IFPI Brings More Reason to the Piracy Debate

The music industry is obviously still big news in Europe. The IFPI today heralded its latest piracy report with a press release that drew television coverage from the BBC and CNN even before it hit the wires. The gist of the report is that piracy is killing the music industry. Nothing new there you might sayÖ.but the IFPIís stance is a quantum leap away from that of the RIAA.

Whereas the RIAA has focussed itís efforts on scaring and targeting the public (i.e. the very people who should be paying its wages via music sales) the IFPI has instead aimed its efforts at getting support and action from governments against mass piracy. The IFPIís public enemy number one isnít the college kid download music from Kazaa in his bedroom, but instead organised crime syndicates. The IFPIís argument runs that it is mass physical CD piracy, not home Internet piracy which is the killing the music industry and that organised crime syndicates are often behind counterfeit CD production. As I have mentioned before, with only a minority of Europeanís online, and less than 20% of them using file sharing networks (and the majority of those young and with little disposable income) it is hard to be convinced that their impact on declining sales can actually be that big.

The IFPIís approach is almost like the mirror image of the RIAAís. In military terms the RIAA is throwing itself into an internal guerrilla war against its own citizens, whereas the IFPI is launching a large scale coordinated attack on large enemy targets. By definition, the RIAAís approach is going to be far harder to implement: the number of targets is larger by multiples of millions.

More importantly though, the IFPI is not trying to bite the hand that feeds it. The RIAAís high profile attack on individuals has been nothing short of a PR disaster. It is asking a lot of the public to view their own children and friends as ardent criminals, it takes a lot less to convince them of the dark nature of organised crime and of the funding of drug running and prostitution. The net result of the IFPIís report will be far higher awareness of the darker machinations of mass CD piracy, the RIAAís meanwhile will be further alienating an already disenfranchised aundience

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