Punchinello’s Chronicles

October 12, 2008

Removing Intellectual Property Rights

Here’s an interesting problem that’s been showing up over the past five or more years. Music companies can’t charge money anymore for the songs their artists record. No matter what they do, copying and downloading tunes is happening much faster than anyone can clamp down to prevent it. Commecial recordings aren’t working very well anymore, everyone just copies one an emails it to everyone else.

Two things come to mind. First, where does that initial disk come from? Without an original, where does anyone get copies? The second thing is that some people argue that the model for paid music is dying out.

Apparently, music and using musicians for entertainment is actually an older profession than prostitution. It’s the actual world’s oldest profession. And somehow, we’re coming to a point where the whole profession will be wiped out because nobody wants to pay for original music anymore. Think that’s true? Really?

What would happen if every musician in the world decided they’re not going to offer recordings of their music anymore? Suppose the only way you could hear new music was at a concert or if you hire the original band?

But wait, isn’t that what’s happening? Aren’t concert ticket prices going through the roof? How come that’s the case if everyone can instantly download anything they want and pay nothing at all? Who would possibly want to go to a concert when they can hear perfectly good recordings for free?

Massive recording companies didn’t always exist. It wasn’t the only way to hear music. In fact, it was only during the rock-and-roll revolution that gigantic record labels came into their own. Before that, the world was made up of small recording studios and a lot of live bands. Recorded music, televised shows, M-TV and other ways to consolidate music came into business to reach larger audiences and make mo’ money.

Now it seems to be all crashing down. It must be greed, I guess. All those greedy downloaders and P2P networks handing out music for free to everyone. Unfortunately, a key concept gets lost in the mix. Who creates original music in the first place?

Markets do have a way of adjusting. Right now it seems as if whole areas of life and business will just disappear because of global demand, global pirating, and disregard for private ownership and property rights. But what everyone very quickly forgets is that the single, private individual who makes something has a choice. They can make it or not. They can offer it to large audiences through remote distribution, or not.

Nobody has to play world-teleivision concerts. Most musicians would be very pleased to play smaller local concerts, and take the proceeds from the ticket sales. So what if a million people who wanted to see the concert can’t, that’s not the musicians’ problem.

If global copying and nothing enforcing intellectual property rights continues, will that wipe out creative work? Of course not. It’ll only contract the market from global to local again.

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