Tuning out the customer

It is nice to see the mainstream press discussing music industry policies as anti-customer rather than repeating the industry’s piracy message.
And it’s also great to read Jerry Michalski saying it, since he’s been thinking and talking about these issues for years now.
Perhaps digitalconsumer.org is helping to change the terms of the debate. The recent Boucher and Lofgren bills describe their goals as protecting the rights of customers to traditional fair use of media.
The good thing about using the term “consumer” in this context is that an individual hears the word and thinks “that’s me”, and my rights to things that I have in my house are being taken away. It becomes an area where politicians can take a populist stand. It takes the discourse out of the realm of abstract and technical legal principles and rights. It’s great that there are lawyers fighting these issues in the courts, and more power to them. But the language of lawyers doesn’t get people to identify and take action.
What the term “consumer” leaves out is Jerry’s “co-participant” message, which the Fortune article quoted but didn’t seem to understand. Personal music sharing, fan sites, etc. are ways for individuals to participate in the creation and sharing of culture. People’s desire to contribute could be embraced into media business models, instead of repelled as invasions into the territory and property of the media industry.
It is also pretty weird to read the characterization of Jerry as a “cyberspace libertarian” — he just doesn’t fit that image of a scruffy maladjusted coder who rants in favor of guns and drugs and abolishing the government!

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