I just read Miles Moen’s article on illegal music downloading and I have to agree with his assessment. If ISPs start tracking users’ behaviour too much and penalize them for activities that are illegal in many jurisdictions, users will switch to ISPs that do not pay as much attention. Many ISPs are willing to either not monitor or ignore online activity if it causes them to gain new customers or, at least, keep their existing customers.
Eventually any ISP that monitors traffic will go out of business under the capitalist system where customers are able to “vote with their feet”. What I don’t get though is that people were making copies of cassettes for each other long before the Internet was created; this did not cause the music industry to die out. Some argue that computers and the Internet make it much easier to spread music illegally. I find a hard time believing that anything could be easier than buying a dual-cassette deck, putting a prerecorded tape in the left side, a blank tape in the right side, and pressing the dub button.
Is the music industry trying to convince me that as many people can figure out how to rip a CD, install file trading software, and point the software to their mp3s as can open two doors on a tape player, put tapes in, close the doors, and press a button. I have worked tech support in the past and I can vouch for the stupidity of people when it comes to computers – including people that couldn’t figure out how to turn them on. I have never met anyone that couldn’t play a cassette, or CD, or LP (yes, I am that old).
Music “sharing” is only going to increase, and the best thing that the music industry can do is embrace this and change their business model. For instance, by charging a reasonable monthly, yearly, or lifetime fee for unlimited downloads. This is already being talked about and hopefully will move forward quickly.
I personally probably will not use a service like this because I like cover art and buy CDs; this is probably due to the fact that I loved the artwork on LPs and, even though it is smaller, CD artwork is reminiscent of the old days.
Just to add my $.02. I find it offensive that the music industry compares music “sharers” to pirates. Pirates destroyed property, murdered and maimed sailors, and stole cargo. I also hate the word “theft” when applied to “sharing” as in theft the original owner no longer has the item in question; in the case of music, both parties now have a copy. I do not fault the music industry for trying to say that they are upset that people are “sharing” their copyrighted music; I just think that they need to use a term that fits: illegal copying, copyright infringement, illegal sharing, etc.