- The story is interesting, that it came from Microsoft is even more interesting, though the authors carefully disassociated themselves from their employer in the paper.
But this all pales in comparison to the implications of their conclusions. These are smart folks, taking a stand that is surely not popular with their company, so I think there is a pretty strong reason to believe they are correct. If so, then what does it mean? Are record companies and movie studios doomed? Am I doomed, as a guy whose work is regularly ripped-off, too? And will the print publishers go away, leaving us with only weblogs to keep us warm? I don’t think so, but the world is likely to change some as a result.
….Peer-to-peer movie piracy is practical only in the manner that any organized crime is practical: it works only as long as the host remains strong enough to support the parasite. Tony Soprano can’t run New Jersey because then everyone would be a crook and there would be nobody to steal from except other crooks. No more innocent victims. Same with movie piracy, which needs a strong movie industry from which to steal. If the industry is weakened too much by piracy, the pirates begin to hurt themselves by drying-up their source of material. It is very doubtful that this will happen simply because the pirates, too, want to go to movies.
But the same is not true for records. This is simply because technology has reached the point where amateurs can make as good a recording as the professionals. The next Christina Aguilera CD could be as easily recorded at her house (or mine) as at some big recording complex out on Abbey Road.
And text, well, text is even worse because it is easiest of all to steal. My columns are published in newspapers and websites and handed-in as college essays all over the world and there is almost nothing I can do about it because tracking down the perps costs me more than does their crime.
….Of course, the recording and publishing executives, who often work for the same parent company, aren’t going to go without a fight. We are approaching the end of the first stage of that fight, the stage where they try to have their enemy made illegal. But the folks at Microsoft Research now say quite definitively that legal action probably won’t be enough. That’s when we enter stage two, which begins with guerrilla tactics in which copyright owners use the very hacking techniques they rail against to hurt the peer-to-peer systems. This too shall pass when bad PR gets to the guerrillas. The trick to guerrilla or terrorist campaigns is to not care what people think, but in the end, Sony (just one example) cares what people think.