I don't know about you, but I'm having trouble getting my head around the ramifications of inexpensive CD copying. We all knew the day would come when anyone could copy data or audio CDs at home, but no-one seems to have done much about it.
It all came home to me recently when I heard about a 13-year old who sent out an invitation to his birthday party on CD. Not only did the CD have a self-running multimedia party invitation (that he'd produced) but he also filled the rest of the disk with three of the latest, commercial PC games. That was more than $200 worth of pirated software on each disk, complete with a printed liner sleeve that gave the relevant install and unlock keys.
It only costs a few hundred dollars to buy a recording CD drive and blanks are only a couple of dollars from discounters. Add to that the fact that most drives come with software for churning out identical copies of data and audio CDs or for creating new masters with your choice of pirated material, and you see how easy it is.
I was buying a CD from a large, inner-city music store the other day and I commented to the salesperson on the irony of the store's large display of writeable CDs near the cash register. It almost seemed to say to me "and don't forget to make a few copies for your mates when you get home".
The salesperson said there were two facts to bear in mind. First, it's little different to people being able to make their own cassette copies (apart from the quality). Second, the music industry has calculated the potential loss as being negligible. He said "It doesn't matter how easy it is, even when home audio CD duplicators sell for just a couple of hundred dollars, we still expect to sell the same number of original CDs, plus the blanks."
The video rental industry hasn't folded because people make their own copies of movies, then circulate them amongst friends. And for years now people have been able to copy diskette-distributed software. So perhaps it comes back to the old maxim in this industry - it never hurts your sales to have your product well-known and well-used in the marketplace.
At least Mr Howard will get his 20c on each blank CD that's sold.