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Squillions will be lost to 'piracy' by 2015

Comment Gallo report backs MAFIAA push to hang filesharers high
Thu Mar 18 2010, 15:57

A SYMPOSIUM of so-called 'anti-piracy' overlords has plucked a figure from its random number generator and estimated that European economies will lose £215 billion by 2015 if peer-to-peer (P2P) filesharers aren't subjected to draconian punishments.

A report was commissioned by a partisan wing of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) corporate lobbying group called Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP). Its directive was to investigate the "alarming rise in piracy driven job losses in Europe's creative industries."

BASCAP duly commissioned the research out to a supposedly 'independent' (*cough*) French consultancy called Tera to pull bunnies from its magic hat that correspond with BASACAPs initial brief. The report predicted job losses due to 'piracy' to total from 185,000 in 2008 to 1.2 million by 2015. A question mark over the validity of the report hangs in the air. We don't blame Tera entirely for the nature of its 'independent' study, but neither are we so naive as to imagine that its findings were ever destined to deviate off message from its client's wishes.

"The research shows that the illicit use of the Internet has contributed to massive piracy of Europe's creative works studied in the report," said Jeffrey Hardy, ICC BASCAP Coordinator.

"Digital piracy is sweeping through global markets for music, motion pictures and video, television programming, literature and software. In its wake, these creative industries suffer devastating economic losses and an assault on their ability to compensate artists and furnish legitimate employment opportunities. These dire consequences call for an urgent response by policymakers, consumers and the creative industry itself," he said.

The ICC then claimed that creative industries lost £8.9 billion in 2008 and lost 185,000 jobs due to piracy. What's galling about that pitch and BASCAP's aim is that it turns those affected by 'piracy' on its head in the hope of soliciting empathy. It's savvy enough to realise that multi-billion faceless conglomerates aren't exactly as cute as a basket of kittens.

So BASCAP, the ICC and by proxy the music and film MAFIAA are telling us that those most affected by so-called 'piracy' are the little guys on the street. This is the same song as an unpopular cinema ad that played the last time I went. It's the draftsmen, the guys in guilds and low-paid creative worker who are being made redundant. Mmmm. The last time we looked, filesharers weren't downloading the manhours and skillsets of low paid employees in the creative industries. They were downloading the intellectual property of corporates and that allegedly dented their revenue streams, or so they claim. But one does not directly translate to the other, and the argument that the media content industries make that every downloaded file is a lost sale and therefore theft is specious. In fact, filesharers spend more on music and films than non-filesharers.

The ICC went on to tout the backing of the Union Network International-Media Entertainment Industries (UNI-MEI), the International Actors Federation (FIA) International Federation of Film Producers' Associations (FIAPF) and the European Coordination of Independent TV Producers (CEPI).

The timing of Tera's report was more calculated than fortuitous. It's a drum bang on getting unions to call for European legislators to act at the same time the upcoming vote on the Gallo report. The Gallo vote is on Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in the Internal Market in the European Parliament. If you read between the lines on Gallo's comments, you'll see that there's a link between Tera's study and his report:

"Behind the report on Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights currently under discussion in the European Parliament is the crucial question of protecting European jobs from the threat of digital piracy. Piracy should be recognized as a problem."

We've said it before, but we'll say it again. The term "piracy" refers to armed robbery with violence on the high seas, and the entertainment cartels' use of the term is an attempt to pervert discourse on the subjects of person to person filesharing and alleged copyright infringement by applying this emotionally charged label to what are really rather harmless actions that the music labels and movie studios really should be encouraging instead of trying to suppress, because P2P filesharing activities actually draw interest toward and spur increased sales of their products, rather than displacing any revenues.

In fact, the Gallo report is nothing more than a European-wide version of Mandelson's Digital Economy Bill and has been subjected to the same criticisms. Gallo and the Bill have both been accused of pushing through ill-conceived proposals and last-minute amendments at the behest of copyright enforcers. We reported two weeks ago that the Open Rights Groups cited Lord Clement Jones for pushing through another amendment to the Bill. The change allowed web censorship by web blocking for 'substantially infringing' websites. This angered ISP's who were already on the back foot for being press-ganged by the music and film MAFIAA to act as enforcers and not service providers.

If the Eurocrats in Brussels roll over and let the entertainment cartels get away with this, would the last person to leave Europe please turn out the lights? µ


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