On one hand (lets call this one the right hand) we have a most amazing breakthrough from the Warner Music Group. Warner, after a decade of leading the fight against digital music, has actually agreed to place their entire catalog of onver one half million songs on Amazon in the totally unrestricted mp3 format, long despised by the music industry.
Warner joins Universal and EMI, bringing the total number of tracks available on Amazon to 2.9 million. 2.9 million!!
There are no silly DRM (digital rights management) restrictions on the Amazon tracks. No limits to the number of CD's you can burn or the mixture of tracks. And, most important, there are no compatibility issues. An Amazon mp3 track plays on virtually every device sold today.
This means there are absolutely no restrictions on the tracks purchased through Amazon. You can burn them to CD's, make custom mixes of tunes, transfer them to your iPod and to any other mp3 player. You can download them to a computer and then transfer them to other computers. No restrictions! You are actually allowed to enjoy the music you legally purchased at home, in the office, at the beach or in your car.
Warner Music Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Edgar Bronfman Jr. explained the decision this way:
In an e-mail obtained by The Associated Press and distributed to Warner employees Thursday, Bronfman noted that selling downloads without DRM would helpWarner was the last holdout among the majors. Now ever label sells DRM FREE tracks somewhere, some via iTunes and others on their own web site.
spur new types of online music applications and foster competition among online retailers.
"By removing a barrier to the sale and enjoyment of audio downloads, we bring an energy-sapping debate to a close and allow ourselves to refocus on opportunities and products that will benefit not only WMG, but our artists and
our consumers as well," Bronfman wrote.
Life is good.
But... on the other hand (let's call this one the left hand) the Recording Industry Association of America's (the RIAA) lawyers have now filed a lawsuit claiming that it is illegal to copy music from any legally purchased CD onto any device, anytime, anywhere or in any format!
Here is the news as reported by The Washington Post:
In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.
The industry's lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings.
Clearly the left hand is totally unaware of what the right hand is up to. The left hand is in court attempting to convince a judge that a consumer cannot ever make any copy of any legally purchased recording. No copying to the computer. No copying to an iPod. No copying to an mp3 player. All copies are illegal.
If the RIAA wins this lawsuit, it will wipe out the entire digital music industry and end competition and innovation. In other words the RIAA might defeat everything Warner Music is trying to accomplish.