Monday, December 31, 2007

The Big Bad Wolf

You... yeah, you know who you are. You just read a book and thought it was so cool you LOANED to a friend or a family member or passed it around your office. Book sharing isn't illegal. Is it? Lucky for you, the publishing industry isn't quite as stupid as RIAA who wants to dictate what you do with your purchased CD's...

From an article in the Washington Post by Marc Fisher:

ow, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

The industry's lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings.

Technically, they're right. They are unauthorized copies. But come on guys -- note that the plaintiff didn't share them with his buddies or sell them, he copied the songs to his home computer. The songs in question are still within his control. This is like a publisher dictating that you can only read their books in your den, not in your kitchen.

I know that piracy is a big deal, but coming from the publishing world where used books are sold in the millions and the authors do no receive any royalties off those sales, I'm pretty jaded about the "kick the customer in the balls" approach.

If you make it "Us vs. Them" the piracy rates will only go up.


Anonymous said...

I knew I shouldn't have bought that book from you and given it to someone else as a gift, if you follow the logic with record execs this will be the next thing they will be suing us over. The person that received it as a gift didn't buy it therefor they are not allowed to read it, let alone being allowed to read it in the living room.

I can understand the problem they have with the online sharing of music, that makes sense but they are taking it way too far now. A lot of people bought iPODs for no good reason if they can't put music they bought on it.

Jana Oliver said...

Yup, see, you're a pirate. I knew it (grin).

File sharing is illegal. Even if you drop the price of a song to 99 cents, there will always be someone who will steal it. So make the content a reasonable price to snare those who are willing to pay and then nail those folks who don't. Or... find out how to use the file sharing to your promotional advantage. Bands make more off tours and merch than they do their records, anyway.

That's the one thing the record industry has ignored: new tech and how to exploit it. Steve Jobs figured it out. Why can't they?