Online Music Piracy and the Efficiency of Internet Distribution
In the really old days, it happened at flea markets and with shady street vendors.
Then came the more recent old days, when it happened on Napster, Kazaa, LimeWire, BitTorrent, and even YouTube.
The big questions are:
1. Can legislation keep up with technology (much less get ahead of it) in curtailing online piracy?
2. Will legislation be able to walk the fine line between limiting illegal downloading and infringing on freedom of speech, expression, privacy, etc. (depending on which society you’re considering)?
And then there’s that issue of whether online file sharing is beneficial to certain musicians even when it’s harmful to others, and particularly harmful to big music labels like EMI, Sony Music, Universal Music, and Warner Music. Many musicians (often less known ones but a growing minority of well known ones as well) feel that file sharing is the way to get control of the distribution channel rather than passing that control on to a corporate intermediary who will decide who’s getting radio time and who isn’t. And when that corporate intermediary, that presumably has favorable economies of scale in its favor, keeps a bundle of the profits for itself, the musicians often see this as an inefficient player in the distribution channel from their perspective.
So what’s next?
Will I soon be getting in trouble for file sharing with myself? (When I buy music from Amazon or iTunes, I immediately “backup” my file by emailing it from one account to another, thus having an extra copy on two email accounts.)
Will new technology soon track our file use to the point that each play of a song is monitored and we’re charged extra if our friends listen in?
Or maybe in the end, will people just have to pull that old cassette tape recorder from the attic, put it next to the radio, and pirate music the old fashioned way?
What’s the future of music piracy and this efficient internet distribution system?