Personally, I would not take sides against Neil Gaiman so quickly with the insinuation of hypocrisy fuelled by greed. He has already stated he would donate any proceeds to charity if he wins.
This isn't a case of an unknown fan creating an unauthorized reference work adding value to the original work. This is one where an established guy re-created an existing character clearly to try to side-step the issue of Gaiman's copyright, all the while blocking the negotiation about the trade of the partial copyright of the Miracleman character, so that Neil Gaiman can work on it. I'm sure that if McFarlane weren't being intransigent about the Miracleman copyright, Gaiman would let him go on his merry business with Medieval/Dark Ages Spawn.
Copyright law may make things silly, but if there is anyone at fault and making undue fuss about copyrights, it's McFarlane (who has already sued people for infringing his copyrights before). Neil Gaiman's reaction is just well justified defense with the weapons of the fight.
Stuff like that is already happening. Techdirt has a few examples itself.
One that I haven't seen mentioned here yet is that of prog/avantgarde metal/rock band maudlin of the Well. Essentially, their 2009 album "Part the Second" was entirely funded, in advance, by a group of 87 dedicated fans, and later released to the world for free. Granted, by their own admission the band didn't earn any money from it: the time and energy came out of their own pockets, but then again, it was merely 87 people funding the album and I'm pretty sure they could have made some cash for themselves had they aimed higher. Moreover, obviously they still welcome donations, so something will come from it.
Personally, I find this to be a decent strategy and really wish more bands would go this way. Of course, it relies on having an established fan base already, but there are plenty of them that the same or larger following that motW has.
A few of them were games I had pirated in the past and wanted to own legally. Others were interesting ones that I haven't had time to play and maybe never will... Ah, the irony of sometimes not paying to play and others paying to not play...
Free content (in practice) are making these goods more valuable (translating into more sales), but none of that benefit goes to the content makers. It doesn't seem like gadget makers would go into a deal with content makers willingly though, if they have nothing to win from the current situation (unless perhaps a highly valuable content could be reliably tied to a specific gadget... DRM anyone?)
Sure, the levies are forcing it, but aren't they somehow addressing the issue?
$19,344/365 amounts to $53 per day (with the assumption that this restaurant works every day of the week)
Now, most restaurants are not open all day and will have, what, 6 hours of real business per day? That makes almost $9 per hour, which is about the price of a (cheapish) CD, that normally lasts for about that same hour too.
So, essentially, PPCA is asking restaurants roughly the equivalent of what they would pay if every CD they played got destroyed after a single listen. Yep. Makes a lot of sense.
While Techdirt will argue this point across all forms of content and I agree with most of it, I'm significantly less convinced that this ideology works quite as well with other forms besides music.
Complex PC videogames of the single player variety come to mind as a particularly difficult ones. They tend to be very expensive projects involving a lot people (much more so than producing an album) and by their nature tend to have few real scarcities, and those that exist are often quite gimmicky and secondary, such that they often represent poor reasons to buy for the more casual of gamers.
I must admit that while I usually vigorously defend the perspective that I share with Techdirt, in the case of some videogames and software, I find myself quite at a loss at conceiving workable and *safe* business models based on the premise of 0-cost of the abundant good without forcibly and artificially modifying the nature of an otherwise perfectly valid product.
because now people getting warnings and being kicked off will be more likely than getting sued (or at least that's what they want to make you believe).
You see, the Deterrence Factor is defined as:
DF = Scariness of Punishment x Likelihood of Punishment
(yeah, I pulled that out of my ass, but it's true). Most people didn't give a shit about getting sued because they know how unlikely it is.
However, you're of course right that stopping file-sharing does not equal more buying. At least in my case, it would actually mean the opposite: I have sworn I will actively boycott any company responsible for any warning I might get (not that I consider that very likely).
Additionally, I predict that any people getting warned will likely rather be more careful in the future than stop file-sharing.
"Second, the numbers tell the real truth: The inflation adjusted "real dollar" movie sales, if the industry was flat, should be about 10.9 to 11 billion. instead, it has been flat compared to previous years, which means it is losing income at the rate of inflation. Remember, the costs to make the movies have gone up at least by inflation, but sales have not."
You might have a good point there, though more info than that is still needed to prove it. One thing the numbers DO show, is that the average gross per movie has definitely shrunk. The number of movies produced has doubled, whereas the revenue has stayed about the same. We don't know what the distribution of that revenue is, though, so the "average" doesn't say too much.
To gain more insight about it we also need to know the statistics of the average (and the distribution) of the investment made per movie. You assume here that the cost has stayed the same, adjusted by inflation, thus indicating a "loss", but the fact is that we don't really know how valid this assumption is. It's entirely plausible that the investment has shrunk at the inflation rate, thus negating any "income loss" related to it.
Even if there HAS been a relative loss, it is still far for conclusive that it is due to filesharing without controlling for other factors. With the experience of going to the cinema getting more annoying for several reasons (including piracy hysteria) and the experience of watching movies at home becoming ever better (home theaters and HD), it's hard to know how much of any revenue "loss" has been due to illegal channels instead of shifts in the market caused by legal phenomena.
I'm inclined to think than the "name your own price" model has more value than is usually awarded in this blog, precisely because of the conclusions they reached in the study, which I have long suspected because of my own experience.
People have a vast range of purchasing power and what they feel they can afford will vary a lot too. However, I think most will *always* prefer the official product (as long as it's not somehow crippled ¬_¬ cough, DRM, cough). By fixing a price in the age of piracy, companies are likely to lose everyone under that price to it, which I suspect is a very significant proportion of revenue.
Of course, there is a risk that the total revenue will actually be smaller than the fixed one, but I think some measures could be taken to supplement this (such as a minimal price and some "added value" price points).
After all, Techdirt's CwF+RtB is already kind of doing it with the different levels.
1) Everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal.
2) Anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it.
3) Anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it, until it’s been around for about ten years, when it gradually turns out to be alright, really.