Saturday, March 03, 2007

Fuck the RIAA

This is the third in a series of preachy and boring posts.

March is the unofficial month to boycott the Recording Industry Association of America. Gizmodo thought of the idea to boycott the RIAA this month. You can read their anti-RIAA manifesto and how they've kicked things off.

Who are the RIAA and why boycott them? Well let me tell you.

The RIAA are the ones behind suing teenagers and old ladies for sharing music on the internet. I have no problem with this in principle; really, downloading music without paying for it is wrong. But the way they go about it is downright evil. Instead of following this pesky "law" stuff, they send confusing letters to people who they suspect are sharing music, threatening to sue them for more money than they can possibly pay. This is bad enough; sure, stealing a CD is wrong, but is it so wrong that a person's entire life should be ruined because of it? But the truly evil thing is that the next thing they do is offer to settle for a more reasonable amount if the offender agrees to not get the law involved. It sounds more like organized crime than policing, and its sole purpose is to spread terror so that people are afraid to share music over the internet. Does that make them terrorists?
Or is that politically incorrect to say?

What bugs me even more, though, is digital rights management - DRM - which the RIAA is also behind. If you want to go clean and pay for music online, your most popular choice is iTunes, or something similar. But if you do, you will soon find that your songs are laden with restrictions. You can only listen to them on certain devices (i.e., an iPod), and even then, only a certain number of devices. You are paying for music that is broken; music that does less for you than cassettes did 20 years ago. CDs used to be a good alternative, but even they are often infected with DRM now. Sony was recently involved in a scandal in which putting one of their CDs into your computer would result in it installing, without your consent, a program that opened your computer up to viruses.

The worst part about DRM is that is serves absolutely no purpose. It is ridiculously easy to circumvent; for an mp3, you need only burn it to CD then rip the CD to get a clean file. For CDs, it's usually as easy as holding the shift key when you insert it in order to rip the music to computer. And of course, once one person in the entire world has gone through this, the music is on the internet, ready to be illegally downloaded. So it doesn't stop piracy. However, the legitimate users who have purchased this broken music still have to go through these hassles (which is considered illegal) just to have freedom with the music they purchased. Thus, DRM does nothing to deter illegal downloaders, and only hurts the people who actually bought the music.


Another evil thing the RIAA did just recently is charge internet radio stations way too much money to operate, essentially trying to kill them.

So, to send a message that this crap is stupid, stop buying it, at least for the month of March. Don't buy any CDs from major labels, and don't buy any music infected with DRM.

Even better, do buy DRM-free music from non-RIAA labels. This could send the message that suing people isn't working, but if you offer music that is not crippled by DRM, people will be willing to pay for it. I recommend emusic. I've been paying for it for a few months and have got some kickass music. There's even some mainstream(ish) stuff on there...e.g. Barenaked Ladies, Arcade Fire, Bloc Party, Delerium, Tom Waits, etc. Follow this link and you can get 100 free songs (vs. the usual 25), then cancel if you feel like it, or keep going. I sound like I'm advertising or something, but really, it's cool.

OK, I'm done with the preachy boring posts now. I shall go back to blogging about body hair and farting shortly.


Anonymous said...

Did you get your stop-stealing letter from Rogers/Bell yet?

Timmy said...

I will have to check that out! Thanks for the heads up!

Phronk said...

Salem: I dare them to. I'll simply point out that the mp3s I download are legally purchased from eMusic and my encrypted Bittorrent downloads are public domain movies and video game updates. Then I'll sue them for defamation of character.

Timmy: You're very welcome!

sarah said...

You are never boring, phronky!

What is also evil is that the record companies are greedy and have been ripping off the public and the artists that sign to their labels for years. Now that their already obscene profits are lessening a bit because of downloading, they are FREAKING OUT and suing, etc. Maybe if they charged a little less for a cd, people wouldn't be so quick to download. You know they are shitting their pants about not having a monopoly anymore and their WINDFALL profits are slightly threatened so they put the pressure on the listeners and blame them. They usually rip-off the artists they sign, but now when the artists complain the labels tell them, "it's illegal downloading's fault," and the artists put pressure on the fans creating more ill-will. It's just bad all around and I'm glad that the industry is imploading a bit, because it is so evil. The labels should embrace technology because if they went with the flow they could still be making STOOPID profit still. The industry is full of dumb, greedy, dinosaurs.

Phronk said...

Yeah Sarah, so true.

I think they realize they're sinking fast; they're doing everything in their power, no matter what the cost, to stay afloat. Plus they want to make sure that when they do sink, they take as many people down with them as they can.


And yeah, the ironic thing is that there is plenty of money to be made if they go with the flow instead of trying to halt progress and stay with outdated technology.

Have you read Courtney Love's letter about these aspects of the music industry? It's a cool insider look at this stuff...and she doesn't come across as crazy, which is weird.