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
    Atkray (profile), 28 May 2010 @ 11:19pm

    I'm relatively new here and am in way over my head intellectually with many of you but something I don't see being addressed that bothers me is stuff like this from the article:

    "Illegal file-sharing also has wider economic implications, said the RIAA, citing a 2007 report by the Institute for Policy Innovation in Lewisville, Texas. That report, titled The True Cost of Copyright Industry Piracy to the U.S. Economy, estimates that in 2005 at least $25.6 billion in potential revenue was lost to piracy in sound recordings, motion pictures, business software and entertainment software/video games. The report claims that copyright piracy costs the U.S. economy more than 373,000 jobs annually in related fields and industries, and also results in more than $2.6 billion in lost tax revenue for local, state and federal governments every year."

    This is just false.


    I know many teenagers who download music from sources like Limewire etc... They all have fixed amounts of income and the tend to spend 100% of it. By not spending it on shiny plastic disks they are free to spend it on pizza at lunch, or gas for their cars, or sometimes they even get together as a group to go to a movie theater(explains why they are doing so well). The sales tax revenue is not lost it is simply spent elsewhere.

    Also many file sharing networks have a high percentage of malware which creates lucrative repair work for small computer repair shops and for large outfits like Geek Squad.

    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.

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