Wednesday: The magic of music

Wednesday 25/06/2006I'm bored with writing about the Recording Industry Association of America and its steadfast campaign to alienate its customers. But it won't give up -- now, it's planning on taking thousands upon thousands of individuals to court for extreme naughtiness.

Wednesday 25/06/2006
I'm bored with writing about the Recording Industry Association of America and its steadfast campaign to alienate its customers. But it won't give up -- now, it's planning on taking thousands upon thousands of individuals to court for extreme naughtiness. Remember, kids: it's only by making sure people can't listen to music before choosing what to buy that the music industry can survive. I'm worried. I've been using peer-to-peer file-sharing software today, grabbing an entire album. That should stand out like a sore thumb to the RIAA's scanners. But I wonder if it will realise that I did this with the copyright holder's express permission -- I was talking to the composer on a bulletin board about a piece of music I'd heard of theirs on the radio, and they quietly slipped me an email giving access details of some unreleased work. However, the same day as news comes in of the RIAA's actions, BusinessWeek reports that Amazon's policy of giving away almost all of its crown jewels -- the database of information it holds on products -- is powering a new, exciting and potentially profitable range of ideas. By making its data available to everyone through XML Web service feeds, it's encouraging people to automate product searches and comparisons, price displays, their own online shops built on top of Amazon, all manner of things. Amazon gets a lot of sales and even more exposure -- Amazon Everywhere is only a matter of time. And it's helping the fight against the RIAA. There's an increasing groundswell for an RIAA boycott: if it's involved with an album, don't buy the music. But how can you tell? There's no RIAA Inside logo on CDs produced by record labels affiliated with the association, and somehow I doubt there ever will. Aha! But there is an online database of RIAA members. And Amazon will tell you who is responsible for any album, through those handy-dandy Web services feeds. Combine the two -- as the RIAA Radar does -- and you can find out before you buy. Or not. Will open systems lead to falling record sales? One way or another, it looks as if they will.

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