By Jared Newman | Wednesday, November 24, 2010 at 3:26 pm
One little article by PCMag has done “immeasurable” harm to musicians, at least according to music industry executives.
Ticked off by PCMag’s list of alternatives to Limewire — the file-sharing website that recently shut down after losing a copyright infringement lawsuit — members of the Recording Industry Association of America fired off an angry letter to Vivek Shah, chief executive of PCMag publisher Ziff Davis. The execs argue that PCMag is “slyly encouraging people to steal more music” by acknowledging the existence of other file-sharing websites, and asks that article be removed.
(The letter also blames PCMag for an article about the resurrection of Limewire, despite being written for PC World. Apparently the RIAA can’t tell the difference.)
Of course, PCMag isn’t backing down, and has no legal reason to do so. “It worries me that the music industry took this action, because it reeks of desperation,” Editor Lance Ulanoff writes. “… It’s time for these music execs to pull their collective heads out of the sand and fully acknowledge and accept all the ways their industry has changed.”
The most amusing part of the RIAA’s letter to PCMag was this little tidbit at the end: “We suspect you’d feel differently about this issue if, like the music industry, you’d had to let go more than half of the talented writers and journalists who create your magazine because of uncontrolled piracy of their work.”
Um, didn’t PCMag discontinue its print edition two years ago? Aren’t major magazines and newspapers around the country downsizing due to the changing media landscape? Whether it’s music piracy or an abundance of free websites and blogs, every old media company is struggling to adapt on the Internet.
In fairness, the music industry has warmed somewhat to new digital music ventures lately. On-demand subscription services like MOG, Rdio and Rhapsody let you stream more music than you could listen to in a lifetime for flat monthly rates, and Internet radio services like Pandora and Slacker Radio give you personalized playlists for free. The amount of legal music you can get these days for less than the price of a CD is astounding, and record labels deserve praise for allowing it to happen. Even piracy can’t give you these kinds of services.
And yet, the music industry can be so draconian at the same time. The RIAA spends millions of dollars every year on legal costs and recoups hardly any of it. New file-sharing resources pop up as soon as others shut down. And for every PCMag that the music industry tries to bully over an article about peer-to-peer services, there’s a PC World that’s willing to write about the same topic. I don’t see the point.