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Wednesday , September 17 , 2003

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 comic comics joke jokes andy simmons RIAA lawsuit file sharing filesharing sue litigation litigious recording industry association of america p2p peer to peer kazaa morpheus napster gnutella limewire mp3 mp3s peanut butter perspective murder-suicide maiming
Life ain't easy for a PR policy named "sue".

Okay, so I hate the RIAA. I'm guessing that probably doesn't come as much of a surprise to most of you. Now, I could go on for days on the topics of music and filesharing and so on, but you probably don't want to read it all. So I'm just going to hit a few high points.

What am I buying, the CD, or the license? The music industry has to be one of the most two-faced cliques in recorded history. The older ones among you will recall the introduction of the compact disc, and how its arrival spurred a massive music buying frenzy -- not only of new music, but of people replacing their audio cassettes and vinyl records with new digital copies. Sure, we already bought that Loverboy album on tape, but now we had to shell out another twenty bucks if we wanted it on CD. That being the case, it would seem that my money is going toward ownership of the media, which would suggest that once I've bought it, I can do whatever I want with it. However, now the music industry is claiming that you can't do whatever you want with the music. You can't share music over P2P. They're even discouraging mix tapes/CDs now. They state that your money is buying a license to listen to the music. But if that's the case, shouldn't it be independent of the media? If I buy a license to listen to Thriller, shouldn't that cover CD, audio cassette, vinyl, 8-track, MiniDisc, MP3, OGG, and any other format that should crop up in the future? Shouldn't license-holders be able to obtain new copies of the song for nothing more than the cost of the media and the packaging? The music industry can't make up its mind. And people are tired of waiting for that to happen.

How do you compete with free? The music industry pushed away the idea of digital music downloads for a long time. They insisted that it would never work, that people would never sacrifice true CD quality for convenience. Problem is, they didn't bother asking. And clearly, they guessed wrong. Napster beat them to the punch, followed by Gnutella-based networks, Kazaa, Morpheus, and everybody else. And now the labels are having to play catch-up. The problem is that these other networks have already provided what the labels failed to, and for free. How do you compete with that? The labels have to provide quality downloads, 100% availability, and an exhaustive library. I mean, let's face it. P2P networks are far from perfect. Yes, it's free, and yes, It's quick, but if you're looking for something as rare as, say, the 12-inch remix of New Order's "True Faith", you're going to have difficulty finding and successfully obtaining a copy at anything greater than 128kbps. If the labels could provide a network where I could find literally any song ever recorded at a quality of 192kbps or greater, I'd gladly pay. Though, I'll admit, the current market standard of one dollar per song is still a little steep. Cut that to fifty cents or less, and we've got a deal.

I paid for it, now please let go. I really don't like the concept of DRM technology as it applies to music. Yes, I can see how the music industry would enjoy knowing that people can't copy, share, or move music from one PC to another, but anything that cripples my ability to do the legal things that I want to do -- say, put a copy of every song on every computer in my house, as well as my car and a portable music device, and make mix CDs as I please -- is a bad thing. No copy-protection scheme should require any extra steps of any kind, be it copying "licenses" or calling some customer service hotline or saying a magic word or whatever. Once I've paid my money, the labels have done their job, and they should step out from between me and my music, thankyouverymuch. When you eat lunch, does Burger King employ some guy to make sure that each fry you eat is actually yours, even after you've left the drive-thru window? Didn't think so. Music should be the same way.

Stop pushing the same crap on us. So the music industry swears that CD sales have plummeted since the advent of P2P filesharing. Whether or not this is the truth is kind of uncertain, as each side seems to have an agenda. One thing that is certain, however, is that the number of different albums published and marketed by the RIAA-affiliate labels has steadily decreased over that same period of time. Let's do the math.

Fewer unique albums being published + Fewer total CDs being sold = No Frickin' Duh

And on top of that, it's the same dozen artists that are being spread all over the corporate radio conglomerates and televised music channels, so there's very little new music that fans are being exposed to. If they really want us to buy more music, they need to give us a little variety, yes?

Seriously, I could go on and on about this, but I think I've vented enough for now. This is an important topic to me, and I'll gladly continue in this vein in future newsrants if you like. Feel free to e-mail me with specific questions or facets of the issue that you'd like me to address, and I'll do what I can.

The #1 position on the BuzzComix top list remains within our reach, but we aren't quite there yet. A little bit of voteitude would surely help tremendously, and in this instance, tremendous is *good*.

Also, Hurricane Isabel is bearing down on us, so if I happen to get blown away before friday, I want you all to know that I love you. Oh, and that you should keep voting. Because it would be oh-so-rad to rule the bCx list from the grave.


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Random Axe of Kindness, its characters, its jokes, and the phrase "invisible hot dogs" are © 2001-2003 Andy Simmons.

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