The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

6 May 2003

Share and share alike

Kevin Aylward explains the popularity of P2P file sharing in terms even a record executive can understand:

The P2P services flourish because there is no good way to get a legal compilation of songs you want from the record industry!

Still, sharing of copyrighted files is illegal, and the music industry has been making noises about hacking into people's computers, a maneuver worthy of the Mafia except, of course, that the Mob would never telegraph its blows in this manner. Aylward approaches this from another angle: what if we allow them to check our computers for illicit files, in exchange for a piece of the action?

Seriously. Here's his example:

Say, for example, that I "steal" 50 albums a year at a loss to the record industry of $750 per year. Keeping my PC copyright infringement free would lead me to spend some portion of that $750 dollar loss on actual recorded music. For this example let's say that by participating in the "program" I buy $250 worth of CD's that I would not have otherwise bought. At this point the record industry has made incremental revenue gains of $250 with the added benefit that I cannot share the music with millions of my closest friends. Forrester estimates the record companies [lose] $3.1 billion dollars a year to 1 million or so users of P2P systems. In that case I would be costing them about $250 a month as an average user (sound a little high to me). So if the net benefit of my departure from the P2P field would be $3250 dollars a year, what would I really like from the record companies in return? How about a cut of the profits, by way of some free songs? The exact number and frequency are really not the point, market conditions and rational self interest will determine at what point I agree to "buy" the monitoring program. Is it one song a week, month, year? There are any number of levels that will satisfy various percentages of the P2P community.

I'm not entirely sure this would work, but I have to admit I like the idea of the RIAA paying, um, protection money.

Posted at 8:10 AM to Fileophile

TrackBack: 12:04 AM, 26 June 2003
» A Modest Proposal from Wizbang
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With on-demand publishing, it should be obvious to the RIAA that the proper response is to let people order custom-compiled CDs, charged by the track.

Posted by: Kevin McGehee at 3:46 PM on 6 May 2003

The Apple store doesn't quite work like that, but it's a start, and at least it lets you copy the files to CD-R. And since Apple has expressed interest in buying Vivendi Universal's record labels....

Posted by: CGHill at 4:13 PM on 6 May 2003