Monday, November 01, 2004

CONFUSION IS NEXT: ... and we thought the point of the legal swoops were to stamp a serious message that non-authorised filesharing is wrong, yeah? As if the discussions between record companies and eDonkey weren't then puzzling enough, Sony BMG has signed a deal with Grokster. What will happen under the Mashboxx initiative is that surfers who attempt to download Sony BMG music through the peer-to-peer network will be able to find the music, but have to pay for it through a legit server. Now, we could be wrong here, but isn't that going to offer legitmacy to the network? Can you argue that people will be able to say definitively that they know they were outside of the law if, sometimes when they try to download copyrighted material, they're alerted to the fact and asked to make a payment? And if people do pay up when prompted, would the RIAA be able to argue in court that they were knowingly breaking the rules when they didn't pay?

And, far more significantly: the big labels insist these services are ruining music. And yet they're doing deals with them, deals that can only stack up on the basis that these networks have lots of people visiting them swapping music. Isn't it a bit hypocritical to be suing people for using something in exactly the way that you're simultaneously using to promote your business? It's like suing people for going to the Virgin Megastore.