Rob Pegoraro discusses the impediments to going legit for online digital music:
- “I’m trying to make my kids legal, really I am,” wrote Ashburn resident Jane Ellis in an e-mail. But after going to BuyMusic.com, installing the required Windows Media Player 9 software (which left her PC half-crippled) and making her purchase, she found that it wouldn’t play on her Rio digital-music player.
So what did Ellis do? The RIAA won’t like this: “I read somewhere [that] my son could now go to Kazaa legally and download the song we paid for, since I now owned its license, so he ended up doing that.”
It’s nuts that legitimate music services force users back to file-sharing networks to get a usable download. But too often, that’s easier than playing by the rules.
Even Apple’s generally well-done iTunes Music Store doesn’t let you convert purchases directly to MP3 format, a necessary step to play them on a non-iPod player or stream them to any of the wireless digital-music receivers now entering the market.
There’s one exception, and its parent company actually owns one of the major record labels. Vivendi Universal’s Emusic.com Web site lets users download all the MP3s they want, with zero usage restrictions, for $9.99 a month on a one-year subscription.
But neither Vivendi’s Universal Music Group nor any other major label sells music on this site, leaving it to independent and minor labels. If these operations, with far fewer resources than any of the majors, can make a go of selling unrestricted downloads, why should it be so hard for their larger competitors? How much longer will it take these companies to listen to what their customers are trying to tell them? [[Washington Post]
Kind of undercuts the moral argument, doesn’t it?