Prosecutors during the trial … have argued that every MP3 file swapped online amounts to a lost record sale.And every time someone gives a glass of water away, a bottled-water company loses a sale, right? Except it doesn't work like that, since basic economics tells us that as the price of a product decreases, the sales increase. Therefore, it is impossible to tell exactly how many downloads would in fact have been sales. Some, no doubt; but all? Hardly.The problem with the contemporary digital content industry is not that it is trying to make a living. I cannot see any mileage in the argument that artists, or those who propagate their work, ought to be made to contribute their labour for nothing. No, the problem is that the industry has the wrong rule-book in its mind. The rule-book we have for content which comes on physical media is not an appropriate rule-book for content which comes down wires. What rule-book ought to go in its place vexes brighter minds than mine, but this I know for sure: we cannot pretend that the rules which continue to govern the economics of printing books can also govern the economics of Internet publication.It is quite possible that the Pirate Bay has broken the law, and if they have then of course the law must be upheld. But we need a fundamental re-consideration of the way that the efforts of artists and propagators are protected, because it is clear that the law has significantly lagged behind technological change.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
The wrong rules for the situation
The Pirate Bay case is wrapping up, according to ZDNet. I have to say, in spite of my natural sympathies with the accused, it seems rather tricky to defend yourself from accusations of copyright infringement with a name like "Pirate Bay". Nevertheless, the prosecution relies on one tired old argument: