What I'm Doing

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Switchfoot vs Copy Protection (and a rant about the RIAA)

[Google News Search]
Apparently, one of the members of Switchfoot has a problem with the fact that their label, Sony, has started putting copy protection on their CD's. One problem with copy protection is that, while preventing pirates from illegally copying music (although, those who really want to will always find a way around it), it also causes problems for everyone else who simply wants to back up their CD (in case it somehow gets destroyed), or make a copy to listen to on their iPod, or any other legitimate use. So, he took matters into his own hands, and posted a comment on a message board on their site, detailing how to circumvent the copy protection. This, of course, caused some problems, not only with Sony, but also with certain laws in the US that make it illegal to circumvent copy protection or even to publish how to circumvent copy protection (regardless of whether it is for legitimate or illegitimate use).

I had a link to the specific post earlier today, but, alas, the link no longer works, and I can't find the post in their forums anymore.

Here's a discussion point regarding this story: Switchfoot is a Christian group. As Christians, was it good or ungood for them to do this? Yes, they were breaking the law (I wonder if they were aware of that, actually), and, technicaly, Sony is their boss. So, on the one hand, submission to authority comes into play here. Also, Sony produces the CD's, Sony loses money if the CD's are pirated (*ahem*debatable*ahem*), and Sony has the right to do whatever they want with their product. On the other hand, the RIAA in general is pretty much well known to be greedy, heavy-handed, and, overall, just plain evil. So, were they standing up for the "little guy" (perhaps the musicians who don't approve of copy protection, or the customers who are being sold an intentionally defective product), or were they out of line for not submitting to those in authority over them?

Also, a comment on copy protection in general: Considering the fact that there is certainly someone, somewhere, who will always figure out how to circumvent the copy protection, and put the songs on the Internet illegally, anyway, is the RIAA really doing itself any favors here? The people who are going to pirate the music are going to pirate the music; all it takes is for one person to by the CD, copy it, and put it online, and it will just grow from there. The people who are actually being hurt by this are the people who actually buy the CD. And, what if someone buys the CD, wants to put it on an iPod or just listen to it on their PC, but can't, so they find copies of the songs on the CD they already own online. Say they just download those songs that, by "fair use," they have the right to have on their computer anyway. Is the RIAA going to sue them, just like it has hundreds of people already, including some moms and grandparents who didn't even know their children/grandchildren had downloaded music on their computers?


wezlo said...

screw the RIAA.....

Derek (aka winjer) said...

I think we have to look at the heart on this issue. Unfortunately, RIAA can't examine our hearts on an individual basis, but God does.

If we willing steal music because we don't want to pay for it, that is wrong. If we are circumventing DRM just so we can copy the CD to our computer/iPod for easier use, I would say there are no bad intentions there.