Lies we tell ourselves about IP infringement

NBC/Universal has convinced itself that the world needs more IP police. The truth is somewhat different.

Glyn Moody has a disturbing post on the latest attempt to stave off the IP hemorrhaging the industry apparently suffers. Quoting from Glyn's post:

"Our law enforcement resources are seriously misaligned," NBC/Universal general counsel Rick Cotton said. "If you add up all the various kinds of property crimes in this country, everything from theft, to fraud, to burglary, bank-robbing, all of it, it costs the country $16 billion a year. But intellectual property crime runs to hundreds of billions [of dollars] a year."...

This is clearly total poppycock: the figures for the supposed losses due to "piracy" are hugely exaggerated and the result of wishful thinking - as if every copy represents a lost sale, which is patently false, even for analogue goods, never mind digital ones.

I agree with Glyn's assessment, and will take the critique one step further: one of the biggest problems that NBC/Universal and other content companies have is not IP theft, but rather IP clinginess.

In other words, they need to learn alternative ways to profit from content. Look at Google - Google seems to have no problem whatsoever profiting from content largely because it has learned how to deliver value around content. (Sounds a bit like the best open source vendors, too, right? Sell value around the software, but not the software itself.) I wrote about this early on - the content providers need to figure out new ways to get paid. They don't have an IP infringement problem; they have a basic business model problem.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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