(By the way, for a change I'm NOT going to LJ-Cut this, because I happen to think it's pretty damn important for you to read. Draw your own conclusions.)
And so the RIAA battle rages on. They don't like copywritten music shared for free over P2P networks, and they are technically in the right, there, since that is illegal. On the other hand, we hate that they regulate what music comes out, short-change the independant musician, and churn out bland cookie-cutter crap that they charge us an arm and a leg for, and that puts us in the right as well. What a fuckin' pisser, and Beav and Jonesie would have said.
Remember whan people figured out how easy it was to copy VHS tapes? The distributors went apeshit, and fell all over themselves trying to stop it. And it's not like no one was ignorant of the law...you can't throw in a movie without being subjected to a retina-burning announcement of how the FBI is going to break down your door, shave your cat and force you to bake muffins if you reproduce it. Hell, with the advent of DVD, you can't even fast-forward past it anymore...fuckers; that's a rant for another time, though. The hype was huge, the shit was flung, and a few lawsuits were brought against offenders...and then it all went away. So here we are, the RIAA says that music sales have fallen, and it's all the fault of the P2P networks that the artists aren't making more money.
Well, let's look over this. Music sales cash actually goes mostly in the pockets of the recording industry (i.e. the RIAA), and artists tend to make their money on tours, merchandise, etc. This is why an album that is hugely hyped and sells a shitload but is bad means that the artist ends up working nowhere, but a band that hasn't sold much in the way of albums in a while but still tours still makes money (Christ, look at the Grateful Dead! They never stopped touring, but when was the last album they did? And how long before that was the previous one?). So what's really going on here is that the RIAA is mad that they have lost some money.
On the flipside, let's look at the other end, the band without their backing. Take Curve, just as a f'rinstance. They got themselves out of a crappy contract, and do everything themselves, releasing their music through their website, including putting up a new track for download every damn week from the upcoming album and then selling the album itself...and the last two albums have sold just as well as those promoted by some big company. Obviously not too hurt by P2P sharing. So, who is the RIAA really defending here? Their own fatcat selves. Hopefully, this isn't too shocking for you...because this will get worse. Read on.
Now, looking over all this, let's boil it down to basics: the RIAA doesn't wanna lose it's job, it's status, it's chauffeured limo, or it's reserved table at Spago's. And can you blame them? They have the greatest job in the world...they get to be paid more cash than you and I together will ever make in our lifetimes, just to sit on their well-padded behinds and tell us what music we want to hear. Think about it: you hear from someone, or on the radio, or what have you, about the newest musical sensation...so you gotta hear it. But where did this start? It had to be heard somewhere for people to like, and therefore become hot, right? WRONG. They make sure that it's seen as 'hot', and you buy into it through faulty logic...and they laugh all the way to the bank. It's a borderline priesthood: the guys up top have their apostles and acolytes, and we worship them, because they tell us what the Truth is.
OK, we've established that the RIAA is a bunch of money-grubbing bastards. Now, let's take the other side of the argument. The truth of the matter is that distributing copywritten material is illegal. Artists (whether they be authors, musicians, or software designers) put work into what they do, and that is their job, so they should get paid for it, and the sharing of these files, for free, infringes on that. The problem isn't whether or not it should be legal or not, because that's a simple argument. It's that it's been available and now something's being done about it, and people don't like that what they are used to being able to get for free, they are now going to maybe have to pay for, big-time. Just because you've gotten away with something illegally for a while doesn't mean it's now OK...just ask Kevin Mitnick. So we're pissed at being called on the carpet for it (and I'm just as guilty of illegal music downloads as any of you).
Tough titty, kitty. The basis of what the RIAA is doing is in the right, sad to say. Now, don't take this to mean that I am endorsing their tactics...I'm not. In fact, I'm quite opposed to some of it. I say some because, in a way, I'm glad that they are going as overboard as they are. The worse they get, the madder the populace gets, and maybe, just maybe, they'll wise up a little and realize that they CAN do something about it. Support artists that do NOT go through the RIAA. Make more of them see that we don't want to deal with this sweaty middle-man anymore. Yes, this means sacrificing buying your favorite CD's for a while, but is the sacrifice not worth it? Make sure the money goes to the ARTISTS, not the agents. The RIAA loses money not because we are raping them, but because they don't CARE about us, and it's starting to show...unfortunately, it's such a small show right now that they can easily pin it on something else,. and the mindless sheep of this country blindly follow along like they do everything.
It's not all the RIAA's fault, either. For instance, take a moment to glace at this online petition that I ran across today. Now, I AM opposed to the proposed bill that it describes, seeing as it is effectively giving the RIAA the legal ability to engage in hacking and computer piracy. However, read on further to the comments left by the author of this petition. Incitement to hacking the RIAA, etc., just makes everyone look bad, and helps them not only crack down FURTHER (causing more strife), but helps them blow off the anti-RIAA movement as a bunch of young crackpots who are criminal, reactionary and, frankly, stupid. I want to grab this author by the lapels and slap them across the face for their idiocy. Do you really think this helps?
So, what's to be done? Is there a middle ground, somewhere we can come to terms and end this? Sure, more than one. If both sides were to come to some kind of agreement that involved actually speaking without anger, some kind of dialogue, then perhaps both sides could be made to see the other's point, and some solution could be reached. However, knowing the humans on both sides, I don't see that happening. So, you wanna rant, be aggressive. show them how you feel? Don't think signing some online petition is gonna do dick for 'the cause', because it isn't. You need to show them that you can do without them...let them die. The only way to do that is to avoid them...and as said, that involves sacriffice. Yeah, I know that sucks, but hey, life's rough, get a fuckin' helmet. Don't go buy the CD's. The band comes on tour, go ahead see them, let the band know you support THEM. But keep your money out of the RIAA's meathooks.
The Internet isn't free. Get used to it. You will see popup ads, you will get charged for downloads, and that's the way it is...services have to be paid for, and paying your ISP for 'Net access doesn't give you the right to free music from a website any more than paying for a car and road taxes gives you free cheeseburgers at McDonald's...and raiding McD's isn't going to make it free. Instead go get your own food, until the burger joint goes out of business. But it takes effort, and it takes effort on a grand scale...and since we can't even live together in some semblance of peace, why do you think you're gonna change a huge megacorporation's stance on it's policies? They'll keep churning out the crap, and you'll keep buying it.