E35 -

Does piracy have a catastrophic effect on how music, movies, and books are distributed?

Paul Matzko
Tech & Innovation Editor
Aaron Ross Powell
Director and Editor

Aaron Ross Powell is Director and Editor of Lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org, a project of the Cato Institute. Lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org presents introductory material as well as new scholarship related to libertarian philosophy, theory, and history. He is also co‐​host of Libertarianism.org’s popular podcast, Free Thoughts. His writing has appeared in Liberty and The Cato Journal. He earned a JD from the University of Denver.

As the cultural economy (music, movies, television, and books) digitized around the turn of the 21st century, many critics worried about severe negative consequences, including declining creative output because of piracy and decreased aesthetic quality. Joel Waldfogel joins Paul and Aaron to discuss why those fears were wrong. Digitization has actually stimulated a renaissance in the cultural economy as both the number and perceived aesthetic quality of film, television, and books have soared. It has been a triumph of technological innovation enabling an expansion of the marketplace for the ultimate benefit of producers and consumers.

Are we overproducing movies because of digitization? Are we consuming culture too fast? Is piracy a customer service problem? Does the business model of Spotify prevent piracy of music? Why did music take such a huge hit from piracy when TV and movies took a much smaller hit in comparison? Do we want ownership of products or the ability to have access to stream of service? Why are people unbundling their cable services? Should we get rid of all copyright?

Further Reading:

In the Economy of the Future, You Won’t Own Your Kitchen, written by Pamela J. Hobart

Intellectual Privilege, Free Thoughts Podcast

Is Netflix Ruining Culture?, written by Pamela J. Hobart reviewing Joel Waldfogel’s book Digital Renaissance