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Entertainment Industry Practices Examined
February 20, 2005
Chuck Solitude
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Consumers are very confused. Most have now bought computers and have been exposed to the phenomenon called peer to peer file sharing. Some ask which one to use? Which one is the best? Today some are asking which ones will not make me subject to a lawsuit by the entertainment industry. A very good question.

From what is known, the industry has started a war against consumers by filing lawsuits against those who offer too many files or items of content. They can be songs, movies, or even programs. However, are the file-sharing developers to blame for copyright infringement, or the consumers? Even today, the Supreme Court of the United States of America is wrestling with this very subject.

The entertainment industry has deep pockets and is enlisting many allies in the entertainment field to back up their cause. So who is on the consumer’s side? The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) and various others, explaining there is a positive attribute of P2P.

No one could have conceived how file-sharing would impact the world until it was too late. The music and movie industries claim the lawsuits exist to combat lost sales they have incurred as P2P popularity has exploded.

The question should be posed. How does such an industry gain so much power? It resembles a monopoly. Absolute control over setting prices, control over how it is shown or presented.

Once long ago, oil industries having total control over consumers wielded such power. At the turn of the 20th century, antitrust laws were made preventing any type of industry to abuse its consumers like it did.

It was called The Sherman Act. As it reads:

Trade associations are subject to strict scrutiny under the many federal and state antitrust laws. One of the most powerful of these is the Sherman Act. Section 1 of that Act prohibits "contracts, combinations or conspiracies ... in restraint of trade." But by its very nature, a trade association is a combination, such that there is no problem in proving the fact. This should serve as a signal to trade associations, that they must proceed with extreme caution lest they be cited for antitrust infringements, carrying stiff fines and jail sentences.

Moreover it explains: In addition to lawsuits prosecuted by the government, civil treble damage suits can be brought by competitors and consumers. By way of illustration, the Sherman Act prohibits any price agreement regardless of purpose. Thus, if members of a trade association have an agreement as to price, they cannot justify the agreement by showing benefits to customers. Members will be found liable for treble damages for injury resulting from the excess price charged.

Now to summarize this all up. We have an entertainment industry that is suing its own consumers to protect an outdated model of business. A new technology has sprung forth. One can say that there are growing pains for any type of growth in society. That being said, the final question should be asked "Why is technology or its consumers made to suffer for such an industry that failed to evolve?"

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
Entertainment Industry :: RIAA

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