File Sharing Doesn't Affect Films and Music Sales
the US box office has hit a record high
Despite whinging about “piracy” The North American box office took $1.03bn (£562m) during June, Hollywood Reporter found - a 14% increase on June 2003's previous monthly record. Piracy is a phony issue that record labels are hyping to rip off artists. Piracy has always existed. That's why there's a mountain of blank cassettes in any big electronic store. CD sales in the UK went up by 7% in the UK last year, yet the British Phonographic industry are claiming that pirates are taking all their money.
Spider-Man 2 has broken the North American box office record by taking $180.1m (£97.5m) in its first six days.
US box office takings passed the $1bn (£545m) mark for the first time in June 2004 a survey indicated.
The box office tally for June 2004 is 37% higher than the same period in 2001.
So the film industry has nothing to whine about. What about the music industry?
A century ago, music that was shared by millions of listeners, that seemed an inseparable part of daily life, that could be used to immediately establish a bond of familiarity between strangers, would have been called folk music. Music of the people, its origins dim or forgotten. The very notion of possessing it, of controlling who could hear it and exchange it, of making a profit from it, would have been ridiculous. File sharing is the evolution of popular music into a new kind of folk music. Freedom to tinker is your freedom to understand, discuss, repair, and modify the technological devices you own.
For the music industry, the whole point of introducing CDs in the early 80s was not to create a more durable format with better sound quality, but to milk as much money out of the public as possible. CDs are cheaper to manufacture than records (they cost 50p each), but sell for more in the shops.
This is not news. Everybody realises that CDs should be cheaper, from people who know the background to teenyboppers who realise their pocket money doesn't stretch that far. The music industry is too stubborn and greedy to do anything about it. Instead, they're happier to propagate lurid scare stories about the onset of a second dark age and haul fans into court: architects of their own destruction, hastening their demise.
I'm so tired of hearing the press whores whinge on about Mp3's "ruining" music CD sales. The music industry has RAPED EVERYONE for years and years. Ever since there has been a medium to record on, we have been getting royally screwed. If any record company CEO can give me a NON-BULLSHIT explanation of why a CD costs £10-£15 I'll shut the hell up; otherwise I'll stick to my guns. If any of this bothers you as much as it does us, then you might be wondering why you've never heard about any of this or why no anti-trust action was ever taken against major labels and distributors. The answer to this is quite simple. Most of the reporting on the inner workings of the record business comes from the music press which is reliant on the advertising of the business that they're writing about.
They claim that downloads are taking their money. Ohh poor babies, so now you only have 100 million dollars instead of 105. WA! WA! WA! That’s assuming that downloads affect the sales at all. If we are smart enough to steal their music, then fuck them: it's our right to fuck them back, just like they've fucked us for years. E.g.
The octopus media cartel can’t deliver so fuck them. I honestly believe that they sign good bands on purpose to shut them down – they don’t want you to hear this stuff – preferring to keep you as base as possible with soulless horseshit like Madonna or Celine Dion.
Members of the RIAA are actually using file-sharing programs themselves. Monitoring traffic on services is providing some of the world’s biggest labels with the best information they’ve ever had on people’s reactions to the music heard on radio.
In copyright, meanwhile, the situation has become execrable. Copyright doesn't expire anymore due to lawmakers repeatedly extending copyrights at the behest of the big media cartels. Then, of course, there's Linux, the computer operating system far superior to Windows that has emerged through a cyber-commons on the Web. Compare that to Microsoft, with its Kremlinesque secrecy and top-down control of every innovation -- innovations that serve the corporation's strategies for market dominance as much as the users' real needs.
In 1984, the Supreme Court of the United States, ruled in a 5-4 decision in the Universal City Studios v. Sony Corporation case , that home recording of copyrighted materials, would be legal under the fair use provision, since the action was a “non-commercial, nonprofit activity”. Although the main issue in this case was that recording programs which were copyrighted (video cassette recorder) were being “time shifted” for viewing at a later time, the central theme of the decision was that it should be legal for home users to make copies of copyrighted material without obtaining prior, written, express permission of the copyright holder to do so. The law needs to reflect this change in technology, and to extend the fair use protection to consumers who wish to copy music from one media (e.g. CDs) to their hard drive, or other media, either analogue or digital. To enable this reasonable measure, this is another reason that the wrongheaded DMCA should be repealed, and replaced by a more contemporary law, which serves to protect the American consumer. In Canada a recent court judgment that online music copying is legal because it amounts to personal use.
I think we all have a duty to fight for our rights. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998, has enabled private individuals, companies, and others, to violate basic, constitutionally protected rights of private persons. The "Digital Consumer's Rights And Protection Act" involves establishing basic rights for digital consumers which would, in many ways, find a digital parallel to the rights we have in the States under the Home Audio Recording Act of 1992, which allows copying of audio and video for private, non-commercial, personal use. It also would repeal the DMCA and provides for penalties for those people who would violate the privacy of the individual, by hacking into their computer. It is like a Digital Bill of Rights for the consumer.
We often make the mistake of equating a particular kind of popular culture--the big-splash stuff promoted by corporate America--with "American" culture, as if blockbuster movies and million-selling albums presented a whole and coherent account of creative life in America. We knew this all along. We resented every hike in record prices; we resented the fads and the consumerism; we resented the ephemeral Top 40; we resented the lies, the "I love my fans" and the "I'm just in it for the art" that we knew, blatantly, baldly, weren't true.
P2P doesn't threaten music, musicmaking or musicians. It merely threatens only the record companies that have failed us for so long.