RIAAin’t::Lawsuits Will Not Win Digital Music War

    by Mark Glaser
    May 18, 2006

    i-f65a5e09527f4915457fe18a48d051ed-Pioneer inno.JPG
    The music and film industries have control issues. For decades, they have been the ones in control. They have told us — the listeners and viewers — when and where we can consume their products. They have dictated the terms.

    Then along came digital technology, and those businesses lost control to technology companies and the people who could now watch what they want and listen to what they want whenever they want. Rather than try to innovate, the music industry and Hollywood have tried to stuff the digital genie back into the bottle.

    They’ve tried laws, they’ve tried lawsuits, they’ve tried threats. But at each turn, people rejected them for the technology they craved to control media on their own terms. And there’s been a long list of popular technological solutions, from the VCR to the DVR to the MP3 player to satellite radio.


    But with each of these solutions, the studios and record companies have fought tooth and nail to stop them. And it’s no surprise that the latest shot fired by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) was to sue XM Radio for its new portable satellite radio player, the Pioneer inno (pictured above). The inno lets people record and store up to 50 hours of satellite radio programming, but does not let them transfer the recordings to other devices.

    The RIAA and the various big record labels it represents say the inno is breaking copyright laws, and that XM should be paying a separate licensing fee for this record-and-playback function. XM fires back that the labels are using the litigation to force XM to pay more licensing money, as XM has already paid a fee to broadcast the music in the first place.

    Whatever the details in this particular case, it’s just one in a long line of lawsuits and battles the music industry has waged in fighting against new technology — a fight it can’t possibly win. With each technology it “conquers” — like the Napster file-trading service — a hundred more spring up like whack-a-moles that can’t all be whacked.


    JD Lasica detailed many of these battles in his fascinating book, Darknet: Hollywood’s War Against the Digital Generation. Lasica details just how much control the record companies have lost, and how hard they’ve fought to regain it. Here’s one particularly telling passage (keep in mind, the book was published about a year ago):

    To date, the record companies have shown a mistrust of the technologies that will either sustain them or undercut their reason for existing. The record labels need to realize that their salvation lies not in devising a fool-proof copy protection scheme or legislating file-sharing networks out of existence. Their future lies in winning the hearts, minds, and wallets of thirteen- to twenty-five-year-old music fans who are immersed in digital culture — who spend their days swapping instant messages, chatting, sending emails, and mixing, burning, mashing, and manipulating personal media. Sometimes copyrighted media…

    What will the future of music look like? We’ll likely see a new middle class of musicians emerge, subverting the mass music hit engine and changing the dynamics of the music business. Any new business model must assure that musicians and creative artists are compensated fairly for their work — a task the labels have generally failed at. One casualty of a reinvented music industry may be the collapse of the superstar system. The increasing number of fans with diverse, eclectic tastes suggests that record companies need to jettison their lowest-common-denominator approach to popular music.

    But not every label is putting its head in the sand with new technology. One good sign was that Warner Bros. recently announced it would distribute movies and TV shows via the BitTorrent file-sharing service — though they will be copy-protected files that Warner will rent or sell. Still, it’s a focus on collaborating with a pioneering technology company, rather than trying to win the digital media war with litigation only.

    What do you think? Should the RIAA be suing XM over the inno device, or trying to work together with satellite radio over the inevitable record-and-playback features? How do music companies and Hollywood strike a balance between digital rights management and letting people share their personal copies of media? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

    • The Warner Bros.-BitTorrent arrangement is one to watch. Unfortunately, the music labels haven’t done much in the way of innovation. Rhapsody and the new Napster, while interesting, surely aren’t the final word in innovative business practices. This issue won’t be settled in a fusillade of litigation.

    • As a citizen I have to admit frustration with these recent events. One of my Senators, Orrin Hatch, is constantly in the vanguard of pushing RIAA and MPAA sponsored legislation before Congress. In fact, he even proudly takes credit for spearheading the DMCA. Any letters sent to his office begging for reason fall on deaf ears. The RIAA/MPAA campaigns of fear, uncertainty, and doubt have convinced many law makers that their business interests are more vital to the economy than the fair rights of millions of Americans. In this case, I believe politicians are being short sighted. They happily legislate the continued existence of old business models at the cost of nurturing the new markets of the digital world.

      Now the RIAA is suing one of the darlings of Wall Street. I fail to see how time shifting content on XM’s device is so different from recording music off the radio onto cassette tapes, especially since the device does not make it possible to transfer the music to other devices. Is it just me or does this latest move by the RIAA seem a tad desperate? As you correctly surmised, this is all about control and I just answered my own question.

    • You’re missing the very basic aspect to this lawsuit: It will help define what is/isn’t a digital download. The RIAA does not want a digital copy to exist without rightsholders being compensated, and I think that’s fair. Consumers should be expected to pay for things like this. There should not be a free lunch just because a technology allows for a free lunch.

      Yes, XM already pays for the broadcast, but the Inno does more than receive broadcasts. It creates a digital copy. Now, I can’t say whether or not this meets the legal definition of a digital copy as defined by copyright law. Maybe, maybe not. (My guess is that it is, as defined by current law. It’s not the same as a digital download purchased at iTunes, but it *is* a digital copy.)

      If the court finds that the file created by the Inno does not meet the definition of a digital copy, then XM will not have to pay mechanical royalties.

      I’m glad XM didn’t go the Sirius route and pay the RIAA a per-unit fee. Let’s get this legal definition worked out so we can move on. Having a better definition of what is/isn’t a digital download will be beneficial to all parties.

      As for your approval of Warner Bros using BitTorrent, that’s a completely different issue. Totally unrelated in every way to this RIAA/XM lawsuit. The music industry does indeed work with new technologies and new industries, but journalists don’t pay nearly as much attention to them (video games, ringtones, subscription services, digital distribution, mobile downloads) as they do the lawsuits that they feel encroach upon their rights as consumers.

      I think lawsuits like this are inevitable when technologies move much faster than the law. For better or worse, they’ll have to be worked out in court.

    • NC Rick

      Is it a digital copy whilst being downloaded? In a buffer in a router or other device? How long does a file have to reside in a storage medium to be considered a copy? Are there any hairs to split here that lawyers have yet to consider? They bill by the hour, don’t they.

      Since the file cannot be removed from the device, is it really a copy or is it a time-shiftable version of what was already paid for in a monthly subscription – of which RIAA members (and if they’re lucky, artists) get a chunk.

      As J. C. Dvorak (among others) pointed out in a TWiTcast, aren’t the same music “files” sent over DBS satellites (DirecTV) and cannot they be recorded there? Is the same logic applicable to every DVR that can record off a satellite?

      Don’t use that “digital file” distinction as if the sound quality off of XM or Sirius is equal to the original CD – their compression (esp. Sirius, and yes I have both) is far greater (poorer quality) than most anything you might download from a file-sharer.

      Since when was anything created or improved by a lawsuit? Since when did consumers say, “oh let’s buy some Sony/BMG products because they REALLY protect THEIR ‘digital rights’?

      Is this just a flavor of ‘if you don’t protect it you lose it’ legal thinking?

    • Todd Nixon

      For many decades you could listen to the top 40 countdowns on Sunday mornings and record every song onto a cassette. In fact you can still do it today. Why is it legal to tape it, but now record it digitally? I do not recall the recording studios ever complaining about cassette tape recordings. Why has it become such an issue, because it’s easier now? I would love to ask one of these attorneys if they ever “created a tape” for one of their boy/girlfriends. I don’t think you really have to ask them the question to get the answer…


      America is imperialist malefic an which fight against THE TERRORISM, but in practice they are TERORISM OF THE PLANET and CRIMINAL PERFECT HAVE THE HUMAN which BEING had the check over NATURAL POWER FUNDS OF THE PLANET, respective THE PETROLEUM, but and evacuated chemical bacteriological eseurile the nuclear si from the territory SUA.
      The military conflict among Iran and were launched of the which America feed on both munition combate.
      The invasion Irakiana in Kuweit product in abaft the dialogue among the ambassadress SUA to Bagdad and Saddam, interfered The America with the allied troops, that is NATO.
      This in be at war used for first date atomic bomb to fill with residues and chemical bacteriological and nuclear, and soldier America were infested with these residues and noxious which subsequent rezidues to died either and in the girlish moment suffers gravely, having the which complaint don’t can doctored medically and impossible of is cured and they are true alive vegetables.
      Atomic bomb (atomic_bomb.gif) used of AMERICA, ISRAEL, THE KINGDOM UNITED OF BIG BRITANI, through their military troops NATO, CIA, MOSSAD and other in Kuweit, Yugoslavia, Irak and Afganistan age to fill with residues and chemical bacteriological reziduri the nuclear si the si is consisted of two piece of uranium of how many 500 of each grams the si diffuse a sufficient energy decomposed the residues and noxious rezidurile in particles belowatomic.
      This the nuclear experiment unfurled in a average led to the dissipation residues and noxious rezidurilor average terrestrial which challenged the heating of the planet and has effects not control about the climate and the terrestrial atmosphere.
      America launched WERE AT WAR AGAINST TERRORISM used, a strategy an old used maul the si in in case of to PEARL HARBOR in period of the World War II.
      The authorities SUA knew the fetus as the this military base shall be attacked of Japaneses and yet have no knowledgeably the military troops from that zone in order to appeared. More they permited his enlisted-mans invites the family and friends saddles visits were how much the many maul victims and prepared psychological american citizens in order to joined the army entered into the war against the Japaneses.
      Of this date THE AMERICAN AUTHORITIES challenged AUTOATENTAT on the territory SUA respectively, 11 SEPTEMBER 2001, atentat carry to must is happened the in the year 1966 ascertainable thing in the book PALE BENOLD HORSE, writed of William Cooper – Naval Intelligence of Navy .
      WTC were attacked of controlled aircrafts from soils, just as the secret military job NATO use machines controlled trap to fill with bombs exterminated the civil population irakiana from Bagdad, just as they have to act and to the outrage with bomb from Sarayevo, Bosnia, and two block of flats towers were demolate through dynamites.
      Also must doed the specification as the in the case buildings PENTAGON which in struck a side a buildings a pentagon, this age already naked, have no the personnel, desks and computers, just as the buildings from vicinity Television Romaine( chiefly one from the street PANGRATI) they were evacuate with a month of days ante coup d’etat from December 1989.
      In afterwards must doed the specification as the to invasion Irak of NATO participated and sovitici, RUSSIEN, that is which put at command the troops NATO air carriers CARGO for the transport of the tanks and altor military units, but they parachuted and across 10 000 of soviet soldier on Aeroport from Bagdad in period invasion Irak.
      Saddam and are the saddles were flushed out of the american encircling from Bagdad of a convoy of machines have the embassy Russien from Bagdad.

      Visit: http://Energienucleara.go.ro

      Manoliu Valentin has office worker of the Minister of Foreign Affairs


      L’Amrique est malefic imprialiste qui luttent contre LE TERRORISME, mais dans la pratique elles sont TERORISM DE LA PLANTE et PARFAITS CRIMINELS ONT L’HUMAIN qui tant eu les FONDS NORMAUX de PUISSANCE d’excdent de contrle DE LA PLANTE, respectifs LE PTROLE, mais et eseurile bactriologique chimique vacu le silicium nuclaire du territoire SUA.
      Le conflit militaire parmi l’Iran et ont t lancs du qui alimentation de l’Amrique sur des les deux combate de munitions. L’invasion Irakiana dans le produit de Kuweit dans l’abaft le dialogue parmi les ambassadress SUA Bagdad et Saddam, interfrs l’Amrique les troupes allies, qui est l’OTAN. Ce dans soit la guerre employe pour la bombe atomique de la premire date pour remplir de rsidus et de bactriologique et nuclaire chimiques, et le soldat Amrique ont t infests avec ces rsidus et nocif jusqu’aux lesquels les rezidues suivants sont morts l’un ou l’autre et dans le moment de fille souffre gravement, avoir que la plainte ne mettent pas en bote soign mdicalement et impossible de est trait et ils sont de vritables lgumes vivants.
      Bombe atomique (atomic_bomb. GIF) utilis de l’AMRIQUE, ISRAEL, LE ROYAUME UNI de GRAND BRITANII, par leurs militaires s’assemble l’OTAN, CIA, MOSSAD et autre dans l’ge de Kuweit, de la Yougoslavie, d’Irak et d’Afganistan remplir de rsidus et de reziduri bactriologique chimique le silicium nuclaire le silicium est en deux pices compos de l’uranium de combien 500 de chaque grammes que le silicium rpandent une nergie suffisante ont dcompos les rsidus et le rezidurile nocif dans les particules belowatomic.
      Ceci que l’exprience nuclaire unfurled une moyenne a men aux rsidus de dissipation et la moyenne nocive de rezidurilor terrestres qui ont dfi le chauffage de la plante et ont la commande d’effets pas au sujet du climat et de l’atmosphre terrestre.
      L’Amrique lance TAIENT LA GUERRE CONTRE LE TERRORISME utilis, une stratgie un vieux maillet utilis le silicium dedans en cas de PEARL HARBOR dans la priode de la deuxime guerre mondiale que les autorits SUA ont connu le foetus car la cette base militaire sera attaque de Japaneses mais avoir aucun en connaissance de cause les troupes militaires de cette zone apparue. Plus qu’elles permited le sien enrler-quipe invite la famille et les amis selle des visites taient combien les nombreux victimes de maillet et citoyens amricains psychologiques disposs ont joint l’arme prsente dans la guerre contre le Japaneses.
      De cette date LES AUTORITS AMRICAINES AUTOATENTAT dfi sur le territoire SUA respectivement, 11 septembre 2001, atentat portent la ncessit est produits dans la chose dcelable de l’anne 1966 chez le CHEVAL PLE du livre BENOLD, writed du tonnelier de William – intelligence navale de marine.
      WTC ont t attaqus des avions commands des sols, juste comme le pige command par machines militaires secrtes d’utilisation de l’OTAN du travail remplir de bombes exterminait l’irakiana civil de population de Bagdad, juste comme ils doivent agir et l’outrage avec la bombe de Sarayevo, Bosnie, et le bloc d’appartements deux des tours taient demolate par des dynamites.
      Devoir en outre doed les spcifications car dans le PENTAGONE de btiments de cas qui a dedans frapp un ct des btiments un pentagone, cet ge dj nu, avoir aucun le personnel, les bureaux et les ordinateurs, juste comme les btiments de la tlvision Romaine (principalement un de proximit de la rue PANGRATI) ils taient vacuer avec un mois d’ant coup d’tat de jours partir de dcembre 1989.
      Dans aprs devoir doed les spcifications comme l’invasion Irak de l’OTAN a particip et le sovitici, RUSSIEN, qui est ce qui a mis la commande la CARGAISON de porteurs d’air de l’OTAN de troupes pour le transport des rservoirs et des units militaires d’altor, mais elles ont parachut et travers 10 000 du soldat sovitique sur Aeroport de Bagdad dans l’invasion Irak de priode. Saddam et sont la selle ont t rincs de l’encerclement amricain de Bagdad d’un convoi de machines ont l’ambassade Russien de Bagdad.

      Visite : http://Energienucleara.go.ro

      Manoliu Valentin a l’employ de bureau du ministre des affaires trangres


      America este un imperialist malefic care lupta impotriva TERORISMULUI, dar in realitate ei sunt TERORIRSTII PLANETEI si CRIMINALII PERFECTI AI FIINTEI UMANE care lupta pentru a avea controlul asupra RESURSELOR NATURALE ENERGETICE ALE PLANETEI, respectiv PETROLUL, dar si pentru a evacua deeseurile chimice, bacteriologice si nucleare de pe teritoriul SUA.
      Conflictul militar dintre Iran si IRAK a fost declansat de America care alimenta cu munitie ambele combatante.
      Invazia Irakiana in Kuweit s-a produs in urma dialogului dintre ambasadoarea SUA la Bagdad si Saddam, dupa care a intervenit America cu trupele aliatilor, adica NATO.
      In acest razboi America a folosit pentru prima oara bomba atomic burdusita cu deseuri si reziduri chimice, bacteriologice si nucleare, iar mii de soldati Americani au fost infestati cu aceste deseuri si reziduri nocive care ulterior au murit ori si in momentul de fata sufera grav, avand bolii care nu se pot trata medical si imposibil de a se vindeca si sunt adevarate legume vii.
      Bomba atomica (atomic_bomb.gif) folosita de AMERICA, ISRAEL, REGATUL UNIT AL MARII BRITANII, prin trupele lor militare NATO, CIA, MOSSAD si altele in Kuweit, Yugoslavia, Irak si Afganistan era burdusita cu deseuri si reziduri chimice, bacteriologice si nucleare si este compusa din doua bucati de uraniu de cate 500 de grame fiecare si degaja o energie suficienta pentru a descompune deseurile si rezidurile nocive in particule subatomice.
      Acest experiment nuclear desfasurat intr-un mediu deschis a dus la imprastierea deseurilor si rezidurilor nocive in mediu terestru care a provocat incalzirea planetei si are efecte incontrolabile asupra climei si atmosferei terestre.
      America pentru a declansa RAZBOIUL IMPOTRIVA TERORISMULUI, a folosit o strategie mai veche folosita si in cazul de la PEARL HARBOR in perioada celui de al II-lea Razboi Mondial.
      Autoritatile SUA au cunoscut fatul ca aceasta baza militara va fi atacata de japonezi si totusi nu au informat trupele militare din aceea zona pentru a se apara. Mai mult au permis militarilor sa invite familia si prietenii sai viziteze pentru a fi cat mai multe victime si pentru a pregati psihologic cetateni americani pentru a se inrola in armata si a intra in razboi impotriva japonezilor.
      De data aceasta AUTORITATILE AMERICANE au provocat un AUTOATENTAT pe teritoriul SUA respectiv, 11 SEPTEMBRIE 2001, autoatentat care trebuia sa se intample in anul 1966 lucru precizat in cartea BENOLD A PALE HORSE, scrisa de William Cooper – Naval Intelligence of Navy.
      WTC a fost atacate de avioane teleghidate de la sol , asa cum serviciul secret militar NATO folosesc masini capcana teleghidate si burdusite cu bombe pentru a extermina populatia civila irakiana de la Bagdad, asa cum au procedat si la atentatul cu bomba de la Sarayevo, Bosnia, iar cele doua blocuri turn au fost demolate prin dinamitare.
      De asemenea trebuie facuta precizarea ca in cazul cladiri PENTAGONULUI in care avionul a lovit o latura a cladiri pentagonului, aceasta era deja dezactivata, nu avea personal, birouri si calculatoare, asa cum cladirile din jurul Televiziunii Romane (mai ales cele din strada PANGRATI) au fost evacuate cu o luna de zile inainte de lovitura de stat din decembrie 1989.
      In continuare trebuie facuta precizarea ca la invadarea Irakului de catre NATO au participat si sovitici, adica RUSIA care a pus la dispozitia trupelor NATO avioane de transport CARGO pentru transportul tancurilor si a altor agregate militare, dar au parasutat si peste 10 000 de soldati sovietici-rusi pe Aeroportul din Bagdad in perioada invadarii Irakului.
      Saddam si fii sai au fost scosi din incercuirea americana de la Bagdad de un convoi de masini al ambasadei Rusiei de la Bagdad.

      Vizitati :


      [email protected]

      Manoliu Valentin fost salariat al MAE

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