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Consumers blast music labels, Hollywood

A group of consumer organizations released a near-80 page survey today deeply critical of music labels and movie studios, as part of a political campaign they said would start in the courts and wind up in Congress.

The groups, including the Consumer Union and Consumer Federation of America, say record labels and movies studios are in a "piracy panic," and that the ongoing legal assault on file-swapping networks threatens free speech and consumer rights. By buying singles instead of $16 albums, the groups said music buyers might have seen as much as $1 billion in "consumer surplus" (money newly available that would otherwise have been inefficiently spent) last year alone.

That's a big number, and seems to confuse the issue of peer to peer networking with what's happening on Apple's iTunes. Consumers don't necessarily need to access P2P networks in order to benefit from the rise of the digital single, after all.

That said, P2P is certainly a technology with many powerful and efficient uses that we've only barely seen, including the propagation of protected speech.

The main report is here, or you can find it via BitTorrent here