With the Gowers report in 2006, and the recent piracy consultation, it might seem like the UK government is at the forefront of trying to bring copyright laws into the 21st Century. Yet, if it is ignored, the information is worthless, so it’s important to keep the government reminded. This, then, appears to be the rationale behind MusicTank’s report, “Let’s Sell Recorded Music”.
MusicTank, which describes itself as “a business development network for the UK music industry” formed the events around a simple premise,that “The creation of viable alternatives to unlicensed file sharing” has “the potential to produce the most satisfactory outcome for all stakeholders, including consumers.” This report features the conclusions from that event.
Much of the focus is positive as well, with strong points being made about the quality available from online services, their price comparison to physical sales and the worry ISPs share over the slippery slope of blocking content. However, one of the best summations of the current state of music and the Internet comes from Playlouder‘s Paul Sanders:
“The music business is putting a lot of effort into shouting at ISPs and comparatively little into selling them music”
This cuts to the core of the problem. No amount of Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) will change things if the entertainment industries are too busy complaining about others not doing what the industries think they should be doing, whilst those same industries are not doing what the customers think they should be doing.
On the other side of the coin though, there are major issues that barely get mentioned. Wrongful identification of copyright infringers – a topic we have covered extensively, with many examples in the past year alone – gets a single mention on page 9, from Carphone Warehouse representative Andrew Heaney, although he did note that it may be an infringement of consumer rights. However, that it gets only half a paragraph, while the quality and cost issue gets a page, is not encouraging.
The report as a whole highlights the problems facing everyone on all sides, but skimps on the consumer-side somewhat, while music industry claims are given somewhat exaggerated credence, despite the continued lack of supporting evidence. However, like last month’s Ipoque report, it seems that there is more balance being given to reports on this subject. Whether the people at Rand take note is a different matter.
The problem is, though, with major consumer issues given such quick mention, and with the many luminaries including the man behind the MoU – Secretary of State for Culture, Andy Burnham MP – present and participating, the issues that are not deemed very important in this report, may not be deemed as important to those involved. It may end up that that the unsubstantiated claims of loss by the music industry are deemed more important than the rights of citizens, and that’s not good for anyone.