So the RIAA have gone and posted a full page ad telling parents that the next time their kids download music illegally that they should also download a list of attorneys. Once again the RIAA is throwing its weight around and showing how little it knows about youth culture – which is really bad news for an industry which is meant to be selling a product which kids are meant to identify themselves by. Come on guys, you were kids once too, you must know how you would have reacted as a rebellious teenager if you saw an ad like that. Especially if your mum or dad read it to you. You would have raised the proverbial middle finger at the industry and file sharing would probably have become even more appealing. Hell, if you hadn’t used a P-to-P done up to then, you would be straight up to your room typing “Kazaa” into Google.

Today’s kids are even more disenfranchised with the music industry than they ever were and this sort of stick-without-carrot approach only serves to push them further away. Kids need convincing that the CD and other legitimate products are actually worth buying, not that they will just be penalised for not doing so. It’s as if you are walking down the high street and saw two grocers, one of them the ‘official grocers’. But you decide to walk into the one next door and buy a pound of apples because they are cheaper there, and happily walk out with your apples only to find yourself accosted by the ‘official grocer’ demanding a fine for not buying his ‘official’ apples.

OK, illegal P-to-P networks are illegally distributing copyrighted acts and may well be threatening the long-term survival of the music industry, but that’s not the way many kids see it and the argument is largely academic to them. They simply see P-to-P networks as a cool, non-corporate, anti-establishment way of getting music. It is the punk rock of technology and for that very reason kids love it and will do so until the legitimate products offer them something better. It’s about time the RIAA started thinking that “the kids are alright”…

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