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BlueWolf's Howl

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July 29, 2002

How's It Feel?

I'm a firm believer in intellectual property rights. I understand not only the letter, but also the spirit of the law. If someone works their little brain off on something, you shouldn't steal it and claim it as your own. Do your own (mental) work.

I'm sure most people would agree with that. It's reasonable. What's unreasonable is the paranoia that the Entertainment Industry has regarding pirating. This first hit my radar screen when I read the article in Business 2.0 titled, "Hollywood vs High-Tech."

One of the things that I noticed was that the software industry loses more money to piracy than the entertainment industry, yet is less militant about recapturing those lost funds. Apparently they're bright enough to not risk alienating their customers by draconian anti-piracy measures. Apparently they realize that the money lost to piracy is recaptured later in legitimate orders. The entertainment industry can't see that.

Say you downloaded 25 songs from Napster, Morpheus, or any of the other "evil" Peer-to-Peer filesharing systems. You burn a CD. You listen to it in your car over and over. You LOVE those songs, man!

Two weeks later, you're in a music store. You see the CD of one of the groups that was on your favorite [pirated] CD. You've GOT to have it! OMG! It's got pictures of them and all the lyrics you couldn't figure out [jumping up and down like a fool in the middle of the aisle]... You plunk down your $20 (or more) and you're happy. You have the real thing now! And the music industry has a legitimate sale.

Now flip it around and give them what they want. Say you don't burn that CD of pirated MP3s. You never listen to those songs over and over... You listen to the radio instead. The radio is now playing _new_ songs. You've already forgotten how much you just loooooooved that song. You have new songs now.

Two weeks later, you're in a music store. You look around. They're all good. You can't get them all. But none of them are special now. You look around and walk out. Nothing really grabs you. Or worse - you take issue with the industry's stance and refuse to buy a CD on political and moral grounds. Either way, they've lost that sale (and many others like it).

And if you're not steamed about their anti-piracy efforts so far, you soon will be burnt to a crisp. There's now a bill in front of the House of Representatives that will allow copyright owners to LEGALLY hack into peer-to-peer networks. [Link found via Brain Log]

This means that the music industry can hire people to perform Denial-of-Service attacks on CUSTOMERS they suspect are file-sharing their copyrighted material. This also means they can embed a VIRUS or TROJAN which will trash YOUR computer if you attempt to pirate a song. They can even hire hackers to break into your computer and disrupt your other files. "Ooooops...got the wrong one. Sorry, my bad." What???? That was my personal budget!!! Well, it's okay. They can cause economic impairment of up to $50 per infringement = and it's all legal (if the bill passes). [Note: if you have 50 poached MP3s, they can trash your whole computer - legally and with no repercussions.]

Apparently the hackers see things differently. Apparently they like the idea of freedom more than they like the idea of a potential job at AOL-TimeWarner or some recording conglomerate. [They would probably make them hack in suits and ties.]

The Recording Industry Association of America's Web site was unreachable over the weekend due to a denial-of-service attack.

Yes, this is the same type of attack that the RIAA would be able to inflict on peer-to-peer networks.

Let this happen a few more times and guess what happens next? What ISP is going to want to host them? They'll become a liability. Internet access will be impossible or extremely costly (more than they lose to pirated music).

And the music won't die. People love their music. They'll find a way. The artists will find a way. The listeners will find a way. Perhaps the artists will go directly to the listeners via the Internet? Hmm. Would that cut out the "middleman" of the RIAA? Would the artists end up getting more of a cut of their own product in a new system? Gee, wouldn't that be nice? It could happen.

Posted by BlueWolf on July 29, 2002 11:02 PM