This week, Argentinean newspapers informed readers that some Internet users had reached an agreement with CAPIF, the company that represents record companies in Argentina, to pay an amount of money as a compensation for the songs they had illegally downloaded from the Internet. The news coverage shows clear differences between media outlets, and how commercial interests affect informative coverage.
The newspaper Infobae is an interesting case. The same group, managed by Daniel Hadad, owns 10Musica, a music download site. Obviously, they were the ones who dedicated the most space to the topic. But as Zona Indie states, the newspaper informs in an “imprecise” -let's use this word, just to be kind – way. For instance, they say “the argentinean justice condemned users”, when in fact what took place was a series of extrajudicial agreements. At Denken Uber, Mariano Amartino analyzes the same problem of misinformation on this issue.
At Señales de Humo, Patricio Cañete analyzes many of the problems about coverage on the topic. Among the facts he points out, I'll cite three very interesting ones:
-There's no concrete reference to the infractors, no names or last names, nor information about the companies. It doesn't state how many got fined, where they were located (Buenos Aires, other important cities, etc.), how they were identified, etc.
-Nor does it state which authority applied the fine: administrative or judicial instance, of local, provincial or national jurisdiction, etc.
-Much less does it say anything about what process has been applied to the corresponding fines, what law, resolution or process prescribes a sanction of such dimensions.
There are also opinions on this topic at Diario de un viaje a Misiones [ES], Blog de Efra [ES], Juan en los medios [ES], Los Bits [ES] (which proposes a Google Bombing that links the word “delincuentes” -delinquents- to CAPIF's website) and Nivel 13 [ES].
The intention of some media outlest is, clearly, not to inform, but to frighten users and make them stop downloading music. This way, they promote “legal music download” businesses, that attempt to sell us songs that we can only listen to – because of a “digital rights” management – on certain devices. We have to deal with the fact that the value of things are defined in a supply and demand dynamic. And many people in Argentina don't believe an album is worth 35 pesos (about 12 US dollars) or more. There's simply not much they can do about that. Why don't they try a new, renovated business model instead of criminalizing their own consumers?