Misunderstanding The Success Of A Copy-Blocked CD

from the define-success dept

People sometimes have a funny way of defining “success” of an offering. For instance, yesterday, there was a story that made the rounds about how the latest chart topping CD included copy-protection for the first time. The implication was that this showed how “successful” copy protection was – because people still bought the CD. That, unfortunately, is a very simplified analysis that is quite wrong. They’re really asking the wrong question. The first question should be about the purpose of the copy protection. It’s there to stop music from being shared. Yet, the songs from this particular album are apparently widely available on sharing networks. That seems like quite a failure of the main purpose of the technology. On top of that, the real issue is whether or not they sold more copies of the CD this way, then without. Ed Felten points out that the Amazon reviews and emails to Alex Halderman (who publicized the famous shift key workaround) show that all this technology has really done is annoy plenty of legitimate customers who aren’t trying to do anything illegal. Looking at the Amazon reviews would obviously scare off many buyers who don’t want to go through that hassle (and may actually drive them to file sharing networks so they can get the music they want to hear in a format they want to use). The summary is that you have a lot of angry legitimate customers who can’t do what they want, and the songs are still being shared over file sharing networks. Plus, the labels had to pay extra to include the copy protection software. This is what the industry considers a success story?

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Comments on “Misunderstanding The Success Of A Copy-Blocked CD”

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dorpus says:

What about the psychology of scarcity?

Every xmas, toy makers create artificial scarcities of supply, so that prices shoot up, and parents are frantic to buy the “hot” toy. Freely available, $2 toys have low sales volumes, because of the perception that people can get it whenever they want. The music industry is wisely taking advantage of human irrationality, given that the human love of music is irrational in the first place.

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