"We apologize for any confusion this issue may have caused. The restriction is not with the label.
We are sorry to inform you that eMusic no longer offers service in your area. We appreciate your interest in eMusic and apologize for any frustration caused by this issue. Please note we are obligated to honor licensing contracts with labels as to where we can make their music available for download. Service to customers has always been subject to territory restrictions, as explained in the Terms of Service agreement.
Unfortunately, this is the only information that we are able to disclose, We apologize for any inconvenience."
Which tells me nothing except that the previous email in which they passed the buck to the label was a lie.
Turns out that this all happened back in June 2009, when eMusic signed a deal for Sony's back catalogue. Because you know we all want back copies of Bruce Springsteen albums more than we want new music. Seems that as part of that deal, Sony refused to negotiate licensing to New Zealand. And here's where it gets interesting.
I had a hard time finding any information through Sony about why this might be - although I'll probably bang off an email to them today. I'm interested in what they have to say. But a google of "why won't sony license downloads to new zealand' brought up the rootkit debacle. For those who don't know, Sony was adding malware to CDs which would surreptitiously install itself (hidden) in users' computers when played, and prevent copying.
This happened to me. Back before I got a clue, I bought a discman. In order to get music from my CDs onto the little discs, I had to use Sony's proprietary software. Unbeknown to me, this little rootkit thingy was installed on my computer, and what it did was to prevent me from transferring the music more than three times to a minidisk. At the time, I wasn't trying anything else so I have no idea what else it prevented. But I was clued up enough to realise what happened, the inability to put my music where I wanted/needed to - hey, disks get broken - pissed me off sufficiently that I've used open source software ever since.
Sony and their proprietary software are the reason I don't own an iPod - I refuse to use iTunes (especially after hearing stories of some of the things that have happened with it to others - wiping your music from your iPhone because you change region WHUT? Refusing to copy music to computer from iPhone WHUT?
Anyway, yeah. And if you read the comments to this blog post about the rootkit, it seems it might even be illegal to use this malware in New Zealand.
So, in pure conjecture, I'm suggesting that the reason eMusic doesn't offer service here is because they are sucking Sony's cock, and Sony doesn't like us because the underhanded things they are doing to control people's use of their own music isn't allowed here. Anyone who knows any more than this, please correct me if I'm wrong.
In other news - Sony Music's New Zealand website. If you click that link, you'll get a 404 error. I have no idea why this is. Australia has a site, and on it I found this about file sharing:
Downloading music for free doesn't give rise to any problems.
Most recording artists are doing very well, so downloading a few tracks for free is not going to hurt them.
Unauthorised copying doesn't have any measurable effect on the music industry.
Downloading for free benefits artists as it gets them heard which promotes their music and boosts sales.
The music industry wants to stop the advance of technology.
There are no legitimate services currently available in Australia.
Nothing can be done to stop illegal downloading.
Downloading is just like home taping.
The record companies only have themselves to blame for not getting their artists' tracks online quickly enough."
Please note points number 3 and 6 in the context of New Zealand. So, if file sharing has a measurable effect on the music industry, and you refuse to negotiate a legitimate service to a whole country, people are not going to go "Gosh, look, Sony doesn't want to let us have legal downloads, I'd better rush to a record shop and pay $4.00 a track then!" Nope, they go and find somewhere where they can get the song they want, which apparently has a measurable effect on the music industry. Doh.
I would suggest that Sony and eMusic are causing the very thing they are trying to prevent with this behaviour. If they want to force people into piracy, refusing them a safe, legitimate, quick and reasonably-priced source of music is a good way to do it.
Personally, I prefer to pay for my music. I'm happy to pay 40c a track or even $1.00 a track - it's still cheaper than buying CDs. But if some arsehole corporate wants to install malware on my machine with it, or charge me $4.00 a track through CDs and expect me and the artist to take the shafting while they skim the cream off that money for themselves, they have another thing coming.
I see remarkable parallels between music file sharing and the drugs debate. Remove a legitimate source of something someone wants enough, and they'll go to another source regardless of the law.
Why do big corporates and governments not understand this?