Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Weak copyright is good for all of us

It's not just the thought of Lupe Fiasco fuming gently in his expensive trousers that makes a weak copyright good for all of - Felix Oberholzer-Gee and Koleman Strumpf at the Harvard Business School have issued a report which explains why it's good for culture all round. Michael Geist has the gist.

So, is file sharing killing creativity? As the Fleet Foxes suggest, not really:

Overall production figures for the creative industries appear to be consistent with this view that file sharing has not discouraged artists and publishers. While album sales have generally fallen since 2000, the number of albums being created has exploded. In 2000, 35,516 albums were released. Seven years later, 79,695 albums (including 25,159 digital albums) were published (Nielsen SoundScan, 2008). Even if file sharing were the reason that sales have fallen, the new technology does not appear to have exacted a toll on the quantity of music produced. Obviously, it would be nice to adjust output for differences in quality, but we are not aware of any research that has tackled this question.

So, we're making more music than ever. But what about the losses? Musicians are losing money, right? Isn't that a given?
Moreover, the authors' canvass the literature on the effects of file sharing on music sales, confirming that the "results are decidedly mixed."

But, but, Oberholzer-Gee and Strumpf, you can't say that. The UK government is busily building its digital policy on the belief that it's a given. The RIAA has employed an entire stadium's-worth of lawyers for years on the belief that it's a given. It's got to be a fact. Make it a fact! Make it a fact!