LSE: Creative industries not harmed by digital sharing
October 4, 2013 4:04 AM   Subscribe

A new report (pdf) released by LSE’s Media Department contradicts widespread claims about the decline of creative industries as a result of copyright infringement. The report shows that the gaming, film and publishing industries are growing and new business models are emerging based on digital sharing. (See pages 7-8 of the report for figures.)

"Key Messages:

The creative industries are innovating to adapt to a changing digital culture and evidence does not support claims about overall revenue reduction due to individual copyright infringement.

The experiences of other countries that have implemented punitive measures against individual online copyright infringers indicate that the approach does not have the impacts claimed by some in the creative industries.

A review of the UK Digital Economy Act 2010 is needed based on independent analysis of the social, cultural and political impacts of punitive copyright infringement measures
against citizens, and the overall experience of the creative industries."


"We published a policy brief on 'Creative Destruction and Copyright Protection: Regulatory Responses to File-Sharing' in 2011 that examined online copyright infringement, practices of file sharing and its consequences for the music industry.

Our key observations were:

1. Data provided by the music industry were misleading; contrary to what lobbying organisations were claiming, the music industry was doing reasonably well.

2. Declining sales of recorded music (mainly CDs) could also be explained by factors such as a squeeze on household expenditure on leisure goods and changing patterns of music consumption.

3.Declining sales of recorded music were offset by increasing revenue from live performances and growing digital revenues, including streaming services.

4. Intervention to enforce copyright infringement legislation on individual file sharers risks stifling innovation and criminalises a thriving online participatory culture."
posted by ersatz (16 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Have no fear, the "Creative Industry" will be along shortly to remix these results into a version that says something very near the opposite.
posted by chavenet at 4:34 AM on October 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Seems pretty obvious to me; then again, my mom was a librarian.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 4:51 AM on October 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Hmmm. It seems to me that their argument here is that overall revenues from global creative industries haven't significantly declined at the same time that unauthorized sharing has increased. But that doesn't seem sufficient to answer the question at hand, because there are an infinite number of potential confounding variables there.

The real question should be, "what might the revenues have been in the absence of widespread unauthorized file sharing?" And that's a much tougher question to answer. The report seems to suggest that concert revenues have increased because of file sharing, but doesn't offer any evidence whatsoever to support that claim.

I'm not saying that the conclusion is incorrect. But this report doesn't really make a convincing economic argument at all.
posted by graphnerd at 5:44 AM on October 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

This has been said for nearly as long as I've been on the internet! No one with the power to change anything seems to be listening, goddammit.
posted by JHarris at 5:49 AM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Concert revenues have gone up because:

1. Ticket prices have gone up
2. Record companies are taking a greater share of touring revenue (merchandise, ticket sales, etc.) through "360 deals" which give them a slice of every income stream the artists have.

So, while the record companies themselves are maintaining the status quo, artists are getting less and less.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:02 AM on October 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

My favorite part of it was when it came out around 2006 or so that "Our revenues are down due to file sharing!" actually meant "We made more money than last year, but not as much as we feel we deserve!"
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:30 AM on October 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

The real question should be, "what might the revenues have been in the absence of widespread unauthorized file sharing?"

Actually, the real question should be, "what kind of intrusive regime would it take to eliminate widespread unauthorized file sharing?"
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:43 AM on October 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

Well that's a whole lot of correlation and not much causation.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:51 AM on October 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Actually, the real question should be, "what kind of intrusive regime would it take to eliminate widespread unauthorized file sharing?"

Yeah, that's definitely a more important question. But not at all what the link pretends to address.
posted by graphnerd at 7:02 AM on October 4, 2013

There's no convincing economic argument that media-sharing has hurt the creative industry, either, even after this comprehensive report. Given that they're the ones pushing for new restrictions, oppressive laws, and trying to compromise the integrity of the internet, the evidential shortfall is on their side.

What's more, the various punitive measures, restrictions, and attempts to compromise the integrity of the internet aren't justified even if there were some theoretical extra profit the creative industry could squeeze out with them.
posted by Drexen at 7:36 AM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree with most of what you're saying, but this report is nowhere near comprehensive or in any way convincing. As mentioned above, it basically says that sharing can't be hurting the industry because revenues have remained relatively stable. But that's a really lazy and simplistic argument.

I'm surprised that the LSE is putting this out there with their name on it.
posted by graphnerd at 8:55 AM on October 4, 2013

The argument in this paper may be simplistic, not seeing causation, etc. But it is responding to widespread allegations that are at least as simplistic and non-casual. But it's really hard to say, for sure, what effect file sharing has because it's probably slight enough that true effects are difficult to prove.

So it becomes, like so many other damnable things, a war of assertion. Someone says something they'd like put out in the world forcefully and loudly to get other people to accept it as truth without thinking about it. Someone else, trying to limit that damage but faced with the fact that "that hasn't been proven" sounds like a lame response, asserts the reverse. The default position goes to who's loudest, which is nearly always the one with the most money. And the world gets a little worse.
posted by JHarris at 9:18 AM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

The real question should be, "what might the revenues have been in the absence of widespread unauthorized file sharing?"

How about, what would happen if piracy was reduced by a third?

[Spoiler: recorded music still tanks]
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:07 AM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

But...but...their FEELINGS are hurt.
posted by mynameisluka at 12:07 PM on October 4, 2013

Yes, the industries are still making money, because the people who make the products are making less. Workers are making less than they should be at all kinds of jobs in the USA and companies are making record profits, that doesn’t make a great argument that our economy is working wonderfully.
posted by bongo_x at 6:00 PM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

So.... We all agree that at best this 'study' is garbage thrown up to counter some other nonsense?
posted by graphnerd at 11:39 PM on October 4, 2013

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