THE MUSIC BUSINESS ISN'T OUT TO THWART TECHNOLOGY
Contrary to the assessment in "Target pirates--not technology" (News: Analysis & Commentary, Nov. 2), the Recording Industry Assn.'s suit against Diamond Multimedia Systems Inc. is about advancing technology, not thwarting it. To make the Internet a winning proposition for all parties--information-technology and consumer-electronics industries, fans, and artists--we must work together to protect copyrighted music against unauthorized uses. This legal action is not about targeting technology as the demon. It is about raising awareness of rampant Internet piracy.
The RIAA's energies are focused on strategies to make digital music a winning proposition for everyone. Litigation is only one of those strategies; education, legislation, enforcement, and technological solutions are a few of the others.
Every RIAA strategy supports one goal: ensuring greater access to a broader depth of quality music on the Internet. Rather than feel threatened by the changes that come with technological advancement, the recording industry welcomes the role of progress. Indeed, technology has changed the way consumers interact with the music they love. However, it's our mission to ensure that those changes are positive--creatively and commercially.
President and CEO
Recording Industry Assn.
WashingtonReturn to top
POLITICOS: IF YOU SELL OUT, DON'T SELL YOURSELF CHEAP
In "It's revenge of the nerds on Capitol Hill" (Washington Outlook, Nov. 2), I suggest the politicians rethink the amounts of donations they collect. It's bad enough that votes can be bought. To be bought, however, for such small amounts makes the politicians involved look not only unethical but also cheap and stupid.
In the same issue of the magazine, you state that Microsoft Corp. has $18 billion in cash alone. I'm sure the GOP could get more for their votes than $264,316 and that the Democrats could get more than $95,000 with a little horse-trading. At the very least, the politicians should start reading BUSINESS WEEK, so that they can learn a little about the cash flows of American corporations.
Fremont, Calif.Return to top
BRING ON THE GERMAN PRIVACY COPS
I applaud Germany's new Article 29 that requires all countries to abide by Germany's strict privacy laws ("Europe's privacy cops," International Business, Nov. 2). Recently, a telemarketer called to suggest I invest in an oil well. I was so surprised by his audacity that I had to ask how he got my name and telephone number. Unfortunately, he did not answer my question, and I never invested in the well. Presumably the German data police somehow protect citizens from telemarketers. The German telemarketer would have to answer the question: "How did you get my name and number?" But what is to protect a German citizen from an American telemarketer? This is part of the reason Article 29 was passed. I wish I had the same rights Europeans have.
Roanoke, Va.Return to top
BANKERS TRUST DESERVES MORE CREDIT
Your man in Frankfurt, Thane Peterson, provides American readers with some interesting insights ("Bankers Trust is the last thing Deutsche needs," International Business, Nov. 2). However, while the piece is interesting, it is rather critical of multinational financial enterprises such as Bankers Trust Corp. BT was founded in 1903 by Henry Davison to take care of the trust business of commercial banks; it developed within a short period an international network, through correspondent banking, to handle international trust business. After it joined the Federal Reserve System in 1917, BT began to evolve as a multiservice bank. It was only after the Second World War that it ventured into retail banking.
During the ensuing years, BT realized that it did not have the "distinct competence" to excel in consumer banking. In the 1980s, it divested retail banking. However, the currency business (losses from the Mexican peso deals in 1994) and the financial and legal backfire from its derivative business made it, as Peterson calls it, "a troubled target."
In short, BT is a venerable franchise, and there is considerable evidence to suggest that a firm that has a strategic plan to acquire a troubled brand and turn it around is likely to fare better than one that acquires a successful firm and pays a heavy premium. Recall Quaker Oats Co.'s acquisition of Snapple Beverage Co. Besides, a person as eminent as Paul Volcker would not continue as a director if the firm were as imprudently managed as Mr. Peterson's interesting commentary conveys.
Srinivas B. Prasad
Mount Pleasant, Mich.Return to top