Excellent Salon piece on the dogged obtuseness of the record companies
“The Berman bill could be seen as a new low for the industry — further indication that it sees the fight against MP3s as its defining cause and will go to any length to pursue it, no matter how outrageous. During the last three years, the battle against file sharing has become the entertainment industry’s version of the War on Drugs, an expensive, protracted, apparently ineffective and seemingly misguided battle against a contraband that many suggest does little harm. The labels’ main strategy — busting the biggest dealers in an attempt to strangle the supply of free MP3s, while offering few palatable solutions to stem the demand — is a classic tactic from the War on Drugs book, and it has failed just as clearly. Despite the RIAA’s recent settlement with AudioGalaxy — in which the trading service agreed to make available only those songs that it had formal permission to list, an agreement that renders AudioGalaxy useless — researchers believe that more people are trading music than ever before…”
The piece also includes a really useful quote about the Berman bill:
“It’s not that different from making it legal to break into someone’s house to make sure they don’t have any illegal Mickey Mouse posters on the wall,” says Adam Fisk, a Gnutella developer who works on LimeWire, a popular file-trading software application.
The Berman bill provides a vivid illustration of who imbalanced things have become. It treats IP as an absolute right rather than a community-bestowed one, and seeks to justify appalling behaviour in defence of property. Well, there was a time when owners of land were allowed to behave like that. But, at least in the UK, one is no longer allowed to shoot or injure someone just because he is trespassing on your property — or even (c.f. the case of Tony Martin, the Norfolk farmer jailed for shooting a burglar) someone who is breaking into your home. That’s because over the centuries, British society evolved a balance between (i) the rights of property-owners and (ii) reserving the right to exercise force to lawful authorities.