What might this mean for our consideration of ebooks? Even though music and books are different in some aspects, they would both fall under what the report refers to as an “experience good” so I believe we can (at least cautiously) extrapolate the findings of this report to ebooks. A perennial issue in conversations with the Big Six is the displacement of sales due to library lending. At times, it even seems that the Big Six view library patrons as ebook pirates, so let us then embrace this study’s findings, which show a lack of sales displacement. In fact, libraries are much more similar to the legal music streaming services discussed in the report—and those streaming services stimulated sales.
I have long maintained that I only buy something if I already know what I’m getting and know that I like it, whether it’s music or books (print books; I still haven’t made the plunge into ebooks for my recreational reading). I’m glad studies continue to support the idea that “preview services” (like streaming or libraries) can and do stimulate sales rather than diminishing them.
eMusic, the online music service that pioneered the subscription approach before Spotify was a glimmer in Daniel Ek’s eye, quietly merged Monday with an e-book distributor, in an unusual bit of digital-media consolidation.
The company didn’t issue a press release but did send a brief statement to record labels, a copy of which appears below…
As an eMusic subscriber, this is interesting news. I’ll have to see what changes as a result of this merger (eMusic had already been offering audiobooks, I believe—though I never subscribed to that part—so this may not be as strange as it appears).
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one to feel this way, but my overall impression of copyright, intellectual property, and swirling vortex of issues around those two issues can be summed up in one word: unsatisfactory. […]
Professionally, it feels like dancing through a landmine field. I am trying to steer people to the legitimate track of properly authorized and compensated copies of digital media, but society and business seems to conspire against this ideal. The social acceptance of media copying have lead me to the hardly surprising conclusion that people are copying the music and movies that they check out from the library at home. Over the course of my library years, I’ve even had the unfortunate experience of intervening when people were brazenly ripping CDs onto their laptops at the library. Some honestly didn’t know that it was a copyright infraction while others picked up on the fact that they could copy those CDs but in the privacy of their own homes. When it comes to eBooks, it’s tricky to guide people away from the ease of P2P downloading when the so called “friction” of eBook lending turns the question of borrowing into a overly long complex and extremely contextual answer. In trying to respect the owners of copyright, I end up showcasing all the madness that they have brought down on themselves in order to enforce it. It does nothing to encourage compliance nor engender respect for the concept or the laws supporting it.
Great post on his experience with downloading/file-sharing and copyright issues.
I knew they had video content, but not music. Awesome. :)
Some think of the Internet Archive as just the Wayback Machine, but we have other great collections. Our music collection is worth listening to and made some jumps recently:
Our live music collection now has over 100,000 concerts from over 5,000 bands (including an almost complete collection of Grateful Dead concerts)
For a lot of people, if they can’t get it cheap or free, they just won’t get it. For some people, it’s that they don’t have any money. The Discount Diva profiles the thinking of the cheap middle class, those who have some money, but don’t want to part with what they have. Just watch people haggle over library fines to see how cheap they are.
Libraries are helping both of them, and providing them with free stuff, but it’s free stuff that wouldn’t have been bought.
This sums up my public library usage very nicely. I do end up buying books (or asking for them for Christmas) when I really like something I’ve read from the library, but for the most part I don’t buy what I read. I don’t have the disposable income necessary to buy as many books as I read. ;-)
This is a very good piece from the WSJ on piracy and the difference between music and books when it comes to digital transition. http://on.wsj.com/JPYJ42
Of course both products are very different. Over the 400 years we have been trained to think of books as a self contained artifact and a physical product acquired and lovingly shelved in your home or library. Music’s “product” is the sound emitted invisibly from a speaker, often enjoyed communally and broadcast for free, turned on at will pouring from speakers like water from a tap. Vinyl, cassettes, and CDs were packaging and since the demise of the album cover just soulless containers. Training us to buy digital music by the download is like training us to buy bottled water. Convenience and prestige help but if you’re thirsty you can always find a water fountain or turn on the tap. The closest thing books have had to a public fountain are libraries.
That is the big question in digital book’s future. Will we see book’s content become a utility like water pouring/streaming to our screens like tap water? As we move away from native apps and the internet becomes the entertainet will we stop thinking of books as artifacts themselves and consider the words like music or television images - something we pay for monthly for unlimited access like cable, electricity, or water?
Interesting comparison of how the publishing industry has differed from the music industry in its reaction to digital distribution.
Of course, piracy emerged anyway. Countless unlicensed e-books can be found online, and millions of people use them. But sales figures suggest that relatively few of these downloads represent foregone purchases. Most Kindle, iPad and Nook owners seem to view piracy as a low-rent and time-consuming experience compared with the sanctioned alternatives. They probably wouldn’t if the publishers had kicked things off with a five-year content boycott [like the music industry did].
On the one hand, I’m glad publishers learned from the music industry’s mistakes. On the other hand, libraries wouldn’t need to be dealing with ebooks yet if publishing had imitated the music industry. Hm, now there’s an interesting thought…
You share music, rip DVDs, make Hitler whine about your first world problems, and much more in the course of your regular online activities—and more often than not, you do these things without giving a thought to the fact that you’re actually breaking the law. Here’s a look at how you’re inevitably circumventing copyright law and what you can do to protect yourself.
“We could learn a lot from the music industry, and the rather terrible ways the music industry has tried to combat piracy.”
Hed explained that Rovio sees it as “futile” to pursue pirates through the courts, except in cases where it feels the products they are selling are harmful to the Angry Birds brand, or ripping off its fans.
When that’s not the case, Rovio sees it as a way to attract more fans, even if it is not making money from the products. “Piracy may not be a bad thing: it can get us more business at the end of the day.”
This whole post is definitely worth a read.
…Tim points out that he and a lot of other content creators have been happily coexisting with piracy all this time, and I’m certainly one of them. Make good stuff, then make it easy for people to buy it. There’s your anti-piracy plan. The big content companies are TERRIBLE at doing both of these things, so it’s no wonder they’re not doing so well in the current environment. And right now everyone’s fighting to control distribution channels, which is why I can’t watch Star Wars on Netflix or iTunes. It’s fine if you want to have that fight, but don’t yell and scream about how you’re losing business to piracy when your stuff isn’t even available in the box I have on top of my TV. A lot of us have figured out how to do this.
So if you can stand me sounding a little crazy, listen: where is the proof that piracy causes economic harm to anyone? Looking at the music business, yes profits have gone down ever since Napster, but has anyone effectively demonstrated the causal link between that and piracy? There are many alternate theories (people buying songs and not whole albums, music sucking more, niches and indie acts becoming more viable, etc.). The Swiss government did a study and determined that unauthorized downloading (which 1/3 of their citizens do) does not create any loss in revenue for the entertainment industry. …
Okay, so the archaic nature of the music industry and the steadfast refusal to adapt to the changes brought about the internet may hardly be a new topic for discussion, but given recent events (namely MegaUpload being taken down), it is worth looking at how the music industry and record labels have reacted since the introduction of the internet.
What should have been a medium that allowed for cheaper distribution, new business models and an invigorated approach to discovering and nurturing talent has instead largely been somewhat of a hindrance to the major players, who seek to maintain the status quo and continue with the old way of doing business. Ultimately, this has been to their detriment as they’re effectively competing with the groundswell of communities on the internet and in social media. But just how did the music industry screw itself so massively?
Publishers would do well to heed the cautionary tale of the music industry…
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) have to be understood in this light: it’s just another IP land grab. It’s an attempt to frighten those who would compete with the established media companies, an attempt to assert monopolistic control over creativity. The ability to take domains offline without due process, even on the basis of inadvertently linking to copyrighted material, is nothing if not an attempt to legitimize theft on a grand scale. Because there is no due process, a defendant can’t respond until he’s already out of business; and then, it’s a matter of whether the defendant can outlast Hollywood in their ability to pay legal fees. “Justice” is meaningless if you run out of money before you get to the end of your case.
Then as now, borrowing wasn’t limited to theatre. Mashups, which have been repeatedly attacked by the entertainment industry, are by no means a new art form; they’ve been central to creativity for years (related examples are embedded below). Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” incorporate a number of popular songs of the era, including the always popular “Cabbages and Beets drove me away from you,” in its entirety, along with “Get closer to me, baby” (that’s what the German really means, except the “baby” part). So did Beethoven’s sonatas, particularly the second movement of the magnificent Opus 110 piano sonata (“Our cat had kittens” and “ I’m a slob, you’re a slob”). I could list examples for pages; musicologists spend entire careers searching for this stuff. The complexity with which these songs are woven into a much greater piece is amazing, but they’re there, they’ve obviously there once you know what to look for, and they go way beyond what would survive “fair use” and the DMCA, let alone SOPA and PIPA.
For more than a year, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America have argued that existing laws were insufficient to deal with the problem of “rogue sites” hosted overseas. They’ve been pushing bills like the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act as essential weapons in the fight.
But evidently, American law enforcement didn’t get the memo that they were powerless against overseas file-sharing services. The day after the Internet’s historic protest of SOPA and PIPA last week, the United States government unsealed an indictment against the people behind Megaupload, one of the largest sites on the Internet. Four senior Megaupload officials were arrested in New Zealand on Thursday, and officials seized millions of dollars in assets.
For a variety of reasons, the works at issue, which are foreign and produced decades ago, became part of the public domain in the United States but were still copyrighted overseas. In 1994, Congress adopted legislation to move the works back into copyright, so U.S. policy would comport with an international copyright treaty known as the Berne Convention.
In dissent, Justices Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito said the legislation goes against the theory of copyright and “does not encourage anyone to produce a single new work.” Copyright, they noted, was part of the Constitution to promote the arts and sciences.
The lead plaintiff in the case, Lawrence Golan, told the high court that it will not longer be able to perform Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony and Peter and the Wolf, or Shostakovich’s Symphony 14, Cello Concerto because of licensing fees.