Letter to James Murdoch.

March 10, 2010

Dear Mr.Murdoch,

I read your comments comparing illegal downloading, to stealing a handbag, and I wished to explain something. Consumer sovereignty means the the market dictates what they want.

If someone cannot provide the service they want, at the price they want, to the standard they want, someone else will. You may produce information, and release it how you want, but the market will decide how they share it.

I am no libertarian, but I cannot advocate you and Peter Mandelson attempting to distort the market, and restrict the communication of millions because you cannot adapt to the demands of it. This is unnacceptable state intervention, which will restrict private enterprise. People weren’t forced to pay the scribes, once the Guttenberg press took hold.

I do understand it is concerning to face functioning in a ‘free market’ which is actually governed by market forces, instead of you governing them, but I am afraid that is the way things are supposed to be done. You can’t hold back the tide.

Kind Regards,




  1. So it’s not stealing?

    I’m very uneasy with what Mandelson is proposing as they’re most definitely trying to tie the market up, restrict consumer choice &/or shape it into something they understand.

    However there is a culture that seems to say digital theft is somehow more acceptable than other types of theft – that it isn’t theft at all. And I’m just as uncomfortable with that!

    • What I do know, is that I was happy to swallow the argument taht it was stealing until recently. THere is a post called pirates, and another one which deals with news.

      The answer is no, I don’t think it is. I people are going to use a tool which allows them to share data quickly, and in such small formats-and asking them not to, is like asking people not to use their own personal printing press.

      With music especially there is enough evidence to show that a)people who download still buy music. In fact, the people who download the most, are generally the same people who are buying the most.

      If music and films are available at a reasonable unit cost, people will pay for them. Especially given the quality issues, and virus issues in illegal downloads. I download more films through legal sites, than illegal. People might be exposed to more music, more film, through downloading- but they are still buying, and paying. IF the product is what they need, at the price. I don’t buy a £13,99 album, to hear a couple of tracks, and then realise I don’t like it any more. I pay a couple of quid for a song that I like. I will probably download stuff illegally, listen, decide if I like- then download a decent quality, virus free track.

      And when we look at the entertainment industry especially- this has democratised it. THe removal of the only means of distribution from small hands, means that thousands of new record labels are springing up. My boyfriend is a musician, he is as pleased by his illegal downloads, as he is by the legal ones. Because it means people are hearing his music. He isn’t losing money, someone is copying what he has put out there. Someone else is hearing music he put out there. Because he is getting exposure-and it reflects in his legal sales, gig bookings, reviews.

      A pop star would be quite happy to go on a show to plug and sing a record- to reach an audience. Is it stealing or advertising-when they are targetting the share of the market they want their songs exposed to? The ability to control what a large share of the market sees, or hears, is gone. I don’t think that is bad.

      Am sorry but it is actually a basic principle of the free market that Rupert Murdoch is so passionate about, that the market dictates what they want.
      If Rupert Murdoch cannot figure out how to adapt his business to survive with the new tools, then he really needs to adapt.

      The entertainment and media, have historically been business, where a small number of companies have dictated to market forces, what they will watch, what will be paid- and a small number of people have grown obscenely wealthy. If this new tool means that market forces will now be dictating to the media, to a larger extent-then great.

      The internet means that people can share information, they can’t steal it without it first being obtained-and Rupert Murdoch can dictate pricing at the point information is obtained, but not what people do with it after they have bought it.

      I think with news, it is more concerning how print media will survive-there are less options available for commercial viability- but other news organisations don’t view people looking at their articles, as theft. They still see it as spreading to a wider audience. And the idea that somehow this should change, because Rupert Murdoch has decided it is theft- no. Sorry. Don’t buy it anymore.

      People are not going to stop downloading. THey will still pay companies who are providing what they want, at a reasonable price. But the idea that we should be restricting peoples access to communication and information, to protect Rupert Murdochs market share, because he can’t dictate to the market the way he did- pre internet- no. Adapt. Thats what businesses do.

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by slummymummy1: https://deeplyflawedbuttrying.wordpress.com/2010/03/10/letter-to-james-murdoch/ New blog post. Letter to James Murdoch. Short….

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