A strike against the “music industry”

A recent osnews.com story chronicles Google’s troubles with its music store project. From the article:

Sadly, however, rumour has it the negotiations with the music industry have been so frustrating, Google is contemplating abandoning the entire project altogether. This has led some to wonder – why doesn’t Google, or a consortium of technology companies, just buy the music industry outright?

The talks with the music industry to set all this up have apparently been so frustrating for Google that they are now contemplating shutting the entire thing down. Wayne Rosso, who once ran Grokster, claims that sources familiar with the matter stated that Google is “disgusted” with the music labels, and is considering options ranging from just following Amazon’s lead and not seek the labels’ consent, to just shelving the entire project.

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know I’m not Google’s biggest fan. I’ll admit they have done some good, but they’ve also done their share of things that are at least dubious if not outright evil. A music store project of the sort Google is planning, however, definitely falls in the former category, and it’s a shame that the music cartel is stonewalling it. A sticking point of the negotiations is that Google wants the service to be free of charge for the first 500 tracks; the music cartel (Warner Music Group in particular) wants a $30 per year fee.

I’m not sure what the “music industry” (who I well henceforth refer to as the music cartel) is trying to prove by stonewalling Google; it only makes them look like the fools they are. Today, artists can sign up with Bandcamp, Magnatune, CD Baby, among others. Dozens of companies exist to press “short runs” of CDs, or the artist can burn copies to CD-R. The music cartel we grew up with, where artists relied on record companies to get copies of their music in the hands of the public, has changed radically in the Internet era. In fact, physical copies are now closer to becoming the exception rather than the rule. (In a way I’m not a fan of this, as I prefer a physical CD to a digital download in most cases, but that’s another rant for another day.)

Remeber, the same music cartel that charges $20 for a CD, and gives the artist that actually made the music around $1 on it, is the same music cartel trying to stonewall Google’s music store. I’m not surprised. It took the music cartel (specifically the RIAA) most of a decade to figure out that suing their customers for alleged copyright infringement was a lousy business plan. That hasn’t stopped them from trying the same shenanigans in other countries; France has a draconian “three strikes” law (the HADOPI law) with regards to unauthorized copying (though it’s possible this is more the MPAA’s doing).

Google appears to be following Amazon’s lead, which is to offer the service first, then clear up any legal problems later. It’s hard to blame them; Google epitomizes “filthy rich corporation” at this point in time. But it’s also just a bit frightening to me that Google can do this. It’s as if we have The Rules The Rest Of Us Must Play By on on side, and The Rules Google Gets To Play By on the other. Could any of you out there just open your wallet if you were facing a lawsuit by the RIAA?