INDUSTRY RESPONSES


Keeping up with the changes

Consumers want to protect their rights; businesses want to protect their interests and their profits. So what changes are being made by these groups, and by external bodies, to match issues in the digital age? And are these changes addressing consumer, or industry, concerns?

As the choice for consumers widens, and the expectation of choice becomes more embedded in modern culture, the entertainment industry is seeking to make its content available in a wider array of formats. TV programs have not been immune to online piracy, and the provision of a legal alternative is one method of stemming this tide.?

Should funding and protection for the creative arts be provided?
Write down 3 reasons for and against funding and protecting the creative arts.

FOR
Against

You might also want to think about the following two questions

1. Who should be responsible for making sure new creative talent gets the chance to succeed – in fashion, music, art, film and so on?
2. Explore whether you think the industries themselves should be responsible, or whether consumer or government bodies should look after these concerns.

A range of organizations around the world have been set up across the creative industries in order to respond to growing instances of digital rights infringement. Increasingly, these groups are working with other organizations (e.g. government, the police, internet providers) in order to convey their messages.

Case study: the music industry

themusicindustryDigital music formats have changed the way we consume music, and arguably made it easier for new bands to break onto the scene. Music files can be downloaded easily online: convenient for the consumer and fine for record companies and artists provided they are getting something back – profits, usually – although sometimes artists are happy with press coverage and an increased fan base.

Task
1. What ‘official’ sources of music downloads do you know of?

2. Look at the average costs of downloading a music track. Where do you think the money you pay for a track goes?
Find some examples of artists who’ve made their material available online for free. Explain what you think they have got out of this arrangement.

3. Whilst there are plenty of legitimate ways to buy music online, there are also places where music is available illegally: filesharing networks being one of the key sources of illegal music files. But what exactly is illegal about an illegal download?

The issue is one of copyright. Artists who create music are the legal owners of that music (or their record companies are) and they are entitled to receive proceeds when their music changes hands – the same as when their CDs are sold in a shop. Illegal downloads are usually free, or if there is a cost involved, the proceeds do not go to the people who own the copyright in the music. Obviously this is a problem for the music industry, as it means lost income for them.

Although steps have been taken to reduce the availability of illegal downloads, and to give consumers more legal options, there are those who believe music should be free, and that record companies have been too slow to adapt to technological changes. But aside from exploiting someone else’s copyright, illegal downloads can also create problems for consumers in terms of unexpected content: users may end up with spyware or viruses rather than the music files they wanted. So do consumers have a duty to be responsible in their downloads? Should it come down to individual choice, or should an external body be involved?

In some countries, such as the United States of America, major internet service providers (ISPs) have agreed to a process of sending warning letters to customers who use illegal filesharing sites. These measures were portrayed as a way of educating internet users about digital rights infringement. Copyright owners and ISPs also said they would work to ensure that users have legitimate alternatives available. There have also been proposals to introduce a policy whereby after three warning letters, users persistently infringing copyright may have their internet connection withdrawn for a period. Such systems have been introduced in France and the Republic of Korea.

Balancing rights: digital users and creative producers

BalancingrightsThere has been much media interest in this mode of responding to online piracy. A summary of some responses from individuals and consumer groups concerned about these measures is given below.

Valid or invalid. Arguments for and against.

Read through the following arguments against monitoring illegal downloads, and consider whether you think a valid point is being made in each case. What responses do you think the copyright owners and ISPs might give to each of these arguments? What reassurances do you think internet users might want to hear?

ARGUMENT 1
Users should have free choice about which sites they use. If they want to use legal or illegal sites, that is their choice – not the choice of the state or the ISP.

VALID | INVALID

RESPONSE FROM COPYRIGHT OWNERS AND INTERNET USERS?

ARGUMENT 2
Monitoring people’s download activity is taking the ‘surveillance society’ too far: people’s daily activities shouldn’t be subject to constant observation and scrutiny.

VALID | INVALID

RESPONSE FROM COPYRIGHT OWNERS AND INTERNET USERS?

ARGUMENT 3
These proposals treat internet users as criminals – is this really how ISPs see their customers?

VALID | INVALID

RESPONSE FROM COPYRIGHT OWNERS AND INTERNET USERS?

ARGUMENT 4
This kind of system creates unfair costs for ISP’s. They should not have to worry about the interests of big entertainment companies.

VALID | INVALID

RESPONSE FROM COPYRIGHT OWNERS AND INTERNET USERS?