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Music Media The Almighty Buck Technology

Diamonds & the RIAA 739

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the something-to-think-about dept.
eaglebtc writes "After reading the previously-posted article on cdfreaks.com about the rapid erosion of cheap CDR's, I found another equally scintillating write-up about the economics of music CDs written by Richard Menta, founder of MP3 Newswire. Sure, we've all heard the whining about how CDs are so expensive, but Mr. Menta takes a unique perspective on the issue by comparing the RIAA to DeBeers. He argues that both companies control distribution of products in their respective markets with an iron fist, and by so doing can artificially raise prices. Coincidentally, the bubble is beginning to burst in both markets: the RIAA is fighting against the uprisings of P2P software, and the diamond cartel's lawyers are losing sleep over the $5 diamonds produced in a lab."
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Diamonds & the RIAA

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  • by teamhasnoi (554944) * <(teamhasnoi) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:10PM (#6796327) Homepage Journal
    no matter. DeBeers will try and lobby a solution to protect their market.

    If that doesn't work, I predict that your fiance will be expecting a new 'Mars rock' ring, and NASA will finally be able to finance that trip to the moon they've been faking^W talking about.

    • by the MaD HuNGaRIaN (311517) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:15PM (#6796387)
      Diamonds in jewelry are overrated any way.
      There are much prettier stones available, many with cool characteristics [gemstone.org]

      • Yep, you're right, they are overrated for what you're actually paying for. Try telling the girlfriend or the wife that though. They don't give a shit about corrupt, murderous, exploitative companies they just want that fucking iceberg on their finger so they can one-up their girl friends in the coffee house. It's a sad sad situation.
        • by Planesdragon (210349) <slashdot&castlesteelstone,us> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:26PM (#6796521) Homepage Journal
          Try telling the girlfriend or the wife that though. They don't give a shit about corrupt, murderous, exploitative companies they just want that fucking iceberg on their finger so they can one-up their girl friends in the coffee house. It's a sad sad situation.

          Wait... you mean that you'd marry a girl like that?

          Damn.

          For the record, my wife doesn't even like diamonds. :) And if I told her all the @#$ that DeBeers does, she'd probably spread it like hot gossip.
          • Wait... you mean that you'd marry a girl like that?

            What^H^H^H^H One thing a woman wants is to feel that her man values her more highly than all other things. And she needs a proof of this that is unambiguous and readily demonstrable to her friends/family. Jewelry serves this function well, since (1) the man gets no utility from it, (2) it not a dual-use item that might have been bought for its practical value, (3) it is portable.

            A second thing a woman wants, in addition to knowing her man places a high
        • by alcmena (312085) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:41PM (#6796700)
          Odd, I told my fiance that very thing. She completely agreed. I let her pick out her ring and she immediately went for a beautiful amethyst one. It is prettier and a heck of a lot cheaper than a diamond. The fact that it doesn't come with the baggage of a diamond was only a plus.
      • Have you ever priced an alexandrite ring? Diamonds are cheaper. WAY cheaper. Of course, there is always synthetic alexandrite...but then we are back to the fake thing again...
      • That's exactly the stone my wife picked out. Not only is it less money than a diamond, but all of her diamond wearing friends talk about her ring more than theirs, because it's so unique.

        As an aside, alexandrite turns a sweet orangish-red under a black light. Very cool.
    • Dogbert: So you're telling me that if I give you thousands of dollars, you'll give me a pebble you found on the ground?
      Store Owner: These are not just ordinary rocks! They're precious and virtually priceless diamonds!
      Dogbert: That's only because you chose to restrict the supply.
      Store Owner: Ok Ok you figured us out. I'll give you a bag of diamonds if you'll keep quiet.

      (Dogbert walking away with a bag of diamonds)

      Dogbert: Well now I'm a party to this dirty little secret...
    • by autopr0n (534291)
      DeBeers dosn't have a total monopoly on diamonds now, and there is no reason that any democratic government would give them total control.

      What will probably happen is that lab-grown diamonds will still be very scarce. The people making them are being very secretive about their processes and even their identities. They could sell their diamonds for $6 or $6,000, what do you think they'll do?

      Maybe in 10 years or so the processes will be widespread enough to kill the market.
      • by Frenchy_2001 (659163) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:32PM (#6796606)
        The fact is that De Beers is playing the sentimental trump. They are doing all they can to separate the "natural" diamonds from the "articifial" ones. They spent millions over the year to make every wife in every occudental country dream about a clear stone on her finger. They very wisely chose their sloga nas "a diamond last foreever" and are turning it around by saying the for a proof of forever love, you should give a gem that took forever to mature. Those people are very smart and very skilled at protecting their monopoly. Moreover, they are not over a bit of illegality and extortion if it can help them. They will hammer into our heads that the only good diamand are the "real" ones. Will it work? Time will tell... Anyway, diamond semiconductor might be a better outlet for thos artificial diamonds anyway...
      • by siskbc (598067) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:52PM (#6796852) Homepage
        DeBeers dosn't have a total monopoly on diamonds now

        They don't need it. They control more of the diamond market than OPEC does oil, but look what OPEC is able to do. To control a market, you need three things:

        1. You are the largest player in the market, with a high total market share,

        2. You have a large oversupply of the product,

        3. You have the ability to crash prices by releasing your oversupply.

        So what happens if someone mining diamonds were to challenge de Beers? de Beers would make sure that their network of retailers don't do business with that producer. They'd also release some of their capacity to temporarily drop prices. That would put that producer out of business.

        The artificial boys are different, because they can make stuff cheaper even than de Beers can get it out if they dropped their prices as much as possible, probably.

        What will probably happen is that lab-grown diamonds will still be very scarce. The people making them are being very secretive about their processes and even their identities. They could sell their diamonds for $6 or $6,000, what do you think they'll do?

        That's true. Both have a vested interest in keeping prices high. What *should* happen is they should get a deal together where they divide the pie, with neither side stepping over it. Kind of like OPEC. If they did it in the US, it would be collusion, but they don't have to do that. We'll see.

  • by pagluy (651141) <gpalyuNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:14PM (#6796364)
    The latest Metallica wrapped in a box of of lab fabricated diamonds. Total cost? $100 Having your headbanging girlfriend love you forever? Priceless
  • Labor Of Love (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:14PM (#6796379)
    $5 diamonds shouldn't be a threat. You can already get cheap crystals that look as good (or better) than diamonds. The whole point of diamonds is their expensiveness itself. Your bride wants you to spend a lot of money committing to her so she can trust you: she wants to know that you'll be around to help raise the kid before she accepts your seed. Cheap diamonds completely miss the point.

    If guys start wedding gals using cheap diamonds, then chicks will just find a new tool with which to implement Expensive Labor of Love strategy.

    • Re:Labor Of Love (Score:5, Insightful)

      by spencerogden (49254) <spencer@spencerogden.com> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:19PM (#6796436) Homepage
      Yeah, but diamonds weren't super popular even 50 years ago, people still got married.
    • by Gothmolly (148874) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:21PM (#6796449)
      I've had plenty of chicks ready and willing to accept my seed after $10 worth of cheap vodka. All you diamond buyers are suckers.
    • Re:Labor Of Love (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MKalus (72765) <mkalus@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:22PM (#6796461) Homepage
      Yeah well, not being from the US (North America)I never quite understood that tradition, for ten grand I knew better things to do than buy a ring.

      But then that's just me (and pretty much anybody else I know who didn't grow up in the US / Canada).
      • Re:Labor Of Love (Score:5, Informative)

        by Jucius Maximus (229128) <zyrbmf5j4x@s n k m a i l . com> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:48PM (#6796793) Homepage Journal
        "Yeah well, not being from the US (North America)I never quite understood that tradition, for ten grand I knew better things to do than buy a ring."

        The DeBeers marketing campaigns are brilliant. If you are exposed to them from a young age and see fictional weddings on TV and how they focus on the ring, you will understand. It is ground into North American minds from the very beginning. Most people in North America know what I'm talking about when I refer to the "A Diamond is Forever Music."

        • by MKalus (72765)
          MMMhh, so it is Hollywood + DeBeers + Hallmark == Evil Empire?

          And there I thought it was Microsoft ;)

          I told a girl once, while living in the States, the only thing she could expect from me is an onion ring, after all it at least has nutrional value.
        • Re:Labor Of Love (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Idarubicin (579475)
          Most people in North America know what I'm talking about when I refer to the "A Diamond is Forever Music."

          If anyone is curious, the composer of the "Diamond Music" (official title, Shadows) is Karl Jenkins. Based on that commissioned work, Jenkins has constructed a three-movement suite called Palladio. More information here [jeansonne.com]. Palladio appears on a Sony Classical recording aptly titled (in the U.S.) Diamond Music [sonyclassical.com].

        • ...about how De Beers essentially invented the global diamond market by both controlling the supply and creating the demand:

          Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond? [theatlantic.com]
    • by oliphaunt (124016) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:26PM (#6796518) Homepage
      What I'd like to see is a return to the days where women came with a dowry. Yes, I'll still buy her a ring that costs $X,000 and her parents will still spend $YZ,000 on a fancy wedding- but they will also give ME a check for $50,000 because they don't have to support her any longer.

      Or if not a check, at least some cattle or some other form of livestock.

      If the engagement ring is two months' salary, the dowry should be 20% of the value of the parents' net worth.
      • Re:Labor Of Love (Score:3, Interesting)

        by wwest4 (183559)
        a lot of parents still so this (at least, where i'm from) in a less formal sense, if they can afford it - a plot of land, a hand-me-down car, expensive-but-necessary gifts, etc.

        heck, i know a couple who earn half of what i do but live at a much higher standard due to in-law support.
    • Re:Labor Of Love (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rsilvergun (571051) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:27PM (#6796536)
      If you look at the history of the 'tradition' it wasn't started to make sure they guy had money/commitment, it was a marketing ploy by the diamond insdustry. That whole 'three month's salary' stuff is just a load of crap to make these bastards rich. Point is there really is no long standing diamond giving tradition, and the only thing backing up that 'tradition' is marketing. A $5 diamond can be marketed as well as a $15,000 one.

      And besides, have you ever been married? With or without diamond wives freakin' expensive!
    • Re:Labor Of Love (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      For the record I am a girl, recently proposed to, who didn't ask for a diamond. In fact, I specifically asked that if he strongly desired to spend an outrageous amount of money on me, he could put a downpayment on a house, though I told him neither was neccessary. If a woman "wants you to spend a lot of money committing to her so she can trust you" you may want to reevaluate your relationship. Money doesn't equal love. Demonstrating knowledge of a woman's likes and dislikes (i.e. making her favorite meal
    • Price War (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MightyTribble (126109)
      Two words:

      Price War.

      The general's not a fool. He won't sell at $5/carat. He'll pitch them at 10 - 50% cheaper than DeBeers. Cheaper diamonds, but not *ridiculously* cheap diamonds. Just cheap enough to get the cost-concious buyer to think "Yeah, it's artificial, but it's still a flawless diamond, and it's 25% cheaper than that other, identical stone...".

      DeBeers will either have to reduce prices, or deal with the General. There's a good chance things could get nasty. If the general and his process survive
    • by DickBreath (207180) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @02:17PM (#6797223) Homepage
      The whole point of diamonds is their expensiveness itself. Your bride wants you to spend a lot of money committing to her so she can trust you: she wants to know that you'll be around to help raise the kid before she accepts your seed. Cheap diamonds completely miss the point.

      Talk about illogical nonsense.

      If you spend a fortune on a diamond so that you can be in the poor house when it comes to raising the kids, does this make sense? Or would you rather have a $5 piece of rock and lots of other money to invest in raising offspring.

      (Personal opinion follows, not for flames...) This is the kind of thinking I expect from females. It is part of their master plan to remove all joy from the universe.
    • Re:Labor Of Love (Score:3, Interesting)

      by niko9 (315647)
      Your bride wants you to spend a lot of money committing to her so she can trust you: she wants to know that you'll be around to help raise the kid before she accepts your seed.

      No wonder half of all marriages fail within the first year.Some people think that in order to prove you love & trust I halve to fork out thousands of dollars? I don't know which is worse, you having the gall to make such a statement (AC no less) or the 4 knuckle heads that modded you up.

  • Synthetic diamonds (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Eric(b0mb)Dennis (629047) * on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:15PM (#6796383)
    ...are 'too' perfect, and still (sort-of) detectable when looking at earth-mined stones..

    De Beers has been trying to 'educate' the diamond masses about these 'heretic' stones, but eventually, this will bankrupt them

    Now, as for the RIAA, CD-Rs and file-sharing won't kill the music industry. I wouldn't even expect a drop in sale-price, just more and more bureaucratic nonsense.
  • Darn (Score:5, Funny)

    by Stargoat (658863) <stargoat@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:16PM (#6796407) Journal
    I knew I should have waited two more years before getting engaged!
  • by BWJones (18351) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:17PM (#6796415) Homepage Journal
    However, unlike the RIAA, DeBeers never promised that the prices of their diamonds would come down when market forces and economies of scale entered. Remember when CD's first became available? I can remember saving my change so I could afford some of the first CD's that came onto the market at what.....$15-20? Did the price on those ever come down? No.

    • by SimReg (99053)
      "first CD's that came onto the market at what.....$15-20? Did the price on those ever come down? No."

      Yeah, but wouldn't inflation make the prices lower, when compared to today's dollars?

      So in a sense, by not raising the dollar ammount, they have lowered prices.
    • by AnotherBlackHat (265897) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:51PM (#6796838) Homepage

      member when CD's first became available? I can remember saving my change so I could afford some of the first CD's that came onto the market at what.....$15-20? Did the price on those ever come down? No.


      One of us must have a very bad memory then,
      because I remember the uproar when they raised CD prices back to $15, after they had lowered them to $10.
      They said that they didn't sell any more CDs at the lower price, so there was no point in charging less.
      Back then they were at least honest about just being in it for the money.

      -- this is not a .sig

  • by 514x0r (691137) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:18PM (#6796425)
    the problem i've had with riaa for a while now is the discrepency between cost and sell. if a cd costs several times less to produce than a cassette, why does a recorded cd cost up to twice as much. perceived value. incidentally i used to be the IT manager for a jewelry wholesaler and it opperates much the same way there.....and they are getting boned over these lab diamonds
  • De Beers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El (94934) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:19PM (#6796432)
    Also note that no DeBeers executives have set foot on American soil in several years -- there afraid they will be arrested for their monopolistic practices! So why don't we treat RIAA the same way? Oh, they're headquartered in the US and contribute a lot more to political campaigns...
    • Re:De Beers (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SunPin (596554)
      So why don't we treat RIAA the same way? Oh, they're headquartered in the US and contribute a lot more to political campaigns...

      Because, troll child, the record industry hasn't assassinated anybody or enslaved entire towns. It's much harder to convince the government to prosecute a company when everyone is making money and nobody is dying. Until people start dying, you can expect corporations to routinely beat any charges brought against them. See Enron for the latest example.

  • by civilengineer (669209) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:22PM (#6796472) Homepage Journal
    Among non-living things, the best carbon based object is considered to be diamond. Among living things (which are mostly carbon based) women are considered best. (It seems that's the reason women like diamonds so much.)

    Artificial diamonds are here. When are artificial women coming up?
    • by RatBastard (949) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @02:06PM (#6797067) Homepage
      You, sir, look like the man who would emjoy the benefits of the new Stepford 9000! She's more customizable than the 7000 or 8000 series - all aspects of appearance can be modified to a wide variety of configurations. From tall and buxum to short and muscular and everything in between! With new patented No-Sass circuitry she won't ever cop an "attitude", unless you want her to. New to the Stepford 9000 series: she's compatible with your entertainment center's universal remote control!
  • by capedgirardeau (531367) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:23PM (#6796479)

    About a year ago as I recall :)

    Antoher reason I am glad I have ducked the marriage bullet to this point.

    (honestly it wasnt that hard, I am a geek after all)

    Cheers
  • by Hamfist (311248) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:25PM (#6796501)
    They are similar becuase of artificially created scarcity. We are moving into an age of plenty. We can already print real objects using a modofied inkjet. It shouldn't be too long (compared to the time between the printing press and the computer) until our computers can produce most anything we want from a pile of atoms.

    The better question is, what becomes scarce? Knowledge? Art? Service technicians for replication devices? I've yet to hear a good answer. The elimination of scarcity throws our entire economic model out the window. What's the new model? Do we go Star Trek and only care about improving ourselves?
    • by Telastyn (206146) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:37PM (#6796655)
      Energy.

      All these things need power, and all of these things will be developed before good solar power harnessing is implimented [thus practically eliminating that scarcity]
    • by vDave420 (649776) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:37PM (#6796657)
      Ya know, you have hit the nail on the head!

      My last post [slashdot.org] touched on the same ideas: We are moving out of the age of "scarcity-based value" quite rapidly.

      It won't be long before you can "print" nearly everything from its atomic components.

      We all (as a society) need to carefully consider the implications of the framework we are laying down now:
      Single-entity (human, or worse: corporate) monopolistic control of "information" or "Intellectual Property" is leading towards the "worse" end of the spectrum, at least as far as I am concerned.

      Call me a hippie, but I'm not.
      Call me a communist, but I'm not.
      Call me a StarTrek nut, but I'm not.
      Call me anything you wish, but I firmly believe that everyone has an inherant (natural) right to use any and all information that enters their person.

      This may be too over-the-top for most people, but:
      Everyone has a inherant, 'natural' right to use information, including EMF radiation (radio/television signals passing *through* your body), genetic encodings (God help you, Monsonto!), Clever C++ code implementations (patented or not), or whatever.

      We need to take back control of our information!


      -dave-

      Shameless plug:
      Use BearShare [bearshare.com] for all your peer-to-peer needs!

  • However (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dachannien (617929) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:25PM (#6796504)
    DeBeers has something to worry about because there is nothing illegal about making artificial diamonds. (In fact, it's far less morally reprehensible than the virtual slavery of people in Africa caused by the bloodshed and civil wars that occur over diamonds and other gemstones.)

    On the other hand, while music sharing causes a significant problem for the RIAA, they can still do something about it. The issue of the RIAA's price fixing will never be resolved until some method is devised and implemented successfully to bring independently-produced music to the fore.

  • by nanojath (265940) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:26PM (#6796515) Homepage Journal
    Even more so than print publishing, for a long time music production has been available on a massively scalable level to the independent artist. (Someone can go off about how much it really costs to produce an album, because your cousin's girlfriend's dad is in the biz and... Okay, you can record an album that somebody will burn to CD from anywhere from tens of dollars to hundreds of thousands. Doesn't change the fact that 99% of what the conventional industry produces sounds like it was extruded from a tube.)


    Diamonds are a rotten analogy because it suggests that, up to now and the magic golden age of P2P, the publishing industry posessed all of the real music. The only thing that really distinguishes their product is that it is so obvious. If you never want to buy a major label release again but want new music all the time it really is not hard at all to do. It just involves a little more work.


    There are two ways in which the internet may create a revolution for independent musicians. One is by offering a viable replacement for radio. The second is by exposing music to the distributed filtering techniques of mass exposure and moderation that the internet essentially gave rise to the invention of. File sharing as such strikes me as something that will be much of an adjunct to the real 21st century revolution of music - assuming it really happens because it sure hasn't yet.

  • by phaetonic (621542) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:26PM (#6796525)
    Did you know that there is a 2% surcharge on all CD recorders sold that goes directly to the RIAA, and a 2% hidden tax associated with the AHRA that is collected by the RIAA to give to artists, yet only roughly 36% of that 2% goes to the artist. www.boycott-riaa.com
  • Market effects (Score:3, Interesting)

    by neglige (641101) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:27PM (#6796534)
    [...] both companies control distribution of products in their respective markets with an iron fist [...]

    I'd say that this comparison is a bit inaccurate. DeBeers can reduce the number of diamonds offered on the market - supply drops, demand raises the price of the good. Simple. Raising the price and keeping the amount of goods offered at the same level will lead you nowhere, because customers will wait for the prices to drop since they know that a surplus of goods will build up over time (which decreases the price).

    Now, does the RIAA really reduce the number of CD in the stores? Because only this would compare to the influence DeBeers has on the market... No, they just raise the price. And guess what - customers buy less CD and turn to P2P.

    P2P music sharing distributes a good (mp3) that is nearly equal to the original good (CD). While the $5 diamond may be equal in the quality compared to a 'real' (= DeBeers) diamond, the price is part of the value of the 'real' diamond. Give a $10 ring to a woman, and she'll like it. Give the exactly same ring for $1000 to a woman, and she'll feel appreciated. Diamonds are a girls best friend, after all.
  • No, no, no (Score:3, Interesting)

    by (trb001) (224998) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:30PM (#6796573) Homepage
    Congress is told by the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) that file trading is theft. In reality the P2P services bring balance to a system long unfairly tilted to favor the supplier.

    In reality, file trading is *still* theft because you're breaching the artist's copyright. He's comparing apples and oranges...music is a personally created work of art which is copyrightable. Diamonds are a naturally occuring deposit that just happen to be horded by one relatively nasty company. While I agree the two bare striking resemblances in their distribution models (read: iron fisted), that's where it ends.

    The hullabaloo over file sharing is that, since music can be digitized, it can be easily replicated. We all realize by now that the reason P2P is succeeding is because it came up with a more convenient, but less secure, form of distribution. The RIAA's argument is that because music can be duplicated, they will lose the group of customers who would noramlly all individually buy an item but who instead buy one and dupe. A parallel would be DeBeers, had they created the Hope Diamond, getting pissed because someone was able to replicate it and sell it for $5 on the street.

    That's not the case, this company is creating new diamonds (parallel: independant artists) that will use the same distribution model (retail sale, more than likely) as DeBeers. The only person who should be getting pissed in all cases is the owner of the original work, which for music is the copyright holder, with diamonds it's God (or, for you scientists, Mr. Pressure). I don't think God (or pressure, for that matter) cares.

    It still infuriates both DeBeers and the RIAA, so I understand the comparison, but please don't argue that new, cheap diamonds are the same as P2P. One's legal, one's not (in most cases).

    --trb
  • by hndrcks (39873) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:31PM (#6796593) Homepage
    "You should spend about a month's salary on the next Britney Spears album."

  • by Mr. Flibble (12943) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:37PM (#6796658) Homepage
    So, lets say you have to buy a ring*, but you don't want to give DeBeers money. I suggest you buy Moissanite [howstuffworks.com] ring. Myself, when faced with that decision, I bought a Tanzanite ring because my honey likes Tanzanite, and I hate DeBeers.

    True, Diamonds won't be expensive for long, and Moissanite is cheaper now, and may eventually cost more than diamond. But, Moissanite is harder than Ruby, and has a greater luster than diamond, and it also costs about 1/10 of what diamond does today.

    * One day, you will find a nice little woman who wants a ring, and generally it is best to get her one! ;)
  • by Uncle Op (541486) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:37PM (#6796661)
    Last I knew, you couldn't copyright a diamond. But you could hold on to it, and, if you didn't let it get stolen, damaged, or lost, you could sell it to someone else. So it could be a one time inheritance boon if your estate is otherwise meager and your heirs aren't sentimental. Which is why the Diamond Folk work in sentiment, too, so you don't see every dead woman's engagement ring on the aution block. And even if she and her son wouldn't mind, how many women want to wear Mommy-in-law's rocks? Instead, folk go out and buy a new diamond.

    CDs aren't forever, but the force of copyright means that if you cut a Big Hit(tm), you and your heirs can have a recurring revenue stream for a long time, along with all the fat, balding, over-40 WASPs who are the bulk of the middlemen pushing your work. So RIAA wants to hawk as many "legit" jewels as they can without someone undercutting them. That you can buy some DRM'd songs and can't transfer them to a new system. Hard to find anyone against the concept of playing a "used" MP3 on their system, right?

  • Apples to oranges (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GreenCrackBaby (203293) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:42PM (#6796710) Homepage
    I haven't read all the comments yet, so this may be a dupe, but the author of the article is not comparing apples to apples.

    True, both the member companies of RIAA and DeBeers are cartels, but what one controls through rarity (diamonds) the other controls through absolute control (music).

    The author points to the fact that RIAA companies have pumped out 20% fewer new albums, and then somehow tries to parallel this to the same stratedy as DeBeers. Doesn't work I'm afraid. A diamond is a diamond, and having control over how many are on the market allows you control over price (assuming demand stays the same). The same is not true for music CDs...one album is not the same as another.

    If (for example) the latest U2 album had been put out with only 100,000 copies made available, then the price could be pushed up on those CDs much higher as demand would not be met by that number. However, the price is completely uncorrelated to how many other albums are available.

    A better correlation between DeBeers and RIAA would have been to focus on the loss of control each industry is facing. Diamonds will soon be cranked out at $5 per karat, and garage bands can now reach a global audience without RIAA interaction. The RIAA isn't playing nice in its death throwes, and I shudder to think what DeBeers will do in theirs.
  • by frission (676318) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:42PM (#6796723) Homepage
    Here's a great article written by Steve Albini on problems with the music industry...very revealing.

    http://www.negativland.com/albini.html [negativland.com]

    PS: Steve Albini for those that don't know was in many bands very influential to the Nirvana/Pearl Jam type bands of the day. Bands like Big Black and Shellac...then he turned to producing bands like Nirvana and Bush and others...
  • by binaryfeed (225333) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:43PM (#6796735) Homepage
    Eventually, these processes may become cheaper than manufacturing glass.

    Read "The Diamond Age".
  • by bgp4 (62558) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:44PM (#6796741) Homepage
    Wowzers, if that subject line doesn't get me mod'd down, I don't know what will.

    So, the RIAA's issue is they haven't yet found a way to make money off of file sharing. If there was money in it, they'd be fostering it, not trying to kill it.

    So, they're pursuing two directions right now. Fight tooth and nail to protect their current bread and butter (CD sales). They're not doing this for the artists... lord no, they're doing this for the labels. THe other direction they're going is trying to find new sources of revenue. NOTE: This new source must be as large if not larger than the existing stream (from a margin perspective).

    Once they find a way to make money on filesharing, I bet two things happen. a) they stop harrassing folks and b) CD prices drop b/c they're no longer a one trick pony.

    Sooooo... in an effort to stop the lawsuits and help get CD prices down, we, the buying public, need to find a way for the RIAA/labels to make billions off of online file sharing... hopefully without some terrible DRM integrated into the solution.

    There have been many attempts... the $0.99 downloads are the most recent and most successful... but they're still not much compared to the brick and mortor sales that are occuring.

    Put your heads together! Come up with a feasible way for the RIAA to migrate to a new business model and make all our lives easier.

    I dare you.. find a hole in this logic ;)
    • Put your heads together! Come up with a feasible way for the RIAA to migrate to a new business model and make all our lives easier.

      I have enough trouble trying to make money for myself; you want me to help people I hate make money instead?

    • by SunPin (596554) <slashspam@cybe[ ]ta.com ['ris' in gap]> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @02:15PM (#6797189) Homepage
      By pointing out that you are "not a troll" then proceeding to dare readers to find a hole in your golden logic, I have the opinion that you are not just a troll but Troll Of The Day.

      The RIAA represents the labels in distribution issues. If they must resort to litigation and FUD to survive then they deserve to die by the invisible hand of capitalism. By choosing litigation and FUD instead of the market, they have essentially spit on a cornerstone of freedom and I have no pity for their demise.

      Hopefully, *Apple* makes billions from online distribution because they have embraced the market and the consumers within it. The RIAA deserves nothing.
  • by Stonent1 (594886) <stonentNO@SPAMstonent.pointclark.net> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:48PM (#6796790) Journal
    Since diamonds can be produced cheaply according to the previous article. I want a cd made of a solid piece of diamond. Then I'll never have to worry about scratches again. And if I wanted, I could sharpen the edge and flex my l33t ninja skillz!
  • by leoaugust (665240) <leoaugust&gmail,com> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:51PM (#6796836) Journal

    Because this is about the RIAA, and it brings out the worst in me, I couldn't help but bring your attention in this analogy of the diamond trade and the music trade - the "Blood Diamond." Does the RIAA have blood on its hands ... (of course this is meant only in the sense of extending the analogy ... so RIAA please don't try to sue me ... ha ha.)

    Blood Diamonds [amnestyusa.org]

    http://www.amnestyusa.org/amnestynow/diamonds.html

    Greg Campbell is the author of the forthcoming Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World?s Most Precious Stones (Westview Press), to be released in September 2002.

    Illicit diamonds make fabulous profits for terrorists and corporations alike. The trade illustrates with the hard clarity of the gem itself that no matter where human rights violations occur, the world ignores them at its peril.

  • by tagishsimon (175038) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:53PM (#6796874) Homepage
    At the risk of karma whoring ... since I posted much the same story a couple of days ago ... the latest market data in the UK [bbc.co.uk] suggests that reducing the bloated price of CDs increases sales (wow) to - for the UK- record high levels (gosh, who'd have thought in the year of Kazaa that we'd see record CD sales?).

    The RIAA's "xxx's is killing music" (substitute cassettes, P2P, MP3, whatever comes next) is somewhat undermined by all of this.

    Menta makes the point that CDs are priced by the big five at the point that maximises profit. No surprise then to hear that whilst UK CD sales were up by 3%, profit was down by 2%.

  • by PetoskeyGuy (648788) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @02:03PM (#6797021)
    Does your Cartel seem destined to fail in future markets. It's time you learned how to succeed. The Very Successful Drug Cartels will be having a convention this fall. Don't let your Cartel go the way of the Railroad Express!

    Choose any of these great topics...
    ... Extortion
    ... Bribery
    ... Price Fixing
    ... Secret Pricing
    ... Lobbying
    ... Obtaining cheap 3rd World Labor
    ... Becoming a government monopoly

    and for the truly abitious
    ... Murder, Mayhem and Intimidation
    ... Finding the trouble makers
    ... Going Multi-National
    ... End Competition for Good!

    Sign up now for priority seating. Check our some of our current well known registered participants.

    Music - RIAA
    Video - MPAA
    Diamonds - DeBeers
    Oil - OPEC

    Don't start a Cartel without checking out this conference. Only one Cartel per Industry please.
  • by leoboiko (462141) <leoboiko&gmail,com> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @02:05PM (#6797048) Homepage
    ...because copyrights are forever!
  • by jabber01 (225154) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @02:10PM (#6797112)
    "If people really love each other, then they give each other the real stone"

    Now... I have never, ever used the "If you loved me you'd sleep with me|suck my dick|swallow|let me fuck your sister|whatever else" bullshit.

    I've always thought that sort of attitude was eminently disrespectful to anyone with whom you could possibly have any kind of relationship what so ever. It's something only the completely immoral assholes use on mindless, pathetic simulacra. And I say "immoral", not "amoral", since the statement entails a subversion of a pretense of emotional values.

    But, De Beers clearly seems to think it works. It seems to think that this is a perfectly acceptable way to communicate with their clients, in their relationship with us. So, we have that same immoral to simulacrum relationship.

    It's nice to be called a "worthless cunt" to your face, isn't it folks?
  • by Kazymyr (190114) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @02:24PM (#6797310) Journal
    Just in case anyone is interested, here's a link [uspto.gov] to the patent Linares received for their vapor process.
  • by sd_jeff (515454) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @02:26PM (#6797337)
    Not sure how things have changed in the last 20 years since this article came out, but here's an interesting piece on how dimaond engagement rings are an invented tradition that only started 60 years ago. (It's comes in three parts b/c it's pretty long.)

    part 1 [theatlantic.com]

    part 2 [theatlantic.com]

    part 3 [theatlantic.com]
  • by dtfinch (661405) * on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @02:29PM (#6797374) Journal
    It costs at least a thousand times as much to make a good movie as it does to make a good CD. But audio CD's cost nearly twice that of movie DVD's. And what you see on music store shelves represents a fraction of a percent of serious musicians. Cheap internet distribution would enable them to sell a hundred times the selection at one tenth the price. Someone will do it. Maybe in this decade.
  • by dinog (582015) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @02:30PM (#6797392)
    Available at PBS [pbs.org].

    DeBeers is an even bigger fraud than the RIAA. Diamonds (even natural ones) are not really scarce. Also, the new lab methods do not all rely on the mettalic solvents to create diamonds. One is deposited as plasma, with no extra gunk in the process. They are white diamonds, of unusual perfection.

    BTW, Plastic [plastic.com] had this a few weeks ago [plastic.com].

    Dean G.

  • by Darth Hubris (26923) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @02:30PM (#6797396)
    I saw the title and immediately thought: If you shoved the overpriced CD's up the RIAA's asses, in a week you'd get diamonds.
  • by chazzf (188092) <cfulton.deepthought@org> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @02:49PM (#6797622) Homepage Journal
    Do you hear that really loud grinding? That's Cecil Rhodes [wikipedia.org] spinning in his grave.

    No, wait, that's the new diamond-based cd copy protection shredding my drive. Damn...
  • by Mr. Neutron (3115) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @02:58PM (#6797735) Homepage Journal
    http://www.betterthandiamond.com/ [betterthandiamond.com]

    Look at their Asha stone. My wife and I got one of those for our engagement, and the jewlers who put together the ring said that they were fooled from two feet away. And it's harder than anything else non-diamond.

    Maybe someday we'll replace it with an actual synthetic diamond!

  • the difference is... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jpc (33615) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @03:00PM (#6797755) Homepage
    the people who run De Beers never enter the USA because they will be arrested for running an illegal cartel. Europe has a few De Beers shops now (not sure why we think they are legal). I think it was a judgement 10 or 20 years ago that the diamond cartel was illegal, dont remember the exact details, but it comes up quite often, becasue it is difficult to run a large multinational without ever going to the USA
  • Artificial diamons (Score:3, Informative)

    by afidel (530433) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @03:26PM (#6798152)
    Gem quality artificial diamons of significant size don't yet exist (at least not colorless although one company claims to have them coming out this fall), they will NOT be $5, but rather about 2/3rds the cost of the natural ones. And beyond that DeBeers has a flourescense test that will detect artificial diamonds. The real battle will be in convincing Jane Q Public that her man isn't being a cheapskate looser if he gets her an artificial stone for her ring. I have convinced my wife that the replacements to the 1/2 carrat earings that she lost will be 1 carrat synthetics with a gas deposited diamond coating, they are as pretty in the light as real diamons and cost about 1/4th what the smaller "real" stones cost me =) Of course not every woman is so ameniable as the misses.

A LISP programmer knows the value of everything, but the cost of nothing. -- Alan Perlis

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