Piracy Is Over Like The Web Is Dead
from the The-Fat-Lady's-A-Mute dept
Attention everyone. If I could have all of your eyes looking forward please, I have an announcement to make: the pirating of music on the internet has officially ended. So says Wired’s Paul Boutin:
"Mark down the date: The age of stealing music via the Internet is officially over. It’s time for everybody to go legit. The reason: We won. And all you audiophiles and copyfighters, you know who fixed our problems? The record labels and online stores we loved to hate."
That’s quite a whopper, isn’t it? Particularly from the same esteemed publication that brought you the news that the web is dead. You’d have to imagine there would be something pretty substantial in his article to make the claim that the record labels had somehow fixed things so that online infringement no longer should exist, right? Sadly, not so much. He starts off by listing out a couple of the problems most folks had with things like DRM, transferring legit purchases to multiple devices, etc. Then he tells us all why everything is okay now (and for a fun little game, see if you can spot the demeaning slight he sneaks in on music fans):
"Well played, protesters: In January 2009, Apple announced that it would remove the copyright protection wrapper from every song in its store. Today, Amazon and Walmart both sell music encoded as MP3s, which don’t even have hooks for copyright-protection locks. The battle is over, comrades."
So…because, after years of fighting, iTunes finally stood up and removed the DRM, followed by a few retailers, we’re supposed to look to the record labels as our saviors? For not treating us like criminals? And while they’re still pushing for new laws and demanding money from ISPs (that will come out of consumers pockets anyway)? That doesn’t really pass the smell test. Paul then goes on to declare the joy audiophiles should feel now that MP3s are being sold with 256 Kbps audio quality, compared to the initial 128 Kbps offering, stating that if anyone wants quality better than that, "you can get a pretty good turntable for around $500" and go spin vinyl. Oh, and he wants to make sure you know that if you steal vinyl records, that’s called shoplifting. Mmkay. What else you got, Paul?
"That leaves one last war cry: Music should be free! It’s art! Friends, a song costs a dollar…Most download retailers send about 70 percent of each sale to the record companies that own the music. Artists with 15 percent royalty deals get 15 percent of that 70 percent, or about 10.5 cents per dollar of sales. Those who write their own music and own their own music publishing companies—an increasingly common arrangement—get another 9.1 cents in “mechanical royalties.” Every download sends almost 20 cents straight to the band."
Yup, you read that right. This, of course, is pure nonsense. That isn’t the way royalties with modern day recording contracts work. Through the magic of recording label accounting, the average musician makes roughly $23 for every $1000 in music sold — and that’s only if they actually recoup, which is difficult to do, thanks to the way the record labels account for things. For those of you who share my math skills and don’t want to reach for a calculator, that’s barely 2%. Some of that result stems from necessary things the bands may need to spend on: managers, lawyers, taxes. But a good deal of it also comes from neat little, and sometimes recoupable, charges from the record label, things like independent radio promotion, tour support, roughly fifty percent of the music video costs, etc. Other times, the record labels flatout don’t pay the royalties from truly successful albums. Bottom line is, at the end of the day, record labels make money off of selling music, musicians do not.
And, even if we go with Paul’s bogus number of 20 cents on the dollar, is that really that good of a deal? A musician today can use a service like Bandcamp, and get 85% of whatever money they bring in — and can do so in more creative ways with pay what you want offerings, that can actually bring in much more money. The idea the “record labels” have solved “piracy” by offering musicians 20 cents that they’ll never get because they’ll never recoup is laughable.
But Paul chooses to ignore those things and instead offers up a pithy conclusion as to why music is still being pirated:
Uh huh. Nuanced arguments would probably be more appreciated from the group of folks you’re talking to, who actually spend more money on music than those who do not "pirate". Funny definition of cheap you’re working from…
In the end, there are many reasons why people still file share (and they are still file sharing in droves, which sort of debunks Paul’s entire premise), but you don’t learn any of that from Paul’s article. Since when did Wired switch from thought-provoking analysis to pure trollbait?