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Lock up the copyright cartel – not Johansen

No sympathy for the RIAA

Letters Re: Lock up DVD Jon - or we all lose our jobs

Jon Johansen, who is still engaged in fighting an earlier attempt to lock him up, has published his own reposte to renewed demands to jail him. He has published a riposte, which we'll come to in a moment. But Register readers want to see the entertainment pigopolists thrown in the clink, not programmers.

Without people like Jon the RIAA would be able to lay siege to the technology picking and choosing what we can hear what we can hear it on (price not included) and where we can hear it. It is Jon and people exactly like him that will force these huge conglomerates not only to embrace the technology but also to allow us the consumer to actually have a choice all be it a small one.

God protect all of us from the RIAA,

Warren Manley

Subject: Lock Up Whinging RIAA Boosters!

This is the karmic kick in the balls that the recording industry AS A WHOLE is getting, for all the years, through most of the 20th century when they scammed, stole, lied and cheated black blues and jazz artists or anyone else they could.

DO NOT feel sorry for anyone in the music industry. I have heard that it is not 'moral' to steal, and for the most part, it is correct. But the recording labels do not act moral themselves, because..

Morally, the labels would give the artists back the rights to their music after a preset length of time or when the recordings ceased to be financially viable. After all, who writes the music YOU like, the RIAA or the musicians?

Morally, it is wrong that an artist who made many millions for a label should die in a charity bed in a hospital, destitute and virtually homeless, while the label's owner lives the high life of luxury.

Morally, it is wrong to indenture artists with contracts that are still based on 75+ year old business values - a kid flipping burgers at McDonald's gets better treatment than the artists who sign the standard 7 year 'work for hire' contract with the labels.

Morally, it is wrong to offer a band a non-recording 'holding' contract and legally bind them into a perpetual 'holding pattern' on the chance that their musical 'style' will become saleable and where they cannot leave if another label decides to give them an actual *recording* contract.

No, two wrongs do not make a right, this is true. However, when the *artists* themselves go without and some live in abject poverty while the industry executives and shill mouthpieces make well into 6 and 7 digits, it's obvious something needs to change.

This Faginesque immoral business needs the p2p enema it's getting, because it's not going to change unless something makes it.

Deborah Terreson

Maybe if the artist would put more than 3 good songs on a 15-20 dollar CD, people wouldn't have to download. These companies are a victim of there own technology, I don't feel sorry for them, They should do like the rest of the world and adapt to changes.

Dwight Dixon

This guy is crazy. The record companies are the problem here. These guys tote around in their $60,000 Lexus while the Bands are being raped by them.

Someone needs to tell this guy that bands get between $0.03 to $0.30 per cd sold. The rest of the $20 goes to the Lable or store. Now where is the justice? Why must he feel like we Owe the Labels money?

Mark Brotcke

The real question is, even with the advent of MP3, how are these people losing money? Their product has a 1000% mark-up! Their fixed costs are virtually nothing! This business model has been propelled in place for over fifty years. Lest no one be fooled: these corporations are well-diversified cash cows.

Furthermore, just like Microsoft, the industry is ruled by an oligarchy of four true behemoth players. The consolidation continues, with Time Warner's music division being sold to the mega-conglomerate; Vivendi Universal SA. We are talking about a 24.3 billion dollar company! The Register itself said of Vivendi, "has turned overnight into an over-borrowed buy-out vehicle with an urgent need to cut costs." These companies are not crumbling under the
pressures of a few file-swappers; rather they are imploding under their own leviathan balance sheets.

Don't blame Jon Lech Johansen. Don't blame Napster. Blame half a century of price fixing and gauging. While these executives have whiled away their oligarchic profits, consumers have suffered. These dinosaurs are reaping what they have sown. If you wish to download $1 songs, be my guest. I'll go to the concert and buy the t-shirt.

Jason Smith

At least he didn't call you a terrorist and call John Ashcroft and the FBI -

Mark Smith

During the Renaissance, no one held rights to music. Anyone with the right skills could perform it; anyone could listen to it. This did not destroy the economy; in fact, the period was known for such phenomenal economic, cultural and social advancement, the word "renaissance" became common usage for renewal and improvement.

I thought Austrian schools taught history... perhaps this guy slept through it.

[name and address supplied]

"He's ruining everything for the rest of us.

Speak for yourself. I quit consuming music products a number of years ago and make do with what I had legally acquired by then. Screw the labels now, they screwed me back then with their price fixing and collusion, and let's not even get into their continuing "payolla by proxy" here in the USA that pretty much guarantees that we all get to listen to the same songs by the same "artists" played over and over on the radio everywhere in the country.

- "Apple showed real innovation with the release of their music store"

If you define innovation as a service where you generate income for others without getting anything for yourself, then sure... but I'd rather not invest any money in such "innovative" companies. You know you're doing good work when you get flamed by an idiot.

Andrew Wittbrodt

"Mr Disgusted" from Austria has a short memory or is not old enough to remember, how, during the 80's the music industry sold Albums and singles at exorbitantly high prices.

I can remember that buying an Album was such a major purchase for me, because the prices were so absurdly high.

Over the last twenty years as music copying and sharing has become easier and faster, the price of music and films has fallen. Have no doubt that this is a very good thing. Because people like DVD Jon remove the ability of RIAA member companies to corner the market for music and charge what they like, it regulates the price that this music reaches the masses, and this is a good thing, in the same way that competition is a good thing.

I buy all the music I like, I am not however be prepared to pay £10 or more for an album, given that choice I will find a copy or go without.

By cracking the codes the market price becomes self regulating. The comment about "finances is shambless" is totally preposterous, I don't understand how he/she can have gall to right such fiction. Perhaps they are only making hundreds of Millions now instead of Billions, oh dear is that a shame, the comment "poor little rich girl" springs to mind. The fact that pop stars release a few singles and make millions and millions and the companies like warner music make ten times as much is an indication that the market is over priced. What other job can right a few lines of possibly rhyming prose, put some notes to add a bit of production and get millions for it. The music artists are just going to have to start working for a living now, and it can't come soon enough. Don't fall into the trap that music will die as a result, I am sure the music giants will find some other way of extracting money from the long suffering consumer.

My advice to Mr Disgusted is this: Save your comments for yourself because I know that the vast majority of the consumers don't have any sympathy for companies that like to create a close market and use such tools to keep prices high and extract money from the rest of us.

I don't agree with the bleeding heart stories about employees of RIAA member companies and how they are suddenly go to be out of job, next I suppose Mr. Disgusted will be asking us to have pity of the oil companies which regulate the price of our fuels, and we all know how absurd that concept is.

Pete Farrow

Someone should point out to Dominik Stepan that EMI are now allegedly "borderline junk" because they're stupid enough to give the likes of Robbie Williams £80m.

Andy Altoft

Dominic Stepan can piss off. I don't download music, as I like to have the CD to put into my car player and the liner notes to keep, but I have no sympathy for floundering music companies. The music industry has been stealing from artists for fifty years. The smaller ones are no better. But for the biggies having made better picks, EMI etc would be just as gargantuan, overbearing and greedy as Sony, and just as opposed to the professional aims any self-respecting artist might have.

If the pop music star system collapses under its own weight, I can only say good riddance.


There was a trickle of support for our Disgusted Reader, Domink Stepan, however:

I fully support the sentiments of DStepan of Austria in his letter "Lock up DVD John". What's more, I was pleased to see that hundreds of other people who see the value in iTunes registered their disgust and infuriation on the SlashDot forum when it was announced that iTunes security had been cracked.

Your (The Register's) anti-copyright opinion seems ill-considered and detrimental to the promotion of e-commerce, web services and digital products and media on line. I believe that piracy and rampant duplication of original artistic works and pieces of intellectual property will force the owners of these works to remove them from the digital (internet) domain by means of severely restrictive DRM schemes. This will remove the value from a store such as iTunes and discourage future ventures in digital distribution.

Worst of all, crackers and people like DVD John have nothing to gain from their vandalism. So their motives must be pointless self aggrandisement.

Mark G

Several readers voice different objections to locked music: it's a poor deal, and the quality just isn't very good.

The sooner DStepan and the rest of the media industry realise that trying to preserve an outdated business model with DRM is counterproductive, and adapt their business model to current social and technological reality the better for everyone.

In the past I've bought a lot of music, first on vinyl then, as the supply dried up, on CD. My primary concern here is the sound quality, and I've known what I'm getting. I bought one of the first MP3 hard drive portables and have converted much of the music I've bought to MP3 at a data rate that gives a quality I'm happy with. Being able to carry 40GB of music in a small box has increased the value of the music to me. I know that when I upgrade the CD player, turntable or MP3 player I will still be able to play everything.

I have downloaded music and exchanged music with friends. If I've liked it I've bought it. Research suggests I'm not alone in this behaviour - see,,1-2-739444,00.html suggesting free music downloads _increase_ music sales. They certainly have where I'm

There are paid-for but otherwise technologically unrestricted download schemes that mesh perfectly with how I use music. See for example http:// and where I can pay to download non-lossy FLAC files to burn to CD, and compress with the codec of my choice at the rate of my choice.

Conversely there's DRM and CD copy protection. The DRM won't let me use my platform of choice or my MP3 player. The codec and data rate generally give a quality I'm not happy with. The files are tied to a particular machine, so I can't use them on PCs in other rooms, let alone the car, and if I have to reinstall Windows for any reason I won't be able to play the music I've paid for any more. With 'Copy protected' CDs I may or may not be able to play the
CD I've bought in my CD player or my PC, and if it won't I may or may not be able to get a refund. It's even possible the CD will damage my player or PC, in which case I'll have to pay for the repair or replacement. Maybe the CD will have the DRM-encumbered version for me to play on the PC, but that's hardly a consolation.

Which of the above am I more likely to spend money on? The one that gives better sound and is guarenteed to keep working in future, or the one that works badly or not at all on what I have now, and certainly won't on what I get in future? Maybe I'll transfer my media spending to DVDs or computer games instead. Thanks to the successors of DeCSS I can play them on my platform of choice, so now I'm happy to buy them.

How effective is DRM at preventing music escaping into free downloads? Not at all. My soundcard does hardware mixing and routing, so if I can play it at all I can record it digitally. If my CD player will play the disc then I can record digitally through SPDIF, using the music industry mandated SCMS copy protection.

The only thing reducing the amount of money I give to the record companies is the copy protection and DRM. So if DStepan wants to keep his job I suggest he convince his bosses to drop DRM, stop blaming the customers for not liking what they're trying to sell, and the journalists for pointing out the obvious.

Alastair Johnson

Jon Johansen's own reaction to the DRM fanatics can be found on his own weblog,



"[Apple zealots] have failed to understand that by buying into DRM they have given the seller complete control over the product after it's been sold. The RIAA can at any time change the DRM rules, and considering their history it's likely that they will when the majority of consumers have embraced DRM and non-DRM products have been phased out. Some DVDs today include commercials which can't be skipped using "sanctioned" players. If the RIAA forces Apple to include commercials, what excuses will the Mac zealots come up with? 'It's a good compromise'?" he asks.

This view - Apple standards firm against the entertainment cartel - was widely held only a year ago.

What a short, strange trip it's been. ®

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