Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Legal filesharing (for some)

I don't know if anyone else has caught this article at BBC News, but it appears as if Sony has made a deal to let users of a certain ISP share music by artists on Sony labels. The fee is then tagged onto the connection bill. This system, the one where a part of the broadband charge would go to the labels, is one that sounds most reasonable for both parties; users get to share music with each other and the artists get paid (in theory).

But I'm a bit worried, because at the heart of the business would still be the same old companies that were dragged kicking and screaming into the business of legal downloads (iTunes Music Store, the new Napster etc.) and who still complain that the prices charged for those legal downloads is too low. So then you would basically have the record companies write your bill instead of the service provider, and believe me they would want to get as much as possible.

The other problem is that there are lots of other files being shared other than music. You have movies, books, games, professional computer applications costing thousands of dollars... If it's digital, it's most likely being shared. What will happen when those companies realize that they could get a piece of that same pie?

And let's theoratically say that this system does become widespread, will the fan of a band or artist feel satisfied with just a low-quality MP3? Probably they will also buy the CD, in effect having paid twice for the music. Some might believe that the price per track on average will be lower than the current legal downloads, but honestly, I don't think so. As long as the old system with record companies being in charge of the distribution, I think they will have the customers pay through the nose, preferably as many times as possible for the same content.

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