The recording industry continues its relentless campaign to prevent us from actually hearing any of its products played out loud. The latest is the proposal floated in a cover story in Billboard magazine last week for federal legislation requiring royalties to be paid on the sale of used CDs. Here’s a story reporting on the latest evidence that the recording industry is evil incarnate.

An interesting article turned up at yesterday. An economics professor named Stan Liebowitz at the Cato Institute published a paper last month about the history of the recording industry’s battle with piracy. (I haven’t read that paper.) He argued that file sharing and downloading music should be causing a lot of harm to the recording industry in the form of reduced sales and lost profits. But in this recent Salon interview, he says he’s taking a deep, hard look at the data and he’s not finding the evidence to support that assertion. He’s starting to move toward the theory that the recording industry is crying wolf. “I’ve also seen some recent numbers on households that have CD writers, and it’s something approaching 30 percent. We should see an impact. There’s a 5 percent decline in CD sales this year, but that’s what you might expect in a recession. So we’re still not seeing much. And what I’m beginning to suggest now is that perhaps people aren’t going to replace the purchase of CDs with these MP3s.”

Finally, think about the implications of a story today from the movie industry. Apparently Time Warner has released the Harry Potter DVD in the US and UK without the Macrovision copy protection that normally prevents copying a DVD to a VHS tape or another DVD. Time Warner has saved five cents per disk by omitting Macrovision protection. “Analysts suspect that Warner left the release unprotected, to investigate whether this would have a significant impact on sales.” (Macrovision is screaming bloody murder, of course, and there’s quotes from the usual thugs about how this “”undermines the legitimate market” for Time Warner’s DVDs.

“Industry eyes are all now on the next big video release, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which is due in August. If this is also unprotected, Hollywood may have decided that it is cheaper to let a few people copy than spend money on protection.”

It’s possible that this is evidence of common sense being exercised by a company involved in the entertainment industry. A rare event indeed!

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