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Copyright Business

The other side of the copyright story - the so-called 'new business models' - receives far less attention at a policy level than the enforcement measures. The industry lobbying is overweight with recommendations for way s that governments can impose restrictions in order to protect copyright material. Conversely, the debate is less about how changing a business model can overcome the issues around the online dissemination of infringing content.

This issue has, of course, moved on a lot since I began this blog in 2008. Streaming has become the music industry's favoured business model, and streaming services like Spotify have blossomed. This has shifted the landscape. However, it is historically true that each time a new technology appears, the industries that have vested interests in copyright, increase the intensity of their lobbying. It is important for those engaged in copyright policy, to keep an eye on new developments and understand their implications and the opportunities for new ways to structure the entertainment and music businesses.

In this section, I have been logging information about the business of copyright. The idea is to begin to get a feel for the financial issues of the copyright industries and how to link them to policy decisions. Thus, it may seem a bit disjointed and sketchy, but it may provide threads for further investigation and to see where it leads. My feeling is that what policy-makers should not be asking is 'how big a problem is the downloading of copyrighted content?' but rather, 'what are the real problems in the copyright business?'. and not 'how can we protect copyrights?' but rather 'how can we achieve revenues for the copyright industries in the online environment?'

The music industry's woes - tumbling CD sales and the competition from online - get short shrift from that august organ of the money men, the Financial Times . Prompted by the £4 billion sale of recording industry giant EMI to private equity company Terra Firma, it asked:

"Is a brash but brainy outsider what the industry needs at a moment of crisis or will such culture clashes make him the latest wealthy amateur to fail on its glittering stage?". The question refers to the financier Guy Hands, who heads up Terra Firma, and who is, according to the FT, creating a number of cultural changes within the company.

The article does nothing to offer to offer comfort to industry executives and in fact offers a rather glum outlook for the immediate future. It predicts that retail shelf space for CDs will dramatically reduce in 2008, and that some record labels will disappear as online music promotion grows.

In a related piece , the FT describes how EMI's new owners are asking for EMI executives to provide greater financial justification for new projects including the provision of business plans before signing new artists or undertaking promotional activity.

From a policy-making perspective, the two articles provide food for thought at a time when the music industry continues to lobby heavily for a clampdown on music downloading. The general suggestion is that the industry's problems are caused as much by internal, as external, factors - and that the solutions will also be found internally.

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About Iptegrity

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I am an  independent policy advisor: online safety, technology and human rights. In April 2024, I was appointed as an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on online safety and empowerment of content creators and users. I am a published author, and post-doctoral scholar. I hold a PhD from the University of Westminster, and a DipM from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. I cover the UK and EU. I'm a former tech journalist, and an experienced panelist and Chair. My media credits include the BBC, iNews, Times, Guardian and Politico.

Iptegrity.com is made available free of charge for non-commercial use. Please link back and attribute Dr Monica Horten.  Contact me to use any of my content for commercial purposes.  

The politics of copyright

A Copyright Masquerade - How corporate lobbying threatens online freedoms

'timely and provocative' Entertainment Law Review