'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. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 18 Oct 2011 @ 12:08pm

    Re: Re:

    I know there are people who stream movies from the internet who never go to a theater, never buy a legitimate copy, and never pay a dime. Those are the people that are negatively impacting sales.


    Some of them are, but some are people who would never have paid a dime anyway. Those people are not negatively impacting sales.

    Some of these pirates were previously movie theater patrons but why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free.


    Because people who go to theaters do so for reasons that are not related to the movie itself. If it were all jsut about the movie, nobody would go to a theater. Theaters are expensive! Everyone would just rent it instead.

    People go to theaters for the experience of going to a theater. The movie itself is important, but not the prime motivation.

    Kindof like with what the milk analogy is usually used for. Why would you get married when you can go out and get laid without any commitment whatsoever? Oh yeah, because the sex isn't the only -- or even the primary -- good thing about marriage.

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