posted Mar 17, 2001

Record Industry Plays Both Sides
Music & MP3
3/17/2001; 6:35:59 PM '...Record labels are poised to conquer cyberspace with their own streaming and downloading services.

'Ironically, only one thing stands in the way: copyright.

'Record companies aren't the only ones that hold copyright on music recordings. Music publishers, who represent lyricists and composers, do too -- owning the rights to the piece of music itself. For every copy a record company distributes, the publisher gets a small cut. That's how the people who write the songs get paid....

...the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization and the Songwriters Guild of America, along with other artists and publishers, [have] sued Universal's new website, called the Farmclub Online, for letting users download music without paying royalties to the people who wrote and published the songs.'

Resisting the tempatation to just chortle with glee at the RIAA doing a quite sudden 180, it's worth remembering that the RIAA is essentially correct in one critical way: Copyright complexity is increasing exponentially, and to do something, anything, new to a song or other peice of "content" is prohibitively complex.  Copyright law does need to be boiled down and simplified.

I will chortle with glee that the RIAA has learned the hard way that their own desired copyright regime has come back to bite them again (as it always does). I knew this would happen, it always works like that. For instance, if the software industry (as a whole) continues down the path it is travelling for incredibly restrictive patent regimes, the industry as a whole will suffer immensely in the long term. For RIAA, that "long term" just came sooner then it might have.


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