October 8, 2003
@ 06:02 PM

I was at Sam Goody again this past weekend where I picked up the Tenth Anniversary Edition of Ninja Scroll and where'll I'll probably soon be returning to once they get the Ninja Scroll Series. I couldn't help but notice the disparity in the way entertainment media like console games and movies are sold compared to music CDs. Sam Goody had an "under $10" rack where one could buy big budget movies from a few years ago for less than half their original price at the time they were first released. Similarly various video games were being sold at half price because they were "platinum sellers". On the other hand I still have to fork over $20 after taxes if I want to pick up a CD over a decade old like NWA's second album. What seemed quite absurd was that it was possible  to buy a DVD for half the price one would have paid for its accompanying soundtrack on CD. There is clearly a problem here yet the RIAA continues to act like the problem is with music fans and not with them. Being blinded by greed is an unfortunate thing.

Phil Greenspun has a post entitled RIAA, friendship and prostitution where he states

In the bad old days of Napster you kept your MP3 collection on your desktop.  Today, however, an MP3 jukebox with enormous capacity can be purchased for $200.  It won't be long now before average people carry around their entire music collections on their cell phones.

Consider this scenario.  You are sitting at Starbucks and see a friend.  He is not inside your Starbucks but across the street in the other Starbucks.  You walk across the street.  Both of you happen to have your MP3 jukeboxes your pockets.  He says "Have you heard the latest Britney Spears song?  It reminds me so much of the late Beethoven Quartets with some of Stravinsky's innovative tonality."  You haven't?  Just click your MP3 jukeboxes together and sync them up.  Any tracks that he had and you didn't you now have.  You're using a digital audio recorder; the device won't do anything except record music.  You're not paying each other so it is noncommercial.  Under Section 1008 what you're doing is perfectly legal in the United States.

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What is the point of Internet file sharing when people can, perfectly legally, copy as much music from each other as they could reasonably want?  Only a person with zero friends would want to bother with file sharing.

This is an interesting point and one I've heard expressed before by one of my friends who owns an iPod. It takes about 10-15 minutes to push an  album's worth of songs to an iPod. Nowadays when someone tells him about a good album they just bought, he doesn't even have to borrow it for more than 15 minutes to have all the music on his iPod. The problem for RIAA is that unlike listening to music on your PC which could be considered "try before you buy" since the PC is not the main music device of a large number of the population, an iPod is likely to be the main music player of a lot of people and once music is on it there is little incentive to go out and buy it.

Once the next generation of iPods (and other hard drive based digital music players) show up with wireless file sharing (just beam that song Scotty) this trend will be significantly accelerated.

Personally, I hope the music industry adapts but I definitely hope that during the adaptation process we lose the RIAA.


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