The Record Industry - The Next AMTRAK

By Richard Menta 6/26/04

What annoys me the most about the recent copyright legislation rollling through congress - and this is what annoys the MBA in me who evaluates business risk - is that much of it is essentially designed to protect an industry that is failing to adjust to change. An industry that colluded to force music prices higher (as cited by the Department of Justice who took them to court on that matter), only to waste the additional revenue as an ineffecient supplier.

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Declan McCullagh article for CNET details one of the more recent actions, how the Senate overwhelmingly supports turning the same Department of Justice into the record industry's free legal team. A team that will chase and sue file traders.

Then there is Sentor Hatch's INDUCE Act, which looks to criminalize the P2P technology, possibly even older technology like the VCR, by claiming it is an intrument that "induces" our children to steal. If file trading stealing, so is radio and MTV, two other sources consumers get music for free. The mendacity of that act's use of children is both sad and manipulative. That's a lot of effort for an industry whose problems really arise from poor business decisions and practices.

If this is the role congress wishes to play, propping up mismanaged industry, then I say they should triple the amount of money they use to bail out Amtrak, another example of a inefficiently run industry that failed to adjust to change and ran to the government to bail them out. The govenment has been supporting Amtrak for over 30 years now, and Congress continues to balk at the financial situation it has stuck itself with.

At least Amtrak provides a public service important to many. Transportation is part of this country's key infrastructure. Records? Not quite.

All these laws will do is criminalize behavior that does not deserve to be criminalized (they also criminalize behavior that does deserve it to increase their chance of passage). Ultimately, these laws won't stop file trading. That's because laws are limited by borders and the Internet isn't.

The point is, the record industry has to adjust to a new distribution mechanism, one that is a boon, not a bane to the consumer. Congress needs to adjust its thinking too.

The record industry doesn't see it that way. They choose to use their acumen not to invent new revenue models utilizing the Net, but on Capitol Hill to draw in this nation's lawmakers to be their winged monkeys.

If these laws pass the record industry will ONLY become this country's next Amtrak. Bloated and ineffecient as always, but now a drain on taxpayers wallets and liberty as well.


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Other MP3 stories:
iTunes on a roll in the UK

Beastie Boys DRM Flak
Apple and Real - A Few Thoughts

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