worse than suing your customers?

I thought about writing yet another Lucky Star post, but I just didn’t feel motivated enough today to do so. Instead, I’m pulling out my megaphone and hoping some group would listen and come to their senses.

There’s very few business decisions that are as bad as suing your customer base, and that’s exactly what the recording and movie industries have done. Do you see Ford suing their customers because they get into drunk driving accidents with their trucks? There’s a lot that baffles me about that industry (slow adaptation of technology; unwillingness to evolve; poor business model; etc) but suing your customer base? Seriously? This is supposed to increase CD, DVD, and movie ticket sales? But there’s one facet that I feel is underestimated in the whole discussion is that these groups seem to go after college students the most (example example example). Maybe it’s the wide availability of bandwidth on campus or the techno-savvy of students or the atmosphere of freedom that makes colleges and universities an almost perfect storm of file sharing.

Well, I have news for you content producing industries: the same people that are sued in college will one day grow up and become the next generation of business and government leaders. Even if the current governments are sympathetic to your “plight,” I highly doubt that the generation growing up that you have harassed will be anything but sympathetic. Congratulations. In trying to win the battle today, you have lost the war. Time is not on your side.

Furthermore, it is not only the fact that these outstanding young men and women in colleges today will grow up to become leaders, if there’s anything learned from modern history (example example example), it is that colleges are the fertile breeding grounds of activism. Armed with enthusiasm and their own cause, what makes you think that these students would roll over and play dead? They have nothing to lose. It’s not like suing a family man who has to provide for his kids or suing an 8 year old, it’s an uphill battle going after college students.

One thing that I think the content industry really missed on is that instead of cooperation and working with the students to come up with new ways to promote and gain revenue from content sales, they instead are more interested in preserving their old business model (CD, DVDs) while digging their own future grave.

15 Responses to “worse than suing your customers?”

  1. Power to the people!

  2. *wikis*

    “Big Four” RIAA members
    * EMI
    * Sony BMG Music Entertainment
    * Universal Music Group
    * Warner Music Group

  3. I’m really not motivated to get a new CD unless it sounds really good from my godly computer speakers. Case in point, Nine Inch Nails’ Year Zero. I admit, I downloaded it a week before it hit stores. I loved it. So I bought the fucking CD.

    It works. I’ve bought more CD’s than I would if I didn’t have MP3s to listen to. They’re a great tool in getting music OUT THERE.

    Say, someone hears a good song on the radio. They download it, love it, and feel motivated enough by that single MP3 to buy the CD. It happens frequently, and shitting in the living heart of your consumer is not the way to go.

    I swear, when I read that RIAA sued another 80-year old grandmother or an 11-year old girl, I can feel blisters form on my brain.

  4. What you’re forgetting is that as publicly-owned and -traded corporations, they’re in it for the short-term profit.

  5. You know, in this day of tivo (mine has 200 hours) I can just pick a show I’ve never seen like Negima and set it to tape every day and voila I have negima. A lame example, but it runs on a tv show called colors under a funimation block. Now my cable bill is like $50 a month diveded by well over a hundred channels. I doubt Colors gets a big share of that compared to ESPN. so in effect I paid like 50 cents for a full season of Negima. I doubt advertisers give Colors a lot of funding either. May be wrong. Would I pay $10 for a full season of negima subbed off a funimation website? yeah. probably. Are they going to make less than that from the tv station? They’d still get my 50 cent cable bill. Do I want to pay $40 for a DVD box set? No I’ve got other priorities.
    I’m an amazon shopper and I’ve been buying tons of manga with their 4 for 3 promo deal. I stopped reading ranma around book 17, now I have the last 20 for the price of 15, and no sales tax or shipping. Amazon makes me believe I can pay a lot less for my anime. I’m one person, but I’m looking at a damn wall of manga here. I should probably just switch to getting stuff used and get it even cheaper. But then my manga companies don’t make money as much money.
    There are legal ways for me to get my manga (Public Library , friends) and my anime ( tivo (trust me, really easy) , friends , small amount via public library ( I loved when the news did an expo on the 2nd ranma movie at the library ) ). Looking at my wall I know I am a customer. I have my 2 limited edition Haruhi box sets and by God do I want to be watching the second season next month. Half of the stuff in my room could easily be a new car (where did I go wrong….) but I believe that if buisness models similar to how amazon has been (maybe it’s not the best but it’s a heck of a lot better than borders) were in place I might have a 1/4 of a car right now or a room full of more stuff.
    Ok.. I’m fine with the concept that I’ve overpaid in the past. But I know (or at least believe) that there are so many better options available today. And you know what, if you would only make a fabulous box with a music cd and a hairband I will NEVER wear (maybe) (where did I go wrong…) in all the stuff that you sell, then you could trust that I would not take ridiculous advantage of things that don’t have DRM all over them.

  6. Thank you for your post. Now try applying it to Singapore and you will find that a certain company doesnt seem to get it……

  7. This is something that I have kept an eye on, one of the things is I think the RIAA is digging its own grave by targeting colleges. In a few recent lawsuits, students are blocking the illegal joined ex parte orders they use. They have been a few times in the past ordered to stop this, yet they continue to do so, ignoring the fact each case is not similar enough to join. The reason they do this to save money, as to bring a 1v100 John Does lawsuit costs roughly 600 dollars, while to bring 100 lawsuits costs roughly 60,000 dollars. They will have trouble with mass lawsuits once a few more court rulings on this comes saying they can’t do anything.

    Also, in these suits, 2 universities have does attacking the RIAA “expert” wittness and the arguement that “IP=phone number of computers” which it is not (just put in a router, many computers now have one IP.) Unrelated to the university cases, they also have severial countersuits against them, with charges including racketeering, deceptive business, computer fraud and abuse, and other charges.

    The worse case has been the one against Tanya Anderson, some of the things that have happened in this case are just awful. Not going to go into the details, but , her counterclaim lawsuit is a very good read (seen at link, most updated counter suit is second to last one on this list). http://info.riaalawsuits.us/do.....v_Andersen

  8. Another way the RIAA makes money is to use the threat of a lawsuit and offer the defendant a chance to settle for $2-5K. I remember one case where the defendant challenged them in court and the RIAA requests the case dismissed b/c of lack of evidence. Let’s just say the judge was not amused and dismissed the case with prejudice against the RIAA and forced them to pay the defendant’s lawyer’s fees.

    I listened to this bit of news on CNET’s Buzz Out Loud podcast. The hosts, Molly Wood especially, frequently go off on how horrible the RIAA’s tatics are b/c the winnings just go back and fuel more lawsuits in a despicable inverted pyramid scheme. It’s not just college students who know about the RIAA, but tech-savy 30-something adults as well.

    The problem I have with the idea of a revolt of college students now or when they grow up is that Americans have been getting more and more inept in their social awareness and politics. There are now fewer people accumulating more power and wielding it over a more passive populous. Just take a look at the “Protect America” Act that was just recently passed. President Bush just has to say the word “terrorists” and he gets whatever he wants with no oversight. My worry is that if the RIAA is not crushed soon, they’ll eventually sneak in a law that applies some draconian filter on the internet (there’s already talk of some kind of filter in Congress to protect the children against porn). Even if the college students of now are in Congress 30+ years later, all it takes is enough money to buy a few of them off and the populous will be none the wiser.

  9. I think they probably get it just fine. They realise that they lose position against artists, margins on the products and control of the marketplace. That’s probably an optimistic view for them too. Most new business models don’t have a place for those companies at all. At least not in their current form. They’re just holding on for as long as they can because there will be no going back and they’ll lose so much.

  10. well said

  11. I can empathize with the RIAAs standpoint. I have quite a few friends with GBs of music and movies that they never paid for. “Fair use” as it’s written into copyright law isn’t intended as a means of circumventing the purchase of media. While the RIAA may be going about this the wrong way, at least they targetting the right people. If they were only targetting people with lawsuits that would be OK imo, but they’re not they’re also flexing muscles in other spaces to ensure locking content to specific devices and other nonsense.

    When it comes to anime, as a previous person mentions the pricing can sometimes make you think twice about what you’re actually getting for the money you spend.

  12. No abao, i think discussing odex issues on aomm will have any impact, since most of them won’t get it.
    Anyhow, a quick rundown. Odex sues people who download fansubs through torrents cause they’re losing money. They blame it on fansubs. We blame it on piss poor subs, the fact they still sell VCDs (i mean, VCDs? For the love of…) and packaging that even (from what i heard) bootleg anime supposedly has better. What makes it worst is that they license a whole bunch of series, then don’t release about a quarter of them.
    although manga and anime is more accessible here in singapore than in the states, so meh.

  13. Unfortunately for RIAA and Odex; time is on the side of the opposition.

    With Odex, Singapore is a small island nation of about 5 million. So it will only be a matter of time before hatred for Odex erodes at its base.

    The RIAA, meanwhile… I just have this to say:

    For every John/Jane Doe you screw up, the time for your ultimate downfall gets shorter. Ask any Republican. Why did John Bolten “bolted?” Why is Karl Rove “taking his money before he runs” out of the White House.

  14. Yea for reading Ars.

  15. Fight t3e power!!!!

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