Let the Fans Play! (RIAA at it again)

I don’t often rant about news-stuff like the antics of the RIAA. However, this time I can’t help it. I’ve taken to posting some of my favorite World of Warcraft music videos of late, just because a few of them are absolutely hysterical and I can’t get them out of my head. (I’m crazy. So sue me. Wait–RIAA, if you’re listening, I didn’t mean that.)

Anyway, as Wil Wheaton mentions (link found on FARK as usual), apparently the RIAA is now sending cease & desist letters to kids who make videos using unlicensed music.

At least I don’t have to worry about them going after Cranius–well, not his awesome “Big Blue Dress” video, anyway, since he wrote and recorded that himself–but what about the hilarious “Guild Wars vs. World of Warcraft” set to MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This”? The guy who did that one has a ton of talent, and I’d hate to see him get hit by the lawyer-stick.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I do believe strongly in intellectual property–I’m a writer after all, and IP is how I can actually make some small amount of money off of whatever talent or skill I have. However, there are a few reasons why I’d hate to see this particular form of expression get nailed, and the fact that the RIAA is ridiculously overzealous in going after kids is just one of them.

Being able to play with things like this is an awesome way to develop creative talent. The kids who make their own music videos in this manner today may go on to be tomorrow’s directors, video editors, and so on. Take away this form of expression and practice and we may lose some of that.

These videos are also a form of viral marketing for the songs that get used. The videos I’ve seen are careful to note what songs they use, and I often then go out and seek out those songs because I’ve enjoyed them so much. I download them from iTunes or even buy the CDs from Amazon. I wouldn’t have done that if not for those videos, and I’ve discovered whole new bands this way that I might not have otherwise.

If the RIAA really cares about this as an issue instead of as a way to pound its fist on the table and be the big bully on the block, then how about coming up with a solution instead of simply tossing the lawyers at things? What about creating a simple, free means for folks to get permission to use songs in fan-created works, satiric videos, and so on that can be passed around for free on the internet? By requiring link-backs and references in return for permission and a guarantee that the video-maker won’t be prosecuted for using the song, the RIAA could be sure they’re getting free publicity and marketing for the musicians out of the deal. They could even create a searchable listing of such videos, again providing a free means of publicity for their musicians.

But somehow, I don’t think that’s what they care about…


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Posted in News & Musings

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