Recording Industry Now Making Up Facts To Support Having ISPs Police File Sharing

from the please-try-again dept

A whole bunch of folks have sent in the “debate” that was held on the BBC website last week, starting with regular columnist Bill Thompson trashing Virgin Media, a UK-based broadband provider, for agreeing to send out warning “notices” to folks that the entertainment industry claims are file sharing. Thompson explains that he’s been known to use BitTorrent to get a copy of a TV show he missed on TV and forgot to record on his DVR, wondering why this should be a problem. He also mentions: “Evidence that heavy downloaders are also heavy music purchasers doesn’t seem to have made any difference to the BPI’s approach either, and instead of finding new business models they hold on to the old ways of working.”

The response came from BPI’s chief exec Geoff Taylor, who responds by suggesting that Thompson’s column is ill-informed, and thus, supports this “education” effort by Virgin Media. He also suggests that the entertainment industry is wholeheartedly embracing new business models and its folks like Thompson who are the dinosaurs. Finally, he completely contradicts Thompson when he claims: “Independent research has shown time after time that people who download illegally generally spend less on music than people that don’t, which undermines investment in new music.”

Well, as the joke goes, everyone’s entitled to their own opinions — but not their own facts. And, in this case, it would appear that it’s BPI’s Geoff Taylor who’s got his facts screwed up. The “new” business models that he talks about were hardly the result of a forward-thinking entertainment industry, but one that was dragged kicking and screaming into a new era, and has resisted every innovation at every turn — and is still doing so. The real kicker, though, is his claim that independent studies say that those who use file sharing spend less on music. That’s simply untrue. Study after study after study after study after study after study has shown the exact opposite — noting that people who file share tend to be bigger music fans, and are more likely to spend on music.

Most of those studies were easily found doing a basic Google search. So how about a Google search in order to find all that research insisting that file sharing makes people spend less on music? The only result I could find was to BPI’s own page where it claims “The overwhelming majority of reputable third party research shows that illegal file-sharing has been a key factor in the recording industry’s 22% worldwide sales declines between 1999 and 2004” and then quotes the IFPI as its source (hardly an unbiased party). That page then does link to other research. Amusingly, though, it includes some of the same research mentioned above — and either twists the results or claims that the research was “debunked,” when in most cases it had not been.

In some cases, the results are positively hilarious. Take, for example, the way the BPI spins one study that says the exact opposite of what it claims: “EMR concluded that heavy music buyers are also heavy filesharers. In other words, filesharing threatens the music business’ biggest customers.” See how that works? When the study says that fileshares are the biggest music buyers, BPI uses it to note that file sharing “threatens the music business’ biggest customers,” rather than realizing that perhaps file sharers are also spending more money on music. Many of the other studies it quotes are the long-debunked stories that count every download as a “loss,” which then are used to show huge “losses” in CD sales that never would have happened in the first place. The BPI is making up its own facts here. This round goes to Bill Thompson.

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Companies: bpi, virgin media

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Comments on “Recording Industry Now Making Up Facts To Support Having ISPs Police File Sharing”

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25 Comments
PaulT (profile) says:

Cory Doctorow blogged about this from a different angle – that the BPI letter is essentially treating people like idiots and telling them they can’t use open wireless any more. The OP there objects to being told how to use his service.

As for the studies, I actually agree with one part. Since the RIAA started suing filesharers, I’ve avoided buying their music. I buy more music than ever before (from eMusic, etc.), but I take pains to make sure that major labels don’t see my money.

So, they’re right is a roundabout, twisted way. Which is apparently the way they understand things… As for this quote:


“EMR concluded that heavy music buyers are also heavy filesharers. In other words, filesharing threatens the music business’ biggest customers.”

I haven’t got a clue how the first part can be made negative. If heavy music buyers are heavy filesharers, then that means that the people they’re trying to sue are also the people who buy the most music. The only threat to their “biggest customers” is if their internet gets cut off or a court fines them because the BPI/RIAA orders it. There’s absolutely no logic in that statement.

SteveD says:

Re: PaulIT

“Cory Doctorow blogged about this from a different angle – that the BPI letter is essentially treating people like idiots and telling them they can’t use open wireless any more.”

This was a PR piece written to sway public opinion. It reads; ‘we are right, we are in the right, and as you all agree we are right then we have everyones support. Hurray!’

popular opinion says:

Re: cory doctorow

some old guy -> “Cory’s ego got too big, and is no longer capable of acts of non-zealotry. Anything he says now is completely disregarded as the voice of “popular opinion” no matter how insane it sounds. Sad too. He used to be talented.”

This statement does nothing to detract from what Cory has said. Next time try to make a point rather than bash someone with meaningless babble.

Mr Big Content says:

Good Heavens!

“EMR concluded that heavy music buyers are also heavy filesharers.” Thank you for pointing that out! Now we know how to spot the pirates–henceforth, we will be sending undercover agents into every record store, looking for the biggest customers. We’ll catch them and lock them up. That’ll nip the whole file-sharing problem in the bud! We may rescue our faltering business model yet!

Bart (profile) says:

Ask RIAA to contact me

I’m willing to be their showcase customer! I don’t do file sharing. At all. So that must make me their favorite customer! They must love me, right?

The reason I don’t do file sharing is that I don’t care too much about todays music. Come to think of it, haven’t bought CD’s in ages, either. There’s not really anything worth buying out there. And if there were, I wouldn’t know about it. I’m only listening to my old cd’s.

But that doesn’t matter, because people who don’t do file sharing are their perfect customers, right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Then there's those of us.....

Then there’s those of us that are extremely pissed off at the recording industry, their shenanigans, the attitudes of individuals and entire bands, and the over-valued music.

So much so that we’ve stopped buying music, don’t care enough to want to download tracks illegally, stopped playing the legally licensed music we already own, and instead choose to listen to music released for free download by “REAL” musicians that really care about writing good music for people to enjoy.

I would prefer to invest my money on Cubase, some virtual instruments, and a decent microphone, and write my own music – it would cost me less, and I could make songs that play for longer than 3 or 4 minutes – I hate it when songs end just as I’m getting in the groove.

If people would just stop buying *AND* illegally downloading music, then we’d see a real change the recording industry can’t ignore. If you want to hear the latest piece of crap, you only have to listen on the radio; they are usually good at replaying the same song several times a day. I think the professional name for that service is called “Torture”.

I honestly can’t believe this sort of BS is still going on! Music industry: GET WITH THE PROGRAM… AND GROW UP!

Anonymous Coward says:

Legit downloading

I PAY for an unlimited music subscription service (with pesky DRM, but I really only listen to music on my computers anyway). I download lots of new releases every week, and listen to lots of streamed playlists. I’m going to be REALLY ticked off if my ISP starts throttling my bandwidth or sending my nastygrams for streaming and downloading songs I’m paying for!

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m with Dan. I rarely download music, and if so from iTunes. I even more rarely buy a CD. I think I’ve bought two CDs in the past five years, and I think I bought both of them used of amazon.com. Most new music is of little interest to me today, and lord don’t get me started on that talent vacuum called “American Idol,” which represents just about everything that’s wrong with the music industry.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

To everyone here complaining about music – if you’re not buying music, your tastes are not going to be considered. There *WILL* be music out there you like and love, you just have to search outside of the top 40 / mainstream radio.

I was in the same position a few years ago, buying a couple of CDs per year if that. Then, I joined eMusic. I find the quality of music there high, the subscription buying method encourages experimentation and it’s all DRM free. There are many other sites dealing with free and independent music – WE7, AmieStreet, Garageband, last.fm and so on.

If you give up on buying music completely, only the voices of the tween lemmings who buy the new American Idol album will be heard. Seek out great new music, and sooner or later the pendulum will drift away from that model of making music. Don’t give up on music, just avoid the RIAA.

(/end rant)

Anonymous Coward says:

Maybe i’m missing something here, but I didn’t find “EMR concluded that heavy music buyers are also heavy filesharers. In other words, filesharing threatens the music business’ biggest customers.” all that ‘hilarious’. Do *all* file sharers purchase more music? I don’t think so, some of the collections my friends have measure in the thousands or tens of thousands of individual tracks. It would cost a fortune to buy that many, so there’s an immediate dis-proportion here even in my immediate social circle. Particularly interesting as, being a music lover, I spend $200-$300 week on records, cd’s and mp3’s and don’t even have a p2p client on my machine. I will never share, because artists are as much a victim of capitalism (if not moreso) as the rest of us – they need shelter, food, equipment and the means of creative stimulation.

There are fallacious arguments on both sides of this debate it seems, and not touching on either side of the ethics but – lets keep planted in reality.

Sailor Ripley says:

Re: Re:

Do *all* file sharers purchase more music?

What the collections of your friends measure up to has absolutely no bearing…

The studies says: heavy music buyers are also heavy file sharers. You could formalize this as a basic if-then

if a (= being heavy music buyer)
then b (= being a heavy file sharer

As everyone knows, this is equivalent with
if not b
then not a

but neither statement says anything about:

if b (= being a heavy file sharer)

so since the study only says heavy music buyers also share heavily and says makes no statement about whether or not (all) heavy file sharers are heavy music buyers or not, whatever the buying behavior in your immediate social circle is proves or disproves in no way shape or form the EMR conclusion you quoted.

Hard to tell whether you intentionally put up that straw man or whether you lack the understanding of basic if-then statements (in this case, don’t feel bad, you’re not the only one)

As for your friends, even though it wouldn’t refute the study, the only relevant question if you want to make the point you’re trying to make is: do your friends spend less money on music than they would if they couldn’t infringe? Which would be virtually impossible to answer, even for people in your immediate social circle.

I know, it sucks that the only relevant question that might work in your favor would be virtually impossible to prove, one way or the other, but that doesn’t mean you can start using bogus arguments/facts instead…

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