Jan. 28th, 2008

jackofallgeeks: (Default)
For those of you playing at home, The Pirate Bay is a website, based in
Sweden, that hosts .torrent files for tracking lots and lots of files being
shared online. Many of these torrents allegedly track files of copyrighted
materials, like music, movies, and software. This isn't the problem for a
Swedish-based site as it would be for an American- or British-based site
because of different laws in Sweden. Because it's a hot topic, though,
there's been a lot of pressure to serve The Pirate Bay with a legal action,
and the great machine is grinding in that direction. Fans of The Pirate Bay
remain confident in the Bay's imperviousness, and the fact that the Bay is
meticulous in following Swedish law, and so this suit will be a waste of
time and money.

Over at Digg, the collaborative news site where users post links and other
users rate and comment on the posted articles, there's a
up that brings this all back to the surface; nothing new in the
article if you've been following for the last week or so, but it gives
people something to talk about. Most of the talk is about how the Bay will
never die, the recording industry is evil, and Swedes fight like cows.
(Yeah, I don't get where that one came from, either). Burried (literally,
using Digg-speak) in the comments is one guy who mocks the fans of Pirate
Bay saying, " waaaa they want to stop something that is illegal, you
dolts!" And while, yes, strictly speaking it is illegal in most
places (though I'm lead to believe not Sweden as such), that's not the

Anything can be made illegal, and a great many things you can even come up
with semi-compelling reasons for why it should be illegal. A favorite one
here in the US is For The Children!, mostly because of the ethos it draws.
But just because something can or is illegal doesn't mean it should be, or
that there's anything morally compelling to make it illegal. People like to
call copyright infringement "theft" because everyone knows what theft is and
(with few exceptions) agrees that there is a morally compelling reason to
outlaw theft. Copyright infringement is not theft, but that's not the
point, either. The point that I'm trying to make, and the point that I
think the poster missed, is that because it is illegal doesn't mean
it necessarily should be illegal, and that one of the driving
questions in this argument is whether or not it ought to be.

If copyright infringement becomes no more, then a number of current business
models fall apart: right now, a lot of companies function off of
selling content, and those models fail when content can be had for free.
But there are other models which can still thrive -- Mike over a TechDirt
can say a lot more on this a lot better than I can, but even I can point out
RedHat Inc. which gives away an Operating System and sells tech support, or
Jonathan Coulton who gives away music and still manages to sell content (a
long with a number of other avenues for income). Copyright, in a real way,
no longer needs to be (or certainly not in it's current form) and as an
unnecessary law it ought to be struck down.
jackofallgeeks: (Default)
There's a little bit of a buzz right now about QTrax and pending
with recording companies to offer "unlimited free music
downloads." It's a nice sounding phrase until you look into the details: as
I understand it, the downloads are DRM'd so you can't burn them to CD, but
they're claiming to be portable, "unlike other similar services", so you can
put them on your portable music player. That'll be a feat, since DRM is
pretty much wholly opposed to portability. Right now, the only file formats
that play on any player are non-DRM'd, and every player has it's own favored
DRM format. They say that "portability" will be available at the end of
February, but iTunes support won't be here until late April. Until then, I
guess you can just play the files on your (Windows-only?) desktop. And
never mind that Apple hasn't licensed the iPod DRM format to anyone, so
either QTrax is trying to break precedent or they're making a work-around
that'll break at the next software update.

Anyways, none of that matters, really, since the DRM preventing you from
burning CDs will mean less and less as people get used to carrying iPods
(and similar), assuming they do pull through with portability like they're
promising. No, the real thorn is going to be how they're still trying to
make distribution profitable; that is, these music files will each carry
with them ads, and selling those adds is how the companies hope to make
money; from other industries if not from the consumer directly.

I don't think I really need to make much of a point for why ads won't work:
radio stations ALREADY try to minimize commercials to keep listeners
listening, and everyone TiVos through TV commercials. And that's really the
only two ways that ads can work on a music file: making it video or making
it audio.

Video right off won't work. They do apparently have a player which
commandeers your computer while the file is playing, allowing only a window
inside the player for surfing the net while the song plays. That is just
dumb, because no one uses their computer like a boombox; you put music on as
background while you do other things. If i can't have your music playing in
the background, I'm simply not going to use your player or your service.
Further, if the adds ARE visual, they'll mean less and less as people
transfer them to portable players which have no screen or, at best, a screen
you don't plan to be watching anyways. At best your files now eat up extra
batteries while playing ads I'm not watching.

The alternative, audio ads, is even worse. Imagine if everyone song on the
radio were followed by a commercial. You wouldn't listen to that station
very long, would you? Especially if there were ANY OTHER STATION which
would provide you continuous sets of music.

That other station is the winner, and that other station is going to be the
independent bands, the new guys and the guys who are willing to adapt to the
market. That other station is going to be bands using their music as
self-promotion and self-advertising, and making their money off of other
goods, like concert tickets, T-shirts, fanclub memberships and the like.
They're already out there, and even if they haven't gotten on top of things
just yet with a new business model, they're a step ahead of the big labels


jackofallgeeks: (Default)
John Noble

August 2012

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