Thursday, April 12, 2007

DRM and the Viacom - Google Suit

Scott Rosenberg blogged on the Viacom - Google lawsuit. He pulls apart some fallacies in a NYT article, and calls Viacom's suit more of the same strategy -- sue the customer.

A commenter made the standard comment that people don't mind paying for legal stuff if it's convenient.

>Cheap is always good, but most people actually prefer legal and reasonable over illegal and free.

I just had to reply (rant) that this goes against basic economics. People prefer to pay less. Always. The success of YouTube & Napster are proof of this. And the only thing forcing people toward legal downloading are the lawsuits that Scott's blog article criticizes. Even with them, the chances of being prosecuted are vanishingly small. Yes iTunes makes money but this is mainly the one-time purchase of classic rock by the 5% of people willing to pay. The leakage from DRM to DRM-free content is a one-way trip. Once Sheryl Crow's hits are on a hundred million computers, no record company iTunes-clone is get to them them off.

Content is expensive to create and (digital) content is free to copy. How can these two facts ever be resolved? I don't see any good resolutions short of a police state or artists relying on a pass-the-hat form of existence. When every rock concert can be streamed live from cell phones to the internet in HD quality, what's left for the artists...

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