It’s been a busy few weeks since I launched this website, but I’m finally back with another rant (lucky you)!
To get things rolling, let’s take a look at the RIAA. I could have focused on the Australian equivalent, or even the British, but they don’t seem to attract as much global attention. Suffice to say that they all have much the same roles and agendas in their respective regions.
The RIAA cop a lot of flack, particularly from the online community, for their harsh policies and heavy handed response to piracy. I’m not saying they shouldn’t protect their copyrights, but it often seems like they are pointing the gun at the wrong people. The pirates that they want to flush out and prosecute include their biggest customers: you and me! I still buy CDs and DVDs, but like most of you, I also acquire digital content by… ‘other means’. Honestly, is there anyone out there who has never shared an MP3 or made a mix tape or lent a CD or video to a buddy? If you’ve never bent copyright laws, please add a comment below, because I’d love to hear your opinions.
Pitting yourself against your customers is never a smart move, but I suppose the RIAA and other such organisations are left with few alternatives under the circumstances. Copyright is important, and copyright holders have a right and a duty to protect it. Without copyright, there can be no copyleft… but more on that another time.
A recent press release titled Piracy: Online and On The Street, explains how the RIAA are tackling the many areas of the ‘piracy problem’. Working with law enforcement to pull pirated products off the street is the number one and most aggressive action on the list. I just imagine police beating up shady bootleg peddlers on the streets of Singapore selling burned CDs of Billboard‘s top 100 next to the guy selling smack to six year old boys. In the present digital age, the reality is much different. It’s so easy now to find popular music online through ‘less-than-legal’ means without paying anything but your connection fees! I can’t image there would be much money to be made on pirated products any more when anyone can download almost any content for free.
Everyone has a right to protect their intellectual property, but we all bend the laws of copyright on a daily basis and have done for many years (yes, even before the internet!). Legislation, education and enforcement haven’t stopped us (try as they might), so maybe it’s time for a new strategy. Whether people are buying your media or pirating it, the important thing is that there is a demand for it. In an era where everyone has a voice and anyone can produce content, having content that people want to hear/see is a valuable commodity in itself. Shouldn’t the message be more important than how much people are paying for it?
I look forward to your thoughts.