Flash back to the cassette tax of the 80s, when labels assumed that the vast majority of blank cassettes would be purchased to pirate music, and were able to push legislation forcing cassette manufacturers to share proceeds with the labels. Now flash forward to the present:
Universal Music Group refused to license its music to the Zune unless it could receive a percentage of each device sold, in addition to standard music licensing fees for downloads and subscriptions. “These devices are just repositories for stolen music, and they all know it,” UMG chairman/CEO Doug Morris says. “So it’s time to get paid for it.”
In practical or percentage terms, UMG is not entirely wrong – of course most iPods carry pirated content. It’s the presumption of guilt that galls me. In addition to pirated content, iPods/Zunes etc. also carry a huge honkin’ ton of A) Music ripped from people’s own CD collections, B) Music purchased from services like eMusic, iTMS, Rhapsody, etc., C) Podcasts, D) Music provided for free download by bands on MySpace etc. In fact, I’d wager that a much higher percentage of content on the average iPod is legitimate than was on the average cassette tape.
Taken as a whole, that’s a helluva lot of legitimate content, and a whole lot of people being tarred/taxed unfairly with the “pirate” flag.