Friday, June 01, 2007

IFPI steal Al Gore's IP

Amusing to see the IFPI (where the RIAA pretends to let other nations play at copyright police, too) have, uh, borrowed the title of Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth, for their list of ten "facts" about piracy. Isn't that the sort of playful inspiration-borrowing that strict copyright and trademark law looks askance at?

Anyway, we thought we'd take a close look at these "truths". It's not clear if they're going to get Alan Parker. to write them in big black pen on his hand or anything:

1. Pirate Bay, one of the flagships of the anti-copyright movement, makes thousands of euros from advertising on its site, while maintaining its anti-establishment “free music” rhetoric.

Well, they never said they'd be fascinating or surprising. It's not actually quite true, either, is it? Pirate Bay's stance, as we understand it, is that of Kopimism, a belief in the free movement of information, which isn't, really, the same as being anti-establishment. And since the ads appear, you know, on the site, it's not like people might not have noticed.
2. Allofmp3.com, the well-known Russian website, has not been licensed by a single IFPI member, has been disowned by right holder groups worldwide and is facing criminal proceedings in Russia.

Well, this is factish - although "We say we don't like them" isn't really a truth, and since the IFPI are self-appointed and not democratically mandated, one might say "so... what, exactly?"

And are Allofmp3 facing criminal proceedings in Russia? Two and a half years ago, the IFPI trumpeted the passing of results of a Moscow police investigation to the Russian state prosecutor. We've not seen anything solid since then; nor has the IFPI, to judge by its website.
3. Organised criminal gangs and even terrorist groups use the sale of counterfeit CDs to raise revenue and launder money.

Really? Terrorism? This is often around by the copyright lobby - buy a fake Celine Dion CD today, and you'll suffer tomorrow. And the day after, you'll be blown up by a terrorist. The RIAA claims that it's got evidence that Dawood Ibrahim is producing CDs in Pakistan and using the cash to fund bad things. Maybe he is, but that doesn't really mean that he's turning up at the local car boot sale down the road to flog 'em, is there? Or maybe the RIAA has just made it up, or got it from the same bloke who told Bush and Blair about the yellow cake. Certainly, if they do have evidence, they're not letting anyone see it to evaluate it.
4. Illegal file-sharers don’t care whether the copyright infringing work they distribute is from a major or independent label.

This isn't entirely true - some do. Some file-sharers, indeed, will only share music that has become out-of-print. So, at best, a partial truth, then.
5. Reduced revenues for record companies mean less money available to take a risk on “underground” artists and more inclination to invest in “bankers” like American Idol stars.

The IFPI seem to be suggesting that the major labels are releasing a slew of rubbish - which is true, and - actually - surprising. We don't see any graph showing relationship between total revenue and risk-taking by major labels; we'd even be happy with a graph showing a list of risks taken by major labels in the last five years. But we don't get them.
6. ISPs often advertise music as a benefit of signing up to their service, but facilitate the illegal swapping on copyright infringing music on a grand scale.

If we were ISPs, we'd be more than a little bit annoyed by this - there are, as the IFPI-RIAA point out constantly, any number of legal music services online. The implication here, that BT and Virgin Media say "sign up with us, you can steal loads of cash" is just fanciful.
7. The anti-copyright movement does not create jobs, exports, tax revenues and economic growth – it largely consists of people pontificating on a commercial world about which they know little.

Sorry, did they just run out of 'truths' and go for abuse? And wasn't point one that Pirate Bay were arch-capitalists? And, if we buy the IFPI's claim that ISPs are facilitating copyright-skirting services, then are we to assume that the bosses of BT and Orange and Pipex "know little" about the commercial world? Or is this bunch of facts just contradicting their own pants off?

It's also simply wrong to suggest that "the anti-copyright movement does not create jobs" - some people who disagree with copyright might not be capitalist. But others see the loosening of copyright rules as a way of stimulating the economy. The IFPI's jumbling of a number of schools of thought together weakens its case - for example, the people who object to the calls for extension of copyright in recordings beyond fifty years can point to the creative work being done by labels like K-Tel in releasing music and creating value in music which had been left unexploited for decades. Recordings locked in music industry vaults are equally poor at creating imports and tax.

"Know little of the commercial world"? Just because people don't want to kiss someone's ass doesn't mean they're unaware where the shit comes out of.
8. Piracy is not caused by poverty. Professor Zhang of Nanjing University found the Chinese citizens who bought pirate products were mainly middle or higher income earners.

Because the very poor Chinese, of course, can't afford anything to play the pirated music on. Besides, the people who buy pirated music aren't the people who sell the product. This statement is as stupid as saying "Cleaning isn't a job choice driven by poverty; a survey has shown everyone who hires cleaners is middle class."
9. Most people know it is wrong to file-share copyright infringing material but won't stop till the law makes them, according to a recent study by the Australian anti-piracy group MIPI.

And you can't take everyone to court, or even a significant number of people to court. So, effectively, the IFPI and RIAA have lost. That is, to be fair, an inconvenient truth indeed.
10. P2P networks are not hotbeds for discovering new music. It is popular music that is illegally file-shared most frequently.

This is almost textbook duplicity - most of the music searches on the internet are for established bands - does that mean you don't discover new music on the internent? Most record shop shelves feature popular artists - does that mean that shops aren't a place to discover new music? Nearly all radio music is drawn from a very narrow pool of the most popular tracks, but that doesn't mean you might not find a new artist online.

Still, we're sure the IFPI had fun drawing these non-facts, half-truths and well-duhs together. Even if it just made itself feel better.


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