For many young people, downloading music illegally is like driving five miles over the speed limit. Almost everyone does it, and almost nobody gets caught. With recent developments in mp3 technology, more and more people are sharing tunes illegally—a trend that has caused the recording industry to take the fight against music piracy to the courtroom.
But according to a study by Management Professor Robert Easley, the music industry could actually gain by embracing new music-sharing technologies instead of opposing them.
Easley argues that the music industry’s response could further threaten innovation and hurt the industry’s chances of finding solutions that satisfy both consumers and music executives.
He points to the success of Apple Computer’s iTunes, a service which allows users to purchase individual songs for 99¢, as evidence that people are willing to pay some price, albeit a small one, to download music.
Easley says similar issues have risen when other technological innovations were introduced to consumers. For instance, the movie industry strongly opposed the sale of videocassette players and recorders when they first became available. Now video sales are one of the largest components of the movie industry’s profits.