back to article Hey, Music Industry. You're suing the wrong people

After years of lawsuits and fearmongering by the music industry, one thing is clear about piracy: the industry has been suing the wrong people. According to new research, file-sharing is rather limited in North America and the European Union, though running relatively rampant throughout Latin America, Asia-Pacific, and the …

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  1. NoneSuch
    FAIL

    Once again...

    ...people assume a reduction in piracy will result in a 1-to-1 increase in sales. It won't.

    It is not a price issue, it is a quality one. The warblers of today are designed by committee with songs composed by database. Politically correct insta-stars signed under corporate labels after winning a TV contest. They all sound the same, they all look the same and come and go with each new talent series on Tele.

    Thank God for my Led Zeppelin collection.

  2. Schultz

    Another pricing problem

    The music industry has another pricing problem beyond the regressive nature of its prices:

    The prices are much too high for a product that can delivered via the internet without any appreciable cost to the distributor.

    The effort involved in selecting and collecting music is much larger than that involved in many comparable entertainment activities (e.g. visiting youtube) -- hence music is loosing out and conscious listening to music becomes a fringe phenomenon .

    To pay 99c for a minute of entertainment and >10$ for a CD equivalent means I should collect and keep track of what I have. Because I can't be bothered with that, I rarely ever search for or buy music.

    For regular listeners, the all-you-can-eat model may be attractive by bringing the track price down to cents -- a reasonable price for quick entertainment. For the mass of less regular listeners, and those who are not enthusiastic enough to bother with itunes, similar cent prices would be required to bring commercial music into the internet.

    1. Sean Baggaley 1
      FAIL

      @NoneSuch:

      Rubbish.

      Sorry, but manufactured bands have been around for decades. Ever heard of "The Monkees"? They were a rather successful merchandising "boy band" phenomenon of their day.

      It helped that, back then, songwriters weren't required to be performers too; many of the "I'm a Believer" is just as much a classic as the "Hey Jude", but has the decency—unlike the latter—not to overstay its welcome.

      Have you actually *listened* to some of the Beatles' earlier stuff?

      "She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah

      She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah

      She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah"

      Trite, simplistic, vacuous, unoriginal—the vastly overrated Beatles were all that and more! That guitar combo released an awful lot of forgettable rubbish among those few "classics".

      The same can be said for pretty much every artist out there, of both yesteryear and today. Human memories are fickle and selective; we tend to remember the stuff we *want* to remember, but we forget all the crap it was packaged with.

      The cliché of music "not being what it used to be" is inevitable: "popular" music is, by definition, deliberately aimed at the broadest possible market, in order to make the most money. Until quite recently, that meant kids. Kids who weren't even a foetus during the Winter of Discontent, or the Vietnam War. Who haven't even learned about the existence of John F. Kennedy, and what happened to him in late 1963. They don't get the references made in songs of that period, so there's a huge market in repackaging the same old clichés of teenage love (see those "She Loves You..." lyrics above), and all the other adolescent preoccupations that seem so insurmountable at that age.

      The Baby Boomers skewed the demographics downwards somewhat—kids weren't always quite so important—so feel free to blame them if you wish. And you can also blame them for the Rolling Stones and umpteen other tiresome geriatric acts still being around today.

      Every generation has its Elvis, Stones and Who. The originals only have the benefit of being first, but that doesn't make them inherently "better" than those who come after them. There's as much skill and musicianship in a well-mixed, four-to-the-floor dance track as there is in anything Schubert. Mike Oldfield is not inherently better or worse than Tom Petty or Roy Orbison. Or anyone else you care to name. (With the possible exception of most Punk bands.)

      There's shit I like, and shit I don't like. Everything is just some bugger else's utterly irrelevant opinion.

      Why other people can't adopt the same view escapes me. It's not as if there isn't an "off" switch on most entertainment devices these days.

      1. Steven Roper
        Go

        @ Sean Baggley Re: Off switch on entertainment devices?

        I'm not aware of the existence of *any* modern entertainment device that has an "off" switch. Standby / Sleep / Hibernate / Shutdown / etc switches, sure, that merely *reduce* the power usage, but a real honest-to-goodness, actually-disconnects-the-power OFF switch on an entertainment device? I Haven't seen one of those in ohhh, 20 years?

        1. Gnomalarta
          WTF?

          Huh?

          All my radios, TV, amps, computers, MP3 players have an on/off switch. Most are less than 20 years old. I guess you get what you pay for.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Facepalm

          @Steven Roper

          Re: the-power OFF switch on an entertainment device? I Haven't seen one of those in ohhh, 20 years?

          Ah now, as I told one of my users on a support call, that's the clicky thing on the wall. Up for off down for on, it has a cable leading to your computer plugged into it.

      2. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        I don't entirely agree.

        'It helped that, back then, songwriters weren't required to be performers too'

        Some of the most successful artists have done both. Neil Diamond would be an obvious example of that. In fact 'I'm a Believer' was one of several songs Neil wrote that the Monkeys actually performed. It's likely that recognition for his skills as an author helped boost his career as a performer. Now for sure not everyone likes Neil's work but I think you'd have to be pretty ignorant or stupid to suggest that he is not a successful artist.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Diamond

      3. John I'm only dancing
        Thumb Down

        Punk bands

        If you really bothered to listen to the music, you would understand that there is in fact a very high level of musical and lyrical ability.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Once again

      For me it is a price issue. If it were the quality of the new music available today then it would neither be bought nor downloaded.

      By price issue I mean the practice of releasing albums which are over half filled with previous songs. Why should we pay for music we have already purchased just to get a few new pieces of which maybe a couple are of interest. This scam of putting catalogue material on albums is something the music industry has/had(*) fought hard to keep by not wanting to release individual pieces on services such as iTunes nor wanting people to be able to compile their own albums. I would consider it justifiable to download the same number of new pieces as the number that I have paid for multiple times.

      (*) Not sure if it's still the case or whether they have accepted this as being inevitable.

      >Thank God for my Led Zeppelin collection.

      I'm not a Led Zeppelin fan but I would assume that the above still applies to their albums. How many times have you paid for the same song? Even the most fervent fan of any artist still has a few tunes that they would rather not have but which they have paid for.

      1. Disco-Legend-Zeke
        Pint

        @Sean Baggaley 1

        *

        The Beatles wrote songs for pre-teen girls. Apparently they were pretty darn good at it. There were many "one hit wonders" that reached the same audience, but once they had a name, immediately switched to serious music, and lost their audience.

        The Beatles, however, continued to appeal to their core fans, and slowly matured musically along with their audience.

        You are entitled not to like their earlier works, you simply don't fit their demographic. Are they the Liszt and Motzart of the 20th century? Perhaps it is too early to tell.

        *where's the cannabis icon?

        1. Mike Flugennock

          The Beatles

          The Beatles _started_out_ writing songs for young girls. Then, things got interesting about the time they did "Rubber Soul"... then, the _real_ fun started when they "got off the reservation", so to speak.

        2. AndrueC Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Not only, but also

          >The Beatles, however, continued to appeal to their core fans, and slowly matured musically along with their audience

          As did Neil Diamond although in his case I think us fans might rather forget about the 1980s :-/

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      Not really

      For example, here in a brick'n'mortar store, a Led Zeppelin "greatest hits" collection on CDs is nearly $100, and caused me to hit Ye Olde Pirate Bay, matey. Same for Rush, Fleetwood Mac, AC/DC, Tom Petty, etc.

      That's turned around since things are much more reasonable on iTunes, AND iTunes stuff now plays on Linux w/o DRM problems.

      1. Mike Flugennock
        Pirate

        Arrr, be ye right, matey...

        When I first set out to replace my Led Zeppelin collection -- and my Who collection, and my Stones collection, and my Pink Floyd collection, etc. etc. -- I was gobsmacked by the idea of paying twenty goddamn' dollars for a single-disc album. OK, maybe I could see twenty bucks for, say, "Physical Graffiti" or "Quadrophenia' or "The Wall", but, still. Also, not only was twenty bucks a pop an impediment, so was availability. "Dark Side Of The Moon" was one thing, but try rustling up a copy of "Ummagumma".

        I ended up paying for copies of CDs to replace my vinyl only if it was absolutely necessary. Otherwise, I'd hit the blogozone, or FileTram.com... and, mind, you, this is for copies of albums I already owned on vinyl or cassette. This isn't counting all the live stuff I've found (I've gotten to be a real junkie for really good live footage lately).

    4. Jean-Luc Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      @Once again...

      (gravelly voice, swinging cane, fire in the eyes)

      "In the good ol' days..."

      I have no problem listening to modern bands, you just need to look for bands yourself, rather than fixating on how awful the Top 40 is and only listening to 20 yr old stuff.

      Fine, there is plenty of crap music nowadays. There's always been plenty of crap music. Get a 60's Greatest Hits and the stuff is awful. Those are the hits. Precisely like today's awful stuff is the Gagas and Kathy Perrys.

      Bet you won't find too many Zep songs in any given year's Top 40 Greatest Hits, with the unfortunate exception of Stairway to Heaven.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Received Opinion

      "They all sound the same, they all look the same and come and go with each new talent series on Tele."

      Define "they". This year, as with every previous year, the number of new artists dwarfs the number of talent series finalists.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it workable though?

    If you were to make the music affordable to, say, middle-income earners in India, what would that equate to in $, € or £ ?

    If the artist is living in, for instance, the UK where their new album sells for £10, where's the profit in selling it for 1/30th of the price? (the rough difference in per capita income)

    I'm not suggesting that this is the amount you would suggest prices be slashed, but even if it were 1/10th of the price, would £1 cover the distribution and manufacturing costs?

    Obviously, the CD would have to be produced within India to have any chance of meeting that price difference - but where's the incentive for the artist?

    I guess it would be down to volume of sales?

    How would you apply lower prices to online downloads?

    You'd have to rope in the ISP's to ensure that someone from the UK isn't getting a digital file at the lower cost it may be sold at in India, but then, there's all sorts of ways to circumvent this.

    I can't see how this could work at all.

    1. Steven Roper

      It is volume of sales

      In case you hadn't noticed, countries where people earn $2 a week are also countries whose populations are usually on the high side. So where in England or America you might sell 100 CDs at $10 each, in India and China you'd sell 1000 CDs at $1 each and make the same money.

      1. Asiren
        FAIL

        Grey importing

        Problem with having price differentials between countries is that someone will set up a business grey importing the music.

        If a supplier can buy the same music in India at $1 a CD, and sell it over here for $8 a CD, and still undercut the "official" CD by $2, people will jump on that arbitrage. Okay, the cover might look funny, but most punters on the street won't care too much if they can get the same tracks for cheaper.

        So the record companies end up having to lower their prices from $10 to $8, to $6, to $4, chasing the grey importers. Eventually, we have a new global price of $1, and the artists and producers earn nothing at all.

        Offering extras to the people that pay "full price" (bonus tracks, etc) could cause those in the cheap price areas to think they're not getting the full product, and resort to piracy anyway.

        There's then the problem that if there's a price differential, the people who are being "forced" to pay more will feel cheated that they're paying more for the same thing. They might pirate the music out of principal.

        Or are you advocating regional DRM?

        On a personal note, I try to legitimately buy the things I like. But when I see that, say, Impulse is offering a game for download US-only, and the alternative is to buy from Steam for +30-50% just because I'm in Europe, TPB looks awfully tempting...

        Patience does normally hold out though. :-)

    2. TheOtherHobbbes

      Well...

      No, of course it's not workable. In fact it's utterly lacking in common sense, never mind profound insight - like most Matt Asay posts.

      The basic problem is cultural. From the 50s to the 90s recorded music was a scarce commodity, produced using expensive equipment and aggressively promoted by radio play to audiences with limited other interests and comfortable disposable income.

      For a while it was possible for a small number of talented people to make a good living from it. But those people supported an entire industry of equipment designers, technicians, engineers, session musicians and producers. And also kept parasites, like executives, in coke, hookers and limos.

      Now that everyone can make music it's no longer scarce so the value has decreased. Many of the old industry jobs have gone, but more importantly there's no longer a single unified PR medium in the form of radio + chart shows, and the business no longer has any strategy of nurturing new talent.

      So talent - which still exists - never gets past the Myspace field of musical doom. And artists who could have had a career 20 or 30 years ago have full-time day jobs, and have to make music as a hobby, while competing for sales with older artists with established back catalogues.

      CD prices have nothing to do with marketing and artist A&R, nor with a business that demands instant low-risk returns, nor with shrinking Western disposable incomes, nor with a glut of product from other sources, nor with competition from games and other media.

      Basically the business is dead in its current form - it just hasn't realised it yet. Competitors like iTunes are making most of the money that's available, and they're not feeding any of it back into advances for new talent.

      Making CDs cheaper will do nothing to change this. Finding new and better ways to support artists might.

      But really, it looks like the golden age is over, and the only way to make real money now is to be a multimillionaire to start with.

    3. James Micallef Silver badge
      Holmes

      What about reverse imports?

      If I sell CDs in India for 1/30th of their UK price, what's to stop anyone buying them up in India and reselling them in the UK at a huge profit? As far as I know this is a bit of a grey area, and i'm not at all sure whether banning re-importation would be legal. Without going as far as India, what about for example Bulgaria, Romania, Poland etc where GDP is a lot less than the UK? These are EU countries so it's definitely completely open for anyone to buy up CDs in these countries and sell them in the UK (and richer western EU countries).

      So in spite of the real spending power of people in Bulgaria being a lot less than in the UK, it makes zero sense for a UK artist / label to sell their music cheaper there... and by extension I think that it likewise makes little sense to sell music cheaper in India, Russia, China etc.

      That's where Internet power can really work, because for the vast majority of Internet users, their IP address identifies their country of origin. So I can sell a digital download to a UK user at £1 and to an Indian user at 10p. That 10p from India is pure profit since if I tried selling him a physical CD at £10 I would never make the sale. Sure there will always be a minority of tech-savvy freetards who will spoof their IP to get cheaper downloads but in the big scheme of things it wouldn't be a big issue.

      1. Bif

        Simples

        Oh that's easy; just make it so that CDs bought locally will only play on players bought locally. Some kind of encryption or 'region locking' would work, I'd imagine. Oh, wait ...

      2. CD001

        Until

        ----

        Sure there will always be a minority of tech-savvy freetards who will spoof their IP to get cheaper downloads but in the big scheme of things it wouldn't be a big issue.

        ----

        Until the masses discover "anonymous" web proxies - just like they discovered Napster, and then BitTorrent (et al) - mind, "back in the day" they just had to be an AOL customer as they used to route all their connections through a central server in the US so wherever you were in the world you were in the US as far as the internet was concerned.

        Any technically imposed artificial limitation will be circumvented one way or another - it's probably better just to not rely on those limitations in the first place. Differentiate price by country if you like but you'll have to crack down on the grey-import market; this is nothing new, I remember there being a thriving market for grey-import Sega Master System games more than 20 years ago (and I'm sure it wasn't new then)... at least then you've narrowed your targets to a slightly more manageable level, from "everyone" to "grey importers".

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Complete bull

    People pirate because they think they can get away with it. They have plenty of money for drugs, alcohol and electronic toys. The price of music or software or other copyright protected works is not the issue at all. The issue is a small percentage of society feel they are above the law. They build prisons for people who have this distorted view of reality.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hello Andrew.

      Glad you could pop by.

      1. Steven Roper
        Thumb Up

        That's not Andrew

        From the self-righteous tone of that post, more likely it's JimC or Doug Glass. Andrew tends to be a bit subtler (albeit no less emphatic) in his anti-piracy rants.

        While we are on the subject of anti-piracy ranters, anyone seen PirateSlayer lately? I miss his particular brand of vitriol...

    2. MacGyver
      Pirate

      ...coming from your mouth.

      What about libraries, those have been around for thousands of years, and free for most of it.

      It is you that have the distorted view, the view that something that costs nothing to reproduce should cost above nothing. So because they aren't walking to the library, they deserve to go to jail?

      How many people do you know can record themselves working, hand it to their boss, and then expect to get paid forever. That idea was a glitch in the way society was working at time, that time is going to come to an end It used to be that people got paid for "performing live", just because they had it easy for awhile doesn't mean I have to support it as a real job for the rest of time.

      We are only around because we developed the ability to share information and pass it to the next generation. People like you think that information should be for those that have money to pay for it, that attitude will lead to fracturing of our society into casts of "those how have nice things and are educated", and "those who clean and service them and have nothing and are too stupid to know any better".

      What kind of douche wants to put someone in jail for a victimless crime? It is victimless, if they can make money, great, if not, let them get a real job.

      Why should I care if they have a business model that doesn't work, they can evolve or die. Passing laws and incarcerating people so they can make money off things people aren't willing to pay for is fracking pathetic. And so are you.

    3. Dan Likes Spoons

      Second hand CDs/etc

      I'd be interested to hear your opinions on buying music/films/games/books second hand, from say, Amazon or Ebay. Surely that's as bad as piracy right?

  5. moiety

    Well that's not going to work either...

    "The same pricing differential exists for music. A CD in India costs around 500 rupees, which is around $10. But the real cost, when taking GDP into account, is much higher."

    People from developed countries will see that CDs are sold for $10 locally and for $0.63 in India (or whatever) and react in one of 2 ways:

    i) Buy their CD from India

    ii) Perceive that they're getting the short end of the stick and reach for a torrent client with a hearty "fuck you" to the music industry.

    I notice, by the way, that Spain is included in the European 'piracy' figures. AFAIK we still pay a tax on all blank media, in return for which downloading films and music is perfectly legal. There's 3 paragraphs of bitching about Spain in that linked Economist article. There is no piracy in Spain...it's legal, prepaid, taxed, downloading. In fact we get taxed no matter what we put on our media, so we're almost obligated to download the odd track or two. And if the collection agencies didn't negotiate a good deal and Spain is now unprofitable....well, that's what it feels like to get milked, fuckers; see how you like it for a change.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Headmaster

      @moleytard

      "There is no piracy in Spain...it's legal, prepaid, taxed, downloading. "

      Wrong.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/31/spain-film-piracy-downloading-dvds

      Spain has the highest piracy rate in Europe.

      "well, that's what it feels like to get milked, fuckers"

      Yep, the Special Children are out today

      1. moiety

        @ you who were too pussy to reveal their pseudonym

        Au contraire

        It is you fighting for the cause of wrong, in this particular instance.

        ITEM: A law was passed in Spain, whereby any recordable media was subject to a tax. This tax would go to various collection agencies, as a result of which downloading films and music (those were specified; can't remember offhand if any other categories were involved) was not illegal. Downloading computer programs was illegal, as that category wasn't covered. Downloading music and films was specifically covered and was legal.

        THE PRACTICAL EFFECTS: Downloading music and films is legal? Everyone filled their boots, of course. You're going to get taxed on every single data-holding device you buy, but you're covered when it comes to filling it up with tunes or films. Computer, external HDD, blank media (CDs and DVDs and (I presume) Blu-Ray), mp3 player...anything that can hold a byte; there's an extra charge on it -levied by the government- that assumes that you're going to be filling it with someone else's intellectual property. This is a charge of 1 euro per blank DVD...we're not talking insignificant money here. We are assumed to be pirating and charged accordingly IN ADVANCE. Honestly; what do you really expect people to do in that situation?

        AND FOR THE RECORDING INDUSTRY: Well it wasn't negotiated well. If you are going to have a mandatory tax on everything that *may* be used to store ill-gotten binary booty then you should make sure your expenses are covered. Of course, if you actually did that, you might well spark off a revolution...people in Spain were dicked off at the time about being taxed for media that they had no intention of using for storing anybody else's stuff but their own. I have a shitload of DVDs that contain nothing but backups of my own work; and yet I've paid 1 euro extra per disc because of the assumption that there's someone else's IP on there.

        Of course, anybody who has studied Spain (or history, or psychology); or has even paid tangential interest in any news story involving a politician would realise how laughable the chances are of the money getting to the rights-holders.

        Also -and I want you to 'hear me' on this, Anonymous Coward- people don't give a shit if the middleman gets paid or not . Yes, music needs promoting. Yes, studio time needs paying for. Yes, it needs nice cover art and pimping at the radio stations etc. Once that's happened and you have your money + profit back, your job is over. The standard record label contract is essentially a loan at scandalous rates. Yeah, there's risk but that's factored in. Well factored in. *YOU* don't get to rake in money for life from other people's actions. The artistes and the people who produced the work can rest on their laurels a little bit...every artiste has a learning; peaking; and (mostly) tailing off path to their career. I don't mind at all sending money to the artistes who made the thing I'm listening to/watching. What I'm not going to do is send you money for some promotion you did 30 years ago. End of 'hear me'

        AND THAT BRINGS ME BACK TO SPAIN: Well, actually, it doesn't but I had to get back here somehow and a smooth segue hasn't occurred to me yet. Probably won't now. As far as I know, downloading music and films for private/home use is still legal here. Therefore the 'piracy' figures are skewed at best. Well, complete bollocks, but I thought I'd be polite, just to see what it feels like. There has been some pressure on the Spanish government by various collection agencies. And there was a law passed in February [citation needed - just winging it] that cracked down on websites (Spain-based) that pointed to IP of some sort or another. I'm absolutely sure that it'll end up with the tax still in place and downloading being made illegal with a separate (collection agency funded) act. When downloading films and music becomes actually illegal in Spain, I'm sure that we will be the #1 pirates in Europe...just out of habit. We're used to downloading just whatever the fuck we feel like (in music & film terms) because we've already paid for it. Also, if downloading music and films does become illegal, you can bet at least 3 chambers of your heart that the media tax will still be in place. And then you have another issue.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Happy

          Dear Mr Angry

          You have forgotten your medication today. We can see you're angry but there's NO NEED TO SHOUT.

          1. moiety

            Just formatting it...

            ...for easier reading. Turned out to be a bit of an essay. With the lack of bold, italic & underline here on the Reg commentard area, capslock would appear to be it for the stylin' possibilities.

            How about it El Reg? A bit of basic comment formatting would be a good thing, I think.

            1. Drewc (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

              Re: Just formatting it...

              I think you might be right...

              1. moiety

                May...

                ...make things either more fun or easier to read. Bold, italic, underline and strike, maybe. That should be safe enough.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Sue the authors!

    If it weren't for those "hippie singers" then all of these problems wouldn't exist. So the next logical step should be obvious: sue the singers!

    The sad part? It wouldn't surprise me /one bit/ if some of the fruitcakes would read this and wonder... "Jeez, that kid is RIGHT!".

  7. dogged
    Trollface

    Re: Complete bull

    Is the Daily Mail comments section down again?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Re: Re: Complete Bull

      Well, the summer holiday is still going.

      There seem to be the usual amount of angry blokes here, grinding their teeth about how evil it is to pay $5 for an album but only $600 on an iGadget.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        "...angry blokes here, grinding their teeth..."

        "There seem to be the usual amount of angry blokes here, grinding their teeth about how evil it is to pay $5 for an album but only $600 on an iGadget."

        Are you trying to suggest this utter drivel came out of a calm and rational mind?

    2. Yag
      FAIL

      hey!

      This dude is RIGHT!

      (auto fail...)

    3. yoinkster
      FAIL

      yo dumbass, yeah you "dogged"

      See that small purple-y thing that says "Reply to this post"? What do you think it could possibly mean? Could it possibly mean "help keep our forums readable by making sure that all conversations follow a natural flow"?

      Or do you think it means "only losers push this button, real men submit *new* posts and screw up the reading order"?

  8. kissingthecarpet
    Pirate

    How long

    before established artists will be able to sell their stuff directly online, & blow out the conventional music industry altogether? I'm sure that's what they're really afraid of. Mind you, without the hype, most of them wouldn't stand a chance. Shame the net wasn't around in its present form during the 60's.....

    1. Mike Flugennock

      You're reading my mind...

      I'm seeing a lot of newer -- but fairly established -- bands selling their albums online through their own Web sites, and I can't help wondering: why haven't bands like, say, Pink Floyd -- or whoever's representing them these days as they've long split up -- started selling their entire catalog online themselves? I wouldn't mind giving my twenty bucks directly to the Floyd for a copy of one of their albums, especially since I'd finally be able to score those copies of "Saucerful" and "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" I've been looking for.

      The Grateful Dead, god bless 'em, have been doing this for ten or fifteen years; along with offering copies of their studio albums online, they've also released tons of live material for sale as CDs and downloads. You can buy complete shows at dead.net as 3-CD sets or as a download for something like thirty bucks -- and it's all remixed, cleaned up, and remastered from their original tapes. I've been collecting bootleg live Dead footage for years, but finally broke down and bought some downloads from them as it's kind of problematic finding good-quality footage from circa 1967, '68, or '69. Phish is doing this now, too, as I recall.

      I wish to hell Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd would do this. I've managed to build up a pretty fair collection of Zeppelin and Floyd live footage, but it's taken months of scouring the collectors' blogs and, more often than not, throwing out half the stuff I download because it really didn't sound that great. I'd be more than happy to pay the Floyd -- the guys, themselves, directly -- some serious bank for a boxed set of all their early '70s BBC gigs via "floyd.co.uk".

      1. CD001

        The problem

        The problem with Floyd and Zeppelin would probably be trying to work out who the hell actually owned the rights to be able to sell the stuff now - it sure ain't the bands (let's see if the spell-checker picks up acrimonious).

        There have been a few "high profile" bands that have ditched their labels and are producing everything themselves and distributing it from their websites, Trent Reznor (NIN, How to Destroy Angels atm) for instance - but I'd guess most musicians* want to do music, not all the associated production, distribution and marketing.

        *by musicians I mean musicians - not people who can sing a bit who are in it purely for the fame/fortune.

  9. Eduard Coli
    Pirate

    Rockerfeller said it

    One of the other reasons for the bulk lawsuits and perhaps the main reason was the power grab.

    The labels were more concerned about losing control of their distribution channel not so much about starving artists. For proof look at all of the starving artists the labels created.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Other Reasons Too

    I am not commenting on the morality of priacy, just the reality as it pertains to me...

    I used to pirate regularly when track by track sharing software like Napster & Winmx were still going strong. During that period I bought more CDs than at any other time in my life.

    We are talking hundreds. Entire discographies of Bjork, Beck, Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam etc etc..

    When they shut those two down, I stopped downloading random tracks and thinking ooh this sounds good I'll buy the CD.

    In the 9 years since I have bought 2cds as presents (which were requested)

    I can't be alone in this surely? Although I guess I am probably a minority.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Holmes

      OK. So you don't like music

      You can only be bothered if it falls into your lap for free. That's fair enough.

      I stopped drinking cider at Uni and haven't bought a pint since.

      No one's going to mistake you for a music fan.

    2. CD001

      *sigh*

      Your argument doesn't hold water:

      last.fm

      we7.com

      Spotify

      grooveshark.com

      All of which are legal (though I'm not 100% sure HOW grooveshark is), have free (ok, ad-supported) options and allow you to discover new music; add in X number of specialist internet radio stations and there's no real reason to say "well I couldn't find a try before I buy option, so I've stopped buying" - that just rings hollow now, there are plenty of options other than piracy.

      I own more than 500 CD albums and only maybe 2 or 3 would I consider "bad purchases" and I've never yet had to pirate something to "try it first" - and very few of those albums are mainstream enough to actually get any kind of play outside of certain nightclubs or on the Internet - certainly "harder to find" than anything you've listed (Alien Vampires, Mind.in.a.box, Grendel, Panzer AG, Neuroticfish ... ).

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    @Sean

    Get out of bed the wrong side this morning did we? There may be something in what you say, but think on these...

    What did the Monkees use when they didn't have Autotune, or Syco Productions?

    What did Abba use when they didn't have Autotune, or Syco Productions?

    What did Stock Aitken and Waterman use when they didn't have Autotune, or Syco Productions?

    What did Oasis use when they didn't have Autotune, or Syco Productions

    There have been quite a few recent artistes that have sounded good to me on the radio/in the studio, but when I've heard "live" performances repeatedly off key I've decided I never want to hear these artistes again or buy their records thank you.

    If you don't like Hey Jude I guess you don't like Elbow's One Day Like This either. It's not a copy, well not quite, but they have a lot in common. Is that piracy?

    [Syco = Simon Cowell]

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Re: Live vs. recorded

      If you think all live performance these days is actually live, you're ignorant of current capabilities and practice.

      Look for the hidden ProTools guy. I've heard stories from a friend who does sound in a local venue. What you're hearing tonight might be from that good show they did last night or last week, or maybe even during the pre-tour rehearsals.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Re: Live vs. recorded

        If you can't tell whether it's live or recorded you are going to the wrong gigs..

    2. Naughtyhorse

      hardly

      a fair comparason, everyone has an off day.

      do you really think that anyone who ever saw the beatles live (after the star club days say) enjoyed tuneful singing and expert musicianship?

      They might have enjoyed _watching_ tuneful singing and expert musicianship, but they couldnt hear a thing over the noise of all them screaming girlies. and even an x-fucked-her finalist sounds better than that.

      unless, of course like me they went to see dylan at wembly arena, and stood at the back whenre they couldnt see anything either.

      :-)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not the first time someone said this...

    ... not even here. I thought there might be something new in there, but was disappointed. I'm well aware that some things bear repeating and that executives and such like to believe in bullshit, so they need hitting over the head by, oh, fellow executives saying the thing again, perhaps with some executive-y sauce for that extra touch, before they'll consider it. But still and all, I'd expected a bit more for a piece on el reg.

  13. Norman 2

    Nbody ever asks

    Why does music and books etc. have copyright?

    Many other things are one-offs (paintings and buildings for example), but never a repeat payment is requested by the originator.

    I do on-off things and have to design them, build them, install them and just get a one off payment.

    Now, if only I could get paid every time my design is used, I'd make a fortune.

    Same principle.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Paintings do have copyright

      You can't just reproduce them willy-nilly; there's royalties involved. If not it's forgery and if you get caugt it might change your diet to porridge for years. Even if the original is long out of copyright. As to buildings, you might find that you've had it built for you, you paid for it and own it, but you can't just give it a fresh lick of paint in any colour you'd like; it's still the architect's design. I suppose that should a house get copied there'll be royalties involved too, if not hiring the architect outright to do the exact same thing again.

      Why do things have copyright? That's a good question. Sort-of the same reasons patents came into existence. That current practice diverges a bit from the original intent is part of the problem, of course.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Happy

        Two more

        1. The architect gets paid up front.

        2. We value creative arts more than we value chairs and sheds.

    2. spiny norman

      Repro

      Most artists now produce an original painting and then sell a "limited edition" run of prints, which gives them a revenue stream for some time. They might also license posters of the painting, which would bring in royalties. If they sell the original and it increases in value, then it's the new owner that makes the money, although I think the artist may get something.

      1. david wilson

        @spiny norman

        And (at least in the UK) even if they sell the painting, they keep the copyright unless they explicitly give it away to someone else.

  14. calumg

    Opportunity wasted

    The real problem is that the music industry want to maintain bricks-and-mortar CD sales, which is much more expensive. This has prevented pricing from dropping too far, as they want to represent ALL of their members. It's proof that they are operating as a cartel and should be investigated for anti-trust violations.

    Another point is that the internet represents a fantastic opportunity to deliver more to customers, and therefore to make more money. Even with a level of piracy, they should be making more money. The article is therefore correct - they have squandered their opportunity to make more money by their regressive pricing models.

    The fact that industry executives still don't get the internet means that they are losing their shareholders millions if not billions, and shareholders should be demanding better.

  15. Bucky 2
    Mushroom

    Bad pricing = Right to Pirate?

    I want a big plasma TV.

    However, they're not available at a price I can afford.

    Matt Asay would have you all believe that if I should steal the TV (perhaps buying it from a shady character in a parking lot somewhere), I should be forgiven. The reason I should be forgiven is because the TV is otherwise very expensive.

    I don't see how that's reasonable.

    1. moiety

      That is a good point

      However, if you take said plasma TV, you deprive someone else of the pleasure of paying full price for it (and subsequent actual losses for manufacturer. distributor etc). When you give someone *a copy* of something; that's not quite the same thing.

      Let's say, I have a Start Trek auto-cloney-thingy. I put the TV into it, press the button, and after a zappy noise, some blue strobe lighting and (if my real-world attempts are anything to go by) losing of eyebrows...another TV appears. I put the original TV back where I found it. Where is the theft?

      Don't compare physical things with copies of stuff. It doesn't show your features in their best light.

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        @Bucky 2

        When you talk about goods like TVs etc you must remember that there is competition in that markets - between manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers - they all want your custom, you can shop around and choose.

        With "intellectual" property you are dealing with monopolies. Anticompetitive and restrictive market practices which are illegal elsewhere are taken as given the moment you mention "copyright".

        "Piracy" is the natural reaction of the buyers against the monopoly of the sellers. It is impossible to avoid or to eliminate. Any restrictive measures in any market lead to inevitable appearance of corresponding black markets. Ration the food - you get food black market. Put excise on tobacco - you get cigarettes black market. Do the same with fuel - you get petrol black market...

        1. david wilson

          @Vladimir

          >>"When you talk about goods like TVs etc you must remember that there is competition in that markets - between manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers - they all want your custom, you can shop around and choose."

          >>"With "intellectual" property you are dealing with monopolies."

          So, I can buy a TV from various manufacturers, with different products having different attributes and with different prices for different products and price variation between retailers (though often not much, especially if I exclude the people charging way above average, who seem likely to have few customers).

          Or I can buy books/music/movies from various creators, with different products having different attributes and with different prices for different products and price variation between retailers.

          If I like a Sony TV, I can't choose to buy that TV from some other manufacturer, or at a price I dictate.

      2. david wilson

        @moiety

        ---"Let's say, I have a Start Trek auto-cloney-thingy. I put the TV into it, press the button, and after a zappy noise, some blue strobe lighting and (if my real-world attempts are anything to go by) losing of eyebrows...another TV appears. I put the original TV back where I found it. Where is the theft?"

        Well, I guess it depends what work has gone into designing the TV.

        If it turned out that £X of the purchase price of the TV was going towards paying for the past R&D needed to get a working plasma TV made, by making a free copy, you're leeching off that while expecting that other people will pay for the development of that and any number of other things you plan on copying.

        Taken to a logical extreme, if everyone had a magic copying device and was only thinking of themselves, why would anyone *buy* a plasma TV after the first one had been made?

        But in that situation, who would buy the first TV off the production line if they had to pay the full development cost, and who would bother developing a plasma TV if they couldn't find anyone rich enough to be their first and last customer?

        But isn't that why there are laws governing IP - to actually make it worth someone investing in getting something developed, in the knowledge that some parasite can't just legally copy all their work while giving sod-all in return?

        Though, taken to an extreme, would someone actually be likely to put in the work to make a magic copying device if they feared that once they'd made one (or two?), people would just copy /them/ for free?

        Unless, of course, they built in some kind of DRM, and waited for the whining to start...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          This is a scenario

          Where open source philosophies and principles come into their own.

          If there were such a magic copy device the R&D costs of that TV are 0 because you are copying the TIMP 1.0 open source TV design done by people for (possibly) free.

          I won't comment on things like quality, skills required etc. I am sure everyone can think of the other possible problems with above scenario regarding time, quality etc etc. but since we are talking about magic copy machine world I am ignoring them.

          Just commenting on the principle.

          1. david wilson

            @AC

            >>"If there were such a magic copy device the R&D costs of that TV are 0 because you are copying the TIMP 1.0 open source TV design done by people for (possibly) free."

            Possibly, but if there's unlimited supply of the last version of something, how much demand is there going to be for the next version of something?

            At least with paid-for goods, there's an expectation that there'll be lots of people who haven't yet bought the previous version, who might be a willing market for the new one.

            If everyone already has a 36" plasma screen, would there be many people trying to design a 40" one, even if some of the challenges they'd face in the process might be necessary or at least useful steps on the road to a 50"?

            I'm not sure of the answer to that, but it is at least an interesting question.

            Would it be a more dynamic or a more stagnant situation (and if it was more stagnant, would that actually be a bad thing overall)?

            And we're not talking software, where the development is effectively all in someone's head, but physical devices where there are actual costs of experimentation, and possibly risks in making things, and maybe a need for engineers who aren't just self-taught, as well as all kinds of other issues like making sure a device isn't going to cause interference with other devices, or burst into flames in the middle of the night and incinerate the owners.

            Who would take responsibility for a physical device if there wasn't really a manufacturer?

            I'm far happier running fully open source software when the likely worst-case scenario is a security breach and possible identity theft than I'd be having it control my car, unless there was some /serious/ quality control.

            Open source chainsaw, or life support system, or gas cooker, or aerobatic plane (or parachute?) ?

            I'd be a bit wary about that unless I had serious information on exactly who had designed what bits and how qualified they were, and what testing had been done.

            At the very least, it would seem to need some kind of regulation to inspire user confidence, but that might well run counter to the philosophy of a fair slice of open source supporters.

            1. MacGyver
              Linux

              But you forgot about..

              There are people out there that do crossword puzzles for free. People who blog, for free. People who design, create, and share that work, for free. Granted advances wouldn't be made by people looking for more money, because by that time, money will have little value. Humans love a challenge, be it a crossword puzzle, or going from 36" to 50" in designing plasma TVs. In a world with no money, people would be free to pursue what interests them, the only problem is, we will always need plumbers.

    2. Steve Ives

      @Bucky 2 - Not Quite...

      The argument is not the odd person who can't afford them, but the public in general not being able to afford them e..g if Plasma TVs were £25,000 - i.e. a year's average wages in the UK rather than a week's.

    3. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      If I could print a TV...

      If I could print a TV, there's no good reason that I shouldn't be able to.

      Stealing != Copying.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Reasonable?

      Depends where the TV came from.

      Stolen? Not reasonable.

      Grey imported from another country where they are being sold at 1/10th of the cost? Well now we are in grey areas.

    5. Arrrggghh-otron

      Would if it were possible...

      If it was possible to click a button and magically duplicate that plasma TV with little cost, leaving the original in the shop and a copy just sitting there ready for you to use or copy again for your friends, would you still refuse that copied plasma TV?

    6. MacGyver
      Pirate

      Thinking. Um, your doing it wrong.

      No, the analog would be if you can't afford a Plasma TV, so you have some nano-robots build you one from things you had in the trash.

      Are you ripping of the playing card companies if you make your own with a magic marker and some paper? Did you devalue the Mona Lisa by snapping a photo of it while you were visiting the Louvre?

      You were comparing taking a tangible object made out of resources that have a finite amount, leaving a loss somewhere, with making a copy.

      Have you ever sung the Happy Birthday song, well then you too sir are a criminal, as that song is copyrighted and owned by a record company, and a public performance means you owe them money. (That song is close to a hundred years old, how long do they get to make money from it.)

      Do I think artists deserve to get paid, yes, and if they play at a venue they will. They had a good run on the "play once, get paid forever" scam, but it's almost over. Now back to work like the rest of us.

  16. Justin Clements
    FAIL

    Read the tag line....

    ....And I just knew this was a Matt Asay article.

    Lowering the price won't help because the pirates won't pay anything in the slightest. People are comfortable with the current pricing. Pirates will pay nothing at worst and at best won't increase sales significantly to increase the overall take.

    Remember the latest Radiohead album that was sold for whatever price you decided to pay? Most people opted to pay nothing. That album was withdrawn and you can now buy it through more conventional means. The experiment failed.

    In closing, could someone at el'Reg please fire Asay. He is easily the worst and dumbest of The Registers contributors.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      And he's three years behind the news

      The RIAA stopped suing people three years ago, leaving only open cases running. Jammie Thomas mostly.

      Radiohead fans who paid only paid an average of £3.88 for In Rainbows. The band priced the new one at £6 minimum. They AIN'T DUMB.

      But Matt Asay works in marketing. Go figure.

      1. Alan Twelve

        In Rainbows

        Justin, AC

        You are aware, of course, that In Rainbows was only available as a pay-what-you-want release for two months and that after that two month period, when the album received a full physical release, it sold 3 million copies in 10 months?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Boffin

          @Alan

          You are aware, of course, that Radiohead set STRICT MINIMUM PRICING for King of Limbs. And said they would never repeat the In Rainbows experiment again?

    2. <spez>
      Thumb Up

      ...yep i was a freetard.

      I downloaded their album for nothing.... really liked what i heard and purchased it once it was in the shops.

      and then went onto buying their previous releases. (mind its the studio gets the money for them)

  17. Steve McPolin
    Mushroom

    shifting the focus

    Presumably, the smarmy little shits have optimized the pricing models for the Western market. Decreasing the price won't generate a useful increase in consumption, but increasing the price will cause a harmful reduction.

    A regional pricing model - where the item cost is priced differently around the world - gives rise to a grey market, where goods are purchased in the lower cost areas then transported for resale to higher cost areas.

    So, what does that leave? Set the prices uniformly low around the world to increase the consumption in the lower cost areas. The likely effect is to shape the product to the tastes of the market you are attempting to attract, which some Westerners might be a little put off by.

    Before long, that is an inevitable consequence, as manufactures switch to tailoring products to the new dominant markets, leaving the west to put up with the tastes of the rest.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Not just price, distribution and quality

    Price is one factor. For example, buying Anime legally here means forking out £50 for a box set of 12 or so 30 minute low quality cartoons. In Japan? They're free on TV. So yes, there is a merit to the price argument especially on imports, but it's only one point in the argument.

    There is another problem: distribution. Currently, HBO is airing True Blood season 4 in the states. On the English gogglebox you get season 3. I saw that last year, and right now, I want to watch what my brethren stateside are watching. What does it matter if another country gets it the same time - there's no competition issue between Channel 4 and HBO! But of course, legally, it's not available in the UK, because some luddite said so.

    Yet another example: try buying a blues CD from an artist that's still alive - Buddy Guy - but in a country where blues isn't particularly popular like Greece. Good luck.

    One final argument is quality. If anyone has actually watched a movie from a Blu Ray player with a legally purchased Blu Ray film, should have their wrists checked. It takes over a minute to decrypt and check and triple check and get that damned DRM to allow you to view a film. A download? Already pristinely ripped in 1080p, readily available and a click away to watch. Cams don't rule the piracy world. Proper rips do, and I'm sorry to say they're pretty damned good quality.

    What is it these distributors supposedly do? They provide a sub-standard product that you can't buy legally where you live, and if you can, you have to count your fingers.

    So yes, I do agree with Tim O'Reilly, but there's a better phrase than 'progressive taxation', because people (not pirates) are screaming: you can't have your cake and eat it.

  19. Muddy
    Unhappy

    We can't purchase what you don't make available in our region

    What the RIAA and other music industry knuckleheads fail to understand is sometimes music is pirated because it's not obtainable any other way.

    That also goes for anime, foreign films etc.. not everyone in the U.S. Sips the RIAA/MPAA Koolaid.

    1. Killraven

      Let me buy it!

      I hear that! I'm in America and the majority of the music I want is from Britain, not released in North America. Heck, I go to YouTube to watch it and very often they won't even let me do that! "Not available in your country."

      Now, I might be willing to pay for my music, but I can't exactly afford to drop US$40 to import a CD, and I'm not going to pay to download DRMed or low-quality mp3s either. I do manage to get a fair bit at reasonable prices off eBay, but I have to wait 3-5 years after the CD was released to do it.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    "transported for resale to higher cost areas."

    You can't do that. The law (well the judges) say so, repeatedly (Levis, etc). You can't do it with jeans, or with software, or with a whole boatload of things. Even when the law doesn't say so, the suppliers try to find ways to stop it.

    It's OK for the big companies to use globalization to shift the work wherever they can get it done cheapest, but if some poor punter (or middleman) attempts to use "unusual" methods to get product from a low cost country to undercut the identical product which is offered for sale for loadsamoney in a high cost country, the middleman can expect a visit from the law, and the punter can expect warranty to be refused, etc etc.

    Gotta love this free market capitalism.

  21. Mike Flugennock
    Holmes

    Easy targets?

    Shit, yeah. It's the American Way... best exemplified by the first Iraq War a little over 20 years ago. Put together the mist high-tech, best-armed, best-equipped force you've got, then make up a lame excuse to go after the smallest, weakest, least able to defend itself target, stomp the living shit out of it, then go home and give yourself a parade.

    The USA in its entirety -- militarily, socially, culturally, legalistically -- has functioned on this model pretty much exclusively.

  22. Jean-Luc Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Pricing matters.

    Take Basic Instinct. A 15 yr old film, which goes for $9.49 on Blu-Ray on Amazon. Cost what, $40M to make?

    Now, take a Rolling Stones album, Exile on Main Street. $10.69 on Amazon, 30-40 yrs after it came out. $19.65 in Deluxe (sucker) Edition. How much did it cost to make?

    How come Hollywood can make money off $4 DVDs but music CDs, even really old stuff, are $10 and up? Does the RIAA take us for idiots?

    p.s. not comparing the quality of either product, just their price.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Title Needed

      The "cost to make" calculation is a total irrelevancy that's been peddled for years. Unless you're prepared to challenge the basic con-trick of capitalism (get some sucker to pay far, far more than it cost you to produce) anything else sounds like special pleading.

      1. Jean-Luc Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        @The "cost to make" calculation is...

        Totally irrelevant. Yeah, sure.

        If it costs me $10 to make something I sell for $5 I will live long and prosper? You sound like special needs, me boy.

        No, I don't expect what I pay to track production costs closely. Most businesses will ride the supply and demand curve to maximize profits. That's the con-trick you refer to.

        But I would expect an industry that is always whining about how the demand for their products is collapsing to adjust their prices, especially on old products whose production & marketing costs have long been written off.

        Too hard for you? Must. Type. Moooore. Slooooowly.

  23. Head
    WTF?

    Hmmm

    I think the strategy of pricing at a fixed cost (in USD for eg) is better than Steams/game publishers strategy of flexible pricing, just look at this: http://www.steamprices.com/au

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not wanting to state the blindingly obvious

    'roughly 10 per cent of North Americans surveyed by Nielsen have used file-sharing software in the last three months.'

    ....and another 30% are downloading from Usenet.

    1. CD001

      You realise

      You realise there are different tax brackets for different regions yes? In Europe tax has to be added for SERVICES at the point of delivery - so add 20% for the UK. I'm not saying it's "right" but digital downloads classify as services so for anything purchased through Steam, in the UK, you can add that 20%.

      Looking at some DLC there for USD 1.99 => GBP 1.49, that's quite fair...

      (1.99 / 1.65) * 1.2 = 1.45

      Don't know enough about prices in AUS to comment - you could be getting shafted down-under (that sounds so wrong).

  25. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Utter bullshit

    If you have one product, you must sell it for one price - period. Otherwise entrepreneurs in India will buy 1000 of the album for 10 rupees and ship it to the US and sell it for $10 - and here's the kicker: THATS HOW IT SHOULD BE!

    If you want to prevent that, then you have to control the supply chain, and kneecap (or sue) the poor Indian man taking advantage of the market. That is called racketeering, and that is what gave us region codes!

    Utter f*sking b*llocks!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People are funny

    Music isn't good enough to pay for but it's good enough to steal. Really? If you're dumb enough to pirate then you're dumb enough to go to prison.

    1. david wilson

      @VoodooTrucker

      What you seem to want is a system where the /poor/ Indian middleman can't make any money either.

      If someone could cover their fixed costs (design, etc) by selling at a particular price in one market, should that really prevent them selling at a lower price elsewhere that's still above unit production cost, and trying legal methods to allow that to work for them?

      If the BBC made a programme that was popular in the UK, and they managed to cover all their production costs by selling it to networks in North America, surely they should be allowed to sell it elsewhere for whatever they can get for it, even if the price-per-likely-viewer is far lower than a US network paid?

      In that case, there's a natural mechanism making it hard for someone to transport the product elsewhere, but I don't see any obvious moral /unfairness/ in the idea that someone might sell the same thing at different prices.

      So if there isn't obvious moral unfairness in the idea of differential pricing, why is it fundamentally wrong for someone to seek to use legal means to effectively allow them to choose the price they sell to different people at?

      With jeans, when 501s were heavily advertised in the UK in the 80s, they were vastly cheaper in Canada, where they seemed to be seen much more as work wear.

      As a simplistic reflex reaction, there certainly looked to be an element of nasty big business unfairness in stopping grey imports, but equally, the grey importers were clearly seeking to profit from the effect of an expensive advertising campaign without actually contributing to it, which does seem pretty parasitic behaviour on their part.

      There are certainly arguments in various directions, but suggesting that there's some kind of fundamental principle at stake does seem a bit much - so often, 'principles' and 'rights' are used in an attempt to put a position (often an emotional position) beyond question or the reach of criticism.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        WTF?

        @david wilson

        I don't understand what you are suggesting? People should not be allowed to buy jeans and resell them? We abolish the right of resale? If so, why keep the right of "first sale"? If you don't believe in property rights, then why are you offended by people downloading songs in the first place?

        Yes, the labels are free to sell their music at any price in any market. And importers are free to resell at any price they want - which is why the ideas that the Economist is suggesting will fail - unless they also add some extra enforcement mechanism to prevent the Indian middleman from asserting his property rights.

        I'm dumbfounded as to how you call them "grey" importers anyway! As if asserting your right-of-resale is somehow a crime.

        Also - advertising campaigns don't *create value*, so you can't be "parasitic" by profiting from them. You can only return the market to the real value of the product, i.e. production cost + X%.

        Liberals want everything for free, and conservatives want the government to force people to buy their stuff - am I the last free-market guy left?

        1. david wilson

          @VoodooTrucker

          >>"I don't understand what you are suggesting? People should not be allowed to buy jeans and resell them?"

          >>"I'm dumbfounded as to how you call them "grey" importers anyway! As if asserting your right-of-resale is somehow a crime."

          I call them that because it's a descriptive term that most people here seem to understand.

          There's a huge difference between individuals buying a few retail items to resell elsewhere and big businesses buying items wholesale if there are terms and conditions of sale, and then selling them in breach of those conditions.

          If I buy something and agree in a contract that I'm only going to sell it in a certain area, or even that I'm only going to sell to people who will sell in a certain area, I don't /have/ an unlimited right of resale - even if I had such a 'right' in general, in the specific case, I'd have relinquished it in order for someone to be prepared to sell me the goods.

          Similarly, if I knew I there were legal restrictions on me transporting and selling the goods elsewhere, then I would know I /didn't/ have a universal /legal/ right to resale in practice, and me pretending I did would be daft.

          Now, it's certainly possible to argue that there /shouldn't/ be any possibility of legal or contractual restrictions, but in a situation where there /are/, it seems more than a little weird to be 'dumbfounded' that other people acknowledge reality or that people use words that people understand, even if different people might have different views on the correctness of the activity in question.

          .>>"Also - advertising campaigns don't *create value*, so you can't be "parasitic" by profiting from them."

          They can not only increase demand, but can also clearly result in a willingness among some people to pay more for an item than if the adverts hadn't happened.

          That's not actually changing the goods, but people don't base the price they're prepared to pay solely on the cost of production plus some 'fair' premium. (How much does it actually cost to produce a replica Manchester United football shirt?).

          If I'm paying the extra cost of the advertising in a particular place by charging more for the product than I do elsewhere (and presumably hoping to make a little extra profit as well), and someone imports the goods from elsewhere without contributing to the advertising, they can end up benefiting from the increased demand and/or increased perceived value of the product that I'd caused while giving nothing in return.

          That /is/ effectively being parasitic, and even someone who was a fervent free market believer would have to acknowledge that, if they're being honest.

          >>"Liberals want everything for free, and conservatives want the government to force people to buy their stuff - am I the last free-market guy left?"

          Nice job trying to characterise everyone else as extremists.

          The problem with the idea of a 'free' market is that it's just an idea - like most things in the real world, as soon as there's an attempt to put it into practice, various things crop up to which there aren't obvious simple answers, where one might find one supposed 'right' clashing with another, and where the need for dirty value judgements squats down and dumps once again all over a nice black-and-white view of reality.

          For example, if I make something, surely I should be free to sell it to whoever I choose at whatever price I feel like selling it to them at?

          If someone is buying in bulk, or promoting the product, or even if I just like them, shouldn't I be free to charge them a lower price.

          If I don't like what someone is doing with the things I sell, I should have the right not to sell them any product, or to charge them more.

          It would seem odd to have an idea of a free market where a seller is under some legal obligation to supply anyone and everyone at a single fixed price.

          You try writing a simple and clear description of your free market, but make sure that you explain how you can enforce supplier 'fairness' while not infringing on the rights of people to choose their business partners.

          If I made luxury goods which were typically sold at large markup by people in nice little shops with good (maybe even obsequious) customer service, should I be obliged to directly (or even indirectly) supply someone at trade price if they're going to sell the goods from the back of a shoddy caravan while dressed in a shellsuit with a tab dangling out of the corner of their mouth?

          In a less extreme situation, at what point does someone else's 'right' to buy trump my 'right' to choose who I sell to?

  27. Nick Galloway

    Richard Branson

    Look how the Virgin man made his first money. Selling vinyl at a lower cost in simpler packaging. All legit and he has done quite well since...

    I would like to know how the film industry justifies the DVD/BluRay zoning system for their products. If that doesn't have a certain moral defect and the ability to discriminate pricing mechanisms for different countries, then I don't know waht does. Sounds similar to the root cause of the original Bosotn Tea Party.

    Then again American foreign policy is a demonstration that historical learning is not a strong trait in that part of the world!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    I downloaded pirated books...

    however, when I read them and found the books to be useful, I bought it from Amazon. I see it as a way to review stuff before buying.

  29. Hilmi Al-kindy
    Facepalm

    It is not just pricing, but availability

    In the middle east, one of the greatest drivers for Piracy is availability.

    You want to buy something but cant get it, although the middle east is a huge market.

    I want to buy a kindle, Amazon wont sell me one... my cousin managed to buy one anyway, amazon wouldnt sell him books. So he goes online and downloads 5000 pirated kindle books.

    I want to buy photoshop, I cant find a single shop that sells it in retail, instead you have to go through a complex search to find out how to obtain it legally. I only know one person who owns a legal copy. The official distributor is only focusing on selling to companies

    I love computer games, but why should I buy a boxed game prized at more than $100 when I can buy it online at $49 or less, sometimes considerably less.... now here is what makes it worse.. how many teenagers do you know with access to credit cards? Buying online isn't exactly an option for everybody is it?

    Some companies don't even bother to try to cater for the middle east and they b***h about the piracy rate of their software in the region.

    I want to buy a movie, chances are the only place I will find it the middle east is a 400km drive to the Virgin megastore across the border. If you don't distribute the movie legally in the region (and I am not talking about some substandard, low quality audio and video with cheap packaging aimed at asian market where the individual's pay is normally 10% my salary), how do you expect people to obtain a copy legally? It is like they are just begging you to pirate their movie!

    Microsoft made the effort, and most people I know run legit copies of windows, it is available in the market and it is priced reasonably and they actually provide tech support (even though it sucks, at least it is there).

  30. Grumpy Old Fart

    Second Hand Market

    What I never see in any of these discussions is the effect of the loss of the second-hand market.

    With traditional physical media there was always the option to trawl the markets and junk shops for a second-hand version at half-price or less. None of this second-hand revenue went to the artists, producers, distributers...it all went to the original owner (and second-hand reseller).

    Obviously with digital sales the whole concept of second-hand sales vanishes, so the artists/producers get every cent of every sale of the content.

    So the producers get more, and the customers lose access to a cheaper legal alternative source for the content. How do these numbers compare against the piracy numbers for the industries involved?

  31. gratou
    FAIL

    ownership is the (one?) real issue

    I buy stuff from itunes or wherever. What do I have?

    Nothing: the stuff I bought has no economic value, as has been mentionned here before.

    Supposing I am lucky to still have access to it in 20 years (ie. it is still playable, some DRM hasn't crapped out, my rights haven't been changed, I didn't lose my account or my licence, etc) - and that's a major assumption-, in the meantime it is still a pain to use on a variety of supports (in the car, the tube, etc), and I can't do anything with it but use it.

    I can't give anything to my friends or kids, I can't sell; I have nothing.

    So we have content that: is hard to freely use, is worth nothing, and has a fair chance of being lost. On top of being quite pricey.

    Mmmm, I wonder why this online thing doesn't take off faster...

    1. david wilson

      @gratou

      >>"I buy stuff from itunes or wherever. What do I have?

      >>"Nothing:"

      So don't buy from Itunes. I don't.

      Buy from somewhere that sells MP3s without DRM, assuming that's an option for you where you live.

      1. gratou

        @ D wilson

        Yeah, but you still trade good cash for nothing.

        The online model means you no longer own anything, just a right of use really, but your money has been exchanged for nothing you can reuse, as raised just below by grumpy.

        1. david wilson

          @gratou

          >>"The online model means you no longer own anything, just a right of use really,"

          But in practice, I never sold old vinyl/CDs anyway, so even if I actually had no right to sell a single copy of an MP3 I bought and delete any copies I had, what I'd be giving up is a right I didn't exercise, and which a lot of other people don't exercise either.

          As it is, I still largely buy CDs, even if I then rip them and put the originals away, likely never to be used again, though that is in no small part down to the price of the music I buy often being lower for a CD than an MP3 album.

    2. CD001

      Library?

      See title

  32. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Piracy in Latin America

    You clearly know little to nothing of piracy in latin america. The average home doesn't have internet. People buy **copies** openly on the street, and the police will never do anything. Sure a more sensible price there may help, but then so would a more sensible price in the UK. The introduction of CD's instead of vinyl/tapes was used as an excuse for price hikes; its actual cost is miniscule. As ever, if you rip people off for the service you're providing you can expect a reaction. That reaction was piracy

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC

      --"The introduction of CD's instead of vinyl/tapes was used as an excuse for price hikes; "

      Though to be fair, people were getting a product that was generally more durable than vinyl, and some part of the 'value' of any product is presumably a matter of how long it's expected to last for.

      Even if all other things were equal, a rather more durable medium could justify a higher price due to lower expectations of replacement sales.

      If I wore out/damaged a vinyl album, I don't remember generally being able to get a replacement disc for pennies, just as if I damaged a print or other duplicated artwork, I wouldn't typically be able to swap it for a new one by simply paying the marginal cost of manufacture.

      People can *say* that all they're actually paying for is the content rather than the medium, but that doesn't make it true.

      More generally, if there was an item I could buy in plain steel or stainless, where the only difference in use was longevity, I'd expect that the price difference would at least in part reflect the difference in expected lifetime and not merely the relative costs of production in the two materials.

      If something costs me 20% more to make in a more durable material but it will last 3x longer, should I *really* only be allowed to charge 20% more than the standard item?

      If there isn't a rigid link, then even if it cost me less to make a more durable item than a standard one, presumably I should still be free to charge more for it, making a higher profit per item in the expectation of potentially selling fewer items in the long term?

      --"As ever, if you rip people off for the service you're providing you can expect a reaction. That reaction was piracy"

      But surely, if people were actually having deep *moral* objections to the prices charged for music distribution, rather then just using the price as a justification for being freeloaders, they'd be posting money to the creative artists to make their deep moral point, or at least writing anonymous letters explaining their moral stance, and somehow I doubt that many people do that.

      More likely, after dismissing the need to give money to the record companies, they'd then find some other reason why the creators don't deserve paying either.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I did buy lots of CDs...

    ... when good affordable music wasn't a needle in a stack of junk.

    Nevermind the people that end up buying the whole collection, then best of (Why? You've got that already!), live (ok, I can see the argument there, but £17?), then the complete collection boxset (again, why?), premium edition, silver edition, etc. Mike Oldfiled is a good example of the latter with Tubular Bells, it blows my mind that people keep on buying the latest version, and then bitch about it because they want the complete collection. Just don't buy it! It's only on the market because it sells! I've got the "normal" edition on vinyl, and he can shove all his bullshit "special editions". I've seen complete Pink Floyd boxsets also selling for like £300, I've got 3 or 4 of their albums, and same thing, if they expect me to shell out several £100s for the complete stuff (some of it previously unreleased stuff that is not all that great), they can shove their boxset where I think.

    Nevermind rap, nowadays pop (and I'm not talking about MJ's Thriller which is excellent, I'm talking the current stuff which plays on one chord and has lyrics that would appal an amoeba), x Got Talent and other cheap mainstream commercial crap. I wouldn't even keep the CD if it came free with The Sun, and to start with, I wouldn't buy The Sun whether it came with a free album or not.

    Last but not least, why did I have to buy everything again from vinyls/tapes to CDs/DVDs? And why did the industry rip me off with higher CD and DVD prices when they were actually cheaper to make than vinyls and tapes? And now they want us to buy everything over again in BR and MP3? Will they ever stop milking us for the same stuff over and over (rhetorical question)? If the industry wasn't so damn greedy and dishonest, maybe they could expect customers not to act the same way they are treated.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Now - listen to this cr@p

    Last night I decided to get down with the youf of today, and listen to the latest in the "Now" series of compilations.

    I almost puked, the music was so bad. For me it was mostly the way they talk/rap/sing, kind of like you know they are going to be saying "innit" as part of their regualr vocabulary.

    Oh well, back to my faves:-

    Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah - Allan Sherman

    Safety Dance - Men Without Hats

    etc.

    etc.

    ;o)

    1. JS001

      re: I did buy lots of CDs

      "why did I have to buy everything again from vinyls/tapes to CDs/DVDs?"

      You didn't have to buy everything again. It wasn't obligatory.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        C.f. sentence following the one you quoted

        @JS001

        ... and since buying is not obligatory, the industry shouldn't expect that if they don't sell it's because people pirate, which is exactly the point that I was making.

        So I'm not sure if you were agreeing and repeating or cherry picking a sentence to disagree!

    2. david wilson

      @AC

      But wasn't 'Now...' frequently full of shit a decade or two ago?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      @crici

      You're making the case for laziness, not piracy. There is a lot of great music about, unlike the old days you don't have to wait weeks for it to come out. And relatively it's much cheaper. Albums were £3-£4 in the 70s, they're £7 now. Taking inflation into account that's nothing.

      If you actually took an interest in new music you wouldn't be buying your old music repeatedly.

      The rest of your argument is "simply two wrongs make a right, so there" - Yawn.

  35. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Its not really the price thats the problem

    its the fact that the 'music industry' - the people who distribute music raise the cost by 1000%.

    I don’t know any other manufacturing process that spends as much on 'distribution' with no added value - except perhaps bottled water.

  36. Adrian Midgley 1

    Business model broken, go quietly

    I don't think the music industry's business model is workable.

    Time for them to find something else to do with thier time and effort.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Pot kettle...

      The same could be said for you

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    If the cap fits

    If you don't like the price, don't buy it, but don't think you can just steal it. The attitude of pirates thinking they have a right to download illegal music and software without paying is reflected by the recent riots. A breakdown of basic right and wrong!

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Kill Filesharing, Kill Gigs and Tours

    I spend a fortune on gigs - just spend over £500 on tickets for V Festival 2012.

    There's no way I would have done that if I couldn't download, for free, some materials from the bands who will be performing so I know who I like in advance.

  39. Albert
    Holmes

    Bigger picture - it's about disposable income

    Go back even 10 years and music was the main entertainment people purchased.

    Now there is music, DVDs, games and mobile phone bills.

    The amount of disposable income hasn't increased to such an extent that it's possible to still spend as much on music while at the same time buy the latest games and keep that mobile phone topped up.

    This article form 2009 shows a great graph and the increase in entertainment spending.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2009/jun/09/games-dvd-music-downloads-piracy

    Yes, music is going down, but games and DVDs are going up. And this doesn't even take into account the cost of keeping a mobile phone.

    1. Tieger

      re: If the cap fits

      "The attitude of pirates thinking they have a right to download illegal music and software without paying is reflected by the recent riots. A breakdown of basic right and wrong!"

      I think the far more serious problem is the complte morons who can't see any difference, morally, between downloading the latest episode of House, and throwing a petrol bomb through someones window. those are the sociopaths you *really* have to watch out for!

    2. CD001

      Yeah

      ... because there's no legal, free alternatives to listen to any of the mainstream shite that appears at V of course? (I can think of at least 3 off the top of my head) Christ, I wouldn't be surprised if you could get CDs from most of those bands from the library (except maybe Beardyman - yeah, he was on the bill, in tiny little letters way down the rankings).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      Downloading music and video is not illegal in a lot of countries.

      Rioting on the other hand is illegal in almost every country. If you made me pay three times for a song, one on vinyl, one on cd and a tax on every CD/DVD do you really think you are entitled to ask me again another € 10 for a AAC or high bitrate edition on my Ipod/MP3player/whatever?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Pay three times??

        Freetards don't want to pay even once. That's the trouble.

        They'd rather sit and whine about how unfair it is.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Angel

      Because

      But consumer spending on festivals and gigs has doubled.

      You can't pirate a music festival or concert - if you try and sneak in you will probably be thrown out. But you can pirate music without getting caught.

      Time to catch the pirates and set things right.

      1. Jean-Luc Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        @You can't pirate a music festival or concert

        The first half of your argument is correct.

        Artists are increasingly deriving revenue from concerts, especially as they get to keep way more of the money than the measly $0.30-1.00 they get per record sold (after the record company claws back launch costs).

        Nothing wrong with that, though concerts are getting more expensive. My only beef is how talented studio musicians will make a living if they don't want to smell each others' farts for months on end on a tour bus.

        MIne's the Portishead ticket in the pocket :-)

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Global Markets

    The problem with what Matt's proposing is that it goes against the Internet's push towards a flat global marketplace i.e. see people outraged that they can't buy cheaper MP3's from amazon.com in the UK, while they can buy physical CDs from Amazon.com. Imagine how they would moan to see tracks selling for 3p in India. Although of course, none of them would want an Indian standard of living to match (although that may be coming . . . .)

    In a very real sense, you are probably better off letting the entire 'rest of world' pirate, and make your money from US/Northern Europe, than reducing prices to a level that would be affordable to India.

    And particularly as the lower the unit price, the more you have to sell. That actually works well for the majors (who are geared up for marketing to millions of people) - but it works less well for smaller artists (and personally, that's where I feel the quality is, these days).

    Of course it's not all doom and gloom, because the Internet has also enabled a lot of other channels for smaller artists, but it does look like the dominant model for the smaller artist is the highly priced physical limited edition (i.e. the £8 single, the £20 album) - which doesn't strike me as sustainable in the long term.

    People do seem to have a poor idea about what is actually sustainable at the price they want to pay. 'The problem with this restaurant is that their prices are higher than McDonald's. If they sold their food for 99p they'd have far more customers'.

    As for the whingers blaming everything on the quality of music today - I find it hilarious that anyone with access to the Internet is unable to use the Internet to find good contemporary music. The big issue for a long time was not the acts signed by the majors, but the playlist policies of popular music radio (ask an A&R man with an artist critically acclaimed in the broadsheets and music press - no radio play, no sales - the press only influences a small section of the market). The internet changes that - it's never been easier to discover things.

    1. JS001

      re: Global Markets

      "As for the whingers blaming everything on the quality of music today - I find it hilarious that anyone with access to the Internet is unable to use the Internet to find good contemporary music."

      "The internet changes that - it's never been easier to discover things."

      Quite!

      What's interesting is that the whingers seem compelled to pirate the crap.

  41. takuhii
    Facepalm

    This might have already been mentioned but...

    Regional pricing will just mean more people spoofing their location to get better deals. I'm on the Google Music Beta but I live in the UK, so hard would it be for me to pretend I am in India for example, and get a CD album downloaded for $10 instead of the $15 I might pay elsewhere...

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tv Programes

    The owners of Tv shows are beginning to dig their own graves. The used to stream shows a day or so after airing. Strangely it still faster to torrent it. typical availability 1 hour after airing. Now a few broadcasters are introducing a policy to increase the delay by 8 days. Only a select few can stream 1 day after air date. When the masses turn to torrents, un-official streaming, etc, they only have themselves to blame. Surely it in their own interest to have punters stream from their own sites, then they can enjoy the ad revenue. I fail to understand the logic.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Most won't

      "Regional pricing will just mean more people spoofing their location to get better deals"

      Only utter tightwads.

      Ordinary peeps pay A LOT for convenience. Amazon undercuts iTunes on most MP3s, but iTunes is just more convenient. Wish the industry woke up to this.

  43. Dick Emery
    Paris Hilton

    Devaluation in a capitalist world

    What I see here is only what is the tip of a very large iceberg. In the 'good ol' days' the main driving factor for technological advancement were wars. These days however technology is driven by consumerism (cAKA capitalism). It's a keeping up with the Jones's society. This has led us all towards the brink of world financial bankruptcy. Everybody has been living beyond their means on loans they could never really afford to repay. Including the banks themselves.

    The iWants and iHaves have forced a burden onto the iNeeds and iCan't afford's of this world. Market forces are showing that the type of capitalism pushed by the greedy few does not work. At least not anymore.

    Everyone dreams of a better and prosperous future but we are now forced by circumstances built into the very fabric of society to work towards ever higher goals. That nice place to live (A house/flat which is the biggest fininancial drain on our incomes), our childrens upbringing, a car (usually at least two or more because our transport infrastructure is crap), the big screen TV, games consoles, computer and all the other technology pushed upon us. We are now told we must all have an internet connection in order to do things we did not need to do when it did not exist. Many high street chains are closing and only exist souly in the iWorld. Physical objects are beginning to become less tangible as they get converted to bits and bytes in the virtual world.

    Now we hit an economic pothole because of all that has gone before and right at the point when physical media such as CD/DVD's etc are really not needed anymore and the companies that existed purely on sales of said physcial media don't understand how to scale it to a digitally connected world. It's a case of futureshock in it's purist form.

    Now we have the 'Can't affords rioting and pillaging on the streets and everyone moaning about how the 'yoof' of today has no respect blah blah etc. Well guess what. We all bought this upon ourselves.

    I don't entirely blame the media industry. The real blame lies with us. For wanting more than our fair share and for allowing those in power to lead us on with false promises of a better life if you tick this box on the balot paper.

    Paris for obvious reasons.

    Paris because she knows all about consumerism.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    "roughly 10 per cent of North Americans surveyed by Nielsen

    have used file-sharing software in the last three months."

    The other 90% didn't want to admit it.

  45. Joe Harrison Silver badge

    If you can't buy it you can't buy it

    I occasionally listen to mainstream music but most of what I like comes from half a dozen really obscure sub-genres. Mostly it is literally not for sale. If they have in fact done a CD then I buy it from the specialists such as cdbaby.com but usually I can't. Word of mouth download direct from the artist its the way of the future.

  46. FuzzyTheBear

    Said it once , no twice .. err

    Musicians are getting peanuts while the labels are making the dough.

    Suggestion : new device at the musicians place. Server with CC processing .

    Wanna be buyer of an album hits the artist website , gets the whole album for a dollar.

    Musician makes more money , at that price , people buy the album directly.

    Even if the artist was to make but a dollar a download , they would still make more than what the labels are giving them,

    Freedom is refusing the status quo and doing something about it.

    You dont like what you pay ? start hacking the hardware for the musicians.

    ( And make a killing selling the new appliances to musicians .. sounds like a gig to me .. )

    Ric

    1. Horned-Devil
      FAIL

      Just that simple huh?

      So, the musician now needs to be a tax expert in every area where their potential customers could be located as tax rules (eg sales tax etc) may differ depending on the location of the customer? They then also have to be skilled in webdesign to build up this website so that these fans can access one. Also need to be upto date on latest PCI and data storage rules to ensure that they are correctly storing these credit card details. Have to have a relationship with the bank to get the merchant account. Need to be good at SEO and webmarketing in order for their site to be seen in general by the mass market. Need to have some form of server maintenance to ensure that this server has a significant amount of uptime as well as having decent enough security to avoid the above mentioned hacks...

      or they could concentrate on writing and performing music

      I fully believe the music industry has the wrong business model, the wrong pricing model and the wrong distribution model (and dislike a lot of mainstream music) but lets not pretend that the labels do absolutely nothing...

  47. GhostSeven
    Pirate

    @If the cap fits

    You really are quite dumb, it is clearly not as simplistic as you make out. I especially enjoy the fact that people who pirate are as bad as the London rioters, yes a clear comparison there.

    Back to the DM comment boards with you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Dumb?

      Dumb enough not to use the "Reply to this post" button?

  48. hana

    content availability

    there are countries where people want to be able to (legally) buy digital content, but their options to do so are fairly limited. piracy may not go away completely if there are more legal content sources, but it certainly might decrease

  49. JS001

    the industry is suing the right people

    On the contrary, it seems to me the industry is suing the right people, because the people too poor to pay for music aren't going to have much money to go after in court, are they?

    Good point about the relative expense of goods in different countries, but there is of course a limit to how low the price can bet set, assuming one wants to at least break even.

  50. twebeast

    Conclusion doesn't meet analysis

    Accepting that pricing in developing economies should be much lower, then the choice faced by the music authorities is to either

    a) chase a high volume of piracy for low value per-unit returns. Quite often in legal environments which are going to be less supportive of this activity, or

    b) chase a lower volume of piracy for high value per-unit returns. In more favourable legal environments.

    In what way are they chasing the wrong targets?

    Yes, it might feel like the effort is being unfairly focused on Europe and USA, but it's a pracgmatic approach.

    If pricing, culture and legal environment are significant factors in other markets, then it's probably worth investing in these areas ahead of trying to nail individuals there.

  51. Paul
    Mushroom

    pricing of music vs movies, and globalisation

    how many person-years does it take to make an album? perhaps 20 (the composer, the band, the editors, the graphics designers and the upfront manufacturing tehnicians).

    how many person-years does it take to make a movie? perhaps 400 (writers, screen writers, actors, musicians, crew, editors, CGI, etc).

    so how come a newly released CD of music doesn't cost about £1 compared to a new DVD release at £20?

    what irks me is how the manufacture of DVDs and CDs has moved overseas to take advantage of lower manufacturing prices (as has many goods), but when grey importes attempt to buy them at the market prices in the country of manufacture, they get stamped on. See the case of CDWOW who got slamed for importing legitimate media. Or SuperDrug and various expensive perfumes.

    So we as consumers who've lost our jobs to cheap overseas labour don't get the benefit of the cheaper manufacturing costs, only the greedy businesses.

    1. david wilson

      @Paul

      >>"how many person-years does it take to make an album? perhaps 20 (the composer, the band, the editors, the graphics designers and the upfront manufacturing tehnicians)."

      >>"how many person-years does it take to make a movie? perhaps 400 (writers, screen writers, actors, musicians, crew, editors, CGI, etc)."

      >>"so how come a newly released CD of music doesn't cost about £1 compared to a new DVD release at £20?"

      Because with content, as with any number of physical manufactured goods, the price is little to do with the cost of manufacture (or even design, manufacture, marketing, etc), and almost solely to do with what people are prepared to pay.

      The first thing a mate of mine was told when he got a job at a car parts distributor was that prices are almost totally unrelated to costs.

      A few things were even sold for a loss because they had to be available and a higher price was judged to look unrealistically high, whereas with other parts, the same part was sometimes sold at quite different prices depending whether it was sold to repair an expensive car or a cheap one.

      >>"Or SuperDrug and various expensive perfumes."

      But if someone has invested serious money here creating demand and willingness to pay for [overpriced] perfume by advertising, should someone else be able to just leech off that without contributing?

      Are the perfumes really only being bought because they're amazingly good, or are they being bought at least partly because someone has spent shedloads of cash trying to convince people that they're real luxury products?

      Surely for quite a few people, part of what makes them enjoy the product is the thought that it is a luxury rather than just a commodity, however shallow that might seem to others.

  52. Oninoshiko
    Meh

    Rock

    meet hard-place.

    The problem with this article is it kinda is shoving the studio-agencies between a rock and a hard-place. On one hand, you expect them to price based on regionally appropriate pricing, but at the same time they HAVE to assume the lowest is going to be what they get. The "grey market" imports will ensure that.

    Eliminates copyright violations though.

    ("grey market" imports are not copyright violations, because they copy *IS* made by the rights holders, not some non-authorized party)

  53. joe.user
    Thumb Up

    Duh

    Been saying this for over 8+ years. It's always been price. Check CNET forums.

    Obvious over and out.

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