Comments from The Outpost

Who is Ripping Off Who?

August 2, 2002

by Dan Murphy

Good evening. Last week, we lamented the fact that the music industry was gaining ground in their battle to stop internet radio by charging impossibly high royalties. But wait! It's getting worse. On that same day, a bill was introduced into the US house of representatives that would allow spies hired by the big music companies to hack into your computer and even shut it down without impunity if they merely suspect that you have copyrighted material.

I'm not making this up. Rep Howard L. Berman, a democrat from California, is the sponsor of this bill, along with several other members of both parties. Of course, it is entirely coincidental that they all are among the top recipients of campaign contributions from the entertainment industry.

Berman was quoted as saying, "theft is theft including illegally downloading a song". Well, Rep. Berman, I'd say, go read the constitution. Unreasonable search and seizure includes hacking into a private computer just as much as breaking into a private home.

Perhaps I could also say that theft is theft when it includes charging prices that can easily be called highway robbery. Let's review a little bit of music business history.

Once upon a time, say about 20 years ago, an album typically cost about $8. Back then, albums were released on vinyl LPs and contained an average of 12 songs. 12 songs for 8 bucks. Then CDs came on the market, and they cost more -- 15 or 16 dollars -- because it was new and better technology, and the manufacturing cost was higher. But over time, CDs became cheaper and cheaper to make, and for a long time now, each CD costs far less to make than an LP ever did. But the price never came down. We're still paying about twice the price for about the same amount of music, and that entire increase and then some, is all profit for the big music business.

They rob us blind and then whine about how we don't respect their precious copyrights. Somebody should write a song.

You know, a typical CD probably costs about 3 times what it should if it weren't for the obscene profit margins. Given that, it doesn't seem too unreasonable that each one would be shared by three people. Nome sayin?

For this week, that's the view from the Outpost. For WMBR, this is Dan Murphy

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