Thursday, January 06, 2005

WHEN IS A THREAT NOT A THREAT?: Last year, the RIAA was squawking with panic about the prospect of young Americans recording music off crystal-clear digital radio. However, asked to clairfy what they saw as the threat, RIAA spokesvoice Jonathan Lamy said "Oh, we're only worried about digital terrestrial [DAB, or HD radio as they're calling it in the US] not satellite."

It might seem odd that the RIAA is only worried about people recording off DAB and not XM or Sirius: why would it make any difference where the person stealing (for all non-authorised recording is, lest we forget, theft) steals from? Isn't this a curious line from the RIAA; like saying - to use their favourite "stealing a CD from the store" metaphor - that it's OK to rob a disc from Harrods, just not from Target? Ah, but it turns out that, while terrestrial radio pays a flat royalty for each play of a track, the RIAA gets a slice of revenue in return for tracks played on satellite. In other words, the RIAA has a direct financial interest in promoting the uptake of satellite and discouraging the growth of DAB in the US. This isn't about rights and wrongs, it's purely about crushing a service which isn't as attractive to them.

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