Beware of ISPs -- Internet Snooping Providers

The RIAA is still trying to stop music piracy.

Even after it swore that the days of filing lawsuits against consumers was over, they have managed to enlist the support of two more Internet Service Providers (ISP) in waging their continued war on copyright terror.

AT&T and Comcast have now joined Cox to become pen pals with customers the RIAA might accuse of uploading music to unauthorized P2P networks.

Don't worry. Nothing bad is going to happen.

AT&T and Comcast would then send the targeted users a notice informing them their account could be deactivated unless they stop.

See, nothing to worry about. Just a warning.

If the RIAA had to finally give up its hugely unsuccessful lawsuit campaign against music downloaders not long ago because it didn't work, how bad could this little slap on the wrist be?

First of all, nothing can stop music piracy.

The next generation was born and raised on it. They never had a problem with DRM (Digital Rights Management) because they circumnavigated it by stealing the songs they wanted online. Then, they shared them. And only bought what they wanted -- which they quickly discovered was not much.

Gen Y undid the much celebrated record album -- you know, the thing that more often than not had more stiffs on it than hits -- and moved to buying or stealing songs one at a time. Ironically, perhaps, the only big albums that could sell would turn out to be compilation hit albums.

Napster may have been taken from them, but it was just their first volley.

Bit torrent sites made easy exchange of music -- well, easier.

Radio stopped having as big an influence on the next generation's musical tastes -- as their friends and social networks became more important in spreading the word.

The iPod came along just in time -- and in the end, DRM was removed.

See? You can't stop music piracy.

But now it appears that the RIAA in conjunction with your friendly neighborhood ISP is up to something.

I have a hard time believing these conspirators are in it to just generate paperwork -- although you might get me to believe they are in it to generate legal fees. Nonetheless, why would ISPs want to be a conveyor of RIAA accusations and say upfront that their customers will just be warned not harmed?

I'm more suspicious when a Comcast spokesman said "This is the same process we've had in place for years-- nothing has changed. While we have always supported copyright holders in their efforts to reduce piracy under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and continue to do so, we have no plans to test a so-called 'three-strikes-and-you're-out' policy."

The three strikes policy is the brainchild of those idle minds at the RIAA.

Cox had previously gone further by threatening temporary service disruptions (something they know pretty well) for Internet users who have been found to share music files.

Wonder what temporary means?

Wonder what ISPs are doing in the detective business?

I always stand in amazement when looking at the record business because they've been wrong for so long:

1. They have managed to let Napster ruin their business when they could have bought the file sharing upstart.

2. The labels made the wrong decision on DRM.

3. Wrong on suing its own customers and threatening universities -- the bastion of students with evil on their minds.

4. Wrong on the Internet.

5. Wrong on the CD.

6. Wrong on 360 deals -- they're kidding, who even wants a record label handling every aspect of an artist or band?

7. Wrong on digital downloading -- they were conned by Apple into letting them do it because Napster scared them and then they tried to dictate to Steve Jobs variable pricing. I'll show you variable pricing -- how about zero.

8. Wrong on the notion that consumers will pay a monthly fee to fill up their MP3 players with millions of songs.

9. Wrong that companies like Spiral Frog can monetize free music through advertising thus generating a replacement revenue stream for declining CD sales.

To paraphrase a political advertising attack ad slogan: "and wrong for America".

If you think that the RIAA and ISPs (two groups that deserve each other) are standing up for the forces fighting copyright infringement, well -- you would be wrong again.

Today's reality is that music has been devalued by the labels themselves, the decline of radio, new and emerging technologies, changing sociology (i.e., social networking and bit torrent sites), as well as the fact that record labels forgot why they are in business.

To make great music -- lots of it. Help artists monetize their efforts as well as the label's own financial needs. They seem not to know how to do this in the 21st century.

The one thing everyone knows -- except maybe the RIAA and some major ISPs -- is that music piracy is here to stay. Like it or not. Illegal or unethical.

That's why the news about ISPs that came out of a panel session at the Leadership Music Digital Summit in Nashville this week is so fitting.

The ISPs are willing to cross the fine line on behalf of the record industry with no obvious gain for either.

On the contrary, it's not the RIAA -- they've already been neutered. It's ISPs seemingly warming up to the task of compromising the free speech and access rights of customers.

They're not fighting for truth, justice and the American way.

These ISPs are up to no good.

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