Sunday, December 30, 2007

Guess who's killing music now?

We all know the record business is being brought to its knees by a small, highly motivated and unscrupulous minority of individuals who don't care how much damage they do to the fragile ecology of the exchange of money for music as long as they personally benefit from the chaos they cause.

Yes, lawyers have got a lot to answer for.

Seeing the current panic of the industry as a once in a lifetime opportunity to make money out of desperation, they have leapt in with sledgehammers in the hope that they can crack nuts and affect consumer behaviour. They are not easily discouraged because they are the one section of society who get paid no matter how disastrously they perform. As one initiative after another has failed they have kept on billing an increasingly impoverished industry with the promise that they are just one action away from success.

It's lawyers, in diabolical cahoots with the peddlers of software, who flogged the clueless babes at Sony their disastrous rootkit solution, who have tried to convince us that we should enter into agreements to pay a monthly fee whereby we rent the music and have impressed nobody on the the financial pages with their efforts to take institutes of higher education and single mothers to court because they've been party to the swapping of Metallica's execrable racket. (The members of said group should go down on their knees every night and thank whatever bearded deity they worship that there are people on these planet who care enough about them to steal their music.)

And now, as if to underline the fact that they have taken quite a strong moral argument and steadily rendered it wholly indefensible in the eyes of the consumer, the RIAA have announced that they believe that even ripping a CD that you have legitimately purchased is a crime. According to some highly paid nitwit at Sony/BMG, this is just "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy.'"

I don't have the energy to count the ways in which this is unworkable hogwash but I would strongly suggest that the next intervention made by the RIAA should involve raiding the premises of a major record company, where they will find untold thousands of unlicensed recordings which have been ripped in exactly that way. Start with the legal department.


  1. Music industry lawyers in the UK have also been trying to get into the act by accusing Kwik-Fit of infringing musical copyright. And the offence? Allowing employees to listen to the radio at work.

  2. Interesting article David. This quote from your link sums the sorry situation up well;
    'The RIAA's legal crusade against its customers is a classic example of an old media company clinging to a business model that has collapsed. Four years of a failed strategy has only "created a whole market of people who specifically look to buy independent goods so as not to deal with the big record companies," Beckerman says. "Every problem they're trying to solve is worse now than when they started."'
    What a dismal, neurotic environment the music biz now is.

    Happy New Year!

  3. Just ignore them, they'll be gone soon

  4. Anonymous4:13 pm

    You're usually right on the mark, so it's somewhat disappointing that you have left this one out there when others have dug deeper to expose a "news story" that was simply bad journalism.

    See, for instance

    More generally, I don't consider the RIAA the fount of all wisdom, but I am not clear what its critics would have it do. It is an industry trade association. Should it simply issue a press release publicly advising the record industry that attempts to protect its investment are either immoral or, at least, doomed to failure, and the industry should collectively get into an honest business like video games?

    If the RIAA didn't do what it could to prevent file-sharing, it might well be sued by artists. Forget sympathy for the record companies, if you will, but if we're critical, let's at least be constructive and suggest ways in which recording artists, not all of which are richer than Croesus, can be protected. And please, let it not include the NPR inspired begging bowl of "trust in the goodness of people to donate in appreciation of your efforts."