iPod Owners: Just Thieves

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.

Music: Brian Eno And John Cale :: Crime In The Desert

One Reply to “iPod Owners: Just Thieves”

  1. Well, but I think about a further along down the road here:

    When “guilty until proven innocent” is the official and overt stance of the record labels and their RIAA mothership, two things have to be true:

    A: they’re right and they have a customer base of untrustworthy thieves. This really is a completely unsustainable sort of economy on which to stake your livelihood, kind of like opening a gun shop in a prison mess hall. The situation is actually worse than this, because in this case, the gun shop owners are themselves trigger happy bloodthirsty mercenaries. See under: “recipe for bloodbath.”

    B: they’re wrong and are are wrongfully distrusting a trustworthy consumer base. Like any relationship where one party wavers in its trust of the other, pretty soon a cycle is established where the untrusting party implements increasingly draconian and hardball tactics to protect its interests, to which the untrusted party responds, rightfully, but seeking to protect its own interests by whatever means necessary, usually by finding new and better ways to circumvent the untrusting pary’s draconian tactics. Pretty soon no one trusts one another, the relationship breaks down into either outright war or a severing of all ties.

    Either way, the recording goons lose *everything*.

    And that really is what I see happening eventually: the recording industry will continue its insanely shortsighted gropings to hold onto the last vestiges of a dead and mouldering business model until it dies, and then the people will just find another to share and hear they music they want to share and hear.

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