The Radiohead Mess: Has Stealing Become the Norm?: Page 2

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It’s not all gloom for Radiohead though. The band got a lot of publicity with this, and I’m sure that they picked up new fans along the way (hopefully ones who won’t shoplift their next album).

The sad fact is that pretty much anything that’s available in digital form, or which can be transformed into digital format, has been ripped off at one time or another. These words are likely to be ripped off within hours of going live. Some people rip off content because they see a way to make a few bucks out of it (selling pirated software or ripping off someone else’s blog post and surrounding it with ads), but others, for example those who file share, do so out of some misguided notion that they are the modern day equivalent of Robin Hood, robbing digital media from the rich barons and giving it away for free to the poor peasants.

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The Internet also makes is easy to steal in secret. Walking into a music shop empty handed and walking out with a CD is nowhere near as easy and anonymous as putting $0 into a text box and clicking on a download link. Radiohead even made it easy for people by making it acceptable to pay nothing. Everyone gets treated the same. And for those who’d rather not show just how cheap they are, there’s P2P. Everyone ends up with the same end product.

I’m a big believer in the principals of fair use and I absolutely hate restrictive DRM schemes that make it hard for the end user to make use of the content that they’ve paid for. But when you sit back and look at the scale of the problem facing anybody trying to make a living from copyrighted content, it’s no wonder the music and movie industry are turning to more and more draconian countermeasures.

Each time someone steals from the blind newsboy, someone is watching, making notes and planning ways to make stealing more difficult. Problem is, this makes things harder for the honest people who don’t steal.

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