Regardless of your thoughts on illegal downloading, all you have to do is look at the Billboard charts and ten years of declining sales to see labels and artists alike are losing money due to piracy. Yesterday, the Obama Administration, who have undoubtedly taken more than their fair share of lobbyist dollars from the RIAA and the MPAA, announced a crackdown on piracy. It’s the first-ever strategic plan on intellectual property enforcement.
“This is theft, clear and simple,” Vice President Joe Biden stated. “It’s no different than a guy walking down Fifth Avenue and smashing the window of a Tiffanys and reaching in and grabbing what’s in the window.” While music is definitely part of the crackdown, the program seems all-encompassing, also cracking down on those that pirate movies, TV shows, video games, computer software, pharmaceuticals, counterfeit goods, and more. According to a report by the United States Property Enforcement Coordinator (yeah, that’s an official title), just motion picture and video piracy costs the U.S. economy $20.5 billion a year in lost output, $5.5 billion annual in lost eranings for U.S. workers and 141,939 jobs that would have been created. That’s likely a lot more than those impacted by the music industry.
From the look of the announcement, it seems like it will have more global implications, targeting larger scale operations than going after you for downloading an album or two off a file sharing site. But at the end of the day, I can see Biden’s point. We’re way past the point of going back to the days where people will start paying for everything they download, but if you really like a band, buy their album, or at least their T-shirt when they come to your town.