Prediction: UK TV and Movie Industry Insignificant in 5 Years

According to a trade body, the TV and movie industry in Britain to be insignificant in 5 years without intervention from the industry and the government. The report comes just a few months after a conflicting report suggests that the movie industry is having another record-breaking year in profits.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

After reading the two separate reports, one may find themselves asking something along the lines of, ‘how many billions in profits does it take to run an entertainment industry anyway?’ Apparently, record breaking profits won’t be enough to keep one industry afloat for long – that is, if a new report from The Guardian is anything to go by.

The report says that the impending doom of the entire industry is a wakeup call for both those in the industry and the government. So what jaw dropping new evidence has been provided by this trade body to prove these new claims of the coming business apocalypse? Staggering job losses? A shrinking bottom line? Turns out, they turn to something even more telling of this dire situation – the completely trustworthy opinion of directors and an estimation of how many films were downloaded in 2007. Industry Trust found that 94% of the producers they talked to said that stronger anti-piracy laws were needed in the UK in order for the so-called “damage” to be repaired due to piracy. In addition, they found that 95 million films were downloaded in 2007 compared to 158,000 authorized purchases. Digital Britain said that this was a wake-up call for the industry and the government.

Clearly there are those that honestly believe that insignificant numbers such as actual profit margins should not get in the way of trying to state the case that the industry is spiralling downwards. Especially reports that suggests that in 2008, the movie industry made record profits in 2008, totalling a record breaking $9.4 Billion for overseas profits. This was the second year in a row that the movie industry quietly enjoyed such record breaking profits. That was according to a quietly released report distributed to executives.

One might wonder though, why is the industry kicking up a fuss over the digital marketplace in Britain right about now? And what’s the motivation to say that the industry in Britain is moving away from lawsuits of individual file-sharers?

A reasonable hypothesis could be that, for the second time now, the industry had their long sought after “Three Strikes” law proposal in the EU rejected by lawmakers. Since this represents a perceived threat toward taking more control away from the end user, it may have triggered a new media offencive.

Another hypothesis could be the fact that after months of intense lobbying, the copyright industry has suddenly found themselves to be one step closer to increasing the copyright term from 50 years to 70 years in Europe. This case was very well documented by the Open Rights Group who have, for quite some time, argued using evidence that there is no real benefit to extending the copyright term, but at times, fact-based evidence was overruled by the copyright industry’s anecdotal evidence as shown through hints by policy makers. The case isn’t an entirely new strategy seen in the world. In Canada, the copyright industry lobbied and successfully got an anti-camcording bill passed. While it ultimately didn’t add anything that wasn’t already in the copyright act and the criminal code, it was widely seen as a thin wedge to ram through a Canadian DMCA – an effort that is still being resisted by Canadians who would be affected by that legislation.

Of course, it could be a little bit of both or it could simply be that Europe happens to now in the copyright industry’s cross hairs for the time being. Either way, it seems to follow a long-standing tradition for the copyright industry to use anecdotal or cherry-picked numbers to try and counter mounting evidence that disagrees with what the industry wants the public to perceive as facts.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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