Satire: RIAA criminalizes remembering songs

Your brain infringes copyrights published a satire piece last month that is worth the read. The piece builds on a recent lawsuit in which the RIAA maintained that copying a legally purchased CD to your computer’s internal hard drive amounts to making an illegal copy. The author of the piece builds a fictionalized scenario in which the RIAA goes after consumers for remembering songs, claiming that they’ve made an illegal copy of the song in their brain, and that infringes on copyrights.

“The brain is a recording device,” explained RIAA president Cary Sherman. “The act of listening is an unauthorized act of copying music to that recording device, and the act of recalling or remembering a song is unauthorized playback.”

This seems outlandish, but judging by the RIAA recent actions, I’m not so sure it’s that far off base.

My favorite paragraph in the piece follows.

With this decision, the RIAA now considers approximately 72% of the adult U.S. population to be criminals. Putting them all in prison for copyright infringement would cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $683 billion per year — an amount that would have to be shouldered by the remaining 28% who are not imprisoned. The RIAA believes it could cover the $683 billion tab through royalties on music sales. The problem with that? The 28% remaining adults not in prison don’t buy music albums. That means album sales would plummet to nearly zero, and the U.S. government (which is already deep in debt) would have to borrow money to pay for all the prisons. And where would the borrowed money come from? China, of course: The country where music albums are openly pirated and sold for monetary gain.

I know this is fiction, but at times it does seem that the RIAA thinks all music consumers are thieves.

After you’ve read the piece, go visit The Long Tail and read this article about the idea of an author giving away his book, and think about the music business instead of the book business.

Then read this advise from Seth Godin, who suggests that the solution is to change the business model.

Here’s a key point from his blog post. This is just one of over a dozen pieces of advice he gives the industry.

8. Don’t panic when the new business model isn’t as ‚Äòclean’ as the old one
It’s not easy to give up the idea of manufacturing CDs with a 90% gross margin and switching to a blended model of concerts and souvenirs, of communities and greeting cards and special events and what feels like gimmicks. I know.

Get over it. It’s the only option if you want to stay in this business. You’re just not going to sell a lot of CDs in five years, are you?

If there’s a business here, first few in will find it, the rest lose everything.