American record companies are reportedly financing the development of new computer software that would sabotage Internet connections of people downloading pirated music. The new tactic is the most aggressive yet by the record industry in combating the copying of songs over the Internet
Never mind its dubious legality, this strategy smacks of desperation. My intial reaction was to recall the George Santayana saying Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim. I fear, however, that the recording industry is very clear about its aim: to make money no matter who they trample on in the process.
Well, we could vote with our money - or rather keep it in our pockets. The trouble is, music is addictive and the recording industry is the dealer. What goes against the modern grain is its total inability to provide what users want, (though if they did, there would be no addiction to feed).
Apple's new music store might just be able to undo this particular bind by addressing two of the most frequently expressed needs: ability to aquire digital music on line easily, and ablilty to 'mix and match', that is to buy a selection of tracks from different albums rather than whole albums. The news that a million tracks have been sold in the first week is invigorating: that more than half of the songs were purchased as whole albums goes a long way to counter fears that selling music by the track would reduce album sales. Together, these show that consumer choice has been increased substantially. More importantly, they shows that we are not all pirates at heart! Not bad for a week's work.
There are some questions lurking: what exactly is the deal the Apple has struck with the industry, and where will it go from here? Are the obvious benefits to users sustainable? The industry's actions against bootleg downloads has worrisome Luddite charactersitics that do not augur well. Let's hope that the indiustry has at least a few doves.