Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pink Floyd Wins Legal Battle to Only Sell Full Albums Online

I like this this entry on Gizmodo, written by furniture-fucker Adam Frucci, which points to a British High Court decision that that Pink Floyd's contract with EMI prohibits individual songs from their albums being sold individually.

I'm not usually one to cheer limitations on online (sold or otherwise) media, but I do cheer anytime people will choose to PAY for Pink Floyd music and are actually forced to, you know, listen to the whole album, as people were expected to in the 70s.  Get with the program -- you don't just watch the Star Gate sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey and get to call yourself a Kubrick fan (or know what the hell you're talking about in any context).

From the BBC News article (linked to from the Gizmodo entry):

In court, Chancellor Sir Andrew Morritt said the contract contained a clause to "preserve the artistic integrity of the albums". 
I have no sympathy for people who are as a matter of course willing to pay the iTunes- / record company- tax just so they so they can get "Another Brick in the Wall" or "Comfortably Numb" tracks without having (getting to) listen to the entirety of "The Wall" album.  Fuck 'em. I say: "Let them crash."

On the other hand, those that care about the quality of the overall piece will get it (for free) as a full-album torrent anyway, so I'm not sure what they're worried about.  (GASP..! could it be money?)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Postal Reform: A Modest Proposal

The US Postal Service is considering cutbacks in service (closing stations, no more Saturday delivery, etc) because people aren't mailing like they used to.  Apparently use of the Postal Service peaked at a historical high in 2006.   2006!  I thought it would have been much much earlier... I mean, the Internet went mainstream about ten years prior to that, and there had been fax machines for about 25 years prior.

There will always be a need to be able to have a physical object (a signed piece of paper, a stray set of car keys.. er.... birthday cards I guess) sent from A to B.  But if the Postal Service wants to continue to remain relevant they have to do a few things:

1.  Track every piece of mail.  This is a simple service that is attached to every item shipped via FEDEX and UPS.  The USPS already has the technology installed (available for an additional fee) so why not allow me to print out a tracking sticker online (or run an envelope through my printer) which then gets put on the envelope / package prior to being dropped in a mailbox.  They already sell this service; just make it standard.

2.  Charge $1 for every piece of mail, even a single sheet of paper in a #10 envelope, including "bulk"/junk mail.  Anybody who expects a physical object to be flown from Key West, FL to Honolulu, HI (or even walked ten city blocks) for less than that is out of their fucking minds.  While the Postal Service was traditionally a low-cost alternative to the commercial shippers it was also meant to be self-sustaining (i.e., not a subsidized service from the Federal Government).  Charging as little as they do is retarded (Hi, Sarah!).  It would also help reduce junk mailing, which can't possible be that profitable anyway in the age of spam email.  If somebody has something they really really want you to know about their business they can pay $1 for the privilege.

3.  Suspend weekend deliveries (except for priority/premium shipping).  If you're only paying $1 to mail something then it can wait until Monday.  Otherwise take a deep breath and pay... $5.

These three simple, doable things (which do not require fundamentally new infrastructure / workflow) can allow a valuable service to downsize and right-price for many decades to come.

Something I may or may not recommend depending on which ad is shown: