Not content with the hullabaloo created by their colonial cousins, the RIAA, the British-based Music Business Group (MBG) have their sight firmly set on iPod users. The MBG cartel, err, trade association which represents music publishers, songwriters, performers, and their numerous hangers-on, have decided they want a cut of the profits from the sales of iPods. Their reasoning is that most of the music on MP3 players is illegal because it has been copied from CDs. According to the Gowers report (see below) in 2005 over 20 million MP3 players were sold in the UK, and 90% of the music on them had been copied.
It is still technically illegal in the UK to transfer the music you legitimately bought and own from one media to another. Andrew Gowers, whose claims to fame are a biography of Yasser Arafat and a stint editing the Financial Times, was asked to conduct an independent review of the UK intellectual property system, and in 2006 Gowers’ report recommended that the law be changed to allow strictly limited, private copying, format-shifting from one media to another.
For years the music industry enjoyed a kick-back from the sales of blank compact cassettes because they convinced the powers-that-be that the tapes would be used to copy music from LPs. In some parts of the world, blank CDs also carried a surcharge which went directly to the music business to cover their “losses” from piracy. Gowers recommended extra safeguards and easier anti-piracy legislation for the music industry to ensure the correct balance between users and creators.
But this isn’t good enough for the MBG, who reject Gowers’ findings and want their snouts in the trough as well. As less use is made of “traditional” media such as CDs, tapes, and vinyl, and more music is stored and played on computers and MP3 players, the MBG is liable to lose control of their income stream. End users, their customers, will choose to purchase downloads rather than go to the bother of ripping music to disk and storing the source CDs. The MBG will be at the mercy of the download libraries. If they want to sell music, MBG members will have to accept the terms and conditions of the library owners.
Of course, they could always set up their own download sources and refuse to sell music to the likes of Apple, but then there is the danger that artists will strike their own agreements and bypass the music studios altogether. Which is exactly what a lot of them are doing already.
Also in This Series
- What Trick, What Device, What Starting-Hole… · May 2012
- Do Androids Dream? · April 2012
- Our Macs Are Under Attack · March 2012
- The Best and Worst Christmas Presents · February 2012
- The Best Use for a Kindle · January 2012
- It’s Got No Blinking Light · January 2012
- Box-Shifting Causes Migration · December 2011
- The Best Thing About the iPhone 4S and How to Cope in Clink · December 2011
- Death of a Salesman · November 2011
- Complete Archive