Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Twice the read

How to Fix Copyright, which will be published next week by Oxford University Press, has already attracted a good deal of attention thanks to this piece on Bloomberg. The author, Bill Patry, is no stranger to copyright or to controversy, so this blogger for one looks forward to reading it.  This blog has already received a reader's comment on Patry's assertion that, "to make money in the world of digital abundance, you just have to sell more copies for lower prices". He observes:
"If all copyright-work makers were to halve the price of their work, they would need to sell more than twice as many copies. However, copyright works take time to consume and consumers have a limited amount of time available. Can they consume more than twice as much content? We are already spending a considerable portion of our time in front of a screen or with headphones on".
Readers' comments are, of course, welcome. One wonders how many categories of copyright-protected work would  not respond to this treatment.

Further details of How to Fix Copyight can be found on the OUP website here.


Alan McKenna said...

From a purely economic perspective Patry's observation may be right in respect to books, however despite the fact that there may not be the time available to effectively read the amount necessary to achieve a status quo in terms of money earned from such works, a far lower price is likely to have the psychological impact of people buying far more than they may ever realistically be able to read, if not over their lifetime, at least in the short term.

Bill Patry said...

I confess to not understanding Mr. McKenna's comment, but that aside I want to point out that my point is a larger one than halving price or time spent. The point is that the way many consumers consume copyrighted works has changed, and therefore so too must business models. This shouldn't be controversial; it is true in all industries where consumer tastes change; copyright is no different.

I say this not as a disguised personal preference. I am quite old fashioned, preferring hard copies of books, newspapers, and music. But I am not a typical consumer. I want copyright owners to succeed and make lots of money. To make money though, you can't fight the market for your works; you have to embrace it. Whether this means trading in hard copy dollars for digital dimes isn't the issue; the issue is how to make money in the markets that exist, not the ones you dream about.

Harcourt said...

Unlike (perhaps) Bill, I am less concerned with copyright owners making "lots of money" and more concerned with authors making lots of money and the investor/owners making reasonable amounts - but this is doubtless a semantic quibble in this context