EMI VP Comes Out Against SOPA/PIPA; Says The Answer To Piracy Is Providing A Better Service

from the promote-this-guy dept

Over the years, I've definitely found that there are plenty of folks working inside the major record labels (and big studios) who really do get what's going on. The problem is often that their voices are drowned out by others (usually the older guard) who are pretty stubborn in their anti-innovation, anti-consumer ways. It's always nice, however, when someone from the inside pops up and says something sensible in public, and those folks deserve kudos. The latest is Craig Davis, EMI's VP of Urban Promotions. He recently did a Reddit AMA (for you non-Redditors -- a Q&A session), in which someone asked him his opinion of SOPA/PIPA/ACTA, and he gave a really reasonable answer:
Personally, I feel that the method they're using is incorrect. All it will do will cause headaches and issues for everyone.

However, I do believe that a person should be compensated for their work. I feel that piracy is a big issue, and things like Spotify will assist in combating this problem.

Gabe Newell is correct, it's a service issue not an issue of money. Sales have gone up from sales concerts and merchandise, it's obvious that our fans still love music. We're just not giving them their music in an easier way.
The reference to Gabe Newell, of course, concerns Newell's regular speeches about how you compete with piracy by providing a better service -- something Newell's Valve has done quite well over the years.

Davis has it exactly right here. The only thing that's been shown to work over the years as a method of dealing with widespread infringement is to offer a better service. Things like SOPA/PIPA/ACTA will cause lots of problems... and won't do a damn thing to slow down infringement. EMI is in the process of being swallowed up by Universal Music, so who knows what happens here, but if I was in charge at Universal, I'd give Davis a nice promotion. Tragically, however, in my experience, the folks who do get these things from within the major labels frequently end up outside the major labels before too long....


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Ed C., Jan 25th, 2012 @ 8:33am

    Craig Davis will probably being getting "downsized" after the acquisition anyway, so he might as well say what's on his mind--or what will help get him a position in another company that is less likely to go belly up in the next five years.

     

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    Kevin H (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 8:34am

    This guy just lost his job.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 8:38am

    I think its sad that he only came out with this as EMI is being devoured for just over 4 billion dollars by the other players in the industry "decimated" by piracy.

    After all of this time it would be nice to see people like this put in charge, rather than those who cling to and long for the olden days when they were pressing albums.

     

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      Jay (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 10:56am

      Re:

      It's hard to feel sorry for EMI though... They utilized the same outrageous licensing deals that hurt them in the first place. It's good that he "got it". But it seems to be too little, too late.

       

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      Hephaestus (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 11:30am

      Re:

      Agreed they should put people like him in charge, but they won't. Neat thing though they are going to leverage themselves to the hilt to do this acquisition. Which in the end only accelerates their failure. So more power to them.

       

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      Rainkitten (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 11:04pm

      Re:

      Well when he loses his job, have one of our tech businesses hire him. Silicon valley has a lot of money. Invest in an independent web based self publishing model. Revamp and revive how this is all distributed. JMO.

       

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    I-Blz, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 8:40am

    Something decent coming out of EMI? Welp, time to go flying-pig serarching, maybe hole up in my y2k/Rapture/2012 bunker while I'm at it.

     

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    Joe Publius (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 8:42am

    I feel that Piracy is a big problem...

    I feel that piracy is a big issue...

    I'm starting to think that this phrase is used to smooth the feathers of those who still think that piracy is a big problem so they might actually listen to the rest of the statement where the real (and possibly heretical) answer shows up. Let's face it, there's still a lot of people who'll blow an aneurysm if you try to say that piracy isn't the problem, outmoded business models are, but when you put it this way:

    "I feel that piracy is a big problem, and the solution is providing our products to customers in affordable and convenient ways."

    Not so bad right?

     

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      Joe Publius (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 8:45am

      Re: I feel that Piracy is a big problem...

      By the way, I encourage trying this phrasing out in regular conversations,for any subject.

      I think that piracy is a big problem, and you should try cutting back on fast food and start exercising for 15 minutes every day to lose a few pounds.

       

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        Ninja (profile), Jan 26th, 2012 @ 2:48am

        Re: Re: I feel that Piracy is a big problem...

        You know, the amusing part of this article is that an EMI insider is saying "The solution is a better business model!", which always reminds me of our old and missed troll 'out of the blue'. But I digress. I'll go along with the joke and make my own, specially created (and copyrighted under Creative Commons for the lulz) one 'mash up' for our beloved troll:

        I think that piracy is a big problem, but the solution is a /better/ business model.

        I'm sure Marcus/DH will look at this and laugh their arses off ;)

         

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      DannyB (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 9:09am

      Re: I feel that Piracy is a big problem...

      Piracy really IS a BIG problem.

      http://news.yahoo.com/us-military-raid-somalia-frees-american-dane-063438091.html

      The US military had to send in seals in a raid to rescue US hostages held by pirates.

      I can't wait to see what lengths we'll go to for turning back the clock to the monopoly record pressing days. And get rid of that pesky internet! And get off my lawn!

       

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        Colin, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 9:43am

        Re: Re: I feel that Piracy is a big problem...

        Do you ever think real pirates get upset at this whole debate? Like, "Sure, I spend my days on the high seas kidnapping people and fending off the freakin' world's navies with my rocket launcher, but some asshole downloads Transformers 3 in his basement and we're both pirates? Fuck that."

         

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          DannyB (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 9:52am

          Re: Re: Re: I feel that Piracy is a big problem...

          You have got to be frickin' kidding me.

          There is a Transformers 3?

          Wasn't Transformers 1 bad enough?

           

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            Joe Publius (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 11:23am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I feel that Piracy is a big problem...

            I feel that piracy is a big problem, but two giant robots beating each other up is a popcorn-munching good time!

             

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              Hephaestus (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 11:34am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I feel that Piracy is a big problem...

              Better than two robots beating each other up. For the next MPAA luncheon lets invite some real pirates, the Somali type. It would be fun to watch the chaos that ensues.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 1:40pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I feel that Piracy is a big problem...

              Real Steel was cool, Gantz too was fun.

               

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          Josef Anvil (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 10:50am

          Re: Re: Re: I feel that Piracy is a big problem...

          Actually I think that real pirates are overjoyed that their profession is all but forgotten now that everyone thinks of copyright infringement the moment they hear piracy mentioned.

          I imagine that the pirates holding those US hostages thought they were completely safe when they heard about the raid. "Aw mate, its nuthin' to worry 'bout. Them troops are lookin' for Kim Dotcom, not us."

           

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        Karl (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 8:08pm

        Re: Re: I feel that Piracy is a big problem...

        Piracy really IS a BIG problem.

        Piracy wasn't a really big problem until "On Stranger Tides." Before then, it was kind of fun.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 8:58am

    talking sense is definitely NOT what any of the entertainment industries top people want to hear. they would prefer shouts of 'off with their heads!' drowning out all other comments!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 9:04am

    I know you might say I deprived myself by not buying any music or videos for over 5 years, but somehow I don't feel deprived. It just doesn't matter if I heard the latest crap from Jay-Z or if I got upgraded my the whore Beyonce which if you break it down it really spells Bey once or to me Buy Once and dispose of. I missed the latest boring political thriller movie by George Clooney because I just missed it. The only movie worth going to see in the last 5 years was Green Lantern which was actually quite good. So my iPhone is not connected and my Skype requires me to actually activate it to be used. Guess I'm just not with it. Oh yea I did get Arthritis pain from the Twits and won't be doing that again.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 9:05am

    Sorry I forgot the subject being discussed. EMI I just don't need you to entertain me, it seems the price is just too high. Freedom is cheaper.

     

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    fogbugzd (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 9:35am

    Blaming piracy is a great excuse for not taking responsibility for the bad decisions the industry has made over the last two or three decades. If you repeat an excuse often enough, and if your annual bonus is big enough, then it is pretty easy to actually believe it yourself.

     

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      The Groove Tiger (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 10:17am

      Re:

      Blaming piracy is like blaming company performance reports. They just tell you what you're doing wrong. The solution is to stop sucking.

      Sometimes I wonder why companies don't push for more laws outlawing performance reports.

       

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    Keroberos (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 9:48am

    It's not about piracy, I now don't think it ever really was about piracy. I don't believe that many people in the recording industry can be that blind about it. It's really about maintaining their monopoly control over music distribution.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 10:06am

      Re: kerberos

      They use the piracy scare as tool for their agenda. Piracy itself is not a big issue. it's been shown that consumers will choose legal alternatives if the service is better.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 11:16am

        Re: Re: kerberos

        The slow realization that it's a service issue is, other than too long in coming, a positive sign, however I would wager that some of those companies are coming to realize what a pain in the ass it would be for THEM should those bills get passed as is.

        "Oh, great! Stricter laws! That...could be used against US? Oh, wait..."

        Not that such a concept stopped them before, but...I dunno, maybe I give them too much credit.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 11:18am

      Re:

      I agree. If, as reported in a earlier article, Google knew as early as October of 2007 that MegaUpload clearly had infringing content, why did it take the industry and the government over 4 more years to take the site down (especially given one of the argument against OPEN is the potential length of time it might take for disputes)? Why did they wait until MegaUpload name a high profile "industry insider" to head the company? Why did the wait until MegaUpload announced a competing service, one that might actually attract other high profile artists? Why wait until those high profile artists started coming out in support (and in some cases actually used) MegaUpload?

      If this were the only questionable example of their actions, I might be inclined to buy their story. But having seen example after example of their actual actions, regardless of their words, I see people not fighting actual infringement, but simply trying to stifle competition.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 10:04am

    He gets it because he's VP of "Urban" promotions aka he's seen what the mixtape circuit and giving away tracks for free has done for hip hop, it's launched the careers of today's superstars.

     

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 11:49am

      Re:

      while working for a company that goes after those outlets they use to get the free tracks out there...
      it makes your head all explodey don't it?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 12:13pm

    Did you know that mega was getting ready to start a new music service that would have paid the artists for their work at 90%, and even paid them for the stuff that was downloaded for free, at a lower rate?

    They had a beta last year and were to start the service this year in the first quarter, I think that why the feds had to take them down in what looks to be a very fast investigation.

    If mega forced the speedy trial statute the fed case would fall apart.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 12:53pm

    If SOPA/PIPA will do "so much damage" as you have repeatedly claimed, how is it that the pirates will be able to circumvent the measures but your average citizen won't?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 1:27pm

      Re:

      The average citizen will be able to do it just like pros, they will just go and download the new version of the pirating software that has the addon "pirate now" and voila they don't need to configure anything just like average people who are not involved in programming software for ripping them don't have to deal with encryption, authoring software or nothing of the sort.

      They just go and download the "Hulu downloader", "Bluray ripper" and so forth, if SOPA was in place they would just have to install the "PirateDNSNow!".

       

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      Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 1:38pm

      Re:

      Demographics. There's a fairly strong correlation between tech-saavy (and often younger) people and piracy. The ones that are really gonna get hurt by SOPA/PIPA will be the ones who are older and more technologically inept, e.g. your parents and grandparents (or you, if you're old enough).

      I keep stating this, but it keeps being relevant: out of all of my coworkers and friends, almost all of which are professional engineers that make IP for a living and are relatively young (almost all are under 30), only 1 of them thinks piracy is a serious problem, and perhaps a majority of them pirate shamelessly. I'd wager all of them know off the top of their heads (or could figure out without much effort) how to evade SOPA/PIPA measures.

      My mom, on the other hand... has trouble finding the power button on their computer. My dad isn't near as bad, but would still be completely clueless how to circumvent those laws.

       

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      JMT (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 3:21pm

      Re:

      Way to show your lack of understanding by confusing two completely different issues.

      SOPA won't stop piracy, people will quickly figure out ways around it, but the damages caused (disappearing websites, chilling effects on innovation, compromised internet security, etc) can't be circumvented by anyone.

       

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      Karl (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 8:30pm

      Re:

      If SOPA/PIPA will do "so much damage" as you have repeatedly claimed, how is it that the pirates will be able to circumvent the measures but your average citizen won't?

      Your average citizen probably would, if they're tech-savvy enough. Of course, the end result would just be the criminalization of the vast majority of Internet users.

      But the ones who would suffer the most from SOPA/PIPA are the ones who actually obey the law. The search engines, advertisers, and so forth who would be forced by law to shoulder the burdens of other companies' failures. Not to mention damaging Internet security, and showing the world that the U.S. is A-OK with governments controlling the free flow of information.

      We've already seen the chilling effects merely from the Megaupload seizure and arrests. Because of that, sites are eliminating functionality - search functions, rewards programs, affiliate programs, sometimes even the ability to share any files, legal or not - which have never been found to be unlawful in the U.S.

      SOPA/PIPA would have had horrible effects on the internet, the economy, and U.S. foreign interests, probably without affecting piracy very much, and absolutely without earning rights holders a penny.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2012 @ 5:11am

        Re: Re:

        Okay, this is completely off topic, but I am glad Karl that you left a comment. I have a question and I know you can answer it, because you've presented what I'm looking for in other comments before.

        I'm writing an economics paper and it deals with piracy and just how big a problem it is or isn't.

        I have been looking for figures you presented awhile back, in regards to how much the entertainment industries contribute to the GDP and how much the tech industry contributes.

        If memory serves me correctly, the entertainment industries contribute less than 1% and the tech industry contributes between 10 and 15%.

        Per chance, would it be too much trouble to post a link to where you found that figure. Or a link to your own comment if possible.

        Sorry for the off topic comment everyone.

         

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          Karl (profile), Jan 26th, 2012 @ 8:10am

          Re: Re: Re:

          If memory serves me correctly, the entertainment industries contribute less than 1% and the tech industry contributes between 10 and 15%.

          That sounds about right, but it wasn't me who said it.

          Most recently, I was talking about employment figures, which are different than GDP. The figures I gave were all from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook:
          http://www.bls.gov/oco/oco2003.htm

          You'll find a lot of data there, much of it in convenient XLS form.
          Here are some questions you should deal with:
          - Raw employment numbers, by industry
          - Part-time v. full-time employment
          - Average wages (the BLS site gives median wages, they may have average wages in the XLS's)

          There are some other, more difficult, questions:

          - Ancillary industries. Both record store clerks and computer salespeople are lumped into "Retail," for example. This is the primary area where the entertainment industry inflates its employment figures (e.g. counting every member of the Teamsters as being employed by the industry). In contrast, a study by the University of Maryland (PDF) claims that Facebook alone accounts for about 180,000 ancillary jobs created.

          - What portion of each industry is potentially affected by piracy. Screen and TV actors, for instance, might be; but stage actors absolutely would not.

          Hope this helps. Post a link to your study when you're done.

           

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            Karl (profile), Jan 26th, 2012 @ 8:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            some questions you should deal with

            Forgot one: estimated growth rates. Entertainment industry jobs are expected to grow at the same rate as other industries; tech industry jobs are expected to grow much, much faster.

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2012 @ 6:43pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Yeah, realized after going through your comment posts that you weren't the one who said the 1% GDP figure. I am of course already planning to use the figures/link you did post on employment.

            I haven't gotten to writing the paper just yet, I'm still in the preliminary gathering information stage. I have about 8 weeks before it's due. I should add, it's not a study so much per se as just an essay about economics, preferably with a recent issue/topic as the focus of it. It seemed with SOPA and all the anti-piracy rhetoric lately, the best thing to do on my part (even if it's just for school and won't be read by anyone but my teacher and possibly fellow classmates) would be to write about the issue with a stance on informing those who aren't aware as much as possible (in regards to the disinformation or flat out lies told by the entertainment industry, ranging from economic harm to jobs lost and whatnot). I will however post a link when I am done with it.

            Appreciate the help/links though, thanks sir.

             

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