Magazine article Risk Management

See No Evil, Hear No Evil

Magazine article Risk Management

See No Evil, Hear No Evil

Article excerpt

There is a scene in director Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, Vol. 2 where our hero, the Bride, comes face-to face with Elle Driver, her one-eyed nemesis, for what promises to be an epic swordfight between two master assassins. The clash ends abruptly, however, when the Bride gouges out her opponent's remaining eye, rendering her completely blind. As the Bride calmly walks away, Elle wildly thrashes around in pain and frustration, screaming epithets and smashing anything she can reach. Although the scene is certainly graphic, Elle's gesticulations are so over-the-top that it ultimately becomes funny.

The movie has been a mainstay on cable recently and, after watching it for the nth time, and maybe because April 18th is Record Store Day, which celebrates the independent record stores that I more or less lived in as a kid, it occurred to me that Elle Driver's demise resembles the recent state of the music industry. Here, too, was a high-powered entity blindsided by a change in strategy that proved to be its undoing. In this case, the music industry wasn't felled by a well-placed eye gouge, but rather by digital file-sharing and piracy. Like Elle Driver, the music industry's response was to thrash about wildly in a blind effort to hit anything that might be responsible.

This resulted in misguided attempts to prevent piracy by suing consumers for illegally downloading music, or threatening service providers for giving them the means to do so. Technological "solutions" like digital rights management software proved to be more effective at creating security vulnerabilities on customers' computers than preventing illegal file-sharing. It seemed that the music industry was intent on blindly lashing out to preserve an outdated model rather than acknowledge that consumer desires had shifted. In the absence of a viable alternative from the traditional record labels, tech companies like Apple and Amazon instead took the lead in digital music distribution. …

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