The Value of Intellectual Property

We now have an entire generation that doesn’t view intellectual property as something to be purchased. They see it as having value, because they want it. But apparently it’s no longer something they should have to give money in exchange for. Music is the primary topic here, but film, books, etc. also fall under this category.

It’s time to either keep forcing wholly ineffective lawsuits, or begin to view it all very differently. Of course the latter is no fun for the overall industry (yes, everyone), and it is going to hurt, bad. But if we continue with the former, the latter becomes increasingly more inevitable.

No question that the technology of late has really changed the game, but technology at other points in time brought the same fears, questions and uncertainties.

I would argue that the overall industry has a lot of PR repair work to do with its consumer-base. The lawsuits did nothing but hurt. To the generation that grew up seeing the post-Napster efforts of the RIAA, it’s no wonder the record labels are hated (the rest of the industry is not off the hook). 

Do I think it’s right to steal music? Absolutely not.

Unfortunately, however, we are now faced with a situation where access to thievery is so stupid easy that attempts to scare potential disc-buyers through lawsuits is completely in vain.

Dr. E. Michael Harrington, an expert witness in copyright infringement cases, copyright law professor and guy with far too many other accolades to list here (I’m working on a post specifically about him), shared the following in a 9/1/09 piece in American Songwriter called “Inside Publishing.”

“…You get the content creators always standing in the way. They’re always fighting technology. The RIAA, if they had their way, there wouldn’t be an iPod. I think I’m always going to be on the other person’s side because all these technologies have been sued – VCR, radio, TV. Everything was the end of the world as we knew it. New technology threatens business, and then later on it becomes business.”

The two following must-see videos are parts 1 and 2 from a 1979 edition of 60 Minutes, where they cover the issue of piracy in the film industry. Keep in mind, this is 30 years ago; you may find yourself laughing at multiple points. As/if you do that, consider how we will be laughed at come 2039.


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