Entertainment Industry Get Their Own 'Piracy Police' In The Justice Department

from the thank-you,-joe-biden dept

Remember back in December when Vice President Joe Biden hosted a one-sided "piracy summit", ridiculously declaring that "all of the stakeholders" were present (despite there not being a single representative from the technology industry, nor anyone representing consumer interests or ISPs). The "stakeholders" were entirely the entertainment industry. And, even better, despite promises of openness and transparency, the press was kicked out so top execs from most of the major entertainment industry companies could collude talk directly with many of the top administration officials, including Joe Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and others. You knew that this wasn't just a random meet and greet and that something would come out of it.

And, indeed, less than two months later, we have Eric Holder announcing a special "IP task force" within the Justice Department designed to take on "the rise in intellectual property crime." Given how many former RIAA/MPAA lawyers ended up at the Justice Department, perhaps this is no surprise. But given that it now appears that the entertainment industry was able to create their own private enforcement division within the Justice Department without a single ounce of public discussion or transparency, and no input from those concerned about consumer rights or technology innovation, shouldn't someone be asking why the Justice Department is now functioning as a private police force to prop up the business models of a group of companies who refuse to adapt, even as plenty of upstarts have figured out how to make new business models work?

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  1. identicon
    Josef, 13 Feb 2010 @ 6:34am

    Re: Change we can believe in.

    Sam, your post was expressed extremely well. With that said I don't think you have taken into account the advance in technology or the shift in thinking about digital content. This is a classic example of square peg and round hole.

    Q: Should people have to pay for digital content?
    A: YES!!!

    Now comes the problem. Where to set the price point? The music and movie industries want that price to be the same as it has always been and that just isn't realistic.

    The web is just too difficult for the RIAA / MPAA to grasp. It's been stated here several times that the price for one song is just way too high. The better business model would be one that capitalizes on an extremely high volume of micropayments.

    I've personally thought about paying for music online and its the price point that always makes the decision for me. Why pay $1 for some thing I can download for free? I know the argument comes back that its illegal. Just like travelling over the speed limit is illegal, but if all traffic is moving over
    the speed limit, no one gets stopped. Maybe if the price was set to something like $.10 or $.05 it would be so low that a majority of people would use such a service and avoid Limewire and other P2P apps just because the price point is low enough to override the risk of penalties for illegal downloading.

    This is all about value. Music is no longer scarce nor valuable as record execs would like to believe.

    I think it's at this point that I should remind all the people that believe that the Music and Movie industries are being victimized, that previous changes in format have always benefitted those industries. Did they offer their loyal customers a discount on content that had already been purchased? If I owned vinyl and needed to buy a cassette and then a CD, shouldn't I have only needed to pay a small fee for the materials, since I had already purchased the content? Did anyone even bother to ask or try that business model?

    The digital age is removing barriers to recording music and making movies and opening new avenues of distribution, in addition to making "piracy" so easy.

    Whether you like Mike's posts or not, you have to recognize that technology has advanced to the point that the old business models are not viable. That doesn't mean that piracy will win, but it does mean that someone will innovate a business model that will cripple the current leaders.

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