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
    Karl (profile), 31 May 2010 @ 1:23am

    Re: Re: It seems to me that piracy has a negative impact on some individuals but overall has no negative impact on the economy, and may in fact actually have a net positive effect on the overall economy

    Copyright and Patent Laws are Morally Just and a Civil Right for Artists and Inventors ( maybe even according to Natural Law.)

    Why do you keep saying this as if it's true?

    Copyright robs the public of its culture, so it's not morally just.

    It has absolutely nothing to do with "civil rights." Can you name another civil right that can be transferred to a third party? One that was intentionally designed to be temporary?

    And - as you know - according to copyright's author, it's not a "natural law." The sharing of ideas is a natural law, one that copyright takes away.

    You are the one defending slavery here. The slavery of the public (including artists) to rights holders.

    It may or may not be a necessary form of slavery, but it is still slavery.

    IF some -non Artists feel , CopyRIGHTS stifles their economic opportunity in some instances -TOUGH.

    Except that the ones who are defending copyright are the ones who brought up economics. They are pointing to "losses" as a way to justify greater government involvement.

    So, let's rephrase: "IF some Artists feel, ignoring copyright stifles their economic opportunities in some instances - TOUGH."

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