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Japan attempts to assasinate music industry

The YouTuber Techmoan reveiws electronic gadgets and for some time has been doing investigations into old gadgets. I just watched his highly entertaining video about Digital Audio Tape. DAT made it possible to make a perfect recording in the home. This got music industry people into a bit of a panic.

In September 1986 Stanley Gortikov, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, wrote in Billboard that, “an assassination is in the making. The targeted victim is the world’s music industry.”

In what I would call something of a semantic muddle, he went on to say, “your country overtly demonstrates that it has contempt for the copyright owners of foreign recordings”. He is not talking to Sony or Onkyo who developed DAT, but to the country of Japan. Perhaps he was hoping to shame the Japanese government into somehow preventing electronics manufacturers from manufacturing certain electronics. But I do find it very odd. In the end the US government made life difficult for the Japanese electronics manufacturers.

Watch the whole video to find out about Serial Copy Management System and the Audio Home Recording Act, the technology and products that were available, and the practicality of using a DAT recorder to destroy the music industry (it is not very practical). Then watch all the videos.

5 comments to Japan attempts to assasinate music industry

  • rxc

    The entertainment industry is eventually going to loook back on the 20th century as the “Golden Age”, when content providers had their only real chance to get really rich. Before then, they were limited to performing in only one venue at a time, to a maximum of a few thousand people at a time, and could not get really rich. Then all this technology was invented that allowed them to mass-produce the performances and sell those performances to billions of people. And they got really stinking rich. Unfortunately, the reproduction technology eventually became readily and easily available to the masses, and the internet enabled it to be shared and reproduced for essentially zero cost. They can still get wealthy, but not so easily stinking rich. There will always be some people who are willing to pay for the content, especially advertisers, but they might not be willing to pay as much, or as often, for it.

    I might call it the revenge of the nerds. The nerds giveth, and the nerds taketh away. Copyright has been extended into the infinite future, while the patents that make the content creator rich only last for 20 years.

  • DOuglas2

    I used DAT recording decks extensively back in the day, as for a few thousand and $6/tape you had equivalent sound quality to the pro digital reel decks or 1630/Umatic that cost $65000 or more and used pricier media.

    We even had a pro DAT deck with the same 9-pin transport control protocol as the Sony video machines, and discovered that we could do editing and mastering for CD right from the DAT deck by using one of the $65000 DASH recorders as a very expensive and power-hungry AES to S-DIF format converter. The editing/mastering hardware controlled the DAT transport just fine, but only accepted S-DIF digital-audio input, the DAT only had AES format and S/PDIF digital output…

    The fly-in-the ointment was SCMS – I could make a safety copy or transfer of one of my master tapes, but could not make subsequent bit-for-bit DAT copies of that safety copy without using a “pro” machine or intervening hardware. So as a “backup” the copy was of limited utility. Given the proportion of DAT machine and tape sales for pro-use vs consumer use, I suspect that SCMS inconvenienced copyright owners and their agents far more than it inconvenienced pirates, and by at least one order of magnitude if not more.

  • PeterT

    Making music will for most artists have to be little more than a hobby, as making a living from it will be very difficult except for a few. There is nothing bad about this; really we want all areas of work to move in the same direction. Unfortunately those who are in the ‘first wave’ will suffer a reduction in their relative earnings. Those who would seek to use technology and/or the power of the state, to restore the relative earnings power of a few are luddites.

    As an observation, it is perhaps fortunate that people care about relative wealth(or status, once wealth loses meaning), as otherwise we would be reduced to sloth and doomed to atrophy.

  • staghounds

    Edison cylinders were going to destroy the music business, and movies were going to destroy theater.

  • Sam Duncan

    What strikes me is that SCMS was, ultimately, a complete failure. It was successful on its own terms, in that it prevented mass duplication of DAT by consumers (and thus, arguably, killed DAT as a consumer product), but it only held the tide back temporarily.

    The simple fact is that you can’t prevent the sharing of data, only its physical carrier. And when there isn’t one (or, at least, when the act of transferring between carriers is trivial) all bets are off. It should have been obvious from the moment music was digitised that at some point it was going to become impossible – not just difficult, impossible – to prevent people from making perfect copies.

    There’s a certain irony here in that artists have relied on free sharing of data for centuries. If they asserted the same control over their works’ metadata that they do over the data itself, they’d never have any publicity. “You can’t tell people the title of my new play, that’s mine!”

    I have great sympathy for artists (authors, musicians, etc.) having to deal with this new reality. It’s going to be hard. But deal with it they must. There’s no going back. You can’t uninvent digital technology, and trying to prevent people from using the technology they have is utterly futile. DRM is pure, clear, highly refined, snake oil, and passing laws banning its circumvention is rather like making it illegal to tamper with record players in order to play 16RPM discs with non-standard holes (as Techmoan himself did recently).

    (Techmoan’s awesome, by the way. Highly recommended to all the vaguely geeky.)