Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Whatever happened to the carrot instead of the stick?

For some time now, there has been a gradual shift away from aggressive anti-piracy measures to new, softer ones. Many scholars refer to this as the 'carrot' rather than 'stick' approach.

And there are good reasons for this.

Research suggests so-called music pirates spend more on music legally than individuals who do not purchase music at all (Karaganis and Renkema, 2013; Thun, 2009; Watson et al. 2014; and Zentner, 2006). 

And, negative deterrents such as website-blocking can serve to antagonise individuals and increase the propensity to engage in piracy (Sinha and  Mandel, 2008). Positive incentives, on the other hand, are more effective (Moon et al., 2015). 

But, in the space of a week, two news items suggest that this trend has taken a turn.

Firstly, it is now illegal in UK to make a copy of a CD you have purchased legally. This was the case for a long time, but it was overturned in October 2014 to make it legal to transfer music onto your mp3-player, etc. 

It has since been revoked.

It means that you purchase a new CD on Friday, you will shift immediately from a law-abiding music fan to a law-breaking music fan should you then burn a copy for the car, or add it to your i-Pod.

The usual logic that a pirated song represents a lost sale does not apply. It's a duplication of a song you already bought. 

How this will be governed, remains to be seen. What is clearer for now is that this is likely to be extremely widespread, thus shooting holes in any contemporary estimates of the scale of music piracy. It occurs offline too.

Furthermore, the Conservative government in UK now hope to imprison pirates for as much as 10 years.

This is a big leap from the current two years, but it should be mentioned that the emphasis here is on those individuals engaging in piracy on a commercial scale.

In any case, these two laws represent a fork in the road in this ongoing shift towards softer anti-piracy approaches, such as the non-judgemental letters sent out to pirates (from ISP's) to nudge them towards legal alternatives to illegal downloading.

Tweets @musicpiracyblog


Karaganis, J. and Renkema, L. (2013). Copy Culture in the US and Germany. USA: The   American Assembly.

Moon, S.-I., Kim, K., Feeley, T.H. and Shin, D.-H. (2015). A normative approach to reducing illegal music downloading: The persuasive effects of normative message framing. Telematics and Informatics, 32(1), 169–179.

Sinha, R.K. and Mandel, N. (2008). Preventing digital music piracy: The carrot or the stick? Journal of Marketing, 72(1), 1–15.

Thun, C. (2009). Introducing Hollywood’
s Best Customers Vuze User vs. General Internet: Comparative Data (Research Report). Retrieved from Frank N. Magid Associates website: http://www.magid.com/sites/default/files/pdf/vuze.pdf

Watson, S.J., Zizzo, D.J. and Fleming, P. (2014). Determinants and Welfare Implications of Unlawful File Sharing: A Scoping Review (Working Paper No. 2014/5). Retrieved from Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy website: http://www.create.ac.uk/publications/determinants-and-welfare-implications-of-unlawful-file-sharing-a-scoping-review

Zentner, A. (2006). Measuring the effect of file sharing on music purchases. Journal of  Law and Economics, 49(1), 63–90. 

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