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The music industry grave

In my opinion the music and film industries are digging their own graves.

They are slowly lobbying governments and the multimedia industries towards a world where you can't listen nor watch anything anymore with existing hardware, but you have to buy new hardware, which limits everything you can do. All this without reducing professional piracy.

So let's see. Currently many unlawful consumers have three choices:

  1. Buy music or a movie at full price.
  2. Buy a pirated version of it at about one tenth of the price.
  3. Get it for free.

What the music and film industry is trying to do is to remove option 3. (They would like to remove option 2 as well, but they can't. It's impossible.) Now, what happens if you remove option 3? Which one of the two remaining options are these unlawful consumers more likely to choose? Will they start paying full price for the products, or will they prefer paying one tenth of the price?

What this scheme causes is that professional pirates will start increasing their profits, which will encourage them to not only continue what they are doing, but to do it more aggressively. They will hack and crack protections even more, and they will sell even more aggressively because it's more profitable than ever. Is this really what the music and film industry wants? For people to give more money to criminals?

Of course option 3 will never be really removed. There will always be people who will crack protections and distribute content for free.

The more likely outcome is that people will be drawn to options 3 and 2 because of all the hindrance put into doing things legally. And that's one of the biggest problems the music and film industry is causing: While pirates are mostly unaffected, all honest, paying customers will be negatively affected with all these measures.

What happens when pirating music and movies becomes less burdensome than to buy the music or movies legally (given that you might not even be able to listen/watch them at full quality if you happen to have 1-year-old hardware)? For many people there will be two options:

  1. Spend considerable amounts of money on new hardware, and then buy expensive music which you can't listen on ways you should be able by fair use.
  2. Copy illegally the music for free, and listen to it at full quality with their current hardware, without having to spend a dime.

There are already many people who have in the past bought massive amounts of music and movies but who have stopped doing so because of what the industry has done. They are fed up with the industry "rewarding" them for their honesty like this.

And that's one of the big problems: With all these limiting measures they are pushing honest customers away.

Of course this is a self-feeding process: The more protections the industry implements, the less people will buy. The industry will naturally completely ignore the reason why this is so and instead interpret it by being caused by illicit copying, which will cause the industry to implement even more protection schemes. Ad infinitum.

The industry just doesn't learn from past mistakes. This is nothing new. In the early 1900's the music industry tried to stop radio stations from broadcasting their music by law. They failed. Instead, radio broadcasting increased sales instead of decreasing it. It took over 30 years for the music industry to finally accept this fact, and now they are using radio stations to advertise their music.

The next "music industry killers" were jukeboxes. They tried to ban them by law. They failed. Then they realized jukeboxes are free advertisement which increase sales.

The next "music industry killers" were recordable C casettes and home video (VHS). They tried to ban them by law, they tried to implement copy protections. They failed. In 10 years selling music in C casette format and movies in VHS format was one of their biggest sources of income. The technology they tried to ban and limit was suddenly one of their greatest assets.

Nowadays the internet is the next "music industry killer". They are trying to ban everything by law. They are trying to implement copy protection.

Can we see a pattern here? Will the music industry ever learn?

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