P2P is niet alleen schuldig

6 november 2009

In antwoord op een nieuw onderzoek dat stelt dat P2P-netwerken niet leiden tot het afnemen van de verkopen van muziek, heeft de muziekale internationale handelswaakhond IFPI een verklaring uitgegeven vandaag. 'The net effect of illegal file-sharing in the UK and elsewhere has been to reduce legitimate sales', zo stelt de verklaring. 'This is why spending on recorded music has fallen every year since illegal file-sharing began to become widespread'. In andere woorden: 'P2P file-sharing is the main cause of the revenue decline and the (very real) job losses in the recorded music business'. Dat is een stevige verklaring, die echter buiten de muziekbusiness stinds minder wordt gedeeld. En dan hebben we het niet over groepen als de EFF of Pirate Bay-verdedigers. Klachten over P2P hebben al geruime tijd mensen als de Europese Commissaris voor Informatiemaatschappij en Media, Viviane Reding, niet kunnen overtuigen. In juni van dit jaar hield Reding een toespraak waarin ze ook de muziekindustrie de schuld gaf van het probleem. 'It is necessary to penalise those who are breaking the law', zo zei ze, 'but are there really enough attractive and consumer-friendly legal offers on the market? Does our present legal system for Intellectual Property Rights really live up to the expectations of the Internet generation? Have we considered all alternative options to repression? Have we really looked at the issue through the eyes of a 16 year old? Or only from the perspective of law professors who grew up in the Gutenberg Age? In my view, growing Internet piracy is a vote of no-confidence in existing business models and legal solutions. It should be a wake-up call for policy-makers'.


Dat is een redelijk normale kritiek, die ook verkondigd wordt door mensen die niet uit zijn op het vernietigen van het auteursrecht of het failliet van de muzieklabels. Zo heeft de All Party Parliamentary Communications Group van het Britse parlement in het eindrapport geconcludeerd dat 'much of the problem with illegal sharing of copyrighted material has been caused by the rightsholders, and the music industry in particular, being far too slow in getting their act together and making popular legal alternatives available'. Veel musici zijn het daar mee eens. Greg Kot, een journalist uit Chicago, verzamelde veel van dat soort sentimenten voor zijn laatste boek: Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music. Kot citeert Peter Jenner, de eerste manager van Pink Floyd, : 'The flagrant spread of 'Internet piracy' in developed countries is a reflection of the failure of the industry as a whole to develop an appropriate copyright respons to the distribution and remuneration options made possible by the new technologies'. Kot zelf denkt dat de muzieklabels de verkeerde benadering van bestandsdeling hebben gevolgd. 'The industry responded not with a vigorous new ideas, but with strong-arm tactics and threats', zo schrijft hij. 'It served fans not with digital innovation but lawsuits—more than 20,000 in the span of four years, in an attempt to intimidate consumers away from file sharing'. Zelfs belangrijke topmanagers van muziekmaatschappijen herkennen het gebrek aan innovatie in hun bedrijfstak. Edgar Bronfman, CEO van Warner, zei in 2007: 'We used to think our content was perfect just exactly as it was. We expected our business would remain blissfully unaffected even as the world of interactivity, constant connection, and file sharing was exploding. And of course, we were wrong. How were we wrong? By standing still or moving at a glacial pace, we inversely went to war with consumers by denying them what they wanted and could otherwise find. And as a result, of course, consumers won'. Steve Knopper citeert in zijn boek, Appetite for Self-destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age, Mac McCaughan, oprichter van Merge Records: 'I've always felt like major labels claiming downloading for their declining sales is just somewhat wishful thinking. It's like a scapegoat—they wish it was that and not 'they've been putting out terrible records for a long time'… People who are our hardcore fans like music and want to support the artists and labels that put out records they like. We're all in the music business, but it's like we're two different businesses'. Maar als P2P niet de belangrijkste oorzaak van het verlies aan omzet is, wat is het dan wel ? Knopper biedt een simpele verklaring: 'Labels used the CD era to basically eliminate the single and push the album. In addition, the new-at-the-time digital format encouraged many consumers to re-purchase albums that they had previously owned only in analog. When the digital download era arrived, labels had grown fat on this business model and were not prepared to nurture 'album bands'. Instead, the relentless obsession on creating 'hits' in order to move albums, which worked so well in the CD era, proved disastrous in the age of iTunes. Individual digital downloads brought the single back to life in a big way, and moving a 99¢ single couldn't come close to generating the same profit as a $14 CD, even with the costs of packaging eliminated'. Knopper citeert Robert Pittman, mede-oprichter van MTV. 'Stealing music is not killing music. When I talk to people in the music business, most of them will admit that the problem is they're selling songs and not albums. I mean, you do the math'. Auteursrechtadvocaten zoals Walliam Patry zijn het hiermee eens. In zijn nieuwe boek Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars, stelt Patry: 'The problems in the Copyright Wars are not caused by technologies or by consumers acting badly, and they cannot therefore be solved by laws, and certainly not by more draconian laws. The problems—such as the decline in sales of CDs and DVDs—are the result of the copyright industries' many and considerable failures to focus on satisfying consumers' desires as opposed to stifling those desires out of a woefully misguided view that copyright equals control and that control equals profits'. Dit alles betekent niet dat bestandsdeling geen effect heeft op verkopen. Maar het is niet het enige probleem waar de muziekindustrie aan moet werken, liefst op een positiever manier dan in het verleden.

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