George Ziemann of MP3 NewsWire has posted a terrific installment in his ongoing series on the history of copyright and technology. Today's installment is called, "RIAA Sequentially Repeating Edison's Mistakes," and it walks us throught he way that Edison's film monopoly — which was eventually crushed by the Feds — had a history that was very parallel to the RIAA's own tactics here.
The government allowed the Motion Picture Patents Company, which had been formed in December, 1908, to get away with their anti-competitive control over the industry for less than four years. The U.S. government brought an antitrust suit against the MPPC in 1912 and declared it illegal in 1915.
Considering that the government has a) been trying to diffuse the voice of the music industry for a half century, if not silence it altogether and b) four of the five major labels are foreign-owned, sooner or later someone at the top end of government is going to possess the lucidity to wonder why the government should even care what happens to the record industry.
The only real issue is how long we have to wait. Step 8 should be worth waiting for — the same independent renaissance that filmmakers enjoyed in the 1920s and 30s when Edison's movie empire fell apart. But the indie filmmakers didn't even wait for the government. They simply walked away and started over.