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.
Iâ€™ve already explained in prior posts why I think #1 is an unattractive outcome â€“ 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.