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The Life of the RIAA Has Been Greatly Exaggerated
2002-01-03 11:45:47


Digital Gar Gar Gar!
 
There is no beer in space. That really pisses me off.
-- Johnnie Royale

 

2001 was a banner year for the RIAA - its crusade to stamp out all "illegal" music managed to score several big victories. They also had a couple of minor set backs, but for an organization that just last year was being declared obsolete by industry pundits, the RIAA turn around was forcing those very same talking heads to rethink their obituaries.

Unfortunately, the RIAA (along with others) are trying to protect a music monopoly with massive and well orchestrated attack on our fundamental rights of fair use and free speech. That a company can even include the phrase in an eBook license that says "This Book can not be read aloud" and not be laughed out of court, only shows just how successful corporations have been in purchasing laws and destroying the carefully crafted balance between free speech and copyright that our founding fathers developed.

So after reading some of the end of the year pronouncements about just how good a year the RIAA had in squelching basic human rights, I was more then a little depressed. Then I stumbled across My Music Agent. A small, harmless looking little program that must have the RIAA strategists pooping in their pants.

My Music Agent really isn't much of a program, it is terse, has a poor look and feel, it is clunky, has few options, only knows about mp3 files (so no porn for you) and runs only on Windows. When you compare the fit and finish of My Music Agent to some of the other P2P clients like LimeWire and BearShare, My Music Agent sucks. Not only that, the free version is crippled and the full use version costs 10 dollars. (On the plus side, however, no stealthware is included)

In fact, My Music Agent only has two real features, but that's enough. The first it that is can search and retrieve mp3s from a number of P2P networks - including most gnutella networks. The second is that it is wired into the CDDB database. The CDDB contains the title track listings for nearly 100,000 albums. By now, you're probably saying "big fucking deal, why should I care about this hunk of junk, WinDoze program."

Well, it is a big FUCKING deal. The first time I used it, it floored me. I just typed in Pink Floyd, and hit the Find button. That resulted in a pick list of ALL the albums that Pink Floyd had ever released from the CDDB. I selected Dark Side of the Moon and hit the Build button. And it did - every freaking song. The entire album was on my hard drive in less then 20 minutes. With my DSL line it was far, far faster to "steal" Dark Side of the Moon then it would have been for me to drive to the store and purchase it. And it was even easier then using that ridiculous one-click patent at Amazon. In fact, with my sprained ankle, it was better to use My Music Agent to download Dark Side of the Moon then it was to hobble across the room and load Dark Side of the Moon into the CD player.

And that, my friends, is what the Internet is all about!

There is no way the RIAA and the music companies it whores for will ever, ever be able to offer any sort of user experience that rivals that. In fact, if MusicNet and PressPlay are any examples, the music labels apparently believe that listening to digital music should be the equivalent of some sort of biker gang rape where the customer gets to repeatedly play the victim.

Now, remember folks, the neither the PDJ nor Johnnie Royale is encouraging to commit what amounts to civil disobedience, breaking an Unconstitutional copyright law, by downloading and sampling music you don't own. However, you can easily "test" this program and see the future of music distribution right in your own home by snagging albums your already have "rights" to. Of course, how you choose to use programs like My Music Agent in the privacy of your own home is none of my business.

Now, I'm sure some of you will take me to task for not allowing artists to make money. Not so. I believe that it is very possible for artists to thrive under a set of laws that balance the rights of those that create music and those that listen to it. I just don't think there is a place for that amazing money sinkhole and anti-consumer attitude that the music labels have chosen as their preferred business model. However, make no mistake, if a balance is no longer possible in this digital age then I clearly prefer a world of freedoms without music as opposed a world with music and no freedoms.

I doubt that My Music Agent will be around very long - but the ideas it unleashes will soon be in every other P2P application. The RIAA and the music labels days are numbered and my only concern is whether, in their slow and painful demise, those peckerheads will figure out a way to take the remnants of the Constitution with them. Unfortunately, even if these assholes depart quickly, there are legions of other corporations working very hard to push us all into some sort of Feudalistic Information Age where people are nothing more then high-tech serfs kowtowing to their Corporate Overlords. Time to join the fight people.

Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.

czech@pigdog.org


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