I am frankly appalled by the latest shenanigans of the record industry. I mean, of course, the pursuit through the American courts of individual music fans for copyright theft, with the promise of punitive damages for those convicted. Needless to say, our own record industry is biding its time until the outcomes of these 'test' cases are known, before they launch similar actions.|
It is not all copyright thieves being pursued - merely a representative sample. I had assumed that if something is against the law, all law-breakers should be prosecuted, not a few unfortunates. However, this offence is being committed on such a mass scale that it would be impossible to do so.
Since the people who are sharing these music files over the internet are among the decreasing number of people who are actually still interested in popular music, what good could possibly come of criminalising one's customers?
Please do not misunderstand me: I am not writing a charter for copyright theft. I firmly believe that the artists who make the music on which the industry relies must be paid, otherwise they will stop making it. However, I do feel that this industry would be better served by attempting to understand why people no longer wish to buy their product.
Is it too expensive? Have most of the older record buyers now replaced all their vinyl with CDs? Have youngsters today less interest in pop music than cars, clothes or pubs? Has the 'dream format', CD, been supplanted by DVD? Is there less musical innovation coming through the record industry than ever before, as evinced by the rise of 'boy-bands' and TV tie-ins such as 'Pop Idol'?
Or would people rather own individual songs than whole albums filled with padding and a couple of decent tunes? The decline in singles sales can be explained by the high price - 30-40% of the cost of a whole album for one song, since the 'B-side' or 'bonus tracks' have become synonymous with sub-standard product.
Perhaps people have become cynical about an industry which sells precisely the same product to the same people over and over, in countless formats - vinyl, cassette, CD, HDCD or DVD-A; coloured vinyl, picture sleeves, numbered limited editions and compilations; I could go on. Even the software industry, not renowned for its scruples, offers existing customers of a product substantial upgrade discounts, rather than reselling the same product for the same price or more, as the record industry does.
I feel they should ask themselves why it is that when they are making money hand over fist, it is because of the quality of their product and good management, yet when they are losing money, somebody else is to blame!
The Reader's Doglist Association of Great Britain believes this letter was published but no copy remains.