Web based digital music distribution is over 10 years old. How goes the RIAA's fight?

In wikiing Napster I noticed it began almost 10 years ago. What’s up with the fight against digital piracy these days. Did the RIAA win, lose or draw?

Wikipedia: Trade group efforts against file sharing

They seemed to have stopped the lawsuits in late 08 in favor of working with some ISPs to disconnect problematic pirates.

In the larger scheme of things, piracy has simply moved offshore to places like The Pirate Bay where RIAA powers are limited. On the home front, the music industry seems to have found a (temporary, perhaps?) compromise by selling DRM-free MP3s. CD sales are down, digital sales are going up, rock stars are still rock stars and music is still around. The only winners were the lawyers, I take it.

The RIAA/MPAA is losing slowly, which means it gets small victories that prolong the inevitable. The fact places like The Pirate Bay are in countries not friendly to their style of copyright law and the further fact it hasn’t been able to meaningfully censor the Internet in this country both point towards a larger battle it will likely never win: The people in this country, and the lawmakers they elect, don’t really want to fight their war all the way. However, like Vietnam, not fighting all the way means eventually the RIAA/MPAA will lose all the way.

Random saturation lawsuits will not win hearts and minds when every Internet connection is a potential Ho Chi Minh Trail.

What happened was: The music industry realized dumb saps would still shell out $$ even if free music was readily available. People use iTunes and don’t know their way around bittorrent. Can’t say I can pinpoint the reason for it, but it’s probably related to why people spend too much money on a handful of companies when better value is always available elsewhere.

Media continues to sell and the RIAA hasn’t stepped up their guns and Congress (and most, though not all, governments) haven’t made much of an effort in enacting laws that would be effective in curbing p2p.

So it’s been mostly a draw.

At least, so far. It’s still very much an unfolding story. Some European countries have begun to enact laws with actual teeth – meaning they cut off your connection if they catch you enough times. If the money really starts to be impacted, expect such things to happen here too.

What formats does itunes offer downloads in now?

Don’t be so sure. ATT said they would not cut anyones service off without a court order.

But, like I said, the real wonder and window into psychology is the question of why hasn’t free uptaken as widely and unstoppably as any reasonable person expected?

Well, it’s not as easy as purchasing it legally. iTunes is intentionally made very simple to encourage buyers, and torrenting and similar ways to download free music are more complex. I think that, combined with a sense of guilt over the theft of the music (or copyright violation, more technically) has kept it from choking out the legal competition. I’m a fairly computer-savvy person and I hesitate to install torrenting software; I’m not exactly sure how, though I’m sure I could figure it out if I tried.

I think if more people understood how little artists actually see from record sales and how much simply lines the pockets of record company executives, you’d see a stronger swing towards piracy.

Still just AAC, I believe, but both protected (DRMed) and unprotected (DRM-free via iTunes Plus). Wikipedia seems to concur.

Well, personally, I use Amazon’s MP3 store because:

  1. Quality: Consistently high-bitrate MP3s, properly tagged and including cover art
  2. Convenience: Huge selection, good search function, 1-click purchase and fast downloads; no messing with torrent searches, clients, firewalls/ISP filtering or all that junk
  3. Good value: 99c per song, or less by the album, is a price I’m willing to pay for the above and to support the artists I like
  4. Sense of security: No trojans, no fake songs, no impending RIAA assraping

The only thing that came close to all the above criteria was the quasi-legal Russian outfit that modfear prevents me from mentioning here. Now that Apple and Amazon have finally gotten the labels to actually give us something worth spending money on, I’m ok with doing so again.

That’s part of the psychology angle. Why do even computer-savvy people sometimes feel anxiety doing new but simple things? (Myself included! – to say nothing of my mother who was programming assembly 30 years ago and still knows her way around a PC better than most, but doesn’t want to double-click a video that I’ve downloaded for her to the livingroom PC, and demands I do it for her.) But that’s a question for a different thread.

dude if you can operate google you can operate a torrent program.

but I think the attitude you have is one of the reasons that pirating isnt more popular…lots of people think its some kind of mystery.

I don’t purchase music from Itunes, rather I import mostly my own CDs (and lately havn’t purchased any new music because lots of new stuff out there is crap). I do, however, on RARE occasions purchase a music video off itunes for one of my favorite songs here and there. With a library of 30 something of them they don’t get too boring (not like I watch them every day, or even every week). Very good quality, better than any of those sad youtube to ipod programs, and its mine.

That’s about all I can think of that the itunes store is good for, music wise.

Re appleciders comment about difficulty of illegal downloading and ease of iTunes…

This simply isn’t true.

Without mentioning any specific torrent clients, most these days are designed to set-up and configure automatically, then it’s just a matter of searching for the file you want and downloading it to your PC/Mac. The other advantage is that in my experience, a torrent can generally be found in better quality and is also much much more versatile than anything itunes has to offer.

ITunes is bloated, slow, restrictive, and not all that intuitive in comparison.

Can’t speak for appleciders, but “being able to” doesn’t necessarily equal “wanting to waste time on”. I’ve gone from CD ripping to IRC to FTP to Napster to Gnutella/DC/eD2k to BitTorrent and now to Amazon, and IMHO the 99c is easily worth it. In a best-case scenario, sure, piracy is great and convenient, but if you’ve ever been behind a filtering router at work or school or a non-UPNP one at home… ugh… it’s just not worth it sometimes when a cheap alternative is so readily available. And that’s not counting the time you have to waste after the download relabeling/retagging/reformatting the songs so you can actually find them again later with your media software or iPod equivalent.

And then try explaining BitTorrent configuration, upload/download ratios, bandwidth throttling and prime-time scheduling to your aging parents and… no… just NO.

[flamesuit on]
That’s because it’s an Apple program. Try the Amazon solution, really! It’s just like the rest of their store; find the song in your browser and click to directly download the MP3. That’s it. No junky interface or program downloads (unless you WANT one – they do offer a downloader for full albums and background downlodaing).
[/flamesuit]

Cheers Reply, I might check it out.

I have no doubt that I could master configuring a bittorrent client and getting it to run, but frankly I’m worried about the security aspects and the possibility of downloading malware.

It’s kind of a moot point anyway, as my CD collection pretty well filled up my 16 GB iPod Touch; between the apps I installed on it, my CD collection, and my radio shows that I’ve downloaded for free from various internet sources, I’ve had no need to use iTunes for much beyond initializing the iPod, loading the CDs, and downloading the occasional TV show that I want for keeps (several favorite episodes of Top Gear, and both Robot Chicken Star Wars specials). Still, my iPod’s now so full that I have to swap various albums and shows on and off it depending on my mood.

Cheers,

bcg

Yeah, except it doesn’t really matter whether it’s true or not as long as people THINK it’s going to be really complicated. You’d have to explain what a TORRENT is, why you need to SEED, why you need this special program to download it, why you need to go to this special site, etc.

That’s probably worth avoiding for a measly $.99 to a lot of people.

Very true, but I still believe most people could get their head around torrents in less time than it would take to set iTunes up from scratch.

The intuitive leap that the average computer user cannot grasp about Torrents is the fact that the .torrent file is not the movie/song/game they were looking for but merely a means to start downloading it. It doesn’t sound like much to you and I but it’s a huge leap for someone who just wants to download something without hassle.