Posts filed under “Web/Tech”

Is the RIAA successful or not?

How do you measure the success or failure of the RIAA? (I have a few ideas).

I personally see the RIAA as a massive landgrab. Primarily, they attempt to curry favorable treatment from legislators, and subvert traditional aspects of copyright law via infinite extensions. They win the passage of favorable laws against consumer fair use and technology development, all the while avoiding legitimate economic competition.

In some arenas, the RIAA has been extremely successful in "framing the issues" for debate. Think about Napster, P2P, etc. There was hardly any discussion on the refusal of the music labels to address the growing demand for internet based digital music; Instead, the industry chose to placate offline retailers. Their poor business judgment all but ensured the rise of P2P. We haven’t even broached radio consolidation, formulaic product, or the over-emphasis on mega hits over the long tail.

Yet in terms of this debate, one must concede the RIAA has successsfully defined the terms of arguement. For example, consider this December 14 WSJ article by Ethan Smith the improvement in Warner music’s financial condition:

"Warner Music Group posted a narrower loss for the 10 months ended Sept. 30, but the company’s continuing red ink underscores the difficulties, such as rampant piracy, facing the global music business. "

The default belief system is that its "piracy," and not decades of a mediocre (and often flawed) business model — rather poorly executed at that — which is the root of all their problems. Recall that the same tactic was used about home taping — it was killing the music business in the 70s.

From a PR perspective, the RIAA has been extremely effective at framing the debate. "Piracy" seems to be the focus of all discussion. All other issues — price fixing, lack of comeptition, corruption,  cheating their own artists, etc., are mostly ignored.

The one area where the RIAA seems to do poorly, desptie all the noise they make about it, is in litigation. Consider the following from Christopher Null of Mobile PC Mag:

The RIAA Lost Every Lawsuit in 2004

Lots of stories get written when the Recording Industry Association of America sues people, but not much gets written about the aftermath of those suits.

There should be: In the last 12 months, the RIAA lost a landmark suit against Grokster (essentially legalizing peer-to-peer software), lost a suit to Verizon (holding that it did not have to provide names of its subscribers who the RIAA wanted to sue), and has yet to actually win against any of the thousands of individuals it has sued in court (some of the cases have been settled out of court, most are still pending). Suddenly, the RIAA isn’t looking so much as devastating as it does merely pathetic.

Still, while the RIAA is no longer the legal darling that successfully shut down Napster, it’s done an enormous amount of damage to the technology world (not to mention basic freedom) since it launched this crusade, and the group is far from finished. But here’s hoping some intelligent judges, tech-savvy lawmakers, and an activist public will continue to fight the power in 2005.   

-Christopher Null via boing boing

Truly incredible. But perhaps the best way to judge whether the RIAA is successful or not comes from their own site:

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry. Its mission is to foster a business and legal climate that supports and promotes our members’ creative and financial vitality . . . In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect intellectual property rights worldwide and the First Amendment rights of artists; conduct consumer industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies.

So how successful is the RIAA?

By their own measures, they have achieved some of their goals — at least in the short term. They have moved industry friendly legislation forward. And as mentioned above, they have successfully framed the debate over P2P and other new technologies.

Over the longer haul, however, they have turned their industry into one universally disliked by its clients and artists, alienating a huge percentage of their consumers; They have missed many many business opportunities and focused on the wrong issues, overemphasizing the glam of P2P litigation, over the nitty gritty hard work of counterfeit enforcement. Lastly, they have failed to adapt to the rapid pace of technological changes.

If their goal is to "support their members’ financial vitality," than we will not fully know the answer to this question for some time to come. But I have a sneaking suspicion that, without a significant shift, the answer will be not very well.


The Long Tail
Chris Anderson
Wired Magazine, October 2004

Warner Music Posts Narrower Loss
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, December 14, 2004; Page B6,,SB110295997209698620,00.html

Best Sign that the Legal System Just Might Work: The RIAA Lost Every Lawsuit in 2004
Mobile PC Mag, 10:40 AM – Monday, December 6 2004
Christopher Null

Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
About Us

Category: Music, Web/Tech

Microsoft Conduct Is Challenged Again


Microsoft Conduct Is Challenged Again

As it pushes to settle other antitrust suits, Microsoft Corp. faces new, potentially damaging allegations about its business conduct in a patent-theft and monopolization case pending in a federal court in Baltimore.

In a court filing unsealed late Monday, a small Silicon Valley software company called Inc. alleges that Microsoft routinely destroyed much of its internal e-mail despite the many federal investigations and private suits it has faced in recent years, when it was often under court orders to preserve such communications., whose early investors included the Irish rock band U2, filed its suit two years ago. It charges that Microsoft used Burst’s digital-media technology in Windows, solving a technical problem that was slowing the acceptance of Internet video. Burst also claims that Microsoft tried to patent the technology after a technical briefing from Burst, and altered Windows so that Burst’s product wouldn’t work. Microsoft denies the charges.

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Category: Finance, Web/Tech

Carnival of the Capitalists – October 25 2004


Hello and welcome to this week’s Carnival of the Capitalists! We have an exciting and wide ranging line up, which I have tried to categorize (a mostly futile exercise, I might add) for your reading pleasure.

So with no further adieu, I present this week’s entrants:
If I missed your trackback, email it to thebigpicture -at- optonline -dot- net.


Russell Buckley of wonders what the next 10 years on the internet might hold in store:
Sorry I missed your Birthday

“October 17th was the day that the web was officially born just 10 years ago. That day a company called Spry (later CompuServe then AOL) introduced a product called “Internet in a Box.” For the first time, you could trot down to a store, buy a software package, take it home and have everything you needed to connect to the Internet and the World Wide Web . . .”

Giselle A. Tesoro of OSCommerce Experts ponders the “Well-Formed Web Forms” and advises

“How to get your customers to fill you in – with the information you need in forms to be filled up. Let them form a good impression of you and your store – give them forms with function”

Wayne Hurlbert of Blog Business World thinking along similar lines, advises on Converting Visitors into Customers

“The frustration for Johnny was obvious. His website had strong visitor traffic numbers, he thought. Johnny’s site offered a complete line of very good, and highly reputable products. He thought he had set up an acceptable way to buy them online.

There were plenty of visitors arriving daily to make any online business a major success. The problem for Johnny was, despite the large number of people visiting his site, not many of them bought his products.”

Last of the internet series is Lipsticking‘s Yvonne DiVita’s entry: Jane Encourages Small Businesses

Blogs are becoming the “topic” of the day, all over the web, it seems. Jane
cannot open any newsletter, magazine, ezine, or even regular email, without
a question or comment on blogging present in the content.

We are delighted to see our favorite form of communication getting the
attention it deserves, but… the true purpose of web-logging is getting
lost in the rhetoric bouncing around the net.

Incidentally Yvonne gets a bonus mention for “Dickless Marketing: Smart Marketing to Women Online,” — I can’t comment on how effective that title may be — but it sure got my attention.

Alan Greenspan & the Federal Reserve

In my own entry (The Big Picture) to CotC this week, I advise investors to Ignore the Cheerleader-in-Chief

Rawdon Adams of Capital Chronicle discusses Mr. Greenspan’s Oil Choice

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Category: Economy, Finance, Web/Tech, Weblogs

400GB DVR DVD Recorder

Category: Finance, Television, Web/Tech

Customer Acquisition versus Retention: A case study in costs

Sprint_1 versus Cingular

Is your contract up with your cellular carrier? Don’t renew it, cancel it.

That’s how you can get the best deal from your current provider. At least, that’s what I learned when I attempted — unsuccessfully — to renew my contract with Sprint, my now former cellular carrier.

The lesson unintentionally taught me is that consumers get a much better deal from the “Retention” department of a large subscriber-based corporation than they do from the “Sales” department. Its not just Sprint — but they were the company that taught me these things. It turns out to be the case not only from mobile service providers, but other entities, such as ISPs — AOL is notorious in this regard.

We are also former customers of credit card provider Capital One, for the very same reasons: The deal they offered to the public was unavailable to us as customers. Over the years, their rates crept up on my (triple A credit) wife’s Master Card to 15%. They advertise a 10% card all the time. When they would’nt offer the same deal to us, it was buh-bye Capitol One (we got the preferred rate elsewhere). I suspect its true for a slew of other subscriber services.

I learned valuable lessons, and I share them with you, dear reader, in the belief that you will profit from my experiences. I also harbor the irrational hope that just maybe someone from one of these outfits will see this, and wise up.

But I am ahead of my self. Our quaint little story begins Christmas 2002, when we purchased a pair of Samsung N400 phones from Amazon. $200 each, plus a $200 rebate. (You may recall that I wrote how rebates sucked, and after much huffing and noise, we eventually got our cash. But that experience soured me on rebates, and I swore off rebates forever. I have stayed true to that oath).

Anyway, our contract expired in January. We got a marketing letter from Sprint to re-up. However, the deal they offered us, as their present customers, was far, far less attractive than the one they seemed to be spending billions of dollars advertising more or less nonstop on every media outlet available to everyone who is not their customers.

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Category: Finance, Web/Tech

Google IPO: Too Clever by Half

Category: Finance, Web/Tech

Tivo Economists

Category: Finance, Web/Tech

Voluntary Collective License

Category: Music, Web/Tech

Microsoft Chasing Google

Category: Finance, Web/Tech sucks

Category: Web/Tech