18 December 2009

The See-Through BPI

The latest from the nauseating BPI:
Levels of illegal filesharing are not declining, despite significant media coverage on the issue.
What an incredible co-incidence that, following Peter Mandelson's announcement that if there wasn't a significant reduction in illegal filesharing there would be a raft of draconian measures introduced, the record labels' main lobbying organisation has been able to produce a report showing that there hasn't been a significant reduction in illegal filesharing. Except, of course, that it doesn't; it just presents a fairly limited opinion poll as hard evidence.
Use of non-P2P methods to acquire music illegally have grown significantly in last six months, and are expected to keep growing. ... Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive, said, "The growth in other, non-P2P methods of downloading music illegally is a concern, and highlights the importance of including a mechanism in the Digital Economy Bill to deal with threats other than P2P."
How very convenient that, after Mandelson proposed the introduction of an enabling act which would allow him, or his successors, to completely rewrite copyright law on a whim, with the justification being that it is needed to respond to sudden shifts in the methods of copyright infringement, the BPI is able to offer a report that supposedly supports the case for the enabling act.
The survey showed a net increase in the use of web-based or "non-P2P" methods during the last six months, with the biggest increases in use coming from overseas unlicensed MP3 pay sites (47%) and newsgroups (42%). Other significant rises included MP3 search engines (28%) and forum, blog and board links to cyberlockers (18%).
Take another look at those figures. Even if you take them at face value, the biggest increase is in unlicenced pay sites. These are people who are paying to obtain music. They might not be paying the people that copyright law says they should be, but they clearly don't have the "everything for free" mentality that lobbyist like the BPI try to portray them as. There is a market there, it's prepared to pay money for music, but rather than try to engage with those potential customers, the BPI expects the government to threaten them on its behalf. The music industry is paying the price for pursuing legislation when it should have been innovating and it is continuing to pursue the same strategy. Is it any wonder they face such ill will?

Lobbyists like the BPI try to portray those who infringe copyright as freeloading spongers, when in reality, it is the record labels which the BPI represents that could be most accurately be described that way; they continually go to governments asking to be handed more money. Of course, they don't tend to go to governments and say "collect more tax and give it to us as a handout." There approach is to say "give us laws that will allow us to go and extract more money ourselves." The method is different, but the end result is much the same.

It is the reord labels which expect the endless free lunch and countless private individuals have been saying by their actions that they aren't prepared to stand idly by while they keep being given it.

An interesting addition to the story from the BBC:
Despite the levels of piracy, the BPI was able to announce in October that we are living in "the era of the digital single", after figures revealed 2009 was biggest ever year for UK singles, with more than 117m sold. Of those, 98.6% were purchased in digital formats.
So, all this illegal filesharing doesn't appear to be resulting in the death of the music industry after all.

No comments: