Nigel Godrich has railed against file-sharing on Tumblr, posting a scathing take-down of a recent study by the London School of Economics that argues in favor of file-sharing. As Stereogum points out, the LSE has published a paper titled “Copyright & Creation: A Case For Promoting Inclusive Online Sharing,” which argues that “the creative industries are innovating to adapt to a changing digital culture and evidence does not support claims about overall revenue reduction due to individual copyright infringement.”
Godrich, who is not shy about his opinion on music streaming services such as Spotify, takes exception with this thesis.
“The intellectuals at the London School of Economics are trying to evangelise these ideals but appear to have no real grasp on the actual situations to which they are referring,” the Atoms for Peace member writes. “The report is called ‘Copyright & Creation’ and claims to be acting in the interests of copyright creators, but the bulk of their argument is based on the fact that in spite of copyrights being breached, money is made in other ways and thus there is no need for copyright law to be fixed or enforced. They argue that the music industry is in a stable healthy condition, and point to revenue collected on concert ticket sales and merchandise. They do not point out that these revenues are being generated solely by larger already established artists who can set very high prices for their tickets and t-shirts to make up for their lost other revenue. Smaller artists who are not in the position to charge anything like the Rolling Stones or Madonna are not the ones benefit from these new incomes, and yet these are the very people who’s interest the report is claiming to serve.”
Not quite as punchy as, say, comparing Spotify to a dying man’s fart, but well-argued nonetheless. Godrich goes on to take aim at Google (“By ignoring copyrights and tacitly turning a blind eye to piracy Google has become one of the richest corporations on the planet”); the U.K. government (“It is afraid to appear backward or controlling of a new technology it doesn’t fully understand but senses is important”); and, of course, Spotify. “If Spotify reaches its goal of gaining a definitive hold on the new delivery system then another precedent will be set and the idea that recorded music is practically worthless will become normal,” he writes, before admitting, “This has already started happening.”
He continues, echoing David Byrne, another enemy to online-streaming: “The shareholders of Spotify are sitting on a multi-billion dollar asset (5 billion and rising) and waiting for the moment to float whilst safe in the knowledge that their scheme will generate income for them (and the old school music industry they needed to set the thing up) in perpetuity.. whilst on auto pilot.. exploiting peer to peer technology to reduce server load and using their customers computers and internet connections to distribute 92% of their content.”
The longtime Radiohead collaborator closes with a conclusion fit for a term paper. “Copyright is a benchmark of our civilisation,” he asserts. “As the technology appeared which enabled mass production of media, the law emerged to protect those who created the magic which it contained. The principle of scaling back copyright protection is a dangerous idea and the opposite of progress. No matter how hard they may be to implement, the rules still need to exist. This report is out of touch with reality, vague and misleading.”
Read Godrich’s entire post on Tumblr, and read the entire LSE paper through Scribd.