Friday, February 10, 2012

Give It Up, Dodd, We've Got You Surrounded

Ernesto @ TorrentFreak on the ease and minimal resource requirements involved in reproducing the important parts of a file-sharing operation the size of The Pirate Bay:

the greatest arch rival of a billion dollar entertainment industry is nothing more than 164 megabytes of text

More on that via Techmeme.

The bad news for RIAA, MPAA & Co. is that intellectual property monopolism is done. It's dead as a dinosaur, even if the dinosaur's brain is so small and so isolated from the rest of its body that its tail is still flailing around.

The good news (once again courtesy of Ernesto, TorrentFreak and Techmeme) is that it doesn't really matter:

A new academic paper by researchers from the University of Minnesota and Wellesley College has examined the link between BitTorrent downloads and box office returns. Contrary to what's often claimed by the movie industry, the researchers conclude that there is no evidence that BitTorrent piracy hurts US box office returns.

Of course, the bad guys already know that. Their real concern isn't stopping "piracy" of their products, it's making it harder for artists to establish their own content distribution channels.

That is, they don't care so much that some people might download the new Michael Bay movie, the new Lady Gaga album, or the new Stephen King novel without paying. That's just "inventory shrinkage" a la shoplifting -- an unfortunate cost of doing business that you throw a little money at deterring, but otherwise don't lie awake at night panicking over.

Their real goal is heading off a bigger -- possibly existential -- threat to their business model. To wit, they want to make it impossible for Michael Bay, Lady Gaga and Stephen King (and any newcomers, of course) to reach you without going through Paramount Pictures, Universal Music Group and Scribner.

In a free market, dinosaur outfits like those represented by MPAA/RIAA would have no choice but to compete on being better at connecting creators with audiences. But nobody likes to change, and these guys have grown fat on a "toll booth" business model: "We've parked ourselves in the middle, there's no way around us, you have to cough up if you want past."

So, their plan is to keep their friends in government at work trying to shut down the makers of flying cars, teleportation devices and such.

It won't work. Too many cats are out of too many bags. The real choice here for those old-style companies is asking themselves "how's that working out for us?" and changing, or eventually going out of business. Everything else is Kubler-Ross "Five Stages of Grief" stuff. They seem to be on the fence between the "anger" and "bargaining" stages.

Addendum: Rick Falkvinge (h/t Tennyson McCalla) wonders why we should give a damn about the IP industry's profits anyway.

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