The five stages of coping with P2P file sharing

Robert X. Cringely recently posted an interesting article called Resistance is Futile: How Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Is Likely to Change Big Media. In it, he refers to a recent Microsoft Research paper (The Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution, which I pointed to in an article I posted on 11/7) that notes that P2P file sharing basically cannot be stopped.

Of course, the recording and publishing executives, who often work for the same parent company, aren’t going to go without a fight. We are approaching the end of the first stage of that fight, the stage where they try to have their enemy made illegal. But the folks at Microsoft Research now say quite definitively that legal action probably won’t be enough. That’s when we enter stage two, which begins with guerrilla tactics in which copyright owners use the very hacking techniques they rail against to hurt the peer-to-peer systems. This too shall pass when bad PR gets to the guerrillas. The trick to guerrilla or terrorist campaigns is to not care what people think, but in the end, Sony (just one example) cares what people think. That’s when the record companies and publishers will appear to actually embrace peer-to-peer and try to make it their own.

This immediately brought to mind the Kubler-Ross theory of the five stages of coping with death — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I believe that the music industry is in the transition from anger (hacking P2P systems) to bargaining (offering 99¢ downloads, but in fringe proprietary formats). I expect that 2003 will probably be a depressing year to be in the music business. | Robert X. Cringely article