2004 Digital Media Awards

Richard Menta, on mp3newswire.net, has announced his 2004 Digital Media Awards. There are winners and losers. Some very interesting ideas in his comments. For example, he observes that Canada may hold the future for p2p hosting:

I have always talked about an American digital media industry separate from the traditional media conglomerates, but legal strife caused much of it to flee overseas. Canada, which has legalized P2P services is where this digital industry will grow as embattled and new services will start to take root there. Closer in culture to the US than any other country, English speaking Canada will have no problem serving US customers.

If the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Grokster appeal goes in favor of the media industry this year. Canada will be the biggest winner, not the record or movie industries.

So the Grokster case (which also made the list) ruling by the Supreme Court, coming later this year, will largely determine the direction of digital media for years to come. The sooner the Intellectual Property capitalists realize that p2p filesharing is not going anywhere — as evidenced by the BitTorrent phenomenon, which now counts for 1/3 of all traffic on the ‘net — the sooner we will be able to move on in the digital age of media. The Virtual Enclosures continue to battle the Virtual Commons.

Related to this is #10 on the Losers list:

10. RIAA “Sue ’em all” Campaign

Thousands of file traders have been sued by the music industry so far and the RIAA claims that these suits have succeeded in reducing file trading. That statement is false.

Just look at the average number of simultaneous users trading files as measured by Big Champagne and it is obvious that file trading increased dramatically in 2004 as the record industry filed suit after suit.

Global monthly average simultaneous users 2004:

January, 6,046,998; February, 6,831,366; March, 7,370,644; April, 7,639,479; May, 7,286,377; June, 7,401,431; July, 7,115,975; August, 6,822,312; September, 6,784,574; October, 6,255,986; and, November, 7,452,184.

US monthly average simultaneous users 2004:

January, 3,528,419; February, 4,039,989; March, 4,603,571; April, 4,688,988; May, 4,589,255; June, 4,583,920; July, 4,584,111; August, 4,549,801; September, 4,687,536; October, 4,435,395; and, November, 5,445,200.

So a key point: despite laws, lawsuits, and security technologies attempting to enforce the virtual enclosures, more people are engaging in filesharing worldwide — with half of them in the US — than ever before. Digital information is inherently a commons; any attempt to enclose information is arbitrary and artificial, and is furthermore damaging to the information itself and its status as a commons.

The key in this new age, many will say, is for artists to figure out how to make money with their “art” being a commons. But I would suggest that the problem is not in the artists figuring out how to profit from their art, but by the fact that society is structured such that the artists need to profit. Food for thought.

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