MPAA + RIAA + ISPs: Last gasps of the cyber cops

Post-SOPA and PIPA, the MPAA and RIAA partner with ISPs to harass file swappers, but the content cartel's end is already nigh

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To summarize: Record labels want to sue you for downloading these files illegally but are unwilling to share the profits they receive from legally sold copies with the people who produced them. Remember, you're not supposed to steal from artists -- that's their job.

I'll say this again for the record: Downloading pirated content so that you don't have to pay for it is wrong -- period, full stop. Still, I totally understand why people do it. Not just because they're cheapskates -- it's because they don't want to give these asses the money.

This is why comedian Louis CK's experiment last year was so gratifying. He sold his own concert recording direct to his fans for $5 a shot and banked more than $1 million from it. He asked for a reasonable amount of money, made it as easy as possible for people to download the file, trusted them to not rip him off by spreading it around for free, paid his staff well, and donated $280,000 of the proceeds to charity.

He's since offered two audio recordings for $5 per and is selling tickets to his current concert tour for $45 apiece, all seats, all shows, all fees included. As anyone who's attempted to buy concert tickets lately can tell you, that's a bargain.

In short, Louis CK did essentially what the illegal downloaders do: bypassed the middleman and went direct to the source. Because he bypassed the middleman, he was able to offer it on the cheap and still make more money than he would have going the traditional route.

This is what terrifies the RIAA and the MPAA. It's not that people are getting creative content for free, thus destroying the market for it; it's that the Internet has made content distribution and marketing companies (the middleman) almost entirely irrelevant. That's the real horror show for the content cartel, one that will eventually spell their doom.

What will it take to make RIAA and MPAA go away? Post your thoughts below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "MPAA + RIAA + ISPs: Last gasps of the cyber cops," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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