RIAA subpoenas illegal; Kazaa not

by Suw on December 19, 2003

At long last, there's a bit of balance being restored in the whole music 'piracy' debate. According to the BBC, The RIAA are going to have to think of a different tactic now that Verizon have successfully challenged their subpoenas demanding the names and addresses of Verizon customers. No names and addresses, no charges – the RIAA will have to find a different way to beat the crap out of the consumer.

And the Dutch courts have ruled that Kazza isn't illegal as the software company is not responsible for what end-users do with their products.


Now what we need is for the music (and movie) industry to embrace downloading as a new marketplace, to provide us with good quality files for download at a reasonable price with no DRM restrictions, and maybe, just maybe that might have an impact on the number of free download people make.

I hate calling individual downloads 'piracy' – to me piracy is something that organised criminals do when they rip off a new CD, get thousands printed up and then flog them at your local market.

Individual people downloading music for their own enjoyment aren't in the same league, nowhere near. They want good music at a reasonable price now, and they want to listen to it when, where and however they like. They don't want to be told what they can and can't do, and they don't want to be ripped off.

Until the music industry reaslises that consumers everywhere feel like they've been had every time they buy a CD, which they know was made for just pence; that they will no longer wait weeks for uncommon albums to turn up in their local record store on import for an extortionate fee; and that they don't want to risk their hard-earned on an album by a band that's had only one single out… until then the industry wakes up to those facts, it is going to be fighting a losing battle.

Consumers know that the artists get hardly anything for their efforts and that only a small minority of acts (usually the worst pop shite on the market) are ever going to make a decent living out of music. We know that bands these days get little or no support, and are dropped the second there's a threat of a fall in popularity. We know that most of the money goes to the bean counters. Why should we feel any sort of loyalty to companies who are ripping off not only us, but the people we respect – the musicians?

The irony is that downloading could be the saviour of the music industry, and it could benefit the smaller and less profitable bands just as much as the larger more popular acts, if not more so, if only the record labels had the strength of character to grasp the nettle and provide a reliable, DRM-free paid alternative to Kazaa or SoulSeek.

I live in the Arseendofnowhere, as you all well know. If I had a decent modem and the opportunity to download, say, The Shins' new album Chutes Too Narrow for a reasonable price, (i.e. cheaper than a CD – after all, you're saving all that money in physical media, packaging and distribution) I'd do it. I'd pay for it. Yes, I could get the CD online, but it's gonna take ages to get here and the chance of my local record shop knowing who The Shins are is negligable (they barely know who The Darkness are, bless their little rural socks). If I could set my computer to download it legitimately, that would be ideal.

But the industry has wimped out, chosing to sulk in the corner of the playground, whining that the rest of us aren't playing the game properly and that they're going to take their ball home if we're not nice and say sorry.

Tough shit. Downloads aren't going away. It's up to the industry to make us an offer so good that we can't refuse, because we aren't going to stop downloading any time soon.

A visitor December 20, 2003 at 6:02 am

I've given it a lot of thought and I wonder why, if the music industry and their attack dog the RIAA consider each download to be a lost sale – though if the download were not free it probably would not occur at all – does the publishing industry not outlaw placement of books in public libraries?

Because when you consider it, each book checked out of a public library is a book not purchased.

If the publishing industry can put up with this (as it has for hundreds of years) then the damned recording industry – the big Five – should shut up about downloading.

I consider the peer to peer downloaders to be evening the playing field. The economies of scale enjoyed by major labels are incredible – the pressing, jewel case, and printed material in a modern CD cost less than one dollar. And the end unit is STILL sold for the obscene markup of $15.00 or more. I don't care if you've got seven distribution levels, each wanting their cut, that's still six too many!

Karl Moeller

Suw December 20, 2003 at 8:54 am

Karl, I agree with you completely. I've said it before but when the music industry equates every download to a lost sale, they are using very faulty logic. Just because someone downloads a song it does not mean that they would have bought that song.

In fact, every download should be seen as a potential sale, not a lost one. If you download an album and like it enough to buy it, then that's one album that you might not have bought otherwise. And if you provide downloads for your new bands, the ones that are trying to build a fanbase, then that's an excellent and more cost-effective way of getting to the public than a huge publicity campaign, because news will spread by word of mouth.

Consider how rapidly a new meme spreads in the blogosphere. A new band with great songs and free downloads (legit or not) is going to become bigger than a new band with great songs that no one has ever heard.

And if you think $15 is obscene, you should try buying music in the UK. £15 is about average although you can get some albums cheaper, that tends to be the pop shite rather than the indie goodness I like. It's as if they've never heard of the exchange rate.

A visitor December 20, 2003 at 2:36 pm

Damn it, you maen I wasted all that time doing a hex dump and faxing all me downloads back to the RIAA? http://www.sendthemback.org/

I buy 2 or 3 CDs a week usually – not to mention the downloads. There's a sober thought for the RIAA, I buy them all second hand for a fraction of what they want in the shops… Ebay needs to watch it's back, as does Splott Car Boot Sale. For 15 years, 95% of the music I buy is second hand, Funny that!


Steve Kane December 20, 2003 at 4:49 pm

New bands should cut out the middle men of the record comapnies completely and offer their songs online for a small fee. I have no problem with paying for music that somebody has taken the time and care to create. Hell, those artists have bills to pay but how much of your £15 for a CD actually ends up in the pockets of those who make the music? I'd rather pay £5 for downloading an album and know that that £5 is all going straight to the musicians. And with the cost of duplicating your own CDs dropping all the time, bands could release their own shiny discs of music themselves, sell them from their own website and still afford to sell those CDs at a fraction of the cost of a regular CD.

And if most bands make their money from ticket sales to their live shows and not album sales, then what exactly do we need with the big, rip-off record companies anyway?

Visit me @ http://www.steve-kane.co.uk

A visitor January 22, 2004 at 7:50 pm

i download music all the time from kazaa and ive bought about 10 cd's in one month just because of this if i haden't heard the songs in the first place i would have never bought the cd.

Also there are people in the states now who are getting sued for hundreds of thousans of dollars for each song found on there computer. i dont know if u agree but i personally think thats a pile of shit.

nate dawg

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