Ingo, I Agree…

Ingo expresses his
at not being able to listen to his CDs when he's travelling due to
copy protection. I can empathise, having just returned the latest Sting CD because
I can't listen to it from two out of my three CD players (an Xbox and my laptop).

Clearly there's got to be some middle ground between protecting against piracy and
preventing "fair use". Record companies should be allowed to defend themselves against
rampant piracy, but if they alienate customers like Ingo and myself, they're going
to lose their remaining paying customers anyway. (We're not immune from those tradeoffs
at Microsoft either. Product activation has been successful at discouraging casual
copying of our software, but we need to tread very carefully to avoid damaging the
goodwill we're trying to nurture.)

I was interested to read this little snippet from a recent
TechRepublic article
: "Microsoft is now working with music CD distributors on
a project that allows copy-protected CDs to play in normal CD players, but provides
WMA versions of the music files on the CD, which computer users can play on their
PCs or move to portable players that support the WMA DRM standards." According
to Joe Wilcox,
this technology is used on Sinéad
O'Connor's latest album
. Whether this is a viable middle ground or not is up for
debate, but something needs to be done and as an interim step this seems better than
the current approach of producing broken CDs.

(Disclaimer: as ever, these are my own opinions rather than the stated position of
Microsoft Corporation.)

Comments (2)

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m kind of interested in what;s considered fair use. I guess that it means the RIAA gets their cut from everyone, whether the artist gets comparable income. I mean, buy a $20 CD, the store gets $10, the distributor gets $5, the RIAA gets $4.70, the writer gets a quarter, and the artist gets what’s left over, a nickel.

    Somehow, that doesn’t sound like a fair distribution. That’s why many people don’t feel that copying an MP3 is bad. It’s also a reason why the MPAA commercials about stealing seem misplaced. They bring up the poor guy earning $6 an hour that gets hurt by your stealing their movie. They don’t mention the $50 million that got paid to the "star" that doesn’t do a whole lot. Mabe it’s because it just wouldn’t sound good to have a big name crying on the screen about how we made them not earn more than ten years salary for smiling on film.

    To be blunt, I don’t pirate copyrighted material. But when an organization’s method of income is through litigation, it seems a little hypocritical to me.


  2. Anonymous says:

    Martin: In fact, I don’t care too much about the artists in this case. They knew the deal when the signed their contract. Same is true for any author, or for the creator of software, etc. If you don’t like the deal – don’t sign the contract. Nobody forced them. If they liked, they could go for indie labels. Basically it’s a business decision along the lines of "does the big name RIAA-label give me more exposure and higher income than the smaller indie label with its limited distribution channel". Every artist can choose.

    Tim: Now, this idea with WMA + Audio CD sounds great for me! Even better than the current solution because I might be able to just copy&paste the WMAs to my hard drive without spending 5 minutes ripping the discs. Where do I sign the petition? 😉

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