Several years ago, Pollara was the lead polling company for CRIA and it regularly produced reports consistent with its client's view of the world. In fact, longtime readers may recall that it in March 2006, I posted on a Pollara study that contradicted CRIA's claims. Then Pollara President Duncan McKie (now President of the Canadian Independent Record Production Association) posted a response calling me impertinent and presumptuous, concluding "all the data that we have collected on this topic over the past 3 years point to a strong negative relationship between downloading and music purchases."
What a difference a few years (and a change in client) makes. CRIA and Pollara parted ways soon afterward and current Pollara Executive Vice-President Robert Hutton offers a decidedly different take on the issue. In this comment on Zeropaid, Hutton notes that relying on 2006 research is "dubious at best." Of course, it is 2006 Pollara data that served as the basis for the Conference Board of Canada's press release on file sharing last year. He then continues:
There is a significant body of market research from around the time downloading became a significant issue suggesting not only that downloaders were perfectly willing to pay, but also that dowloading to some extent promoted actual purchase of the tangible product. Again, all along, it was choice and service that drove downloading – not really being able to get tunes for free.
That the industry then chose to fight with it’s customers rather than address their needs merely exacerbated the problem. Perhaps they didn’t know any better, and in their desperation to hang on to that CPG model of selling music, they took the wrong route. Fighting with one’s customers has never been a successful strategy, in my experience.
What all this has to do with your topic of copyright laws, I admit, I’m not sure. Certainly, illegal downloading of copyright material is wrong. Certainly, not all those doing so are criminals in any logical sense of the word. The industry is very much to blame here, because they ignored their customers needs knowing full well that a technological revolution was at hand that would enable their customers to satisfy their needs, with or without them.
There are a number of other factors that come into the decline of the music industry that I won’t go into in depth here – lack of iconic artists, the decline in the importance of music to the Playstation generation, the product itself declining in technical quality, the commoditization of radio and prevalence of safe, computer generated playlists, the abandonment of and by the retail channel and others.
But what it all comes down to is an industry that ignored it’s customers and then started to fight with them, trying to hold on to a model that customers were saying no longer met their needs.