18 July 2012

Rhapsody's Rob Reid: 'Copyright law is like doing archaeology in the Mediterranean'

Found on The Verge: “If you’re a music or tech fan, you’ve probably noticed that the current arms race over patents and copyrights has gotten more than a little out of hand. Rob Reid, author and founding father of pioneering digital streaming service Rhapsody, knows a thing or two about the music business’ unfortunate state of affairs. Having already explained the art of Copyright Math™ in a recent TED talk, he posits a fantastical scenario: Aliens have been unwittingly pirating the human race’s music since the late 70s, and thanks to our primitive copyright system, they now owe us more money than exists in the universe. Needless to say, they are pretty fucking pissed.

That’s the setup for Reid’s new book, Year Zero a kind of farcical, Douglas Adams-style re-imagining of The Day The Earth Stood Still, with humanity’s fast-expanding arsenal of labyrinthine copyright laws standing in for Cold War era A-bombs. The Verge spoke with Reid about extraterrestrial copyright violations, our broken system, and the future of the streaming subscription model. You can find him on Twitter at @rob_reid.

Do you see copyright law and patent litigation as one of the make-or-break issues of our time?

Well, it’s certainly a lesser issue than those of war and terrorism, and the grimmer scenarios on the global warming front. But it is a manifestation of a major structural problem facing our society — specifically, its suffocating excess of laws, lawyers, litigation and special-interest-driven regulation. The Law should ideally be as…read on.”