Today’s news that the RIAA is planning to end to their tactic of suing music downloaders (or of demanding thousands of dollars from music downloaders in exchange for not taking them to court where they’d be sued for millions of dollars) is interesting. I approach this news with some disbelief, and wonder if it may in fact be a ruse to get people to start talking about the subject in ways that would incriminate.
I am cautiously optimistic that time may prove the announcement to be true.
My own experience with downloading music has been exceptionally limited, and I find that I end up buying CDs of the music I like. That’s true. It is also true that I wait until I find them on sale, at a price that I can bear. Since I would not buy music at a price I would not bear, I am comfortable.
But I have always worried a bit that others would not share my position, and today’s news therefore tempts me to feel some relief that a more sensible perspective on the modern music experience may be at hand. Even if my own experience has been limited, my fear has been based on the understanding that repercussions are rarely proportionate.
If today’s announcement suggests that a more sensible approach is being taken to the spread of music, then perhaps studios are recognizing that downloads can be seen as just a market pressure like any other, and can be responded to through retail practices. Downloads may be seen as a subtle pressure exerted by the potential consumer to bring the price of music down to a more affordable level. Some labels already seem to be making an effort to price some of their albums more affordably. Would we be seeing so many new artists releasing CDs for $10 instead of $16 if it were not for these forces? Probably not. But now, we do. Katy Perry’s album retails at $10, for example.
But it is too early to know if this is indeed a sea change. We’ll see. Some early reviews of the news caution that it may only affect users of particular internet service providers, while users of other ISPs will continue to be sued. And again, none of this has taken effect yet — it appears to be news of a plan that will be engaged in the new year.
On a semi-related note, lately I’ve been downloading unofficial remixes of songs, which are not available for sale, which are apparently made by amateur DJs to play in nightclubs. Of the 50 or so remixes of each P!nk song, perhaps 3 or 4 are any good. They don’t replace the need for the original songs (which I bought) but they are fun accents.