Thursday, February 16, 2006

RIAA Craziness isn't News

So the RIAA is saying that CD-ripping isn't fair use - even when it's CDs you bought yourself. This is actually old news in Canada - our version of the RIAA, the CRIA, has long maintained that CD-ripping is infringement, unless explicitly permitted. That is, iPod owners may be felons, if the RIAA and the CRIA get their way.

What's funny is that we would expect them to do anything else. Of course they don't want you getting MP3s from your CDs. What the music industry wants is for you to spend $2+ for each track if it's MP3s that you want. Never mind that the costs of distribution are essentially zero, and at $2 a track the costs are about the same as a CD. To the music companies, if you want MP3s you should by MP3s, and if you want CDs you should buy CDs. But if you buy the CD and rip it to MP3s, you're stealing.

This is why the logic of "lost revenue = theft" is so pernicious. We basically bought the argument that the music companies had the right to sue to protect their business model, and now this is what it gets us.


Westacular said...

Any Canadian who has any passion on this issue will enjoy listening to the interview with Terry McBride that was on CBC's Sounds Like Canada yesterday morning.

From the blurb:

Terry McBride is the co-founder of Canada's largest independent record label, Nettwerk Productions. He's also manager to artists like Avril Lavigne and Sarah McLachlan. Now he's involved in a music downloading lawsuit - in SUPPORT of the man being sued for sharing music files. Terry McBride talks with Jian Ghomeshi.

NOTE: The music has been removed from applicable interviews, due to copyright restrictions.

A recording of the interview is available on the site, and probably will remain available for the next month or so, but (frustatingly) only as streaming-only RealAudio file.

McBride seems to be both generally just a really nice guy, and someone who both loves music and 'gets it'. The timing of the interview is no doubt a result of his recent actions to make a visible stand on the issue.

They played a few songs at relevant points in the interview -- songs that the blurb says have been removed from the online release. The irony is that at one point, before playing Avril's Skater Boi, McBride said to the kids at home something to the effect of, "Go ahead and record this on your iPod. I don't mind. Avril doesn't mind. Go right ahead!"

Apparently CBC's lawyers mind.

wonderdog said...

Uh, but the Copyright Act explicitly permits making a copy of a musical recording for private use.

So I'm not sure how the CRIA could make such a claim with any credibility.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

That's the scary thing about copyright. An artist AND her manager can give you permission to record a song, and legally people aren't sure if that's enough.

That's right. Getting permission of the ARTIST to record a song, or make a copy of it isn't enough for groups like the RIAA and CRIA. This is what copyright protection has become. The creator no longer has the right to give you permission to use his or her work. Somehow or other, it's up to some compnay somewhere, not the CREATOR. I really think copyright law is morphing into something pretty pernicious, and if we don't take a stand sometime, it could get really bad. A lot of people are scared to death of getting sued for things one would assume are perfectly legal. It's getting kinda scary.

My only small solace, is that this insanity is causing so many people just to ignore copyright altogether (which is too bad, but is the logical response to such an abuse of a good concept). Ironically, groups like the RIAA and CRIA are basically encouraging people to do the very things they think they're trying to fight, and at some point, copyright might become so meaningless that their only chance to stop infringment will be to bring a class action suit against the people of the planet Earth. And I'd love to see how that would play out.

Everytime they announce that they think X should be illegal, a couple thousand people (who had never done "X" in the first place) say "that's ridiculous... I'm not giving them any of my money if that's their attitude..." and a whole section of the population who would have made an easy transition from legally buying CDs, to legally buying MP3s online, start downloading songs for free, in an effort to teach these guys a lesson.

Well, I think they'll learn that lesson someday... but it may be too late for them to save their businesses.