September 10, 2003

No CDs for the Holidays: 2003 - Make It Happen

Image by SYA


You have to be utterly unconnected to everything not to have noticed that the recording industry, represented by RIAA, has decided to get medieval on its customer base. The latest moronic move by this organization to halt P2P file sharing is a deluge of subpoenas and lawsuits designed to 'really teach music downloaders a lesson.'

Will it work? It will for those unfortunate enough to "win" this Lawsuit Lottery. Nothing like the prospect of large legal bills and crippling fines to make the "bad" consumers of music see the error of their ways.

Is it fair? Not by a long shot. The Register estimates that it will take RIAA over 2,000 years to sue everybody at the current rate.

Is it sane? The RIAA thinks it is very sane to attack, at random, individuals, and
to take a look at their hard drives to see if there was ever a track downloaded that the person under their guns still has somewhere.

Well, if that is the case, who among us will escape hanging?

And while you are contemplating that, contemplate whether or not you want to allow a tactic that lets any government or business interest start poking around on your computer on the basis of information gathered from your ISP go unopposed.

Are you sure all those "accidentally" collected jpegs are really expunged?

Would you prefer to balance your checkbook the old fashioned way? How about your online bank account? Any copies of that floating around along with letters to your significant other?

That (journal entry) (unsent email) about your boss, your lover, President Bush... is that really erased or hidden so that it can never be recovered?

Not a pretty picture, is it?

Think of this RIAA tactic as "random cyberterrorism with lawyers." It stinks. It is part of the axis of evil interests determined to control your online behavior. And it is a very dangerous precedent. What's more, looked at from any reasonable perspective, it is merely the last in a series of attempts by the executives behind RIAA to save their cushy jobs and perks. That, at bottom, is all it is. This possibility that all these lawsuits will add a dime to the royalty checks of the musicians it is said to represent is close to zero.

If these litigation junkies at the RIAA could wake up from their money induced dementia and smell the coffee of online micropayments and the clear signals from Apple's online music store, they'd find billions more in revenue than they are currently seeing from grinding out half-baked albums and pricing them into the stratosphere.

But they can't wake up. They need to be shaken.

What I'd like to see happen, so that the RIAA and the recording industry deeply understands that suing people at random is VERY BAD FOR BUSINESS is a Web wide boycott on CDs as holiday gifts in 2003.

It is simple and it will be, if broadly based enough, effective. It simply targets the one season of the year when all the recording companies are hoping to make a killing in sales. What would happen if those sales fell dramatically? They might get the message that while downloading music that you don't pay for is wrong, destroying individuals financially at random is equally wrong.

It has something to do with that old adage about: "Two wrongs don't make a right."

Yes, just that simple and sometimes simple ideas are strong ideas.

My idea, simply put:

Pass it on.

If the Web can get their attention, perhaps we can help them kick their addiction to lawyers at the same time we kick out addiction to "free" downloads of music.

P.S. Can someone design a nifty little ribbon and button for this campaign? Gotta have a ribbon and a button you know.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is out in front on this issue.
Reid Stout at is a sane man about this issue.
The Inquirer gives you an idea of the reality of this issue.

Posted by Vanderleun at September 10, 2003 9:11 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Slave To The RIAA

Here is a manipulation I did, I know you are looking for a ribbon or button though, and I will get to work on that as soon as I can and submit it for you.

Great idea you have here. I'm in. For those of you who still want to buy CD's but prefer not to give money to the RIAA, try eBay or where you are paying another individual and usually less than half the cost of what it would be off the shelves. Support local artist and Indie labels. Make copies of your CD's for friends. Send money directly to your favorite bands to thank them for their music if you must, just do not become a consumer whore and put money into the hands of people who do not care about their audience.

Posted by: Sya at August 4, 2003 1:58 PM

Bad hoo-doo.

The whole RIAA thing is surely getting a lot of people plenty ticked off, but what we need to remember is that the reason for going gung-ho and suing everybody they can find is simply due to a loss in sales -- before the royalty checks, before the lawyers, before any of this, record sales were simply dropping to unheard levels. To additionally support the drop in record sales by banning them from your holiday's shopping list is not going to help anymore than copying a CD for a friend. We'll be opening up an opportunity for further privacy invasions and breaking more copyright laws by implementing this strategy. Furthermore, the artists we do care about would be hurt the most by such an effort.

While not buying CDs for the biggest sales season of the year may seem like a well-founded idea at first, and definitely a signal that the Internet community will not tolerate the tyranny the RIAA means to impose, I feel that this idea creates more problems than it solves. A more constructive and positive solution would be better suited for this issue. As said, "Two wrongs don't make a right."

--M. Doucet

Posted by: M. Doucet at August 5, 2003 9:56 PM

I'm not saying steal music (a wrong) I'm saying choose not to buy CDs. That's not only right but it is your Right.

Posted by: Van der Leun at August 6, 2003 11:00 AM

How is it wrong to choose not to support (give money to) a company or business that engages in activities in which one does not agree with for whatever reasons they may be?

As for the drop in sales... if the recording industry weren't so greedy, charging outrageous prices for music, people would not have resorted to finding ways of sharing it (note: I said SHARING). Why allow an industry to be in complete control of not only WHAT we are exposed to, but the exaggerated cost we are expected to pay for the right to listen to the artists they have chosen for us. Artists have literally been enslaved to the industry, forced to crank out an obscene number records which usually end up with no artistic merit whatsoever, just for the sake of the industries greed. Tell me how a $40 billion-a-year business gets so bent out of shape over the drop in sales (which I would argue with, but to play devils advocate...) when it costs merely a fraction of the overhead price to create that stupid piece of plastic in the first place. The RIAA is retarded for thinking "old world" in the face of new technology. They should be looking for new ways of reaching their audience and seeking profit. But by prosecuting an audience of people who love music and wish to share what they have with an online community, (Note: I said SHARE, not sell, resell or make profit from) they are destroying their already present fan base and consumers have become disenchanted. Corporate greed - at the cost of the artists they are exploiting, and the pocketbooks of music lovers everywhere, controlling how individuals obtain music by threat of lawsuit if they do not comply… THAT is just bad business.

Choosing not to comply to a consumers right.

Posted by: Sya at August 7, 2003 9:38 AM

Count us in! The RIAA has gone way over board with this one (along with Celine Deon; which we can't stand her music anyway)! We have already started our own boycott by not purchasing a new CD for over 6 months now, and we will continue to do so as long as the RIAA is being so ridiculous! In the past we never went to any websites and down loaded free music out of respect for the artists and their music; but don't tell us what we can and can not do with the music we purchase or own already! They pissed us off so much that we have now begun making back up copies of every CD (over 12,000 of them) that we own and we pass them out free to anyone and everyone who wants a copy! Soon we will have a VPN that allows folks with the right code to log in and down load any of these songs we already own for free as well. So there!!!! Look who's laughing now!!!!
The "Consumers 4 Free Music Sharing" Group

Posted by: The "Consumers 4 Free Music Sharing" Group at August 10, 2003 5:59 PM

I am 48, female, and a file-sharing addict. I get files for fun, and for curiosity. Since file sharing I have purchased many more CDs than I normally would have. HOWEVER, since the RIAA tactics, I also have been boycotting RIAA member CDs. REMEMBER, the RIAA labels SUPPORT the RIAA's actions. Even my favorite label, Peter Gabriel's Real World label, I will no longer buy. EVER.

I DO buy indie labels, however, and continue to file share all the more. Nothing like encryption!

File sharing should be free, as long as you are not using copyrighted material for profit. Period.

Posted by: americangirl at September 3, 2003 12:00 PM

Lets Boycott CDs.WHOEVER WANTS TO DO THIS LETS START NOW PASS IT ON TO YOUR FRIENDS AND EVERYONE YOU KNOW I ALREADY GOT 1000 PEOPLE BEHIND ME NOT BUYING ANYTHING.So lets show them that we will fight back. tell everyone post this on every site and get it out to the net lets Boycott CDs.So everyone who took cassett tapes in the 80 and 90 and recordd them from the radio they should get sued also,what about churches and djs and people at weddings who play music hell how many riaa members at one time recored a game or movie or their kids and wives record stuff on the tv that is wrong,so they are opening a can of worms paa this alont to the world dont by cds

Posted by: free at September 9, 2003 2:03 PM

the reason for going gung-ho and suing everybody they can find is simply due to a loss in sales

Um, no. Sales went up during the period of Napster's greatest popularity. They dropped right at the time when the RIAA succeeded in killing Napster. Correlation is not causality, and all that, but nonetheless the implications are interesting.

This isn't about raw revenue anyway; this is about the business model. The current record-industry business model depends on the ability to produce a lopsided product picture - that is, fewer successful records but bigger hits - which in turn depends on the industry's control over the means of promoting music. That product picture means that, rather than many artists being able to make a decent living from their music, a few artists will grab the brass ring and become millionaires, and the rest will make nothing or go bankrupt. And because the industry controls promotion to such an extent, it can also (to an equally great extent) control which albums become popular.

Now, if you're a musician, and you're negotiating with a record company, knowing that the people you're negotiating with will almost certainly control your chance of success, you won't be inclined to drive a hard bargain. If you want a chance to be one of the artists who will be selected as stars, you're not going to make waves. As a record company exec, you'd much rather negotiate with artists with stars in their eyes over the Malibu mansion and the rest of it than with someone thinking in terms of working for years, buying a house, making a decent amount of money... because the second guy is going to be realistic, while the first has his head in the clouds.

Music-sharing services are first and foremost a way of promoting music. People overall would rather have the CD, they'd rather have the physical object with the booklet and cover art, they'd certainly rather have the high-quality music data... IF they like the music. Music sharing services are a way of finding new music without risking eighteen bucks to find out the CD is crappy and the only decent track was the one the record company placed on radio stations for frequent play.

But promotion through this channel is something the RIAA cannot control. Which means sales made thanks to this channel cannot be expected to follow the few-big-hits pattern. Which means the business model takes a big hit. Even though shutting down Napster arguably cost revenue, it was worth it to protect the model that makes the current recording industry sustainable long-term. (And of course it also gives them the chance to play victim to people who assume that of course music sharing reduces sales. Just like radio music broadcasts reduced sales.)

Now, I have my own questions about whether an industry that turns on its customers can be said to be sustainable, business model or no business model, but these lawsuits are just the logical end result of the RIAA's original approach to Napster. The only other way out would be for the RIAA to capture music sharing and control it, the way they eventually got a bridle on commercial music radio, and I don't think that's structurally possible.

Posted by: jeanne a e devoto at September 10, 2003 12:08 PM

Never personally downloaded music, but I agree that the litigation is far beyond a reasonable response. I am worried that business may have the right to snoop through my data because they think I *MAY* have infringed on their copyright.

It’s part of our current culture of fear. Fear the enemy (whoever the heck that is) Fear being sued, fear big brother, and the government because they can put you in jail.

Posted by: princehal at September 11, 2003 1:24 PM

I normally buy about $200 of CDs for my children at christmas.

This year I will not be buying *any* music CDs.

They wanted my response.

They got it.

Posted by: father of teens at September 15, 2003 4:15 PM