ACS – Part 2

02004-10-27 | Uncategorized | 3 comments

Lookout! It’s another long post without photos…. ah, what the hell – here is a gratuitous guitar-shot:

Other Options Speaking of alternatives, if we don’t move toward an ACS or an Entertainment Coop, what is likely to happen? Most likely, one of three things:

1. Unauthorized copying continues to increase, and consumers increasingly rely up materials obtained (free) online for their entertainment needs. The film industry, in its current form, collapses – perhaps replaced by small, independent studios, financed by donations from corporations, foundations, and government agencies. Musicians continue to make recordings (inexpensively, using the rapidly improving digital recording technologies) but don’t earn any money from them, treating them instead as advertising for their performances.

2. The record companies and film studios, dismayed by the prospect of #1, persuade Congress to reinforce the copyright system substantially – for example, by adopting the INDUCE Act and sharply increasing criminal penalties for unauthorized reproduction of digital recordings. We see a protracted “war on piracy” very similar to the longstanding “war on drugs.”

3. Alternatively, the record companies and film studios persuade Congress to adopt some version of the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act – which requires the manufacturers of all consumer electronic equipment to embed in their products technology that recognizes and respects watermarks, and to remove from their devices all analog ports.

I’ve already explained in prior posts why I think #1 is an unattractive outcome – though plainly I have not persuaded everyone. That said, #1 is the least probable of the scenarios. The record and film industries are sufficiently powerful, and the majority of Congressmen are sufficiently sympathetic to them, that, if the fundamental transformation contemplated by #1 seems imminent, we will see legislation of type #2 or type #3.

Any thoughts, folks? Also, check out this response the author has for the value question:

Excellent question by Cory, echoed by Erik: “It doesn’t seem that this system addresses variation of value to the consumer. The Economist, for example, can charge a significantly higher yearly subscription fee than Entertainment Weekly, because its relative value to its (I suspect) smaller subscriber base is much higher. How does this system support niche items of high value to their niche?” It’s quite right that my proposal contains a mechanism for incorporating only one of the many variables that give rise to differences among recordings in terms of their value to consumers – namely, duration. But that seems to me acceptable with respect to music and film, where differences in value are not very great – as reflected in the fact that, in the current, market-based system, CDs and DVDs of all types sell for very similar prices, and the cost of admission to theatres varies little with the content of what’s shown on the screen. The same cannot be said (as Cory’s example notes) for print media, software, or games – which partly explains why I haven’t proposed incorporating such materials in my plan.

Perhaps, if we are to change the way we do business in the whole music and film industry, we should consider adding value differentiation to music and film? I have mentioned this before, specifically commenting on the fact that acoustic music is more expensive to produce than midi-music for example.


  1. Victor

    Just a couple observations since you have me thinking about this ACS issue today… 1)For consumers to accept this form of music distribution will be a big shift in paradigm – i.e. the music I have access to now resides in a central depository somewhere instead of having a copy in my home, 2)The technology will have to be good enough to where I don’t have to worry about being able to access the music I want when I want, 3)Access to the music will have to be cheap enough for everyone so that piracy isn’t profitable – otherwise we haven’t solved the piracy problem.

  2. Greg Hale

    What a complex subject! As a musician and visual artist I do beleive that there must be change in order for the arts to survive and move forward in America. Yes there should be value differentiation levels for work put forth into publication…but I don’t see any of the choices to do this as ideal to date. One of the fundamental problems with the music market as a whole is the unfortunate general lack of knowledge throughout the population mass (education), and awareness of how music is composed/recorded etc. But, This is what we get for killing many of the music and art programs in our schools over the past 10 years. Instead , for many out there, it all is about the end pricing to consumers. If a cd could be sold for $1.00, I guarantee you that there would be people saying that that is too high….If the music has validity and value that justifies the price, then as marketing shows, the price should be raised to the correct level…there is more perceived value when an item is sold at what the market will bear. The danger of diluting pricing to a rediculous level close to nothing will eventually mean that there will be less serious musicians putting forth new work for the masses, and there will be a continual decline in the market along with listening choices. I realize that there are many who continue to rip cd’s illegally….and it’s just plain theft and desecration of the arts and artists. I think that we have enough jails, so if all of us out there realize in some way that purchases support the advancement of the arts, and honesty in general is easier than dishonesty, then we will get somewhere positive with all of this.

  3. Carol

    oooo I love that guitar with the shadow of it’s coiling strings in the eerie greenness. A bewitching instrument without a doubt.


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