I have complained for years that the RIAA took the lazy, showboat route in dealing with piracy. Instead of focusing on the vast network of CD counterfeiters, they engaged in ineffective litigation against P2P loving college students.
The CD-R, it seems, doesn’t fall far from the burner.
Its simply astounding that over a third of all CD sales were counterfeits. It reveals how misguided and strategically inept the RIAA strategy has been. Its a good fit: The RIAA is strategically incompetant; The industry they represent has the managerial competancy of lawn furniture.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is not about to repeat that foolish error. They have set up an ongoing sting operation with the city of Los Angeles to find and arrest the sellers of countefeit DVDs, and confiscate their illegal wares.
The MPAA contributed $186,000 to help pay for a network of surveillance cameras
intended to catch street hawkers selling duped movies. The industry claims countefeiters cost them $3.5 billion annually in lost revenues.
Given the stature of movie making in LA, its no surprise that the police there have been so cooperative. Reuters quotd Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton as saying: "That industry is the lifeblood of this city. If it goes, we go. It’s that clear."
10 cameras will be installed in the downtown fashion district, a big tourist area. Reuters stated that 4 cameras are already operational, with 6 more were scheduled to be installed. These digital cameras will then be monitored by cops at a local precinct, who can "dispatch undercover police to the location." Similar surveillance systems in city parks have dramatically reduced drug sales.
If the LAPD trials are successful, I expect to see the system expanded nationally.
Going after counterfeiter is a laborious, time consuming, grind ‘em out affair, lacking in dramatic headlines which feed the ego (Hilary Rosen, white courtesy phone!). Somehow, despite all the press they garnered, the RIAA never seemed to make this aspect of protecting their members a major priority — at least, judging by the headlines on the matter.
In 2003, the BBC noted the error of this strategy:
"According to the RIAA, CD sales dropped by 10% in 2001 and a further 6.8% last year, largely [blaming] file sharing.
In America and the rest of the world, the biggest culprit in falling music sales is large-scale CD piracy by organised crime.
In just three years, sales of pirate CDs have more than doubled, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). Every third CD sold is a pirate copy, says the federation. (emphasis added).
Counterfeiting is not new. However, a proactive approach to responding to it by a major recording industry is. Kudos to the MPAA for recognizing where the real problem lay.
Perhaps the RIAA can learn a thing or two from the movie industry. I suggest they match the MPAA’s donation to the LAPD, and shift their emphasis from making headlines about suing 11 year olds and deceased grandmothers to doing the heav ty lifting — the real work of stopping criminal couterfeiting.
But I’ll betcha they ain’t smart enought to figure that out.
UPDATE JUNE 1 2005 9:54 PM
Just to be clear — I am not commenting on the issue of of cameras in public spaces or whether this is a good idea from a societal standpoint. My point isn’t the usage of cameras — its the willingness by the MPAA to get creative in going after counterfeiters.
I am looking at it from a perspective of how the RIAA did their job of representing their industry members. While massive counterfeiting was going on (1 out of 3 CDs "sold" are counterfeits) the RIAA began a scorched Earth policy of litigating their own clients.
I think its telling that the MPAA might be learning from the RIAA mistakes.(We’ll see if they figured out that consumers want to be able to TiVo digital broadcasts and lose this silly flag issue of theirs).
Whether cameras in the downtown zone is the best enforcement method has yet to be determined; I find their attempt to go after the REAL PIRATES more encouraging than the brain dead actions of the RIAA . . .
LA police use cameras to catch pirated DVD sellers
Reuters, Tue May 31, 2005 08:07 PM ET
Stopping the pop-swappers
BBC News Online, Monday, 4 August, 2003, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
UPDATE: The original version of this is still available on Real Money (subscription only). The 2005 article details was a pushback against the gloomers predicting a Nasdaq like collapse in RE prices. Instead, we detailed why this was a CREDIT (not a HOUSING) Bubble, and that while we should expect a 25-35% peak to trough drop in prices, it would not be a Nasdaq like 80% debacle. (35% was bad enough). We also noted that an extended period of high unemployment might make those numbers even worse.
In writing it, I decided to forget everything I thought I knew, and look at housing from scratch. Consider the factors that make Real Estate very different than stocks. Lose the assumptions, check out the numbers driving Real Estate, and see if Housing is truly the bubble everyone claims it to be.
Turns out there’s much less of a bubble than commonly believed by many people believe. While anecdotal evidence of regional excesses are interesting,
they doesn’t mean we are about to see home prices get cut in half (or worse) over the next few years.
There are three key drivers hardly discussed by pundits opining on the U.S. housing market “bubble”:
1) Purchase prices don’t matter to buyers — monthly payments do;
2) US has the fastest growing population of industrialized nations;
3) “Only 3% of all buyers sell their home in a year or less,” a survey found.
These issues, taken together, suggest that while Real Estate may be an extended asset class (i.e., two standard price deviations above historical trend) that doesn’t maeke it a bubble.
Of course, its interesting to note that a Playboy bunny gave up her modeling career to go into real estate speculation (mentioned previously here), it doesn’t mean the end is nigh.
Now if I can only figure out how these columns end up at Yahoo . . .
Don’t Buy Housing Bubble Propaganda
RealMoney by TheStreet.com, Thursday May 26, 2:04 pm ET
UPDATE June 12, 2006 9:39am
I just noticed that the Yahoo page expired; The full RM article is after the jump . . .
Category: Real Estate
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