The RIAA is going too far

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This article was originally published over a decade ago, I am simply adding it to my website for posterity.

Nu’s News, issue #1.
Written 7/31/2003, revised numbers 8/7/2003

When I get bored, I browse. The internet has lost some of it’s flare to me, but I still like to just see what’s new out there. Sometimes I hit up classic sites, those that’ve been stedfast as the entire internet has expanded into a jungle of personal pages that will never go anywhere (much like mine!). So earlier this week I went to C|Net’s I noticed some statistics of files that they host.

The second and third most popular downloads, in ONE WEEK (week ending July 27) reached a whopping total 1,178,584… one point one MILLION downloads in a week for the 2nd a 3rd most popular files combined. Impressive, no? All this so people can talk to their friends; the #2 download of the week was ICQ Lite Beta, and #3 AOL Instant Messenger.

But this is still small potatoes:

The file in in first place is Kazaa Media Desktop… Kazaa is a file sharing program, for both of you who don’t know. Kazza clocked in with MORE THAN DOUBLE the amount of downloads of the 2nd and 3rd place programs, and an astonoshing 2,758,676 downloads. More than two and a half million downloads, in one week! This, only weeks AFTER the RIAA sent out all of the subpoenas.

So listen, that’s what this whole thing is about. The Recording Industry Association of America hasn’t scared off anyone. The download rate of Kazzaa is not slowing, and this should be considered an indication that until every single person is slapped with a 10 million dollar lawsuit, they are not going to stop sharing music files.

The RIAA is taking a approach to filesharing. I agree, something needs to be done, but why go after the users of a damn program? You shut down napster with one team of lawyers, why employ hundreds to go after hundreds and thousands of end users – who are merely being caught in the crossfire of progress?

Napster is coming back with a pay-for-use service, allowing users to swap and share songs, by paying a small monthly fee. Apple has the best idea I’ve seen yet, with their iTunes online store. The downside is that it only applies to Mac users, which – I’m sorry to say – is by far not the majority of file-sharers.

“iTunes 4.0.1 is required to share music with other iTunes 4.0.1 users. iTunes 4 is available for Mac OS X only”.

The idea of downloading songs at $0.99 each is brilliant… you can stock a 15 song CD for 15 dollars, with music YOU WANT. Instead of paying for a $17 album with 10 songs, 1 of which you heard on the radio and liked. Apple has the right idea, but something needs to be opened up to PC users.

Napster’s new rendition may change some things, but until then, why are we going after people who download Metallica’s music? Why aren’t we doing what was done in Napster’s case, and going after the creators of the application. Try and STOP the distribution of the client program, don’t try and destory the lives of the clients.

The RIAA’s idea, summed up in my brain, is about the equivilant of buying a computer from a reputable company, but when it arrives it doesn’t work. So rather than trying to take the computer back to the company and asking them for an exchange or for it to be repaired, they’re taking it to another person who owns the same computer, and telling them that they MUST fix it.

The kids on the internet are downloading music, and no matter how many thousands of songs some of them may have, they’re only doing what their peers are doing.

Let me give you one more thing to chew on:

Think about this random bit throughout your day:
Source: South Carolina Legislature Online.
“A person possessing or attempting to possess less than one gram of ice, crank, or crack cocaine… for a first offense, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned for a term of not more than five years and fined not less than five thousand dollars. For a first offense the court, upon approval of the solicitor, may require as part of a sentence that the offender enter and successfully complete a drug treatment and rehabilitation program;”

Now consider this:
Source:Dartmouth College.
Depending on the number and value of the products exchanged, penalties for a first offense may be as high as three years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

The MAXIMUM prison term for first time Cocaine possession offenders in South Carolina is five years. The maximum for infringing on the copyright of a digital music file? Three. Someone downloading MP3s as 3/5ths as bad as a coke dealer?

Maybe this should be a lesson to kids? If you get a subpoena in the mail from the RIAA, you might as well start doing rock, it’ll only add two more years, and very likely the fines will cost less anyways.

I hope your brains are working. Now go on out, and enjoy the rest of the day, while entire lives are being destoryed over a song that some girl was listening to in her bedroom before she was even old enough to apply to a college.

(note: the State of South Carolina was randomly selected for the above example and was used primarily for the ease of access to it’s legislature’s site).