Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Media Rights Technologies Needs to Get a Business Model

Media Rights Technologies needs a new business model. Their current model, which appears to consist of threatening legal action against people who don't pay them money, probably isn't working all that well. A while ago, MRT threatened to sue media player manufacturers for not including their streaming media DRM technology, which supposedly amounted to condoning "stream-ripping"--recording a digital media stream for later playback. Now, they're going after the other end of the stream, asking the Library of Congress to revoke the statutory licenses of major Internet Radio broadcasters for streaming non-DRM'ed music, despite the fact that they are perfectly allowed to stream said music without DRM, and that the broadcasters pay royalties to boot.

From their letter to the LoC:
MRT developed and disclosed to the Subject Webcasters a technical measure that protects copyrighted material from being downloaded and copied. That technical measure is known as the X1 SeCure Sound Controller. MRT's X1 was investigated and found by the R.I.A.A. to be 100% effective in preventing stream ripping and protecting the rights of copyright owners without the slightest degradation of sound integrity. The Subject Webcasters have refused to accommodate the X1, and some of them have affirmatively interfered with the X1 by designing their new systems in such a way as to disable it, all of which constitutes a violation of a statutory licensee's duty under the Act.
So, because webcasters don't use their "100% effective" solution, they shouldn't be allowed to broadcast. Like I said, I don't think that that business model will get them very far. And, what's more, stream riping, like recording radio to cassette tape, is perfectly fine. It's not immoral, and, if it's illegal, the law needs changing.

Given that today is Fair Use Day, I say that we should all go out and, in spite of Media Rights Technologies' protests to the contrary, rip some streams. No amount of angry letters can change what is right and wrong, and people are certainly less--rather than more--inclined to pay you money when you try to bring the force of law to bear against them.

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