Bobby Johnson appears to get it right in his Guardian piece on pirates. I've long held that piracy occurs mainly because publishers (not creatives) fail to engage with the full range of potential customers.
Recent legal cases totally miss the point about piracy by actively punishing potential consumers and creating animosity. It will, I am prepared to suggest, lead to more, not less piracy. Also, following the documents one finds that the real beneficiaries were the ISPs who charged tens of thousands of pounds in fees. Not a good way to make friends – especially if you have already hacked them off by suggesting you will introduce Phorm (boo! hiss!)
Back to piracy… Music piracy gets all the headlines, so let's tackle that one. My take is that music is dying for simpler reasons, none of which are really “piracy”:
1 – mp3 is more convenient than CD, mp4 more convenient than DVD. When silver disks replaced vinyl, the record companies were quick to tell us that the more convenient format would replace the less convenient one. Why, then, did they forget that simple fact?
2 – they stopped making music that people like. No, not just me, everyone. The manufacturing of bands, lack of market contact and terrible chaotic bloat in the A&R teams caused them to lose track of the market as they spiralled into their own delusions and personal favourites.
3 – fragmentation of the market space into “micro niches” – high street sales simply could not stock enough range to satisfy the real market. The monoliths became victims of the Long Tail despite their back catalogs
4 – the shift to live and immediate music
5 – badly judged attempts to get us to “reformat” one more time. Heads up: we paid to go vinyl -> tape – > CD and that was enough. I'm not going to pay you any more money to get the same record in 96/24 surround sound and that is that.
None of those issues are driven by piracy. Odd that the monoliths hardly discuss them, isn't it?