Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Never Say Die The music industry has switched tactics in its war against Internet file sharing. Apparently, the RIAA has been sending Kaaza and Grokster users pop up messages that warn of potential legal penalties facing copyright infringers. Which just goes to prove that the RIAA still doesn't get it. The answer to the recording industry's woes is better customer service, not draconian tactics. I should be the recording industry's wet dream: I own well over 500 CDs, and am quite willing to drop $10 on a CD from an artist I've never heard, based merely on good word of mouth. Instead, the recording industry would probably consider me part of the problem. Why? Because 80% of the CDs I buy are either used or come from BMG, and in the past I have been known to download my fair share of songs off of Gnutella and the like. And it's not because I think music should be free, or because I don't value artists' copyrights. It's because the recording industry has consistently failed to live up to the promise made to the American public back in the early 1990s -- that the price of CDs would come down in line with tapes as the medium matured. Instead, new albums are still costing close to $20 (when not on sale). I can handle $10 for an artist that is completely unknown to me. I can even handle $15 for the newest album from one of my established favorites. But I'm not willing to spend $20 on an album that, if past experience is any predictor, will contain only 1-3 songs that I like. Six dollars per listenable song is just too high. So what should the recording industry do to bring me back into the fold? 1) Bring down the price of CDs. Fifteen dollars for a new album, $10 for an older album would certainly increase my consumption of non-used CDs. And I don't think I'm alone. 2) Encourage more services like Apple's iTunes, which allow you to download and "own" music for $.99 per pop. I'm willing to pay money to obtain music online. I've subscribed to LaunchCast Plus ($4.95/month), and listen to it often at work. But I won't pay $9.95 for Rhapsody's streaming audio, only to have to turn around and pay an additional $.99 for every song I want to burn onto a CD (although, I must say that Rhapsody is much more likely to get my business than services that make me pay a monthly subscription fee, only to have my downloaded songs expire as soon as I cancel the service). Give me the ability to buy music online; give me the flexibility to listen to it as streaming audio, burn it to a CD, or transfer it to my Lyra; and give it to me for a reasonable price, and I'm there. Tie me to my computer and an Internet connection to be able to listen to the music (yes, I still have a dial up connection since Earthlink can't seem to get my DSL up and running), or restrict what I can do with it after I've purchased it, and no deal. Maybe the recording industry will figure this out before it's too late. Maybe not.

Monday, April 28, 2003

I'm Back After a bit of a hiatus, I finally have some free time to start posting again.

When First Amendment Rights Collide Law.com has a write-up about the case Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints v. First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, which is currently up for cert consideration by the Supreme Court. At issue is whether the sale of formerly public land to the Mormon Church via a deed that contained a covenant providing for a public easement for "pedestrian access and passage only" created a public forum. Should be the perfect opportunity for the Supreme Court to further limit Marsh.
Grokster Suit Tossed I'm a bit late on this, but Law.com has an article about the Los Angeles federal district court's decision to grant the summary judgement in favor of the defendants in the copyright infringement case brought by the movie studios, record labels and music companies against Grokster, StreamCast Networks and Kaaza. No quote from Zittrain or Lessig in this write up, but it's only a matter of time until I find one. Reuters is reporting that the music industry has vowed to continue its battle against on-line file sharing despite the legal set back.
Supreme Court Declines to Clear Up Web Jurisdiction Confusion Boston.com is reporting that the Supreme Court has declined to grant cert in the Internet defamation case Healthgrades.com, Inc. v. Northwest Health Care Alliance Inc.. The case involves an appeal by Healthgrades.com from a 9th Circuit ruling holding that the company is subject to jurisdiction in Washington state based on the fact that it rated a Washington state healthcare provider, using information obtained from Washington state records.
Boucher is the Man Wired has an interview with Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va, about his proposed Media Consumer Rights Act (HR 107). Unfortunately, the interview is relatively short, but still worth a read.