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Is Filesharing Really Bad?

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Is Filesharing Really Bad?

Post by Mojo on Wed Sep 11, 2013 7:52 pm

One of the most talked about issues concerning the Internet over the last 10 years is the effect of file sharing on the music, DVD, TV, and movie theatre industries.  If you were to listen to the various media conglomerates, you might have the picture that file sharing is going to ruin those industries resulting in lost jobs and possible bankruptcy for all but the largest of the large.

But is it true?  Let's break down the media industries 1 by 1 and see....

The Music Industry

There's no doubt that the music industry has changed.  In the last 10 years we've seen the CD replaced by the MP3,  the rise of file sharing and paid digital downloads, the fall of the brick and mortar store, and the shifting to streaming services like Pandora and Spotify.  However, a funny thing happened during this change.  The record companies are still stuck in their old ways of doing business.

With digital sales, the price of a digital download album is much cheaper than a CD bought in a brick and mortar store.  However, the rates that the record companies charge artists is still the same.  Therefore artists and making far less royalties than before and still paying fees for distribution and packaging and a host of things not required for digital downloads.  Why?  Because the artists are not pushing for better terms for fear that they'll lose their contracts.

What I would like to see is for more artists to forgo the traditional route of the labels and take it directly to their customers.  Studio costs are down and artists strapped for cash can turn to sites like Kickstarter to get funding for recording and promotion costs and keep what's left instead of giving it to a label exec. like Tommy Mottola. 


They also don't need the marketing of a big label to get their music heard thanks to Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube and a bunch of indie sites.  The artists have more options than ever.  It's just up to them to realize this and make the switch. 

As far as the major labels,  they need to accept that digital is not going anywhere and their strangle hold on the industry is hastening their demise faster than file sharing ever will. 

They don't seem to be accepting that as their main focus of late is lobbying Congress for higher royalty rates from streaming services.  Where this leads remains to be seen. Expect this to be highly debated in 2014 in the halls of Congress.


DVD SALES AND RENTAL

DVD sales and rentals are down, there's no question of that.  I argue though it's because DVD's themselves are dying. 

I don't know about you, but I used to dread going to the video store to rent movies.  They never had what I wanted, the people that worked there were mostly clueless, and when you got done watching the movie you had to schlep your way back to the store to return it.  To me it was always a bigger hassle than it was worth and it kept me from regularly renting movies.

It is infinitely easier to rent from online distributors like ITunes or Vudu.  Netflix is also great but frankly the choices are limited.  Same with Amazon and others.  These services are helping with the decline of traditional DVD sales and rentals but not as much as that juggernaut YouTube is.

At any given time, day or night, you can watch practically any movie or TV show ever created in the confines of YouTube for free.  The amount of material there is staggering.  If I have YouTube, is their really any need to download illegally?

BOX OFFICE SALES

I don't see where the MPAA has a leg to stand on here.  Box Office sales have never been stronger.  They set records for sales in 2012 and will likely do the same in 2013.  Even in a tough economy, people are going to the movies in droves and file sharing doesn't seem to even be making a dent.

SUMMARY

Illegal content through file sharing is a gray area but to bastardize it as the sole problem facing media companies is ludicrous.  Time and again, these conglomerates run around bemoaning illegal downloads like Chicken Little screaming about the sky falling.  The solution is for the major companies to evolve their business models and make it affordable for everyone.  When you do that, I guarantee you'll be seeing more people use legal means to watch content.

The movie industry thought TV would kill their business.  The music industry was sure radio would kill their business.  Cable was surely going to kill the video rental market. Well guess what?  They didn't because the industry adapted to the changes and found ways to not only co-exist but thrive from each other.

That is the key
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