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Thursday, January 20, 2005

Response to Joycotting comments

While it may seem disingenuous to argue in one breath the network effects make P2P considerably less damaging to the RIAA et. al's profits and in the other to propose the joycott as an ethical solution, the key is that each are different consumers. However, as you point out, the term itself doesn't accurately reflect the intended use. I see the joycott as most useful for non-mainstream content: if you wanted to sample the RIAA's goods without paying for them, joycotting is not necessary, you can simply turn on the radio. In a society that the media seems obsessed about tagging as 'increasingly polarized,' apparently because a 51% margin of victory versus a 49% margin of victory means that the country has shifted dramatically in just four years, there is definitely a real problem of polarizing news media. It happens in the mainstream--I believe it was Penn's Annenberg school that showed that FOX News was ~70% pro-Bush and CNN is ~70% pro-Kerry--but to a greater degree at the fringe. My ultra-liberal friends read a non-intersecting set of specialty newsmedia than my fundamentalist friends. I'm always fascinated to read both, but unwilling to support either agenda by subscribing to them. Which brings up another point. Joycotting is not just about financial boycotts, but about statistical ones as well. Given the common misinterpretation of statistics, it makes sense to try to exclude oneself from a subscriber statistic for an agenda one does not support. Many times the evidence for a fringe group's support comes in the form of the depth of interest in its publication, for, after all, who would want to read anything by them unless you believed it?

I don't entirely agree with this argument. I think the owner of a work benefits indirectly when you use or distribute their work. After all, it's free viral marketing. Some works have a network-effect value (value = O(n) for n people that use it) -- if a song is being used in a movie, then it helps the owner of the copyright on the song bargain if the song is known by many people (as the maker of the movie can use the same song to communicate to more people).
I think it is irresponsible to distribute the work of, for instance, the RIAA, as you are essentially lending the work free marketing. I prefer to find freer music that I can distribute and enjoy.
I understand that information is key, but the term "joycotting", as well as the examples you pose, suggests the information being illegally copied is being used for entertainment, not for the vitality of democracy. The entertainment industry hasn't even said "thanks" for all the marketing we get them. In fact, they'll try to sue me for helping them make a buck. As a result, I don't want to help people get their information.
Ethan Glasser-Camp


Blogger Ari F. said...

To some extent I can see how the set of users who 'joycotts' because they don't want to support a product would be largely comprised of those who 'pirates,' but I was hoping to eliminate the overlap in my definition: joycotters download works because they are intent on defeating them by analyzing them. For RIAA works, it doesn't really work. For polemics, I still think it holds. The BigChampagne issue is definitely a problem, one which I tried to resolve towards the end of my response, but never really got around to offering a solution, in large part because any solution is basically technical and thus changes depending on the medium. One option might be to have public-interest groups set up their own torrents with tracking turned off, to distribute with no statistics.

PF wrote:

> I agree with that second comment, and I’m not sure I agree with your “different consumers” response. You’re right that there are lots of opportunities to use P2P data to reach very different conclusions, but that doesn’t change the fact that the joycott will often help the content-producer more than it will hurt them. As measurement systems like BigChampagne become more mainstream, the network effects will be come more visible and valuable. It won’t be long before they join the pantheon of well-respected media statistics.
> PF

8:45 AM  

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