Last month, the music industry pulled out its stun guns, aka PR flacks, to bring you the following breaking news:
In a stunning turn of events, the US music industry has ceased its long-time litigation strategy of suing individual P2P file-swappers.
Earlier today, Apple briefly summoned the world's attention to bring you the following incredible (!!!) news flash:
Apple said it would begin selling song downloads from all four major music companies without the anticopying measures that have been part of its iTunes store since it opened in 2003. It will also move away from its insistence on pricing songs at 99 cents.
In other words, Apple's software engineers are so distraught over Steve Jobs' failing health that they have resorted to spinning the deletion of annoying source code as a major product innovation.
Does this sound familiar? Let John Markoff take you back:
Long assailed within the computer industry for routinely adding too many features to its software programs, Microsoft will tacitly acknowledge that criticism today when it starts a Web marketing campaign for its new Office XP software suite that ridicules its notorious Office help system.
The Clippy campaign, which will cost about $500,000, also includes a Web-site-based computer game in which irate users, many of whom have long found the paper clip program annoying to the point of distraction, will finally be able to retaliate by shooting virtual staples, tacks and rubber bands at the animated Clippy figure.
The story behind the story, of course, is that the "music industry" -- by which I mean the cartel engaged in organized trafficking in an artificially scarce form of antique "performance capture" -- is an industry in decline, and the major players are desperate to stanch the flow of attention to other "new" (and more participatory) media. Regardless of these late-stage efforts, the decline, which is both inevitable and inexorable, may be viewed as a leading indicator of a broader, long-term phase shift in celebrity culture.
From the archive:
The trick is to make people think that a certain paradigm is inevitable, and they had better give in.
Someone from the future, I’m sure, will marvel at our blindness and at the hole we have driven ourselves into, for we are completely committed to an unsustainable technology.
In this case, what's unsustainable is not just the artificial scarcity of individual captured performances, but rather of the underlying capture technology, not to mention the performance itself.
But for everyone, surely, ... this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never -- in nothing, great or small, large or petty -- never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. We stood all alone a year ago, and to many countries it seemed that our account was closed, we were finished. All this tradition of ours, our songs, our School history, this part of the history of this country, were gone and finished and liquidated.
Very different is the mood today.
Apple Drops Anticopying Measures in iTunes