The reason I chose to write this article is because of the DMCA's new-found vigor to enforce downloading on the Internet. Starting about a few weeks ago, the DMCA (more of a law than an organization) began to delete posts that contained download links. The DMCA is a subsidiary of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), which is more or less a few computer geeks who have the unequivocal duty of deciding a subject's legality. So the DMCA is a specific group that "monitors" the internet for illegal downloads. As a blogger who provides downlods, and uses bootlegging as a method to acquire music (and sometimes more), you'd expect me to be against the DMCA and all that they stand for.
The classic argument is: "The music industry was slow to capitalize on online music, and now it's much easier to just pirate the music".
I agree that the music industry was very slow to even acknowledge online music. If they had actually thought ahead the possibilities would be infinite. Alas, they didn't think anything through and now record labels play a very small part in online music. This is where you insert the RIAA and DMCA. Even though record labels play a fairly small part in online music, they recently decided to play the part of God and label pirated music as the work of the devil. But they did so very ingenuously, instead of targeting blogs made primarily for the download of music, they chose to quietly target every blog with a download link. They deleted a few posts here and there from almost every blog (obviously thinking they were coy in the process). The far-reaching goal was obviously to discourage download links. They know they can't single-handedly stop the pirating of music, but with bullshit threats and by holding Blogger's nuts to a legal contract they sure are trying. More on the DMCA later though.
"I'm not willing to pay ten dollars per album, instead I'll just get it for free"
This is where the music industry is to be blamed 110%. Say they had predicted the Internet might become a cornerstone for musical commerce, they could have created a giant unified database. Undoubtedly, they probably would have sold CD's for retail prices, but still it seems a little more logical to buy music from a record label, (where the music is crafted, packaged, marketed, and distributed) then from a manufacturer of MP3 players.
If they had created such a database, an annoying piece of technology called DRM could have been completely bypassed. Music you bought from the database would be compatible to the interface of Zune or IPod or Creative... or what have you. What's the point of having mp3, mp4, wma and all sorts of other file types, when you can have a single universal one?
Would this cut down on bootlegged music? Probably not. If music had not expanded to the internet, record labels could have created a technology eliminating the ripping of CD's onto a computer.
But if you get your music straight from the internet there would be no CD ripping involved anyway.
A counter-argument to a "database" is "What's wrong with getting music from Itunes, Zune Marketplace, eMusic or Rhapsody?
Me personally, I hate all these stipulations involved once you do pay for the music you download. I have a Zune, yet I would never use Zune Marketplace.
Why not? First, I would not download individual albums off Zune Marketplace because I can find them cheaper somewhere else.
Second, if you buy a monthly subscription to Zune Marketplace you can download as much as you want... for about 10 dollars or so. Sounds good right? You can take the music you downloaded and put it on your Zune, and listen to it away from your computer. Sounds really good right?
Only one problem. Say your like me and you want to download as much as you can in one months span, and then cancel your subscription.
After you cancel your subscription all the music you downloaded is "locked" until you renew your subscription. Locked meaning you can't listen to it from your computer or your Zune even though you paid for it.
So, it sounds like a good deal, but after a few years, it costs over 500 dollars, which would be an exorbitant amount to pay for music, especially with the ability to download it for free.
Rhapsody is similar to Zune, but has even better advertising. Rhapsody is advertised as the ideal download service. Cheap prices, easy downloads... but if you do download music from Rhapsody you can't transfer it onto your MP3 player unless you own a Rhapsody MP3 player. Once again, tricky advertising.
I'm not a user of ITunes or eMusic, so I can't say anything there. I would never buy an IPod strictly because I would have to use ITunes, and I have better things to do than become a pawn in Steve Jobs' quest for total world domination.
eMusic is probably the best alternative, but I don't use it, and thus can't say anything about it.
Lastly, "Whatever happened to those lawsuits against bootlegged music uploaders"?
If you remember a few years ago, there were quite a few lawsuits conducted by the RIAA against people who uploaded music on Limewire, Bearshare, Kazaa and so on. These lawsuits were also cleverly planned. If I remember correctly, the DMCA would contact the criminals who uploaded the music, and would set a fee of $3,000 or so. And about 95% of the time, these cases were cleared up outside of court.
Just as they began to scare the pirating community, they stopped the lawsuits. My guess is they see bootlegged music as a bigger problem than shared music and that's why they are targeting blogs now. It's obviously a little harder to track down the culprits, because not everyone uploads the links on their page. Numerous bloggers simply index working links from other blogs.
And it also seems as though the clear-cut strategy is to take down links of new albums, and best sellers. It is fairly difficult to find a link to the new Q-Tip album, as most of the links have been taken down already. But it's also hard to find links to Tha Carter III, Paper Trail, The Recession, and L.A.X.
Overall I think the DMCA is a bullshit organization, but there might be a little bit of good to what they're doing. Maybe.