Over the last decade the major music labels — and their trade organization, the Recording Industry Association of America — have established a repeated pattern of attacking consumers in the name of squelching illegal file-sharing. Piracy, they claim, has been the industry’s undoing, accounting for an over 50% drop in sales since 1999 (the industry likes to discount the impact of legal per-song music downloads via services like iTunes, and the myriad other changes facilitated by the rise of high-speed Internet connections).
Their efforts to combat piracy are often draconian: threatening tens of thousands of people with lawsuits claiming obscenely high damages; attempting to coordinate their threats with consumers’ ISPs; and, most recently, supporting legislation like SOPA and PIPA that would undermine the fabric of the Internet. Hell, Universal once pulled down a 30 second YouTube video of a dancing baby because the baby had the audacity to dance to a Prince song.
Which is why my jaw dropped when I saw that VEVO, a property jointly owned by some of the biggest record labels in the world, was showing a pirated stream of an ESPN football game at its Sundance PowerStation venue last month — on no fewer than two televisions, and a pair of laptops
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