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RIAA War Turns Nasty, MP3 Bored, AudioGalaxy's New Spin

Commentary by David Nevue - The Music Biz Academy - 09/17/2002

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These last two weeks have been such that we are really beginning to see the effects of the RIAA's (Recording Industry Association of America) war on music piracy. This war of headlines and politics between all parties has has resulted in some decidedly 'nasty' side-effects.

First off, Napster, the original file-swapping gangsta' was officially declared 'dead' last week when a federal judge blocked the sale of the one time powerhouse to media giant Bertelsmann. Headlines of Napster's demise dominated the news - 'R.I.P.: Napster', 'Napster Used All Nine Lives', 'Napster Sounds Death Knell' - the chant was heard from one end of Cyberspace to the other. Then, this week, in an unexpected twist, one of the Internet's leading purveyors of 'adult' material offered to purchase the Napster trademark and web site address. According to the Mail & Guardian Online, the company plans to use Napster's file swapping system to distribute its huge library of material. Yuck. I don't even want to talk about it. That's one deal I am praying does not go through.

Moving on, MP3Board.com is being sued by the RIAA for linking to web sites that offer both authorized and unauthorized MP3's for download. That's right, the RIAA is going after a web site simply for linking to other sites. Who is MP3Board.com, you ask? Funny, I hadn't heard of them either, not until the publicity generated by the RIAA lawsuit inspired me to go check out their web site (oh, the irony). By the way, I do NOT recommend you visit the MPBoard.com web site unless you enjoy trying to kill pop-up ads that spin off even more pop-up ads. Bad web site. Bad, BAD WEB SITE! (You're probably going to go there now, huh? Don't say I didn't warn you.) Why is the RIAA bothering with these guys? Who in their right mind would ever return to this web site a second time? I clicked on one link on their web site (the random MP3 link) and was sent to pop-up oblivion, then my Antivirus software popped up to warn me that a javascript running from one of those windows was infected with a trojan virus. Oh, my, my! Stay away folks! Thank goodness for Norton Internet Security!

More carnage! AudioGalaxy, sued in May 2002 by the RIAA, has become a ghost of its former self. AudioGalaxy turned off most of its download features last week leaving startled users grasping at air. One frustrated user posted a very interesting 'What Now?' FAQ to the AudioGalaxy message board which stated 'YOU'RE TOO LATE. If you just came to the Audiogalaxy party -- sorry, it's over.' You can view the 'What Now?' FAQ

And the battle rages on.... In its suit against file-swapping services Kazaa, Morpheus and Grokster, the RIAA asked the federal judge to skip the trial and make a summary judgment against the companies. According to attorneys for publisher trade groups, all three services have done their best to create 'candy stores of infringement that allow a user to find the most popular music and movies of our time without paying any of the rights holders.' Lawyers representing Morpheus asked the judge to skip the trial too, but on different grounds, saying that they should not be responsible for how users misuse their network, and that the file-trading system has too many legal uses to shut it down.

The tsunami continues. According to statistics released by BRS Media, in the last year alone the number of radio webcasters broadcasting online has dropped by 31%. The BRS figures state that well over one thousand US stations have quit broadcasting online as a direct result of 'the current copyright crisis.' Strangely, the BRS press release does not specify what 'crisis' they are referring to, but presumably they mean the new webcasting royalty rates issued by Federal copyright regulators, the first payment for which is due October 20th.

In another very interesting tidbit that came across the wire this week, a report by networking company Sandvine, titled 'The Effects of P2P on Service Provider Networks,' estimates that in terms of bandwidth usage, file-sharing networks Kazaa and Gnutella may account for between 40-60% of all Internet traffic. Wow! No wonder my Internet connection is so slow!

And finally, you will be much relieved to hear that Lance Bass of
`N Sync won't be orbiting earth in the International Space Station after all. Ah, shucks!










Until next time,

David Nevue
Editor, The Music Biz Academy


David Nevue is the founder of The Music Biz Academy. He is also a professional pianist, recording artist, full-time Internet musician, and author of the book, "How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet."

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