Wednesday, 10 December 2014

10 FAQ's on Twitter

Every now and then, people on Twitter ask me some questions about digital piracy that I fail to answer for a multitude of reasons, but mostly as Tweeting gives me no pleasure at all; the restricted word limit is also a major barrier.

With that in mind, this blog entry aims to address some of the common queries so I can direct people here in the future instead.

'Digital piracy is a good thing': Is it? How are you quantifying that? Good for who? There's little hard evidence on the economics of it, but to claim it is good doesn't sound very sophisticated. Good for you, perhaps, getting free stuff. But good for everyone?

'I read somewhere that...': Whoa, whoa, stop there. Get the facts right. Don't rely on what some pro-piracy website said, spitting out propaganda. Nor should you rely on industry stuff on the other side. Do some hard research. Commit.

'Musicians are filthy rich, so...': Musicians' Union data shows most musicians make less than £20,000 a year. Most musicians are not rich. You just see the rich successful ones more often in the media. And it's these guys giving music away for 'free' (even though it's not - see below).

'Music is free, right?': No, it's not. It's everywhere, and paid for in various behind-the-scenes ways. Always. When bands give away music for free, they aren't really giving it away for free at all. Recorded music is expensive to produce to a high standard.

'Pirates spend more money on music legally': The research is not crystal clear on this, but it might very well be true. With music anyway, it looks like the anomaly is accounted for when you consider live music. But the live and recorded music sectors are completely independent. And this nugget won't help you in court if and when you are caught.

'It's the fault of the music industry, they deserve it...': This does not justify copyright infringement.

'If better legal services were available, I would pay for them': Then why don't you? There are hundreds of them. They have been around for a long time.

'But Breaking Bad/Record label profits/etc.': Great for them, but that's just one case study to match your beliefs. You're not looking at the bigger picture.

'If I download something and enjoy it, I will then go and buy it': You might believe that, and it might be right. But it's not true for everyone. See the poor box-office performance of movies that get leaked before they are released, for example.

'I don't care': Well, that's your prerogative. Good on you, for at least being honest.

In effect, all of these comments stem from looking at piracy through a distorted lens. Only research papers which match the beliefs of music pirates make their way into the public sphere. If you believe piracy is good, you can argue that point easily by looking here instead of there. Once you have a belief about anything, you're locked in.

Hearing something you don't want to hear or believe doesn't make it false.

The evidence that it harms the industries isn't particularly strong, so don't think I'm asserting an anti-piracy stance. I have in fact committed a lot of time campaigning about the weak methods used in research and that we have little real knowledge on what's what.

What I won't accept are the weak excuses to justify piracy. That's all they are. Excuses.

Piracy is easy, you get free stuff, and the chance of being caught is slim. That's it.

Don't forget that when you obtain copyrighted media illegally, someone somewhere is profiting from that. Illegally. Rightsholders are denied money they are legally and morally entitled to.

If you are happy to go see 'Fast and the Furious 12', or listen to Two/Three/Four Direction, then keep at it. Investment in new talent is down (BPI) because the return on investment has no guarantee anymore.

And it looks like the cost of live concert tickets keeps rising in response to music piracy, so if you like concerts, start saving up for 2015.

Tweets @musicpiracyblog

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