p2pnet news | Music:- With the farcical OiNK bust still garnering headlines, Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG barking dog the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) is exploiting the mainstream media to give the false impression that OiNK supporters are in serious, and immediate, danger of being ” investigated,” ultimately ending up on a Big 4 hit list.
Using the corporate press corps as their willing, and unpaid, BS propagators, the Big 4 copyright cartel has been able to create the entirely false impression that people who share music with each other are in clear and imminent danger of being identified and busted.
However, in the US alone, where most of the attention is focused, it’s been estimated that a minimum of sixty million people regularly and routinely share online.
But only 30,000 also men, women and children have been subpoenaed by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), another of the Big 4′s so-called ‘trade’ organisations.
Figure it out.
In other words, IMHO you, as an individual, stand about as much chance of becoming an RIAA victim as you do of winning a million dollars or being struck by lightning.
The labels know that, but they wanted to create an artificial climate of terror, and they’ve succeeded.
A stern warning
In 2004 Canadian marketing expert Dr Markus Geisler (right) made it clear Big Music’s efforts to stampede people into buying its over-priced product by suing them weren’t having much success.
In fact, the risk tied to file sharing was then, as now, almost zero, “despite entertainment industry claims to the contrary,” said Giesler, who`s also a former label owner.
In his Theory of Collective Consumer Risk, “Downloaders are generally less likely to expect a stern warning, expensive lawsuit or even criminal prosecution, the more those around them are doing the same,” he says.
He’s just completed Conflict and Compromise: Drama in Marketplace Evolution, a seven-year ethnography on the war on music downloading.
It’s slated for publication in the April 2008 Journal of Consumer Research, but you can check it out now on his web site.
As the only longitudinal investigation of downloading as a cultural and political phenomenon, it makes fascinating reading.
‘The dwarfs are in the panicking mode …’
Among the people interviewed are Tim and Eric taken, admittedly, out of context for Giesler’s study, but in context for the present Big Music onslaught against its own customers.
This is very simple. The dwarfs are in the panicking mode.It’s their death struggle. It’s symptomatic for their inability to understand that the world around them has changed. They have missed the boat. What a pathetic expression of impotence is it to sue children, you know, children? Or caring mums or folks who don’t even have a computer. Let’s just lie to everyone. Let the lawyers throw out a zillion letters, and we’ll see what keeps sticking. I mean, how low can you go?
Eric, decribed as a, “DRM activist from Chicago,” states:
Well, the simple truth is this. As long as there is music, there will always be a war on downloading. We won’t stop until the labels accept that music wants to be free. The labels have a history of being the bad guys in all of this. . . . For example, DRM, like all other excuses before, clearly does not protect the artist at all. Fair Play . . . stands for a failure to play fair because all it does it protect business dollars. But who protects musicians and consumers? Who protects culture? By now, you know, all existing DRM systems have been hacked, . . . and consumers discover what they can really do with music. This is the beauty of it. . . . There will always be some corporate party trying to screw us, but there will always also be the unstoppable power of freedom. It`s the way of the world that man wants to improve his condition.
Conflict and contestation
I asked Giesler three questions:
1) Will entertainment marketeers be able to continue alienating their customers?
Giesler: Ironically speaking, I hope so. Because if not there would not be any development whatsoever. The evolution of our culture is based on conflict and contestation, in this case over the definition what constitutes the right blending between the sharing and owning of music. We all dream that we agree on everything but the reality is that we can’t.
But this dream keeps us going as a culture because each of us thinks he has the better strategy to make it happen.
Naturally, however, consumers lean more towards sharing whereas producers prefer owning. A market is always the institutional compromise between the two in historical transition. Markets are the cultural stages where we negotiate these compromises and we can never finally agree. With better technology and bandwidth on the one hand and the industry’s ongoing efforts to conquer new commercial territories on the other, I believe the war on music downloading is far from being over.
2) Do you agree with the contention in the case of the movie and recording industries, general attempts to sue consumers into line with corporate desires have done little more than to create a new consumer base which will do everything it can to stay away from the major labels and movie studios?
Giesler: Yes, absolutely. On the one hand, suing has alienated a lot of consumers. In fact, the lawsuits provided a great rhetorical springboard from which to construct the industry’s practices as unethical and, conversely, downloaders as champions of freedom. On the other hand, these aggressive efforts also direct certain consumers into commercial channels. Many of the consumers I observed during the past seven years took the label’s attacks as an imperative to switch gears and become loyal iTunes uers.
Ultimately, it goes both ways. The war on music downloading is a war over what constitutes the right way of dealing with music. But there is no “right” way, much in the same way that there is no “right” way of playing an instrument.
What’s right or wrong depends on how we’ve been socialized historically. To this end, I think suing customers is not the right way, or the smartest for that matter, but that’s not a
universal statement, just my personal opinion. The other thing that bothers me from a research point of view is that some forms of suing consumers present a giant waste of money and societal resources. It’s a giant waste of trust. One of the negative consequences of this practice is that we will lose confidence in the ways our institutions govern the cultural and commercial treatment of music. But again, this is also a matter of interpretation that develops in the tension between sharing and owning.
3) Do you agree with the contention that thanks to the Net, consumers are fast becoming customers again; people with free will and the ability to exercise it?
Giesler: Yes, smart companies understand that consumers are cultural agents in their own right and that resistance is futile. The Web is a powerful tool for the expression of political opinion and the display of corporate injustice.
The Web is a democratic stage of sorts where different players can perform their vision of fair culture. It’s also a creative stage where consumers and producers can forge great solutions to certain cultural problems.
Ultimately, I believe it doesn’t make a lot of sense to speak about markets and consumers and producers anymore. We’ve all become interconnected cyborgs who rewire the market matrix in accordance with our political goals. That’s what technology allows us to do more than ever before. On the other hand, the web is not inherently liberating or good. While we all enjoy freedom of expression, creativity, and free stuff there is also a dark side to the matrix.
As a cultural stage, the Web can also be abused to dominate consumers, especially children. So as with everything, it’s a double-edged sword and it depends on the rules of the game that we set for ourselves as a culture.
Stay tuned, as ever.
Jon Newton – p2pnet
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