Since the dawn of piracy and the fall of the music industry, people have been searching high and low for a solution. Laws have been made, bills passed and major file-sharing sites charged. However, have things really changed at all? Yes the global recorded music revenues in 2012 have gone up a whopping 0.3% since its decade of hardship. Does that mean that there is less sneaky illegal pirate action? Have sales suddenly grown lucrative? I think not. If anything, I feel as though the industry has embraced media piracy simply as another next door business competitor and has found new, innovative ways to counteract and succeed.
Has anything changed?
According to a study by the NDP group, illegal peer to peer file sharing has decreased 17% from 2011 to 2012. Almost half of the consumers that once were illegal down-loaders reported their change in illegal activity due to the arrival of free, legal, and convenient streaming services. In another article by Huffington Post Tech Canada, statistics were highlighted from a 2012 report by the American Assembly Media Piracy In Emerging Economies. There was a correlation between the individuals with the highest free downloading activity and their self-reported record industry expenditure. The data shows a 30% increase in record industry purchases from illegal music down-loaders vs. individuals who do not pirate. What does that say about the “actual” harmful effects of piracy and the individuals who condone or partake in this activity?
A video shown below by singer songwriter Amanda Palmer on Ted Talks sheds insight on her methodology towards “The Art of asking”. The alt-rock icon does not believe in fighting against free sharing content. Her beliefs can be summed pretty much as – you give and you get, unlocked, free to spread. She left her record label deal because she believed in her fans and their support for her success. The love and support from the fans are what drives her financial income and artistic success. Simply from the art of asking from the loving and supportive fans, she has managed to raise a whopping $1.2million from her 100k goal, backed by 25,000 supporters. The kindness of human nature speaks volumes. We should not look at human nature as selfish creatures but rather kind hearts that have the ability to relate and reach out when needed. What do you think of her methodology?
So…what about copyright protection?
This article by The New York Times technology discusses the concept that by removing copy right protection, there is actually an increase in sales due to the idea that consumers may “sample the product” prior to purchase. It takes a look at Tor Books UK, a publishing company. Tor Books decided a year ago in April 2012 to step foot into the realms of DRM-free listing. This decision was based on opinions expressed by both authors and readers against the frustrations of DRM, a copy protection method towards ebooks. Although Tor Books is a close-knit online community, the past year they have received no apparent increase in pirated content since the DRM change. It is very significant to note that this type of change, dismissing copy right protection on all ebooks, could have little to no effect on their pirating levels.
Over the years the entertainment industry has continually blamed and attempted legal enforcement against piracy. In a 2011 MPAA report on content theft, there has been over $58 billion annual loss in the U.S. along with over 370,000 unemployed according to the Institute for Policy Innovation. Interestingly enough, a Ted Talk shown below by author and entrepreneur Rob Reid debunks the $58 billion loss as bogus copyright math. Since then it has received thousands of commentators along with a MPAA blog post correcting the record.
A humorous and insightful Ted Talk by Rob Reid on Copyright math.
I think a major part of the problem to piracy is the relation between the publisher and the consumer. As a student, I look for quality and convenience at a reasonable price. That being said, if ebooks, music, movies etc. were made available with this sort of pro-customer quality, convenience, and financially feasible mindset, I don’t see why the majority of the population would not pay to support their actors, authors, singers etc. Yes this is an ongoing battle likely not to succeed or dispatch in the near future; however I do believe the “answer” to the big piracy debate is not so much the punitive enforcement increased bill by bill, rather innovative services that condone a pro-customer solution.