The Heavy Hand of the Music Man

A few people let me know about this story that Clear Channel is blocking musicians using instant CD technology. Since Clear Channel bought a company that holds the patent on that, any musicians using competitive technology are being blocked from doing it at CC venues. This kind of has the stink of antitrust about it, doesn’t it? Aside from the issue of Clear Channel being a rapacious scumbag outfit, I really wonder about this patent. It sounds kind of obvious, doesn’t it? Record show, make a CD of it. The patent is apparently about the interval of time between those two things. If the band sells the CDs offsite but out of their van after the show, does that infringe? What if interested fans convene at a different bar, where they burn the CDs. Does that infringe? It all seems crazy, but when CC exerts their muscle as concert promoters and venues to protect their business in another field, that seems to me like the very stuff of antitrust violations.

In other news, I saw a reference on Slashdot about this episode of PBS’ Frontline entitled “The Way the Music Died”. Starting May 29, the episiode will be avaiable to be watched online. It looks at the music business and their business practices, the way they are fighting the current era of technology, etc. I’m hoping they cover a few salient points that need to be considered when record labels are suing their customers and working hard to make use of current technlogy criminal:
The music business has a long and storied history of cheating its artists, customers and business partners out of money.
The music business (and the movie business) have consistently fought against new technologies that ultimately ended up making them assloads more money. Remember Jack Valenti’s doomsday speeches in the 70’s and 80’s about how the Betamax would kill Hollywood? Imagine if he had won that fight. The movie industry would be 10% of what it is today. The record companies were convinced that taping would kill their industry and lobbied against it. In fact, they did the same to radio. This is why I don’t believe any of it when I hear about how P2P will cut into record sales. This alarm has been raised umpteen times before and it has never ever been correct. Come tomorrow, I’ll be watching this episode. Thank you Frontline for making them available this way!

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.