Friday, January 04, 2008

gimme a kit kat

I got an e-mail this morning from a member of my online music group that passed along a story of a music copyright case that’s kicking up dust in Arizona. The music industry, led by the RIAA, opened the gates on this Arizona case during a case earlier this year against a Minnesota woman: that bit of argument was that one copy of a song is a violation of copyright and therefore theft. No need to follow-up on the Minnesota woman’s case because she was actually breaking laws yet decided, for some reason, to stand her shaky ground. I’ve long been against massive (free) sharing of music by buyers, users, and downloaders; you can’t just take music wholesale from a peer-to-peer network or someone else’s collection without paying for it. Even though it’s essentially a copyright violation I simply see it as the equivalent of walking into a record shop and stealing CDs; I’ll call this my stealing argument and I have no sympathy for Ms. Thomas. The Arizona case takes a turn that’s a huge concern for any music lover: claims of a copyright violation if I transfer a purchased CD to my computer and then onto my iPod. We’ve finally stumbled upon the case with will finally put the nail in the coffin of the RIAA. If this goes to trial there’s no way they’ll convince a jury that any crime has been committed and, much like the Thomas case the jury, will no doubt be irritated by the inconvenience of the theater and life. (The Thomas jury apparently indicated that the punishment was more punitive because they saw her as akin to a posing martyr trying to hide her misdeeds.) One of the RIAA’s biggest problems is that they represent a group of miserable companies: Virgin, Capitol, Arista, Interscope, Warner, etc. Every one of these dinosaurs is genetically unable to change their methodology of pillaging profit at the expense of musicians and fans – after all, they have held the keys to the castle for forty years. This isn’t really a fight ‘to support their artists’, it’s a fight to support the bottom line of failing companies. They can hide behind the moral high ground of copyright infringement but it’s merely a charade used to hold onto what little clout they still believe they hold. It’s instructive to see that the RIAA isn’t interested in companies or labels like Anti-, Bloodshot, New West, Subpop, Lost Highways, or any of the other blossoming and successful mid-tier labels. It’s laughable to see the bevy of RIAA types grasping as the straws of power in support of the old and wrinkled dictators of music.

On another note, it was a great night in Iowa last night. Obama’s speech to close the evening was wonderful. I already feel better and hope the train keeps rolling…


P.S. The brief filed in the Arizona case includes language that says the defendant copied his CDs and placed them in his Kazaa music sharing folder. I guess they think both must occur in order to break the law but I tend to agree with someone who made the argument that you can't have one without the other: the download to the PC being the necessary first step. I think they put forth the idea that you can't have an accessory to murder without a murder; you can't have sharing without the 'unauthorized' copy. Slippery slope.

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