Tuesday, August 13, 2002

FAITH IN PEOPLE: There's been a follow-up by Janis Ian to her original piece about downloads, copyright and the whole damn hoo-hah. Suddenly forced to the front of a battle she wasn't expecting, Ian expresses the hope that, while the RIAA can afford to pour millions into lobbyists pockets and the wallets of the legislators, it can't afford to alienate record buyers and offers a modest proposal, whereby all the labels would build a site to house downloads of their out-of-print material at a resonable rate - "By "reasonable" I'm not talking $1.50 per song; that's usurious when you can purchase a brand-new 17-song CD for a high price of $16.99, and a low price of $12.99. I mean something in the order of a quarter per song. I read a report recently showing that in the heyday of Napster, if record companies had agreed to charge just a nickel a download, they would have been splitting $500,000 a day, 24 hours a day, 52 weeks a year.
Record companies would have to agree that there'd be no limits on how many songs you could download, so long as you were willing to pay for each one; this is a major reason their own sites haven't been more successful."

This would also, of course, get over the other problem about charging for downloads, which is suddenly slapping a ten dollar plus bill onto something that had previously been experienced as a giveaway - although getting the labels to see and accept that would take the efforts of a stronger man than I.
As to her first point - faith in the people - I'm not sure I can share her enthusiasm. The principle was established at the last election that the Will of the People can be interpreted by the courts, and there's precious little evidence that US capaitalism has ever heard the cries of the people it's driving over before; why the record companies should have better ears than pharmaceuticals or utilties or motors isn't clear. Indeed, an industry that believes Christina Aguilera to have the voice of a diva may prove to be the deafest of the lot. More importantly, America dominates the world of recorded music, and most of us don't have a voice in the political process that relates to how its companies operate. We're just left having to deal with its fallout.
Janis Ian's responses in full - offers of marriage to the usual address...


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