13 June 2005

No Grokster Today, So Instead We'll Muddy the Waters

There's an interesting article online through WaPo's technews.com adjunct that touches on part—but only part—of the ridiculous posturing behind Grokster. The article discusses the OECD report (PDF, 1.2mb) released last week on music industry concerns with piracy, and how they may be overstated. Unfortunately, this report (as usual) neglects the effects on the actual musicians and composers, assuming that there is a one-to-one correlation between impacts on music companies and impacts on musicians and composers. Anyone who has actually ever read a performing artist's or songwriter's contract with any part of the music industry has probably just ruined a keyboard snorting coffee upon it.

Unfortunately, the WaPo article cites Wired's self-serving analysis of the OECD report as somehow authoritative. IMNSHO, whoever wrote that piece for Wired hadn't read (or at least thought about) the whole OECD report—none of which considers the civilians (musicians and composers) caught in the crossfire. It's sort of like living in Stalingrad in 1943: Choose your totalitarian conqueror—but don't choose anything else, because no other choices are available, and get ready for some horrific casualties and a diet of horseflesh. The reality is that neither "side" really wants diversity of approaches; every actual proposal to empower diversity has been attacked by both the recording industry (and the film industry, for that matter) and the IWTBF ("information wants to be free") activists.

And then there's the question of droit de suite, part of which is ably summarized by Professor Patry in his blawg this morning. The relationship between this paragraph and the two preceding is left as an exercise for the student. Probably a student note, actually; it's really not appropriate for a full-length law review article, because it might impact reality and require empirical evidence.