Lessig and RIAA face-off in PBS copyright debate

The RIAA makes some good points, but if you listen carefully you can hear contradictions. I love this quote from the RIAA spokesperson:

When you buy a CD, you should feel free to copy it for your own use. So, if you buy a CD that you keep at home, you should feel free to make a copy that you have in your car.

Good! They appear to believe in “fair use,” as is promissed by the Constitution. But then why does the RIAA feel compelled to impose an “artist tax” on CDR media? (A portion of “Music CDR” goes to the RIAA). Why has the MPAA made it a federal crime to reverse-engineer and copy a DVD? ARRG!!!!!!

Some of the other RIAA comments make me very mad… In many places throughout the article they use a “victimized” tone, claiming that pirates/p2p/etc has been eroding record sales and lowering their profits. I don’t buy that for a minute. Maybe, just maybe, record sales are down because (a) the recording industry has a long history of extorting radio stations into the playing the same music over and over and over again, (b) the recording industry was recently found guilty of price fixing CDs, (c) the recording industry was recently revealed to have reduced supply and variety of their artists, to lower the diversity of their offerings, so that they could sell more of a select group of recordings, (d) listener’s tastes are getting more sophisticated, or (e) nobody likes boy bands anymore.

My experience through the “Internet music revolution” has been an interesting one. I finished high school right before the mp3 format started taking off an Napster came out. Like most kids, I stopped buying as much music when I was done with high school–I didn’t have as much free time to listen to music and I was starting to become pretty fixed in my tastes. I think the only reason I continued to buy music at all was because of the Internet and p2p networks. I like electronic music–drum’n’bass, jungle, hi-nrg, etc. p2p networks opened up a whole new window into the electronic music scene I would have never been exposed to before. I started researching new artists, grabbing a few of their tracks online and listening to them in winamp. A few of the artists that I really liked back then I would have never discovered had it not been for Napster. Since the artists were so rare, I could never collect an entire album over Napster, so I ended up ordering the albums. I continued to buy music because of p2p. Here’s the clincher: many of the artists that I was liking at that time were European, and were not represented by RIAA labels.

Leave a Reply