Some days I feel sorry for americans. They have Bush, lousy beer and the RIAA.
It actually makes me sad to see such a desperate move against the county's future voters and consumers. The RIAA's move to put college students "on notice" is a true exercise in futilism. Sure they might actually get some suits off, they might actually win a couple… but what will it do? The downloads won't stop, and the artists still won't get payed for their material. And if by some miracle, god shines down upon the RIAA and stops every illegal download from occuring, people will still share music… because you can't stop them from just passing off a CD to rip, or copying a file to a flash drive to bring over to your friend's house.
Sometimes no matter how righteous a crusade is, it still won't work. It's been seen time and time again throughout history, usually involving the pursecution of a particular religion or race. Hitler did it Stalin did it, and dictators before them did it as well, all persecution does is band that group together tightly and make them dig in for the long siege. This is just another idealistic crusade that won't work. It will spend artists money, and get them little in return.
Ultimately the remedy to the recording industries woes will lie in the very instruments that seem to be their downfall. Computers, internet connections, and portable media devices, the bane of the recording industry could be it's savior with a little innovative marketing.
Consider this: I buy a new CD. I get all the songs I expected, the singles I love and the lyrics in a little booklet. Oh the joy. What I also get is a subscription to the artist's podcast. This podcast would include live singles, concert videos, radio interviews, TV interviews and more. If that's not good enough, perhaps the buyer could even be given access to a more "exclusive" website or blog. All amounting to steady stream of all things to keep my interest up, lasting conveniently until… I dunno… perhaps the new CD gets released?
Would the consumer be able to share these wonderful easter eggs with his friends and fellow internet users? Absolutely, there's no force on this earth that will be able to contain them. However there is no substitute to getting the newest tidbit as soon as it comes out. Especially if by getting it before a certain time means you get a chance to pick up free concert tickets or backstage passes.
If such methods became prevelant, file sharing would be a non-issue. Those who were honest and bought CD's because they can't be bothered to download would still be getting their music fix. Those who simply wanted to download the single that they found catchy would be able to do so without fear of repercussion. While the expanding group of techno-savy people who own portable media players, and get their news and entertainment from the internet will have an incentive to making the purchase. Everyone wins.