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Nov/12

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Draconian Downloading Law In Japan Goes Into Effect… Music Sales Drop!

The conventional wisdom from the dinosaurs of the film, TV and music business is that all they need to do is get laws changed in their favor to “stop piracy”.

In Japan they got their way with a new, draconian, law going into effect:

Except, the reality is that consumers are spending less on music than they were before the bill became law. The article actually posits that the government has made some people so fearful of being arrested that they won’t do any downloading from legitimate sources any more — just in case it’s tainted. So even if they can cut out piracy (doubtful) there’s little evidence to suggest much increase in commerce as a result.

When will they realize it’s a business model problem. I repeat that no peer reviewed (i.e. legitimate) study has ever proved any damage to any organization from unauthorized distribution. Those “studies” that the industry produce have been pretty thoroughly debunked. It’s time stop suing and start thinking of new business models that embrace the publicity value from “unauthorized” distribution.

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13 comments

  • Ryan H. · November 13, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Philip,
    I get the impression that Tech Dirt has missed the overall point of the Japan Today article.

    It seems Japan Today’s point is more this section, “…the vast majority of responses suggest that – just maybe – the reason music sales have fallen so much recently is due to a general lack of interest and that new albums are simply not particularly good value for money.”

    I’d venture the law is a coincidence of what we’re seeing, not a direct cause-effect relationship. If the content isn’t enticing or a good value people will continue to buy less regardless of what laws are in place.

    While your point can be argued (i.e illegal downloads don’t hurt record sales), it doesn’t appear that this article is really supporting that premise.

    • Author comment by Philip · November 13, 2012 at 9:28 am

      It supports the argument that increased enforcement does not necessarily lead to more sales.

      But if there’s not a quality product that people want to buy or even consume then you’ve really failed. Worse that being “pirated”? Being ignored.

      However, the article does indicate a sudden decline – if it had been “music quality” induced it would have been a slower decline over more years. The sudden decline, contemporaneously with a sudden change in law, does allow a “cause and effect” interpretation.

  • Steve Speed · November 14, 2012 at 2:32 am

    When I was hopping on a bus in the 1970s to go into town to buy Too drunk to fuck by Dead Kennedys there weren’t mobile phones, apps, social media games. Buying a 7″ single on Saturday morning really was the only entertainment most of spent money on regularly. But the music industry likes to paint a picture that piracy is the problem when its own inability to compete with the other entertainment sources is the real issue offering the consumer little in the way of “reasons to buy”.

    The music industry (if anything so dysfunctional could ever be called an industry) despises iTunes and stores like it because it hands the consumer the power to cherry pick the best track from the filler. This is one of the REAL reasons less money is spent on music. Consumers are only paying for the good stuff and there isn’t that much of it. The trick of the major labels to put 2 good tracks and the rest filler no longer works and they don’t like it but it’s easier to scream PIRACY!

    Piracy is a good indicator of popularity and the people making the most money out of music are the ones who are most pirated. People pirate music for many reasons and it is short sighted to think it is always negative. People pirate music but then pay hundreds of £$s on merchandise and concert tickets, people download albums get into the band and become lifelong fans spending lots of money during the life of the band.

    Fans spend their finite resources on music, merchandise and concert tickets. Come down hard on them for not always buying music you cut off two other more lucrative income streams because they stop being fans.

    Steve Jobs did try and drag the music industry kicking and screaming into the modern day but they dragged their heels and the piracy problem rose because consumers wanted instant gratification and couldn’t get it legally and bred the culture of free. It’s a great shame he couldn’t have stuck around longer to do the same to Hollywood. He was obviously struggling with Hollywood as the ATV stayed as a “hobby.”

    It’ll be interesting to see if Apple can monetize independent productions like they did with Apps. If you think of FCPX as Xcode for media then I wonder if there could be an Apps Store equivalent for Media productions?

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