More Erosion of the US Constitution by Congress and the RIAA

© is the copyright symbol in a copyright notice

Image via Wikipedia

Copyright laws were put in place to help protect copyright holders from companies looking to profit by stealing their intellectual property.  Makes sense, and these laws have served us well for years.

More recently, we’ve found Grandmothers through grandchildren being sued by large US corporations for millions of dollars due to what they’re calling copyright-infringing activities.  Does that make sense?  There was no financial gain involved, and in most cases (even if the assertions were true) there is no provable loss on the part of the copyright holder.  Many, in fact, argue that sales of their copyrighted materials are helped due to some of the infringing activity.

In rushes the State legislature of California.  They have already had Senate committee passage of laws which allows warrant-less intrusions into businesses where law enforcement thinks there might be a business which is “dedicated to infringing activities”.  The law also allows them to obtain court orders which would force search engines to develop technologies to stop them from displaying links to sites that the government doesn’t like (I mean, sites that might be infringing in a third-party way).

This is a very slippery slope…

Is the Music Tax Inevitable?

US music market shares, according to Nielsen SoundScan (2005)Image via Wikipedia

As I predicted last year, the RIAA, lead by Warner Music Group, continues to resist changing market places. They are now lobbying Congress heavily for a new Internet Tax, just like they did a few decades ago to place an additional tax on blank video tapes followed a decade later by pushing for a tax on blank CDs. These bohemian music companies are avoiding the inevitable demise of their current business model every way they can.

What does this mean? Expect a strong pitch for a $5 per user tax on all Internet access. The big boys are going to stay alive by taxing your Internet use and will be giving you unlimited rights
to share music online.

Where will this new tax money go? Looks like it will help to defray the drop in their revenues $5 billion, or some 33%, in less than 10 years. Ok, maybe defray is a bit of an understatement.

According to Jim Griffin, a music industry veteran, the net result to the big music companies will be a pool as large as $20 billion annually, which will be distributed to artists and copyright holders.

Hmm, let’s see. They’ll double their revenue, they’ll be bigger than ever before, and they’ll share the money. According to musicians who have contracts with these same self-serving recording companies, the only way the musians make any real money is by performing at concerts. I guess they haven’t been sharing a whole lot of the $10 billion annual revenue they’ve currently got.

And how about the little guys? The musicians we see on American Idol, or the band in the garage next door? They find it almost impossible to brake into the music ‘biz thanks to these same self-serving huge music companies. They don’t stand a chance to share in any of this revenue.

It looks like their stranglehold on the entire music business will be continued, maybe even strengthened. Not sure there’s a better solution on the horizon. Scary.