Friday, August 03, 2007

Scary potential overreaching power grab

I've posted here a number of times about how the recording industry just doesn't get it with regard to DRM (Digital Rights Management) and copyright. While in no way condoning copyright violation or abuse, I feel quite strongly that the industry is usually its own worst enemy.

Today I saw news that the industry may consider sharing of music on one's home network to be a violation of their rights. Fortunately, this is still in the "novel theory" category, but it is a chilling point of view to advocate.

I personally have a rather large (5000+) collection of songs ripped from CDs (perfectly legal - for now, at least!) to my hard drives throughout my house. How often do I listen to a CD? Never anymore. How often do I listen to music from whichever hard drive is closest to me? Quite frequently. It's not worth the inconvenience of searching for the disc and moving it to the nearest player in order to play it.

Yet somehow, the (potential) argument being made by copyright holders is that somehow it is perfectly legal for me to listen to music in any room of my house if I go through a bunch of hassle-inducing steps to move the CD from room to room. But if I don't go through the physical motions, somehow that provides the basis for a copyright violation. How does the physical medium possibly change the copyright status of my listening to music? I've legally purchased the CD, which means I've legally purchased the right to listen to the music therein. I could certainly run speakers throughout my house, so why is playing it through arbitrary speakers in my house OK while playing it through a network to another computer which then puts it on speakers in my house somehow crossing the line? (To clarify above: I play from one of two sources; I keep two sources so that one is a backup of the other).

Here I am, playing by the industry's rules (i.e., actually BUYING the CDs!), and now they're saying they'd like to criminalize my behavior. If that isn't hating one's customers, I don't know what is.

Heck, now I'm seeing news stories of ASCAP demanding that restaurants and others pay royalties for playing copyrighted songs. This makes sense to me when the restaurant plays a CD (that's a public performance, not a personal use) or hires a band that plays covers (although in that case, shouldn't the musicians pay?), but they're also going after restaurants that have a TV or Radio playing. Maybe I'm missing something, but didn't the TV/Radio station already pay for the right to broadcast to an unlimited # of people? And if so, isn't making the restaurant pay "double dipping"?

1 comment:

peljack said...

I read somewhere that the RIAA and its ilk are doomed. The music industry is shifting away from a recording model and into a performance model.

Apparently people have a certain budget for entertainment. Folks will continue to steal recordings (because it is cheap and many cases far more convenient) but that merely frees up more money to be spent on concerts and festivals.

So in the future we will see even more high priced tickets ($200 to see the Rolling Stones?) and the pay towards artists will increase. It becomes in the artist's best interest to give away the recordings at this point - it's just a marketing expense for the next concert.

The only losers in this scenario are the recording companies themselves, but of course they really aren't providing us with value for our money in the networked 21st century.