How many ways can you be wrong?

TorrentFreak notes the hypocrisy of Lily Allen where she chastises 50 Cent for his stance on copying music using an article copied verbatim from Techdirt without attribution. I think that's hilarious, but I have other issues with her article. The full text of her article was here, but she took down the blog while I was writing this. Here is her comment:

this is particularly selfish in my view, he seems to only be thinking of how piracy effects him. What about the guys that work in the studio and the kids that run around town putting his posters up,the people that designed his artwork, the people that run his website. Is he giving them a cut of his live fee?

Aside from being nit-picky and pointing out the obvious misuse of effect, I find her basic misunderstanding of the world disturbing. Do the people that do those jobs for Lily get a cut of her album sales? I doubt it. They get paid a salary or a wage and they'll be paid the same whether 50 Cent (or Lily, for that matter) makes more money from live performances or from album sales.

I think artists should be paid for their work (I shouldn't need to point this out, but the level of debate on this issue is so low that I feel that it's necessary), but I get annoyed when the "content industries" and "creative industries" try to hijack our legal system and other businesses to protect their failing business model. Their business model is failing for a number of reasons:

  • there are better ways of selling music than moving little shiny discs around
  • they refused to engage with the idea that the Internet was a better way of distributing music so consumers developed the idea that music you download from the Internet is supposed to be free
  • the product (manufactured, sanitised music) is less and less interesting
  • competition from other, more interesting entertainments - games and interesting bands that are not signed to the big labels spring to mind
  • artists have worked out that they no longer need to sell their souls to these guys in order to be successful. They can make music, release it on the Internet and eliminate the shiny disc gatekeepers

All of this means that completely stopping music piracy will probably not have a great effect on their profits. However, the means that are used to try to stop piracy will distort our society in ways that I find unacceptable.

Let's start with the poorly named '3-strikes' proposal. It would be more accurate to call this the '3 unsubstantiated accusations' proposal. It neatly removes presumed innocence and any need for actual evidence from our legal system (at least where it relates to Big Content). If some big companies fail to make money, breaking our legal system to accommodate them is not the solution. The solution is to leave them to sink or swim on their own merits and ability to innovate.

Another proposal is that ISPs should police the traffic across their networks to detect and block the movement of copyrighted materials. This would be a great idea if it was possible and Big Content was paying for it. Detecting copyrighted material as it travels across a network is, essentially impossible. If Big Content gave every ISP a full corpus of all the material they wanted policed, they could reduce the problem to insanely difficult and very expensive. Anyone want to place bets on that happening? This goes beyond damaging a vibrant and useful industry in favour of a failing one. Combine it with the 3UA rule and you have software that can cut off your Internet access without any oversight.

I don't oppose the machinations of the copyright lobby because I think music should be free, I oppose them because I believe that they are a blight on our society.

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