'British Cinema's Golden Age Is Now': So Where's The 'Serious Problem' Of Copyright Infringement?

from the inconvenient-facts dept

Last week we learned the UK government has precisely no evidence to support its plans for stricter copyright enforcement, which include disconnection upon repeated accusation. Instead, the best it could come up with was:

The creative industries are an important part of the UKs economy, and they regularly report copyright infringement as a serious problem.

They certainly do, and their periodic cries of woe are dutifully and uncritically echoed by the mainstream press. The problem is that the industry-funded studies that are supposed to back up these claims are, almost without exception, lacking in credibility. As the UK government's own team of experts put it in their "independent review of how the Intellectual Property framework supports growth and innovation":

we have not found either a figure for the prevalence and impact of piracy worldwide or for the UK in which we can place our confidence.

For such a "serious problem", the harm caused by copyright infringement is proving remarkably hard to demonstrate. For example, a couple of years ago, Techdirt reported on the fact that the UK music industry is actually growing, not shrinking; and now the Guardian's film editor has surveyed the UK film industry, and concluded "British cinema's golden age is now":

History will decide whether we really are living through a golden age, but in terms of ferment, excitement and dazzling variety, there has been nothing like it in Britain for decades.

The article concentrates on the health of the artistic side of film production, not of the bottom lines. But the capital-intensive nature of cinema means that you can't have one without the other, or at least, not for very long: if films fail to pay their way, investment will soon dry up.

As the Guardian piece makes clear, investment isn't a problem, which suggests that payback isn't either. That's hard to square with an industry on its last legs, ravaged by piracy.

In the absence of credible evidence to the contrary, and against a background of broad growth in the creative industries, the simplest explanation for this situation is that copyright infringement isn't a "serious problem" in the UK - which means there is no justification whatsoever for rolling out measures that will weaken civil liberties yet further.

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Filed Under: copyright, culture, golden age, movies, uk


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2011 @ 11:25am

    Re: Re:

    "A BOOST? Seriously, are you trying to argue that thousands of people are illegally watching a movie for free and that is somehow driving more of them into the theaters or to purchase a DVD?"

    I am saying it is certainly possible, given that avatar was the most downloaded movie of all time and broke not only box office records but dvd and bluray sales.
    There are lots of individual circumstances where piracy or filesharing as it is known to many, definitively helped sales as with "Go the F&*ck to Sleep" but as of yet there are no studies to show whether this effect can be seen generally or not.

    So while it may not make any sense to you that certain products are boosted by people downloading copies for free; that is a personal problem for you to puzzle out given that the evidence that it does happen on at least some individual occasions is a certainty.

    The general studies that have been carried out show neither a positive nor negative effect on sales from file sharing or occasionally marginal effects one way or the other.

    So, what we are left with as that all 3 possible outcomes have potential validity with what appears the least likely being that file sharing actively harms any industry.

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