ACTA is not necessary

For years, we have been hearing the cries of the content industry, from the RIAA, the MPAA and here in the Netherlands from Stichting Brein: “Piracy is killing us”, “If piracy continues, no more great new music/films will be made”, “Won’t you think of the artists?” and “Piracy is theft”. That’s my favourite, that last one. It sure sounds like the creative industry is in dire trouble. I guess we’d better do something about these darned pirates, right? Well, that is where ACTA comes to the rescue.

As always, you should not believe everything you hear. Least of all if it is coming from an industry that is willing to sue people into bankruptcy for sharing a few songs online. Or an industry that is willing to violate your privacy and infect your computer with a rootkit to stop you from sharing some songs on the Internet. That downloading a film isn’t stealing should be well understood by now. After all, you’re not taking something from the rightful owner and a downloaded film does not equal a lost sale.
The content industry’s lament has been firmly debunked now in a Techdirt report, which shows that the business has not been declining or flat-lining but is in fact booming, even in times of economic upheaval. A few examples from the report reveal the following:

  • Entertainment industry growth equals 50%
    This in times when companies are forced to close their doors, downsize, restructure, etc.
  • Consumers increased spending on entertainment products
    So even though you lot download films and music, people still spent more on entertainment products. Go figure!
  • The global music industry value increased from $ 132 billion in 2005 to $ 168 billion in 2010. That’s an increase of $ 36 billion. There are days when I do not make this amount of money.
  • The music revenue for US artists rose by 16% from 2002 to 2010.
    I guess they aren’t starving after all.
  • During the biggest recession in 70 years, book publishing revenues increased by 5.6%.
    And here I was thinking people didn’t read any more.
  • In 1995, 1,723 feature films were produced worldwide, in 2009 this number was at 7,193, while box office sales rose from $ 25.5 billion in 2006  to $ 31.8 billion in 2010.
    So  I guess piracy hasn’t really harmed the film industry that much either.

Now, these are just the highlights of the report. I suggest you go read the whole thing if you’re interested. However, the report sums things up quite well at the end, in a single paragraph that I will quote here.

Unfortunately, it feels like much of the debate about copyright law over the past few decades has been based on claims about the state of an industry that simply don’t match up to reality.  Rather than decrying the state of the entertainment industry today and seeking new laws to protect certain aspects of the industry, we should be celebrating the growth and vitality of this vibrant part of our economy — while consumers enjoy an amazing period of creativity.

This report shows that new legislation such as ACTA, apart from the dangers to our privacy, our freedom of speech, freedom of information and such, isn’t even necessary! The content industry, despite its claims of doom, is doing quite well. The only reason they are pushing for ACTA to go through is to make their already fat wallets even bigger. That the pesky consumers have to hand over their freedom of speech in return for that, seems like a small price to them apparently.