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Warner Music Group boss: We went to war with consumers, and the consumers won

The boss of Warner Music Group has made a staggering admission - the music industry itself has to shoulder at least some of the blame for the rise in popularity of file-sharing.

The boss of Warner Music Group has made a staggering admission - the music industry itself has to shoulder at least some of the blame for the rise in popularity of file-sharing.

Edgar Bronfman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Warner Music Group, told the audience at the GSMA Mobile Asia Congress that mobile operators need to be careful not to repeat the mistakes made by the music industry:

"We used to fool ourselves," he said. "We used to think our content was perfect just exactly as it was. We expected our business would remain blissfully unaffected even as the world of interactivity, constant connection and file sharing was exploding. And of course we were wrong. How were we wrong? By standing still or moving at a glacial pace, we inadvertently went to war with consumers by denying them what they wanted and could otherwise find and as a result of course, consumers won."

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This is a big about-turn for Bronfman who back in February threatened to pull out of the iTunes Store and who thought that dropping DRM was illogical. 

The key to tackling piracy and copyright infringement (and here I'm talking about rampant file sharing and bootleg goods, not the home users wanting to copy a CD so they have a copy for the car) is to make it as easy as possible for people to legally get hold of what they are after.  Look at the ringtone market, where you have teenagers chucking money away like it grows on trees.  Or the massive text message market in countries like the UK where people sign up for daily jokes and that kind of stuff where each message costs in excess of $1 (I'd expect to split my sides for a dollar ...).  These business models work because the process is easy and people don't see the money changing hands. 

This isn't going to stop all the freeloaders (such as those who thought that Radiohead's "In Rainbows" album was free ... ) but it will go some way to ensuring that more people pay for their content rather than turning to file sharing.

Question:  How would you combat piracy and file sharing while remaining friendly to consumers?

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