The Piracy Crusade
How the Music Industry's War on Sharing Destroys Markets and Erodes Civil Liberties
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Massachusetts Press
Series: Science, Technology, and Culture
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Like all creative work, this book resulted from the contributions of a great many people and institutions. Although the genesis of my research on digital music and “piracy” dates back to my work at Jupiter Research at the turn of the century, my interest was rekindled when I served as an expert witness for the defense in...
Introduction: Piracy Crusades Old and New
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IN 1390, an army of crusaders set out to wage war on piracy, with
disastrous consequences for the soldiers themselves, their nations, and
the entire Western world.
The story begins in Genoa, a coastal city located at the western “hip” of Italy’s boot, which was emerging as one of Europe’s wealthiest and most influential seats of power. Like its chief...
Part I: Lock and Key: Music as a Scarce Resource
As rhetoricians and communication scholars have long known, the way in which a debate is “framed” is at least as important as the manner in which it is argued. To accept a set of terms and definitions at the outset of a conversation is to accept the worldview that gave rise to...
1. Stacking the Deck: The Monopolization of Music
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The early years of the twenty-first century have been a tumultuous time within the music industry and musical culture at large. Many people working throughout the recording, publishing, and broadcasting sectors are legitimately concerned that they may lose their jobs, or even their careers. The new digital communications tools that have changed...
2. Riding the Tiger: Why the Music Industry Loves (and Hates) Technology
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The music industry as we know it today began more or less by accident. When Thomas Edison first developed the technology for sound recording, it was an unintentional by-product of his attempts to improve the telephone. Of course, the canny entrepreneur rapidly moved to publicize the invention. In an 1878 article for the North American Review, he...
3. “We’ve been Talking about this for Years”: The Music Industry’s Five Stages of Grief
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One of the most enduring myths about the “digital music revolution”1 concerns the level of technological cluelessness and absence of foresight within the music industry at the close of the twentieth century. Whether you see them as victims or villains, canaries in the coal mine or endangered dinosaurs, you probably believe that the major record...
Part II: Who Really Killed the Music Industry?
In Agatha Christie's classic detective novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, the titular character is killed, and nearly everyone he knew immediately becomes a suspect, from the obligatory butler to members of the victim’s own family. At the end of the book, it turns out (spoiler...
4. Dissecting the Bogeyman: How Bad is P2P, Anyway?
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So-called digital music piracy comes in many flavors. The music industry’s earliest online targets for litigation, in the mid to late 1990s, were MP3-sharing websites, simple platforms that enabled user X to upload a song to a web server, and user Y to download it. As Internet technology has exploded over the past decade and a half, fueled by at...
5. Bubbles and Storms: The Story behind the Numbers
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We are all familiar with this story: Everything was going swimmingly for the music industry until Napster hit. Sales were on the rise, and the future looked brighter still. But since that fateful day in the summer of 1999 when P2P file sharing was unleashed on the world, music sales have plummeted and a once-vital industry has been reduced to...
6. Is the Music Industry its Own Worst Enemy?
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In 1896, the British House of Lords adjudicated Trego vs. Hunt, a suit involving two business partners who had parted ways, Hunt selling his share to Trego. After pocketing Trego’s money, Hunt hired a clerk to copy down all the names and addresses of the firm’s clients, so he could start a new business and poach them. Ultimately, Hunt was...
Part III: Collateral Damage: The Hidden Costs of the Piracy Crusade
In this final section, I address the social and economic
costs of the industry’s piracy crusade and consider
some of the longer-term dangers we face if the crusade is
allowed to continue.
Given the pro-business veneer of the music industry’s rhetoric, it’s ironic that one of the principal victims of...
7. “This Sounds Way too Good”: No Good Idea Goes Unpunished
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In moments of quiet reverie, I often return to a favorite fantasy of mine—one most likely shared by many media and technology enthusiasts of a certain age. I have been transported back in time to visit my teenage self, equipped with the latest twenty-first-century gadgetry. I watch as fifteen-year-old me familiarizes himself with the smooth contours and...
8. Guilty until Proven Innocent: Anti-Piracy and Civil Liberties
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Throughout this book, I have discussed numerous ways in which the music industry’s largely unfounded (and sometimes disingenuous) concerns about “digital piracy,” and its antipathy toward online innovation, have harmed both the business and culture of music, contributing to the major labels’ own strategic and financial difficulties and...
9. Is Democracy Piracy?
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In April 2012, a young couple got married in Belgrade, Serbia. The wedding video1 shows the bride and groom smiling nervously as they stand on a dais in fancy clothes, while the crowd around them titters and cheers and the romantic strains of an aria waft through the air. After the groom lifts the bride’s veil, they exchange heartfelt vows and then...
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Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Science, Technology, and Culture