Insult to Injury

You will remember that I recently described Amazon.com’s refusal to sell me MP3 files as the stupidest thing in the world.  Because of that refusal, and because there was an album of medieval music that my wife really, really wanted, I used some of my store credit to buy a physical CD and have it shipped across the Atlantic.

And so Amazon.com sent me this message in response:

So let’s review.  They refuse to sell me MP3s.  They force me into buying a physical CD instead.  They then add insult to injury by sending me more store credit, but this time limited only to MP3s which — stop me if you’ve heard this one — THEY WILL NOT SELL ME. They even say so right there in the email: “Amazon MP3 music downloads are available to customers located in and with billing addresses in the [sic] one of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia only.

Then in the name of all that is rational, why even send me the credit?

I can only conclude that they are deliberately taunting me.

Meanwhile, you may wish to read this related tale of stupidity, on a blog that I often read — the story of someone desperately trying to pay good money for the new Brian Wilson album.  It makes me weep.

In the end, it won’t be the greed and irresponsibility of listeners that brings the music industry down in great waves of “piracy”; it will be the industry’s own astonishingly consistent stupidity.

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9 responses to “Insult to Injury

  1. I don’t know if anyone suggested this in response to your previous blog post, but have you tried browsing Amazon through a proxy and going to the U.S. site? This process worked for me to get a Kindle e-book that was only released in the U.K.

  2. Darren Stephens

    I am tempted to quote Richard Littlejohn at this point:

    “You couldn’t make it up”

    Except you could, but no one would believe you. D’oh!

  3. I wonder what the Kindle version of this story is like.

  4. So, on the one hand, the music industry are a bunch of greedy avaricious gits, on the other, you want the freedom to, say, purchase cheaper music sold under the US copyright regime (which pays lower rates than the more unionised British system).

    And as I said before, the danger of ‘flattening’ the copyright system to make a global ‘free trade’ marketplace is that it is likely to mean taking on BAD ideas from the US (i.e. software patent, and Disney driven in-perpetuity copyright extensions) – because this is exactly the kind of thing they discuss in the WTO and similar negotiations, and has already had some success (in one direction, the US have finally accepted author’s moral rights, a good century after the Berne Convention, on the other they got limited term extensions).

    Another point is that there is this idea that somehow the music labels could just sort this out themselves, which just isn’t true. Contrary to belief, the labels don’t actually dictate copyright legislation, royalty rates, etc, but have lobbied and negotiated them in each territory they deal with. Any change has to be lobbied and negotiated through the legal systems of multiple countries. For an IT comparison, look at HTML 5 – the politics it’s taken to get where we are, and how long it will be before it’s final and ratified.
    i.e. a LOT longer than implementing it.

    And to make another IT comparison – this is one of those things that looks very simple from the outside (from a technical point of view, selling digital files internationally is easy) – if you ignore all the complexities and subtleties as ‘just detail’ – rather than the stuff that is going to take all the time.

  5. JulesLt, whatever complexities might prevent Amazon.com from actually selling me the MP3s, I find it hard to believe it would be that hard for them to refrain from sending me MP3-file-only credit that simply cannot be used, by anyone, ever, for any purpose.

  6. Wouldn’t a more straightforward solution be for them to let you share the credit between amazon.com and amazon.co.uk? You can download mp3s from the latter fine, and it avoids any licensing issues they might be forced to deal with.

  7. David, that solution would suit me just fine. As I mentioned in an earlier article, I’d even be prepared to pay a small percentage “processing fee” for the privilege. But that is another thing that Amazon.com won’t do.

  8. Andrew Hickey

    JulesLT – the stuff Mike’s complaining about has nothing to do with copyright law differences. If Amazon can legally sell him the CD (which they did), then there is no law preventing them selling him the MP3s – that’s entirely between the record company and Amazon.

    And in the example of the Brian Wilson album I tried to obtain, that is *entirely* the choice of the record label – there is no law, *at all*, that mandates starting to sell an album in one territory more than a month after selling it in another.

  9. Pingback: The music industry finds another way to shoot itself in the foot | The Reinvigorated Programmer

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