Jason Riley at The Weekend Wall Street Journal ran an editorial piece entitled "Copyfight" (subscription required). The inset read:
How viable is a business model based on suing your customers?
This really resonated with me.
I've read several summaries debating for and against the morality of Peer-To-Peer Technology (P2P) and how it enables users to obtain copyrighted content without paying royalties; but I've never read or heard any statement from anyone that reduced it to such a simple sentence.
The editorial also notes that while RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has sued more than 15,000 people in the past two years for illegally obtaining content......P2P activity has doubled during that same period. (and, as we've all heard, many of these suits have been brought against the sons and daughters of our beloved Soccer Moms). The legal route clearly isn't an effective deterrent.
Many technology sector giants (such as Intel and large ISPs) are silently siding with Grokster (and other P2P enablers) out of fear of the court's potential involvement ("infringement" is a better word) on business. "They are worried about a situation in which lawyers replace engineers on design teams....smaller companies who want to innovate, but find themselves in some grey area where customers could use their product for copyright infringement, better make sure they have a huge war chest for litigation costs before proceeding."
Litigious behavior by RIAA could potentially damper innovation and vigor with technology entrepreneurs...who are often the catalyst to a growing economy.
Rather than looking to the courts to save a 'dying industry' shouldn't the recording industry be looking for ways to embrace P2P? Historically, businesses that survive the doldrums and weather the storms are businesses that strive to satisfy customer needs and adapt their business models to meet market demands.
As an entrepreneur, my business is always effected by a plethora of external factors outside of my control. Somehow, no matter how horrendous business conditions ever became, I don't think I would ever consider suing my customers......the very hand that feeds me.
Instead of throwing a temper tantrum when the industry (world, technology, economy, law) changes, why not look for new solutions? Even my dog knows that when it comes to business, those that adapt, survive. Those that resist change, die.
The lesson is: Don't sue your customers. It doesn't work.
(somehow, I think you already knew that)