Friday, 29 April 2011

The benefits of allowing copying

I'm rather belatedly in the middle of reading Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars by Bill Patry, and an excellent book it is - which I will review in due course. The message that a liberal approach to downloading actually - perhaps counter-intuitively, at least to the record and film industries - leads to increased sales is echoed in a posting by the author Paulo Coelho on his blog which is worth reading.

Years ago, before I knew a thing about copyright, when I copied friends' LPs onto tape (and permitted them to do the same with mine) I did so with the aspiration of "upgrading" in due course by buying my own copy of the disc. If I didn't like the music I wouldn't bother, but neither would I listen to the tape. Far from meaning lost sales, I am sure it meant I bought more than I otherwise would. OK, albums were desirable possessions in their own right in a way that CDs aren't and downloads couldn't possibly be - though LPs do take up a lot of space. And the tape recordings were pretty rough. There were compelling reasons to buy the LP if you could.

And there's such a lot of music available, legally, for free download anyway - including so much of The Grateful Dead's oeuvre, recorded with their blessing by their fans - further proof, if proof were needed, that allowing copies to be made does not necessarily hurt the rights owner.

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