June 04, 2007

10 Inconvenient Truths About File Sharing

The European version of the RIAA has released a list of 10 Inconvenient Truths about file sharing which is a weirdly mixed bag of statements. The linked article does a pretty good job of discussing the list, but I just wanted to comment on a couple of them.

I think Item 9 is incredibly cynical. It's not that people won't stop stealing until the law stops them, it's that people use file sharing because it's super easy and the industry offered alternatives aren't appealing enough. I think the best thing the industry could do to combat music sharing would be to offer drm-free songs at $.50 per song. Turning the screws on punishments works better if you've got reletively few people to punish, but with as many people using file sharing as there are, my guess is that it will only drive them to inovate new ways of avoiding getting caught.

Item 10 also doesn't really approach the question correctly. It's obvious that Metallica would be downloaded a lot through file sharing. This doesn't address whether the people downloading Metallica were already familiar with their works or if they're coming to the music because file sharing made it so easy. It's entirely possible that a person who is a fan of mainstream pop could discover mainstream metal through file sharing. The statement also doesn't address whether the ratio of downloads of mainstream to underground music is higher than the ratio of mainstream to underground cd sales.

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