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 @ 12:53am

    An ARTIST (or copyright holder of the Art) can CHOOSE , when , or when NOT to,, enforce their control rights.

    An ARTIST (or the copyright holder of the Art)
    can CHOOSE , when , or when NOT to,, enforce their control rights.

    To me , this is the core point of copyright law. Some poor artists ( or musicians who have strait jobs) may see no need to enforce their copyright control,, But others who make some $$ may see a need most or some times.

    Personally , I post some of my songs online for all to record if they wish , but other songs I choose to keep offline.

    It is all about Artist Control.

    With that in mind re-read from the Good article :

    "I'M WITH THE BAND

    There is, however, another view about the purpose of copyright law. Article I, section 8 of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power to establish copyright protections for authors and inventors to “promote the progress of science and useful arts.”

    To achieve that goal, copyright law creates “a system to ‘incentivize’ creators and their backers so they can be rewarded for the fruits of their labors so they can continue to create new works,” Goldring says.

    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. That is, at least, the contention of Oberholzer-Gee and Strumpf. They note in their paper that, despite the growth of illegal file-sharing, more music than ever is being created and made available to the public. “This makes it difficult to argue that weaker copyright protection has had a negative impact on artists’ incentives to be creative,” their paper states.

    The reasons for the surge in musical output aren’t entirely clear to Oberholzer-Gee, Strumpf and other researchers. They suggest that part of the answer is that making music isn’t just about making money. For a lucky few music can be highly lucrative, but most musicians can’t even afford to make it their full-time job.

    “Given these poor prospects, why are there so many musicians?” ask Oberholzer-Gee and Strumpf in their paper. “One explanation is that musicians enjoy their profession. Under this view, musicians take pleasure from creating and performing music, as well as aspects of the lifestyle such as flexible hours and the lack of an immediate boss.++++ If this theory is correct, the economic impact of file-sharing is not likely to have a major impact on music creation.”+++++
    ========================

    "If this theory is correct, the economic impact of file-sharing is not likely to have a major impact on music creation.”

    "Music creation" for the pursuit of Art for Arts sake, is very different than trying to make a living out of it.

    For a struggling full-time musician, every CD sale , legal download, and paying gig is how they feed themselves.

    If fans of smaller grossing , but well respected artists --- like Steve Erle** for exmp. -- can get the music for free , when they would otherwise pay, they are taking food off of the Musicians table.

    IT is rightly against to law , to take for free, what you should be legally paying for.
    -------------------------------------
    ( **One of the best , but not a household name at all , unless the household is full of musicians.
    http://www.steveerle.com/ )

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