Well here's a bit of bad news for those of us who have fought so long and hard for sensibility and intelligence in the music recording industry: A jury in Duluth, Minnesota has awarded the major recording companies (Sony BMG, Arista Records LLC, Interscope Records, UMG Recordings Inc., Capitol Records Inc. and Warner Bros. Records Inc.) a total of $222,000 for the illegal file sharing of 24 copyrighted recordings from the above mentioned labels.
Curiously enough last night I logged onto my Napster account (the new, legal Napster) and downloaded 24 tracks and burned them to a mix CD. My cost was $23.76.
The music industry, primarily the RIAA, hopes that everyone gets the message. $23.76 is a whole lot cheaper than $222,000.00!
Unfortunately my fear is that this will only encourage the RIAA and its members to continue their long standing attitude of treating their customers as if they are mortal enemies instead of the only real source of income they actually have.
This lawsuit may actually encourage the music industry to continue to make the legal purchase of music difficult, confusing, and frequently impossible. The music industry and their bizarre legal restrictions drive more consumers to illegal downloading than any other single factor.
Let's examine my purchase last night as an example. I have for a few weeks wanted to purchase a number of tunes I've heard on the radio. The first decision I needed to make was where to buy.
I'm a member of Napster and I love their "Napster To Go" service that allows me to download around two million songs for a flat rate of only $14.95 a month. It's a great deal! You can download and listen on several different computers (at work, home and even my laptop) and also transfer the music to an approved portable device like my Dell DJ. You never actually have to pay for any of the music as long as you pay the monthly fee. It's a wondrous program!!
Except I really prefer my Apple iPod device and you cannot play a single Napster purchased tune on an iPod. It's a "Digital Rights Management" issue along with proprietary software.
And you cannot burn any of the tunes to a CD. Those are the liabilities of the "Napster To Go" program. Sadly iTunes has no similar program.
So the solution is to go ahead and purchase the tracks individually and then legally burn them to a CD and then rip them to mp3's and then upload them to the iPod. That's a real pain in the ass.
But it gets worse!!! Some artists, labels and songwriters place additional restrictions on the legally downloaded tunes. They withhold the "Burn Rights" so you cannot legally make a CD even after you pay the 99 cents to buy the track!!!!
This, of course, makes no sense. You can download and listen to the music on multiple computers and even portable devices at no charge beyond the monthly fee, but you cannot give the artist and label money and burn a copy.
If you really want this song you are now left with only two options. One, go to Amazon and buy the CD, wait a week for delivery and then rip the song to mp3...... or go onto an illegal file sharing site and obtain the song for free (completely illegally) and listen where ever and whenever you want, on any device.
Add to this bit of stupidity that no site offers all the music. Napster has a lot of "exclusives" and iTunes has even more. To create your perfect mix you are likely going to be forced to go to several different sites and purchase tracks in a variety of different formats, all with different Digital Rights Management restrictions. You will then be forced to burn multiple CD's in order to reverse rip the songs into the universally accepted mp3 format before you can ever use your iPod!!!!
And the RIAA can't figure out why people continue to frequent the illegal, but extremely easy to use, file sharing sites.
The 24 songs I paid for last night took me eight hours of hell and $23.76 to get them onto my iPod and on to a single CD I can listen to in my car. Eight hours. I'm not joking. And I could never obtain two tracks I wanted. Poor Carrie Underwood and Matchbox Twenty lost out on the 99 cents I wanted to give them. My money went to Avril Livigne and Regina Spektor instead.
Dear RIAA, Jammie Thomas the near poverty level 30 year old, single mother from Brainerd, Minnesota is not the problem. You are.
The Wizard also recommends you read Paul Resnikoff's excellent analysis of the current RIAA situation: Resnikoff's Parting Shot: Why Major Labels Just Lost