Smackdown! Carnegie Mellon Prof v. RIAA

We have previously noted the absurdity of the RIAA making moral arguments against "piracy."

It pleased us immensely to see Carnegie Mellon Professor Roger Dannenberg calling out RIAA President Cary Sherman on the hypocrisy of their position:

Cary Sherman’s opinion piece on Sunday, "Mellifluous Discord: Universities’ High-Speed Internet2 Used by Students to Pilfer Music," was as one-sided and illogical as the whole Recording Industry Association of America he represents, as president.

Sherman suggests that universities should remind users of "the necessity of responsible use of network resources." In my computer science class at Carnegie Mellon, "Introduction to Computer Music," I spend a little time doing just that. I teach students how, historically, the major recording labels have dominated the recording industry, refusing to record some of America’s greatest artists, including Louis Armstrong. (His first recordings were manufactured by a former piano company in Indiana, which was sued by the major labels of the day for patent infringement.) Mr. Sherman, is this an example of "a climate where creativity is valued" that you are seeking?

My students also learn how the broadcasting industry, dominated by NBC and CBS, ignored recording technology until the NBC monopoly was broken up by the FCC. The innovations in magnetic recording for broadcast introduced by the struggling ABC were a major step forward, enabling the modern recording industry and even modern computer technology. Mr. Sherman, was the monopolistic suppression of innovation the "responsible use of network resources" you are seeking?

Mr. Sherman, you say that stealing "is not OK," and yet I have musician friends who cannot get RIAA members to pay them the royalties they are due. While you are asking universities to address your problems, please don’t forget that you too can be a "powerful leader in curbing theft of copyright materials on campus." If you’ll stop your members from stealing from my friends, and then study some history, maybe I can help you.

Squirrel Hill


Music stealing all around
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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