Thursday, February 19, 2004 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

Et tu, Glenn?

Glenn Reynolds, the 800-pound gorilla of conservative bloggers, sympathizes with a New Jersey woman who is suing the RIAA for enforcing its copyrights against unauthorized downloaders.

He does not address the pragmatic question: what is the alternative? If music is not protected so it can be sold in a marketplace, then how will a continuing flow of professional-quality product be provided? The "let them sell T-shirts" approach is risible; the numbers for the "give concerts" approach do not add up; and the compulsory licenses idea dissolves under scrutiny, as discussed in a nice recent paper by Professor Robert Merges.

The RIAA execs hate suing people. Nor do they enjoy getting pummeled from both left and right. If anyone gives them a viable option, they will seize it. But no one has. So their strategy has to be to maximize availability of legitimate downloading services and at the same time raise the costs of illegal downloads.

And, really, what is the objection to this? The alternative is to destroy the music-production system, and it is unlikely that fans would find that to their liking.

posted by James DeLong @ 2:28 PM | General