Rob Reid on Understanding Copyright Math

If you watch only one TED talk this year, you should be sure to watch Rob Reid’s talk “The $8 billion iPod.”

Reid, the founder of Rhapsody, debuts Copyright Math (TM), the field of study “based on actual numbers from entertainment industry lawyers and lobbyists.” In that time, Reid completely skewers the entertainment industry’s inflated claims of damages that result from copyright infringement.

For example, take the MPAA’s claims (PDF) that the U.S. economy loses $58 billion in economic output annually “due to copyright theft of movies, music, packaged software and video games.”

Reid says, “Music revenues are down by about eight billion dollars a year since Napster first came on the scene. So that’s a chunk of what we’re looking for. But total movie revenues across theaters, home video and pay-per-view are up. And TV, satellite and cable revenues are way up. Other content markets like book publishing and radio are also up. So this small missing chunk here [$50 billion] is puzzling… What we’re looking at here is the insidious cost of ringtone piracy. 50 billion dollars of it a year, which is enough, at 30 seconds a ringtone, that could stretch from here to Neanderthal times.”

Take a few minutes this weekend and watch Reid’s presentation. You’ll be glad you did.

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