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Posted by Kunal on August 12, 2005

Om Malik on Why P2P is here to stay. Regarding the generational gap between Hollywood ( which is suing downloaders and networks) and the digital natives (the downloaders), he says:

Hollywood mafia, is being unrealistic in their desires. Their century old business model, just like the telephone business, is being upended by a demographic shift, and technological changes. The digital natives have grown up with a culture of sharing and swapping. This is a new reality which the older generations cannot comprehend. Landsman says this is only going to result in secret sharing, sub rosa activity, the underground emerges in response to the new state of affairs. This a result of the changed legal and social implications of sharing. They want to change generational behavior instead of their own broken and highly inefficient model.

A few thoughts on the P2P file sharing. Firstly, the Hollywood bosses are nuts if they think prosecuting teenage downloaders is going to put an end to file sharing. Technology will always have the upper hand. First it was Napster, then Audiogalaxy, Morpheus, Gnutella, Kazaa, eDonkey, Bittorrent,.. the list will go on and on. As Om says, more and more downloaders are from Asia which makes it impossible (?) for Hollywood or RIAA to prosecute them.

Anyway, coming to music, data collected by Cachelogic shows that audio accounts for only 11.34% of all file sharing activity. This could be in large part due to success of online music stores like iTunes. Going by the buzz in blogosphere, many people seem to be downloading legal music. So, logically Hollywood should develop a good online business model. Good, no?

It makes complete sense if you are in the US. What about India? There should be a study about the effect of file sharing on Indian music industry. The industry already crippled by physical piracy should be in a stinkhole because of online music piracy. But hardly anyone is talking about it in India. If you buy a new assembled computer from your neighbourhood dealer, one of the perks you get is the huge music collection preloaded on your computer (ofcourse, along with windows, office and other pirated software). Coupled with the fact that people are shifting to broadband because prices are dropping. Going by initial reactions of people after getting broadband, it seems that the download party has just started here!

Things definitely don’t look hunky dory for the Indian music industry, do they? (I bet they don’t even know what are BitTorrents!). What is the solution? Online music stores? It is difficult. In India, online shopping never took off due to many reasons and it doesn’t look like its going to take off any time soon. Also, I think music is overpriced. (I don’t fancy the idea of buying CDs for 400Rs. Heck, I have stopped going to music stores nowadays ) Besides, if people can get free music easily, I don’t see anyone buying music readily. So, online piracy has to be curtailed which is very difficult going by the track record of Indian cyber law enforcers. One major thing which contributed to the success of online music stores is the popularity of mp3 players like iPod. Again, mp3 players have yet to catch up in India. Unless we have cheaper alternatives from Creative and other companies, I don’t think mp3 players will be popular in India.

I think online Indian music stores could be worth a try. Any solutions?


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