Douglas C Merrill, who left his job as Google's CIO to be EMI's Chief Operating Officer of New Music and President of Digital Business has given a speech in which he claims that EMI's own research confirmed that P2P music downloaders were the label's best customers. Merrill, who was one of many tech executives to be recruited by EMI in recent years (one friend of mine left after a few months, visibly shaken, claiming that it was impossible to get the business to see reason), was keynoting the CA Expo in Sydney when he said that LimeWire users were the biggest iTunes customers, and that the record industry's strategy of suing downloaders "is like trying to sell soap by throwing dirt on your customers."
"For example, there's a set of data that shows that file sharing is actually good for artists. Not bad for artists. So maybe we shouldn't be stopping it all the time. I don't know," Merrill said.
"Obviously, there is piracy that is quite destructive but again I think the data shows that in some cases file sharing might be okay. What we need to do is understand when is it good, when it is not good…Suing fans doesn't feel like a winning strategy," he concluded.