Fellow blogger Marco Fioretti wrote a nice little short story about a music label’s CEO confessing his worst fears to a psychanalyst. I love the style, even though the cute dialog is pretty naive.
To compress an already short story to an even shorter summary: Mr. Label is afraid that file sharers may stop sharing his copyrighted songs due to draconian laws, and that customers would end up boycotting his then increasingly obscure tunes for more than, say a couple of months… as this would bleed him dry financially, and ruin his business.
Well, a nice little plot, certainly meant as a dramatic device for educating youngsters. The message is clear: “Boycott Big Entertainment just long enough for them to go bankrupt, and all the war-on-file-sharing frenzy will go away.”
While there’s some truth to it, that’s not how the real world works:
- First of all, a generation of wholly brainwashed consumer kids, -teens and -twens will happily keep buying songs from Mr. Label via iTunes and similar over-priced stores. They may do it for all kinds of reasons: they may fear being caught and have their heads cut off taliban-style, they may have been “educated” in schools that file sharing is stealing, they may be technically clueless, or they may be simply too lazy to bother using alternatives. Oh, and they may be rich enough to afford paying $20 (!) or more per CD, that isn’t worth more than $2 to $3, even considering the price of its supposedly “intellectual property” value.
- But even if by some miracle, the whole world managed to start a simultaneous boycott (a general “revolt of the slaves”, so to say), as suggested by Marco in his charming little story, wouldn’t world governments instantly scramble and jump to Big Entertainment’s rescue, just like they did recently when bailing out banks, because they were supposedly “too big to fail“?
The second point is particularly true in western economies, especially the US, who are increasingly dependent on the new Oil of the 21st Century, the so called “intellectual property.” For nations that scarcely produce more than bits and bytes, having outsourced manufacturing of real goods to low-wages countries like China, protecting their biggest source of income (tax), i.e. Mr. Label’s company among others, is paramount.
Mr. Label’s nightmare of ending up high and dry is unjustified. Should ever a boycott be attempted, he’ll be bailed out, just like his fellow banksters. ;)