Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Limewire And The Hollow Victories Of Regulation

Last week, a district judge ordered Limewire, the colorful downloading service with dubiously labelled files, to shut down its downloading operations. It started with a 2006 lawsuit filed by the RIAA, and in January, the trial will enter its damages phase, which is sure to be exorbitant. Limewire has since laid off 29 of its 100 employees, but still seems committed to creating some sort of legitimate service.

But as Read Write Web notes (via the Observer), Limewire users have just migrated elsewhere, with the likes of BearShare seeing a 780 percent increase in downloads. Shutting down one program has done little more than rouse more anti-RIAA sentiment, and members of 4chan even hacked into the RIAA's website on Friday in retaliation.

The RIAA isn't going to save the music industry by suing the likes of Limewire. It's attacking the symptom, rather than the root of the problem. There will never be a return to the heady sales of the 90s, and the solution is to adapt, rather than resist. Live music, merchandise and licensing have replaced albums as primary revenue streams for musicians, and it's up to the labels to come up with a way of finding alternative profits of their own. But with this history of unflattering litigation, they have their work cut out for them.

Update: Things aren't going too well across the pond, either.

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