Marcus O’Dair, Middlesex University.
Following the emergence of file-sharing networks such as Napster and BitTorrent, the record industry has tended to regard peer-to-peer networks in a negative light. This is hardly surprising: in the terms of Yochai Benkler, such networks provided ‘technological shock’ but not ‘economic sustainability’, at least form an industry perspective. Some have seen recent technological developments as revolutionary, but it is a revolution only in potential: though music can be recorded and distributed more easily than ever, there remains a crisis in terms of attribution and monetisation that the Sisyphean ‘war on copyright’ seems unlikely to solve. Royalty payments in the streaming era, meanwhile, are slow, inefficient and enormously complex. A twentieth century, industrial information model, then, remains dominant, although the apparently inexorable overall decline in income from recorded music is gradually reducing it to a mere husk.