Trigger Points

Well, after a very enriching and quick trip to Germany and back with A
Band of Outriders for a music Tatoo in Hannover, I’ve come across a very
interesting blog that seems to have flashpointed a few thoughts that have
been rumbling around my head and slowly gestating since the advent of the
DMCA south of the border.

Before I go there, I’d just like to say as I’ve now left the Outriders
for a second time, due to family commitments, to all the great friends
and fellow musicians in that group, thanks for the best two years of my
musical hobby in my whole life. The band is evolving through great
people and great leadership, and is light years ahead of where it was
when I left it the first time. Keep it up! I’m cheering for you from the
stands now!

Back to the topic that fired up Bloged on this, Matthew Russel was
blogging on
DVD fair use over at O’reilly
, and it comes to mind that just as the music
industry has slowly started to see that the distribution mechanism was
hindering sales, and that the piracy issue was actually a cry for relief
from stupid packaging and wasteful distribution networks (my opinion,
doubtfully theirs), the motion picture industry is going to get hit a
thousand times harder in the next few years, and it’s more likely to get
mortally wounded. Here’s my thinking:

The points Matthew made in his article are pretty solid I believe, and
there is a sense of “rightness” that contrary to the opinions of the
MPAA, RIAA and other publishing associations, most of the
dollar-weilding consumers out here in the real world adhere to. We will
pay fair money for fair product and fair use. That’s why iTunes Music
Store took off and the iPod is populating the planet’s pockets – because
we DO own a lot of music, and we want it to be with us everywhere, and
thankfully for the music industry, and for Apple, they get that the
majority of us will NOT hand it out all over the place for free. We know
it’s wrong, and we respect the ARTISTS that created it.

The MPAA and their ilk in the movies aren’t quite as free-thinking as
the musician-spawned recording industry is. They are very big-business,
big-dollar corporates that see any piracy as some sort of personal
affront. But read what Matthew wrote. If I OWN the DVD, I should be able
to take advantage of my technology and transfer it to my laptop on hard
disc and watch it without taking an inherently more fragile medium of a
DVD with me. As long as no other party uses the DVD while I’m using the
copy of it, the spirit and intent of the law is upheld. The letter of
the law in the warning is violated. Basically, I am inconvenienced and
held in contempt by this industry because I paid for the product and
don’t like being bound to the disc when I have other options.

The reason this will cascade more violently on the studios is because
independent studios are actually more respected and have more visibility
than the indie labels in music. Those indies are moving forward faster
in both realms, and it’s possible that one or a group of them will go
ahead and give a fair-use license on their media, and in doing so garner
a ridiculous amount of press attention. “We support the rights and
ability of our customers to enjoy our works in a lawful and respecting
manner, and will not restrict them or their freedoms in doing so when
they support our creative works.” Probably run that through a PR firm
and make it less wordy, and the studio goes up a few percentage points
in market share from being forever associated with the good guy
backdrop. Like Apple with the burning policies for the iTunes Music
Store, allowing the use, ripping, burning and such for personal use,
with minimal but fair protection schemes, they are seen as treating us
with respect. Like Dave Matthews posting a defeat to the copy protection
of the CD on his site, there is a powerful message in this action. A
studio could become a major player with that sort of public sympathy and
respect. The MPAA is pushing back harder than the RIAA ever did with the
secure-channel and broadcast flag aspects, and it just treats us all as
criminals and defeats our ability to use our own products, content and
technology that we purchase in more effective and innovative ways for
our own enjoyment.

It’s Big Brother telling us what to do and how to do it. I hope a lot of
the indies get together and start a “Consumer First” coalition that brings
the mindshare up on this and gives us a hero for our rights to support.

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