Wii, the karaoke machine

I found myself wanting to play Wii this week. I haven’t managed to play any games properly for some time, and now I had this craving to play Wii games. There was some sort of an error some time ago with the Wii and all of my game saves were deleted. Nothing special was lost, but it does tick me off that I need to unlock everything in Brawl at some point. No, not that. I need to rebuild all the original stages again, as I’m going to import game saves from somewhere else to replace my old complete saves. Well, let’s just choose what we want to play…

…and then I remembered that my Wii is still packed for travel. My Wii is basically functioning as a karaoke machine nowadays elsewhere, so it’s far more practical to for me to keep it in its travel bag. Then again, I haven’t bought a new Wii game for some time and almost all of the games I have are already beaten in some form. Or rather were. Damn you, corrupted NAND.

Lady Psychologist still has my NSMBWii, now that I stop think to think about it…

I find it rather ironic that I have used my Wii to watch DVDs and listen to music for a period of time. I’ve never listened to any music on any other console or used any other console for movies. Now people do use their consoles for Netflix (where available) but I have separate machines for separate entertainment. I can’t play LaserDiscs on my XBOX. Now if they’d come up with a console (or PC) that would play LaserDiscs then I’d be A-OK with it. Hell, I’d probably do the first hardware pre-order in my life! Then again, I did built my PC for AV-entertainment combined with 5.1 Speaker system, so there’s very little point for me to actually even consider using consoles or anything else as a media player.

But the Wii. Using a separate software that’s been sold by Joysound, you access their servers and get karaoke songs streamed straight into your Wii via the magic of the Internet. Of course, you might need some modding magic going on before accomplishing this, but then you can start singing loads and loads of songs in the language of the far orient. The PS3 has the same service, you just need to download it and… it’s region locked completely. Now why the hell they’d region lock something like this? I’m assuming that using this service in this form really breaks few selected agreements and contracts with the a bunch of artists, at least if you’re out of the region the service is intended for.

Joysound Dive is really the definitive version, and I’m sad that I have no access to its services, and I’m not buying a Japanese PS3 for this

That actually again raises an interesting question; how hard would it be to actually out up a service like this? I’m presuming over my usual limits here, but I would assume that it should be completely possible to create a separate contract that would allow a karaoke service to use the songs’ modified versions across the globe for karaoke service? At the customer end it would seem like the optimal solution; the customer gets a karaoke service and both provider and the original song author get their share of the profits. Of course, the real world is messy and this kind of simple and effective service is rather difficult to realize due to the multilateral structure juggling between global agreements and song licensing. First you’d need a contract with SONY, then you’d need a separate contract for the songs used in service from whoever owns those songs, then you need to produce those songs’ karaoke version and obtain rights to those, unless your earlier contract dictates you to hold all rights to the karaoke versions. Then there’s the licensing issues if you’re to use video material from anything related to the song and so on… It’s a lot of hassle, but completely doable if anyone would ever wish to tackle it.

The thing is, while I do enjoy providing this kind of service to the people who mostly use the machine, I do feel somewhat uneasy whenever I boot it up even if I do need to pay for the ticket that actually allows to use the Joysound service. No, it’s not about modifying my Wii to this end, I modify my machines as I wish, but it’s rather this roundabout way of using a service via a disc that’s already region locked. I do understand the reasons behind region locking both machines and the media, and the same things mostly apply to this kind of services; they need to be kept in tight check and within limited region due to licensing and distribution. I do need to wonder how many laws I end up breaking in order to bring in a service that is otherwise unavailable in this particular region?

This just ends up bringing the penultimate question; why should Joysound, or any other company involved, care if I go into the grey region in order to give them money they would otherwise miss completely? A goodie two shoes I am not, but thenights when I’m playing Internet Scrabble does are making me think of questions like this. The last question really is, am I really doing anything wrong? This is the grey area at its best. It’s both a moral and legal question that we kind of know the answer for, and then again we don’t. It’s like with Youtube music; if you’re listening to songs that havebeen uploaded there, are you committing some sort of a crime?

I mean, it’s just a bunch of people paying for Japanese karaoke for Wii, the only way you can get close to the genuine experience. But sometimes this is not enough. While globalization has its ups and downs, standardizing various contracts for global services through the Interwebs is seriously one of the ups. There’s no reason in 2010’s to limit your digital service into one piece of continent or into one nation, unless there’s something that absolutely forces you to do so. Even for physical goods the mail system across the world has been developed to the point that if necessary, you can have a package from the other side of the world at your door steps within two days of the order.

Why the hell digital services are tied down so much again? Oh yeah, because of old contracts and views. Dammit, I’m sure somebody still wants the customers to have media players that would destroy your songs in order to enforce you to buy new ones. [Edit: There is stuff like that?] Yes, there were. The film studios wanted VCR’s to erase the VHS’ content so that you’d need to buy the film again after you’ve seen the film three times or so. Naturally, this went against a lot of things customers wanted, so it never came to be. Similar stuff popped up when CD and DVD appeared. With a strong enough laser they aimed to progressively destroy the data surface. I haven’t heard anything like this popping up with HD-DVD or BDs, but there were talks of digital erasers with mp3 files.

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