Why the LSE’s Piracy Arguments Just Don’t Hold Water

The renowned LSE this week published a paper arguing against implementation of the UK’s Digital Economy Act and calling for policy makers to recognize that piracy is not hurting the music industry but is in fact helping parts of it grow.  To these academic researchers the findings probably feel like some dazzling new insight but to anyone with more than a passing understanding of the music industry they are as if somebody just time travelled back to 1999.  The piracy-helps-grow-the-pie / help-makes-the-sky-not-fall / actually-helps-the-industry arguments were common currency throughout most of the first decade of the digital music market.  In more recent years though, following perpetual revenue decline and the growing plight of struggling ‘middle-class’ artists and songwriters, most neutral observers recognize that the piracy=prosperity argument just doesn’t hold water anymore.  Though of course that won’t stop the pro-piracy lobby fawning over this ‘research’ as more ‘evidence’ for their case.

Why Live Is NOT Saving the Music Industry

One of the key arguments the LSE paper makes is that the total music industry is in fact growing or is at least stable, primarily due to the impact of growing live income.  The ‘artists can sell tickets and merchandize to make up for shrinking music sales’ argument is frequently wheeled out by the pro-piracy lobby but it is one riddled with problems (and of course doesn’t apply at all to songwriters):

  • Live revenues are over reported: as impressive as global live revenues may look, they are not accurate.  Most often they include reseller revenue, which is income that does not go anywhere near the artists or any other part of the actual music industry.  A scalper reselling tickets at extortionately high prices on eBay doesn’t benefit an artist in any way but at a macro level can look like booming revenue.
  • Price hikes drive revenue: Much of the live revenue growth is actually from increased ticket prices, both from venues and resellers.  The average ticket price has increased by 34% in the last 10 years.  Only a portion of this increase gets passed back to artists and their managers.
  • Live income is unevenly distributed: Live simply isn’t working for many artists, those that do best are those are heritage acts.  According to Deloitte 60% of the 20 top-grossing US live acts are aged 60 or over.  This is where promoters and venues focus their efforts and it leaves little oxygen for the emerging acts.
  • The live boom will suffer: The likes of Bon Jovi and the Rolling Stones sell out massive arenas because they sold so many albums in the glory days of the recorded music industry.  What will happen when the generation of artists that do not sell millions get to the age where they hope live will pay the bills? The likelihood is that there will not be another era of heritage live acts such as we are seeing today.

A dependence on live income for building the case for piracy is thus fraught with difficulty and misunderstood assumptions.

The Right to Not Earn a Living?

Any discussion of the music industry makes an assumption about what actually constitutes ‘the music industry’. There is no single right or wrong answer other than the bits that really matter are the artists and the songwriters.  Therefore any proposal or framework for ‘saving the industry’ needs to ensure they can thrive.  Diminishing music sales and the various above-stated issues surrounding live mean that for most ‘middle class’ artists who didn’t make it big in the glory days of the CD are finding it harder to thrive.

Another tired argument that the LSE paper rehashes is the idea that artists should just want to make music for music’s sake.  That because of platforms like Soundcloud they can just make music without expecting or wanting to earn a living.  Of course every single one of us could do the same for our job too. A call centre operative could offer to forgo their salary, a bus driver could drive for free, a doctor could refuse her pay. All of which sound ridiculous of course, so why doesn’t it when applied to an artist?  Well actually it does, and that’s the point. The idea that somehow because music is creative that artists should not pollute this with seeking to earn a living is an utterly insidious concept.  If the LSE scholars truly believe this then I recommend that they henceforth refuse their stipends and insist on lecturing for free for the rest of their careers. And if they start finding the bills stacking up maybe they can start selling t-shirts or something?

When I spoke to Marillion’s Mark Kelly for my forthcoming book he made devastatingly simple comment on the impact of free and alternative business models on artists: “Artists have choice, a choice of what? To not earn a living?”  Piracy is having a hugely tangible and real impact on artists and songwriters, and guess what, it is not a positive one for most.

Does the music industry still need to undergo dramatic change? Of course it does.  Do many record label practices still need changing? Of course they do?  Do Artists need to get even better at making alternative revenue streams work? Of course they do.  Should change be happening more quickly?  Yes, of course it should. But crucial progress is being made on all fronts and what matters most is that all responsible parties and stakeholders (and that includes government) do what they can to ensure that a fair and level playing field is created.  Not for the sake of an ethereal macro economic concept of ‘the music industry’ but for the the struggling indie label boss, the small gigging artist, the part time manager and the aspiring songwriter.  Ask them what they think about piracy and how it is impacting the music world.  That’s where you will heae the answer most grounded in earthy reality, not in an academic reworking of obsolete, half baked piracy lobby arguments from yesteryear.

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44 thoughts on “Why the LSE’s Piracy Arguments Just Don’t Hold Water

  1. “A call centre operative could offer to forgo their salary, a bus driver could drive for free, a doctor could refuse her pay. All of which sound ridiculous of course, so why doesn’t it when applied to an artist?”

    Because we need bus drivers, doctors and call centre operators. We – at least, the general public – don’t need musicians.The people who do need them (TV companies, advertisers, movie makers, etc) can pay for them. But for the rest of us, well, we’re not the ones who are going to suffer if musicians make less money. So it’s hard to argue that we owe you a living.

    The reality is that the Internet has changed the economy of music. Most “anti-piracy” campaigns are still built around the assumption that it’s possible to force people to pay for something by creating an artificial shortage of it. But that only works if you control the means of creating the shortage. Technological progress means that’s no longer true for the majority of non-tangible products such as music. So the industry needs to adapt to that change, not try to fight a rear-guard action by using the law to prop up a failing business model. Turning back the clock isn’t going to help musicians.

  2. What a great piece, Mark. I’m a bit surprised that this came from LSE as they are usually a bit more well informed. The danger being they ARE so respected and typically ARE so well informed that people will take this as gospel and, as you said, the pro-piracy lobby will use this as fodder for their alleged cause.
    I make the argument about those in other professions not being expected to work for free all the time and people look at me as if I have two heads. I often hear ‘It’s not the same!’ but no one can quite articulate why exactly it’s not the same.
    A hugely important thing people fail to realise is that, in addition to the fact that artists should be paid because people should be paid for their work, so many other people rely on artists for income. Writers, like myself, managers, producers, engineers, venue owners and managers, touring crew, sound and lighting techs, consultants, PR people, marketing people, the list goes on and on. If artists don’t make any money, it’s more difficult for the rest of us, as well.

    I always love what you have to say, thanks!

  3. @Mark Goodge~ People absolutely need music, and when it wasn’t ‘free’ or they’d be prosecuted for shoplifting for stealing it, they bought it. People don’t need to own televisions but they haven’t figured out a way to walk out of a shop with a flat screen television and make a legally justifiable argument as to why Sony shouldn’t be entitled to money for their product and why the store shouldn’t be allowed to charge them for televisions to cover the expenses of employees, building maintenance, heat, air conditioning, electricity, etc. The only difference with music is that what became a marketing tool and way for artists to connect with fans via giving them free tracks, became an overall sense of public entitlement. The argument that people don’t need music, therefore wouldn’t buy it if illegal downloading changed or streaming services went away is a bit of a silly argument. If that logic were fact based, no one would have ever purchased music in the past, long before the internet was a thought in anyone’s mind. No artists would ever have made any money, and I’m talking about working musicians just as much as multiplatinum artists.

  4. Well said, Mark. And it’s not just the youth that are promoting piracy of content. I’m concerned about the tech entrepreneurs,investors and journalists writing about these new gadgets and apps. There’s a sense of ‘entitlement’ present — that music and creative content exists for them to build huge businesses around without considering the creator.

    Take for instance this youtube video. There is a conversation about content piracy with ebooks that got my attention to the real battle we face… the perception that creative content should be free.

    Jason is a well known angel investor/entrepreneur and Molly reviews for Cnet.

    At the 28 minute and thereafter point, there is a discussion of ebooks. Molly is distressed because if she likes an ebook, she can’t make a copy to give to a friend and doesn’t want to loan her iPad out. In the past, she would lend the hard copy book to her friend. Molly feels ‘cheap’ not buying the ebook for her friend, but she doesn’t want to spend the money.

    I had seen many episodes of Jason saying much the same about music but I was particularly disturbed by this comments on ebooks. Ebooks, unlike music CDs, are often priced 25-50% less than the hard cover and have DRM. Jason and Molly make substantially more money than any middle class musician (and writer for that matter). Why wouldn’t they buy an ebook for a friend because they liked the book? Why does it bother them to pay for it? They would buy chocolate or flowers or take a friend to lunch, but not buy creative content?

    At about the 20 minute mark, they begin a conversation complaining about people using their likeness without permission, intimating they should get paid. Funny, they don’t see the connection.

    It’s one thing when kids with no money pirate content, but when wealthy adults have careers around technology promote piracy, it’s really disturbing. If the adults with money don’t teach the value of creative content to their children, we are in for deep doo doo.

  5. @cookiemarenco~ Thanks so much for sharing that! It’s not even a matter of biting the hand that feeds you…it’s biting your own hand and not even understand you’re doing it; which is even worse. I know for me, when I write about things that touch on the sort of things you mention, I never mention the culprits. For example, awhile back I wrote a piece on artists buying twitter followers and referenced statistics by a few of the better known places to buy twitter followers. I never mentioned the names of the companies as I don’t want to, in any way, support them. Sure, people can search on their own and find things, but I don’t want to share links and information on companies who go against everything I believe in. Each time I write about an artist I include links directly to where they sell their music (their web site, iTunes, bandcamp, etc), and always include links to their social media and official web site so at least I know I’ve done all I can do to make it easy for my readers/subscribers to easily find anything they could possibly want to about a given artist. It seems like an uphill battle much of the time, but they get clicked on , so it at least helps some people get to artists the right way.

  6. A couple of points on ‘live’:
    a) it should be apparent to anyone who gives a nanosecond of thought to the subject that not all musicians are in a position to spend a lot of time on tour. Those who can’t include people with young children, single parents, people with other caring responsibilities, and people with disabilities or mobility problems. Not very ‘rock-and-roll’, I admit, but they do exist. Most obviously, women with young children are not in a position to tour unless either they can afford a full-time nanny, or they have a very supportive partner (like Zoe Keating, whose husband gives her full-time support). Those who argue that music sales are not important because ‘the money is in touring’ are implicitly condoning age, sex, and disability discrimination. How does that sit with the trendy academics?
    b) a more general point is that in considering income from touring, what counts is not gross but net revenue. Headline figures for gross ticket sales are of little use. Unfortunately there seems to be very little public data on the ‘bottom line’ of touring. I have seen an article in Billboard, quoting anonymous ‘informed sources’, saying that the profit margin is usually between 30% and 40%, but other anecdotal evidence suggests this would often be far too high. Of course there is bound to be a wide variation in costs. A folk singer who tours with a suitcase and a guitar is in a very different position from a five-person band with a huge light show. Presumably there is still *some* money in touring, or artists just wouldn’t do it (but NB there may be a conflict of interest between artists and their managers if the managers take a slice off the top of live earnings). But if academic economists want to make a series contribution to discussion, I suggest they would be better employed in doing some serious empirical research on the economics of touring.

  7. Great article on the key issues. Piracy is a problem – however, in general, I think artists need to be more business savvy – its really hard for upcoming artists ‘to make money’- however, consumers will purchase EPs after gigs. I totally use a ‘pay what you want strategy’ and typically make more money per sale then selling my music at a set price.

    Crowdsourcing platforms gives bands the oppurtunity to sell bundles and therefore incenterise fans to purchase a product thats a little more unique then your average CD.

    Personally, I have also received a minimal advance from an independent record label -incidently, I achieved this from pitching to them a unique idea for a tour. The advance is not much but its somthing.

    Ultimatly, artists have the oppurtunity to pitch to investors in and outside of the music industry. Investors exist and are willing to put money into creative talent – even if its to offset taxes.

    It is really hard to keep a float but I do believe the oppurtunities are out there. I saw that Rizzle Kicks are offering a free download of there latest track in Westfields Shopping centre? Why is this a part of there marketing strategy? To gain mobile phone data so that they can promote there live concerts. I bet.

    I don’t think piracy is right and its ashame the issue has grown so rapidly. Its ashame music can be so easily consumed on Youtube (for instance) but also beneficial. Consumers need to value purchasing a product! Same old same old – Thus, surely, creating great relationships with fans is now even more significant.

    Just a few thoughts on the subject – from an artist – big thanks to you Mark for posting such informative articles on the industry.

    In response to Mark Goodge – I’d argue that I bet you have songs on your phone that you listen to make you feel good. Therefore you clearly have a need for music.

  8. I don’t think LSE have done very strong background critique of the work they cite. Look at page 11 and the use of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre paper as a point of argument. We reviewed that piece and found it wanting in every respect (see our critique here: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/21365/3/Parry%20Strategic%20Change%20Submission.pdf) Yet LSE use the piece as a reference point to underpin an argument. Sure, engage in the debate, but do so with vim and vigour.

    This is poor work, well below the standard one expects from LSE. It is more diatribe than dialectic.

  9. I consulted dictionary:
    “artist
    n.
    1. One, such as a painter, sculptor, or writer, who is able by virtue of imagination and talent or skill to create works of aesthetic value, especially in the fine arts.
    2. A person whose wrk shows exceptional creative ability or skill: You are an artist in the kitchen.
    3. One, such as an actor or singer, who works in the performing arts.
    4. One who is adept at an activity, especially one involving trickery or deceit: a con artist.”

    And now I’m positive you missused the word ARTIST, while you meant ENTERTAINER.

  10. Response from the authors of the policy brief:

    The main problem here, according to us, is that the copyright and file sharing debate is played in a highly ideological way. In other words, the industry is itself guilty of the allegations it fields at us. Furthermore, a closer reading of what we actually say in our reports shows that the industry misreads what we actually say. In addition to this, we would argue that in this debate we only really hear the self-interested arguments and skewed figures of the lobby organisations calling for repression. We rarely hear the many counter-arguments to their positions. Hence, one of the main aims of our policy briefs is to rebalance this and list, document, outline the counter-arguments to this repressive logic and to the same old tune that the internet is killing the video stars. From this perspective, the entertainment industries refuting and taking issue with our findings and conclusions is hardly surprising and as far as we’re concerned totally logical.

  11. Your claim of the ideological bias in this debate is sound. But if the objective is to ensure balance in the debate then the way to do that is to provide objective and impartial analysis. It is not achieved by ‘balancing’ the other side of the argument with equally biased counter-argument. That simply perpetuates the swing of the ideological pendulum. Also your claim that only the media industry’s views are represented is just plain wrong. Google and others have invested vast amounts over recent years to fund quasi-academic studies in this space and into preparing lobbying documents. If anything the balance has shifted more heavily their way in the last few years.

    One of the problems with your arguments, other than a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the data, is to fall into the trap of the focusing your attentions on the media industries and away from the creators seeking to earn a living. If you speak to artists and songwriters – and I do very frequently – you will find almost universal sentiment that piracy is damaging their ability to earn a living. Regardless of what your thoughts are on the media companies themselves, that is the part that matters, and that is the part which is NOT seeing revenues rise. I have been researching this particular topic intensely for the last few months for a forthcoming book, interviewing artists, songwriters, labels, publishers, VCs, PROs, start ups, even pirate sites, and the takeaway is that artists and songwriters are earning less, not more.

    Finally I do hope your final sentence was not aimed at myself. For the record I have spent the last 15 years as an independent industry analyst, with clients right across the technology and media spaces. I am equally as likely to annoy a label as I am a pirate. My analysis here is based upon all those years of specialist experience and the understanding gained from that. I have seen your arguments many times before – I do hope you are not under the illusion they are your ideas. I simply wanted to apply some scientific rigour to the numbers and assumptions that was sadly lacking from your ideology drenched paper.

  12. “…we would argue that in this debate we only really hear the self-interested arguments and skewed figures of the lobby organisations calling for repression. We rarely hear the many counter-arguments to their positions.”

    I’m sorry, I guess the authors haven’t been paying attention to a large portion of the legal academic work on copyright coming out of Stanford, Berkeley & Harvard over the past decade, or for that matter the bulk of the Internet discussion. I guess they also missed the SOPA/PIPA “debate”… easily enough done, considering that it only involved the shut down or blackout of some of the most trafficked sites on the Internet.

    I didn’t think it was possible to lose more respect for the LSE until I read that “response”. The effects of piracy on creative industries is actually a nuanced, compex subject that deserves serious treatment by credible, objective independent third parties. This “report” represents an utter failure on their part. And, of course, they resort to the tried and true tactic of suggesting that anyone who questions them is a shill.

  13. I don’t know if the LSE ‘authors’ read my own comments above, but I would welcome their comments. In particular, do they believe that artists who are not in a position to tour (women with young children, etc) should give up any hope of making a living as a musician, no matter how skilled and talented they may be?

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  15. I think it will continue to be a harder and harder struggle for the up and coming artists as piracy definitely takes a big chunk out of their ‘would be’ earnings. Having said that, sometimes this helps with getting exposure as more people have access to your music.

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  17. For those that believe that downloading free music is not stealing because they could do without it. Fine do without all you want, the real problem is that people say music is not important but steal it , then cover the theft with dumb statements…if you do not need don’t take it, if you want it ….. pay for it.

  18. Where to begin? …The world doesn’t need music. Really? @MarkGoodge do you really think we should decide who pays for what based on what is needed? That’s quite subjective. I don’t NEED …cosmetics, yet I don’t go to the store and grab them. On and on. Personally as an artist I am very grateful to all the folks who stand up and speak out to expose the damage that piracy does to artists and their communities. There is a pernicious argument used by folks who haven’t themselves experienced the dedication and years it takes to hone artistic skills, that art is superfluous. The value placed on art varies from culture to culture and person to person. It doesn’t seem at the top of your list. To many people it’s clear what a sad place the world would be without it. But your argument is used by many to justify to themselves and to the world that piracy is o.k. Would you extend that argument to all art Mark? You don’t need films either. Are you pirating those? Do you go to museums and explain that they should let you have your pick cause you don’t really need their art? As an artist who practices daily, values what I contribute to the world and knows the expenses involved in producing a quality recording, I find your argument not only reflects your values, but greed, arrogance and a lack of ethics. Do you go to work and tell your boss he/she can pay you if he/she feels like it? Maybe you don’t have a boss. Do you pay your bills by telling people you work for free? Is what you do needed?
    There is nothing wrong with you Mark if you don’t need music, just stay away from it!
    The goal is not to return to a prior business model. The question is, now that we have all the evidence we need as artists, that piracy is damaging our ability not only to thrive but to survive, what are we going to do collectively to ensure that artists are not the only group singled out as not deserving of support? I am encouraged that across generations there are people who once they understand the consequences of piracy, are interested in treating others the way they would like to be treated because it is the right thing to do, ethical, and ensures that we can continue to have lives enhanced and brightened by all arts. As humans we get to evolve if we choose to. We get to decide that how we treat each other is more important than greed. We can even design technology that reflects our choices.

  19. I find it extremely disappointing how people still dare in this day and age to compare copying files made of 0s and 1s to actual material objects. Just a video for the ones who seem to not only be ignorant of the history of music and arts before copyright but also of the difference between scarce tangential objects and immaterial artifacts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeTybKL1pM4.

    And finally a quote by Thomas Jefferson on intellectual property and the futile efforts to restrict the spreading of knowledge and culture all over humanity:

    “If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.”

    Bottom-line: music, like movies, books, videogames, software and news articles are made of information. It’s impossible to limit the distribution of information once it has been made available to the public. If you want to finance creativity, order directly the songs, books and other kinds of works to the creators and artists. That’s how the arts survived before copyright. That’s how more and more indie artists are actually making a living nowadays by means of crowdfunding web sites like Kickstarter and IndieGogo. Just don’t expect to be payed twice: first by the publisher/record public and later by the public. In fact, there isn’t any profession involved in the production of physical where such a thing happens. People get payed only once.

    If you want to discuss the need of a monthly flat-rate for financing creativity in the arts in exchange of the right to download to own the songs or videos you wish to access once their production has first been payed, by all means do indeed go ahead. But let’s just not pretend that Spotify even comes close to that. With Spotify, you can never be sure if you continue to have access to the songs you have downloaded even if you are a monthly subscriber. It all depends of the wishes and the whims of the copyright holders. I just lost three albuns I had downloaded. That really disappointed me. I prefer to continue to download all the songs I can have from a BitTorrent tracker with the certainty that they will always be there in my hard drive for me to listen to them.

  20. “I find it extremely disappointing how people still dare in this day and age to compare copying files made of 0s and 1s to actual material objects.”
    I find it extremely disappointing how there are people who are so lacking in depth or blinded by greed that they would describe an Aretha Franklin album or Mark Twain novel as “0s and 1s.”
    Quoting Jefferson is horseshit–the founding fathers built copyright into the Constitution, because they understood there was a difference between an idea and the all the work done to carry that idea.
    Really, remixtures understands this too, because no one could make such a sophomoric argument without disingenuity. And a financial stake in stealing from others.

  21. @NoOneYouKnow:

    “I find it extremely disappointing how there are people who are so lacking in depth or blinded by greed that they would describe an Aretha Franklin album or Mark Twain novel as “0s and 1s.”
    Quoting Jefferson is horseshit–the founding fathers built copyright into the Constitution, because they understood there was a difference between an idea and the all the work done to carry that idea.”

    You’re not addressing the issue in economic terms; you’re addressing it in moralistic/emotional terms that don’t appeal to reason and don’t stand to facts. In economics, all works that can be converted to digital formats are plain and simple just made of zeros and ones. It’s a matter of fact and not a question of taste or judgement. Having that on mind, the next step is to devise forms of assuring that artists and creators will continue to create – this involves tackling not only monetary motivations but also immaterial ones like the need to self-express yourself when you write a diary. Some of then, will continue to create no matter the financial hardships; for others economic compensation is key. Privileging our analysis towards one or the other type of artists means a lack of impartiality and objectivity. Both kinds deserve merit.

    If you are so much worried about how artists and creators get paid, why don’t you go complaining to publishers and record labels? After all, they are the ones who get to charge outstanding interests due to the advancements they provide for the recording of an album. Moreover, they even get to receive a commission for the sales of the records that sometimes can be even higher than what the real artists receive. Now who is the real extortioner? Not the final user who just happens to benefit from the work someone has already paid for or else it would never had been published. After all, he never really got to have any influence in the creative output of the artist. He just ends up listening to a record that is the result of the financing by a third party. If the final user doesn’t have to pay to have access to it, that is not his problem or neither of the artist, anyway. That should be only a problem for the initial financing entity. Unfortunately, artists and creators of all types of works end up being brain-washed by traditional media and industry pundits who put all the blame on the side of the final user while forgetting that we are mostly talking about political economy: who gets what from who. Trying to assess the question of copyright and file sharing in any other way is disingenuous to say the least. It’s a business/political economy question that should mostly be a matter of concern for the industry, not fans or artists.

  22. @remixtures:
    1) you’re confused. Copyright is expressly NOT an ‘idea’. Idea’s are not and cannot be covered by Copyright.
    2) you’re confusing the content with the container. A CD was nothing but 1′s and 0′s, albeit printed onto a disk… you (sorry, i shouldn’t make this personal, as you’ve obviously never bought creative content), [you], i mean customers– aren’t paying for the cassette, or the CD or the DVD or the Mp3, etc.. you’re paying for the CONTENT contained therein. Go sell some blank CD’s today or 10 years ago…

  23. “Consumer” here.

    I dont owe you people a living. We dont owe you people a living. We never did. Even assuming, for a moment, that your theory of ‘less piracy = even more revenue that would be otherwise’ is true, still no one owes you ‘even more of a living’. Least of all the damn government with convenient protectionist policies that come with huge collateral damage. What youve done here over the last ten years of this digital revolution is set up a stall selling bottled water right next to a public fountain, and then kick and scream and call the police and implore them to do something when some people dont walk your way. If you want to start taking about entitlement complexes, start with that.

    Most of the ‘debunking’ against this empirical research (look up what that means) amounts to dissenting *opinion* at best and lots of outright ad hom about how LSE has ‘shamed themselves’ or some such, rather mysteriously like what happened with the RSC brief that went rather far off-script for some peoples liking (did you think the internet had forgotten about that little episode, eh?). This is how the smart and impartial feller knows research like this is actually correct, along with actually reading it of course.

  24. @emcy1984 “Consumer here”: What a lame argument. You don’t owe artists a living? There’s a difference being paying for what you want to have that someone else created at their expense, and “owing them a living.” Why do you think artists owe you their living? You want to talk about entitlement!?

  25. Reblogged this on MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY and commented:
    Check the rather hysterical comment from the LSE authors that includes this choice quotation: “[W]e would argue that in this debate we only really hear the self-interested arguments and skewed figures of the lobby organisations calling for repression. We rarely hear the many counter-arguments to their positions. Hence, one of the main aims of our policy briefs is to rebalance this and list, document, outline the counter-arguments to this repressive logic and to the same old tune that the internet is killing the video stars.”
    Calling for “repression”??? Let me tell you what “repression” is–the demarcation line between East and West Germany is a good example. Let’s not trivialize the concept of repression by equating it to people fighting to protect their rights. That remark betrays the LSE paper for what it is–results oriented pseudoscience parading like a red herring around the stage.

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  27. I can’t help noticing that the authors of the LSE “paper” had this choice phrase in their defense: “[W]e would argue that in this debate we only really hear the self-interested arguments and skewed figures of the lobby organisations calling for repression. We rarely hear the many counter-arguments to their positions. Hence, one of the main aims of our policy briefs is to rebalance this and list, document, outline the counter-arguments to this repressive logic and to the same old tune that the internet is killing the video stars.”

    Aside from the general putrefying smugness, I really don’t know which rock the authors live under that they have not heard “the many counter-arguments”. Walk into any Western university and you will hear it, read the Guardian and you will hear it, go to any Western law school and you will hear it. That’s just simply tripe.

    What is also tripe is the warmed over CCIA approach to the economics of the music business–what is down due to piracy is recorded music sales. Nobody ever said that live music revenue was down due to piracy. You throw in all these other income streams that do not relate to the thing you purport to measure and then act as if you said something smart.

    It’s also easy to get up on your academic high horse and sneer at “lobby organisations”–how about your own Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Harriet Harman? Talk to an artist lately? A studio owner? If it’s OK with you, when you’re 70 maybe a roadie can come to your house and kick your ass out on the road to hump trap cases, sing for your supper and pay your medical bills like Levon Helm? See how you like that?

    But more revealing still is the reference to “repression”. This is what this “study” is all about–part of the global messaging campaign to undermine artist rights. Repression is the demarcation line between East and West Germany. Repression is Jim Crow. Repression is not artists fighting for their rights.

    Try referring to 1984–remember FREEDOM IS SLAVERY? You can add your own: EXPRESSION IS REPRESSION.

    Minitrue is alive and well and living at the London School of Economics.

  28. ” You throw in all these other income streams that do not relate to the thing you purport to measure and then act as if you said something smart.”

    Is that suppose to be an ironic joke? Have you seen the shit that gets included when the RIAA ‘estimates’ the total dollar damage of piracy? Its hilarious. ELEVENTY BILLION DOLLAR LOST EVERY YEAR!!1

    The repression bit refers to the various ways the internet is being wilfully broken (technically and legally) by policies meant to protect your damn revenues, and yes you can compare the internet to those things you listed. It was supposed to be the greatest emancipation engine mankind has ever seen, but instead we got industry lobbyists doing what they do eh. Why do you think so many people are so bitter about what you people are doing? The internet and what goes on on it are objectively SO much more important than you and your business, but like the saying goes there aint much justice in this world.

    Pure blog ad hom yet again, refute LSE data or shut up. Better yet, adapt to an entire new world of opportunity you damn lughead musicians. It is now possible for the distribution and marketing of your work to be FREE for you, INSTANTLY and WORLDWIDE as opposed to those things being contingent on an usurious recording contract, which youd consider yourself lucky to have anyway And youd spit on this state of affairs? The internet can emancipate you as well as everyone else, if youd just let it! Let go of your fear or it will consume you, evidenced by record industry revenues halving in ten years due to fear and loathing of the internet and failing to take advantage of it, imo.

  29. emcy1984 wrote:
    “Is that suppose to be an ironic joke? Have you seen the shit that gets included when the RIAA ‘estimates’ the total dollar damage of piracy? Its hilarious. ELEVENTY BILLION DOLLAR LOST EVERY YEAR!!1″

    Nice strawman. You’ll notice that no one was citing RIAA studies in this comment thread. Besides, revenge for bad stats doesn’t suddenly make the LSE’s twisting of facts any more credible.

    emcy1984 wrote:
    “It was supposed to be the greatest emancipation engine mankind has ever seen, but instead we got industry lobbyists doing what they do eh.”

    Uh… the internet was developed by the US military. It was not created for the ‘emancipation’ of anybody (Seriously, “emancipation?” Tune down the rhetoric, you sound like a mad man). And notice which industry spends the most money lobbying politicians. Google alone spends more money than the RIAA. Much of Silicon Valley participates in revolving door politics, as well. I don’t notice any musicians moving between the music industry and Washington DC, but that absolutely is happening with Silicon Valley.

    emcy1984 wrote:
    “Why do you think so many people are so bitter about what you people are doing?”

    Who is “you people?” I haven’t lobbied for any laws. I don’t hide behind flimsy DMCA excuses and claim that I can’t possibly exert control over the usage of my services (except you know, to serve advertisements, “BUT THAT’S IT! We KNOW NOTHING ELSE!”). I don’t fund bogus studies with the ultimate goal of disenfranchising an entire branch of creative professionals. I doubt that any of the commenters here have any effect on the agendas of DC and their corporate buddies. Musicians are simply asking for their internationally recognized Human Rights to be protected.

    emcy1984 wrote:
    “Pure blog ad hom yet again…”

    “Better yet, adapt to an entire new world of opportunity you damn lughead musicians

    I’m not totally convinced you know what ad hominem means. Do you see the contradiction quoted above? Those two sentences came back-to-back, by the way.

    emcy1984 wrote:
    “It is now possible for the distribution and marketing of your work to be FREE for you, INSTANTLY and WORLDWIDE …”

    Alright, so it is clear now that you have little to no idea what you’re speaking about. First of all, owning a computer and having access to the internet costs money! It is not free. Second, marketing and distribution are certainly not without cost. Mp3 stores like iTunes take a cut off the top, and if you host your own files, well guess what: that costs money, too.

    You also all too typically conflate marketing with making available. This is where I get the suspicion that it is you who hasn’t fully grokked the modern age; you seem to think the internet is some sort of shopping center. At one time, simply getting a product in a store on a shelf meant that it would be exposed to people who are in the market for such things. But, putting something up on Bandcamp (for instance) is not at all the same as getting your album placed in a record store 15 years ago. It also seems like you’re suggesting that marketing doesn’t require time. Who writes the emails? Who follows them up? Where do the high res press photos come from? Who’s writing press releases and pitching them? Who’s making time available for interviews? There’s much more to it than just throwing a file on Soundcloud and crossing your fingers, although you’ll notice that there is an entire publicity machine hell-bent on claiming that a musician’s success is only an upload away if they’d only give up the ludicrous notion of getting paid for their services.

    You are aware that there is an entire career field in publicity, correct? It’s a big industry. How is it that these giant firms are competing in a field where a kid with a laptop can do their job for free? Oh, right, that’s because the internet has only made it harder for young bands to cut through the noise and get their music to potential fans’ ears.

    emcy1984:
    “The internet can emancipate you as well as everyone else, if youd just let it!”

    There’s that word again. Do you understand what emancipation means? What exactly can the internet emancipate me from? Warning: I am already an independent musician, and I was so before Napster.

    The internet is just a tool. It can’t emancipate anyone. North Korea has internet access, how’s their freedom looking? Same with China. You are lost in some sort of maelstrom of nonsense messages being fed to you by corporations who have every interest in devaluing the worth of individuals. They literally view you as a commodity, and you are doing them favors right now. Maybe it’s you that needs little ‘emancipation’ [sic]… from the internet.

    emcy1984:
    “Let go of your fear or it will consume you”

    Are you trying to sell some sort of new age book series or something. Get off your high horse, Deepak.

    emcy1984:
    “…evidenced by record industry revenues halving in ten years due to fear and loathing of the internet and failing to take advantage of it, imo.”

    Well, at least we can agree that the industry’s revenues have been decimated in the last decade. Most piracy-apologists won’t even admit that much.

  30. Patrik, you are my favourite person ever. Thank you for responding to that tripe with far more patience and eloquence than I could have. Even people who don’t believe in climate change believe that piracy has impacted music sales. How would it possibly not?! At any rate, thank you for your perfect response because I was on the verge of throwing my computer. :)

  31. The income stream that the London School of Economics has completely missed–but yet defends–is the income stream earned by ad exchanges and unlicensed sites from the sale of advertising from what they call pirate sites. On ad supported pirate sites there are no lost sales because all sales are monetized. Google Adsense, Doubleclick Ad Exchange, Yahoo! Right Media–all these profit the pirate site and The Man 2.0. It is these giant multinational media companies that are being defended by the UK ivory tower–Google itself acknowledges that it cut off 46,000 sites from its ad exchanges after having made how much? Nobody ever talks about how much. Even if Google only made $10,000 from each of those 46,000 sites on average, that’s quite a chunk of change. Definitely worth the price of a few academics, not to mention their global lobbying campaign.

    So let’s all be clear–when these academics defend mass piracy they are defending brand sponsored piracy and the millions it profits Big Tech through their ad exchanges. As Google’s head of UK policy has admitted, these are not kids sitting around in their bedrooms. As he acknowledged, it’s big business and Google is all up in it–and the London School of Economics is defending it with some claptrap about “repression”. Brand sponsored piracy is what the economists call an income transfer. The fact that it’s sold by big PR and lobbying firms doesn’t change anything.

    Remember this–if you asked a bunch of MBAs in 1985 if they thought that in a few years time Michael Milken would be in prison and Drexel would be bankrupt you would have been laughed out of the room. And yet it happened.

    All Drexel did was a little garden variety insider trading. They didn’t pay a $500,000,000 fine for promoting the sale of illegal drugs and nobody died.

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  37. Thank you for this.

    The ethical justification for paying for someone’s work is not based on “need”. There is very little that we actually need anyway (actually, nothing, since we do not “need” to even survive).

    Beyond that, it’s the matter of respecting another’s right to make a living. If you do not want their product, then forego it; if you want it, then do the right thing and pay.

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