MEDIA CARTEL ATTACK DOG the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) seems to have softened a little in its stance on so-called 'piracy', that is, copyright infringement, saying that innovation can help prevent it.
Copyright infringement is bad, says the RIAA, that's its story and it's sticking to it. In a statement released this week it said that evidence about the cost of 'piracy' is mounting.
"Time and again, we pointed out the importance of anti-piracy efforts to building a sustainable and healthy legal music marketplace," it said in a letter signed by RIAA VP of Strategic Data Analysis Joshua Friedlander. "Although the impact of anti-piracy efforts often seem self evident to us, it's important to see the real world effects."
In its hands are two reports that it claims suggest that digital sales have increased where 'anti-piracy' efforts are strong. For example, under the Hadopi rules in France and where notorious web sites have been shut down.
"The Hadopi study findings implied a sales improvement of €13.8 million ($18.6 million) for the digital market in France. The Limewire shutdown affected the overall numbers of users of illegal content sources. The overall number of U.S. users of the illegal sites in September 2010 was 28 million, but that fell to 19 million by September 2011," it said.
"Combined with an ever growing body of academic literature these findings again confirm the connection between illegal downloading and displacement of the legitimate music market." So, smackdowns work, then.
Up to a point. The RIAA said that despite this progress 13 per cent of internet users use filesharing services to download music and that half of all music is acquired illegally. These are bold claims, and the RIAA hides behind numbers taken from NPD Research here. They are handy for the RIAA though, as they suggest that 'piracy' is a really bad problem that harms creativity.
"We still see a significant digital theft landscape that inhibits the potential of the legal services and compromises the music industry's ability to invest in new bands," it adds. "Our work is far from done, but the data does collectively show that anti-piracy measures can have real effects on the legal marketplace. In 2011 we saw a stronger music market than we have in recent years, with growth in digital sales and more legal options available."
Perhaps the RIAA feels stuck now. Whatever it does and whatever anyone else does, copyright infringement seems entrenched in internet use. Because of this it is now recommending that innovative services from legitimate content providers step in to serve the so-called 'pirates'.
"The single most important anti-piracy strategy remains innovation, experimentation and working with our technology partners to offer fans an array of legal music experiences," it added.
"Results like these show, though, show that strategic enforcement is also necessary and do make a difference."
The RIAA should make up its mind, we think. µ