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Strong opinions, weakly held

A thousand flowers

Ars Technica notes that in the wake of the OiNK bust, many sites have already been launched to take its place. As the article says, in the end the OiNK bust will probably already make things worse for the music industry in terms of file sharing. Before the bust, I didn’t even know that there were invite-only BitTorrent trackers that provided access to comprehensive libraries of music. So the bust eliminated a resource that’s relatively easy to duplicate, and exposed the idea of it to thousands of people who may not have even thought about seeking out such a thing. The most interesting thing I learned from the OiNK bust is that plenty of people in the music industry were members.

In his interview with Justin Turnipseed at kottke.org, Cory Doctorow explained the economic, artistic, and ethical reasons why he makes his books freely available online. Here’s the ethical reason:

And the ethical reason is that the alternative is that we chide, criminalize, sue, damn our readers for doing what readers have always done, which is sharing books they love—only now they’re doing it electronically. You know, there’s no solution that arises from telling people to stop using computers in the way that computers were intended to be used. They’re copying machines. So telling the audience for art, telling 70 million American file-sharers that they’re all crooks, and none of them have the right to due process, none of them have the right to privacy, we need to wire-tap all of them, we need to shut down their network connections without notice in order to preserve the anti-copying business model: that’s a deeply unethical position. It puts us in a world in which we are criminalizing average people for participating in their culture.

I’d feel a lot better if I thought the music, television, and movie industries were fighting a rearguard action to buy time to execute some brilliant new strategy. Unfortunately, I think they’re making their last stand on a pretty rotten piece of ground to defend.

1 Comment

  1. I’d feel a lot better if I thought the music, television, and movie industries were fighting a rearguard action to buy time to execute some brilliant new strategy. Unfortunately, I think they’re making their last stand on a pretty rotten piece of ground to defend.

    They’ve already lost the war. RIAA in particular just hasn’t yet acknowledged it yet. At least the television industry is beginning to get on the bandwagon. Of course, unlike the music and movie industries, their income has always been advertising-driven, not directly license driven. I think that makes the transition easier for tv.

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