Summary theses by David Hammerstein, of the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue, followed by commentary from Kevin Carson:
1. David Hammerstein on JOB LOSSES IN EUROPE AND ” ILLEGAL DOWNLOADS”: MYTHS AND REALITY
1. IT IS GROSSLY FALSE TO DIRECTLY RELATE THE NUMBER OF PIRATED DOWNLOADS WITH JOB LOSSES IN EUROPE.
Studies that blame Internet downloads for massive job losses reflect a very faulty methodology put forward by the US Motion Picture Association that has already been discredited by serious social science studies such as those carried out over a period of three years in seven countries by the Social Science Research Center of New York. European jobs have not been lost due to “piracy”. Industry financed studies that simply add up the number of downloads and conclude that a scandalous number of EU jobs are lost lack any serious objective scientific consideration of the economy and of consumer spending as a whole.
2. DIGITAL PIRACY “REASSIGNS” ECONOMIC CONSUMPTION WITHOUT CAUSING A NET ECONOMIC LOSS TO ECONOMY.
Downloading cultural material means money is spent instead in other areas such as housing, food and services rather than on buying CDs. The alternative expenditures could be more job creating, more productive and more socially valuable than spending on digital entertainment materials. There can even be a social benefit to spending less on digital entertainment and more on other goods. As well, both less money being spent on digital entertainment and more downloading can often mean more money spent on live performances and theater which benefits performers and creators more directly.
3 THE IMPACT OF DOWNLEADING ON THE EU IS LESS BECAUSE 80% OF EUROPEAN FILM ENTERTAINMENT MATERIAL AND SOFTWARE IS IMPORTED FROM THE US.
It can even be argued that diverting this spending to other goods generally made in the EU has a net benefit for the European economy and for the net creation of jobs. For example, a Dutch Government study suggests that music piracy has had a clear net positive impact on economic welfare in Netherlands. The supporters of the false studies on piracy should ask themselves if they are really defending European interests.
4. THE DIGITAL AGE POSES A REAL CHALLENGE TO A NUMBER OF EXISTING INDUSTRIAL MODELS.
It is very true that certain industries have been hurt by the multiple effects of Internet. These companies need to reconvert and adapt their industrial structures to the new realities instead of trying to change the digital reality by means of new legislative and repressive measures. New business models needed to be moulded for the digital age that respect fundamental rights, that strengthen citizens´ confidence and that promote cultural innovation.”
Commentary by Kevin Carson:
Re: 2. DIGITAL PIRACY “REASSIGNS” ECONOMIC CONSUMPTION WITHOUT CAUSING A NET ECONOMIC LOSS TO ECONOMY.
“I think he’s wrong on this particular. I doubt there’s a one-to-one tradeoff in monetized consumption between reduced expenditures for music and increased expenditures elsewhere. Some of the reduced cost is probably taken in leisure–and some of that involuntarily, in today’s economic climate. Overall, as Eric Reasons argued, the rise of Free means we’re probably seeing a net reduction in the total amount of consumption needs met by monetized expenditure, and the disappearance of a growing set of needs from the cash nexus.
Of course in the case of the music industry, a disproportionate of the net loss of monetized consumption is probably suffered by the record companies, whereas a larger share of what money remains can be appropriated directly by artists without relying on record company marketing and finance. So the dislocation for actual producers, as opposed to useless eaters, will arguably be mitigated.
That was the subject of this blog post: http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/abundance-creates-utility-but-destroys-exchange-value/2010/02/02 .