The RIAA, in its infinite wisdom, has now decided to go after one Jeffrey Howell arguing that ripping songs from a legally purchased CD is illegal.
My first question is how the hell did Mr. Howell get “caught”?
Anyway, this entire issue is a subterfuge to the main point that most consumers have no awareness of. The bottom line is that the RIAA is driving towards a singular goal that the recording industry has been after forever. They want all of us to Pay-Per-Listen. Make no mistake about it. This group will never be happy until that’s what they get. It’s what they’re pushing for with Internet streaming music stations. You play a song and you pay per listener. That’s PPL.
Once again this group is penny-wise and pound-foolish. They neglect to realize that this sort of approach turns everyone off in the long run and creates industry-wide stagnation. Let me touch on a bit of history.
Back in 1976 Sony ended up in court in a landmark case known as Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc. In it the courts decided (and again in a 1984 Supreme Court ruling) that non-commercial home use recording is considered fair use. This ruling had a dramatic and immediate effect on the industry. What was a completely stagnant market suddenly turned into a hugely successful industry. The publishers never had it so good even though they wanted it the other way around.
Now with music sales in decline the industry is again looking to clamp down on its bread and butter over a short-sighted concept. Here they are attacking Mr. Howell, who legally bought their product, and want to ruin his life over this step in their goal of PPL.
Put it this way. I own over 3,000 CD’s. I bought every one of them legally. I fully support this industry. I pay them time and again. I bought the original album from “ELO” on an LP record (along with countless other performers). I then bought it again on cassette tape. I then bought it again on CD and just recently bought it a fourth time in digital format. Now the RIAA wants to tell me that I am a criminal and that I am their problem because I want to take the music I purchased and listen to it at my leisure on my iPod.
Again, do not become distracted here. The music industry only wants to do this to set the table for PPL. It doesn’t matter that if they reach that goal no one will be left to listen as we’ll all have had enough by then. They don’t think that far in advance.
I want to know, as a consumer, how much is enough for these people? The answer is that this is a group as a whole that are never happy. They are never satisfied. They want to be paid every time you even think of their product. I buy their performances. I go see them live. Enough already.
Consumers already dropped the ball by allowing and supporting the concept of licensing of content instead of outright ownership. This was the first of our huge mistakes. This opened the door for the publishers to tell us they could do anything they wanted and we had to accept it.
Imagine if a potato chip maker sued you because you shared the chips you bought with others at a party. This is the same exact thing. How dare you take their work (the chips) and sate the desire of others by providing them with their product! You were licensed only to use these chips for your own personal use. Sharing them with others denies the maker potential customers. They should go home hungry and wanting of the chip makers products. In fact, where’s your license fee for your wife and two kids?
If we allow this move towards PPL where does it stop? Next we’ll be told it’s illegal to play music in your house while others are listening. Why should they have their music itch scratched for free at your house? They should go home depressed and in need of music they buy for themselves. You have a party and have 20 people over? You need to pay the artists for each listener. I guarantee I can find you a dozen artists who would argue that point with you.
Look at the video business. They put out a product and put it on VHS. They made a ton of money. They moved it to DVD and they made a ton of money. Now they’re improving their product and moving it to HD and we’ll pay again. What a novel concept. Improve your product and get paid for the work. Instead these people want us to continually pay for the same thing (or less in the case of low-quality MP3’s that cost more per song that what you had on CD).
I am tired of footing the bill for people who view me as a criminal. Meanwhile the real criminals are beyond their reach. I’m tired of being the honest one who gets ripped off by the industry while they call me a thief.
It’s time for consumers to wake up and realize what’s going on here and let the industry know that enough is enough.