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February 16, 2012

What We Think About When We Think About Content Piracy

Long read here examining what we know and what we think we know about piracy and how it effects basically everything. Sympathy for the IP Industry -- Code and Culture
I would say that a more important issue is the second-order effects. This appears in some of the anti-anti-piracy arguments as some variation of “people won’t pirate if you make content available in a convenient format at a reasonable price” or “piracy is a customer service issue.” I think this is basically true as an empirical matter and it’s certainly a very parsimonious description of my own behavior. The trick is that you can rephrase the argument as “the threat of piracy has forced distributors to lower their price points and adopt formats that are less desirable to the producer.” As Kernfeld notes in Pop Music Piracy, this is a very old pattern. Basically, producers create some kind of format at a high price point and consumers buy it until a pirate comes along and both undercuts them on price and introduces format innovations. At this point the incumbents try for awhile to suppress it, before giving up by adopting the pirate’s format innovations and dropping their price point. That is, the incumbents ultimately realize that the only way to deal with piracy is a “convenient format at a reasonable price.” Kernfeld emphasizes mid-20th century pirated songbooks as competition for legitimate individual pieces of sheet music but he also applies it to the more familiar case that the music industry only gave in to low price (and eventually DRM free) digital singles to replace high price CDs as a desperate rearguard action against music file-sharing. Recorded music revenues have dropped precipitously since the late 1990s but only a minority of this was the direct result of sales substituted by piracy. Rather the great bulk of the drop was from the shift from CD albums at a price point of $15 to digital singles at a price point of $1. We have in fact seen a large increase in units shipped, but mostly in digital singles at the low price point. You can see this clearly by looking at Census Statistical Abstract table 1140 and contrasting the unit sales in the top half with the dollar value in the bottom half. To fully make up retail sales we would’ve needed a 15-fold increase in volume and this has not happened. Even if we appreciate that there digital implies lower costs (no inventory) and think about wholesale rather than retail, we’d still need something like a 5-fold increase in sales to make up for lower revenues. . . .

February 13, 2012

The Obama administration has prosecuted more leakers than all the previous Presidents combined

A High-Tech War on Leaks - NYTimes.com
“The government does not pursue every leak,” said Mark Corallo, who served as the Justice Department’s spokesman in Mr. Bush’s administration. “On balance, it is more important that the media have the ability to report. It’s important to our democracy.” That does not seem to be the view of the Obama administration, which has brought more prosecutions against current or former government officials for providing classified information to the media than every previous administration combined. “It increases the level of paranoia,” Steven Aftergood, an expert on government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, said of recent trends. “As security has been ratcheted up, so has the anxiety of many government officials about dealing with the press and the public.” Mr. Corallo, who served under Mr. Bush’s attorney general John D. Ashcroft, said he was “sort of shocked” by the volume of leak prosecutions under President Obama. “We would have gotten hammered for it,” he said. The current administration attributes the volume of prosecutions to happenstance and the availability of evidence, rejecting accusations of politically motivated selective prosecution.

February 02, 2012

Republican Congressmen have journalist arrested for covering oublic meeting about fracking

He wasn't causing a ruckus, just trying to film sleazeball politicians grandstanding against the EPA. 'Gasland' Filmmaker Josh Fox Arrested For Trying To Film Fracking Hearing | ThinkProgress
Josh Fox, the documentarian whose Oscar-nominated film “Gasland” exposed the risks of unregulated natural gas fracking, was arrested in handcuffs by U.S. Capitol Police at the behest of Republican lawmakers after refusing to stop filming today’s GOP hearing attacking EPA oversight of fracking’s air and water pollution. “I’m within my First Amendment rights, and I’m being taken out,” Fox shouted as he was led away, Politico reports. Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) called a motion to suspend the committee rules and allow for Fox and an ABC crew also present to film the hearing, but Republicans rejected the motion.