Guardian blogs

That old Digital Rights tune again ...

Last weekend, Memex 1.1 drew our attention to a report looking at file-sharing in the TV, movie, software and music markets. This report, conducted by Jonathan A. Zdziarski utilising the services of Slashdot, is published here. At the school I teach at, we are preparing for a sixth form conference on 'IT and the challenge of change'. Speakers include Cory Doctorow and Jyri Engeström. Cory will be talking about DRM and, in the run-up to this event, I have begun chatting with Colin Greenwood (Radiohead), getting the views of an artist, someone without whom there would be no music to share in the first place. I hope we can have a good debate on this contentious issue. The report by Jonathan Zdziarski suggests:

there is a captive audience and a viable market in reaching the file-sharing community to generate revenue (without litigation). Because of the vast selection of media available to file-sharers, many are finding themselves exploring new music, movies, and even software they would not have normally considered in their purchases. There is demand, and demand creates market. The key to finding the market is adapting to a new business model - one that serves the enlightened consumer. ... There are countless consumers in the Internet community willing to invest in long-term relationships with various artists or manufacturers. All they require is that it is on their terms.

Case in point (via Anil Dash):

Since the release of Give Up early last year, Sub Pop records has offered the Postal Service's two lead singles available as free downloads on their website, and they've sold more than 300,000 copies of their album. Despite the fact that the songs have been downloaded, for free, 1.5 million times since then, Such Great Heights and The District Sleeps Alone have both been in the top 100, sometimes at the same time, on the iTunes Music Store for the past several months.

The path I took to buying Give Up? I downloaded the free files, liked what I heard, read about the band, wanted to support them — and bought the CD.