by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jun 27th 2012 6:31am
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 31st 2012 12:05pm
French Film Exec Insists That Anti-Piracy Efforts Made Sure No French Films Were Downloaded For 7 Months
from the this-is-called-denial dept
In a recent statement, Seydoux insisted that the "methods developed by ALPA" (going beyond just Hadopi) made sure that not a single French film was downloaded between May 15th and December 15th in 2011:
“Between 15 May and 15 December 2011, no French film has been downloaded from the Internet,”Oddly, he doesn't even seem to distinguish authorized online movie services from unauthorized. He just insists that no films have been downloaded. At first, I thought that perhaps he really meant that no new French films had been leaked online, but that's not what he says. He literally claims that zero French films were downloaded during those seven months. I guess he's declaring victory for his anti-piracy organization, but it's impressive how the pure bubble he's living in does not even come close to reflecting reality.
by Glyn Moody
Wed, May 9th 2012 1:45am
from the keeping-everyone-happy dept
Whatever you might have thought of his policies, Nicolas Sarkozy probably had more impact on European copyright policy than any other EU politician. He consciously tried to the lead the way in bringing in more extreme copyright enforcement, most notably with the "three strikes" HADOPI law.
That alone makes his defeat in the recent French presidential elections significant: there are no signs that his successor, François Hollande, will take anything like the personal interest in copyright that Sarkozy did. But that also makes it very hard to predict what effect Hollande's election will have on the French and European copyright scene. Nonetheless, the French site Numerama has published an early attempt to lay down some rough ideas of what happens next (original in French.)
Things are complicated by Hollande's shifts in position on this issue. That's because in the run-up to the election he attempted to sweep up the anti-Sarkozy voters who hated HADOPI without alienating the creative industries who were all for strict enforcement of copyright. The result is a series of vague promises and pronouncements without much in the way of concrete plans.
For example, as Numerama explains, starting on 3 July there will be a "post-HADOPI reflection," led by a government commission that will draw up new measures forming what Hollande has termed "Act 2" for French culture. That commission will have the unenviable task of trying to keep everyone happy -- and probably end up pleasing no one. Meanwhile, it seems, the HADOPI machine will rumble on: Hollande has not announced any plans to suspend the system while the commission draws up its response. That's regrettable, since it implicitly accepts the validity of the "three strikes" punishment system.
However disappointing Hollande's vague policies may be for those looking for a clean break with the past, there is always the hope that now that he is elected, he may bring in bolder measures that restore some balance to copyright in his country. In any case, the fact that France is now taking its time to re-consider copyright and creativity altogether, rather than simply continuing to charge down the road of harsh enforcement, is likely to have a positive knock-on effect in the European Union. With Sarkozy gone, the copyright maximalists there have undoubtedly lost their most outspoken and powerful ally.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Apr 24th 2012 1:40pm
from the how-sad dept
But this argument makes no sense. You can't just ignore the part of the market you don't like when it's inconvenient. The RIAA tries to get around this solely by focusing on growth within digital (and ignoring the continued free fall in analog sales). But if we're talking about the overall music market, shouldn't that be seen in how the impact is measured? Besides, as Saskia Walzel rightly points out, it appears that the growth in digital services that the RIAA trumpets as proof that Hadopi worked were seen in other countries as well -- including countries without such a draconian three strikes policy. So, while there may be a correlation between three strikes and people paying, the evidence of any sort of causal relationship is totally missing. The RIAA can't just pretend that the changes in France were due to Hadopi when the evidence suggests otherwise. At least someone should call them out for the claim.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Apr 4th 2012 12:40pm
from the oops dept
On top of that, France Telecom, who has said that P2P use continues to grow, has also noted that it saw "a marked increase in levels of encrypted traffic since the Hadopi notice-sending began," suggesting that there's plenty of file sharing going on via encrypted channels that Hadopi simply can't track.
Furthermore, Horten points to a Numerama report that highlights the fact that Hadopi's numbers come from the IFPI and ALPA. ALPA is a French anti-piracy organization. In other words, organizations who have a long history of fudging their own numbers. You would think, if the data was really showed that Hadopi was having an impact, its numbers would be a lot stronger.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Apr 2nd 2012 8:45am
from the just-saying... dept
Now, we've been pointing out for years that spending so much time and resources on reducing infringement is pretty pointless if it doesn't lead to an increase in revenue. And it appears that such a revenue increase isn't magically appearing (just as we predicted). Now, of course, there was that report that was trumpeted by Hadopi supporters claiming that there was an increase in iTunes sales, but the details showed that was correlated to new releases in Apple products (and Christmas) more than three strikes. And this new report actually shows just how little the iTunes boost really was. It has a chart showing different music services and how their usage has changed in France during Hadopi's existence:
For more than a decade the entertainment industry has claimed that digital piracy is the main cause for the gradual decline in revenues. So if piracy is down massively in France, one would expect that the revenues are soaring, right? But they’re not.
If we look at the French music industry we see that overall revenues were down by 3.9 percent in 2011.
Likewise, the French movie industry is still going through a rough period with revenues dropping 2.7 percent in 2011. Ironically, an industry insider even blamed online piracy for this drop.
To sum it up. in 2011 online piracy was slashed in half according to the Hadopi report, but despite this unprecedented decline the movie and music industries managed to generate less revenue than in 2010. If we follow the logic employed by the anti-piracy lobby during the past decade, this means that piracy is actually boosting sales.
It just comes back to that same important question: which is more important? Reducing infringement or increasing revenue? The industry has acted for years as if the former is the most important (and when we ask this question, they insist that the former would lead to the latter). Yet, now the evidence doesn't appear to support that. If anything, Hadopi's report, while patting itself on the back for reducing infringement, really highlights just how useless Hadopi has been and what a waste it's been for both French taxpayers and the French entertainment industry that has supported it so strongly.
by Glyn Moody
Fri, Feb 24th 2012 12:56pm
from the equal-before-the-law dept
The governmental body that oversees France's "three-strikes" law, HADOPI, has already been caught once infringing on the copyright of others -- by using a logo designed with unlicensed fonts. Now it's been spotted using photographs without respecting the so-called "moral rights" of the photographer, which include the right to attribution (French original), absent on HADOPI's site. Such moral rights are taken very seriously in France, where they are automatic, perpetual and cannot be waived (unlike in some other jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom.)
As with the earlier slip, the current example shows just how easy it is for someone to infringe on copyrights through error or oversight. Of course, HADOPI doesn't accept either excuse when it's a matter of sending out its famous warnings, or disconnecting people from the Net. So, in the spirit of fairness, it would be unjust to grant itself any leeway either.
That makes two strikes against it so far; let's hope it's more careful in the future, or it will obviously be forced to cut off its own Internet connection to set an example to the rest of France.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Feb 21st 2012 10:43am
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
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.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.
“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.”
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.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.
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.
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.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.
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.
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.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.
“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.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Feb 15th 2012 6:38am
from the kicking-you-off-the-internet dept
The report also notes that Nicolas Sarkozy, who was the original champion of three strikes plans, is already looking to expand the law to go after cyberlockers rather than just peer-to-peer, as is the case with the current Hadopi plan, apparently. I'm sure, in an effort to support such a move, politicians will push the misleading claim that Hadopi has actually worked, even if the actual data suggests what really worked was wider availability of legitimate services and tools.
by Glyn Moody
Wed, Feb 1st 2012 3:03pm
from the correlation-is-not-causation dept
The annual Digital Music Report (pdf) of the International Federation for the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) is a curiously conflicted production. On the one hand, it must celebrate "a healthy 8 per cent increase in our digital revenues in 2011 -- the first time the annual growth rate has risen since records began in 2004 "; on the other, it must continue to push the party line about how the industry is being destroyed by piracy.
The IFPI has a stab a reconciling that contradiction, writing: "The truth is that record companies are building a successful digital music business in spite of the environment in which they operate, not because of it." However, it desperately needs some proof of that statement, because otherwise the simplest explanation is that piracy is not a serious problem, and that the recording industry is thriving, just like the rest of the creative industries.
The IFPI probably thinks it has found some proof in the French HADOPI experience, which, according its report, demonstrates that introducing three-strikes measures against unauthorized sharing boosts digital sales.
A new academic study -- The Effect of Graduated Response Anti-Piracy Laws on Music Sales: Evidence from an Event Study in France, by Danaher et al -- has also found evidence that Hadopi has had a positive impact on iTunes sales in France. The authors studied sales of digital singles and album downloads on iTunes from July 2008, before the law was adopted, until six months after the start of notices. They developed an estimate of what French iTunes sales would have looked like in the absence of Hadopi by studying a control group of similar markets.
Taking a look at the study (pdf) provides some details of how the research was carried out:
The analysis found that French iTunes sales saw a significant uplift at exactly the period when awareness of Hadopi was at its highest, in Spring 2009, when the law was being debated in the National Assembly. This effect was maintained throughout the period studied. French iTunes sales were 22.5 per cent higher for singles and 25 per cent higher for digital albums than they would have been, on average, in the absence of Hadopi.
For this study, we obtained a panel of total weekly iTunes sales units for a number of European countries including France. Our data extend from July 2008 to May 2011, and we observe separately both track unit sales and album unit sales. The data were obtained directly from the four major music labels -- EMI, Sony, Universal, and Warner -- and aggregated to reflect total iTunes sales for the majors.
In an attempt to observe the effect of HADOPI, these sales were compared with a control group of five other European countries that didn't introduce similar legislation: the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Belgium. By looking for differences between these two data sets, the researchers hoped to observe the effects of the three-strikes legislation on sales of digital music, using a Google Trends graph of searches for the word "HADOPI" as a proxy for awareness of that legislation, both before and after it was passed.
The graph of iTunes sales for France clearly diverges from that of the control group, lying consistently above it. The divergence begins around about the time that HADOPI was first presented to the French National Assembly, increases slightly, and then decreases a little after the first warning letters were sent out. From this, the researchers deduce that the discussion around HADOPI caused significantly increased sales of iTunes compared to the control countries:
these estimates indicate that French track sales units rose about 25.5% in the control group after March 1, 2009 but by 48% in France, indicating that French iTunes track sales were 22.5% higher on average than they would have been in the absence of HADOPI. Similarly, album sales units rose by 42% in the control group but 67% in France, indicating that HADOPI increased iTunes album sales an average 25% per week in France.
That's a plausible explanation if you believe that piracy is stopping people from buying digital music, but it's not the only one. The French newspaper Le Monde decided to use the same technique of comparing the rise in iTunes sales with Google Trends, but with a different search term. Since iTunes is intimately bound up with Apple's products, Le Monde thought to take a look at the trend for "iPhone" searches on Google.
What it found were five very pronounced peaks in the French searches that corresponded exactly with five (smaller) peaks in iTunes sales, and also to five well-defined external events: the launch of the Iphone 3GS and iPhone 4, and three Christmas seasons. The effect was so marked in France because it was starting from a lower base: according to the researchers, the average sales of iTunes in France were 450,000 per week, while in the UK they were 2,900,000 per week. So an alternative explanation for those impressive increases in sales is simply the uplift in iPhone ownership generated by new launches and the holidays in an immature market with plenty of room for growth.
The researchers do offer one other piece of evidence for the uplift in sales being due to the crackdown on piracy:
EMI surveys of French citizens show that that Rap and Hip Hop are the most heavily pirated genres, even relative to popularity in legal sales channels. While Rock and Pop experience average levels of piracy, the data also indicate that genres such as Classical, Christian, Folk, and Jazz experience significantly lower levels of piracy.
Therefore, they argued, if the increase in sales were due to reductions in piracy, they would expect "the increase in Rap sales to be larger than that for Rock and Pop and the increase for Classical, Christian, etc. to be quite low." And that is precisely what is observed. Conclusive proof? Maybe not.
As the Le Monde analysis points out, another explanation is that many recent iPhone purchasers are younger people, who are generally the most interested in acquiring the latest technology as soon as it comes out. And younger people, by and large, listen to more Rap than Classical or Christian music, which would explain the difference in the increase across genres.
Spending so much effort here on exploring one research report might seem excessive, but it matters. The IFPI is already branding this supposed increase in digital music sales -- quantified by the researchers at $18.6 million annually for France -- the "HADOPI Effect". In the months to come, you can bet that the recording industry's representatives and lobbyists will be visiting governments and showing them this "proof" that three-strikes really "works" -- and demanding they follow suit to "protect" the artists.
What's ironic is that the IFPI report spends many of its pages discussing a much more sensible way of reducing unauthorized sharing: offering high-quality music streaming services instead, as recent market research from Scandinavia indicates. Unfortunately, the recording industry is so obsessed with punishing pirates that it can't see that its future lies in promoting innovation, not legislation.