Chapter 3. The Recording Industry and Copying

This chapter provides a look at the recording industry as a case study in the issues brought up in Chapter 2 and relates them to a business situation being adversely affected by technology. These issues include the problem of a big business with one method for paying artists, free release, fan bases, and methods of discovering new artists. As I did in Chapter 2's "How will the artists get paid?" essay, I try to take a view from the level of society's needs in addition to those of the specific players themselves. Some of the material in this chapter is also an example of trying to do some deeper numerical analysis of an issue rather than just using gut feelings.

The issue of music recordings downloaded from the Internet was thrust into the center of the public stage with the rapid growth of Napster in 2000 and the lawsuits that eventually shut it down. To help argue for a position on what was going on, words like sharing, stealing, and piracy were used by people arguing for the different sides.

Given the high visibility of the music industry, despite its small size in relation to other businesses, politicians became involved in this issue. Laws were proposed that were thought by their authors to be limited to the entertainment industry and only to address the real issues causing problems. Technologists, though, realized that such legislation could have detrimental effects in other areas. This potential for overreacting spurred me to ...

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