Thursday, March 31, 2011

Music Industry Vs. Everyone Else

With Amazon just releasing it's Cloud Drive with accompanying Cloud Player, users are now able to upload their music collections to Amazon's cloud storage (basically a hard drive the Internet for your usage). With the Cloud Player you can easily access your music collection from a variety of devices and locations.

So basically Amazon is providing users a virtual hard drive that they can access anywhere. Seems simple enough. Why would this be a problem? Well the Music Industry, as a whole, says Amazon and users aren't licensed to do this with their music.

The first thing most of us think is, "What? I bought these songs. Why can't I do this?" Well as far as the Music Industry is concerned you only purchased a license to listen to the music in the form you purchased it on. Technically they don't even want you ripping your CDs to MP3s. From their perspective, you bought a license to listen to the music on that CD, that's it. Ideally they'd like to make you pay for each different way you listen to their music. That's how they look at it. It's not your music, it's theirs and they can tell you how you can listen to it.

The think is that violating that license was not illegal, it was just a violation of the license that they could do little about. So with the Amazon Cloud Drive/Player, they aren't going after us music listeners. We aren't doing anything illegal so what good would it do? But with Amazon they can pressure them with other means. Amazon sells a lot of music. The various music publishers can say, "Well if you want to do the Cloud thing then you have to play a license fee or we'll pull our catalog from your store." Of course this would hurt them too but the Music Industry doesn't want to cede ground on this. They did with allowing users to rip CDs and they are probably regretting that still. After all thanks to the extremely customer unfriendly law, the DMCA, it would be illegal to circumvent the copy protection to rip the CD.

The thing is, if this goes to court, and it may, the Music Industry may be forced to give up this fight. Is it fair use or not for users to be able to put their MP3s on a virtual 'cloud' hard drive somewhere? Personally I say yes it is. How would it be any different than me putting my music on a thumb drive or a portable hard drive so I could play the music anywhere? I don't see the difference and perhaps the court wouldn't either.

I'm actually hoping this does go to court. Amazon has the deep pockets to do this and they could stand a fighting chance, as compared to a small start-up company that would simply be crushed or paid off to go away. Then we'd have a clearer understanding of what rights we have left as music listeners. Maybe for once our government would side with the people instead of the corporations.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Libya's Rebellion

So I've been thinking a lot about the rebellion in Libya. It's a tough call to me whether the UN/NATO should have intervened. Some of the rebels are pretty well armed buy many are armed with little more than hunting rifles and rocks. Yet the Libyan army is attacking with tanks and bombs. So is it right that the UN has stepped in and destroyed many Libyan military facilities. Is it the rest of the worlds right to intervene in a sovereign nations' internal squabbles?

Part of me says, Yes. How do you negotiate with a man who is insane by many accounts? On the other hand there are many supporters of the current government. But does that make it right to use such extreme methods to quell a rebellion? The rebels want change. Were their demands so unreasonable? Clearly they think they are worth dying for.

Dying for your country, for what you believe is right and just is something that resonates with many free countries. Perhaps that's why we want to side with the rebels and the UN resolutions. I was rooting for the rebels the entire time but I'm not sure sure I agree with what the UN coalition has done thus far. Seems awful close to sticking our noses where they don't belong. I think so long as we only backup the rebels, rather than doing it all for them, we might come out of this situation with some dignity. We'll see.

The other thing that came to mind is, what would the US do if that happened here, in the US. If armed rebels started ousting current government officials out and taking towns and maybe states how would the US handle things? It's been talked about before, but what if Texas decided it wanted to secede? Wouldn't the US government react in much the same way as Libya's government? Many militias have formed here and there, upset about the government. Many go no where or are painted as crazies. Maybe they are but what would keep the media from making them look that way to keep them from gaining more power and popularity. We, in the US, eat up the media every day as if it's the truth. Do you think it's any different in Libya's cities where we see people saying, they don't understand why everyone has a problem with the current government?

Here in the US, we all know the government is corrupt and full of shit. Yet we keep buying they BS they sell us. Look at Obama. He had at least half the voters in the country buying his campaign promises of change. Yet we don't see any change. Most of the policies that failed G.W. Bush are still in place or even re-enforced by Obama. Just more of the same, just with a different face.

But most of us are comfortable, if not happy. We are content with the system we have, even if it is corrupt, because it's still not that bad. We won't see rebellion in the US unless things get really bad. We saw hints of that when the housing market popped and the economy took a dive. The Tea-Party was born of that. Agree with them or not, they gained power and popularity because people were suddenly struggling.

Again the media painted the Tea Party movement as fringe and borderline crazy. Maybe there were some fringe individuals, but there are those in any party/group. The Tea Party managed to get a few of their own into office too. I commend them on that. It's long term effects are to be seen, but right now I'm not very hopeful that a third party is going to have much impact. People get comfortable and forget their anger.

So would a rebellion like that in Libya or even Egypt happen in the US? Probably not in the near future, but we are not immune to it happening and I fear if/when it does our government will not respond any better than Muammar Gaddafi.