Recording Industry Can't Wait To Start Kicking People Offline In France For Listening To Their Favorite Songs

from the yeah-that'll-work dept

As we reported last week, the French agency in charge of scaring internet users with the threat of potentially losing their internet connections based on accusations (not convictions) of copyright infringement has finally started passing on "third strike" notices to prosecutors, to see if they choose to start kicking people offline. The NY Times has an article discussing this latest step in a manner that repeats a bunch of the record labels' favorite talking points, and seems to accept a number of the industry's claims without question (a practice that is becoming way too common in the pages of the NY Times lately).
Studies show that the appeal of piracy has waned in France since the so-called three-strikes law, hailed by the music and movie industries and hated by advocates of an open Internet, went into effect. Digital sales, which were slow to get started in France, are growing. Music industry revenues are starting to stabilize.
These are all stated as if it's clear that the three things are connected, even though the evidence there is lacking.
“I think more and more French people understand that artists should get paid for their work,” said Pascal Negre, president of Universal Music France. “I think everybody has a friend who has received an e-mail. This creates a buzz. There is an educational effect.”
This is wishful thinking on the part of Negre. Multiple studies have shown that piracy is almost never an educational issue. It's not about people needing to "understand that artists should get paid for their work." As we've seen time and time again, if you give fans a good reason to buy, fans have no problem spending (and spending big) on artists. As for "the buzz" created by Hadopi emails, from what the various reports we've heard out of France are saying, much of that "buzz" is around how to make use of VPNs and other tools... as well as how to use cyberlockers and such tools that are not (yet) covered by Hadopi.
Eric Walter, the secretary general of Hadopi, said that the relatively low number of third-stage offenders showed that the system had succeeded.

“Our work is to explain to people why piracy is a bad thing and why they should stop,” he said during an interview in the agency’s nondescript headquarters behind the Montparnasse train station in Paris. “When the people understand that, they stop. Of course, some people don’t want to understand. Then we have to transfer their dossiers to the justice system.”
Again, this assumes that piracy is merely an educational issue, and people would just stop infringing if they only knew that it was illegal. Yet there's little evidence to support that claim. Most kids understand that it's illegal, but it doesn't make a difference to them.
A report commissioned by Hadopi, which has a budget of €11 million and employs 70 people, showed a sharp decline in file-sharing since the system was put in place.

A separate study by researchers at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh suggests that Hadopi has given a lift to legal downloads via the Apple iTunes music store. Since the spring of 2009, when the debate over the measure was raging, through mid-2011, iTunes sales rose much more strongly in France than in other European countries.
Oddly, the NY Times fails to name the study or its authors, or link to the actual study. But we will. It's The Effect of Graduated Response Anti-Piracy Laws on Music Sales: Evidence from an Event Study in France, by Brett Danaher, Michael D. Smith, Rahul Telang and Siwen Chen. If this study sounds familiar, it's because it's the one the IFPI has been hyping in support of similar laws. It's also the report that isn't nearly as strong as the IFPI (or the NY Times) insists and has been pretty thoroughly debunked for anyone who uses it to claim that Hadopi's notice system educated people into buying from iTunes. As some have pointed out, the actual data shows the "change" in sales behavior (relative to other countries) happened way before Hadopi came into effect. And... when Hadopi actually started sending out its notices? No noticeable impact.

That kind of takes the wind out of the sales of the two folks quoted above who insist that it's the educational nature of the notices that leads to the increase in sales. And, as we reported last month, when Le Monde took the same data and plotted it against announcements about new iPhones or Christmas, it found a much stronger connection, suggesting the increase in sales had little to do with Hadopi and much more to do with more people having iPhones.

These are the kinds of things that you would think the NY Times might note. But it does not.
There is other evidence in Europe that tougher online copyright enforcement can lift media industry revenues, at least briefly. Music sales rose 10 percent in Sweden in 2009, for example, after the country tightened up its copyright laws, bringing previously lax standards into line with E.U. norms.

Mr. Negre, at Universal Music, said it was probably no coincidence that Sweden and France had produced the two big European success stories in the legitimate digital music market: the streaming services Spotify and Deezer. These companies — the former was founded in Sweden, the latter in France — resemble pirate sites in that they give users access to millions of songs free, at least for their basic services.
This may be the most ridiculous claim of all. First off, Deezer, in France, launched back in 2007, or about four years before Hadopi went into effect. Similarly, Spotify launched in Sweden in 2008. The IPRED law in Sweden? Went into effect in 2009. In other words, both of these services pre-dated the laws, rather than post-dated them as Negre from Universal Music implies. And, perhaps that also has a lot more to do with the rebound of some parts of the recording business in both of those countries. After finally allowing services to offer fans what they wanted, should it be any surprise that they actually are happy with that? Oh, as for the claim that IPRED reduced file sharing in Sweden? Reports had the amount of sharing traffic surprassing pre-IPRED numbers within months. It may have suppressed infringement briefly, but not for long. Of course, it's worth noting that much of the effort has been focused on movies. With music, thanks to Spotify, the reasons to infringe are almost gone.

And, really, that should be the key lesson we're talking about here. If the industry stops meddling and starts letting companies treat their customers right and provide them with more and better ways to consume, they will do so. Playing wac-a-mole, kicking people offline and scaring them is no way to build a long term business.

There are two other really interesting bits later down in the article. The first is that Sarkozy's opponents in the upcoming election all seem to want to dump Hadopi, demonstrating just how unpopular the law really is in France. Then there's the fact that Hadopi appears to have been caught sending notices to the wrong people:
Mr. Thollot argued that someone had pirated his log-on to a nationwide Wi-Fi network and downloaded the material while he was in class. After interviewing him, Hadopi dropped his case.

“It’s like when someone steals your bank card number,” said Renaud Veeckman, co-founder of SOS Hadopi, an organization that offers legal help to people who have received warnings from the anti-piracy agency. “Are you responsible, or are you the victim?”

SOS Hadopi has worked with five people whose dossiers have reached the third stage, including Mr. Thollot; all five have been cleared before going to court. This suggests that the actual number of cases that have been forwarded to the justice system may be considerably lower than the 165 third-strike offenders cited by Hadopi. Mr. Walter at Hadopi declined to provide a specific figure.
This part especially should raise significant questions about the quality of the information being used. Because, so far, it sounds like a big joke... other than the fact that some people might lose their internet connections over it.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 10:48am

    Love me some bad puns

    "takes the wind out of the sales"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 10:54am

    I think everybody has a friend who has received an e-mail.

    Translation: we are spammers and should be blacklisted for life.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 10:55am

    Every month the government gets a list with tens of thousands of first infringers, it has reached the millions by now, but somehow they only manage to get 5 in the final stage?

    Something is not right there, you don't get thousands of letters out the first and the second time and they just drop, you should see a decline in all 3 the first the second and the third not a massive drop from second to third.

    More likely the government is scared and it will never ever disconnect that many people because they have a riot on their hands and decades from now people will find out that the government lied again to make it happen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 11:14am

    "Once the technology has been developed to attach video recorders to all our citizen's faces then we'll surely see a massive 0.8% - 1.7% reduction in piracy. What could go wrong?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 11:21am

    Mike why has your site been blocked in Canada?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 11:29am

    Just an observation. I oftentimes see the word "debunked" used here, with, of course, citations to the "debunker". Yet, when I go the debunker's link, I note that many times it is little more than a personal opinion by TD being expressed at the link.

    Is it really debunking, or is it merely a difference of opinion?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 11:33am

    Re:

    my all time favorite is when the link is to the same person who wrote the post in the first place! priceless

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    Josef Anvil (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 11:40am

    I for one

    Personally since I listen to 99% of my music through my laptop, I moved from Limewire to Frostwire to Poison to Grooveshark to a subscription on Spotify.

    I don't live in France so HADOPI had nothing to do with my decline in music piracy.

    I can't speak for the kids, but once you've paid for THE SAME MUSIC on vinyl then 8track (ugh) then cassette, then CD, it becomes incredibly difficult to justify paying for it again on mp3. I know the recording industry just expected an endless cycle of format changes and that we consumers would pay for the same shit about 10 times til we die. SURPRISE.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 11:49am

    Re:

    That might be possible to answer if you'd give an example.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    sehlat (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 11:55am

    Re: I for one

    This reminds me of one of the stupidest statements in movie history.

    From "Men in Black" where Agent K is explaining things to the rookie and shows him a silvery disc about the size of a dime and says "It's going to replace the CD. Looks like I'll have to buy The White Album" again."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    mike allen (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 11:58am

    Re:

    interesting question mike pls answer if correct.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    mike allen (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 12:02pm

    lies and more lies from the copywrong idiots.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 12:02pm

    Re:

    As far as I understand, it's all basically personal opinions. These reports are (often) just that, working papers that are posted to some website. If I'm wrong please correct me, but the report in question has not been peer-reviewed and, thus, has not been published as an academic study in the classic sense. I'd even go so far as to say that without peer review it's not academic.

    I'm an academic myself, and it hurts to see that people can just write a paper and put it online without following any kind of reviewing process, and its subsequently being accepted as academic/scientific truth. That's just not how it works.

    Then again, if the study was sent in to a respected journal, reviewed and accepted, please accept my apologies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Kassandra (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 12:03pm

    Assuming

    Eric Walter, the secretary general of Hadopi, said that the relatively low number of third-stage offenders showed that the system had succeeded.

    Or it shows that those that download have either realised that the systems that were using were not as anonymous as they thought so they went to cyber lockers or signed up for a VPN and SFTP the stuff down.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 12:18pm

    Sneakernet in French?

    How do you say 'sneakernet' in French? Along with the VPN's and The Pirate Bays magnet link only policy, etc., this seems like the most plausible answer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 12:30pm

    Re: Re:

    While not the best example I have seen, the link above entitled "thoroughly debunked" is representative.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Atkray (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 12:31pm

    Re: I for one

    You left out that a lot of the vinyl you are trying to replace is not available except on "rips" that someone uploads. When that someone isn't the label you become a pirate.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 12:33pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    often times there are more links within the TD story that is linked to to support the debunking. But this site does like to hold up its statements with its own statements from time to time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 12:52pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Are you allergic to linking or something?

    You can use vanilla HTML links in your comments here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Sneakernet in French?

    le sneakernet

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 1:33pm

    Re:

    It's NOT! I'm using in Canada right now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    gorehound (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 1:33pm

    Re: Love me some bad puns

    Mentioning NYT was good.I do not agree with what they have been spouting.Then again they are owned by big content so what can you expect there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Another AC, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Re:

    Works fine for me in The Great White North :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Watchit (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 2:32pm

    Re: Re:

    Just because a report hasn't been through a "respected" journal, doesn't mean it is impossible for it to be true. And while putting something through a "respected" journal does give it more credibility, it doesn't preclude it from errors of some sort or another either. Why do we need something to be "academic" in order to believe it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    Watchit (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 2:35pm

    Hadopi is great for VPN's...

    Hadopi is great for business! VPN business that is...
    If anything similar gets launched in the states I'm defiantly buying a VPN subscription, you can get a good one for as low as $5 a month.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 2:37pm

    Sarkosy seems to be behaving in the same way that a lot of French people died to trying to suppress, ie, Facist. if he is voted in again, how can anyone have any sympathy for the French people? mind you, there will still be the problems of whether the new President will keep his word and ditch Hadopi, how long he will take to do it and will something else be brought in instead?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 3:03pm

    Re:

    To be fair, the Freach in the arrondissements soemtimes riot because the weather's bad.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 3:11pm

    Re: Sneakernet in French?

    L'Internet du sneak. Possibly. Maybe.

    Or maybe it could be La guillotine.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    JMT (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 5:19pm

    Re:

    Just an observation. You don't seem to understand how blogs work.

    Techdirt articles always contain links to source information, and often also contain links to previous posts where a point being made in the post was discussed in greater detail. Those previous posts will also have contain links to source information, and often also contain links to previous posts where a point being made in the post was discussed in greater detail. Do you see the pattern forming here?

    If you can't decide whether or not you believe something written, follow the info as far back as need to make up your mind.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 6:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Are you allergic to linking or something?

    You can use vanilla HTML links in your comments here.


    That particular commenter will never back up any point, because then we can actually highlight how he's wrong. Instead he "merely" makes snide comments suggesting (but never saying outright) how we're all wrong.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    Bergman (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 8:00pm

    Do corporations have personhood under French law? Do non-corporate organizations? Government agencies?

    If three unsubstantiated accusations results in being kicked off the internet, what happens if someone accuses HADOPI of a violation?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 3:42am

    Re: Re:

    And how you are too dumb to follow the links this opinion is bades on: even more priceless.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    techflaws.org (profile), Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 3:43am

    Re: Assuming

    My thought exactly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 7:43am

    Still trying to push the old Utunes theory? I have to laugh.

    Mike, without some sort of impetus on the other site, the itunes theory just doesn't work out. People are going to pirate if they can, why pay all that money for an infinite good, right? Well, they will pay when the risks of pirating are much higher than the cost of buying.

    Let's go further - smart phones have something that home PCs don't have, which is a fairly unique ID system, and much better tracking of use. I suspect that people have moved to smart phone devices, realizes that they cannot as easily use the SODDI defense, and just stopped. Why take the risk.

    HADOPI isn't entirely responsible for the changes, but you have to be truly arrogant to think it has not had some effect on the less than dedicated pirates out there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Miko, Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 8:05am

    You've misunderstood the educational issue: it's not about "understand[ing] that artists should get paid for their work." It's about understanding that the RIAA should get paid for the artists' work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, it was a pretty tame and respectful series of comments until you jumped in.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    john smith, Feb 22nd, 2012 @ 1:11pm

    I would definitely agree that the word "debunk" is used frequently around here. Often in contexts where said "debunking" is no stronger an argument (and often a weaker argument) than whatever is being "debunked".

    In this case, the authors of the study use cautious language and seem to be open about the potential challenges to their study. The authors of the techdirt pieces write as if their arguments are incontrovertible. It's a shame the conversation can't be more about looking for the truth and less about who can use the most powerful language regardless of the basis of their arguments.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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