Saturday, October 13, 2007

Open Letter to The RIAA

Until a few years ago I had never heard of the RIAA.
Now it seems they've become the BIg Brother of the music world.
And they're looking for a fight. I venture to say that most folks had never heard of the RIAA until the started suing everyone for doing something they've been doing doing for many years. Actually they didn't know it at the time. When I bought a record, (LP) You remember them? I would play it the first time and make a copy onto whatever tape machine I had at the time, cassette or 8 track and put the record away and save the record. If someone wanted a copy I'd either make a copy from the record or the tape, whichever was easiest at the time, that not counting all the mixed tapes with songs from different artist on it. Of courses we were using good 'ole RCA jacks and swapping cables back and forth.we were using the technology we've had for the last 60+ years, of course Until about 20 years or so, we had never heard of digital anything. Now everything is digital theses days.

There is a term in the entrainment industry called "fair use". I first read about it in connection to the early days of VCR. The studios had tried kill VCR and the courts had rejected the studio argument's saying that consumers had a limited right to use the VCR to time shift TV broadcast to a more convent time.
I am not going to try to explain a very complicated subject, which I only have a broad and very basic understanding of the concept. Instead I will supply links at the bottom of the article to give you more detailed reading material.

The idea of this article is to try bring together the idea of protecting copyrighted material, and the individual consumers right to use the material as they see fit. It is generally accepted the one can make a couple copy's of a disc for back-up proposes. The question starts to be sticky when you try to give a copy to someone else. Is it just sharing a interesting work or stealing,?

In the early 1990's when the mp3 craze started and Napster came into vogue, and folks discovered they could copy all their Cd's into their computers, which were finely powerful and fast enough to actually store and play them, This also coincided with the opening up of the Apra-net, becoming the Internet. We all know the stories of college students sharing gigs of music through the campus. This is when the RIAA came out of hiding. Of course once the cat was out of the bag, so to speak it can't be put back in.

The records companys say the because of the sharing of music over the Internet that they had lost a substantial amount of sale, and thus monies they would have made through the sales of CDs during the heyday of file sharing. While this may be true, they know they will never get that money back. That's like saying you lost money because you didn't or did do or buy something and wanting the money you would have made back. Not going to happen. Essentially the 1990's and early 2000's is water under the bridge.

Its time for the RIAA to bite the bullet and sowoll hard and stand up and say they've made some big mistakes in the last 12 or so years. and essentially, be a man ,and take their lumps. and start over and work on new models is distribution , which if it wasn't for Apple and I-Tunes they probably still wouldn't be doing.

By continuing to down the path they are now, they are alienating they very public they are trying to reason with.

There is the question of where all the money that they get when they settle one of the suits goes. In theory, it should go to the artist, they are supposed to represent . We all know about the only people making money is the lawyers.

It would seem to me that if any suing was done at all it should be up to the artist themselves. After all it was their work that was "stolen" Then the RIAA can sue on behalf of the artist and the amounts of damages should be up to the artist themselves. and make sure they get the money.
I would venture to say most artist probably would elect not to sue, if nothing else because of the negative image it would bring them, and if the truth were known, most of them had probably done some file sharing themselves. Which puts them in a rather interesting spot. If a artist had the RIAA sue some one and in the course of the trial it come out that they had or even at the time were doing exactly what they were suing about, one can imaige what a laughing stock they would be.

There is also another aspect of the file sharing, that is how much of the material downloaded by folks is material that they already own in LP or cassette or 8-track from and what they were essentially doing was getting material they already own in a new format. That opens up more questions of fair use and copyright issues. If one can prove they a already own a copy of the material and were getting copies of their material.
No one I have seen has mentioned that issue.

In short , its time for the RIAA to back down and rethink its approach to the consumer. By continuing as they are they are in a lot of cases driving people into he idea that they don't want to support them and refuse to buy CDS , if nothing else in a form of protest.

I have been reading lately, the there has been a movement to drop DRM on mp3s. This is a sign that they have finely discovered that it don't work and causes more problems then it solves. Sony got into trouble earlier this year over a hidden root-kit it had on some of it CDs, which had actually damaged peoples computers.This proved that that model was not going to work and it was dropped by Sony after they were sued.

What it all boils down to is when doses "fair use" turn to stealing and who decides it and what are the penalties and who gets to droll them out.

This is a open letter to the RIAA asking them to rethink their tactics and consider the points I've mentioned.

As for the links;

Here are the links I promised;

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