iTunes, Copyrights, RIAA, Good Music


Many pundits are spending large amounts of energy putting down the mostly symbiotic relationship between Apple and the RIAA, materialized in the form of the iTunes Music Store.

One piece of conventional wisdom often brought forth claims all RIAA-owned music is crap. Ergo, most music on iTMS is crap. Ergo, one shouldn’t waste their time and money supporting those big evil corporations and do the politically correct thing: support the local garage band. Or steal the music on a P2P network.

Surely they’ve got a good plan outlining where I’ll be acquiring music from Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Alberta Hunter, Louis Prima, Nina Simone, Big Mama Thornton, Elmore James, Ray Charles to name a very few. There are a lot of great artists on iTunes. It’s a matter of looking beyond the “front page” and dig. I’ve discovered a lot of great artists through other people’s “iMixes” and various searches.

The next set of complaints revolves around the RIAA screwing artists over their cut of the profit pie. Apple is being tried for not putting an end to the RIAA’s hegemony when they released iTunes. Those detractors fail to understand that there is nothing Apple can do to coerce the RIAA into doing something they don’t want to do. They’re trying to drag Apple’s iTunes into the whole RIAA vs P2P fight, which is pointless. All Apple is doing, and can ever do vis-a-vis RIAA is offer consumers a compelling alternative to acquire digital music, without infringing copyrights.

Beyond RIAA, Apple has made many deals with small, independent record labels such as “CD Baby”, precisely to promote independent music. In a near future, anybody will be able to create their own record label, in the iTunes Music Store sense of the term.

All this controversy is giving some geeks a false sense of moral high-ground, as they reverse-engineer Apple’s protocols and DRM scheme, posing as defenders of the “oppressed” P2P-sharing masses. Instead of spending their time and energy building their own online music marketplaces, they set themselves out to compromise the integrity of someone else’s marketplace.

I find the iTunes Music Store to be quite useful. I like it. I also buy CDs from Amazon. It depends on my mood and whether I’m interested in shopping for songs or albums. I’ll gladly evaluate all legal avenues of obtaining music. The key here is choice. You’re not protecting my freedom by compromising the iTunes Music Store, you’re hurting my choice.

Get a life kids. Build something cooler. Exchanging copyrighted music over P2P networks is not cool.

Originally posted last August on my blog.


George Hotelling

I don’t like the RIAA or the iTunes Music Store, but it’s not some sort of “Damn the man!” anti-establishment rebelliousness.

The RIAA realized that their distribution network was threatened by the Internet and so they tell artists stories about sales “lost” due to copyright infringement, while at the same time getting laws like the DMCA passed. I think that the DMCA is a bad law that takes away valuable rights and supports anti-competitive actions, so I’ll avoid supporting companies that support the DMCA when it makes sense.

I don’t like the iTunes Music Store because everything you download from it comes with DRM. DRM is anti-consumer, so if I have a choice (which isn’t always the case) I’ll buy something without DRM.

Loping Rhondo

Anyone who likes rare and out of print knows that the iTunes music store is the furthest thing from a solution going. It helps some people sure, but P2P is a place for people to experience music (read: culture) that they would otherwise have to pay *collectors* thousands of dollars to access. In this case, it may well be illegal, but the record companies are not supplying the music, and the rights holders aren’t getting any money from the collectors anyway. Its a public service.

Nicholas Vinen

Neither is the RIAA telling me how I’m going to listen to my music. This is slightly off-topic, but…

I bought a DVD-audio player and am mightily pissed that its digital output is basically vestigial. I can’t hook it up to my projector and my amp at the same time because they’re at opposite ends of the room and the only cable I want to run that far, under the floor, is a single cable for digital audio. I am NOT going to run five analogue audio cables 20m under the floor, nor am I going to run video the same distance. Even if I could, why should I have to spend all this money on cables when if I could just use the digital output, it would be fine?

Due to their stupid attempt at copy protection, the simplest solution I’m left with is to record my DVD audio content to my computer via a high quality sound card and play it off my computer. That way I can get it to go out the digital output and get it to my amp reasonably. So, in an attempt to stop me copying the music they’ve forced me to copy it? How does that make any sense? Now do you see why people like me are pissed? I pay for all the music I buy! I just want to listen to it! :(

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