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Sunday, 30 December 2007

Fine, I'll Stop Listening, You Win

The RIAA is now suing some guy for ripping CDs that he purchased. He's not sharing them on the internet, he just loaded them onto his own computer to listen to them. The major labels have apparently decided that it's a crime to put music that you paid for onto your ipod.

It wasn't enough that they're trying to take financial aid away from college kids. I mean, those kids were violating intellectual property rights. Taking away their financial aid is seriously an over-reaction to that and despicable, but at least the kids did something iffy. But this latest guy didn't do anything wrong at all.

The RIAA is a member organization controlled by the major record labels. Apparently, their policy is now that they don't want us to listen to music that we buy from them.

Fair enough. If they don't want us to listen to their music, we can stop.

I'm toying with the idea of throwing away everything I have from a major label, but I probably won't. I mean, I like my CDs, that's why I bought them. And, unfortunately, some of them are probably out on majors.

But I'm completely serious about the not buying anything new on majors. This is the first xmas since I was 13 that I didn't get any music. I didn't ask for it and I didn't receive it. If the major labels don't want me to listen, I won't. There's plenty of great stuff out there on indie labels. I'm not hurting for CDs. Other Minds has two new releases and several of my buddies have given me their latest albums. And, of course, there are podcasts full of great music.

All of this is what's so confusing about the major labels being such assholes. It's not like there aren't alternatives. They seem to think they're Ma Bell, when that kind of monopoly hasn't existed for years and years. Do they want to destroy themselves? Have they given up on life? Should all the record execs get on prozac right away?

There are some serious issues of power and control at play. What's at stake is our share in our culture. Between DRM and IP and other legal wranglings, corporations want to own every aspect of our culture. They want to control information. Remember that thing where Sony installed spyware on people's computers through music CDs. These guys think they own our computers. If we don't secure net neutrality, they'll try to choke off the internet as well. (Note that libertarian hero and scary, racist mofo Ron Paul is against net neutrality.)

Briefly, right now all data traversing the internet is treated equally. ISPs, who are often owned by RIAA member companies, want to make some packets privileged over others. If you go to their website, it loads fast. If you go to a competitor, it loads slowly or not at all. If they want to control all music, then it's likely that net-surfing customers would have to pay extra to be allowed the privilege of getting to podcasts.

Which is to say that boycott is not enough, because in some sense they are Ma Bell. Does your elected representative support net neutrality?

Edit

Well, not quite. Oops. They still suck though and do make the claim that you shouldn't rip CDs for ipod use.

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