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App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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January 2, 2008 7:58 AM

Online Music Gets Less (More) Restrictive

There's some big news in the world of digital rights management, or DRM: Warner has become the third major record label to sign on board with Amazon's DRM-less music download service.

It seems like a tremendous development, a sign that the music industry is recognizing that perhaps DRM is not the panacea to all their problems and that perhaps being more liberal in what they allow customers to do with their music might not be such a bad thing.

And then I read this story, about how the RIAA has opened a new front in its fight against pirates, now claiming in court that it's illegal for a customer to copy music from a CD they legally purchased onto their computer for personal use.

So what they're saying is that when you buy a CD, the only rights you're purchasing is the rights to play music from that CD, you're not buying any rights to the music itself.

Now this claim doesn't surprise me too much. It's always been the case that when you buy a movie or album on disc you're not buying the music so much as a license to play that video or music on that disc. But at the same time, users have years of experience taking the songs they buy on CD and moving them onto other devices, whether it be a computer or personal media player like an iPod.

Because of this, it's flabbergasting to me that only now would the RIAA try to exercise its right to declare infringement for what has become a very common user behavior.

The arrogance of the belief that they might actually not only win this case but introduce a new era where consumers will willingly pay more money for the rights to play music on their mobile device or computer when they've already bought an album is galling. When will the recording industry understand the age-old adage that consumers will only pay more when they get more?

It's as if they don't understand how precarious a position they're in. More and more artists are recognizing that they don't necessarily need major record labels to make money creating music. And more and more consumers are realizing that there's a whole world of music available on the Internet that they didn't have access to before and now can get access to without having to worry about the schemings of major corporations.

Perhaps the most telling story I've read about this whole space is this one, which details how given the current pricing scheme of a site like iTunes it would cost a user tens of thousands of dollars to fill up the capacity of the latest media players with new music. And you know what? There are rumblings that record companies don't think the 99 cents per song iTunes is charging is enough.

There's undoubtedly a sense of madness with a touch of desperation in this space, but if record companies don't open up their eyes to the reality of their situation, their constant machinations to "protect" their content may lead to their untimely demise, when the music makers and their listeners finally realize they don't need major corporations to tell them what they can listen to and how they can listen to it.

Yet another example of how broadband is upending a traditional marketplace, introducing both new opportunities and new challenges to the status quo.


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