Friday, June 17, 2005


Tucked away in Simon Waldman's Guardian piece about bittorrent is an astonishing - although not surprising - quote from the OECD's report on digital music:

"digital piracy may be an important impediment to the success of legitimate online content markets", but "it is difficult to establish a basis to prove a causal relationship between the 20% fall in overall revenues experienced by the music industry between 1999 and 2003."

In other words: it's possible illegal filesharing might harm the success of online sales, but there's absolutely no compelling evidence that it's responsible for the hard times the music industry suffered during the early years of the century.

Which means that all the money the RIAA and BPI are pouring into the PR-disaster that is suing their own customers is being done to chase away a threat that they may well have imagined. It's equally likely the fall in sales was because the music industry was poorly managed; the chimera of illegal downloads was a useful cover for a bunch of companies needing to hide their own incompetence, and now they've locked themselves into an ongoing cash-consuming mismanagement to cover up that original mismanagement.

If I was a shareholder in a major record label, I'd... well, be ringing my broker trying to stop being a shareholder in a major record label.

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