Sunday, January 6, 2008

The RIAA is at it again

I recently heard that the RIAA (Recording Indsutry Associated of America) is trying something different. This is the organization that makes sure that no one is making illegal copies of music and making a profit from it. If they find out that someone has they are the ones who prosecute. I applaud them for their cause and think that they are doing a good thing but that does not mean that they are justified in everything that they are doing. I am all about paying the artist what they deserve for their creative material but I think the RIAA is out of hand. There are many organazations that started out as a good thing but over time have lost relevance or need because the times has changed.

The latest story is about a lady who downloaded 24 songs off the internet and paid the normal price of 99 cents per song which adds up to $23.76. That is about the cost of about 2 cds if you buy them at a retail store. That part was totally legal but then she supposedly allowed her computer to share them which meant that other people could download them. Now the RIAA is taking her to court for approximately $220,000. I believe that this is just a little steep, don’t you? Yes what she did is wrong but you can only take things so far. I know they are just trying to make an example of her but that is not going to stop the next person from doing the same thing. The same happened a few years back when Napster was very popular. Everyone was using it to download songs and that was the cool thing to do. The record companies choose them as the scape goat and practically brought them down even though there were others out there similar. After being prosecuted, Napster is now a service something similar to iTunes. Users can no longer download for free but have to pay for songs like many other services. But after Napster was prosecuted 2 or 3 other free download programs popped up right in its place.

Some time back the RIAA had said that it was OK to make copies of your CDs if you were making them for backup purposes and not distributing the copies. Now the RIAA has changed their mind and they now saying that you not allowed to make backup copies. If you want a backup copy you need to go buy another one. They want to make it illegal to copy any music to your computer from personal CDs. To get it on your computer you would have to rebuy it from a service like iTunes. In other words, if I go out to Walmart and buy my favorite CD and I want to then load that onto my ipod so I can listen to it there I have to purchase the music online to go on my ipod. I stand the possibility of being prosecuted similar to the lady in the beginning of the story if the RIAA can get this passed. Whether they realize it or not, I believe that they are killing their own selves. If they start trying to make laws like this and continue their witch hunts, people will completely stop buying CDs and a lot of people at the RIAA will be out of a job. If you download an MP3 from iTunes you are allowed to burn it to a CD. I believe that CDs are already becoming a thing of the past with the digital media all around us but these kinds of things are just speeding up the process. CDs will will continue to hang around like tapes did because they are such a popular media.

Years ago Hollywood and the makers of VHS tapes had this same debate. Back in the day you had two main media forms, Beta max and VHS. Beta Max was the better quality tape but you could record on a VHS. VHS quickly became the popular of the two just for that fact. Hollywood started screaming that everyone was going to make copies of movies and no one would ever buy a movie again. In case you haven’t noticed, Hollywood never did go under financially. (I know some of you are thinking I wish it would have.) It’s the same debate now and I believe that it boils down to being money hungry. A few years later another argument popped up. People were taking their CDs to second hand music stores and selling them for money and then the second hand music store would resell them at a cheaper rate than going to a retail store and buying a new one. RIAA were demanding profits off these sales because they said that the artist and other people were getting cheated out of the profits that were rightfully thiers because it was their creative work and they were the ones that created it. In other words, record companies wanted a few extra pennies to line their pockets.

There was a popular secular group by the name of TLC. At one time they were on top of their game cranking out hit songs and selling cds. The contract with their record company was written in such a way that they got virtually nothing out of the CD sales. I believe for every dollar that they made on CD sales they were personally getting somewhere around 3 or 4 cents per CD. Where is the fairness in that? TLC was the creative force in that and they were getting virtually nothing.

So lets bring this back to the southern gospel world. If you are buying a CD you are not paying for just the actual CD and artwork. That is the final finished polished product. You are paying for the creative side of things as well musicians and producers. When an artist or record company mass produces a recording, the more CDs they make the less it costs to produce each one. And the biggest cost of all is the money to fill up the bus. Filling that bus up with diesel fuel is not cheap. Just think, every time you pull up to the pump you paying $30-40 to fill up a tank. They are paying a few hundred dollars. And that bus only gets 5-10 miles to the gallon if they are lucky. It takes a lot of money to stay out on the road. So don’t do a disservice to your favorite atist and steal their music. Don’t be like two ladies that I overheard at a music table (with the artist standing in front of them) They told each other that they would buy different CDs and just make copies for each other when they got home. Now wasn’t that the Christian thing to do? If they are really that good then their music is worthy of $15 for a CD. Pay the artist what they rightfully deserve through CDs or downloading songs legally but don’t let the RIAA take over things any more than than they have.