Thursday, May 05, 2005

the USA is the new china

alert reader paul sends us this usa today column, which actually uses a lot of common sense while discussing music piracy. the thrust of the article is that "piracy" isn't really that bad; even in china where pirated cds are the norm (the chinese would never pay $15-$20 for a cd), artists still get paid, just not for cd sales: they make their money playing shows, selling merch, getting sponsors, and the like. and this is exactly how 99.9% of musicians in the US get their money, too. under the system established by the majors, artists never really make any money off record sales until they go gold (if not platinum). because the current western system makes artists recoup their expenses.

this was the passage i found most intriguing:

Music pirating is so rampant and so entrenched in China that it's unlikely to ever be eradicated. Chinese consumers have come to believe that music is worth, at most, a few cents a song, and that copying and sharing music are totally acceptable. In all probability, no company will ever be able to sell $15 CDs or 99 cents-a-song downloads in the world's most populous nation.

The International Federation of Phonographic Industry, which tracks music copyright issues worldwide, agrees. It figures 95% of music sales in China are of pirated copies. Instead of predicting that China will change as it engages with the global economy, the federation warns that China is, in fact, the leader. The federation's chairman, Jay Berman, has been quoted as saying, "The business model for the record industry worldwide is moving toward resembling what we see in China today."

In the USA, free downloads of copyrighted music are driving the recording industry to sue teenagers and holler about the morality of obtaining songs for free. But if China is the future, that's all in vain. The genie is out of the bottle. Eventually, recorded music will no longer make money.

emphasis mine, of course. that quote in particular struck me, and i wondered... who the hell are the intl federation of phonographic industry?

naturally, they're an international antipiracy group. their priorities are

  • Fighting music piracy
  • Promoting fair market access and adequate copyright laws
  • Helping develop the legal conditions and the technologies for the recording industry to prosper in the digital era
  • Promoting the value of music in the development of economies, as well as in social and cultural life

so i'm pretty curious to see the context of the quote maney uses in his usa today piece, because i have a feeling they're not as chipper about it as he is.

i'm about to leave so i don't have time right now to really browse through the site but i did find this story on the front page of their site:

World's biggest-ever haul of blank CD-Rs is seized in Mexico

Over 15 million blanks destined for pirate music trade are removed from circulation

Almost 16 million blank CD-Recordable discs � a worldwide record � have been seized in raids in Mexico. The bulk of the discs are believed to have been destined for the country�s piracy-ridden markets. The raids mark recent stepped-up enforcement efforts by the Mexican authorities to try and stem the overwhelming pirate music trade in the country.

Customs agents, with the support of federal investigation agents initially seized ten million blank CD-Rs in raids on two warehouse facilities in the municipalities of Morales and Tacubaya within metropolitan Mexico City. The raids followed eight months of intensive investigation. At the same time, customs authorities, assisted by federal fiscal agents, stopped and appropriated two shipments containing 5.8 million additional blank CD-Rs at the ports of Ciudad Juarez and Manzanillo. The shipments were apparently entering the country without proper documentation.

so antipiracy forces don't have anything better to do than to raid people who have blank cdrs? blank cdrs are perfectly legal to own. and while it could be argued that the sheer numbers are suspicious, i call bullshit. is the IFPI going to raid the warehouses of best buy or fry's or maxell or sony or tdk or memorex or any of the countless legitimate businesses that manufacture or sell blank cdrs?

if they raided and seized millions of pirated cds with the music already on them, or with pirated packaging, then they might have a case. but raiding and seizing blank cdrs is absurd, and going way way too far.

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