Is the Sky Falling on the Content Industries?


Are the content industries doomed? They certainly seem to think so. The music industry tells us, as their revenues decline because of file sharing, “we can’t compete with free,” and so we’re history. No one is going to create new music anymore. The video industries seem to be getting in on the act, too. They’ve showed up behind closed doors in Washington, D.C. to complain about the prospect of a national broadband plan, because broadband is simply going to make it easier for people to pirate video over the Internet. “We’ve got to do something about it,” they tell us, “or no one is going to make movies anymore.” And now, as you’ve read from Mark Cooper, newspapers are in on the act as revenues decline.1 Print journalism is dying, people are leaving the business in droves because “we can’t compete with free.” Though here, curiously, the free is their own free. The complaint of the newspapers is that they can’t compete with themselves putting their own material on the Internet for free. This sounds like a pretty alarming story. But this is not the first time the content industries have told us that they face imminent disaster. I sometimes suspect there was an association of monastic scriveners who protested the printing press on the theory that it was going to destroy the beautiful hand illumination of manuscripts. Which, of course, it did. But, it did not, as a result, destroy the book industry. In fact, it rather expanded that industry. I do know that artists in the 19th century complained about photographs because who was then going to pay them to paint portraits of people? Who’s going to want photorealistic artistic portrayals of landscapes if you can just have a machine do the same thing? Artists, we

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@article{Lemley2011IsTS, title={Is the Sky Falling on the Content Industries?}, author={Mark A. Lemley}, journal={JTHTL}, year={2011}, volume={9}, pages={125-136} }