UPDATE – hours after I posted this Ed sent me another link, and one that couldn’t have been more relevant to the subject. The head of Warner Music admits that the industry was wrong to go to war with consumers, and what’s more he delivered that speech at a conference for mobile phone companies warning them of not repeating the same mistakes on the digital platforms that were made on normal computer platforms. Additional food for thought…
Continuing the recent series of posts about piracy and torrents, a friend of mine (Ed again!) sent me a very interesting link from someone who used Oink, worked in the music industry at various majors and who puts forward some very interesting points regarding the whole debate surrounding piracy, outdated business models and new technology.
You can check the article here. While not everyone may agree with his total disregard for the record industry (the majors that is, not the indies) it’s hard not to see some sense in a lot of the points put across – especially with regards to the record industry essentially missing the boat 8 years ago when p2p networks first surfaced. Something I’ve also mentioned before and which I really believe is what this whole debates does boil down to. They missed the boat and then went for the worst of the two remaining options: pretending that they were the victims and continually refusing to move on and adapt to the new world of music as a digital medium, with no tangible, physical aspect. There are other good points, regarding the bully tactics employed by the remaining majors and organisations like the RIAA, as well as some of the suggested possibilities for a new business model (which I don’t totally agree with).
There’s also a bunch of very interesting links to other articles within that one. For those too lazy or uninterested in reading it all, they’re here:
The end of big labels and majors stangrehold on the music industry
Some propaganda regarding Oink (as picked up by the BBC and others, unsurprisingly)
A record executive makes the case for freely available music – 3 years ago and touching on all the points which have only become more relevant. This is quite a long one but well worth a read, especially as it comes from the majors’ side for once.
RIAA and majors form illegal cartel
Universal’s CEO calls iPod users thieves
RIAA sues deceased great grandmother (you couldn’t make it up if you tried)
The original article also gets brownie points for putting forward some opposing arguments, something you don’t see often enough. Personally all this only serves to reinforce my beliefs that things really need to change or we’re heading for some serious troubles in the years to come, with more ridiculous lawsuits and outlawing of what used to be a perfectly acceptable practice in the last 20 years – exchanging music on tape. In many ways the spread of digital files is the technological evolution of the mixtape and cassette copy, the difference being that it’s intangible and can be done anywhere and with anyone in the world, as long as you have a computer and a net connection (and even without a net connection it’s still easily feasible).
Being in Japan is also quite interesting. For a start you don’t hear anywhere near as much propaganda in the media here as you do in the west, though the spread of DRM media and anti-torrent practices is becoming the norm. What’s also interesting about Japan is that the CD market here is actually still quite big. As I mentioned before the second hand market is pretty big in Japan (I seem to remember reading Japan is amongst the top 3 countries for CD sales, new and second hand), surprising for a country that is quite small in size and population compared to the European or American markets. What’s also interesting about Japan is that computer based internet isn’t the most popular here, mobile internet is. And as far as I know p2p and various other sharing networks don’t have mobile equivalents yet, which poses the question of how much Japan does partake in the global ‘piracy’ practice. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, just that I reckon if data was looked at closely Japan wouldn’t be that high amongst nations that partake in p2p and other file sharing activities, compared to other first world (and some third world) countries. Yet it hasn’t stopped the majors from looking into the activities of Japanese computer users, as shown by the recent scandal involving the Pirate Bay and a US based copyrights management company.
The last thing that all this brings up, and which is what I discussed before, is the impact this constant battle against music piracy will have on other mediums such as movies, TV and others. These are generally, apart from movies, not really mentioned when people talk about p2p or online piracy. Yet they’re as antiquated and threatened as the music industry is. And they too are going to need to adapt or something’s going to have to give. I stand by my previously made point – it’s totally ridiculous that with technology like bittorrent available today I can’t have access to TV programs from my country, via bittorrent technology, whilst leaving abroad legally and for a small fee. TV companies and media conglomerates are throwing at users all these programs and possibilities, none of which really work or are implemented with the right frame.
Only time will tell how this will all pan out, but one thing is for sure – it’s either going to go forth or go bust in a very bad way before it all changes.