Explain and discuss the 'digital dilemma' facing the international film and music industries

Essay by istibUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, March 2006

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It is hardly an exaggeration to suggest that we are currently in a phase of technological development that differs in nature, scale, and sheer speed of impact from any that has gone before. A seemingly technical change - from analog to digital format - in the manner in which entertainment products are stored and replayed, combined with the "communication revolution" associated with the Internet, has created an extraordinary array of new ways in which music and movies can be created and distributed. But this revolution also implies a 'digital dilemma' to the music and film industry as it poses serious threats to the established order and forces the industry to adapt rapidly and redesign its distribution system. Is it indeed to be expected that the concepts of copyright, authorship and intellectual property will soon be obsolete? Will recorded songs be essentially advertisements and will artists have to make a living solely by performing on tour? We will begin by analyzing the issues involved in the digital dilemma and assessing the impact of piracy for the music and film industry.

Then, we will attempt to describe the emerging paradigm of freely shared information and the power relations between the authorities and the music 'pirates'. Finally we shall consider several solutions that have been proposed to the industry to cope with the digital dilemma.

Computer networks have radically changed the economics of distribution as networks enable people to send digital information worldwide, cheaply and almost instantaneously. As a consequence, it is easier and less expensive not only for an artist or record company to distribute its work to the public, but also for individuals or commercial infringers to distribute unauthorized copies. With computer and communication equipment becoming commonplace in the home combined with an erosion of what were previously natural barriers to...