ABA Journal Highlights How The Music Industry Is Thriving And How Copyright Might Not Be That Important

from the wow dept

Michael Scott points us to one of the best summaries I've seen of the state of the music business today -- published in the ABA Journal. It's an incredibly balanced piece, that really does carefully present both sides of the story on a variety of issues, and presents actual evidence, which suggests the RIAA is blowing smoke on a lot of its claims. The piece kicks off by highlighting that the music industry appears to be thriving, and then noting that it's not the same as the recording industry, which has been struggling.

Much of the piece does present the RIAA's viewpoint on things, such as the idea that the legal strategy the labels have taken has been a "success." However, it follows it up by questioning what kind of success it has been when more people are file sharing and more services are available for those who want to file share. From there it segues into a discussion on "three strikes" and ACTA, which includes the jaw-dropping claim from an RIAA general counsel that "three strikes" was "never even put on the table." I've heard from numerous ISP folks who say that's not true at all. However, the article does a good job (gently) ripping apart the RIAA's claims, with evidence to the contrary, and does a beautiful job digging deep into ACTA to show how the text might not explicitly require three strikes, but is worded in such a way as to make it hard to qualify for safe harbors without implementing three strikes.

The latter part of the article then focuses on how the music industry really is booming, and how more people are making music, and there are lots of opportunities for musicians to do well these days, even without relying on copyright law. The arguments made (and the people and studies quoted) won't be new to regular Techdirt readers, but it really is a very strong piece, targeted at lawyers (many of whom may not have realized some of these details). For example:
If the ultimate goal is to promote the creation of new works, then perhaps it isn't really necessary to take stronger legal actions against illegal file-sharing because the evidence does not suggest that it is hindering the creation of new works by musicians
I certainly don't agree with everything in the article, and there are a few statements from the RIAA folks that could have been challenged more directly. But, on the whole, it's definitely one of the better articles I've seen looking at the music industry from the perspective of the legal profession that doesn't automatically drop into the "but we must protect copyrights!" argument from the outset.

Filed Under: business models, copyright, music, music industry


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  1. icon
    Technopolitical (profile), 30 May 2010 @ 2:37pm

    "In Czar Peter’s Footsteps" ,, very interesting

    May 28, 2010
    In Czar Peter’s Footsteps
    By ELLEN BARRY

    MOSCOW

    THREE hundred years ago, after becoming king of the creaky behemoth that was Russia, Peter Romanov went west. Traveling under a pseudonym, the czar turned himself into an apprentice — studying European advances in shipbuilding, firefighting, dentistry, locksmithing and parliamentary procedure, among other cutting-edge technologies.

    He returned to remake Russia. The poor rebelled at switching to the European calendar (as far as they knew, it was 7208) and aristocrats stood in livid silence as he hacked off their beards. But Peter insisted that it was in Russia’s interest to integrate westward, writing later that other nations “are working diligently to exclude us from the enlightened world.”

    That line of argument is surfacing again in Moscow. Next month, in California, President Dmitri A. Medvedev will spend a day acquainting himself with Silicon Valley, the template for a new scientific city that the government is building outside Moscow. And increasingly — as sketched out in a Foreign Ministry working paper leaked to Russian Newsweek this month — policymakers are airing a new principle: Russia needs alliances with the West if it hopes to modernize.

    The impulse is no surprise. In recent months, Moscow has acknowledged the Soviet massacre of Polish officers at Katyn 70 years ago; invited NATO troops to march in Red Square; and offered cautious support for sanctions on Iran. Alongside those gestures, Russia is pursuing economic goals like visa-free travel arrangements with the European Union and admission to the World Trade Organization.

    More revealing is the reasoning behind it. The leaked Foreign Ministry draft suggests that foreign policy can be marshaled to help Russia attract investment, acquire new technology, update crumbling infrastructure and wean itself from dependence on resource extraction — all challenges that came into painful focus when the price of oil fell.

    Absent is the language of NATO encirclement and external threat that appear in Russia’s official military doctrine, including an update Mr. Medvedev approved four months ago. Fyodor Lukyanov, editor in chief of the journal Russia in Global Affairs, dwelt in amazement on one strategic goal in the draft — “to form the image of Russia as a desirable partner and ally for European countries.” For Moscow, he said, that is revolutionary.

    “If Russia, finally, in the spirit of the ‘diplomatic smile’ is able to overcome the inferiority complex which has gnawed at it since the collapse of the Soviet Union,” he wrote in an editorial, “maybe a new chapter is really beginning.”

    On both sides of the ocean, skeptics have dismissed the leak as sweet nothings directed, above all, at the European Union and the White House. When Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was asked about it, he derided Russian Newsweek’s journalists as “masters of sensationalism”; still, he lent the draft some authority by calling it “absolutely routine work on the direct orders of the president.”

    Indeed, Mr. Medvedev has argued that diplomacy could have a direct economic payoff, and has stressed his belief that Russia be converted from an energy supplier to a modern European economy.

    It’s not clear how much agreement there is on that point, since oil and metals make up 80 percent of Russia’s total exports. Pavel Salin, an analyst at the Center for Political Conjuncture, a political consulting firm here, said pro-Western elites in the government can now agree with counterparts who are suspicious of the West on this much: “We will take technology from the West, but we will not adopt its political system.” For that, he added, “we need, at a minimum, nonconfrontational relations.”

    But it is not clear, either, that diplomacy can produce the kind of innovation Russia wants. Russia has a vibrant consumer market, but investors also look at its corruption and its problems with the rule of law. And even Mr. Medvedev’s own flagship project — the high-tech village of Skolkovo that has inspired his trip to Silicon Valley — is fueled not by market forces but by state power.

    “Competition produces innovation,” said Cliff Kupchan, a director at the Eurasia Group, a global risk-consulting firm based in New York. “I still don’t see a working appreciation of that.”

    Still, Mr. Kupchan said, the Newsweek draft may represent a genuinely new strain of thinking. Russia has long looked west for technology to exploit its oil and gas resources, he said, but has rarely suggested that it needs outsiders to help fix its bad roads, low worker productivity and energy inefficiency.

    That notion would have sounded outlandish here before the financial crisis underlined Russia’s dependence on Western capital — and before Barack Obama offered a reboot of Russian-American relations. “The ‘reset’ has provided political cover, so that it doesn’t look like Russia backing down, but like Russia facing a new challenge in becoming a modern country,” said Stephen Sestanovich, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

    In any case, it would be a mistake to confuse the reach for technology with a yearning for lasting closeness. Slavophiles still blame Peter the Great for forcing Western customs on Russia, but the foreign experts who flocked to Russia at his invitation were replaced, as soon as possible, by Russians they had trained. Historians tell us he distrusted Europe to the end of his life.

    The czar said as much himself, according to a trusted minister. “Europe is necessary for us for a few decades,” he said. “Then we must turn our back to her.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/30/weekinreview/30BARRY.html?src=un&feedurl=http%3A%2F%2Fjson 8.nytimes.com%2Fpages%2Fweekinreview%2Findex.jsonp

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