Thursday 23 April 2009

Copyright, piracy and the abuse of statistics

This blogger was struck, reading this item in The Guardian, that the impact of the digital piracy debate has generated almost as many statistics as there are points of view about what should the correct response to piracy be. These latest stats suggest that those downloading music are "10 times more likely" to pay for music than those who don't steal music. Unless I am missing something, another way of saying this is "people who don't steal music are unlikely to buy music", which just might lead to the conclusion that those people are not interested in music. This may be an interesting finding for some research project, but is unlikely to have a strong influence on the music industry's approach to the next piracy challenge.

[Written by John Enser]


Anonymous said...

This should be an interesting blog. My view is that too much discussion of piracy is moralizing, or axe-grinding. I don't think people really respond to moral arguments, although they may respond to 'social awareness'. For example, can I sneak food into a movie theater? Is that "wrong" to violate the business model of the theater, where most of their overhead and profit are covered by the snack bar? People don't really moralize about it, they just follow traditions, avoid putting themselves and the teenage ticket-checker in awkward situations, and don't want to be seen as "cheap" by their peers. Similarly, why do we eat meat? We don't even bother to rationalize it in moral terms (I eat meat). You can point to statistics like, "36 Million cows slaughtered for beef in America each year", and it's shocking. But we are inducted into eating meet, divorced from the victims, and have minimal social pressure to change, despite growth in vegetarian alternatives. Piracy today is similar. Pirates don't try to justify it. They don't feel 'guilty' about it. However, there may be a time when approbation comes from the peer group, not just "lame old people". When distribution models change so that its convenient and reasonable to subscribe to a content "cloud" service, "piracy" may appear like a "no name brand". The "cloud" will be cool, and even more convenient than 'scavenging' or 'hording'. A discussion of copyright, particularly in the context of the history of copyright, is fascinating background for a major issue today. But I don't think copyright laws will impact the technological, business, or social transformations brought about by a scourge of pirates.

ishallread said...

This appears to be one of the largest art frauds and online piracy cases. It is in the Appeal courts now. LINK as follows: