Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Is trying to to stop online piracy a waste of time? [video]

Check out the link below for a recent YouTube clip from Truthloader featuring a live debate from a variety of figures on digital piracy.

Meant to upload some months ago, but I got distracted by back-to-back episodes of It's always sunny in Philadelphia on Netflix...

It includes Joe Karaganis, who authored the recent 'Media Piracy in Emerging Economies' report which can be accessed here.

It's good to get people from different countries talking about piracy. It's a difficult one, as a global problem, that rarely do different points of view from different countries (with their own laws and norms) come together. To this end, check out the report above also.

While you're on YouTube, why not search for related videos (including hilarious anti-piracy clips..).

Tweets @musicpiracyblog

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Recommended (free) digital book 'Divergent Streams'

Don't say I'm not good to you.

Found a book titled 'Divergent Streams' which can be found here via the publisher Leanpub which is worth checking out in its own right (where I suspect a few other titles might be of interest).

Attention-grabbing enough with it's pay-what-you-want model (recommend price of £0.00), the book is notable more for being easily available - not just free. As you know, I strive for content to promote on this blog which is open-access. It's not an easy thing to do, believe me.

I will confess to not having read it yet, but thought it would be a good call to promote it while it's still hot (can digital books still be hot?). The (varied) content is broken up well, with attention paid to various related content including live music (rare).

Written by a variety of contributors and edited by Kyle Bylin (who has his fingers in many a digital pie it seems), asks:

Are streaming music services, such as Pandora and Spotify, making a good enough effort to help artists find fans? What are the challenges faced by today's independent musician? Does the digital album have a future?

Tweets @musicpiracyblog

Friday, 17 May 2013

Is bootlegging piracy?

No, says Marshall (2004) and Kernfeld (2011).


Because bootlegs aren't copies of official recordings. There's no substitution.

Both authors also argue for positive promotional effects of bootlegs, where we return to a familiar theme on this blog which is recorded music now selling live music (even if it is recordings of live concerts).

This argument also calls into play the recent blog entry 'Does piracy offset legal sales of recorded music?'.

Check it out.

The recent wave of re-mastered albums, which come packaged with rarities (such as The Smashing Pumpkins), makes me wonder if artists actively hold onto rare gems for this reason. I imagine hardcore fans will purchase already-bootlegged copies of songs to hear them with good audio quality.

There's plenty of examples to suggest that this is indeed the case.

What do you think?

Speaking of audio quality, I can see a future blog entry on 'official bootlegs' on the (five!) horizons...

Marshall has written extensively on bootlegging, with one of his books listed in the 'References' section below.

Related infrequent Tweets @musicpiracyblog


Kernfeld, B. (2011). Pop Song Piracy: Disobedient Music Distribution Since 1929. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. 

Marshall, L. (2004). The effects of piracy upon the music industry: a case study of bootlegging. Media, Culture and Society, 26(2), 163-181.

Marshall, L. (2005). Bootlegging: Romanticism and Copyright in the Music Industry. Sage: London

Friday, 10 May 2013

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes in the law (and why they don't work)

You may have noticed the lack of discussion on this blog about what is going on in the wider world regarding legislative changes, court battles etc. There's a good reason for this - there's a lot of it.

The focus of this blog is to present research findings concerning music piracy to help inform lively discussion. It does this very well.

The twitter feed @musicpiracyblog is the place to be for links to this sort of content, where it is covered very well by other web resources including Music Week and TechDirt.

To contribute in some way though, here is what evidence-based speculation looks like.

Pirates will continue to find alternative ways to access music illegally, regardless of what technological or legislative changes occur. One reason, is because they can. A perceived historical unfairness in the music industry may never be wiped clean from the collective consciousness of pirates. They will continue to find new ways to listen to music without paying just because they can.

Everytime a door is closed, a window opens somewhere else. It has happened time and time again over the last few years when file-sharing services have been suspended. It just isn't working.

Legislative changes don't consider the range of individual differences involved in piracy behaviours, side-stepping essential knowledge on human motivation for example, when forming policy-making decisions. 

As Marshall (2004) states: "The Napster wars will not be won by law or economics... Technical solutions are therefore not the answer... The industry has to persuade the public that infringing copyright on the internet is wrong (p.8).

This, in principle, is a better stance. However, it is well known and understood from Psychological research that people are able to hold one belief or attitude and act in an entirely different way. Various neutralisations and rationalisations are also effectively utilised to minimise any associated guilt with deviant behaviours.

So, where does that leave us?

Well, it leaves us set up quite nicely for a future blog entry on the need to continue to improve legal alternatives. Things are going well here, and there's alot of new players on the horizon.

This is perhaps the single best anti-piracy strategy of all, to offer up convenient alternatives to piracy (insert: countless digital services nowadays).

The future is looking bright on the digital music front.

And on that cheery note, here's a live video of Pearl Jam's 'Smile' that should make you, ahem, smile.



Marshall, L. (2004). Metallica and Morality: The Rhetorical Battleground of the Napster Wars. Entertainment and Sports Law Journal, 1, 1-3.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Recommended books #3

Kernfeld, B. (2011). Pop Song Piracy: Disobedient Music Distribution Since 1929. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago.

In this text, cited in previous entries, Kernfeld provides a comprehensive overview of piracy from the days of 'Tin Pan Alley' right up to the present day. A quick and accessible book, it is also free from bias.

Tapscott D. and Williams, A.D. (2010). Macrowikinomics. Atlantic Books: London.

In this book, Tapscott and Williams provide an account of 'wikinomics' (or crowdsourcing/peer-production) and how it has redefined newspaper, music and movie industries. It draws heavily from real-life case studies to make convincing arguments.

A move away from academia, here you have a historical account of piracy and a business angle on related topics and themes to draw from.

Dig in!

Tweets @musicpiracyblog