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Who Owns Your Media?
Or: Get Your Hands Off My Hard Drive,
I'm Trying to Line Your Pockets With Cash

Who owns your media collection? That's a question that unfortunately seems to concern the people who buy CD's, DVD's and books a lot less than the people who produce and distribute them. Recent lawsuits and legislation (See Links - Sidebar) seem to be aimed more at controlling what you can do with your personal media collection than at cracking down on the actual money-making pirates of popular media. The new proposed strategies of multi-national media companies litigating against individuals or sabotaging their computers strikes us as being somewhat akin to a food company poisoning you for not eating your dinner at the table. We at echopraxia.org are both consumers and producers of popular media, and are well aware of both sides of the coin regarding this issue. Although we don't endorse piracy in the true sense of the word, (i.e.: reproducing copyrighted media on a large scale for profit), we very much endorse the right of the individual to make personal copies of their usually overpriced movies and music. Recent activities by organizations like the RIAA, NMPA, and certain major labels serve only, in our opinion, to highlight the fact that they've been missing the boat regarding the opportunities for making their product profitable with an incredibly powerful new distribution network --- the web.

>>One of the scarier attempts on this front was the attempt on the part of the music industry to enforce their desires through the Patriot Act last fall, an approach which goes well beyond any standard definition of insidiousness. This was just another step along the way for a group of wealthy and successful executives to attempt to protect their bloated incomes. In the words of Steve Griffin, founder and CEO of StreamCast, who says he fears the RIAA and the MPAA: "Their agenda is clear: sue the technology companies almost out of existence," he says, "and then acquire their assets for cheap." This was clearly the case with Napster, acquired and effectively gutted by Bertelsmann. The music industry overlooks the success of acts like Phish, who actually endorse the recording and sharing of their recorded music and concerts, because it doesn't fit their business model, and change, apparently, is bad. There are in fact as many reports to indicate that file sharing increases purchases as there are to indicate the contrary. That file sharing has a negative impact on sales is a weak argument. Most file-swappers are not average consumers, and will find a way to do what they're doing no matter how the industry attempts to control them, and no broad, truly scientific research has been conducted to study the issue. In this writer's opinion, the drop in CD sales over the past couple of years could easily be explained by used CD sales. I personally have purchased one new CD in the last three months, as there is simply so much out there at an average used price of $8-$9. If I want to listen to the latest Moby, all I have to do is watch some TV commercials.

The bottom line on all of this is, do you want a greedy executive in a three-thousand dollar suit telling you that you can't copy your $16.98 CD, because he has to give the artist $0.67.9, or do you want to do as you see fit with your hard-earned purchases? If the answer is the latter, write your congressional representatives and let them know. The bigger names in the entertainment industry are using their influence with people like John Ashcroft to sway things in their favor, and if they have their way, before you know it, your hard drive will be theirs.

This is likely to be a recurring topic here at echopraxia.org --- feel free to join in or start a discussion about the topic, and check back often. We do basic content updates weekly.

 


 

 

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