By Richard Menta 1/27/05
If at first you don't succeed....sue them again.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has filed its second round of lawsuits against individual users who trade music files on the Net, an act that has come with all too much frequency from their entertainment brethren the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA). One has to wonder why they even try, because with their music counterparts these suits have failed to stem the growth of file trading.
But then it is now painfully obvious that all of these suits are nothing but part of a misguided awareness campaign, a campaign that gets free press for the entertainment media by invoking pain on average people. Heck, I am writing about it now, supposedly spreading the word on how the evils of file trading will invoke the wrath of the righteous upon you.
But if file sharing keeps increasing exponentially - and its numbers are up significantly from last year alone - how is the continuation of this campaign supposed to work? Looking at the file sharing numbers grow one could argue that these suits promote civil disobedience more than civil subservience.
Americans like their liberty and they particularly don't like to be bullied. I have always felt that a partial reason for past drops in CD sales (they have been increasing lately) has been a product of the bad-will and bad PR that has come from the music industry's rough tactics. The problem is the end result of such bad-will is extremely difficult to measure and so is easily dismissed by those who don't find it a convenient theory (ask Martha Stewart what she thinks of such a theory).
I don't like it when the little guy is pushed around. The little guy doesn't like it either and what the media industries seem to miss is that a large grouping of these little guys becomes something big.
The file sharing community is not a little guy, it is a force. Splitting off small groups of individuals for easy attack does not change that.
If the media industries only took the time in the late 90's to understand and serve this group - I believe they call it marketing - rather than fight against them their revenues would have significantly increased. Of all industries that should know this it should be the movie industry.
Today, the film industry generates more income from video/DVD sales and rentals than from theater runs. Had they won their case 20 years ago against Sony and got the Supreme Court to rule that VCR's were illegal (it was a close 5 to 4 decision) the film industry would enjoy less than HALF the revenues it does today.
They came that close to killing the golden goose.
Speaking about growth, what makes the movie industry different from the music industry is that their industry hasn't stopped growing. They claim file trading is destroying their business, yet they set another record this year in both theater receipts and DVD sales.
Where is the loss? Where is the damage?
I'll tell you where. It comes in the form of missed opportunity. If there are indeed 60 million American file traders out there the film industry should be attempt to serve and market to them, not sue them.
Disruptive technologies always breed opportunity, growth and eventually greater profit as the VCR and DVD have proven. Attempting to disrupt the disruptive technologies to protect the old ways of commerce achieves just the opposite.
The Olympus m:robe MR-500i Digital Music/Video Player is available on Amazon
Other MP3 stories:
iPod Shuffle Sells Out
The Digital Media Winners of 2004
The Digital Media Losers of 2004