Music industry struggles with the Internet

The music industry continues to anger both customers and bands. The RIAA inexplicably continues to sue users for downloading music. Even though there is little evidence that downloading copyrighted music has contributed to the decline in sales, the industry takes a baffling approach to the lawsuits by apparently picking names out of a hat. The suits seem to lack even basic information or investigations that would support wrongdoing, and the defendants seem to be picked mostly on the basis of whether or not they have the resources to fight back. This is a long article, and is written by a group of people that have been sued, but it is an interesting read if even half of it is true.

In an even more bizarre development, a band called Switchfoot has posted instructions on how to bypass copy protection that Sony put on the band's latest CD. Even stranger is that the information is posted on a Sony message board. Note that if the link does not work, it is probably because Sony has removed the information.

So the record industry is attacking their own customers, and has made the source of their products (the bands) angry. There is a lesson here for businesses trying to adapt to the changes wrought by the Internet: you can try to hold on to the old ways, but it is not likely to work. Distribution and marketing have changed irrevocably, and the only thoughtful option (in my opinion) is to look for new ways and new opportunities that take advantage of the medium, rather than trying to fight it.

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