¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 There is little question that the music industry’s reputation, both among consumers and within the business community, has taken a beating in recent years. While digital technologies such as P2P have certainly played a role in this process, this does not necessarily mean that the developers or users of these technologies are to blame. To the contrary, if anyone deserves credit for ruining whatever goodwill the industry once enjoyed, it is the piracy crusaders themselves – primarily, the major labels.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 This can be attributed in part to the public airing of years of “dirty laundry” – poor labor relations and questionable business practices – in the wake of digitization, which has both shifted the industry’s balance of power and provided an outlet for the industry’s critics to collect and share information. But, ironically, the bulk of the badwill can almost certainly be attributed to the industry’s own efforts to curb what it calls “digital music piracy.” By insulting and litigating against its own consumers, and pursuing several highly-publicized suits against seemingly innocent, unfortunate, or otherwise sympathetic defendants, the RIAA and its constituent labels have cultivated an image as intransigent bullies, big businesses willing to “pick on the little guy” in order to enforce obedience through fear. And by tolerating P2P usage and worse hypocrisies within its own ranks, the industry has further eroded any moral high ground it might have sought in the arena of public opinion.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 What’s more, these highly-publicized lapses amount to far more than a mere embarrassment, or black mark on the industry’s reputation. Because goodwill is so central to the music economy, the greatest damage can be measured in the industry’s bottom line. Though it is impossible to quantify precisely, there can be little doubt that the impairment of goodwill is a primary factor in defections among artists, mistrust among potential partners and business clientele, and indifference or hostility within the customer base. According to a recent survey in Britain, nearly half of all music fans now believe it’s “acceptable to download music free of charge.” The recording industry would probably interpret this fact as a sign that its awareness campaigns and antipiracy efforts need to be improved upon and amplified. As I have argued in this chapter, the opposite conclusion is far more reasonable – the music economy has suffered because of, not despite, the piracy crusade.