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A “Heretical” View of File Sharing

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 05, 2004

A “Heretical” View of File Sharing. NY Times wonders if we (meaning the RIAA) have it all wrong on this whole file-sharing thing, coming to the same conclusion the rest of us arrived at 3 years ago.

Reader comments

StephenApr 06, 2004 at 11:06AM

Hi, any chance of getting the ’
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StephenApr 06, 2004 at 11:06AM

that worked well…

StephenApr 06, 2004 at 11:09AM

Once more with feeling, any chance of getting the character entities taken out of the attribute values in the RDF for this post (Remaindered Links)? It’s the CDATA for the rdf:resource thingy. Ta!

jojoApr 06, 2004 at 11:50AM

The industry response, titled “Downloading Hurts Sales,” concludes: “If file sharing has no negative impact on the purchasing patterns of the top selling records, how do you account for the fact that, according to SoundScan, the decrease of Top 10 selling albums in each of the last four years is: 2000, 60 million units; 2001, 40 million units; 2002, 34 million units; 2003, 33 million units?”

Here’s one reason I never, ever see cited:

The exponential growth of DVD sales, I believe, is the #1 contributing factor to the decline in CD sales.

Say you’re a kid with a crisp new $20 direct from the cash machine. You go to Best Buy. You can buy the new Nelly, Brittany, DMX, Christina, or whatever the flavor of the month CD is for $14.99 (if you’re lucky) and still have a little change to buy a soda. The CD will have about 45 minutes (if you’re lucky) of aural entertainment. OR, you can buy the new release of Old School for $18.99. Which has well over 4 hours of audio and video when you add in all the special features (commentaries, out-takes, etc). And you haven’t seen or heard it 10,000 times on MTV and top 40 radio and Pepsi commercials. And you weren’t really that thirsty anyway.

Which do you buy?

Anectodal evidence:
My last trip through a college dorm (last winter) I noticed DVD collections easily outpacing CD collections (kinda like when I was in college and CD collections outpaced cassette and album collections).

The reality is consumers are buying a marginally different product (a shiny disc with audio AND video vs. a shiny disc with audio) at the same relative price with a far higher perceived (entertainment) value.

“Oh, but what about movie swapping” you say…. Well, it’s a pain to have all your friends over to watch American Wedding on your 17” PC screen, blank DVDs aren’t as affordable yet, and even on high-bandwidth it still takes a long time to download a movie that won’t be great quality. Again, the perceived value of the DVD is that you’re getting so much more for your money. Who hasn’t said to themselves when buying a new CD “Dang, I can’t believe these things still cost $15/$16/$17/$18 bucks!” when you’re standing right next to a stack of 50 blank CDRs on sale for $9.99 and you think “Man, they’ve got me bending over, holding my ankles, AND saying ‘Thank you sir may I have another!’”

I’m still waiting for a side-by-side statistical sales comparison of the two (which I’m too lazy to do).

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.