News & Analysis
Illegal Downloaders Are Best Customers, Too
Survey Says: Illegal Downloaders Also Purchase More Legal Music Than Those That Don't Pirate ... The argument has long been that music piracy leads to a massive loss of revenue when accumulated across the millions of songs downloaded illegally. That's what groups like the RIAA have pushed for years. According to the American Assembly's upcoming Copy Culture Survey, however, that's just not the case. As it turns out, those that pirate in the United States also purchase around 30% more music than those that don't. – Geekosystems
Dominant Social Theme: If they steal, there's no appeal. Lock 'em up.
Free-Market Analysis: We've written about copyright and its criminalization numerous times and this article on Geekosystems and the one it is based on at The American Assembly are no surprise: Illegal downloaders are apt to be large record purchasers.
This simply makes sense. Those who are obsessed with film spend money on movies. Those who like to read spend money on books. The issue of downloading as copyright crime is a completely separate one.
Or at least it should be. Over and over, though, we hear how much money illegal downloaders are costing the record and movie industry. In fact, illegal downloaders are those individuals most likely to SUPPORT these industries.
Kim Dotcom of Megauploads – himself in copyright trouble – is currently creating something called Megabox that will disenfranchise the record companies that have been so aggressively punitive with their customers.
Dotcom's idea is to empower the musicians themselves by providing them a facility that they can use to market their own tunes and keep most of the profits. Some say this was the real reason Dotcom was targeted.
If musicians were in charge of their own sales, the chances of copyright infringement prosecutions would likely go down a good deal. That's because musicians would be reluctant to take adversarial stances to the audiences that consume their product. Here's some more from the larger article in The American Assembly:
Where do Music Collections Come From? ... In our last installment, we noted that there's a sharp generational divide (in the US and Germany) in attitudes toward copying and file sharing, with those under 30 showing more acceptance of these practices in general and much more acceptance of sharing within loosely-defined communities of 'friends.' Not rocket science, right? But how does that translate into actual behavior? Here are average music file collections, divided by age group:
... 18-29 year olds and 30-49 year olds show very similar patterns of purchasing digital music and ripping their own CDs. Age makes virtually no difference in the scale of either practice. The difference in average collection size comes, instead, from higher levels of 'copying from family and friends' and 'downloading for free.' This is part of what we mean when we say that copy culture is youth culture.
US P2P users have larger collections than non-P2P users (roughly 37% more). And predictably, most of the difference comes from higher levels of 'downloading for free' and 'copying from friends/family.'
But some of it also comes from significantly higher legal purchases of digital music than their non-P2P using peers–around 30% higher among US P2P users. Our data is quite clear on this point and lines up with numerous other studies: The biggest music pirates are also the biggest spenders on recorded music.
This is the key sentence: "The biggest music pirates are also the biggest spenders on recorded music."
Do you think, dear reader, that record company and movie executives are unaware that their largest audiences are those that pilfer music as well? Of course not.
Do you think these top execs are unaware that their aggressive tactics are alienating their top customers? Sure they are.
So why continue such counterproductive techniques? The raid and subsequent imprisonment of Kim Dotcom can be said to have backfired in some regards, turning the Megaupload owner into a kind of digital martyr and providing him with sympathy he would not otherwise have.
There must be another reason and as we have suggested in the past, there probably is. Both the music and movie industry are power elite constructions and it seems to us their stances are deliberately provocative.
The idea, in other words, is not to discourage illegal downloading for its own sake but to create such an atmosphere of paranoia that legitimate Internet discourse is discouraged and even abandoned.
We can trace these tactics back to the invention of the Gutenberg Press and the subsequent battle of the elites of the day to create copyright as a weapon to slow down the free flow of information.
Today, the battle has been joined once again and even more determinedly. The results will not be good for either the music or money businesses but those who actually own these industries don't really care.
The group in aggregate that exercises ownership is what we call the power elite, and they've been challenged as never before by the Internet and the information that has been dispersed.
The solution is to use copyright once again as a weapon. Websites are going dark, ISP providers are pressured to perform "watchdog" functions and gradually the Internet is made over into a series of discreet archipelagos, each one by law unable to share even rudimentary information with the rest.
It has been suggested that when information is cheap or free, society benefits and living standards rise. In fact, historically, this may be the case. Britain enforced copyright harshly and as a result information was expensive. Germany was copyright tolerant and as a result, information was easily dispersed, leading to a kind of golden age several hundred years ago.
The British, already entangled in Money Power, looked on enviously as Germany produced artists, philosophers and musicians. This, it has been claimed by some non-mainstream historians, was a primary reason for both World Wars. The power elite was determined to crush a potential rival.
There are many aspects to copyright and many reasons to believe the issues are far more complex than ones regarding "stealing." We're not going to argue the merits of copyright anyway. Our position has remained consistent. If you wish to enforce it, go ahead. Just don't ask government to do it for you.
But if you are a sensible artist, you will probably forego copyright prosecutions in favor of dispersing your work as widely as possible. A popular artist is a profitable one. Touring is one way to capitalize on popularity.
Sure, touring is inconvenient and live performances are a lot of work. But no one ever said an artist's life would be easy – or not any easier than another.
Conclusion: Anyway, change is coming to the entertainment industry. The power elite is going to lose yet another battle. It is not a good season for them. But they will make lives miserable as they retreat. See "Dotcom May Reap Bitter Fruits From Being a Pioneer."
Posted by Agent Weebley on 10/16/12 11:32 PM
I've been writing a story on boards.ie since July 24, 2012, since it is in Ireland, which is where we are currently marketing freedom (the only English speaking PIIGS locale.)
They have allowed me to post music and other video, such as the directed history video: It Felt Like A Kiss, with no problems. Well, actually lots of problems, because they think I am absolutely feckin' mad and threw me in their "Prison" - I talked my way out, and I have had 2 warnings since; the last warning was coupled with amanfromMars, [hi amanfromMars!] . . . a lot of fun was had that day. We learned a lot about concrete thinkers. They get angry at people they do not understand.
Ingo joined us in our story for a night . . .
Copyright is a crime against humanity. Me posting songs and video clips is advertising, not theft.
Here's my story, loosely based on The Twilight Zone, which was a story competition they had in July, where I commented in my own Weebley way, and disturbed their little garden where they sip tea and play train, while their economy is being destroyed by the IMF:
Mound Of Hostages: http://boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2056709527
Posted by provolone on 10/16/12 09:24 PM
"So why continue such counterproductive techniques? "
Its idiotic. I have been earning a healthy passive income for the past 5 years from displaying ads on my own download sites.
In some cases I am able to monetize directly by charging the consumer [10USD per album. When I correspond with the customer, most of them would be willing to buy the album legitimately.
Unfortunately for them, the legitimate distribution channels are simply not available. It it not so much that these consumers do not want to spend. The problem is they do not have time to make it to the store, the stores are not in their area, the materials are out of print, or they can not purchase the product digitally in their region.
It is an idiotic business model if you ask me. How can they expect to earn while constantly telling the customer 'No' ? I can not fathom why these recording companies refuse to change. Instead they expect the legal framework to change and accommodate their outdated model. Until they get it together, I will continue to enjoy the income.
Posted by mava on 10/16/12 04:03 PM
Take your life in college with your roommates. Someone puked on a carpet. How do you like them apples? Can you use it? No.
The same thing would happen to everything if we didn't have the property rules. I, personally, would always drive your Viper and crash it nightly, leaving it up to you to replace and repair it. So, to state this concept simply: We have private property because we use it as a way to make sure that only those who use the material thing in the most productive ways are the ones allowed to use it. This, by the way, also means the best for the purposes of conservation.
Back to so called "Intellectual property". I assert that there is no such thing, as the very first thing about property is absent from this "Intellectual Property" thing - scarcity.
If I copy you Viper digitally (some day this will be easily done, we are already half way there - just look up "RepRap"), and crash it, that puts you at absolutely no inconvenience. Your original Viper is still there, in the garage, untouched, unspoiled, cold, shiny and ready. Same thing is if I copy someone's song. His original song is still with him. He had lost zero degree of control over it.
But maybe the author doesn't want his creation to spread? Well, may-be I do not want people to be nailing around. Just don't show it. Keep it to yourself just like you are already doing with your bed time habits. That surely keeps it from spreading around.
There used to be a time, when the artist would get paid by doing something only he can do, - performing. Arguably, this is still going on. That is an honest way to make money on creativity. I can copy Beatles all I want, but that won't make them appear at my place and truly perform.
The desire of men to make something once and profit forever is not a new one. Nor is it a bad thing, if used properly. This is why we have computers for cheap, while paying next to nothing for them. We do know how to make them. But we prefer someone else to take the pain to produce it, and because as a result, the thing produced by someone ends up in that someone's property, we pay to obtain control. The producer is living his dream of making something (a plant) once, and profiting many times. Until we no longer want to pay, because , one day, may-be, we will have an easy way of making computers at home.
What is striking about the audacity of the authors of entertainment and software is that they insist on retaining specifically the re-production profits when no one needs the author to reproduce their product.
Copyright and "Intellectual Property" is bulls--t.
Posted by mava on 10/16/12 03:54 PM
I have originally posted this comment a while ago on the Click to view link , and right after that my ISP had suspended my high speed internet account. They have alleged illegal downloading through torrents, but were unable to provide even single title that they had alleged I had downloaded or shared. I was reluctant to click on "I acknowledge I have been warned about titles I have downloaded" button on the only web page (ISP) I was allowed to access, intending to keep on the fight and not signing up for any alleged violations, but my kitten had bounced on the keyboard and hit "enter" key anyway.
Copyright, is no different than any other product of a despotic government. It is a symbiosis between the desire of the state to control, and the desire of the redundant worker to continue production of now unnecessary product or service. I don't think Karl Fogel was entirely clear on what the essence of copyright really entails.
Suppose I decide to make money by telling people that if they nail two things together, these will hold together.
Why are you laughing? This is a viable business plan. You argument obviously would be: "People already know that.". No problem. I "cooperate" with the government and force all of you to pay me for the teaching, for the process, the act of me telling you how to do it. And if you do it without paying me, I cry that you're a pirate and I am going to "pipa" your a** to where the sun don't shine. Your move?
You say, but it's my nail and my hammer, and me nailing it, and I know how to nail it!That's just too bad. Too bad for you, that is. You see, this is the way for me to make money, and if it isn't so, then I can't make money form my idea, now can I? Do you want to leave me without the means to existence? Tell me how is it different form you playing the song on your computer, using your cpu, which allready knows how to play it and knows how to produce every bit of the song, every note, and knows in which sequence and to what degree of amplification to produce those bits that comprise what we call a song.
Is it the author singing there out of your computer speaker? Really? Why don't you ask for an autograph then?
But, the artist then wouldn't be able to make a living! Yeah, it is a really stupid idea to hope to make a living by doing something easily reproducible, but not if you can prohibit everyone from doing exactly the same thing you do. How does the artist hopes to make living, exactly? Well, here is the plan. He will write a tune. A really catchy one. ONE TIME. Record it (digitally analyze it to allow for endless copying, - this is really what recording means). ONE TIME. And then, he will use widely available copy-distribution technology - CD media, audio file formats, computing technology, storage, networking, laser surface modulation (burning)... etc. He will use all these to ENDLESSLY sell the same thing over and over and over again. Others do have and use the same technology, - not the problem, he will "cooperate" with the government to insure you can not use that same thing that he does. Back in the days, when the technology wasn't readily available not was it affordable, the media distribution companies get paid very well, and rightfully so. They used their equipment to produce what you and I did not want to produce.
Today, their service and product is no longer needed, but like long shoreman, they insist that the society keeps paying them, so that they don't have to look for something else, something useful to do, something that we are unwilling to produce.
There is one aspect that remains. But shouldn't only the author be able to use otherwise available and affordable technology when applying it to the method that he had authored? Well then, pirate, you can't nail. And you can't speak, write, count, drive, etc., because all of these were the methods that someone else had authored, and you are simply copying to your direct advantage daily.
One can argue, I suppose, that the author of a novel is a pirate himself. Unless he was born with an innate ability to write, he is attempting to make money from a method of recording information that he did not create. But, his product is not words, it is the way that he organizes them. The creativity.
Really? Did he invent all the applicable approaches and methods to organize his written word?
Lastly, I'd like to touch on the authorship as property. This is attempted today to show that there is an intellectual property. Do you know why we have property at all? Why do we insist that a thing can belong to me and not you?
Because, the material things are finite at this point in our technological progress. By taking the thing from me, you are gaining that thing, and I am loosing that thing. A thing that has value, and that is reasonably affected by human action can not be in possession of two people at the same time. Always, someone has full control over it. It is not the same as legal control or legal ownership, as that only describes who supposed to have control. Even in cases where you'd think that you and your loved wife, for instance, both have control over a thing, only one person has it. Take a couch that belongs to your wife and you (legally). Your wife goes to the flea market and sells it tomorrow. How do you estimate the degree of your part of control of that couch now? Can you sit on it? What happens is you both agree that the couch can be controlled by any one of you, on the first come first served basis. You simply gifted it to her, and she gifted it to you. But the real control is exercised by whoever decides to change something about it.
A property has to be in someone's ownership so that we can have the accountability for our actions.
Posted by Thomas Molitor on 10/16/12 01:51 PM
Very provocative subject. One that I get into with my IP attorney friend who works at Intel 60 hours a week tying up patents and thereby extinguishing innovation. (My argument not his.) Stephen Kinsella, director of the Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom, writes voluminously on the subject of the cost of IP law.
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