Scholar Questions Broadcast.com Cofounder's Take on Digital Competition
WASHINGTON D.C. - The problems facing the music industry today stemming from unauthorized downloading on peer-to-peer networks cannot be resolved with a simple tweak in distribution methods, The Progress & Freedom Foundation Senior Adjunct Fellow Solveig Singleton argues. In a blog entry on the Foundation's IPcentral.info site, Singleton takes issue with Broadcast.com co-founder Mark Cuban's belief that the recording industry is using P2P as a scapegoat for its own inefficiencies.
"Why would a fairly competitive, well-funded industry become systematically a haven for incompetents?" she asks. "Surely some visionary would have stepped forward by now to lead the industry forward if indeed it is as simple as just selling things cheaper and easier."
Cuban in his own blog wondered why recording labels haven't gone to the top broadband providers and offered their entire catalogs by genre for 10 or 20 cents per month, per subscriber. Singleton said that business model is "at least more concrete than most who rail against the music industry's business model. Perhaps someone will try it-it's similar to what Apple is doing with iPod. It does not, however, resolve the challenge of P2P."
As long as P2P providers continue to allow file-sharers to download content for free, any alternative business model will be challenged, Singleton argues. "The issue of P2P is not so much its impact on CD sales, but the risk it adds to a major launch of new services such as those Cuban has described," she says. "This, in a nutshell, is why the problem of digital copies is a deep problem, a problem requiring a systemic fix. I am optimistic that this can be managed without doing anything drastic. But it will take some serious thought."
IPcentral.info, the web site for The Progress & Freedom Foundation's Center for the Study of Digital Property, hosts a blog as well as scholarly works by both in-house fellows and outside experts. The Center also organizes events on intellectual property, such as one being held December 10 on whether the U.S. Supreme Court should accept jurisdiction in the Grokster case.
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.