Why Should XM Have To Get Permission From The Recording Industry To Innovate?
from the still-asking dept
In a rather disappointing move, satellite radio company XM has now settled with EMI concerning a lawsuit over its Inno device, that allowed users to record XM streams. This follows XM’s similar settlements with the other major record labels last year. No terms are being announced, which is problematic. The whole problem with this lawsuit was the fact that the record labels seemed to believe that XM was unable to innovate without getting their permission and paying them. The Inno device was simply a device to record satellite radio streams — which is perfectly legal. Time shifting and recording radio is well-established as being legal. But the recording industry used the case to try to squeeze extra royalty payments out of XM.
This is exactly the sort of “chilling effect” that people keep pointing out when it comes to copyright laws. These laws put the entertainment companies in a position where they get to dictate what kind of devices are legal and which are not. Increasing the uncertainty over whether or not a simple device like the Inno is legal, and forcing a two year legal battle to take place is no way to promote progress and innovation. It just makes many companies unwilling to go through that process just to offer the type of device that makes perfect sense and which customers want. It’s doubly troublesome in that the RIAA specifically said that it would not step in to prevent these types of devices. Except that it did.
With that said, I was hoping that XM would stand up to the lawsuits and set a precedent, making it clear that the record labels cannot sue to block new technologies. However, with all of these settlements, that’s not the case — so the uncertainty and the chilling effects remain for all others. No settlement terms have been released, so it may even be that XM agreed to pay off the record labels to get them to settle, which would be even worse. It would just give the labels that much more incentive to keep suing every innovative new product that hits the market. This is extortion that slows down innovation and progress — which is what we thought copyright was supposed to be promoting.