Today the debate is gradually migrating from a focus on digital piracy towards an emphasis on digital business models. Figures released in 2012 by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) showed that worldwide music industry revenues increased by 8% in 2011 to reach $5.2 billion.
Ultimately the war on online piracy will only end when new business models supersede that battle by successfully generating revenue. There are a range of new business models which are worthy of consideration. For example in India many devices come with free pre-loaded content, with the option of purchasing value added services related to that content. There are also free children’s e-books which come with embedded video content and text to speech functionality which can be unlocked for an additional fee. There are also examples of Western companies voluntarily adapting to the constraints of particular markets, such as in India where Microsoft elects to sell DOS-based desktops and laptops in recognition of the fact that most customers can only afford to install bootleg software on these machines.
Moving forward the important question should be “which business models should be developed and implemented?” as opposed to “which enforcement methods should be adopted?” The primary purpose of government should be to ensure a level playing field for businesses, rather than acting as an enforcement agent in a context where punishment is manifestly not achieving the desired results.
It was commented that users are generally more comfortable with employing legal approaches to accessing content – but that these must be priced appropriately and sensitively and above all must contain the content that users want to access. Young people use iTunes because its large repository of desirable content. However, users are increasingly resistant to being imprisoned or locked into particular platforms or proprietary systems.