The VP of Urban Promotions for major music label EMI, Craig Davis, has broken ranks with other music industry executives by labelling the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) "incorrect", and warned that this solution will "cause headaches and issues for everyone".
EMI, one of the four major music labels, is also a member of the RIAA (Record Industry Association of America), a major backer of SOPA, and its Senate equivalent, PIPA.
While stressing that piracy is very much a real, and important, problem, Davis was keen to stress that there are better ways to solve the problem than through legislation.
Davis answered questions on Reddit's IAmA, a Q&A session of sorts with the Reddit faithful. Reddit supporters have been amongst the most active in opposing SOPA/PIPA, after the site's operators warned the community could be forced to close if SOPA was passed. Mass protests on the Internet, joined and organized by websites like Reddit, has temporarily forced SOPA (and PIPA) off the agenda, to the chagrin of the music and movie industries.
But it seems that even within these industries, opinions divert as to the best way to combat web piracy. And Davis' opinion is that service, as opposed to pricing, is the key problem.
"Gabe Newell is correct, it's a service issue not an issue of money. Sales have gone up from sales concerts and merchandise, it's obvious that our fans still love music. We’re just not giving them their music in an easier way," Davis added.
David was referring to recent comments made by Gabe Newell, founder of game publisher Valve, and also the popular Internet based game distribution platform, Steam. PC gaming piracy is just as common place, if not more so, than music piracy on the Internet. And Newell feels the solution, which has already been tested in key piracy markets such as Russia and has proven to work, is to improve service for paying customers.
But Davis was keen to stress that he was largely speaking for himself, not for EMI or the industry in general, and so his insights may still be largely ignored by an industry intent on stopping piracy using technological measures, such as DRM, and via legislation, as opposed to via innovation.