¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 In the first part of this book, I described the historical processes that have framed our current understanding of the music industry and its relationship to “piracy.” In the second part, I deconstructed the industry’s contemporary piracy narrative, showing that, despite the frequent repetition and superficial appeal of the “P2P-killed-music” version of events, an accurate account of the past 15 years involves a far broader range of factors and a wider cast of characters, and ultimately compels us to recognize the central role that the music industry has played in its own fortunes and misfortunes. In the third and final section, I will address the social and economic costs of the industry’s piracy crusade based on this flawed narrative, and consider some of the longer-term dangers we face if the crusade is allowed to continue.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Ironically, given the pro-business veneer of the music industry’s rhetoric, one of the principal victims of the piracy crusade is the music business itself. As I will demonstrate, based on interviews with industry executives and digital music entrepreneurs, the major labels’ unwillingness to license their music to innovators on viable terms, combined with their inability to innovate on their own, paralyzed the industry at exactly the moment when new technologies offered the greatest amount of promise and when consumers expressed the greatest enthusiasm for new products and services. Similarly, the antipiracy laws and policies promoted by the industry seem tailored to keep established oligopolists firmly in place, while eliminating the market conditions that have allowed upstarts (including the labels themselves) to reinvent the music industry in the past.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Far more troubling than the piracy crusade’s commercial effects, however, are its social effects. An underlying political agenda that privileges the short-term interests of media cartels over the long-term health and viability of our democratic institutions has prompted the music industry and its allies to promote an increasingly draconian set of laws and policies in the US and around the world. Collectively, these laws and policies threaten to stifle free speech and the open public sphere, and provide ample opportunity for exploitation by anticompetitive business interests, repressive political regimes, and organized criminals alike. As I conclude in the final chapter, these threats will only grow as networked communications become ever more pervasive and as the piracy crusade successfully promotes ever stricter laws governing the flow of information via these networks. Ultimately, neither musical culture and industry nor democratic society can thrive until the crusade is ended and its policies are dismantled.