“When I heard about the Grokster decision this morning (in which the Supremes decided unanimously in favor of MGM, et. al. in its suit against Grokster, et. al.), I knew many, in the blogosphere as well as the mass media, would play the story as a victory by Hollywood over Technology. That may be right, but to what does the metaphor blind us? Take away the war and sports framing, and what have you got?”
Doc writes a balanced piece, with links and quotations from both sides: illegal file sharing is, well, illegal, but banning basic technologies for peer-to-peer work has a potentially chilling effect on American technological innovation.
The basic system is screwed up. Most consumers don’t have a problem with the idea that authors and musicians and inventors ought to be paid for their work. What technology has brought to many other venues is disintermediation – the elimination of the middle-man from the exchange between the consumer and the artist. Amazon attempts to bridge the gap between publisher and reader, skipping distributors and local bookstores. eBay and Craig’s List attempts to link buyer and seller without second-hand shops. Record-company labels used to provide a service by finding talented musicians, renting high-end studio space and production skills, manufacturing vinyl records and distributing them to record stores in the hinterlands. Now that the artists can put audio tracks on their websites and artists can burn CDs with the help of some technical friends, the need for record labels ought to go the way of the buggy whip. Musicians need to take back ownership of their music, and their audience will pay.