Monday, May 19, 2003

Yo, Ho The Pirates Life for Me

I just got my brand new shiny Creative Nomad IIc MP3 player. I decided to splurge and got the 128M onboard but did not get any extra flash cards (although I will probably buy one later). My original Nomad which I purchased about three years ago, was inherited by the boyfriend, hence I absolutely needed a new one. And what with all the players out today, I got the IIc for only ten bucks more than what I paid three years ago for the 64M model. So after a bit of installation frustration, because I did not know that the USB port on my PC needed to be enabled via the BIOS (always keep your original manuals people, some techie I am eh?), I was happily downloading mp3"s on my new player, and I thought of all the mp3 files I have, well over a thousand, which if purchased, represents a lot of coinage. So am I stealing this music? Technically Yes. But don't try to use a moral argument to stop downloading, because it's rather hypocritical for music companies and even artists to preach moral behavior. Am I breaking the law? Technically Yes, but it's a chance I"m willing to take that I"m not going to be thrown in prison for downloading the Simpsons Theme song. Am I depriving artists - who have slaved in the industry for years, toiled and struggled - of much deserved revenue? Yes, but not in all cases.And what is their take? At say $4 a CD (generous), with say 10 tracks = 40¢ per song. The problem as I see it is that technology has surpassed the law, current laws are not effectively enforceable. Why is it this so different than cassette tapes? Because the internet allows for pirating on a massive scale never before seen. Furthermore, the recording industry cannot point to anyone, (since Napster is gone), and say, *stop thief!* So they go after those who they consider to be heavy traffic pirates. Internet Providers are caught in the middle, between customer privacy, and legal obstruction, even passive collusion if you believe the RIAA hard liners. What the industry needs to do is accept that music downloading is going to happen, and work with it. Because with true P2P programs, you are never going to be able to eliminate pirate downloading. A big issue is that the price of music today is too expensive, at least in relation to the kind of product available today. The music being produced today is, in most cases not worth $17 a CD. Why should I pay $17 for and entire CD when I only really want one or two songs, which I was forced to do before, but now I don"t have to. It is, IMHO, worth $1 song, tops. And that's for new hits. Older tunes? less than $1. With the sheer quantity of music being produced today, my consumer dollars are better spent on getting the specific tunes I want, and not, in essence, paying for something I don"t want in the form of eight tracks that are in all probability not as good as the single. I predict, that a new paradigm will emerge, like Apple itunes, pay a nominal fee and go for it, the music industry will be less inclined to crank out garbage, when fans can pick and choose what they want to hear and in this way the overall quality will improve, but there will be an explosion of one hit wonders as consumers get only what they want and pay for only what they get.