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. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 May 2010 @ 5:52pm

    Man technopolitical, what a control freak! You keep spewing trash about "artists controlling their work"...You can't control ideas!

    Think about it: you tell me something, an idea. Once I know it, you can no longer control the spread of that idea. You can only control how YOU spread it, but you can't control how I spread it (free will is such a bummer sometimes...). Now you have two people that know that idea, but you have an unknown variable that you cannot control.

    But now you have a much bigger problem. For every new person that hears that idea, you have a new unknown variable that might or might not share it. If you're extremely lucky, every new person that hears that idea might not share it but, mathematically speaking, good luck with that (think 10 people with 50% chance of sharing. The chance that they all don't share is less than 0.1% if I didn't screw up the math).

    Copyright is just an artificial barrier that tries to put a stop to that sharing of ideas. It basically says: "You can't tell this idea to anyone else. Only I can.". But what happens if someone defies that rule and tells that idea to somebody else (somebody who, by the way, might not bound to the original contract)? Your whole system falls apart! You lost your control again. Your system achieved nothing...

    Copyright is a weak system that is completely unenforceable since ANY of the links can break the system. Once the system is broken, you're screwed. Might as well remove that layer of bloat and adjust to the new system.

    There are some things that are beyond human control. Deal with it.

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