In other words, when the RIAA cracks down on piracy, it is biting the hand that feeds them. The report notes (pg. 21) that “Our study confirms numerous others on this point, including work by RIAA survey firm NPD (2012), the British government Ofcom (2012), and French enforcement agency HADOPI (2011).” The report also notes that “As copying and downloading for free diminish in the 30- to 49-year-old group, purchasing remains the same, suggesting that these practices are mostly complementary to legal acquisition, not strong substitutes for it.” So the idea that every illegally downloaded song represents lost profit is about as credible as the MPAA’s assertions that the invention of the VCR would destroy the movie industry.
Not The Onion:
It’s no secret that LimeWire was once a hotbed of peer-to-peer music piracy, but the RIAA has now attempted to sue it for $72 trillion - more money than exists in the world today.
LimeWire was shut down in October 2010, but litigation continues from music bodies around the world, including Merlin which represents independent labels.
LTMC: Rob Reid gave an excellent TED talk awhile back demonstrating just how silly the RIAA’s damages calculations in piracy lawsuits are. One wonders how many more of these ridiculous lawsuits need to be brought before somebody in Congress decides to end this silly charade of rent-seeking by the RIAA and reform the DMCA damages provisions.
As a musician myself (guitar player), this is a subject close to my heart.
File-sharing has a leveling effect. It’s basically Free Market Socialism (yikes!) It makes it MUCH MUCH easier for new artists to break into the industry via viral marketing; this gets record companies out of the driver’s seat and breaks their monopoly on deciding which talent goes to market. Digital sales have also revolutionized the industry as well; individual artists can now market themselves without the huge manufacturing infrastructure that used to be necessary to produce and press CD’s.
However, the downside is that artists are less likely to ever become “rich.” Zoe Keating once remarked that she pays her mortgage from proceeds of sales on iTunes; and people who know that more of their money is going to the artist instead of the record company would likely be a lot more willing to pay for the music instead of pirating it for free. The average artist gets totally screwed under our current system in every way, shape, and form, and fans know this, so they feel a lot less guilty ripping off albums for free because they know that the artist isn’t making very much money off album sales anyway.
Overall, I am one of the musicians who feel that filesharing is a good thing; the Record Companies are starting to realize they can’t keep treating their talent like shit anymore, or charging 18 bucks for a cd that costs .89 cents to print, inlay, and package. Instead of filing lawsuits, they could’ve spent their legal fees on investments in new talent, or creating new digital infrastructure and merch paradigms to take advantage of the new technology. Instead, they have spent 10’s (if not 100’s) of millions of dollars getting judgments that they will never actually collect, effectively wasting all the profits they’ve earned by concurrently charging too much for cd’s, then screwing the artists out of an honest cut.
Aspiring musicians shouldn’t expect to make it big anymore; but the opportunities to make it in some sense of the word are more available than they ever were.
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