17 June 2008

The BPI Makes the BBC Broadcast its Stupidity

When I read this riposte by British Phonographic Industry's chief executive, Geoff Taylor, to an eminently reasonable column by Bill Thompson, who had noted the futility and counterproductive nature of attempts to stop filesharing, one passage immediately struck me:

Let's look at the figures. More than six and a half million people in the UK illegally access and distribute music, and it is plain wrong to say that this is good for music.

Independent research has shown time after time that people who download illegally generally spend less on music than people that don't, which undermines investment in new music.

Hang on a minute, I says to mesself: isn't it exactly the opposite - that there are oodles of studies that show that people who download music actually spend *more*? Alas, I was feeling lazy, and I couldn't be bothered hunting out the verse and chapter to show that Mr Taylor was talking a load of nonsense.

But then, the wonder that is the blogospher kicked in. Techdirt's Mike Masnick picked up the rather insubstantial gauntlet flung down by Graham, and answered thusly:

The real kicker, though, is his claim that independent studies say that those who use file sharing spend less on music. That's simply untrue. Study after study after study after study after study after study has shown the exact opposite -- noting that people who file share tend to be bigger music fans, and are more likely to spend on music.

If that's not a refutation, I don't know what is.

But what's really pathetic about this is that somebody in a nominally responsible position - one capable of making the BBC print "his side of the story" - should so barefacedly misrepresent the facts in order to cast slurs on an journalist's reputation.

Wouldn't it be rather better to face up to reality, admit that things in the digital world have "moved on" in Tony Blair's oft-repeated phrase, and come up with a better business model? Not least because it's pretty damn obvious to even the spottiest teenager else what that might be.

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