Music Piracy a Blip, says Lessig

From Associated Press:

Washington politicians would make a grave mistake in crafting new copy-protection laws based on Internet patterns today, an influential Stanford law professor warned.

The professor, Lawrence Lessig, pointed out Wednesday that millions of consumers are downloading music and other materials onto their computers because slow dial-up connections make it tough to stream content quickly to a variety of devices.

That’s bound to change within a few years as connections get faster, he said, making today’s debate irrelevant.

“In the future, it will be easier to pay for subscription services than to be an amateur database administrator who moves content from device to device,” Lessig said. “We’re legislating against a background of the Internet’s current architecture of content distribution, and this is a fundamental mistake.”

Amen to that. But I also see the long history of patinated media driving the inner compulsion towards music piracy — people are so used to having their copy of the ‘their’ music that they haven’t realised, deep inside where it matters, that ‘their’ copy is a digital clone of everyone else’s. So having a library of a gazillion downloaded MP3s feels like ‘having something of my own’ rather than ‘having access to the music content itself, whenever, wherever I am ‘. The association of music content with patina is a hard thing to break.

[Of course, there’s also the fact that if it’s sitting safely on your hard disk, ‘they’ can’t take it away from you, whereas the terms and conditions on a nominal feed of content could change any day. These are paranoid times.]