After nearly a decade of denial, the RIAA has finally accepted the effectiveness of innovation in its battle against piracy. This is following its attempts to sue college students, supporting outdated anti-piracy laws and even closing the shutters on LimeWire. But thankfully, the organization has finally seen the benefit in going for innovation to bring illegal downloading to a stop. However, this admission on the part of RIAA is also tinged with the usual emphasis of its achievements in bringing piracy under control through strict enforcement. This is evident from the inflated statistics the organization has put out.
A Change in Heart
For many years, there were suggestions that the best way for music publishing companies to eradicate or lessen music piracy was by digitizing music. The RIAA, however, stuck to its guns that competing with free was nigh impossible. This approach has undergone a significant change today and is evident in the below statement by them,
“The single biggest weapon in the fight against piracy is innovation apart from experimentation and close cooperation with our technical partners, which will allow fans an easier access to legal music.”
The inclusion of the word ‘remains’ is vital here since it marks the first time RIAA has openly admitted that innovation is perhaps more effective than enforcement.
The Devil in the Detail
While anti-legislation activists welcomed this change of heart from RIAA, they obviously failed to examine the entire article where the above statement first appeared. That article is full of spurious claims and dubious statistics regarding copyright enforcement and its overall effectiveness.
Sample this from Joshua Friedlander, RIAA Vice President (Strategic Data Analysis), “Although we are well aware of the effectiveness of our anti-piracy measures, it’s always nice to see the real-world effects of the same. And the two new studies complementing our efforts have only made us happier.”
The first of the two aforementioned studies relates to the French Hadopi anti-piracy law. This study drew a direct relation between the introduction of this law and a rise in the sales of iTunes. A highly miscalculated conclusion as the jump is generally attributed to the media buzz surrounding the law a year before it was implemented. What’s even more surprising is that iTunes sales actually went down in the first year of Hadopi’s implementation. The study has formed such conclusions without considering any variables at all.
The second study is more of an RIAA achievement report rather than an actual study. It concentrates on how LimeWire’s shutdown negatively affected music piracy. The study has gone on to claim that almost 9 million people/year withdrew from music piracy once LimeWire was shutdown. But the RIAA has absolutely no evidence to link the two events together. Indeed, there are even whispers about the existence of some degree of manipulation on the RIAA’s part. Simple statistics show that the rate of drop in music piracy was nearly same in the pre- and post-LimeWire era.
All said and done, it is amply clear that law enforcement alone will not eradicate or even reduce piracy. The best and most feasible option continues to remain innovative ideas for uprooting piracy.