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Don't Sever A High-Tech Lifeline for Musicians 485

Posted by Hemos
from the leaning-on-things dept.
Licensed2Hack writes "Janis Ian, who provided this slashdot interview last September, has written this editorial in the Los Angeles Times. Janis says, "After I first posted downloadable music, my merchandise sales went up 300%. They're still double what they were before the MP3s went online." And the RIAA's stated goal in preventing this type of activity with their lawsuit against Verizon is to increase sales..."
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Don't Sever A High-Tech Lifeline for Musicians

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  • To be fair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by martyn s (444964) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:18PM (#5213067)
    I'm all in favor of free downloads (not only do I believe in it, I practice it!). But to be fair, her sales probably don't reflect the average struggling not-so-famous musician since she's in the spotlight because of the whole mp3 controversy. I bet if she hadn't come out about mp3s her sales wouldn't be doing any better.

    Of course, I just realized, her sales probably went up before she even made any public statements about it. Hmm, interesting.
    • Re:To be fair (Score:2, Redundant)

      Nothing that is so, is so.... The corporations would lead you to believe that the music downloads are crippling their industry. Examples like this show that to be more false than true. This artist has enjoyed a spot light, and some of her success might be atributed to the marketing through the MP3 controversy. So, where is the truth? One theory I might suggest is that the business model is flawed. Perhaps the technology is also outdated. Why aren't they selling DVDs filled with music videos, interviews, lyrics, kareokee(sp?) and what not rather than simple music CDs for so much?
    • I don't get the logic here. Artist posts MP3s on a website, and sales go up. At any time before that, anyone could have ripped her CDs, and distributed it on napster, kazaa, gnutella, etc. etc. Why didn't sales go up then?
    • Re:To be fair (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Sunday February 02, 2003 @11:00PM (#5213224) Homepage
      Sure, if you're not that well-known distributing your music as MP3s can increase sales. But large RIAA acts don't have the problem; they rely on radio and music videos to let people listen to their music. If you'd downloading Britney Spears latest mp3, it's probably not because you're curious as to what it sounds like. You're most likely doing it because you don't want to pay for the album.
      • Re:To be fair (Score:5, Interesting)

        by stubblehead (565808) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @11:49PM (#5213389)
        I forget what the term is, but in economics there's a graph for this (like everything else). There's a line, considered average (saturated) and space above (super-saturated) and below (under-saturated) the line. When everyone is given the same tools (you have to assume the consumers/fans are also equal, so for arguments sake we'll say everyone who likes Janis likes Britney), eventually the sales will both flow towards the line. For Britney, since she's way above the line (sold kazillions of albums), she'd be brought down towards average (I won't try to pick a band to represent the line); herego, lost sales. But for Janis, who's been written about as an artist who just doesn't sell many albums (put aside these publicity boosts), her sales are brought up towards the line. ("300% increase" isn't much if you haven't sold many to begin with - a lot, relatively; few, absolutely).

        This only holds true when all the extra variables hold equal, like any experiment, but we all know not every person either likes both of these women or hates both of these women equally. What we do see with this situation of technology vs. RIAA is the strong dichotomy between fans. Check out this month's WIRED for a great blurb on methods record company's are using to disuade critics from ripping and distributing MP3's in prerelease. I loved the example of Radiohead's 'listening party' at an aquarium - not only was it a great idea, but it sold tons of albums in the area. However, it's highly doubted if the artist was a more (primarily) commercial one, their fans would do the same (I'm guilty of being biased towards Radiohead here, but you get the idea).

        Britney will still sell billions of CD's (and, unfortunately, do some RIAA commercials) even if it's less than she's used to (sorry, sweetie - only 4 new houses this year). And Janis will probably keep selling more albums if the technology is still available, albeit still far less than Britney. It boils down to the fans. I guess if you're a recording artist and you find your fans refuse to spend money on your music, maybe you should reconsider either you rmusic or your career. (I don't know about you but I take pride in my purchases.)

        -e

    • Motives (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 03, 2003 @03:54AM (#5214073)
      But to be fair, her sales probably don't reflect the average struggling not-so-famous musician since she's in the spotlight because of the whole mp3 controversy.

      The RIAA's interest is it's members: Recording companies not artists or music(except when it's convinent for buisness).
      Their current way of doing business is largely based on publicity and they have lots of control over the media they use.Competition from independant artists via the internet is not in their interests (obvious parallels here with M$), so to eliminate this competition they are using the indirect tactic of trying to lock the use of the net down by lobbying for apropriate laws.
      If a larger chuck of commercial music was done by artists independantly, online, then there would be more focus on that group from the public - it would become a decent sized market (bazaar ;) and the record companies would be making less money than they would like. There would be more musicians being able to do what they wanted for a living because of the masively improved margins available.
      So just like M$ they are trying to use their lobbying power (Money without ethics..) to preseve their buisness model from it's impending doom.
      The standard of music should go up too :D
  • no shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:19PM (#5213068)
    1) people sample music
    2) they like it and buy the cd
    3) profit
    • Re:no shit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by quintessent (197518) <my usr name on toofgiB [tod] moc> on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:39PM (#5213147) Journal
      The problem the RIAA has with this:

      Being able to hear the music means you'll buy music that you really like, rather than what has the sexiest photographer putting the CD together or the most advertising behind it.

      It means people will begin to use their own judgement and initiative to choose what they really like.

      And that means you might buy something from a non-RIAA distributor.
      • Re:no shit (Score:5, Insightful)

        by silentbozo (542534) on Monday February 03, 2003 @02:32AM (#5213802) Journal
        And that means you might buy something from a non-RIAA distributor.

        Which can be damn difficult sometimes. For example, I'm trying to buy some albums put out by an Australian jazz singer (Nina Ferro), but there aren't any US distributors for her music. In essence, she doesn't exist, despite the fact that she's one of the hottest Australian jazz acts.

        Now, you're probably asking, if she's persona non-grata here in the states, how did I get to hear her music? Easy, I listen to the Jim Cullum jazz band every weekend via PRI (Public Radio, International), on Riverwalk, Live from the Landing [riverwalk.org], where Nina has sung before. Variety shows like Prairie Home Companion [prairiehome.com] are also another great source for music. Unfortunately, I got into these shows about 10 years ago, when public radio was a lot more diverse. These days, many of the older shows have been dropped, as all radio homogenizes, both public and commercial.

        Internet radio really needs to be built on as a viable, wide-audience alternative to current radio, in order for these types of shows to survive, and in order to expose the buying public to music that they might want to try.

        No exposure = no sales. And no, exposing someone to Shakira on screen, stage, and radio isn't going to make that person buy 10 of the same album. Exposing someone to 10 different artists might get them to buy 10 different albums. Face it, the music industry is approaching diminishing returns for the amount of payola and promotion that they're spending. Time to cut back on the amount of money for new acts, and broaden the palate. And a cheap way of promoting more acts is to stream mp3 samples!!!

        Seriously, why isn't there a Capitol records streaming MP3 station? Why isn't there a Sony records streaming MP3 station? You think people are going to discover their back catalogs themselves? Nonsense!

        Why aren't the executives jumping at the chance to kill off 3/4ths of the middlemen in the business and rake in the pure profit themselves? Any rational businessperson from outside the recording industry would do it. The only explaination is that there's a lot of vested interest in preserving the current system (aka, kickbacks/payola.) Thus, instead of serving the shareholders, the music execs are ONLY SERVING THEMSELVES.
    • 1) people buy the cd
      2) people are pissed off and return it
      3) ???
      4) profit!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:24PM (#5213087)
    At the moment, most people only have dial up modems. A dial up user can download an individual song, but it is too difficult to download a whole album without alot of time and effort. A dial up user will download a single Mp3 from an album, and then go out and buy the album - it's kind of like free advertising. The RIAA knows this. But the RIAA is thinking ahead.
    In a few years time when broadband is standard, that same user would instead download an individual song, like it, and then download the whole album in less time than it takes a dialup user to download a single mp3.
    Song-swapping encourages album purchases because it's still too difficult for many people to download whole albums with their slow connection speeds. This will change with the arrival of broadband. And when downloading a whole album becomes dead easy, album sales will fall off, alot.
    • by Diamondback (111383) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:30PM (#5213108)
      one problem:

      yeah, okay, 'most people' have modems.

      but a lot of people in the 'young adult' (I mean recently adult, not teenager) category are in college, and most colleges have massive broadband penetration (almost everyone around here off campus has broadband, and EVERYONE in the dorms with a computer has it). That compounds the 'it's too hard to get a whole album' theory.

      I can hop on windows networking and find giant massive piles of whole albums to listen to without even 'downloading' a thing in the classical sense.

      • Except that my university does port sniffing, and so its not possible to use the campus broadband as you suggest. Likewise they routinely inspect windows file sharing directories. Don't *even* lock them out, or your off the net. My running Norton Internet Security on my windows partition was a problem for them. I had to appeal being kicked off. (They also reserve the right to intercept email.)
        • ---Except that my university does port sniffing, and so its not possible to use the campus broadband as you suggest.

          Whoops, the school network has been routed to /dev/null with exception of the gateway.

          ---Likewise they routinely inspect windows file sharing directories.

          What if you're not sharing, say by killing of smbd and nmbd?

          ---Don't *even* lock them out, or your off the net.

          And how do they prove that you're "locking them off"? Would their 'hacking' be unauthorized entry?

          ---My running Norton Internet Security on my windows partition was a problem for them. I had to appeal being kicked off.

          They're just fucking with you. If you were serious, I' do a class action suit under the terms of harassment, Hacking, and threats to my educational careear. Get a shitload of people too.

          ---(They also reserve the right to intercept email.)

          But can they decrypt 4096 bit RSA keys? Methinks not.
    • by pyite (140350) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:34PM (#5213125)
      You make a very convincing argument. However, evidence proves you wrong. I mention in another post how many bands develop a huge fanbase while releasing few, if any, albums, and never being broadcasted on the radio. Why? They allow free recording and distribution of their live shows.

      While pop today is liked by people because it's shoved down their throats, music like I mentioned only sticks around if people like it on its own merits, only then does it get "passed on." You can't put a price on viral marketing like that.

      If you want free music, go here.

    • by fobbman (131816) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:42PM (#5213165) Homepage
      First off, nobody's listening to you because you're posting AC. Anyway...

      There has always been an element of people who never bought their music for as long as home-recordable media has been available. My dad used to borrow LP's and record them on reel-to-reel, and, later, I copied friends tapes on cassette. The important issue here is that the vast majority of people out there (you know, the non-Slashdot folks) who aren't going to copy music. Sure, some of them will, but you'd be surprised how important that pretty little book that's inside the CD is to people. They may download enough to make their own CD, but they won't have THE CD.

      If the pretty CD booklet isn't enough, then do what groups like Audioslave do and make extra songs available for download to those who own the CD. Either way, the overwhelming majority of folks who buy music are still going to buy it. That is, as long as the product isn't crap and they don't feel like they're being ripped off due to overly-inflated prices.

      • That is, as long as the product isn't crap and they don't feel like they're being ripped off due to overly-inflated prices.

        Oh, really [billboard.com] ? Maybe they don't think too hard about the prices.
      • This is exactly wrong.

        With the proliferation of broadband 'net access, commonplace CD burners (even those $399 el cheapo PC's are shipping with them) and the ever increasing quality of "consumer" grade printers, it is becoming that much simpler to produce an identical copy of a store purchased CD. I don't just mean the music, but the CD cover, the little book, the illustration on the CD disc itself.

        The RIAA knows this. The LAST thing they want is every high school and college kid owning a 50x CDR, a photo quality CD label printer, and a photo quality PC printer.

        Today, these are several hundred dollars worth of peripherals that are not standard fare on your average consumer PC. It would be impractical to purchase these accessories for the sole purpose of illegally duplicating CD's. But in not too many months from now, these could be every-day items that even the Wal-Mart PC comes with. I think you get the picture.
  • On the mark... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mat catastrophe (105256) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:25PM (#5213090) Homepage

    This piece really hits the mark in a very roundabout sort of way. The RIAA is not, by any means, interested in "sales" or "artist's livelihood." What the RIAA is interested in is keeping a very tight rein on what is seen as cool, what is heard on the radio, and what makes their profit margins exceed their own expectations.

    RIAA wants to stop peer-to-peer through actions like its lawsuit against Verizon because those actions threaten their stranglehold on commercial music. As I've often said before, plenty of people think that radio and music in general truly suck in these days and times (how many people do you know that haven't bought a "new artist" cd in the last five years, perferring to spend $11.98 on "Skynard's Greatest Hits" or what ever?)

    • Re:On the mark... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hawthorne01 (575586)
      As I've often said before, plenty of people think that radio and music in general truly suck in these days and times (how many people do you know that haven't bought a "new artist" cd in the last five years, perferring to spend $11.98 on "Skynard's Greatest Hits" or what ever?)

      The demands that the labels place on their artists to re-create the success of a smash debut have a lot to do with this. Rather than build a legacy of quality, the labels rush the artist to reproduce whatever the artist did in their first album and then slam it out on the streets to while the artist is "hot". How many acts that danced to this tune have had a followup album worth the plastic it's pressed on?
      Not everyone has drunk the Koolaid. Bands like Pearl Jam, Phish and P.E., and performers like Prince, have the balls and knowledge to flip off the suits and build long, profitable careers. It seems these days that such things happen despite of, and not because of, the management of the major record labels.

      • by Skiboo (306467) on Monday February 03, 2003 @12:50AM (#5213593) Homepage
        Bands like Pearl Jam, Phish and P.E., and performers like Prince, have the balls and knowledge to flip off the suits and build long, profitable careers. It seems these days that such things happen despite of, and not because of, the management of the major record labels.

        Nice alliteration, but I have a better one:

        Performances purveyors Pearl Jam, Phish, P.E., and players like Prince, possess perspicacity, preventing pandering to profiteers, preferring portraying poetry prolifically. Presently, performers procure popularity from performances; pessimistic pilferers perish.
    • Re:On the mark... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ergo98 (9391)
      As I've often said before, plenty of people think that radio and music in general truly suck in these days and times (how many people do you know that haven't bought a "new artist" cd in the last five years, perferring to spend $11.98 on "Skynard's Greatest Hits" or what ever?)

      You do, of course, realize that this is pure, unadulterated nonsense, don't you? Throughout the history of time people have frozen their tastes at a certain period of time, and from thenceforth assured anyone and everyone that music had gone to hell in a handbasket. This sort of personal time lock gets justified by claims that everything just isn't as good as it used to be. If you don't think it's happened for decades, if not centuries, then you are deluding himself. When Beethoven first started his piano concertos the elites assured themselves that this newfangled contraption was but a lowly passing fancy...it just didn't measure up to the harpsichord. Rinse, repeat.
      • Re:On the mark... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mat catastrophe (105256) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @11:18PM (#5213295) Homepage

        I'd admit it were pure, adulterated nonsense if it were 45-year old mullets buying all that fucking Skynard. But it isn't. It's 18 year-old kids stuck in a "retro" trip.

        Why retro? Because their own, mass marketed, youth culture sucks ass. They'd rather feed off the ghosts of the past than starve with the shades of present.

        While there are a certain number of people who reach a point where "nostalgia" becomes important to them and "new and shiny" is just not acceptable, I don't think that it invalidates my argument at all. After all, there is plenty of corporate music out there that is "new" that appeals to the "old" tastes, eh? And where are the sales of those groups? Down in the gutters with all the other new artists.

        • Re:On the mark... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by civilizedINTENSITY (45686) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @11:24PM (#5213318)
          As a non-traditional student, most of my school friends are 19-21. The Beatles are incredibly popular. So are The Doors, and Pink Floyd. Amazingly enough classical music is played more than modern music. This isn't nostalgia. These kids are discovering alot of this music.
          • Discovering (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 03, 2003 @12:03AM (#5213432)
            Yes-s-s-s, that is the key word....

            You might know all the Pink Floyd hits from Careful With That Ax Eugene to the more recent masturbatory epics but for an 18 year old, that's a whole new world.
            I was listening to a Yes live video (the one with the young girls in the symphony orchestra) with an older inlaw and our 15 year old niece who is a budding musician came down to the basement and went Wow!...what is that song?
            "Uh.....its called Roundabout and Ive heard that song about as often as Freebird and hotel California"
            What's Freebird she asked?

            When her friends came by to check out some of my 70's stuff recently, it was an amazing revelation, for them and me. Songs that I had OD'ed on were new and fresh to them.

            Mind you it helps that these kids were all interested in playing music so their tastes were not limited to the prefab top 40 stuff.
            Hell, if you want to play music and get to hear
            the Allmans Brothers Live at the Fillmore East for the first time, it will mark you, no matter when it was made.

            zack
        • Ah yes, and in the 90s noone listened to disco remixes. In the 80s noone listened to Dee-Lite or the B-52s. "Retro" has always been hip. Young people who need to be "cooler" than the average young person have always listened to retro music. Young people who are quite happy being "just plain cool" will listen to Limp Bizkit and love it, and in five years they'll be complaining no music has come out in the last five years that was any good - that Limp Bizkit was The End Of Metal. Bullcrap. It's common knowledge that around the age of 19-20, most people's tastes get locked in time. Either they only buy old music, or they only buy "retro" music. Just admit it - you're getting old. It happens to almost everyone, you get to a point when current pop music doesn't excite you any more. To me, this is a wonderful nod in the direction of musicians and particularly A&R people, who are able to stay with the trends and keep giving the teenagers what they want.

      • Re:On the mark... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ZuG (13394)
        I don't think it's nonsense at all. I'm 19, and the stuff I hear on the radio today is crap. Pure and utter crap, it's so bad that I've given up on modern radio entirely and listen exclusively to bands like Led Zepplin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the like.

        I know a lot of other people like me as well, who refuse to listen to the crap that is modern music. Some listen to indie bands, some get into the local music scene, some gravitate toward older music, and some tune out of music alltogether.

        Of course, there will always be the sheeple who buy Britney Spears and stuff. But, most of their audience is children who will grow up and realize that it's all crap. Hell, I liked New Kids on the Block when I was 5, now my 6 year old sister is a big fan of Britney, I grew out of it and so will she.

    • Re:On the mark... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by God! Awful 2 (631283)

      This piece really hits the mark in a very roundabout sort of way. RIAA wants to stop peer-to-peer through actions like its lawsuit against Verizon because those actions threaten their stranglehold on commercial music.

      I dunno. That's pretty roundabout logic. What Janis Ian basically said was "I put up music that people can download for free off my website, but the RIAA wants to stop me by suing Verizon to force them to reveal the names of people who illegally share copyrighted files via P2P." Somehow I just don't follow. I know there's a logical fallacy in there, but what could it be?

      -a
  • I agree completely. (Score:5, Informative)

    by DarkHand (608301) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:26PM (#5213095)
    I agree! If it weren't for sites like MP3.com, my band Flailing Kitten would have never gotten off the ground; the 'industry' would never accept it. :) The RIAA is afraid of losing control of music in general and the profits that follow; that's what's got them so scared.
  • by anthonyrcalgary (622205) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:27PM (#5213097)
    Couldn't artists who use online file sharing as a form of advertisement sue the RIAA for curtailing their activities?

    I know the law in the US allows them to disable file sharing computers without worrying about damages, but would it protect them from damage it causes other people with secondary effects such as that?
  • by einer (459199) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:27PM (#5213098) Journal
    Is accuse someone of pirating music, and the "machinery is set in motion."?

    Well, I have a short list of people who I believe have been pirating music:

    Hillary Rosen
    George W. Bush
    William Jefferson Clinton
    Gandhi
    Carrot Top
    Ann Coulter
    Jesse Jackson
    The Dell Dude
    mathew lesko (The question mark guy selling the book on how to get free government money)
    Rick Fox (from the Lakers...)

  • Swaying Indecisively (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the_mad_poster (640772) <shattoc@adelphia.com> on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:28PM (#5213101) Homepage Journal
    She keeps talking about "infringing files" that can get you in hot water and the courtroom. However, consider this: you can be sued for anything, at any time, and no one needs present any proof that their allegations, no matter how ludicrous, are true until the case actually comes to court. How do you think fat hogs with no self control get lawsuits against (admittedly disgusting) restaraunts into the courtroom?

    The RIAA can't stop you from sending your own music careening across the Internet. BUT, I'm concerned that the RIAA CAN put you in the courtroom long enough or often enough to drain your coffers and shut you down permanently via the tried and true method of bluedgeoning a less financially healthy victim with constant lawsuits. This could be an effective new marketing technique, in fact. Just drag indies and single artists/bands into the courtroom who might be "stealing sales" by offering their music for free, then beat them into submission by outlasting their bank accounts.

    I don't know yet what to make of this. However, I've learned both through harsh personal experience and by watching other cases play out, that the courts in this country are rarely inclined to do the right thing. Justice is blind... blinded by money that is, and the RIAA has enough of it to make sure that they can make more of it.
    • by Arethan (223197)
      Well, like you said, anyone can sue anyone, and proof is not required until the court date is reached.

      So the next time you are sued wrongfully, find yourself a nice pro-bono lawyer. The RIAA has plenty of cash, just like you said. If you are truly in the right, you should have no trouble winning their initial case against you. Then, as retribution, you counter-sue them for about 5 million dollars to cover your court costs, lawyer fees, therapy bills (from induced stress), lost wages, and mental anguish.

      The door swings both ways my friend. You just need to know the right people, and (more importantly) be persistant and never give up.
      • Except the RIAA's (and other large conglomerates) tactics seem to be to never actually let the case get to trial, by drawing it out with motions and the like until you eventually just give up and settle with them, creating a precedent for the law. Not to mention they've got to have a few judges in their pockets via campaign contributions to key politicians, etc. They know who their friends are.
  • What she's talking about works great with small-time musicians. When I was in a band, we tried to distribute our mp3s to anyone who would want to listen. Then we got a hot designer to make our merch, and that's how we made the mainstay of our cash.

    However, I don't think her example is valid on a multi-platinum level. We get enough exposure to bigger bands through mtv and radio where we already know if we're gonna buy their shirt and concert tickets.
    • by Klowner (145731) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @11:09PM (#5213259) Homepage
      Exactly, but have you considered the possibility of a world that has free sharing of music, causing people to be exposed to more artists and genres, resulting in very few artists who get multi-platinum status because people wouldn't be fed music which is deemed "good" by "The Man". People that get multi-platinum would actually have to be THAT GOOD to earn it, not have the best marketing people.
    • > However, I don't think her example is valid on a
      > multi-platinum level.

      So? What need is there for "multi-platinum level" bands to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue?
  • Built-in players (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Autonymous Toaster (646656) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:29PM (#5213105) Homepage
    Since the article obliquely discusses the death of radio and the rise of the MP3 (or other music file format) as a distribution method, it seems another progression might emerge.

    At one point it seemed everything had an AM radio built into it - lamps, planters, kitchen appliances. You can find these kitschy, unenlightened objects in thrift stores nowadays, or tucked embarrassedly in people's basements. A while before that everything had a lamp built into it (culminating in that grass-skirted hula girl lamp you just can't get rid of), and before that it was a clock (you know you've got one of those elephants too). Whatever technology is just past the cusp seems to get built into everything as a cheap add-on (as long as it's simple enough, anyway - making toast, for instance, is a dedicated task).

    Now people are asking for MP3 players in cellphones and PDAs - is this the kitschy inclusion of the future? Will alarm clocks and stoves and fridges and (dare I hope) toasters of the future all include a de rigeur network interface with an IPv6 address and an MP3 codec? It seems likely they will.

    • Pretty much any new consumer electronic device that can read a DVD or CD can play MP3s. This includes my new DVD player and my new stereo. Of course this isn't lamps and planters, but it does signal a shift as you have noted.

      MP3s are popular and MP3 support is so easy to add, why not add it? And this is a good thing because the more people who are exposed, the harder it is to stop the whole thing.

      Brian Ellenberger
  • by pyite (140350) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:30PM (#5213107)
    Bands like The Grateful Dead [dead.net] and Phish [phish.com] have realized the ridiculous marketing power giving away free music has. Both bands were/are extremely successful (in terms of the amount of concert tickets sold) and this can be directly linked to the free exchange of audience recordings made by fans. I still find out about new bands largely based on this technique. A band allows taping at their shows and people do it. They then offer the shows for free download. People like me listen and then go to the shows, paying the artists. Everyone, except the RIAA, wins. I'd be scared and panicking too if I was the RIAA.

    If you're interested in free music, go here [etree.org].

    • by aredubya74 (266988) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @11:10PM (#5213266)
      The RIAA could give a rat's ass about the Dead and Phish's concert success. Historically, have their albums sold well? Do they get considerable radio airplay? No, and no. Don't get me wrong - I really like both bands. However, the "R" in RIAA stands for Recording. This is what they care about; control of the output of recorded musical performance. If they can control the flow of musical recordings, they can continue to foist talentless crap on the listening public. If anything, Phish and the Dead are anomolies in their system. The RIAA would squash these performers' direct marketing of music if they felt they could. But they can't, so they take on the ISPs and downloaders, ignoring the ill will this spawns.
    • Bands like The Grateful Dead [dead.net] and Phish [phish.com] have realized the ridiculous marketing power giving away free music has. Both bands were/are extremely successful (in terms of the amount of concert tickets sold) and this can be directly linked to the free exchange of audience recordings made by fans. I still find out about new bands largely based on this technique. A band allows taping at their shows and people do it. They then offer the shows for free download. People like me listen and then go to the shows, paying the artists. Everyone, except the RIAA, wins. I'd be scared and panicking too if I was the RIAA.

      While this method does work good for some bands, it will not work for others. The bands it works for are bands with a smaller, extremely dedicated following. It works well if people are willing to go see you every night for a week in concert. But for the average band (ie most bands) that doesn't inspire this type of fanatical devotion, giving away free music usually means people take their free music and leave. Most people are not fanatical about their music. They can be inspired to go and spend $15 on a CD to hear the band, but they would be much happier if they could get online and hear the band for free.
  • Sabrina (Score:2, Funny)

    by MrWa (144753)
    Janis's stance on MP3's is admirable, but it was probably the reference on "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" that had the largest impact on sales...
  • by gatesh8r (182908) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:30PM (#5213111)
    However, like most companies that love controlling things, they don't want a middle man to deal with. The current model of their sales deals in a middleman which in turn does mark up CD sales. Having both the retail end (along with the wholesale end) and you cut out the middle man. For the "middle man" on the net so far has been the various P2P programs (Napster, Gnutella, Kazaa, etc). The RIAA would love to seize this chance of a new medium I'm sure -- just they want to be the only distributers out there. Having someone like a P2P (even if it's a legal download!) would not only cut off their chances of monopolizing the net model of sales, but also make it so that artists don't have to scramble to the whim of the RIAA looking for the star of the month.


    They took radio along with Clear Channel -- let's not let them take the net.

  • Legacy of Greed (Score:4, Informative)

    by rudy_wayne (414635) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:31PM (#5213113)
    "After I first posted downloadable music, my merchandise sales went up 300%"

    The entertainment industries are controlled by people so blinded by greed that they are completely incapable of comprehending any business model that does not revolve around iron-fisted totalitarian control of their product. The list is lengthy and has been repeated many times:

    Jack Valenti wanted to outlaw VCRs, saying they would destroy the movie industry. Instead, they have produced billions in profits.

    The MPAA claims that they are currently suffering enormous harm from the trading of movies on the Interent. In reality, box office receipts in 2002 were up 11% from the previous year and the number of movie tickets sold was the highest in 50 years.

    In 1981 the RIAA was making the same claims that they are today about lost profits due to "piracy". Back in those days, CDs, Personal Computers and the Internet didn't exist. The villian, according to the RIAA, was cassette tape recorders. People were allegedly taping their friends records instead of buying them. But studies showed that people who owned sophisticated home recording requipment spend 75% MORE money buying records than people who didn't.

    The list goes on.......

    The greed and stupidity of the enterntainment industry goes on....

    The irony here is that time and time again the entertainment industry has had to be saved from itself.

  • by Phantom_24 (416231) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:32PM (#5213115)
    They want to make sure independent artists don't start getting too big for their britches and therefor don't need the help of the RIAA or the big 5 recording labels??

    Case in point....Ani Difranco has sold nearly, if not MORE than 1 million albums....ALL ON HER OWN!! And that's just ONE WOMAN from that musical hotbed of Buffalo, NY *sarcasm*!!
    Imagine that, if you multiplied that more than 100x with talent from around the world! The labels would not be able to compete......
    • Mod UP (Score:2, Insightful)

      by That_Dan_Guy (589967)
      This was the whole point of why IUMA.COM got started so many years ago. Cut out the record companies, and let the artists go direct to the customers.

      I remember discussing this over and over again at the time and how everyone was sure the companies wanted to destroy IUMA. Then Napster came along and made them forget about it.

      Whoever modded this down either didn't read it or didn't understand the point he was trying to make. The Record companies DO want control over the music and how it is distributed. File Swapping takes that away from them. They don't want a bunch of small tiny artists selling directly to people who take away sales of their mega-bands. They just want Mega Bands, and a cut of the profits these mega bands make.
  • by bfree (113420) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:33PM (#5213120)
    Anyone care to put forward some suggestions on how a musician can distribute their work, receive payment, hold copyright and get people to license their work? I have a close friend who has recently put some of his work closer into the spotlight online (but still very far from it, in a very targeted place) and his bandwisth limits loom if he were to actually promote his music whatsoever. He's considered dumping lower quality versions (the present audio is 256kbs mp3) into p2p apps but is unconvinced that it is a good thing to do. He's had a number of offers in the past few weeks for deals for 1 or 2 tracks (people haven't seen or heard much of his music but he's been writing for over a dozen years). I'm think he should charge a minimal worthwhile credit card charge for his work, allowing people who buy return for up to a year to download new audio he writes, offer standard deals for record labels where they can download lossless files and run with them. Of course I want him to use free codecs, and I think he might be convinced (on the possibility of hearing from fraunhoffer et al demanding cash). Any ideas the best way to go about price, bandwidth and the artists interests? What about "simpler" things like hooking up a shop to downloads securely (and simply for the end user) without having to go to your bank to setup a merchant account and without having to loose nearly all of a reasonable sized transaction in costs?
  • by acomj (20611) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:33PM (#5213121) Homepage
    The RIAA represents the recording industry..

    Not Artists.. Not music consumers..

    doesn't that feel better?

    There actions may drive you nuts , but what can you do. Your not paying them. They're defending the "Recording Industry" The fact they have the influence they do isn't there own fault. If you don't like it don't buy the music they produce..(I'm not advocating stealing it either by obtaining it and not paying for it..)

    Slashdot shouldn't jump every time the RIAA does something..

  • Well, obviously... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PetWolverine (638111) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:36PM (#5213138) Journal
    This should come as no surprise to those of us who actually pirate MP3s. Yes, I have 60 gigs of music on one of my hard drives. No, I did not pay for most of that music. However, if it hadn't been for Napster and its successors, I wouldn't have bought most of the 150 or so CDs I own. Most of my friends download music from the Internet, yet I know of no one who has stopped buying CDs just because they can get everything online. Instead, the Internet serves, as it does in all aspects of its use, to expose people to new things--and then, predictably for denizens of a consumer society, we buy those new things.

    For that matter, it should come as no surprise to people who know the history of VHS. The movie industry was up in arms when tape recorders came out, saying people would no longer go to movies because they could just pirate a friend's copy. Today, most of the movie industry's revenue comes from sales and rentals of video tapes and DVDs. The VCR caused a boom in the movie industry, and if it weren't for a) the current economic slump and b) the RIAA's stubborn opposition of new technology, P2P would be causing a boom in the music industry.
  • System of a Down (Score:5, Insightful)

    by imhotep (83351) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:36PM (#5213141) Homepage
    I believe CD sales have to be maintained by offering added-value. For example, the latest System of a Down CD did not have a cover booklet, but rather had embedded the pictures, lyrics and credits on the CD itself, only to be unlocked by an application downloadable from their website.

    That's added value. The CD itself has more information and value than the collection of the same songs on mp3.

    An album is not just the music that it has; it's a whole piece of art, expressed in the music, in the cover art, in the packaging, in the booklet, etc ...

    Such albums would make me want to buy the CD instead of just having the mp3s ....
    • Re:System of a Down (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wadetemp (217315) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:40PM (#5213155)
      I don't consider liner notes "added value." It's not information you can't get from some other source, and by requiring an application to get at information you would "normally" get with your CD purchase they've actually put a squeeze on how many people can view the information they purchased. What if you don't have a computer capable of running the liner-notes app?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "the latest System of a Down CD did not have a cover booklet, but rather had embedded the pictures, lyrics and credits on the CD itself, only to be unlocked by an application downloadable from their website."

      You call that added value? They do NOT provide something, they force you to download some app and "unlock" what you get with other CDs normally?
    • Re:System of a Down (Score:4, Interesting)

      by man_ls (248470) on Monday February 03, 2003 @12:02AM (#5213429)
      You know what would have made me go out and buy the album in a heartbeat?

      To have the MP3 tracks of the songs embedded on the CD also.

      The technology to make mixed-mode CDs (Data Track 1 + Audio Tracks 2..n), that *work* in devices like walkmen, car audio, and computers, has been around for YEARS and YEARS.

      An album I put together for some friends of mine who all attended this concert was a big hit. On the audio portion of the CD, I put the most well known track from each of the 18 or so bands that played. On the data portion, I put the same track in MP3 format.

      I've bought a few CDs and ripped them to MP3. If when I bought a CD, it came with the MP3s already (buying a CD legally entitles you to the MP3s, you just have to go find or rip them) that would be excellant. ALso acceptable in this case would be DRM-enabled WMA files that require the physical CD they came from the first time they are played, to unlock them; after that, they're yours and yours alone. Reformat, just copy and reactivate.
  • The "stated goal" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Call Me Black Cloud (616282) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:43PM (#5213168)
    RIAA's stated goal in preventing this type of activity with their lawsuit against Verizon is to increase sales

    The suit against Verizon involves someone who made music illegally available, i.e. the copyright was held by a RIAA member. It does not involve someone making available music that no RIAA member held the copyright to. (damn, what a messy sentence). RIAA didn't go after the biggest file sharer - they went after someone they could win against. Garage bands are safe.
  • Focus of interests (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phurley (65499) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:45PM (#5213174) Homepage
    Assuming that the RIAA has anything other than the RIAA's best interests at heart is exactly like assuming a union has anything other than the union's best interest at heart. There is significant overlap, but they are not perfectly aligned.

    If I work for a union and the union is offered a contract that will significantly increase my salary, but also reduce the number of union employees, it is very unlikely that the proposal will be accepted (even when the staff reduction is done via attrition).

    Similarly the RIAA's interests have nothing to do with artist's best interests, so why the surprise? Artists (like misreprested union employees) need to realize when the people they pay (very well), are no longer working in their best interests and move to find new representation.

  • by KlomDark (6370) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:45PM (#5213177) Homepage Journal
    If they'd just make everything (Everything, not just a small selection of stuff) available with some huge amounts of bandwidth for a small fee per song, I'd find it much more convenient than trolling through a bunch of lame slow connection via Limewire. But no, they are just pulling the ostrich routine...
  • by sirket (60694) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:46PM (#5213182)
    The only way we are going to get things to change is to tell the artists directly what we think.

    We should take the time to contact our favorite artists and let them know that we are not going to buy their music until we can purchase it in a format that we want. Let the artists themselves put some serious pressure on the recording companies.

    I personally have not bought a CD since 1996 despite wanting to buy a number of almbums. For me, CD's are simply not worth their current prices. The latest moves by RIAA have just hardened my resolve.

    When I can buy high quality MP3's or FLAC encodings online, for a reasonable price, I can easily see myself spending a couple thousand dollars buying the music I want. Until then, I simply don't listen to music. I won't download it because I don't believe that is fair. I will, however, exercise my rights as a consumer not to purchase their music.

    -sirket
  • by BytePusher (209961) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:47PM (#5213183) Homepage
    I'm not quite sure it's so difficult for the folks on /. to see why the RIAA is against MP3s, file sharing, etc... The whole reason record companies exist is to burn CDs and advertise. It's actually quite easy and inexpensive(Meaning not M$, but K$) to setup a nice recording studio and then burn A CD. File sharing takes care of distribution and the relitively cheap cost of advertising on a website takes care of well.. advertisement.
    The problem is that the recording companies can see a "free market" in the future, which means their relitive profit will probably come close to zero.
    In Ellen Fiess-ese here's the senario:
    "So the RIAA guy was like, 'Ah, like, I was doing my homework, and like,,, if these, like people start using mp3s, they will, like, stop buying CDs from us
    So I was like Nooo Waaay!, so I made the switch from opressing music artists to suing and getting court orders to ransack small buisinesses trying to establish file-sharing on the internet.
    I'm so totally pleased in my desision to broaden my circle oppression, cause, like, I feel so much more totally secure.'"

    -- All your sig. are belong to us
  • by hillct (230132) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @10:47PM (#5213188) Homepage Journal
    In his editorial, Janis Ian says of the ruling the RIAA sought on behalf of it's membership:
    f this ruling stands, many smaller musicians will be hurt financially, and many will be pushed out of the music business altogether.
    This shouldn't suprise anyone. The RIAA doesn't care about small artists. It generates revenue for it's board of directors (elected by the artists that generate revenue for the RIAA) based on licenses paid for broadcast of the musig of the music of it's most popular member artists, who are the only ones who ever see any of the money collected by the cartel. This process is detailed in a fascinating if somewhat dated article [twisted-helices.com] by Harvey Reid. Definately worth a read.

    --CTH
    • by John Hasler (414242) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @11:38PM (#5213358) Homepage
      You are thoroughly confused. The RIAA is an association of music publishers: Sony, Vivendi, etc. No actual musicians are involved. The article you cite is about ASCAP and BMI.
    • by K8Fan (37875) on Monday February 03, 2003 @12:10AM (#5213456) Journal
      In his editorial, Janis Ian says...

      Not to nit-pick, but Janis is a woman.

      Recently, I attended the Consumer Electronics Show and Janis was on a panel with Dan Gillmor from the Mecury News, Steve Wozniac, Scott Dinsdale (a weasle from the MPAA), a mega-weasle from the RIAA (the "little pischer" from Courtney Love's rant), and someone from the HRRC. Janis daid a lot of interesting things, including talking about a blind kid who had his computer wiped out by a copy-protected Celiene Dion CD.

      Anyway, Dinsdale was asked about Jon Johansen and the right to watch legally purchased DVDs on the computer system of one's choice. He replied (I wish I had this on tape) that just because someone was stupid enough to use the wrong operating system, they didn't have the right to watch anything they wanted. Yes, I'm serious...he called Linux users "stupid". This should be on the recording of the CES "Supersession on Digital Downloading" of the 2003 CES.

      To repeat, a legally authorized representative of the MPAA called Linux users stupid. This is true. This is NOT a troll. There were several hundred people in the room.

  • who thinks the Janis Ian quote sounds like the body of a spam?

    To: spamvictim@aol.com
    Subject: MAKE EASY MONEY AT HOME

    After I first posted downloadable music, my merchandise sales went up 300%. They're still double what they were before the MP3s went online.

  • by Tomy (34647)
    My downloading of MP3's has NEVER cost the recording industry a single penny. I only download two things; music that is no longer in print, and new stuff to see if I like it.

    For the stuff out of print, I can't buy it, so no loss to the industry.

    For the new stuff, if I like it I buy the CD, if I don't I delete it and would have never gambled the price of a CD anyway.

    And I'm especially pissed about the stuff out of print. They are screwing both the artist and listener by having a business structure that can't be profitable with small run/demand items. Rhino did a lot to rescue some catalogues, but there are many others languishing out there that a smaller and smarter business could profit from.

    The music industry wasn't destroyed by the MP3, it was destroyed by the bean counter and the corporation. They will die, and I hope it will happen soon, because then new business will spring up in it's place, dedicated to the music, and serving both artist and listener.

    • by Jeremi (14640)
      For the stuff out of print, I can't buy it, so no loss to the industry.


      If we assume that you have only so many hours in a month that you can devote listening to music, then it follows that if you are spending your listening time listening to free out-of-print music, you'll be less motivated to investigate and buy the new music the RIAA is selling. So they lose income that they would otherwise have got from you.


      (not that their hypothetical loss of income bothers me in the least, of course -- but this would explain why the RIAA doesn't want people to have easy access to out-of-print music)

  • I agree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by neo8750 (566137) <zepski@zeps[ ]net ['ki.' in gap]> on Sunday February 02, 2003 @11:01PM (#5213231) Homepage
    by cutting people off from downloading songs artists and the RIAA are cutting out new listeners. I personal like to get a few of the songs off a cd before I buy because I hate buy a cd and finding out i only like 1 of the songs on the cd.

    www.machinaesupremacy.com [machinaesupremacy.com] allow people to download their music for free. although they have no cd's out atm I know if they did I would gladyl buy it and support them. but thats just me I find by sampleing the music I am more apt to buy it.

  • by xNullx (635439)
    The article refers to any mp3s he releases will infringe copyright law. However if it was his own work and he released it to the public domain how could the RIAA intervene? As I understood the rulings in the past, the RIAA's authority only extends to labels and artists they represent. How would this affect smaller artists who -choose- to put their music online?
  • A lot of people who listen to mp3s rarely buy cd's for two reasons. First of all, the people who listen mainly to popular music can find mp3s for most the tracks they want online pretty easily. Finding specific jazz, classical, or other not-so mainstream stuff can be difficult and is easier to get by buying a cd. Second, many people's ears aren't good enough to hear the compression in mp3s, or simply don't care enough. People who can hear the compression are generally annoyed by it and buy cds for higher-quality audio.
  • I live in LA... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Newer Guy (520108) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @11:42PM (#5213368)
    and I find it pathetic that I'm forced to scour the playlists of various radio stations in obscure markets around the country, then download the music to sample it and also find myself listening to Internet stations in small towns because radio in the LARGEST MEDIA MARKET in the world doesn't have a radio station I like! The record industry should be HAPPY thay have a loyal customer like me who WORKS HARD to find titles to buy. Instead, they call me a CRIMINAL! Is this their idea of giving the customer what they want? Frankly, I'd love to own a record company. It's easy to make money. Even if you can't market yourself out of a paper bag, don't worry! Congress and the courts will help you be the ONLY GAME IN TOWN, because after all, this is how the marketplace is supposed to work!
  • by DeadBugs (546475) on Sunday February 02, 2003 @11:46PM (#5213378) Homepage
    If you think the RIAA is worried about all these people downloading songs for free and pirating music

    Their NOT.

    Free downloads can actually help sales in the same way that radio does. And the pirates who have 1000's of mp3's probably would not have paid for any of that anyway.

    So what are they worried about?

    Distribution. Their greatest fear is that artists will start releasing music on their own, side stepping the recording industry and their slave like contracts. Once an artist can release music (without the record company) through the Internet. The record companies will cease to exist. End of story
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 02, 2003 @11:57PM (#5213413)
    As a musician and recording engineer, I can attest that, yes, it isn't cheap bringing recordings to market.

    However...

    What we're really talking about here is the notion that one must fork over a monetary sum and wait (maybe minutes, but sometimes days, sometimes years, depending on a recording's availablity and rarity) to hear it. P2P cuts the wait and the inconvenience of "real" shopping, and is (currently) free.

    The price of a CD is justified through the reward of owning a physical media that is as close to the original master as is possible, given mass-production's capabilities. Fairly-priced CDs ($5-$15) are a good bargain in this regard. If you know that a recorded work is required for your library, then ONLY a legitimate copy of that thing, with full audio quality, is an acceptable solution to that need. MP3s won't cut it.

    MP3s are merely "near-CD" facsimiles of an actual, valuable thing. They, in and of themselves, have *NO* value. Even the highest quality MP3 files suffer from degradation, and can't be replicated without further degradation. Without hard-media backups, they are prone to instant and irrecoverable loss or corruption. They provide none of the tactile rewards of real media (quality artwork and printed liner notes are, indeed, worth something) and are even incapable of replicating the CD listening experience in certain cases (where tracks flow one song into another, seperate files for each track result in gaps).

    Some might say these are minor things, but I feel strongly that no one would ever settle for having MP3s of a work that they truly love.

    So the real question is: why should people feel pressure to pay for the privelege of auditioning works that they may not actually desire to have in their physical media library for the long term?

    I don't think they should.

    Readers can audition nearly any book at their public library without a financial transaction taking place. I feel that P2P applications are roughly the audio equivalent of public libraries, and, as such, are beneficial for the public's musical education.

    As a musician with works in release, I do not fear downloading, because anyone who would download my record and be content with that piss-poor representation of my work wasn't going to buy it anyway. But, perhaps, through having heard it in it's entirety, they might learn to love it and need to purcahse it. Or, if they don't like it, they might recommend it to someone who *would* like it, and they might purchase it.

    And another thing: if we're going to be upset about P2P music trading, why aren't we upset about used CDs? Artists don't get a *dime* from those transactions, and those transactions lead to the purchaser actually obtaining the thing of real value - a physical copy!

  • Publicity is significant to Janis Ian's case.

    She is famous among the "filesharing" community because she is on their side.

    Drawing the conclusion that "filesharing promotes sales" from her case is drawing a false conclusion.

    Drawing the conclusion that "filesharing reduces sales" is also false, but that's not the point, here.
  • by deadfly (39238) on Monday February 03, 2003 @01:39AM (#5213693)
    As a musician I have a need to play. It's something I just have to do and will always have to do. It doesn't matter if any one hears it or not. It's in my head and I have to find a way to get it out.

    As a music fan I have a need to hear the voices in the heads of other kindred spirits who I can connect with via music. I'll get a hold of that through what ever means is available. Most of the music in my collection is special order. There is, make that was, a great deal I was never able to aquire until the internet united us all whether it be purchasing cds directly from the artist's web site or just downloading a mp3.

    My personal feeling is that the RIAA is fighting to save itself under the guise of protecting it's artists. Technology has made the old system ( as ineffective as it was ) obsolete. Artists can now deal directly with their fans no matter how distant they may be. The Industry tried to ignore the technology, but the musicians and the fans created the system they wanted instead. Now the Industry is on the outside looking in.
  • by solostring (620535) on Monday February 03, 2003 @02:30AM (#5213797) Homepage
    If it were not for mp3's and the internet I would have really starved last year, and certainly would not have gotten as far with my musical project as I have.

    In 2002, I received about $4000 in paypal donations from complete strangers who happened to stumble across my site. Whilst this was in no means a real salary, it kept the wolves from my door and the taxman fed.

    It sickens me that the RIAA and the greedy fat record executives are trying to prevent anyone who does not produce 'commercial music' a chance to live off of their talents....
  • by istartedi (132515) on Monday February 03, 2003 @02:38AM (#5213822) Journal

    Downloadable music doesn't increase sales. It doesn't decrease sales either. It regresses sales to the mean.

    For unsigned artists, it increases sales because they get global exposure which they can't get through some other medium.

    For big name artists who are already known worldwide it decreases sales because the people who might otherwise knuckle under and pay will just download instead.

    The people who argue that downloading increases sales for *everybody* are just trying to find arguments to support their desire for free downloads. Likewise, the people who argue that it decreases sales for *everybody* are just trying to protect their business.

    Now obviously attacking the format, be it MP3 or whatever makes no sense at all. If the bigtime copyright holders want to persue illegal copying that's fine, but attacking P2P systems and the file formats makes no sense.

    As much as many don't like it, the old bit about "when you're downloading MP3s you're downloading communism" has a kernel of truth to it. Socialist systems often regress people to the mean. Usually, the mean ends up lower too although command economies sometimes distribute resources towards one particular aspect of society and exceed the mean of that particular aspect under capitalism (see, Sputnik, Cuban Health Care). In a sense, the MP3 people have risen up and redistributed the wealth from large copyright holders to computer companies and smaller artists.

    This presents me with a moral quandary. On the one hand, I dislike the Leftist revolutionary attitudes that some have. I don't believe people can justify the taking of something just because they think they should have it. On the other hand, the manipulation of the government by the corporations offends me equally. A pox on both their houses! When one side buys the law, and the other side breaks the law, the framework of society begins to unravel.

    Our laws are supposed to be formed on the basis of civilized debate, not the outcome of a slugfest between thieves and scoundrels.

    So for now, what very little music I buy, I buy legally; I haven't downloaded music very often, and when I did I felt like I was being a hypocrite, since I have argued in favor of IP rights. Of course, I'm mostly in the "radio is good enough" category of listener. If I were really, really pasionate about music I'm not sure what I'd do.

  • In my mind, snagging MP3's over the internet is no different than listening to a song over the radio. Any legal scholars in the audience please correct me, but it has been my understanding that it is perfectly legal to record a song played over the airwaves. You cannot sell that recording in any way, but then again copyright was always about publishing NOT consuming.

    Just like back in the days of those analog magnetic tape recorders, friends and I would swap collections. After a while I got sick of the static, siblings tapeing rude comments over my favorite tracs, and broken tapes. So I would go out and buy the CD. Why? As far as my ears (and several electrical engineering principles) it is a perfect recording. Unfiltered, unaltered, un-everything from when it left the mixing booth.

    Why haven't I bought a CD in a while? For starters, I can't really think of any new music that has been worth buying. Hell, two top selling albums of last year featured artists WHO HAVE BEEN DEAD SINCE I WAS AN INFANT. I don't really get exposed to new music on the radio:

    • Because most of the new stuff that is on the radio is twink bands and whining teenaged girls
    • What music I do like on the radio is generally older than I am
    • Even if I find a classic rock album I am looking for, it is out of print and the remixed version doesn't have the tracks I'm looking for.

    Damn, I remember the days when you would see a new video on MTV and go "I have to own that album." I can't name the last time I've actually SEEN a rock video on MTV. These days it's all quiz shows and psuedo journalism.

    The industry as a whole stopped taking risks long ago, and in the process they have lost the novelty factor that WAS their business.

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