We haven’t checked in on the RIAA in a while, because really, it’s just doing the same thing over and over. You know, sending out millions of takedown requests, suing people, wondering why its members are not suddenly making $14 billion a year like in the ’90s. Google, annoyed with them, has a new report that essentially might as well be called “We’re Sick Of Your Stupid Takedown Requests, Go Bother Someone Else.”
OK, so it’s technically called “How Google Fights Piracy”, but really, it’s a massive rude gesture right in the RIAA’s face. Google puts together an enormous amount of data that basically says “Whenever you point it out to us, we get rid of it, but nobody pirates anyway.” Like, for example, striking a staggering 97.5% of all website reported it from search results. But probably the most damning passage is this:
Google’s conclusions essentially boil down to people only steal when they have no other legal option, and the easier and more visible the legal option is, the more piracy drops. So, needless to say, the RIAA thanked Google for the explanation and is shifting its strategy completely, right? Not so much.
At least in the case of search results, for all of the motion being generated by both Google and the RIAA — our search removal requests will hit 30 million this week — it is increasingly clear we are making insufficient progress against piracy.
Keep in mind, there’s no way to actually quantify piracy. The best we have is guesswork, which it is in the record industry’s best interest to overstate as much as humanly possible. And the truth is that when you approach the numbers without bias, pirates are the music industry’s best customers and what’s killing their margins isn’t piracy, but changing models that pay them less money.
And shifting economics are against them too. Consider that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis put out The Heist, an album with three enormously popular singles off of it, and it went platinum… nine months after it came out. Oh, there’s also the fact that they were completely independent.
The RIAA is made, let’s be honest here, of middle-men, and middle-men don’t like being cut out of the transaction. They have to believe it’s piracy killing them, because the alternative, that the record label just isn’t as profitable as it used to be, is too much for them to bear. Still, they could at least stop sulking about it.
(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)