A Behind the Scenes Look at the Making of ‘Kill the Hobbit Subsidies to Save Regular Earth’

The complete (and more concise) version appears on Bloomberg View.

So how much taxpayer money, would you guess, did Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. need to produce the films based on the J.R.R. Tolkien book? The answer is zero. The studios are investment companies, and the films are almost certain to be immensely profitable.

But now you aren’t thinking like a studio. The real question is: How much taxpayer money can Warner Bros. demand from the government of New Zealand to keep production there (rather than, say, in Australia or the Czech Republic)? That answer turns out to be about $120 million, plus the revision of New Zealand’s labor laws to forbid collective bargaining among film-production contractors, plus the passage of three-strikes Internet-disconnection laws for online copyright infringement, plus enthusiastic and, it turns out, illegal cooperation in the shutdown of the pirate-friendly digital storage site Megaupload and the arrest of its owner, Kim Dotcom.

For keeping Warner Bros. happy, Prime Minister John Key, a former Merrill Lynch currency trader, got a replica magic Hobbit sword from U.S. President Barack Obama and a chance to hang New Zealand’s fortunes on becoming the tourist destination for Middle Earth enthusiasts. What could go wrong?

For the KHS2SRE completists out there, we’ve assembled some outtakes and extras: Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

++++++++++++++++++++

Copy Culture by Race and Ethnicity

We’ve looked at the difference age makes to copying and downloading (a lot), and gender (not much), and politics (not much).  How about race/ethnicity?

Well, it makes some.

Here is our sequence of questions about attitudes toward sharing music.

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

++++++++++++++++++++

NPD Confidential 3: In Which We Defend Ourselves Against Charges of Drunk Blogging and Practicing Math Without a License

Some weeks ago, we published a lengthy blog post called Where do Music Collections Come From?  which discussed findings from our Copy Culture survey of 1000 Germans and 2300 Americans.

Some of the data demonstrated that P2P file sharers (who own digital music files) buy more music than their non-P2P using peers (who also own digital music files).  Here’s the chart again:

To me, this was a fairly innocuous finding, well in line with other studies.  For my money, the more important findings were that personal sharing ‘between friends’ is about as prevalent and as significant in music acquisition as ‘downloading for free’, and that together they are outweighed by legal acquisition.

But the public spoke and the P2P finding went viral: the biggest pirates are the best customers.   Headlines like this generated pushback from record industry groups RIAA and IFPI—mostly centered around the work of NPD, their survey firm in the US.  The exchange, I think, is an interesting window on the state of the empirical debate around file sharing. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

++++++++++++++++++++

America Says: Go Gently on Porn Pirate

So another case has come along to illustrate the excesses of the US system of statutory penalties for copyright infringement–here, a $1.5 million judgement against a guy for sharing 10 porn films on BitTorrent.   Previous infringement cases suggest that there will be ample room to bat this around on appeal.  The $1.5 million penalty may not stick.  But what a waste of time and money that will be.  What if we could start with a rationale outcome?

Fortunately, we can rely on the wisdom of the American people to lead the way.  In addition to the legal reasons for treating such penalties as excessive and disproportionate, we can, for our part, throw in popular opinion.  As we noted a couple posts ago, penalties for infringement attract only 51% support among adults (in our recent survey of 2303 Americans).  Nearly all of this group supports the use of fines for infringement.  Another 7% will consider the circumstances.  So let’s look at fines. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

++++++++++++++++++++

Reading EULAs: Not Just for the Crazy Anymore

As someone who has avoided buying Amazon’s e-books because of its restrictive use policies, it wasn’t a big surprise to see those policies eventually enforced in the form of termination of a customer’s account and deletion of her library for an unexplained violation of terms of service.

And like many others who have watched the divergence between people’s expectations of ownership of digital goods and the actual licensing practices around them, I’ve wondered whether anyone reads the end-user license agreements (EULAs) that define those relationships, much less understands them. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

++++++++++++++++++++

Could Pirate Romney Win/Have Won?

With the election around the corner, polls tied, and a slow news week in the US, it’s time to ask the question that’s on everyone’s mind: could Mitt Romney win with some strategic repositioning on copyright policy?  Could the answer be to embrace pirate Romney?  Let’s explore.

What do we know about Romney’s  views on intellectual property?  Really just two things.  We know that he joined the roster of anti-SOPA republicans last year when that seemed like the thing to do (“I’m standing for freedom”).  And we know that he worries about China stealing our IP.  And that’s about it.  But it’s more than it seems. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

++++++++++++++++++++

Male Copiers are from Mars. Female Copiers are also from Mars

Are you a teenage boy/downloading fiend worried about stereotypical portrayals of your media habits?  We can at least partly alleviate your concerns.  It’s not all teenage boys.  We find no significant gender differences in participation in copy culture (using our broadest definitions). Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

++++++++++++++++++++

Die, Substitution Studies, Die II: Well, OK, Maybe Some Should Live

Let’s return to the arcane but, for IP debates, important subject of substitution studies, which try to clarify the extent to which piracy substitutes for or displaces legal sales.  We’ve argued that the media ecology has become so complicated that nobody has a handle on what substitutes for what.  Does a pirated MP3 file substitute for a $1 purchased file, a $12 CD, some number of listens on YouTube or Spotify or radio? Does Spotify substitute for MP3 purchases?  Or YouTube listens? Should we take stagnant discretionary income into account, and rising costs for other media services, like cable TV, Internet access, and data plans.  Do national differences matter–including major differences in digital markets and services (In Germany, CD sales represent over 80% of the market; in the UK and US, under 50%).  What about differences in law (in much of Europe, private copying is legal)?  Which of these factors get priority?  How do we model their interaction? Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

++++++++++++++++++++

NPD Confidential II: Die, Substitution Studies, Die

Following up our piece on music collections and the apparently surprising result that P2P users buy a lot of digital music, and also our piece discussing some pushback from NPD–the survey firm used by the RIAA–we offer a response to comments by the record industry association IFPI.  Here’s what they said:

While previous studies have shown that some unlicensed P2P network users also pay for music, and a few are serious fans who pay a lot, they are far outnumbered by the bulk of unlicensed P2P network users who pay little or nothing for music. Research by The NPD Group during 2010 in the US found that just 35 per cent of P2P users also paid for music downloads. P2P users spent US$42 per year on music on average, compared with US$76 among those who paid to download and US$126 among those that paid to subscribe to a music service. The overall impact of P2P use on music purchasing is negative, despite a small proportion of P2P users spending a lot on music. That finding was corroborated by a study in Europe by Jupiter Research in 2009. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

++++++++++++++++++++

NPD Confidential

Well, the Music Collections post certainly got around. Among other places, NBC News’ tech blog picked up the bit about P2P users being the biggest buyers of music and sought comment from the RIAA. The RIAA sent the reporter to NPD, the firm that handles their survey work. At NPD, Russ Crupnick offered the following response:

“We hear this argument all the time and it makes no sense,” Russ Crupnick, NPD’s senior vice president, industry analysis, said in a phone interview. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

++++++++++++++++++++