Music Biz: Study Discrediting French “3-Strikes” is “Nonsense”

Music Biz: Study Discrediting French “3-Strikes” is “Nonsense”

International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) notes that the law has yet to take effect, and that research involved a limited sampling of online users, but glosses over findings that  2/3 of former P2P users have simply switched to alternatives like illegal streaming sites and HTTP-based download services, both of which aren’t covered by country’s “three-strikes” legislation.

Last week I mentioned how researchers at the University of Rennes have found that illegal downloading in France has actually increased by 3% since the govt passed the controversial “Creation and Internet” law (HADOPI) last September.

The “three-strikes” graduated response system for disconnecting repeat infringers was hailed by copyright holders as the answer to illegal file-sharing in the country and would quickly turn pirates into customers.

Well, as most rational people would expect this hasn’t been the case. According to the study, 2/3 of former P2P users have simply switched to alternatives like illegal streaming sites and HTTP-based download services (i.e. Rapidshare), both of which aren’t covered by the “three-strikes” legislation.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has now criticized the findings, saying that it’s premature to judge the effectiveness of the law being that it has yet to take effect.

“It is nonsense to suggest that a study conducted before the HADOPI authority has sent a letter to a single infringing user is somehow a definitive judgment on the success or otherwise of France’s digital piracy laws,” says John Kennedy, the groups’s chairman and chief executive.

And he’s right. The law has yet to take effect, but the results couldn’t be any more clear. There are plenty of easy work arounds that fall inside and outside of HADOPI’s jurisdiction. This research only confirms that conclusion.

HADOPI will not shutdown neither illegal streaming sites nor HTTP-based download services anymore than it will Usenet or VPNs.

“France has pioneered a modern approach to tackling mass online copyright infringement. The government recognized that France’s creative industries were ultimately under threat if the illegal distribution of content made it too difficult for investors to recoup the financial backing they provide to the create books, films, games, music and television programs,” adds Kennedy. “We believe the approach will prove successful, but the impact of the law will only be known some time after it goes into effect. In the meantime, surveys like this are pure speculation.”

Illegal P2P only makes it difficult for copyright holders because they refuse to create distribution services with price points, selection, and accessibility that they demand.

Some copyright holders, for example, even refuse to allow backup copies or format shifting despite the fact that a customer decided to pay for a product rather than download it for free. Customers are penalized for making a purchase. How can they expect that to be good for business?

The IFPI also criticizes the fact that the survey was only based on a sample of 2,000 people from Brittany, where the University of Rennes is located, and was therefore not a nationally representative cross-section of online users. This is also true. But, again the results couldn’t be any more clear: 2/3 of former P2P users have simply switched to alternatives.

Legislation won’t cure piracy anymore than lawsuits will. The only way to turn people into paying customers is to give them an incentive to buy.

What pirates are actually doing is highlighting a failure in the marketplace and pointing out a better way of doing things. The only way to fight piracy and survive is by competing with pirates in the marketplace.

Stay tuned.

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