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,
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