Sound and Fury: DRM hits a new Lo(fi)
So I read in this article on Salon.com about SoundExchange's "deal" with Web broadcasters. After pushing internet radio to the brink of extinction, they now graciously extend their hand and offer salvation - for a price.
The back dated fee schedule soon to be charged to internet radio sites would be enough to put a majority of them out of business. But last week, SoundExchange decided they would cap the fee amount at $50,000 per webcaster.
However, this deal is only extended to those who agree to "stop users from engaging in 'stream ripping'..." This is what chaps my hide - first, this is a legal activity - we've been recording broadcast radio all of our lives. And, in a decade where "time shifting" is pretty much the norm, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that 'stream ripping' is essentially the same as time shifting. And to make matters worse, 'stream ripping' takes advantage of the dreaded "Analog Hole" that you may have heard about. No DRM can survive it's horrible depths.
So, what are the main methods to combat this legal practice? Lower the quality of the streams so no one will WANT to rip them. Mixing ads, promos and such over the music, and (according to Salon) crossfading songs so they don't start and end cleanly. Webcasters are being asked to lower the quality of the content to the point that is no longer desirable. I see this as a call to ANNOY your users so that they won't stream rip your content. But oh wait - this also means they won't LISTEN to your content. So while this may seem like a magnanimous gesture from the RIAA, in reality they are just offering two paths to ultimate destruction.
Unfortunately, SoundExchange and the RIAA have bumbled this mess so badly I just don't believe them anymore. I don't think they have my best interests at heart, either as a consumer of music, or as a creator of music. And I believe that this distrust is ultimately the cause behind their loss of revenues.
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