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 @ 9:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Why did he explain copyright as a natural right in the Federalist

    Get an impartiel academic law proff to read this thread. Trust me you guys did not win ,,

    Why? Supreme Court judges have already ruled on this. We've quoted them to support our arguments, you've ignored them and offered no evidence of your own.

    Read this article. Read the passage that you quoted. They clearly state that copyright is a monopoly right and a subset of trade regulation. It says specifically that copyright does not come from a "natural right" - though Madison said it did, so the public would accept it. (Kind of like how Bush said invading Iraq was about WMD's.)

    It says, in very clear and specific terms, that you're mistaken. If you can't see that, then you can't read.

    Copy right is Law.
    Piracy is illegal.
    Find me one member of congress who endoreses abolishing copy right & Patent LAW.


    Find me one person in this thread who believes differently. It ain't me, that's for sure.

    I agree with copyright's purpose: to encourage artistic output by allowing publishers to reimburse the costs of production. I agree that "piracy" is illegal: I just think that the current definition of "piracy" is against the intent of copyright law. I don't want to abolish copyright, I want it to do what it's supposed to do: grow the public domain.

    You are the one who doesn't like copyright. You are the one who supports piracy (at least, for musicians). By saying IP rights should last forever, you are the one who wants to abolish copyright and patent law.

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