The RIAA’s Fight Will Never End

By Deane Barker on September 15, 2003

Whatever Will Be Will Be Free on the Internet: I’ve always had two universal truths about music swapping:

  1. It’s illegal.

  2. The music industry better figure out a way to live with it, because there’s no way to stop it. You can’t stick toothpaste back in the tube. Close one music swapping outlet, and three more will pop up. The RIAA’s fight will never end.

At heart, that’s what just about everyone who opposes the RIAA is saying, I think. There’s not much wiggle room to say that it’s legal, because it’s not and everyone knows that.

The point that all the swappers are really getting at, is that the landscape of content distribution and intellectual property has changed, and Big Media better change their business model in a hurry.

This commentary says much the same thing.

…the heritage and design of the Internet present a particularly disruptive technology. Today’s global network had its origins in the research culture of academia with its ethos of freely sharing information.

And by design, the Internet turns every user in every living room into a mass distributor of just about anything that can be digitized, including film, photography, the written word and, of course, music. Already, Hollywood is trying to curb the next frontier, film swapping.

The inevitable advance of technology will make reading on digital tablets more convenient than reading on paper, so the publishers of books, magazines and newspapers have their worries as well. ‘Nobody is immune,’ observed Michael J. Wolf […]

DRM will fail, for reasons I elaborated on a couple of months ago. Notice too, that Universal recently announced an across-the-board drop on CDs.

This is the first nail in the coffin, and it proves that music swapping is having an effect. This shows that Big Media is wounded and it establishes the endgame — the entire concept of content distribution will change. How we get there is just details.



  1. And then there’s iTunes Music Store. It’s hard to balance your arguement against the early success of IMS. But even now, Apple is seeing portents of trouble with ownership rights of songs purchased through IMS; I think that the business model will eventually flesh out to people owning license to the music, much as we do with software purchases. Which essentially is what we’ve always had with music.

    I believe that most people want to do the right thing and are willing pay a reasonable price for what they use; they just need an easy method for the exchange of money for music to take place, which is the big bug that needs to be worked out.

  2. I got this from a LockerGnome feed. No idea where it came from, but they’re saying the same thing:

    “They’re protecting an archaic industry,” said the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir. “They should turn their attention to new models.”

    “This is not rocket science,” said David Draiman of Disturbed, a hard-rock band with a platinum debut album on the charts. “Instead of spending all this money litigating against kids who are the people they’re trying to sell things to in the first place, they have to learn how to effectively use the Internet.”

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