August 07, 2003

Pallid Pirates

Posted by shonk at 04:35 AM in Music | TrackBack

If you believe everything the RIAA says, you'd think the wide assortment of people swapping songs over P2P networks was scarier than Bluebeard breaking out the plank for a stowaway. If you live in reality, of course, you'd realize the filesharers are more akin to the motley crew on that Capitol One commercial. Which isn't to say that they aren't a menace, but probably more to taste than to musicians. In any case, while the RIAA is fighting the wrong battle, it's nice to see that someone gets it: Apple. Here, courtesy of Mac.Ars, is the summation of Apple's position on piracy, due to Peter Lowe, Apple's Director of Marketing for Applications and Services:

The way to go after illegal file sharing services is to compete with them...go after their weaknesses. The reason why people used these services is instant gratification: for most of the people who use file sharing, it is more about flexibility and not about free...we aim to take advantages of weaknesses of illegal sharing services: unreliable encoding; bad connection; no previews; wrong music; no album cover art; and at the end of the day, it is stealing. Which is bad karma! We fundamentally believe subscriptions are the wrong path ...that's not what consumers are doing offline...they want to buy downloads. If digital distribution is about one thing, it is about being simple as a CD player...and it needs to be consistent....take the "but" out of it

Now, whether filesharing is or is not immoral is still up for debate (clearly it's illegal, but I haven't the patience to go into whether or not it should be), as is its actual negative impact on the music industry (am I the only one to notice that people with lots of mp3's also buy lots of albums?). The point is, rather than suing some poor student for $98 billion isn't the way to make anybody agree with you, and even the super-system Poindexter probably has wet dreams about couldn't stop filesharing. So why not compete with the P2P networks, rather than try to get the government to shut them down? I mean, seriously, the government sure as hell doesn't stop people from smoking pot, and pot you can see and touch (and destroy, incidentally). Apple's got it right; P2P networks are buggy, don't let you preview (ever downloaded a mislabeled song?), don't include liner notes and cover art and, yes, are illegal (which is important, even if you think the law is a bad one. After all, who wants to face a $98 billion lawsuit from a mega-corporation, even if it will get settled for something more reasonable?). And people do feel guilty about using them. Maybe not everybody, but a lot of people. So fix those problems with a legal network, and a lot of people will be willing to pay for it. Not that innovative, but apparently a hell of a lot moreso than the standard. And there are those who still wonder why anybody would consider buying a Mac.