One of the interesting items to emerge from the growing NSA data-monitoring scandal is that the telecoms weren't compelled to go along with the government and that one company, Qwest, refused to participate. Now the company, which had been a laggard and on the receiving end of many customer complaints, is experiencing a surge in customer appreciation from those opposed to the NSA program. Some customers have already switched providers, while on the internet people have set up pro-Qwest websites and added the company's logo to their own sites. Even if the boost is only temporary, it highlights the benefits from breaking from the pack. Imagine, for example, if one of the record labels decided to break from the RIAA cartel and adopt a more liberal attitude towards file sharing and online purchases. For that one company, it would instantly earn them a groundswell of support, and a sustainable way to differentiate itself -- at least until the others followed suit (remember, we're just imagining here). Business should constantly be on the lookout for areas where they can stand out from the pack; when competitors are engaging in customer-harming activities, there should be some compelling opportunities. In the meantime, the labels are still trying to differentiate themselves by adopting a more draconian approach to DRM, like in the case of the Sony BMG rootkit fiasco. That didn't turn out so well.
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