Friday, 10 May 2013

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes in the law (and why they don't work)

You may have noticed the lack of discussion on this blog about what is going on in the wider world regarding legislative changes, court battles etc. There's a good reason for this - there's a lot of it.

The focus of this blog is to present research findings concerning music piracy to help inform lively discussion. It does this very well.

The twitter feed @musicpiracyblog is the place to be for links to this sort of content, where it is covered very well by other web resources including Music Week and TechDirt.

To contribute in some way though, here is what evidence-based speculation looks like.

Pirates will continue to find alternative ways to access music illegally, regardless of what technological or legislative changes occur. One reason, is because they can. A perceived historical unfairness in the music industry may never be wiped clean from the collective consciousness of pirates. They will continue to find new ways to listen to music without paying just because they can.

Everytime a door is closed, a window opens somewhere else. It has happened time and time again over the last few years when file-sharing services have been suspended. It just isn't working.

Legislative changes don't consider the range of individual differences involved in piracy behaviours, side-stepping essential knowledge on human motivation for example, when forming policy-making decisions. 

As Marshall (2004) states: "The Napster wars will not be won by law or economics... Technical solutions are therefore not the answer... The industry has to persuade the public that infringing copyright on the internet is wrong (p.8).

This, in principle, is a better stance. However, it is well known and understood from Psychological research that people are able to hold one belief or attitude and act in an entirely different way. Various neutralisations and rationalisations are also effectively utilised to minimise any associated guilt with deviant behaviours.

So, where does that leave us?

Well, it leaves us set up quite nicely for a future blog entry on the need to continue to improve legal alternatives. Things are going well here, and there's alot of new players on the horizon.

This is perhaps the single best anti-piracy strategy of all, to offer up convenient alternatives to piracy (insert: countless digital services nowadays).

The future is looking bright on the digital music front.

And on that cheery note, here's a live video of Pearl Jam's 'Smile' that should make you, ahem, smile.



Marshall, L. (2004). Metallica and Morality: The Rhetorical Battleground of the Napster Wars. Entertainment and Sports Law Journal, 1, 1-3.

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