I believe in paying artists their fair share. And let me say up front that I have no facts and figures to quote to justify my opinion, and it may just be zombie truth*, but it seems to me that Kim Williams has missed a key point here.
There is no doubt there are many millions of people all around the globe, who down-load terabyte after terabyte of content. If those people were to pay for the content they knocked-off, then the price would be in the billions of dollars.
But … what of the millions of people who do pay for content in what is surely still a new and growing market. When I was young (did I really say that?), the only “content” we paid for was books, newspapers, an annual (yes annual) movie at the cinema, the occasional record and/or cassette tape, and free-to-air television. Sometime in the mid-eighties our family acquired a video recorder and recording television shows became something we would do. And of course, we’d be paying for video-tape rental from the video shop. Around about the same time we would sometimes record music off the radio onto cassette tapes, as well as copy records (that we’d already purchased) onto cassette.
Compared to today, the content market for working-class families was small. Everything was too expensive, or it just wasn’t possible to purchase.
Nowadays, there is so much more content available for purchase. Today our family regularly buys content from a range of sources. We buy digital content – music via iTunes, as well as CDs. We’ve stopped buying DVDs of movies. We have probably have at least three or four hundred DVDs of movies that we will enventually convert to BlueRay over the next decade (so we will eventually buy that content twice). We still buy paper books, but I also regularly purchase e-books. It was impossible in the 1980s and 1990s to buy box sets of television series – even if they were available, they were too expensive. But it’s nothing for us now to purchase a box set of our favourites series. I’m thinking here of Sex in the City in it’s gorgeous shoe box commemorative edition. And I have no doubt that as soon as The Big Bang Theory ends, we’ll be buying that too. Because we don’t watch much TV these days, it’s very common for us to say “nah.. let’s wait til the box set comes out” (good for content creators, not so great for advertisers?). We don’t buy newspapers anymore (we’ve gone from buying ten paper newspapers per day), to only occasional paper purchases of independent newspapers. I get my news from ABC feeds, and when people headline interesting stuff from SMH in my Twitter and Facebook feeds. I don’t read News Limited, not because I don’t believe in paying for content, but mostly because what comes from News Limited is garbage. I reckon I’d buy a reasonably priced iPad App for my ABC content.
Yes. People do “steal” content. But on the flip side, there are alot of us that buy it, and there is an ever growing market for content that surely, if done properly will make smart content creators comfortable.
*Zombie Facts: Those that stagger on even when shot down (see David Allen Green post on New Statesman)