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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?'

EMI, a member of the recorded music industry association IFPI which pursues file-sharers, is in financial trouble. But these particular  woes were not caused by file-sharers - instead,  it was the bankers which have the brought the company near to financial collapse. So how should policy-makers view the music industry?


 One of the big four music labels, EMI, is set for a major financial battle in the US courts this week.

The financial media are very excited, and positively foaming at the mouth,  at the prospect of the case. It is  is expected to turn into  high drama as the events unfold. EMI's  owner, Guy Hands, is suing Citigroup  over advice given by one of Citigroup's  investment bankers - advice which influenced Mr Hands decision to increase his purchase offer for EMI to £4.2 billion - a lot more than it was worth.

The court case illustrates that the underlying financial problems of the music industry may be quite different from what they like to say to policy-makers.  The purchase of EMI was

Read more: Music company EMI set for New York court showdown

UK film-makers want to retain their government subsidies - and not pay back. Given that they get massive tax breaks too, and   they want Internet companies to contribute to the cost of  censorship of copyrighted content, should they get so much public funding?  


In these austere times, a group of UK film producers is pleading  with  the government to subsidise  film production. The film industry  already gets government funding which is effectively a loan, as it has to be re-paid out of revenues. The film producers are now asking to be able to keep the money.

A letter to the Daily Telegraph, from the film producers club  known as PACT, suggests  "that the public sector should leave any returns with the production companies" and not ask for any money to be returned to the public purse.  

But their pleadings hide  the real problem in the film industry, which emerged through a

Read more: Give us State subsidies, say UK film-makers

Walt Disney Corporation has reported takings of $962 million for its latest film of Alice in Wonderland, helping to power its latest quarterly revenues to $8.6 billion. 

Disney has also reported quarterly profits of $968 million, reflecting a profit increase of more than $300 million for the quarter. 

These figures could give Vince Cable, the new UK Secretary of State for Business  food for thought, as he takes his place in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and skills today.  Mr Cable will be responsible for the Digital Economy Act and the implementation of the UK's 3-strikes measures. But with the much bigger problem of  getting the economy going,  surely support for Disney Corporation's already vast profits should fall to bottom of the pile?

 Meanwhile, I wonder what Alice would have made of deep packet inspection? Maybe Disney could use that in a sequel? 

Source for Disney' financial results: 

Financial Times,  Disney’s box-office hit lifts profits By Matthew Garrahan in Los Angeles


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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

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