Monday, November 01, 2004

BAN THIS SICK FILTH: With the music industry apparently still convinced that legal action is the way to stop people file sharing, it looks like it's up to the legal download services to come up with a scheme to stop the practice of not paying for music online. Which makes some sort of sense, since illegal downloads barely register a blip on the record companies' bottom lines, whereas they are liable to do proportionately more damage to the legal download services.

Anyway, Wippit have taken a lesson from the evangelical far right of America, who attempt to bully TV stations out of showing programmes which will "destroy" the fabric of American life (for example, they might show Ellen Degeneres in the same frame as a woman, prompting most of Kansas to turn into lesbians) by writing to advertisers and threatening a boycott of their products. The new music world equivalent has seen Wippit writing to companies whose ads have appeared on eDonkey pages insisting they stop their support for this sort of thing.

The companies they've approached - NatWest, KLM, Renault, O2 and so on - seem to be pretty compliant with the demands of the company, even though they all feign surprise that their banners have been running in such odd company.

First Direct's comments are interesting:

"We never asked to be on that site," said a First Direct spokeswoman, "and were quite clear we don't want to be on those sorts of site because we don't think we should be supporting something that could be used for illegal behaviour."

The key word here, of course, is "could be." The last thing you need this lunchtime is us running through the long list of legitmate uses of eDonkey, or, indeed, suggesting that large chunks of the stuff slewing about the network isn't actually breaching copyright. That means, though, that First Direct are really saying they don't wish to associate themselves with something simply because it could be a means of exchange for illegal activites. We don't know if anyone's told them yet, but money - the stuff that they exist to deal with - is quite often used to buy illegal guns, pay hitmen, reward Jeffrey Archer, procure hookers, and even, rolled up, to snort cocaine. We're a little confused as to how First Direct feels able to bring itself to be "supporting something that could be used for illegal behaviour" in this way. We expect them to quitting the financial services industry by teatime.

It's equally odd that Wippit are insisting that NatWest and Renault refuse to have anything to do with eDonkey: after all, as this week's Economist reports, most of the major labels are said to be in negotiation with the company. If they're happy to deal with the company - and thereby acknowledge that it is a legitimate concern - how can Wippit call for other groups to shun them, supposedly in the name of protecting the major's own copyright?