Editorial: RIAA suits are dying breaths of an industry that won’t face reality

    As the latest round of lawsuits comes down from the Recording Industry Association of America to another group of anonymous students, it’s hard not to feel that the whole thing has become routine — just as “illegal” downloading is for many young people. While the music industry knifes its would-be customers in the back with legal trouble, the reality is that their way of producing, marketing and selling music does not work in today’s high-tech world.

    Only a few years ago, it wasn’t hard to see the purpose of traditional major labels. Though they were run by media giants who saw artists and customers mostly as mediums for making profits, their deep pockets were necessary to pay for expensive recordings, elaborate marketing and the actual production and distribution of CDs.

    But technology has changed all that. It’s now far easier to download a song than it is to drive to the record store. Near studio-quality, multitrack recording is available to anyone with a fast computer and $50. And the Internet, with its message boards, blogs and fan sites, lets music fans find the songs they want — rather than telling them.

    The question is: Why do people need a major music industry (basically only four companies) demanding high prices for relatively few options? Technology has already changed the way people produce and listen to recorded music — most would say for the better. Lawsuits may be a nuisance, but they will not shift public will.

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