Media Relations: media commentary and criticism

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

... and music, music, music

RIAA Turns to IM in Anti-Piracy Fight (atNewYork, April 29, 2003): Still bristling over a surprise court ruling that the Grokster and Morpheus P2P networks could not be held liable for copyright infringement, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has taken up instant messaging as an anti-piracy tool. Starting Tuesday, millions of file-swappers on the popular peer-to-peer networks are getting IM warnings that there are "real consequences" to the illegal sharing of copyrighted files. Both networks use a publicly-accessible IM function. [...] And if that's not a strong enough warning, the RIAA is tossing in the message that file swappers "are not anonymous and you can easily be identified." [...] [RIAA President Cary Sherman] said the decision to go to the source of the problem was part of an education campaign to "enlighten consumers as to other risks and consequences" of file-sharing, including the security issues involved with exposing PCs and private files to everyone on the Internet.

Right.

Because, you know, blunt threats are always considered so educational!

Thing is, the RIAA won't make any headway from their view until they start proving that they can and will identify small-scale individuals. The sort of person who may download only a few songs. If they keep going after people who do large scale uploading and downloading, most people will just think, "Well, I don't do anything like that. This doesn't apply to me."

And, of course, once people start believing that the RIAA will go after small scale downloaders, that may actually work. Of course, it will also highlight the RIAA as an extremely petty organization and increase people's resistance to paying for music.

It will be interesting to see if Apple's iTunes project works. The Mac audience will only be useful as a pilot; 5% of the computer audience just isn't enough to be anything more than somewhat indicative. If they really do get iTunes running on the PC in the next four months, and if they can increase their music library to include not only the labels they have under contract but also purchasing the Vivendi Universal music holdings, then that may go some way to making the service workable. (Although one wonders, if Apple does buy the label, what happens with emusic.com and what happens with mp3.com, both of which are included in Vivendi Universal's music holdings. MP3.com may be left alone -- it's not a direct competitor -- but emusic.com is indisputably a direct competitor for iTunes' audience.)

If nothing else, the next few months promise to be vastly if peculiarly entertaining.

Posted by iain at 10:59 PM in category