2006-04-27 0830 Opinion: The Consumer Electronics Association is taking a brave stand against the entertainment companies' attacks on the public's right to record from digital radio. This is brilliant — and maybe it signals that the CEA's members will stop manufacturing technnoloogy that controls their customers instead of empowering them.

It’s war!

Consumer Electronics Association ad campaign slams RIAA
(Click for larger image)

From BoingBoing:

The Consumer Electronics Association is taking a brave stand against the entertainment companies’ attacks on the public’s right to record from digital radio. This is brilliant – and maybe it signals that the CEA’s members will stop manufacturing technology that controls their customers instead of empowering them.

This is the cassette wars all over again – hardware manufacturers are siding with the consumer against media’s overreaching attempt to control what we can and cannot do with stuff we’ve bought.

Do you remember this ad which ran damned-near everywhere (at least in the UK) during the eighties:

http://home.greywulf.net/images/home_taping.gif

If you do, then you’ll remember just how little we believed it then, and how little we believe it now. Home recording and file sharing doesn’t kill anything. Never has, never will. At the most it’ll eat into the excessive profits of media companies that care little for their consumers. Ooh, shame.

What they do is spread the music to a wider audience, increase the exposure of the artist and – if anything – increase music sales. The problem is that it’s not under the Content Industry’s control. They don’t like that. Oh, no.

What damages the music industry more that anything is the music industry itself. They turn out talentless manufactured pop, shove 9 crap tracks onto a 12 track album (with 1 hit and 2 ok-ish songs) and call it a “sensation”. They repackage compilations in a never ending shuffle of the same old artist’s back catalogue and do precious little to innovate. There are a LOT of great, talented musicians out there that are getting a raw deal from the music industry. It’s not fair on them, it’s not fair on us.

Which is why this is so important. That’s the Canadian Music Creators Coalition which includes artist such as Barenaked Ladies, Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan, Chantal Kreviazuk, Sum 41, Stars, Raine Maida (Our Lady Peace), Dave Bidini (Rheostatics), Billy Talent, John K. Samson (Weakerthans), Broken Social Scene, Sloan, Andrew Cash and Bob Wiseman (Co-founder Blue Rodeo).

Here’s their manifesto:

1. Suing Our Fans is Destructive and Hypocritical
2. Digital Locks are Risky and Counterproductive
3. Cultural Policy Should Support Actual Canadian Artists

As I understand it (please correct me if I’m wrong), Canada is facing an onslaught from the media industry to bring in RIAA-style laws, mainly spearheaded by a corrupt politician by the name of Sam Bulte. At least, that’s how I read it. In light of that, I can understand clause 3 above – of course they want to protect their own.

Clauses 1 and 2 should be shouted out by musicians and fans everywhere. We know it, you know it, and the music industry knows it. They, however, choose to ignore it.

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