Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Morality, business models, and music

HT Francesca Coppa--this is a good piece from the Hooded Utilitarian on what David Lowery was and wasn't responding to when he wrote about digital music.  Excerpt:
More important than morality here is politics: who has control of those “universal databases” White calls for? How fair is the competitive landscape? What are the licensing obstacles? Are there tensions between the existing structures of copyright and adequate compensation based on playcounts? Do the models of ownership and rights holding that have evolved for media, and in particular for software, really work ethically and effectively for creative workers? There are lots of questions about digital distribution – what it even means to “own” a copy of an artwork; whether the use of arts should be and can be subject to the kinds of licensure restrictions placed on software use; when and how fair use applies to creative reuse; the extent to which all the various middlemen, technological and creative, are beneficial to the process or are in the way; whether there are meaningful differences between a personal collection in the cloud and the catalogs of streaming services, what those differences are, and whether they make sense and provide value to the consumer given the relative costs of those models.
... Lowery’s post suggests a sort of “demand management through ideology”, direct from the artist to the consumer, where moral shaming performs the economic function of interest rate manipulation or a sin tax, with the idea that if artists say enough times that the old model is better for them people will do the right thing and go back to buying CDs and DVDs and never downloading and minimizing their streaming and supporting the old model of advances recouped through sales. But the take-home is that, even if we set aside the old problems with the old models, even if we discount the damage such a trust deficit would do to the market period, that kind of demand management probably just won’t work. 

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