I still think it was contradictory, mainly because you have missed out on the robbing thing. You want to keep the definition slim, but it isn't. It happens in lots of places.
It's really lazy to think of that as the only cost of receiving copyrighted music. I think that would only be a valid point if the RIAA were only about distribution, but they aren't.
I'll admit I'm incredibly lazy, so are most Americans. That laziness is the reason you (or someone like you) will be able to make money selling these services, or providing these services, to a large audience. However, I really still want to be able to do them myself. If I have the time, why shouldn't I be able to?
The Bandwidth-Distribution angle. Here we are comparing things like radio and retail stores that move music to my ears. I'm not talking about music production. That is a seperate discussion, and since I have the time, here's my take on it:
Production of music isn't that expensive. I think it follows rather dramatically, the 80-20 rule. With 20% effort, you can get 80% results. The other 20% results, cost 80% effort. And it gets harder from there. It takes a great deal of production value for some bands, becuase, frankly, they suck. Or they don't write their own music, or play thier own stuff. This isn't music recording, it's a production, like a stage play. Or a movie, or a TV show. This type of production is very expensive, but simply recording music is not. Maybe you have better info than I, but how many CD's does your "average" band have to sell to break even on a CD? At $10 a cd, maybe...3000? And that would probably pay for instruments too.
It just doesn't cost that much to make a music cd. What costs a frickin' shitload is advertising, "independant" contractors to get radio play, movie deals, etc. Radio play is the biggest factor in selling CD's. But there's a problem here, radio sucks. We need a new way to get music to ears which is the best proven way to sell a piece of plastic for $20. These are the things that are making music expensive, expensive distribution and promotional systems. Production isn't that expensive.
And now consumers can absorb the cost of distribution, too. Promotion is a different story...for later, but if K5 had a "music" section, we'd have something new to talk about and take up our time...that hasn't really caught up yet. But the new method, in a nutshell, takes widespread, paid for, broadband connections. Like mine. This becomes our new distrubution network. Unlike television, radio, and other failed tech, it is "pull" not "push" and people seem to prefer that. All of my normal friends do, and they love Napster. And when you have enough people paying attention to something, there will be enough lazy people around that you can sell services too, and our trend to a fully service oriented economy continues. Thanks to laziness, and really powerful computers.
And now to directly address your statements in light of this opinion.
The inequitable RIAA pie slices are beside the point, the point is that the capital was invested somewhere and you can't really pretend it wasn't.
No reason to pretend it wasn't invested. Let it be a lesson to those who thought the world hadn't moved on. Investment doesn't necessitate return, this was the big lie of the late 90's, call it "Millennium Fever".
Napster skips all that and forces the folks that invest in those costs to eat them, costs them a chance to recoup. It really shouldn't be free. It should cost less than if you bought it in a record store, but it shouldn't be free.
I'll quote a hacker on this one, JWZ was known to have said, "Linux is only free if your time has no value." Napster is much the same way, hence its immediate popularity with college students and corporate clock-watchers. The act of collecting and burning an entire album takes time, finding new and interesting music takes time, these are services that people will pay for. It isn't free, at least in the most basic sense. It is a service I can provide for myself. Just because an industry has grown up around this service, doesn't, in my mind, mean I shouldn't be able to do it for myself.
As for robbing users, I'm mostly referring to most consumers being forced to buy a grab-bag of underwhelming songs just because they like one song on a cd.
This is only the most basic way of "robbery". Here's another one. Then there's the whole modern radio business, with conosolidation and increased commercial units making money directly off of your time and limiting access to music. There are just so many unnecessary layers to the music business as it exists. Simplify it, offer useful services at a decent price, and the music will keep on flowing. Keep it unnecessarily complicated, scarce, and illegal, and you have a perfect recipe for (information super)highway robbery.
Whether or not such a service will be available is a different question, and one that seems to be falling directly under the guidance of law governing the exchange of copyrighted material. That's why I brought up the library thing. It would establish a baseline of access to infrormation and cultural artifacts. For the record, I'm more of a fan of napster (idea) than Napster (the company), although I do think they should be able to profit by offering a useful service. Just who exactly gets that money, however, is a big part of the problem online music companies are facing right now. Until the laws are settled, the whole thing is a wash.
Fail to Obey?
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