Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

The Music Police

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

Copyright Notice: We don't think much of copyright, so you can do what you want with the content on this blog. Of course we are hungry for publicity, so we would be pleased if you avoided plagiarism and gave us credit for what we have written. We encourage you not to impose copyright restrictions on your "derivative" works, but we won't try to stop you. For the legally or statist minded, you can consider yourself subject to a Creative Commons Attribution License.

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Jury Rules in favor of RIAA - Slams a single mother for $220,000

Unfortunate news that the RIAA has won its first file-sharing trial link here.

Recording Industry vs. The People is still upbeat about a possible appeal link here.

Absurd Interpretation of Fairness

This article condemns Radiohead for ripping off consumers by allowing them to pay what they think is appropriate to download the group's new album. Apparently, some consumer might pay Radiohead money that should rightfully go to the major labels. Read this and laugh. "Will Radiohead leave fans high and dry? It may sound preposterous to accuse the British rockers of gouging their followers. The band is letting them decide how much to pay for a downloaded version of new album "In Rainbows." But early indications suggest that Radiohead's loyal followers are paying too much for the band's seventh disc." "According to a poll conducted by United Kingdom music magazine NME, the average fan appears to be willing to pay $10 for a digital copy. Now, that may not sound like a blow out. It's the going price for most records on Apple's iTunes. And that price, in turn, looks to be about right for a digitally downloaded album." "Consider the economics of the average CD. It retails for about $16 and costs about $6.40 to manufacture, distribute and sell in a store, research outfit Almighty Institute of Music Retail says. These costs are essentially zero when music is sold online. That's why iTunes can charge roughly $10 for a downloaded album." "Radiohead's fitter, happier approach slices out even more cost. The band pulled the ripcord on EMI, so it doesn't have to share profits or help pay the label's overhead. As a well-known band it's also able to take the knives out on marketing and promotion costs, cutting these by as much as two-thirds. Subtract these expenses and Radiohead may be able to distribute an album for as little as $3.40 a copy." "Now, fans may be delighted to pay $10 because they think the album is so good and Radiohead deserves the extra cash. But Radiohead prides itself on its anticorporate and anti-materialistic ethos. To avoid letting down fans, it might be more productive to adopt a no-surprises policy and fix a simple, fair charge for its record." Cyran, Robert, Rob Cox and Mike Verdi. 2007. "What Price a Download? Given the Option to Name Their Own Price for Album, Radiohead Fans Overspend." Wall Street Journal (3 October): p. C 14. link here

The Harry Potter Police

Mrs. Rowling is having her own readers/admirers sent to jail for liking her books too much and wanting to share her "beautiful" (so to speak) prose with other teenagers who cannot read English, but can read French.

The story is simply told. At light speed, and apparently with extreme accuracy, a 16 year old French high school student translated Rowling's last volume in French and posted his high quality translation on the web, for free.

They had him arrested "to protect copyrights and to avoid innocent fans being duped." Yup, that's exactly what Rowling's agent said. The kid was then released and it is unclear if they are pressing charges against him or not. The translation is gone, obviously.

Gallimard will come out with its translation in a few months ... a 16 year old Lycée student is apparently more efficient than them. That's what you get with a high quality Lycée system!

The Granny Wars

There is a nice blog Recording Industry Versus the People tracking the RIAA's warfare against their customers. It is sad reading. Most interesting is that a few people are starting to strike back by countersuing. Based on their complaints, it appears that the RIAA feels that the law is only for other people, not for themselves. Perhaps the courts will begin to function as they are intended, rather than as the long arm of the "music police."

The RIAA´s Music Promotion Plan

I´ve been too tied up with other things to blog lately. This came in a few weeks ago from Fred Luk

Playa Cofi Jukebox , an on-line music site just went off-line today. It posts on its website that "The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has "advised" us that our delivery of user selectable streaming audio music "...distributes copies of digital files of RIAA member sound recordings to end users," and is therefore in violation of the member artist copyrights."

I guess technically, the site does violate copyrights laws since I don't suppose they pay any royalties like the radio stations do.

I have been listening to music on that site for only a month or so. It's great - I listen to great hits of different years in the background while doing work on the computer. Two days ago, links to music (hits) after 1964 were taken off. Today, the above message appears. But it also says: "We will take a few days to find a new way to provide you with the music you love at this site." It will be interesting to see what kind of "new way" they will come up with and how long will it take the RIAA to catch up with it.

Thumbprint ID Needed To Sell Used Music CD's?

The modern police state will not be ushered in by government, but rather by media conglomerates intent on destroying civil rights in the name of protecting intellectual property.

"Spinning into Oblivion" (or How the Music Died)

From the perspective of two veteran music retailers.

Music vs. Print: A Comparative Case Study On The Impact Of The Internet On Business Cultures

Traditional print newspapers continue to post declines in revenues.

Jon Fine describes it as "further evidence that rising Web revenues do not cancel out falling print revenues."

Now compare this phenomenon with the similar decline of revenues in the music industry. What is happening in the news industry is circumstantial evidence that even if everyone where to use industry-sanctioned Internet downloads to get their music, overall revenues would continue to decline for the music business. I'd say that this further complicates the disputed claim that the decline in music revenues comes primarily from unauthorized downloading. It should also be pointed out that the same dynamic exists for the news industry - How many of us have read news that was e-mailed to us by a friend who copied and pasted the text of an article on their own? How many of us simply read the copied news off of a third-party blog without clicking on the link to the underlying news site? Should not this considered to be "pirated" news just as we term "pirated" music? As long as copyright exists, it certainly should protect print every bit as much as music, right? If such monopolies must exist on any level, it seems silly to discriminate between different kinds of creative works (i.e., giving music greater protections over print news).

And yet with all of these observations, look at the difference in how each industry has reacted. The music indusrty continued to try and sue everyone it can in order to enforce a status quo that no longer exists. The news industry has perhaps resigned itself to the fact that they will have to operate with less revenues for the foreseeable future. But they are at least slowly coming to grips with that future and are still struggling to find sensible solutions. Imagine the cultural impact if media corporations started suing Internet users for reading news off of "unauthorized" websites. And yet, there are many who still think that what the music industry is doing is somehow justified.

Sound the Drums

Via Konstantini Kiousis - a YouTube video explaining the world's most important 6 second drum loop: and how and why it is copyrighted.

"Don't Download This Song"

Click here to see and hear Weird Al Yankovic's "Don't Download This Song." It's great!

Hat tip: Roderick Long

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