Saturday, April 13, 2002

enjoy digital music legally
Dave Thomas, Tom Carvel, Lee Iacocca; these are CEOs who made commercials for the companies they headed. Add Ted Waitt of Gateway to that list. The pony-tailed CEO of Gateway, with a sidekick cow, has been rapping his way into the homes of millions of Americans with a couple of ads that ask Americans to protect their rights when it comes to digital music.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has taken notice of the commercials, and has called them, and the gateway web site, a "gateway of misinformation" intended to entice viewers to buy Gateway computers with cd burners on them. Gateway has a number of songs on their site that you can download, as well as information about digital rights, and the dangers that proposed legislation brings to those rights.

The official response from RIAA President and CEO Hilary Rosen:
"The Gateway commercial is fun, but their website is nothing but a gateway to misinformation. No one has proposed anything that would 'prevent all digital copying.' If Gateway truly believed that illegal copying hurts all artists and labels who make the music we enjoy, they wouldn't be relying on these misleading scare tactics -- they'd be working with us to find a solution to the piracy problem. If only they would devote a little bit of the millions of dollars they're spending on this ad campaign to help stop illegal downloading...but that wouldn't help them sell more CD burners, would it?"
A strong statement. It ignores a couple of facts.

One is that advertisers try to sell their products. Gateway isn't hiding the fact that they are advertising their computers. The second is that they are pushing for legal downloading and recording of music. If they are engaged in a bit of citizen advocacy against a harsh bill being proposed that will make even legal copying of music illegal, that is within their rights. I didn't see "misinformation" on the Gateway pages. "Enjoy digital music legally," are the words that come at the ends of the Gateway ads.

And RIAA, it's not just the CEO of Gateway criticising this bill. It's your customers, also. If you don't stop treating all of them like thieves in the night, you're going to lose them.

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