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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Music labels: Encouraging piracy

This week, Steve Jobs has repeated his public warning to the major music labels: don't raise the price of downloads. He says they're "getting greedy" and behaving irrationally if they think that higher prices will seem reasonable when free music is still just a click away.

The RIAA has convinced itself (and a good portion of the voting population) that with enough industry-friendly legislation, intimidating lawsuits, and public relations spending, they can return to the good old days of oligopoly profits. But they're wrong.

P2P traffic has continued to rise, and the lawsuits increase P2P traffic by serving as free advertising for the freeloading services.

To be fair to the labels, there is money to be made in online music distribution; Apple shareholders just happen to get more than their share. Jobs has a vested interest in keeping iTunes wicked cheap; locked-down iTunes downloads are difficult to play on most MP3 players, cementing the iPod's dominance. Apple makes a slim minority of the money per download at the store; it's all a big iPod sales driver.

If I get my tunes from LimeWire, however, the unencrypted MP3's will play on any portable device. And we can't have that.

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