[mythtv-users] The RIAA makes the final misstep

Joe Borne joe.borne at gmail.com
Tue Dec 23 15:14:30 UTC 2008

Hello all, long time no post.

Some of the other "lifers" on this mailing list will probably remember my
posts concerning the RIAA/MPAA and the cable companies. Particularly I
posted several times about how their efforts to use legal strongarm tactics,
and user experience crippling technology to perpetuate an antiquated
business model were doomed to fail.

This week the RIAA announced they will cease legal action against
individuals who download music (
http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/12/19/131227&tid=123). Instead
they intend to pursue "*working with the ISPs to limit file-sharing services
and cut off repeated users" *(

*Interestingly, a Louisinana ISP owner has responded in what I consider the
proper way, by demanding the RIAA's billing information before he lifts one
finger *(http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10127841-93.html). *His response
is not only valid, it's the end game for the RIAA. I predicted last December
or January the the RIAA would cease operations in 2008 due to the backlash.
I was incorrect in predicting their demise, but this move amounts to
financial suicide.

Why? well any attempt to strongarm ISP's into enforcing their debatable "IP
rights" can be challenged in court, and more importantly in the realm of
commerce law, not criminal prosecution. In essence, the RIAA must prove to a
judge or jury that a completely separate business entity must provide
extraordinarily expensive services to them *gratis*. It doesn't take a legal
scholar to understand that this is a complete non starter in the courts. No
judge, no matter how corrupt or inclined to the RIAA is going to make that
ruling. It's career suicide. The vast majority of campagn funds still come
from business contributions and no business is going to support a judge who
ruled in favor of what amounts to corporate extortion. It's tantamaount to a
ruling that paving companies must pay for the armed guards at banks and
patrols cars/police because theives drive away on the roads the paver built.

All of this leads right back to what I had discussed earlier. *IP rights
will never be legally invalidated, but they will become irrelevant as time
goes on.* Slowly, companies will come to realize that the days of content
control and packagized sales bundled with forced viewing of advertising are
OVER. The future lies in the subscription model delivery of on demand media
in open formats that allow portability or completely transparent access.
I've stated over and over that if my cable company offered a completely
restriction free, ad free channel package for a reasonable upgrade fee that
I would pay it gladly. I would pay even more for the ability to watch any of
their programming on demand. I am sure the market for this would more than
make up for the loss in ad revenues.

In the end this wiould inevitably lead to the end of encryption of cable
signals, CC bit and other types of DRM restrictions and the end of
proprietary and closed formats.

Obviously the profit margins for media companie from this will never equal
the "good old days" of $20 CD's and $35 DVD's we saw in the early 90's. This
is a hard painful truth themedia companies are going to be forced to face.
These companies will be forced to bring themselves into the 21'st century
business world much like the US auto industry must, or face a similar fate.
The future will most likely bring smaller, leaner and more prolific media
delivery companies and indivduals aggregating their content together through
services similar to YouTube, NetFlix, Hulu and the like. It's already
happening. How long before services like these start providing access to
their content to cable and satellite providers on demand? Not long if they
are smart. Providing the ability for set top boxes to browse and view this
content would be only moderately challenging. How will the big 5 compete
with these smaller, more agile, and more flexible rival providers? They will
have to provide similar services or die.

How doe sthis affect us in the MythTV world? Well it's nothing but good
news. The integration of streaming video platforms like HULU and YouTube can
virtually guarantee MythTV's future and increased popularity. We should be
focusing our efforts on the integration of these services in anticipation of
the oncoming change. MythTV is uniquely poised to embrace this new wave of
media because of it's existing technology base and rapid development cycle
compared to proprietary solutions.

All in all, 2009 and farther out is looking great for us.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

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