Practical Technology

for practical people.

An iPod Tax?


Most of you probably know that a bunch of movie and television studios recently ganged up to sue the iPod service firm Load ‘N Go Video , for the ‘crime’ of loading DVDs onto video iPods.

Load’N’Go’s business was selling customers both DVDs and iPods. For an additional fee, they’d rip the DVD onto the iPod and then send you both your DVDs and your iPod. Sounds legal to me, but Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Studios, Warner Bros Entertainment, Disney Enterprises, Columbia TriStar Television and Columbia Pictures all disagreed.

Then, on November 28th, Universal Music CEO Doug Morris said he may try to get Apple to agree to an iPod royalty fee. You see Microsoft, had agreed to pay Universal a fee for every Zune they managed to sell.

The idea behind the fee is that Universal assumes that you’re going to rip them off; therefore Apple should agree to ‘tax’ you for iPods to recoup some of their losses.

Is this a wonderful country or what? First, they assume you’re going to steal from them. You know what guys; we’re a long, long way from Napster’s bad old days when no one paid for music for their MP3 players.

What changed wasn’t that the RIAA or the MPAA ever scared anyone from illegal downloading. As I said at the time, the genie of P2P (peer-to-peer) online media distribution was out of the bottle and it won’t go in again.

No, it’s that Apple forced the media companies to wake up to the fact that they were in the 21st century and it would be easier to sell media online than it would be to keep flailing ineffectively against the file sharers.

Still, there some dinosaurs out there that want to make sure that we pay for every ‘instance’ of a song or movie. So, if they have their way, we can look forward to, in 2008 or so, paying more for our iPods because each media company will want its share, and then, to add insult to injury, to pay every time we ‘buy’ a copy of a movie.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not looking forward to paying an extra $50 for my next iPod or the forthcoming iTV and then having to buy a copy of ‘Star Wars VII: The Return of Jar-Jar” for my Blu-Ray DVD player and my video iPod and my media server and… you get the idea.

By requiring users to pay for every copy of a song or video and more for their devices, they’re asking for the online media market to blow up in their faces. Do they really think that all these extra charges are going to do anything except encourage people to go to sites like The Pirate Bay instead of iTunes.

Is it too much to ask for the media companies to realize that they should be making it easier and cheaper for us to legally buy their wares rather then annoying us, their customers, with unreasonable demands? The music industry lost billions wasting time fighting against P2P for the last few years. It looks to me like they want to lose even more money in the years to come.

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