Thursday, November 30, 2006

Treating Your Customers Like Criminals Is The American Way?

Imagine the following scenario with me:

You walk into your local Best Buy store and every time your hand strays near a product a man pops out from behind the end of the aisle and shouts "Please don't steal that sir!". Fighting your embarrassment you decide you need some blank CDs and DVDs. You pick them up and begin making your way to the front of the store.
Walking up to the register you put products down in front of the cashier. She rings up your goods and the blank media costs $5 more than the sticker price. You inquire from the her, "Why is this $5 more than sticker?"
"Sir, it's the new media tax." She looks at you like you're an ignorant savage. Where have you been? Under a rock perhaps.
You decide to push your luck. Ignoring her look of superiority you say, "What is the media tax?"
"Sir, the record and movie industry lobbied and got congress to pass a tax on all blank media. It's to offset the fact that everyone is using the CDs and DVDs to store pirated media." She looks smugly at you and waits for you to pay.
"But I don't pirate music or movies." You protest but it does you no good. After all, it's the law.

Does any of this sound familiar? It should. Everywhere we go these days we are being treated as if we are criminals. Our media is locked behind restrictive DRM (Digital Rights Management), broadcast flags are telling our DVRs (Digital Video Recorders) what we can and cannot record and depending on where you live you have to pay "taxes" to the entertainment industry on blank media.
On top of this, new legislation is being introduced on a seemingly monthly basis that will restrict our fair use rights. The same companies that used a rich cultural heritage (Snow White, Cinderella, etc.) to create new works of art are now giving absolutely nothing back to the public. It is one of the largest money grabs of the century and sheep that we are, we do nothing to stop them.
In a private "for instance" I submit a story of Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon album. I bought it on tape. I bought it on CD. I bought a gold master CD. Then I purchased it on Itunes. How many times do I have to buy the same thing? To the entertainment industry the answer is simple. You have to buy it every time you want to play it on a new device.
In a recent public "for instance", Universal Music's Doug Morris stated (about IPods), "These devices are just repositories for stolen music, and they all know it. So it's time to get paid for it." Is this guy kidding me? Does he really believe that all the digital media players are being used to pirate his product? I'll tell you what I think. I think this is another money grab from a greedy industry.
Not that I have strong opinion on the subject or anything.

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