I found a comical yet ominous quote the other day: "...the idea that 95% of content on the net is free is not sustainable. We don't believe that society can allow the free consumption of content to persist," [Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI, the body which represents the UK recording industry] said.
This sweeping statement poses an incredible array of questions. Is "free consumption of content" really a threat to civil society? Is 95% of the content on the net even free? It doesn't seem like it to me, given all the damn advertisements I have to endure. And who exactly does he mean by "society"? And what the hell does he mean by "sustainable"? Is content a non-renewable resource, like fossil fuel?
Clearly, people have grown accustomed to having unfettered access to content without being charged. In that sense, society seems to prefer free content. So how does he propose to put the genie back into the bottle? Through lawsuits? That might work for a while. But hindsight shows that shutting down Napster has had little effect on the demand for and availability of free content.
So what does all this mean? Time will tell.