LowComDom Performances Presents
The Crapolla According to Fek'Lar
You Know You're DOOMED When...
you call in sick only to run into your manager at the movies.
You've stumbled onto another issue of The Crapolla, a journal written for software professionals. No not the managers; I mean the people who do the work.
This Crapolla is sponsored by...
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In This Issue...
Attack of the Clonemakers
It all started with the Compact Cassette. Here was the first really inexpensive home recording medium. Previous to cassette, there was reel to reel tape, (which was only adopted by real audio nerds and Presidents of the United States).
The technology behind 8-Track tape pre-dated Compact Cassette. It was the first medium to put recorded audio into the dashboard, but it didn't allow consumers to make their own recordings. 8-Track evolved from radio station autocart technology. It was a loop which couldn't be fast forwarded, nor rewound. Compact Cassette solved these problems.
People started to buy Compact Cassette recorders and they recorded everything. I used to record Star Trek off the air and listen to it later. The original series held up well in an audio only format. What I didn't know at the time was that kids in High School and College were dubbing their records and trading them. (I was never into music.) Thus the recording industry decided that they were loosing money and being driven out of business. A tax was put on all blank Compact Cassettes to compensate the industry for their lost millions. (Which, if you think about it, implies a license.) That was over 30 years ago.
The Compact Cassette lasted several decades. Its only potential rival in the 1980's was Digital Audio Tape (DAT) an even smaller cassette with a much bigger sound. Music had moved from records to Compact Discs. The CDs cost less to make, but the recording industry charged more - because they could. DAT was now the format that was going to put them out of business. Many DAT recorders had an optical digital input. Many CD players had the corresponding output port. This meant perfect copies. The recording industry quaked in their boots while making record profits. DAT by and large was killed by lawsuits.
The 1990's brought us the recordable Compact Disc. Now consumers could make perfect copies and have random access. Everything became extremely inexpensive - except the music itself. (If you don't believe me consider the Beatles 1 CD; recordings from 30 years ago, slapped onto CD and sold at a premium price.) High Schoolers and College kids stopped trading cassettes and started trading CDs and MP3 files. The recording industry quaked in their boots while making record profits.
This brings us up to date with the current battles over music content, and now motion picture content. (Let's face it, these two industries are really one, owned by the same companies.) The industry has killed Napster and will probably kill all the other trading networks. It won't stop trading, and ignores a great new distribution method - if only the industry weren't populated by Luddites.
Sony invented a form of copy protection for audio CDs. Not missing a beat, the folks at Philips, who own the CD format (whom you must buy a license from if you want to make CDs) informed the industry that copy protection was a violation of the format. Anyone applying copy protection would be required to NOT put the CD Disc logo on the package. Furthermore, they didn't want the copy protected discs placed in stores anywhere near real CDs that conformed to the format. I toasted Philips with a plate of fava beans and a lovely bottle of Diet Coke.
Meanwhile, hackers who saw copy protection happen twenty years ago in the computer software industry sprang into action. A CD is really just a computer disk with computer readable data. This means any copy protection can be broken. In the 1980's there was an entire industry dedicated to manufacturing software that broke copy protection. The only thing that killed this industry was the abandonment of copy protection itself. Score one for the consumer. The software industry has expanded ever since.
Someone figured out that if you take a black felt-tipped pen and draw a circle around the edge of a copy protected CD, that the protection disappeared! It was all over Slashdot and the other "geek" sites, then the main stream press woke up and took notice. Reuters bought a copy protected CD and a felt-tipped pen and confirmed that even "normal" people could break Sony's copy protection.
What's going to happen next? Undoubtedly, there will be another round of copy protection, but that's DOOMED to fail. Two new CD formats are showing up in stores. DVD Audio and Super Audio CD. Both are superior to Audio CD in terms of their quality (higher sample rates), and DVD Audio offers menuing and video to go with that John Tesh melody. Both have encryption built in. But again, since DVD encryption was broken a few years ago, this isn't going to stop anyone serious about making copies.
And while I'm on the subject of serious people, and piracy. How do you think Episode II made it to the internet before it made it to the theaters? You don't have to be Fellini to figure out that College kids aren't the problem. Organized crime grabbed the film, digitized it, and sent it off to Asia where pirate video CDs are pressed. Blaming kids for the industry's woes is just proof of stupidity.
Hollywood just booked it's best weekend in history. The music industry is making money hand over fist. With every new technological advance the entertainment industry predicts its demise. Every time the opposite happens. Is it possible that new technology creates new demand? Sure, remember K in Men in Black? He showed J the new music format and said, "Looks like I'll have to buy the white album again." Yeah, that's what happens.
As for piracy, is it possible that a little is actually good? Is it possible that piracy is proof of success? I think some Economics Ph.D. candidate could get his fancy cap by working this one out, it appears that the more a CD is pirated, the more it sells. Or possibly the other way around.
Is it also possible that allowing consumers to sample content before choosing to buy will drive sales? Not unless content gets better. Consider this, I'm reluctant to go to Barnes and Nobles and buy a book on tape blindly. I need to have a track record with the author of the book. I've been burned quite a few times with books that sucked beyond belief at fairly steep prices.
However, in 2000 I downloaded a few tracks from a Comedian named Tim Wilson. I ended up buying his entire collection. I also downloaded the audio version of the Harry Potter books. These too resulted in my buying the whole set. On the flip-side, I've listened to lots of crap that I'm glad I didn't get stuck paying for. Buying content, whether music, or a movie is a pig-in-a-poke. If the industry takes your money and hands you crap, you have no recourse.
So who do you really think is ripping off who? I have no doubt that the entertainment industry will out-live us all. I'm happy about that. I spend about a hundred bucks a month in re-occurring entertainment costs. I'd like to see better movies being made. I'd like to see fewer paid advertisement programs on the satellite channels I buy. And I'd like to stop hearing about how the entertainment industry is going out of business.
CIA Knew bin Laden's Middle Name 6 Months Before Attack!!!
More Useless Information to Follow!
Let's play, "Who said this?"
Heard in the halls of various software companies.
"My family doesn't drink. I have a problem with that."
"Never touch a man's screen."
"I have lots of black."
"Your kids don't need College! A degree is obsolete in 3 years anyway."
"Did you read the new Vogue? White is the new black."
"Does this mean I'm black now?"
"I've got to hear this fucker's story."
Cores are on sale!
(The Last Honest Geek)
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