If We Don't Kick People Off The Internet For File Sharing, Football Will Die
from the evidence-please? dept
We’ve discussed in the past how the UK’s Premier League’s fear of the internet has been a case study in what not to do online. But it seems that the Premier League bosses still want to push forward with plans to make it more difficult and more annoying for fans to actually watch matches. Jeff T alerts us to an opinion piece in The Guardian from the CEO of the Premier League, Richard Scudamore, in support of Lord Mandelson’s Digital Economy Bill for kicking accused (not convicted) file sharers off the internet. It’s the usual rant against “piracy” without much basis or knowledge:
Without the safe passage of the bill — requiring ISPs to take firm measures against unauthorised filesharers who are currently streaming and downloading with virtual impunity — the marker that this is theft isn’t even set down, educating consumers cannot begin in earnest, businesses cannot begin to develop new models because the market won’t be functioning properly and, most importantly of all, the current levels of investment that create jobs as well as talent will be lost. And that is when the real cost of digital theft would become apparent.
And yet, even as he writes those words, the creative industries that he insists are dying have been growing. How? Because the business models have been adapting just fine — even without additional artificial barriers to competition or the ability to kick people off the internet. And, in the case of the Premier League, Scudamore seems to be leaving out an awful lot of important facts, such as how incredibly limited an online offering the Premier League has put forth, which is a large part of the reason why lots of people stream it illegally. He also tosses out some totally made up “facts” such as “the UK leads the world in illegal downloads of TV programmes, with up to 25% of all online TV piracy taking place here.” Well, perhaps it’s not totally made up since he uses the magic words “up to.” But if there is a problem with file sharing of TV shows in the UK, it’s likely (as Jeff noted in his submission) because the “creative industries” that Scudamore insists are so important still delay the release of popular shows in the UK and demand that online streaming sites like Hulu not work outside the US.
Piracy is not the problem. Piracy is only showing folks like Scudamore that they’re doing a terrible job in meeting demand. He doesn’t need people kicked off the internet to adjust his business model. Lots of others are already doing so.