Are Entertainment Industry Tactics Working?
from the or-is-it-a-dead-cat-bounce dept
It’s been somewhat amusing over the last day or so to see a bunch of our usual critics all submit the same exact story with some sort of triumphant “I told you so!!!!!” (usually in less friendly language). It’s a report that music sales are up in Sweden following the strict anti-piracy law that went into effect earlier this year. The claim is that this is proof that the RIAA/MPAA/IFPI/BPI/etc strategies work. To them, this is clear, irrefutable evidence that draconian measures to crack down on unauthorized file sharing really does make people buy. That would be quite interesting if true, but our friends employed by these companies might want to wait a bit before breaking out the champagne over a dead cat bounce.
First, there are some who are questioning the actual numbers. So far, the only numbers have come directly from the IFPI, who hasn’t provided much in the way of detail (and have a long history of publishing questionable, fact-challenged numbers). In fact, the very lack of detail would likely indicate that there are extenuating circumstances here. And, when we’re talking about Sweden, it has to also be noted that services like Spotify (which dragged the labels kicking and screaming into the modern world) were just launched at the very end of last year. So, it could be that it was one of these more modern services that helped convince people to buy music rather than any crackdown. But, of course, the bigger question is whether or not any boost is sustainable. It was reported that there was a drop in file sharing after the Swedish IPRED law went into effect (though, again, many argue that the “drop” was simply because more people started using encryption and those who measure file sharing traffic had no way to deal with it, so pretended they all stopped). Yet, it didn’t take long for the traffic numbers to bounce back up.
And that’s the issue. If your entire business model is based on whacking people with a stick and telling them what they can’t do, you may get brief moments of compliance, but at the first chance they get to go back to a more consumer-friendly system, they will. So while our friends in the entertainment industry will likely misread this situation into believing that its strategy of pissing off pretty much everyone makes business sense, let’s wait and see how this works out in the next year or so. Dead cat bounces can fool lots of folks, but there are very few industries that succeed by basing their future on such things.