right, I’m not a large multinational corporation.

Well, just when you think we need a white knight to handle the RIAA dragon, along comes a group of law students from the University of Maine. They’re bringing a lawsuit against the RIAA to force it to stop using its controversial tactics of filing lawsuits just to discover who might be illegally downloading music. This could force the RIAA to back off and maybe not treat its customers like soon-to-be-convicted criminals.

Then again, we have the new President of Digital Business of EMI saying something to the effect that suing one’s customers is probably not a sustainable business model. But what does he know; he comes from Google.

If the big music companies had ever chosen innovation over repression when it comes to business development, I probably wouldn’t write posts like these.

(Edit 4 April 2008 11:05 a.m.: Changed link in third paragraph to the article with the actual quote from the EMI guy, whose title I had wrong and have now corrected, too.)

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About songdogmi

I'm a longhaired almost-hippie stuck in the inner suburbs of a major rust-belt metropolis who's thoughtful, creative, and kind of geeky. In exchange for a paycheck I run around in a cubicle maze most days. When I escape, I play music, hang out in coffee houses, dink around on the computer, take naps, and think I should be off in the woods somewhere. Every once in a while I get in my car and drive far, far away, though I've always come back so far.
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7 Responses to Recent notes on the RIAA in the news

  1. ogam says:

    AMEN! FORSOOTH! YEA, VERILY! SO MOTE IT BE! BIODH SÉ AMLAIDH! DUDE!

    Preach it, Brotha Songdog!

  2. animist says:

    A $5 a month fee would be ridiculous. How would that apply to people using Wi-Fi? Would my favorite coffee shop have to add $5 to my cup of coffee on Saturday mornings to coffee me reading the BBC news on my smart phone? I know the entertainment industrial complex has a lot of cash to throw around for election finance, but I think even congress is not stupid enough to fall for this. I hope…

  3. I don’t know if these students will finally be the ones to bring down the RIAA. But they certainly have my support.

    If it were a perfect world, and everyone’s true intentions were exactly what they told you they were; Then I might have a little sympathy for the RIAA.

    As it stands, I don’t.

    I’m not really even sure who’s exactly in this “Association”. But I know a lot of artists couldn’t give a fig about them and would just as soon see them gone completely.

    I think it’s too late to stop free digital music though. Too many artists are embracing the model, putting their stuff out there for free and using that as a means to build a fan base and get folks out to paid events like concerts.

    The old industry was based on a scarcity model. That just isn’t the case anymore. If you’ve got the ‘Net, you’ve got music. Even more important, you’ve got choices.

    Everyone probably experiences music differently. But most of the best music I’ve heard lately has been independent stuff. Of course, this stuff isn’t spoon fed to people. You have to go out and find what you like. But it’s there. Tons of it!

    Viva la Revolution!

    • keanubear says:

      Putting your music out there for free works if you are Radiohead or someone like that, but for new artists it doesn’t really add up to a way to earn a living.

      The RIAA is all the major labels, by proxy I would think any major label associated act is somehow represented by the RIAA, for instance while Radiohead are no longer on EMI/Capitol their back catalog is so, the RIAA represents Radiohead to some extent.

      I am all for a sort of subscription service which is drm free and of a high bit rate, and with no strings attached, you buy it, you own it. It would have to be this way to attract people to it. Free music is cool, but for most people it’s a hassle.

      • Putting your music out there for free works if you are Radiohead or someone like that, but for new artists it doesn’t really add up to a way to earn a living.

        What about Jonathan Coulton?

        I agree that simply putting stuff up on the web for free isn’t going to earn any new artist a living. But putting stuff up in the right places and for free gives the artist an opportunity to reach a new audience. The audience is the key. If people discover they like your stuff, then they’ll want more.

        Personally I’m not really finding it to be a hassle to find new, free music online. Creative Commons has some great stuff even. Archive.org. I also happen to be Canadian, so I’m always checking out the Indy sources for new stuff. But we all use the ‘net a little differently.

      • keanubear says:

        I wasn’t aware that being Canadian made it easier or mandatory for one to be into independent music! 😉

        I’ve never heard of Jonathan Coultan, I’ll check him out. I doubt that he’ll ever be as big as a radiohead. I would bet that not too many would “make it” giving away music for. But that remains to be seen.

        I didn’t say it’s a hassle to find music online, most people, not “fans”, but your average music consumer finds it much easier to use itunes or something, rather than limewire or some peer to peer program.

        http://www.cdbaby.com is a great place to find new artists too, but you have to pay there.

        I don’t understand the problem with having to pay something for music. Why don’t you work for free, you know? Wouldn’t that be nice?

        Also, the audience is always key. That goes for any sort of music act, independent or not.

  4. keanubear says:

    I love the idea of the RIAA lawsuits being stopped!

    I also love the idea of just paying a monthly fee and getting all the downloads you want from where ever you want, peer to peer, websites, whatever.

    Some people don’t like the monthly fee thing, but that would support the arts.

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