Online piracy has been for long a nuisance to the music industry. Much publicised battles have been fought on the web and in the courts, but with limited success. What escapes the attention of the media is the deluge of offline MP3s. The large scale proliferation of home PCs and dirt-cheap MP3 players have only magnified the malice. A little bargaining can get you a CD loaded with 150 ‘superhit’ songs for Rs. 20 (45 cents). The sidewalks of the metros and the mofussil towns are stacked with the stuff. Neighbourhood rental shops also rent them out – Rs. 10 only. Downloading the equivalent from the net would have cost many times more. Purchasing the original CDs – forget it.

The quality might not be great, but it is more than worth the price paid. The customer is happy. He no longer has to empty his wallet or inflate his credit card bills at the cash counters of music stores.

The music industry does not seem to have learnt its lesson. They are concentrating only on the ethical and legal aspects. Their anti-piracy blitzkrieg is limited to an ad here and a raid there. After a few days of lull the pirates are again back to business. What they should have realised is that the advantage the pirates have is in the price. Low priced original movie DVDs and VCDs have dented the pirates’ market-share. Its now the turn of the music industry to go for competitive (read pirate unfriendly) and consumer friendly pricing.

One fact that I fail to comprehend. A CD costs less to produce than an audio cassette. Then why does the same music on a CD cost at least three times than that on an audio cassette?

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