Thursday, November 26, 2009

filesharing misfire

This article, published on the Guardian site today and written by Anne Wollenberg, is one of the worst discussions of filesharing I've ever come accross. That said, it's worth a read simply to discover the the extent to which it is unutterable, unreadable, gibberish. Hopefully when the day comes when publishers are forced to defend their copyright in the face of mass downloading, we’ll be more eloquent – and less fatheaded – than this.


"Hey, how about I help myself to your car while you're on holiday. It's OK, I'm not going to deprive you of it – I'll leave it where I found it, with the same amount of petrol and everything, so that's fine, right?"

Christ. That analogy doesn't even work. Someone offers a swift correction in the comments section, thankfully, replying:

"No, but if you want to buy the raw equipment and materials to make an exact copy of my car, knock yourself out".


Dan said...

Yes her arguement was rubbish.

The thing about filesharers is really just the same thing as people who recorded things to MiniDiscs 10 years ago and who taped records and the radio 20 years ago.

As long as you are'nt doing it on an industrial scale then really I can't see anything wrong with it.

When I was at University I used to buy many CDs copy them onto MiniDisc and then take them back to the shop. I'd always buy from a chain store not an independent and the kids who worked in there knew what I was up to, though I would tell them some excuse to cover my return.

I copied I think about 100 albums this way. These were mostly bands or artists I wanted to listen to but was not sure I would like enough to warrent a full purchase from my limited funds. In almost all cases if I liked the artist I would later on buy something from them or go and see them live. It was just a way of hearing for myself and expanding my musical tastes. In the end artists I'm sure have all profited in a way that they simply would'nt have done if I'd never heard them in the first place. If you multiply this effect by all of my friends and generation doing the same ultimately the artist benefits greatly I think.

Filesharing is the same. I think the difference is that someone has taken it upon themselves to post an album online. However I (and others) do the same thing whereby if something is completely new or leftfield to me I will download it listen to it and then if I like it either buy the next album by the artist or go and see them live. This just would'nt have happened without the download as I would'nt have taken the risk.

Its like when you've heard something on the radio that you like and you reason that you might like the whole album so you buy it.

I only see that this is more democratic. Artists still are making a living and all are more widley heard as a result especially the up and coming ones.

In my experience only very tedious people delight in exclusively downloading content such as film and music.

"Yeah.. I err.. got that new U2 album off the web at the weekend. I burnt it to CD and me and the wife have been listening to it in the car on the way up.."

You can imprison them if you like.

Jonathan said...

There's a good argument to be made against filesharing and in support of copyright, but Ms. Wollenberg completely fails to make the case - I work in an industry which is similarly threatened by the distribution of copyrighted material so I'm hardly glib about the consequences of internet piracy, but the points she makes in her piece are utterly ineffective, ill-informed, condescending and short-sighted. When I've a bit more time I'll try to put together some thoughts on this - but in the meantime...

Concentrating purely on music for a moment, I've spent roughly the same proportion of my salary on music for the last fifteen years, regardless of the passing trends of home-taping, CD-R sharing or downloading via the web. Like Dan, I've always shared (and to some extent promoted) music with friends, and have downloaded plenty of albums from the internet - usually where I think the value proposition of a record is poor, meaning I probably wouldn't buy it anyway. Where I have kept downloads of records I would have bought otherwise, I've pretty much always spent the same amount of money on another record - and often by a smaller, less financially self-supporting act who need my money far more than EMI.

Some records, however, I would always buy, regardless of whether they were downloadable. These tend to be ones where the value proposition is great - it is a particularly good record, the item is beautifully designed, packaged, pressed on high quality vinyl, etc.

If anything, downloading has radically broadened my horizons and investment in music, meaning that the money I do spend is spent more carefully and goes to more well-deserving, more independent, more interesting bands and labels. In the meantime, I continue watching bands live, buying follow-up records, recommending them to others etc etc.

None of that forms an argument which stands up as a general defence of filesharing, but it illustrates my position and I suspect it would resonate with other music fans.

Anyway - the vast majority of music downloaders, as any fool knows, are kids and teenagers who can't afford to spend anywhere near as much money as me, so the industry isn't losing sales anyway.