Friday, September 05, 2008

So, what's the point?

The whole issue of p2p file sharing conflicts me some. On the one hand, there are copyright laws, on the other hand, what better way to obtain music?

I jest. The fact is, though, sharing has been going on since recording devices have been available. People go to the library and freely copy pages out of a book. What the difference? We've copied albums (ancient vinyl disky thingy with grooves you put on a turntable that contacted this needly thingy that created sound) to cassettes (ancient plastic coated spool material . . . ah, never mind). We've copied CD's (we're getting in to modern times now). Why the huge crack down now?

Of course, the internet and the mp3 format . . . plus, file sharing programs make it much easier, faster, and more prevalent than ever before. Artists and the RIAA claim losses in the millions to file sharing networks. The reasons for that are easy:

First, it's crappy music. If the industry would stop manufacturing the next skank artist, boy band, or crackhead poet with a guitar, maybe sales would rise and people wouldn't file share as much.

Second, and this is soooooo easy . . . lower the price of the frikin' CD! $17 for a CD for some slut with her finger in her mouth cover and maybe one decent song? Get real. The industry could lower the price to $5, still make money, and people would file share as much.

But, those aren't the reasons for the crackdown. The reason is . . .

because file sharers can be caught.

The same technology that allows for sharing in the first place also helps catch those engaged in sharing. I suppose it's a little ironic. The question is, has it worked?

Not so well, according to this article:

File Sharing Lawsuits at a Crossroads, After 5 Years of RIAA Litigation

Again, there are copyright laws. But lets get real. First, I think it's goofy to go after individuals simply adding to their playlist when you've got operations in back rooms in New York making PROFITS selling bootleg copies of music and movies. Plus, the fines are outrageous. You can't sue for money someone doesn't have and expect to get it. Sure, you can lock them up, but that still doesn't get you the money. That's the point, isn't it?

Settlement payments can be made on a website, where the funds are used to sue more defendants. None of the money is paid to artists.

What?! Isn't that what that little worm from Metallica was all on about? The loss of money from file sharing? What's the point, then?

Add to that the questionable tactics used by the RIAA to obtain information and we've got problems.

Now, I don't condone file sharing. I wouldn't recommend it. While there seem to be some gray areas defining legality, I wouldn't take the chance. The RIAA and dopes like Lars need to come to grips with the technology. Look at what Apple has done. It took years for labels and artists to follow suit. Now, mp3 downloads are all over the place. The RIAA is living in a time when "illegal" downloads were the only thing available.

But critics of the RIAA say it's time for the music industry to stop attacking fans, and start looking for alternatives. Fred von Lohmann, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the lawsuits are simply not reducing the number of people trading music online.

"If the goal is to reduce file sharing," he says, "it's a failure."


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