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July 18, 2012
The Cartel Created This Mess, Deliberately
If you were still in doubt about how we got into the current Copyright Wars mess after reading Drew Wilson's research on file sharing
then perhaps the work done by Professor Michael Carrier (Rutgers Law) will help.
Professor Carrier has published an extensive (63-page) report that you can download from SSRN on the last decade's worth of malfeasance by the Cartel. Wilson's work was a meta-analysis of several studies published by various other authors over many years. By contrast, Carrier's paper is based on 31 extensive 1:1 interviews with people who were in charge of things like the RIAA and various companies that tried to make headway in the digital music marketplace. Carrier's work is original, and far wider in scope than anything else I'm aware of.
Carrier's conclusion isn't likely to surprise anyone who has been reading this blog for a while, but it's worth quoting here:
The Napster decision reduced innovation and [...] led to a venture capital “wasteland.” The article also explains why the record labels reacted so sluggishly to the distribution of digital music. It points to retailers, lawyers, bonuses, and (consistent with the “Innovator’s Dilemma”) an emphasis on the short term and preservation of existing business models.
In painful detail the article describes how the Cartel's scorched-earth litigation strategy managed to bleed or destroy every company that tried to create a legal venture in digital music. As a result, illegal ventures flourished to fill the void. By refusing everything that came along, up to and including full control and a blank check, the Cartel built a legal Maginot Line around which content freely flowed. And in typical Cartel-style behavior, the established music industry threatened, blackmailed, and extorted everything it set its sights on.
I wonder if David Lowery and the others who bemoan the current environment are paying attention. The Cartel may not be directly to blame for any individual's decision to get 11,000 illegal copies of songs, but they certainly are to blame for creating an environment in which nobody (before Apple) could make it routine and easy to acquire those tracks legally. Sadly I don't see any respite coming in the Cartel's self-destructive policies.
(h/t Boingboing and Torrentfreak for the original pointers.)
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