Opinion: Piracy isn't the reason some media groups are all at sea
Posted in: Online TV/Music at 24/10/2011 15:00
One can only wonder how they do it: researchers at GlaxoSmithKline think they might have come up with drugs to cure malaria, it emerged last week. Glaxo, turnover last year £28bn, is able to survive in an industry where patent protection lasts only 20 years - whereas some media and media-related businesses seem to struggle with the notion of copyrights that last longer than several people's lifetimes. It may help that drug companies can charge hospitals ridiculous sums, but what media companies may lack in price they can make up for in volume, as not all of us have the same serious ailment. Take 10.2m Sky subscriptions at £535 per household and you are talking serious money.
It is curious, then, to discover that bodies such as the Premier League are so vigilant when it comes to copyright enforcement - more curious still when you see that a European Court recently ruled there wasn't even any copyright in a live football match, just the graphics, theme music and archive footage. But it is the league (not Sky) that chases after pubs using hooky feeds from foreign broadcasters, it is the league that believes that the £1bn or more a year is not riches often wasted on overpriced players, but cash necessary to ensure the Premier League remains globally supreme. That may be true, but the vigour with which the league (aka the football department of BSkyB) carries out its anti-piracy mission would make you believe that we are only a small amount of illegality away from the sky falling in.
The intriguing point is that the relationship between copyright laws and media success in the digital era is not particularly obvious.