Record Industry Goes After Personal Use? The case against Jeffrey Howell

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This is a story that has spread like wildfire. In this article from the Washington Post, Marc Fisher discusses how the RIAA has gone after Jeffrey Howell of Scottsdale AZ for converting the music CD’s that he legally purchased to MP3 files. Unfortunately, Marc Fisher did not get the story straight. According to the pleading and supplemental brief submitted to the court, the RIAA is suing because Howell put the MP3 files in the KAZAA share folder. It is really a shame that this and several other reporters have either gotten the story wrong or deliberately sensationalized it because now this story is focusing on the reporting instead of the ever more apparent strategy of the RIAA.

Wes Phillips of Stereophile has written what I consider to be a pretty accurate article about this and the last three paragraphs hit the nail squarely on the head. The RIAA is looking for nothing less than the elimination of the Fair Use principle of the copyright law. The Fair Use principle is what allows you to make copies of copyrighted material. However, the RIAA has its own ideas:

The RIAA’s own web site spells out what they understand is illegal copying of copyrighted material:

Examples of easy ways you could violate the law:

  • Somebody you don’t even know e-mails you a copy of a copyrighted song and then you turn around and e-mail copies to all of your friends.
  • You make an MP3 copy of a song because the CD you bought expressly permits you to do so. But then you put your MP3 copy on the Internet, using a file-sharing network, so that millions of other people can download it.
  • Even if you don’t illegally offer recordings to others, you join a file-sharing network and download unauthorized copies of all the copyrighted music you want for free from the computers of other network members.
  • In order to gain access to copyrighted music on the computers of other network members, you pay a fee to join a file-sharing network that isn’t authorized to distribute or make copies of copyrighted music. Then you download unauthorized copies of all the music you want.
  • You transfer copyrighted music using an instant messenging service.
  • You have a computer with a CD burner, which you use to burn copies of music you have downloaded onto writable CDs for all of your friends.

In his article, Wes writes:

Although it burst as “news” on December 29, there have been indications that the RIAA has been headed in this direction for some time. At the triennial review of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), conducted last January by the US Copyright Office, the record labels alleged that, although consumers could make back-up copies without much trouble, such use was “not specifically authorized [by the labels] and should not be mistaken for fair use.”

During the Jammie Thomas trial, Jennifer Pariser, head litigator for Sony BMG, said, “When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song,” adding that making personal copies was simply “a nice way of saying ‘steals just one copy.'”

Considering that the recording industry itself is slowly but surely moving into the Internet age and into a new business model, one has to wonder what is the RIAA doing?

Your turn to talk

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Boomer Humor? Maybe not…

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Yesterday, I received an e-mail newsletter from BOOMERING_jaLouthain that said the following:

A few weeks ago, I was watching an episode of that crazy TV show Boston Legal. The law firm, Crane, Poole & Schmidt, was defending a radio “shock jock”. He wasn’t a very young man, maybe in his late 30s, and he had made a statement on the air that old folks (like Boomers) should “just die” before they cost the nation so much in social security benefits and medical expenses. The radio station had fired him because he offended much of their listening audience which was in the Baby Boomer category. Shirley Schmidt, (aka, Candice Bergen, the quintessential Boomer, born in 1946) defended him and he won, because the radio station hired him to shock and that’s what he’d done.

Despite the fact that I totally believe in freedom of speech, I was shocked–shocked to think that he had a point. Boomers have always been the darlings of society–pampered, educated, admired, envied, even patronized. But now we’re just old folks like every other generation before us.

You audacious Generations Xers, Yers, XXLers, and Zers! Have you so quickly forgotten that we’ve given you the Internet, video games, remarkable health care, excellent working conditions and infinite electronic and satellite capabilities? Now that we’re old and retiring, you just want us gone?

It’s true, we will put a tremendous drain on Social Security and Medicare, there’s no question of that. And don’t expect medical and insurance costs to go down until the last one of us is a flower child in heaven. But have a heart, “Younguns,” we still have feelings, and we hope to have a lot more years to live as your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. And don’t forget the most important aspect of all this: Someday you TOO will be old.

While this is being said in a tongue-in-cheek way, after the things that I have been reading in cyberspace, the comments here have a sting to them. I’m particularly bothered by the comment of the “things” that we have given as well as the comment that both, Social Security and Medicare will be nearly depleted. In all honesty, I’m not sure what to say or how to react. While a baby boomer will find it funny, the fact that we also brought a lot of pain to our children cannot be dismissed. Many of the articles and blogs that I’ve read speak of the pain caused by broken homes as a result of divorce. Other articles ask what will be left for them after we are done using up Social Security and Medicare and who is going to be left footing the bill.

I think that it is time for the Baby Boomers to look at the Generation X’s square in the face and say “I’m sorry.” Beyond that, I think it is time for the baby boomers to stop and listen to what the Gen. X’es have to say – they are , after all, our children.

Your turn to talk – What do you think?

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Generation Y – How do they define privacy?

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In my article Generation Y – Do they really hate authority? I talk about some points that the Generation Y makes on why they are how they are. One thing that stayed with me is the notion that they stay connected (read My Generation – Take Two) all the time. Although I hear what they are saying, as a baby Boomer I cannot even begin to fathom being connected all the time! Which leads me to my question; how do Generation Y’s define privacy? What does privacy mean to them? How is privacy demonstrated and expressed? If you are reading this, I would like your input – I am really intrigued and would like to know your point of view.

Here are some questions that I have:

  • What does privacy mean to you, how would you define it?
  • As Generation Y – in your mind, is there a difference between privacy in cyberspace and privacy in the physical world?
  • To you – how is privacy expressed?
  • How is it demonstrated?
  • When your privacy is violated, how do you react? Particularly in cyberspace…

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Generation Y – Do they really hate authority?

angry gen yThis article is a follow-up to Generation Y – Are they really as bad as we say they are? The information age and the information economy has flattened out the structure and hierarchy of organizations.  Gen Y is intimately in tune with this and, since they grew up into it, it is second nature to them.  The rest of us, the baby boomers and Generation X are definitely not there – we are in a different world from them.  One of the things that I am constantly seeing in the blogs and articles that I read about Generation Y is that they are constantly connected.  This is an important piece of information when trying to understand the “Gen Y’s” in My Generation – take two:

Generation Y is known to be able to multitask effectively. They also like to be constantly connected. So of course they are seen to be on the phones and instant messaging clients constantly, sending text messages, checking websites, etc. GenYers are information addicts. They’re used to knowing everything immediately and can quite happily be updated on several different topics while doing their job at the same time. They think, if I can still stay informed, and get my job done at the same time, then what’s the harm? Baby boomers come from an age of letters and newspapers. They don’t understand this information addiction, it’s like trying to do your job while reading a newspaper at the same time. So when GenYers are staying connected, baby boomers think they’re slacking off. Hey, admittedly, a lot of them probably are slacking off some of the time. But most of them are used to dealing with huge amounts of information at a time from several sources, and if they have to focus on one task at a time then they’re likely to get bored.

This is a very insightful and accurate description.  The information revolution, like the Industrial revolution before it, is completely changing how we relate to the world and each other.  For Gen Y’s, they have literally extended their lives to include cyberspace; for them relating in cyberspace is as normal and natural as breathing.  I imagine that they must feel very annoyed at having to explain to the rest of us what, to them, is something that is very obvious and natural.  Here is the thing that we, the Baby Boomers and the Generation X’s need to understand – the Internet has become the great equalizer.  Information is no longer the purview of a privileged few; the cat is very much out of the bag and information has been democratized.  This is what the Gen Y has to say about this (also from the ( My Generation – take two ) article:

Generation Y is said to have a problem with authority. This is probably true to an extent, but I believe it is more of a problem with respect. These days complete strangers will call you up on the phone and start chatting to you like they already know you. Back in the baby boomer days they were all about “sir” and “madam” and they’d address you by your surname, like “Mrs Jones” or “Mr Parker”. These days it’s all about “What’s your name? Robert Johnson? Well Rob, I’d like to talk to you about this amazing deal on cable television…” Everyone treats you like a peer. So Generation Y treats everyone like a peer. I think part of the problem is that GenX and baby boomers only see one side of it, they just see some young upstarts treating them like they’re on the same level before they’ve earned it. What they don’t see is Generation Y treating their subordinates like equals too. It’s not that they have no respect for authority, it’s just that everyone is the same to them and nobody is better than anyone else.

Although insightful, I don’t think the author goes far enough in explaining the authority situation of Generation Y.  While the paragraph above is correct, the basic issue is not authority per se but, something more fundamental and powerful enough to change a society, a culture and a civilization.  What is happening here is nothing less than a re-definition of what is authority and just how is authority derived.  Let’s define  authority in this way: it is our personal, individual willingness to submit.  In the information age, the “coin of exchange” is information and whomever has the must up-to-date, the most insightful information has the most amount of “coin” and Gen Y’s understand and respect this.  The underlying reality is that Gen Y’s do respect authority but, in their world, the one who is in authority is something that is very fluid.  Gen Y’s understand at a very gut and instinctive level that submitting to authority is their choice and under their control – this is a direct result of the information age.

Information is the most elemental part of any society but, it is how we process this information that makes it useful.  It is that “we” that is important because Gen Y’s do this instinctively and at the speed of the Internet.  Their perspective is this – all information has the same value and, by extension, all information givers have the same value.  It is only after “I” make some choices about the information that it will acquire additional value for me.  Gen Y’s take this empowerment process and project it to every aspect of their lives.

For us Baby Boomers and Generation X’s, it behooves us to understand this if we want to help them to sort out the difficulties of life.

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Generation Y – Are they really as bad as we say they are?

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In my blog A TIME OF PONDERING – A TIME OF RECKONING I comment on the level of resentment towards baby boomers that I’ve found in the blogosphere. In that post I mentioned that I had no clue that generation X’ers as well as Generation Y’ers resented us so. I am fairly intrigued by this and as I dig deeper into these attitudes, I’m finding that the resentment seems to go in both directions. In the blog Generation Y, the author (kfulljames) lays out fairly clearly some of the reasons for the attitudes and beliefs of the “Gen Y’s” and Steve Olson in his article A Message to Baby Boomers and Generation X puts the responsibility of the attitudes of Generation Y squarely in the shoulders of the Baby Boomers and the Generation X.

As I read the ‘Generation Y’ article, I can’t help but think that these kids have a point! First, the “loyalty” that we are talking about is very much present in Generation Y – the difference is that they invest their loyalty in those things and people that will be in their lives for the long run. From what I could gather in the articles, it looks like for Generation Y loyalty is given first and foremost to the family. That loyalty extends itself to a very old saying, “to thy own self be true.” In their minds, being true to themselves encompasses the workplace and the value they bring to the business.

Generation Y rightly states that they grew up seeing how the loyalty given to the business institution was rewarded by lay-offs, by sending the jobs over to another country, by raiding the retirement funds and depleting them. In other words, the business institutions expect the individual to be loyal to them but they do not give any loyalty in return beyond the paycheck of the latest pay period. We are the ones that need to understand that Generation Y is the spearhead generation of the information age and the information economy. They are doing what our great-great-grandparents did when the industrial revolution got into full swing – they are creating! Generation Y talks in terms of being a contractor rather than an employee, having multiple income streams rather than one company paycheck; forgive me for pointing out the obvious but, isn’t this what we usually call entrepreneurial spirit?

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