Monday, August 13, 2007

Music downloading is here to stay

According to a new survey, pirating is up in Sweden. 43% now claim to have downloaded music illegally, up from 36% last year. One of the most common reasons given for people downloading music illegally instead of buying it online is said to be DRM.

Meanwhile, Karl Sigfrid (a member of parliament for right-wing party Moderaterna) has asked prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt (also from Moderaterna) why the party is not adhering to its election-time promise of not hounding down an entire generation for copying. Neither the prime minister nor the minister of justice has deigned to comment.

The background to all this a proposed law that would require ISPs to give out personal data about downloaders. Sigfrid claims that Reinfeldt can't support this, since that would contradict his statements before the election. The EU's general lawyer has stated that ISPs don't need to give out this information unless local law requires them to, so there is nothing in the EU body of law that requires this change.

Sigfrid compares the police bust of The Pirate Bay with the copying of cassette tapes that was widespread 20 years ago, when double tape recorders were common. At that time, no one tried to make the police stop Sony from making double tape recorders. Today, only a few people are protesting when the police do exactly that; stop The Pirate Bay from providing tools for copying music. In both cases, music copying is wide-spread. The difference is in the reactions from the music industry and how the government has reacted to music industry lobbying.

Of course, there is no way back once the genie is out of the bottle. There is already a generation out there that are used to being able to download music from the net. They won't accept having that possibility taken away. They may accept having to pay for the service, as long as the service is better that copying, but downloading of music is here to stay. Music publishers will have to learn to live with that and make sure that their customers can buy their music in a simple, efficient, and DRM-free way. The alternative is illegal downloading, and that's free.

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