IFPI: Piracy Bad!!! Government Must Fix Because We Don't Want To Adapt!

from the wake-up-folks dept

It’s that time of the year when the IFPI comes out with its annual fear-mongering report, and this year’s has really gone overboard into the ridiculous. The basics are pretty much what you’d expect (“piracy bad! industry dying! governments must break everything to protect us!”). However, the details are just downright laughable. The entire report seems premised on the idea that direct music sales is the only thing that really matters (a blatant confusion about the difference between the recording industry (which the IFPI represents) and the music industry (which the IFPI pretends to represent). You can read the entire report below, but we’ll go through some of the lowlights:

In the intro, after bemoaning the losses in sales (but totally ignoring the massive increases in every other aspect of the music business), it claims that the tide is turning on the public’s perception of unauthorized access to content. Proof? Rupert Murdoch’s attack on Google and Microsoft’s ridiculous decision to kick people off Xbox live if they made use of a glitch.

You hear it around the world: this is no longer just a problem for music, it is a problem for the creative industries: affecting film, TV, books and games. In this arena, the music industry is the pathfinder of the creative industries, pioneering with new offerings for the consumer. In 2009, Rupert Murdoch said that the content kleptomaniacs should not triumph and Microsoft spoke out against piracy, ready to ban players from Xbox live if they had modified their consoles to play pirated discs — no three strikes procedure needed!

Of course, both are incredibly poor example choices. Murdoch wasn’t actually complaining about “thieves.” He was complaining about Google sending him traffic without paying. That’s hardly the sort of issue the recording industry faces. And Microsoft was banning people not just for modifying their legally purchased hardware, but for using glitches made by software programmers. Again, an exceptionally different situation. You would think that IFPI could come up with something more compelling.

Then, amusingly, the IFPI mentions the Lily Allen saga with an amazing rewrite of history:

It was, until recently, rare for artists to engage in a public debate about piracy or admit it damages them. In September 2009, the mood changed. Lily Allen spoke out about the impact of illegal file-sharing on young artists’ careers. When she was attacked by an abusive online mob, others came to her support.

First, that’s not even close to true. Artists have spoken out about those issues for years (Lars Ulrich, anyone?). And Allen wasn’t “attacked by an abusive online mob.” Lots of people who actually understand these issues pointed out that while she was complaining about file sharing, she and her label (EMI) were distributing dozens of songs on her website in a totally unauthorized manner.

Throughout the report, the IFPI makes the false claim that it’s representing “the music industry” and falsely describes “the music industry’s revenue” as being limited to sales of music. As an example:

In 2009, for the first time ever, more than a quarter of the recorded music industry’s global revenues (27%) came from digital channels — a market worth an estimated US$4.2 billion in trade value, up 12 per cent on 2008.

But, of course, that’s wrong. It is not the music industry’s revenue. It’s the recording industry. Similarly, the report only focuses on new ways to sell music when it discusses “new business models” and only briefly mentions efforts to connect with fans, suggesting (laughably) that Warner Music has been the leader here, rather than a distant follower. As such, it should be no surprise that the report continually ignores the fact that the music industry has actually been growing (and that’s based on a study from the music industry itself). This report is like the makers of horse carriages insisting that the transportation market is dying, because they’re selling fewer horse carraiges as automobile sales ramp up.

The report particularly singles out Spain — which is no surprise, given that the Spanish courts have recognized that personal copying isn’t a crime and taking away broadband access for copyright infringement makes no sense. The report moans and complains about how the Spanish music market is dying — but again, only focuses on albums sales (as an aside, amusingly enough, I purchased a bunch of albums from Spain this year).

From there, the report goes on and on at length about how file sharing is killing music (despite the evidence to the contrary) and how the only solution is for governments to force ISPs to play copyright cop. It conveniently brushes off all the evidence to the contrary, and ignores the statistics showing a massive increase in new music hitting the market.

The report also tries to rope in other industries to show the “harm” caused by unauthorized file sharing:

Case studies around blockbuster movies show how top films now suffer from the same digital piracy problems as popular albums. Pre-release copies of Wolverine were downloaded 100,000 times in 24 hours after a leak in April 2009. In 2008, seven million copies of Batman: Dark Knight were downloaded on BitTorrent. This has a ripple effect across the industry, on investment and jobs. In the US alone, the film and television industries are estimated to employ 2.5 million people, according to MPA.

Unfortunately, neither “case study” supports the claim by the IFPI of “harm”. Dark Knight was the highest earning movie of 2008 despite widespread file sharing, and a study comparing the box office results of Wolverine with other similar movies suggests that the pre-release downloads may have actually helped it at the box office. The only other “proof” is a quote from a filmmaker insisting that file sharing is taking away revenue. Bold claims in a year when Hollywood had its biggest box office take ever.

Of course, it goes on to say that Hollywood is losing jobs due to this, even though Hollywood’s own studies show that job growth is expected over the next decade, as alternative models come into play.

The section on kicking people offline after accusations (not convictions) of file sharing is particularly amusing. Of course, the IFPI tries to redefine it as “graduated response.” It cites numerous surveys that say people would stop file sharing under such a program, but reality seems to trump what people say they would do. And, nowhere has anyone explained why the threat of kicking people offline will actually cause anyone to buy. We already know it won’t — because today’s threat of millions of dollars in fines hasn’t slowed down file sharing in the slightest, despite being a much more significant punishment than losing your internet connection.

From there, it talks about the various successes the industry has had in ramming through legislation to kick people off the internet, ignoring the questions about the constitutionality of those programs in places like France where the law has been delayed over concerns it violates EU data privacy rules, or the massive protests against such backroom deals in places like New Zealand. Instead, the report falsely suggests there’s widespread support for these programs. The report also falsely claims that ISPs in the US have agreed to private deals to kick people offline. While there was a brief claim yesterday that Verizon had made such a deal, the company quickly denied that and admitted that it had not kicked anyone offline. Oh, and not surprisingly, the report fails to note that the French agency put in place to administer its law, Hadopi, was caught infringing on copyrights in its own logo — showing just how ridiculous a blanket policy is for dealing with these issues.

The report then has a whole section on the “success” story of South Korea, which is a joke. South Korea had a thriving music industry entirely without these kinds of laws, because smart music industry execs, like JY Park, have embraced new business models and basically admitted that selling CDs or downloads was a dead-end business. And while new laws in South Korea may have temporarily boosted music sales, the IFPI totally ignores the massive downsides to the laws that have resulted in various service providers blocking any music uploads or video uploads, seriously damaging the ability to create useful online services for users.

In the end, the report is really more of the same. It’s the buggy makers pretending they represent the transportation business and demanding laws that block the development of automobiles in order to keep selling more buggies. But, of course, progress can only be blocked for so long, and it’s about time that the IFPI entered the 21st century.

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Comments on “IFPI: Piracy Bad!!! Government Must Fix Because We Don't Want To Adapt!”

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Anonymous Coward says:

CRIA sued for 6 billion lawsuit fo rnot paying artists since the 80's

did ifpi mention that in canada they collect a levy and dont even pay musicians
that whatever sales they get never goto some 300000 artists

cause there the big scam and if you really htink of what artists are entitled to 6billion is a way cheap number considering COMMERCIAL INFRINGEMENT PER ITEM CARRIES A 20000 $ FINE.

Think more then one tune per cdr…..times 300000 artists

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

“But, of course, that’s wrong. It is not the music industry’s revenue. It’s the recording industry.”

It seems that in this one instance they actually got that right. Read the quote from the report again:

In 2009, for the first time ever, more than a quarter of the recorded music industry‘s global revenues (27%) came from digital channels — a market worth an estimated US$4.2 billion in trade value, up 12 per cent on 2008.

I thought I’d point that oversight out before someone comes along and tries to claim it invalidates your entire argument…

RD says:


“cause there the big scam and if you really htink of what artists are entitled to 6billion is a way cheap number considering COMMERCIAL INFRINGEMENT PER ITEM CARRIES A 20000 $ FINE”

Exactly. But you see, if they were even found guilty (and good luck finding a judge who would go against his corporate bribe money and judge against them) you can bet your bottom dollar they would fight to ONLY pay what they collected – no punitive damages. Watch, they will cry and moan that its not “fair” and a punishment “out of proportion to the crime” to have to pay 100-1000 times the actual money owed.

Rasmus says:

Re: Re: Re:

What do you expect?
If you are the PR bureau working for these guys then eventually you will find that they deduct expenses to an amount of 110% before paying out any money on the bills you send them. And once you realize you don’t get any money you just stop doing any work.
Of course we all miss The Anti-Mike, but we really cant expect anyone to work for free, can we?

The ANti Mikes Boss says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The Anti Mike, This is your boss. I have contacted Mike Masnick along with a couple of other people from other blogs you have gone to. I have given them your internet information (ie: hostmask along with other stuff that’s too complicated for you to understand, but believe me if they’ll know if you post) and if you dare post anything on any of these blogs they will tell me and you will not get paid anymore.

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Actually wandering around Asia and relaxing. The internet is sort of blocked off in some countries (currently in Thailand… they aren’t exactly open).

Actually, being away from Techdirt for a couple of days makes coming back to this sort of thing rather humorous. Reading Mike getting all worked up about something that he is not really involved in is like reading a travel report from someone who never leaves home. It’s easy to get all up in arms about someone else’s money, I guess.

Things are changing, watch this space. 🙂

David says:

Proof? Rupert Murdoch’s attack on Google and Microsoft’s ridiculous decision to kick people off Xbox live if they made use of a glitch.

When the report brings up the bans on xbox live it isn’t talking about the bans over the glitch, but instead the large number of bans on modified consoles that occurred last November.
You also mentioned these bans in this post shortly after it happened: http://techdirt.com/articles/20091111/0206596891.shtml

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

That really makes no difference.
The only thing enabled by the mod was the ability to play burnt games (which they claim are pirated but I have yet to see proof since I have an actual game disc for any burnt disc I keep, which means none of them are pirated).
If they went after the actual glitchers who most of us modders still do not like, that would be another story. They went after modders though. All of the cheaters were still left to play in the online area and make people’s games miserable.

Rasmus says:

The roots of IFPI

According to Wikipedia:

“The IFPI was formed as the phonographic industry, invited by “Confederazione Generale Fascista dell’Industria Italiana”, held their first international congress in Rome, 10–14 November 1933″

Can we actually expect an organization founded by the Italian Fascist Party under leadership of Benito Mussolini to actually care about things like Human Rights, Democracy and of using Intellectually Honest arguments?

Isn’t it much more realistic to expect them to try to use raw power and deciet as a method for obtaining a goal of eliminating human rights, democracy and arguments not based on power?

I’m wondering if IFPIs real goal is something entirely different than defending the recording industries interests. Doesn’t IFPIs stated goals make a lot more sense if you put them in the context of goals for a fascist party instead of goals for the international recording industry?

Hephaestus (profile) says:

“When she was attacked by an abusive online mob, others came to her support.

First, that’s not even close to true.” …

Big Ole GRIN … Yes it is and it was fun 😉 Stupid people and stupid comments deserve to be punished. The internet is a learning tool where the individual has great power and great responsibility. Abuse either and you deserve to get your ass handed to you and be hazed. Lily Allens has power by her stardom, her comments were made out of stupidity or ignorance and her actions contradicted her words.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think the observation comes more from looking at all the mean-spirited comments on her blog (though there weren’t a lot, some were pretty extreme).

It’s pretty easy for someone who isn’t used to the internet, or who is being selectively disingenuous, to be utterly shocked by the things that get said in comment threads. By showing a couple of comments you could convince all the slightly-less-savvy people in the world that Lily was attacked by a vicious mob saying the most vile things imaginable. The thing is, you could demonstrate the same thing for every single celebrity, every single YouTube video, ever single historical figure, ad nauseam (and I do mean nauseam, which you understand if you’ve read youtube comments)

So I agree with you that those who “attacked” her with rational arguments and reasonable questions about her hypocritical stance were right to do so. But I don’t think that’s what this was referring to – the IFPI would rather ignore that part of the story altogether.

Paul Warren says:

Alan Ellis of Oink was arrested by police in late October 2007. Has anybody asked IFPI the following questions.

Who conducted surveillance on Alan, his home and his vehicle with covert devices and electronic tracking equipment(it was not the police)?

Was this surveillance authorised under data-protection legislation?

Can Alan take legal action against IFPI?

Mumith Ali says:

Nice one Paul. But it shouldn’t just be about surveillance tactics on Alan Ellis. What about Pirate Bay and what did IFPI get up to in Sweden. Maybe Carl Lundstrom, Peter Sunde and the other guys should ask for some disclosure of what IFPI are keeping in their databases about them. I bet it was never given to the Swedish Police. Naughty naughty….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Digital Economy Bill

Mumith Ali and Paul Warren should wake up and … All this Pirate Bay and Oink stuff is old news. It is the Digital Economy Bill that could be the thin end of the music industry wedge, using the backdoor to attack file-sharers. Just watch the big guns come out to push their besotted MPs to vote. Bono and Geldof (not to mention Cowell) will be making the rounds.

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