A familiar trope of copyright critics is that those involved in creating content — whether record labels, movie studios, or book publishers — are stuck in the past. The challenges facing these industries stem from their refusal to embrace innovation.

The tech industry is especially fond of this trope and seem to have settled on the “buggy whip” as their analogy of choice. A notable example is last August’s statement by Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association, who said, “Rather than adapt to the digital marketplace, NAB [National Association of Broadcasters] and RIAA act like buggy-whip industries that refuse to innovate and seek to impose penalties on those that do.”

On its face, this claim doesn’t hold up.

As pointed out on Copyright Alliance last week, “the motion picture studios and other members of the creative community are licensing new technology models daily and have embraced an evolving technological landscape to create legal and innovative products and markets.” We have a wealth of different ways to experience content nowadays. The MPAA and RIAA both have pages listing just dozens of legal and convenient examples.

It’s true that people are changing the way they access and consume content, but the transition is gradual and ongoing. Traditional forms of consumptions — terrestrial radio, cable TV, CDs, for example — still make up the majority of how media is experienced. 1Glenn Peoples, Paper Sheds New Light on Music Listening Habits, Billboard, Nov. 3, 2009; Americans Watching More TV Than Ever; Web and Mobile Video up Too, Nielsen Wire, May 20, 2009.  It doesn’t make sense to rush in gutting existing business models for unproven models, models that don’t yet sustain the production of the type of content people love.

In addition, many of the oft-touted suggestions for how the media industries should be adapting have yet to produce substantial returns. According to NPD analyst Russ Crupnick, the past 10 years has seen greater “ubiquity, disaggregation, fragmentation, liberal licensed, disabled DRM, and disinflation” but less growth in music buyers.

Content Industries are not Buggy-whip Makers

On a deeper level, this claim make even less sense.

The buggy-whip analogy comes from an article written by a Harvard Business School professor in the 1960s. 2Randall Stross, Failing Like a Buggy Whip Maker? Better Check Your Simile, New York Times, Jan. 9, 2010. It describes a business that refuses to adapt in the face of technological innovation. When automobiles replaced horse-drawn carriages, buggy-whip manufacturers either had to change their business models or risk obsolescence.

How are content industries like buggy-whip manufacturers? It’s not like they are making something no one wants. People haven’t switched entirely to new forms of entertainment; people haven’t to a large extent embraced alternatives to the content created by traditional industries.

Note that complaints about outdated business models are often not that the RIAA’s and MPAA’s make it difficult for others to create their own music or movies. The complaints largely come from those who want to get the benefits of other people’s content. Service providers and hardware manufacturers certainly recognize the value of this content, they just want more of that value for themselves.

To put it another way, if media industries are making buggy-whips, and buggy-whips are obsolete, why are people pirating buggy-whips?

Piracy is not the Automotive Industry

But even if media industries can be described as buggy-whip industries, it doesn’t follow that copyright infringement is the automobile.

Piracy is not an innovation.

I sometimes wonder if those who compare content creation to the buggy-whip industry and piracy to the automotive industry realize that piracy was around long before the internet. Prior to mp3s and torrents, the record industry faced unauthorized CD and vinyl pressing operations. When the major product of the music industry was sheet music, pirate printers hawked “wretchedly-got-up versions” of popular songs on the streets. And through the centuries, authors and publishers had to contend with reprinters and copyists. The only difference between then and now is that copying is cheaper and more diffuse — a quantitative, rather than qualitative, difference.

But no matter how cheap and easy copying gets, it’s still only copying; no new works are created through piracy.

No doubt, the way people experience media will continue to evolve. Media industries will need to continue to adapt to remain successful. But the comparison between copyright industries and metaphorical buggy-whip manufacturers is inaccurate.

References   [ + ]

1. Glenn Peoples, Paper Sheds New Light on Music Listening Habits, Billboard, Nov. 3, 2009; Americans Watching More TV Than Ever; Web and Mobile Video up Too, Nielsen Wire, May 20, 2009.
2. Randall Stross, Failing Like a Buggy Whip Maker? Better Check Your Simile, New York Times, Jan. 9, 2010.

33 Comments

  1. “How are content industries like buggy-whip manufacturers? It’s not like they are making something no one wants. People haven’t switched entirely to new forms of entertainment; people haven’t to a large extent embraced alternatives to the content created by traditional industries. […] To put it another way, if media industries are making buggy-whips, and buggy-whips are obsolete, why are people pirating buggy-whips?”

    I think you are conflating the content with the container, and so your attempt to extend the analogy in this way is itself inaccurate. To speak through the analogy: People are not pirating buggy-whips, they’re pirating transportation, which the buggy-whip makers dominated until the automobile introduced a new and better means of transportation. This seems the more correct analogy: the buggy-whip makers are trying to make people buy buggy-whips to start up their new automobiles, instead of changing their business into making automobiles or automobile components.

    In other words, the “buggy-whip” is the excludability that is inherent to the physical versions of content in film, discs, and paper. The content industries are trying to maintain or artificially create excludability via DRM, DVD release windows, and other means. That seems more like efforts at protection rather than innovation.

    People aren’t demanding new forms of content; as you say, they are chomping at the bit for the content that artists are producing. But they are certainly demanding that the means of buying and accessing that content evolve with the times. Consumers are not in arms against content creators; they are in arms against the content packagers and content peddlers.

    I agree that many new distribution and monetization models are unproven, and it would indeed be foolish for the content industry to throw all their eggs in any single new basket. But the trend seems pretty clear that monetizing excludability won’t last in the digital age, and so filing suits against those who are moving ahead in that trend will result only in pyrrhic victories at best.

    I agree that piracy is not innovation. But neither is trying to futilely import physical excludability into the digital landscape while suing your customers along the way. No, piracy is not innovation; piracy is a signal that content industries are not meeting the needs of their consumers. It seems to me entirely acceptable for the content industries to be cautious in transitioning to this new and developing new business environment, but it seems to me entirely unacceptable for them to try to cling to and artificially sustain an environment that is quickly fading into history.

    • “piracy is a signal that content industries are not meeting the needs of their consumers.”

      Inherent to this argument is that the “need[]” being spoke of is the want to pay nothing for the content being consumed, which is why this is the same, tired rationalization that is constantly parroted by infringers and anti-copyright zealots.

      • Jason, I respectfully disagree with your assessment of who is calling for what. In a 25 February 2011 speech, Francis Gurry, the Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) made some observations relevant to the point at hand:

        Digital technology and the Internet have had, and will continue to have, a radical impact on those balances [between consumers and producers]. They have given a technological advantage to one side of the balance, the side of free availability, the consumer, social enjoyment and short-term gratification. History shows that it is an impossible task to reverse technological advantage and the change that it produces. Rather than resist it, we need to accept the inevitability of technological change and to seek an intelligent engagement with it. There is, in any case, no other choice – either the copyright system adapts to the natural advantage that has evolved or it will perish.

        I hardly think that the views of the current head of a United Nations agency commissioned to oversee intellectual property matters can be characterized as the “tired rationalization” of an “infringer[]” and/or “anti-copyright zealot[]”.

        Mr. Gurry’s entire speech is well worth watching or reading, as I mentioned recently over on my blog Legally Sociable. He presents a remarkably balanced view of the issues and suggests three guiding principles:
        1. “[N]eutrality to technology and to the business models developed in response to technology.”
        2. “[C]omprehensiveness and coherence in the policy response.”
        3. “[M]ore simplicity in copyright.”

        You should check it out.

      • Conceded that I should have used “desire” instead of “need.” It’s true that many people want to pay nothing for content, but your comment presupposes that all users must or should pay for the content they consume on a unit-by-unit basis, or that consumer desires to experience content without paying for it with money are illegitimate or unworkable.

        Do consumers actually have to pay for content for content creators to survive? There are other options. I’m not saying that advertising or music taxes or even patronage are proven or even socially desirable models, but I think it’s important to identify your assumption that consumers necessarily must give money in exchange for access to content. This may not be the case.

    • What “transportation” do media companies NOT currently offer for their content? As I understand the modern digital marketplace, I can legally download and stream music in both subscription and free formats (ad-supported). I can legally stream movies to my computer, my television, my iPad, my iPhone, etc. I can purchase books in an online store, transfer them to a myriad of eBook readers, and even read them on my computer.

      The only way content industries haven’t “adapted” to the digital market is by not giving away all of their content for free. That’s really the bottom line in all of the “buggy whip” nonsense. And unless you’re a superstar recording artist, there’s no money in touring and merch (and actors, software designers, songwriters, writers are SOL). There’s certainly not enough in adrev, freemium, merch, concert, date-the-fans money to fund the marketing and investment that labels, movie, studios, publishers, and other content investors provide. Given this fact, there’s certainly nothing antiquated about content owners pushing to protect their copyright. The alternative is simply not an acceptable “business mode” that any rational business person would accept.

      It seems to me that the only antiquated notion is the “get-a-new-business-model” rhetoric that has been thrown around for years, with little or no thought behind the broader implications it embodies.

  2. Pingback: Responding to Copyhype’s “Copyright and Buggy Whips” | Jarred Taylor • com

  3. Another analogy would be closer. Suppose someone invented a ‘universal key’, that would open any lock or bolt, on a house, a shop, or a car. The key is marketed, ostensibly, as an aid to people who have lost their house or car keys. But there are no restrictions on its sale and, predictably, 99.99% of the purchasers have nefarious purposes in mind. Equally predictably, burglary, car theft, and theft of stock from shops all increase dramatically.

    In this situtation would anyone be saying ‘Never mind, move on, we have to give up the outdated concept of private property and adjust to a world in which everyone can take whatever they like whenever they like’.

    Well, I suspect that in the brief interval before the economy collapsed, some people *would* argue along those lines. Most obviously, thieves, but also: academics out to make a name for themselves by ‘radical’ thinking; ideological opponents of ‘capitalism’; and anarchists, vandals, and nihilists of all kinds. Sound familiar?

    But presumably the general and overwhelming public reaction would be that strong action must be taken against the manufacturers, distributors, and users of the ‘key’. No-one would be impressed by the claim that the key has some legitimate uses. Either the key would be banned altogether, with severe penalties for its possession, or legitimate uses could be permitted subject to strict licensing and other controls.

    Whether or not such measures would succeed, they would certainly be tried, because the consequences of inaction would be dire.

    • That really doesn’t apply. Jarred’s analysis seems accurate and fair. Yours unfortunately has a lot of bias that skews your argument.

      • Bias? Pot, meet kettle!

        As for Jarred’s ‘accurate and fair’ analysis, let’s just dissect his assertion that ‘consumers are not in arms against content creators, they are in arms against the content packagers and content peddlers’.

        First, I doubt very much that most ‘consumers’ are ‘in arms’ against anyone: they just prefer getting things free to paying for them.

        Second, the distinction between ‘creators’ and ‘packagers’ is dubious. In the case of a major Hollywood movie, for example, the movie studio provides the funding, the facilities, and production expertise necessary for making the film. Similarly, in the case of a commercial pop record, it is usually a major record company that finances the considerable cost of studio time and expertise. These forms of ‘art’ couldn’t exist in the way that they do without major financial investment. You may happen to despise these genres (and I don’t much care for them myself), but don’t pretend that you are not attacking the ‘creators’, because the studios or record companies are part of the ‘creative’ process.

        But my main objection is that there are many cases where piracy manifestly does directly attack the ‘creator’ in the strictest sense of the word. As I’ve pointed out before (but never got a reply from you), there are many, probably the majority, of entirely independent, self-financing artists who are affected by file-sharing and other forms of piracy. The pirates have no scruples and no morals. They do not distinguish between ‘commercial’ and ‘independent’ artists; everything is fair game.

        • The distinction between “creators” and “packagers” is indeed dubious in the way you have described, because you have essentially described two tautologies. Yes, for a “major Hollywood movie”, Hollywood studios are part of the creative process. For a “commercial pop record,” a major record label is part of the creative process. Of course a Hollywood movie or a label-produced record would not exist without Hollywood or major labels. I would not be typing this post in Chrome on my MacBook without Google or Apple, but that doesn’t mean I could be writing this some other way.

          I have not seen evidence that either of these types of content could not exist in substantially the same form without Hollywood studios or record labels. If you have, I would love to see it. What do the studios and labels provide to artists? Artist discovery, marketing, distribution, and up-front investment/costs. Is there a reason to believe that the Internet cannot supply the discovery, marketing, and distribution services (and much more efficiently, at that)? Do you have evidence that “big budget” content could not be funded in a different way?

          As to your last point, I don’t disagree that independent or new artists who continue to primarily rely on monetizing physical or artificial excludability of their content are mostly suffering. But there are many examples of artists who are embracing the paradigm shift and are doing quite well by using their content to monetize those things that can’t be easily copied: engagement with consumers at events like concerts or lectures, selling physical goods, etc.

          Admittedly, I don’t know if these alternative models will work. But I also have not seen any evidence that they couldn’t possibly work. I am not anti-copyright. I believe in copyright’s purpose to incentivize and reward creativity. But I am pessimistic about the viability of copyright as a major source of income in the age of the easy, perfect digital copy. DRM has failed and will continue to fail. Artists and studios have every right to sue their customers into poverty. But is that sustainable, or wise?

          • Glad to hear you are not ‘anti-copyright’. I too often jump to the conclusion that people who argue that ‘copyright is dead’ are happy to dance on its grave.

            I agree with you that some independent artists manage to do quite well despite piracy. But I get tired (and irritated) by the common assumption that all artists (or at least, all those who could have expected to make a living from selling records in the ‘good old days’) can make a living from touring and selling merchandise. To give some fairly obvious objections:

            1. Copyright is a much wider field than music. Do you expect e.g. authors of computer games to go round ‘performing’?

            2. Even within the field of music, there are many artists who are capable of making good records but who for various reasons cannot do much in the way of touring, e.g. women with young children. For example, Tori Amos had to cut down her touring shedule after having a baby. And there are some who just aren’t good live performers.

            3. Touring is not, in general, very profitable. The general public is dazzled by press reports about U2 or Bon Jovi making millions, but most artists, playing in concert halls or theaters rather than stadiums, are lucky to do much more than break even. Part of the reason for that is that the squeeze on record sales means more artists are touring at any given time, and the market is saturated. Last year in the US even big-name artists like Rihanna were cancelling shows due to poor demand.

            4. Merchandise is probably quite lucrative for some types of artist, e.g. heavy metal bands or teen idols like Justin Bieber, but for the majority of artists it is a nice bonus rather than a large part of their income. I don’t know any statistics, but I doubt that more than 10% of a concert audience buy artists’ merch, if only because it is logistically difficult to sell a large number of items in the short ‘window of opportunity’ when the audience are coming in or going out. I would be surprised if most artists get a net profit of more than a dollar per head of the audience from merchandise.

  4. Pingback: WIPO points the way forward | Legally Sociable

  5. Something to look into that has just recently made the rounds:

    Link

    “Some markets have local firms that compete on price to offer legitimate content (think the US, which has companies like Hulu, Netflix, Apple, and Microsoft that compete to offer legal video content). But the authors conclude that, in most of the world, legitimate copyrighted goods are only distributed by huge multinational corporations whose dominant goals are not to service a large part of local markets but to “protect the pricing structure in the high-income countries that generate most of their profits.””

    That’s the main thing that people have been saying. The entire point that most people tend to ignore with copyright law is that if the price is wrong, consumers go elsewhere. Really, a pretty good article summing up the entire problem with copyright law.

    Getting the report and reading it when I can. But 440 pages is a LOT.

  6. To DavidB’s comment I’d like to add that the whole concept of comparing music labels to buggy whip manufacturers is offensive to anyone who has spent his life searching for, discovering, nurturing, funding, marketing, and often playing many other roles in the launching of a successful artist’s recording career.

    While music fans who enjoy getting music for free can wrap themselves in the warmth of thinking they are sticking it only to major label fat cat executives (i.e. “peddlers”) they are, in fact, also crushing the incomes of many, many independently owned labels run by people who never got wealthy but enjoyed making a living from investing in and helping bring to fans thousands of artists and almost every new and niche music genre in our history. Try as they might to “innovate” and adapt to the new “marketplace” they were driven out of business – and I know this firsthand – while having to read pap telling them that it was “too bad” but they should understand and accept that, like buggy-whip manufacturers, their contribution(s) were no longer needed and it was, for lack of a better word, their “fault” that their businesses were damaged.

    Lastly, considering that the overwhelmingly vast number of musicians who’ve ever sold more than 10 albums (according to sales information from SoundScan) need and seek the support of a label (or label services provider) to assist in getting them beyond simply recording, posting their music to YouTube, creating a Facebook page & going off to their day job, I think it is quite obvious that fans who don’t pay for the music they acquire are absolutely hurting artists. For without the financial, marketing, and often creative-team support of labels, musicians are more and more finding that they’re unable to break out of the hobbyist set and actually make a sustainable living from the music they create. It’s been my experience that the din shouting otherwise typically come from one of a few camps: hobbyist musicians who simply enjoy having their music heard (which is fine if that is their choice), the blissfully unaware, or those who have an agenda (either as an anti-copyright activist, a consumer electronics supporter, or bloggers who haven’t a clue of the real finances of the business of music).

  7. It doesn’t make sense to rush in gutting existing business models for unproven model

    Read: “We’ll just wait for someone else to figure out the next big workable business model first, and then try to copy them.”

    And this is exactly why the current big-content industries will go under: they’re in no hurry to plan for tomorrow. They only see how it is today, and remain obstinate in the face of the changing market.

    • The truth is the opposite of what you say. Because online content delivery business model are so easy to copy and replicate, it is economically irrational to invest $100s of millions in the creation of creative works like movies, software, and games if there are no protectible exclusive rights in those works. The creator of the works will never be able to compete with nearly identical copycat businesses that do not have to recoup the costs of creativity. Every time the creator improves his business, the copycat will follow suit, so a creator will always be at a competitive disadvantage. So, the economically decision for everyone – from “big content industries” to individual songwriters – is to stop creating and invest instead in businesses that utilize the creativity of others. In other words, in a world with no protectible copyrights, the rational decision is to become a parasite…of which there are already many examples among current online businesses.

  8. There’s one thing that i see that’s a recurring theme for the copytheft apoligists, and is inaccurate:

    “suing your customers”

    key word being “customer”…
    …if you don’t buy anything, you’re not my customer,sorry. And if you’re just taking from me, you’re a leach.
    Besides the fact that the individuals (that you can count on ONE hand) that have had suits brought against them, to my knowledge have NOT paid a dime in settlements to date… anyway, that’s a tactic that is not being used anymore, it was just done to set precidence.. but you still hear of people moaning about Metallica…

    • And notice who they had to learn from ~ 3 years ago. link

      “suing your customers”

      So basically, the RIAA was correct in trying to sue everyone off of Napster. How did that turn out? And look into what went into those proceedings which should truly concern people.

      IP lookups – Precedent set for the current domain takedowns in regards to IP law being supposedly sancrosanct

      Increased law enforcement – Everyone in a high career position is believing that the law should be used to beat piracy over the head. Yeah, with the ICE’s major blunder of the 84,000 domain takedown, this caused a huge mess.

      Damage to disruptive business models – Spotify has had quite a lot of difficulty in coming to the US. But it remains the favorite “freemium” model of Europe. Cyberlockers are more interested in appeasing the music industry with dubious terms of Service than finding new ways to do business. Eventually, that will come to bite them.

      Finally this:

      Besides the fact that the individuals (that you can count on ONE hand) that have had suits brought against them, to my knowledge have NOT paid a dime in settlements to date…

      Whitney Harper

      Joel Tenenbaum

      Jammie Thomas

      You can really count the settlements on one hand. Two are appealed to the Supreme Court. Harper had her words of the lien against her. If that’s what copyright can do, there’s no justice in the act of financially bankrupting someone in a horribly slanted lawsuit.

      • Actually, Tennenbaum and Thomas are lucky they’re not on trial for perjury.

        • I’m not positive that takes away from the argument that the “settlements” were quite egregious, if not unconstitutional…

    • You must have many thousands of fingers on that one hand of yours…

      See e.g. http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/06/the-riaa-amateurs-heres-how-you-sue-p2p-users.ars.

  9. ^from the link you kindly posted:
    “After years of litigation, the number of people who have pursued a trial all the way to a verdict can be counted on one hand”
    ——-
    & Yes, there is out-of-court settlements.
    But AFAIK the people who had (some multiple) guilty verdicts [by a jury of peers] Haven’t paid a dime on the awarded amounts (again, as found by a jury). Unless you know different….

    Still doesn’t go to the point, that pirates are NOT customers…

    • “But AFAIK the people who had (some multiple) guilty verdicts [by a jury of peers] Haven’t paid a dime on the awarded amounts (again, as found by a jury). Unless you know different….”

      The point I was making was about the egregious amounts those have caused to these three people to pay for what amounts to a few songs. I find that quite an odd position when the statutory damages made copyright ill respected in any community.

      Other than the point that litigation is an ill advised move, it’s interesting that Jamendo has artists that I don’t pay anything. I find the artists’ music in various projects. If the only thing you want is people to pay you, I would doubt it’ll pay off. Perhaps there’s other ways to do it, but I wouldn’t suggest looking at every potential customer as a supposed leech before they’ve seen your wares.

      But saying that this was a jury of peers is rather dubious…

      People have actually admitted that they fileshared and the RIAA didn’t go after those jurors. And if you look at the instructions, there really isn’t anything about the law that seems just.

      I would say that artists find ways to make names for themselves. The song/art/book/etc. is meant to promote something else. The song promotes a good artist on Youtube. Good artwork on Deviantart tells people you can draw (and people still make commissioned artwork). Pdfs can be downloaded off of Scribe. And contrary to popular belief, most people still prefer books to pdfs. Yes, there are artists that make money on Youtube, but most, if not all artists find other sources of revenue. Having a decent YT following surely helps, but imagine all of the people that don’t buy anything. They might help in a lot more ways than you expect. What is probably the most concerning is that you’re possibly brushing off those people for a short term profit. That may not help you in your goal.

      • Are you sure you are not the principal at Recording Industry vs The People?

        Your comments appear to largely mirror what is presented there on a regular basis. The problem, however, is that those comments are made looking through the prism of a defense attorney.

      • ” The song/art/book/etc. is meant to promote something else”

        ..except the song/art/book IS the product…
        if i wanted to sell T-shirts, i would have become a graphic-designer…

        Look, i’m not saying that lawsuits are the right answer…
        … i’m saying i have little/no sympathy for those who got caught.
        can’t pay the fine? Don’t do the crime!

        For the record, i don’t believe going after downloaders is the answer.. the UPloaders.. that’s a different story..

        • That might be just as difficult. Looking at all of the people and various forms of technology used, the chances of actually getting caught for copyright infringement are about the same as being struck by lightning. Bittorrent, FTP, PHP, cyberlockers… It’s as if copyright holders are trying to fight a war against the ocean.

          Wouldn’t it be far more expedient to find other ways to make money? A song does not represent your end product. Neither does a pdf of a book. What others usually suggest is finding other scarcities that help to promote an artist.

          Ex. If a pdf is priced too high, it builds a black market. If it’s cheap, people can support an artist with smaller pdf downloads. However, some people still may be looking forward to a book from a writer.

          Even then, the main gist is using the digital to support other products. Even then, I’m learning that people some of those “illegal downloads” are coming from overseas. If at least some of those reports are to be believed, it’s more about getting your products out there and finding a way to make it benefit you.

          “can’t pay the fine? Don’t do the crime!”

          That’s a rather unfortunate position since the law is heavily skewed even for people innocent of infringement. The laws of copyright infringement are being abused. Even innocent infringement, where all of the proof is in front of the prosecutor can be problematic.

          • “The laws of copyright infringement are being abused. ”

            You’re citing lawsuits by the porn industry that have failed to go anywhere. You might as well condemn the entire judicial system if you want to get upset about lawsuits being filed. There are frivolous ones filed every day.

            The laws regarding online copyright infringement are hopelessly weak and out of date, as evidenced by the rampant and open piracy that we all know is occurring. The DMCA was created in the infancy of the internet and is long overdue for an update.

            Widespread and unchecked illegal behavior is unhealthy for society. If you don’t think infringement should be illegal, talk to your elected representative. But please stop whining about how enforcement is finally coming to a long overdue epidemic. It’s pathetic, really.

  10. @Graham

    I’ll ignore the ad hominem attack and go to the crux of your argument.

    Widespread and unchecked illegal behavior is unhealthy for society

    All evidence points to copyright infringement supposedly hurting society as false. Movies, books, games continue to be made. The number of releases continues to soar greatly. Does it have an affect? Yes. But this now means that artists should find other ways to profit other than one hit wonders. Judging from how at least a a few artists find value through their songs spreading like wildfire, I don’t think their potential is hurting all that much. Especially given the fact that Youtube seems to get it.

    • “All evidence points to copyright infringement supposedly hurting society as false.”

      Really? ALL evidence? Hyperbole aside, most evidence is to the contrary. In fact, there are two major reports posted on the front page of this site the conclude that copyright infringement of music alone costs the industry upwards of $12 billion annually.

      “Especially given the fact that Youtube seems to get it.”

      That article was laughable. According to a recent study, it would require anywhere from 850,000 to 4,000,000 streams of a single song to generate the same amount of revenue that the sales of 1,200 copies on iTunes would generate. Unless you’re an artist of the caliber of Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga, or Britney Spears, generating those numbers in order to garnish advertising revenue just aren’t realistic.

    • >>>All evidence points to copyright infringement supposedly hurting society as false. Movies, books, games continue to be made.

      This doesn’t follow logically. Also, the studies that show piracy has no effect are even more dubious than the ones that show it’s destroying our society (which, I admit, takes some doing). The Overholzer-Gee study is laughable – they suggest performers should play for free beer! The Canadian study from a few years ago has been thoroughly debunked.

      And the study that just came out is funded by people who have an interest in the outcome and full of faulty assumptions. Just to name one, the study says that Hollywood can’t be hurting since box office receipts are up. Yes, but the decrease is modest and box office grosses only represent a fifth to a quarter of income for most movies. Meanwhile, DVD sales have cratered – because of piracy. Anyone with an ounce of knowledge knows this. So ask yourself who funded that study.

      I am NOT defending Hollywood’s own studies. But if you hate biased studies paid for by corporate interests, you ought to hate all of them equally.

      • @Jason – I’d need a link since I’m not positive of exactly which two studies you’re referring to. Regarding this:

        Unless you’re an artist of the caliber of Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga, or Britney Spears, generating those numbers in order to garnish advertising revenue just aren’t realistic.

        Did not Justin Bieber start on Youtube?

        And there are quite a few artists that have write ups about their success with Youtube’s model of giving stuff away for free. Yes, you have to work for it, but it’s not impossible to find your success.

        @Nanker – There’s a lot of reference to other countries downloading material because it’s fairly difficult to get outside of the US. This actually makes sense that piracy increases.

        One thing I’ve never seen anyone do is follow the military and see how easy it really is to get material for them. In terms of games, the military suffers. You also have to think of the legal hurdles that happen to get movies, games, and music to the armed forces overseas. With the need of them having to be authorized, this can sometimes be an inconvenience.

        So it’d be far easier to believe that, like some of the younger GIs in bunkers, they can’t (or won’t) buy movies to save money for other projects.

        The movie and music industry fail to recognize is that people are going elsewhere. They can compete (This is Michael Smith’s most recent work that is empirical data regarding how piracy works.). It just requires noticing the shift in consumer trends.

        Regarding the studies, I’ll read any one with a skeptical view. Reading the GAO report and noting how most Hollywood methodologies were difficult to comprehend gave me a different view. I’m currently looking at the 440 pages, which represent the first independent look at piracy that isn’t bought and paid for by Hollywood (MPAA/RIAA).

        Hell, if you look at some of their studies, it’s their own damned fault.

        The more rational view is that various people have to take the opportunities presented to them in regards to entertainment. The questions presented:

        What entices people to support a certain medium?

        What other projects will people support of mine?

        Are there other options or ways to promote?

        Are they expensive?

        If so, can I make them for less?
        ———————————————————————————–

        There’s at least one person that is bucking the trend of going to Hollywood for help. That would actually be Kevin Smith.

        I would pay attention to how his touring with his movie goes. It may be a sign that the old movie industry dies. Yes, it can come back, but there will be a lot of changes as the reality of using the tools available can lead to a lot more growth than enforcement.

        • >>>@Nanker – There’s a lot of reference to other countries downloading material because it’s fairly difficult to get outside of the US. This actually makes sense that piracy increases.

          And piracy persists in the U.S. because?

          The GAO report concluded that piracy hurt the entertainment business – it just couldn’t quantify the amount.

          • Notice about the military’s specific dilemma. But also notice the trends as I’ve put in other articles. As legal options increase in a country, piracy decreases.

            To give a few examples:
            People aren’t buying DVDs as much because of Netflix and Redbox. Netflix pays for access to their specific content. Redbox handles new releases for $1.

            A while back, Redbox and Netflix inked a deal for their showings of a DVD to be artificially stopped for a month.

            Now think about this…

            Blockbuster had a sweet deal… For an investment they could have made 10 years ago. Then, they shoot themselves in the foot…

            Now if you’re a consumer, and you want to see a movie what are your options?

            A) Go to the movie theater
            B) Go to Redbox
            C)Go to Blockbuster
            D)Watch on Netflix
            E) Piracy

            Now, if you’ve just seen the movie and want it on DVD, A doesn’t apply. The studio enjoys your cash but the 28 day release is one perfect example of how piracy is going for the easier route. If someone wants to watch a stream, Warner should make one available online. If they want to watch from Redbox ($1 a day vs Blockbuster’s $5 for new release), that should be an option as well.

            This is just one example. I’m sure the choices don’t get much more complex, but it is telling that a lot more goes into piracy than people actually consider.