Via Mike Masnick at Techdirt, I came across a great post at TorrentFreak by Matt Mason, the author of a new book called The Pirate’s Dilemma. In what amounts to a preview of some of the arguments in his book (I assume, since it just came out), the former pirate-radio staffer talks about the idea that in many cases — not all, but many — piracy is actually a sign of an inefficient market, and thus the “pirates” are simply innovating where a given industry refuses to (or can’t, for whatever reason).
I happen to think that Mason is dead right, and that if the music industry had done more innovating (this is a start, but still rather late) and less suing of its customers, artists and labels would both be a lot better off than they are now. Are many downloaders shameless thieves who would never pay for anything anyway? Sure they are. But many more are music fans who are telling the industry through their actions that it’s not giving them what they want, or at least not how they want.
As Mike has pointed out many times at Techdirt, and points out again in his post on The Pirate’s Dilemma, the music industry is just one of the many industries that are struggling with the fact that they can no longer maintain the position of artificial scarcity that used to exist — in other words, they have lost much of the control they used to have over production and distribution. Time to stop whining and start innovating.