IP Wars: Episode Two

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Thanks to all concerned for all the positive comments I’ve had regarding my post last week on intellectual property. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the response despite the article’s glaring flaws.

One of the things I meant to write about, which Jock reminds us of (via Mises Blog) was the whole Radiohead/In Rainbows phenomenon. Amazon currently rates this album, released this week, at 2 in its music sales chart, and 1 in rock and indie. Not bad for something being given away for free a few weeks ago (speaking personally, I really didn’t think much of the album being a pre-Kid A kind of guy, but each to their own).

It does make me wonder however if the future of physical music purchasing lies in the 70s. Back in the days of vinyl, bands would often turn their LPs into wonderful must-haves, with large, glorious artwork, books and sleevenotes. The scrappy booklet that can be found inside most CDs doesn’t compare. Already all major releases (including Radiohead’s) have a limited edition; at what point will these become standard issue?

Doctor Vee also highlights another omission: the argument in 2007 about whether or not to extend the copyright of recordings, lead by the rather deep pocketed Paul McCartney and Cliff Richard. He points to a paper by Rufus Pollock arguing that the optimal length of copyright from an economic viewpoint should be around 15 years. I haven’t read the full paper yet but it looks interesting.

Anyway, it made a nice change from the endless strings of memes and goodwill messages that dominate the blogosphere at this time of year.

2 thoughts on “IP Wars: Episode Two

  1. I wonder what the future of physical music purchasing is. The Internet will soon be ubiquitous and ever-present (3G, WIMAX, local Wifi, etc) and hard-drive based music stores will be the norm in just a few years. Why would you want to have to cart a physical data store when you can instantly get music from a retail front into your media collection – presumably available on your mobile music device and your home entertainment system at once.

    I think that you’re right about the way that there is a future in going back to the past of packaging, but what form will that take? If physical at all, might it be like a collectible playing card, or maybe something else?

  2. I remember poring over my dad’s War of the Worlds album as a kid, soaking up the artwork. No-one produces stuff like that any more, yet they all churn out books, calendars and the lot by the bucketload.

    My guess is that the market for such tie-ins and the physical purchase of music will end up merging into one. I consider the latest Kylie calendar infinitely better value than her latest album, certainly.

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