Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact|
Late last year I wrote a column ridiculing
the Music Industry and its lame attempts to deal with piracy.
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
Perhaps it's time to see if they've learnt anything in the six months
since I wrote that piece.
Well, there's still no web site to support the NZ Industry's "Burn and
Get Burnt" campaign, unauthorised copies of top 10 hit albums still
flow like water on the Net, and the inflexible attitudes of those
at the helm remain unchanged.
Last week I spoke again with Michael Gladding from Sony and revisited
some of the issues I'd raised previously -- here are the highlights
of what was discussed.
Whatever Happened To?|
About a year or so ago I started developing a new
type of pulsejet engine which takes aim fair and square at the
defense and recreation markets.
To find out how things are going, check out the
X-Jet page on this site.
It was confirmed that New Zealand is definitely going to see copy-protected CDs on the shelves of
its music stores -- probably sooner rather than later.
Gladding says that the industry has to do something to stem the piracy of
its property or the result will be lost jobs in the local industry.
I was once again told that the industry wasn't really after the casual-copier
(the person who makes copies of music they've legitimately purchased for their
own personal use), although this is still regarded as an illegal act under NZ
copyright law and was not condoned at all.
The real problem, I was told, are the professional pirates who are running
off multiple copies and selling them en-masse at their workplace, flea-markets or
Perhaps the most telling indicator of the music industry's failing
grasp on reality is the issue of copy-protecting CDs.
The simple copy-protection systems being used on some
music CDs pose no barrier to the "professional" pirates who the industry
claim are the real problem. These people can produce
excellent unprotected copies using just a cheap CD player and PC.
Those most affected by these protection schemes are the regular
folks who find that their latest purchases won't work in the DVD
player or PC. What's more, they can no longer back-up their sometimes
significant investment in legally purchased CDs to protect against
If these people aren't the problem -- why penalise them with a system
that does absolutely nothing to impede the activities of the serious pirates?
The industry also appears to totally ignore that it only takes a single
"clean" copy to be ripped from a protected CD and the genie is out of the
What's more, once that copy (or a copy of that copy) hits the Net,
the fact that the genuine item can't be played on their PC or DVD
player and is far more susceptible to damage from minor scratches is
going to encourage people to download rather than buy.
In effect -- the recording industry is still shooting themselves in the
foot but are too stupid to figure out where all the blood is coming from.
Let me try to help them out...
Firstly -- copy protection is exactly the wrong thing to do. It will discourage
those most affected (the regular folks who aren't professional pirates) from
buying legally sold CDs while having zero effect on the real thieves.
Secondly -- instead of trying to take something away (the ability to play a
CD on any player and protect a sizeable investment), why not consider adding
some value to encourage people to buy legit albums? Remember -- that value
doesn't have to be packaged on the CD, there are other ways of delivering it
over which the industry could maintain full control.
Thirdly -- don't' fight the Net (you're outgunned in numbers and intellect),
embrace it. Acknowledge that it's a brilliant way to deliver music and
additional value to a huge global audience. Don't consider everyone to be
your enemy, look how you can turn the current problems into benefits -- it can
be done but you won't find the answers within your own blinkered halls of
Fourthly -- you've got a big image problem that needs fixing. There's an
overwhelming belief that the industry is ripping off customers and recording
artists alike. The perception is that the current decline in album sales is
not due to piracy so much as the quality of the product being sold.
Even Sir Elton John, in an interview last week on Australia's channel 9, attributed
the sales decline to the "crap" the industry is trying to sell right now.
I was always told that a salesman's job was to make the prospective customer
feel important, liked and respected. So long as the music industry does exactly the
opposite by branding all their customers as criminals bent on theft then I suspect
the decline in sales will only steepen.
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