Yet Another Study Says Enforcement Won't Bring Back Consumer Spending On Music; But Will Strangle New Biz Models

from the stop-focusing-on-enforcement dept

Just a couple weeks after the SSRC research report that goes into great detail about how the attempts to ramp up copyright enforcement won’t actually help the entertainment industry came out, Boing Boing points us to another report, this one coming from the London School of Economics, which basically says the same thing.

  • The DEA gets the balance between copyright enforcement and innovation wrong. The use of peer-to-peer technology should be encouraged to promote innovative applications. Focusing on efforts to suppress the use of technological advances and to protect out-of-date business models will stifle innovation in this industry.
  • Providing user-friendly, hassle-free solutions to enable users to download music legally at a reasonable price, is a much more effective strategy for enforcing copyright than a heavy-handed legislative and regulatory regime.
  • Decline in the sales of physical copies of recorded music cannot be attributed solely to file-sharing, but should be explained by a combination of factors such as changing patterns in music consumption, decreasing disposable household incomes for leisure products and increasing sales of digital content through online platforms.

So now we have two separate, but thorough, research reports by extremely well-respected organizations saying the same basic thing: focusing on enforcement won’t help and will almost certainly hurt. So why is it that our policy makers are still focused solely on enforcement?

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Comments on “Yet Another Study Says Enforcement Won't Bring Back Consumer Spending On Music; But Will Strangle New Biz Models”

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Ron Rezendes (profile) says:

Re: Troll being troll

Typical TWS (troll w/o a soul)!

Tdub says: Try this failed idea. Result: Fail.

Tdub says: Wait, try it again. Result: Fail.

Tdub says: OK, now try it. Result: Fail.

Start Tdub hissy fit: What a bunch of freetards!! Why do you insist on distributing more FUD? Those new business models only work for the one or two specific people you ALWAYS point out. It won’t work for everyone. You’re all just a bunch of thieves. Piracy=theft=1:1 lost sale! You all owe the industry TRILLIONS of dollars!

Poor Tdub, the thunderous sound of all those freetards crossing your bridge and heading for the future while you are content to beg and plead for how things used to be from beneath the bridge. Stay Troll! Stay!

Anonymous Coward says:

Duh... These groups aren't throwing wads of Cash at the Policy Makers....

These factual and accurate reports aren’t presented to the policy makers in the ‘expected’ manner (meaning they aren’t wrapped in 1000 dollar bills, hookers, and blow), so the policy makers probably don’t even know they exist.

For the policy makers determining which reports are ‘factual’ is easy for them, they line them up based on the amount of money they received along with them, then select the one that came with the biggest bribe (lobby?)….

Anonymous Coward says:

“Decline in the sales of physical copies of recorded music cannot be attributed solely to file-sharing”

Why do they act like declining sales is necessarily a bad thing that the government needs to do something about? Why are corporate profits something important enough to warrant governmental intervention?

Perhaps declining sales is due to people finding alternative entertainment venues, like Facebook, Techdirt, and other sites. Perhaps declining sales is due to increased competition by people who release their content under a CC license or by independents who sell their content at more reasonable prices. Why are declining corporate sales such a bad thing if it’s because people can now get reasonably priced entertainment elsewhere instead? Shouldn’t it be celebrated that the economy is now more efficient and people don’t have to spend a ton of money on entertainment because the economy is able to provide it more efficiently. The whole purpose of having an economy is to give us goods, services, entertainment, etc… not to ensure corporate sales, and if those things are now being delivered more efficiently, that’s something to be celebrated by politicians and governments, not something to be resisted.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Why do they act like declining sales is necessarily a bad thing that the government needs to do something about?”

Skipping the whole “they are corrupt” argument (which is probably mostly true too), declining sales due to criminal activity is something that the government is supposed to look into. If someone is strong arming your customers into not going into your store until you pay them off, the government should be responding to your problem.

The problem with what is happening with copyright is that the government is getting involved in civil infringement. This is where it is none of their business. What is happening now is the lobbyists are arguing the same thing the banking and auto industries did – “we are too important to the economy to fail”. They need the inflated numbers to illustrate why the government needs to step in with another “bail out” to prevent the collapse of our entire economy.

Our government is supposed to be here to protect us. That can mean by stepping in when something they should have nothing to do with is going to cause a lot of people a problem. I think what they are doing is short-sighted and ultimately the wrong move, but that does not mean it is entirely ill-intended.

Paul (profile) says:

Re: Re: Yet this is just arbitrary criminal activity

And by arbitrary, I mean that there isn’t anything moral or immoral about the sharing of content.

We wrote a law and made this stuff illegal. It isn’t in the ten commandments that we shouldn’t copy stuff. The Buddha didn’t teach about copying or not copying. Mohammad didn’t convey any laws from Allah about copyrights. Jesus never mentioned copyright issues in the Sermon on the Mount. No Saints died for copyright.

The only basis for being concerned about copyright is right there in the Constitution. It is about promoting progress in the Sciences and Useful Arts.

Government has the responsibility to evaluate if progress is being made. As long as progress is being made, its mandate is being met. Government has no responsibility (and some would say government has no authority) to write and enforce laws that do not advance progress, and actually (as these studies show) limit progress.

Sorry, that just seems to be as clear as it gets.

Paul (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Sorry, Michael….

It might seem as if I am arguing with you in my previous post. Mostly I am not. I personally don’t care if government is ramping up copyright enforcement because they are corrupt, or because they are misguided. I am concerned that they are doing this despite the fact that they have no constitutional basis for doing so.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“because despite all other models in business, monopoly is the most profitable”

Actually monopolies have been show to be one of the least profitable in recent times. If you take the bail outs, QE1 and 2, the interest, and inflation into account. The government just transfered a couple trillion dollars of losses and interest from the corporations to the US population.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“because despite all other models in business, monopoly is the most profitable for those in charge of the company who have no regard for the economy, their customers, or their shareholders, and are only interested in furthering their own self serving needs.”


There’s a little more ‘accurate’ statement about monopolies, they may not be the most profitable for the shareholders/corporation, but those in charge are making out like robber barons from the middle ages…. Pillaging neighboring villages, raping the women, killing the men and children, and then burning everything to the ground (scorched earth campaign anyone?)

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Monopoly is what the government should be preventing, but instead are actually encouraging through their corruption. So yes, unchecked, capitalism might head to monopoly, but the government should be guarding against that.

What form of economy would you prefer? It appears that capitalism has given us most of the advances we have today.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Actually, you’re right, but not in the way you think you are. The damaging effect on the industry from copyright infringement stems more from the way publishers react to it. They see it as an entirely damaging phenomenon and treat it as lost sales, completely ignorant and dismissive of whether that is even the correct assertion. The thing any business may does when they see lost sales in a company, is to slash and burn the staff producing those goods. Before they take such drastic measures, they apply technology that is assumed to inhibit the act they view as diminishing their sales. This puts people off and they turn to the people the DRM was supposed to stop in the first place for their content.

It’s the publisher’s panic that hurts the industry, not the sharing of content. Now it’s even spilling onto the people as they try to create more laws and bolster enforcement just to protect something that can’t be protected.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Well according to the RIAA when Limewire was shutdown piracy dropped dramatically almost 50% and I’m waiting to see the sales report again stating that despite the reduction in piracy sales didn’t go up LoL

Wanna place a bet that sales show any significant improvement?
The RIAA won a fantastic victory against piracy, millions stop pirating, did they bought more?


Anonymous Coward says:

Candidly, I question the assertion that crafting even stronger copyright laws will stymie new business models.

Yes, businesses that continue to rely solely on copright law will face significant challenges in the future unless they are able to adapt as new technologies come to the fore.

At the same time, however, those who embrace the opportunities enabled by new technologies, and do so in a manner that does not implicate the rights held by copyright owners, should be able to proceed without any significant legal impediments. To put it another way, what good is a copyright to its owner is there is no one to sue?

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It has been exhibited over and over that corporations are lawsuit happy when it comes to copyright. If they think a prospering company creating profitable works bears even the slightest arguable similarity to their own works, they will lunge on them like a hungry predator. This fosters a climate of hesitance to create new works out of fear of litigation. After all, every creative work is derivative of what came before it and it is inevitable that a work will bear a resemblance to a previously registered work. This is compounded by the fact that these works remain protected for far longer than the natural life of anyone who was born on or before the publication of a work. This is why copyright stifles innovation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

This is true in every field of endeavor.

No one argues that litigation always lurks in the background. My point is simply to minimize risk by doing one’s best to stay away from such issues. The are, quite frankly, many ways to do this without undue concern about becoming “chilled”.

DogBreath says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Then, one might suspect the best defense against THEM is to stay away from everything and create “nothing”. That might work until the day of: Patent “nothing”, Trademark “nothing” and Copyright “nothing” takes effect. Anyone who doesn’t want to take the risk by possibly making something that someone else might have been given legal rights to, and instead decides to create “nothing”, can then be sued by for doing “nothing”. When someone copies “nothing”, they will be sued for everything they have gained (which is still “nothing”) from their uncreation / unoriginal idea.

That will teach EVERYONE a lesson they’ll not soon forget.
(That lesson is an old one: “Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”)
After all, you can’t forget “nothing”, as there is “nothing” to remember in the first place.

/sarc (or prophecy? Only the future will decide.)

Bruce Ediger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Mimimizing the risk by staying away

Isn’t “the problem” with “Intellectual Property” litigation that litigation is actually required?

That is, despite the constant exhortations to consult a lawyer, said lawyer really truly can’t tell you that a particular use infringes. Whole-article-copying has been ruled fair use, and less-than-10-word quotes have been ruled infringing, with respect to copyrights.

As far as patents go, you really can’t tell when an idea is patented or not: google “submarine patents” for one problem, and look at for about the only study on whether things judged “infringing” were actually independent inventions or not.

The usual viewpoint is that you *can’t* minimize risk when actually producing things. This is a problem with a lot of laws now a days, not just in “Intellectual Property”. See for a good explanation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Mimimizing the risk by staying away

“Submarine patents” are largely a thing of the past because of the amendment to US law changing the term of a patent from 17 years after patent issuance to 20 years from the date an application for a patent is initially filed.

One used to be able, and for perfectly valid, non-nefarious reasons, to repeatedly refile an application. The amendment effectively truncated this.

Minimizing risk with respect to patents (the subject of Lemley’s article) is not as difficult as some would have people believe. The publication of filed applications, a relatively new phenomena, is proving helpful as it places others on notice that something is in the works. Moreover, it has been SOP for many, many years to publish on a weekly basis in the USPTO’s Official Gazette all patents that issued during that week.

While it is obviously possible that something might fall through the cracks and not be brought to the attention of the public at large, the system as currently implemented does provide a wealth of information useful to minimize risk if only one takes the time to look over the information.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Mimimizing the risk by staying away

Next time take a look at the legal requirements regarding wilfull infringement articulated by the CAFC before making such a declarative statement. Only rarely does it ever succeed, and in those cases the acts performed by the alleged infringer were paticularly egregious.

It is not uncommon for a plaintiff to throw into a complaint a plea for special damages, and it is extremely uncommon for that plea to gain any traction before the courts.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“crafting even stronger copyright laws will stymie new business models”

Who made that assertion? Seriously, I’m not sure where that came from. As far as I have seen the report suggests crafting stronger copyright laws will stymie innovation and the production of new art. I have not ready all of it, so I may have missed something.

“those who embrace the opportunities enabled by new technologies, and do so in a manner that does not implicate the rights held by copyright owners, should be able to proceed without any significant legal impediments”

Sure, but if the laws are being strengthened, who’s to say that I am not currently doing something that is legal but will soon become illegal. Part of the problem is that we are often talking about music and art – cultural things that people throughout history have always shared. In our digital age, it has become much easier to share these things. Lots of this sharing is on the edge of infringement (fair use, for example). Strengthening the laws is likely to further criminalize what has become normal, daily activity.

Now, you can ask (I would) “if everyone commits a crime, does that make it ok?”. My response is “yes” in a democracy, that really ends up the case (prohibition anyone?). Even if you believe something should be done, this is something that should be approached with a great deal of caution and examined by legislators and the courts – not something that the executive branch of our government simply starts taking on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Strengthing laws is generally directed to remedies, and not to the expansion of copyright holder rights.

Are there exceptions to the above? Yes, but it is a very unique case associated with the restoration of rights of foreign authors where some of their works fell into the public domain as the result of the formalities that used to exist under prior US copyright law. Merely FYI, this amendment to US law will be reviewed later this year by the Supreme Court in the matter of Golan v. Holder.

CommonSense (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“what good is a copyright to its owner if there is no one to sue?”

You are absolutely right!! I don’t actually care if I get any credit for my work, I just want to be able to sue the pants off of anyone else who uses it!!

No. That is just foolish. For starters, you assume all the players will have no problem staying inside the crudely drawn boundary lines between legal use and illegal use. When in reality, the players on each side of the line are constantly trying to push those boundaries. That’s why you have lawsuits, because each side wants more of the power, and they’re trying to get the courts to tell them where that line really is. Essentially, rights holders will never feel that others are embracing new tech. in a manner that doesn’t offend them, unless they aren’t successful on their own anyway. Anything successful, and you’ll always have the rights holders screaming “the money they’re making should be ours!!!”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I do not assume that players will have no problem staying away from the legal/illegal boundary line. If only things were that simple. This is why I noted that a potential defendant’s best course of action is to do what he can to minimize that risk. The very same holds true for everything from patent infringement, product design, contracts, etc.

It is impossible, unless you live alone on an island that is not subject to the jurisdiction of any nation, to completely eliminate risk. The best one can ever hope to do is manage the risk by keeping it at a minimum.

CommonSense (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Innovation is about going into uncharted territory. There’s no way of knowing whether or not you’re going to subject yourself to risk by going there, until you actually go there.

Essentially, what you are saying is that the only acceptable innovation is into fields where there are no existing players. No one should try to compete with a company who is already doing something, because you may infringe on their rights, and that is a no no.

Greevar (profile) says:

“So why is it that our policy makers are still focused solely on enforcement?”

That’s simple. It’s easier to look good in politics when you’re “fighting” something and even better if you’re “fighting” something that can’t effectively be defeated, because that makes you look like a humanitarian and a martyr. The push for more enforcement creates a perpetual need for the people who initiated more enforcement, providing campaign opportunities for the next election. Furthermore, it provides profit to those that make money in enforcement.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Furthermore, it provides profit to those that make money in enforcement.

Absolutely, just take a gander at the industries spawned from the United States failed “War on Drugs”.

Makes me wonder if some of those who have profited nicely on the drug war are shifting gears to jump into the infringement wars to keep their gravy trains rolling. As the drug legalization becomes a more and more popular notion, maybe they realize they need a new “enemy” to combat.

ECA (profile) says:


Iv posted a few times and expressed to my friends, the Value of creation of a recording. WHAT costs the most.

Lets say, Full production of an album is $100,000.
Just to make the FIRST ORIGINAL.
Lets add to that..
Marketing, shipping, Making more copies, profit margins.

Lets make 1,000,000 CD’s at $0.25 each..$250,000
Lets install a few adverts in some FAN Mags..$100,000
Lets ship Equal amounts around the country..$10,000

$460,000/1,000,000= about $0.50 per CD.
Profit margin?? lets add $2(fair markup) CD cost $2.50
Distributor gets his $2.50, CD=$5.00
Store sells markup $5(GOOD PROFIT) makes the CD=$10

So, tell me WHY the CD costs me $20 at the store.
The store, needs a Good markup, so the price can go Up/Down.. The distributor Only adds what is Needed..

Lets add LAWYERS
LETS add TRACKERS to trace illegal copies
Lets add DRM at a $1 per CD(yes it costs about that much)

So how do the Lawyers and trackers PROVE THEIR WORTH?? An extra $5 per CD..
$5 per CD, times 1,000,000..PER ALBUM.

I need you to understand 1 thing. The above numbers are WHAT I COULD DO AT HOME to produce an album. IF the recording industry is paying HIGHER prices they are IGNORANT.

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Cost?

I am responding to my own comment.

Then lets CUT the costs so we can make MORE money..

lets create our OWN web site and SALES.

Lets kill:
CD/DVD more burning disks..
Advertising?… we can do our own, on the WEB.
we’ve killed 2/3 of the cost to make and ship CD’s. WOW,

MORE profits.(???) OR should we SAVE customers money?

Lets see what would happen if we CUT the Lawyers and DRM..

That $20 CD went to $15 without lawyers and DRM.
CUT distribution and manufacturing costs?? (about 2/3) we are back to $5 per CD..

With a cost of $0.50 and a Markup to $5 per CD??
no retailers, no Distribution locations, and it can be SOLD AROUND THE WORLD!!
Amazon, Newwegg, and many others have done it..

They could have 1 MASTER and convert to ANY FORMAT for sale ONSITE, and have EVERY recording they EVER MADE..
you wont be restricted by “What is available at the STORE”.

The FIRST company/corp to set it up, can Gather the OTHER corps/companies…and SELL at a Profit for something they DIDNT make..

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