Why Suing College Students For Music Downloading Is The Right Thing To Do

from the you-missed-something... dept

A law professor has been tricked into writing a misleading piece explaining her opinion as to why suing college students for sharing music is the right thing to do, from both a moral and legal perspective. The argument seems to revolve around the typical arguments of the music industry: without copyright, those poor musicians would be left flipping burgers at McDonald’s (oops, that job is gone too). This ignores history. It assumes that people simply cannot come up with other business models that leverage a world where the content itself is free. You don’t need to pay to watch TV, since it’s broadcast for free – but you do have to deal with ads. There are business models that involve free content – and just because one person (or a few) can’t figure that out, doesn’t mean that we need to legislate an obsolete business model into place. Furthermore, in all of her arguing over “moral” and “legal” reasons for suing college students for (gasp!) listening to music they like, she ignores the business arguments against it. First, pissing off all of your customers, is generally not considered a smart move. Second, historically, new technologies, while they may cause some pain, and shift around the money a little bit tend to open up more opportunities for people. Since digital production and distribution of music is now getting so cheap, the poor girl in Kansas this lawyer is so desperately praying for, no longer needs to wait for some A&R guy from a big record label to discover her. Instead, she can record her own songs and put them online for people to discover and enjoy, and build her own following. Instead of just one poor girl out of thousands being “discovered”, many more can find an audience and make a passable living. How is it more moral for a single artist to become filthy rich, instead of many artists making a comfortable living?

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