Online piracy has been playing on my mind a lot lately. I would think most people who have access to the internet have one time or another downloaded songs, movies or a game that they did not have the legal right to do so. It was part of the allure of the internet…getting anything that you want for free and whenever you wanted it.
Entertainment companies saw digital distribution of their wares as a threat and responded as such with bodies such as the RIAA, MPAA and other anti p2p organizations to crack down on P2P often using legally questionable methods and intimidation techniques. What they don’t realize is the age old lesson that once freedom is tasted, it is hard to take away that freedom again.
Their first mistake was to try to use illegal means to try and enforce their legal rights.
Their second mistake was to sue people for exorbitant amounts to act as a deterrent to others.
Both these mistakes galvanized the ordinary netizen to empathize with the average Joe and view RIAA and MPAA as a trigger happy organization eager to extort money out of people. They lost the trust and credibility of consumers and fueled a strong sentiment to rebel against what they saw was a bigger injustice than piracy itself.
Their third and probably worst mistake is to view P2P and digital downloads in general as the enemy rather than the huge potential that it is.
ITunes, Netflix and even private trackers have shown that people are willing to pay for digital content if it’s
People of today are exposed to an increasingly wider range of media than before. This allows the average consumer to have more niche tastes than before, which are often too small to be met with it being available in a physical format. Case in point, I like music from Japanese anime. Sure I can go to the local store and hope that they have the the CD…or…I can just search for it online and grab it within a few clicks immediately from the comfort of my own home.
The digital format is here to stay and it’s time for the entertainment industry to realize that. PirateBay was the success that it was because of its immense variety of files available there. Was it fast? No. Was it of good quality? No. But was it easy and free? A big yes to both.
Now imagine if a recording label or movie house could make digital formats of their movies/songs and have them made available for download at an affordable price? I could let’s say go to Paramount and search their entire collection, make a payment and download their movies. I could search albums and play previews to see if I would like something. Or have low res/quality versions for people to download for free while the higher quality ones have to be bought. People will put down their money if they think it’s worth it. Think about it, putting things online is a lot cheaper than generating a physical product. And if you implement P2P technology to reduce bandwidth costs, it really seems like a no-brainer.
It is likely that the concern that many of these companies have is that these people will then share these copies they got from the net with other people. What they don’t realize is that yes although this will happen to a certain extent, first of all, most users don’t have high upload speeds as they are users of ADSL. Uploading things like movies or high quality mp3s are often a painful process. Secondly, when you pay for something, there’s less incentive for you to share it. Also, there’s nothing stopping them from ripping their own physical media or loaning it to share people who are determined to do so.
Another thing they should realize is that many artists, movies, games, songs are just simply not worth your time if you had to fork out cash for it. Allowing people to trial or preview these things easily will serve as a quick prune of poor quality crap.
Convenience is key…and for most people outside the US, there’s simply no option besides piracy to get certain content. By keeping this content off the net or charging silly prices for it, they are missing a potentially huge market. So I wonder, what’s keeping these guys from getting their act together? :/