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August 13 2006

Those sweethearts!

On Friday I was pondering writing an entry about the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). For those of you unfamiliar with them, they are a trade group representing 90% of the recording industry in all sorts of matters. One of their biggest efforts is the ware against file-sharing as they see it as theft of profits. Not here to argue that point, just some of their wacky tatics.

Luis over at BlogD brought this up today, and it was too good to pass up. It seems that Larry Scantlebury was the recipiant of one of the RIAA’s many lawsuits over illegal file downloading. Well, sometime after the suit was filed, Larry had the audacity to die! Man, talk about a way to escape a lawsuit! Oh wait…HE DIDN’T! The RIAA has filed a 60-day extension to the case to allow the family to grieve. They even attached a copy of his death certificate to the motion. Were their damages really so horrible that they feel the need to attack his estate? The RIAA has an amazing track record of attacking people, most of them are documented here.

It’s not just lawsuits over file-sharing that makes them so beloved. XM and Sirius have both come out with receivers that allow you to “time shift” a program so you can listen to it when you want, basically the same thing a VCR or a DVR does every day. Well, the RIAA wouldn’t hear of it! Why, this is the equivilant of “permanent ownership of copyrighted material without paying for it”! So…all those blank audio cassettes you sold in the 1980’s and 1990’s, and kids would sit with their finger poised over the record button on their tape deck for that one song to come on the radio that they loved …not the same thing?

They want to come up with a broadcast flag to stop you from doing it, but they can’t seem to agree on the standards for one, and have not even really tried to work with the Copy Protection Technical Working Group because they don’t have anything to propose! It would seem they just like talking about it and trying to scare consumers and manufacturers alike with random statements of how this must all be stopped!

This week, Consumer Electronics Association chief Gary Shapiro said in a press release:

“As we have repeatedly said, we are prepared to discuss ways to limit the mass indiscriminate redistribution of music over the Internet. Instead, the RIAA wants to ban ‘disaggregation,’ which it now calls ‘cherry picking’ in the hope that it can give legitimacy to its policy ideas by using a sweeter name. In short, the RIAA wants to stop consumee recording industry’s campaign over disaggregation is nothing but a thinly veiled attack on lawful, private, noncommercial, in-home consumer recording practices.

Although the RIAA continues to try to muddy the waters, this much remains clear: the music industry no longer agrees that a consumer’s right to make a first generation copy of a song includes the right to play it back when and how the consumer wishes. For that reason, the RIAA should not be surprised that we will continue to fight its legislative efforts on Capitol Hill, and that we expect to prevail by defending innovation and consumer rights.”

Shapiro hit it on the head. The RIAA’s quixotic fight against those evil pirates is now stifling innovation. Let’s not kid ourselves, file-piracy is still going on, but even the RIAA has said “The problem has not been eliminated, but we believe digital downloads have emerged into a growing, thriving business, and file-trading is flat.” Then, if it’s so flat, why don’t you go about repairing the music industries image as money grubbing pirates in fancy suits?

I’m not endorsing file-swapping, but I do think the music industry brings it on it’s own shoulders at times with their attitude.



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