fitconniptions (fitconniptions) wrote,

Filesharing Is Not A Problem - A Response To Sarah Teather MP on #debill

Dear Sarah,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me. No need to apologise for the delay - I understand that your workload must be particularly heavy at this time and I very much appreciate that you were able to find a moment to write to me on the subject of the Digital Economy Bill (now Act).

I am glad that the Liberal Democrats chose to vote against the bill
and I agree that the way it was railroaded through without adequate
consideration was by itself good reason to vote against. However, I
would like to suggest to you that there are serious issues around the
substance of the parts of the bill regarding filesharing. In
particular your assertion that filesharing is 'a serious issue that
has been waiting a very long time to be addressed' is controversial.

There are those - including many ordinary musicians like myself - who
argue that filesharing is not a problem at all.

Ben Goldacre has written an excellent piece which demonstrates that
the figures on which the assertion that filesharing is a problem is
based are themselves highly problematic:


To (partly) summarise Goldacre: any research that equates a download
with a lost sale is fundamentally flawed. I have yet to see any
research from the BPI that does not do this. It is obvious that people
download far more than they would ever be able to buy - falsely
assuming otherwise is part of why figures for lost revenue as a result
of filesharing are grossly exaggerated.

Downloaders often delete much of what they download and buy legal
copies of the rest. In this way, some downloads can lead to greater
sales. That is not wishful thinking - here is some hard research
showing that those who download more also buy more:

- summary
- paper

The industry has got it wrong on filesharing, and it is a tragedy that
artists unions have uncritically taken the BPI line. Musician Steve
Lawson has explained to the MU why attacking the internet will hurt
him and other musicians:


He is not alone. Writer Nathaniel Tapley is deeply concerned about the
bill and the Writers Guild support for it:


During such debate as there was in the Commons last week, it was
repeatedly claimed that the filesharing parts of the bill were aimed
at protecting artists. In fact, as Cory Doctorow points out, industry
figures show that artists are making more than ever:


This may explain why Mo McRoberts' open letter to MPs supporting the
bill was signed by so many artists and musicians:


That letter contains assertions that far from being damaged by
filesharing, the UK music industry has research to show that it is
currently growing. Here is some of that research:

* -
summarises PRS research
- PRS research
- this is from the BPI themselves

Certainly business models are changing in response to technology and
there will be winners and losers over time. Of course large-scale
commercial piracy must be tackled - though I believe that it is
already well covered by existing law. New legislation on filesharing
that cuts into basic freedoms and which could actually damage the real
digital economy needs more than scrutiny - it should be thrown out in
the absence of actual hard evidence that filesharing is actually a
problem in the first place.

I know you are extremely busy right now - you have an election to
fight and there are many other issues which are of equal or greater
importance than the Digital Economy Act to deal with. For what it is
worth, following your letter, I am planning to vote for you in Brent
Central and will encourage like-minded others to do the same - this is
the most important issue to me at the moment and Dawn Butler, your
only serious opponent, actually voted for the bill.

Cheers and wishing you all the best for the election,


Posted via email from I Am Taking My Ball And I Am Going Home

Tags: deact, debill, filesharing

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