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LSE experts question music industry claims on file-sharing

Two days before the opening of a Judicial Review on the Digital Economy Act (DEA), a new report from the London School of Economics and Political Science casts doubt on the proportionality and likely effectiveness of measures to protect intellectual property, due to be implemented by the DEA. This report, called ‘Creative Destruction and Copyright Protection’ by Bart Cammaerts and Bingchun Meng (London School of Economics), has been commissioned by the LSE Media Policy Project.

The LSE Media Policy Project research finds that:

  • The DEA gets the balance between copyright enforcement and innovation wrong. The use of peer-to-peer technology should be encouraged to promote innovative applications. Focusing on efforts to suppress the use of technological advances and to protect out-of-date business models will stifle innovation in this industry.
  • Providing user-friendly, hassle-free solutions to enable users to download music legally at a reasonable price, is a much more effective strategy for enforcing copyright than a heavy-handed legislative and regulatory regime.
  • Decline in the sales of physical copies of recorded music cannot be attributed solely to file-sharing, but should be explained by a combination of factors such as changing patterns in music consumption, decreasing disposable household incomes for leisure products and increasing sales of digital content through online platforms.

According to report author, Bart Cammaerts, “The music industry and artists should innovate and actively reconnect with their sharing fans rather than treat them as criminals. They should acknowledge that there are also other reasons for its relative decline beyond the sharing of copyright protected content, not least the rising costs of live performances and other leisure services to the detriment of leisure goods. Alternative sources of income generation for artists should be considered instead of actively monitoring the online behaviour of UK citizens.”

LSE expert, Bingchun Meng, argues that "the DEA has given too much consideration to the interests of copyright holders, while ignoring other stakeholders such as users, ISPs, and new players in the creative industry. I hope the Judicial Review will make the government reconsider its approach toward file-sharing."

The full report can be found on the LSE Media Policy Project blog: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/mediapolicyproject/|

For further information contact:

The LSE press office: Tel: +44 (0)20 7955 7060 Email: pressoffice@lse.ac.uk|

The Report authors: Bart Cammaerts: +44 (0) 7919 422 148, Bingchun Meng: b.meng@lse.ac.uk|  

For further information and to comment on the reports, please see the LSE Media Policy Project’s blog: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/mediapolicyproject/|

For regular updates on the LSE Media Policy Project’s activities:

Follow us on twitter http://twitter.com/#!/LSEmediapolicy|  

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Notes: For more information on the DEA, IP and LSE research on the topic, see the background dossier on file-sharing, copyright and the DEA at http://bit.ly/ffsNIS|, which contains sections relevant to the DEA (1), the judicial review (2) and the government review on intellectual property (3).

1. The Digital Economy Act was passed shortly before the end of the last Labour Government in 2010, and following consultation by Ofcom is due to be implemented in coming months. Measures include new obligations on ISPs to maintain records of persistent file sharers that can be released to copyright owners, and eventually powers to disconnect internet subscribers.

2. In June 2010, BT and Talk Talk announced that they planned to Judicially Review the Digital Economy Act which they argued was poorly conceived, disproportionate, and likely to be ineffective.

3. In November 2010 David Cameron announced a full review of Intellectual Property, to be headed by Professor Ian Hargreaves.

Posted on 21 March 2011.

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