“Home taping is killing music,” the record labels chanted almost 30 years ago. The plea fell on deaf ears: the techniques for getting something for nothing have become ever more complex with the universality of the internet over the past 10 years.
Napster was a piece of software that allowed people around the world to swap songs with each other by clicking a button on their computer. The company was eventually sued in 2000, leading not only to Napster’s closure but also heralding a sequence of court cases against the multitude of filesharing services that were springing up.
One of the most popular, Grokster, was closed in 2005 after a US supreme court ruling, while Australia forced another well-known service, Kazaa, to agree a settlement with the music industry worth more than $100m (about £67m).
Pirate Bay had support from unlikely quarters, one of who was Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. Well maybe not so unlikely when Paolo Coelho allows his own work to be made freely available on Pirate Coelho, much to the chagrin of his publishers. But what Paulo Coelho has shown is that if you make available on the net, public awareness increases and more books are sold.
As Paulo shows in his latest novel The Winner Stands Alone, the film and fashion industry is a greed driven business. To which I would add the rest of the entertainment business, which includes the music business and sport.
Who is ripping off who when on sale is a shirt or blouse or pair of jeans or trainers that costs $70 in the shops and one dollar is the factory gate price? Go back some years and the music business was griping about audio cassettes, presumably before that the sale of reel-to-reel tapes. They equated every cassette sold with a lost album sale. Their logic was seriously flawed. No way was these people going to go out and buy their offerings, thus no sales were lost. I see nothing wrong with friends passing around their music. There was a time when a few CDs had copy protection. They did not meet the Red Book standard for a Compact Disc, with the net result they would often not play. Strictly speaking they were not CDs as they did not meet the standard for CDs.
If we went away on vacation, we would take our personal CD player with us and a handful of favourite CDs.we took copies, which I then gave away before returning home. More people were introduced to music they were previously unaware of. Copy protection and regional encoding on DVDs is another pain in the neck with DVDs. Download AnyDVD or DVD43. AnyDVD has the advantage that it strips out not only regional encoding, but also the annoying trailers and adverts. The industry is only interested in the next big block buster. Look around at the multiplex-multiscreen cinemas, at any one time they are all showing the same films. Where is the choice?
There are exceptions. The Electric Theatre in Guildford during its film seasons has a good selection of films. What the industry fails to understand is that their products are overhyped and overpriced. We was given the latest James Bond film Quantum of Solace months before it was officially released. Having watched it we would not part with good money to buy it for the simple reason it is a load of rubbish, a poor copy of the Bourne trilogy. In many ways a pity as the new James Bond is one of the best. In turn, we gave away our copy.
There are good films, but they lack the distribution. Try Black Gold or Favela Rising, both of which we saw at various times at the Beyond TV film Festival, and then went on to buy. Cannes and all its glitz and glamour and pretensions Beyond TV is not.
If we want a film or album, we pick it up from a good second-hand record shop. Rare N Racy Sheffield is a favourite place. For books, there are plenty of secondhand bookshops around, though sadly nowhere near as many as there used to be. Pirate Coelho is not the only place to find books. The book on sustainable energy is Sustainable Energy by David MacKay, Professor of Natural Philosophy in the Department of Physics at the University of Cambridge. The book is available for download as a pdf file, plus there are lecture notes and a mp3 file of a lecture.
What will the industry try next, to close down all the secondhand bookshops and record shops? This is not as fanciful as it sounds, look at the biocide industry which has done its best to stop farmers from saving seeds for the next harvest, something Man has done ever since he learnt how to walk. One reaction to this is highly successful seed swaps.
Corporate greed, monculture, lack of choice versus diversity and choice.