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About this weblog
Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.

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In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

Copyfight

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August 15, 2005

P2P Now Number 2

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Back in June, NPD Group raised some eyebrows (including in this blog) with a claim that iTunes was the second-most popular music download site, surpassing many free P2P sites. Derek Slater commented that the NPD study was "worthless."

Well, NPD are back again, and their latest message is resonating with the RIAA. According to an AP story (here on SiliconValley.com) NPD are claiming that burned CDs accounted for a larger percentage of music obtained by fans than downloads did. The RIAA are, of course, pointing to this as a justification for more copy-prevention.

A very telling quote appears at the end of the AP story, where Virgin Entertainment Group International's CEO Simon Wright is quoted as saying:

If, particularly, the technology allows two-to-three burns, that's well within acceptable limits and I don't think why consumers should have any complaints.

And that, boys and girls, is the nub of the problem. The Cartel believes it should be able to extend its control past the sale of the product, past what the law might say, and into your and my houses and cars. Let's take a real-world example: my neighbors have two adult children that live with them. So that's four cars, and at least three CD systems in one household. How many copies of a given CD purchase should that family be allowed to make? None? One? Seven? And why does Wright think that my neighbors shouldn't complain if he makes it impossible for them all to enjoy their purchases?

By coincidence over on Reuters (story copy here on silicon.com) we read that "Legal music downloads [are being] held back by DRM." The gist of the story is that incompatible DRM systems (fingers pointing primarily at Apple and Microsoft) are somehow preventing consumers from downloading more music.

My first response is that this is a crock. I don't think DRM issues enter into anyone's minds when going to download music. ITunes is enjoying phenomenal success (what business wouldn't mind doubling its size year over year?) and Napster et al are sour-grapesing because their systems (which use the MSFT-promoted DRM systems) are lagging. Blaming it on the DRM is a smokescreen for having to admit "My customer experience sucks, the subscription model isn't working, and Apple are kicking my ass."

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Markets and Monopolies


COMMENTS

1. Lee Davis on August 22, 2005 11:57 AM writes...

I have to disagree on one point, Alan. I and several others of my acquaintance refuse to download music at all because of DRM. We're not willing to break the law by going outside of the legal sites, but refuse to buy a crippled product. We're probably a minority, but we are here.

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2. Michael Coyne on August 22, 2005 12:15 PM writes...

I have to concur with Lee. Sure, "DRM issues [don't] enter into anyone's minds when going to download music" but afterwards, when you find out that tracks downloaded from Yahoo/Napster/Real Networks are incompatible with your iPod, it's a disincentive to downloading music legitimately. Apple are indeed kicking ass, but primarily because of their ubiquitous hardware driving their loss-leader software. It seems to me that, although it's cuddly Apple not spiky Microsoft here, we're drifting from one anti-competitive business model to another.

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