If You're Going To Argue In Favor Of Copyright, It Might Help To Do Some Research First
from the just-a-suggestion dept
Let's go through some of William's assertions and point out why they're either wrong or ill-informed.
First, if music goes down, so will every other form of copyrighted material including ultimately books, movies, TV, etc.This assumes that without copyright, content creation goes down. There's no evidence to support this. In fact, we see more content creation today than ever before in history, and most of it is not because of copyright in the slightest.
Second, there is no evidence *at all* that free music on the Internet is an effective (i.e. successful career building) marketing tool.That's simply untrue. Mr. Williams may not have found such evidence, but it's only because he didn't look very hard. The number of bands who exist solely because of their ability to build a following on the internet is rather large at this point, with plenty of bands crediting the internet's ability for easy distribution and marketing for their own ability to exist.
There have been no blockbuster successes that have come from, for example Garageband availability. I don't think you could even count more than a handful -- if that -- internet-based artists making a living from music.Of course, that depends on how you define "blockbuster" success. Williams seems to define it narrowly to suit his purposes, and that completely undermines his argument. Bands like the Arctic Monkeys created the following that turned them into a huge success via the internet. Maria Schneider won a Grammy with a model that relied on internet support. Flo Rida, whose music I keep hearing in random places, built up his following using the internet. And those are ones I can think of off the top of my head. We get examples sent to us practically every day of bands successfully using these models that don't rely on copyright. It's difficult to see how Williams can claim with a straight face that there's no evidence that it works. It also makes me wonder if Williams has ever been on the MySpace page of even a moderately successful independent musician.
Third, if the recorded music industry goes down, concert sales will not grow -- they will shrink. This is because the money that goes into creating concert demand (all from record label marketing) will disappear. People *will* see fewer concerts and they will cost less money because of reduced demand. So not only will the recorded music business disappear, but so will the much of the live music business. So there will be no "live music windfall" to share. Revenue in live music will shrink substantially from where it is today.That's quite an assertion considering exactly the opposite has been happening. Recorded music sales have been shrinking rapidly over the past few years. Concert revenue, on the other hand, is at an all time high. Williams is simply incorrect and clearly hasn't done the research. In fact, the numbers we've seen have shown the same thing consistently: every single aspect of the music business is on the upswing, except for sales of shiny discs. Concert revenue is up. The number of people making music is up. The number of people earning money from their musical careers is up. Even the instrument sales business has been up. The music business is doing great -- and it has nothing to do with copyright. The demise of copyright hasn't done anything to hurt the other aspects of the business, despite William's uninformed conjecture.
As for William's reasons for why it will shrink, it shows a profound misunderstanding of how the music business works today. We've already established that he doesn't understand that internet promotion works, but it does. So the fact that you don't have a record label out pushing your CD isn't a problem for the other parts of the music business, because the internet and the ability to connect directly with fans via social networks and websites has taken up the slack.
Williams then goes on a tangent about the purpose of laws being to protect others from harm, which all sounds nice, but really is besides the point here. As we've pointed out at length, and backed up with economic research and examples, there are new business models being developed that allow everyone to be better off. Bands make more money, fans get access to more music, and everyone's better off. Where is the "harm" that anyone needs to be protected from in that situation?
Williams then chides Arrington for not having any real suggestions on how to reform copyright law -- which may be true, but that doesn't mean others haven't thought it through. But, instead, Williams immediately jumps to the false conclusion that any change of copyright law will harm nearly the entire economy:
As I see it, the concept of "rethinking copyright" without specifics and without the willingness to follow things through to their natural conclusion is dangerous. This discussion must be about consequences. If you cannot propose solutions and provide reasonable answers to what the consequences are, such suggestions are only harmful because they embolden people to think that stealing intellectual property is acceptable and that IP protections are bad. But, In fact without intellectual property and attendant protections, we will be flushing down seven or eight percent of our economy directly, and indirectly twenty percent or more.This is simply untrue, and suggests Williams has never once looked at the economic research on this topic. We're seeing more content production and more money made from content production today than at any time in history, and much of it has absolutely nothing to do with copyright. Williams also leaps to the false conclusion that this is about "piracy" rather than about business models.
Much of our economy and our value in world markets is tied into the creation of intellectual property. The collapse of the concept of intellectual property will have devastating economic effects on everyone in every post-industrial economy. This may seem like it is just about illegal downloads, but the issue is much more serious and if not addressed portends an economic melt down of unthinkable proportions. A little "straight talk" is really critical at this point, because we really are talking here about economic Armageddon.Again, if Williams is going to make these sorts of ridiculous claims, he owes it to himself to read some of the research first. He can start with Against Intellectual Monopoly. In the meantime, Silicon Alley Insider is usually a fantastic read. They should think twice about letting someone like Williams comment on subjects which he is clearly uninformed about, however. This is only the second time I've had a serious problem with an SAI article, and both were by Williams.